This year, I am going to attempt the Rapha Festive 500 (Ride to Redemption) which is to cycle 500 kilometres over the festive period between December 23rd and the 31st:

Now, it is meant to be completed outside on a bicycle and as per the rules turbo trainers and rollers are not to be counted towards the final distance but this presents me with a problem. Well, two problems to be exact…

Firstly, I was the victim of a hit and run in November when a car pulled out in front of me without looking. This has resulted in some injuries which have prevented me from riding a bike – tendon damage to my shoulder, a sprained wrist and, on the other hand, a broken finger which is still in a splint.

As you can see, it’s not a particularly horrific injury (the  swelling and bruising were far more impressive than the x-ray would suggest)  but that little bit that has broken off is where the extensor tendon is attached to which needs to heal if I ever want to straighten my finger again. I also can’t grip my handlebars or brake with sufficient control – I did try!  So, that coupled with the other ouches means I am officially off my bike until December the 27th when the splint comes off and everything has healed.



Now, the second problem I have and it’s  one that any cyclist can sympathise with is that due to work, I find it very difficult to actually get out and ride my bike sometimes. I am currently at work, working twelve hours per day every day (including any and all public holidays) and, unfortunately as a navigation officer in the Merchant Navy, this also means being on a ship at sea. As I’m sure you can now appreciate, the opportunities to ride are extremely limited and this is the real nature of my problem.

Having read the rules of the Rapha Festive 500 I’m hoping that, due to my exceptional circumstances and the fact that, although turbo trainers and rollers have been ruled out, there appears to be a minor loophole that means stationary bicycles haven’t. So, I intend to exploit this and try to complete the distance using the stationary bike in our fantastic, state of the art, climate controlled gymnasium…. Prepare to be amazed:


Unfortunatley, the gym (this really should be in inverted commas) is not quite as described. It is, quite frankly the most dismal and uninspiring space it has ever been my displeasure to have exercised in with old, outdated equipment (although it’s still clinging on to life) and no air conditioning or heating. This can be a problem as, being a converted part of the ship, it’s nothing more than a metal box. This means that it’s incredibly hot and humid in the tropics with the sun beating down all day and, as I am now in winter North Atlantic conditions, pretty cold and damp! That is an early nineties (Life Fitness) LifeCycle 9500HR. I expect these are now used by those training for L’Eroica but it’s what I am left to work with. The view from the position of the user is also as depressing as you’expect. There will be more of this later….

The one thing I have to look forward to is Friday the 30th of December when I will be leaving this mighty vessel and travelling home. Although this means I have one day where it’s unlikely I will be able to complete any kilometres it does leave one, final day when I hope the weather will be kind enough to actually let me ride my bike and complete any remaining kilometres in the manner intended.

In the meantime, as an exercise in suffering, boredom, exhaustion and misery I can envisage this being extremely succesful. I expect to have to pedal for three hours per day, split into three in order to fit into my working and sleeping patterns – I will also be affected by the severity of the weather as heavy pitching and rolling renders the equipment off limits. I guess not getting rained on is certainly one advantage but I can’t think of any others – believe me, I would choose riding a bike, outside in any weather over having to pedal in the cave.

Hopefully the kind people at Rapha will understand that despite competing in a manner slightly outwith what is intended, I am still competing with the spirit required.

I wish everyone involved the best of luck with their efforts – happy and safe cycling everyone!