Tips/Help for the Rapha Festive 500

Hi all, I’ve recently fallen into the idea of attempting the Rapha Festive 500 this year. I live in Alberta, Canada, and am decidedly not tough enough to do it outdoors, so I thought I’d give it a go on Zwift. I figure it will take around two hours of riding per day for the eight days straight.

I was wondering if anyone has any advice for recovery and fuelling. I’ve done plenty of long rides, but eight consecutive days of two hours on the trainer is more than I usually ride, particularly on the trainer, and I want to have as much energy as possible to also enjoy Christmas and the time with my family. So, any tips to make this as enjoyable as possible are very much appreciated.

Stick to flat roads. I’ve done it the last two years running. I find it gruelling and that is without the burgs involved. Also some smooth pavement. Riding around ocean Grove in Victoria means course chip everywhere. The grind and buzz from the road gets to me.

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Jump in with group rides or join a pacer like Coco Cadence…ride wheels and get the benefit of the (kinda ridiculous) Zwift physics.

Example…if you do the BMTR Flat 100 rides on Saturdays, you can knock out 100 miles in ~4 hours in the “C” ride and average ~2.5-2.8 w/kg.

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Thanks for these, @Steel and @Henri_Desgrange. Sounds like keeping the effort smooth and controlled is pretty important, as is getting the most speed for your effort.

I kind of hate the Zwift Physics. I’m definitely debating using a gravel bike on there or something, just to make the speeds a bit more “realistic” to what I can achieve outdoors. That said, outdoors is covered in snow and ice, so I’d be doing like 10 km/h outside…

Any tips on recovery? I think I’m probably less concerned about the actual riding, and more concerned about doing ~16 hours of riding in eight days while managing holiday things. I know I’ll need to make sure to sleep well, but is there anything else I can focus on?

Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about that…time in the saddle, combined with power, is what matters…at least in terms of fitness.

As for other tips, nutrition is gonna be your friend. Fuel sufficiently both on the bike and afterwards.

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I’ve only done IRL Festive 500’s, my best piece of advice would be to get the miles under the belt early. Each time I’ve done it I do a ride around 200km on Christmas Eve which then means that I can enjoy Christmas Day then ease myself back in safe in the knowledge that I’ve already got plenty of miles under the belt.

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I’ve never done it on the trainer, always on the road.
I’ve done it 6 times out of the last 7 years, generally I find the consistent effort the best approach.
Try and get ahead of the game early, perhaps 80-100 (km) on the 24th and then alternate recovery efforts and longer efforts. If you have a big climbing day, then have the next day on the flats etc.
Generally I find I complete it with a day or two to spare in the end!

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Suggestions to “get ahead early” are good ones….but don’t overdo it, either and drain the tank. When I used to do the 100 Runs / 100 Days challenge, I would bank extra runs as soon as I could so I could take rest days later.

Also consider doing two rides in the same day, even if it is just an easy hour late in the afternoon / early evening

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Agreed. On Christmas Day I’d just pop my kid on the back and cycle round the festive sights of London which is always a lovely way to spend the morning and logs another 40-50km despite minimal effort spent.

Then I have to cook Christmas dinner which is definitely more energy consuming!

I work over Christmas so have to elongate my commutes which as the roads are quiet is actually quite enjoyable.

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Festive 500 inside? Haha
Zwift are great training, but its not cycling!

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Where do you draw the line though? It could easily be argued that the Festive 500 is about cycling in grim winter weather and that riding in nice conditions such as in the southern hemisphere isn’t in the spirit of things.

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When i am out christmas riding in -10°C i do sometimes wish i lived in warmer climate.
The line between riding outside and train on rollers is not that blurry .

For quick recovery, keep your carbs topped up. Even though 2 hours is not very long, I would consume carbohydrate drinks on the bike and eat something like rice, pasta, oats or bread afterwards. Then take a short nap.

Also, drink as little alcohol as possible.

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I agree that doing 500km indoors is less of an achievement than doing it outdoors in winter conditions. From one point of view, that disagreement is moot. Rapha themselves drew the lines to include indoor cycling this year and last year due to the pandemic. It was inspired by the quarantines last year, clearly. I don’t know if they’ll continue to do this going forward. I think it’s nice to have a challenge like that just to keep motivated. I am not up for cycling 500km outdoors in the winter weather I have in the Midwestern US.

2 hrs Z2 per day should be pretty straightforward providing that you do keep it Z2 (I’d stick at or below 0.7IF.)

Beware that it’s very easy to get dragged up to tempo by pacers or groups.

Keep hydrated, and take in some carbs per ride (though if you’re eating normally throughout the period, you shouldn’t need much on a 2hr ride at low-ish intensity).

Outside that, (as far as possible given its Xmas) prioritise sleep, limit alcohol, and minimise unnecessary exertion elsewhere.

Also, prioritise saddle/short hygiene. 2hrs per day on the trainer is much harder on the, ahem, undercarriage than 2 hours outside, so:

  1. Make a point of getting out of the saddle for 30 seconds every 10 minutes.
  2. Use an anti-bacterial chamois cream.
  3. Don’t sit in your lycra after completing the ride - shower and change straight away
  4. Don’t use ill-fitting/worn/dirty bibs

My apologies if this is all totally obvious, but a saddle sore will really make this a not-fun experience.

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Well some of us can only hope to be as tough as you when we grow up.

:roll_eyes:

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I would say its harder with a Zwift session than cycling. But thats just my opinion.

Don’t forget it’s just a badge thing afterall. There’s no need to take it so seriously neither to defend its purity

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Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. I’m not a big drinker, so abstaining from alcohol shouldn’t me too hard, but it’s something I’ll keep in mind.

I’ll be sure to eat enough carbs (shouldn’t be hard, carbs are delicious) and stay very hydrated. As for getting ahead early, that’s an interesting one. I like the idea, but definitely don’t want to overdo it and not be able to keep going. I think I’ll take a shot at 3+ hours on the first day to get out ahead of things, but 200 km is too much for me!

As for doing it indoors… I dunno. Doing it for me, so I don’t feel a particular need to defend the decision. They’re certainly not the same thing. I just know I’m not tough enough and have no interest in riding 500 km outside when it’s currently -21 C. I am excited to push myself for a goal, regardless.

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And THAT is the right attitude….challenge yourself and see if you can hit the objective.

Good luck!!!

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