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Owner said Etape de Sussex riders had no respect for other road users, and verbally abused a friend coming to help them

A woman whose horse had to be put down after it was frightened by a group of sportive riders in Sussex said that cyclists had no respect for other vulnerable road users.

Jo Flew and her daughter Joanna were out for a horseback ride on June 23 when they happened upon the route of the Etape de Sussex along Daleham Lane.

When they came across about 20 cyclists, Jo's horse kicked Joanna's in fear and broke its leg.

Jo told the Sussex Express: “We knew a cycle event was taking place but we had no idea what time. On our way home it became apparent that it was happening.

“A few bikes raced past which was OK as our horses were used to them. But then looking behind us there was suddenly a large number in groups of about 20, but only seconds apart.

“As they came past our horses became very frightened. We felt like we were being swallowed. This caused my horse to kick out at the bikes but instead it kicked my daughter’s horse, Willow, in the leg.”

She said that although the riders were screaming and the horse was clearly injured, none of the riders slowed down.

“I could not believe the bikes were still pushing through," she said.

"Two very kind ones stopped, dismounted and came to help. I was in so much shock I couldn’t work out even how to use my phone.”

When a friend from a nearby stables was summoned to come and help, Jo said she was subject to abuse from the riders.

She said: “The girl had huge difficulties getting to us as she was coming head on into the path of the cyclists who, again, had no respect for other users. She asked them to let her through as she was going to an accident but was verbally abused.”

The horse was eventually put down at the side of the road.

Jo said the cyclists “should have more respect - they are in racing mode, nothing else seems to matter.”

Rupert Rivett, from SRS events which staged the Etape de Sussex event, said: “We always tell our cyclists to slow down if they see horses, and they nearly all do.

“The last thing I want to do is add fuel to the flames, and I desperately want to say that horseriders and cyclists should work together to ensure safety on the roads. Everyone is entitled to use these roads; cyclists, motorists, walkers and riders. I would not like to say either way who was to blame.

“One of our riders was a policeman and he gave us a clear-eyed view of what happened. What we do not want to do is get on the bandwagon accusing cyclists or vice versa.”

He also insisted that none of the riders would have verbally abused anyone, and instead would have been calling out to warn the others of their presence.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

63 comments

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a.jumper [846 posts] 2 years ago
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The horse rider seems understandably confused, saying bike riders didn't slow down but also that they stopped. Sounds like it was probably pretty confusing and a genuine accident. If only it was easier to close roads for mass rides.

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ilovemytinbred [161 posts] 2 years ago
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Fucking idiots. If you come up behind horses you slow right down and pass wide, you call back and signal for others behind you to slow. When people start riding road bikes they should learn how to act on the roads.

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mrmo [2069 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't think that too many people treat Sportives as races is helping anyone.

And any cyclist who passes horses at speed is an idiot, saw this ten years ago at a charity bike ride and the cyclist who didn't slow down when approaching a group of horses got a LOT of abuse from the other cyclists.

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Stedmonkey [13 posts] 2 years ago
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If we as a group want to be given space on the roads we have to show that to others as well.

A genuinely shocking story. I would like to think this is a minority who would behave like this.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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I was on a sportive put on by Rupert Rivett/SRS events in March. My first sportive on the trike.

I saw a couple of riders flying past horses and although the horses or riders didn't seem to bothered. Its not nice to see. The majority did slow down though.

My experience was to slow right down after I met in with the first horse and it was rather spooked by me, the rider said the horse was alright, it had just never seen anything like it and was spooked by something strange.

After this I stopped for every horse that I met, which was another 4 coming towards me. The riders were very thankful. I also came across a pair of horses while I was on a downhill. I pulled right out and made the riders aware I was there by dabbing my brakes, which made a little squeak. They waved me past.

The final horse I came across was while I was struggling up a climb, the rider came barrelling past me and asked if I had a tow rope. Then turned the horse to face me so it knew I was a person and not some random car. She was very nice and told me how far from the top I was and that it was downhill after that.

Its all about respect and I feel for the owners of the horse.

As for the abuse that the driver got from the cyclists. I do not condone it, but if it was anything like the lanes I was on, it would not have been nice to come across, most likely a 4x4 and horse box. But to abuse the driver is uncalled for. As long as they had room to pass.

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SteppenHerring [328 posts] 2 years ago
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Agree with many others above. Our club seems to have a good relationship with local horse riders and ride leaders know what to do. Sportives, well you get all sorts.

