Rapha Festive 500 (2020)

The discussion about if Zwift should count because it’s not riding in harsh weather doesn’t make sense to me.
Some people live in areas where the conditions during that Time are incredibly harsh, while others will experience rather mild weather. It is all the same. Only reason to argue, that Zwift should be counted differently, is that Zwift miles are faster earned than solo outdoor miles.
During a 3 hour C-Cat Audax on Zwift, on a rather flat course, I’ll get 125-ish km, which takes me 4 hours outdoors.

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This year might be the first year I’ll attempt it - I’m considering it anyway.

Normally, we have relatives over to stay so it’s not a go, but that isn’t happening this year.

I’ve ridden on Christmas Day past few years and sometimes it’s been lovely and sunny, sometimes a bit rubbish weather, but it was only for a couple of hours at most.

Only time it was an issue when I double punctured and was late back for the meal!

Usual Scottish weather restrictions apply, but I’m thinking of a gravel version to combat that.

The history is important, especially when you consider why some are providing the feedback that it “takes away” from the original intent of the event;

It was born out of one man’s insane quest to ride 1,000 kilometres in a week over Christmas. That man was Graeme Raeburn, Rapha’s lead designer, who in 2009 rode from London to his great aunt Tess’s house on the UK’s south coast, for Christmas Day tea and biscuits, and then just kept on going.

His heroic self-imposed challenge (here are his original blogs) seemed to strike a chord with the riding masses, so for Christmas 2010 Rapha challenged riders around the world to clock up half that amount – a not inconsiderable 500km – in the same time period. That led to an explosion of Festive 500 activity, with riders from the heat of Florida to the frozen wastes of Norway toughing it out over the week and making sure they earned their extra portion of Christmas turkey.

  • If it’s that important, they’d actually set more rules on it than a time and distance requirement. From what I see, that is not part of the current incarnation, and makes the history of the first one largely irrelevant.

  • That or they must be classifying the Easy / Medium / Hard versions of these attempts and completion in light of the original, which I just don’t see happening from Rapha (but do see from individuals judging others).


I shall do it on a turbo as I have the last few years. I don’t care what Rapha thinks, they aren’t working throughout the period and trying to do it after work in the frozen North of the UK.
And I won’t be paying Rapha for the badge either…


I’ve scheduled SSB2 to finish on 20th December. So my plan is to frontload that last SSB2 week a bit so I can fit in a mini recovery week of 4-5 days before starting the 500 on 24th. I’m not planning any structure for the 8 days, it’s just “get out and ride” (or maybe stay in and ride - I’d like to do the whole thing outside but I’m OK with doing some of it on Zwift if weather and family commitments make outdoor riding hard enough). Aim will be to keep it all Z2-3 which on flattish UK routes should translate to ~20mph average, so total 15-16 hours riding. I normally do about 10 hours at the moment with quite a bit of SS, so that’s a ~50% bump in weekly hours which should be doable if I drop the intensity to mainly tempo and below. Am hoping that will also mean that I’m not overly fatigued, can recover on 1-3 January and then start a Build block on Monday 4th.

Never done this challenge before but have done quite a few long weekends with a whole bunch of Z2-3 riding over 3-4 days and have always bounced back very quickly and with a decent boost to aerobic base. If you can do enough of it (and sleep enough) I think that intensity of training can be really productive without taking too much out of you. Also seen quite a few local riding buddies who have already signed up which should mean that I can do a good chunk of it in groups which will nudge the speed up and the watts down.

Doing a completely arbitrary cycling challenge seems a good way to round off this strangest of years!


I find most of this discussion just plain weird. Rapha laid down a challenge to ride 500K during a week. For most of us, that is an amount worthy of a challenge, no matter how it is done. And may serve as motivation for pushing ones’ limits. Each rider can decide for themselves how they measure it. It could be a badge, a feeling of accomplishment, or anything in between.

Why would any rider want to discount another’s sense of accomplishment? This isn’t a competition. It isn’t Everesting.


