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Energy gel wrappers from organised events identified as being a particular problem

Richmond Park conservationists have asked cyclists taking part in organised events to dispose of litter more responsibly. Recent post-mortems of some deer found their stomachs contained a large volume of litter that could not be digested and which then denied the animals the nutrition they needed.

It is estimated that around five deer a year are killed as a result of eating discarded rubbish and The London Evening Standard reports that events such as RideLondon and the London Duathlon have been identified as times when a lot of gel wrappers and the like are discarded.

Richard Gray, trustee of the Friends of Richmond Park, said:

“It’s a real health issue. What we have identified with these two particular races is this phenomenon of the gel packs. Lots of our members are cyclists, I’m a cyclist, but you get a number of slightly more selfish cyclists who aren’t getting rid of it responsibly.

“They are doing the Tour de France thing, seeing people tear off their gel packs and spitting them out. But unlike other races, it doesn’t get picked up. It’s a new phenomenon, particularly because so many more people are taking up competitive endurance cycling and use gel packs.”

Friends of Richmond Park said they found 182 gel wrappers and opening strips in just 600m after RideLondon passed through in July. A similar exercise following the London Duathlon on Sunday saw more than 160 empty gel packs left behind in the same area.

RideLondon organisers admitted there had been a communication issue with litter patrol teams after this year's event but also said they were considering installing cameras on the route next year to identify and ban those who litter.

Friends of Richmond Park chairman Ron Crompton welcomed greater prevention measures and said he hoped that the duathlon organisers would also make efforts to ensure that all competitors were clear that this sort of behaviour was unacceptable.

“Finding this large extent of litter 24 hours after the event is very worrying for the Park's wildlife and particularly the deer.  The irresponsible disposal of gel energy bar packaging and their tear-off opening strips seem to be creating a particular problem,” he said.

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68 comments

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A2thaJ [68 posts] 1 year ago
21 likes

Littering is inexcuseable. On bike, foot, or when lobbing it out of your car window (popular about 2 miles from any McDonalds).

 

Makes my blood boil.

 

I don't understand why people were using Gels at that stage of ride london ( and i dont actually understand why people would use a gel when its not an actual race, where you get points etc).

 

 

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grayvelo [34 posts] 1 year ago
10 likes

Argh! My absolute bugbear, utterly selfish behaviour.

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timmyotool [15 posts] 1 year ago
8 likes
A2thaJ wrote:

Littering is inexcuseable. On bike, foot, or when lobbing it out of your car window (popular about 2 miles from any McDonalds).

 

Makes my blood boil.

 

I don't understand why people were using Gels at that stage of ride london ( and i dont actually understand why people would use a gel when its not an actual race, where you get points etc).

 

 

Couldn't have said it better!

I don't think the weekend warriors should be excluded from this, no better than the organised rides.

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bikebot [2119 posts] 1 year ago
7 likes

Image from their press release

//i.imgur.com/T6KxLMk.jpg)

That's the litter removed from the stomach of a dead deer. Anyone fathom why they're singling out sports events? (sort of rhetorical that one).

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LegalFun [81 posts] 1 year ago
9 likes

Of course you go to the ES article linked above, you will find cyclists pointing out that runners, joggers and drunken revellers also drop litter as well as car drivers, followed by people cmplaining that cyclists arent taking the issue seriously and they should all be banned form cycling.

 

More low rent journalism from the ES serving as clickbait and helping fuel the Cyclist vs Everyone Else divide. I know newspapers are struggling with the internet these days, but it doesnt excuse such biased reporting!

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jollygoodvelo [1669 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Absolutely unacceptable - yes, occasionally the tips blow away and you lose one but as a general rule 'leave nothing but footprints' applies: everywhere, not just in the parks.

 

Having said that I can't understand why *all* gel makers don't use a tube design with a captive tab like the Torq ones do.

