At the forefront of redefining cycling accessibility, Moloko Cycling is the brainchild of Alexandra and Paul, passionate cyclists of over a decade. The name "Moloko" reflects their commitment to community. In the face of the pandemic, they took action to assist friends and family in entering the world of cycling, addressing issues like complexity, expense, and fear to make it a more inclusive and enjoyable experience for all.

How did the idea of starting Moloko come about, and what inspired you to do things differently to create a unique and tight-knit community? 

It came about during lockdown, when many of our friends were asking for help to get into cycling after seeing us riding together in the empty streets of London - they wanted to ride but had no clue where to start and could not really commit to spend a ground(£) on a bike. They needed to try it first! So we invested all our savings into a fleet of entry level bikes that we started to rent out monthly. 

We were fuelled by the desire to make cycling less intimidating and to forget about the rules and the obsession for watts - we wanted to create a safe space in which any question could be asked, and mainly we wanted to see more women getting into the sport.

I’ve always felt very lucky that I had Paul who did literally everything he could to support my cycling journey in the most empowering way - I discovered what mansplaining was for the first time on a group ride! So I guess I also wanted to give back. 

Community has become increasingly important in today's fast-paced world. How do you believe Moloko contributes to fostering a sense of belonging and connection among its members, especially in the context of the current times?

To us, community is everything - we don’t ride for performance, we ride because we absolutely love the social aspect of it: discovering new places, meeting new people and living this coffee stop culture to the max is what we’re all about. 

It’s easier to connect with the rider next to you if you’re not chewing on your handlebar the whole ride! Don’t get me wrong though, there is a place for competition and racing and it’s super cool, 5 years ago we just felt that it was your only option. There is so much out there for people who want to race, we just wanted to create that missing space for those who were looking for mates to ride with. 

Organising cycling trips around the UK and Europe is an adventurous and unique approach. How do these trips enhance the community experience, and what impact do they have on building stronger bonds among club members?

Those trips are our favorite thing to organise: when you take riders abroad for the first time, and they discover the feeling of smooth roads, sunshine and dramatic scenery, the smile on their faces is just everything! 

It’s, in essence, a cycling high that you’re sharing with a small group of people. After the rides you spend the evenings having dinner together, debriefing about the day and getting excited about the next one. 

All our trips abroad are 5 to 6 nights, with 10 to 18 people max, so it’s the perfect combination to enable strong & meaningful connections. Many friendships have been created on those trips, and most of the riders are already signed up for another one. 

Bike rentals are an additional service offered by Moloko. How does this contribute to making cycling more accessible to the community, and how does it play a role in expanding Moloko’s reach beyond regular members?

Bike rentals were actually what Moloko was for the first 6 months, and we have many customers who tried cycling for the first time on those rental bikes - they wanted to try it to see if they liked it before committing to buying their own bike. Some customers have been renting for over a year, they just find it more convenient. 

We also have a lot of tourists who don’t really want (or can) travel with their bikes, so renting makes it much easier for them.

And this definitely plays a big role into expanding our reach. For example, we met a couple from Malaysia who rented gravel bikes and joined us on a ride last year, and they have now booked their trip to Portugal in June! We love that, it’s so cool to meet people from all over the world and create those bonds - we now have a long list of destinations where we want to organise cycling adventures due to all the fascinating rental customers that we meet. 

In what ways do you encourage inclusivity within the Moloko community, ensuring that individuals of all skill levels and backgrounds feel welcome and part of the community?

Firstly, we run weekly laps of Richmond park (Thursday mornings in the autumn/winter and Tuesday/Thursday evening in the spring/summer) that everyone can join - we have a strong team of ride leaders and split into groups of pace. Those rides are no drop rides, with always a ride leader at the back ensuring that no one is left behind. 

We use these sessions to help riders to learn how to cycle in a group - and usually as soon as they feel confident enough they start joining the longer weekend rides. 

Our community is used to seeing new people joining all the time and they love it - they are always friendly and welcoming. After laps in the summer, we go to to the pub with whoever wants to join - those evening are awesome to enable riders to get to know each other better. 

On the money side of things, laps are free for everyone to join, and the weekend rides are £9.99 but so is the monthly membership and it gives you unlimited access to rides.

We also work really hard to make our trips abroad as affordable as possible, and organise weekends in the UK for smaller budgets. 

Given the global shift towards sustainable and healthier lifestyles, how does Moloko align with these trends, and what role do you see it playing in promoting a more active and environmentally friendly community?

I think by promoting cycling as a lifestyle rather than just a sport, and by supporting people to be active with regular cycling, running and hiking events, we became part of a community of people who deeply care about their health and therefore are more likely to care about sustainability. 

Sustainability is a huge topic though, it does not only mean “when you ride you don’t drive” - it’s also about the food you choose to eat, how much clothes you buy, how often you get a new bike or take the plane…

We’re far from perfect here, however we do really care about it and try to do our part: offering UK trips as well as abroad trips, working with brands who consistently work on reducing their carbon footprint and prioritizing second hand purchases. 

For those intrigued by Moloko’s unique approach, how can individuals interested in joining or learning more about the club connect with you and become a part of the vibrant cycling community you've created in London?

Anyone is welcome to join, and in fact we love seeing new faces! You can check out our website for all the local rides and escapes, or send us DM on IG with any questions you might have. 

You do not need to be a member to join any of those, we're not a club. Moloko is a community designed to enable riders of all backgrounds and abilities to make the most out of cycling!