«Giving your legs the greatest gift this holiday» is how Rapha describes its Festive 500. Now in its fifth year, it has become one of Strava’s most popular Challenges. Last year, more than 7,000 people completed it – it’s almost as established a Christmas tradition for road cyclists as flying reindeer and overeating are for the general population.
The idea is simple: In the days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (inclusive) ride 500 kilometres, and log them on Strava.
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.
Since 2011 Strava has partnered with Rapha, as the ideal way to record your efforts, share your experiences and inspire your friends to give it a go too. The number of people completing the Festive 500 Challenge on Strava is doubling every year, and over the three years, Challenge participants have ridden 6,112,000km.
This year, as previously, Rapha is awarding prizes – the Most Inclement, Best Story, Prix de la Combativité, Best Photography and a Grand Prize for Creativity. In past years there have been submissions in the form of photojournals, hand-bound illustrated pamphlets, videos, postcards and the old favourite, email. But this year you’d better raise your game: the Grand Prize for Creativity is a frame tailor-made for winter riding by Rapha Continental builder and rider Ricky Feather.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up to the Festive 500 Challenge… and then share it with all your friends on social media. Because a little companionship and, dare we say it, friendly competition, will make those cold winter miles pass much quicker.
Get out there and prove you’re riding through the very end of the year. Don’t forget to tag your stories and posts with #Festive500 and #Stravaproveit.