We’ve Got The 2018 Route!!

WOOHOO! This is it!

We’ve got pavé, we’ve got gravel road, we’ve got dramatic coastline and majestic mountains. The rumours were true – we’ll be heading up the epic 13 hairpins of Alp d’Huez and re-visiting the llamas on the iconic Tourmalet.

Read more about the 2018 route here and check our facebook and twitter feeds for analysis from our favourite commentators.

We’ll spend the next week working into the night to get all our Loop Options ready for you – we’ll announce them here on our website a week from today – next Tuesday, October 24th.

  • If you’ve already paid your deposit to get your guaranteed Loop place, you have until 30th October to email Sarah with your choice.
  • If you were waiting to see the Loop Options before you commit, you have until 1st November to chew it over before our 2nd wave of sales opens at 9am.

If you haven’t registered your interest yet – do it now to ensure you receive our important newsletters.

Vive Le Tour!


Training Support

The key to you having the best possible experience on Le Loop is preparation.

Yes, there’s getting the right kit to think about and yes, you will learn to love taking care of your bike (or paying for someone to do it for you!). But at the root of all this is training. Training, training, training. The hours that you put in on the bike through the winter are what will make the difference between whether you’re gritting your teeth, or enjoying soaking up the incredible views on tour.

It’s not really about speed. We don’t expect everyone to get to the same level and we have a very wide range of cycling abilities who join us. The point of training is not to be as good as the best; it’s to train to be able to spend 8 or 10 hours cycling (at your own pace) and enjoy it.

We pride ourselves on the support we provide for our riders – not just on tour, but in the months leading up to the tour too. We’re in this together! So to that end we provide the following:

Training Blog

A regular training blog from lead cyclist (and endurance racer) Emily Chappell. This will guide you through where you need to be at with your training each month. It’s motivating, encouraging and realistic – and most importantly, it will help you to understand just what riding 2 or more stages of the Tour de France route entails.

Training Weekends

2 training weekends – the first is based from Cheltenham in March and the 2nd is a gathering at the Tour of Wessex sportive – both present the perfect opportunity for back to back chunky miles, with our lead cyclist Emily there to offer guidance and tips. Of course, they’re also a chance to meet other riders taking part as well as loyal TDF Alumni. They’re great fun! Note: there is no charge for our Cheltenham training weekend, but the Tour of Wessex requires an entry fee to take part.

Strava Club

We have a Strava Club where our riders, old and new, can log their rides, share thoughts and questions. It’s a community for everyone taking part in Le Loop (and previously Tour de Force).

Team Marie

As part of a big push in 2018 to encourage even more women to take on the Tour de France route, we’ve set up a ‘Team Marie’ facebook group. Learn more about Team Marie here.



Charity Visit to PYCP, Edinburgh, 12 Oct

Whether you rode with us last year, or are already signed up to ride in 2018, I’d love you to join me on a visit to PYCP – the Pilton Youth & Children’s Project on Thursday 12th October at 6pm.

WWMT is supporting PYCP with a £22,000 grant over 3 years and this is a good example of a charity championed by a rider for a grant.

Location: The Greenhouse, 1A W Pilton Pl, Edinburgh EH4 4DG


We’ll be given the chance to meet the team and the kids behind FaceNorth – the project being funded by WWMT. If you rode in 2017, this is a chance to see how your hard work has paid off. If you’re riding in 2018, this is a great opportunity to share your own personal experience of one of the recipient charities with your supporters. The visit should last max 1 hour. I will be there and hopefully our Tour Manager Sarah also – so it’s a chance to quiz us about the tour too!

If you’d like to come along, please let me know. If 6pm is a bit tight for getting there from work, it’s fine to arrive a bit later – we can work around it – just let me know.



Le Loop launches Team Marie

Team Marie has been created to honour the first female Tour de France rider, Marie Marvingt. In 1908, Marie was refused permission to cycle the Tour de France, so she did it anyway (on the same course, after the race) and completed the whole tour in a year when only 36 of 114 men managed the same.

