Tour de Force – In conversation with Alex Gaudé of Moloko
Alex Gaudé, co-founder with her fiancé Paul Barthorpe of Moloko, makes no bones about it; cycling changed her life. Now, the company they formed with CrowdCube funding offers Londoners the chance to enjoy riding in and around the capital with the expense and stress taken out of the equation.
Moloko’s mission is to make cycling easy, affordable, and fun. They are committed to giving beginner cyclists a leg up into this liberating sport. Alex spoke to us about her story and the company’s inspirational role in the lives of a growing number of Londoners.
Photograph Credit: Alice Alphrey
How did your cycling story begin?
I struggled with body image for years, which affected my confidence. I exercised to lose weight but didn’t enjoy it. On a holiday in Mallorca, Paul and I rented road bikes and I instantly liked it. Back home we started discovering London on two wheels and loved the quality time it gave us together; we found ourselves having the deepest chats on the bikes.
I soon realised cycling for me was about the fresh air, socialising, feeling good and happy, and not so much about weight loss. It empowered me as a woman, I got stronger and more confident.
Nowadays, what gives me most satisfaction is taking people on their first ride on a road bike, helping them build confidence then gradually seeing the impact it has on their life.
How did Moloko come about?
During lockdown, we cycled more than ever and started sharing our local adventures on social media. Friends then started to ask for help with getting into cycling and with routes. Our cycling Instagram account went through the roof with interest. Moloko was born and grew quicker than we thought it would.
After six months, Paul quit his job to commit to Moloko. I was still teaching and running social media and marketing at the same time, but Moloko became too busy so I quit my job too, so that we could both give everything to our new company. We have our HQ in Barnes.
We are convinced that cycling is the future: it’s good for people and good for the planet.
What are the barriers to Londoners who want to get into cycling?
Cycling can be expensive, complicated, and intimidating.
Bike shops are daunting, and many people end up buying a bike that isn’t right for them. Same goes for kit: it’s a minefield. And, for many people, where to ride safely and who with is an issue.
We offer flexible bike rentals (on road or off road) so people can try cycling without committing to an expensive bike. If and when they are ready to buy a bike, we’ll advise.
We give beginner cyclists the support they need to feel good and safe, meaning that we set them up, teach them how to use the gears and how to get clipped in when they feel ready.
We have a bank of curated routes for all levels in London and around, and they all include a coffee stop. We offer weekly group rides around Richmond Park and longer tours at the weekend.
What are your favourite London rides?
I love our early Sunday morning route that encompasses all the most iconic landmarks and new architecture in the city, the street-art of Shoreditch and the views from Greenwich observatory.
I also love attacking some of the hills around Hampstead and, for Paul and me, Richmond Park is iconic. We will never grow tired of stopping to watch deer crossing in front of us. Cycling through London parks on a bright autumn morning is one of the best experiences I know.
Who is a typical Moloko client?
We have two main types of Londoners who use our services:
Firstly, the ones who are fed up with public transport and pushed for time to exercise. Their bike commute replaces the gym, and they save money and time. Then they gradually add longer rides at the weekend with friends.
And, secondly, Londoners who are already keen cyclists but would like to be part of a community of like-minded people. These ones join our organised rides and our social events, and venture further afield with us to Surrey, Sussex, the Isle of Wight and even abroad with our first Mallorca trip coming up in April.
Where have you made your home in London?
We live in Putney, in a flat with a lovely terrace by the common. We love our home because it’s surrounded by green spaces and it’s located in between Central London and the Surrey Hills. We are also five minutes from Barnes, which is our favourite neighbourhood because of the beautiful shops and cafes, great pubs and unbeatable Thames views.
Why does London feel like home?
I have travelled a lot, and London remains my favourite city in the world. Every day this place makes me feel like everything is possible. Even if London isn’t perfect, I feel like no city works on inclusivity the way London does. It’s the city where you hear all possible languages around you, where restaurants serve amazing food from all over the world, where two men can kiss each other in the street, where all body shapes are socially accepted.
The diversity of the different areas and boroughs is inspirational. I love how modern and ancient architecture clash and harmonise all over the City, find the street-art and vibes in East London very inspiring and London parks are just incredible, on foot or by bike.
Moloko invite you to discover the joy of cycling at https://www.molokocycling.com/