In the Community

‘Community’ is something that is often spoken of but sometimes hard to describe. It means many things to many different people. It is something we aspire to be apart of or to actively contribute towards but we rarely sit back and take stock of the role that we all play. All of us, to a lesser or greater degree, actively or passively, focus on our own - it is natural and not something to necessarily be ashamed to admit. Be it our performance at work, looking after our family or success in our studies, we are pre-programmed to focus on our immediate world. Recent terror attacks in both London and Manchester saw the best and worst of our societies brought into sharp focus. Stories continue to emerge of complete strangers giving shelter to people caught up in the disaster, people offering free lifts home - regardless of distance and acts of great courage and bravery displayed by those both in and out of uniform.

Our communities are experiencing significant periods of flux and pressures that they have not felt in a generation. Events in Manchester and London have the potential to cause us to become more insular and introspective but it is now more than ever that we should take time to make new friends, meet our neighbours and spend time with people we would not usually associate with. These new associations and chance meetings help to deconstruct barriers and dispel the myths. It is important that we all play our part in this.

Not for one second do we think that cycling is the panacea to the challenges that our communities face but, in a tiny way, it has brought me a period of reflection and introspection that I have never experienced before. Being a triathlete is a solitary sport. Getting up at 5am to ride a bike for 5 hours, then run for a further hour is not conducive to conversation or making new friends. It is a brutal solo sport that requires a selfish dedication to "the grind" as my coach used to say. Although you may sometimes train with a club, on race day, you are on your own. You survive or die by your own personal effort and performance. I now cycle exclusively for fun. We have two shop rides each week but we are also becoming a quasi-club house to groups of other cyclists. I now enjoy laughs and fun with people that 6 months ago I had never met. I now consider these people to be my friends and I feel very privileged to be able to do so.

I love Kings Heath. Drayton Road has become a second home to us. I speak daily to lots of community members - people who use our shop and simply those that wave to me as I sit in the window working on my laptop. Kings Heath has something special, a delicate and pure attraction that I am proud (in a very, very small way) to be contributing towards. That attraction is its sense of community.

Over the summer, with the help of our customers and the residents of Drayton Road, we plan to play our part in helping to make Kings Heath a great place to live, work or visit. We have a number of fundraising activities for our charity of the year, Anawim; we are cycling to Paris in September and are working in collaboration with the residents of Drayton Road to coordinate a street party. We can’t wait for this summer and all that it has in store. New friends, more laughs and some great events…. It’s an exciting place to be.


Charity Of The Year 2017.......The Results Are In!

In our February blog, we wrote of our search for a local charity to become our Charity of the Year 2017. As a local, independent  business, it is fundamental to us that we try to give back and help the community that we operate in. After the very challenging job of shortlisting three extremely worthy causes, we left the final decision down to our customers and blimmey, it was a close-run thing…….

B30 Foodbank – 31%

Parks for Play – 29%

Anawim – 40%

The people have spoken! Anawim, a local centre that provides family support services to local women and their children, will be our charity for 2017 as voted for by our customers. We are very, very proud to be supporting them with their work helping the people of Kings Heath and the surrounding area. To learn more about our Charity of the Year click here....

Over the coming year, we will be working in partnership to develop a series of events and activities to raise money and awareness for Anawim. Being a cycle café, of course at least one of these would have to be a cycle challenge so GCHQ has partnered with European Cycling Tours, to offer a lucky few the opportunity to complete the iconic and utterly fabulous, London to Paris cycle ride.

To find out more about how you can be part of this cycling adventure,  click here for full details or pop by and speak with James for more information.


Something to be cheery about!

We now find ourselves in February. You have successfully negotiated dry January, been dedicated to your New Years Resolution and you have nailed that fitness plan. Something that you may not know is that you have also survived the most depressing day of the year! According to the Independent, “the most depressing day of the year is the 3rd Monday in January, when we are all at our most melancholy, according to the psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall.”

Apparently, there is some very simple science behind this….


I hope you got that? Well, we can break it down for you….

It was: [W+(D-d)]xTQ/MxNA – where W is weather, D is debt, d monthly salary, T time since Christmas, Q time since failure of attempt to give something up, M low motivational level and NA the need to take action.

See… its easy to see how January made you so down! 

We at GCHQ see ourselves as a community café and with this in mind, we want to try to help make the lives of some of the people of Kings Heath just a touch more cheery. Be it a smile, positive welcome or even some enthusiastic encouragement on our Sunday Social Rides, we take this seriously. Making a difference, however small, is part of our responsibility to our community so we decided to put our heads together to try to think of a way to bring a little cheer to those that need it most and came up with the idea of Charity of the Year.

Via Facebook and in store, we asked our customers to nominate charities that really make a difference to the people of Kings Heath. We were inundated with responses and through a process of consulting with our staff, have produced a short list of three organisations. The calibre of application was extremely high and with much difficulty, we selected the following three:




Who becomes our chosen charity is now up to our customers. From Friday 17th February, we are asking customers who come into store, to collect a token and pop it in the ballot box for the charity that they feel would benefit the most from being our Charity of the Year. We will simply count the votes and the organisation with the most votes wins. It’s a simple as that.

The successful charity would benefit from a range of fundraising activities that we will plan over the course of the year.  Our flagship event will be our London to Paris cycle ride in June. Details of how to sign up for this will be available on our website very soon or, speak with me in store to find out more details.

#lovekingsheath #community #charityoftheyear #sharethelove


Winter miles make summer smiles

So here it is: not-so-merry January. Christmas is but a distant memory, with only our bigger waist-size and even-bigger credit card bill to remind us of the festivities. Our fitness levels have fallen through the floor, in favour of binge-watching Netflix and eating our bodyweight in leftovers (turkey sandwich, anyone?), but now is your time to let new habits die hard.  

Many of you riders are starting to face the prospect of getting back on their bikes. However, the combination of cold, dark nights, wet weather and a severe case of the CBAs stands between you and the saddle. Nevertheless, as hard as it may be to stomach, January is the perfect time to get back on your bikes, particularly if you want to be achieving your personal goals this summer. 

Getting out on your bike in January not only helps to build up your base miles, but also helps to improve your resilience for when things get tough. We asked Stephen Titmarsh, British Triathlon Coach of the Year 2013 and GB Age Grouper, his thoughts: 

“In the world of coaching, I am often bombarded with numbers, power, speed, heart rates, threshold… the list is endless. We live in a world now where computers control everything we do and in many respects they are a very useful tool. The turbo trainer has come on leaps and bound and in addition to live-training apps like Zwift, it has slowly pushed out the good traditional Sunday morning hack on the winter bike. 
From a personal view I use a turbo for specific sessions but I get out on the road as much as possible and prescribe as much to my athletes. Balance and specificity are key and getting out there with the right clothing is invaluable to achieve a well-rounded cyclist. 
You not only make great physical gains, specific to riding on the road in a way a turbo generally can’t deliver, but key is the psychological gains by taking on the elements and overcoming adversity. Attach that to the social side of group riding and you’ll see that there are great benefits to riding on the road. Now, get out there and enjoy!”     

Getting out is not as difficult as you think: make your rides social, by meeting up with like-minded people and multiplying the fun. This time of year is about getting out as often as possible, so why not consider commuting in to work as part of your regime or joining the Gorilla Coffee Sunday morning social rides?  

As the great five-time winner of the Tour De France Eddie Merckx, said: 

"Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel.... But ride!"