In 2018, 110 years later, we’re encouraging as many women as possible to take on 2 or more stages of the Tour de France … because with our support and camaraderie plus a little bit of Marie’s determination, more women can share the amazing feeling of cycling multiple Tour de France stages.

How does it work?

We will be suggesting 2 different Team Marie ‘Loops’ for those who’d like as much supportive female company as possible (though there’s nothing to stop women choosing any Loop they like and several will overlap with the Team Marie suggestions). Our aim is not to exclude men (there are plenty of them who are just as worried as all our women) but more to encourage women towards a couple of Loops where they can support each other through the fun!

Riders can secure a guaranteed place on the Loop of their choice right now, by paying our £200 deposit. The Tour de France route will be announced on 17th October, our Loop Options will be published one week later, including the Team Marie suggestions. Women have until 31st October to tell us their chosen Loop.

The Team Marie suggestions will probably be 3, 4 or 5 stage options (though no promises until we’ve seen the route). This means the cost will be between £450 and £750 with a fundraising target of £1000 or £1200.

We have created a Team Marie Facebook Group for all women riding the tour – a place to make friends, swap training tips, compare tan lines, arrange get-togethers and social rides, and support each other towards their eventual goal – be it completing the whole Grand Loop, riding a couple of spiky mountain stages, or spending a week on the bike in glorious scenery and good company.

Emily Chappell – lead cyclist

Our lead cyclist, Emily is really excited about Team Marie:

“what I’m going to enjoy most about my new role is the opportunity to make a difference – to be living, breathing, riding proof that events like this belong to women as much as to men, and to encourage and support all the other women who sign up to ride a few stages, or even the whole thing”.

For more information or if you have any questions at all about Team Marie, please email or call: sarah@rideleloop.org or 0131 3000796, ext 1

Le Loop Riding High

We (Sarah and Kate) recently spent and afternoon in Milton Keynes to learn more about WWMT’s biggest grant project – Ride High. They provide riding classes and tie them in with support work for young people experiencing real disadvantage.

They work with 80 children (aged 8-17) every week who may be in foster care, young carers, are suicidal or self-harming or living in environments dominated by ill health, poverty, drugs or alcohol. All the young people are referred to the project by social workers, schools or medical professionals. The charity’s goal is to transform children from being disengaged, unhappy and with very poor prospects to being confident and positively engaged in the outside world – and they do it exceptionally well.

For some kids, simple communication has become an insurmountable challenge, but through working with the horses, they learn about empathy, compassion, discipline and kindness. Hannah, one of the team working with the children told us:

“When a child first comes here, they often hardly speak, sometimes not at all. But then they start to whisper to the horses, and once they’ve started whispering, we can join in … from there, we can start to help them”

The children join them for an initial 12 weeks, 2 hours a week and might stay with the project for as long as a couple of years. The first hour is a riding lesson and the 2nd is an opportunity to work in small groups on ideas like kindness and empathy. 2 hours doesn’t sound like much, but as Hannah explained, that session can make all the difference to a child. She shared G’s story:

“On Mondays and Tuesdays at school, I have so much anger in me, but I can keep control of it because I know that on Wednesday I’m coming to Ride High. After that, I’m calm and Thursday and Friday are fine”.

Ride High helps G to get through her school week – without it, there wouldn’t be the relief from her difficult emotions that she needs, or the support to help her get on top of them for the rest of the week. All that, from just 2 hours a week.

The role of the animals is key to recovery for these children and Ride High is at a critical but incredibly exciting point in their history, having recently managed to purchase a new stables site to operate from. Unlike the old stables where they hire their space and the horses, they have purchased the new site outright, with bold ambitions. A huge project of renovation is taking place, fast, run by the extremely capable Jo Fay. The stables will be first and foremost a home for Ride High (house in a run down, but about-to-be renovated Georgian house), but will also run as a commercial stables to self-fund the charity. The response of the local community to the new site has been tremendous, with 65 riding lessons being booked in the first 5 weeks of business. The goal for Ride High to be self-funding is entirely realistic, with bold ambitions to develop the site to include meeting space, pony parties, a cafe and more.

