TDF 2017 ON SALE!

TDF KIT SALE!

Don’t miss out – we’re selling off all our TDF kit (jerseys, gillets and shorts) in readiness for the new Le Loop stock for 2018 (which will be the same design – but different logo).

IMPORTANT:
1. In men’s ki,t we have stock in all sizes except XL shorts (but we do have XL jerseys).

2. We have women’s kit too!

3. We have lots of mapless/yearless jerseys so if you cycled TDF in the past, it won’t look like you’re cheating by wearing a ’17 jersey!

4. We don’t mind if you’ve never cycled the tour with us … yet! All kit must go before we start to sell 2018 kit. So tell your mates. This is Morvelo-made, fantastic quality kit, dirt cheap.

GRAB A TOTAL BARGAIN!

BUY NOW

  

Tour of Wessex 2018

The Tour of Wessex is on the May bank holiday weekend 26-28 May 2018.

We’ll be there!

You can ride 1, 2 or all 3 days and there are long and short routes.

We couldn’t recommend this more for great back to back miles.

2017 Riders’ Reunion

Calling all 2017 Tour de Forcers!

As promised, we’re planning a reunion get together – a chance to catch up, reminisce, enjoy a social get together that doesn’t include wearing lycra and we’d love you to join us!

DATE: Friday 22nd September

TIME: 7pm onwards

LOCATION: Central London (TBC once we have a better idea of numbers)

PLAN: We’ll organise a pub where you can come along, meet fellow 2017 cyclists, have a beer, a burger and a good old catch up. Very informal – we’d just love to see you all. Partners very welcome.

RSVP by Mon August 7th: Please let us know if you’re planning to join us so that we can get an idea of numbers and pick a suitable location. 

We’re really looking forward to seeing you soon.

The TDF/Le Loop team

#TDFRiderComp winners announced!

We launched our Rider Competition to try to get your words and images from the tour this year. No one says it better than you – our riders – and we received some wonderful entries that really captured the essence of what riding Le Tour is all about with Tour de Force (and now, Le Loop). For the first year we had daily vloggers on tour – so particular thanks to Chris Stephens (https://www.instagram.com/chrisandthetour/) and the duo behind ‘Project Camembert’ – Ian Coop and Chris Lewis: https://crankman26.wordpress.com/ for their brilliant contributions.

Many riders used blogs, twitter and instagram to record their journey. Many of the blogs are listed in this post: https://rideleloop.org/are-we-nearly-there-yet/ and a few riders emailed their entries to us.

And so came the really difficult job of selecting our winners … not least because you’re ALL winners in our eyes. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your commitment, enthusiasm and generosity of spirit in sharing your experience. But just as someone has to get the yellow jersey, we do have to choose 3 winners … and they are as follows:

FIRST PRIZE – goes to Chris Stephens for his wonderful vlogs. Though we could have chosen any one of his vlogs, the collection as a whole just nails it – he finds the words, the images, the epic views and the emotion that expresses what it is to ride Le Tour.  Chapeau Chris. They’re all there to view on his instagram feed above.

Chris wins a beautiful copy of cycling artist (and TDF Alumni Lifer) Bruce Doscher’s new book that is a collection of his best ‘Daily Poster works’. Bruce has spent the last few years creating an epic image that captures the essence of that day’s stage of the Tour de France. He produces it on the same day – 21 images in 23 days. His work is stunning and iconic.

 

 

 

SECOND PRIZE – goes to John Griffiths who captured, precisely, what the Tour de Force is truly all about: not just the unbelievable experience that is riding the actual route of the Tour de France, one week ahead of the pros – but the fundamental reason why TDF/Le Loop exists – as a fundraiser to support the work of the William Wates Memorial Trust – supporting the most disadvantaged young people in the UK and France to get the sort of opportunities in life that many of us take for granted, and to realise their own true potential.

