Seven years ago I completed my first Sportive.
I remember it well because it was The Cheshire Cat and anybody who has ever ridden the ride will always remember it.
The signature climb of Mow Cop seemingly chosen to break your resolve, before numerous other so called lesser climbs were gathered together like a crowd of bullies to humiliate you.
With no more than about 500 riders there was a collective goal.
By that I mean complete the course without having a coronary or completing some roadside cramp dance.
It was the first time that I had ridden with a group of other riders and being uncertain about every aspect of road etiquette I was cautious, communicative, and careful about every change of speed and manoeuvre.
The fact was not lost on me that if I did something unpredictable it may result in other peoples bodies and bikes being damaged.
Fortunately my fellow suffers all seemed to have the same mindset and this masochist challenge had no unwanted recklessness, danger, or general incivility.
It appeared as if the event was 'Enough' where egos, Strava segments and stopwatches were left in the glove compartment
That was Seven years ago!
A time when there was perhaps one sportive per weekend, few recreational cyclists had carbon bikes and the thought of an international British cycling team was just pie in the Sky.
Oh how things have changed.
British cycling has triumphed across genders and physical abilities both on the track and road.
With multiple Olympians and Tour de France winners cycling is a fashionable now as running used to be in the 80's with people cycling sportives in the way that they would run half or full marathons.
Most converts are courteous and responsible and have obviously learned about personal ride etiquette and the dynamics of group riding.
However an alarming number clearly have no idea or no inclination.
Ride etiquette has evolved over the years to protect us, the rider, and its all based on common sense and survival instincts. This appears to be lost on many either through lack of experience, technique, knowledge or in most cases ignorant over confidence.
If your riding at 35 mph two inches from somebodies wheel - It may be nice to let them know
If you are stupid enough to overlap somebodies rear wheel, especially on the inside your asking for trouble.
If you don't communicate you have no right to remonstrate if things go wrong
Half wheeling = Half a brain
When people overtake they often think that when their body is past so is their bike - They then cut in before their back wheel has passed.
This summer I took part in Ride London for the 2nd Year where the number of participants had increased substantially.
The first year it was dry and crowded but in the main the experienced riders were able to avoid collision scenario's created by half brained cyclopaths who had as much spacial awareness as a blindfolded Elephant in a cycle shed.
This year was different I had never seen such reckless irresponsible riding
Nor had I ever seen so many mangled bikes and riders, many of whom appeared to have serious injuries.
This Summer one of our club riders Andy was taking part in the Big G sportive in East Yorkshire.
Whilst descending a rider decided to draft him without notice.
Whilst travelling at over 35mph the rider behind touched Andy's wheel.
Andy was unable to complete Ride London.....bit tricky with a broken femur
The rider responsible will probably be touching your wheel next week whilst at the same time Andy is facing a battle to keep his leg, his job and ultimately his dignity.
Riding like an idiot is one thing, taking responsibility for a resulting smash is even worse.
Sadly I am sure that this is a growing problem and believe that individuals and organisers need to wake up to the risks and take more responsibility.
I believe that there should be an obligation to report any collisions or serious incidents to the organisers
If recklessness is an issue and serious injury has occurred the matter should be reported to the Police
I love Sportives - but hate riding with Muppet's