What A Cyclist Does In London

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When I initially think of London, cycling doesn’t tend to be the first thing that comes to mind. More sky high buildings and jam packed roads. Businessmen in suits getting frustrated with the copious amounts of tourists. The distinct lack of mountains making trails hard to come by. As well as it’s jam packed roads, London doesn’t exactly scream ‘cycling city’.

But if you look a little deeper, the cycling scene in London is stronger than ever. Chain-gangs circling the many parks. Bike shops hidden away in amongst the hustle and bustle of the capital of Great Britain.

So what’s spouted from this great cycling scene?

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First off is the cycling store that is Rapha. Started in 2004, Rapha has become one of the most well-known brands in London as well as being known worldwide. Previously the kit sponsor for Team Sky, Rapha portrays quality in the products they sell. In amongst the shops of Brewer Street, the half bike/half coffee shop is any roadie’s dream and a must if visiting London.

With kit varying from socks to full Lycra sets, as well as being full of cycling memorabilia, Rapha is a definite past-time for any roadie visiting the big city.

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More new to the scene is the London shop for Swiss cycling brand, ASSOS. Walking into the white-washed wall shop you’re surrounded by cycling kits for every climate. From cold winter months to sweltering Alpine summer rides, there’s kit for just about any conditions.

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With the welcoming guys behind the counter, who are rather knowledgeable about the local cycling scene, ASSOS go above and beyond to find you the right kit. A static bike in the back, you can actually see what the kits you’re considering fits like in the riding position before you buy it. We all know comfort in paramount on those long rides…

Walking around a bike shop it is common to find a women’s specific section, but rather than splitting the sport into what is already segregated enough, ASSOS split their shop into collections. A pink cover on the coat hanger representing the women’s kit.

And before you think ‘well women’s kit shouldn’t be represented by the colour pink’, the padding on all of their kit is pink. I often found myself picking up men’s kit before noticing the pink sleeves on some of the coat hangers!

Pink is just ASSOS’s colour. And I’m a fan of it too.

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Last on the list (well this list) is the more MTB focussed shop; Soho Bikes London. Being involved in mountain biking before trying road, Soho Bikes has been on my radar for a while. Popular shows on YouTube and also having a coffee shop like Rapha, walking around it shows Soho is more about the mountain biker or commuter.

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Filled with mountain bike memorabilia from the likes of Steve Peat,  Soho is not your ordinary bike shop. Walking in you’ll find their coffee shop, from which you’ll be led deeper into the shop past Soho merchandise and bikes from the likes of Santa Cruz, Trek and Orange.

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Despite the differences in the objectives of each, it was clear the one common feature was coffee. Any cyclist, whether road or MTB, will always appreciate a good quality coffee.

London at Christmas Part 2: Southbank

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This time around walking up the steps from the tube, we were walking into crowds of people with Big Ben dominating the landscape in the background. We were back in central London on the banks of the River Thames.

 

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Back in Chelsea it looked like a sunset was on the cards and by that I mean one that would be good to photograph.

The result? Running round like a headless chicken trying to get a million photos before the light went completely.

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It was only then we could actually look around the Christmas markets of Southbank, which is so much better than the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park by the way! Southbank had plenty of homemade gifts and food to eat. Southbank seemed to represent more accurately the spirit of Christmas. It wasn’t just a money maker.

With darkness now upon us and a train to catch it was a shame we couldn’t have spent longer on the Southbank, but I suppose that leaves more for us to explore when we return…

London at Christmas Part 1: Chelsea

Walking out of South Kensington Station we were confronted by a Lamborghini garage and a Bentley driving past….we were definitely in Chelsea. Uniform buildings three or four floors high with flower boxes on each window. Paved pathways passing the many gates providing access to the six-figure Chelsea houses. Steps up to their painted doors and Christmas wreaths hanging from their iron cast door-knockers.

It was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, which we’d accidentally found ourselves on the night before.

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We had no real agenda in Chelsea, I just wanted to go there. Ok it might slightly have something to do with the fact I watch Made in Chelsea on a regular basis…but anyway that’s not the point.

I was just in awe of how pretty it all was. How a few miles away you can be crammed in amongst hundreds of people all trying to get to different places. Then you have, Chelsea with multiple picturesque streets empty till the homeowners return from work.

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Granted the shops contains price tags way above what I could afford, the money I’d spent in Urban Outfitters in Selfridges the night before seemed somewhat mediocre. I think I got lucky with this outfit though because Selfridge’s price tags had quite a few 0’s on the end too!

I felt serious guilt buying this outfit (skirt and jumper photographed) but I knew it would be one of those things I’d regret not buying.

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So our trip round Chelsea was more of just a wander, but we did manage to wander round places like the Saatchi Art Gallery as well as having a tasty lasagne in POCO on the Duke of York’s Square. From the craziness of central London the night before it was nice to see some of the quieter parts of the big city.

 

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I’d only been in London 2 minutes and David Beckham walked past abandoning his Bentley on the side of one of the many busy roads in London. 


With a fashion sample sale to head to first that took up a lot of the day, but didn’t stop me stumbling across Portobello Road. A road I knew had some significance in London, but I was sure what. Walking along it I could see the attraction. Market stalls and every colour in the rainbow filling the street. And lovely people to match just trying to make their way in the world. The shops were like little hidden gems. Full of unique things I wouldn’t find back at home. Everything from edgy urban styling to the pastel coloured garments I love filling my wardrobe with. Appletree Boutique to be precise. 

After photographing Portobello Road from every possible angle it was time to head to Camden Town. A place I didn’t know much about, but was full of cultures from around the world. And people from around the world too. I rarely heard a British accent. Old London is one way I’d describe it. Aged bricks and mortar that was sky high made bright by the cultural items on sale. I didn’t buy much here but it was good to explore the place and fill the film on my Mum’s Canon EOS 500. 


Then we found ourselves in Regents Park, which sparked up a memory of some writing I did on my first trip to London. I was just sitting on one of the benches with my notebook and pen in hand. I’d always wanted to write, it just took me a few years to write anything worth reading. I even recognised which bench I was sat on as my shy teenage self. Dodgy haircut and fashion sense to match. 


The sun was setting and yet so many people were still out and about. Walking. Running. Socialising face to face and not through a screen. It’s kind of sad these days people spend more time talking via Facebook Messenger rather than face to face. Conversations with people when they’re right in front of you always have more meaning. Work to live and not live to work I suppose. Yes you might be tired after work, but can watching a television screen really have any comparison to seeing friends and family. Or even just being outside? 


There was still the rumble of traffic not to far away but it was still peaceful with the birds chirping away. And it was only at this point I heard numerous British accents. Which was quite odd really.

So London might seem an unsociable place to some, but it’s sparked up my thoughts into wanting to be a bit more sociable rather than keeping in touch by typing a message into my phone.