Have a look and see what sort of cyclists join us. We welcome a huge variety of abilities.
Your fitness is your responsibility but we are here to help you with advice and motivation. We want to keep this event open to all cyclists who are committed to training and fundraising and it is definitely not a race.
The required fitness level depends on whether you are intending to ride the entire tour or one of our ‘Tour Tasters’ and whether you sign up for mountains or the flatter stages.
Some days are far more challenging than others but on average riders will be cycling between 8 and 10 hours a day. Some people will be capable of riding a 100+ mile stage with relatively modest preparation, but the purpose is to enjoy the experience. Adequate training helps!
The first 40 or 50km of each day will be ridden at group pace with the aim of supporting each other and enjoying the company of your fellow cyclists. After that, stops will be rolling and you will be able to ride at your own pace.
“If you take this seriously and put the effort in, you can achieve far more than you think”
When Marianne first heard of the Tour de Force she discounted it as being miles beyond her ability. She’d been on a couple of short cycling holidays and had dabbled in mountain biking but had never cycled with a club and certainly wouldn’t have described herself as a cyclist (and for starters, she didn’t own any lycra!)
It took Marianne’s friends weeks, a lot of wine and the promise of a personal training plan to persuade her that she was strong enough to take on four Tour de France stages. And four soon became nine…
The enormity of the task was a constant worry in the months leading up to the event: not knowing what the food would be like, how fast the other cyclists would be, if her body would hold out…
But, as with many, many Tour de Force cyclists, Marianne followed her training plan to the letter, gradually upped the miles and long rides and astonished herself by how well she coped and how much she enjoyed the cycling.
Her message to anyone considering this is to ignore the apprehension and go for it… and she’s sure that like her, you’ll gain untold confidence and sign up to take part again next year! (Marianne returned the following year as a lifer and then again in 2016 with a couple of friends for the fun of the Alps and to encourage others achieve what she has).
Yogi Cycling club: Three club cyclists who took on the full tour and nailed it!
Chris, James and Simon are all keen club cyclists at the Yogi club in Plymouth. They signed up as lifers and were hugely supported by each other and their cycling club with their training. They were very competent cyclists before taking on the Tour de Force and successfully completed the event with no serious concerns.
Despite the varying ages (James was only 22, our youngest ever lifer. Chris and Simon are ‘slightly’ older!) and differences in approach to surviving 20 days of non-stop cycling, our three Yogi cyclists were a brilliant team and an asset to the event. Their cheery peloton banter and determination to support each other and the whole group showed just what a great, active cycling club they come from back home.
Everyone has stronger days and weaker days, days looking after themselves and days of feeling strong and fighting. What the Yogi boys proved is that everyone’s in this together, whether for 2 stages or 20 stages.
Opta corporate team: Varying abilities and levels of training but everyone had their place
Spurred on by the chief executive who’d previously cycled 4 stages of the Tour de Force, a team of six Colleagues from Opta Sport joined the Tour de Force for 5 Pyrenees stages in 2012 and 3 extremely tough Alpine stages in 2013 followed by a team of 3 lifers and 8 Tour Taster cyclists in 2014. In 2015 and 2016 they’ve continued to cycle with us, bringing different colleagues and friends along for a variety of Tour Tasters.
On each visit the team was a mix of those who’d done a good amount of cycling, a couple who were keen on other sports but new to the bike, a couple of ‘enthusiastic total novices’ and one who confessed, with 7 months to go, that the furthest he’d ever ridden was 25 miles!
Being a team of fairly mixed ability, they were often cycling at different speeds and with different groups amongst the Tour, but they also sometimes chose to cycle together and help each other along.
Their team success on some of the huge, mountain stages tells a very powerful story about how much even a relatively inexperienced cyclist can manage with willpower, support and a friendly, inclusive environment. With regular feedstops, no worry about a sweeper van and the support of our lead cyclist and the other cyclists, not to mention well timed help from physios and bike mechanics, this is proof that if you want to do this, we can get you through.
Tom’s nerves-to-glory tale is like that of many Tour de Force cyclists. He signed up for 3 big Pyrenean stages to support a friend but then the doubts set in. Was he fit enough? Could he really get up all those long, long climbs? Was everyone else going to be a mad keen cyclist when he was just a ‘normal’ person?! Tracy and Sarah met him at the Tour of Wessex and tried (without huge success) to calm his nerves, explaining that there really would be lots of people like him and that the other 70 cyclists would be welcoming, encouraging and, importantly, not as fast as he thought!
The nerves-to-glory story ends as they always do: Tom continued with a sensible (but not life-consuming) training plan and had the cycling-time of his life. He finished each day at 5 or 6pm, his body held up, the mountains were a pleasure (not a grind) and he’d happily and enthusiastically encourage anyone else to take the plunge and join us.
Tom came on the Tour de Force knowing only one other person – but he left with many new friends and huge amounts of respect (from cyclists, staff and French villagers along the way!)
Col: Strong cyclists can get loads more from multiple days of the Tour de Force than a one day sportive
We discovered very soon on his first day that Col is a very strong cyclist! We also discovered that he’d placed in local sportives, won his age group in bigger races and, as he got more serious, had been on a training camps in Scotland and Majorca. He thought the Tour de Force seemed like the next logical step as he was more intrigued by sustaining multiple days of strong cycling than just being the fastest for one day.
Col spent most of his time at the front of the first peloton (probably taking far more than his fair share of turns at the front) and charging up mountains. But he also really enjoyed the mornings or afternoons where he decided to chill out, hang back and help those who were struggling.
The format of each day, with regular feed stops, opportunities to regroup and information on what’s to come in the next 40 km, is designed so that everyone can ride at their own pace.
It’s easy to race up at the front for a while but also to spend time with friends in the main group or at the back – everyone benefits when help is given and received: the banter gets better and the peloton grows stronger!