Events: The 2018 Festive 500 Day One
Ride Distance: 40 Miles/ 270 Miles Remaining
(2018) It was the opening shot of the 2018 Rapha Festive 500, an unofficial affair challenging riders to do 500 outdoor kilometers between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Should one be able to ride 39 miles per day, it would suffice to complete the challenge. It never works out that way. On the first day I managed to get just shy of the distance I needed with one day off scheduled. This is hardly an experience to shake a stick at.
I have joked about participating in every type of Festive 500. I successfully completed it in 2015, dropped out in 2016, and never got started last year on account of lousy weather. The only experience I lack is covering all three hundred miles in one day. I don’t foresee myself checking that box off anytime soon. Having diverse experiences equates to respect for the Festive. It is an earned roundel.
I am not attempting the 2018 Festive 500 alone. The opening miles of the challenge were ridden in the company of the world famous Mike. He has expressed his interest in completing his first 500-kilometer offseason ride. We stuck to our loose plan of exploring and circumnavigating reservoirs. The first day saw us loop Lake Nockamixon, a route that gave us frequent flashbacks to the Nox Century all those years ago. Many roads rolled along had been repaved this past summer. The regularly peaceful setting was broken only by substantial headwind or pleasant conversation.
The conversation frequently returned to strategy for the Festive. Most people will not be riding on December 25 based on their observations. Removing one day from covering miles adds a small amount to the daily average, up to 45 daily. What becomes a concern is the day off could come back to make the event more difficult. Another words, missing another day on account of weather or obligations is likely to remove one from the running. Suggestions were even thrown around to sneak in a dozen miles on Christmas just to keep the total rising.
We received a sample of the Festive experience on Christmas Eve. There were biting headwinds, but there were rocket tailwinds coming home. There were pitted roads, but there were also smooth stretches. The event’s commencement was comfortable, but a cold front slowly descended and the ride ended with a seeping freeze. I miss the days when post-ride shivers continue into dinner. Those were good rides.
We strive to complete the challenging Northern Hemisphere version of the Rapha Festive 500. To plan to ride seven days one must cover 45 miles per day. That is a possible challenge until rain falls into the forecast for day five. Riding only five days approaches a metric century daily. I am already fretting for five hundred.