The Festive 500 has an appeal for all of us. 500km in the festive period just has a great allure – whether you want to keep the Pigs in Blankets off your stomach, get a cheeky holiday training boost into the legs, or just dodge the in-laws and repeats of Morecombe and Wise, the annual challenge is a great excuse to go out and ride.
We won’t patronise you by going on about doing flat routes and not riding too hard, but we will give you some great other tips to smash the Festive 500:
Conquer the cold with your clothes.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be doing the 500 in the Southern Hemisphere, you’re likely to do some riding in poor weather. It’s obvious to say you need a warm, waterproof, windproof jacket. However, keeping your hands, feet and head warm are equally important, as you lose a huge amount of body heat in these areas. Merino base layers, windproof thermal gloves, and, or course, some of our merino cycling socks are vital to keeping you comfortable.
Exploring not enduring
Make the rides rewarding and interesting, particularly the longer ones. If you’re planning on doing a couple of long days to really eat into the 500km (see above), set yourself a destination for the ride – hunt down the ideal flat white and Christmas cake café a few hours away, ride to it, and ride back. Or maybe ride to a new town, have a celebratory pint or two, and get the train home? Making the rides more like an adventure can make them feel more fun.
Friends Festive 500
There’s no better way of making your Festive 500 fly by than doing it with a friend. Rope in a local ride buddy or two, and tap out the kms together. Committing to the challenge with a wingman will make you far more likely to get it done – when one of you is struggling to get motivated on a cold morning, you’ll have the other to inspire you, when on of you tires, you’ll have a friendly wheel to sit on, and most importantly, you’ll have someone to share the coffee stops with.
Winter miles summer smiles!
Make the challenge work for your training. If you’re following a training plan and were supposed to be doing a load of intervals, that’s not really feasible – all that volume as well as the intensity isn’t likely to be achievable. If you’re desperate to get your intervals in, maybe select one or two of the most important sessions from the week, and do them on the rides. The rest of the time, keep it at base pace – Zone Two on your powermeter. A big bank of winter aerobic training will pay dividends come summer!
Make it easier and make it count with well-timed rest
Do give yourself the best chance of getting the Festive 500 done, take it a little easier in the week prior, and let your body freshen up for the task at hand. Likewise, to really feel the benefits of a solid 8 days of riding, make sure you have a good rest afterwards. The better your recovery, the better the fitness boost you’ll get after the challenge – you’ll probably want to take at least two to three days off the bike altogether once you’ve got that roundel in the bag.
Get a good one in early
For your own peace of mind and to get the challenge started with a statement of intent, try to get a big ride in on Christmas eve, maybe 150km or so. That way, you can relax and recover with loved ones on Christmas day and not feel pressured to ride. You can tuck into the turkey knowing you’ve made a good start to the challenge, and you’ll be fresh and ready to burn off all the excess on Boxing Day!
Safety over Strava
Remember guys, at the end of the day, it’s only Strava. If the weather turns for the worse, don’t go taking risks with ice. Likewise, if you start feeling really run down from lots of long days in the saddle, be sure you’re focussing on your health and recovery – and of you get ill, opt for the sofa rather than the saddle. Ruining the next weeks of training for the sake of a Strava challenge just ain’t worth it!
PONGO | LONDON