What’s the Rapha Festive 500?
Since 2009, Rapha has been challenging cyclists to ride 500 kilometres between the 24th and 31st of December. Log your rides on Strava and set yourself the challenge of completing the full distance.
It's definitely a challenge. With bad weather and tight schedules to deal with. But there's some tips and tricks that can make riding 500-kilometres in grim weather much easier:
This is a bit of a no-brainer. But if you’re going to be riding outside this winter you’re going to want to make sure you have enough layers.
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
A good winter jacket paired with a base layer will keep your core warm. Then focus on your extremities. Hands and feet feel the cold badly when cycling. So you’ll also need a good quality pair of gloves and some overshoes.
These overshoes from Spatz are a lifesaver. Warm, dry feet every time. The no-nonsense overshoe for winter riding.
Clean your bike
A clean bike is a fast bike. The extra grime and grit picked up from cycling in winter can wreak havoc on your components.
So rinsing and lubricating your bike after each ride will keep it running smoother for longer. It’ll also mean you’re less likely to experience a mechanical breakdown at the side of the road.
If you’re heading out the door for a ride, particularly a long ride, give yourself time to do a pre-ride safety check. Check out Matt’s quick pre-ride safety check below:
Indoor riding apps like Zwift have changed everything for cycling in winter. When it’s too dark and cold to ride outside, jumping on the indoor trainer is usually a more appealing option.
It’s also a real time-saver. You’ll find you can travel faster than out on the road. With Zwift you can join group rides and notice the benefits of the virtual peloton.
You can also take part in races too. If you enjoy an hour of intense suffering.
Riding indoors also contributes to your total for the Festive 500! So it’s a win-win.
Ride with company
Getting miles in the bank is much easier with a wheel to sit on. Both the company and the aerodynamic benefits of following someone’s draft can make cycling much easier.
With lots of people having some spare time, think about organising a group ride or even jumping on your local cycling club's Sunday club run. It can make 500-kilometres of riding much less daunting than riding solo.
You could also challenge someone else to ride the distance too. Nothing can get you out of the door in the morning like some friendly competition.
Ride new routes
Exploring new roads, towns, and cafes will keep things exciting. Not knowing what’s at the end of the road or what the cake selection is like is a fun gamble.
This is easier with a good GPS device. Plan your route beforehand with an app like Strava or Komoot and upload it to a cycle computer or watch.
You can then get turn by turn directions right back to your front door.
Top tip! When planning your route pay attention to what roads, lanes, and paths you’ll ride on. If you’re based in the London area, check out the Laka collective’s favourite winter cycling routes.
Plan it out
Everything's better with a plan. A rough idea of how much riding you can fit in over the winter holidays will keep you on track.
The Festive 500 averages at 62.5 kilometres per day. But the best way to tackle it would be to schedule in some long rides with some days off.
A longer ride on the 24th is ideal. It gives you flexibility for the rest of the week. If that’s not possible, a couple of longer rides over the bank holidays will put you in a good place to complete the challenge.
It’s easy to get carried away with trying to ride your own local Grand Tour, but without any rest and family time you’ll end up doing more harm than good. Go easy, eat some mince pies, and have fun. It's a holiday after all.