Category Archives: #festive500

Strava Rapha Festive 500 Challenge Summary

So it is two days after the end of what become a bit of a rush to finish the 2012 Festive 500 Challenge. That meant 500km between the start of Christmas Eve and the end of New Years Eve.

This made a good end to the year and I manipulated things so that completing the challenge would also mean meeting my target of 5,500 miles for the year.

Nearly the whole distance was on my Shand Cycles Stoater, my Bike for Life and I’ll summarise how that felt in a moment. First here are the posts I have already written about the challenge:

So this included the longest ride on my Stoater since getting it in mid November, 75.7 miles (in  two parts with dinner at home with the family in between).

The Stoater has performed perfectly throughout the period. The only maintenance was that a bolt on the front rack and another on the rear rack shook loose. In both cases I took the wheel off to make sure that all the other bolts were tight. The front wheel I did in the hotel one night, the rear one at a lunch stop in Cannock Chase. Fortunately, the belt drive meant that taking the wheel off was not a dirty/oily task even though it was weeks since the only time the bike has been washed since new.

The only other “jobs” don’t really count as maintenance (I changed the angle of my Brooks saddle which stopped me sliding towards the front, I swapped the batteries on my Cateye extra rear light for fully charged ones and I cleaned the lens of my front Schmidt eDelux light).

So the Stoater had:

These are exactly the sort of features I was planning for when choosing my Bike for Life. What is more there are no outstanding jobs needing doing after the ride finished. So yesterday I jumped on with no preparation to go out to friends for a meal in smartish clothes.  Today, I rode nearly 7 miles into Leicester in normal clothes.

I do feel a bit guilty about not caring for my beautiful bike enough and so will be looking to make some time in the next few days to give it a nice clean. But that is only so Stephen Shand will still talk to me and not be ashamed of his customers 🙂

I was probably one of the slowest riders in the Festive 500km but I am sure I was also one of the most comfortable and one of the few to include rides in a suit.

I am now confident that I will be able to do 100 mile day rides easily on this Bike. The challenge is simply making enough time for them.

One of the highlights is that at the end of these rides with no cleaning of the drive train it is still running as silently and smoothly as my fixie does when it has just been cleaned and serviced (that is in gears 8 to 14 anyway as 1 to 7 are still being run in).

Another highlight are the brakes. The Hope Tech Evo V4 hydraulic disc brakes are wonderful, they look beautiful (I have the special edition with green highlights) and they just work unobtrusively. Totally confidence inspiring and a delight to use.

I am really pleased with the Finished Stoater Handlebars they have proved very comfortable, I am able to ride for miles in the more aerodynamic positions which I think are similar in performance to being on the hoods of my Trek Road Bike (and I never used the drops for very far at all).

As I mentioned the Shwalbe Marathons have also been a good upgrade. Not only no punctures but no need to pump them up and great combination of speed and comfort.

For these rides I was mostly using my Caradice Carradry front panniers on the rear rack, they are ideal for day rides when you want to carry a few clothes etc.

So I have now ridden some 750 miles on this bike. Are there any bits I would change?

  • The VO Mudguards have taken a bit of fettling to get right but now seem to be pretty good and staying reliably in place. So for the moment I have a provisional good opinion.
  • The Carradice Carradry panniers are fully waterproof and pretty convenient to use (the rack clips are still quite stiff but very secure). One rear pannier has had to be returned after the failure of 3 of the 4 rivets holding on the fixing rail. Slightly more fiddly to use than Ortlieb and lighter material but a lot cheaper. Summary: ok
  • Continental Tyres, don’t bother get Schwalbe Marathons.

No other changes or complaints!

So loving the bike and happy that the Festive 500 helped me achieve my target for 2012.


Strava Rapha Festive 500 result

Last night I completed the Strava Rapha Festive 500 challenge (ride 500km between start of Christmas Eve and end of New Years Eve).

Very pleased I finished (and with 20 minutes to go). Finishing this 500km challenge also meant I met my 2012 mileage goal of 5,500 miles.

