Alex Dowsett responds after Griff Rhys Jones ‘depicts cyclists as yobs’ in newspaper column

Rhys Jones wrote an article for the Mail Online referring to ‘lycra-clad hooligans’

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Alex Dowsett has shared his thoughts after Griff Rhys Jones complained about “lycra-clad hooligans” in a newspaper column.

Rhys Jones, the Welsh comedian and writer, penned a piece for the Mail Online (opens in new tab) headlined ‘Off Your bike! Griff Rhys Jones is forced to take drastic action after lycra-clad hooligans started rattling down the public footpath running through his garden’.

In the article, the 66-year-old complains about cyclists riding along a public footpath that passes through his garden, claiming he was passed by one ride “at approximately 40mph” off-road.

Rhys Jones goes on to explain how he tried putting logs across the path to stop riders using the path, which legally is only for walkers.

But the tone of the article caught the attention of Israel Start-Up Nation rider Dowsett.

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The British time trial champion wrote to Rhys Jones on Twitter, saying: “I wasn’t much of a fan of your article in the Mail. Whilst the facts of cyclists being on the footpath I believe to be wholeheartedly true, your descriptions of cyclists are exaggerated; depicting cyclists as ‘yobs’.

“That won’t help is driving a harder wedge in between the divide that the media seem intent on creating. We share this planet, these roads and we all make mistakes. We all enjoy being part of groups/societies/clubs yet we don’t necessarily agree with what everyone in them do.”

Dowsett said Rhys Jones’s claim that a cyclist had passed him at 40mph was “absurd”.

In the article, Rhys Jones explains how an ancient footpath that crosses through his land in Suffolk and is regularly used by walkers.

Rhys Jones said cyclists have been travelling through his land because the nearby reservoir, a popular cycling spot, is closed due to the coronavirus lockdown.

He goes on to say “I worry that my naivety has been exploited by some rather irritating keep-fit cyclists who insist on rattling past even though, according to the Countryside Act of 1968, bicycles should be ridden only on bridleways, not footpaths like mine.”

After installing logs across the path, Rhys Jones contacted Suffolk County Council to ask if he could install a gate to prevent cyclists using the path, but was told that he didn’t have the right.

He closes the piece by admitting that most of the cyclists have since returned to the reservoir, which has now re-opened as restrictions have been eased.

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Dowsett said: “The article could’ve been very different, instead of ‘us angels & them villains; how about ‘making it safe for everyone to enjoy East Anglia through signs, respect and education’ but then I guess the Mail would’ve ignored your work.”

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Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.