The new stables site is an opportunity for Ride High to enable the children to do even more work with the horses – grooming, cleaning tack, riding and more. The house gives them the space for their counselling and support work, included a much needed room for one-to-one conversations in a private space – something they lack at the old site. A small but absolutely dedicated team are driving the project forward through enthusiasm, hard work and grit determination. One of their team, Britney, was one of the children they helped a few years ago and is now a testament to how successful Ride High’s methods can be. She stayed with Ride High and is now a confident and capable young woman who we watched instructing another child on horseback. Ride High works.

WWMT began by funding a minibus and driver to transport the children to and from Ride High. Earlier this year they agreed their largest single grant donation to date – £130,000 to secure the long term lease of the new site. Ride High currently supports 80 children a week and will be increasing that number from January to 88 initially, with a view to reaching even more children who need support. Your fundraising efforts are helping the children of Milton Keynes who are facing severe disadvantage. If you would like to see the project for yourself, drop Kate a line to arrange.



Tour of Wessex 2018

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

We treat this as our 2nd training weekend.

We couldn’t recommend this more – T of W is 3 days of back-to-back big miles at the absolutely perfect point in your training for the Tour – it’s like they designed it just for us! There is a shorter and longer option each day and you can sign up for 1, 2 or all 3 stages.

Kate from Le Loop HQ and lead cyclist Emily will be there with a Le Loop hub to provide a base for you all, encouragement and more. Sign up on the Tour of Wessex website here and list your team as ‘Le Loop’. Make sure you organise your accommodation as quickly as possible – it’s always in high demand! And finally, drop Kate a line to let us know you’re coming – it’ll help us manage numbers and the number of jelly babies we buy!

Le Loop Team Discount!

We’ve been offered a brilliant 10% discount on Le Loop Team places for the Tour of Wessex in May.

The 10% discount is available only until 30th September. After that, the discount reduces to 5% until 26th Feb – so grab your place now for the best price.

First, email us to claim your personal discount code.

See you there!

Riders’ Blogs – the showcase!

No one tells this story better than the riders themselves.

We show all the riders’ blogs and vlogs (that’s a video blog, to anyone over the age of 40!) from the most recent year (or at least, the ones they tell us about!), and the best blogs from earlier years. So if you haven’t already done so, settle down with a cup of tea and a biscuit and catch up on a few.

2017 Blogs

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/ 

Some of the best from previous tours

Jennifer Brittain (Lifer 2016): http://www.mytourdeforce.org/

Andrew Steel (Pyrenees 2016): https://andrewsteel24hours.wordpress.com/

Team Leathers (2015) – a great corporate team blog: http://howdoyoucelebrate25yearsinbusiness.com/

John Griffiths (Big Foot Half Lifer 2016 – and check out his Lifer blog above from 2017): http://johnstourdeforce.wordpress.com

Mandy Hibberd (Lifer 2015): https://mandyhibtdf2015.wordpress.com

Lifer Ian Greasby (2014) – who did most of his training on a static bike in Siberia … honestly! We particularly recommend his final blog post: http://www.iangreasby.co.uk/blog.aspx

Neill Kemp (Lifer 2013) – got to be honest, this is a fav. Highlights are Stage 15 ‘Flying Solo’ and Stage 5 ‘Hobbits have 2 breakfasts’ : http://neillkemp.blogspot.co.uk/

Simon Adams (Lifer 2013: https://www.facebook.com/SimonsTourDeFrance2013?bookmark_t=page Probably the best example of a facebook page for the Tour

Peter Addison Child (Lifer 2013): http://www.willbradleycatchme.com/


Emily’s Autumn training blog

Welcome to Le Loop! We’re delighted by the speed at which places are selling this year, and looking forward to meeting you in the Vendée or beyond next summer – or hopefully at some point during the year, as we all step up our training, and try to cover as many kilometres (horizontally and vertically) as possible before the start line.

