Bristol had been due to play host tomorrow to one of the more bizarre sights in the city’s rich history with an English Defence League rally on College Green set to be opposed by anti-fascist demonstrators – and the World Naked Bike Ride scheduled to ride through the middle of them at the same time.
It’s the sort of thing that doubtless would have had local TV stations cancelling news staff leave for the day and trying to scrounge extra cameras and other kit from colleagues elsewhere to ensure they gave it full coverage (perhaps not the best phrase in the case of the cyclists).
But on Friday evening, organisers of the bike ride said they would change the route to avoid clashing with the far right group
The EDL, after meeting in a pub – not an Irish one at a wild guess, and it’s unclear whether they’ll have booked the whole venue or just the snug bar – will be protesting about refugees. They are due at College Green between 1.15 and 1.30pm, the vagueness presumably down to whether drinks will take longer to order because they refuse being served by a member of staff who happens not to be British.
From noon, in the centre of the square, anti-fascists will gather to give support to refugees and protest against the presence of the neo-Nazis in the city, with a sizeable police presence expected to ensure order is kept.
According to the Bristol Post, the bike ride will be starting from a pub, too – the Full Moon, if you really had to ask – and the riders, protesting against pollution and climate change while highlighting the fragility of the human body.
It too had been due to hit College Green between 1.15 and 1.30pm before the change of route – although some might be of the opinion that there will still be a few pricks on show there.
And while all this is going on, none other than UKIP leader Nigel Farage will be addressing a United Kingdom Independence Party just down the road.
Co-ordinator Will Bryson said: "The Naked Bike Ride is a fun and friendly protest with the atmosphere of a rolling carnival, and we don't want to be near any unpleasant confrontations.
He added: "It's important the ride goes ahead. Research from last year found that eight in ten Bristol residents want better safety for people riding bikes, and 70 per cent of residents want to see more investment in cycling."
No doubt the World Naked Bike Ride will attract its fair share of curious locals, but at least the football season’s over – otherwise there could have been be way too many Bristol City fans around for comfort.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.