Returning from a rare excursion to the south of London I left the train at Vauxhall. Instead of catching the tube to Euston I walked past MI6 headquarters to the cycle rank beside the river - a line of about 30 identical bikes with a vending machine at the end.
In went my Visa card and, after pressing buttons to select options, out came a ticket with a 5 digit code. I typed the code into the docking bay for one of the bikes and, after a strong yank on the handlebars, it was time to tuck my trouser leg into my sock and start pedalling.
Along the wide terrace of the south side of the river, beneath Lambeth Bridge, past signs which said ‘considerate cyclists welcome’, then across Westminster Bridge onto The Embankment. Left up Northumberland Avenue, through Admiralty Arch and into The Mall. What joy!
I stopped at a stand where a firm called Spencer Ivy were offering test rides of their electric bicycles. Lightweight and with a range of 50 miles between charges they were impressive but at £1,800 I had to say ‘I’ll think about it’. They’d certainly make Snowdonia an easier touring option.
The company has a partnership with a cycle tour operator in the Brecon Beacons called Drover Holidays promoting ‘Electric Wales – cycling holidays with added power’.
Onwards into Green Park until I noticed the no cycling signs and pushed my way out to Hyde Park and resumed pedal power to Speakers Corner. Through the West End, left at Centrepoint and northwards to Euston.
What a brilliant way to travel especially on the dry and sunny Sunday that it was. My 2 hour adventure had cost £7. The bikes are emblazoned with ‘Barclays’ but everyone calls them Boris’s Bikes (as in Johnson) which is a bit unfair as it was in fact Ken Livingstone’s idea.
Maybe we should get a rack of electric bikes for guests to cycle back to Campbell’s Cottage after visiting the pub.