Rapha 500?

Some thoughts on the Rapha 500...

By Noa Deutsch 4 min read
Rapha 500?

Getting this one out just under the wire, on the same day the Rapha 500 starts!

What is the Rapha 500 anyways?

If you are here reading this, I’m willing to bet you know what the Rapha 500 is… Right? But lets give you a bit of a run down anyways.

As the name suggests, it is riding 500km in eight days, between December 24th and 31st. This year is the 13th year the challenge is running and I remember that in the earlier days of the challenge it was 1) just a bunch of people in England before it went global and 2) It was outdoor rides only, but since the pandemic things have changed to include indoor rides too.

Here is the Rapha 500 info page (You will see that there is even a special collection of Rapha products and to be honest, I’m kind of digging this year’s design esthetics). The challenge participants are tracked on Strava and upon completion get a digital badge and a chance to win an Open UP.

The Pros

  • Is it just me, or is the time between Christmas and new years kind of confusing? Like, what day is it anyways? Schedules are typically all over the place and maintaining a ride schedule over that time period can help with a bit of a routine.
  • Did you indulge in food and drink a bit too much? Well, maybe riding 500km in 8 days will help balance things out?
  • Social - I know people locally who get together yearly and attempt the full 500km in one go, making it a tradition of sorts. For those who prefer to spread things over the 8 allotted days, this can be a great opportunity to catch up with friends while riding, which brings me to the next point:
  • It can also have an added benefit for mental health - The holidays can be a tough on a lot of people and spending time with friends (even if it is virtually on Zwift), getting exercise (and hopefully fresh air in the process), all while having a goal to achieve can be very helpful.
  • A sense of community - Every year, Rapha uses the hashtag #Festive500 to share stories, photos, etc of riders from around the globe who are taking part of the challenge. If something can unite a group of strangers who love riding bikes, or get people together who share the love of bikes… That’s a good thing!

The Cons

  • Cold. Rain. Snow… Depending where you are in the world, of course. This is not an issue just for you, this can be an issue for your equipment (your bike), too with mechanicals, etc
  • On the flip side of the positive social aspect mentioned above, taking the time away from friends and family at this time of the year in particular might not be appreciated and could be a major drawback, depending on how understanding they are of the extra time you’ll be out riding your bike. Especially on Christmas day…
  • Are you trained for it? Perhaps this time of the year is better used to rest and recover? Or just carry on as normal, whatever your normal is? If your riding volume has been ~100-200km per week for a while and then you increase the distance to 500km in 8 days all of a sudden, you could be risking injury. Is that how you want to start the new year? Are you sure your body is up to the task? Overdoing things is not cool and could have some serious consequences.
  • This is in addition to the above point - Do you know how to fuel appropriately for back to back long rides? Can you recover properly?
  • Some of you will be taking part of the challenge riding indoors. I know some have the tolerance for long indoor rides, but to me that’s a major, major con.

Personally, I have zero plans to participate. Its currently very snowy in Vancouver and its supposed to be fairly rainy next week, so I expect an icy mess out on the roads and trails and I don’t want to risk freezing (I’m seriously susceptible to hypothermia) or a crash, or both… I always joke that I’ve paid my dues to the rain gods in my good ole racing days, so I’m mostly a fair weather rider now (Not always, see muddy aftermath below from a gravel ride in the middle of nowhere BC in June, to prove I’m not a total princess & I’m OK with getting dirty). And riding 500km in 8 days on the indoor trainer is probably one of my worst nightmares (75 minutes on the trainer and I want to toss my bike out of the window).

If I was in a place where the temperature was warmer than 5 degrees, then maybe - After all, I publicly claim to maintain fitness so I am able to do dumb rides at short notice… But I am in Vancouver, so for me that’s a no go. Keep scrolling for a survey - I want to know if you plan on participating or not and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Regardless if you plan on taking part in the Rapha 500 or not, ride your bike, have fun, stay safe, don’t overdo it and enjoy the festive season.

Happy holidays everyone!

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