Signing up for a challenge that’s still nearly a year away can be both comforting (there’s still so much time to prepare) and daunting (how on earth will we keep the motivation going through the dark winter months?). I’ll be writing a monthly blog from January onwards, to help you keep your training on track, and share some of the lessons I’ve learned when preparing for my own long rides.

In the meantime, here are a few suggestions to keep you going for the rest of the year, and to make sure you’re in the best possible shape to kick off what for some will be the biggest year’s cycling of your life!

  • Make the most of the summer. If we’re lucky, there are still a few weeks left of reasonably warm weather before autumn takes hold and a few more sunny evenings to enjoy before the clocks go back. Try to prioritise your cycling if the weather’s really glorious – even if it’s just a couple of hours one evening, or half a day at the weekend. Every mile counts, and you’ll be giving yourself some happy memories to cling to once winter’s got its claws into us.
  • Find some riding buddies. Riding with (or against) other people is one of the biggest motivators. It’s so much harder to hit the snooze on a cold grey November morning when you know someone’ll be waiting for you out in the cold. And a little healthy competition can go a long way. Either seek out your local cycling club, or join an online platform like Strava (we’ve got our own Le Loop club on Strava – check it out).
  • Plan ahead. Have a look at the calendar of sportives and audax rides for the next year, and set yourself a few intermediate challenges. These will function as stepping stones, and help keep you on track towards the main event of Le Loop. It’s much easier to focus on a ride that’s only a few weeks off than one that’s still over six months away, and riding a few back-to-back 200kms will help you identify any weak points while there’s still time to work on them. We’d love you to join us on our Cheltenham training weekend (24th-25th March), and on the Tour of Wessex (26th-28th May).
  • Start thinking about your bike and kit. You don’t want to start Le Loop with an unfamiliar saddle, a brand new bike, or a pair of shoes you haven’t broken in yet. On your next few rides, think about which elements of your set-up aren’t quite there yet. Are any of your clothes uncomfortable (don’t forget, we’ll have 2018 Le Loop kit available in a few weeks and you can still grab a bargain from the old Tour de Force kit we are selling off at crazy cheap prices)?

    Do you have any twinges in your knees, or hands, or back, that could flare up and jeopardise your ride? Now’s the time to experiment – book a bike fit or a physio appointment, try a few different saddle/chamois combinations, figure out where your weaknesses lie, and start putting things in place to make sure neither your body nor your bike lets you down when it really matters.

  • Nurture your connections with loved ones. They’ll probably have to put up with seeing less of you next year, as you try to balance your training for Le Loop with all the other demands of a busy life. Now’s the time to invest in relationships, to put down the groundwork for the very intense year you all have ahead of you, and to figure out where everyone’s boundaries lie. If it turns out your family aren’t happy with you disappearing for half of every weekend to ride your bike, it’s better to work out the necessary compromises as early as possible.

And above all, make sure you carry on enjoying the ride. There’s no point following a carefully tailored training plan if following instructions just makes you feel miserable. There are countless pathways to ultra-distance cycling, and riders will set out on Le Loop from all sorts of different backgrounds. If you’re riding hard, riding frequently, and feeling fit, then don’t worry about how everyone else might be doing it. You’ll get there in your own way, and we’ll be honoured to share the journey with you.


Tour Report 2017

The 2017 Tour de France route saw a German Grand Depart and a very ‘European’ tour, with riders gathering in Dusseldorf to cycle on through Belgium, Luxembourg and finally into France. After the gruelling first half of the tour in 2016, we were grateful for kinder stages as we dealt with plenty of damp and chilly days in the more Northern stages. In spite of this, morale was buoyant and excitement built up to the first big climb up the infamous Planche des Belles Filles.

