I haven’t been too active on the blogging thing lately mainly due to my injured knee keeping me off the bike while a wait for my GP to refer me to an orthopaedic surgeon to put a camera into it to see WTF is going on. I am in the twilight of my senior cricketing career and there’s only 3 games left this season so don’t want to risk injuring it further as I’m loving playing right now. I would be devastated – I have been made up to the 1st XI and have a chance to make the cup final in Sept (probably my last chance). So I’ve been limiting the cycling to short trips to the shops and while the knee is still not good, is better for the rest.
I went down to London last week and, although work would reimburse me for the train fare incl travel card, I opted to try out a cycle hire by using a “Boris Bike”, the nickname for these rather sturdy looking 3 speeders that are provided by Transport for London. Now I have been riding I was a kid and even braved the streets of London on my beat up 2nd hand fixie in the late 90’s but the thought of cycling in London has since terrified me. I find the place intimidating and that’s not just the motorised traffic but the fast, aggressive riding styles of regulars on the road. Added to this is the well documented deaths on the roads of the Capital and the subsequent campaign to allow riders more safety. I have a number of times decided to walk instead of riding but last week I decided to put my fear to one side and do it.
After researching cost and the ins and outs of the scheme, I downloaded the hire scheme app on my trip to Liverpool Street Station and was ready but 1st had to walk 5 min to find the bike rack. I paid £2 for 24 access after which I was only required to pay if I went longer than 30min per ride. Given that I was only going 1.8km to Whitechapel, I had already “saved” £3 for the return journey by London Underground but more importantly saved on the time needed to travel this way or if I walked.
I have walked there several times and once I navigated the release code system and the gears was up and cycling and soon found myself cruising through Brick Lane. I was taken back to my batchelor days of cheap but delicious curry as I meandered past Muhib and Nazrul. The latter is where my future wife and I used to frequent during our courtship-memories of happy days! A 2km trip doesn’t take long, and quickly found a docking rack on the corner of the Royal London Hospital where I soon found where I was supposed to be.
A ride on London’s busy roads after 2 hours in front of a PC screen in the bowels of the medical school library is exactly the tonic to pick you up. I went the more direct route this time, hoping to get an earlier train and to avoid the suits on a busy rush hour train. I followed the blue “super highway” cycle route that appears to be shared with buses and the white vans parked in them.
So I didn’t get knocked off my bike as only felt at risk of that on the return leg as several couriers whizzed past me as did other commuters, expertly weaving themselves in and out of traffic, around obstacles, apparently hell bent on getting from A to B in record time. Was I terrified? No, but I was cautious to the point of (probably) slowing down other riders going about their usual business. Would I do it again? Definitely: docking the bike every 30 minutes allows you to only pay the £2 access fee and a different way of experiencing London. But I would tell work that its a whole study-day so that I can stop, take pics and share at a more leisurely pace…
BTW anyone know how to get rid of those annoying links to unwanted ads littering my text?