New Forest sportive organisers gallop to change route after pony drift… ambush?*

*Or was it a trap?

by John Stevenson   June 19, 2014  

New Forest rider and pony (CC licensed by iNew Forest:Flickr)

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!”

28 user comments

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Are the roads closed to vehicular traffic on those days or is it just sportive entrants that are unwelcome?

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2036 posts]
19th June 2014 - 12:12

33 Likes

The pony nazis strike again

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [387 posts]
19th June 2014 - 12:14

21 Likes

Simmo72 wrote:
The pony nazis strike again

This one?

posted by ped [172 posts]
19th June 2014 - 12:30

32 Likes

Simon E wrote:
Are the roads closed to vehicular traffic on those days or is it just sportive entrants that are unwelcome?

The road are open to normal traffic but signs are put up to warn other road users. I wouldn't want to cycle through a drift myself, drive yes but bike no, being in an area with dozens of stampeding horses in a bike is not nice I can promise you.

Just a shame the local paper (headline "New row over major cycle race") and Verderers are making out the wiggle organisers are not cooperating when they are. It's just clickbait for the local rag with its chief reporter's vendetta who's clearly aligned somehow with the verderers.

posted by 29erKeith [34 posts]
19th June 2014 - 12:33

36 Likes

Yep, the Daily Echo is my local paper, and pretty much every cycling-related story is reported with an anti-cycling bias, not least these sportive ones.

Was thinking of taking part this year, but I don't really want to risk the damage either to my bike or myself given the way the local media seems to promote the views of some locals that the event just isn't welcome there...

posted by parksey [287 posts]
19th June 2014 - 12:41

18 Likes

The verderers seem intent on making any event run in the new forest as difficult as possible. If they won't annonce dates and locations early, they should expect to get clashes.

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 just sounds like they want to be difficult. Why would members of the public watching be such a problem (and how many would actually come to watch)?

At a meeting of the Court of Verderers, Barden was accused of ignoring the New Forest National Park Authority’s new cycling charter.

But they won't specify what bit of the charter. Thinking

posted by thereverent [314 posts]
19th June 2014 - 12:43

31 Likes

thereverent wrote:

This just sounds like they want to be difficult.

nail on the head

posted by 29erKeith [34 posts]
19th June 2014 - 13:00

19 Likes

I live local to the New Forest and regularly use the roads for training but on the days of big events in the Forest I steer clear as I can't be hassled with the risk of getting involved with some ignorant NIMBY. Problem is during the summer there are more and more events taking place.

This makes me more resentful of those that are trying to push event's they don't want out of the Forest rather than the organisers as I know I shouldn't let my freedom of choice where I ride be influenced by these people, but at the end of the day I want to simply go for a bike ride with no hassle.

These people simply don't like this new fangled form of transport (most still seem to live in the 18th century) but don't seem to mind so much when the roads are blocked up when Beaulieu has an event on, or the same when the New Forest Show is on, or the annual cark park that is the one way system in Lyndhurst during the summer months.

posted by usedtobefaster [108 posts]
19th June 2014 - 13:16

33 Likes

Its clear that they are being as difficult as possible in the hope that they can damage the event or make it impossible to successfully run, in the hope the organisers just give up and go away.

posted by md6 [157 posts]
19th June 2014 - 13:17

20 Likes

I've been wanting to get that Fignon elf jersey for a while, but somehow seeing someone else wearing it is putting me off slightly.

pants's picture

posted by pants [96 posts]
19th June 2014 - 13:24

18 Likes

Simmo72 wrote:
The pony nazis strike again

This won't help. People opposing large sportive events aren't Nazis.

posted by Derny [57 posts]
19th June 2014 - 13:24

11 Likes

I've posted before as a bread and buttered Forrester whose family still lives there. The roads aren't closed but as one poster says a drift (think cowboy round up) and a lot of cyclists or pedestrians to be fair, wouldn't mix. Lots of ponies in groups variously ambling and running. The drift is to count the stock and to assess their condition, look for any sick animals etc.

Now whether the drift is timed to bugger up the sportive is another matter. Tactics wise the verderers have the whip hand since they can do this within reason when they want and can time the drift to bugger up the sportive.

Not sure what can be done as a sportive but anyone heard of Kinder Scout?

That needs to be the response. Twitter and Facebook are ideal for a lot of cyclist just independently deciding that the New Forest was their destination and they were just meeting some mates.

There's your answer.

ie have a well organised Sportive or just have an unorganised bike ride. Take your pick.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [713 posts]
19th June 2014 - 13:45

18 Likes

Maybe Wiggle could consider moving the event to a National Park...oh hang on...

posted by Gashead [30 posts]
19th June 2014 - 13:45

16 Likes

usedtobefaster wrote:
These people simply don't like this new fangled form of transport (most still seem to live in the 18th century)

So, the horse & buggy trade is doing well in the New Forest then?

Bicycles are significantly older than cars, which they have no issues with.

They simply don't like cyclists, nothing to do with transport.

posted by jacknorell [531 posts]
19th June 2014 - 14:09

11 Likes

A local drift for local people...

What simpletons live in these areas.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [234 posts]
19th June 2014 - 14:31

18 Likes

jacknorell wrote:
usedtobefaster wrote:
These people simply don't like this new fangled form of transport (most still seem to live in the 18th century)

So, the horse & buggy trade is doing well in the New Forest then?

Bicycles are significantly older than cars, which they have no issues with.

They simply don't like cyclists, nothing to do with transport.

And to be fair "the locals" covers a lot of territory. My family live in the Forest. We have done for centuries. No one I know down there friends or family has any problem at all with the sportives. They just don't. For a start most of them work a lot of weekends in various tourist trades, pubs restaurants, shops, garages, not just in the forest but on the coast as well. They really don't mind.