“What we have done is great, but it’s over. What the charities do is greater & continues day after day & is far more than a 3 week affair”

You can check out John’s full blog here: https://johnstourdeforce.com/

 

John wins a stunning ‘Cycling Poster‘ by Bruce Doscher and gets to choose the image he likes best from Bruce’s 2017 Tour de France work.

 

 

 

 

 

THIRD PRIZE – we really hoped for a single, brilliant image that captured the staggering beauty that we are lucky enough to experience on tour. The moments high in the mountains, with enormous vistas to reward us for our blood, sweat and tears as we reach the tops of crippling climbs, give us some of our most emotional moments – the ones when we’re glad to be alive and know just how very very lucky we are to be doing this. It’s when we know that riding the Tour de Force is about so much more than just our ride. It’s about other people benefiting too. There is camaraderie aplenty on the road, but to get to the top of a climb, it really is all about you and the bike, and digging deep. This chimes perfectly with the work of the Trust – where each young person we are helping has their own mountain to climb. We support them in every way we can, but in the end, it’s up to them to come out on top. We felt that this image taken by Roly Kitson’s daughter Megan captured that emotion:

 

 

 

Megan wins a signed copy of  our new Lead Cyclist Emily Chappell’s excellent book What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story.

 

 

 

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS to all our competition winners. We will be in touch to organise your prizes.

And to all those of you who contributed to the competition, our enormous thanks and appreciation.

Vive Le Tour!

Grand Loop places sold out in 3 hours, 20 guaranteed Loop places still available

What a great week! Since Le Loop 2018 places went on sale last week, we sold all of the Grand Loop places in the first morning, our 2017 riders watched (from the comfort of desks and sofas) the pros ride the same roads and mountains as they’d enjoyed the week before and Chris Froome won another yellow jersey in Paris.

It’s sad that the Tour de France is over (what to do without the highlights show each evening?) but you still have the chance to copy the pros and join us next summer. 20 of our guaranteed Loop places are still available, giving you first choice (and guaranteed availability) on any Petit or Semi Loop when they’re announced in October.

BOOK NOW to pay your deposit and join us next year. And to all of you who’ve already signed up, we’re really looking forward to meeting you and riding with you!

Vive le Tour!

Staff Stories – The Lead Cyclist

A key role on the tour, our Lead Cyclist is responsible for the enjoyment and safety of our cyclists. Gareth Jones has been our Lead Cyclist this year and will be followed by Emily Chappell in 2018. Gareth had this to say as he prepared for the last day of cycling into Paris…

I’ve been involved in the Tour de Force for the last 4 years. As lead cyclist, my day normally starts on the luggage van loading all the main luggage for the late shift to take straight to the next hotel. If it’s a good day, I manage to grab a coffee on my way to the van – today I didn’t manage that but one of the lovely Tour doctor’s brought me a coffee and a croissant for a van picnic.

Once we’ve loaded luggage, put day bags in the feed stop vans and everyone’s had breakfast, it’s time to start cycling and then the fun really starts.

Tour days vary enormously as does the sort of cycling it involves for me… Sometimes I’m up at the front chatting with the faster guys and making sure everything’s okay with the route, sometimes I roll along with one of the small groups that form and enjoy the banter, the perfect tarmac and views – as well as the obvious chat that starts after the first week about how the pros are getting on with the real tour (that’s one of the highlights for me – knowing that we’ve been everywhere they are) and sometimes I cycle towards the back with the slower cyclists, encouraging those who are having tough days or enjoying the chat with those who are doing really well but just have a slower pace – this is definitely not a race: the challenge is to get through each day with a smile on our faces and my job is to help as many people achieve that as possible.

At the end of the stage my tasks are much the same as all cyclists – massage, clean water bottles, eat something, chat about the day and then dinner at 8. During dinner I talk to the group about the next day’s cycling – often to a sea of apprehensive faces but my tour experience means that I know they can all do it even if they don’t know that yet.

