Festive 500 - The Idea is Born

Tomorrow morning four riders including myself will embark on our Rapha #Festive500 challenge by riding the three stages of the 2016 Tour De Yorkshire on consecutive days in the middle of winter. The initial idea was conceived by my fellow commuter and friend John Baston who has written a few words about how he came up with the idea... "A Festive Challenge Conceived; On 9 October 2015 the ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ announced the 6 host towns for the starts/finishes of the 2016 edition of the race as: Beverley; Doncaster; Middlesbrough, Otley, Scarborough and Settle.

I was particularly excited that my home-town, Otley, was again to be honoured by a visit from a major professional cycling race! The West Yorkshire Market Town is already something of a cycling hub as a cross-roads for recreational and club cyclists heading for the open roads of the Yorkshire Dales, the host town for an important annual series of criterium races and the home-town of the current World Road Race Champion, Lizzie Armitstead.

Otley has been hugely fortunate in recent times to have been on the routes of the 2014 Tour de France’s Yorkshire Grand Depart and 2015's inaugural Tour de Yorkshire. The announcement of the start/finish towns set me thinking about a possible idea for the annual Rapha #Festive500 and a quick bit of research showed that the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire route had totalled 515km. Perfect …the 2016 race route might just provide the ideal challenge for the 2015 #Festive500 …that is apart from the notoriously tough nature of Yorkshire’s terrain and roads, and the unpredictably and harsh conditions likely to be encountered in December!

Further details of the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire race, including the full route, were set to be made public on 9 December; which would fit in with an early reconnoitre of the course for the #Festive500 at the end of that month.

With imagination captured by the idea, I thought, rather than ride this as a solo challenge, why not float the idea with club-mates at albaRosa Cycling Club to see if there were any takers for a club team attempt on an early and wintery #Festive500 attempt to complete the route. I was interested in making the club/team dimensions important aspects of this year’s #Festive500, having completed the challenge solo in 2014.

A ‘peloton’ racing against the elements and short winter hours of daylight; ‘a peloton, but not made of individuals seeking to bathe themselves in glory, not driving ever forwards towards the winning line. A peloton beyond competition, a group where the one becomes all, where the beauty of the mass endeavour, the collective aspiration…’ (Angus Farquhar/NVA ‘Ghost Peloton’, a public artwork 2014) …and the Yorkshire cycling grit and road-craft creates an unbreakable bond and esprit de corps."

You can follow our progress using #TDY500 so keep an eye out for our updates as we suffer our way across Yorkshire.