DAY 1 - 0 of 500 km

When we woke up in the morning, the rain was pelting our windows. We decided to stay a little longer in the warm bed and strengthen ourselves with a delicious superfood bowl. But soon we had to get on the road because 64 km were on the plan for today.

We made our way through small forest areas and over empty paths full of puddles and deep mud. It was a real adventure to ride through the mud and sometimes even have to push our bikes. Some of us had more fun with it than others, but at last we were all pretty mud encrusted.

But the weather held all day, and so we made our way back home in the dark. Our feet were wet and cold, but we had still had a lot of fun. However, when we parked our bikes in front of the front door, we realized that there were only 53 km on the speedometer, not 64 km. WTF?!? So, we made an extra round without further ado and made sure that we had 60 km on the Wahoo in the end.

After cleaning the gross dirt off our bikes (thanks, brave little low-pressure cleaner!), we could finally head into the warm weather. With us, we brought a lot of mud into our apartment, but it was worth it. Now we're full, warmed up, and ready to relax on the couch. We are already looking forward to day 2 of our challenge.

DAY 2 - 60 of 500 km

It was to be a day full of adventure and challenges, as we set off early in the morning to enjoy the bright sunshine promised by the weather forecast. According to Komoot, a "tough gravel tour" awaited us in the Sachsenwald forest, where good physical condition was required, and we would even be forced to push our bikes in some places. Despite the cold and tiredness, we did not want to miss the opportunity to take on this challenge.

But we were well-prepared and with the Cannondale Topstone Lefty, we had a bike that helped us on the muddy and rooty trails with its suspension and 47 mm tires. Still, it was not an easy day. We had to make our way through narrow, muddy passages where the risk of falling into muddy puddles was high. The forest was on full display, the trees glistened in the sunlight and the air was clear and fresh.

After 5 hours of riding we had covered 75 km, had been on the road for over 7 hours and had frozen feet and empty stomachs. It was a long and tiring day, but we were rewarded with the beautiful sunset that awaited us on the way back home in the Boberger Dunes. Now we are looking forward to a movie and the couch while we focus on what the next day will bring. We don't know yet what tomorrow will bring, but one thing is for sure: we will go on and face the next challenges.

DAY 3 - 135 of 500 km

Yesterday our route took us through strenuous terrain, and we were glad to have a flat route today that would take us along the Elbe River. Unfortunately, we didn't really feel fit after yesterday and were tired, had sore muscles and Björn's right knee hurt.

The landscape along the sheep dike offered us a beautiful view during the ride, but the monotony of the northern German landscape in winter also made itself felt. At least it really didn't rain, and the wind initially only came from the side. On the way back, however, we had to face the nasty headwind that almost blew us off the road and the cold that slowly crept through our clothes didn't make things any better.

We couldn't wait to finally get back home and had enough of the wind, cold and hurting knees. Nevertheless, we managed to cover just under 72 kilometers, which is 40% of the distance of the Challenge. Now we will relax our tired muscles and aching knees and take a rest day tomorrow. This means that we will have to cover more kilometers on the other days, but for now, we have to listen to our bodies and give them the time to recover.

DAY 4 - 202 of 500 km

After the exhausting ride yesterday, I feel completely exhausted and tired. It feels like I used every single muscle in my body, and now I feel parts of me that I haven't felt in a long time. Today's rest day is obviously much needed to recharge and replenish my energy reserves. But I wonder how it's possible to feel so wimpy after a round of cycling? What does my body want from me? And this aching knee ... It seems that I have reached my limits and urgently need a break to feel fit and energized again.

Jana also feels a little tired and has slightly sore muscles, but compared to me, she seems to be in top shape. She seems completely unfazed and I envy her a bit for her energy and stamina, but I know that each of us is different, and we all have our limits. I hope that tomorrow I will have enough energy again to go on the bike together and continue the challenge.

DAY 5 - 202 of 500 km

Today was day 5 of the #festive500, and we were excited to see how it would go. After our rest day yesterday, our muscles felt rested and ready to take on the challenge. We decided to ride the same route as the day before, as we were faster there than on gravel roads, except for the headwind. It may not have been the most exciting option, but it was still a wise choice.

But after the first ten kilometers, we had to interrupt our plan when Björn's rear wheel suddenly lost air. We refilled it and continued our ride, but unfortunately, it lost pressure again soon after. We knew we had to take a closer look, and eventually discovered two holes in Björn's tire. Since we were riding tubeless, we hoped the holes would close themselves, but disappointingly, they did not. A look inside the tire revealed it: the sealant had dried up completely. So, we had to switch to an inner tube, which cost us a lot of time, but at least we could continue without further problems afterwards. Although Björn's knee started to hurt sporadically, it wasn't as bad as on the last ride. Despite the minor setbacks, we were determined to finish the #festive500 successfully.

DAY 6 - 281 of 500 km

Lefty, I'm sorry, but disappointingly I can't ride with you today. My knee is giving me problems again, and I also pinched a nerve yesterday, which is causing my back to hurt. So, I guess I will just have to stay on the couch and rest today.

Jana did a solid 40 km today on Zwift and I mentally supported her being the good husband I am and kept refilling her water bottles. It's a shame I can't ride today, but I need to listen to my body and rest. I hope that tomorrow I will be able to go out on the bike again and continue the Festive 500.

DAY 7 - 321 of 500 km

It's day 7 of the #festive500 Challenge, and I'm once again lying on the sofa, my leg elevated. Unfortunately, my aching knee still hasn't improved, which means I have to end the challenge for me.

The wonderful woman by my side, wants to push through. She has already completed 387 of 500 km and plans to ride the remaining kilometers in two stages on Zwift tomorrow. I am impressed by her stamina and her will to finish the Challenge. I wouldn't last more than 2 hours at a time on the roller trainer.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her and hope that she'll reach her goal, even if I'm no longer able to continue myself. But hey, at least I can watch her pedal away from my comfy sofa and encourage her by saying. "You can do it! Another 113 km, that's nothing! Haha, just a walk in the park for you."

DAY 8 - 387 of 500 km

It's the last day of the #festive500 Challenge and the excitement is building. Happy new year! Unfortunately, Björn could not continue, and his challenge ended after 280 km due to his hurting knee. But you have to listen to your body. That means I still have 120 km to go.

"You can do it! Another 113 km, that's nothing!

Indoors, I've never ridden more than 50 km at a stretch before, but even though you're not exposed to the elements, riding outdoors is more exciting and varied. Full of motivation, I rode the first 61 km, ate a piece of cake and then started the second round. After 4 1/2 hours of riding, I was finally done and had managed to cover 511 km.

We're both proud of ourselves because we've never done so many miles in one go, and I only really started cycling this summer. Let's see if we'll try again next year, but in any case we're looking forward to having a 2021 full of time on the bike.