Feels great, then you look at the numbers (which will change a bit as people can upload their rides until 3rd Jan).

Total entered 15,295 and out of these I am ranked 2712th.

In smaller categories I achieved the following:

UK: 1,992 entered. I came 341st

Age 45 to 54: 2,164 entered. I came 576th

My Weight Category: 1,557 entered. I came 252nd

It makes me realise that a few more categories are needed:

Festive 500: Kickstand

Open to anyone who completed the challenge only riding bikes with Kickstands (I did)

Festive 500: Really British

Rather than just living in the UK this should be stricter. I suggest

  • Rider needs to be a British Citizen
  • All rides need to be completely within Great Britain
  • The Bike frame and at least 2 components need to be made in Great Britain

Festive 500: Practical Bikes

The bikes need to be properly equipped with:

mudguards/fenders, rack, lights, bell or horn

Also the rides need to include:

Going to the shops to by groceries, going to work or riding for work, a city centre, rural lanes

Festive 500: Reliable low Maintenance 

The rider should have experienced no punctures and no equipment breakages

The bike should not have needed any maintenance, servicing, tweaking or cleaning

I failed this one as I needed to do the following to my bike:

  • tighten loose bolts holding front rack on
  • tighten loose bolt holding rear mudguard on
  • replace the batteries in the flashing rear light with freshly charged ones
  • adjust the angle of my brooks saddle
  • wipe the lens of my front light clean

But I did not need to do any oiling or cleaning

Festive 500: Bad loser

Award this to the person who moans about not winning anything and so invents extra categories until they find one that they win.

That is enough, surely I win at least one of these 🙂


Cannock Chase Loop

A really nice ride today. 35 miles around Cannock Chase.

Including stopping for lunch at the Birch Valley Centre Cafe. Hundreds of very dirty people and mountain bikes there. I, however, stayed nice and clean despite lots of flooding and dirty, gravel covered roads.


As you can see from the photo at the cafe there was nowhere to actually lock up a bike. I used the big bench in the foreground while I had my lunch. I guess nobody wants to steal a mountain bike (too much cleaning to do).

After that I called in at Bridgwater Town Cycles (nice bike shop with quite a lot of stuff).

The ride ended when I joined the family at the Lichfield Cathedral Coffee Shop. I then put the bike in the car and joined the family for a wander around Lichfield and a very nice Italian meal.


A pretty hilly ride but a lovely long descent to Lichfield on mucky minor roads that were mostly streams. I was still dry and clean at the end.

I did have to do a bit of maintenance today. One of the rear mudguard bolts came loose which meant removing the back wheel. Of course the lack of any oil meant I didn’t get too dirty doing this.

Total 35.2 miles over 1,500ft climbed.


Gentle family friendly progress

So I made a little progress on my Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava. We needed to collect our eldest son from Birmingham station as he was coming to join us for our short break.

Therefore I cycled from just north of Lichfield to the centre of Birmingham, just 20 miles. Fortunately the heavy rain that greeted us this morning had just about stopped by the end of a late breakfast. With me cycling, Jane driving and Andy coming by train it was a nice co-incidence that we all arrived at the Bullring at almost exactly the same time.

Again the roads were very wet with a number of floods to ride through (although nothing much deeper than about 5cm). However, the route worked out pretty well and it surprised me how easy it was to get to the centre of Birmingham without any very scary roads.

I decided to spend time with the family instead of cycling back again which means I am falling a bit behind my schedule. I do like rides that fit in with actually doing things as a family rather than being just for the sake of it.

Guess what. The bike worked perfectly again and I expect that phrase will be rather over-used during the next 20 years 🙂

Tomorrow the plan is a loop through Cannock Chase, lunch at a visitor centre, calling in at a nice bike shop and dinner in Lichfield. But it will probably change 🙂 Hopefully will add around another 40 miles keeping me not too far off target.


