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

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.

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.

62 comments

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ALIHISGREAT [119 posts] 3 years ago
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Pathetic.. what do they think they're achieving?

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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So what will the police do?

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nicstevenson [29 posts] 3 years ago
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Having ridden the sportive on Saturday, and being from the area myself, I can say I was absolutely appalled by the behaviour of some locals.... Not only were signs vandalised, changed and removed altogether, at a particularly isolated part of the forest a threatening group of men gathered across the centre of the road, pushing at cyclists as we went through the middle of group, bemoaning ‘mass cycling events in our forest’. I note the local MP, Dr Julian Lewis has been less quick to jump to condemnation of this type of dangerous behaviour than he was of peaceful and harmless cyclists bringing money into the area at a time when tourism numbers are down sharply thanks to our terrible winter weather! Having stoked up so much of the outrage, I presume he is keeping his head down...

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nicstevenson [29 posts] 3 years ago
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And one final thought - at the other end of the A35, I see motor accident tragically killed two people yesterday... and yet no one will suggest any limits on drivers flying around the forest's roads today, I'm sure.

Nic

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therevokid [972 posts] 3 years ago
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interesting how you don't get this problem on the Dragon.
In fact I saw many villages lined with locals out on deck
chairs cheering us all on .... sad that there are such
narrow minded bigots around. Bet the local businesses
liked the influx of trade though !

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qwerky [184 posts] 3 years ago
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I rode it on Saturday, didn't see any of this. Whole thing was fairly quiet; little traffic, no protesters, didn't see the signs turned round.

Maybe they came out early but went home after the rain started (about 10:30).

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Colin Peyresourde [1773 posts] 3 years ago
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The rise in popularity of the Sportive will probably lead to more of this with disruption on rural communities. Some will no doubt be progressive enough to accept that influx, while others will resort to these sorts of tactics.

As a sportive rider I think that it is the responsibility of riders not to impede local traffic (riding two abreast is fine as long as it's not queuing traffic up down country lanes. Wave through cars when it is safe to encourage motorists through etc).

I don't know if UK cycling events have to pay a fee for running these events to local councils etc. but if direct profits of the rides flow into local coffers (and locals will feel better about it if it extends to more than the occasional B&B being booked and a Sunday lunch in a pub, by participants) then they will surely feel more kindly about the event taking place and the reaction to inconvenience a bit better.

It does sound like UK Cycling Events do take into account local concerns and by paying schools and other organisations for parking money does go directly to the community, as well as consultation with locals. But the continuation and growth of these sorts of events and the safety of thousands of riders patticipating should mean that local considerations are put high on the agenda. Without that support the safety of everyone involved is compromised.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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I bet you could draw a very simple line from the morons who did this to The Countryside Alliance which in turn directly feeds to the Fuel Protest lot we saw a few years ago. And from them there isnt a huge jump to the BNP and EDL.

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Colin Peyresourde [1773 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm not condoning the actions of these idiots, but I do get the feeling that a) cyclists think they've paid to have the roads to themselves and are ignorant of other traffic on the road (which will antagonise locals) and b) if the locals see little or no trickle down then they will not see the invasion of 1,000-10,000 cyclists as being anything but a nuisance to them or worse.

Actually, if they invited locals to sell local produce and merchandise at the events it might invite better support from local communities.

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andylul [410 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm appalled by this - the New Forest Sportives are one of the highlights of my year and have just booked a holiday cottage there for the first week in July.

What, I wonder, will the local threshold of tolerance be to cyclists in the months to come? I wonder if my wife and I will be hounded off the roads in July for daring to use this public space?

UKCE would have my total support if they decided to suspend all New Forest events from now on. It would be interesting to see what effect it has on the local economy.

Effectively, what they are saying is 'You and your custom are not welcome' - maybe we should all drive around the Forest, clogging & damaging the roads and verges, polluting the air and endangering the wildlife.

