Tips/Help for the Rapha Festive 500

I grew up in Edmonton, moved west 22 years ago. I have completed 5 Festive 500s out here in the greater Vancouver area. Some of the days required riding in some pretty grim weather: 2-4 C and cold cold rain. I cannot imagine trying to pull one of these off outdoors in an Albertan winter. I used to ride the MTB in the River Valley up to about -15 C and honestly about 90 minutes was enough for me. Road riding was off the table in deep winter.

But doing this indoors, well, kudos to you if you get it done. In terms of strategy I can only say doing over the entire 8 day period with shorter rides feels like death by 1000 cuts for an outdoor version. My best memories are from cracking it out in 4 days straight, but that was a decent year weather wise and I was 46 at the time. For indoor, I feel like sanity might require a 7 or 8 day strategy. Good luck, and hope things warm up a bit for you to get in some outdoor activity as well!


I’m jealous of your move to Vancouver! Definitely wish I was out there, too. C’est la vie.

I’m definitely with you on knocking it out in a shorter time. I do one hour rides indoors all the time, but longer than that feels way harder than equivalent outdoors. Would be fun to do something like this in the summer, as knocking it out in four days sounds very doable. I’ve done a bit of cold weather riding, and it’s really something else. I’m definitely not up for 500 km of it!

I’d really love to get in at least one outdoor ride in the period, just to break things up. Fingers crossed!

1 Like

Huge respect to the people out there riding in -10 degree conditions, but it’s not always super nice down here in the Southern Hemisphere…

I’m a bit worried about how much time I’ll be spending outside with the temperature above 30, humidity at 80-90% and the UV index at ‘extreme’…


Zwift adjust pace partners schedules to help people hit 500km

1 Like

Thanks for the tip! I’m two days in, and have avoided the pace partners so far. Did 72.5 yesterday, and did 105 today, so I’m making good progress. 62.5 a day is what’s necessary, so I’ve “banked” 52.5 kilometers. If I can do another 72 tomorrow then I’ll be a day up.

Definitely been tiring, but it’s cool to push myself. Hopefully I can get it all done!


Halfway (4 days) update:

328.8 km

9:28 Riding Time (34.7 km/h avg)

6,168 kcal

In some ways, this has been as hard as I expected, particularly on day 4, where my legs have just not felt good at all, but at the same time, I’m a bit shocked to see how much progress I’ve made. I’m almost exactly 2/3 after 4 days, so I’m going to take a rest day tomorrow and go skiing, which I’m rather excited about.

I’ve also been eating whatever I want and losing weight, so that’s cool.


Well done man, you’re well over the hump. It’s a total white-out here on the coast with very atypical temps even below -10 C. Nothing by Alberta standards, but pretty rare for us. No chance at the Festive 500 for me, maybe I’ll dig out my old Kreitler rollers tomorrow!


I 100% agree with you. I did a 100 km zwift ride yesterday, and I have to say it was a lot harder than riding outside. When you ride outside you have downhills that you need can coast down, stop lights\signs that you need to stop for etc.

1 Like

I can see the point, but on the other hand, on Zwift, I think that all else equal the game tends to simulate a higher speed than you could achieve on the road. If you went on Tempus Fugit, which is really flat, I don’t know that a lot of IRL roads are that flat. There are a lot of cyclists to draft off. If you joined one of the pace partner groups, that’s even more bonus speed; I can achieve nearly 25mph at about zone 2. So, in some sense, Zwifting the distance can be easier if you optimize for it. Of course, you could just go and ride on Zwift regardless of optimization.

I’m not saying this as a critique of your effort. I don’t care about purity, or if I did care about purity I could just go outside and do it. I’m more making a technical point.

1 Like

I hope you got those rollers out, Eric! And I hope the weather improves soon! It was a low of -34 last week, and I refused to leave the house. Weather that cold is exceedingly rare out here, happily. Supposed to be -1 tomorrow!

Well, I finished it! I was glad to have banked some kilometers in the first half, and finished with 521 kilometers overall.

I was pleased to finish. It was both harder and easier than I expected, so just different, I guess. Most of the riding was done at zone 2, with a couple sections in zone 3, so I never went too deep, which is unusual for me when riding. I allowed myself a couple of sprinty efforts once I knew the mileage was in the bag, but it was an interesting mental challenge to keep myself at the upper end of zone 2 for the whole time. Can’t go too hard and can’t ease up.

I’ve listed my rides below. I burned a wonderful amount of calories, and that allowed me to eat whatever I wanted (within reason) over Christmas, which was great. I also achieved my goal of completing the Festive 500 while not sacrificing time with my family, which was the most important thing.

Day 1 - 72.5 km - 2:05 - 189 W avg - 1357 kcal

Day 2 - 105 km - 2:55 - 204 W avg - 2048 kcal

Day 3 (Ride 1) - 15 km - 0:27 - 180 W - 283 kcal
Day 3 (Ride 2) - 63 km - 1:57 - 184 W avg (204 for first 1:20) - 1239 kcal

Day 4 (Ride 1) - 46.4 km - 1:14 - 177 W avg - 764 kcal
Day 4 (Ride 2) - 26.5 km - 0:48 - 172 W avg - 477 kcal

Day 6 - 73 km - 2:08 - 185 W avg - 1370 kcal

Day 7 - 70.85 - 1:55 - 220 W avg (231 for final hour) - 1453 kcal

Day 8 (Ride 1) - 33.6 - 1:00 - 179 W avg - 619 kcal
Day 8 (Ride 2) - 17.1 - 31:15 - 180 W avg - 323 kcal

Effectively this was a tough week of base training, and I definitely felt the benefits. I will take an FTP test next week, but my guess is that I gained between 5 and 10 watts, and definitely improved my sub-threshold capacity. I also set a 2 minute power best by over 30 watts today, so that’s cool.

Not sure if I’ll do it next year, but I’ll definitely try some challenges like this one again.


You’re absolutely right. My average speed was definitely higher than I could manage outside. I’m normally around a 30 km/h rider, and averaged almost 35 on this challenge. To make things a bit more reasonable, I did avoid group rides for all but one of the days (and did an extra 17 kilometers at the end to tack on a little extra).

Zwift is certainly not outdoors, and I hope I can do this challenge outside in the future!

I read somewhere that the speeds on Zwift are calculated based on brand new pavement, completely optimized equipment, and an aero position. I definitely didn’t ride all of this in an aero position, don’t own an aero bike, and don’t own aero clothing either, so I certainly won’t manage 35 kph outdoors!

1 Like

Well done on the 500 James_Edward!

Rollers are still in storage, lots of hiking over the holidays instead. Big melt underway today, but still looking shitty for riding for another week. La Niña is giving us a workout this winter so far.

1 Like