Sabotage hits New Forest sportive with drawing pins spread on road, signs ripped down and go-slow driving

Organisers of Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive condemn 'vigilante' actions

by Simon_MacMichael   April 15, 2013  

New Forest Spring Sportive 2010, the first in the Wiggle Super Series and sponsored by Verenti Bikes

It has emerged that attempts were made to sabotage the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive this weekend, with in excess of 1,000 signs vandalised, drawing pins scattered on the road and motorists driving slowly to form a kind of rolling road block, reports the Southern Daily Echo. The event has been the subject of vociferous opposition from some locals.

The incidents took place on Saturday, the first of two planned days of riding, although as we reported yesterday, the second day was cancelled due to heavy rain causing the field that hosted the event headquarters in Brockenhurst to become waterlogged.

The Southern Daily Echo says that while event marshals swept drawing pins from the road at Boldre, some of the near 2,000 riders taking part on Saturday still suffered punctures. Earlier, organisers had also had to replace signs that had been defaced or torn down.

Martin Barden from the organisers, UK Cycling Events, confirmed that no-one was injured, but said that he was “appalled” at the attempted sabotaging of the event, which he said included cars being driven slowly to block riders.

“A small minority of people have taken to vigilante lengths to stop the events,” he said. “Their behaviour is unacceptable.”

He added that the saboteurs “have tried to ruin the day for everyone and tried to endanger cyclists.

“Luckily that hasn’t happened, due to sheer luck, but the attempt to injure a cyclist has been there.

“I think it is appalling. It’s all been reported to the police.

“It is a very small-minded type of attitude. If we hadn’t been on top of it, it could have caused serious harm.”

However, he said that most participants had been unaware of the issues, that most locals had given a welcome to riders in the event, now in its fifth year, and that his company kept numbers low so as to minimise impact on the area.

“We could have had 10,000 people here but we reduced the figures. We did it consciously to be considerate to the local residents. The same courtesy has not been extended the other way, in some parts. ”

Ian Wild, chairman of Boldre Parish Council, described attempts to sabotage the event as “reprehensible.”

He said: “It could have caused accidents and could have potentially been very serious. Anyone who cycled over the tacks could have been injured. If someone had done that, that’s reprehensible.”

Much of the opposition to the event, and similar mass rides in the area, surrounds the perceived danger posed by cyclists to local livestock, including horses; however, it is motor vehicles that are responsible for the death of around 70 New Forest Ponies each year, according to the New Forest National Park Authority.

While many locals, whether in the New Forest or elsewhere, welcome sportives which also bring money into the local economy, attempts to sabotage such events do happen, although they are rare; Saturday’s incidents are reminiscent of similar incidents at the Etape Caledonia in previous years.

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posted by mckechan [200 posts]
15th April 2013 - 13:30


It's amazing how some people try to wreck it for many,
I was lucky to do the full Ronde Van Vlaanderen cyclo, two weeks back, it was professionally run, people were cheering you on, and the police stopped traffic to let cyclists through sections that could've been dangerous.

Whats up with the animosity in the UK towards cyclists, some of the most successful sporting representatives of your country are cyclists, shouldn't they be more angry at the national football team who haven't won anything worth mentioning in decades?

posted by Jasonnz1 [23 posts]
15th April 2013 - 13:33


Anita Sibley (aka Anita Gresham-Hale), who runs the Vizzit New Forest website has stired this all up with the local media. (mods: she has put her name to the campaign in the papers, this info is not secret, already in the public domain)

Her claims of "carnage", "lycra clad lemmings" and "what if" have all be unproven. she has claimed fire engines wont be able to get access... but the fire services are cool with the event. But what she has achieved is vandalism and serious road safety issues with tacks being thrown around the forest... which is amazing as she is a horse rider, and no doubt has dogs too. Kids in plymsoles, runners, wildlife, dogs etc etc... a vicous act with intent to harm.

And it gets better...

By day she promotes tourism, 13.5 million NF visitors a year, and even advertises cycling business on her website (Burley cycle hire, and cycle experience... you guys should review who you give money to). Its wrong to take money from NF business and then get the NF portrayed on a national level as a backward criminal BIMBY hell hole. Local traders would have no doubt welcomed the trade on an otherwise wet and quiet weekend.

