Having put my triathlon racing on hold for the time being and focusing on cycling and fundraising for JDRF and the One Ride Event, the Rapha Festive 500 was an obvious challenge to take on. The Festive 500 challenge is to ride 500km between the 24th and 31st December with kilometres recorded on Strava. On the 31st December I’d completed 513km over 6 rides, learnt what the “challenge” really is about and ignited my passion for seeking out and exploring cycling challenges.
I signed up with absolute confidence that; I’d be riding everyday and would easily cover the 500km before new years eve. I was fit, love being out on my bike and would be staying in some ideal cycling locations over Christmas. In the end this wasn’t necessarily the case and although I achieved 500km it was a lot tougher than I had expected and my initial attitude changed for the better of myself and also my cycling.
On the 24th December I completed 220km riding to a Christmas Eve lunch in the morning (155km) and then riding back home in the afternoon (65km). It was blisteringly hot and windy and I was only focused on covering as many kilometres as possible in the morning and then surviving the northerly headwind on the way home. A great start to the challenge kilometre wise but not necessarily the most enjoyable day of solo riding.
On Christmas day I did not ride (but wanted to), the 26th was a short early ride and then the 27th was an earlier and shorter ride again. Other commitments had thwarted my planned cycling and missing some great weather was initially frustrating. The 28th and 29th involved travelling away and then the bad weather set in and up in the mountains meant finding things to do indoors. A change of location and an afternoon ride on the 30th settle my spirit and with plenty of riding buddies around I set about planning the final 105km required on the 31st December.
Although I had started out only thinking about cycling everyday and clocking up kilometres, by the 31st December I had realised that the challenge was more about balancing all of the great things in your life and experiencing the happiness of this; family, friends, travel, food, drink and cycling. I need to ride my bike for my own piece of mind (and my diabetes), but doing this coupled with experiencing everything else that life throws at me, especially with my family, makes the journey all the sweeter.
On the 31st December I rode with friends old and new, covered 115km of rolling hills in near perfect conditions, had a couple of coffees and set a PB up the 3km climb to my beach house to finish off my Festive 500 and 2017 of cycling. It’s been a fantastic year and I am really looking forward to all of my cycling, fundraising and family events in 2017. I’ll certainly be taking park in the Festive 500 again but I’ll have a different approach and I’ll probably end up riding further with it.