I’ve been meaning to complete the Rapha Festive 500 here in Tasmania since I arrived. For a recap, that’s 500km between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. I completed it once in England in the depths of winter, so have wanted to add a Southern Hemisphere Festive 500 to my “done list” also!
One thing or another (including an altercation with a car) has meant it hasn’t happened over the past few years. With this year being freed up by a certain pathogen restricting long-distance travel and family visits, I found myself with possibly enough free time.
Going against ALL the advice I’ve ever dished out, I didn’t do much planning for this attempt. I looked at the forecast, looked at my work schedule and went “yeah, let’s see what happens.” Basically the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of how you should approach this! I did however, put together this handy spreadsheet so I’d know how far ahead or behind I was each day.
Because who doesn’t love a good spreadsheet? As you can see, I put in a solid 130km effort on day one to get me well ahead of the curve! I didn’t really have that planned, it just kind of happened. I snuck out early for a ride and when I got back to the car, I’d put it some decent mileage. It was fairly flat with only a shade over 430 metres (1400ft) of elevation gain, so I may have gone out a little hard with a 30+kph (18.8mph) average speed to kick start the challenge.
From there it was just a matter of kitting up each day and banging out the miles (sorry, kilometres) when I could fit them in. I didn’t have many social commitments and no family visits (covid, innit) and because I’m able to here in Tasmania, I completed all the rides outdoors. Any other year I’d look down on doing the Festive 500 indoors (and it wouldn’t have counted anyway) but this being 2020 it’s appropriate that indoor mileage counts, just not for me. We’re free to ride outside without limitation, so it’d be rude not to.
Tasmania in December isn’t really that hot, but it is WINDY! Even when the forecast says it’s not, it is. You can bank on spending a lot of time battling into a headwind. The trick is to try and plan your rides so that there’s a prevailing tailwind home! This of course, does not always work and I did my fair share of grovelling. Yep, I’ve turned into that crazy old man shouting at the wind…
Sticking to solo rides to keep stopping to a minimum and flatter routes on my Canyon Aeroad to keep speed to a maximum, I managed to smash this year’s challenge out of the park with two days to spare! Six days, six rides, including three metric centuries, 504 kilometres. Job done and smiles all round.
Total distance: 504 km / 313 miles
Total elevation gain: 2638 m / 8655 feet
Overall average speed: 29.5 kph / 18.3 mph
So there’s still two days of the Festive 500 (and of 2020) to go. What now? I’ve got a fair bit of work to get through over the coming days, plus some neglected farm jobs, so I might not have time for any more rides. I’m actually pretty smoked from riding 500km in six days anyway. I’ve bagged the Festive 500 and in the process bagged my biggest ever annual distance. That’s a damn good way to end the year I recon!