North London Bike Tour: Tour De North Four

Written by: Tom Williams

So this July, 198 cyclists head over to Germany to start the Tour de France. If you think that is weird, wait till I tell you it started in Yorkshire a few years ago. Anyway after the three days of the Grand Depart, the spectacle of the world’s biggest sporting event heads back to France and the action really begins.

And what action it is. 21 days, 2200 miles and 23 mountain climbs. So to pay tribute to this celebration of suffering, North Four went on a little bike ride of their own. Exploring some of the more French highlights of the area and one of the toughest climbs in London.

North Four, North London magazine, tour de france, tour de north london, cycle tour, food tour, french cuisine, review

But first things first. Coffee. Coffee and breakfast, to be precise and it just so happens that North Four HQ happens to be within rolling distance of Boulangerie Bon Matin: a modern french bakery, nestled in Finsbury Park.

So the obvious choice for a French themed breakfast would be coffee and croissants, but here at North Four we try and shake things up. (Don’t worry they have croissants too and the word in our little peloton is they are damn good). Embracing our millennial lifestyle we went for poached eggs and avocado on toast. Pretty much everywhere does avocado and eggs now, but not everyone does them this well.

I might not be able to own a house thanks to spending all my money on avocados, but who needs to when they are this good. And lets be honest, I would’ve spent the money on bikes anyway. Fortunately they also happen to be a great source of carbs and protein, the touch of chilli perfect for firing us up for the day ahead.

Speaking of fired up, you can’t go on a bike ride without fuel, I mean coffee. Being a delightful summer day we paired breakfast with their new Vietnamese style iced coffee. How is that French you say?

Well Vietnam was colonised by the French so I say that counts. Also the coffee was that good I just don’t care. Full and fuelled up we headed out on our ride, armed with fresh legs and an even fresher baguette.

Bike races like the Tour de France are made up of many different types of terrain. The person with the fastest time over the whole tour gets to wear the yellow jersey or maillot jaune and walk away the winner.

We have long flat days; solo hell time trial days; lumpy up and down days; crotch destroying gravel and cobble days all of these combine to make up a grand tour.

But quite often the most important days in the race are the nosebleed inducing mountain top days.

These aren’t the days where you can win the race, a grand tour is too complicated for that but they are the days where you can lose it all. They are the days where riders push themselves to the absolute limit and beyond all for a chance to wear that yellow jersey.

Arguably the biggest and baddest of these mountain top finishes is Mont Ventoux, coming in at 5,200ft of climbing over 14 miles and an average gradient of 7.5% this mountain is a true test, worthy of respect from even the best riders. The steep mountain road leads a weather station and it’s iconic aerial. To honour this particular climb, we decided to recreate it on a climb up to the equally as iconic Alexandra Palace and it’s very own aerial.

Clocking in at 137ft of climbing and just over a third of a mile with an average gradient of 6% the climb to Alley Pally is accessible to everyone but still challenging enough to be a test without the risk of altitude sickness.

Whether you spin up it in your lowest gears or go on a big ring attack (I recommend the latter) the views from the top are completely worth it. They are however best enjoyed after some kind of victory dance. We incorporated a rather sweaty baguette into ours after my rather successful big ring attack.

With the majority of London sprawling out in front of you and providing an ideal back drop to Alley Pally itself, you will soon forget the pain your legs are in. Once you’ve recovered the ability to walk you have a surprisingly peaceful park and gardens to explore. They also happen to make a fantastic instagram backgrounds for those #humblebrag posts you’re entitled to make now that you’re up here. Because remember,  if you don’t post it, you never did it. Oh and incase you completely cooked yourself going up, there is a cafe at the top to restock at.

When you get sick of the views, you then have the luxury of bombing back down the other side into London. If you do it fast enough you can make it to Salut! to try their brand new lunch menu like we did.

 

Based in Islington, Salut! with it’s friendly and modern take on French cuisine is definitely worth those extra pedal strokes. With an open kitchen and  a comfy rustic vibe it’s an ideal place to rest those tired legs and take care of the appetite you’ve built up. We started with roasted asparagus and 72 day matured lamb ham. I have no idea what or how you get a lamb ham but however you do it is delicious. Oh it also had a poached egg and a Hollandaise sauce with it. But seriously that lamb ham.

While gearing up for the main course, a quick history lesson on the recent Tour de France’s. While the race is of course very very French, it’s been a very long time since we have had a French winner. In fact the Tour de France has had a very anglo based problem. Us Brits have won 4 out of the last 5 of them, thanks to Sir Wiggo and Froome. And we even have Mark Cavendish sprinting for the most Tour stage wins. So it only seemed natural for us to go for a very British brunch for our Tour de France lunch.

