Just when you thought the world of anti-cycling columns couldn’t plunge any deeper, especially after Jeremy Clarkson’s latest tirade against the “two-wheeled Stasi” or the Spectator’s almost monthly assertion that “Lycra-clad” cyclists “own the roads”, well think again.
Because yesterday the Herald published one of the more bizarre anti-cycling bingo rants of recent times, courtesy of commentator and former deputy editor Kevin McKenna.
Ten years ago, you may or may not recall, McKenna condemned a campaign to introduce a system of “strict liability” in incidents involving motorists and vulnerable road users, claiming that cycling in Scotland was strictly the preserve of the middle class and that the move would risk “criminalising innocent citizens”, while forcing them to “chug along permanently in second gear” behind cyclists on the roads.
Well, it seems as if McKenna’s attitudes towards cycling haven’t dimmed in the intervening ten years, judging by a column in which he urges readers to create their own “wellness plan” to combat and find an outlet for their “repressed rage” – with one element of his plan involving “transferring his rage” onto one of his seemingly many “triggers”: Cyclists on the road. Which sounds extremely safe for all involved.
“Cyclists,” he begins, readying his anti-cycling bingo pen. “To the unwary, these gentle and unassuming road snails are merely well-meaning types with too much time on their hands who are seeking fresh air and exercise amid the grandeur of Scotland’s wild open spaces.
“Then you begin to realise that you’re about to be late for making the working contribution to society that they seem to be dodging.”
Ah yes, the ‘cyclists holding up people actually trying to go to work and help society’ trope, good one. Because no cyclist ever uses their bike to commute. Ever.
Just look at all these work-shy leisure cyclists, holding all the important people in cars up…
Next, he moves onto one of the more recent anti-cycling bingo lines, fuelled no doubt by the reaction to LTNs and the ‘extra pollution’ they cause:
“Worse, your carbon footprint is going from a manageable size six to a dangerous size 10 as you slow to a crawl and your engine begins to consume more petrol, along with the long line of cars behind you.”
So, what’s McKenna’s doubtlessly thought-provoking solution?
“In my personal wellness plan I’ve now pledged to take a deep breath before gently edging out and around the cyclists and taking up a position directly in front of them. And then slowing right down to about two miles an hour.
“Thus, you transfer your pulsing rage directly on to them. You need only do this for about three minutes. But it will lead to better mental health outcomes, knowing that you’ve given these insidious and sanctimonious weapons a taste of their own medicine.”
Though it seems like the bingo enthusiasts in the Herald’s comments section appreciate McKenna’s words of, ahem, wisdom.
“Spot on about cyclists, Kevin. Must try your 2mph trick,” writes Gordon, who for some reason I’m imagining as one of the Self-Righteous Brothers from Harry Enfield and Chums – ‘Oi, cyclists, no!’
Turns out that his frankly bizarre column isn’t the only unprovoked dig aimed at cyclists by McKenna in recent days:
They let me have a shot at the driving. Not a cyclist in sight. Bliss pic.twitter.com/qQvIPIrNGj
— Kevin McKenna (@kmckenna63) September 15, 2023
Obsessed much, Kev?
Velorution, the London bike shop that in recent months saw two motorists, including a bus driver, crash into two of its four branches, has announced that it is closing after 20 years of business.
In April, the driver of the Route 19 bus crashed into one of Velorution’s shops on Chelsea’s King’s Road, smashing right through the store’s window.
Today, we had the pleasure of a personal visit from @tfl at our Chelsea store. Thankfully everyone is perfectly ok. @MetroUK @LonEveSta @standardnews #london #chelsea #buscrash #tfl pic.twitter.com/nMdx6bDZ6s
— Velorution (@_velorution) April 5, 2023
And a month later, another motorist careened sideways into the Marylebone branch, prompting the company’s social media to ask, “are we being targeted?”
During a tough year for the cycling industry, the two bizarre incidents compounded the issues facing Velorution, with the owners putting the business up for sale last month.
