Category Archives: Off-season

2015 Rapha Festive 500

Today, I finished up the Rapha Festive 500 challenge to ride 500k (310 miles) between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This makes three years in a row now that I have been able to complete the challenge, which hasn’t always been easy, given that we usually spend most of that time up in snowy and cold northwest Wisconsin. My ride today was a 78.8 mile ride from Shell Lake, Wisconsin to Heartwood Cabins (where Kristine and I had our wedding reception in 2003) via Hayward where I switched from my mountain bike to a rental fat bike.

One of the things that was really interesting this year is the crazy weather we have been having down in Alabama. Temps have been in the 60s and 70s degF just about every day in December. With these rare hot temps, I have been riding in shorts and short sleeve jersey unzipped nearly every ride. Then during the week before Christmas, it got even hotter despite the weather turning quite wet – Birmingham set record high temps three days in a row in the middle of some nasty rain and thunderstorms. Two of those days included December 24th and 25th – the first two days of the Festive 500. Transitioning from that to snowy Wisconsin was quite a shock to the system as evidenced by the table of rides below:

Ride Distance Climbing Pace Avg HR Temp
12/24 Hoover, AL fast century before Christmas Eve 101.95 mi 13,264 ft 17 mph 128 bpm 64 degF
12/25 Hoover, AL gunshots, thunderstorms, and rain 104.44 mi 9,859 ft 16.1 mph 116 bpm 63 degF
12/26 Shell Lake, WI around town garmin in pocket 2.8 mi 118 ft 6.5 mph
34 degF

12/27 Shell Lake, WI timberland hills 49.76 mi 3,320 ft 13.7 mph 117 bpm 18 degF
12/28 Shell Lake, WI finishing the festive 500 78.86 mi 4,879 ft 12.9 mph 123 bpm 16 degF

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Everesting Clingman’s Dome

4th time at the top of Clingman's Dome. One more to go! #everesting

A post shared by Brian Toone (@kartoone76) on

Panoramic photo from the Clingman's Dome tower overlook panning from northwest to the southeast with Mt Leconte prominent in the center and the Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge area to its left.Panoramic photo from the Clingman’s Dome tower panning from northwest to the southeast with Mt Leconte prominent in the center and the Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge area to its left.

Looking back down the steep path to the Clingman's Dome parking lot at the end of my 4th repeat.Looking back down the steep path to the Clingman’s Dome parking lot on my 4th repeat.

Quick Summary

Distance: 218.6 miles
Total ascent: 29,547 feet
Moving time: 17 hours, 10 minutes
Elapsed time: 20 hours, 47 minutes
Avg temp: 34 degF
Strava segment: Little River Rd to Clingman’s Dome Tower Correct Elevation Gain

It took nearly 21 hours, over 6 hours longer than I was anticipating as a worst case scenario, but I climbed to the highest point in Tennessee five times plus a sixth partial lap to reach the elevation of Mount Everest. It was quite the adventure … read on to hear all the details!

Raised relief map zoomed to Clingman's DomeRaised relief map zoomed to Clingman’s Dome.

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