Now this may sound a bit negative but I’m not a fan of the festive 500. No not just because it’s a marketing effort for Rapha but because of its potential hazard to the cycling community over the winter break.
Now I’m not risk averse, I’m just a realist. Let’s break down the required effort. 500km over 8 days between Christmas and new year, that’s 63k a day or 42 miles per day for 8 days. Now the distance isn’t that much in one hit (42 miles) I’ll admit, but let’s add up what it takes to do 42 miles once. Prep, get dressed, eat, and check bike so we are talking at least 30 minutes. Then we have time on the bike, and this is where fitness levels and location really come into play, 42 miles is realistically a minimum of two hours. And come on, who can really average 21 mph over two hours? Unless you are in a velodrome or on a TT bike in the Netherlands? Realistically with a quick break and a 16mph average you are looking at 3 hours on the road. Then when home you have wind down, wash, and recovery. Another half hour.
So if you were to try and carry out the festive 500 as a daily activity you would be writing off 4 hours a day. We only have 8 hours of daylight per day at this time of year. So essentially writing off half of the usable daylight. Not to mention the additional recovery needed for the continued fatigue.
Ok so I hear you, why not cycle larger amounts in one day. Then you are writing off more sunlight, and realistically how much would you get in in a day? 7 hours of solid cycling at 16 mph? 112 miles? 168k, so you’d only have to do that three times to be there. Great. Three 100+ mile rides in 8 days. Exhausting.
Cycle at night then to stop it encroaching on your day? Great let’s encourage vulnerable road users to get out on their bikes at the most dangerous time of the year without daylight on their side. It’s prime time for drunk driving, so why risk it? No matter how well you light yourself up you can account for other road users inadequacies.
Then there’s the weather conditions, and this is what really got me thinking about this “challenge”, we have some of the most mixed conditions in the U.K. at this time of year. I experienced them this week as well. I took a tumble on black ice at just under 30mph, went down like a sack of shit, tore my jersey and base layer, bent my hoods in, and scuffed my saddle. The sky was clear and the sunshine was glorious, but if it hadn’t hit the road they were like an ice rink. Luckily the car behind me was far enough away to stop, and yes they were kind enough to ask if I was ok. I was then sat at the side of a road that was covered in sheet ice and sloping toward me. Unable to ride I pushed the bike along the road and up the following hill, desperate to get out of the way of the traffic just in case a car had a similar issue to me then proceeded to collect me on its way off the road. So yes trying to cram in 500km in 8 days in those conditions, great idea!?
It’s not about how tough you are, I follow people on strava who put in far greater efforts all year round, this is about how many people Rapha can get talking about their crazy idea. Fuck the consequences.
I’m a family man who cherishes his time away from work at Christmas, have responsibilities that mean I can’t be in a shagged state for life and work just to earn a sew on badge.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not against people putting in stellar cycle efforts, and people can ride what they like when they like. But to get sucked into a marketing campaign to cycle at one of the most dangerous times of the year ain’t for me. Especially after yesterday’s exploits. I’ll ride what I like when I can.
In saying that fair play to all who have the time, inclination, and levels of personal accountability to ride that amount over the Christmas period. Just do it for you and do it safely!