First Rapha 500 - advice

I’ve been chatting with Pav about the idea of my attempting the Rapha 500 this holiday season. I have a dream of doing it in one go - all the way through. However, in full disclosure, that’s a very far stretch for me. The longest ride that I’ve done over the past few months is 3 hours. However, in Pav we trust… I know he’ll help me get setup right for it. I’m primarily working with Pav to help me with my track season, but we’re in the base period now, so going long could work with that cycle.

Two questions…

  1. Advise on doing 500km/310miles – indoors vs. outdoors? Note that I’m located in NYC, so will be chilly over the holidays (especially if I go further north). In my mind, indoors reduces logistics and chance of cold toes getting in the way of completion. However, outdoors clearly has its plusses. What’s your advice/experience?

  2. Pacing… I’ve been going fairly strong indoors for 2.5-3 hours on base rides. Keeping things squarely in Z2 for watts and at/under/around my LT1 BPM threshold. I know that theoretically speaking one should be able to go forever at LT1 BPM with proper fueling. However, that’s just theory. : ) So far, I feel like I could keep going longer than 3 hours, but feeling that is way different than actually going 310 miles in one go. Advice on pacing for a first super long effort?


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This is interesting to me as previously the idea of even completing it outdoors has never been an option for me as I’m on dad duty at Christmas as mum can’t have time off then and where I work we close the factory over Christmas.

No it can include virtual and my daughter is older I am thinking I might have a go at doing it carefully as I’m still in rehab for my hip and sitting for log periods is a no for me.

For me I’d think either outdoors or a mix would be the best option. You can do the pre ride prep getting food and bottles ready at home then do loops and restock. Perhaps a block on the trainer to mix it up and a chance to get some more real food in the tank.

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@CogInTheMachine. I live in NY (Westchester now) and feel your chills ! While it may not hit your intended goal, there is the option to mix up indoor and outdoor to get the best of both worlds - a quick change of clothes and a hop onto a ready-to-go-bike isn’t too much different to a bathroom/refuel break off the indoor trainer - I would be open to that. If you wan tot go all-in on outdoors, then you need to get your mind around riding at night and all that this entails - punctures on a cold night are not fun. Also, you will almost certainly ride a bit slower at night too - that’s my experience anyway; road surface/potholes, even with lights, can catch you out and bring a level of cautiousness that results in slightly slower speeds = more time at night on the bike. Not assuming you are slow - just that Z1 likely won’t be fast I assume. You are right that it’s completely different to 3 hour ride (!!) - I would suggest that success will be down to fueling and your mental fortitude. On the latter, on the longer rides I’ve done, breaking it down into chunks is an approach that makes thing more manageable so that the size of the task doesn’t become overwhelming - whatever those chunks look like for you - time/miles/a loop you might ride etc. Talking of loops - if you want to really test your mental strength, then consider something like the SUNY Purchase campus loop - 3 miles, no traffic, great surface and a space to park a car to act as base-camp for refueling/warming up etc. It’s a lot of loops for sure, but it’s doable. Also, consider an out-and-back loop outside with stops along the way - a different route is nice to do sometimes and give you something else to focus on, and I find once you commit to an out and back loop it can help mentally vs. say, a trainer or a road you know well and do all the time. This summer Pav had me on some 12 hour/175-200 mile rides an di picked a town north - Poughkeepsie - and made a route and just committed to it - worked well. Found some great new roads along the way. If you do the whole thing outdoors, suggest you use a bar bag/some other method to carry some supplies and spread light/battery for sure and extra clothing. It would therefore be one of those rides where you need to carry a lot of stuff which I don’t always enjoy without the right equipment to hand. Logistically, an outdoor ride of this distance needs some additional thought and is almost a whole different topic. Simple things like your head unit running out of battery and not recording the whole ride for example. That sucks - been there ! On the subject of planning and cold feet - you’ll need to consider clothing very carefully - happy to chat on that separately but if cold feet are an issue for you (like me) then you can do worse than use the toe/hand warmer packs you can buy easily anywhere - they can be a life saver. Plenty of other strategies too. Good luck !!

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Great advice here @WattsUp - came to write the same thing about mixing it up. No way would I want to be riding solo, in the dark, during that time of year. Ride through the night inside and then hit Central Park for loops once the sun is up.

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Such great advice! Thanks so much!

@WattsUp your realistic portrayal of what riding all night or with so much gear is really helpful. I’d personally love to figure that all out, but realistically speaking with everything that’s on my plate before the holidays, that will be super hard to do. Plus the distance is enough of a hurdle - not sure I want to screw that up by creating so many logistical hurdles as well.

As such, even though I have a dream of riding this all outside, I do like the idea of mixing it up - indoors and outdoors. I live right near Central Park so would be easy for me to do some portion outdoors.

As for pacing, what do folks suggest? My FTP isn’t high by any means - I’m currently at 221w. That’s a bit lower than my in-season FTP but not by that much, so let’s go with that for now!) Is there a % FTP that you try to target for the ride? Or, maybe that’s not as critical as how one is feeling and going with that?

