It’s that time of the year again, folks, when the social media admin for Halfords – the UK’s largest retailer of cycling products and services – scratches their head, has a long think over their morning coffee, and then decides to post something that will annoy cyclists and pit motorists against them.
Last year, Halfords decided to weigh in on the whole bike helmet debate, for some reason (surely not to sell helmets?), by advising cyclists that they “strongly recommend” wearing one… just in case a tree branch falls on your head.
And, just like clockwork, this winter’s questionable post comes courtesy of a gloriously ambiguous graphic depicting a cyclist and a motorist on the road, along with the not-at-all-inflammatory question: “Who has right of way?”
The eyebrow-raising post has so far received 9,000 comments and shares, so it’s fair to say the social media admin has done their job – but if you were expecting a thoughtful, articulate Facebook discussion on the new Highway Code and its pyramid of vulnerable road users, you’d be sorely mistaken.
Instead, get your anti-cycling bingo cards at the ready…
“Car. We pay to use the road,” answered Bryan, very helpfully.
“The one who pays road tax!” added Rob, even more helpfully.
While David, the most helpful of all, wrote: “The car has right of way , because he pays road tax and insurance – the cyclist should be on the pavement eating its vegan sausage roll and reading this week’s Trainspotting Weekly.”
Great stuff David, cheers.
“Cyclists have breaks [sic] too and should assess the situation and not assume they have priority,” says Sean.
“Doesn’t look like there’s a cycle lane and I’d assume the car would be indicating left well before this so really the bike shouldn’t be in this position,” added the very presumptuous Eddie.
And that’s before we even get to Danny’s extremely coherent comment, the contents of which I’ve decided to leave fully intact for your Monday morning enjoyment:
You now the answer ??the first thing you would be told use your mirror ?? But the ciclist would be right because there is no laws for ciclist or padestrion only punish drivers ????
Make of that what you will…
Meanwhile, Anthony claimed “it’s the car” who has priority because “1) Car is in front. 2) Bike is undertaking. 3) There is no bike lane.”
But, thankfully not everyone interpreted the admittedly highly dubious graphic in the same way.
Replying to Anthony, Jamie wrote: “It’s not. Maybe back in 2000. Even maybe in 2019. In 2023 it’s the bike.
“This is exactly why the theory test should expire every two or three years. Most people just follow the rules they were taught when they passed their test, sometimes many decades ago.”
Meanwhile, ignoring the whole tedious discussion, others were extremely critical of Halfords even bringing the whole thing up in the first place, along with the questionable use of the term ‘right of way’.
“There’s no such term as ‘right of way; it’s who has priority, so please ask the question correctly before asking for answers Halfords, okay?” wrote Dean.
“Very poor and antagonistic of Halfords”, said John, before answering the antagonistic question anyway, “but let’s assume the car overtook the bike then made a left hand turn, then the bike has right of way, if the cyclist is undertaking (though assuming there’s no standing traffic so unlikely) then the cyclist is as daft as a brush, though this needs to be a video so that we can see the whole story, instead of making a decision on a snapshot.”
Philippa, who alerted us to the post, described it as “shameful”, and says she has forwarded it – along with the “atrocious and inaccurate” comments – to Cycling UK and Stop Killing Cyclists.
I’m sure next year’s Halfords cycling post will go down much better…
Peter Sagan’s path to the mountain bike XC race at next year’s Olympic Games may well prove a rocky one (both literally and metaphorically), as the three-time world road race champion faces a race against time to accumulate enough points to even make it to the start line in Paris.
But, as evidenced by this video, posted by fellow Slovak MTBer Simona Kuchyňková while the pair were training in Finale Ligure, the now retired roadie – who cut a forlorn figure during his last few years in the pro peloton – at least seems to be back enjoying himself on a bike.
Well, as much as you can enjoy flying over the handlebars onto a load of rocks, of course…
“This was one of his first rides during this week,” Simona explained on Instagram. “Still a bit sturdy but just after week of riding… he gained NOT one, but multiple levels in just a few days!
“Suddenly it’s hard to drop this wolverine. If he keeps it up, this man is gonna have some steeze.”