Careful what you wish for, New Foresters

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loftgroovv [2 posts] 3 years ago
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The picket line of people stood across the road roughly halfway along was pretty pathetic to see.

I'd have more respect for these NIMBYS if they just admitted they "don't like cyclists" rather than try and link it to the safety of animals (go and check the official accident stats morons!) and dropping litter (I have never seen a cyclist do this, though frequently see motorists sling things out windows)

Placards and comments about "ruining the national park" where interesting given the gas-guzzling Range Rover parked on the side of the road, and one protester flicking a fag butt into the verge.

I didn't see them pushing or shoving anyone, just stood there moaning and trying (somewhat laughably) to look menacing. What muppets.

Trying to sabotage the route was also sad to see. Several Wiggle route markers had obviously been ripped off posts and slung onto the road (littering???) by NIMBY protesters.

But overall thousands of cyclists clearly had a good time, and no doubt spent thousands of pounds within the local economy.

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KiwiMike [1239 posts] 3 years ago
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The answer is clearly people using cameras to record these vigilantes' illegal actions. Then public shaming, discovery of workplaces, posting of video and photos online etc etc. We are talking about people with a wilful desire to see others injured or killed on public roads and who will resort to physical assault, nothing less. The next Sportive should include undercover police riders.

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davidtcycle [76 posts] 3 years ago
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Just to get one thing straight - there is no such thing as "locals" in the New Forest, the vast majority of people that live there are outsiders who moved to the area in the last 20 years and commute into nearby towns and cities.

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KiwiMike [1239 posts] 3 years ago
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The organisation that arranged the illegal vigilante attacks is this one, chaired by Dr Graham Ferris: http://www.nfcda.co.uk/

Their website currently states:

"A number of local people who are greatly concerned about the increase in the above type of event have decided to hold a public meeting to discuss and view the upheaval caused during this ride involving thousands of cyclists using narrow forest roads. The meeting place is Blackwater Car Park on the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive at 1000 am on 13 April 2013. Anyone who shares the concern is welcome to attend."

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ribena [180 posts] 3 years ago
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Some reasonable and not-so-reasonable discussion here... including one comment "I found one of the arrow signs on the floor this morning. I put it back on the post, but hope i've put the arrow in the right direction."

http://www.nfed.co.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1690&start=60

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farrell [1950 posts] 3 years ago
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I've never wished to visit the New Forest, it's always seemed like a rather gauche place populated with 'Look at Me' fuckwits. This sort of malarkey isn't changing that opinion, but a part of me would like to go down there and cause some mither.

Or perhaps pretend to organise a sportive and tell the locals that there are 10,000 cyclists coming down, book up all the hotels and make reservations in the restaurants etc and then leave the place empty.

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DaveFocus [1 post] 3 years ago
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Looking forward to the Autumn Sportive. Hope the weathers better than Saturday. As for the Forest Dwelling Morons, stay indoors and stop letting your community down.

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qwerky [184 posts] 3 years ago
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Colin Peyresourde wrote:

I don't know if UK cycling events have to pay a fee for running these events to local councils etc. but if direct profits of the rides flow into local coffers (and locals will feel better about it if it extends to more than the occasional B&B being booked and a Sunday lunch in a pub, by participants) then they will surely feel more kindly about the event taking place and the reaction to inconvenience a bit better.

I took the wife and daughter, local businesses got over £300 from us on the weekend. UK Cycling Events only got £28.

B&B - £150
Pub dinners - £80
LBS - £20
Aminal Park - £45
Cafes/Sandwich shops - £20

Local economy gets far more money out of this than UK Cycling Events.

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matttheaudit [73 posts] 3 years ago
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Don't worry about the lack of signs in the Forest. You'll always be safe if you follow the smell of burning wicker men and cycle away from the sounds of banjos.

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farrell [1950 posts] 3 years ago
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Also, I hate horses.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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So as a cyclist is it acceptable to take a bassball bat to a car so it can't be used and thus threaten me?