Today…

We’re cycling stage 21 into Paris today. It’s a huge highlight for all the Lifers and Semi Lifers and something they’ve worked very hard to achieve – not just over the last 3 weeks but for months before that with training, fundraising and hours of commitment. It’s such a privilege to see them enjoy this moment together. When you watch the Pros cycling in to Paris you can see how much of an achievement it is for them and how they use the last day to soak up the atmosphere and reflect on what they’ve achieved – and it’s no different for us. I’m proud of every single cyclist and will also be reflecting on what a lovely group I’ve cycled with for the last 3 weeks.

Chapeau Gareth! It’s been a blast!

Staff Stories – the Mechanic

Hear from Andy Thirlwell, seasoned mechanic:

“I’ve been a staff member on Tour de Force every year since 2012 (and even worked on the 2010 ride that was for friends and family of Will’s family – before the event was opened up to the general public).

The last few years I’ve worked as night shift mechanic but I was lucky enough to have a mixture of roles this year. On stages 10-13 I ran a feedstop van with Claire, a sports Physio from Athlete’s Angels. On a typical day we would start by getting the bikes positioned so they were available for the riders around 6am. If there was a transfer it would mean setting off an hour before the coach to the start point and unloading the wagons. Once the peloton leaves the race is on to get to the first feedstop and set up. ‘Second breakfast’ normally consists of French pastries, cakes, nuts and the cyclists favourite…..bananas….lots of them! Up to 15kg a day! I try to address any mechanical issues that arise with the bikes during the day; gear tweaks, creaks, saddle adjustments etc. We try to keep cyclists going on their own bikes as long as possible but on a few occasions this year I have made use of the Trek spare bikes…. there’s not much we can do to repair sheared mech hangers and cracked frames!

My second role on the tour has been night mechanic. This is more of a background role, shuttling the 80 or so suitcases from hotel to hotel, buying the huge amounts of bananas and fizzy drinks that are required every day and getting the hotel set up to accept the riders. As the group rolls in the Athlete’s Angels fix the riders and I get to work fixing the bikes. Mechanicals are wide ranging from broken springs in pedals to dead batteries. The amount of ‘sad’ bikes varies from day to day so sometimes work rolls on until the early hours.

Being a cyclist myself of many years it is incredible being on the tour and being so deeply immersed in such an epic event. The achievements witnessed by the participants day to day are fantastic to watch and it’s great to know that with every pedal stroke money is being raised for an amazing charity. Since I started working for Tour de Force the William Wates Memorial Trust has raised over 2.4 million pounds – an achievement the riders should be proud of as well as their amazing cycling triumphs”.

Staff Stories – the Angels

We work with the fantastic Athletes’ Angels who provide an incredible team of physios and massage therapists on tour with us who have loads of experience of both cycling and endurance events. Shim, who has just returned from the first half of the tour, gives us her perspective.

My first ever tour was in 2016 where I helped out at the first 9 stages and I did the same for this year too. It was great to be back and get straight into the tour spirit and meet the amazing team again as well as some of the cyclists that took part last year and new ones too!

So, my role on tour is a Sports Therapist for the day time (travelling in the feed stop vans) as well as going into early evening. What this means is I help mend those broken legs and more day to day niggles as cyclists ride through the stages (some of them are pretty tough!). A typical day for me starts at 5.30am by driving to the stage start point (if that isn’t at the hotel), unloading all the bikes and then heading on to our feed stops to set up just in time for cyclists arriving. At the feedstops we handle any problems/injuries on route as well as when they arrive at the stage finish hotel. Feed stops are great to get to know some of the cyclists and why they are doing the Tour De Force which is inspiring … as well as tucking into delicious Jam and cream cheese sandwiches!! (euw! Really? Ed.).

For me, working on the Tour de Force is about being part of something incredible: The Williams Wates Trust which helps many disadvantaged young people to keep away from a life of crime; to actually see and experience the same route as the Pros ride; to meet incredible people who organise and put together such a big event and for those dedicated, amazing cyclists who give up their time, who put their mind and body through gruelling stages of the Tour De France and raise money for the trust! I can’t think of anything better to work on and be a part of!