The people that do mind are mainly the people that have bought picture postcard holiday homes for the weekend in the country. They don't want anything going on. My brother was working on his own house on a Saturday when one of these folks from about half a mile away drove round to moan about the noise from a cement mixer he'd hired and asked whether he couldn't do the work in the week. Luckily he'd remembered some Thomas Hardy from school and sent them away trying to figure out what "Get out of my sight, you slack-twisted, slim-looking maphrotight fool,' " meant.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [713 posts]
19th June 2014 - 14:34

31 Likes

oozaveared wrote:
The people that do mind are mainly the people that have bought picture postcard holiday homes for the weekend in the country.

QFT.

posted by David Portland [89 posts]
19th June 2014 - 15:08

13 Likes

You must remember that the automatic reaction in the new forest area is to say no or try to stop anything changing, this ranges from, larger better ferries, to new buildings, to cyclists actually using the new forest, and god forbid, holding up the traffic at the weekend. I retired down here from high wycombe 4 years ago the area is wonderful but the majority of the people just want the place reserved in aspic, At Wits End

posted by 230548 [19 posts]
19th June 2014 - 16:31

12 Likes

ped wrote:

Simmo72 wrote:

The pony nazis strike again

This one?


No, silly, that's a nazi pony. Different thing.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [316 posts]
19th June 2014 - 17:36

9 Likes

md6 wrote:
Its clear that they are being as difficult as possible in the hope that they can damage the event or make it impossible to successfully run, in the hope the organisers just give up and go away.

Well fine! Why don't we?

Yes the New Forest is beautiful and perfect for cycling, but, they don't want us. No problem lets go elsewhere, I'm sure that there are equally beautiful parts of the country that would be happy for us to hold our events there.

Well no there isn't! The reason for this is simple. Where ever you want to hold an event the people who are the most vocal in their opposition are either retired, having made good money elsewhere, or don't rely on the local economy for their income. They have this mental image of a rural idyll and modern cyclists are just not acceptable to them. They want a 1920's countryside that has been pickled in aspic but also want modern things that make life comfortable in the 21st century. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

What is the value over a weekend of an event of this size, £1M, £1.5M, £2M? It is not the people objecting that benefit from this spending but the local locals. It's money like this that helps stop all the young people running away at the first opportunity. It's regular injections of cash into a local economy that stops it dying.

Until the NIMBYs realise this then there will be no solution.

In the mean time, remember "Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock." - Will Rogers.

posted by levermonkey [388 posts]
19th June 2014 - 18:17

11 Likes

Apparently the ponies have been force fed tin tacks and let loose on the roads.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1084 posts]
19th June 2014 - 19:54

15 Likes

MercuryOne wrote:
Apparently the ponies have been force fed tin tacks and let loose on the roads.

These are the Nazi ponies right?

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2289 posts]
19th June 2014 - 20:16

8 Likes

Whilst the money the Sportive will bring to the area will help the working locals it is an inconvenience to the well off retired and holiday home owners. Most wanted National Park status but a lot of people would prefer not to have the extra visitors this brings. As a resident of the Isle of Wight it is good to see more events taking place over here, even if a few with too much time on their hands vent their fury in the local press. It may be mile for mile one of the most expensive stretches of water to cross but (at present) they do not charge to bring bikes over on car ferries.
Whatever you do though do not consider turning up in the New Forest with a horse and buggy, if they think the travellers are in town they will not be out with tin tacks but torches and pitchforks!

posted by twowheeltoys [27 posts]
20th June 2014 - 5:59

9 Likes

Just a thought but will the NIMBYs complain when the Nazi ponies start pooping on people's lawns?

Smile

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2289 posts]
20th June 2014 - 7:54

6 Likes

oozaveared wrote:
jacknorell wrote:
usedtobefaster wrote:
These people simply don't like this new fangled form of transport (most still seem to live in the 18th century)

So, the horse & buggy trade is doing well in the New Forest then?

Bicycles are significantly older than cars, which they have no issues with.

They simply don't like cyclists, nothing to do with transport.

The people that do mind are mainly the people that have bought picture postcard holiday homes for the weekend in the country. They don't want anything going on.

A particular example of this is a resident living on one of the steeper sections of Forest roads who has complained to the authorities about "racing cyclist" using the public roads outside their property but then this person also hates the car rallies and the local kids who ride skateboards down the hill etc. Some people just want to live in a bubble. If you really want piece and quite go live in Alaska.

This is not only a New Forest problem where the "wealthier" sections of some communities have a sense of ownership over an area simply because they have paid for some property/land. It seems we're going back in time where there's a landowner and his subjects and he has the power of life and death of his "subjects", didn't this lead to the English civil war ?

posted by usedtobefaster [108 posts]
20th June 2014 - 8:14

11 Likes

For the last couple of years i haven't seen much in the way of positive stories for cycling in the New Forest. I going to be spending a few days on holiday in area in October. Is another attempt to sabotage a mass participation cycle event or are a number of locals just anti-lycra cyclist. All this bad press and i may leave the bike at home come October, or i might just head strait for ferry and take my bike ride to the Isle of White. Thinking

posted by fennyvelocarbon [6 posts]
22nd June 2014 - 9:59

1 Like

Take the bike and head east into Wiltshire and cranborne chase, the roads are quiter, more varied, more scenic, less crowded... Don't tell anyone.

posted by clumsytim [15 posts]
22nd June 2014 - 15:03

1 Like

Your fine if you come when there is not a major sportive on then they are only at weekends, the rest of the week is ok

posted by 230548 [19 posts]
22nd June 2014 - 16:50

2 Likes