London is undergoing a bit of a cycling revolution these days, and not only because bikes have become accessible – well, accessible in theory, anyhow, but I’ll leave my gripes with the Borisbikes to another blogpost.
No, the cycling revolution also extends to improved safety, Skyrides and twelve Cycle Superhighways, two of which have already opened, amongst others. The fashion-conscious, meanwhile, have the now annual Tweedrun to look forward to, whilst there’s also a nude ride for those that way inclined. And then there’s the food.
The cycling cafes took over the capital this summer, and we naturally went to investigate. Can’t pass up the opportunity to eat cake in the name of blogging, after all. The Container Cafe, Lock 7 and the seasonal, now-closed Rapha Cycle Club are all part of the cafe come bike shop trend, but Look Mum No Hands! is probably the most talked about.
Look Mum No Hands! is on Old Street, and benefits from a great location along one of the main cycling thoroughfares, some very clever branding and a great taste in food. There is a workshop for your small and large bicycle dramas, a bookshelf of magazines and cycling-related books, and film nights – if your other half fails to understand your Tour de France obsession, this is the place to watch.
The free Wi-Fi had attracted an impressive array of laptops during our visit, not all of whom would have arrived on a bike, I suspect. Such is the appeal of the cafe that everything from smoothie-wielding urbanites to lycra-clad racing types congregate and linger in the leafy and surprisingly relaxing courtyard. Inside, old bike parts and cycling memorabilia hang from exposed pipes, creating an atmosphere that manages to be both trendy and friendly at the same time.
Signed shirts adorn the back wall, one of which might have been Greg Lemond’s, though it was hard to tell. That’s the trouble with signatures; the best ones are practically indecipherable. I’ll say it was his, just to inject some romance, though it really didn’t need it. The shirt itself, so devoid of modern fabric technology, did the job admirably, evoking times gone by, when cyclists braved death-defying descents without helmets and set off with little support.
Look Mum No Hands! offers plenty of support for London cyclists, however. The cafe serves delicious salads and dishes to fuel you up, smoothies and juices to tot up the vitamins, and, my favourite, cakes to nourish your soul. We settled in the courtyard with a chocolate and banana cake, which was delicious.
I’m not sure that Look Mum No Hands! is so good that it warrants cycling in London in order to visit – the terror and cold sweats induced by van drivers and cab drivers might take some shine off the experience – but it is close.