THE ART OF THE CYCLE CAFÉ (pt II)

We continue our tour of the cycle caf - earlier blog post is here and below. Do you have any recommendations? Let us know via our contact form or social media

THE FORMER PUB: "VELOLIFE"

Situated a short ride from Henley upon Thames in quiet and leafy Warren Row, this former local boozer has been revived and reanimated by cycling and the many local groups who use it as a base. This cafe is doing the basics right, with superb coffee and a vast selection of cake. Velolife also boasts a workshop and has started doing shop rides in a smart new kit by Le Col. With the Chiltern Hills in close proximity, this is a real gem of a location and a great ride stop on way back into town. Looking forward to the next visit already.

 

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MARKET TOWN MARQUEE: "BICICLETTA CON VELO" 

Saffron Walden boasts one of the more impressive cycle cafes as well as stunning lanes through Essex and Hertfordshire. This is another relatively young  and independent business which has infinitely improved life for local riders. The shop boasts a large selection of bikes for sale from the italian classics, Colnago and Cinelli and lots of kit with a definite Italian vibe. It goes without saying the coffee is top notch and helpfully the shop stocks loads of savoury food too which is a welcome sight after a long stint on the bike. Ciao ragazzi!

 

THE ART OF THE CYCLE CAFÉ (pt I)

Because life is too short for shit coffee, we like to search out the bike friendly places which are head and shoulders above the usual chains. Such establishments have started springing up all over the home counties, but only the best will feature in this short overview. 

THE LOCAL HERO: "G!RO CYCLES" 

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Esher High Street has been immeasurably improved with the now, four year old, G!RO Cycles. It is a welcoming hub for locals shunning the Costa Coffee opposite (bleurgh) and is of course a coffee stop for the many local clubs, collectives, ride buddies and G!RO's own in-house shop team. To say the place is vibrant and buzzing on peak times, think Saturday and Sunday mornings, is an understatement. These guys don't offer any workshop services, but you can buy a tonne of cool merch and plenty of fresh threads from some interesting, hard-to-get brands. They serve booze and great variety of food, all of which tick a massive box in our opinion. Keep doing what you're doing guys, onto a winner! The G!RO Insta is also off the hook. 

THE KENTISH BEHEMOTH: "THE VELO HOUSE"

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Located on top of St John's Road in a former NatWest bank, the Velo House offers an environment like no other.  We don't think it's amiss to use the word "curated" for everything housed under the roof of the Velo House. The beers on tap are the freshest craft ales, the bikes hanging off the walls are the latest objects of desire and the brands and equipment are definitely the discerning cyclist's choice, thought about carefully and selected with purpose.  The award winning Velo House interior is also something else, it is a showcase of talent and design flair of SGS Interiors who occupy the top floor office of the same building. Finally, there's the food. The menu is extensive and well thought out and the cake is aplenty with vegan, gluten free options available. Needless to say the coffee is also spot on and it will always remain a pleasure to visit with the family or on the bike. On ride this is a tricky mid-ride stop. Its so damn warm and comfortable you may not want to leave, so we recommend to start and finish your ride there instead. 

Pt II coming soon...

OBSESSIONS #1

A new feature where we will be showcasing some of our members bikes and builders behind them. With this being the first in the series, it was only fitting we opened with Simon Jordan's Hartley Cycles custom build. I was lucky enough to be asked by Simon to be involved in this build and Caren Hartley who worked her magic after the initial and very detailed briefing with Simon. The brief was a classic steel bike, but with some special features, with paint finish discussed at length.

The end result is simply spectacular. From the bi-laminate head tube, to the amazing lugged seat cluster detail and the finish as chosen by Simon, is a true work of art. There are many fine and subtle details on the build which are only really appreciated by true bike enthusiasts (nerds). It is this detail and and artistic flair which really sets Caren apart from the many of London's new and old frame builders and has got her the recognition and awards which are well deserved.    

The frameset is a Reynolds stainless steel tube mix, donned with full Campy Athena and polished Campy Record hubs on H-Plus Son TB 14 and Vittoria Corsa Graphene+ tyres. The build is a definite classic with some modern twists. The finishing kit is Ritchey and Brooks, continuing the classic theme.

I hope Simon is over the moon with his new ride and if I was looking for a custom build I would definitely be sitting down with Caren to discuss over a cup of tea.  

Photos are courtesy of Sebastian Klein and for more of Caren Hartley's builds check out her website here.