Monday, 31 December 2018

Rapha 500 2019

For the past few years I have managed to complete the 'Rapha 500.' This is a cycle challenge set by the cycling clothing company of the same name in which participants try to cycle 500km (about 300 miles in old money) from Christmas Eve to New Years Eve. Last year I found this very hard going to say the least and this year with some time off work I really didn't know if I wanted to do this, or could do it.

For me there were certain rules that had to be adhered to:

  • Cycling would need to be at a time that did not interfere with the plans of my family
  • All routes would need to be in and around London
  • If it was snowing or frosty I would not cycle and if this meant the 500 was looking unlikely, so be it
  • I would select whatever bicycle I wanted - Brompton, Surly, Condor
  • Minimal stopping for photos as this had slowed things down fun previous years

Day 1 - 24/12/8 (61 miles) Surly Disc Trucker

For this I got up at stupid o'clock. Part of my ride (minimum of 9 miles) would be on the Grand Union Canal so I decided to take my Surly Disc Trucker with its new Schwalbe Marathon tyres. I make no secret of the fact that this is my favourite bicycle.

I cycled through to Hyde Park, into Central London and then east towards the Limehouse Cut, where at Abbey Mills Pumping Station I joined the Greenway. From there I eventually reached North Woolwich and went under the Woolwich Foot Tunnel. From here I cycled back home along south of the river Thames before crossing the river at Tower Bridge to continue on north of the river.

The route was just over 61 miles and as I had started early traffic was non-existent for first half and very light for the second. It was chosen as it was flat and I knew that I could cover the ground pretty quickly.

I really enjoyed this route and knew that I would return to it, weather permitting.

Day 2 - 25/12/18 (20 miles) Condor Fratello 

Christmas Day and as such the 20 miles I completed were all done when everyone was fast asleep. This involved me cycling 10 miles in the general direction of a certain location and then turning back and following the same route back. This I completed quite quickly on my Condor road bike. (I also have to confess that it was the first time in months that I had used the Condor).

Day 3 - 26/12/18 (61 miles) Surly Disc Trucker

Day 3 saw me return to the same route as day 1. This was very much a repeat but despite it not raining, it did look as if it must have been from the dampness on the road. Again I liked the route and getting up at a ridiculous time was actually quite therapeutic in many ways. It was as if London was mine with very few people around and having the city almost to myself was a treat. This route was to give off a very different vibe the following day however.

Day 4 - 27/12/18 ( 58 miles) Surly Disc Trucker

Day 4 was going to be the last time I could repeat this particular route as other commitments meant that it would be impossible to cycle it. This was a shame as I had got into a little routine, knew the route well, enjoyed it and liked the fact it clocked up lots of miles easily.  

All was fine until I reach the Greenway Near East Ham Nature Reserve. In the distance I could see lots of people on bicycles and as I got closer I could see that it was lots of teenagers on mountain bikes and hire bikes doing wheelies etc. My first thought was to wonder why they were up so early? I actually wonder whether they had been at this all night? As I got closer they took more and more of an interest in me and my bicycle with some cycling towards me and then with me. As I neared the others they tried to block my path with their bikes. Managing to avoid this I put the pedal down and despite a few following they soon lost interest and stopped pursuing. Not a very pleasant experience mainly as there were so many of them - possibly 15 or so.

Day 5 - 28/12/18 (40 miles) Orange Brompton S6L

Day 5 involved me starting near the Albert Memorial and doing lots and lots of laps of Hyde Park. When I got bored of that I decided to cycle the 6 miles or so to Richmond Park and then on to Bushey Park before returning to Hyde Park.

Day 6 - 29/12/18 (45 miles) Orange Brompton S6L

Day 6 involved me joining a group of other cyclists on a Christmas ride which took in some of the criminal goings on in London. Click Here This was great fun, although I very nearly didn't make the start of the ride as I had messed up my timings in trying to the 12:00 p.m. start! In all I cycled 45 miles.

Day 7 - 30/12/18 (25 miles) Condor Fratello

I had 25 miles left to go and when I set out I intended to cycle about 10 - 15 miles as my legs (and everything else) was starting to feel it from all the cycling. I ended cycling the 25 miles I needed (actually a little over this) and started and finished outside my front door. I had done it.


When I entered my house and saw that Mrs Orange and the Orangettes were up, I informed them that the Rapha 500 was done with a day to spare. I didn't expect ticker tape or party poppers but all I received was 'that's nice. How about you make us all a cup of tea?!'

The Rapha 500 is not easy. The biggest factor for me is time. I have been fortunate to have this time off from work and I know that if I were working during even some of these days, there would be no way I could fit it in or want to for that matter. Those that manage to fit this in with work commitments have my admiration.

This year I found that completing most of the miles on big wheels helped in terms of covering more miles with less stress and strain on the body. I suspect that if I had completed day 5 on big wheels I could have cycled further in the same time.

As I type this I have to say I am very pleased that I didn't need to cycle today and I am going to have a rest from cycling for the the next week or so!

I do enjoy the Rapha 500 and it is great that they put this challenge out there. Well worth giving it a go, assuming you can commit the time to it.



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