Friday, January 16, 2015

Rapha Festive 500


This is the second year Rapha has promoted a 500km challenge between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Since I've been putting in a lot of miles, I thought this sounded like a fun challenge. I also thought it would be pretty easy. It turned out I was wrong.

There were three major barriers to the challenge. One is the holidays. This is the time of year where my family spends all day sitting, eating and talking. This doesn't really leave time for riding. The other challenge is that I didn't want to just put in road miles. I wanted to put in some solid days on my mountain bike too. The final challenge was catching the flu before the challenge was done.

I kicked off the Festive 500 in style with a 66 mile road ride along the Seven-hills of Kirkland Metric Century route on Christmas Eve. I'm not sure where the name comes from as the route has many more than seven hills. I'd believe 70.

Christmas morning was a day to spend with the family. But I managed to sneak in a short 15 mile ride before heading over to my parent's place for a long day with family.

Now that Christmas is over, it was time to put in some more solid work. I decided I needed some cold-weather overnight experience as I prepare for the Tour Divide so I loaded up the mountain bike and headed for the hills. I found snow about half way into my ride, but fortunately it wasn't deep enough to impede progress. The weather was what I consider the worst possible. 34 and raining. If it were colder, I could stay dry. If it was warmer, the rain wouldn't be too bad. But I pushed on.

I finally set up camp around 10:00 near Snoqualmie Pass just below the snow line. 65 more miles down and a solid day of climbing with a bike loaded with 25 pounds worth of gear.

The next morning I woke up to a steady downpour. This was a great time to test my prowess packing up my tent in the rain. Let's just say I need a new process. EVERYTHING got soaked. I was pouring water out of my tent when I got home. Fortunately, I was riding home and not camping another night.

The Monsoon-like rains and cold temperatures did a pretty good job dampening my spirits (pun intended). Feeling less than inspired, I took the short route home and put in just 53 miles.

The next morning, family obligations for the holidays kicked in again and it was off to my in-laws for Christmas number 2. I didn't have time to sneak in a ride before hand and assumed the day was lost. However, I managed to get in a quick 18 mile ride as the sun was setting. TIP: Don't ride in December with your new summer gloves you got for Christmas. My hands have never been so cold.

Good news. I woke up the next morning sick. My wife had been sick for a week and I had been using every trick I knew to stay healthy. I finally succumbed.

Despite being sick, I jumped on the cross bike and rode another 55 miles trying to sweat out the disease. By the time I got home I was more exhausted than I had ever been in my life. I couldn't move to save my life. The worst part was I was still short of my goal by 26 miles. I just didn't have it in me.

The next morning, I woke up feeling defeated. I was ready to accept failure. Then my wife asked when I was going to go ride and complete the Festive 500. She knows me and knows I don't like incomplete goals. So she encouraged me to get out and finish the ride. I did just that. A quick lap around south Lake Washington on the cross bike and I had completed the challenge.

This should have been easy. I had taken the week off work and I have been putting in lots of big rides. Yet, I just barely made it with 508km.

Looking forward to next year.

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