Drop the turkey, grab your bike: Rapha have kicked off Christmas with the Festive 500, challenging cyclists to clock up 500km over eight days between Christmas and New Year. The 2019 challenge is now open on Strava.

This year marks the 10th edition of the Festive 500. As ever, it's more than just a cycling challenge: Rapha want to hear your stories too. In the spirit of the season, they'll be dropping some festive goodies into the sack of the lucky riders who come up with the best winter tales.

Can you ride 500km between Christmas and New Year?
Can you ride 500km between Christmas and New Year?

Now a seasonal rite of passage, Rapha's Festive 500 began as a self-imposed challenge in 2009, when the brand's lead designer, Graeme Raeburn set out to ride 1,000km over his Christmas holidays to experience training like a pro.

As Graeme later discovered, professional cyclists ride nothing like 1,000km between Christmas and new year - so when the challenge was launched to the public in 2010, the distance was halved to 500km. From 84 participants in that first year the Festive 500 has taken off, with almost half a million cyclists worldwide completing the challenge to date.

"The challenge is the perfect antidote to offset the excesses of the festive period and ensure you stay active and keep the Christmas pounds at bay," say Rapha, who will be offering a series of workshops, rides and advice over the weeks leading up to the start.

Fitting in the rides amid family festivities (and adverse weather) is probably the hardest part of the challenge. Or, you could simply follow the lead of Rapha's Seattle manager and knock off the whole 500km in a single ride... You can find out how that terrible idea worked out on the Rapha site.

Win with #FESTIVE500

Rapha's squadron of pixies have once again been hard at work creating a special Festive 500 range. The cap, musette, neck warmer, socks, bidons and T-shirt all feature unique graphics - and you can win kit from the collection every day of the challenge.

Simply follow Rapha on Instagram and tag your ride photos with #festive500 to be in with a chance to win.

Prizes from the Rapha Festive 500 collection will be up for grabs throughout the challenge.
Prizes from the Rapha Festive 500 collection will be up for grabs throughout the challenge.

As in previous years there's a commemorative woven badge for everyone who completes the 500km - but Rapha have broken the sad news that this is the last year they'll be offering the coveted stitched roundel to finishers. All the more reason to knuckle down!

Badges aside, there's an array of fantastic prizes for the most creative documentation of the challenge.

From photo albums to hand-drawn maps, short films to creative bakes, it's up to you how you interpret your Christmas rides. Rapha will reward the most inventive entries, with this year's top prize a Canyon Grail bike with custom Festive 500 design.

Other prizes include a Leica camera for best photography, a Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex jacket, and kit from the Pro Team Transfer collection for the winner of the Epic Fail category.

The Festive 500 challenge is now open. Sign up on Strava, or visit a Rapha clubhouse and pick up a printed brevet card to log your miles.

See you out there!