It's a family affair
2023 saw an unprecedented number of family members riding Le Loop together. There were married couples, un-married couples, brothers and sisters and even father and sons/daughters (we’re still waiting for our first mother and child team … it’ll come!).
Riding with a family member looked like a huge amount of fun and achieving something so epic as riding multiple stages of the Tour de France route can be a great bonding experience – sharing brilliant memories together.
So if you have a partner, sibling, parent/child or frankly any other family member who you think would enjoy sharing this adventure with you, read on to find out what our 2023 ‘Family’ riders have to say about their experience.
Introducing our family riders
Tory and Paul: are a couple who rode the Grand Depart with us in 2022 and decided to ride again together in 2023, tackling the Middle Mountains Loop (stages 11-13). They are just one example of several husband/wife teams on tour.
Arno and Guido: are brothers from Holland. Guido has ridden Le Loop more than once before, but this was Arno’s first Loop. They signed up for the First Half Loop.
Jonny and Rick Wates: Will Wates’ brothers and both trustees of WWMT. Rick rides a Loop every year (he’s also our chairman), and Jonny has ridden several Loops over the years. Le Loop was Jonny’s original idea back in 2006!
Rose and James: Brother and sister. James attempted the Grand Loop a few years back, but struggled to complete it and so had unfinished business. This was Rose’s first Loop and they both signed up for all 21 stages. They entertained the entire peloton with their banter and competition on the road.
Eric and Francois: French, living in Holland. Eric is a regular face on tour and brings his own particular joie de vivre to the peloton. This year, he also brought his son to join him for the Middle Mountains Loop (while Eric rode the full Grand Loop)!
James and Luke: Father and son again. Both have ridden 4 times with us, 3 of those together. They joined us for the Mountains Week (stages 11-17).
What motivated you to sign up together?
Tory and Paul: our friends seduced us into agreeing to ride Le Loop in 2022 … we enjoyed it so much that we decided to do it again. We loved having a bike objective that we worked on together; it was exciting to drive each other and support each other on the journey and get super fit!
Arno and Guido: Ever since Guido rode the Mountains Week Loop in 2019 he just couldn’t stop telling about how wonderful this had been. So when I was talking to him about maybe planning some sort of multi-stage ride for 2023, there simply wasn’t any other choice for me. Then Guido said he’d join me (and I could pick the stages!).
Jonny and Rick Wates (Will’s brothers and WWMT Trustees: It’s a beautiful way to remember Will. And the best way to be a good Trustee. We both love to meet everyone taking part and the immersion in the Le Loop bubble. It’s unique and very special to us.
Rose and James: We’re both big fans of watching the Tour de France and had completed the Etape du Tour in 2011 but we’re both only occasional cyclists really … One of the best aspects of doing it together is that we’ll always have each other to reminisce with – as much as other family and friends are interested, you have to do it to really understand it so I’m glad I have James to remember it with.
Eric and Francois:
François : The Loop offered the perfect opportunity to get to know my Dad better. My motivation? To decode the mystery behind his love for biking. But it became more profound when I realized that by supporting a trust for youth, I was painting my ride with purpose. I was going to take this opportunity with both my hands and cherish every second, knowing that some of the youth supported by the WWMT do not have the opportunity to get to know their Dad.
Eric: When François asked me if it was possible to ride a few stages with me, my reaction was enthusiast. Finally, I could actively share my love for cycling and this unique experience to ride Le Loop with him.
James and Luke: This was Luke’s 4th Tour (17, 18, 19, 23) and my 4th (18, 19, 22, 23) and our third time together. The tour is awesome on its own, but to ride with your son (father) makes it even more special. One or both of us are working in London or wherever and you never have ample time to bond and ride together, so why not use the Tour to do so!! And you also will know who your roommate will be in advance!! And it is very rewarding to do something like this with someone you love and respect!
What was your tour highlight together?
Tory and Paul: our tour highlight was our 1st day, cycling stage 10 when we realized all our training had been worth it and climbed our 1st ever 3000 meters.
Arno and Guido: Spending this week together with my brother, sharing the same unique experience
and having to overcome some challenges together which made our bond even stronger. Just when you think you know someone you find out even more!
Jonny and Rick Wates: Rick’s address to riders on the eve of the Grand Depart. He captures the ‘essence’ of the event so well and vocalises things that mean a great deal to the family.
