Events: Planning the 2017 Rapha Festive 500
(2017) It’s that time of year where people in the northern hemisphere slow down and enjoy the rapid succession of work holidays. It is the darkest time of year and for some the sun barely makes a daily visit. Luckily here the sun never calls it a day prior to 4:30pm to completely write off any chance of a longer ride. For road cyclists, the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are of unofficial importance. It’s the week of the Rapha Festive 500.
This year marks the seventh year of the unofficial event where riders attempt to ride 500 kilometers outdoors for a ridiculous patch and bragging rights. Yours truly has completed it once in 2015; quite literally calling it quits the moment the 500-kilometer distance was accomplished. Sometimes people continue beyond the distance. Some crash through the 500-kilometer distance without trying to double the distance or more. One immediately wonders if those participants have any friends or family at all with devotion such as that.
In 2015 I explored the old haunts of Tory spies who lived in the area. It was my attempt to win the Moots bike by creating a journal with a historical back story. Despite doing work for the losing team, they are a bit of pride in our hamlet. The ringleader’s lifeless body was dumped not far from this keyboard. The body was flung down from atop a rider’s horse at the feet of his parents. It was proclaimed to the Doan parents that he would never bother the countryside again, or something like that. Once I crossed the distance marker, I stopped bothering the countryside with my zipping chain sound and echoing tires.
With mounting responsibilities, I planned to fail in 2016. I knew unless something drastic was to happen, I would hardly get close to completing the Festive 500. I had the hunch so far in advance, I decided to look to the greatest land swindle of all time, the Walking Purchase for inspiration. Three men attempted to run as fast as they could for a day and a half. The first runner dropped out not far from this keyboard and his exertion maimed him for life. The second runner dropped dead while crossing a river on the second day. The ‘winner’ was never awarded his winner’s fee. He had crossed the Native Americans so badly they made him pay twice, murdering his family once to return years later to murder his new family. Naturally I saw myself as the early exit contestant.
That leads us to this year’s edition of the Festive 500. There’s the slow and steady approach that sees riders needing to complete roughly 65 kilometers per day (nearly 40 miles) during the eight-day affair. That sounds doable I’m sure until one factors in at least one day of bad weather. Also, factor in the small unlikeliness of riding on December 25 to those who celebrate that day. If this applies to the participant, it becomes a bit of a stress fest. With those two days struck from the riding log, the daily total skyrockets to nearly 85 kilometers (just over fifty miles).
Luckily for me I have come up with just the exhibition for 2017. There are numerous residents who own ancient farmhouses in the Bucks County countryside. Among them are residents who claim a certain George Washington had slept there. Make a claim such as that and immediately you draw the attention of realtors who really want to find out if the nation’s first president really did rest his head in their house. Most of the time though, it’s false. There are at least four verified houses in Bucks County Mr. Washington set up headquarters. All of them are south of the creakybottombracket.com offices, yet the distance to access each house, photograph it, and return could put me in the neighborhood of the necessary distance. How tantalizingly plausible to pursue this. Should the Bucks County totals need some help; there is at least once house just outside of Lambertville in New Jersey that is also a George Washington house. There’s a sign out front. It must be true.
This area likes to celebrate the nation’s first president so much, re-enactors load up Durham boats on Christmas morning near the location Mr. Washington put in the Delaware River at night on Christmas Eve 1776. People come from miles to watch the re-enactors row across the river and step out on the Jersey side. When the weather does not cooperate, the re-enactors use the steel bridge recently constructed as a means to overcome the flowing water. Imagine the anticlimax.
Perhaps we will see you out there trying to earn your Rapha patch. Perhaps we will see you as you attempt what one local cyclist, Brian Boger, has introduced as the Sensible 200. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with Rapha or not, admitting they stumbled on a great idea to get riders out the door is good enough. Two years ago we rode through poor air quality or blowing snow to get miles in. Without that blasted 500 kilometers floating out there, we would have just staying indoors saying, “I could have rode today. Now how about another swill of egg nog?” See you out there.