‘A catalyst for positive change’ - How Rapha-inspired Fasted 500 challenge is keeping people active during Ramadan 

Zahir Nayani said he’s ‘chuffed and humbled’ by the amount of support his challenge has received 

(Image credit: Zahir Nayani)

A new Rapha-inspired Fasted 500 cycling challenge will be keeping people active during the next month of Ramadan. 

Cyclist Zahir Nayani decided to set up a new “little and often” distance challenge to get more people cycling through the religious month from April 12-May 12, which sees Muslims around the world abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. 

Nayani, a lawyer from Swindon, said he was inspired to set up the Fasted 500 because of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on Muslim communities, while also encouraging people to be more active.

The 34-year-old told Cycling Weekly: “The Fasted 500 is a fun cycling challenge which encourages Muslims to remain active during the month of Ramadan by sensibly cycling 500km over a period of about 30 days. 

"The inspiration stemmed from the sobering impact of the pandemic on BAME communities, of which Muslims form a substantial part.   Open-source data confirms that most of us aren’t getting enough exercise, and that goes for us Muslims too – whilst we don’t tend to drink or smoke, boy can we eat!  Augment that with many of us having predispositions to certain health conditions (e.g. diabetes) and we can begin to see why a targeted challenge of this sort is long overdue.  

“I’m chuffed and humbled to see this random idea garner so much traction and support.”

The Fasted 500 is inspired by Rapha’s now-famous Festive 500, a tough cycling challenge that sees riders complete 500km in the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. 

(Picture: Fasted 500)

But rather than aim for another gruelling test on the bike, Nayani set up the Fasted 500 to people out on the bike in short spells, while overcoming the lethargy that comes from fasting for a month during Ramadan.

He said: “The challenge is primarily aimed at Muslims who observe the month of Ramadan which, in essence, involves those in good health abstaining from food and drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset for a period of 29 or 30 days.   

“Many Muslims have, for decades, been going about their daily lives whilst observing the month of Ramadan without much ado.  So whilst the thought of undertaking light exercise in a fasted state may be unappetising (excuse the pun) to some, it comes as nothing new to those of us familiar with Ramadan.” 

To complete the Fasted 500, riders need to compete 17km a day during the month of Ramadan, with finishers able to buy a commemorative roundel (“the universal language of cyclists”), with all profits going to the Cycling Sisters Bristol initiative, which encourages women to take up cycling. 

For those who don’t participate in Ramadan, you can still show your support by buying a Fasted 500 peloton print.  (opens in new tab)

To get involved, you can follow Fasted 500 on Instagram (opens in new tab) or visit the website. (opens in new tab) 

Nayani added: “The aim is for the challenge to be a catalyst for positive change and to encourage active lifestyles.”

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.