The weather forecast for the next week looks well iffy so I’m in two minds whether to even start a Festive 500 attempt. I did also vow last year I wouldn’t do it again. However I really like the badge this year. The sensible way to do it would be to try and do daily rides of a decent distance: 500 km / 7 days (factoring out Christmas Day) = 71.43 km per day. However it looks like there are about 4 reasonable days between Christmas Eve and New Year, in between storms, strong winds and torrential rain. The only way to do it really is to cover as many kilometres as possible in the first few days and hope I don’t have to ride 150km in revolting weather on the last day. Obviously whilst thinking it’s not feasible there’s part of me that knows I’m going to give it a go. I also know that if it gets to day 8 and I’m 40km short I’ll go out and ride in whatever the weather throws at me (and judging by the forecast it could be chucking trees at me). I’m not hopeful.
I wake up in the dark on Christmas Eve but I can’t hear wind or rain. Sounds promising! I peek through the curtains and the decision is made to ride to work, extending the commute as much as possible. I head over Devil’s Dyke under grey skies, before dropping into rain on the weald. It’s raining quite hard and I’m already going off the idea of the long ride, but it’s too late as I’m already heading in the wrong direction for work. The wind is over my shoulder so at least I’m getting shoved along. There’s a lot of standing water in the roads and bits of tree, and the occassional complete tree. At the top of Staves Wood Road I turn east for Hurstpierpoint and Ditchling, and into the back of Lewes for a loop around town to the office. Lots of wet clothes get hung over chairs and cupboards waiting for the ride home. Light plugged into laptop. 39km bagged.
Being Christmas Eve we get sent home early. I had been counting on this to allow a long commute home in daylight, and had been eyeing up blue sky outside for the last hour. I change back into dry clothes (except socks which are dried under the hand dryer in the disabled toilet). Once outside it starts to hammer it down with rain. Ace. Oh well, got to get home somehow. Fortunately it only lasts 20 minutes and skies are clearing eastwards so I am riding into sun. Oh, and then under grey again, but at least it’s not raining. The headwind isn’t as unpleasant as I was expecting so I’m heading west for Partridge Green. I can then turn south for Steyning and Shoreham as it should take me over 100km for the day. However the road through Shermanbury is under the River Adur which has consumed everything around it. Change of plan, I turn around and get to Steyning via Henfield and Bramber. I have to pick my lines carefully through Annington and Coombes as the lane is pretty mucky, lumpy and wet. Over the A27 and around the back of Shoreham Airport (no windsocks? Perhaps they blew away in the recent storms) it’s on to the coast road for a tailwind the rest of the way home. Another 59 kms completed.
Cheeky little spin down to Shoreham Harbour on way to friends for Christmas lunch, Disney films and Trivial Pursuit. A further 12kms (they all count, and I’m pretty sure they’re all going to be needed)