Tag Archives: rapha500

My 2012 #Festive500 Effort: barren frozen solitude.

What compels you to ride your bike? How about some one else’s bike? How about before sunrise & when it is below freezing? And for 500 kilometers?!

Unlike my inaugural Festive 500 accomplishment, which was facilitated by group rides, sunshine & no steep inclines, the 500 kilometers I logged in a combination of New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania was characterized by frigid temps, nearly no wheels to suck & and its final rides were mired in sketchy black ice patches & snow drifts.

I had no time to pen posts per day as I did last year, so this 2012 edition will be condensed to a single entry. Enjoy.

Day 1 | 12/25/12 | 23 Miles to Grandparents in Martinsville

Daunted by the idea of accomplishing the challenge while visiting my family in New Jersey, I started small. A modest 23 miles with an extra loop on River Rd. south of my Aunt’s house en route to my Grandparents for dinner.

I’d like to emphasize that none of these rides would have been possible with out the generous & balleur DA equipped Litespeed loaner from my homie @ThisisClay. Clay is a New York City based freelance Hair Dresser. He has even created styles for the runway at New York Fashion Week. Hit him up for your hair in you’re in NYC: claycutshair.com!

My improvised route north to my Grandparents’ home included some serene rural farmlands only a stone’s throw from the suburban sprawl of Route 202. Beautiful views and many entirely new to me despite having regularly visited this area since my childhood.

I looped around through downtown Raritan & up towards Martinsville. Climbing Steele Gap & Mt. Horeb were feats I’d long been looking forward too. No photos of Steele Gap but since I was a kid we’ve referred to it as ‘roller coaster road’. It hurt.

With a small and scenic start to my Festive 500, I decided to set the alarm for an #earlytobedearlytoshred jaunt into PA for a locale around 40 miles away. Eh, how about Lake Nockamixon?

Day 2 | 12/26/12 | 72.4 Miles to Lake Nockamixon & back

Wheels down at 5am. I was layered in wool & relying on Gokivo for navigation & the #soviz combo of the Rapha Hardshell & Vulpine gilet. I could wax poetic on how key the Hardshell was for me on this trip, but no one can wax poetic like Brian at the washingmachinepost. ; )

So Gokivo did a splendid job of helping me deter busy roads & of course, getting lost. The cool thing about these kinds of GPS route finders is elevation is not considered. I consider that a perk. Views like that above are only accomplished with climbs and views like that at dawn are some of the most basic perks that cycling can offer and certainly one of the things that compels me to ride my bike.

Above was the reward right after I ventured across the river into PA from Frenchtown. I found Uhlerstown Hill Road: a narrow, 20% gradient hill that is closed off from motor vehicle traffic during the winter. I had to focus on not popping a wheelie. Whoa.

“It’s so steep and narrow that it’s really unsafe to climb when there are any cars on it with you. Last time there, I rode around two other people that fell over on their bikes in front of me, before tipping over into the uphill side of the road when I tried to go around the third.”

Hillier Than Hillier – NJ [Archive]-Bike Forums

The route beyond the Delaware River into Pennsylvania was a sublime collection of rolling hills on remote forested residential roads. Still reeling from Sandy, there was the lingering feeling of carnage that the storm had wreaked on this area, even this far inland. Above is my turnaround spot at Lake Nockamixon, the centerpiece of Nockamixon State Park.

Crikey! It was cold. I kept a winter collar from Starlight Apparel over my face & ears on each ride this trip. Above are the only shots I managed to snap from my journey to PA & back.

Day 4 | 12/27/12 | 24.3 Miles Another Sprint to my Grandparents

Another short jaunt to my Grandparents. Only because I was aided by the supernatural powers of the most festive viz in the biz, the Sfatto Clothing #TheBrightness kit, I earned a KOM.

Of course, hiviz is nothing new to cycling & I spotted my first fellow cyclist of my trip on this ride. He also was doing his best to stick out on these rural roads. Mid KOM effort, I waved & continued to ape it. ; )

The silky smooth streets & scenic views in Bridgewater were a preface to the grueling pavement devastation of downtown Plainfield and industrial wasteland of Newark, Jersey City & Hoboken.

