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Rapha's Festive 500 goes indoors for its 11th year

Festive 500
(Image credit: Rapha)

As we inch towards the end of 2020, in a year that feels like it has lasted at least three calendar years, means we’re also barrelling towards the silly season, and of course, the annual Rapha Festive 500.

This yearly event hosted by Rapha challenges riders to log 500km on Strava between Thursday, December 24th and Thursday, December 31st. The challenge is yet to go live on Strava just yet, but we expect to see it pop up in the next few weeks for signups.

First run in 2009, the Festive 500 came about when Rapha's lead designer set himself the challenge to ride 1000km over the holiday period in an attempt to train like a pro — he later discovered that even WorldTour pros don’t ride that much over the holiday break. Rapha launched the Festive 500 the following year, chopping the total distance in half for a more attainable goal.

Beyond just being able to say you’ve completed the challenge, if you ride all 500km you're automatically in the running to win gear from Rapha, bikes and even cameras — last year a Canyon Grail and Leica Camera were up for grabs. But, the competition is thick, with nearly 120,000 people completing the challenge in 2019, riding a total of 29,189,106km. 

2020 has been an interesting year of riding, with the vast majority of us logging more turbo trainer time than usual in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and it seems the Festive 500 will follow suit.

To make sure you’re fighting fit when Christmas Eve arrives, Rapha is partnering with Zwift to offer the Festive 500-fit training plan, which consists of six structured workouts, available in the app now.


(Image credit: Rapha)

“The focus of the workouts is to help improve your endurance by training in a smart way. While getting out for in-real-life rides is recommended, these sessions are great for any rider wanting to improve their general fitness,” Rapha said in its announcement.

Alongside the training plan, the UK clothing brand will be running also be running these as group workouts across multiple time zones right up until the 24th should you need to squeeze in that last little bit of fitness. Cyclingnews has also confirmed virtual rides will count towards the 500km total this year, and Rapha will be hosting group rides on Zwift to help people complete the challenge. Previously only outdoor rides have counted, but 2020 brings with it extenuating circumstances.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Festive 500 falls in the middle of summer, so it’s a bit less of a challenge than in other parts of the world, but depending on where you live and how Coronavirus is tracking in your home country, the weather may not be the biggest obstacle you have to overcome to complete your 500km. With Coronavirus cases on an upward trend across North America and Europe, it’s not unreasonable to say another round of lockdowns or stay-at-home orders may be on the horizon.

If it's too cold to ride or you're in lockdown, make sure you're prepared

Fitting in 500km around all the other commitments that come along with the holidays can take some creative planning on the best of years, and the prospect of backing up big rides day after day on the trainer will add a new element to the challenge. 

With the second wave of COVID-19 moving across Europe, if certain countries go back into lockdown — like Italy where Elite is based or the Netherlands for Tacx — we may see the same issues with stock of the best turbo trainers as we experienced in May. This could be further compounded by the typical increase in demand that comes with winter as riders in the Northern Hemisphere transition back indoors away from the cold. If you’ve been umming and ahhing, over the prospect of adding some new equipment to your pain cave, a bit of forward-thinking will ensure you're not stuck a turbo trainer short of completing the Festive 500 when it's way too cold to ride outdoors — call it an early holiday present to yourself. 

If you're planning to attempt the Festive 500 this year totally outdoors, more power to you and make sure to grab an extra layer on your way out the door! But before you do, double-check your local COVID-19 restrictions and make sure chasing an internet challenge for the chance to win free gear doesn't set you up to receive a hefty fine.

Regardless of whether you decided to layer up and brave the elements or cut laps around sunny Watopia to tackle the Festive 500 this year, tag @cyclingnews_feed on Instagram to let us know how you go. 

Where to find the best smart turbo trainer deals?

Stages Smart Bike | In stock at Tredz UK
The Stages Smart bike boasts a massive freewheel and a resistance unit that can generate up to 3,000-watts at 120RPM. It's universally compatible with training apps and is massively adjustable to mirror the fit of your outdoor bike — including crank lengthView Deal

Wahoo Kickr Core | In stock at Competitive Cyclist
The Kickr Core is Wahoo's mid-range smart direct drive smart trainer. Like it's more expensive brand mate it's universally app compatible and works with other Wahoo accessories, but sees a lighter flywheel and tops out at 1800w of resistance instead of 2200w and can only simulate a 16-per cent grade viruses 20% with the top end Kickr.View Deal

Elite Direto XR | In stock at REI
Quiet and accurate the Direto XR uses elites Optical torque sensor and 11lbs flywheel to generate up to 2300w and a 24-per cent gradient within +/-1-percent accuracyView Deal

Saris H3 | In stock at Pushys
One of the quietest direct drive trainers you can buy, the Saris H3 only clocks 59 decibels at 32kph — 5x quieter than its predecessor. In combination with the 20lb flywheel, the electromagnetic resistance unity can simulate 2000w and up to a 20-per cent climbView Deal