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Ush [988 posts] 1 year ago
22 likes

I despise litter and litterers (whether it kills wildlife or not... I just don't want to see it), but the cited Evening Standard article is an obvious twisiting of the original source.

The Friends of Richmond Park piece http://www.frp.org.uk/news/142-carelessness-costs-deer-lives   says:

FRP wrote:

Some 5-10 Park deer a year are killed by cars;

SNIP

Uncontrolled dogs kill 6 or so deer a year, mainly baby deer in their first weeks,

SNIP

Litter kills around 5 deer a year. This is a guess 

FRP wrote:

The photograph (right) shows John Bartram, one of the Park’s wildlife officers responsible for the welfare of the herd, holding up the stomach contents of two deer that died from litter. They include rope and string, black dog-waste bags, other plastics, and parts of clothing — all material that deer cannot digest. 

 

So, while I'm sure that the gel packets discarded do nothing to help, it seems at the least tenuous for the Evening Standard to ignore the car deaths, dog deaths, and fail to explain how and why cyclists are flinging bits of rope and bags of dog poo about.

 

I'll leave it to the rest of you to decide why the Evening Standard decided to convey the impression that it was cyclists and cyclists alone who are responsible for the deer death.

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Jimmy Ray Will [761 posts] 1 year ago
7 likes
bikebot wrote:

Image from their press release

//i.imgur.com/T6KxLMk.jpg)

That's the litter removed from the stomach of a dead deer. Anyone fathom why they're singling out sports events? (sort of rhetorical that one).

My thoughts exactly. 

Not saying that throwing away gel wrappers is not a daft and totally avoidable thing to do... but this is little more than another chance to put the boot into cyclists... 

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JonD [485 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Suffering of a animals is one thing, but FORP are quite aware that deer culls take place twice a year :

http://www.frp.org.uk/news/1308-deer-cull-royal-parks-advice

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themartincox [553 posts] 1 year ago
13 likes

Ush wrote:

 

So, while I'm sure that the gel packets discarded do nothing to help, it seems at the least tenuous for the Evening Standard to ignore the car deaths, dog deaths, and fail to explain how and why cyclists are flinging bits of rope and bags of dog poo about.

 

I'll leave it to the rest of you to decide why the Evening Standard decided to convey the impression that it was cyclists and cyclists alone who are responsible for the deer death.

ah, my ruddy rope, I was wondering where that got to, it must have fallen out of my back pocket whilst I was doing laps, weaving across the road of course and slowing down the cars - I wasn't even wearing a helmet at the time!

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SuperG [120 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

NO rubbish should be dropped anywhere, many people are not bothered what they drop. Be they pedestrians, motorists or cyclist.

 

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davel [1686 posts] 1 year ago
23 likes
A2thaJ wrote:

I don't understand why people were using Gels at that stage of ride london

Because they're losers.

I was onto the inhalers and syringes by then.

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burtthebike [1114 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Perhaps the ES is best mates with Matthew Parris?

http://road.cc/content/news/3069-what%E2%80%99s-smug-and-deserves-be-dec...

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Leviathan [2776 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
A2thaJ wrote:

I don't understand why people were using Gels at that stage of ride london ( and i dont actually understand why people would use a gel when its not an actual race, where you get points etc).

Because they are hungry/need energy perhaps. Richmond Park is 20 miles into the event. Everyone else isn't as imperious as yourself.* What difference does it make that it isn't a race (which it is because it is a timed cycling event, you mean it is not a criterium.) Also the sugary glop companies that sell these aspirational items tell you to eat three an hour and give them away free to encourage sales. They want as many people eating as many gels as possible.

Bikebot is right; whilst we shouldn't be dropping litter, there are plenty of accidentally dropped and squashed gels on the route (along with bananas, bottles and the odd pump.) The nature of the event prevents people turning around and fishing out their dropped items. The route is used by the Classic event, what is stopping the marshalls from collecting dropped items after the sportive? The course is a very, very confined part of the park. Absolutely no need to blame the event for killing something that will eat anything. Majestic rats.

