Defecating on village greens, racing on the public highway and shouting abuse at anyone who gets in their way. Those are the latest accusations levelled at sportive riders in the New Forest at a meeting of the National Park Authority.
According to the Southern Daily Echo, National Park Authority member Maureen Holding, the Conservative member for Brockenhurst and Forest South East on New Forest District Council, said: “I was driving through Brockenhurst at 30mph and was overtaken by cyclists.
“Police say the events aren’t races but the riders are timed and given gold, silver or bronze medals according to how fast they went.
“Some of them go very fast and it’s only a matter of time before an old person is hit by a cycle.
“I’m not anti-cycling but these big, money-making events are getting out of control. The problem has not been managed, it’s simply being looked at in retrospect.”
Martin Barden of UK Cycling Events, which organises sportives in the New Forest on behalf of sponsor Wiggle, told road.cc: “It once again feels like a few anti-cyclists trying to stop cyclists enjoying their pastime. They believe the New Forest is an extension of their back gardens rather than a National Park which was set up for everyone to enjoy.”
UK Cycling Events recently announced that numbers in its sportives would be reduced by 20 percent, the event HQ would be moved outside the park, the number of morotcycle marshals would be increased and the events would be routed away from very narrow lanes and hotspots where conflict had previously occurred.
Deputy chairman of the National Park Authority Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre said cycling events were causing “enormous upset” in the Forest because of the speed and behaviour of riders and the frequency of events. Mr Crosthwaite-Eyre is President of the New Forest Association and Vice Chairman of the New Forest Trust.
David Harrison, Liberal Democrat Hampshire County Councillor for Totton South and Marchwood and National Park Authority member criticised the “anti-cycling” posture of some of his colleagues.
He said: “We should be actively promoting and supporting responsible cycling, a much enjoyed, largely peaceful activity that’s a positive for the Forest, not a negative.”
Peter Roberts, chairman of the New Forest Association, said that a complaint had been lodged with police that sportive events were causing a public nuisance.
He said: “The activity is clearly a race, either against the clock or fellow competitors – whatever name is given to it by the commercial organisers.
“A complaint has been submitted to the police regarding public nuisance.”
Chief Inspector Tony Rowlinson of New Forest police said the complaint was being investigated by a senior officer.
He said: “The prosecuting authority is the Crown Prosecution Service and we will look to them for a steer.”
Martin Barden of UK Cycling Events said he had not yet been contacted regarding the investigation.
He said: “I am not aware of the details of the investigation, but we provided clear guidance on how riders should ride considerately and provided four rest stops all with toilet facilities on the route.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.