Rapha festive 500

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!



  1. I have to begrudgingly agree with you. I get sucked into the grainy black and white hard man romantic Rapha advertising shyte each year. I don’t even own any Rapha. Maybe I’m just a sucker for that tiny cloth badge (only have one).

    Tried explaining it to a coworker and she replied “You mean like grown men on bicycles trying to earn a Girl Scout badge?” Yep. Nothing like a bit of outside perspective to bring home the truth!


    1. It’s a real shame isn’t it. I love cycling heroics, but not forced attempts from peer or marketing pressure. I have two items of rapha, a t shirt and a leather pouch to put my spare tubes and inflator in, Ive tried various items of their clothing and felt it always fell short of the big boys for fit. Never felt racy enough (but then I do like my gear sprayed on). I’d love to be free enough from real life to indulge in that kind of mileage but even that would wear very thin, very fast I reckon. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post is slightly tainted by brand prejudice and doesn’t place enough emphasis on people taking responsibility for their own actions.
    I wonder how different your opinion would be if it were the Castelli Festive 500?
    Whichever brand aligns themselves to challenges like these, whatever time of year, cyclists have a choice as to whether they want to take the risk of cycling at night, cycling as part of their festive break from work, cycling when ice has been forecast or completing the challenge. They have the mental capacity to weigh up the potential risk and personal commitment required and can make their choice. If you get ‘sucked in’ to the marketing messages then they’re obviously working so don’t blame the brand for doing a good job.

    Do you lay blame at the door of the brewers when you drink beer or is that your own choice?


    1. Hi there, first things first thanks for reading. Nice for me when non WordPress users engage with my site.
      I would think the same of any brand encouraging cyclists to increase risk. Like I said I do own and have tried various bits of Rapha kit so there’s no brand prejudice, if it was right for me I would but it on merit. And hey if I’m willing to walk round in a t-shirt with ‘Rapha cycle club’ on it (it’s one of my favourites actually) then I think that argument is kind of out of the window.
      As far as free will goes, and individual choice was at the top of everyone’s priority then marketing wouldn’t exist. People as a whole want to feel part of something, yes the marketing team have done a good job because they have played on this. People talk about it, people ride it, people get a fluffy badge. But does that mean the marketers made a moral decision? This ties in pretty well with your example of beer (although a little extreme) there’s a lot of crackdown on the moral obligations of alcohol advertising. This goes hand in hand with cigarettes. If people want to make silly decisions that will threaten their life they can, just there shouldn’t be any provocation or encouragement for financial gain. But hey yes people can do what they like and are generally sensible enough to make their own decisions, but why encourage cyclists to increase mileage at one of the most dangerous times of the year?

      Thanks for reading!


  3. Thankfully your logic does not prevail, otherwise we would not have the Tour de France, arguably the greatest sporting spectacle of our age born from an advertsing campaign for the L’Auto.


  4. But it is though for the reasons above, and for the example you gave. Clutching at straws relating the festive 500 to Le Tour, and that’s exactly where people get put at larger risk. Believing they are the next Froome. It’s like comparing a drive to get the shopping to entering the Monaco Grand Prix. Closed roads with athletes and controlled conditions. All absent in the 500. And as to Le Tour being the greatest sporting spectacle…… there’s this thing called the olympics that happen every so often…. but then that depends on what age we are talking about? Thanks again for your comments.


  5. *sporting spectacle=cycling spectacle.

    You missed the point ref, festive 500 vs TdF. The Tdf started without closed roads, without controlled conditions but was born from a brand issuing a challenge to those that decided to take it up. There may be risks involved but you can decide if that’s for you, you have a choice on whether to enter or not. The festive 500 may die off and if it does so be it but let’s not forget that this is a global challenge, entered by those in the Southern & Northern hemisperes. Are you only avocating cyclists should be allowed to enter if their climate permits, should we be concentrating all activities to the dry, lighter days? What’s that going to do for road congestion.


    1. I did see your point, and well aware of the history of Le Tour, but it’s a dated one. Times have changed and roads are far busier than ever before. At its inception the Tour de France entrant was far less at risk of other road users than if you were to try to instigate today. As far as climate goes I do agree, other countries would have the benefit of better weather and longer days. This being a social event would have little impact on congestion, people aren’t normally doing the festive 500 in their cars. Those who commute will already commute. This is an event of additional miles, or commuted mileage from indoor training. What I am not advocating is companies attempted profiteering from increasing risk to cyclists. Surely you can see that? And must agree?


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