I'm taking on an epic cycling challenge: Le Loop.
Le Loop follows the official route of the Tour de France, one week ahead of the professionals and finishes 21 stages later in Paris, some 3,400kms later.
In 2023 I will be tackling the Grand Loop which is ALL 21 stages of the tour de France route. Every participant commits to raising a minimum amount for the William Wates Memorial Trust (WWMT). The fundraised money is entirely separate from the participation fee - donations do not pay for my Tour which is a separate cost paid by me
All monies raised go directly to the William Wates Memorial Trust whose mission is to help the most disadvantaged young people keep away from a life of crime and violence and fulfil their potential. This is achieved by giving grants to charities that engage young people through the medium of sports, arts and education.
It's been a tough couple of years for charities and particularly for young people. This is my chance to give something back and help support young people who aren't lucky enough to enjoy the advantages in life that most of us take for granted.
Le Loop is no small undertaking. Riding even ONE stage of the Tour de France route is going to hurt! Please reward my pain by giving generously.
It's Getting Very RealTuesday 6th Jun
In search of Rhythm in YorkshireWednesday 31st May
It’s May, It’s Monday, so it’s another bank holiday and an opportunity to fit in a ride. This bank holiday saw me take a trip up to Yorkshire to try out some hills. The event was a Velo 29 Ride Yorkshire starting in Thirsk and incorporating 2,421m of climbing along the 170km route. The climbs were a mix of relatively short steep killer climbs, long steady climbs, and some excellent downhill sections which were a blast, and there were a lot of them
To put the climbing into context Ben Nevis peak stands at 1345m, and along the 170km route of this ride we climbed nearly 2 Ben Nevis’s. The ride was well organised and proved to be a good training event for Le loop and a chance to get my rhythm right on the hills.
There are 2 basic techniques of attacking the hills – option one is to select the highest gear you can and grind it out with powerful pedal strokes, and option 2 is to spin your way up the hill. As I only have limited power available, I am very much a spinner, but you still need to get it right. Too low a gear and you look like a circus act and burn up all your energy and progress is slow. Too high a gear and you veer into grinding it out territory. In the middle is the technique you are seeking where the pedals are turning in one constant circular motion generating kinetic energy taking you up the climb without sapping all your energy.
There were a number of climbs where I managed to achieve this which is important as when on the tour many of the climbs are over 10km so you need to find a rhythm, but there were also the short sharp climbs where it was simply a case of grinding it out !!Share
Naked RidingThursday 25th May
Don’t worry this is not what the title might at first suggest
and I’m not about to offend large numbers of the rural French population. The
concept has transitioned from running and is about the liberation from phones, headphones,
and tech whilst running / riding
For a lot of runners, the thought of doing a run and not having it recorded on Strava with all its analysis seems alien. Doing the run free of tech and for the mindfulness alone is often not why they set out. Runs are done to be recorded and not just to feel the wind in your ears. To run without measurement would mean having to self asses if you were faster or slower than last time.
For some headphones are as essential for a run as a pair of good trainers. Lots of time is spend downloading playlists designed to be paired to the mood, energy levels and even the weather for each run. It provides motivation during the run that enables the runner to get through it
With cycling, I have always been wary of using headphones from a safety point of view and ride without them so this will not be an issue. The headphones will be left for hotel room use.
During le loop I will have my Garmin to record my ride but that is as far as the tech will go. There is a whole host of tech and analysis that will not be coming with me such as
An Electronic map of the route, measurement of cadence, power output, heartrate, VO2 max, Pulse Ox calories burned, and time to destination, amongst others.
This will leave me free to enjoy the moment. I’m sure there will be stages where I’ll be questioning my sanity, but I am hoping there will be many more life affirming moments with great views and hot sun.Share
Bank Holiday WeekendsWednesday 10th May
The current round of BHW provide a great opportunity for all to have a break from work and do sometime enjoyable. Now depending on your viewpoint “something enjoyable” can mean very different things. For me it’s an opportunity to ride – some long rides and back-to-back rides on consecutive days or so I hoped - My wife saw the BHW as the opportunity to get all those jobs in the garden that need doing done!
So, in the spirit of compromise last bank holiday out came the pressure washer, the garden shears, the lawn edger and scarifyer. Garden furniture refreshed and paving cleaned, and I still managed to get some riding in.
This left the coast clear for the coronation weekend for more riding. On Sunday I entered the RIDE RUTLAND sportive. This was an 167km ride described as undulating which is always a worrying term! This was a great event well run and with the bonus that the sun came out. On the Monday can fit on another 75km ride in the morning again just before the rain cameSo, the bank holiday did end with me completing something enjoyable and am looking forward to planning the same for the last bank holiday before I depart Share
Peeling back the LayersWednesday 12th Apr
Winter riding ( which is any ride before the clocks change!) is a case of putting on all your layers as you head out into the cold. This usually consists of a thin base layer, a thermal base layer, a thick cycling jersey and a waterproof jacket. This accompanied with a neck warmer, winter gloves, and overshoes prepares you the best you can, but you still know that at the end of the ride you will be cold, your extremities will have lost any feeling and your ready for a hot drink.
