Cyclist forced to stop charging cows during mid-ride snack break

British cyclist Andrew O'Connor found the gradient wasn't the only challenge when he rode Great Dun Fell

cyclist stops herd of cows
(Image credit: Andrew O'Connor / Instagram)

If you saw a herd of cows approaching you down a narrow lane with no apparent desire to stop, you would probably leg it pretty quickly, right?

Not Birmingham cyclist Andrew O'Connor who, under instruction from a panicking farmer, coolly stood his ground, raised two hands and ordered the cows to a stop. 

There was clearly a lot at steak for O'Connor – after all, a herd of cows is not to be taken lightly. But all it took was his simple gesture and it was clear they had no beef with him – they had simply missed the turning into their gate.

O'Connor, who works as a school sports coach, was about to ride up Great Dun Fell as part of his mission to ride and film as many of the UK's major climbs as possible, and caught the whole thing on camera.

"I was changing the Go-Pro battery and having a snack before going up," O'Connor told Cycling Weekly. He had turned the camera on when he saw the cows, thinking, "That would be a fun little clip to put on my blog."

But the cows just kept on coming.

"They went past the open gate," he says, "and the farmer at the back just started screaming. I didn't have a clue what to do."

After some quick visual instruction from the farmer, O'Connor raised his hands. Almost immediately, the cows came to a halt. O'Connor makes it look easy on the video but, he says, there was a bit more to it.

"The ones at the front all stopped," he says, "but the ones in the middle and at the back, they were trying to storm to the front, like 'what's going on?'. It felt like they were eyeing me up, like 'can we take him? Can we take him?' At that point I started to feel a bit nervous."

He adds: "It wasn't until afterwards that I started to think 'oh my god, that really could have gone south, something could have gone horrible. Because the stone walls, they're really hard to get over. I had nowhere to go."

O'Connor was congratulated by the farmer, Gary Simpson, who managed to climb the drystone wall and relieve O'Connor of the cows.

The video has now gone viral, with more than 13 million views. The story has been picked up by outlets as varied as CBS in the USA and the India Times. O'Connor has also spoken to Farmer's Weekly, who told him that the fact he stayed calm during the incident was likely key to the cows doing so too.

On his instagram profile, O'Connor describes himself as "a keen cyclist, trying to ride and film as many of the UK's major climbs as possible". Nothing about being a cow-whisperer in sight – although as he himself says, his current career probably helped.

"I work in a school – I'm used to chaotic situations!" he says.

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