In 2010 Rapha (they who must be obeyed) laid down a challenge to their customers; ride 500km on the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Since then the Rapha Festive 500 has become a holiday tradition, with thousands of riders around the world taking part.
After getting at best two days through this challenge for the past two years, I decided to make good on my promise this year. And despite being at my Mum’s house for the initial festive period, being force fed Quality Street, cheesy Doritos and gravy by funnel, I managed to get out Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to lay down some early miles around Regent’s Park.
Then after Boxing Day I was back to the countryside where the real work started. It was cold, miserable and the daylight hours really limit the time you want to be out. Night riding in the country is not recommended without being fully prepared with a lighting rig , it’s fucking freezing and everyone drives pissed.
You might be thinking what the fuck are moaning about? I reeled off the fucker in two days! If you’re that person, then I salute you, that’s amazing, I want to fucking be you. But in four years of taking cycling semi-seriously I had never really ridden this number of miles in this sort of period. Sure I had done sportives, but every day? Nope.
And while it hurt after about five days it became strangely addictive. All I started to think about was time on the bike, I mean this happens often anyway, but when it’s horrible and nasty and its turning your perineum into sandpaper this is an odd feeling. The compulsion to punish yourself further when you have a clear choice to stop it.
The final day required 78.6km to complete the challenge. That number was imprinted on my mind as I watched the Garmin slowly tick off the miles. Trouble was my planned route was about 8.6km short of the target, so to reach the magic 500km I had to ride kind aimlessly around East Devon, freezing my tits off, shattered beyond belief and with crotch that needed desperate lubrication. But, I did it.
To be honest, I felt a little bit of an anticlimax when I finished. I normally fail at the last hurdle in the these sort of things, but 2017 is a new year and new start for me so it was good to have a feeling of “What next?” rathen than “Oh well, back to the drawing board”.
- If you have the opportunity to get some easy miles (i.e. on the flat) in early on, do it. This is only going to get harder.
- Lights, for god sake gets some! If you were in the city and are now in the country you will need a light to see, rather than seen by.
- Chamois cream, this is an essential. There are many on offer, but this one works for me just great!