Monthly motivation - February

This month we thought we’d focus on everything that isn’t about cycling… the aspects of joining Le Loop that you may or may not have considered and where a bit more information, planning or anticipation might help with motivation or enjoyment…

As with last month, much of this information and advice is based on the feedback we get from our Alumni …


We make a big effort to feed our cyclists well on Tour and take the food subject very seriously – but feeding an average of 100 cyclists 6 times a day, in a different location each time comes with its own set of challenges so here’s an idea of what to expect, both the good bits and the possible challenges…

Breakfasts and dinners are in the hotels and we have four open-air Le Loop feed stops during the day where we serve real food rather than energy products. 

Breakfasts: these can vary enormously according to the hotel with the worst being quite basic (bread/croissant/jam) and the best being an enormous buffet. If we think you might not have eaten enough calories, we’ll add extra food to the first feedstop but that’s rare and more usually there’s plenty on offer to keep everyone happy.
Challenge?… you may be eating a breakfast different to your daily routine at home, or very early in the morning when you still feel half asleep. There’s often a queue for the coffee machine and French tea bags really aren’t the same – but with a smile and a sense of adventure you’ll soon be at…

Feedstop 1: Bananas, cake, dried fruit, nuts (and extras if we think you need it or we find an amazing boulangerie and want to treat you). 
Challenge?… none – this is just a lovely opportunity to enjoy a second breakfast and anticipate the day ahead

Feedstop 2: Coffee, sandwiches, biscuits, fruit. This is most people’s favourite because “Coffee Ian” is always there with a freshly brewed coffee (or tea) and a smile. 
Challenge?… none – this is most people’s favourite feedstop

Feedstop 3: Pasta/rice/noodle salad with nuts/cheese/lentils etc. Cakes, tarts, melon.
Challenge?… on the longer days, this could be a late lunch at 2 or 3pm. We try not to put our feedstops just before a climb but that’s not always possible so you might anticipate a few kms of gentler cycling after lunch to digest before you go all-out on strava!

Feedstop 4: chocolate, crisps, cold drinks, treats.
Challenge?… none – this is just the right mix of treats, salt and sugar to help you make it to the hotel

Dinner: These are usually in the hotel and usually a set menu. We work hard to make sure the menus are varied and we cater to all dietary requirements and the wonder of French restaurants is the standard supply of bread on the table.
Challenge?… the nature of group meals means there’s rarely a choice so if you’re a fussy eater, this is your challenge. And if you’re not a fussy eater, anticipate that French hotels only serve French food (Italian might be as exotic as it gets!) so if you’re with us for more than a week, you might start to miss the variety of food you have at home.

General: Our feedstops all have water and cordial to keep you hydrated and energy gels and re-hydration tablets are available to buy from our shop each evening. The big, important message here is that you shouldn’t need to rely on these other than on a particularly gruelling long climb. Your stomach will thank you for eating real food – not gels or gallons of carb drinks. 

We’re constantly told by riders that they took home the vast majority/all of the snacks and gels they brought with them so if you’re used to one-day events and sportives, try to anticipate a slightly different approach; eat well at our feedstops and save the gels and bars for emergencies.


Loopers are often really worried about whether they’ll be too slow. It’s certainly worth reading our guidance notes on speed if you haven’t already and making sure that you meet the guidance before you arrive on tour. There’s advice for everyone, depending on which Loop you’ve signed up for BUT – there’s a lot to be said for the power of the peloton, camaraderie and support on the day. If you have never ridden in a group before, try to get some experience of that before you come on tour so that you can ride safely and effectively, benefitting from the speed a group can provide. Any local cycling club will be happy to help you.

However – there’s A LOT you can do to help reduce the overall amount of time you spend out on the road … read on!

Time Management

There are 2 sides to this – time management at feed stops and time management back at the hotel. Both are crucial. I’ll deal with feed stops here, and the next 2 sections cover the subject of your time at the hotel.

Feed stops are often a real highlight – a chance to have a chat with fellow riders, eat some delicious food, tinker with any bike issues, go to the toilet and perhaps soak your feet in a nearby stream etc. Afterall, this is a holiday (well, sort of!). But indulge in any of the activities for too long and you’ll soon find an 8-hour day turning into a 10 or 12 hour day, which starts to eat significantly into your time at the hotel which, as you’ll read further on, is crucial for recovery.

