Rapha Festive 500 2016 – Getting it done

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Completing the 2016 Rapha Festive 500

This Christmas, I set myself the challenge to complete the Rapha Festive 500 again. The challenge that Rapha set is to cycle 500 kilometres between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, which given the Winter weather and social restrictions of that time of year presents a fair obstacle. I completed the Festive 500 back in 2014 so knew that I could do it again, provided the weather was kind and I was sensible.

Christmas Day Festive 500 2016
My Christmas Day…

Day 1 was tough, a ridiculously windy day and I didn’t get to enjoy much of the wind behind me on the fun sections! The headwinds were on the already more difficult rolling sections with the climbs and long steady gradients. Disappointingly towards the end of the ride when I should have been able to tank along with the wind, I had to keep stopping because round seemingly every bend was a horse – it turned out the local hunt were out doing their thing. I slogged through 39.6 miles on my own, but didn’t particularly enjoy it – an inauspicious start!

The second day was Christmas Day, just like two years before I split today’s mileage into two separate rides. Making sure I’d done the bulk early in the day, it was another windy solo day but thankfully dry. With the wind in the right direction, it was fun blasting along the lanes using the body as a sail. A nice easy 10 miles later on in the dark along the flat roads not far from home.

Stratford Cycle Club Post Ride Coffee 27th December 2016
Post ride cafe fun

I get some company on the Festive 500

Boxing Day saw me join the Stratford Cycling Club’s Boxing Day ride, a leisurely jaunt of 50 miles for me. Meeting up at Box Brownie, a great cafe in Stratford, we headed up towards Shrewley and Lowsonford before heading back to Stratford via Alcester. I sat in the wheels for most of the ride, being told I was showing off because of my trackstanding whilst waiting at junctions, before taking the reigns near the end of the ride. Somehow we managed to get split up coming up the rise by Billesley, but being so close to Stratford it settled into two manageable groups. Just about 1 mile from Stratford and on a short rise I decided to liven things up by attacking on a small rise, blasting away with only Max managing to bridge the gap on the way into Stratford. We decamped into a cafe for some more coffee before heading home.

Stratford Cycle Club Social Ride 27th December
Waiting for John to sort his puncture out

The next day was another social club ride with most of the same (allbeit smaller) pack. We did 25 flat miles to begin with towards Bretforton and Badsey before making the turn back towards Stratford, someone was clearly bored and fancied a hill or two so we ended up both Saintbury and Baker’s Hill. Max smashed up miles ahead of everyone else, I was setting a good pace ahead of John and Dave but thinking we were making the left turn halfway up Saintbury pulled in, only to find we weren’t as those two went past. Momentum lost, the rest of the hill was a struggle. Leading the charge past Chipping Campden and down into Mickleton, Baker’s was taken far more sedately. Again a last little sprint was had just outside of Stratford, pleased to say I got the tactics right having sat at the back to begin with, moving up the line as people dropped out and making the sprint count at the end. Back into town for more coffee again! Managed to get another 11 miles done that evening cycling into down for some drinks.

After the harder previous days, the 28th was a relatively rest day, just a ride over to Shipston on Stour and back to see my grandparents. Still 17 miles though to keep things ticking over nicely.
The legs were beginning to ache and felt very heavy on the 29th. It took me most of the day to work up the energy to head out and I only did 21 miles that day on flat roads. I accidentally set a bit of a PB on half of a local TT circuit, which I ended up using as a banker time to try and beat later in the week.