In a statement posted to the company’s Linkedin at the weekend, the owners confirmed that the business, which started off as a small shop near Oxford Circus, before expanding to four branches and an online shop, is set to cease trading.
“Velorution has been serving the London bike community for nearly 20 years, but sadly due to the economic conditions (which have been particularly harsh on the cycling industry) and circumstances beyond our control (a bus crashing into our Chelsea store certainly didn’t help), we have sadly decided to enter into a programme which will involve the closure of each of Velorution’s four shops and its website,” the statement said.
“Whilst we’re currently offering 25% off everything (some exclusions apply) on our website we will be undertaking a closing-down sale from the 18th of September for approximately one week. All of our stock will be sold so be sure to grab a one-in-a-lifetime bargain – either online or in-store.
“We’d like to take this moment to thank every single one of our customers who has shopped with us over the past two decades. Whether that’s been buying a bike, visiting us for a service or even just buying a coffee from our famous trike (which is also for sale) – it’s been a great journey and we hope to see another generation of Velorution in future.”
A cyclist from Melbourne who almost lost his eye after being swooped by a magpie is encouraging other riders to wear sunglasses during the coming swooping season in Australia, the Daily Mail reports.
The Australia magpie is notorious for attacking cyclists while defending its territory during the spring nesting season, with Remco Evenepoel and Grace Brown among the pros that were swooped upon while training ahead of last year’s world road race championships in Wollongong.
Christiaan Nyssen was riding his bike at Yarrawonga, near the Victorian-New South Wales border in November 2021 when he was struck by a swooping magpie, who proceeded to peck at his eye.
“I have been attacked countless times and don’t have a fear of the birds,” Christian said in a statement released today.
“This bird turned around and went straight for the eye, did a backflip and hit me right in the eye again. A neighbour said I was the fifth person to be attacked.”
Following the attack, he was left unable to see out of the eye due to iris trauma, but eventually underwent surgery to repair the retina and remove the entire lens.
Nyssen says that while the severity of the attack was “one in a million”, he believes it would have been prevented if he had decided to wear his cycling glasses that day as the magpie “wouldn’t have had something to aim at”.
A cyclist in Newcastle has sent a legal letter to the city’s council to challenge the lawfulness of barriers on a National Cycle Route which prevent him from accessing the path on his recumbent.
Alastair Fulcher has Parkinson's Disease which affects his balance, core strength and ability to walk, but is able to continue to enjoy cycling thanks to his tricycle.
However, the 61-year-old from Wallsend, is unable to ride the National Cycle Route 72 past Pottery Bank due to the barriers installed to prevent motor vehicles accessing the route.
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Absolutely shocking and sickening, this…
Following the death of a retired police chief who was killed in a hit-and-run while cycling in Las Vegas last month, police in the Nevada city have arrested a 17-year-old driver and are now investigating a shocking video which emerged on social media allegedly showing the incident.
In the appalling footage, filmed by the passenger and widely shared on social media this weekend, a driver is seen travelling towards a cyclist, the two occupants of the vehicle laughing before one can be heard saying “yeah, hit his ass” seconds before the collision.
Afterwards, someone is heard saying “he got knocked out” before another voice adds “get out of here”.
Yesterday, as you may already know, Wales became the first country in the UK to introduce a default 20mph speed limit, reduced from 30mph, in built-up, residential areas.
The new law means that the speed limit will be altered on roughly 35 percent of roads in Wales where lampposts are no more than 200 yards apart.
According to the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, the change will “keep people from losing their lives”.
“It’s going to take you a minute longer to make your journey, and we will save 10 people’s lives in Wales every year as a result of that one minute contribution – it doesn’t seem an unfair bargain,” the Labour politician said.
Despite the estimated £33 million cost, the Welsh government also says improved road safety resulting from the lowered speed limits could result in a £58 million saving due to reduced emergency service demand over the next 30 years.
