From Christmas Eve to New Year's Eve, Rapha facilitates a challenge for cyclists to ride 500 kilometers in 8 days. That works out to about 38 miles per day. Which can be a lot, especially in winter conditions. I started getting obsessed with the weather about 2 weeks before the start of the challenge. Which felt a lot like checking the weather for Santa as a child. Except reverse. This time I was hoping we DIDN'T get a white Christmas. Hopefully the children praying for the white stuff were satisfied with the few flurries that fell right as I was riding, late Christmas morning. Luckily, the rest of the week's weather was pretty impressive: mostly mild (think 30s and sometimes 40s) and only a few exceptionally windy sections. (Well, days 5 and 7 were almost entirely wind...still!)
I noticed a few things: even though I swim, bike, or run every day without rest days, biking every day for nearly 3 hours makes me WAY hungrier than usual. I went through a lot of Trader Joe's Joe-Joes. Second, the sun is everything. Day 1 was 62 miles, and when I started it was 17-degrees. Day 3 was only 16-degrees at the start. But both days had beaming sun. And both days had me sweating. Also, after biking a lot of hills, flat rides are super boring, but necessary, to recover the legs. I think I could actually keep this up for some time, but I miss running.
A few mornings (Day 4, 6, and 8) I started the day with a swim before my ride. I found that that actually helped. Or maybe it was the fact that I ate a real breakfast on those days instead of just a Clif bar or a banana. Oatmeal for the win! (Thanks, Doug's Diner).
I saw (and spoke to) a lot of animals along the way. Specifically deer, cows, horses, and alpacas. The alpacas were always the most curious. Like, "What in the world are YOU?!" They're such Muppets.
I also really enjoyed seeing people around the world doing the challenge. I started following a few people on Instagram and Strava who are in Belgium, the UK, and Italy. It's pretty great to see people doing (virtually) the same thing, time zones away.
Next week it's supposed to dip into teens as the high, and negative numbers as the low. I certainly lucked out, even when my toes got crazy numb despite shoe covers. By day 6, I felt like I had learned how to dress perfectly for between 20 and 35 degrees. It's an art. This is my first winter in Colorado, but if it keeps giving us sun and solid biking days most weeks, I'm in for the long haul. And I'm definitely looking forward to the next challenge.