Festive 500 2013: Get Ready

It is that time of year. The holidays are upon us, but so is the desire to use our escape mechanisms (the bicycles) to render ourselves back into the shape we once knew. Around the office here in Portland talk has turned not to the Holidays so much, but to the Festive 500 and the kilometers we need to conquer.

The Weather may not be ideal, but it is this sentiment exactly that propels us into the New Year. We must band together to give our training the kick start it needs. And speaking from experience, it is exactly this collective motivation that ensures I will leave the house during the holidays. So, I make as many plans as possible.

It is worth harking back to a time when the Festive 500 was just a twinkle in the eye of our resident long rider of the bunch. On Christmas in 2009 Rapha product designer Graeme Raeburn rode to visit his great aunt, but didn’t stop there. Graeme ended up riding over 1,000km in the Christmas week in a bout of riding that would become the basis for the Festive 500. So, not only do we have him to thank for all the gear that protects us when we do so, but the ride itself. See the first article that started it all »
1000 Christmas Kilometers.

However, do not stop reading there, because the a good prep guide then came from Joe Hall and his article Winter Training His self professed turista style is just what is required (of myself) at this time of year. It includes a list of requisite Winter guidelines that could also read as Festive 500 training tips and tricks. Do not try to outdo it, especially in the big ring. Go easy here people, it is not a race. A couple of the tips stand out as excellent in more ways than one, especially where Rouleur Magazine’s Guy Andrews chimes in:

Wintry Tips:

• If it’s cold, wear more. Don’t be tempted to ride hard in order to warm up, you’ll just get cold again and [usually] sick as a result.
• Spin. Learn to ride smaller gears, just use a 39 ring from November to January. Big gears are for sprinting and compact gears are for mountains.
• Go mountain biking or cyclo-crossing, just do something different to what you do in the summer – it will keep you sharp and teach you how to handle a bike.
• Chat with your mates, go to the cafe, find the local club run and join a group ride at lease twice a week.
• Don’t make ambitious plans you can’t stick to, just ride nice and steady and long, whenever you can.
• Oh yes, buy some mudguards.

For myself, and a few others that ride together here in the Pacific Northwest the Festive 500 is always a series of firsts. The first long winter ride of the year. The first real cold weather ride. The first to kick start the training plan after a much needed break. The first time you have been on the bike in a while. Which is why, given its proximity to the beginning of January, that it receives this particular designation. If I must be brutally honest, it is also the first thing on my list that I forgive myself for never completing.

This ride must have been on the brain last month when a few from the office decided that it would be a good idea to ride back from Mt. Hood. It was one of the first real cold rides of the Autumn season. The one that would send you digging through your wardrobe for that long sleeve base layer, the kind of ride you need friends on to help motivate each other. It took that kind of motivation to get everyone up and out onto the roads, but the stories that come from it are the best kind, the ones that resonate for months to come.

Which is what is going to happen here in the next couple weeks. The thinking is that if we just keep saying these things out loud, the “I’m going to ride 500km in a few days and you’re coming with me” sentiments, that we will be more likely to do them. Collective motivation is here again in the form of the Festive 500. So, charge your Garmin and tell your friends, this is happening.

For some more inspiration, see last year’s winners »