A highlight of the first half of the tour was a visit from Tour de France rider Frank Schleck who joined us for breakfast. His words rang in our ears for the rest of the tour:

“After a few days on Tour, at about the point where you are now, you start feeling worse and worse until it can’t get worse anymore because you are totally *****d”.

… Sage nods/nervous laughter all round!



On we went to the Jura for 3 epic (route and weather) stages taking us up to the first rest day. One of the big features of the tour this year was that it passed through all 5 French mountain regions (Vosges, Jura, Alps, Pyrenees, Massif Central) with the Jura being just as tough and fantastic as the Alps. None of the cyclists who were there will forget the Grand Colombier or the Mont du Chat for a while!

Our first rest day was dominated by a 6 hour coach transfer from the Northern Alps across to the North Dordogne – not ideal, but what the pros do, we do! As ever, riders showed great ingenuity in finding ways to sleep on a coach. But the journey also marked a change in the weather – not that it was forever dry, but the temperatures rose and with the fast, flat transition stages to the Pyrenees lined by fields of sunflowers and we really knew we were riding the Tour de France!

Up into the majestic Pyrenees for some chunky stages and late-night finishes for many. These are character-building mountains and we learned what it means to suffer … and to be triumphant in the face of adversity. Down once more onto the windy Southern section before heading back up into the Alps for more huge stages that included iconic climbs up Telegraph, Galibier and Izoard – ticks in boxes for our col collectors. And finally, a spin down to Marseille and a time trial for the penultimate stage of the tour, followed by a TGV transfer to the outskirts of Paris for the final glory ride into the city and the Champs Elysees (one lap is enough for anyone on those cobbles with that traffic). A job well done.

We pride ourselves on our reputation for incredible camaraderie between riders. Every year is a good year and yet still some years stand out. 2017 was one of those years, with friendships forged for life. Of course the tour is challenging, but there was a lot of fun and laughter out there on the road too, with riders working hard to support each other with generosity, humour and humility.

We were joined on tour this year by 3 charity visitors: Dequane and Martyn from Westminster House Youth Club rode a stage with us and Dequane did himself proud by cycling further than any charity youth visitor on tour with us to date. Our new French charity, Sport Dans La Ville, came and helped our support crew for a stage, buttering baguettes and cheering on our riders. And finally, Josh and Julian from Chaos Theory joined us in the Pyrenees for a calf-popping ride into the mountains. The feedback from all 3 charities has been fantastic and we’re excited to be able to continue bringing charity visitors to the tour with us, thanks to the on-going generous support of one of our Alumni riders who covers all the costs of this project.

“Taking part in the Le Loop has taught me to be more prepared.  I feel a bit disappointed that I didn’t finish the stage completely and I now realise that I should have been more serious about training.  I think this will help me to be more prepared in other areas of my life like study and work … the charity visitor project is worthwhile and any young people you can help in this way will really benefit from the experience.”  Dequane (WHYC)

This has been an impressive year for fundraising, with the average amount raised punching well above the minimum required to participate as well as a few really impressive fundraisers helping to boost the total figure up to over £385,000. A huge achievement that enables the Trust to continue to go from strength to strength, supporting brilliant charities with larger grants to really make an impact on young lives. As ever, we couldn’t be more proud of all our fundraisers and grateful for their massive commitment to all aspects of taking part in Tour de Force.

2017 was our last year riding under the banner of Tour de Force. While the riders celebrated their achievement in Paris, our website flipped over to become Le Loop in readiness for sales for 2018 opening just 3 days later. As we finalise the paperwork with ASO, we are excited to have their approval and support as we continue to provide our winning formula of following the Tour de France route, one week ahead of the pros, while raising funds for the William Wates Memorial Trust. Only the name has changed – we will continue to run the event in exactly the same way, with the same staff and trustees at the helm. With sales off to a cracking start for 2018, the future’s bright!



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).

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.