Once upon a time, if you wanted to catch a bit of Tour de France action while out and about in London, you’d need to pop into a pub and persuade a friendly barman to put Eurosport on the TV. And even then, you risked missing the sprint finish if the old boy nursing his Guinness in the corner insisted on changing channels so he could watch the 3.15 from Uttoxeter.
Now, however, your worries are over, with the launch of not one but two Central London venues that will enable you to enjoy the action with like-minded souls. One is brought to the capital’s cycling fans by no less a brand than Rapha, and will provide a club atmosphere to enjoy the action over the next three months, while the other, Look Mum No Hands! Is a permanent venue that aims to become “the focal point for London cycling culture.”
The Rapha Cycle Club, at 146-148 Clerkenwell Road – handily located just round the corner from Condor Cycles on Grays Inn Road – opens its doors next Saturday 8th May and will combine a café, shop and gallery with a full programme of exhibitions, shopping, screening of races including, of course, the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France on TV, as well as the chance to enjoy a cup of Rapha blend coffee before closing on 31 July.
Limited edition Rapha Cycle Club products will be on sale as well as those from the wider range of the London-based cycling apparel brand, while the exhibition programme starts this month with a show devoted to the Italian legend Fausto Coppi, curated by his biographer, William Fotheringham, continuing with a focus on the Tourmalet in June, followed in July by an exhibition of racing bikes from the last 100 years.
While it is called a “club,” entry is free and the only qualification for membership is “an interest in the sport of road racing.” Rapha founder Simon Mottram says: “Long frustrated at having nowhere to watch racing or share the love of the sport with others, we have conceived the Rapha Cycle Club as the place we would most like to hang out in the summer. We are looking forward to meeting like minded fans, riding and watching the racing, consuming cycling culture, surrounded by beautiful things. This is the ultimate Rapha experience.”
A second Rapha Cycle Club will also open in New York City over the summer.
Meanwhile, Look Mum No Hands!, which officially launched earlier this week, provides a combination of a cycle café-bar-workshop from its premises at 49 Old Street, and will be showing top racing on its big screen this year, including all three Grand Tours.
The venue has already drawn crowds to screenings of races such a Amstel Gold – with the beer of that name on sale, naturally – during its soft launch phase.
Road.cc's man about London town TR has already checked out Look Ma No Hands! and will be paying the Rapha Cycle Club a visit during the week, so look out for his verdict on both venues soon.
Rapha Cycle Club
146-148 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R 5DG
Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm
Saturday 10am to 8pm
Sunday 10am to 4pm
Look Mum No Hands!
49 Old Street London EC1V 9HX
Monday to Friday 7.30am to 10pm
Saturday 9am to 10pm
Sunday 10am to 10pm
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.