Only in London…

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I realise that coffee and cycling make a great combination, but hadn’t realised just how far things had gone.

In fact, it’s apparently so popular that the Telegraph newspaper recently listed the 10 most popular cyclist cafés in the London area.

Surely once a stream of cyclists turn up anywhere, the non-cyclists quickly find a less lycra (spandex) and sweat-filled environment to enjoy a quiet latte…

In a new town but itching to ride? Check this out…

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A recent discovery for me is Strava Local. For those who don’t use Strava, or who haven’t seen this feature yet, it’s a collection of jogging and cycling maps for a number of cities around the world.

There’s a decent number of locations covered, but one hopes this will grow to include far more cities.

These routes were selected either for their historical significance, or their scenic nature and are a neat resource for someone in town for work, or for new arrivals to a city.

When you’re new to a place, it can take some time to work out the good spots to jog or to ride, so this is a great resource. Even if you know a city well, the guides often contain routes you never thought of.

Well worth a look.

http://www.strava.com/local

Round the World on a Drainpipe

Europe, Switzerland, Lucerne, road signs at Verkehrshaus transport museum

Thanks to a very rainy 1st May weekend, we had the chance to explore the Luzern transport museum. Great museum for kids (and big kids), with lots of interactive stuff, planes, boats, trains and cars.

Among all that, they squeezed in a few interesting bicycles.

A racer from 1905

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A Swiss military bicycle. Apparently unchanged in design for almost 100 years… (must be heavy!)

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An early tandem from the 1930s

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They also had an early mountain bike (nicer but similar to some of my collection, Deore LX etc.) and an interesting bike which completed a tour of the world.

Ridden by Armin Honegger, this 1955 British Hercules completed a 149,000km round trip of the planet. Looking at this bike, Herr Honegger commands some serious respect. Nowadays, most people wouldn’t even ride to work the supermarket on this, so it just goes to show what is possible with simple technology.

No need for a thirty three gears, aero tubes, electronic shifting, air damper suspension and carbon fibre. This guy went round the world on a (well built) drainpipe with three gears and crummy brakes. Well done that man!

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Sankt Jurg

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I went for a ride this Sunday, the sun was shining, the bike felt good and all was well with the world.

Just a quick morning ride, clock up the kms and work on getting fit again.

First half, all good, then on the return leg, I can hear a rhythmic rubbing sound, like a leaf stuck on the back tyre rubbing the frame or brakes with each revolution, no biggie.

Then pedalling becomes ever so slightly harder, then the next bump in the road tells me it’s not a leaf. I’ve got a flat.

No problem, I’ll just change the inner tube. I’ve got tyre leavers, patches and glue, and even a whole spare inner tube. But no pump….

Riding on my own this morning and not many cyclists about, so I’ll have to do the unthinkable and call the missus to pick me up. As you all know, this is an ultimate last resort as the kids will not allow me to forget this rescue probably for years to come.

Turn the phone on. Dead. Oh dear. The next 45 minutes involves walking along the road in cycling shoes, trying to find an open cafe, petrol station, whatever, and asking in crummy German whether anyone has an iphone charger. Nobody has a iphone charger… and petrol stations only have pumps for Schrader valves…

People kindly suggest I use their phone to call home. Except I don’t know my number. It’s in the phone…

It’s 25kms back home. My Sunday is not looking so good anymore.

Until a most friendly German jogger named Jurg, pushing his daughter to the bakery to buy some croissants, asks if he can help. He has a pump, which fits a Presta valve!

He is happy to help, no problem at all.

Thank you Jurg, you literally saved my Sunday.

Let’s get out and ride!

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Spring is definitely here in western Europe. The daffodils are already fading, primulas still going strong. Tulips and magnolias in full flower.

So if you’re lazy like me, and preferred to hibernate in the winter months (despite all the warm weather cycling gear you bought), there’s no more excuses.

Time to get out and ride.

Here’s some great photos to kickstart your next excursion!

http://blog.flickr.net/2015/04/11/let-me-spin-my-wheels/

Coffee and Bicycles

On a recent trip to Milan I happened across the Bianchi café.

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It’s in a bit of an odd location, tucked away on a side street the wrong side of Piazza San Babila from the Duomo (the wrong side for customer traffic that is)

Now, Italy is really good at a lot of things, but two things they do better than anyone else are coffee, and bicycles. So surely combining the two must be the stuff of legends!

It probably is, but I wonder why anyone would bother to do so…

In Italy you go to a bar (café) for a coffee, and a chat, not to patronise a brand you like. In fact, the place was basically empty except for one chap who I’m guessing wasn’t a cyclist.

A friend (also a keen cyclist) also travelled to London recently and posted pictures from the Rapha café, so this is clearly a growing trend in cross-sector business development, but it does seem a bit odd.

I wouldn’t buy a television made by Volkswagen, or Nike toothpaste or a lawnmower made by Levi’s.

But I would buy a Bianchi bike, and I would buy Italian coffee.

In the same place? Sure, if I happened there by chance, but would I make a pilgrimage?

Doubt it. Would you? More than that one time, just for the novelty factor?