40 miles to go Festive 500 2016
40 miles to go…

Festive 500 Ice and Mechanicals

The club had another group ride on the 30th, the weather had changed from earlier in the week and got colder, ice was now an issue. The main road into Stratford was fine, but as we headed out towards Tysoe we found a particularly icy stretch and one of our group managed to hit the deck because of it. As we all stopped for a check up, it was hard to even stand upright at the moment and it became easier to get going again by starting on the grass verge! Tim and I decided we’d had enough of looking over the front wheel for ice all the time and bombed back into Stratford along the main road. Coming out of Stratford, crossing an island, my chain unexpectedly fell off. It turned out I’d completely destroyed the chainring, snapping it good and proper because a couple of chainring bolts had fallen out at some point. The bike was still rideable in the big chainring so that’s how I finished the ride. I got home, had some lunch and then popped out for another 20 miles on the main roads to get some miles advantage in again and have less to do the following day.

New Year’s Eve, just 25.5 miles left to complete. I went out solo, did a couple of loops of the Stratford Tuesday bash circuit by Ilmington and found time for a half-proper TT attempt to finish off. Into a headwind, I knocked over 50 seconds off the time of the first half set a couple of days earlier and set a time for the circuit which is a good starting point. Finishing in the dark I was glad to have it all over and done with – 500km in 8 days!

Rapha Festive 500 2016 Rides Wheel

The patch for completing the challenge.

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Rapha Festive 500 2016 – Getting it done was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

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Rapha Festive 500 Reward

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Rapha Festive 500

The envelope

After all my riding over the Christmas period, written about here, the fruits of my labours arrived in the post.

Rapha Festive 500

Thanks cyclists

 Aside from the patch badge thingy, it came with a postcard full of pictures of data from the collective riding of the Festive 500 this time around. Unsurprisingly the most successful country at achieving the 500km in 8 days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s was Australia with their southern hemisphere sun (frankly this is cheating).

 

Rapha Festive 500

Contents

As with everything Rapha, presentation and design is everything, even the envelope is of high quality and worth keeping on its own.

Rapha Festive 500I was one of the 1200 or so British riders to complete the challenge over what was a surprisingly mainly dry but very grey and chilly week.

All in all, it’s just nice to have something tangible to show for completing a Strava challenge.

Rapha Festive 500

Lots of effort put in for this

Rapha Festive 500 2014 Roundel Reward Pack Opening

Standard
Rapha Festive 500
The envelope

After all my riding over the Christmas period, written about here, the fruits of my labours arrived in the post.

Rapha Festive 500
Thanks cyclists

 Aside from the patch badge thingy, it came with a postcard full of pictures of data from the collective riding of the Festive 500 this time around. Unsurprisingly the most successful country at achieving the Festive 500km in 8 days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s was Australia with their southern hemisphere sun (frankly this is cheating).

 

Rapha Festive 500
Contents

As with everything Rapha, presentation and design is everything, even the envelope is of high quality and worth keeping on its own.

Rapha Festive 500I was one of the 1200 or so British riders to complete the challenge over what was a surprisingly mainly dry but very grey and chilly week.

All in all, it’s just nice to have something tangible to show for completing a Strava challenge. A small appreciation of a week’s worth of efforts on the

Rapha Festive 500
Lots of effort put in for this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusreddittumblrmail

Rapha Festive 500 2014 Roundel Reward Pack Opening was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Rapha Festive 500 Challenge 2014

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Rapha Festive 500 Logo
Rapha Festive 500 Logo

For the last few years Rapha (of over-expensive MAMIL clothing fame, as commented on previously) set a challenge for riders to complete 500km between Christmas Eve and the Midnight of New Year’s Eve.

The challenge is made difficult by it being a decent distance to ride in the first place, but also the commitments of the holiday season as well as having the winter weather to contend with. Obviously those taking on the challenge in the Southern hemisphere don’t have the weather issue, but frankly that’s cheating.

Festive500 Badge
Festive500 Badge

The 500km target works out at 312.5miles and is an average of 39 miles per day for 8 days. My aim was to do the daily average and slowly accumulate towards the target. On achieving the target, successful riders are given a small woven badge, it’s nice to get something tangible no matter how small!

