Yesterday I cheated on Trusty.Yes, it was with a younger model, fuelled by the elicit thrill of the new, but it didn't mean anything. It was just a fling. The trouble is, I'm not sure it will be the last time. Because I've developed what might become a beautiful friendship. With a Boris Bike.
The new TFL bicycle hire docking stations have popped up all over central london like Barclays- branded fungus. I've been pleased to see the bikes being pretty well used over the initial weeks, and I'm also yet to see any bikes in the Thames, dismembered in an alley, or sprayed with obscenities. So far so good. Though I approve of anything that gets people cycling, I had no need to try them out myself, whizzing past the blue and silver ranks on loyal old Trusty. However, like a happily married woman cruising dating sites 'just to see', late one night last week I found myself registering for the scheme online. I was sent a memory stick shaped 'key', and attached to my keyring, it's been burning a hole in my pocket for days. It all begins with flirting, you see, playing with the possibility, allowing opportunities to create themelves.
And so, yesterday I found myself in town, between two engagments on opposite sides of Zone 1 and without my wheels. Trusty was tucked up unaware in the garage at home, . And I was weak. The bus would take ages and I didn't have a book. I am, as you know, allergic to the tube. So I did it. I slid my fob into the slot, got the green light and pulled out my hired companion. And as the docking station clicked, so did we.
It's hard to explain why. The boris bike might be newer and shiner than Trusty, but he wasn't better looking. Did you ever go to legoland as a kid? They had a track where you could learn to drive a 'car', a squat, cartoonish thing made to look like a real automobile but resized and simplified for an eight year old. You could go around the track, stopping at traffic lights and manouvering roundabouts, and at the end were given a 'driver's licence' if you passed the test.
The boris bikes are the cycle version of those cars; big, slow and heavy but somehow very pleasing. Nothing is too complicated for chubby, amateur hands. They are literally fool-proof, and that might be the genius of the scheme. They feel safe and solid, like riding a trike, even when you're in the middle of four lanes of traffic at Old Street roundabout with no helmet on (they're not provided). I loved the uprightness of the ride, the big sofa like saddle, and the Early Learning Centre container for your bags with boingy elastic to hold everything in.
So now I have a bit on the side. The steed will continue to be my partner, my life-wheels, the bike of my heart. But every now and then, on those days when I just need to nip somewhere, or I'm staying out late and want a glass of wine, I'll have a brief rendezvous with a boris bike. Just don't tell Trusty.