500 kilometres. In seven days. From Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. It may sound extreme, but the Rapha Festive 500, now in its eleventh edition, has seen 500,00 people attempt, and 126,000 complete the holiday challenge over the years.
The Festive 500 began in the UK as a challenge on Strava, where users could collect a well-earned badge for completing the challenge. Since then, it’s grown into a much larger global event, and ultimately a celebration of cycling.
In 2020, indoor training counts towards the 500. Not everyone will be able to get out on the roads thanks to Covid-19. So instead, you can swap muddy winter roads for virtual tarmac and your turbo trainer.
If you want to finish the year on a real high and complete the challenge, here are some tips to help you on your way.
1. Plan your days and routes
With only seven days to work with, you’re going to have to meticulously plan which days you’re on the bike, and which days you’re ploughing through a tin of chocolates.
If you have to work, you could try extending your commute, or squeezing in smaller rides in the early morning and evening to chip away at the distance.
There are plenty of great long-distance routes in the UK, with a varied mix of on and off-road routes to explore.
2. Get your nutrition right
Stock up on on-the-bike snacks, energy gels and drinks. You’re going to need them. It can be hard in Winter to remember to keep drinking, so make sure to keep regularly taking on fluids.
Eating enough on the bike is going to determine how well your body recovers after each day. The more food you can take on, the better your body is going to feel for the next effort.
3. Wrap up!
Getting your clothing right will affect how comfortable you’re going to feel on the bike. And let’s be honest, it’s going to rain. If there’s one item worth in investing in it’s a breathable and 100% waterproof jacket.
Overshoes, gloves, head-warmers, winter base layers–you name it, you’ll need it.
4. Call on a friend
The festive period is a great chance to catch up with friends. Under coronavirus restrictions, this is looking unlikely to happen in the pub, so why not ask them to join you on a ride?
Cycling with someone you know can make the miles disappear quicker, and you’ll be able to draft in their wheel to save some watts.
5. Keep it flat
To be clear, that’s your route-planning, not your tyres. We’d advise keeping your tyres well inflated, but keeping your heart rate down. Unless you want to give yourself an even bigger aerobic challenge, it’s best to avoid the big hills.
With the Zwift and other indoor training programs at your mercy, you can choose a flat loop, put some music on, and tick off the kilometres in no time.
However you choose to complete the challenge, whether at home on your turbo or on muddy off-road trails, you’ll be able to end a questionable year on a satisfying note.