Starting the Festive 500

Christmas Eve was spent doing a quick blast round the Warwickshire lanes, heading home from Birmingham meant that the light was fading quickly and I had to finish…already behind schedule, not the best start!
24th – 25.6 miles

Two rides on Christmas Day, one snuck in before the big dinner of a similar length to the day before and one much later in the pitch-black at about 10pm. Back on task.
25th – 42.6 miles

Burton Dassett
Burton Dassett

Boxing Day was a chance to head up to Burton Dassett, a collection of lumpy bumpy hills with their signature sail-less windmill on top. I’d not ridden up them since a sportive in very late 2013 so it was good to go back on the Festive 500.
26th – 42.2 miles

Up to Lancaster! Lots of smallish rides between homes and train stations followed by a longer ride around the hills of the Forest of Bowland. Couple of PBs but mainly a take it easy ride with some decent climbs.
27th – 34.5 miles

This was supposed to be a day with a long ride down south towards Blackpool, lots of flat roads to ride along at a decent speed ticking off the miles. Unfortunately, Helen found the ice and came off – the worst bit being the van who having seen her fall off, just drove off without even slowing. Having to abandon plans, we took it easy coming back along the main road back into Lancaster.
28th – 15.0 miles

Heading home from Lancaster! My rear wheel bearings were making a huge racket and despite a clean and re-grease attempt back in Birmingham they still weren’t too happy. I made it back home, sticking in the main roads for the most part and making sure I didn’t succumb to the ice. Nice gentle ride back instead of catching the train.
29th – 42.5 miles

Area Covered
Area Covered

Knowing I was behind schedule, today had to be the make-up day. A decent 100km ride around Worcestershire on for the most part, new roads. I’ve never really cycled West of Evesham on my own and I’m not overly sure why as there were some good roads to use. Going against conventional wisdom, I had the deep aero rear wheel out for this ride as its bearings weren’t dying.
30th – 66.4 miles

Completing the Festive 500

The last ride was to be a circuit of the usual Stratford Saturday club ride route, minus the Shelfield part which is always wet or mucky. The mileage worked out pretty much perfectly. Being close to success, I whizzed round the course at a 19mph average and saw lots of cyclists….as usual nearly all of them were going the opposite way to me, not sure how I manage that all the time.
31st – 44.0 miles

I was only rained on once, on Boxing Day, there was snow and ice around but I managed to avoid it and for some of the days it was almost double figures temperature wise. I couldn’t ask for much better weather for the whole week of the Festive 500.

I’m looking forward to receiving my reward in the post!

Festive 500 Finished
Festive 500 Finished
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Rapha Festive 500 Challenge 2014 was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Rapha Festive 500 Challenge 2015

Standard

 

Rapha Festive 500 Logo

Rapha Festive 500 Logo

For the last few years Rapha (of over-expensive MAMIL clothing fame, as commented on previously) set a challenge for riders to complete 500km between Christmas Eve and the Midnight of New Year’s Eve.

The challenge is made difficult by it being a decent distance to ride in the first place, but also the commitments of the holiday season as well as having the winter weather to contend with. Obviously those taking on the challenge in the Southern hemisphere don’t have the weather issue, but frankly that’s cheating.

Festive500 Badge

Festive500 Badge

The 500km target works out at 312.5miles and is an average of 39 miles per day for 8 days. My aim was to do the daily average and slowly accumulate towards the target. On achieving the target, successful riders are given a small woven badge, it’s nice to get something tangible no matter how small!

