Rapha Festive 500 (2020)

I remember back to when i employed people, one employee was overjoyed to work over Christmas as he couldn’t stand his in laws.


I don’t think Rapha had quite the reach they do now when they started it. There was clearly a sort of purity test aspect to it for NH riders. They have had to accede to the reality of the COVID times and allow indoor now. We are unlikely to curtail outdoor exercise here even in the highest level lockdown so I will probably try for it outside and score my Hardman Kudos.

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Yeah. The weather and limited daylight are indeed part of it. Its still a solid challenge no matter where you do it, but didn’t it originally start because of the challenge to ride big miles in a less than ideal time of year to do it?

  • I honestly don’t know the history, or even care to some degree. If that was their goal, they should have kept it restricted to the range and conditions they expected. But it seems that it has grown to a world wide experience.

  • No idea if they placed any limits or conditions other than not allowing indoor in the prior years. I just don’t like the elitist hint that comes from people “grading” efforts of others in difficulty or otherwise. Seems this goal may be a challenge even in the best of cases.

  • I know my typical winter is full of freezing temps and feet of snow and ice. In all but the most irregular winters, this would be impossible outside in my area. So I’ve never given it more than a curious 2nd look. The possibility of having some more targeted winter riding looks like an interesting option, and if the saddle time rings true, this will still be a challenge even in temp controlled training rooms.

  • I just think it’s unfortunate when the whole “classing” of rides and efforts comes in to the mix. It’s probably the aspect of our sport that bothers me the most.


I’ve done it a few times in the past but I kinda lost motivation to go out in the cold and dark when I started training and had longer term targets.


I’m hoping to do it as a mix of indoor and outdoor. I agree with the sentiment that there’s something alluring to the almost ritualistic aspect of suffering in the wet and cold, but there’s only a sliver of the world where the conditions meet the desired aesthetic. I’m in that window, but can’t possibly get away from my family long enough to do it all outside, and truthfully wouldn’t want to during these times. Without kids it would be different. I’m hoping to do something like 300k indoors and a single 200k outside.


If anything I find it harder to get away inside! I think the old adage "out of sight, out of mind " applies. I can disappear for 3-4 hours outside without too many problems especially if I leave before anybody wakes up, but when they can hear me spinning away in the garage with the TV on it seems the limit is about 90 minutes before heads start popping round the door asking when I’ll be done.


How do you handle cold feet? I am actually ok with the cold but when it’s dark and cold my feet just freeze. I can get everything else warm after a little bit (just ride harder, right? :wink: ) but feet are a different issue.

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I am the same. cold hands or feet will lead to me cutting a ride short. So for cold weather rides, I wear merino wool socks, and waterproof overshoes. Same for hands: merino liner gloves and a windproof/waterproof winter glove. I also carry disposable hand warmer packs. These have saved me a few times. Slip them in between the shoe cover and top of your shoe, of in your gloves.

If it is wet, long front fender will help a lot by keeping your feet dry.

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I’ve done it every year apart from 2018 No badge this year but I’ll still get it done. Really enjoy the time away from family :smiley:

I’ve done it a few times and bailed a few times due to weather. For me its always been about the challenge of braving the weather and getting the miles done.

One thing that bothers me about the indoor option is those indoor rides when people seem to manage 40 miles in a hour of spinning, and it bears little relation to real distance. At least Zwift etc seem more realistic so the value of the effort is maintained…

Like many I look forward to the fresh air and exercise outdoors with a few mates and time off from the family, but this year it looks more likely it will be solo of course.

Good luck everyone who goes for it.


Same here! I can be toasty warm up top but my toes will be numb and tingly. I think it’s partially just a hereditary circulation issue and partially a clothing issue. I don’t know if my tights are warm enough to keep the blood warm while it travels all the way down and I think my shoe covers just aren’t doing an amazing job. So I bought a pair of winter cycling shoes (Fizik Artica R5) and I’m psyched to see how they work out. So that might be a path you can go down also.

