A woman who was the victim of cruel heckling from other cyclists on Box Hill at the weekend has said the incident has made her think twice about riding alone again.
Elz Lloyd was cycling alone in the Surrey Hills on Sunday when two separate riders commented aggressively on her weight, one of them telling her to get "off the fucking road, you fat bitch". Reduced to tears she ended up cutting short her ride and returning home early.
After writing about the incident on her blog, Elz was "astounded" when almost 300 people responded with encouraging words, expressing disgust and solidarity, and invitations to ride.
Elz writes she was climbing Punchbowl Lane when two riders in Castelli kit cycled past her shouting: "…off the fucking road you fat bitch…"
Shortly afterwards another, this time solo rider, in black kit cycled past her on Box Hill, saying: "Can you get that fat ass up here?"
Elz told road.cc: "The first two that came by I was really angry, then I went to pieces in my head. I don't expect that out in the middle of nowhere.
"It hurt. it hurt quite a lot; I didn't expect it to."
She said the insults made her feel "wretched".
"I struggled to hold back the tears the first time, It is sad that people can be like that," she said.
She tried to ride harder to take her mind off it, until the Box Hill ascent when a lone rider, in plain black kit, snapped the second insult.
She writes: "I know I’m not skinny. I know I’ve got big boobs and am curvy (I’m paraphrasing a nice male mate of mine here). I know I smoked for 10 years. I know I’m riding alone because I really haven’t found any clubs around here that I’d be happy to join. Or any local friends."
"I didn't feel like going any further when I got to the bottom of Box Hill," she said. "I'm not that big but I felt mortified that someone could say that as they were going past.
"All I wanted to do was disappear. I didn't want to stop because I didn't want people asking [about it]. It was busy up there [at Box Hill]."
She said: "I didn't want to be there, I just wanted to come back, talk to a couple of mates".
As soon as she got home she wrote the blog post.
"I didn't expect that many people to read my blog," she said.
"I logged out of Facebook and Twitter and it was only when a friend called from America...I realised there were a lot of people talking about it."
Most comments, from both men and women, offer support, or recall similar comments about their weight made while running, cycling or even sitting in the park.
Many tell her not to be put off but for the time being Elz says she's reluctant to return to the area on weekends which, she says, are much busier than even a couple of years ago when she rode there regularly.
"I don't particularly want to ride out in the Surrey hills on my own now. it's very intimidating," she said.
Elz said: "There's plenty of sweary drivers that I just ignore or ride away from, but it hurts coming from other cyclists.
However, she says "for every bad one you get 100 good ones."
"I'm glad they are in the minority, but it's also good to get the support I received, that was astounding."
In one typically encouraging response, Chris NTR wrote: "Reading this has really made me angry for your experience. I started cycling when I was 21 stone and thankfully I did not encounter any of this negativity from fellow cyclists. I also did not have anyone to cycle with so started a group on Facebook which 7 years later has 800+ members and we have formed a British Cycling affiliated cycling club in the North East which now has over 160 members.
"Please keep cycling and don’t let idiots like this put you off. There is room for everyone in our sport no matter what sex, age or size they are but unfortunately that means there is room for the d*ckheads too."
One woman, posting as Cyclemouse, said she would have chased the abusive cyclists had she been there.
"Please don’t take any notice of those idiots. Cycling is for everyone regardless of shape or size. I’m a fast female roadie cyclist. If I’d been with you I would have chased their skinny backsides down and called them a few choice words in return," she said.
One or two comments suggested some sort of vigilante naming and shaming via Strava, which Lloyd quickly shut down as she knew them and they were not the culprits.