Just a cool place: Rapha Cycle Club, London

I had a couple of spare hours in London today between meetings so went on the search for a cafe with WIFI to grab a coffee and get some work done.

The only place to head for in these situations is the Rapha Cycle Club on Brewer Street.  It has to be the coolest cafe in the country!

The cafe itself has been refurbished since I went last year.  They’ve preserved the wooden floor and basic furniture but created a little more space without compromising the boutique area devoted to selling the excellent (but pricey) Rapha kit.  As you walk in you know this is the real thing from the customers bikes hanging on the vertical racks by the door and the enthusiastic nature of conversations between customers and staff.

My window seat and some light reading

My window seat and some light reading

Recommended the filter coffee (which was good) I grabbed a window seat to log on to the laptop.  Even the WIFI code is cool – named after Il Pirata himself!  Being surrounded by like minded cyclists taking in the atmosphere was a really conducive work environment and I flew through a few days backlog of emails. If I hadn’t been so busy there would have been plenty to occupy me.  The hum of the espresso machine and general cycling chatter were accompanied by the live TV commentary of todays Volta a Catalunya. My window seat was furnished with a number of cycling related books and other tables were littered with the latest copies of Rouleur and other cycling magazines.

If you’re an avid cyclist like me, the entire ambience of the place is an ideal space to spend an hour next time you’re passing through.  I recommend the filter coffee (even the coffee cups are cool)….

Training Plan for the Brighton Marathon

Right, here is the aim.

6 April, Brighton Marathon, sub 3:30.

Given that I’ve run only one marathon in the past (London 5 years ago in 4:51) that is an ambitious target. So why do I think I can do it?

Well, I don’t know if I can.  Just like I didn’t know if I could finish the London.  Or if I could cycle to Skegness that first time.  Or if I could cycle to Paris.  But I did each of them, so that’s why I believe I can do this.

And the target is 3:30 because I see 4 hours as the upper limit of a serious time.

I’ll be blogging about the trials and tribulations of my training here throughout the winter.  Using a BUPA (Intermediate) training plan as a base, I’ve drawn up my plan this week.  Here goes:

Marathon Training Plan

I’m a Boris Bike fan…

I’ve been in London for a couple of days and have managed to avoid the tubes for every journey.  Instead I’ve been using a Boris bike (or Barclays Bikes to give them their official titles) to get around central London.  It was only a few weeks go that I used one for the first time and now I am hooked as they have become my favoured form of transport in London.

dockingstation

It’s dead easy.  You just have to find a bike that is free at one of the docking stations (like the one shown in the TfL picture) and to get going, you just have to put your debit card in one of the payment pillars (then take it out again before starting the registration process) and once you’ve signed up paying your £2 fixed charge, a 5 digit code will be printed out to use to unlock a bike from the dock.

The bikes have got a handy rack at the front which are sized conveniently to secure anything as small as a folder, a briefcase or (as I found today) a boxed laptop.  The luggage is secured with a tough rubber strap which gives piece of mind but can make the front of the bike more difficult to balance if there is a lot stowed in front of the handlebars.

I’ve downloaded the Barclays Bike app and its pretty good to help with routes because I’m a relative stranger to London, but it could be better if it had some audio instructions because at the moment I’ve been stopping to check I am on the right route.

My mate with our Boris bikes

My mate with our Boris bikes

Many of the roads across town have a cycle lane on them now and there seems to be an acknowledgement among cabbies and bus drivers that cyclists are part of the road using community so I’ve not had any problems with traffic.  It’s just worth being vigilant because there’s a lot going on and it’s not uncommon for herds of pedestrians to start crossing at traffic lights regardless of what colour they are shining.

The best thing I’ve found is that I don’t get sweated up on a Boris bike in the same way that I do on a racer because it is far more upright and relaxed.  In fact, I even managed to get my mate Ricardo to have a go when we were on the way out to a swanky dinner.  We must’ve looked like a right pair of plums cycling to an awards dinner all suited and booted but anything is better than the tube, right?