Try wrapping your feet in Saran Wrap or similar plastic before putting socks on. And tape any vent holes on your shoes. Keeps air out, and keeps heat and moisture in. Your feet will sweat but that’s the intent. If however you do stop for a bit longer, it will get cold! I do the same with hands when I need thinner gloves - put on latex/nitrile gloves first. Doesn’t do much for wind, but traps heat.

In my opinion, the Festive 500 is less about being an event you train for and more about how much you can get away with being apart from your family. Not everyone can get a plan put in place with regards to scheduling the distance, but have to take any opportunity to ride as they present themselves! I can usually get a big ride in on Xmas eve, but then family commitments kick in and ‘change the game’. Last year, i missed the 500 by 36km, due to time constraints which i just couldn’t ignore. It’s sometimes a massive lottery, but just enjoy the time outside - especially after the year we’ve all had so far this year.


I’ll likely do it again this year as traveling seems to be off the table for the year. Last year I had free time the first day and got a real good start in one state, and finished it up in bits and pieces thereafter. Ended riding in three different states while driving over 2000 miles during the 8 days. I finished freezing my rear end off while the kids slept in at a hotel.

I think the online addition is a necessary change for the year. I’m fine with them keeping the Zwift option for the future but I’d like to see them have two categories going forward.

I wish they were still doing the patch, they announced they weren’t doing it anymore last year, part of why I wanted to get the last patch given out. The online badge in Strava seems silly thrown in with the other ones you get there for rolling out of bed another month.

I’m not too worried about what weather someone does it in, or where. Plenty of people did things more impressive than me, and always will, just as I probably took a harder road than some others last year. Nothing anyone else does on their ride changes mine.

I would like to come up with something to make it interesting this year for me. I won’t rule out doing it indoors, but that is a long way to Zwift and while I do several hours at a time regularly there, averaging 62.5km’s a day for over a week seems pretty boring indoors. I think the Festive 500 is 8 days?

Hopefully I can come up with a cool route or way of doing it that makes it meaningful to me and a decent substitute for the travel I normally do that time of year.

But were this a “normal” year, I’d really planned to skip it this year and just look at everyone’s cool riding pictures online while I sat inside warm and lazy.


Zwift announcing a challenge with more than one weeks notice? That can’t be real. Normally they announce a massive virtual event with only a couple days notice.


I’ve never completed the Festive 500. I’ve never really started it.

I try and complete a ride on Boxing Day but that’s about all the time I can spare.

Massive respect to those that get out in those icy cold conditions. I appreciate that a Southern Hemisphere rider has some big hydration problems to overcome, but in the Northern Hemisphere there are mornings where I’m slipping over just walking the dogs, let alone trying to balance on two wheels.

I haven’t got Zwift but I do have quite a few DVDs. Perhaps I should complete it indoors and choose a boxset that lasts the predicted time.


I am thinking of attempting this and am trying to figure out how to fit it into my plan. The start week would be week 1 of SSB MV2. One thought is to delay my recovery week and do week 1 of SSB2 on week 6 of SSB1 then do a couple easy rides the days before Christmas Eve. I figure if I can do the whole 500k I will need a light week after, so I then could do week 6 of SSB1 then go to SSB2.
What are peoples thoughts on how to best do the Festive500 without derailing ones training

I know it’s Rafa… but damn… the Festive 500 T-shirt is something like $75. Do you get a discount if you actually finish the ride?

Honestly, it’s not for me this year. It’s what, about 30 or 40 miles over 8 days. I’m East Coast US, the cold isn’t so much of an issue as is lack of daylight. Doing 2-3 hours of indoor riding every day just isn’t appealing, it’s one of the reasons I like trainerroad, get it in and get it done.


I am going to do it for the first time. Normally prefer to spend as much time as possible with family over this period, but this year is my turn :slight_smile: I am averaging about 300km a week atm anyway, so shouldnt be too hard

Local coach is talking about running a 200+km ride at the local crit track to kick off, so i might join her and start with that. Then just do my normal rides the other 7 days to finish off