Rose and James: a) The sprint finish on stage 20 – we were sprinting from about 2km out – James was ahead with about 500m to go when we passed Julia (fellow Grand Looper) who realised what was happening, came flying past me and told me to jump on her wheel. Julia led me out until about 50m to go when I gave it all I had – it wasn’t enough and James won by seconds but it was the most exhilarating ride ever!
b) Summiting Col de la Loze in a thunder and lightning storm was brutal and brilliant – managing to fend off hypothermia long enough to get a picture together – and operate a phone!
Eric and Francois: François: Picture this: stage 13, descending towards Artemare, and boom—a flat tire. At that point, my hope to get my bike fixed relied on my Dad to stop and help me. About 15 minutes later, I spot him and wave frantically. To my surprise, Dad, in his element, zoomed ahead, oblivious. It took Brian’s quintessential Scottish “Eric!” to halt the oblivious cyclist, revealing the power of a Scottish emergency shout.
Eric: it was indeed one the highlights of the 3 days we spent together. I will never thank Brian enough for spotting François, who was safely and patiently waiting in the ditch (!). Without Brian’s vigilance, I guess I would have had to turn around and climb a few more miles in order to help François. After the ride, I told him “please don’t tell Mum…”
James and Luke: It is a real challenge to pick just one tour highlight given we go through true highs and lows whilst cycling 160+km days over Alpine terrain. One thing which is always special is seeing Dad at the top of all the big climbs. I will typically climb slightly faster, but seeing us both accomplish such demanding Col’s is a special moment which we always cherish afterwards. This year, 2023, one highlight for us was following our 5th consecutive day in the Alps with our 6th day being a rest day. We arrived at the hotel with this in knowledge and were able to look back on what has been achieved, whilst accepting what was still ahead with a glass of wine in hand and smiles on our faces. The tour doesn’t just give us the opportunity to bond on the bike, but also very valuable time off the bike surrounded by like-minded enthusiastic individuals.
And finally, what advice do you have for others considering riding with family?
Tory and Paul: Planning & sticking to the plan was vital; we scheduled all our training rides from February till June, including multi day rides that started with small distances and gradually built up. Don’t forget to have fun, remember there will always be someone better than you!
Arno and Guido: Le Loop every year brings together an absolutely amazing mix of characters from all around the world. This also shows from the continuous high level of activity in the Loopers’ WhatsApp-group several weeks (months and even years!) after the event. I feel I have either a friend, someone to call on, or someone to ride with in many places around Europe now.
But if you can have this experience with a group of friends or family member then the memories will be ever more forever-lasting since you will share it with someone close.
Jonny and Rick Wates: Le Loop is a special experience. Sharing it with those close to you amplifies that. Planning, training, fund-raising and then riding your stages together is super enjoyable. And if there are tough moments, you can help to pull each other through. Finally, you create those shared memories of a monumental experience and achievement. They will last forever.
Rose and James: I think it worked for James and I because neither of us needed to ride together or sit together during meal times so, although we shared a room most nights, we weren’t together for much of the tour at all and often met other Le Loopers independently of each other. On the flip side, it was great to have a familiar face knocking around. Running our own personal GC battle was brilliant and other Loopers really got involved – Team Rose or Team James?!
Eric and Francois: François: Due to our differences in physical builds, our mountain-climbing dynamics didn’t sync. But hey, Le Loop was about togetherness. Solution? We synchronized on flat stages, especially pre-feed stop 1. Forget the pace, forget the strain. Those stretches were golden moments for tandem rides and laughter. Finally, don’t be like us: pester your fellow riders for pics—you’ll thank us later for preserving the scarce evidence!
Eric: Always the same answer: Do not hesitate, do not be shy and just do it!
James and Luke:
- Train together in advance. In addition to normal training and one day rides together, Luke and I trained for the ’18 tour with four days in Wales/Chedder Gorge area, for the ’19 toou with four days in the Peak District and for the ’23 with the Tour of Wessex. You get to understand each other’s limits and speeds and how to handle a 100 mile day together.
- Agree when you will ride together on the Tour and when you will not. Will you wait at the tops of the mountains for each other? Will you agree to ride with a certain group of others consistently? Will you let one or the other break free and head out with the strongest riders (Luke, not me!)? Agreeing all this in advance helps a lot.
- Enjoy each other company, but also mix it up and socialise with the other riders as much as possible.
Massive thanks to all our contributors. You brought an extra dimension to the Tour that was filled with love and laughter (and yes, a good dose of friendly competition too). We loved having you all with you.
Inspired? We think you’ll agree that riding with a family member brings something extra special to the Le Loop experience. And if you’re a Mum, with a son or daughter who wants to understand your cycling passion, we’d love you to be our first Mother/child team! Will 2024 be the year??