Alex Gunby

Name: Alex Gunby
Age: 50
Location: Sussex

Experience:

I built up from doing 40km loops round the Surrey Hills to managing a 145km Sportive in Snowdonia which was brutal but brilliant at the same time. It made me want to see if I could do more so riding 6 stages of the Tour De France was the obvious next step.

He Says:

If you have a chance to take part in Le Loop, do it without hesitation.

It’s difficult to do write down what an amazing experience riding Le Loop is and to do it justice because there are so many aspects that make it one of the best things you’ll ever do.

For me, I think it was all the little things that I wasn’t expecting to be so rewarding, like the fantastic people you get to ride with, chat to and make friends with, or the way that everyone’s there for each other when it gets tough or when mechanicals happen, or the fabulous crew who work so hard and are always, always jolly and smiley and have fresh coffee for you at just the right time, or being cheered on the big climbs by people camped out waiting for the Tour to come through, Add to that riding through beautiful scenery on great roads pushing yourself to achieve more than you thought possible, being the fittest I’ve ever been in my life (by the end of the ride), ticking off iconic alpine climbs, and all the other normal cycling-related good stuff; you have goodness & fun coming in from all sides, all the time.

I rode six stages through the Alps and the Massif Central and although each day was harder than anything I’d ever done before (either twice as much ascent in a day than I’d ever done, or further than I’d ever ridden, or both) I found I could do it. Part of that is down to training hard, but a lot of it I’m sure is because of being part of this bigger thing raising money to help out such a wonderful cause and being surrounded by people who are finding it equally difficult but are still positive and happy and supportive.

At the end of my last stage I didn’t want to stop and my only regret is that I didn’t sign up for more stages. I think some of my fellow riders have already written that a large part of it is mental and that once you’ve done a day or two you realise that you are an unstoppable machine, albeit not as fast a machine as G Thomas.

For all that, definitely the best bit was the welcome home I got from my family. My wife and girls were so fantastic throughout my training and fundraising and I would never have done it without them. I owe them everything.

Top Tips:

  • Follow Emily’s Training advice, it works
  • Think about having a decent bike fit if you can afford it. Being in the saddle for so long, day after day, will reveal niggles that you don’t notice on normal rides
  • When you’re doing your long training rides, get used to stopping and eating real food. It makes the training more enjoyable and prepares you for the excellent food stops
  • Start raising money for WWMT as soon as you can
  • If you’re doing mountain or hilly stages you won’t regret having bigger sprockets than you think you need. If you like numbers, my watts/kg was about 3.8 and I found 50/34 with 11-32 was just right. Grinding is ok for a couple of km but not on four 20km climbs in a row
  • Buy properly decent bib shorts. You won’t regret the extra spend

Where are you now?

When I go out on group rides with my local club now, I’m always a little disappointed that the rides aren’t longer and harder. I’m definitely planning on doing Le Loop again and at some point I’ll do a Grand Loop (full TDF course). I’ve also got my eye on other challenges and I’m trying to work out how to fit it all in around family and work. A key enabler for this is persuading my wife to start cycling; that’s a work in progress but I think some of the seeds are starting to germinate…

Having done Le Loop I’m also re-thinking what I’m doing with my life. I’m a bit of a slow burner so it may take a while for things to change; I’m sure they will though, just got to keep turning the pedals no matter how slowly.