A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

I say old chap, might you lend me a bike?

Posted by Alan on August 11, 2010

Yesterday my cycle hire key fob arrived. So today I was very eager to give it a go and see what it was like. My first journey saw me pick up on Cheapside and dock again at Abbey Orchard St as part of a journey between two meetings. A total distance of 2.5 miles completed in 23 mins so around 6mph. Not incredibly fast but in my defence as this my first ride al fresco (sans tin lid) and I was in my work suit!

So what of the bikes? Well, after my initial fear of breaking it in undocking (you do have to tug properly) it’s easy enough to get going. The basket/clip thing on the front isn’t bad – I got a bit worried my bag might be working loose but it held up fine. The bike was comfortable, quite easy to handle – yes they are heavy but this does make it feel sturdy/chunky. Along the Victoria embankment I felt like I could have really done with a 4th or even 5th gear – I reckon once I’ve settled into using the bikes I’ll basically use them as a ‘fixie’ in 3rd! Docking at the other end was easy enough and my journey appeared in on the website within minutes, so I was reassured that I hadn’t spent another £1 crossing town.

When it came time to clock off and go home, I decided it would be a great idea to cycle back east before picking up either the tube or National Rail at Liverpool St. On arrival at my closest docking station – disaster: no bikes!

Access Denied! - no bikes at the cycle hire point

Access Denied!

The terminal listed a few other sites locally with a few bikes – all westwards so I decided to walk east and use my paper map to see what I could find. It’s hardly surprising that at 1730 a docking station in Victoria (aka Mandarin Central) is empty but still a bit disappointing. Next time I will check on departure!

The next terminal eastwards should be at Storey’s Gate – but it isn’t there. Continuing eastwards, Horse Guards Avenue – this time there was some Herras fencing and a portaloo where the red dot on my map is. Never mind… they did announce not all of the bikes and docking stations would be ready on day one so I knew to expect some missing. Finally, on Whitehall Place opposite Charing Cross/Embankment tube a huge swarm of bikes could be found and I was back on my way eastwards with vigour, basically the reverse of the earlier route but continuing up Queen Victoria St and on past Bank eventually landing near Liverpool St having gone past the front door not knowing where the docking station was!

This journey hasn’t appeared on my account yet which is a little worrying – I was docked by 6pm though so assuming I left the office around 1720 then walked to Charing Cross I don’t think I would have passed the 30 min mark (phew!)

All in all – a good experience. I don’t think I have any cross building meetings tomorrow but on Friday I think I have to go from Southwark to Westminster and then onto a house party in Bermonsey. I think I might have to go by bike.

4 Responses to “I say old chap, might you lend me a bike?”

  1. Jon Hill said

    Ah ha, another hire convert. I had my first journey on Monday, from London Bridge back to E&C. I have to say that I was a little unnerved to be cycling on the roads for the first time in 10 years, in my suit, without a helmet, but it was fine once I got going. Cycling back from Paul’s tomorrow?

  2. Alan P said

    I think I’ll cycle from Westminster across to the nearest docking station to Paul’s – probably won’t cycle back after a few beers!

    Are you using it everyday between E&C and London Bridge?

  3. cowfish said

    I’ve got my key and my office sits right in the middle of three hire points, but I’ve not had a chance to have a go with them yet. There is a docking station next to the whisky society, so I do have an excuse at least…

  4. Alan P said

    Go for it! I am enjoying the chance to make exercise part of my journey rather than having to arse about and go to the gym. 5mi down in 23 min today in ride #4, got a between meeting transfer planned tomorrow weather permitting.

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