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In my experience you would do well not to focus on the numbers too much/it at all. My peak FTP this year was 353 watts but i averaged <200w for my ultras. Your power will drop off and in my view your fueling strategy and mental attitude can offset or diminish the decline in absolute numbers. Focus on the bigger goal bot the number in front of you on the screen. I have ridden literally thousands of laps of CP having lived in Manhattan for 18 yrs and this would be the easiest form/location of night riding you could get - you are going to be able to manage any issues very easily if you ride there at night.

If you ever want to meet on person in NY to discuss or ride in Westchester then let me know.

Great advice from @WattsUp on this, the entire thread is gold. I really resonate with the pacing, though, spot on advice. Kudos!

Wishing you the best of luck for this @CogInTheMachine! Not easy task, and I would love to hear more about your journey and how it goes.

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Just a couple of other thoughts that might help.

  1. Schedule friends you ride with to join for an hour/X miles so you have that to look forward to - and if you schedule them and they commit to come you might be less likely to flake and not stay out - this could work online or in Central Park. For external rides I’d schedule solo riders - the conversation will be good and you can ‘spread’ your friend out over time.

  2. I do listen to music/podcasts but usually through bone-conduction device as I hate not hearing ambient sound for safety reasons. I use music as a carrot - I usually ‘save it’ for the tough times as a motivator.

  3. Similarly, nothing like a fresh set of kit to perk the mind up after a while, so keep that in mind as you eat into the miles.

  4. If possible, you could look at doing a Bear Mountain return, which, depending on how you get there could be 100 miles in the bag before some CP loops and a return to the apt for inside training. Even breaking it down into 50% indoor/50% outdoor - with the latter coming first, might be a good way.

  5. Small thing, but over distance this adds up - no coasting on the trainer of course, so you’ll be on the pedals for the whole time indoors !

Like @James, am keen to hear how this goes !

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Great advice @WattsUp - thanks mate!

Can’t wait @CogInTheMachine :slight_smile:

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@WattsUp Thanks so much for the great advice!!

I’ve decided to do the Rapha 500 indoors on 12/30-31 - indoors to minimize complications. Crossing my fingers that I make it.

Doing a warm up 10-hour ride tomorrow at Pav’s suggestion. Wish me luck! : )


You’ve got this ! All the best and looking forward to the report whatever the outcome ! You will learn a lot for sure !

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Awesome! Good sim that , have a great ride :slight_smile:

How did the warm-up sim go?

Thanks for all the support, everyone. So great to hear from you all as I was on my ride. Really an adventure yesterday.

My Z1 tops out at 125w, and Pav suggested I keep to Z1. So, I set ERG to 120w to get things started.

Ended up at 10 hours moving time (11 hours total with breaks) for 183 miles. All indoor on Zwift. 120w for first 8 hours and then dropped to 90w for last 2 as knee was feeling it. Can’t believe I had such a low pace by the end, but when Pav said “go very very slowly”, I guess that’s what he meant.

Largely stuck to hydration plan of one container of Pav juice (90g carbs) an hour. Had to cut it with more water as day went on as was too sweet after a while.

Ate some food throughout the day but definitely wasn’t hungry at any point. Variety in food seemed to be important as once I was done snacking on one thing, couldn’t go back. I had way too much food available - benefit of riding indoors.

Tip about changing kit was invaluable. Did that halfway through, and it was a total game changer. Made me feel refreshed. Also I think helped me avoid saddle sores. (Though sit bones still felt the “phantom bike seat” pressure on them when I was going to sleep at night - crazy.)

Given my lack of training and experience with long rides, hitting my 10 hour goal was quite an achievement.

That said, given how hard the last 2 hours were (the knee pain lessened mostly when I dropped the watts), definitely feeling less confident in my ability to do Rapha 500 in one go. That said, still going for it, but may start out at lower watts to see if that helps. Thoughts on that as a potential solution?

Today (day after the ride), my legs and body felt fine, however mood was super low. I think I was so physically spent that my brain/mentality was shot. Feeling better now that I’ve made it through the day today - got some hydration, food, and social time. Hardly ready to jump back on the bike for another 10 hours but understand that I learned a lot and can get better at this with time.

Thanks again, everyone. Knowing that you were out there kept me going!


Great write up, thank you! How can I follow you on zwift? @kevstorr will tell you to mix up real food with carb drink. On longer rides it really helps. Mixing sweet and savoury helps too.

On the carb drink, 90g of carbs is approximately 360kcal. Riding at 100W you will burn ~360kcal / hour. If you are mixing carb drink up with other fuel sources you can probably dial back either the concentration or the quantity your drink.

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Yep, all that sweet liquid fuel is going to give you flavor fatigue. Also worth noting given your working in z1 your actual carb burn should be fairly low.

For me given the time frame, I’d want to be getting some protein and good fats into the fueling. The other issue with drinking all your fuel is balancing the liquid intake.

I also work on the little and often approach. I’ll start from the off snacking on real food. The aim is to reduce the hole your digging. I like to mix in salted cashews and I’ll have a top tube bag I can just dip into ever 20-30min.

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KUDOS! This is awesome. Very inspiring.

Nicely done. You’ll be doing the full 500 in a day then?

Congratulations! This is really good.

Yep - going for it in one go. Hope to finish in 24 hours, but we’ll see! : )