Day 6 | 12/28/12 | 100.2 Miles

You go big or go home! That’s gonna be a helluva day

@RollingMike in response to my proposal to ride from my Aunt’s in central Jersey to the George Washington Bridge

Again aided by gokivo I navigated the dark streets of Dunellen, Plainfield, Union & as the sun rose the urban thoroughfares of Newark & Jersey City making my way to the sublime skyline of NYC. What a relief. No crazy traffic to speak of really as many people weren’t up at 5 or 6am and even by 7am in Newark. I assumed holiday vacations were what spared me from confronting congested roads. I arrived a few minutes after 8am, just in time to rollout. 3 hours & 50ish miles in, my training ride with the Rapha NYC team kicked off.

It felt good to draft. The sunlight felt good. The rolling terrain & views of 9W felt good. Keeping up hurt ; )

We reached a turning point. I didn’t have the time to continue onto Bear Mountain with Jayson & Mike, pictured above, so I turned around to head back towards the city with Matt (former Rapha Condor PRO) & the one and only James Nord.

James & Matt pulled me back South on 9W. This was tough. Both super strong guys, they nearly dropped me on some of 9W’s little hills. Luckily we took a slower route near the water for a section & had a chance to chat & for me to catch up. I did do my best to take some pulls but I was certainly feeling the burn.

I may have beaten James up only one hill, he says because he was gram’n ; ) AWESOME ride guys! Thank you!

Day 7 | 12/30/12 | 56.7 Miles of snow & ice

I was sore. I was tired. And now, due to the weather, I was disheartened. But this far in, I couldn’t give up.

It had snowed the night before, and not just a little bit. I was unsure if a ride would be possible at all.

Well, once again I woke up EARLY. I rolled out at 4am. Yeah, 4am. WAT. Initially it was fine but soon I found myself in a neighborhood that hadn’t been thoroughly plowed/salted. SOLID ICE. I dismounted. Decided to stroll down the frozen hill that was between me & Washington Valley Rd.

I reached the bottom only to find that my speedplay cleats had accumulated snow into a frozen block. Clipping in was not possible. WTF.

I had to stop at a desolate but lit gas station to take a window washing squeegee to beat my cleats, literally. Not the best tool for chiseling but I broke the ice out & continued on a now quiet & nicely plowed Rt. 202 North to Morristown.

The key to success was staying on major roads. This meant smooth sailing with no snow or ice & cars weren’t a concern as the weather & vacations kept motorists at home. I was home by 8am to play with my son Otto in the snow.

Day 8 | 12/31/12 | 24.6 Miles to Coffee with my Mom & Back

My last day started with a (comparatively) not so early start of 6am to head north to Bedminster to have coffee with my Mom. This was also our last day in New Jersey. This ride was a great way to say goodbye to my Mom and wrap up the Festive 500 as well! The route to her house was no joke. All false flats & crowned with Schley Mtn Rd. All roads I’d thought of riding for years and now got to give ’em a go.

The return ride was mostly down hill. I ape’d it as I still had packing to do. And I needed do do a careful cleaning of Clay’s bike before dropping it back off in Queens. I came in at 501km & felt relieved. It is this kind of challenge accomplishment that may compel me to ride the most. Sure riding is fun but whether it is the daily commute, a criterium or some bizarre Strava contest. Competitiveness keeps my cadence up!

Here are all the photos from this year & here are the ones from last year too.

For making this ridiculous accomplishment possible I offer a sincere thank you to Rapha for the idea & stellar apparel, Strava for logging it, Vulpine for keepin me visible, Starlight Apparel for keepin my face & neck cozy & Clay for the bike, Mike for organizing the Rapha ride & especially my wife Stacey for putting up with my obsession.

I’m already looking forward to The Festive 500 in 2013!

Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 8 | 90.5 Miles

Another early start. #festive500 #day8

My last day of the Rapha Festive 500 started early, the earliest actually.  I rolled out at 4:30!

I headed down Gulf Blvd to meet up with my new Largo riding bud Craig of Outspokin Bikes.

We had an easy spin down the key and back with one of his coworkers on a Di2 Ultegra equipped Giant.

