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New Forest sportive cancelled after Forestry England threatens legal action

Beyond New Forest event had been due to take place this weekend but agency says its permission is needed for events on off-road tracks

A sportive due to take place in the New Forest next weekend has been cancelled after Forestry England threatened legal action against the organisers.

Some 500 riders had been due to participate in the Beyond New Forest sportive on 15 and 16 May, with routes of 62 miles and 100 miles starting and finishing in Exbury.

But the Advertiser & Times reports that the event has now been cancelled after Forestry England which is responsible for off-road tracks within the New Forest, said it would seek an injunction to prevent it going ahead.

A spokesperson for the agency said: “Off-road cycling is only allowed on specific routes in the New Forest and these are shared paths for people to cycle, walk and horse ride on tracks that avoid sensitive wildlife habitats.

“It’s unfortunate that this event was promoted before the organisers had discussions with Forestry England, as land manager’s permission is required for any events or organised group activities on the Forest before taking place.”

The issue of large-scale cycling events within the New Forest has long been a cause of friction, and the cancellation of the sportive comes just four months after a court told Forestry England to get tough on “out of control” cyclists.

> Threat to axe New Forest’s off-road cycle network as court criticises “out of control” cyclists

The agency had been seeking a three-year extension of access to the network of waymarked tracks – including bridleways, gravel tracks and fire roads – from 2021-23.

But the Verderers Court – which dates back to the 13th century and carries out similar functions to a magistrates’ court in relation to certain matters related to the New Forest –only provided a 12-month extension.

In March, one local, Peter Rejchrt, claimed that cyclists were riding on tracks where they are not permitted and also claimed that racing was taking place, although it appears that he may be confused with regard to how apps such as Strava operate,

He said that “a small, but nevertheless significant local and ‘near local’ cohort of cyclists” were ignoring the New Forest Cycling Code of Conduct and were causing damage to the terrain and wildlife habitats.

He claimed: “Technology allows cyclists to conduct races blatantly and flagrantly using apps like Strava, eg the gravel track down from Abbotswell Millennium Stone car park to Latchmore Brook.”

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.

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