Bikes, brides and saboteurs: Day of drama at Birmingham Velo

By Alex Ross | Birmingham | News | Published: | Last Updated:

The first ever Birmingham Velo brought plenty of drama as 15,000 cyclists tackled the 100-mile route.

Police escort a delayed wedding party through the Velo bike traffic

Flag-waving crowds, disgruntled businesses and saboteurs.

The Birmingham Velo brought plenty of drama as the 15,000 cyclists took on the 100-mile route.

The race started in Birmingham city centre at 6.30am, then went through Sandwell, South Staffordshire, Wolverhampton and Kidderminster.

Many road closures were in place, forcing some businesses to shut for the day and residents to leave their cars at home.

Pre-event anger led to nails and tacks being left on the route, including in Bobbington and Swindon, at the start of the day yesterday.

GALLERY: Crowds cheer on Velo riders

And people spoke of their frustration at not being able to get to events, including a wedding at Blakelands Country House in Bobbington.


But there were also cheers along the route as hundreds of people lined the roads waving flags and holding signs of support.

In Swindon, the route closed Hinksford Lane and High Street from the Old Bush Inn to the The Green Man until 12.30pm.

Among those caught up in the closures was Emma Tustin, who was trying to get to her wedding at Blakelands Country House.

Bride Emma Tustin who was caught up in the Velo in Swindon


Bride Emma Tustin arrives at Blakelands Country House

They had hoped to get to the venue for 9.30am, but despite having pre-prepared passes, they had to wait for a police escort at 10.30am.

Her mother Nicola Stackhouse said: "We were given passes but when we arrived we were told we couldn't get through. It all adds to the stress of the day."

The Blakelands Country House later posted on Facebook: "Thank you ever so much to Wombourne Police Station for escorting today's bride into our venue. Blue lights, we love a dramatic entrance."

Lloyd Bigden drove up from Ipswich for a stunt driving day at Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport in Bobbington.

But the 24-year-old, and his friend Liam Burns from Lichfield, could not get to the airport in time for the 11am start due to the closures.

Robert Burns and son Liam, who were frustrated at not being able to get through Swindon

His father Gary said: "There has clearly been a lack of communication between the company we booked the day with, the airport and the race organisers."

The disruption to the road network had forced many pubs to open later. They included the Red Lion Hotel in Bobbington.

Halfpenny Green Vineyard also did not open until 2pm.

Disgruntlement ahead of the race over the disruption saw tacks laid down on some parts of the route.

One tack caused a puncture to the back tyre of motor marshal David Coxhead's motorbike.

Cyclist Imran Khan who also had a burst tyre due to one of the tacks on the route
Marshall Dave Coxhead with a tack left on the road which burst his tyre

Mr Coxhead's job was to assist vehicles having to use the route in an emergency. It included escorting a carer to a care home.

He said: "I thought they had managed to clear them all, but one obviously got my tyre."

Swindon Parish Council chairman Richard Painter said: "Unfortunately there have been tacks put on the road around this area, they were left their in the morning.

"Work was done to remove them, but I know some cyclists suffered punctures."

He added: "There has been some grumbling from people being diverted by the closures, but I think overall it has been a fantastic event raising good money for charity."

A woman argues with police about not being able to exit Bratch Lane in Wombourne.

Carole Potter, aged 60, from Wombourne, and Dilys Horton, 86, from Swindon, were among those lining the road.

Ms Potter said: "We came out to support the riders along the route. It has been great to watch."

Angelan Saunders, 65, and Marlene Bullock, 62, both from Swindon, also watched from the pavement.

Ms Bullock said: "It is nice to see the village car-free for a change. It has brought the village together."

Cars are forced to turn around in Swindon

Kerry Leadbetter, 31, and her daughter Indi-Rose Matthews, 7, held a sign supporting the riders in Swindon village centre.

Ms Leadbetter said: "It is something different for the village.

"It has got people out the houses, talking to each other, watching sport. There has been a small amount of disruption, but we've just planned our day around it."

Alan Smith, landlord of The Green Man in Swindon, opened his pub up early to serve spectators, although the serving of Sunday lunches had been pushed back to 12.30pm to 2.30pm.

He said: "It has been fine. We were aware of the road closures in advance so we could plan, we even had a visit from one of the organisers.

"I think we're maybe lucky we're on part of the route which finishes early."

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.


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