Welcome to anti-cycling bingo with your host... Jeremy Clarkson...
The former Top Gear host is back from his Christmas on the naughty step having penned the single most complained about column in the UK press regulator's history. Moving on from Meghan, Clarkson's possibly suffering from writer's block this week, dropping back to an old favourite...
You'll probably be quite bored by the TV loudmouth's latest thoughts on cycling (you really have heard it all before), we even saw someone suggest it's like they've got an AI to write an anti-cycling article in the style of Clarkson because he was on holiday.
Bike lanes, Highway Code, "anti-capitalism with handlebars", Stasi camera cyclists, gEtTiNg In DrIvErS' wAy, lycra... it's a near full house on the anti-cycling bingo front. Has a more tired line ever been written than, "They are just pedalling around to annoy people who've worked hard and bought themselves a car"?
But does anyone actually care any more?
Anyway, let's not spend too much time on the column because from the reaction it seems the public has worked out the Clarkson "cartoon character"...
One person sharing one of his pieces on social media this weekend suggested "Clarkson makes much more sense when you realise he's a middle-class liberal who invented a right-wing blokey character to sell columns and TV shows".
Likewise, Abingdon councillor Nathan Ley said he was just "playing to the gallery". "Most of the time I just ride a bike — with a basket — slowly, to get to work, the shops, and school drop off," he added. "This frees up more space on the road for your Chelsea tractor, and makes me less likely to take your space at a hospital. Get a grip, man."
Never forget that Clarkson the TV host/columnist is a cartoon character he plays and that he just peddles hate for easy money. What he says and what he does often aren't the same. https://t.co/4Qx96o7JlG
— Real Gaz on a proper bike: gazza_d [at] toot.bike (@gazza_d) March 26, 2023
You've heard of low-traffic neighbourhoods, but what about low-traffic bike lanes? Someone in Melbourne decided these planters should be stuck slap bang in the middle of one of the city's cycle lanes.
"April 1 is still days away," the Bicycle Network charity said. "Some of the largest hazardous bollards we have ever seen have appeared in the La Trobe Street bike lane. And they have trees in them! All jokes aside, City of Melbourne needs to act quickly and remove them."
Sorry, Arnaud, I know you wheelied up the Kemmelberg, but this is our favourite vid on today's live blog...
In good or hard times, your support means everything ❤️
— Intermarché-Circus-Wanty (@IntermarcheCW) March 26, 2023
According to the Daily Mail, Welsh international midfielder Aaron Ramsey was considering quitting football after Wales' group stage exit at the World Cup. The man credited with encouraging the now-Wales captain to keep at it? Dave Brailsford...
The former Team Sky and Ineos Grenadiers boss is now trying his hand at football, as part of the Ineos sporting empire, with French Ligue 1 club Nice, and told Ramsey to take an extended Christmas break, encouraging him to reconsider any retirement thoughts.
Since former coach Lucien Favre's sacking in January, Ramsey has been revitalised, helping new coach Didier Digard (of Middlesbrough 2008-10 'fame') improve the club's fortunes, climbing the league table and reaching the quarter finals of the Europa Conference League.
How long Brailsford will remain in the south of France remains to be seen, with the former British Cycling performance director reportedly trusted by Jim Ratcliffe to overhaul Manchester United should the Ineos billionaire's bid to buy the club from the Glazer family be successful.
Elsewhere in the press this weekend...
Coincidentally the front page came just hours after one Oxford cyclist had warned of the "real-world consequences" of spreading "anti-cyclist rhetoric", saying she had been spat at while cycling with her children on an "off-road designated cycling path".
Just got spat at and called a cow for cycling with my children on an off road designated cycle path. If the person in question could have scared me into the road I think she would have. People who spread anti-cyclist rhetoric should know that there are real world consequences.
— Laura Swift (@LASwiftClassics) March 25, 2023
"Thank you to everyone for being so nice. I actually wasn't scared but I was absolutely furious. The rage and hatred in her expression really took me aback and there was no reason for it other than some entrenched hatred of the existence of bikes," Laura added.
"And obviously the awful case of Celia Ward, who was killed because of a similar incident, was very present in my mind."
Earlier this month, Auriol Grey, the pedestrian convicted of causing the death of a 77-year-old cyclist by gesturing aggressively for her to get off the pavement was sentenced to three years in prison.
Former Rapha Condor JLT, One Pro, Canyon Eisberg and Saint Piran rider Chris Opie has spoken out about the incident at last weekend's Wally Gimber Trophy which left one rider with a cut to his neck following a collision with a stationary vehicle.
Last Monday, we spoke to the rider injured's team and competitors at the race who told us how the National B-level event had been stopped after just 40 minutes due to the incident, with the rider involved recovering well after initial concerns about the severity of the injury.
Opie, who was also racing and documented the day on his YouTube channel, raised concerns, saying "everything about that race felt wrong".
"It's barely even 10 years ago that Junior Heffernan lost his life in the Severn Bridge road race and we don't need to get close to repeating that. Unfortunately on Sunday we did," he explained.
"Because of the landing of the air ambulance the race couldn't continue, but I don't believe that should have been the deciding factor. The race shouldn't have continued anyway because of rider behaviour, traffic conditions and what was ultimately too much of an ambitious an circuit. It was a 20-kilometre circuit, that's a long way, there are a lot of junctions, lots of different environmental conditions, whether that's potholes, traffic, villages or access."
During the video, Opie touches on race briefings, rider attitude, rider behaviour, the "deterioration of hierarchy" with fewer big teams to road captain events, narrow handlebars, marshals controlling circuit access and just about every other conceivable factor. An interesting perspective from someone at the event...
As the saying goes... when life gives you a classic-ending puncture, make everyone's day by popping a wheelie on the rain-sodden steep cobbles of the Kemmel... or something like that.
Credit: Erwan Bolle pic.twitter.com/bxxNSVFUYO
— Lotto Dstny (@lotto_dstny) March 26, 2023
It was a filthy day on the bike in Flanders fields, a point illustrated by a combined 131 abandons in the men's and women's races, Fred Wright calling the conditions "horrendous", while Jake Stewart was left to call his profession a "shit sport".
De Lie was not one of the many riders to call it a day once off the back, the Belgian puncturing having been in decent shape the first time up the savage cobbled berg. On the second ascent, off the back and with little more to play for, the Lotto Dstny rider put his skills to the test... fatigue + soaked cobbles + testing gradients = a casual wheelie.
If you were busy this weekend doing fun things like, I don't know... riding your bike, here's what you might have missed on road.cc...
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.