She has publicised signs claiming 6000 speeding cyclists, despite having all the correct facts (less than 1800 per day).

and now it gets even better...

.... Her twitter account shows that she has taken part in charity cycling events around the NF!!!!! WTF
Purveyor of damned fine cycling provisions

Charlie The Bikemonger's picture

posted by Charlie The Bik... [16 posts]
15th April 2013 - 13:40


I can fix this easily , all 2000 riders do the course in a big line in their cars Wink That way we protect the horses, see a bit of countryside and ensure that we are safe in our little tin boxes. As to not cause too many problems suggest that the speed be kept to a safe 14-15mph. We can call it an Auto-Sportive, bikes must be on a rack on the back or roof rack. It may block the roads a bit so suggest we all keep in single file.

posted by madguern [25 posts]
15th April 2013 - 13:43

1 Like

Living and working in the New Forest, we are not all nimby dinlos down here. The people I know don't have a problem, in fact we like cycling taking place for the secondary spend, it's keeping people fit and healthy and any hold ups are no worse than old people driving Honda Jazz automatics, ponies, horse boxes, grockles, walkers etc etc You accept it living here. Locals driving are the best at killing animals, not mamils.

Smaller scale, but there are events like the infamous Big Bike Bash that take place in the Forest every August which are loved by locals and visitors alike, so cycling events can and do work.

Don't be put off by a vocal well connected anti-cycling minority, we are not all knobs and don't approve of what they are trying to do as much as everyone else.

ps - I was there on Saturday and escaped the car park field just in time by the sounds of it

posted by skaman [1 posts]
15th April 2013 - 14:51


Some Fella wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:
The organisation that arranged the illegal vigilante attacks is this one, chaired by Dr Graham Ferris:

What was i saying earlier about the Countryside Alliance/ Fuel protestor/ BNP connection?

And i wonder if its the same Dr Graham Ferris who works for .....erm......erh......Shell?


Right. So:

1. Riding bikes on forest roads isn't permitted in case cyclists collide with livestock - something which has yet to be recorded as taking place.

2. It's ok to drive vehicles (presumably too quickly) in the forest, despite the fact that this leads to around 70 deaths a year of animals.

3. The ban on hunting with animals should be repealed, making it ok to deliberately kill the animals, just not with a bike.

Sound like a bunch of nutters that just don't want anything that doesn't benefit them directly. (I suspect that pub/shop/restaurant owners etc are quite happy with it)

It would be _really_ interesting to see the opinion breakdown by occupation.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3531 posts]
15th April 2013 - 14:56


A touch ironic that people claiming that cyclists break the highway code are (surely?) breaking the highway code...

posted by Cycle_Jim [282 posts]
15th April 2013 - 15:33

1 Like

Am I missing something or is it not a National Forest there for the enjoyment of the nation Thinking ???

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [473 posts]
15th April 2013 - 15:42

1 Like

Steel tacks? They're going to be more of a danger to wildlife than cyclists.

No local would do that. It's more likely to be the work of a passing petrol head.

The real culprits in all this are the people who keep the whole us vs. them thing stirring.

spatuluk's picture

posted by spatuluk [27 posts]
15th April 2013 - 15:42


Well so some "residents" of the new forest don't want cyclists in (what they seem to think is their forest) OK well after this weekends shenanigans you can have football events instead Devil


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [611 posts]
15th April 2013 - 16:09


Similar atmosphere with the Dunwich Dynamo: villages along the route open up, serve tea & food and wave people on.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [604 posts]
15th April 2013 - 16:15


Of course, all this local issue has caused problems with actually running races in the Forest. According to local contacts, there are no road races between April - September except a couple of very low key evening events with tiny 40 fields. Police apparantly would prefer not to have RRs, due to all events being seen as "races". In honesty, a few of the riders take that attitude as well, but not very many. All it means is that a region has effectively stopped racing in one of the nicer parts of their area, as they need a full permission and want to act responsibly. Something not quite right here!


posted by doc [167 posts]
15th April 2013 - 17:47


Take the event elsewhere, give somewhere else an influx of cyclists investment and money.

not all carbon is the same.