*eff off dickhead.

 

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kitkat [471 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
timmyotool wrote:
A2thaJ wrote:

Makes my blood boil.

Couldn't have said it better!

Boils my urine?

instead of a t-shirt or medal people should be given a frame/top tube mounting bag for stowing rubbish in

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Nyderscosh [3 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I wholly disapprove of littering but it's worth noting while we're fretting about the loss of 5 deer that 200+ deer are culled each year by the park management.

http://m.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/11735222.Royal_Parks_deer_cull_figures_revealed/?ref=mr

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tritecommentbot [2268 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes

Seriously people, just stick maltodextrin powder in your bidons.

 

The amount of waste generated from packaging in general is absurd enough without super small portions being individually wrapped, eg. gels and coffee pods. The latter of which even the creator says he wishes he never invented now that he sees how much waste they're generating.

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Yorkshire wallet [1429 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes
unconstituted wrote:

Seriously people, just stick maltodextrin powder in your bidons.

 

It's shocking how much energy gels and the like are really. With a bit of planning you can mix up just about any energy concoction - maltodextrin, caffeine power, taurine powder, salt tablet - for literally pence sometimes. Careful with the caffeine powder though as it hard to judge dosage at first. I fell foul of it at  job interview and took too much and instead of coming across as bright, sharp and alert, came across as a tweaker who'd lost their train of thought. It'll blow your head off compared to a standard coffee.  Probably great for a big climb though!

 

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tritecommentbot [2268 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:
unconstituted wrote:

Seriously people, just stick maltodextrin powder in your bidons.

 

It's shocking how much energy gels and the like are really. With a bit of planning you can mix up just about any energy concoction - maltodextrin, caffeine power, taurine powder, salt tablet - for literally pence sometimes. Careful with the caffeine powder though as it hard to judge dosage at first. I fell foul of it at  job interview and took too much and instead of coming across as bright, sharp and alert, came across as a tweaker who'd lost their train of thought. It'll blow your head off compared to a standard coffee.  Probably great for a big climb though!

 

 

LOL

 

I'd get a kick out of watching that. Full on Spud mode laugh

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwDmg74rhCw

 

Usually take a 200mg caffeine pill on long rides, I'm too sensitive to stims, no way I could take it without burning off all that nervous energy no

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Nick T [1090 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I usually have to bosh down another gel or two when I brave the second lap of Sawyers Hill on the good days. Stave off the ruddy bonk long enough so I can get home to Teddington and eat a box of Mr Kipling in front of the Eastenders omnibus

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Colin Peyresourde [1819 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:
bikebot wrote:

Image from their press release

//i.imgur.com/T6KxLMk.jpg)

That's the litter removed from the stomach of a dead deer. Anyone fathom why they're singling out sports events? (sort of rhetorical that one).

My thoughts exactly. 

Not saying that throwing away gel wrappers is not a daft and totally avoidable thing to do... but this is little more than another chance to put the boot into cyclists... 

Interesting that this comes after the duathlon. A bunch of competitors doing a limited looped circuit in a confined area - if you were going to concentrate the rubbish thrown by competitors it would be a good way of doing it.  Also, gels are more regularly used in sporting events rather than athletes keeping fit at weekends.

Anyway, I guess I just find the corollary from this article to be bigoted and anti-cyclist. It could be runners or whoever.

 

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Awavey [334 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Leviathan wrote:
A2thaJ wrote:

I don't understand why people were using Gels at that stage of ride london ( and i dont actually understand why people would use a gel when its not an actual race, where you get points etc).

Because they are hungry/need energy perhaps. Richmond Park is 20 miles into the event. Everyone else isn't as imperious as yourself.* What difference does it make that it isn't a race (which it is because it is a timed cycling event, you mean it is not a criterium.

