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Rapha Festive 500: Christmas cycling challenge now live on Strava

Your chance to win prizes (and fitness) by clocking 500km on Strava this Christmas as the Rapha Festive 500 returns for 2021

Starting on Christmas Eve, the Rapha Festive 500 will return for a 12th year with the challenge now live on Strava.

That means it's time to sign up to tackle the 500km this Christmas period. For those who don’t want to embrace the weather, Rapha has continued its partnership with Zwift so any indoor kilometres will also count towards the Festive 500 challenge on Strava.

Local Rapha Clubhouses will also be trying to get as many people as possible to get their kilometres in with training rides beforehand as well as group rides, complimentary coffees and workshops.

If that's not enough, there are prizes to be won that include a Cannondale bike along with offerings from Wahoo, Poc and Whoop.

For those who prefer their riding outside in the real world, check out our top tips of how to complete the Rapha Festive 500.

The 2021 Rapha Festive 500: Key information

Dates: Christmas Eve – Friday 24th December 2021, to New Year's Eve – Friday 31st December 2021 (inclusive)  
Distance: You guessed it, 500km   
How: Ride 500km over the eight days and log it all on Strava   
Registration: Now live on Strava – 2021 Rapha Festive 500  
How to complete the Festive 500: Top tips to conquer 500km this Christmas

Rapha + Zwift

'For many of us, motivating ourselves during the colder months can be more of a challenge than the ride itself,' Rapha says. 'In partnership with Zwift, we’re taking the fight for form and fitness online, offering a series of group training rides to keep you riding in preparation for the Festive 500.'

Training indoors has merit as part of a wider training plan, but as part of a challenge – for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere's winter – a light spin on the turbo, in the virtual world, from the comfort of home is a long way from the original approach undertaken by the challenge's founder over a decade ago and communicated by the brand during most Christmases since.

The gift of fitness this Christmas

The return of the Festive 500 is great news for cyclists – especially those in the Southern Hemisphere – as cyclists look to complete the Christmas cycling challenge for a 12th year.

Christmas is almost upon us and for many, planning and completing the Rapha Festive 500 is now part of the tradition.

With last year's event hidden away amidst a confusing tier system due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can – touch wood – let loose and spread your wings with longer routes to different parts of the country, or world.

Started in 2010, the goal of the Rapha Festive 500 is to keep us riding throughout the festive period and once again riders will need to record their endeavours on Strava to be in with a shout of winning the prizes and gaining a commemorative roundel – although the roundel is now digital only after 2019 was the final year to gain a woven reward for your efforts.

The challenge is simple in theory but often tough in practice: ride your bike for a total of 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and sync your rides to Strava.

Taking on 500km of cold weather riding

Packing 500km into a week is a big task at the best of times, never mind in the deep midwinter.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere the cold weather can be one of the biggest barriers to completion of the Rapha Festive 500, but the sense of achievement is all the bigger for it.

Preparation – bike, kit, food, water, tools – is essential to going the distance, luckily we've got a few bits of expert insight that might help you along the way.

The genesis of what many would consider a pretty crazy idea came in 2009 when Rapha's lead designer, Graeme Raeburn, set out to ride 1,000km over the Festive period as he tried 'to train like a pro'.

He later discovered that even pros don't ride that much over Christmas, and so the challenge was halved when it was launched to the public in 2010 and saw just 84 people take it up.

By 2016 the total number of participants had reached 82,000, with even more taking part in the last couple of years, and an even greater number of riders are expected to take on the challenge this Christmas in the 2021 Rapha Festive 500.

Teaming up with ride recording site Strava, Rapha challenges each of us to ride 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, with the rewards coming in the shape of fitness, pride and bragging rights if all done outside.

'Thousands of people from all over the globe take up their bikes and attempt to complete what has become a rite of passage for those in the know,' says Rapha.

Badges for finishers, prizes for winners

'In 2010 we laid down a challenge to our customers: ride 500km over the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve,' Rapha says.

'Since then the Rapha Festive 500 has become a holiday tradition, with thousands of riders around the world taking part. Every finisher earns a complimentary woven badge, and the best story submissions win amazing prizes.'

To prove you've logged the required number of kilometres, sign up to the challenge on Strava and track the distance on a GPS device. Strava will issue digital badges (2018's are shown above) for every milestone that's passed throughout the challenge.

You can show your progress to Rapha and other riders by following @rapha on Twitter and Instagram and using #Festive500 and the brand has its Festive 500 Awards for some of its favourites.

The most inventive entries – whether that’s photo albums, poems, hand-drawn maps or pastries – will be awarded prizes from Wahoo, Poc and Whoop.

On top of that, all finishers are eligible to enter the draw to win a Cannondale bike, all you’ll need to do is check the T&Cs and fill out the entry form before 9th January.

Rapha has also released a special collection of Festive 500 kit that includes some of the essentials you’ll need to get the job done whether you’re doing it indoors or outdoors or both.

For more information visit rapha.cc.

Photos: Rapha/Colton Jacob