Traditionally, my week between Christmas and New Year has been primarily reserved for quality family time. This has always clashed with the Rapha Festive 500, an annual event that takes place between December 24th to 31st. Cyclists from all over the globe are given these eight days to ride a total of 500km; in the past, those who completed this challenge would receive a cloth roundel from Rapha but this year, Rapha has moved to a digital badge, no doubt due to the uniqueness of 2020’s situation.
I’ve never participated in this event before due to my aforementioned family engagements, but I suppose this year’s pandemic could be seen as a silver lining among 2020’s storm clouds. I’ve also been inspired by people completing the challenge in one single ride in the past – the YouTuber Francis Cade being the chief inspiration for this particular instance of it.
2020 is the year that just keeps on giving, if only the things it gave were something people actually wanted. This year’s BRM1000 was slated to happen early in March, but that was The Before Times. Malaysia implemented the Movement Control Order (MCO) just days before the ride was supposed to start, effectively cancelling it at the final moment.
During the MCO period, no one was supposed to be out except for critical or essential reasons such as essential work, emergencies or supply runs. On the bright side, due to the quick and strict measures the spread of COVID-19 in the country was quickly put under control, so much so that by May, the government began relaxing restrictions and we could cycle outdoors again, albeit within a limited duration and distance from home.
By late June the country went into a much lighter Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) where some sense of normality started to return. Interstate travel was no longer banned, so we could cycle even further. Audax Randonneurs Malaysia began organizing brevets again, and in July I completed my first BRM600 in 2020 (n.b. to be clear, a Super Randonnée isn’t categorized as a BRM). The original March event, which consisted of three separate rides BRM300, BRM600 and BRM1000, was moved to August 28.
Climbing. As a cyclist, you’ll either love it or hate it. Maybe even both! Regardless of how you feel, epic rides with plenty of elevation have always been regarded as an accomplishment and sometimes even with recognition as well, from watching the Tour de France race up the Alpe de Huez, to attempts at Everesting, or even making it into the ranks of the High Rouleur’s Society.
When you hear about a ride called a Super Randonnée, epic climbing isn’t the first thing to come in mind. After all, anything associated with the audax and randonneuring world is more likely to involve epic distances. However, make no mistake, a Super Randonnée takes both climbing and distance, throws them into a blender and dumps the resulting sludge right on top of any cyclist brave enough to take up the challenge.
My Paris-Brest-Paris 2019 (mis)adventure is a bit of an odd thing if you consider my background. You see, people who know me will tell you that I am an introverted person who doesn’t like to travel. In fact, besides France, I have not travelled outside of my home country of Malaysia for… umpteen years, and yet here I am, jumping headfirst – solo – into a foreign country to participate in a cycling event spanning 1200km between the cities of Paris and Brest.