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Postcards to cyclist's late father win Rapha Festive 500 competition

Welsh police officer’s postcards to her late father snatch the prize for creative responses to the Rapha Festive 500 kilometre challenge

Joseph Delves
4 Feb 2017

Each winter Rapha challenges riders to cram 500 kilometres in the eight days between Christmas and the new year. The most recent edition of the Rapha Festive 500 saw 82,420 riders attempt the challenge, of which 17,373 succeeded in going the distance.

From these a winner is chosen not for speed or distance but for the stories they submit about their experience.

This year Ruth Cousins, a police officer from a small village in North Wales was picked. Her submission consisted of a series of seven hand painted postcards addressed to her deceased father who she described as her ‘creative and adventure barometer’.

Each letter details one of her rides around the cold and hilly Welsh countryside, alongside her work as a police office and daily life looking after her family.

Other highly commended entries included those from Hungarian Ferenc Simicz who documented his own rehabilitation.

‘I went to the places where I lived when I had a breakdown due to drugs, where I suffered as a homeless person. At that time I wouldn’t dare to think about being alive the next Christmas, yet now I have a family, a life that I like, a job, friends and meaningful footing,’ he said.

Stephen LaPointe, of Manchester in New Hampshire, who completed the ride while undergoing chemotherapy was also singled out for his entry.

Some entrants went to particular efforts to make their rides memorable. Simone Dovigo of Italy rode 645km along the Po River, from the Adriatic Sea to its source beneath Monte Viso in the Cottian Alps.

In the UK Stephen Graham started his Festive 500 at midnight on Christmas Eve. Riding around the north of England he completed the 500km in under 24 hours.

Now in its seventh year the Rapha Festive 500 has generated over 19,000,000 kilometres of riding. This time several professionals joined in with both Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Démare and former road world champion Michał Kwiatkowski also taking part.

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