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posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
15th April 2013 - 20:09


Taking the event elsewhere would give the vandals a victory and encourage similar abuse at other events.

posted by ontheroad [9 posts]
15th April 2013 - 21:31


Interested to read about the posters in local pubs and comments on Friday night about tacks. Do these go unchallenged?

It seems to me that the people who resort to such criminal action must believe they have the support of a "silent majority". Unfortunately, because of their silence, one can't know one way or the other. If the majority of locals want such events to happen, why not tear down the inflammatory propaganda, or speak up against idiotic acts like blocking the road and spreading tacks?

If a majority of locals do, in fact, see such events as a benefit to the local area, they need to make themselves heard and make it clear to the NIMBY nutters that they're in fact a very small, very backwards-thinking minority. Sadly, in this country it appears that a general change of attitude will have to be driven from the bottom up, given the generous exposure that is still given to anti-cycling prejudice in newspapers and TV.

Or are the criminals right in thinking they do represent majority opinion?

posted by CapriciousZephyr [35 posts]
15th April 2013 - 21:50

1 Like

TGhe MP, Julian Lewis, Graham Ferris, and Anita (pick a name), really need to take a long hard look at themselves and the antipathy they have started. These things have a habit of rebounding. The idiots spreading tacks are clearly too dim to realise the lasting damage they will do to livestock, who will possibly end up with infested foot injuries and if accidentally ingested may cause serious internal injuries and even a very painful death. Then of course there is the litter. Talk about fouling your own nest!
I hope that the majority of the decent and sensible voters of the area are ashamed of their "representatives" (who only voice their own minority prejudices, it would appear) and act appropriately when election time comes around.
That is a message those who would hold perceived power understand.


posted by doc [167 posts]
16th April 2013 - 9:50


Without wishing to sound like an old hippie, there's a whole loads of selfishness and anger about. It's 2 days a year Commoners, get the fuck over it. Get a life and/or job.


posted by arrieredupeleton [571 posts]
16th April 2013 - 10:56

1 Like

I've just noticed that the NFDCA promtes a cycling event on it's website

How's that for irony.

David Palmer
Milton Keynes

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posted by djpalmer32 [60 posts]
16th April 2013 - 12:51


There just isn't this fuss over marathons so it's definitely just an anti cyclist 'get off my country land as you're hindering my progress to the paper shop/ garden centre / pub.'

Critical mass with cycling is fast approaching however and the minority of motorists who feel they own the road will lose the battle in the end. It's the none sense and even deaths along the way that are so depressing.

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

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posted by MercuryOne [1097 posts]
16th April 2013 - 13:04

1 Like

My parents live in the New Forest and I spend a lot of time down there riding roads and the allowed tracks.

My Dad, who has just come back to cycling in his mid 60's after years of driving through the Forest to and from work, wrote this to the Sway News in response to a letter from a local NIMBY. It shows that the debate rages even among the locals.

Comment on attack on NF Wiggle Spring Cycle Event in March Sway News

I am a pedestrian, a cyclist and a motorist and can sympathise to a certain extent with Ms Hale’s concerns. I would however like to try and balance the argument.

It is agreed that there will be a large number of cyclists and as with any group of people there will be some who are less than considerate but this is only twice a year unlike the 365 days of the year that we have to put up with inconsiderate motorists racing through the forest to the detriment of other road users, not to mention the animals that get killed or badly injured on a daily basis, 18 so far this year according to the New Forest Post. How many animals have been killed by cyclists this year?

Sad though it is, the fact that one cyclist has died in a tragic accident this year is hardly an argument for taking these Wiggle cyclists off the road. If you were to advance that argument then you are clearly making a case for taking cars off the road.

Cyclists are subject to the Rules of the Highway Code as well as the motorist and, like the motorist, if they are
caught breaking the law or riding dangerously, are fair game for the law enforcers, if they have nothing better to

As for “lycra clad” lemmings, most people who take part in recreational activity wear clothes appropriate to that activity. Cyclists are no different. “Lemmings”? – hikers, marathon runners, jockeys, race car drivers etc all follow the same path to reach their goal.

Before trying to plug this “dangerous loop hole”, the seriously dangerous loop hole of inconsiderate, foolish and dangerous motorists should be plugged first. Perhaps the reduced speed limits being imposed for the Wiggle weekend should become permanent for the benefit of all.

