Today we continue our series of cycling route suggestions around the capital after our previous south London odyssey and the west London winder. This time, take a cruise around some of East London's cycle cafes — just go easy on the caffeine. This route was created by John Kitchiner and shared by London Cyclist magazine.
This route takes you on a short, scenic tour of both new and established ventures, via a lovely section of the Regent's Canal. It can be ridden just as easily in either direction, but we're starting at the new Look Mum No Hands on Mare Street, near London Fields.
A short leg down to the canal and onto the towpath, using your bell to warn fellow users of your presence, until you almost chance upon the Towpath Cafe, tucked away near Whitmore Bridge. Hours vary depending on the time of year, but there are fewer nicer places to relax on a fine summer's day.
Next cross the canal again and make a beeline down to CycleLab — the smoothies are worth the diversion. Finally, the only tricky bit of navigation involves using the backstreets of Islington as you head up to Micycle.
Of course you could have a coffee at each stop but your ticker might not thank you, so we'd recommend alternating with cake!
Start: Look Mum No Hands, Mare Street
Finish: Micycle, Barnsbury Street
Distance: Less than two miles depending on route chosen at the Islington end
Time: With multiple stops it's worth allowing a couple of hours
Terrain: Towpath, tarmac, suitable for any bike
Public transport: The start is close to London Fields and Cambridge Heath mainline stations; the end is near Highbury & Islington stations
1 Look Mum No Hands!
Three years after the first LMNH opened on Old Street, a second cafe was set up in the heart of cycle-mad Hackney. Essentially carrying on the successful formula from its stablemate, the new LMNH is where you might catch an assortment of bike-related events, from book signings and product launches to packed houses watching the most exciting stages in the Grand Tours.
125-127 Mare Street, E8 3RH
Mon-Fri 7.30am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9.30am-10pm
2 Towpath Cafe
The Towpath Cafe is one of those brilliant surprises that you kind of stumble across in London, tucked away just near Whitmore Bridge. It's tiny, almost more like a kiosk with a few seats outside, but there's usually a decent choice of homemade dishes for breakfast, brunch and dinner, plus coffee imported directly from Firenze in Italy. In theory the cafe is open for nine months of the year, though we've turned up at odd times at the end of the summer and it's been shut; sadly there's no phone or website to check ahead. There's also a small bike repair shop next door (a separate business) for urgent spares or quick fixes.
36 De Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5SB
Tue-Fri 8am-dusk, Sat-Sun 9am-dusk (between March and November only)
Brainchild of a former racer and team mechanic, CycleLab is another small space that offers something a little bit different. It's certainly more bike shop-cum-workshop than cafe, but it specialises in juices, smoothies, coffee and crepes, using simple raw ingredients. The shop's roster of bikes has grown significantly since it opened in 2010 and it now sells brands as diverse as Cinelli, Fairdale, Genesis and Ritte. They also have some of the nicest team jerseys you'll find. And they run a Park Tool School with foundation courses for those with no experience and other options further along the learning curve.
16b-18a Pitfield Street, N1 6EY
Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 11am-6pm
Fairly unique among London cafes, let alone cycle cafes, Micycle has a lovely peaceful garden out back, designed by telly expert Joe Swift; it also has a bike wash and storage area. They offer a popular tiered membership scheme too: for a given sum you can get a free bike service, discount on new bikes and free use of the bike wash. The main bikes they sell are from two different ends of the spectrum — Bianchi and Bobbins — and the helpful staff are happy to dispense route-finding advice and tips on home storage. Workshop classes include general overviews or specific sessions looking at brakes, gears or wheels.
47 Barnsbury Street, N1 1TP
Mon-Fri 8.30am-6.30pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun noon-6pm
Navigation between LMNH and CycleLab is extremely simple. But the final leg to Micycle involves crossing the busy Essex Road and Upper Street. We used Murray Grove, Shepherdess Walk, Packington Square and Britannia Row, but there are lots of alternatives.
Londonist is proud media partner to the London Cycling Awards 2015.