The Spirit of the #Festive500

The beauty of the Festive 500 is in the feelings it conjures within us. For many riders, the warm festive glow is so warm, they feel compelled to record their rides. Whether that means baking cakes or drawing maps, we want to inspire you to do the same this year by showing you eight top entries from years gone by.

01 December 2020
The Spirit of the #Festive500


Ever since the inception of the #Festive500 ten years ago, riders around the world have been commemorating their experiences in all manners of ways. From photo albums to poems, hand-drawn maps to freshly baked pastries, each year we select the most inventive and reward their creators with cycling prizes to keep them riding until the next year.


Paulo Macahilig not only completed the Festive 500 but gave out pan de sal – traditional Phillipine bread rolls – to the people he met along the way in his home region of Aklan. The idea behind his awards entry came from a family of artisans who make woven bags. Inspired by them, he customised a collection of woven wonders to mirror the badges of the Festive 500, scooping last year’s top prize in the process.


@Paulo Macahilig

"I took on the challenge to cover 500 kilometers from December 24 to 31. And to make this effort more meaningful, I decided to give out 500 pieces of bread to random people I meet along the way."


It’s important to remember that riding the Festive 500 should be a bit of fun. This was not lost on game designer Hannah Nicklin, who created a satisfying and strangely addictive Bitsy game to celebrate completing last year’s challenge.

Don’t take our word for it though, play the game for yourself, here.



"Rapha has punctuated my cycling life over the years. My first 100km was ridden as part of a Women's 100, as was my last ride in the UK before I moved abroad. The Rapha riding challenges are simple, but the community around them feels significant."


As anyone who has attempted the Festive 500 will attest, going the distance can become somewhat of an obsession. That said, there are certain life events that come before everything else. Karl Maguire managed just 5.8 kilometres last time out but entered the new year with something much more important: a healthy baby born on Christmas Day. His charming letter netted him the epic fail award though, on reflection, sneaking in a few kilometres while shopping for baby supplies was more deserving of a medal.


“The Festive 500 was always going to be an interesting one as our baby’s due date was the 1st of January so my wife wasn’t overly keen. In the end my challenge was drawn to a swift end, spent in hospital awaiting the arrival of my beautiful baby girl instead.”


If you ride the Festive 500 all at once, as Sascha Fetsch did between 2016 and 2018, it becomes a festive brevet ride. Though it’s not yet recognised by any official body, it is possible to create your own brevet card if you are a friend of Sascha’s. After finishing his rides in 2018, he commemorated the achievement with a special stamp and won the Most Adventurous Ride Award for his efforts.


“Riding 503 kilometres in just over twenty hours through fog and icy rain in the South of Germany was tough but everyone can do it.”


Win Assakul rode the #Festive500 in 2017 on country roads in South West England. An architect by trade, he chose to sketch out his exploits on this beautifully hand drawn map.



“My favourite thing has to be the winter sunrise. Starting out in the pitch black. spinning through the freezing cold and having the sun slowly creep over the hills to warm your bones was a glorious feeling.”


As industrious in the kitchen as he is on the bike, Gavin Osborn commemorated his #Festive500 with a selection of delicious baked goods. What he didn’t eat to keep him going on the bike, he sent to us.

“While riding, the less robust biscuits did tend to disintegrate having been stuffed into a Camelbak but, with a different taste every day, my nutrition never got dull.”


Riding not just five, but six hundred festive kilometres along Japan’s Pacific coast, SG Parson was riding in search of sanctuary from work and kaze no denwa. The Wind Telephone. What he wrote upon his return is a lovely account of his journey and the legacy of the 2011 tsunami on the region through which he rode. Read more, here.

“I have never met Itaru Sasaki but his cousin’s death has always stuck in my mind. He died in 2010. I only know this because of what Itaru did next.”


In 2016, Ruth Cousins submitted a series of seven beautifully hand painted postcards inspired by her #Festive500 rides, addressed to her deceased father. A heart touching entry from Ruth earned her the grand prize in that year’s #Festive500’ Awards.

“The #Festive500 has completely changed my life. It sounds corny but it has inspired me to be fearless."


From dark memories of hunger knock to the elation of completing the challenge, Gary Dumbill’s animated film is an honest tale of hard-earned miles that saw him scoop second prize in last year’s Spirit of the #Festive500 Awards.

“I've normally got my head down grinding out a good average speed, but with the conditions being a bit sketchy I slowed down and lifted my head up. It turns out the English countryside is actually very pretty, which gave me the idea for an animation.”


Last year’s most playful entry was submitted by Pablo Martínez. Having covered the kilometres on roads in and around Madrid, Pablo decided to celebrate his ride by creating the very first #Festive500 board game.

“The game takes inspiration from the constant ups and downs, emotional and physical, on my rides in the mountains near my home.”


After hearing about the challenge from a friend, Simonas first rode the #Festive500 in 2016, taking on an adventurous route from Nice through the snowy Southern Alps. Needless to say, he took some breathtaking photographs en route.



“Riding in the Alps meant dealing with less-than-ideal weather conditions, but it is the #Festive500 after all. Weather plays a part.”

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