I first met Lawrence on the Dunwich Dynamo in 2008, during the final lung-busting dash, once people pass the ‘Dunwich – 7 miles’ sign, imagine they can smell the sea, and crank up to race pace (forgetting that seven miles is actually quite a long way to ride at 20mph+, especially when you already have a century behind you). I was in good shape that year, so stormed past quite a few people on my pink Surly Steamroller (RIP), before getting stuck with Lawrence (on his old-skool Lemond gearie), with whom I was so well matched that we were neck and neck all the way to the beach. (Naturally I won in the end, otherwise I wouldn’t be telling this story.)
We celebrated over breakfast, and I quickly discovered Lawrence’s twin obsessions: bicycles and coffee. I’ve never quite worked out how many of the former he owns – he rarely appears on the same one twice, and is always trying to sell them off to make room for more. Nor have I worked out how much of the latter he drinks, though given that he is one of the loudest, chattiest and most unremittingly enthusiastic people I know, I suspect it’s quite a lot.
And ever since I first met him he’s been talking about uniting these two loves, and setting up a cyclists’ cafe somewhere in London, hoping that it would become beloved of bicycle and coffee fans alike, and planning to lure the courier community in with the promise of cheap coffee, a track pump, and somewhere to hang out when it’s raining.
Of course, the longer he talked about it, the more sceptical I became that it would actually ever happen. But then, about a month ago, he announced that he’d finally found the premises he was looking for, and within a couple of weeks he’d installed himself, a coffee machine, a workstand and an ever-increasing supply of second-hand bicycles – and suddenly I’m being offered a free coffee every morning!
It’s early days still – as yet the cafe has little in the way of interior design, and no name (though I believe he has something in mind). But he’s already shifted quite a few bikes (he’s connected to a workshop in Fulham, and is one of the few sources of decent second hand bikes I know who doesn’t have the whiff of Brick Lane). And his coffee is quite amazing – he made me a mocha this morning, and must have put extra KAPOW! in it, because I was simply flying for the first few hours.
Oh yes, and the all-important details: he’s at 74 Leather Lane, EC1 – just off Clerkenwell Road. All drinks are currently £1 (or 75p for couriers). And there are quite often flapjacks baked by yours truly (chocolate and cranberry tomorrow), all proceeds to the LCEF.