Rapha 500 2021 - Suggested sessions for the 500

It is December and coming up to that time of year for the Rapha 500. I did it on the road for the first time last year before getting into Sffrfst in Jan 2021.

I want to do the 500 this year and now have a new wheel off trainer that is not so loud that it makes your ears bleed (like my old one), so I’m more tempted to ride it for longer rides.

If weather is not too unpleasant (highly unlikely in Belgium in December) then I will go out on the road. Last year the weather was miserable, sooo… what to do for indoor rides?

Rough calculations I figure somewhere around approx 17-19 hrs needed depending obviously on 4DP targets and type of session and therefore average speed.

What sessions would you recommend for the 500, over the 8 days?

What are the longer session intensities like - I’ve never done an indoor session much over an hour? It hurts to do an hour session on Systm/Sffrfst, so can’t imagine what a 2 1/2 session would be like?

What about split sessions, morning/late afternoon? Break for the body from the bike?

How does you body/butt cope with 2/3 hours in the saddle on a static indoor trainer?

I prefer workouts with music and video so I don’t have to think about it and just get on and ride, although I suppose there may be highlights of the 2021 road season on Eurosport that I could catch up with and I’ve not listened to every Buckethead Pike yet, so I suppose I could use those if it is no vid, no music.

I’m going to stop my 12 week Road plan to do this and start another one up in the new year with a new 4DP after I’ve recovered from the Rapha. I was going to do a Half Monty before the Rapha too for fresh metrics.

I know you are all very knowledgeable and helpful so any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


You have 8 days for 500 miles?

63 / day so about 4hrs plus some stops every day?
Yikes. That sounds like a lot of cycling.

So if I was going to do over 4hrs a day for 8days (which I never will but that’s just my lack of capability) I’d probably for interests sake do one of the Sufferfest workouts to get me started at 70-80% I guess, then just open up Open120 and rewind it near the end (to get to 3hrs), minimize the screen and put Star Trek on and start watching the series from the start again ……

Sounds like you’re in for a fine challenge !!

Eek, just seen the 500 miles. Sorry, should have said in Euro figures, 500km. I figured if it was every day, it would be more like 2 1/2 hrs a day for the 62.5km average a day which is roughly 25/26 kmh average

My butt has been my pain in the a$$ (pun intended) when it comes to long indoor trainer rides. You will find it much easier out on the road. I just have to remember to stand frequently, which helps a lot.

I also started to keep a log on which bibs I was wearing and how they felt over longer rides. I now know which ones are most comfortable for a multi hour indoor ride.

As for which sessions, I think that has less to do with the length of your ride and more to do with what you need to work on. If it is strictly endurance, that is an easy sort in Systm. If you need to work on something else like climbing or strength, you can always double or triple up on workouts that fill that need. Just do them in Level mode so you can adjust your intensity on the fly if necessary. I know a lot of riders that will break them morning and evening but given your challenge, I would suggest you do them back-to-back.

The ride sounds like fun, have a great ride.

You know it doesn’t really count if you don’t do it outside :crazy_face::snowflake::snowflake::cold_face:


Whilst I realise it could have been colder (one guy I follow in Stuttgart did a run yesterday at -28C, It was cold wet and miserable. I will try to get out as much as possible, but I know Sufferfest works. Sorry, Sffrfst or Systm or whtvr. I remember living in Stuttgart 4 years ago and it was so treacherous, it was not possible to train outside without spikes. I would never have considered an indoor trainer, then I discovered the Drk Sde and never looked back.

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That’s pretty severe. I completed the Rapha challenge last year over 4 days. For the time of year (on the West coast of Scotland) I was really lucky with the weather. Cold and dry with the lowest temperatures around -5C. The reward of a chocolate orange on completion made it all worthwhile :yum:

**Edit - a Knighthood quest would be more than a worthy substitution and would get you well over halfway there. I’m contemplating this myself but fear family commitments this year may prevent it.


West coast of Scotland, double kudos. and heaps of rule #9. 4 day, that is some going.

This was my reward. Well, its Belgium, you couldn’t not!


A fine selection and a most excellent reward :beer:

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All of them.

