Essay: On the Festive (Failure) 500
(2017) A couple of years ago, before I voluntarily dumped my cycling exploits over to Strava, I successfully took part in the Festive 500. The problem was I had to prove I had completed the distance over the eight-day time frame without the aid of a smartphone. I recorded the experience for two reasons: one reason was to prove my accomplishment and, two, to be eligible for a Moots victory bike for the best Festive 500 story. I guess one out of two isn’t so bad.
Last year I was so convinced I would fail I explored stories of the Walking Purchase, a historical land swindle that occurred near here. I sympathized with one of the ‘walkers’ who dropped out a mere eighteen miles or so into the walk. The 2016 version of the Festive 500 was a tough blow to the confidence of one who rarely backed down from a challenge. I had gone the distance in 2015 and failed in 2016 after only completing fewer than 115 miles. I guess one out of two isn’t so great.
Just when I thought 2016 would be the lowest of downward swings, the 2017 Festive 500 has turned into the utmost demonstration of full-time failure. While my pedagogue profession specifically gives us vacation time to complete the challenge – Why else would anyone have off in the last week of December – hurdles were neatly set up at an unattainable height to prevent the challenge ever from commencing.
Typically I allot for two days of idleness over the eight-day period. Should a rider have the luxury of riding all eight days, s/he would have to average 39 miles per day to cruise to victory. My approach of riding for six days would demand I cover an average of 52 daily miles. Usually I put in a monster day to bring down the average for the other five days. This year has seen none of that, though.
I have yet to even roll the bike outside since mid-December. The hustle of the weekend along with unexpected frigid temperatures left my Festive 500 at a crossroads. For the first day a storm cold front announced its arrival with forty mile-per-hour gusts sending cars across the road. Surely a cyclist had no chance in conditions like that. On the morning of the 25th a storm from the previous night left the roadways with a healthy crust of ice making all wheel drive useless. It was concluded riding a bike would be a study in crash totals. And just how much of a dent would I put in the mile total with prodigious ice?
As of right now there are four days remaining. That would necessitate a daily average of 78 miles to accomplish the 500. This is why it is a challenge that nearly half do not accomplish. I may be able to hang in there for one or two days of 78 mile efforts but any more than that would grind my bike and me up. With the high for today of nineteen degrees, it would stand as the second coldest day I have ever ventured out. Clearly the deck was stacked from the beginning.
I stated earlier I was at a crossroads during the Festive 500 time off. I had the choice to stress out over a small patch and bragging rights or to write it off completely and enjoy the time on the couch with seasonal coffee and old videos of spring classics. The Festive 500 never got started for me in 2017. Despite sporting the full-length facial scrub in anticipation for a winter ride, I still find myself sat inside wondering how it could have gone so badly. Next year the pressure is on to complete the Festive 500. If I managed to complete it I would be back at fifty percent. I guess two out of four successful Festive 500s is something I’ll have to strive for.