LOOK MUM NO HANDS
Neatly combining a collection of expert bike repairers, purveyours of the hippest new gear and a cafe stocked with all those high-protein snacks (and coffee) that you’ll be needing for exploring east London on two wheels, Look Mum No Hands is pretty much the centre of of the area’s cycling culture. It’s worth a visit at any time if you need to know what biking events are coming up (or if you you just have a puncture) but we heartily recommend a visit while the Tour de France is on – they show every stage and the atmosphere is as rowdy and as partisan as any British pub when the football is on.
LEE VALLEY VELOPARK
Yes its name may technically now be the Lee Valley VeloPark but to Londoners it will always be the Olympic Velodrome. The iconic venue which saw some of British cycling’s greatest triumphs is now open to the general public and for most of us will be the closest thing to riding at a top-level meet we’ll ever experience. Sessions have to be booked in advance but they are well wort it – the thrill of riding an Olympic circuit (those things are steep) under the guidance of an expert is truly exhilarating and the BMX park is just sheer fun of two wheels. If you’re no adrenaline junkie then there’s still plenty to do, from tours of the site’s history to getting your lungs tested to see if you might have made an Olympian after all.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
03000 030 613
CITY BIKE HIRE
Oddly the rise of the Boris Bike has cut a swathe through the city’s bike hire business – it’s just too damn easy to pick one up off the street nowadays. But if you’re looking for something a little more stylish for exploring the streets and canal paths of east London City Bike Hire have a good range. They’re big on hybrids which are ideal for the somewhat ill-maintained Shoreditch streets, but there’s a goodish selection of proper road bikes for you weekend MAMILs (and even electric bikes for the terminally lazy among you).
Unit 4, 100 The Highway, E1W 2BX
020 7702 9999
Monday to Friday 8:30am to 6pm
Saturday 9am to 5pm
Very few sports can be claimed to have been formed on Brick Lane but Bike Polo has that honour. Originally just a jokey pick-up game in an old car park just off the main drag, Bike Polo has turned into a fairly organised and supremely fun sport. You’ll need to check the website for details because times and places can change but at the moment the weekend Hackney Downs session is nearby and very friendly. As befits such a social sport they welcome newbies. You’ll need a bike, hired or otherwise, to take part but the old hands will help you out with mallets, advice and the best spots for a post-chuka pint too.
To be honest there are a ton of bespoke bicycle makers in east London and you can have pretty much anything made from a simple fixie to a Tour de France standard carbon fibre beast within walking distance of Qbic. But we have to give a shout out to Donhou. It’s not just the cottage industry nature of it; one man, making old-fashioned steel frames all in his tiny Hackney Wick workshop. It’s the fact that he seems to capture something of the personality of the buyer in every bike he makes. A quick glance through his website gives you and idea of his breadth; there are sleek road machines and sit-up-and-beg town shoppers but all finished with beauty, wit and a sense of fun. Not cheap, not quick – just very very good.
Contact: @donhoubicycles.com or 07828 817 081