Christmas is the season of goodwill to all. Except if you’re a car driver, in which case it’s traditionally the season to be a complete nutjob and try and kill each and every one of those bastard smug delay-causers on bikes that clog up the roads and don’t pay vehicle excise duty. Having said that, there isn’t really an advent season for car drivers, luckily for this oft-neglected minority it’s the glorious twelfth every single day. Roll down the window and shower the cyclist with a splenetic gift drawn from the very bottom of the inarticulate bag of misjudged anger and bile.
But anyway, this is a minor digression from the highly specific title. For some cyclists, Christmas is the time to really bust a nut and ride a stupidly long way, taking advantage of the quiet roads and time off to ratchet up the base. Rapha, the gentleman’s outfitter missing only royal patronage in their quest to corner the market in obscenely-priced road schmutter, put on a ‘festive 500’ for those inclined to take some sort of challenge. It’s a bit Boy Scouts insofar as if you complete the distance over 7 days you get a cloth badge to sew onto your gilet or saddlebag. It’s 500km though, not miles, which appeals to the American market and all those who like to think they’ve cycled further than they actually have. There is some lustre to this; I’d quite like to start nailing down a metric tonne a week, rather than the piffling 62.172 miles I never actually ride. However, mileage challenges usually end in tears and a desperate attempt to complete the last few metres, culminating in repetitions of a loop of the estate whilst everyone else is chowing down on the chocolate oranges and watching Elf for the 19th time. SANTA! I KNOW HIM! Climbing challenges are even worse. An esteemed blogger and fellow club member rounded off the vertical deficit for one of these epic quests with a tidy 17 ascents of Belmont Hill. The self same bloggerista rode up Ventoux in 38 degree heat in a fleece bear suit. Either way, it’s unlikely he’ll look back from beneath the covers of his death bed and say ‘I wish I’d spent more time riding repeatedly up small hills in North Somerset’.
This time last year I seem to recall managing a 23 mile ride at about 13mph average. It was epic.