Bike for life shows how it is done

Today was a delight, 47.3 winter miles showing exactly why I made the choices I did for my Bike for Life. Particularly the combination of:

  • Gates belt drive (silent and no need to worry about oil being washed off, or grit wearing it out)
  • Rohloff hub gear (reliable, huge range, smooth, weatherproof)
  • Schmidt dynamo with Schmidt EDelux front light and B&M rear light (very bright, there all the time, reliable, foolproof)
  • Jones loop h-bar (so comfy with options of two more aerodynamic positions for headwinds)
  • Brooks B17 Select saddle (well worn in and so comfy)
  • Hope Ceramic bearings bottom bracket (reliable, silent, smooth)
  • Schwalbe Marathon City Plus tyres (comfy, puncture proof, fast, bullet proof)
  • Hope Tech Evo V4 hydraulic disc brakes (so powerful and smooth)
  • Shand Cycles Stoater frame to hang it all on (looks fantastic, all the right fittings with internal electric cables and beautiful brazing & paint)

Together they mean that the bike copes with rain, floods, potholes, grit all over the road, darkness etc without any problems at all. In fact more accurately with beautiful composure.

This is what I had wanted. A bike you can just get on, that you can rely on for any journey whatever the weather. I maybe one of the slowest riders in the Festive 500 challenge, but I am certainly the one needing to do least maintenance and least worried about British weather. 🙂


First longer ride of the Festive500

Today was my first opportunity to get in a few more miles as part of the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava.

So in total I rode 52.3 miles of which the bulk (47.3 miles) was riding from Syston to the Lichfield Premier Inn by a quiet route.

I have noticed other people have been putting up beautiful photos of snowy landscapes or fantastic scenery. I managed:


which is a stop for a sandwich while hiding from the rain in Newbold Verdun. I had another stop for a coffee at the M42 services near Appleby Magna:




Clearly these sorts of images are likely to win me a big prize!



Finished Stoater Handlebars

Finished Stoater Handlebars by Dave 42
Finished Stoater Handlebars, a photo by Dave 42 on Flickr.

After just over a month of use I have now completed the set-up of the handlebars on my Bike for Life. This is in preparation for getting some more miles in over the next few days as I am to reach both my target for the year of 5,500 miles and also complete a 500km challenge on Strava.

I really like the Jones Loop H-Bar along with the Ergon GP1 bio-Cork Grips. I have already found that the handlebars do provide really useful extra handholds on the loop with 2 positions that considerably improve the aerodynamics. So now I have managed to implement the changes I had planned.

The (very bad, sorry about that) photo shows the result. Nice cushioned handlebar tape on both sides of the loop. I have moved the Garmin 800 to between the loops using a Raceware mount. This is much better than mounting on the stem as it allows the angle to set so that hopefully rain will run off. It also increased the space for my hands on the further part of the loop where they had been a bit squashed between bell and the Garmin.

Anyway, this now created a place to mount the Contour+2 camera as have not been able to use it with my Stoater yet (I’m not desperate enough to start wearing a helmet in order to mount the camera on it).

All in all very nice indeed, I will now be shockingly fast when piling on the miles, not! 🙂

Only remaining challenge is to sort out suitable cables for on the road charging of the camera and garmin from the Plug 11 I really need a very compact right angle mini usb connector for the Garmin as there is not a lot of space. Anyway that can wait for another day.


Flood Planning

So I have planned a route from Syston to Lichfield tomorrow (part of my rides to achieve 5,500 miles in the year plus the Strava Rapha 500 Festive Challenge).

I have been checking the Live Flood Map and it looks like I may need to divert onto more major roads near the end. Around here routes are quite restricted with all the parts along the Canal and River Soar completely flooded.

As preparation I have updated the handlebar layout by adding handlebar tape to both middle sections of the Jones Loop h-bar and relocating the Garmin to the middle of the loop which allows me to fit the Contour+2 camera to the front of the handlebar all while making more space on those inner bits for my hands. 🙂


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