Rapha Festive 500 – Day 1

Since 2010, the Festive 500 has challenged cyclists to ride a total of 500km, on the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. For the metrically challenged, that’s 310.7 miles in eight days, or approximately 39 miles per day.

The Festive 500 was born of an impulsive idea by Rapha product designer Graeme Raeburn to ride 1,000km in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In doing so, he would combine visiting his family with extensive product testing and base miles into one intrepid expedition.

The success of this madcap adventuring inspired Rapha to invite friends and customers to match (half of) his feat in 2010, and a total of 94 hardy souls completed the challenge. Since then, the Festive 500 has grown to have 48,000 participants last year, of which 8,398 were successful. It sounds easy, but it’s surprisingly difficult, especially when juggling real life schedules, but then, challenges never should be easy.

Today a large group of friends from many local cycling clubs including Grupetto USA, Island Riders, Chain Gang and TNT descended on Flatwoods Park to kick off the challenge on it’s 7 mile loop of smooth tarmac. The goal was to ride a minimum of 40 miles, or approximately 5 laps (five 7 mile laps plus the 2 miles to get to the loop and back out), at an enjoyable pace between 18-20 mph.

After a nice controlled warm up of a handful of miles, everyone shifted into their big rings and started mercilessly mashing on their pedals, quickly pushing speeds into the 24-25mph range. This caught a few riders off guard, and were quickly spit off the back of the pace line, left to spin on their own, but the majority of the riders just grinned and bared down for what was shaping up to be a very quick ride.

About mid way through the first lap, we quickly caught up to a hulking, lone figure maintaining a very respectable 21 mph. It was none other than Kurt Searvogel, AKA Tarzan, who is attempting to break the UMCA Highest Annual Mileage Record, of 75,065 miles in one year, which has stood since 1939. He quickly latched on to the group….he’s no fool, especially with the strong wind that we have been having, and settled into our pace.

Our quick moving pace line quickly swelled up to nearly 30 riders, but few stayed on as the pace continued to climb to and above 30 mph by the 5th lap. Kurt held on, seemingly unaffected by the speed, and even put in a few good turns at the front.

Once the 5th lap was completed, the majority of the original riders pulled off for a well deserved water break, as Tarzan sped off with the constant reinforcement of riders that was joining the group. After a bunch of congratulatory high fives, as well as some smack talking about the final sprint, we mounted up again for a nice easy cool down lap, and headed out of the park to join our families and celebrate the Holidays.

Fifty-Two miles at a 22 mph pace…the Rapha Festive 500 kickoff was a definite success. Only 258 more miles to go.

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