However, this latest salvo in the so-called ‘war on motorists’ has not gone down well in certain corners of social media, where one anti-20mph advocate argued that the timing of a certain major news story this weekend is all an elaborate ruse to keep our minds off the Welsh government’s heinous attempt to stop motorists flying through residential streets…
I’ve found today’s tweet of the day and am now logging off because it can’t be surpassed pic.twitter.com/gJ9ivYOWfw
— Jim Pickard 🐋 (@PickardJE) September 17, 2023
Alright, maybe that’s enough internet for today…
Speaking of ‘gifts’ and the Vuelta, Primož Roglič – the rider reportedly most unhappy at being unable to race for the win at the Spanish Grand Tour – played the role of the ultimate present-giver (albeit without the white beard) after yesterday’s final stage in Madrid, tossing energy gel after energy gel to punters watching the podium presentations in the Spanish capital.
According to Daniel Friebe on The Cycling Podcast, the ever-irreverent Slovenian grabbed a big stack of leftover gels, both from his own pockets as well as those of this teammates, before throwing them into the crowd and wishing everyone a “merry Christmas”, over and over again, for around 30 seconds.
Make of that what you will… But at least you can’t say Primož Roglič doesn’t like dolling out gifts.
Away from all the drama in Madrid and phase three of Jumbo-Visma’s plan for world domination, there was plenty going on in the rest of the cycling world over the weekend…
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A few hundred metres behind the action-packed, Remco and Ganna-driven finale, Sepp Kuss sat up alongside his Jumbo-Visma teammates (wearing a rather underwhelming homage to their unprecedented Grand Tour triple success), as they lined up across the road to toast the American’s first ever triumph at one of cycling’s biggest three-week races.
By winning the Vuelta, not only did the 29-year-old from Durango, Colorado, seal the deal on his team’s history-making season, but he also became the first American in a decade to win a Grand Tour, after 76-year-old Chris Horner beat Vincenzo Nibali at the 2013 Vuelta (probably best not to delve too deeply into the previous decade’s list of US Grand Tour winners, mind you…).
Kuss’s transformation from loyal and invaluable mountain domestique (he’s had a hand in all six of Jumbo-Visma’s previous GT wins from 2019) to big race winner was, of course, achieved amidst the backdrop of a fledgling and ultimately stifled civil war within the Jumbo-Visma camp, as confusion reigned over who called the shots on the road, prompting a messy and wholly unnecessary PR battle for hearts and minds.
In fact, ever since Kuss gained over three minutes on the peloton from the break on stage six, and took the red jersey two days later, it was the American’s two teammates, Tour champ Jonas Vingegaard and Giro winner Primož Roglič, who appeared the most likely to rob him of a career-defining triumph.
No gifts in cycling, eh?
Perhaps because of this internal conflict, Kuss has emerged as an almost universally popular winner of the Vuelta, a race otherwise defined by Jumbo-Visma’s clinical dismantling of the opposition and overwhelming dominance.
And Kuss’s popularity, and sense of romanticism within a ruthless team, was made abundantly clear on social media as he took to the podium for a (very long) speech in front of Madrid’s iconic Cibeles Fountain:
My mind is still blown over the fact that awesome and cupworthy SEPP KUSS won this race. He stumbled into the GC lead by accident (kind of) but he stayed in that red jersey with grace, humility, kindness and a always a smile. I couldn't be happier for him.
— Stacy Snyder (@snyderceramics) September 17, 2023
Pretty hard to not be emotional as an American cycling fan hearing the national anthem played for Sepp Kuss.
First American grand tour win I’ve witnessed. Legendary race. Legendary rider.
— GC KUSS (@GCSeppKuss) September 17, 2023
Massive congrats to @seppkuss on becoming the World Vuelta Champion of the Universe. 👏 👏
— Alex Howes (@alex_howes) September 17, 2023
Sepptember 17th…..#Zerostagestogo This dude @seppkuss is going to win @lavuelta today, defying the odds in his third GT of the year. Historic day for so many reasons, but by far the biggest is the fact that it IS possible for nice guys to win Grand Tours! pic.twitter.com/zYiGpAEaxH
— VandeVelde,Christian (@ChristianVDV) September 17, 2023
But what makes the American so popular amongst cycling fans and his fellow and former pros?