So – finding the right balance between enjoying the feed stops and losing too much time is something of an art. Here are a few tips to help you get the balance right:

  • As you are approaching the next feed stop (we post distances between them on our feed stops notice boards) focus, start to think about what you need to do and get prepared. Consider all of the following as a minimum:
    • Sign in on the board
    • Check the notes about the next section
    • Toilet
    • Eat/drink
    • Refill water bottles
    • Top up sunscreen
    • Discuss any bike issues with mechanic?
    • Discuss any muscle issues with physio?
    • Access your day bag for any kit changes etc.
  • Get through your to-do list as a priority – then decide if you’ve got time to linger and chat.
  • You might want to wait to leave with the next bunch of riders for company/speed. Use any waiting time wisely. Equally, it might be worth cutting a stop short in order to jump in with a group who are leaving at about your speed – decide what’s most important.

Post-ride recovery

Things that are worth trying in order to boost recovery

  • Maximise your time off your bike by not indulging in too much ‘down time’ at feed stops – see above.
  • Put your name down for a massage as soon as you arrive at the hotel – the next available slot. This could be the best €10 and 10 minutes you spend each day!
  • Consume a recovery drink if you like them
  • Stretch (avoid injury)
  • Pay proper attention to your body – keeping really clean (including kit), checking for any medical issues and dealing with them will help to make sure issues don’t escalate
  • Avoid too much alcohol and focus on hydrating. Eat lots
  • Deal with any other admin (see below) before ‘chilling out’ – whether that’s socially, or heading straight to bed after dinner for as much shut-eye as possible
  • Sleep can actually be an issue – you might be over-heated, over-exhausted, sharing a room with a snorer, just not comfortable in a strange new bed every night. So, think this one through and work out what would help to ensure good sleep. Consider packing ear plugs and an eye mask for example. It goes without saying that the more sleep you can get, the better. But trust me, you’ll soon be sleeping on every early morning bus transfer!

Evenings (what fills your time)

The more of a faffer you are, the harder this is going to be. Using the evenings to get on top of your faff is crucial. Here’s what you need to be thinking about:

  • Your bike – Straight off the bike, hand it over to the mechanics if there are any issues – this might include paying for parts or finding any spares you brought with you. Get your bike sorted ready for tomorrow and NEVER leave it to the morning.
  • Your body – Don’t skimp on the massage and stretching. A massage from our team could be the difference of being able to climb back on your bike tomorrow or not. Stretching will reduce your risk of injury. Anything medical – talk to the doctors. Never ignore the ‘small niggles’ which, over time, can become serious niggles/injuries.
  • Your ‘stuff’ – the more kit you bring, the more you have to manage. You’ll be lugging it into and out of every hotel and trying not to lose anything/leave anything behind. So be as organised as you can be with everything. Sometimes, less is more! We recommend washing out your kit every evening – so include a round of laundry in your evening plans, with a launderette visit on any rest days you might have for a deeper clean. You might want to consider a check-list for your day bags or even your morning routine. You’ll be tired – use whatever method works!
  • Prepping for the next day – related to ‘your stuff’ – you’re likely to be getting up very early – particularly on a day with a morning transfer. Help yourself by getting things ready the night before so that you can dress, brush your teeth, grab your bags and go straight to breakfast. See ‘check-list’ above.
  • Charging electronics – none of us can be without them, so make sure you’ve got plenty of chargers and adapters and get them charging as soon as you get into your room – particularly if you’re sharing with another rider and are first home.
  • Eating – and hydrating. Dinner is almost always served at 8pm, whether you’re there, or not. If you arrive at the hotel late (very possible on the longer or mountain stages), you may need to go straight into dinner in your cycling kit before changing. We do a daily briefing, often during pudding, telling you whatever you need to know for the next day. ALWAYS be there for the briefing please.
  • Family – finding time to check in with family may be important.
  • Blogging/social media – lots of riders love to keep a record of their ride and their supporters love to follow them. We LOVE riders sharing their experience – but we also recommend being extremely realistic about your time and energy for this. Whatever method you choose, make it as easy as you possibly can and be aware that Wi-Fi is sometimes overloaded by 100+ users all trying to access it at the same time. Facebook and Instagram are particularly good for making this quick, easy and highly effective. A few photos/video and a paragraph or 2 are usually enough and can be done from your phone using roaming data. Blogging websites usually require much more time and effort.
  • Socialising – unless it’s a big mountain day and you’re not one of the faster riders, you should have time to relax and socialise with fellow riders. Kick back and enjoy!
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