Rapha Festive 500

I’ve been meaning to post rather a lot of articles and have just had a mental block for some reason or another recently. Last year we were lucky enough to have a just over a week up in North Yorkshire to fulfill the required distance for Rapha’s Festive 500.

We had a cottage booked, the car was packed and after a six hour drive we had made it to our home for the coming week in the picturesque village of Middleham. That being said I was warned how hilly the town was, what I didn’t know is how strong the head winds could get, but more of this later.

For those that don’t know Middleham it’s a small market town and civil parish in the Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire, England. It lies in Wensleydale, in the Yorkshire Dales, on the north-facing side of the valley just above the junction of the River Ure and River Cover. There has been a settlement there since Roman times. It is currently on the Tour of Yorkshire route (possibly the 2019 World Road Cycling Championships) and if you have ever been there you can see why. The views are stunning and very little traffic other than the thoroughbred race horses which can often be seen at the gallops.

Like most days in a new area it is always good to get out an explore as much as you can and being in North Yorkshire was no different. Over the allocated days we had various routes planned should the weather turn nasty or just in case the pints of Theakston’s Old Peculier made the next day a little heavy on the legs.

The dales are amazing and the scenery is simply breath taking at this time of year. Saying that it is stunning most of the year even when raining or when there is thick fog as far as the eye can see. If the weather does turn unexpectedly for the worse there are various good pubs that will welcome you with a roaring fire, a good pint and locals who will often talk wanting to know or try to understand why the hell you are out there cycling 500km’s in that weather. If you are really lucky you might even bump into a cycling celebrity 😉

Now to say that there on some of the days there were headwinds is an easy understatement. As you head towards the gallops from Middleham you can see why some of the race horses from this area win huge prizes. Cycling in that wind was a struggle and one can only imagine what it must take for a horse to do that every day. Add that to the climbs that are found dotted around the area where you can easily find yourself hitting a gradient of 20% if you make the wrong turn. But that seems to be what makes exploring this area so fantastic. You never really know what is around the corner until you come across it.

The routes which we cycled had taken us through towns such as Masham, Ripon, Hawes and Deepdale. The early frosty mornings were well worth it even if a little cold. When you are gifted with such views you can see why this area attracts so many visitors let along cyclists.

Christmas day came and went, as did the Theakson’s Old Peculier over the seven days. All-in-all we managed to cycle just over the allocated festive 500 kilometers required, in fact we managed 507 just for good measure.

Here’s to 2019’s Festive 500 and we hope to have a great story for you to read.