In 2021, the Rapha Festive 500 Strava Challenge is once again open to virtual rides. Virtual distance was allowed for the very first time in 2020 due to many parts of the world struggling with COVID-19 and associated lockdowns. While this isn’t as big an issue in 2021, there are still many countries or cities dealing with regulations around riding longer distances outside. Then of course, there’s the Northern Hemisphere severe winter weather…
The Festive 500 challenge requires you to ride 500km in the eight days from Christmas Eve until New Years Eve. You can technically ride on any virtual platform, but if you’re going to ride 500km indoors, at least do it virtually on REAL roads. 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! I’ve updated the ride selection to include some recent additions to FulGaz. Plus if you completed this challenge last year, you’ll be glad of some course variation. Enjoy!
Day 1: Buntingford Gran Fondo (Today: 101km, Total: 101km)
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 the Buntingford Gran Fondo. There’s a little bit of climbing in this one, so take it easy and don’t go into the red at any time. There’s a long way to go and it’s only day one. This ride is all about getting those legs turning and getting ahead of the curve.
Day 2: Al Qudra – Up stick and loop (Today: 60km, Total: 161km)
Work off the extra Christmas calories with a flat and fast blast in Dubai! A mid-length ride that is mostly flat along a purpose built bike track. Test the legs, but don’t go too hard at any point.
Day 3: Beach Road 2021 plus Albert Park Lake Reverse x 3 laps (Today: 60km, Total: 221km)
Re-filmed in 2021 in full 4K quality, Beach Road is an absolute Aussie classic to start the day! Enjoy the summer sun with a roll up and down the iconic Beach Road near Melbourne. FulGaz has even removed all the traffic light stops that you’d normally encounter on the Beach Road (there’s a LOT) so you can smash out the distance like a pro. Be sure to choose the new “2021” version!
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 Reverse (which is actually just a short hop from Beach Road).
Day 4: Nero Continental (Today: 35km; Total 256km)
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. Maybe add on my alternative suggestion afterwards (Windsor Castle).
Alternative: If you’re not a fan of fast-paced race footage, switch this one for “Windsor Castle” instead. It’s a similar length scenic ride through Berkshire in the UK.
Day 5: Waterford Greenway (Today: 90km; Total: 346km)
A bigger day today, with a ride around County Waterford in Ireland. This is a spectacular cycling and walking trail along an old railway line, venturing from Waterford, all the way through to the historic port of Dungarvan, a seaside market town. Soak in the scenery and enjoy the spin through some great countryside. Ease off a little on the climbs and incorporate some higher cadence spinning down the descents to keep the legs loose today.
Day 6: vWTTC Borrego Springs 24 Hour x 2 laps (Today: 58km, Total: 404km)
After a criterium race and a rail trail, today is time trial day! Want to know what it’s like to race for 24 hours against the clock? The course for today is the official course for the World 24 Hour Time Trial Championships! I’m not sure I’d fancy lapping these roads for twenty four hours straight, but each to their own! Today, set your Ride Mode to Laps and whip around this relatively flat course twice. For some bonus distance, see if you can push it out to three laps!
Alternative: For something different, try “Frank Sound 58” in the Cayman Islands! It’s roughly the same ride length and elevation, so hit up two laps of this if the desert flats of Borrego Springs aren’t to your liking.
Day 7: Brugge Oostende (Today: 46km, Total 450km)
The Festive 500 is all about distance, elevation gain counts for nothing! With that in mind, it’s best to keep the climbing to a minimum and focus on mile munching! The second last day sees us take a trip to Belgium for a flat ride from Brugge all the way to Belgian coast at Oostende. This is a good one to get some decent distance in the legs without stressing too much or being forced into any big climbs.
Day 8: Corryong Ride (Today: 50km, Total 500km)
The final day! With 450km already in the legs over the past week, you’ll probably want sometime a little easier to take you over the finish line. Today we head back to Australia for a loop around Towong in Victoria. Take in the scenic country roads and clear blue skies as you roll the final 50km to complete the 2021 Rapha Festive 500. Give yourself a pat on the back congratulations for riding strong to finish off the year. Well done!
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 in full 4K quality and available for your riding pleasure on FulGaz. 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.