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Aussie cyclists knock off Rapha Festive 500 in one go – by riding 1,369 laps of a velodrome

Brian Stinson and Michelle Woods were among the first to beat the 500km challenge this year

Many of our readers in the UK will have set off on their bikes this morning to begin the Rapha Festive 500 and ride 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve – although for cyclists here,  there is a perennial game of catch-up with entrants living in earlier time zones and especially those in the Southern Hemisphere given the advantage they have of enjoying warmer weather and more hours of daylight.

As of Noon GMT on Christmas Eve, the leaderboard on Strava shows 10 riders from countries including Australia, Indonesia and Japan had completed the challenge on its opening day, with two entrants, Brian Stinson and Michelle Woods from Queensland’s Gold Coast, catching our eye as they ground out 1,369 laps of their local velodrome to hit the magic distance.

The velodrome where Woods and Stinson, whose profile on Strava reveals next year’s Paris-Brest-Paris as his target for 2023, undertook their ride is found at the Gold Coast Cycle Centre in Nerang.

Track lengths on a velodrome are calculated on the black line, also known as the measuring line, which sits 20cm higher than the blue line to the inside, which marks the inner edge of the track.

That explains why, despite 1,404.5 circuits of the 356-metre velodrome being needed to make up 500km based solely on the track measurement, the pair managed to complete the distance in 1,369 laps – since individual laps ridden above the black line would be longer than the official length of the venue.

And with it now being mid-summer in the Southern Hemisphere, according to Stinson's Strava post, the average temperature during the ride was a pleasant 21 degrees Celsius, or 70 degrees Fahrenheit – no need for thermal bib tights and upper layers or winter hat, gloves and overshoes, unlike riders in the UK heading off for their Rapha Festive 500 attempt today.


It took the two-up team a little over 18 hours 40 minutes to hit 500km, of which the moving time was 15 hours 23 minutes, for a very creditable average speed of 32.5km/h.

> Rapha Festive 500: smash this modern classic winter riding challenge with our top tips

The idea behind the Rapha Festive 500 dates back to 2009 when the brand’s then lead designer, Graeme Raeburn, challenged himself to ride 1,000 kilometres between Christmas and New Year.

When the event was opened to the public the following year, the distance was halved to 500 kilometres, with 84 riders taking part; nowadays, tens of thousands of riders around the globe participate annually, both out on the road and, since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, virtually from their own homes.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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