Cyclists Beware — These Louts Are Damaging Bikes With Impunity
They can f**k your ride right up and make you feel powerless to do anything about it
These people are a scourge of cyclists the length and breadth of the UK. I’ve fallen foul of them several times in recent months and I’ve lost count of how much I’ve had to spend on repairing my bike over the years due to the problem.
In this brief article I’m going to outline three things:
- the cause of the problem
- why it seems impossible to hold these louts accountable
- two possible solutions
The cause of the problem
I live in a fairly rural location and in the area where I live this is a very real issue. People who live in cities or other urban areas won’t be as exposed to this risk as much as people who live in more rural areas, but if you ride out into the countryside at weekends or on your days off, this is something you definitely need to be aware of.
In fact, there’s a high chance you’ve already been a victim of this yourself.
I’m talking about the hazard left all over roads, pavements and cycle paths by arrogant, thoughtless and careless farmers when they cut or flail roadside hawthorn hedges. You’ll be riding along, often at speed, without a care in the world, and suddenly, without warning, you’re riding on a bed of twigs and trimmings liberally covered in sharp thorns, some of which form sturdy spikes up to 2–3 inches long.
Because they’re attached at random angles to the twigs, they act like natural caltrops, ensuring that whichever route you take through them, the likelihood is that at least two or three of them will pierce your tyres.
Self-repairing inner tubes (the kind filled with anti-puncture slime) help to a degree but are three or four times the price of ordinary inner tubes and will only cope with so many punctures before they, too, need replacing.
It’s not just cyclists who are at risk, either. Dog walkers are only too aware of the danger posed to their canine companions’ paws by these vicious thorns, which can stretch in swathes for hundreds of metres.