Festive 500

When I started reading about Festive 500 a few weeks ago, I got way too excited about it.

I was just getting comfortable on my new cross bike, excited to try a new cold-weather jacket I got for my birthday and wanted to have my first successful winter of braving the elements. Last off-season I guess you could say I "off-seasoned" too hard, avoided the cold at all costs and had a hard time coming back from it.

While 310 miles in eight days isn't particularly out of the ordinary (I mean, I had few 300+ long ride weekends this past summer...), the Festive 500 seemed like the perfect chance to put a bow on 2015. 

Well, it never dipped below 50-degrees, making for a very un-festive holidays and making this "challenge" way too easy, aside from the non-stop rain. I had a great plan to hit some of my favorite routes in Asheville and also make this a local "where to ride" guide of sorts but the rain and a crash on day two put a bit of a damper on that plan. 

That being said, kick up your feet and grab your hot cocoa while I share some of the highlights from what it's like to knock out 500+ km while riding eight days straight on top of my normal swim - bike - running. 

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FESTIVE DAY 1, CHRISTMAS EVE WATERFALLS

Details: 34 miles / 2:12 / 2,493ft 

Christmas eve was spent braving the rain for a nice meandering 2+ hours on the cross bike. I bought my cross bike for racing, yes, but even more so for those gross days where I still wanted to get outside but didn't want to brave the trainer. This was perfect!

 

FESTIVE DAY 2, CHRISTMAS DAY: HITTING THE DECK

Details: 31 miles / 2:10 / 2,713ft 

I had a grand plan to hit up all my favorite routes for the Festive 500 and the 4-hour climb up to Mt Pisgah and back down to town was at the top of my list. Unfortunately less than 20 minutes in I hit some train tracks just slightly off and went down hard. I probably would have called it quits save for the Festive 500 but knowing that I had plenty of mileage left to hit my goal, I soldiered on for an abbreviated ride. 

FESTIVE DAY 3: SOLO BAKERY RIDE

Details: 61 miles / 3:56 / 4,364ft 

There's a killer ride that goes out in Asheville every Saturday from City Bakery up North. I usually make a point to join this group but I was a little slow this morning and ended up about an hour behind the regular crew. I was waaay slower than normal without the draft and the motivation!

FESTIVE DAY 4: DARC'D

Details: 71 miles / 3:37 / 3,294ft 

Some of the same group that usually meets on Saturdays (lot of the guys from Downtown Asheville Racing Club, aka DARC) threw in a bonus ride on Sunday. Good riding that included one of my favorite people to ride with/heckle (local coach, 2016 Kona Qualifier and #aeronerd Heath, in the TECT jersey to the right below). 

This ride absolutely shelled me. It was a solid ride to begin with but the last 20 miles coming back along the river were a hammerfest. We had a rotating pace line of 10 or so... that dwindled down to eight and then five as people dropped off to sit on the back. I had a great position of sitting behind two of the strongest in the group which meant I had to follow-up on extremely fast and hard pulls as they would accelerate each time they came to the front. If you haven't pacelined before, this SUCKED. I eventually dropped off the back and threw a solo pity party for a few miles as I watched the monster group ride away, before they eventually regrouped at the top of a big climb back into town. 

FESTIVE DAY 5: RACING SUNSET STORMS

Details: 14 miles / 1:07 / 1,588ft 

Feeling the pain of the previous two days, this was a shorty compared to most... but I still made it up my favorite town mountain for a quick few miles to add to the total. Again, this is where the big girl bibs came in handy just to get some mileage in. I did not particularly want to ride... but I had a goal to hit, damnit! ;) 

FESTIVE DAY  6: LUNCH RIDE 

Details - Part 1, Part 2: 38 miles / 2:02 / 1,695ft 

The river was crazy! We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day in late December. With legs feeling slightly better after an easier day before, this was fantastic. 

FESTIVE DAY 7: MISTY

Details: 14 miles / 1:07 / 1,575ft

This was also shorter than planned but squeeze in a quick loop in some less-than-ideal visibility. If not for the Festive 500, again, I probably would not have gotten out there in the rain and mist. 

FESTIVE DAY 8, NEW YEAR'S EVE

Details: 48 miles / 2:40 / 2,103ft 

DONE! Tied up the Festive 500 with a quick 50 miler to hit the 500km goal. A little chillier than I would have liked but all smiles for a great New Year's Eve activity!

Final thoughts!

Final Count: 502 kilometers or 312 miles! Averaging 39 miles/day for 8 days.

If anything, the Festive 500 taught me how to put on my big girl bibs and brave sub-optimal weather to get in my ride. If not for the rules, I would have been more than happy to hop on the trainer to get in my workout. While we still lucked out with better than normal weather, I would say that Festive 500 taught me to toughen up a touch and really appreciate the conditions we ride in everyday!

How brave are you guys when it comes to getting out in sub-optimal conditions with tired legs? Suck it up and get out there or resort to the trainer?