A term used in cycling as a sign of respect … literally to remove ones hat. And surely there can be no story more deserving of my respect than the one splashed across the media this morning detailing the ambitious plans of 3 cyclists who set out to see how far you could get a Boris Bike in 24 hours before incurring the Transport for London fine of £150 for failing to return a bike within a single day. For my legions (?! steady on – Ed) of overseas followers I should perhaps explain what a Boris Bike is. Named after our very own Mayor of London, Boris Johnson who oversaw their introduction, essentially it’s a very heavy urban hire bike that is available throughout London. The main things you need to know is that a) they are very heavy … at 50 lbs or around 23 kg for any Europeans reading and b) they have 3 gears and chunky tyres. They are ideally suited to a life of abuse and heavy use on the streets of the capital where hills of any description are a rarity and the average journey is less than a mile.
It follows then that what they are entirely unsuited to is being ridden up the slopes of Mont Ventoux on a winters day. And yet, in a most British of endeavours, this is what 3 men with a cause set out to do in order to raise some funds for Cancer Research. As I have tried to impart elsewhere in this blog, climbing Ventoux via Bedouin (the route these guys also took) is a lonely and painful place. It’s lonely and painful when you’re in good condition, riding a carbon racing bike with 20 gears (although you only really need one of those). The thought of trying to struggle up aboard a Boris bike – and in just under 3 hours!! – is frankly cramp inducing. But they were not to be denied and after succeeding in their quest they simply bundled it back into the van and drove back to London where they beat the 24 hour deadline with just 20 odd seconds to spare.
A quick google of “Boris bike Ventoux” will find you the story from any number of outlets but if you’re too lazy to even do that then you can read the Daily Mail’s version here.