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One after the other after the other …….


I have also done the Rapha 500 outdoors for several years and it is typically very cold the whole time (Dallas, TX). Not fun but doable, although rainy days were tough.

Last year I started the rides outside in Miami (visiting my brother-in-law) where it was unseasonably cold, but a LOT better than here. When I got back, I took advantage of the Rapha COVID indoors option and did my Knighthood (fun). After all of that I still ended up 11 km short of the 500, so I rode that indoors on the 31st and declared victory, then crawled over to the couch and hated myself for a couple of days.

Now, with that preamble out of the way, I will get even more long winded! Doing the whole thing inside on SYSTM does eliminate the harsh weather element, but still would not be easy. This year’s training plan from Team EF estimates a 3.5 hours per day (just under 15 mph average) for the eight days of the event, which would be 28 hours. You can probably go harder/faster than that and hit your estimate of 17-19 hours with SYSTM, but at least for me that would be doing the rides at 85-100%. If that is the case, I would aim to cover the first few days with multiple 45 min to one-hour sessions so you can get off the bike, walk around a bit, refill bottles, etc. If your rear end feels ok after a few days of that, then ramp up to the longer rides.

My Top 10 Under an Hour Rides-Also my Knighthood!
The Rookie
Power Station
There is No Try
A Very Dark Place
The Omnium
The Wretched
Do As You Are Told

My Favorite Longer Rides
To Get To The Other Side
Local Hero (extra favorite!!)
Kitchen Sink (kidding, this was an absolute killer the one time I did it)

Lastly, if you are going to do all of this then just pick a day and do your Knighthood!!



Cheers for the reply. If possible I will do it outside, but my limit will be dangerous roads and really miserable icy rain. I did last year at a reasonable 25/26 outside, but a bit fitter this year. The trainer rides are usually a bit faster, hence the average speed estimate. The road rides were base/tempo and mental toughness training.
I’m sure the indoor rides would be mentally tough in another way. The prospect of 2-3 hours on an indoor trainer is quite daunting for me.

Chapéu to you for doing a Knighthood and to all the Knights of Sufferlandria. Not sure I could do that much on an indoor trainer in one session mentally or physically. I’m a wonky pedallar at the best of times and I don’t think my body could take so much in a static position. So you are awesome for having done it.

My area of weakness last 4DP was MAP, not sure I could work on that - may be too intense, but I suppose I could do sessions to help FTP??

Are the longer sessions at a lower intensity to the shorter ones (not having tried any longer ones yet?)

Cheers again.

The longer ones I mentioned are more FTP focused for sure, except for Local Hero. You can always dial down the MAP portions if needed!

endurance+ and a good box or movies. If any is looking for inspiration to go out on a cold day watch 14 peaks on Netflix, epic.

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Of course, depending on what you consider ‘lower intensity’ and ‘longer sessions’. Go to the library and select the Duration filter >91m. That will give you 68 workouts over an hour and a half. Then look at the length and Intensity Factor (IF).

I counted 19 with an IF at 65 or under (I didn’t include the Brick workouts). Those would all certainly meet my definition of lower intensity. They ranged from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours for a traditional workout. Then there are the straight up Endurance rides which range up to 5 hours.

Bottom line, yes, lots to choose from.

The tank in Willebroek, I pass there a lot too :+1:

Festive 500 should be done outside. Belgium is not that bad to train in winter.

Did a 7hour ride last sunday (gravel), 2.5hour ride today and will be doing a 5 hour ride on sunday.
Didn’t miss a single sunday ride all year.

As long as it isn’t icy, it’s always doable to ride outside (did the festive 500 last year, it was cold but OK, did grow a wild beard for the cold :grimacing:)


Do ISLTA twice a day and you’ll knock it out of the park. :slight_smile:

FatSprinter, I just read up on this event as I had never heard of it. Intriguing enough that I signed up. I have done multiple back to back workouts but not yet ventured into anything longer than 2 hours. I will take this opportunity to bang out several of the longer excursions.

It will be good prep for my 100 mile ride in mid March.

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Saw that film the other day - loved it!

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