Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 Indoor Festive 500 - Dec 24

For the past two years, the last week of the year has been filled with cycling and blogging, as Fear Rothar and I have taken up the challenge from Rapha to document a week of riding at least 500km, in what can be pretty extreme weather conditions. The challenge in 2011 was subtitled The Ride to Redemption, and we took it quite literally, as we designed routes that included Redemption Rock, Purgatory Chasm, Brimstone, and Mt Grace. We were almost sad to have no snow to make it Rapha-Epic, but for us the bitter cold more than made up for lack of snow - what a shame cold doesn't show as well as snow in photos! In 2012, we had a bit more company on our rides as lots of our fellow Ride Studio Cafe club members took up the Festive 500 challenge. We even had some snow last year to help with our epic-lite photos.

Speaking of epic weather conditions, I've developed quite a reputation for taking on the bad weather, and have to admit that part of what I seek in a good Festive 500 report is some pretty severe weather that might make otherwise hardy souls stay home to iron socks - btw thanks @ffflow for that imagery.

I'm a real believer that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing - and have a 3 part series of posts on the subject (base, outer, extremities).  I've had plenty of experience dressing for bad weather because I simply hate to ride indoors. I always have. Give me 0F and gale force winds over the boredom of a trainer anyday!

I don't ride for exercise. I ride a bike to take in for beautiful scenery and enjoy pleasant company and conversation, and as my local riding companions will attest, for the great coffee shop and bakery stops. But this year, I've been faced will a whole new set of challenges.

Newcomers to the blog may not be aware of my apparent need to have as much titanium in my body as possible. Just as dogs and their owners start to look alike, I seem to be on a quest to be made of the same material as my bike. In June, I was hit by a wrong way cyclist and broke my collarbone. But thanks to a titanium plate and 6 screws, I was back riding within a couple of weeks.

Then three months later, a careless driver in a truck hit me from behind while I was riding, and enabled me to add to my titanium collection. I now also have a few rods and 8 screws in my back as a result of a burst T11 fracture, along with multiple other vertebra and rib fractures.

I've been wearing a fairly restrictive TLSO back brace since September. I've been very limited in what I could do, with no bending or twisting, and no lifting anything heavier than a half gallon of milk. I've been doing more pain relief than exercise at PT, but I have been walking lots. I had considered doing a Festive50, with plans to walk 50 miles, but then I started thinking about what I might be able to do on the indoor bike, and how a big week could really help motivate me and get me back to riding.

Then last Friday, I was finally given the green light to get out of the brace. I am now allowed to do more and can finally start doing some strengthening work in PT. The bones are not fully healed, but the progress is on schedule and good. The hardware is secure and stable and I can now finally bend and twist and ... ride my indoor bike. But I've lost considerable upper body strength, so one of the big challenges now is I have to use my own muscles, rather than the brace, to hold myself up. But I am so happy to be out of that brace, that I am coping with any extra pain.

Now I never thought I would be so excited to be able to ride a trainer, but I am. And while I know that the fine folks at Rapha intend for Festive 500 challenge participants to ride outside, I'm hoping for special dispensation! Besides, it's a hell of a lot harder to ride indoors. It's boring and it's hard work.

I've got my belt drive fixie (still sporting the Mt Washington race number) set up on a fluid trainer. Next to this I have my laptop and a series of DVDs. I've been thoroughly enjoying rewatching episodes of Jeeves and Wooster. Today included an awesome episode where Bertie was forced to ride his bike 9 miles in pouring to and from a servants party to collect a key, when he caused the entire household to get locked out while trying one of his silly matchmaking schemes. So while I rode in the relative comfort of the 50F degree garage, I watched Bertie ride his bike in the rain - close enough, eh?

In keeping with tradition, I stopped for lunch and coffee, and apparently a leg massage from Cocoa...

Then I headed back down for part 2.

Day 1 - 88km, 17% complete. Stay tuned...



  1. Congrats on progress, Pamela! Looking good on that trainer. Been enjoying my new fluid trainer with Bluetooth, iPad & Fleetwood Mac that gives me stats-watts, heart rte, cadence, speed/distance and & controls resistance. Convenience helps offset riding outside somewhat & Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks also.

    Thanks for your lovely posts and for encouraging all of us by example.

    Best in the new year with more healing and progress.

    Jim Duncan

    1. Hi Jim,

      What? Fleetwood Mac without Peter Green and Danny Kirwan?!?

  2. I'm so happy you are back on your bike! Congratulations! This will be some good training you can control over the next year:)

  3. Thanks to all. I'm hoping this will translate to some level of fitness when I can get back on the road, so I can enjoy myself outside!

  4. Hi Fear,

    Yeah, a sin of omission for sure. I'll tacking it on all the others I'll be paying for in purgatory.


  5. BTW Jim what are you using for controlling resistance on your fluid trainer. I'm doing the completely low-tech thing, riding it with a fixed gear with a garmin 500 to record it, but various folks have been telling me about these Virtual Trainers that let you ride a course and will vary the resistance automagically.

  6. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, the trainer is controlled by Bluetooth Smart or ANT with an adapter (I'm using Bluetooth) from my iPhone or more usually iPad. Has 4 resistance control modes: a level mode w variable values; a manual resistance mode that you can input resistance 0 to 100; an erg mode that you set the watts and it holds to it; & a Sim mode that lets you input slope, wind, rolling resistance, etc.. Rear wheel is off so fits in trainer that has a SRAM/Shimano compatible cassette(can get an optional Campy cassette. Indebted to the author at this comprehensive link for preceding skeletal summary:

    Very fun-I've only used the manual control so far but as I get dialed in, will try out the sim/recreational mode with DVDs, etc. Right now, I'm pleased that I'm getting my cadence up. Thanks!

    P.S. Please edit this as you need of course.


    1. Ah Jim, I don't think this will work with my fixie! There do seem to be a few options for the cycleops trainer that I have. It's just amazingly hard to decipher what is actually needed and how it all works. I'm happy enough with the basic setup I have now, but I am curious about various options. Thanks for the link and info.

  7. I'm catching up with your blog and it's great to see you are riding again even if it is inside. I can't help thinking though that your screen should be directly in front of you so you don't twist to see it.
    I would agree with the need to view something though!

    I hope the recovery keeps on and that riding outside is not impossibly far away now.

    1. The computer is at the side so I can reach it, since I sometimes have to change DVDs, or make a selection on Netflix. I don't have to twist to watch it. It's just a tilt of the head. If this were to be a long-term project, I might consider a different setup, but for now, this will do.

  8. Great to see you back on the bike. Hope 2014 is a much better year for you!