Guten Morgen

My last Florida sunrise of 2011 was great.  We had 40+ miles behind us by 7:30.

We headed back towards Largo to meet up with a Ride’n’Roll group. I snuck an espresso in.

Cheers guys. #festive500

This ride was usually was supposed to add up to around 60 miles.

I was stoked to be maybe wrap up the contest with a century.


Below I ran into a fellow Rapha-wearer, Lane, who’s daughter gave him his jersey.

She is studying abroad in Holland.  His PRO team bibs are the favorite bibs he owns.

@rapharacing PRO team bibs & jersey from his daughter studying abroad in Holland! #festive500

Here’s a shot of the group.  We were barely up to tempo and buddy in the back is feelin the burn!

Dude on the back is hurtin. #rapha500

The fog was starting to burn off. I caught a glimpse of it here.  Reminds me of one of Stefan’s ; )


Another ‘instragram’ of the group after a sprint.

2 of 2 groups this AM

I also spied this Ti Serotta.  His third, after two steel Serottas he upgraded to titanium.

Those bullet holes aren’t real but I wouldn’t put it past these horrendous Florida motorists.

Smokin Ti Serrotta #festive500

Another new friend I made this trip, John Holmes, snapped these two shots of me and Adam.

The funny thing here, besides Adam making me look skinnier than I am…

Is that his son is actually allergic to pistachios.

Needless to say, his wife did not wholly approve of his kit but paired with hi-viz Oakleys, it looks good!

Hi-viz specs club. And may my arms look small club. ; ) photo by John Holmes

I peeled off from the group early to get home and ride with my family to the beach.

That put me 10 shy of a century and at 53rd place.

We’ll see if I have the time and motivation to rank higher next year.

Kristian & Stefan set the bar pretty high!

My doo doo man & me!

Photos from all 8 days are here and strava details here.

I enjoyed logging all of these miles and would like to thank my family for wrangling Otto in the AMs,

Rapha for the clever idea to get 3k+ people out and riding and John Prolly for the props!

10 shy of a century. Let's see if the day ends with me still in the top 100. #festive500

Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 6 | 62.9 Miles

Day 6 was originally going to be maybe 20 mile or so.

Riding began with me meeting my family at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

I didn’t want to deal with changing so the touring shorts & merino boxers made perfect sense.

Little did I know the day would end with another 100k tacked on.

#rapha500 heading down to visit @66fixed

After lunch at Frenchy’s in Clearwater, I decided to head south on the Key.

Maybe swing towards St. Pete and visit Michael & Carol at 66fixed.

It was a slow cruise.  As it often does, the route included drawbridges.

I never mind watching the boats move along.

Boats slow traffic more than bikes. Honk at them.

I stopped at this kitschy aquatic scene.

I’d never get anywhere if I stopped at every random Florida style signage that caught my eye!

#festive500 #day6 #extracredit

At around sunset I rolled into 66Fixed.  Minute later the instagram comments I had gotten made sense.

66 is closing!  Michael & Carol have decided to move on from the a bike shop biz.

But, they’ll be staying in the industry!  Look out for more updates on what they do next.

Damn! @66fixed IS closing for good! Buy for bigger and better things! Good luck michael!

I’ve been visiting this shop every trip to Florida since 2007 and will be bummed to see it go!

I am excited to see them move on to the next chapter and wish them both all the best!

If you’re in the market for ANYTHING.

Call or email the shop now for deals on components, frames etc.

Gonna miss this shop!

Hell, he might let these Cinelli angel bars go!

Angel bars @cinelliUSA

My route back up to Largo was chilly & dark on the Pinellas Trail.

I met up with my family at the park to check out the lights and saw Florida’s only snowmobile.

Or is that a Sea-doo?

Check out more photos here and day 5’s write up here. Tomorrow is the last day of the challenge!

Tacked on another 100k. #festive500 In other news, @rapha_n_america will Kristian or Stephan win!?

Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 7 | 4.1 Miles

Today was a rest day for me, but maybe Otto’s most epic yet!

#festive500 Paceline

Otto, my nephew Mason & I made a 2 mile sojourn to a local playground.

