What inspired you to start cycling?
When I was growing up my inspiration was definitely my dad, who also taught me how to ride. We used to cycle to the nearest lake in summer for a swim or just ride through beautiful forest - those are my earlier cycling memories from Lithuania. Then I stopped riding and didn’t pick up a bike again till like 4 years ago. I decided to start commuting in London and the guy I was seeing at the time taught me about fixed gear bikes and why they are awesome. He gave me an article to read by Sheldon Brown and it completely made sense to me. I got hooked pretty quickly and never looked back.
Tell us a little about the cycling culture in London:
I think in general cycling community is pretty small in London, we all know each other, especially in the racing scene. When I started cycling again, fixed gear was getting some good popularity and we used to do a lot of social rides and events with my crew back then. It was a really good time - people would hang out and have a lot of fun together, learn tricks, do stupid rad shit. Later on a lot of us got into cycling on a more serious level and went into racing as well as starting to ride road bikes. The whole scene had changed - now we get up mega early to do laps around Regents Park most mornings and get coffee together before heading to work. Weekends are spent either doing rides out of London, going to Herne Hill Velodrome for a training session or doing some epic adventures. I do like it this way!
What is unique about cycling in your city?
London is a big cycling city and I think that’s what makes it special. Plus you have people from all over the world here, you can connect so easily if you ride bikes and it’s also the best way to explore the city. It can totally be a social thing.
What do you recommend to a cyclist who is going to London?
It depends what kind of cycling you’re into, but as a minimum I would say check out Brixton Cycles, Seabass Cycles and perhaps Look Mum No Hands as its really central. Many people will know places like Rapha club houses, which can be great if you want to rent out a nice bike or watch some racing. In the mornings we like to pop in to a one of our favourite cafes like Kaffeine, Caravan or Store Street Espresso. They are all just a short ride from Regents Park and serve the best coffee. It’s also fun to check out the Olympic Velodrome in Lee Valley and the Herne Hill Velodrome in south London, especially if you are into track and fixed gear.
What is it like racing with the NLTCBMBC?
As I joined NLTCBMBC recently, we only did one race together, which was Minet Crit, but I have been friends and racing with these guys for a few years now. Most of us live in east London, so it makes total sense. They’re a bunch of rad people and most importantly they have been putting on amazing races, such as Thundercrit. This year it was the biggest domestic fixed gear crit in the UK in terms of rider entries and international attendance. I think it’s really important to give back to the cycling community, which is one of the reasons why I joined. When it comes to racing, at the Minet Crit for the first time ever we worked as a team, which was amazing. It felt completely different to know you had teammates around helping each other. I cannot wait to go to Milan for Red Hook Crit with the crew and have some fast fun on bikes.
Best cycling moment so far?
There are so many! More recently I did a ride from Leeds to London over 2 days with a few friends. It was really hard going up some of the hills especially with extra weight, but overall we had an epic adventure. Country lanes for days - I want more of this going forward.
Favorite race and why?
It must be Red Hook Crit Barcelona! Shame there wasn’t one this year. It’s like a holiday on the beach with bikes, awesome weather and friends from all over the world. The course is most definitely my favourite and the atmosphere is always electric.
I’m all about that ZEN life. If you’re chilled about most things, you are simply winning. Also, #TongueOutTuesdays, because everyone needs a bit of cheekiness and fun in their lives.
What do you love about cycling culture?
Cycling is not just a sport, it can be your hobby, a way to destress and socialise, it can be a means for epic adventures and meeting rad people. It has got me places I would never imagine myself and doing things I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Is there anything you’d like to see improve in the cycling community?
Yes, I think there is some great work to be done still. We certainly need more women in cycling and more highlight on women doing amazing things. This way we can attract more of them into sport and make it more equal. I’m lucky to have found some awesome women who ride and race with me, but a few years back I didn’t know that many, especially in the fixed gear scene.
Do more epic shit - mainly epic adventure rides and visit more countries on my bike. I want to do some cycle touring in Japan actually, it’s my favourite country ever!
Cycling Connects is presented by La Marzocco.