 

North Four, North London magazine, tour de france, tour de north london, cycle tour, food tour, french cuisine, review

R Owtons Pork and Bacon Sausage, Smoked White and Black Beans with Fried Egg and Chives. To give it it’s full menu name. Or sausage, bacon and egg when you translate it from delicious to hungry. But don’t let this simplification fool you. This was a truly magnificent meal.

Sat next to the equally delicious Salt Hake in Sorrel Bianco Butter sauce and you quickly had two very excited cyclists swapping food like kids on a school trip. Soon after eating our fill and with long lingering glances at the dessert menu, no one needs to see food babies in lycra, we were on our bikes heading back to the office to taunt our co workers with the wonders of lamb ham.

If any of the food has tickled your fancy you can find Boulangerie Bon Matin online and over on twitter and facebook. Or if you are up for the lamb ham you can find that at Salut! and on twitter and instagtram. If you or anyone you know have been effected by lycra you can talk to me about it @lycrabore.

Read more North Four bike tours here.

North Four, North London magazine, green rooms hotel, arts, culture, review, interiors, design, photography, wood green
Eat & Drink Lifestyle

My First Night at Green Rooms Hotel

Staying in a hotel one mile from where you actually live feels strange enough, but doing it on your own is even stranger. These photos are a visual record of me wandering the lonely corridors of a new boutique hotel between the hours of 10-12pm. I would describe the decor as handmade but not cheap, minimal but not clinical. It has the feeling that money has been spent on the things that matter.

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, cheese, fromage, cheese festival, n1, islington, market, festival, food, gouda, edam, brie, camembert, wheel of cheese
Eat & Drink

You Feta Brie-lieve it: Cheese Festival Comes to North London

The rumours are true: a cheese festival exists and it’s coming to North London. This Sunday. Be there or be … cheese-less I suppose. But you’ve gouda get there early:  If you’re as keen as brie and one of the first fifty fromage fondlers to show, you’re in the running for a free bottle of Black Cow’s pure milk vodka. Traders will be setting up stalls along Islington’s Chapel Market: from the Raclette Brothers and Mac to the Future to La Fromagerie and The Cheese Truck.

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, dream phone, dream talk, sound art, collaboration, musician, artist, london, phone boxes
Culture Lifestyle

Dream Talk: Sound Art for Your Commute

Dream Talk. It’s like Dream Phone, but not at all. Artist Emma Alonze and musician Andy Becker have joined forces to collaborate on a (possibly prophetic) new sound art project. Londoners are invited to take a moment out of their daily commute, routine or journey and immerse themselves in a narrated collection of dreams. Taking three years worth of forty winks, Alonze has gathered and narrated a chosen few to be set to an ambient soundtrack by Becker.

Read More...
Events

Between the Sheets at the Underbelly Festival

Holy smoke, her nipples are on fire! Somebody pass the woman an extinguisher. Wait, why is she climbing into that giant margarita glass - does she not know it's highly flammable? She's going to need to be doused with a sizable portion of aloe vera gel at this rate, the poor lamb. 

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, events, to do, 100, keeping it 100, hackney arts
Culture Events List

Top Four "Keeping it 💯" Workshops

If there's anything the new moon today has told us, it's that it's time to be our true selves. That's what my horoscope told me today anyway. But what does that mean exactly? It means that if you want to eat honey loops for lunch, you 100% can. It means if you feel like learning how to make a bouquet instead of working on your tax forms, you 100% can. It also means if you want to learn how the deep throat (singing technique) you don't have to explain yourself. You're keeping it .

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, eroc, skateboarding, skater dog, french bulldog, frenchie, skateboard, halfpipe, interview, internet sensation, instagram star, tony hawk, fanbase
Lifestyle

Who is Behind Eroc the Skateboarding Dog?

Our exclusive meeting with Eroc: the Beyonce of the skateboarding dog world. Eroc the french bulldog is making waves. With fans like Tony Hawk, BBC Radio and over 30k followers on Instagram (and counting), Eroc has also become something of an online sensation. His viral status comes and goes, randomly popping up on online social media channels every now and again to generate hundreds of thousands of views and clicks via the likes of Buzzfeed, Time Out and rogue iPhone filmers.

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, protest, opinion piece, lifestyle, trump, women's march, brexit, riots, uprising, human rights, march, rally
Lifestyle

Protest is Dead! Long Live Protest!

