It’s easy to be cynical about Rapha’s Festive 500, after all, do we really need a clothing brand to get us out cycling at Christmas time? Is it strictly necessary to measure and track every metre to get a digital badge and a sew-on patch?
For a great many people it’s nothing but an exploitative example of consumerism, with the company buying customers and exposure, it’s wrong, and quite frankly there’s no need for it!
There’s another side to that coin, and for other riders, perhaps the Festive 500 is EXACTLY what is needed!
As a husband of a wife who is training for a marathon in 4 months, and the father of 3 boys who have obscene energy levels, my time at home is both precious and necessary – for Anda to train I need to be at home, in the kitchen, doing the laundry, and generally keeping some semblance of order from being overwhelmed by the spirited enthusiasm of the boys!
And I love this time, it’s wonderful being able to both support my wife, and wrestle with the boys; this year they have well and truly discovered the joys of Nerf guns, so I was very much in demand on that front!
What this then means, is that my time is super precious, and coupled with my wife’s desire that I keep safe on dark roads etc, winter riding can be curtailed somewhat.
Yes I can go and ride Zwift with the Kickr, but it isn’t the same as getting out on the lanes, discovering villages that I’ve never heard of despite them being just 10 miles away!
This means that the Festive 500 becomes something that both myself and my wife can agree on, an opportunity for me to get out for 20 hours of cycling, spaced around the kids and family commitments during the festive period.
Those of you who are without children will probably wonder how on earth is can be hard to get 20 hours of riding in over a period of 8 days, and for many of you with children you will be reading with jealousy at the prospect of 20 hours of riding in that same period!
The Festive 500 allows me to get out on my bike, explore the lanes, and aim for a target with my riding over that time – it helps to generate an extra incentive to ride; without it the riding can easily be overlooked, swept aside, or simply slept through.
This last year I rode 500.8km, with just over 300 of them being ridden in the pitch black of a December night; when sensible folk are sleeping I was donning merino and sportwool, putting on winter boots and a reflective jacket, insulating myself from temperatures outside that struggled to rise into the positives.
At some point in the future I will get a Rapha roundel signifying that I did the requisite distance – it will go in my drawer with my ones from previous years, unused but remembered. It’s my favourite Christmas present to myself!
This year we had to contend with storm-force winds, consistently freezing temperatures, and thick mist. Going out early and going long was to be my plan, scuppered by both strong winds and shredded tyres, so instead a rethink and a series of late night rides took place.
Late night riding is almost Zen-like for its tranquility, there is just the sound of the road and the wind in your helmet for company – no need for a camera as the world doesn’t exist outside the beam of light you are emitting. As much as I enjoy those rides, they are far more of a struggle outside of the Festive 500, when life is trying to encroach on your riding time, or should that be the other way around.
Rapha have produced an extra reason to get out, beyond the beauty of the ride or the need to burn off those sprouts; the digital badge, the cloth patch, and the desire to simply accomplish that final 500km, to set a finishing flourish to one year and to start the new with good intentions. They all play into the drive and motivation to ride, also providing a focal-point for our significant others to tune in to, something that sets boundaries for our obsessions, and brings us back to the table ready for food and family time.
To all at Rapha, thank you.