I do worry that the sportive culture is not doing the public image of cyclists very much good. When I've done the Dragon Ride, the spectacle of discarded gel wrappers, people riding 5 abreast up the climbs etc. saddens me.

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Jonathing [71 posts] 2 years ago
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There's certainly an argument that says if you can't control your mount then you shouldn't be on the road. We've sent riders home from a club ride when they failed to demonstrate reasonable bike handling skills.

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mrmo [2069 posts] 2 years ago
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jonathing, a horse is a living thing, sometimes they get spooked for no apparent reason.

Like most cyclists want space and respect from cars, cyclists can not fail to do the same for other user groups.

Could pull the roads aren't there for cars thing to say that most roads we use exist for pedestrians and horses, they were the original users after all.

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joeegg [41 posts] 2 years ago
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I came across a woman on a horse yesterday and she was about 200m ahead of me.I stopped pedalling , pulled over completely onto the other side of the road as it was quiet,and slowly freewheeled past.The horse raised it head,looked at me,then carried on.
I then got a load of abuse from the rider about my overtaking.I turned the bike around,rode back and said that if she was not capable of controlling the horse she should not be on the road.She said not to come any closer as her horse would " give you a good kicking ".
To put it mildly,i pedalled off rather annoyed.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Stedmonkey wrote:

If we as a group want to be given space on the roads we have to show that to others as well.

A genuinely shocking story. I would like to think this is a minority who would behave like this.

Want to be given space? by law we have to be given space, funny how "cyclists" are lumped together but generalisations don't exist with other road users...

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Bigfoz [118 posts] 2 years ago
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Having ridden for a long time (even when it was unfashionable!), road raced, time trialed, toured, ridden sportives etc, I can honestly say that in my opinion that the average sportive is made up of the very drivers who cause cyclists the most hassle.

Does no-one these days have any road sense at all?

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Colin Peyresourde [1695 posts] 2 years ago
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Bigfoz wrote:

Having ridden for a long time (even when it was unfashionable!), road raced, time trialed, toured, ridden sportives etc, I can honestly say that in my opinion that the average sportive is made up of the very drivers who cause cyclists the most hassle.

Does no-one these days have any road sense at all?

I agree. I see so many riders on these sportives that don't have any basic road awareness. It makes a me wonder how more people are not killed out on them. I hate seeing the discarded wrappers too. From what I can tell most of these clueless types are not with cycling clubs, seem to have picked up the sport recently, and generally wouldn't worry anyone with a hematocrit of 14. I get annoyed seeing these guys clog up the roads with no sense of others - whether that be cyclists, motorists or horse riders.

However, it seems that all is not what it seems with this one - the statement about the policeman suggests that for legal purposes both sides are not being put forth for the general public to eschew.

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Roastie [27 posts] 2 years ago
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Sounds like the cyclists behaved like morons.

And Sportives are not races. If you want to race, enter a race,and pin a number on your back.

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solkanofastera [24 posts] 2 years ago
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I only took part in one sportive ride, the number of total f888ing idiots taking part was amazing, no respect for anything or anybody, as a cyclist I would vote to ban them.

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robcrow [53 posts] 2 years ago
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She does say that it was her own horse that coursed the injury,maybe the horses we're to close together.just glad nobody got hurt.If her horse had kicked a rider someone could of been killed.not sure what the point of a cyclist stoping would have been unless they were a vet.seems like it was the volume of bikes not the speed/closeness.you cant put limits on the number of road users.if your on the road you have to expect traffic

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meursault [28 posts] 2 years ago
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She knew an event was happening but not when. Seems like it would have been a good idea to find out.

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spen [127 posts] 2 years ago
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Sad as this is isn't true to say that with the temperament of horses that this could have happened at any time on any road?

The quote from the organiser "One of our riders was a policeman and he gave us a clear-eyed view of what happened. What we do not want to do is get on the bandwagon accusing cyclists or vice versa.” is interesting for what it doesn't say rather than what it does

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andyp [1444 posts] 2 years ago
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Aside from the main issue here...a horse gets *killed* because *it broke its leg*??

ffs. And we aren't allowed to euthanise people in extreme pain who *want* to die.

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arfa [734 posts] 2 years ago
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Took part in my first sportive today and all I can say is that it was pretty clear to me that for the vast bulk of participants it was a race by any other name. Most participants I saw encountering horses were sensible but there were a few who were not going to be put off their stride and hammered on regardless.Horses are unpredictable and dangerous animals when spooked and not showing them respect is very stupid as well as dangerous.

