Q & A with Emmeli Kimhi on cycling London to Paris and a bike from twitter!
Emmeli Kimhi – Digital Manager at House of Holland, lives in North London with partner Jack Johnson. Emmeli is one of the original London to Paris cycle crew inspiring the Meander brand. She rode 570 Kilometres to Paris on a bike donated by a guy on twitter, she’s one of the most genuinely hilarious and lovely people I know and always up for a fun adventure.
JH My husband Steve convinced you to do the cycle from London to Paris two weeks before to you doing the London Marathon. How was that for you?
EK I was definitely feeling more confident that I should have. It was pretty intense, my body was not ready for it and I ended up having to get my back taped before the marathon and was advised not to run two weeks before the race which wasn’t ideal. I’m happy I did it, 'cause it was such a great experience, and you don’t really remember the pain.
JH Alch! That’s pretty full on! Can you tell me about your cycling experience prior to the bike ride?
EK I cycled a lot in Sweden growing up. Even through snowstorms I would cycle to school. But since moving to London I was a bit scared of the roads, being used to the super organised Swedish cycle paths. I had never done anything similar to cycling to Paris before.
JH And you got your bike on twitter? Tell me about how this came about?
EK Once I had decided on joining you guys on the ride to Paris I had to get a bike. I was convinced I would be able to ride any bike to Paris, as I didn’t care about being fast. I had this picture of us all riding the bike 5hrs/ day in the sunshine, taking beer and wine breaks every hour.
I tweeted that I was after a bike for free in London and I tagged this twitter account @townfishlondon. They re-tweeted my tweet to their 35k followers and I started getting loads of replies from people who wanted to get rid of their bikes. I found one in Harrow and decided to go and pick it up after work and then cycle home. Again- I was way too confident, more than I should have been.
I ended up on the A1 without lights with massive trucks beeping aggressively at me. I thought I would die! It took me 2 hours to get home. I kissed the ground once I was back in Hackney.
I ended up calling the Bike Diana, after the princess. Unfortunately, the bike only lasted the first day to Paris as it didn’t have enough gears.
JH That’s impressive stuff! I’m really glad you survived to tell the tale! What sort of training regime did you do for the ride?
EK None! I was training for the Marathon. So my running was pretty intense at the time and couldn’t fit in bike training.
JH Can you tell me what makes London so special to you and why it’s a great city for cycling?
EK I absolutely LOVE London. Cycling can be pretty stressful here 'cause of the traffic but if you stay on small roads it’s wonderful. There’s something here for every mood, need and interest. It’s a very big city so even riding the bike for an hour you will most likely still be somewhere pretty central. You can always ride somewhere you haven’t been. There are just loads of beautiful residential areas and landmarks.
JH How does cycling in London compare with cycling in your home of Sweden?
EK In Sweden there’s cycle lanes pretty much everywhere. It’s very safe. Even being quite young I would cycle to school without ever feeling scared or intimidated by the traffic. There are loads of nice beaches and lakes you can cycle to in the summer, which is amazing. I have more memories of cycling with friends in Sweden, even after the pub. I ended up cycling into a tree once after the pub!
JH Ok - I won't ask any more questions about the tree! What kind of bike do you ride to get around town these days? Does Diana live on or have you upgraded your wheels?
EK I’ve upgraded to another freebee… this time it’s my boyfriends, friends, dads old bike! It’s a lot better than Diana. First time riding it was last year cycling to Brighton from London. It’s still not as fast as some other bikes and I did have to jump off it on the big hills but its perfect for cycling in London. I’ve started cycling to work now as well.
JH What’s your 5 top tips on places to see in London by bike?
EK I love Richmond park- there is deer!!!
Along The Regent’s Canal- although I’m 50/50 about this as it’s pretty difficult to cycle by the canal, as it’s narrow and there’s a lot of pedestrians. Amazing surroundings though so needs a mention.
Along the river- it’s hard to find a better view in London.
Islington- Lovely residential areas
High Gate- if you like a steep hill, and the view makes it all worth it! I would jump off the bike and walk.
JH How about favourite spots to stop for eat and drink when you’re out and about on your bike?
EK Borough Market.
Captain Kid (Pub) in Wapping (the beer garden with a view on to the river).
The Palm Tree (Pub) by the canal in Hackney.
There are loads of small nice coffee shops along the canal in Islington and I do like to drop in on Look Mum No hands for coffee. They’re a pretty cool bike/shop/café.
Stopping in any of our great parks is the best option in the summer.
What do you like to wear cycling? Are you a full lycra kind of girl or what floats your boat!?
I don’t really look very cool when cycling. I’m pretty practical. Cycling in town I wear whatever- jeans, trainers, t-shirt. Cycling long distance- nothing too fancy, just what I would wear in the gym! I wish I could pull off loud neon 90’s print lycra gear, full on cycling pants and one of those cycling caps. I WOULD LOVE THAT. Maybe this summer!
Ok nice! Not sure that's going into the next Meander collection but we'll keep you updated.... What’s your best cycling memory?
I will pick two memories!
London-Paris (2014) I know I’ve complained a bit about it but it was a massive accomplishment and it was pretty mega. It was so beautiful, it went on for four days, I will never forget it. The company also made the trip and we got some pretty good memories and stories out of it.
London- Brighton (2015) Me and a few friends cycled down to Brighton for Pride last year in August. It was one day of hard cycling. A lot of hills but the weather was beautiful. Again- the company amazing and the final destination was perfect. We spent the rest of the weekend at Pride and by the beach in Brighton.
And finally, tell me your dream bike / accessory?
I love helmets. The fast looking helmets are the coolest. And let’s not forget the padded cycling pants- could not do any of the above trips without those!
Awesome – Massive thanks Emmeli for some hilarious anecdotes and Q&A with Meander Apparel!