Tactic- and training tips for the Rapha Festive 500


In Rapha’s Festive 500 virtual rides will also count in 2021 for completing the challenge which consists of riding 500 kilometres in the eight days between Christmas and New Year – as long as the rides are uploadable to Strava. Alpecin Cycling provides tips on how road cyclists succeed in completing the required 500 kilometres.

Festive 500: Count every kilometre

Especially newbies who are unsure whether the distance is manageable for them should take the bike for every trip they make – even if it’s just to the bakery. Those who need to work on the days between the Holidays might take the bike for commuting – there’s less traffic on the roads as most people have taken some days off or are working from home.

A smart way of collecting some additional kilometres is to ride a little detour when you cycle back home from the office. And keep in mind that also virtual kilometres ridden on Zwift, Rouvy and the like count, if you upload them to Strava.

Festive 500: Be well organized

Start thinking about routes and clothing well before the challenge kicks off on 24 December. The weekend before is just perfect for planning different tours modular.

Often planning rides is even better than the rides themselves, right? Also include some options to shorten or abort the ride in case the weather or your fitness level is not as good as you thought it would be. What’s also very important: Always recharge the head unit that records the tours. Otherwise, there won’t be any ride data which would be a real shame, wouldn’t it?

Festive 500: Don’t take any risks

You’ve got a cold, are tired, your blood sugar is low, or you are freezing? Always keep in mind that the Festive 500 is just a fun event. If you’re not feeling well or weather conditions don’t allow for a ride – there have been hurricanes at Christmas –, you’ll need to cancel. After all, there will be another opportunity to take on this challenge every year.

Festive 500: Choose the right gear

“I don’t have winter cycling clothes and my battery light is not bright enough!” Stop making excuses. There’s still enough time to stock up on all the essentials. Every road cyclist needs to have a good winter- and rain jacket anyway. Read our winter clothing guide to find out what really keeps you warm.

Maybe you can borrow a bright front light from your equipment-loving bike mate who prefers to use the turbo trainer or rather sits on the couch than on the bike. By the way, you should always ride with your taillight switched on – also during the day to make sure to be seen by other road users.

Anyway, safety always comes first. Therefore, use robust puncture-proof material. Maybe this way you’ll need slightly more pedalling power but doing repair work in the rain and/or cold is nerve-racking, time-consuming and the last thing you’ll want to do on tour.

Festive 500: Make a plan

Just going for a ride may be a legit plan for the first two days – but then at the latest riders should think of a strategy to make sure to get to 500 kilometres in the remaining time.

It therefore makes sense to set up a stage plan beforehand and contemplate different distance options. There certainly are sufficient exciting tour options near you. Just roam Komoot, Bikemap, Gpsies and other route planning platforms for inspiration.

Or give Alpecin Cycling’s Local Loops a try. Especially when it comes to long endurance rides you may opt for some new routes. Time goes by quicker, and you’ll have much more to tell your loved ones back home than just distance and time ridden.

Festive 500: Stay flexible – change bikes

Ideally, you have a road bike and an off-road bike ready to go, plus a bike on the indoor trainer. This enables you to decide at short notice and depending on the weather, where to collect kilometres. If the weather is dry and the day bright, do some road cycling; if there’s rain and gloomy weather, opt for some off-road riding on your cyclo-cross-, gravel- or mountain bike.

Especially with changing weather conditions, rides may be split as well, e.g., by riding one and a half hours on the road in the morning and one and a half hours off-road in the afternoon. And there’s always the option to collect some more kilometres indoor – as an alternative to or for a cool-down after a ride outside.

Festive 500: Stay relaxed

Don’t get stressed and grumpy if you do not manage to ride as many kilometres as planned sometime. Same applies if you just fail to reach the 500-kilometre mark.

After all what is important is that you sat on the bike instead of the couch. Just remember the wise words of the Cannibal Eddy Merckx: “Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”

Festive 500: Fuel well

No experiments when it comes to fuelling. After all Holidays are made for joy and for this kind of challenge some festive carbo loading is certainly adequate. So, feel free to grab some Christmas sweets, gingerbread, and cookies, they make for some legit fuelling.

Also make sure that you are always well hydrated when you get on your bike – ginger tea, e.g., stimulates the metabolism and warms you. Drink enough as well in the two or three hours after the ride to make sure your mineral balance is right and your pee light yellow.

Pictures: Rapha / Marius NilsenRapha /Calton Jacob