The cycling community is endlessly varied
Clifton has always been a road cyclist at heart, riding with Surrey’s Redhill Cycling Club and dabbling in time trials. But he’s met so many different types of riders since opening his doors: “This shop, particularly because of its heritage, has a loyal following from a group of riders who were very good racers in the 1980s. They love the heritage of great Italian kit – they’re mostly in their late 60s and 70s, rolling around on Italian bikes with Campag groupsets. If they’re not still riding Italian bikes, they tend to ride titanium actually for their long distance rides. They’re excited to see the shop coming back to life, and they know the mechanic who we’ve kept on understands their bikes.
“Cycle clubs have started to find us. Kingston Wheelers came in with a huge group over the weekend. And what we’re also getting is people from South London, Richmond Park, Roehampton – so they come down, do ‘the loop’ – for them this is about half way. They’re often riding quite exotic bikes.”
Clifton will be stocking a range of women’s clothing, and has followed TWC’s advice around having a rather nice bathroom facility, changing room and of course coffee and cake on offer – something that was always an important part of the plan. Around 15 – 20 per cent of customers have been women, and he says: “It’s been a larger percentage than I imagined. We’ve seen lots of small groups of women riding together – over the weekend we had a large group, all eager to find us on twitter and share the news we were here.”
Clifton says during the week most visits come from solo riders or those in pairs. The weekend sees larger groups, but they’re not all from the established cycling clubs of Surrey and London – he says: “We see some large established clubs, and some smaller groups. There are more smaller groups these days – it feels to me that the people influenced by Ride London and the Olympics and who are coming from London don’t necessary want that club culture, they’re usually riding with a few mates, or even work colleagues.”