Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Monday, December 24, 2012

Fire and Brimstone on a Cold Day - Festive 500

The Rapha Festive 500 started today, this day before the holiday when everything is closed in our annual celebration to honor excessive consumerism and gluttony [John: I get to live with this positive attitude!]. The idea behind the Festive 500 is to ride 500 km over the holidays to offset a bit of the excesses that may stretch the waistline at this time of the year. Fortunately I've been training hard all year just so I can survive all the riding this week. And given all the riding I have planned, I will need to eat even more!

John and I worked with the fine folks at Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington to put together a series of rides for the 8 days of the challenge. We have rides of about 100km on everyday, with a special 100 mile ride out to Mount Wachusett on December 29, when a few folks from Rapha are coming up to join us.

One of the things we have tried to do with this set of routes is to actually avoid the regular weekly club ride routes. An advantage of using the same routes every week is that folks get to know all the turns and climbs and sprints and potholes. With a known/set route folks can compare times from week to week. And they are less likely to get lost or need shepherding.

But it's nice to mix things up a bit. And thanks to technology, we can create a route using online mapping software and super-domestiques with GPS devices can download the route and lead folks out onto new and different roads. RSC has created this great concept of a super-domestique, who isn't just the ride leader, but also one who keeps the group together and looks out for all the riders. We usually have a leader and sweep for the different pace groups who help keep the riders together and ensure that rides are fun for all.

With the big holiday falling on Tuesday, it seems lots of folks were given Monday off work as well. And a whole lot of those folks were all in the Studio when I arrived. I think we had about 40 cyclists at departure time at 10AM, an impressive turnout given the temperature hovering around the freezing mark.

With such a large crowd, we recruited a few extra super-domestiques to help out. We had the full length 60 mile ride, but also offered a shorter 43 mile route for folks who had limited time, or in case of bad weather. Both options took in the feature climb up Brimstone Lane, but the longer route added a loop out around Callahan State Park, past the Sudbury Reservoir before a lunch break at Panzano. John and Henry would lead and sweep the fast, long ride. Matt and Susi helped me with the moderate-paced group and Geoff led the short group back after Brimstone, all with help from other GPS enabled folks.

I think the climb up Brimstone was a new one for a few folks and was well received although it might have also helped sell some bigger cassettes or smaller chainrings! It definitely helped warm up anyone who was too chilly - although the big swoopy descent afterwards might have cooled folks back down.

I think everyone had a grand day out and I look forward to the rest of the week. Tuesday's ride departs from our house, since the Studio is closed. We have a small group planning to ride and it should be fun. I've been working on this route lots over the last month, and am excited to share it with others.

Here's a few photos from today...

Jeff and John chatting about touring in Spain

Mike,  James and Geoff enjoying some espresso before the ride

Scott, Neil and Henry stoking up with some fuel pre-ride.

Patria, manning the register before joining us on the ride.

The group getting ready for the off.

Leaning into the cross-wind.

Dave and Neil, en peloton.

Katie, on her way to the Strava QOM on Brimstone.

Dan, powering his way up Brimstone.

Regrouping on top of Brimstone.

Geoff, co-leader on the day.

Katie and Henry, passing the Sudbury Reservoir.

Sam, leading us to our coffee stop.

Rapha Pro-Team cattle, spotted en route.



  1. Hey Pam and John fantastic ride and really good route. Thanks for pulling that all together!


    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Hope to see you out for more festive rides!

  2. Excessive consumerism? I don't get it.

  3. Pamela, I hope you've had a safe and enjoyable ride today as well. Are you at all concerned about ice tomorrow?

    David B

    1. We had a great ride today.

      Not too worried for Wednesday, but will show caution as appropriate. I will decide in the morning which tires to use!