And it’s also nice to know his classic “hay, hay, hay” catchphrase has made it over to the world of mountain biking too…
Birmingham City Council’s worrying financial position will not negatively impact the local authority’s road safety initiatives, the West Midlands’ cycling and walking commissioner, Adam Tranter, has insisted.
The council is currently in the midst of a funding crisis that could see “non-essential” services slashed and widespread cuts implemented, Birmingham Live reports.
However, Adam Tranter says he expects road safety schemes to be protected by the council given that they are statutory requirements, and especially against the grim backdrop of the deaths of three cyclists and a pedestrian on the city’s roads in May this year, while 65 people in total lost their lives in road traffic incidents in 2022.
One of these recent schemes involves the implementation of an improved third-party reporting tool, while the speed limit on main A-roads in the city will be cut from 40mph to 30mph, enforced by an increase in the number of average speed cameras in the city.
“There is no evidence to suggest that any road safety activity is under threat – it’s business as usual,” Tranter said of the potential funding cuts expected to hit the council.
“Importantly, road safety is a statutory duty, so it is a core thing that councils need to do. I’d hope that anyone working with the council will see road safety as a priority – it’s not a ‘nice to have’, it’s the bare minimum we should expect.”
He continued: “The numbers have to do the talking with road safety. We have to see where we get too, but my gut says there is progress being made.
“Working in partnership we can make sure everyone who uses our roads and pavements feels safe. It won’t be easy, and the scale of the challenge is huge, but I’m very grateful to partners including the police for the improvements they’ve made to their third party reporting service and new roads policing teams.”
British Cycling has announced a three-year partnership with Trek, as the American manufacturer becomes the governing body’s new Community Bike Partner, providing 500 new bicycles to “grow and diversify” community participation in cycling across the country.
It is expected that the Trek bikes will directly benefit more than 40,000 riders each year, and will mostly support activities for children and young people, helping them learn new skills and build up their confidence.
The partnership comes a year after a successful pilot project delivered by British Cycling and Trek in Sheffield, which saw the two organisations deliver mountain bike skills sessions across eight schools in the city, reaching more than 3,000 young people.
It will also support the work of BC’s network of community coaches, as well as the growth of the City Academies programme, which launched in 2021 alongside the Rapha Foundation to create new pathways into the sport for riders from diverse ethnic communities and lower socio-economic groups.
“Our Community Coaches do brilliant work to help people from all different backgrounds to build up their confidence, develop new skills and discover the joy of cycling,” British Cycling’s CEO Jon Dutton said.
“We’re incredibly thankful to Trek for their support over the next three years and look forward to working with them to widen access to the sport in communities across the country.”
Now, this is what I call a coffee ride:
Not content with simply replicating the famous Mallorca 312 grand fondo, the Alpecin-Deceuninck veteran decided to chuck in an extra 46 or so kilometres, including a swift jaunt up to the iconic Cap de Formentor lighthouse and back.
I have to say, Dillier’s mammoth winter ride is making me nostalgic for that time, at the age of 16 and with €10 in my pocket (which was swiftly spent on chips and a Coke), I decided to ride from one end of Mallorca to the other and back on my own, taking in the Sa Calobra for good measure and enjoying a brief tow from a Footon–Servetto pro (remember that kit?).
Fortunately, my limited resources well and truly depleted, I managed to make it back to the hotel at around 10pm, hours after my phone battery had died, and just minutes before my mum was about to ring the police to report me missing.
Ah, good times. Cheers Silvan.
He may not be heading to Dublin this weekend for the cyclocross World Cup (grrrr… Maybe David Lappartient has a point after all?), but Tom Pidcock is still getting the miles in this winter.
Yesterday, the Strade Bianche winner, and Olympic and world MTB XC champion, turned up unannounced – and got suitably muddy – at a mountain bike leisure ride organised by a local Dutch club…
— 🚴 Les Rois du Peloton 🚲 (@LRoisDuPeloton) November 19, 2023
I wonder how many of the 600-odd riders slogging through the grisly conditions in Hulst, unaware of the presence of off-road royalty, looked up the road and thought to themselves: ‘Who’s that prat wearing the rainbow jersey? Who does he think he is, Tom bloody Pidcock?’
