The title of this blog is not an abridged version of my seasonal wish list but there is a unique link between the two.
Tomorrow, I’m starting an annual ritual observed by people around the world. It’ll be difficult for some but will bring happiness to many that see it through.
The Rapha Festive 500.
Those of you that are avid users of Strava will no doubt know it well. Strava seems to be like that, the Marmite of applications.
Teaming up with Rapha, means that Strava users riding 500km or more, between 24 December and 31 December, will complete the challenge and be entitled to a small, embroidered patch (supplied by Rapha), that you can proudly display on your cycling cap, or whatever other piece of cycling clothing you might choose to adorn.
Strava keeps a leader board, according to the distance ridden. I won’t be anywhere to speak of on the leader board, as once I’m over the 500km, I’ll call it a day, or more likely, a week of cycling. Some riders put in 2000km or so in those eight days, to fight it out for the prestige of longest distance ridden. It’s a good stint in the saddle, there’s no denying it but I can’t help but feel that the chart-toppers are somewhat missing the point. They tend to be riding in the Southern hemisphere, in the height of summer or somewhere a good deal closer to the equator than the home of Rapha. Taking a week out from work during the summer and riding your bike is a great idea but it’s hardly a noteworthy accomplishment and certainly not one worth two whole square inches of embroidery!
No, in my view, the whole challenge of ‘the Rapha’ is to ride every day (or almost), with the grit and determination required to battle against the elements, rather than sit on the sofa like a seasonal TV sharp shooter, unable to decide which festive movie to choose from. Riding in UK in December can be ‘interesting’ to say the least.
This’ll be the third successive year I’ve ridden the Rapha. The first time, the weather was fine for a couple of days but then a cold snap had me battling through snow and ice, at one stage siding over ridges of black ice, on a road closed to cars by the police, with just my old friend Jon Sharpe for company. As we were about to turn around at the roadblock, rather than attempt our local hill, the officer said “you can ride through if you want lads but don’t come crying to me if you fall off and break something.” So, ride on we did and on reflection, with some degree of surprise, we didn’t fall off but rode confidently over whatever lay in our path. It took me until the following summer to actually fall off and break something, on an ever so slightly greasy roundabout. The rest of that story is history but this one goes on with Rapha 2015. High winds and rain were the theme for last year. At one point, I rode into a headwind with 50mph gusts, doing just 7mph on the small chain ring, as that’s all I could turn.
I’m not sure what this year has in store. Suffice to say the relatively warm temperatures and still air, gave way just today, to driving rain and howling wind.
In any event, it’s the Rapha and it must be done. I have to earn the patch after all.
As a Strava user, you can enter the challenge on the app, or if you’re still to begin feeding that addiction, you can find out more on the Rapha Website.
If you’re a Rapha first timer, I have one word of advice for you. ‘Patience’
That isn’t meant to imply that you should take your time clocking up the kilometres. No, it’s patience you’ll need waiting for your patch to arrive. They’d perhaps more appropriately depict the Easter bunny than pine trees and snow!
Whatever you’re doing from now until new year, here’s to riding, shiny side up
GI Tri Coach