Rapha Cycle Club & Look Mum no Hands
People love to compare things and say one thing is better than the other and one thing is cheaper than the other etc, etc. However sometimes I think what’s the point. I was going to write something about both of these places pointing out the pros and the cons of each of these new cycling based cafes but then I thought ‘shit the bed’ I can’t think of anything negative, not a single thing and their difference is what makes them so good. The Rapha Cycle Club and Look Mum No Hands are ‘very’ different but that is what makes them so interesting as places. Rapha’s cafe is UBER chic as you would expect but that is what’s so smart about it. It’s somewhere to go if you really want to treat yourself to a bit of cycling indulgence and good times. I’ve never seen such a collection of smart magazines and books lying around to read, you can naturally buy all the Rapha stuff, the actual cafe is top notch and serves some of the best coffee in London and the big screen TVs are perfect for watching the cycling on. They show amazing photographs there, hold great exhibitions and generally do loads of good things. From my perspective it is like Rapha have got back, through this cafe, some of the great stuff I originally loved about them. Just a bloody amazing, serious love of cycling. I am definitely not going to crap on about the expense of Rapha here because it’s not relevant and to be honest the quality of what they have put together with this cafe wouldn’t be able to be achieved without a lot of cold hard cash. A lot of people slated TEAM SKY when they launched with all their lairy cars and big money but to be honest I welcome it. It’s nice to see cycling being taken deadly seriously in this country for a change instead of a wobbly chalk drawn finishing line and a bloke up a step ladder with a clip board. I’m beginning to feel the same about Rapha because of this cafe. It’s good to see a still relatively small British company doing great things for itself, taking things seriously and doing good things for cycling. So I’ve got over my reversed Rapha snobbery and actually really enjoy going there, watching cycling, seeing my friends in really nice surroundings, that is actually really welcoming and friendly.
Just up the road funnily enough is Look Mum No Hands. This place is almost the complete opposite of the Rapha Cycle Club and again thats what’s so good about it. Talking to Sam at LMNH he said he just wanted to open something where he would like to hang out himself. He has done exactly that. I went there yesterday to just meet a couple of friends for a cup of coffee but ended up staying all afternoon, watching the Giro, trying to flog bottles of my ROSSO oil to Sam, drinking 6 cups of coffee and a pizza and loads of free water and talking with all the staff, staying for the highlights of the giro and leaving nearly 6 hours later to ride home quite a happy person. LMNH does what we in Britain do really well I think, which is pull loads of things from loads of different cultures bung them all together and come out with something totally unique, British and exciting. There were trendy fixie riders hanging out with city boys, next to roadies like myself and even a few BMXers thrown in for good measure. There were also just loads of non cycling people in there maybe looking a bit weirded out by all the bikes and stuff but equally enjoying the free internet, massive pub screen GIRO coverage and again, really good food and coffee. The pictures on the walls are torn from magazines and pasted up but are just as interesting as the gallery style Silver Gelatine prints at the Rapha cafe. Old vintage bikes hang from the walls and cycling jerseys alongside new nice bikes and even for a while my own bike was hung up to get it out of the way as the cafe got busy and became a bit of the exhibition itself. What LMNH has over the Rapha cafe is outside space which as this time of year is welcomed but they both perfectly compliment each other even when they are quite different.
Living in London I feel very lucky to have these two cafes right on my doorstep. It’s annoying that they are on the complete opposite side of London from where I live but it now gives me somewhere to hang out if I’m ever up town. Both places quite literally welcome your bike inside so there no problem with it getting nicked or pissed on by crackheads outside and both are definitely worth a visit for their own unique, interesting reasons. Thanks to James at Rapha and Sam at LMNH for making me feel very welcome yesterday.