Pacelining on sidewalks one half of the way and then met up with their Moms at the park.


Luckily, I brought some GSC water vessels along!

Otto was ape'n it! #rapha500

I was super impressed with Otto! He was sporting crocs, jamming along at a jogging pace!

We just rode 2 miles #festive500

We took up the whole rack!  Here is a shot from earlier this week of the whole crew.

We reached our destination!

We made it to the park! And this was Otto’s longest trip solo by bike: 1.9 miles!

Freshly packed BB, patched tube, clean chain and overall tune up! Ready to rip!

Mason & I biked back as dusk creepin in.  He and I had spent some time working on his bike today.

It had a bent chainring, filthy chain, flat tire, stuck brake cable etc.

Now totally dialed, he was stoked!

Otto took the SAG wagon home, Mason went for a high speed record.

Though he didn’t beat his PR for max speed, we had a blast on the ride home and I got 4 miles in!

Only one day left! Intending on another 100miles to ensure a top 100 finish! 5am rollout! #festive500

Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 5 | 47.6 Miles

#festive500 #day5

After not meeting my goal of a 4 day Festive 500 completion, I was determined to surpassed 500k today.

Still sore, John’s suggested rendezvous of 7:30 allowed me some extra Z’s.

When not being harassed and rammed by motorists. The scenery is nice. #festive500 #Florida

We rolled out towards the beach and I thought about how seeing the sunrise each day has been great.

I wanted to be back home by 10.  So we picked up the pace.  That means less pictures.  ; )


Our route was mostly pretty quiet.  Neighborhood roads, out towards Safety Harbor.

Chilly for Florida, we both had arm warmers. Again, our pace compensated for the 50 degree temp.

And, I was glad i brought my vest Philipp had got me at the Freiburg Collective.

Not a hill. #rapha500

In an otherwise uneventful nearly half century.  Somewhere along the way I met my 500k goal.

What better way to celebrate than with a natty fab?

After all, “A goal is nothing without at least a moment of panache” –Bill Strickland

Midride #festive500 victory trackstand.

When I wrapped up my ride I was ranked 35th.  Now its like 66th…

And where the hell did Kristian House come from!?! He’s closing in on 1000k!

I think I’ll sleep in tomorrow but do plan on taking advantage of the remaining three days to ride.

35th (for now) & 107% complete.

Here’s a breakdown of my rides totally to 536km. Read all posts here & photos here.

Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 4 | 55.8 Miles

It's 6am. Time to get on the bike. #day4 #festive500

Another early morning.  Leave it to an apparel company to inspire you to wake up so early, so often.

Leave it to a kit to remind you of serenely scrumptious soups and organic treats, Biosk!

Damn i miss Freiburg. For updates from that neck of the woods be sure to follow europeantouches.cc

Meanwhile, in Florida, my Festive 500 quest continues and was scheduled to be completed today…

Lotsa bridges. #festive500

I set out earlier than necessary to rendezvous with a group ride i had caught wind of yesterday.

I want to spin my first 10 miles real slow and allowed myself nearly an hour to warm up.

I ran into two guys, below, heading to the 8:30 AM start in St. Pete.

Charlie in Garmin kit and John (another John) in Nalini, were happy to show me the way to the start.

In fact, I recognized Charlie from the Ride’n’Roll group yesterday.

Nice to already have familiar faces around here.

Riding to meet the group. Yes @positronicshell I said group ; )

I met up with two other guys and headed out on a loop new to me.

Settling in a paceline, we sped up.

I was second wheel, expect a turn to pull on a long straight, no lights nor stop signed road.

Suddenly the guy in front of me yelled.

Slammed his brakes and swerved, I had been looking further down the road…

Immediately halfwheeled, his swerve took me out.

I saw the car fender.

Felt John pass over/beside me over the hood. That sound, the bike crash sound.  I hate it.

That moment.  The millisecond you know you are crashing and contemplate how bad it will be.

Immediately I stood up.  Cursing, I photographed the motorist’s license plate and dialed 911.

The car had not stopped at a stop sign and had begun a left turn, into our paceline.

