Opponents of mass participation cycling events in the New Forest are up in arms after it has emerged that two will be held in the national park on the same day this October, also coinciding with a planned pony round-up. The route of one of the rides has been changed to avoid conflict, but there have been repeated calls for such events to be formally regulated by legislation.
According to the Daily Echo, the overlap between the two events – the Wiggle New Forest 100 on 11 and 12 October, with 2,000 entrants, and the CTC Wessex Gridiron, which takes place on the second of those days and may have 1,000 particpants – came to light at a meeting of the Court of Verderers yesterday.
Councillor Maureen Holding, a vocal critic of sportives and similar rides in the area, said: “Organisers of mass cycling events are treating the Forest as a playground. The time is coming for legislation to sort this out.”
Her view was echoed by the Conservative Member of Parliament for New Forest East, Julian Lewis, who said: “The ever-increasing frequency of these very large events shows there will no end to this worsening problem until a proper system to licence mass cycling in the New Forest is established.
“I will continue to exert maximum pressure on the relevant department to achieve this.”
The newspaper says that it is believed that it is the first time a clash of this nature has occurred, and a spokesman for the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) said steps were being taken to prevent conflicts of this nature in future.
He said: “A new event notification system, linked to an online calendar, will soon be launched by the New Forest Safety Advisory Group.
“This, together with advance information about round-ups, will help avoid future clashes.”
Earlier this month, it emerged that the NFNPA could consider lobbying for a change in the law to restrict the number of riders taking part in sportives as well as the frequency with which such events take place.
Currently, sportives do not need to have a licence and in contrast to road races or time trials are not subject to the Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations 1960 and do not require the permission of the police.
The largest events to take place in the national park are the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive, held in April, and October’s Wiggle New Forest 100, which takes place in October, both organised by UK Cycling Events, and both targeted by saboteurs in the past.
Earlier this year, the NFNPA published a draft charter for cycling events, compiled in partnership with its Cycling Liaison Group which comprises organisations representing the interests of local residents, horse riders and cyclists.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.