New Forest sportive organisers gallop to change route after pony drift… ambush?*
*Or was it a trap?
Organisers of the Wiggle New Forest 100 Sportive have been forced to to change the route of the October 11-12 event after the announcement of a pony round up on the planned course.
According to Martin Barden, head of organiser UK Cycling Events, the event plan and date were announced in October 2013. Even when the dates of the pony round-ups, known as drifts, were announced in January this year, it was still impossible to plan the event around them.
Barden said: “The verderers only advise a ‘loose’ location of their drifts, with absolutely no details of the area the drift covers, as they are worried the general public will come and watch.
“This information was issued after our event was announced and does not identify the roads that will be affected, making clashes impossible to avoid.
“I believe they recognise the inadequacy of the information previously issued and are looking to rectify this for the future.”
According to the Southern Daily Echo’s Chris Yandell, the drift on the weekend of the sportive will take place at Balmer Lawn, on the event’s planned route.
At a meeting of the Court of Verderers, Barden was accused of ignoring the New Forest National Park Authority’s new cycling charter.
Official Verderer Dominic May said he had written to Barden to ask him to change the route, and the two met last week to discuss the problem.
May said: “Mr Barden acknowledged that he had received our list of drift dates in January. He also confirmed that he will sign up to the charter as it is currently worded.
“I made it clear that the verderers will not be cancelling the Balmer Lawn drift, which is one of the biggest and most important of the season.
“Unfortunately Mr Barden would not confirm during our discussion that he will change the route or the date.”
But Barden says he agreed to look at changing the route.
He said: “Since finding out about the potential clash last week, we have been working hard to reroute our course to avoid the drift.
“This is not a quick job as the planning and various risk assessments take time. We committed to updating the verderers on this by mid July, which we will do.
“We are keen to work with the verderers to resolve this issue, we would hope the verderers are willing to do the same.”
Barden is mystified that May is implying UK Cycle Events is being uncooperative.
He said: “It baffles me why they would ask us to look at changing our route (which we said yes to) at the beginning of the week, and say we are not doing anything later the same week!”