Eventually come summer, this gives way to the ideal cycling conditions enabling you to ride in a top, shorts and fingerless gloves – Bliss. But between these 2 dates is the period that you peel back the layers and guess the conditions. On a good day setting off early can mean a temperature range between 5 degrees early morning and if your lucky 18, 19 degrees by the end, and rain is never far away.
This brings a whole different level of kit including waterproof Gilets, Insulated Gilets, removable arm warmers and leg warmers, cycling jerseys of varying thickness, and any number of packable rainproof and windproof jackets. This combined with your winter kit means you end up with enough kit to fill a non -league football club kit room and finding stuff is an artformGet it wrong and you will be colder than any winter ride or overheat more than any summer ride Share
THE NEW BIKEFriday 31st Mar
Having taken delivery of the new bike the test now would be after 10 years of riding my old bike would the new one deliver. The first important thing about a bike to cyclists is …. The colour - and how does it look! I had no choice with the colour which is Matt black a popular colour with cyclists but one that personally I’m not keen on – so what about the ride
The bike is a BASSO, an Italian brand that still makes hand build carbon frames in Italy and 80% of a bike’s capabilities come from the frame. The other main difference from my old bike is electronic gear shifter, disc brakes, and 28mm thick tyres.
Having ridden the bike for a few outings now I can confirm it is an exceptional bike. The 28mm tyres give a great level of comfort and the electronic gears means I can change gear whilst going up hill without fear of the chain coming off. I had drafted a load of superlatives about the bike and the ride but have instead decided to let Alcide Basso moto that is on every bike sum it up – Ride Perfected.Whilst originally when the bike arrived I must admit I was not overly impressed with the colour, once I have ridden the bike it could be any colour under the sun as it’s an outstanding bike to ride Share
BRITISH SUMMER TIMEWednesday 22nd Mar
This Sunday at 1.00am in the morning the clocks go back an hour and Sunday marks the start of British Summer time. Whilst I’m not expecting tropical heat or layers of sun cream to be needed next week for cyclists (and many others) the clock changing is a game change.
It opens up so many more opportunities to get the bike out of the garage and onto the road. A post work ride of say an hour and half can be completed without having to prepare for a ride home in the dark. And after a week or two it’s easy to find that you have a stepped increase in the time spent riding, or in cycling training terms – Training load. And this is the top of the inverted pyramid of things to do to improve perform and fitness as detailed in the uploaded image
The clocks changing will enable the transition from the Gym to the road although for fair weather cyclists like me I’m sure April showers will mean plenty of visits to the gym for a few months yet.Share
A CALL FROM THE BIKE SHOPThursday 9th Mar
It was a normal Tuesday morning and I was on a Teams call – my phone flashed up with a call – Bristow’s Cycles- I made my excuses on Teams and took the call – there was the possibility of a suitable bike – the frame geometry had been checked and was a good match to my bike but he needed to check a couple of measurements so asked if I could call in and take my current bike.
Checks done we found that on one measurement based on the published data had only 5mm of tolerance which is not enough for adjustment. The plan was to phone the distributer and assuming that they had the bike built take and actual measurement for checking –
An agonising 24 hrs later the result of this was an actual tolerance of 15mm which is amble. Deposit paid, and I have a bike on order with the biggest cog having 34 teeth, so I will now officially have no excuses for not making it up the hills! – I await delivery with anticipationShare
The Crazy Bike MarketFriday 24th Feb
After another visit to my bike shop, we have concluded the best solution for this ride is a new bike. But that is where the problem starts – my bike shop doesn’t have any bikes. The bike industry is suffering supply issues in the same way as the car industry with long waits for new bikes.
There is another local shop that will do a bike fit for you and select a frame and build a bespoke bike – after an initial consultation I realised that I would not be walking out with any change from £8k with this option so did not proceed. Next, I looked at Canyon an online brand who make some quality products at more reasonable price point or so I thought – whilst the entry price is £2,700 by the time I add the right spec to get me up the hills the bill is nearer £5k – and it’s not available until April 2023 at the earliest! – The one that is available is you’ve guessed it £8k. My local bike shop is going to continue the search for something suitable that won’t break the bank – here’s hopingShare
January Weight watcherFriday 3rd Feb
TAMING THE HILLSWednesday 1st Feb
As I work on my fitness my thoughts have turned to my equipment. I have concluded I am going to need some mechanical assistance with the mountain stages of the tour. My bike is an Italian frame bike with Italian gears from Campagnolo which is an excellent bike and rides very well on the roads near me which are generally Flat.
The issue is the biggest gear is a 25 teeth cog. The more teeth on a cog the easier it is to pedal. From my rides last year in the lake district and Yorkshire I have worked out that anything above about a 17%, 18% gradient and I won’t make it up.
