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Finish 2021 strong by riding the Rapha Festive 500

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The Festive 500 is a great reason to get out and ride road, during low-traffic season (Photo: R24)
The Festive 500 is a great reason to get out and ride road, during low-traffic season (Photo: R24)

In its 12th year, the Rapha Festive 500 Strava Challenge has entrenched itself in cycling culture. 

The Festive 500 challenges riders to complete 500km between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

For the average cyclist who does 200km a week, completing 500km in a week full of holiday activities and family obligations is a significant challenge.

I can't recall how I got sucked into doing my first Festive 500, but it has become a yearly ritual. Experience has also shown it to be a great way of ensuring that I start my next training cycle with good base fitness. But it does take some planning.

Although it has now made way for a digital trophy, Rapha would reward finishers with a woven roundel in the early years. 

It was always a great experience receiving those material roundels by Royal mail a few months later. Along with a card that read:"Most lay in bed. Contented, well fed. You forged on ahead. Legs like lead. Did something great instead."

While you could break the ride up into eight days of 62,5km per day, riding for eight days in a row during the festive season is not plausible for many. 

You could try and ride 500km in one go, but this not recommended for anyone wanting to enter the New Year with their family and friendships unstrained. 

Getting in one or two group rides or teaming up with some friends for the entire challenge will make ticking off the kilometres much easier. 

The motivation of getting up to meet other riders and the banter on the road, can mean the difference between a social 100km and a four-hour slog. 

The festive season is a great time to explore new routes, whether on holiday in a new location or at home in the city. 

Quieter traffic will also allow you to ride in areas and on roads, you wouldn't normally ride, thanks to drastically reduced traffic volumes. 

Tick a new climb or mountain pass off your list or head down a road you have never been before, to see where it goes.

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