When you start at the very beginning of the tour, you start to build a rapport with all the cyclists and its gets harder as stages go on. It becomes quite emotional for them at times as well and to just be there for them every step of the way and to see that smile on their faces of achievement is always the highlight for me! I am always gutted to leave the Tour halfway because I want to help and see all of them at the finish! Now that I’m back home, I’m still following their progress on line via the website and social media.

But I have to say I was really looking forward to my own bed and hot, salty chips! For some reason, I really craved them this year.

Thanks to Shim and all the Athletes’ Angels who do such an incredible job for us on tour. We know that many of our riders simply wouldn’t make it without you!

Are we nearly there yet?

We knew the Alps would be huge – and they didn’t disappoint. This is tough riding, but with glorious weather on our side we had the enormous rewards of absolutely breathtaking views. When you ride mountains like this, the experience stays with you for life.

Many of you will have been following some of the riders’ own blogs, but there are a few really worth of note that we have been enjoying so much this tour – in particular the vlogs (video blogs – for anyone over the age of 40!). No one tells this story better than the riders themselves. So if you haven’t already done so, settle down with a cup of tea and catch up on a few:

Chris Stephens: https://www.instagram.com/chrisandthetour/

Barry O’Sullivan: https://www.instagram.com/barryos/

Roly Kitson: rolykitsontourdeforce.wordpress.com

Ian Coop and Chris Lewis: https://crankman26.wordpress.com

Neil Nash Williams: https://www.saddlesorestylist.wordpress.com

John Griffiths: http://johnstourdeforce.wordpress.com

Michael Dean, ‘Deano’: https://www.facebook.com/DeanoTDF/

Ben and Robyn Reeve: www.ratherberidingmybike.com

Michael Leather: http://www.leatherstourdeforce.co.uk/rider-blogs/michael-leather/ 

 

And so to our final 3 stages!

We’re heading South now towards the Med – which MUST be downhill, right? Stage 21 is Marseille – and then we have the TGV journey up to the outskirts of Paris for the final Stage 21 onto the Champs Elysee. Stage 19 today is the longest stage of the tour – this Tour isn’t over yet! But Stage 20 sees a time trial in Marseille – a virtual ‘rest day’ that we could have done with in the first week to be honest! But it gives our riders a chance to relax and reflect on the incredible journey they are now reaching the end of.

Here’s what they look like:

 

 

 

19 Embrun-Salon de Provence, 220km

This is the longest stage of tour at 220km and that is only partly mitigated by the fact that it’s a significant net descent. This might not be the high Alps but it won’t feel like an easy stage! Embrun is above the stunning lake Serre Poncon and you’re heading for the equally stunning villages and small towns of Provence (think lavender, vinyards and market squares). This will be a super interesting stage to ride both from the perspective of an amateur cyclist enjoying perfect tarmac and sunny, hilly, French roads, and also from the perspective of a Tour de France fan, getting an insight into the intricacies of tour design and race tactics.

 

 

 

20 Marseille-Marseille, 23km

A short morning at a leisurely pace (Marseille city is not a place for racing) around the corniche road with a cheeky climb up to the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde just so that you have to change gears! We’ll give you lunch after you’ve cycled and then we’ll be heading to the outskirts of Paris, ready for tomorrow’s grand finale.

 

21 Montgeron-Paris Champs Élysées, 105km

The last time there was a stage start in Montgeron was 1903 and there was a tiny crowd of 150-200 people to watch it: how things have changed! We’ll take a slightly different route from Montgeron to Paris, making up the distance with a detour to Versailles. Then we’ll rejoin the pro route at the Eiffel tower (for group photos) and up the Champs Elysees for one lap (not 10!) of the Paris circuit.

ENJOY!