Because if they are that hungry and need energy after just 20miles,I'm not sure how they expect to get to the finish,and gels don't provide instant energy boosts they don't work like that, it can take 15+ mins to digest a gel properly,and for the glycogen to be absorbed as muscle fuel,it might perk the brain up via the sugar hit, but the legs still won't be working properly.I simply think people use gels in sportives because they see Pro's use them in races, but they've next to no understanding of how,why or when they work, or that there's a stack of other stuff that's just as effective

That aside I don't think they alone are responsible for these animal deaths,so it's totally unfair to single out cycling as a sole contributor

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Christopher TR1 [141 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

While filling my pockets with sticky gel wrappers at the Cyclassics I noticed a lot of other riders were simply chucking theirs on the ground. I thought that perhaps they knew something I didn't, such as the existence of a post-race cleaning operation. But I coudn't find anything on the internet.

Pro races often have "litter drop" areas. This wouldn't be difficult or expensive to do for amateur events. Obviously organizers have to be clear what the situation is.

I've seen gels with a tether for the tear-off portion. This ought to be standard as it can be fiddly otherwise. But of course it doesn't help if you're going to chuck the whole thing on the ground anyway.

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Nick Forster [14 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

I volunteered at Ironman Weymouth the other day: the rules stated that littering was an instant DQ for any athlete.

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jmaccelari [252 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Instant DQ and at least a one year ban for anyone found littering is the way to go...

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Simon E [3097 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
Leviathan wrote:

Bikebot is right; whilst we shouldn't be dropping litter, there are plenty of accidentally dropped and squashed gels on the route (along with bananas, bottles and the odd pump.) The nature of the event prevents people turning around and fishing out their dropped items. The route is used by the Classic event, what is stopping the marshalls from collecting dropped items after the sportive? The course is a very, very confined part of the park. Absolutely no need to blame the event for killing something that will eat anything. Majestic rats.

*eff off dickhead.

Classy sign-off, that must have taken a while to think up.

So the fact that wildlife doesn't know why a gel wrapper isn't edible means it's OK for them to choke on it? I guess the same applies to the 90% of all seabird species, 22% of large marine mammals, all sea turtle species, and an increasing number of fish that have been found to have plastic in or around their bodies.

Yes it would be a good idea for volunteer marshals to collect the litter after standing around for hours. Why don't you put your name forward? It's the lazy option to always expect it to be done yet never help out, as so many people do.  Though it would be better if people weren't so fucking selfish and pocketed their gel wrappers etc instead of tossing it over their shoulder and expecting someone else (or the deer) to tidy up after them.

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Grumpy17 [79 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
jmaccelari wrote:

Instant DQ and at least a one year ban for anyone found littering is the way to go...

 

Bit harsh if you accidentally drop your empty gel wrapper while trying to stash it in your rear pocket. Does happen.

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CXR94Di2 [1774 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Traveling around Europe, makes you realise the UK is a filthy, littered place to live.  It has the unenviable title of being the grubbiest country in Europe, sad, but true.

 The likes of Germany, Austria, Denmark and Norway are so clean, I am always so embarrased when I return home to see litter down the side of roads, in rivers, carparks and even around bins.  How difficult is it put it in the bin properly.

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TeamExtreme [104 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Grumpy17 wrote:
jmaccelari wrote:

Instant DQ and at least a one year ban for anyone found littering is the way to go...

 

Bit harsh if you accidentally drop your empty gel wrapper while trying to stash it in your rear pocket. Does happen.

There's usually a degree of discretion applied with regard to the intent, but DQs and time penalties for littering are fairly standard practice in most triathlon events. Obviously enforcing it is quite another matter, but even the possibility of a DQ is enough to make most people think twice.

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dafyddp [440 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Not unique to Richmond, or cycling, unfortunately.  I've really enjoyed doing a few triathlons over the years, but there really are too many alpha-male-middle-manager-types trying to demonstrate they've 'still got it'.  A £5k carbon tri bikes won't compensate for those extra 12kg around the waist and no amount of caffeine gels will provide the EPO-superpowers they crave. 

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