The solutions are either get fitter (easier said than done) or get more cogs with more teeth – as a minimum a 32 teeth cog. Having visited my bike shop it turns out this is also easier said than done. More cogs would mean a new derailer, which would mean new levers, which would mean changing the breaks etc, etc which all means £££££.
The other alternative is a shiny new bike which also means £££££ - perhaps the fitness option is where my focus should be – back to the Gym it isShare
2023 Training commences 173 days to goWednesday 11th Jan
Happy new year to you all. My new year has started with a realisation that 173 days may seem like a lot but I’m sure it will go in a flash. I have decided to break down the remaining months as I prepare for the ride into what I hope will be bite size chucks
January will be basic fitness training , long runs and weight loss – I have joined a weight watchers group with Wates for January which has a weigh in each Friday which should help with the motivation – this combined with Dry January makes an interesting start to the year !!
I suspect February will be more of the same with possibly some short rides if the weather is kind
By March I should be in the saddle and getting some regular rides in and increasing distances , with the plan that during April and May I will get some hill riding training. This will leave the beginning of June to ease off ready for the 23rd June Grand depart
Here is the picture of my first weight watchers post ( in kgs) which I will update at end of JanShare
SMARTER TRAININGWednesday 14th Dec
After my introduction to incline setting on the treadmill, I reflected on the training that I do at the gym. It became clear that although I was regularly getting to the gym, I would gravitate to the equipment that I liked using, - Treadmill, rower, static bike, and avoided those that I didn’t- anything with weights attached! And there was no real plan other that changing from rowing one day to running machine the next etc
Having seen the green shoots of results in my running from my incline training I decided hep was needed and a proper plan. The gym included 3 wellbeing sessions where I can discuss goals and outcomes I want to achieve together with timescales. With Le loop being 3500km of cycling in June 2023 my goals and timescales were quite specific.After discussing these with an instructor it was clear that I was missing out on strength training. So, the Instructor has given me a weekly plan that now includes 2 sessions of strength focussed training. Initially I will implement this plan for 2 weeks and have a review. It looks like for the next few weeks at least there will be no avoiding those weights Share
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED DOWN THE GYMMonday 28th Nov
AS part of my preparation I have joined a local gym, and noticed they had a 40min Running Club. Intrigued by what this might involve I signed up. I turned up at the appointed time and appeared to be the only one there – turn out it’s not up and running yet and I should not have been able to book – The Instructor who was just finishing a class came over and said don’t worry, we’ll do half hour of hills on the running machine…
So far, my running training on the treadmill has been the Forrest Gump approach – Get on – start running and stop when I’ve had enough. It turns out there is an Incline setting which goes from 0 to 15. The instructor’s suggestion was 1min flat, 2 mins at level 5, level 10 and level 15 and repeat 3 times.
I set off at a steady pace and was comfortable for the 1st and 2nd levels, level 10 became a challenge, and at level 15 I lost all power of speech to respond to the instructor’s comments. Somehow, I managed to complete the set.The next day to acclimatise to these newfound Incline settings I did the same levels but this time at a walking pace. The instructor was confident after a few sessions my running would improve. The following Saturday I did my usual parkrun and managed to get my fastest time for this year. So, despite the pain there is some merit in changing my training style from the Forrest Gump approach Share
the 2023 Route is anouncedFriday 28th Oct
Great Yorkshire SportiveMonday 3rd Oct
Thank you to my Sponsors
Jb Structures Ltd
Good luck Dave!
Game Engineering Limited
Good luck with the ride David; hope the training goes well. From all at GAME
Moortown Group Ltd
Best of luck with this epic challenge for a great cause.
Aden Contracting Ltd
Best of Luck David - What a fantastic way to fundraise for such a great charity. From all at Aden Contracting.
Great Effort Dave, The Best of Luck form all at WB!!!!!!
Procom Construction Consultants
The very best of luck from all at Procom!
Rosemary & Mick
Great effort for a great charity x
Good luck Dave
What a wonderful event to get involved with - Enjoy the training x
Pa Collacott And Company
Good Luck for this amazing challenge
Good luck David, a fantastic achievement
Sig- Dave Carlson
Good luck from SIG
Rhona And Peter Brown
Good luck David on your mighty challenge.
Good Luck, what an amazing cause. From all at WJCL
David, Best of luck to you! From Claire & The team at Sunbelt Rentals
Good luck Dave, we look forward to following your progress!
Good Luck!! It sounds like it's going to be amazing!!
Insane and epic! Wishing you all the very best for this amazing challenge!
INSANE! Good Luck
Best of luck with your Epic Challenge!
Good luck Dave
Good luck David!
absolute utter madness......but well done and cant wait to follow your 21 days
Well done Macca! I wouldn't drive that far let alone bike it
Flying the flag for Yorkshire & rhubarb.
Lets hope you don't meet a Sheffield Wednesday fan on those hills!
Epic challenge, good luck from us both x
Best of luck David From all at JB Structures Ltd