We all have our own ways of dealing with life when things get shitty. Having a big cry and getting it all out can be incredibly therapeutic, and even more so when we find ourselves repeating the same line over and over through the tears. “He’s a dick!” or “I’m not a bad person!” These little lines of reinforcement help us push through the crappy feeling. Sometimes we might even revert to a hearty little stamp on the floor / kick of some unsuspecting object. It feels surprisingly satisfying when the rage sets in and we feel helpless.

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, trio da kali, musicians, live music, gig, stoke newington, the old church, tickets, events
Culture

Contemporary Malian Sounds in Stokey

This Friday sees the release of Malian master musicians, Trio Da Kali’s new album Ladilikan. Fusing rich, expressive vocals with traditional instruments like the balafon and bass ngoni, this is a beautiful mix of ancient Mande culture and contemporary Malian sounds. Luckily for us North Londoners, we have the opportunity to see the trio play live in the rather fitting ethereal surrounds of Stoke Newington Church next month. 

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, sylvanian familes, store, monsell road, finsbury park, toys, toyshop, collectibles, rare, dolls
Lifestyle

On your Doorstep: Inside Sylvanian World

Walking along Monsell Road in Finsbury Park, we spy the charming exterior of a shop looking like something out of a children’s book circa 1932. Beneath a green and white striped awning, a whimsical new world of mini animals awaits. Once inside we stumble about the store in hushed awe, reaching over a book of minuscule carpet samples/ family of miniature otters to tap a tiny bell.

Read More...
North Four, north London magazine, outdoor cinema, pizza, sodo pizzeria, snug, events, refreshments, foodie, picnic
Events

Kids and Big Kids: Pizza, Curry and Open Air Cinema

Whether you’re looking for something to entertain your kids, your friends’ kids or that particularly large man child in your life, you might just have lucked out. Snug are hosting an open air screening of The Incredibles next Saturday evening. There will be tasty sourdough pizzas from Sodo Pizza (Upper Clapton) and ultimate authentic curries from Rice n Spice, Northwold Road.

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, vegetarian restaurant, ceremony, veggie, cuisine, risotto, dish
Eat & Drink

Ceremony: A New Take On Veggie Cuisine

Coming soon to a Tufnell Park near you is a whole new vegetable patch of delights / wheat field to run vicariously through. It’s time to get excited for Ceremony: a brand new bar/restaurant serving modern British veggie cuisine. Although the website remains tantalisingly mysterious, you can glean more info from their well stocked insta.

Read More...
Spring Kind, Pit Party, North Four Magazine, Music, North London, London
Culture Eat & Drink Events List

Top 4 Weird Things to do This September

Sound baths, pit parties, fake cheese and nipples, these are a few of our favourite things, said no one ever. Bored of drinking down the pub every evening? Unlikely, but bare with me. Sometimes you just want to let down your hair, shake it off and do something down right odd of an evening... followed by a pint at the pub.

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, texlationship, online dating, illustration, iphones, texting, tinder, julia potocnik
Lifestyle

Dating North London: IRL vs Textlationship

It’s been a few months since the last instalment of Online vs Offline. I deleted Bumble, Happn and Tinder, flirted with the idea of match.com, went to a friend’s wedding, heard the vicar call my name instead of the Bride’s and reflected briefly on the crushing inevitability of my own spinsterhood before realising everyone was laughing in the pews and I should probably join them.

Read More...
north four magazine, north london, stroud green, cheese
Eat & Drink Events

Stroud Green Market Opens This Sunday!

Gluten-free cake consumers, vegan cheese enthusiasts, craft beer connoisseurs, lovers of pies and drinkers of tea; your time is now. Buy food of a quality & variety you can’t easily find in the shops, from organic meat to vegan cheese, fish caught that morning to pickles which have been fermenting for months, at Stroud Green market.

Read More...
North Four, North London magazine, the finsbury, finsbury park, n4, music venue, gigs, folk
Events

Free Cake and Gin Soaked Folk Pop

Who’s up for free entry, free cake and free folk (except for a jaunty little hat that is passed around for donations)? Get down to The Finsbury this Wednesday eve for a little mid week hootenanny and celebrate some of the best in new live music from the ‘acoustic, singer-songwriter & indie-folk scene’. Host with the most, Zoe Konez (“Ridiculously talented, Konez handles her guitar like she was born with it” - For Folk's Sake) will be deftly introducing each act from gin soaked folk popster herself, Penniless Cove to German indie band, Kalon.

Read More...
Lifestyle

Lamps, Records, Frenchies: The Big London Flea

What if you could mix the joys of your local Sunday car boot and all it’s dog perving potential with your favourite vintage clothes shops and high end antique markets? Within the sparkling depths of Dalson’s former ABC cinema, you’ll find The Big London Flea: London’s largest indoor vintage market.

Read More...