Rapha in 2020 is very different than rapha in 2010. I’m not saying RAPHA themselves give a hoot about the history anymore, but those riders that participated in prior versions certainly do…hence the comments in this thread.
I cannot speak to rapha’s view, but it appears this has turned into just another advertising campaign for them and nothing more. Special edition stuff, get a digital badge on strava, on to the next one.


I’m new to Zwift this year, but this sounds interesting. I tried searching events with filters. The list of events was huuuuuuge! How does one join an Audax the easy way on Zwift?

In any event, I am going to try to do this challenge on my bike (MTB) gravel style!

In the companion app, you can filter the events based on category. „FONDO“ and „Group Ride“ likely come closest to an audax. A few Teams even call them Audax, usually on the weekend.

Also, you can follow a pace partner. You are basically riding in a group of fixed performance level there also.


Just released, for Zwift side:

Good summary of the history - you forget that the competition each year was around people submitting stories about how they accomplished the 500 and challenges they faced. The prizes were awarded for particularly inspiring journeys of achievement and the spirit of the event was definitely around the challenge of getting it done.

I think you’re right that Rapha has changed focus/image (call it what you want) and certainly seeing the 500 become a Strava competition to enter a prize draw seems to demonstrate that.

Good luck to all that enter in whatever way you decide to do it!


Through the Strava challenge for the Rahpa Festive 500, there’s a fancy Canyon up to win.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to get 500km in, as I figure at my Zwift pace where i’m pacing to be able to ride every day for 8 days, it’s going to need me to get 20hrs of time away from the family. That’s hard. I know on the flat Zwift course I can maintain a pretty decent pace, but I do not believe I can do that 2 hours a day every day for 8 days.

QUESTION: Who’s thinking of doing 500/8 km’s a day, so 63km a day, or are people thinking 4 days on, a rest day and then 3 days to finish? So perhaps 72km a day?

I know one year I tried to do it, I got behind after missing a day or two, and then it was just impossible for me to find the time to make up the kms.

I was looking at this pattern, with the first day being long ride and the second being medium to short:

  • 2 On - 1 Off - 2 On - 1 Off - 2 On

Written differently:

  • Long, Med, Off, Long, Med, Off, Long, Med

All about the weather here for me… I try and start with good miles on day 1 and then squeeze in the rest around whatever weather we have.

Frankly this year should be the easiest for a while for me unless the weather turns really nasty. We usually have loads of family descend on us for several days over Xmas, and this year we’re not doing any kind of get-together so I will have a pretty open week to do whatever I want without having to be cooking and catering for everyone for 5 days!

Fingers crossed it doesn’t freeze…:cold_face:

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So perhaps 100km, 66km, Off, 100km, 66km, Off, 100km, 66km?

Yeah, the time away from the family for this will be hard (no matter what time I wake up, my kids wake up within 2 minutes. So that leaves after they go to bed, but 8pm - 11pm will ruin me for days … I need my sleep).

Yep, this is totally going to be a big challenge to complete, but this year is my best chance since having kids too, as no big family gatherings and I can Zwift it.


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I hadn’t penned the numbers, but I like your values above a lot. Thanks for doing the math :stuck_out_tongue:

The last two days I rode w/the pace bot Coco Cadence which is listed at 2.5 - 3.1 w/kg. However, I did 2.2-2.3 w/kg and sat in the group which was surprisingly large. Average speed was ~40km/hr. The route is Tick-Tock Tempus Fugit which is completely flat.

That said, at 2hrs/day or ~80km/day, 500km in 8d is not an issue. Actually, you would be finished on day 6 if you rode 2hrs/day.

Edit: route correction above. Also, it appears that Coco will sometimes do Sand and Sequoias as I found out today. Due to the climb through Titans Grove, the avg speed was ~37kmh at 2.33w/kg in the group for me.


The last 4 years I’ve done it I’ve done 7 days on, rest on the 8th day. But some of those 7 days are short / easy. The main driver for the 7 days on, was that the SF Rapha store used to do an additional Festive500 gift if you got stamps for 8 rides - where Christmas day you got 2 stamps, so doing Christmas + 6 other days got you the 8 stamps.

Newspaper bags are also an easy trick