Last year when I heard about the Rapha Festive 500 challenge, I set out with big goals in mind to get lots of miles down in a few days and then do a few short rides to finish out the miles. that plan may have worked if the weather was in my favor, but with constant snow, a lack of plowing during the holidays, and temperatures dipping lower than I had normally ridden in at length, I ran out of energy just a few days in.
This year I tried to space out the rides more evenly, and tried to get about 15 miles in during the day, and another 15-20 each night on top of at least the regular 8 from commuting. A few days in I realized that I could chop down the night riding if I spent some more time commuting, but found that hard to do in reality. I slowly chipped away 10-15 miles at a time to the 310 mile goal which wasn’t the most efficient way either, but it worked for this year.
What I might change if I were to try this again in 2012:
- Keep the bike maintained every day. A simple chain cleaning a few times felt much better, and cleaning off the rims a few times more would help with the scary descents on dirt roads.
- More riding during daylight, and making those rides more interesting than just sticking to the easy miles on state routes. I found I was riding mostly at night when it was cold, and harder to go long distances so some nights I made two 15 mile loops rather than one long one.
- Use the race bike when I can. While the new bike is very efficient for a 28lb steel commuter, I know that using the race bike during the day would have made putting on longer miles a bit easier. Which leads to…
- Find the right pace for the conditions. I was too often pushing hard trying to keep up a reasonable pace I was used to. With 35mm cross tires, that just wasn’t appropriate to do 17mph rides. Although it was fun to try the time trial route again even if 18mph killed me.
I’m glad I tried the challenge again, and thrilled that I was able to finish. About 800 people logged their finishes on Strava as well, though looking through the list nearly all of them are from places that are currently very warm!
Big thanks to everyone that supported me and cheered me on. And thanks to my brother and Pete Mohan for the new headlight and taillight to keep me safely rolling through all the miles at night.