As you already know, the Rapha Festive 500 Strava Challenge is open to virtual rides for the first time this year. While I may not 100% agree with this, in light of the global situation it’s probably a good call. With many parts of the world still struggling with Covid-19 and lockdowns, giving people the option of completing the challenge – if only virtually – can only be a good thing.
But if you’re going to ride 500km virtually, at least do it on REAL roads. Nobody’s giving you kudos for doing laps of an imaginary volcano or on glass roads above a futuristic animation of New York. This is where FulGaz comes into it’s own. Real rides on real roads, shot by real riders from all over the globe. Fancy tackling this challenge? Just like if you were do take this on outside, you’ll want to do some planning, so here’s a “FulGaz Festive 500 Game Plan” I put together to get you across the line!
Day 1: Escape from Amsterdam x 2 laps (Today: 106km, Total: 106km)
We’re going to kick this challenge off with a big one. It’s always a good idea to get a few extra kilometres in the bag on the first day, so today on the menu is two laps of Escape From Amsterdam. It’s relatively flat, but can still hurt if paced incorrectly. Don’t go into the red at any time today. It’s all about getting those legs turning and ticking off the only 100km day of the challenge.
Day 2: Warby Ranges State Park (Today: 59km, Total: 165km)
Work off the extra calories with a trip through Warby. A big loop which is mostly flat, but watch out for those two climbs thrown in. Test the legs but don’t go too hard on the hills, back right off on the descents, there’s a long way to go yet!
Day 3: Beach Road Complete plus Albert Park x 3 laps (Today: 59km, Total: 224km)
An absolute Aussie classic to start the day! Enjoy the summer sun with a roll up and down the iconic Beach Road near Melbourne. You can bet the real Beach Road will be chock full of cyclists today too, many also eyeing up that Festive 500 badge. Complete the 44km out and back course, then finish off with at least three laps of Albert Park Lake (which is actually just a short hop from Beach Road).
Day 4: Lake Hamana plus Arakawa River (Today: 81km; Total: 305km)
Get ready for a big day out in Japan as we bust through the half way point! Start out with a scenic ride around Lake Hamana, mostly flat with a couple of sharp pinches to let you know you’re alive. Soak in the scenery and follow the wheel of the rider in front (even when he takes a wrong turn). Afterwards spin the legs with a flat ride along the Arakawa River. Don’t go hard. Keep this second ride at a faster cadence and lower power.
Day 5: Nero Continental (Today: 35km; Total 340km)
Time for an easier active recovery day (or not, it’s up to you). Follow the the Nero Continental racers for sixteen hot laps of Heffron Park. I could tell you to take it easy, but it’s hard not to sprint when somebody goes off the front! If you skipped out on any rides previously, today is a good day to make up those missed distances.
Alternative: If you’re not a fan of fast-paced race footage, switch this one for Ninove to Ghent instead. It’s a similar length scenic ride through some beautiful Belgian countryside.
Day 6: Veloccino Group Ride plus Urunga to Macksville (Today: 60km, Total: 400km)
Life is better when you share it with friends and today’s two rides are all about sharing the load. Join in and swap turns on the front as we head to Virginia, USA for a blast with the Veloccino crew then back to Australia for a stint along the NSW coast. Two scenic bunch rides for you to enjoy. Careful though, there’s a little more climbing that previous days so be prepared for a couple of short efforts to stick with the bunch!
Day 7: vWTTC Borrego Springs 24 Hour x 2 laps (Today: 58km, Total: 458km)
Want to know what it’s like to race for 24 hours? The course for today is the official course for the World 24 Hour Time Trial Championships (and also the virtual event on FulGaz). Each lap is around 29km so get out there and whip around the relatively flat course twice. This is definitely one for the time trial lovers.
Day 8: Windsor Castle plus Box Hill Loop (Today: 46km, Total 504km)
We bring home the Festive 500 in style with a sightseeing trip to England and a couple of my favourite FulGaz rides! Take a scenic cycle around Windsor on a sunny day before heading south into Surrey for a climb up the famous Box Hill. The 2012 Olympic Road Race tackled this climb nine times. Today you’ll only need one ascent to bring up your 500km total. What a way to finish.
So there you have it, simple right? A complete game plan to get you through a virtual Festive 500 using real roads from across the globe all beautifully curated and available for your riding pleasure on FulGaz. There’s certainly no shortage of epic scenery on that list to distract your legs from the pain. Download the app, sign up for a 14-day free trial and get pedalling. You can thank me later.
Disclaimer: Yes. I am technically paid by FulGaz, but they did not pay me to write this article.