Christmas Eve was spent doing a quick blast round the Warwickshire lanes, heading home from Birmingham meant that the light was fading quickly and I had to finish…already behind schedule, not the best start!
24th – 25.6 miles

Two rides on Christmas Day, one snuck in before the big dinner of a similar length to the day before and one much later in the pitch-black at about 10pm. Back on task.
25th – 42.6 miles

Burton Dassett

Burton Dassett

Boxing Day was a chance to head up to Burton Dassett, a collection of lumpy bumpy hills with their signature sail-less windmill on top. I’d not ridden up them since a sportive in very late 2013 so it was good to go back.
26th – 42.2 miles

Up to Lancaster! Lots of smallish rides between homes and train stations followed by a longer ride around the hills of the Forest of Bowland. Couple of PBs but mainly a take it easy ride with some decent climbs.
27th – 34.5 miles

This was supposed to be a day with a long ride down south towards Blackpool, lots of flat roads to ride along at a decent speed ticking off the miles. Unfortunately, Helen found the ice and came off – the worst bit being the van who having seen her fall off, just drove off without even slowing. Having to abandon plans, we took it easy coming back along the main road back into Lancaster.
28th – 15.0 miles

Heading home from Lancaster! My rear wheel bearings were making a huge racket and despite a clean and re-grease attempt back in Birmingham they still weren’t too happy. I made it back home, sticking in the main roads for the most part and making sure I didn’t succumb to the ice. Nice gentle ride back instead of catching the train.
29th – 42.5 miles

Area Covered

Area Covered

Knowing I was behind schedule, today had to be the make-up day. A decent 100km ride around Worcestershire on for the most part, new roads. I’ve never really cycled West of Evesham on my own and I’m not overly sure why as there were some good roads to use. Going against conventional wisdom, I had the deep aero rear wheel out for this ride as its bearings weren’t dying.
30th – 66.4 miles

The last ride was to be a circuit of the usual Stratford Saturday club ride route, minus the Shelfield part which is always wet or mucky. The mileage worked out pretty much perfectly. Being close to success, I whizzed round the course at a 19mph average and saw lots of cyclists….as usual nearly all of them were going the opposite way to me, not sure how I manage that all the time.
31st – 44.0 miles

I was only rained on once, on Boxing Day, there was snow and ice around but I managed to avoid it and for some of the days it was almost double figures temperature wise. I couldn’t ask for much better weather for the whole week.

I’m looking forward to receiving my reward in the post!

Festive 500 Finished

Festive 500 Finished

What Your Cycling Kit Says About You…

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A rider’s kit says a lot about a person…apart from the bike itself it’s the only way to add a bit of creativity, flair and personality to your ride. Your body is a blank canvas with which you can show off what sort of rider you are, be it hipster, racer, coffee shop regular or just simply a rider with no fashion sense.
Wearing the wrong kit, especially on club rides opens you up to huge amounts of ridicule by other riders (some of it snobbish, some of it justified). I personally play it safe but have a few rules that I’ll abide by.

Rule #1 – Never ever wear leaders jerseys and kit

Polka Dot Jersey

Polka Dot Jersey Kit

Wearing the Yellow Jersey for instance singles you out as someone who obviously knows something about cycling, but nothing about riding. There is an accepted wisdom, that you only wear a leader’s jersey if you happen to have earnt one and that the jersey is to be respected (much like an adored relic). Generally, I think I’ve only ever seen 1 of these, but I’ve seen a couple more Green Jerseys being worn and the relatively more common Polka Dots. If you’re seen wearing the Polka Dot jersey whilst cycling uphill, this is an invitation to other cyclists to start racing with you. Your jersey has made a declaration that you are King of the Mountain and Joe Cyclist will feel the need to defeat you, which he probably will.

Rule #2 – Team Kit

Saeco Jersey

Saeco Jersey Kit

Team kit is fine to wear, but it must be co-ordinated, you can’t wear a Garmin jersey with Team Sky shorts for instance. This is mainly because it looks weird and clashes more than anything. Speaking of Team Sky, I flat out refuse to wear it. It has a little bit of the glory supporter feel about it, I don’t want to advertise Murdoch and at the end of the day, it’s a bit bland too.

It’s possible to dig out and find some former team kit, popular choices here are Mercatone Uno, Saeco and Rabobank – this seems to be the only area were we embrace the old doping culture for style purposes. Despite that, US Postal is rarely seen these days.