Well, Kuss himself thinks he has the answer:
Why do you think the cycling fans like you so much?"
Sepp Kuss: "Because I'm human, because I'm a 'globero' (noob). Because I'm more a cyclist than a rider."pic.twitter.com/0jsv9PNWJT
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) September 17, 2023
“Because I’m human, because I’m a noob,” he told Spanish reporters after yesterday’s final stage. “Because I’m more a cyclist than a rider.”
Fair play, GC Kuss, fair play.
I thought I’d kick off today’s live blog with a bit of a recap of the final weekend of everyone’s third favourite grand tour: the Jumbo-Visma Company Picnic and Bike Ride – sorry, I mean Vuelta a España!
And before we get onto the obligatory Sepp Kuss love-in, let’s turn our attentions quickly to that absolute stonker of a stage 21 through the streets and dead turns of Madrid – because whoever said that final grand tour stages in national capitals are always dull processions with five minutes of racing at the end?
Well, if anyone mentioned that long-held cycling truism on the outskirts of Madrid yesterday afternoon, Remco Evenepoel certainly wasn’t paying attention.
The polka dot-clad (in too much polka dots if you ask me… those shorts) Belgian ripped up the script, tearing off the front with none other than Filippo Ganna and green jersey Kaden Groves – the two favourites for the stage in a sprint, remember – in his wheel with over 35km left to go.
After bridging up to the earlier move featuring Nico Denz, Lennard Kämna, and Rui Costa, Remco and his mates proceeded in turning the final few laps around the Spanish capital into a pulsating pursuit match.
After as delicately poised a final 30km as you would ever dream of witnessing, during which no-one (apart from the all-knowing Carlton Kirby on comms) would dare to predict how it would pan out, a brief moment of hesitation with just one kilometre to go amongst the hitherto committed attackers seemed to spell the end of their romantic escape.
However, with 500m to go, just as the ragged peloton finally latched onto the break, Evenepoel – who else – thought ‘sod this’ and drilled it at the front. The Belgian’s acceleration, though doomed from the start, nonetheless perfectly teed up his breakaway companion Groves (who only slipped into the break initially to keep an eye on the marauding Evenepoel for the green jersey competition) to take an exhilarating, unpredictable third stage win of the race.
On paper, with Ganna again taking second behind Groves, yesterday’s final stage of the Vuelta resembled a typical bunch sprint. On the road, it was anything but.
The final stage into Madrid saw an incredible win from the breakaway as @kaden_groves sprinted to his third win of the race! 🇦🇺
— GCN Racing (@GcnRacing) September 17, 2023
Bonkers end to a pretty bonkers Vuelta. Have to hand it to Remco there. A doomed cause once the messing about started but hey just go for it
— William Fotheringham (@willfoth) September 17, 2023
Wow. Just wow. What a finale. Cannot believe the breakaway almost lost it, then Groves powered through at the end anyway. Brave from Remco. Gutted for Pippo. SO exciting 👏 #LaVuelta23 pic.twitter.com/wpz111nte1
— Katy M, Vuelta Edition (@writebikerepeat) September 17, 2023
While Mark Cavendish’s win in Rome on the final day of this year’s Giro d’Italia carried with it a sense of fate and history-making, yesterday’s thriller in Madrid certainly must go down as one of the best non-TT final grand tour stages in modern cycling history.
In fact, it’s been a while since we’ve had such a pulsating road stage on the last day of a three-week race. Back in 2005, Alexander Vinokourov attacked – was there any other way for Vino? – to win solo on the Champs-Élysées at the Tour de France, repeating the feat of Bernard Hinault, who broke clear (in the yellow jersey no less) alongside GC rival Joop Zoetemelk to upset the sprinters on the famous Parisian boulevard in 1979.
It’s been 18 long, long years since we last saw an attacker win on the Champs – but with Remco set to turn his attention to the Tour over the coming years (he’ll have to wait until 2025, of course, thanks to next year’s Nice finale), that long champagne-sipping, processional drought could soon come to an end.
Come on Remco, we’re all banking on you…
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.