A week after signing up, my key arrived so, on Monday morning, I headed out with my helmet and Sam Browne in my bag, ready to hit the bikes.
My key didn't work.
I headed back to the trains after a call to the cycle hire line that said they were too busy to sort it out and that they would call me back. Train delays meant I was horrendously late for work. Boo. That evening I rang again, pointing out that no one had rung me back. 'Sorry madam, we're still too busy' came the cry.
After getting very cross. I decided to calm down and walk to Paddington as Mr Weenie was working late and it was a lovely evening. I planned out a route and had a lovely walk. This morning, having seen a lovely occupational physio who guardedly said that, while she couldn't tell me I was fine to cycle because of protocol, she could tell me that many other people started back doing everyday activities at this point and no harm came to them. Hint hint.
Yesterday morning I got to Paddington (trains were again late) and my key STILL didn't work. So I rang the line, and they picked up! After apologising profusely for the delay they reactivated my key and it worked.
I climbed aboard and, once I'd secured my bag and strapped on my helmet, I was off.
Be warned all those who cycle light and modern roadies and hybrids, Boris bikes are heavy. Vary heavy. I wobbled somewhat as I began but I soon hit my stride and, as I've cycled around Paddington many times, I knew exactly the way to Hyde Park using small backstreets.
The brakes were sensitive without being too sharp and the gear changes were smooth. Yes, the bikes are heavy, but they're also stable and feel well built.
After getting a bit lost I arrived at Victoria in around 25 minutes, a vastly improved time than it's been taking of late. I saw a docking station, obeyed BoJo's instruction of firmly ramming the bike into the dock and the light went green first time. I walked 100 yards to the station and my train was already at the platform. I hopped on and arrived at work far happier than I've been for some time.
I've always supported the idea of the scheme and, although it's unfortunate that the call centre is clearly ill equipped to deal with the volume of interest, I'm heartened that the interest has been so great. Given that only members can use the bikes at the moment I've been impressed by the number of people I see out and about on them. Fingers crossed they work the kinks out as soon as possible.
*I should point out that the doctors do not object to my cycling per se, it is their concern that I will fall over while on my bike. My hip problems mean that I've fallen over about 15 times since I broke my wrist while walking around. Hmmmmmmmmm