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New Forest sportive organisers gallop to change route after pony drift… ambush?*

*Or was it a trap?

Organisers of the Wiggle New Forest 100 Sportive have been forced to to change the route of the October 11-12 event after the announcement of a pony round up on the planned course.

According to Martin Barden, head of organiser UK Cycling Events, the event plan and date were announced in October 2013. Even when the dates of the pony round-ups, known as drifts, were announced in January this year, it was still impossible to plan the event around them.

Barden said: “The verderers only advise a ‘loose’ location of their drifts, with absolutely no details of the area the drift covers, as they are worried the general public will come and watch.

“This information was issued after our event was announced and does not identify the roads that will be affected, making clashes impossible to avoid.

“I believe they recognise the inadequacy of the information previously issued and are looking to rectify this for the future.”

According to the Southern Daily Echo’s Chris Yandell, the drift on the weekend of the sportive will take place at Balmer Lawn, on the event’s planned route.

At a meeting of the Court of Verderers, Barden was accused of ignoring the New Forest National Park Authority’s new cycling charter.

Official Verderer Dominic May said he had written to Barden to ask him to change the route, and the two met last week to discuss the problem.

May said: “Mr Barden acknowledged that he had received our list of drift dates in January. He also confirmed that he will sign up to the charter as it is currently worded.

“I made it clear that the verderers will not be cancelling the Balmer Lawn drift, which is one of the biggest and most important of the season.

“Unfortunately Mr Barden would not confirm during our discussion that he will change the route or the date.”

But Barden says he agreed to look at changing the route.

He said: “Since finding out about the potential clash last week, we have been working hard to reroute our course to avoid the drift.

“This is not a quick job as the planning and various risk assessments take time. We committed to updating the verderers on this by mid July, which we will do.

“We are keen to work with the verderers to resolve this issue, we would hope the verderers are willing to do the same.”

Barden is mystified that May is implying UK Cycle Events is being uncooperative.

He said: “It baffles me why they would ask us to look at changing our route (which we said yes to) at the beginning of the week, and say we are not doing anything later the same week!”

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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