Cycling for me hit an all time low last weekend while taking part in the Manchester 100. The morning hadn't started as planned anyway, I was wanting to set off at 7am to complete the 100 miles by lunchtime. Despite leaving my house at 6am, a 20 minute journey turned into an hour and a half queue to get in. I narrowly made the 8am cut off point for the 100 mile and set off.
By this time the roads were pretty busy with cyclists, many would have started the 100k option so there were all kinds of bikes on the road from fixed to mountain to full sus. I've documented many times about how poor the cycling etiquette can be in these sportives and this was unfortunately another example. Riders were strung across the road, some even riding 5 a breast onto the opposite side of the road and people who are riding alone were even sat in the middle of the road.
There is a long stretch of road at about 10 miles in which goes past Tatton Park, it was at this point I saw a group of 10 riders who had pulled over taking up the whole road, 3 of which were casually having a piss at the side of the road. I'm sure the female cyclists and passing drivers didn't want to see that. Further on I saw another group of cyclists flat out in a field taking a break - it was only 10 miles in?!!
I haven't got an issue with cyclists starting out at all. 3 years ago I was in the same situation, even completing Manchester to Blackpool on a mountain bike myself. The issue I have is the poor cycling etiquette and I've always felt that one day someone was going to get hurt. This time it was me.
Anyway I pushed on and before long I heard some squeeking and a lot of huffing and puffing behind me. These 2 gents passed by and pulled in front of me. You would have thought we were in deepest winter with the full length tights, skullcaps, full length clothes and winter jackets they were wearing, but they were going at a similar pace so I decided to sit on their wheel for a couple of miles to save energy.
Before long they slowed up and I re-overtook and carried on. About 10 minutes later they overtook me again and pulled right in front. I decided to slow up and let them carry on.
As you pull out of Knutsford, there is a slight drag and a pretty decent descent where you can pick up some speed. As I came over the arch of the hill, the two guys were ahead of me by about 80 metres. No danger and I reached for my bottle. Just as I reached for my bottle, a car coming the opposite way was trying to overtake another cyclist on a blind bend. The guys in front suddenly broke really hard, I slammed on omy front brake and brought my hand up for the rear but with the momentum of the hill together with the guy in front not looking and pulling into my path I had no where to go but to hit his wheel sending me and the bike flying.
The bike and I skidded for about 50 metres, me landing about a metre away from the front of the car. I had landed on my head and shoulder, and my right leg and arm was totally ripped.
Now here is the bad bit, as a lay there dazed and badly bleeding, did the 2 cyclists stop to make sure I was ok? No. They just cycled on like nothing had happened. I couldn't believe it.
The driver and some passing cyclists helped me out. I refused for an ambulance to be called out as I was only 10 minutes from my house so I put a call in for help there instead! The last thing I wanted was all the attention of an ambulance rolling up. Dazed, I thanked everyone and slomped down in a field out of the way. I was so angry. Angry that I should have known better with the guys in front, angry that the guys hadn't even stopped and angry that I was only 15 miles in.
The bike was a wreck. The rear mech had twisted into my wheel, the handlebars bent, gear levers knackered and the frame looking twisted.
Luckily I've had a huge amount of support from everyone and I'm very grateful. One thing is for sure I won't be taking part in any events produced by Bike Events anymore. The roads are too congested, cramming as many people as they can on to the route. They need to cap the amount of entries, especially for their events which are geared up to new cyclists.
As I was driven home, another example of what I'm talking about happened right in front of us. One of the crossings is across a dual carriageway near to J19 of the M6. Although marshalled there is no traffic light system so it is down to judgement. As we drove towards the junction, 5 cyclists on mountain bikes came shooting across the dual carriageway without even stopping and taking a proper look, forcing a car to slam on his brakes to narrowly miss them.
This incident has left me with a bill for pretty much a new bike, new clothing and me in a huge amount of pain and off the bike for 2 weeks. Not to mention the huge knock to my pride but most of all I still can't believe the actions of a fellow cyclist not even stopping. It is this kind of mindless stupidity which is going to end up in more than just minor injuries on these rides.