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rossi [11 posts] 2 years ago
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Nzlucas [123 posts] 2 years ago
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Sigh, i like the idea of sportives but this is just more evidence for me not to take part in them. Small groups, challenging rides for me i think.

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SirruslyFast [7 posts] 2 years ago
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Idiots are idiots no matter on two wheels, four wheels or two legs.

As a keen cyclist, all I can say is someone who doesn't slow down for a horse or pass with due care - as the highway code states - can have no complaints if a car does the same to them.

Thanks again to the idiots giving cyclists a bad name - I'll think of you next time a driver or pedestrian gives me abuse.

If you can't ride a sportive properly, don't ride one.

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nicstevenson [29 posts] 2 years ago
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Two things strike me here - one, it seems sportives cater for riders who maybe ride in the countryside less than others so are not as aware of the correct, safe and sensible way to rode when horse riders are in the road...

Two - drivers kill cyclists in ever increasing numbers and no one (Road CC included) lumps them all in together as dangerous and failing to protect vulnerable road users...

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tired old fart [77 posts] 2 years ago
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I am a commuting cyclist by and large, and when I am on the converted railways/cycle paths near my home, I regularly see some club rides. They can all to often be seemingly inconsiderate of the other cyclists on the path, to the extent that when they are coming towards me spread across the path I have to call out to them to make room. Which they then do but not by much, they usually then shout a greeting as they pass. It seems to me they are using wherever they are as a velodrome not a right of way, this needs to change. My sympathies to the horse owner and the little girl.

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A V Lowe [573 posts] 2 years ago
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Presumably as this is an organised ride, carried out with insurance cover, and the riders caused the outcome - the destroying of a horse, there is a civil case likely to come from this, and consideration of whether a traffic offence of some kind has been committed, although it would be difficult to bring to courts as the individual riders cannot be identified.

Road racing requires a licence, but sportives and charity rides - can Road CC enlighten us? Most club rides are covered by club insurance, and CTC's cover was up to £5m last I checked, how much cover are sportive organisers required to carry?

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LegalFun [24 posts] 2 years ago
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nicstevenson wrote:

, it seems sportives cater for riders who maybe ride in the countryside less than others so are not as aware of the correct, safe and sensible way to rode when horse riders are in the road...

I reckon most people I see cycling in big groups are the middle class, 30-45yo white males who drive executive cars like idiots during the week and spend a few grand on a racing bike but only ride at weekends...

at the end of the day it is cyclists like this that give us a bad reputation.

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Leviathan [1888 posts] 2 years ago
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I do think that sportives are races for the average rider, which is why I am quite happy to pay to enter closed road events and get ideal conditions. The idea of riding competitively; overtaking or taking turns and racing lines on open roads is crazy and asking for trouble. If it is on open roads I might as well just go for a Sunday morning ride on my own wherever I want to go and give horses a wide berth.

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doc [167 posts] 2 years ago
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It does seem that a minority of participants in sportives are actually wanabee racers but simply don't have it. So they pay a lot of money to ride a sportive and then pretend they are "racing". A few years back I stopped to help out a lady cyclist who had simply run out of road in a small lane and was a bit shaken, only to have all kinds of grief from a group hammering round a blind bend. They had to brake and change course - oh dear! - morons. Luckily I knew the local roads and they were taking a roundabout signed route, guess what, we met about 40 minutes later at a "food stop", and had a little public chat about manners. Which I suspect did no good at all because they probably just thought "another old fart who knows nothing". They were all from a large and well known London (I think) based club, and did nothing to enhance the reputation.

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Metjas [362 posts] 2 years ago
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as far as I can tell, we seem to have heard only one side of this sad story so far.

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dave atkinson [6210 posts] 2 years ago
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A V Lowe wrote:

Road racing requires a licence, but sportives and charity rides - can Road CC enlighten us? Most club rides are covered by club insurance, and CTC's cover was up to £5m last I checked, how much cover are sportive organisers required to carry?

sportives and charity rides don't currently need a licence. personally i think that will change in the next few years, and the better for it in my opinion.

insurance? i'd be surprised if public liability cover for a sportive was less than £10m, but i'm not sure what the legal requirements are. whether it would cover an incident such as this? hard to say. I doubt they'd want to pay out, I'll say that. They never do. And it's far from cut and dried by the sounds of things.

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