Can I start by saying I enjoy cycling, always have done and hope I will always be able to. However, I experienced road rage like I’ve never experienced before last Saturday (bank holiday) on the B6341 from Rothbury to Alnwick.
It was just after 10am and I was travelling from Rothbury to Alnwick. The road climbs steeply out of Rothbury and is now the only road out of the village.
As I left Rothbury, I got stuck behind a bunch of cyclists. The road is narrow, winding and full of dips and hollows. For the first section between Rothbury and Cragside, it is virtually impossible to overtake even a single cyclist and there was a line of about a dozen in front of me. Never mind, it was a nice day and I was in no rush.
Then we, for now there was a long queue of cars, vans, lorries and a bus behind me, reached the relative straight stretch past the Cragside entrance.
There, in front of us, was a stream of about 100 cyclists with vehicles of various descriptions mixed in with them.
To be fair, most of the bikes were in single file but they were obviously racing and every so often one would pull out to sprint past those in front, a rather inhibiting move for overtaking traffic.
I say sprint but, to be honest, the road out of Rothbury does not lend itself to sprinting cyclists.
The result was a queue of traffic out of Rothbury travelling at between five and 10 miles an hour stretching for well over a mile.
There were several points where the leaders could have pulled over to let the race regroup and the traffic overtake. This did not happen.
When I reached the head of the column on the moors, I indicated to the pair of cyclists that were fighting each other for the lead that I would like a word with them. I pulled into a lay-by, put on my hazard lights and started to get out of my car. I was forced back into my car by the cyclists ‘buzzing’ me waving two fingers as they did so.
I was under the impression that road-racing in or on any vehicle was illegal. I am sure that if these cyclists were riding motorbikes or driving cars they would have been stopped as soon as the police were aware of what was going on.
We see many road races and time trials on the roads of the Coquet Valley and most show consideration for fellow road users. I would hate to be the one to stop the fun of riding the roads in such a beautiful part of the world but the majority must clamp down on the few inconsiderate ones and enforce a code of conduct that enables all of us to be able to use the roads.
Can I suggest that the racers use only the minor roads at sensible times of the day, if need be with supervision.
Could they talk to the National Trust at Cragside who have six miles of road that might be used when the public are not visiting. Maybe the Forestry Commission could open up some tracks if approached.
In truth, the Coquet Valley could become a centre for cycling as we have miles and miles of tracks and roads that could be used.
Just please let the rest of us get from A to B and let us enjoy the journey too. Let’s not wait until things get as bad as in some places in the south where cyclists are banned.