While we’re on the subject of cargo bikes and what they can and cannot transport, this video from last year in China conveniently popped up on the timeline…
Boomer:"iN cHinA theY gEt rId oF aLl cArgObiKeS!!!111eleven"
Meanwhile in China: pic.twitter.com/e9JkbdxfD1
— CargoCycle_official (@CargoCycle_) November 19, 2023
Blood bags, micro-dosing, and CERA? Pah, they’re old school. The new wave of blood doping that – according to one French biologist, as well as a few anti-doping agencies – could soon be sweeping its way across the pro peloton involves none other than the groundbreaking use of… fishing worms.
Yes, you read that right.
According to a report in L’Équipe over the weekend, haemoglobin from arenicola marina lugworms – which are commonly used for fishing bait and are also known as sandworms – has attracted the attention of the cycling world, with one “well-known” Tour de France cyclist allegedly approaching the doctor behind the product’s use in 2020.
French marine biologist Dr Franck Zal helped create extracellular haemoglobin from lugworms for medical use after discovering the worm’s amazing oxygen transporting abilities in 2007 – allowing him and his company Hemarina to produce what they call a “universal blood substitute” that can transport 40 times more oxygen than human haemoglobin.
It’s compatible with all blood groups, easy to use, doesn’t increase blood haematocrit or cause high blood pressure, and can be stored at room temperature and freeze-dried, making it easy to transport.
Which, along with its medical capabilities, also means it’s perfect for those looking to seek an advantage on the bike (no more dodgy blood bag freezers, eh Dr Fuentes?) – while anti-doping tests are able to detect the ‘super’ haemoglobin, its short half-life means it is undetectable after a few hours and is unlikely to show up on an athlete’s biological passport.
And Dr Zal says he quickly realised that his substance could be exploited by people not just looking to save lives.
“I understood very early on that it could be diverted,” he told L’Équipe. “We had several direct requests from athletes or gyms, who wanted to know how to obtain the substance. I also learned of its possible administration to racehorses.”
And, in July 2020, just before the Covid-impacted cycling season was about to restart, Zal claims a “well-known cyclist whose team participates in the Tour de France, contacted me because he wanted the product”.
The biologist says he immediately contacted the French OCLAESP police who work to protect public health.
“I asked them what to do, they replied: ‘Make him talk, we want to see if there is a network.’ We had around ten exchanges of emails but at some point, I told myself that it's their job, not mine,” he said.
A form of powered haemoglobin has already been discovered in cycling during the Operation Aderlass investigation in Germany, which saw Mark Schmidt, the doctor at the centre of a doping ring that included the likes of Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Hondo, and Borut Bozic, sentenced to almost five years in prison in 2021.
However, the re-analysis of 800 in-and out-of-competition blood and urine samples post-Aderlass failed to find the substance – though anti-doping authorities have started to conduct surprise pre-race tests in a bid to detect its use.
“Sea worm haemoglobin works very quickly in the body after injection but it also has a very short lifespan,” Adeline Molina of the French anti-doping authority, the AFLD, told L’Équipe.
“This is a product to look for in competition. But it is visible in a blood test.”
Meanwhile, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) also told the French newspaper that they are aware of the potential use of lugworm haemoglobin as the new frontier of blood doping in sport.
“There was a very rapid understanding of this substance and its risks for doping purposes. We bought the product and put it in the hands of the anti-doping laboratories,” Professor Olivier Rabin, WADA’s scientific director, said.
“If this substance had been found in an athlete, we would have made it public. I can't guarantee that this hasn't happened somewhere in the world. But to my knowledge, this is not the case.”
In any case, best to keep an eye out for boxes of worms being ditched in hotel bins or at the side of the road during the classics…
Meanwhile, someone’s certainly enjoying their winter holidays…
Pogacar está curtindo as férias adoidado rs
— O País Do Ciclismo (@opaisdociclismo) November 19, 2023
Grand tours, time trials, mountains, rapping, hilly classics, cobbled classics, dancing on podiums in nightclubs – is there anything the man can’t do?
Missed the weekend’s cycling news because you were too busy out on your bike, battling the wind and rain. Well, don’t worry, because we have just the solution…
*** Spoiler alert: May contain cargo bikes ***
I did warn 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.