What is the festive500?
Rapha creates the finest cycling clothing and accessories in the world. In 2010 we laid down a challenge to our customers; ride 500km on the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Since then the Festive 500 has become a tradition. You are joining tens of thousands of riders around the world in getting up off the sofa and onto your bike. Document your adventures to win amazing prizes, and every rider who completes the distance will receive a woven badge.
When you have completed your challenge, we want to know all about it. Submit the story of your Festive 500 experience to be in with a chance of winning a custom-built Moots bike. You can also claim a commemorative roundel to mark your efforts.
I have completed the festive500 for the last two years and I decided that this year should be no different, however as I had to work due to lack of alternative cover across the festive period things were set to be more difficult. I had almost decided not to bother when my Audax mate Guto messages me and asked if we were going to repeat the year before’s tradition and meet half way between each other at Aberavon.
Day One Christmas Eve
There is also a local festive running competition over the festive period called the festive4 which I also usually try to compete in. You need to enter 2x5kms (from 2x park runs or nos galon) a 4mile (from Porthcawl lions boxing day fun run, Glyneath 5[?] Mile or Old Father Time) and the compulsary Prince of Wales Kenfig New Years Day run. On Christmas Eve I decided to run the parkrun which was the festive edition, so obviously I ran it in fancy dress (santa morph suit).
After a coffee and some photo’s with the club, it was Time to start the cycle to meet Guto. A few miles from home I started to notice a problem with my front tyre, and sensed I had picked up a puncture. I pulled over and sure enough there was a huge thorn in the brand spanking new tyre.
I checked my saddle bag and I was missing both tyre levers and a pump, ARGGG, after phoning a few people and sending out a distress call on whatsapp Captain Banner of the tri club came to my aid, and I could be back on my way. By this time Guto had managed to almost cycle to where I was so we cycled into the headwind together for the rest of the journey back to Aberavon. Guto was not impressed when we got there to learn we had missed the cooked breakfast cut-off, however I am sure after Santa Clause had visited for the kids his spirits were buoyed again. The return journey with the wind behind me was a lot easier and before I knew it I was back home with my family to wait for Siôn Corn.
Day Two Christmas Day
In previous years I have always ridden on Christmas Day, but my son is now of an age to take it all in, and I’d rather that than be out some of the day on the bike. However there is somewhat of a tradition around these parts for a Christmas Day swim, and my parents live in the village where it takes part. So after seeing what Siôn Corn had delivered it was a quick trip down to the seaside village of Porthcawl to see Granny & Grandad, and a dip in the sea.
Day Three Boxing Day
This was set to be a big juggling day! I needed to chip some of the km off, I had a #festive4 race in Porthcawl and then I needed to get to my partner’s Mother’s house for a second Christmas day. I started off early to cycle to the race with my kit, did the race (felt awful but faster than the year before), and then cycled from there to the party. All in all a very hectic day but all moving parts working.
Here is the pre race ride:
This is the race:
And here is the post race to party ride:
At this stage I had managed to finish a quarter of the mileage but being back in work soon I needed to knock a real big chunk.
Day Four 27th December
So I’d decided I was going to do 200km with Guto, originally it was planned as a DIY Audax, but as I hadn’t done much Audax since the summer I decided I didn’t want the stress of a time limit. Steve S and Matt E had expressed interest in joining us for the first leg. Guto being Guto, had decided to cycle from his home to Pencoed to start (and would therefore finish the festive500 on this day). So as not to have an early start after the festivities, I was to meet Guto at Pencoed McDonalds at 9am, and then the boys on the way through in Bridgend town. Wow o wow it was -4oC this was the coldest I think I’d ever seen in Pencoed (Good job for the winter kit I’ve acquired over the years).
After picking up the boys we went on to a beautiful but cold saunter round the coast towards Cardiff, the boys left us around Aberthaw and it wasn’t long before Guto and I arrived at our first refuel stop in Cardiff Bay.
Although of course Guto had to take a good few snaps along the way.
From there we headed off round the newport flats and the new Newport bypass, down through Lliswerry and round Goldcliffs until we arrived at Magor, where we could finally use our usual route (they’ve finished the bridge for the electrification of the train line). The original plan was to stop at Chepstow garden centre, but the two of us were still very full from our first stop so we decided we’d wait untill Newport on the return leg. While pootling back on the return leg to Newport, Guto decided to take a left through the lanes towards Magor which was probably one of the best decisions of the day, it was really gorgeous as the sun was slowly dropping in the sky. Making it back into Newport we stopped at another McDonalds for a refuel and thaw out, the sun dropping had started to cool things off quite a bit.
From Newport we went back to Cardiff where the traffic had started to hot up quite a bit and we had quite a few close shaves, though we were very alert and switched on and moved through with a deft surefootedness. Our next stop was at the coop close to the Airport at Barry which was to be the last pit stop before Pencoed. The final leg seemed to happen in the blink of an eye, which I was greatful for, the lack of cycling at the tail end of last year was beginning to show. I was also very greatful for the ride with Guto and felt like it topped up my soul in a way that I had missed.
Day Five 28th December
This was a very easy day, I only went out to turn my legs for a 5km pootle.
Day Six 29th December
Now that I had broken the back of things it was just a matter of consistently chipping away at the numbers, so I went down to the local trading estate and chipped off some kilometres.
Day Seven 30th December
Again on the evening of the seventh day I had a social commitment with family at Tonyrefail, so after a morning of work and some errands that needed running It was down to the trading estate again to do some laps and eek out a little bit more.
Final Day - New Years Eve
This was to be a very busy day, I had about 50km left to do on the bike, I intended on volunteering at Porthcawl parkrun, and I had one of my favourite races Nos Galan in the evening. Lee from the tri club and his mate were cycling down to park run so I decided I’d join them, though it was earlier than I’d intended on getting up, it made things easier to finish the last part. I met up with them at Pencoed Comprehensive school and we pootled down to the parkrun. We were pretty early so had time for a pre parkrun coffee (a veritable treat). I then volunteered while them and the rest of the club ran. Our chairman looked very likely to win the Green Jersey of the #festive500, which I won last year, so the club was making sure to shepherd him to success. After a post parkrun coffee, it was back on the bike for a lazy pootle back to home with a successful festive500 over and done with for another year.
I raced the third festive4 race Nos Galan in the evening, and even though I’ve felt my form & weight is not there, I took a minute of my course best.
Bonus Day - New Years Day
Although the #festive500 was over there was one last race to finish off the #festive4. The compulsory Prince of Wales - New Year’s Day race. The previous year this had been packed to cause a late start, but the team were very well organised for a slick process. The course was changed to a more multi terrain race, which suited me great. I joined in the shepherding duties for the chairman, but once we were on the return leg decided it was time to open the taps and test my form.
To be honest I was very happy with how things felt and can say that the festivity training has set me up for #yearoftheruns and the year at large.