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How to complete your Festive 500: Tips from the Wolf Gang

The festive season would not be the same without your favourite festive 500 challenge.

Did you know that the Festive 500 was created by Rapha Designer Graeme Raeburn, 12 years ago? To let people experience the life of a
pro-cyclist, he made a challenge to ride over 1000 kilometres in one week. As it turns out, pro-cyclists rarely ride 1,000 kilometres in a week, so the concept was changed to 500 kilometres, one year later. Over the past eleven years, the Festive 500 has grown into a worldwide celebration of cycling.

The rules of the festive 500 challenge are straightforward. Ride 500 kilometres in 8 days. From the 24th until the 31st of December. How? That is entirely up to you. Go for rides on your road bike, use your mountain bike, or gravel bike, or if you want the assistance of an e-bike, go for it. As we said, the Festive 500 is a celebration of cycling of all kinds.

We know riding 500 kilometres in eight days can be a challenge, especially during the most cheerful time of the year.  Here are some tips from the Wolf Gang how to succeed with the festive 500 challenge (without of course missing out on the festive fun).

Group of cyclist riding on the road

Tip #1: Make a plan

The saying goes "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." So before you start, make a plan for the festive 500 challenge. It can be as straightforward as 500/8 = 62.5 kilometres daily. But remember that this strategy doesn't give you any leverage over time or distance.

If you don't want to ride alone, join our community rides and be together with like-minded people to complete your festive 500 challenge.

With a plan, you are steps closer to completing the Festive 500. But make sure you leave room for any unforeseen jingle and mingle.

Tip #2: Set yourself some goals and treat

Riding 500kms in eight days can feel like a soulless goal. Especially when you ride for endless kilometres in the UAE desert. To keep your mojo high, set milestones to push yourself and make the rides more enjoyable. And no, this doesn't have to mean you make the ride harder for yourself. Pick a memorable route you did ages ago or select one from your bucket list. Treat yourself to an energizing coffee at your favourite coffee shop, or award yourself with some new bicycle upgrades after you've reached your milestones.

If you feel the 500kms will be easy for you to complete, you can make it more challenging for yourself. Add some high-speed segments in there or challenging your friends to tick the 500 first.

Tip #3: Prepare your routes

You have now set your daily distance, your schedule and your goals. Let's select the route you want to ride for the festive 500 challenge. You can enjoy one of the many cycling tracks, like Al Qudra or Al Hudayriyat Island at your own leisure however, if you would rather ride with a group you are always welcome to join our Wolfi's Community rides. By planning some exciting routes, you will stay motivated and your ride for the festive 500 will be more enjoyable.

Group of cyclist riding on the road

Tip #4: Kit up!


Picking a suitable cycling kit for your ride can be tricky, especially during the UAE winter months. The chilly mornings and the warm & sunny days make it difficult to keep your body at its optimal and comfortable temperature without feeling too cold or hot.


Maintaining your body temperature isn't only critical from a performance perspective but can also give you that positive buzz to complete your daily ride. If you are planning to take a long ride like festive 500 challenge,  a proper build-up of layers will help you feel comfortable. Layers will include a base layer that keeps your body dry and transports your sweat outside. (Keeping your body dry means it will not cool down or heat up.)

Next, you wear your cycling jersey. A short-sleeved jersey that provides both ventilation and UV protection. Lastly, you should wear a wind jacket, which you can easily fold and store in one of your back pockets. For the legs, you can opt for your standard bib shorts combined with leg warmers. If the temperature increases, you can easily take those off and store them in your jersey's back pockets. Also, don't forget your gloves. Trust us, having cold fingers will really affect the joy of riding.

Join our Strava group for a chance to win a Rapha kit when you complete the festive 500 challenge.

Bike servicing

Tip #5: Get your bike ready

Just like before every ride, giving your bike a bit of TLC is helpful. Because a clean bike means a fast and smooth bike and your ride will be much more enjoyable. Additionally, it's wise to minimize the risk of mechanical failure - the last thing you will want on Christmas day to get stuck on the track. 

Click here to book your bike in for a service.

Now that your bike is ready, make sure you have your saddle bag equipped, here are a list of your essentials:

With these tools, you can fix most of the minor issues you face. Don't forget to thank us later!

Tip #6: Get your body fueled


'Tis the season when we all jingle and mingle bit more than we usually do so make sure you are hydrating and recovering well between your social and cycling commitments.

Before we start explaining more about nutrition, here is a fun fact
for you:
The average cyclist has a power output of 160 watts.


This translates to:

  • 576 kcal burned per hour
  • constant speed of 30km/h
  • 17 hours to cover 500kms
  • 576 kcal x 17 hours = 9,792 kcal

Now comes the most exciting part! 

The average Christmas dinner is approximately 1000 calories. Completing the Festive 500 will allow you to eat 10 Christmas dinners without gaining weight! Isn't that great!?

Here is a bit more about nutrition during your ride:

Whether you are doing long or short rides, stay hydrated with electrolyte tablets. On longer rides, you may want to take at least one bottle of a hydration mix of your choice. This will give you some additional carbohydrates to combine with your electrolytes. When heading out for a long ride in the desert, bring a banana or a gel with you. This is because it is better to have it and not need it than to wish you had it. It is advisable to have small bites and sips throughout the ride with the aim to take in around 60g of carbohydrates in an hour. This includes your hydration, gels and on-bike nutrition as a whole. If you are heading out to one of the tracks that might be a bit of a drive to and from your home or work, it is advisable to pack a recovery shake along that contains a suitable ratio of protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes to help you maximize your recovery for the next session in that critical 30mins window post ride.

We hope these tips help you to be motivated to kickstart your Festive 500. But do you know what motivates you even more? Riding together with friends! So invite your friends, challenge them to ride the 500kms with you (even on an e-bike!). . Spend time together, creating pleasant memories during this wonderful time of the year!

You are set! Join one of our rides, say hello on the track, join the  festive 500 challenge, keep us posted and tag us @wolfis on your photos and videos of your rides!


See you on the tracks! 

Happy cycling!

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