Fucking pissed is an understatement.

Waiting on police report. Fucking Florida drivers. Me and my bike are ok. Dude didn't stop at a stop sign and pulled in front of our pace line. Took two dudes out.

My wounds were/are minimal.  The Biosk kit will see many more rides and my Kazane is ok.

Some stuff needs to be replaced but John’s Cervelo is toast.

Cracked around the headtube behind the fork, it had less than 500 miles on it.

We were all lucky.  Accidents always suck.  Bicycle accidents really suck.

Bicycle acidents because of motorist negligence suck more than that.

Well, our fellow Florida road user and vest sporting cyclist striker below received a citation.

His failure to yield should provide compensation for our damages.  But Florida is ‘no fault’?

Tomorrow I’ll call his insurance and find out. The important part is everyone was ok.

Still pissed of course.

This is the guy that hit us.

We abandoned our planned route.  Some unscathed guys continued. Charlie, John & I got some coffee.

That helped. The fact the cop on the scene was a cyclist probably helped as well.

The common experiences, bonds and nearly immediate friendships that cyclists share, that helped too.

Coffee kinda helps. #festive500

Riding home in the rain? That did not help and my wounds stung.

Soaked and realizing I would not wrap up my 500k, I made my way back to Largo.

Rain does not help. #festive500

In a final allegory of feeling vulnerable on the road. Not to mention slow.  ; )

I helped this little guy get across the street. It was pouring at that point.

I was relieved to get off my bike in one piece.

Tortoise a the...

All things considered i feel sore but extremely lucky. I’ll be back out there tomorrow and after that…

Stories like this really make me remember how fortunate we were today.

Ride info below and on strava.  Yesterday’s post is here.

Well, didn't achieve my #festive500 today as planned. After the spill, the guys I was riding with & I rode home. I'll wrap it up tomorrow or Thursday.

Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 3 | 68.9 Miles

My 3rd day of the Rapha Festive 500 may have been my best yet.

Not the most miles but most smiles by far.

I rolled out around 7 to Ride’n’Roll on West Bay next to the Pinellas Trail.

Group ride

I love scoping bikes at races, rides and other events.  Like some sort of weather forecast…

You can surmise certain initial impressions about riders and what the day holds.

My verdict? Today would be fast.

Super great group this morning. Lots of teamwork, smiles and everyone waited for the single flat we had. #festive500

The group was big. Mostly comprised of experienced roadies, I felt comfortable in the peloton.

We slowly ambled our way northward towards the route John & I had done the day before.

Tempo? #rapha500

Speaking of John, he stuck out conspicuously in his hi-viz pHit pills kit.

Speaking of kits,  the Ride’n’Roll kits below sure stuck out as well.  Their team/club was out in force!

For @cass_kee, the Team Ride'n'Roll kits.

By the time our route reached its northern summit, we were in full on TT mode.

Maybe the hardest I’ll ape it all winter.

Below is the chase group as I fell back in after attempting to reel the ‘leaders’ in.

Right after I gave up my bridge the gap dream, the chase group. #rapha500

Luckily, the effort ended with a rest stop and i continued to get acquainted with local racers & riders.

First rest stop. It was tempo. Floridians Ape'n it #airportride style #festive500

While, at the rest stop and once back on the road.  I kept scoping out sweet rides.

Peek these Wiliers!


We had a steady spin back into Largo and I made sure to take my turns a the front.

Slow spin back to Largo

I swung by the store to grab my favorite recovery drink, chocolate milk!

#rapha500 #recovery

I can’t deny my brand choice wasn’t influenced by Steven of Boulder Velodrome‘s kit!  ; )

He hung on this hammer session fixed, which you know i can appreciate!

My last similar experience was at NAHBS but a brakeless century tops my list of not to be repeated feats.

Imagine If you were sponsored! @idontdohumans

well, after the ride slowly fragmented and the last few of us rolled back to the shop, I headed home.

I am grateful that my efforts for this contest have largely not been solo. Florida traffic is horrendous.

Most roads around here are three lanes.

Even with a bike lane the paranoia of a 97 year old careening a Cadaillac into my back plagues me.

