This week, I went along to a Cycle Speed Dating event at Look Mum No Hands!, with a roped-in supportive friend and my Dutch bicycle Millie in tow. Cyclists looking for love in Lycra came together at Lmnh Kitchen, to follow the usual speed dating format of spending a few minutes chatting with each potential date in the room.
What makes the night unique is that everyone has at least one passion in common – cycling! It’s a great conversation starter that helps minimise those inevitable awkward silences and boring ‘so what do you do?’ questions. It’s for this reason that Berlin based Kobalt Productions chose to film the event for a documentary to be shown on French and German culture channel, Arte.
London’s growing social cycling scene is getting noticed
The team are focusing on exploring the growing passion for urban cycling in European cities. Janin Renner, who contacted me about the documentary, said: ‘We’re visiting bike lovers in Berlin, Copenhagen and London, to film for our documentary on the urban cycling lifestyle. We will also be producing two other documentaries as part of the series – one looking at bicycles in art and pop culture, and a third one about using bicycles and cycling as a political weapon.’
Asked what her team have found in their own research of the urban cycling culture in London, Janin told me: ‘We were astonished to see that there are so many cycle cafes and cool places that cyclists can go to, and that you have events like the cycle speed dating. We notice that cycling in London is getting more and more popular, and almost seems like a very fashionable thing to do right now.’
A unique event for London cyclists
Because speed-dating isn’t nerve-racking enough, I also agreed to be filmed and interviewed at the event for the documentary. Mellowed by the free glass of wine that all guests get on arrival, I had a fun evening of meeting and talking to a variety of people. And it wasn’t just the conversations with potential dates, either. It was lovely to meet other likeminded women who all had something fascinating to chat about that went beyond boys and bikes (and of course we compared the notes that we had been making all night!).
During the interviews before and after the speed dating, I discussed the growing number of social spaces and events for cyclists in London. The number of emerging and thriving cycling cafes are testament to how cycling is continuing to become a bigger part of London’s social scene, bringing cyclists and non-cyclists together over coffee, cake and cocktails.
What other events can you get involved in?
For the documentary on ‘cycling as a political weapon’ the team are following an alley cat race and the messenger scene in London – fascinating subjects, which are perhaps niche pastimes for most! So what other social events are there for urban cyclists of all levels to get involved with? You can keep track of the city’s cycle cafes and cycling clubs with our London Cyclist guides. Here are a few picks of what’s coming up soon:
Dino Golf Ride with Cycle PS (10 mile ride, dino themed mini golf and 10 mile ride back) – Sunday 15th October, 10 am, £7 each
Yoga for cyclists at London Velo – Mondays, 7:15 pm, £12 per session
Beers with Brothers Cycles bike launch at Soho Bikes – Thursday 6th October, 7pm, no entry fee
An evening with Adventure Syndicate and the Long-Distance Ladies at Look Mum No Hands – Tuesday October 10th 6:30 pm, £7 suggested donation
Cycle Speed Dating at Lmnh Kitchen (with bike ride) – Sunday 15th October, 12 pm
If you’re one of the LC readers who attended the event on Tuesday, the documentary will air on Arte TV in March 2018. You might even end up watching it with a match you made on the night.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.