HTC Yamaha is Epic since 1001!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted by xookookoo [2 posts]
16th April 2013 - 16:26

1 Like

abudhabiChris wrote:
One of the reasons I love doing sportives in France and Belgium, even the smaller ones, is that they are big local events.

When I did L'Ardechoise a few years ago most of the villages along the route were covered in decorations, cheering locals and fantastic food stops with local produce. And that's 14,000 cyclists IIRC.


I am very outraged to hear about these goings on... I am willing to go on patrol next year for the few days before the event, even though I won't be riding due to fear of being mown down.

'Safety in numbers' has always seemed a mindless platitude as regards cycling, in my opinion. Bikes were regarded as proper vehicles in the UK 20 years ago and cycle touring/time trialling in the New Forest was an absolute pleasure, with no ill-feeling at all. This is all very sad to see...

RIP Mark Brummell and James Atherton.

posted by Titivulus [9 posts]
16th April 2013 - 17:21


I did the NFS in fall of 2012. Within 15 minutes of cycling we came upon a group of 20-30 horseriders within a narrow road area. We all singled out and slowed down to a crawl as it was that narrow, with high banked sides and no room to move.

There were a number of near accidents as cyclists skidded to a halt around me. I ran into my friend's bike and nearly came off. This wasn't due to sheer weight of cyclists but to the nasty aggressive nature of the horse crowd. They were aggressive, moving toward us, having the horses rear up and making it very difficult to move at all. They finally passed but the looks and aggression was unmistakable.

I suggest boycotting the entire area to see how they like it.

posted by bjbeau [2 posts]
16th April 2013 - 17:38


Idiots. I have a number of events, bike, running, tri and welcome any activity that brings people to the area, to respect and appreciate the countryside I live in, and bring some trade to local business.

The tools who tried to wreck this event are so short sighted. I won't be visiting the new forest any time soon, screw them.

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

posted by Simmo72 [414 posts]
16th April 2013 - 20:11


"Much of the opposition to the event, and similar mass rides in the area, surrounds the perceived danger posed by cyclists to local livestock, including horses"
Speaking as one who used to live - and commute by bike - in the New Forest for two decades (And my father for 6), this is the purest cobblers.
The New Forest was a good cycling area until the tw*ts moved from London to the New Forest, tore down the cosy houses and built massive SteroidHouses with 'F*ck you, I'm loaded!' garages and driveways where once there had been trees and bushes.
As someone who knew the Foresters, I can say that cyclists did nothing to disturb wildlife - unlike the cars.
As always, motorists demand the right to screw things up for everyone and then blame others for what they're doing. When people get into cars, they become spoiled children - just as the adverts promise.
As an erstwhile New Forest Resident,I'd like to make a public plea - the New Forest was a lot safer and nicer when there were less cars and when the motorists drove as if they were part of a Community.
Now, there are very few cyclists there because of the speeding traffic that hurtles round corners on small lanes without slowing. There are pretend 'cyclists' on bikes hired for the afternoon with cycle helmets (Because cycling isn't transport - it's an 'Extreme Sport') and sticking to the very few designated paths in the forest, away from the roads. None of these amateur cyclists venture onto the roads where it's 'Too dangerous'.

Is it these tourist cyclists that are 'to blame' for disturbing wildlife?
If so, I might tend to agree as the density of 'theme park' cyclists is much like the Longleat Safari Park. There's not enough forest to go round. We need more forest - or, more practically, we DON'T need a population increase.
If anyone is concerned at depletion of the Forest and its wildlife (And they should be - it's declining fast) might I suggest that the Forestry Commission cease their recent policy of chopping down acres of forest to build access roads and 'Tourist Villages' "In the forest" to "Enhance revenue".
There is a word for "Houses built in the Forest". The word is: Village, Town or City. If you'd like to watch TV and luxuriate in your bath in your 'Forest house', I'd suggest somewhere like St Johns Wood or Forest Gate - those names tell you what the places were before people built there to 'enjoy the sylvan ambiance'.