See my new riding buddy? Thanks again @shakesmonroe!

But when even when on my own, i have a new riding partner.

Peek my new tattoo above by Shakes of Ink & Dagger Tattoo in Atlanta.

Family themed leg sleeve coming soon!

Below are my stats for the day.  I made it to spot 23 in the rankings.

Let’s see if I can end in the top 20!

Yesterday’s post is here and all photos here.

23rd place! #festive500 @rapha_n_america

Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 2 | 62.6 Miles

Got another 3hrs, 63miles in & made a new Largo riding buddy. #festive500 #day2

After I put my son Otto down for an afternoon nap, I kitted out and rolled out for maybe a 2 hour spin.

I knew I’d head north.  No route nor distance in mind and hoped, as it was xmas, that traffic’d be slim.

@sfattoclothing sock & favorite shoe combo. (too hot for shoe covers)

I learned yesterday that it’d get hot.  I suppose weather sites coulda told me too.

No shoecovers, knee/arm warmers nor vests require ’round here. It’d been ages since i rode bare shoes!

#festive500 you might be in Florida if...

Well, after sneakily scoping out some indigenous inhabitants,  I ran into  lone cyclist.

He was spinning a pretty good pace northbound, right as I considered a U-turn to head home.

Francaise Des Jeux Cycling, in Florida? I followed him of course.  No drafting until an introduction.

Mildly toasted from yesterday, my serendipitous opportunity to hang on John's wheel was a welcome relief. #festive500

John was a super cool dude.

He showed me some quiet roads and pretty much towed me back down to Largo.

He has raced for 35 years, formerly built frames, lived by Mt. Ventoux for 2yrs and is fast.

His Wilier was killer.  Gotta get a better photo at the 7:30 Ride’n’Roll group ride tomorrow AM.

Thanks for letting me sit on your wheel all afternoon John! Hasta mañana! #festive500

Thanks once again for letting me sit on your wheel and the friendly and briskly paced ride John!

My second day the Rapha Festive 500 brings the tally to nearly 161 miles.

310 miles (500k) is the goal! Though, I am considering the funny finale of 666km too…

Yesterday’s write up: Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 1 | 98.3 Miles

Gonna do parts of this with a group tomorrow. It's gonna be faster. At least I know where the sprints are now. #festive500

Rapha Festive 500 2011 | Day 1 | 98.3 Miles

I'm logging some #rapha500 miles early tomorrow. Gimme a shout of you wanna meet up!

Like most of my longer rides over the past year, i need to roll out early.

I posted looking for local riding buddies but too little too late. I expected a solo spin around St. Pete.

Easy step towards punctual departure. #rapha500

I prepared all of my supplies for the next day.  Maybe 50-60 miles planned.

Ran into St. Pete's Sat morning 8:30 ride. Fast stuff! #rapha500

I slowly decided to change my plans as the pace picked up.  I ran into a few fellow cyclists.

They were heading towards St. Pete’s Sat. AM group ride at 8:30.

Apparently they had some steam to blow off and were already ape’n it.

One woman recognized me from 2009’s FM24.

Elizabeth Morse Hill had the fastest women’s lap that year.

Took a short break. Might crack a century.

This photo caught the CAT6 comments on instagram that it deserved.

As soon as that bridge dropped… Sprint!

More shots from my #rapha500 efforts this AM

I rolled with various pelotons downtown, down to Ft. Desoto and back north before I headed home.

Sure, recumbents are funny. Until you get dropped by one. #rapha500

Not before this guy road me off his wheel.

Sweet bike sightings. #rapha500

I snapped a few photos of some of the ride that caught my eye.  The Moots is a always a looker.

Plus I’m a sucker for integrated stem and bars!

My only 'hill' #rapha500

My only hill.  The Bellaire Causeway back to Largo.


The route & stats.

Strava // Rapha500 // 12-24

Follow me on Strava!

My ride ended with a short jaunt with my nephew adding 2.4 miles and an outdoor shower!

Not bad for a first day.  I am still on the fence about tomorrow and its 2am now…

Keep up with all the competitors here and Rapha’s highlights here.

Just took a shower. OUTSIDE! #rapha500