Le Loop 2018 – The Grand Depart

The time for training is over….France here we come!

And so we arrive in June 2018, once again looking forward to (or should that be dreading?!) an epic cycling challenge in France.

This year, Michael Leather will embark on his third (yes THIRD) trip to France as part of ‘Le Loop 2018’ ( https://rideleloop.org/) to cycle the full route of the Tour de France in aid of the fantastic charity, the William Wates Memorial Trust ( https://wwmt.rideleloop.org/).

The sheer scale and difficulty of cycling the actual 2018 route of the Tour de France, a week ahead of the pro’s, can sometimes be incomprehensible. To put the challenge into some context, here are some key facts and figures:

  • The tour lasts 3 weeks, cycling for 21 days, over 2000 miles
  • Le Loop cyclists can expect to be cycling for an average 100 miles a day, on their bikes for anywhere between 5 and 12 hours a day, and burning over 4000 calories a day
  • The 2018 route is considered to be one of the toughest (if not the toughest) in recent memory), and it includes:
  • A return to the famous cobbled roads of Northern France
  • Visits to the mountain regions of the Alps, the Massif Central and the Pyrenees
  • A total of 53 (!) categorised climbs, taking in upwards of 80,00 feet of vertical ascent (and that’s not including all of the inclines fortunate enough not to be officially categorised….)
  • A visit to Western France (Pays de la Loire) for the Grand Depart, famous for its brutal crosswinds on the exposed causeways

Michael will be joined once again by Barry James for 3 stages in the mountains of the Pyrenees. And, after watching on the sidelines for last 3 years, Michael’s long-time coach (and a man who has caused Barry nightmares in the past….), Dr Garry Palmer has decided to show us how it’s done and signed up to tackle the second half ride. Garry has helped nearly everyone in the office with their training and nutrition programmes for cycling challenges of previous years, and has been at Michael’s side for all of his crazy cycling adventures to date. It’ll be amazing to ride with him in France…..if we can keep up!

Both Michael and Barry are excited to get started, and apart from a few cuts, bumps and bruises, training has gone reasonably well his year (Michael’s Cape Epic adventure and Barry’s London to Paris ride being the standout “training blocks”) and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for great weather for the next month or so.

As always, we’re overwhelmed by the support of friends, family, colleagues, contacts and even those people who are just coming across us for the first time! We’ve raised over £50,000 for the William Wates Memorial Trust over the last 3 years and we’d like to push that number even higher. The work the charity does for under-privileged children throughout the UK is inspiring and we’re so proud that we’ve been able to contribute in some way.

All donations would be greatly appreciated, no matter how big or small. Please visit our Virgin Money donations page if you’d like to contribute:


Thank you for your continued support – check back in for regular updates from Michael and Barry in France over the next few weeks.

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