Le Loop is a family affair – not just thanks to the tone set by the Wates Family themselves with their close involvement with the event every year, but also for our riders! It’s not uncommon for us to get a husband and wife team on tour, or even father/son/daughter (though we’ve yet to have our first mother/son/daughter team – it’s only a matter of time …).
Anna and Jim rode the Pyrenees stages in 2019 and are a perfect example of how family can team together on tour, even if their speeds might not perfectly match up.
Note on photo: Anna says “Top of the Tourmalet. It might as well have been the top of the world on that particular day!! It was, and probably always will be my best day on a road bike ever!”
NAME: Anna and Jim Thomas
AGE: Anna 54 Jim 55
LOCATION: Epsom, Surrey
Anna – fairly new to road cycling. Only completed 3 sportives in 3 years and a week touring Corsica before taking on Le Loop. ( Many years of mountain biking previously but nowhere near as fit as I used to be!)
Jim – I had done a few Etape du Tours and even the Haute Route once but it had been a few years since those, and although I have continued as a regular road rider at shorter distances, signing up to Le Loop was therefore a big step up again.
Anna – This was the biggest challenge that I have done in many years and by far the biggest amount of vertical miles ever and the most miles on a road bike in my life!
I started training in January 2019 and put in as much time as I could. It’s very daunting looking at what training other riders are putting in but I’m really not as serious or dedicated as a lot of ‘Loopers’ and it was important to keep things in perspective and do what I was capable of whilst still pushing myself to do as well as I could.
However, I was surprised and thrilled during my four days tackling epic climbs in the Pyrenees to see just how much I could push myself and how much I enjoyed the challenge.
The fact that Le Loop offers a ‘Lite’ option on some sections meant that Jim and I could both sign up for the challenge. Whilst Jim has signed up for similar events in the past I had never felt I had the strength/fitness or experience but Le Loop actively encourages people of all abilities to challenge themselves.
Jim – Can you train enough for something like this? I doubt it, especially when time is limited by work and life, but do as much as you can because it all helps and once you are out there the atmosphere and camaraderie boosts your ability. It was great to have joined the training weekend in March and to have met and got to know other Loopers before we got to France so there were friendly faces with words of advice when we got there. With Anna doing the Lite option we started separately most days, except for the time trial day when we could ride together, but at the ends of the stages we could compare our days and experiences so it was still a great shared experience. And don’t forget to enjoy it, take photos, make lots of memories.
WHERE ARE YOU NOW?
Anna – I have no plans to do anything else this bonkers! I will keep riding my bike though?
Jim and I are happily still in touch with one of the charities that WWMT supports and we will keep supporting them in other ways.
Jim – No major cycling plans made so far this year but I hope there will be, but being inspired by what we achieved on Le Loop we have since been mountain biking in the Rocky Mountains and had a week cross country skiing in Lapland, more first time challenges that we took on with relish.
Huge thanks to Jim and Anna for sharing their story with us. We’re looking forward to several family teams joining us for 2020 and we wish everyone the very best of luck! Vive Le Tour!