Things I have learned from my Christmas Boris Bike ride

Boris Bike

So the big problem with London on Christmas Day is that all the public transport is shut down. Brilliant for the families of TFL workers, but sucky for runawaykiwi’s who need to get to Pimlico in time for Christmas lunch. So I decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns and rent a Boris Bike. It was my first ever ride, and let’s just say I learned a few things…

1. Boris Bikes are fecking hard to ride
I may have been hindered by only discovering gears half way through the ride (I wondered what those numbers were), but the bikes as close as you can get to a legal tank; heavy, massive and with all the manuvirability of an Occupy Protester. I guess they are built that way so that they last through London’s many seasons (and riots), but it still makes for a hard, sweaty, ‘crash into things’ ride.

2. London’s roads are made of pot holes
Even going past London’s main tourist attractions, slap bang in the middle of the beaten track, the roads are full of holes. One of them was so big that I was trapped in it for three hours and had to fight a badger for some Hobnobs.

3. Tourists suck
Tourists on Boris Bikes are the literal worst. Yes it was my first time as well, but as a jaded expat I could ignore all the landmarks and focus on not dying. Tourists on the other hand were so busy looking at the dome of St Paul’s while cycling along that they could have run over the Queen and not noticed. An international incident waiting to happen.

4. I don’t know the UK road rules
I have happily ignored the UK road rules since I arrived. In my normal walking life I don’t even need to know which side of the road the cars drive on, because on each street corner they write which way to look when crossing. I was so terrified I was going to get hit that every time I got to an intersection I almost wet myself and got off and walked the bike on the footpath, adding about five hours to my 45 minute journey.

5. People are ok if you shout things from a bike
Not sure if this was just because it was Christmas Day or if it is always this way, but there seems to be a free pass for shouting things at people when cycling. On this occasion I was shouting snippets of Christmas carols, but no one seemed to mind ‘had a very shiny nose’ being thrown in their direction. Christmas aye…

4 Comments

  1. January 30, 2014 / 7:48 am

    Haha, this reminds me of my first bike ride in London. I brought my own bike with me from the Netherlands when I moved here, and even though I don’t think I’ll ever get used to London traffic completely… it’s getting better. But like you said as well, including all the time you need to get off your bike, walking on the footpath, avoiding pot holes will easily double the time you need to get from A to B. Luckily they’re talking about improving the roads for cyclists. Let’s hope this will actually happen.

  2. Jade
    January 30, 2014 / 7:00 pm

    I have a deep hatred of Boris bikes as I hired one once and almost got run over when trying to cross an intersection whilst struggling with the weight of it. My husband has tried so many times to get me to go on one again but I refuse!

  3. Graeme Voigt
    April 26, 2014 / 2:54 pm

    HA HA HA HA This was brilliant to read.