I thought not, so what are the police going to do about obstruction of the queens highway? wasn't the punishment hanging at one time????

and this isn't really about locals and cyclists, it is about rich downsizers and relocators who think money buys them a rural idyl. They are the same nutters who buy an old farm house and then complain about the cows in the fields around them. Expect a decent train service so they can commute to work in the city, as long as it goes no where near their house etc etc.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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KiwiMike wrote:

The organisation that arranged the illegal vigilante attacks is this one, chaired by Dr Graham Ferris: http://www.nfcda.co.uk/

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

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/9440849.New_Forest_hunt_supporters...

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

http://www.ceb.cam.ac.uk/pages/research-open-day-and-impl-opening-.html

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Old Cranky [257 posts] 3 years ago
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Fools! Why would a local resident put drawing pins out on the roads that they might subsequently drive over themselves?

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mrmo [2093 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

Fools! Why would a local resident put drawing pins out on the roads that they might subsequently drive over themselves?

run flat tyres and servants to do the wheel changing.

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SevenHills [216 posts] 3 years ago
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Old Cranky wrote:

Fools! Why would a local resident put drawing pins out on the roads that they might subsequently drive over themselves?

Because drawing pins are very unlikely to puncture a car tyre, especially a 4x4 whereas a bike tyre is very likely to be punctured.
If they are really that negative and so short sighted then let have the New Forrest to themselves and we can then look at having sportives and other cycle events organised in places that are welcoming of the additional "positive" publicity and additional revenue.

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Al__S [1084 posts] 3 years ago
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compared to events that are more "mass participation rides" than timed sportives (and so have slower cyclists!) 2000/day, though albeit on consecutive days, is pretty small! Compare that to some that Bike Events organise- especially the London-(various places) rides, which range from 4000-25,000 on a single day, yet generally seem to be well received by the places they pass through.

Further, noted on a story on this on the Bournemouth Echo- a report of a local cyclist, nothing to do with the Sportive, who puncutred and crashed, breaking his collarbone, because of the tacks.

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djpalmer32 [84 posts] 3 years ago
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What everyone else has failed to comment on is that the selfish, pathetic, idiotic moron who threw the drawing pins on the road was not only endangering the cyclists but also the ponies, and other livestock, that are free to roam around the New Forest.

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theclaw [73 posts] 3 years ago
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As I mentioned on a previous thread, the young people employed in the many bars and pubs in the area, plus the owners of these places, seemed very happy to have us there. These guys get a very real economic boost from cyclists in the area. I have stayed in the New Forest WITHOUT my bike on other occasions because I had discovered that it was a nice place to stay overnight with the missus and have a few drinks and walks in the area. So it is not just the money taken by local business' on the day. My club mate also said he would bring the other half and kids down without the bike later in the year as we had found a nice b&b.

We were told the night BEFORE the Saturday event by a local leaving the pub that "there may be tacks down on the road tomorrow". We also saw the flyers reported on road.cc in the pubs, stirring up resentment amongst locals. The whole thing was obviously planned by a bunch of complete c*nts who don't even respect the other people who live in the area and earn a living out of passing trade.

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John_the_Monkey [438 posts] 3 years ago
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Compare and contrast;

"Suddenly we rode into a party: music was playing; the master of ceremonies was announcing our arrival to the whole village; people were cheering and clapping; we were being congratulated, and offered food and drink by an incredibly happy and enthusiastic team of people, who’d presumably been offering riders food and drink over the past few hours. ...

What a rare and joyous experience, to feel wanted – as someone who loves to ride a bicycle – by a whole village; no, by an entire region."

http://thinkingaboutcycling.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/cycling-in-france/

I suppose it's what the people responsible for sabotaging the sportive want, but I'll not be heading for the New Forest anytime soon, with or without a bike. I can and will spend my money in other places.

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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