Rule #3 – No Rapha

This may create a divide…but to me wearing Rapha gear is a bit like advertising you have far too much money. It’s become a bit of a game to guess the cost of the most expensive jersey on the Rapha site, I think £180 is the record so far. Rapha seems to be perfect at making it easy to identify MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra), some of this group are fine, usually the club riders, but the ones you’ll come across in a mass sportive can be a huge liability to be around.

Rapha-Bordeaux–Paris-Jersey

Rapha Jersey Kit

Rapha gear seems to give me a red rag to a bull effect, where I absolutely have to race past partly to show that no matter what you spend, it’s what’s in the legs that matters and also partly to remove the offending items from my sight.

Rule #4 – Jeans

Jeans on a bicycle machine should never be seen….or something.

All in all…

Aside from these 4 rules, nearly anything else goes. You can be garish as long as you can take the banter and if you can ride fast, it won’t matter what kit anyone else is wearing because you won’t be following it for very long anyway.

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What Your Cycling Kit Says About You… was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

What Your Cycling Kit Says About You…

Standard

A rider’s kit says a lot about a person…apart from the bike itself it’s the only way to add a bit of creativity, flair and personality to your ride. Your body is a blank canvas with which you can show off what sort of rider you are, be it hipster, racer, coffee shop regular or just simply a rider with no fashion sense.
Wearing the wrong kit, especially on club rides opens you up to huge amounts of ridicule by other riders (some of it snobbish, some of it justified). I personally play it safe but have a few rules that I’ll abide by.

Rule #1 – Never ever wear a leaders jersey

Polka Dot Jersey

Polka Dot Jersey

Wearing the Yellow Jersey for instance singles you out as someone who obviously knows something about cycling, but nothing about riding. There is an accepted wisdom, that you only wear a leader’s jersey if you happen to have earnt one and that the jersey is to be respected (much like an adored relic). Generally, I think I’ve only ever seen 1 of these, but I’ve seen a couple more Green Jerseys being worn and the relatively more common Polka Dots. If you’re seen wearing the Polka Dot jersey whilst cycling uphill, this is an invitation to other cyclists to start racing with you. Your jersey has made a declaration that you are King of the Mountain and Joe Cyclist will feel the need to defeat you, which he probably will.

Rule #2 – Team Kit

Saeco Jersey

Saeco Jersey

Team kit is fine to wear, but it must be co-ordinated, you can’t wear a Garmin jersey with Team Sky shorts for instance. This is mainly because it looks weird and clashes more than anything. Speaking of Team Sky, I flat out refuse to wear it. It has a little bit of the glory supporter feel about it, I don’t want to advertise Murdoch and at the end of the day, it’s a bit bland too.

It’s possible to dig out and find some former team kit, popular choices here are Mercatone Uno, Saeco and Rabobank – this seems to be the only area were we embrace the old doping culture for style purposes. Despite that, US Postal is rarely seen these days.

Rule #3 – No Rapha

This may create a divide…but to me wearing Rapha gear is a bit like advertising you have far too much money. It’s become a bit of a game to guess the cost of the most expensive jersey on the Rapha site, I think £180 is the record so far. Rapha seems to be perfect at making it easy to identify MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra), some of this group are fine, usually the club riders, but the ones you’ll come across in a mass sportive can be a huge liability to be around.

Rapha-Bordeaux–Paris-Jersey

Rapha Jersey

Rapha gear seems to give me a red rag to a bull effect, where I absolutely have to race past partly to show that no matter what you spend, it’s what’s in the legs that matters and also partly to remove the offending items from my sight.

Rule #4 – Jeans

Jeans on a bicycle machine should never be seen….or something.

All in all…

Aside from these 4 rules, nearly anything else goes. You can be garish as long as you can take the banter and if you can ride fast, it won’t matter what kit anyone else is wearing because you won’t be following it for very long anyway.