Rapha Festive 500

Rapha Espreso cup.jpg

Every December, Rapha issues a challenge to help cyclists all over the world kick start their winter riding routines. Those able to log the required 500 kilometers in just 8 days, December 24th through 31st, will receive a commemorative Festive 500 roundel. In California, Arizona or Florida this might not be such a feat, but throw in some Midwestern temperatures and this becomes a little more than a challenge.  This year will be WC-Studio's first attempt and we would love your company.  Below is our ride list.  We will start from one of our favorite coffee shops each day (since we like coffee and riding our bikes, it seemed appropriate) and set out on our journey.

Living in Chicago and cycling through the winter presents some additional challenges.  The city of Chicago covers 234 square miles.  Lake-locked on the east, cyclists spend the first and last segment of their ride getting away from the sprawling city fabric to less traveled roads. The Windy City is rarely kind to cyclists where temperatures can dip into the teens and sometimes single digits.  The week of the Festive 500 temperatures hovered around the 20's and 30's with snow flurries and a wind chill that reached 12 degrees.  Midwest riders tend to be a hearty bunch, as the roads begin to roll with fewer cars the chatter picks up and you begin to see more smiling faces.  It may take a little more effort to get to the best part of our rides, but once we get there we don't hesitate to soak it all in.


The Festive 500 mapping project started as an idea at WC STUDIO to make hand drawn cycling routes for cities around the U.S.  The maps were also a way for us to rediscover our city.  Both being Architects, our eyes are always keen to find decaying ruins, overlooked green spaces and contemporary buildings all the while keeping our bearings in relation to Lake Michigan.  Some of our routes were well known (Wolf Lake and Lemont) while others were undiscovered territory (Barrington Hills).  We used social media to spread the word about our project and were able to meet new friends TenspeedHero while receiving tips from others for new routes.  We will continue riding through our Chicago winter, creating the maps that go with them.

See our next mapping project from Tuscon, AZ. We spent a week riding through the Sonoran Desert, up Mt. Lemmon all the while recording the bits of information that will go into our first online and print resource for hand drawn cycling maps.

John Wolters