Friday, 6 January 2017

#Festive500 - The Wrap Up Report

For the first time ever, I actually completed the Rapha #Festive500. I had mentioned previously that I had never completed the challenge due to cycling circumstances. For those who are not aware, the Festive 500 is a challenge started by Rapha and Strava to ride 500km within the 8 days of Christmas Eve to New Year’s eve. If you were to ride the same distance everyday, you would need to ride 63km everyday.

When I was a triathlete, it was hard to do this challenge along with the Hell Week commitments and less than ideal weather. Last year, I was climbing more so I was searching for elevation more than distance.

In 2016, I had not committed myself to 3 Peaks or the Alpine Classic so I decided to get all my “fitness” things out of the way as part of this holiday break in order to spend a few days afterwards to relax. This blog entry is a recollection of how I finished the challenge within 7 days.

Day 1 – 66km
Since I have moved to Hampton East, I wanted to know the distances of riding to Port Melbourne as well as to Mordialloc. I started out the day from the house and then headed down to South Road towards Port Melbourne. I turned around at Port Melbourne to head down towards Mordialloc. Because I wore my BlackSheepCycling kit, an older gentleman who wore the same as me decided to tag along just as I crossed South Rd towards Mordi and then we rode together until we turned around and hit the Black Rock roundabout where I turned off to Bluff Road and then headed back home whilst he headed along Balcombe road as he lived around Mentone.
BlackSheepCycling - Peacock Kit

Day 2 – 72km (Christmas Day)
There was a plan on doing the Christmas ride with the old Tri Alliance crew but it numbers were really low as they all finished Hell Week the day before. To get the numbers up, I rode into St Kilda to a Sharon and Pete’s house and then we rode into Elwood to meet up with the Tri Alliance crew. There were only 3 people who joined. We then rode to Black Rock roundabout and then back to Sharon and Pete’s house for coffee/light snack. I stopped there for about 30min for a chat with the old crew before I rode back home.  
BlackSheepCycling - Tilly

Day 3 – 69.2km
As I had done Port Melbourne on the first 2 days, I ventured down to Frankston from the house. The ride down to Frankston was slower due to the slight southerly but I knew that my ride back home would be easier. I turned around at the Frankston BP and back home on the same route (straight out and back).

Lumiere Cycling Kit

Day 4 – 80km (My Bday)
The 27th December is my birthday. I wanted to do something fun so I did a few laps of Albert Park lake to work on my sprinting cornering skills. I had done a few cycling lessons with Tribal Cycling and haven’t really had a chance to implement the skills as I can’t ride my disc brakes in races. I rode up to Port Melbourne and headed towards the lake for a few laps...I think I did about 8 at the end.

There is a particular corner of the lake which I have always found stressful due to the sharp right hand turn. The first time I rode around that corner I was a bit hesitant but the laps afterwards, I was much more confident as I applied the skills I had learnt about being down on the drops, low elbows, outside leg straight and actually going into the corner fast has many advantages and one of them being that you don’t feel like you are going to fall over. I then rode back home for an 80km day.
Rapha (Canyon/SRAM - Pink) Kit

Day 5 – 62.1km
This was the first really windy day on the bike and also the first really “hot” day over the Christmas holidays. It was so humid that I was already sweating buckets after 5km from home down to Beach Road. The day started out with riding into the headwind towards Port Melbourne and then I did a few laps of Albert Park lake until it started to shower so I decided to then ride home. I noticed that my distance for the day would be too low so I rode towards Black Rock roundabout and then back home along Bluff. Towards Black Rock, it started to rain rather than shower so was drenched by the time I got home from the sweat and the rain.

Jaggad Cycling kit - Galahs

Day 6 – 70.5km
This day was forecasted to be a crazy day weather wise and this was the only day at which I started the ride early. I needed to complete my ride before the weather turned and I wanted to get a good chunk of my distance done so that I was able to complete the challenge with one more day.

I was so tired and my legs just didn’t want to do anything. There was an initial plan on riding with the Tribal Cycling girls but I didn’t know how I would go with my heavy legs. As I was about 10min early for the first meeting point, I decided that I would forge ahead towards the 2nd meeting point rather than wait around. I ended up being early for the 2nd meeting point and due to the strong winds, I decided to just forge ahead solo and turn around at Kerferd Road rather than the end of Port Melbourne.
This day proved to be the hardest since I did the challenge. I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish the challenge off within one more day or do one big ride with a smaller one the next.

I decided to have a proper massage of my legs to get rid of the fatigue that afternoon.  
Pedal Mafia - Nevada Vibes kit

Day 7 – 80.3km
The weather for this day was glorious. I rode towards Frankston and found my rhythm early. I enjoyed the ride the entire way down to Frankston as well as on the way back. I stopped at Mordialloc for the bathroom and noticed that a lady was having trouble with her flat. She was still there doing the same thing after I had finished so I knew she was in a bit of trouble. I helped her to change the flat using my tools and gas canister and then we rode back towards the city together. I turned off at South Road but then realised that I only had 15km to go to finish off the 500km so I decided to turn off at New Street and turned around along Beach road and back onto South. From the end of St Kilda Street and Nepean Hwy, I had bumped into friends of mine who were also riding for the Festive500. We chatted for a bit before my turn off and they had about 60km more to do for their planned 120km.

Rapha (Canyon/SRAM - Blue)

I pretty much finished on the dot of the 500km when I got home and I didn’t feel fatigued at all.

As I had finished the 500.3/500 on Day 7, I had a good sleep in on Day 8 and didn’t get back on the bike until New Year’s eve when I rode a fill 1.2km to a friend’s house for a BBQ on my trusty mountain bike and in my dress.

Lessons from doing the #Festive500 (for a first timer)

- If you live in Melbourne or tend to over celebrate over the Christmas period, don’t just schedule 63km for 8 days. I purposely aimed for 70-80km each day and luckily I was able to achieve them.

- Schedule in a massage or two every few days as your body will need some form of recovery especially if you are not a consistent cyclist, like me.

- You will feel tired. There were some mornings where I actually tried to negotiate with myself about taking a day off and then ramping up my distances for the remainder of the challenge but I am glad I stuck to my guns and just did it.

- The flatter the ride, the easier it will be to ride 60+km. Last year when I was training for Peaks Challenge, it was not pleasant to ride 60km in the hills and I can’t imagine doing it for 8 days in a row.

- For me personally, the novelty of wearing a different kit and matching cap and socks is what made the challenge easier.

- I made a plan of riding a slightly different direction and taking a slightly different route each day.

- Although it wasn’t intentional, I worked on some of my skills such as cornering, out of the saddle and sprinting on some days.

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