Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chennai unchained: can India's first cycle cafe make bikes cool again?

Before the sun rises over the East Coast Road south of Chennai each day, a lone rider speeds down the tarmac. Dressed in a fluorescent jersey and cycling shoes with a srichurnam – a red line of lime and turmeric paste – on his forehead, Ramanujar Moulana has followed exactly the same route every day for the past four decades … until now. For the past few weeks there’s been a new stop on his agenda: India’s first cycle cafe. Nestled in Kotturpuram, a plush neighbourhood in the south of Tamil Nadu’s state capital, is the Ciclo Cafe. It boasts a cycle spa, where riders can watch their bike get washed while they drink their coffee, a reading area stocked with books on cycling, and decor fashioned from bike parts – cycle-chain chandeliers and table legs made from front forks. A retail zone showcases high-end brands like Bianchi, Cannondale, Mongoose and Schwinn. “There is more to Chennai than ancient temples, Carnatic music and filter coffee,” says Nidhi Kapoor Thadani, the co-founder of the cafe, who was partly inspired after a visit to Look Mum No Hands! in Shoreditch, east London. “Thanks to the many recreational cycling clubs in Chennai the city has a strong cycling culture.” Read more here!

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