What the New Forest does desperately need is a Cycling Campaign - particularly to instigate a cycle lane in Lyndhurst and along the Soton-Bournmouth road. This would massively improve the quality of life for everyone in the area.
This has BEEN the beginning of that much-needed campaign.
Thank you, everyone who took part!!

posted by Phytoramediant [23 posts]
16th April 2013 - 20:16


Bjbeau has it right.
The Horsy Crowd always did look down on the rest. Partly because they really ARE much higher than anyone else and mostly because they tend to be those sort of people.
The only people they'd talk to in any civil tone of voice would be other people on horses. Very Victorian.

That was the Good Old Days. Nowadays, people on horses probably don't even know how to look after the things. People who work in stables used to be ordinary Forest kids and adults. Nowadays you pretty much have to takeout a mortgage and know the 'right people' to get a sniff of a haybale and they are 'lower' than many who hire the horses.
The folk who hire horses are more often the Nouveau Riche who made their pile in London/Wherever and now ride horses, not for the love of it, but because of the Status. These people ONLY ride horses to look down on people and behave accordingly.
They're scared of mud too - never mind horeshit.
And - yes - they're dangerous riders.
Avoid those hooves.

posted by Phytoramediant [23 posts]
16th April 2013 - 20:24

1 Like

Thinking Everybody just run tubeless tyres with sealant a la Bontrager and just ride straight over the drawing pins laughing loudly whilst bemused locals double take in horror at their thwarted plans?

Followed by a go-slow cycle ride around their houses when they're trying to leave for work on Monday morning?

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [211 posts]
16th April 2013 - 20:36

1 Like

bjbeau wrote:
I did the NFS in fall of 2012. Within 15 minutes of cycling we came upon a group of 20-30 horseriders within a narrow road area. We all singled out and slowed down to a crawl as it was that narrow, with high banked sides and no room to move.

There were a number of near accidents as cyclists skidded to a halt around me. I ran into my friend's bike and nearly came off. This wasn't due to sheer weight of cyclists but to the nasty aggressive nature of the horse crowd. They were aggressive, moving toward us, having the horses rear up and making it very difficult to move at all. They finally passed but the looks and aggression was unmistakable.

I suggest boycotting the entire area to see how they like it.

I suggest an air horn for your bike Wink

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [211 posts]
16th April 2013 - 20:46

1 Like

I was castigated last week on here for calling the small-minded Conservative luddites leading these protests CUN*S ..... Well I stand by that comment..

Small Minded CUN*S!!

If people cannot live and let live, there's not much hope for any of us..

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [305 posts]
17th April 2013 - 8:57

1 Like

It was actually Anita Gresham-Hale who wrote the complaint letter to the Sway News for which I posted a response below.

HTC Yamaha is Epic since 1001!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted by xookookoo [2 posts]
17th April 2013 - 12:43


Sadly the New Forest is like many lovely parts of the UK; populated by wealthy city dwelling second-homers.

'Why should we share what we've worked hard for!' I hear them say. You all know the type I mean; Selfish, small-minded, ill-spirited tw@ts.

These village communities are no longer functioning normally because the second-homers want the place for themselves. The genuine locals often feel oppressed, after an influx of 'outsiders' who buy their houses and so make it hard for local kids to stick around as they grow up. It signals the death knell of the community and this behaviour is symptomatic of these fearful feelings.

The loss of community in parts of the New Forest means the culprits will remain anonymous. When locals knew each other well the culprits would be identified and the problem dealt with. It's not that the culprit is likely to be a second-homer or a stereotypical teenage troublemaker, it could be the little old lady who walks her dog and never bothers anyone, the point is as these communities change for the worse the things that bind us together diminish.

We all know that Cycle events like this should be a cause for celebration and joy and a reason for communities to come together. God knows we need cheering up at the moment after such a miserable winter and the dire economy. Hopefully, the villagers of the New Forest will make their feelings known to those in their community who feel that isolation is their only answer and persuade them otherwise.

These sorts of ASBs occur on major pro events too so we shouldn't be surprised. I'm not a religious man but turning the other cheek is my advice. Rise above it and show them by our good humour that we will not be deterred. It will really piss off the culprit if we show them next year that we will carry on regardless.

posted by BigBear63 [72 posts]
17th April 2013 - 13:58

1 Like