Anyone that follows me on Twitter will know that over the last few months I've tweeted quite a few times about how infuriating it is to see people dropping their gel packets and other rubbish on the floor whilst they're out on the their rides. I don't mean the accidental dispatch of a gel wrapped when fumbling in your back pocket but the genuine glance over the shoulder and chuck approach which so many cyclists and seemingly runners seem to have adopted recently. I know it's always been a problem but as more and more people take up cycling the problem seems to be getting worse. I really don't understand why it is though? It is really so hard to put that empty wrapper back in your pocket that you so dearly shoved in there before you started your ride? It is really so hard to stop for 30 seconds and zip the rubbish up in your saddlebag? The answer to both questions is a resounding no. No it's not difficult to do either of those tasks. So why do people feel the need to simply cast away their rubbish in some of the most beautiful parts of the world?
I'm really not too sure on the answer to that question either having always managed to take my rubbish home from races, sportive's and social rides. One such excuse I've heard is that it will make a mess of the riders back pocket having the sticky remnants of a gel in their back pocket. Well isn't that a crying shame that you didn't finish your gel and it's oozing into your pocket. Tip - Take a little plastic bag and stuff them in that once they're empty then your jersey will still look pretty crisp and at the next opportunity you can dispose of everything into the bin in one swift yet smart move.
The other fantastic excuse I've heard is that rubbish is weighing the rider down. Clearly then they forgot what was in the wrapper to start with and I can 100% guarantee that the packaged contents probably weighed you down more so if you truly believe this philosophy I recommend staying at home and sitting on the turbo just to make sure you're not carrying any excessive weight in those pockets. It's a hard life after all.
The third excuse I have genuinely happened across in the past is "Well if they pro's can do it then why can't I?" but let me reassure you that what you see on TV doesn't give the whole picture. Having spent some time in on of the cars at the Tour of Britain we passed through what was about a 500m stretch of road where the pro's were allowed to offload their gel wrappers and other rubbish. Within these 500m were a load of volunteers waiting to immediately sweep it all away into a bin bag. When you're on a sportive or a local road race I promise those volunteers won't be there and they really aren't needed so lets try and remember who we are and put that idea out of your head immediately. Equally, when a pro chucks their bottle away in the later stages of the race I guarantee that 99% of the time it's in the direction of a fan that will perform the most acrobatic of somersaults to get that bottle and it will never see a grassy verge again. I promise you now that no-one is every going to pick up your bottle and scream your name in a 3/4 road race keep your bottles on your bike. This happened in my last race and those water bottle lobs saved so much time the guy finished about 15th. Awkward.
At the end of the day there really are no excuses for purposefully throwing your litter around the countryside. I admit accidents do happen but if you genuinely choose to throw your gels / bottles / snickers bar into a hedge then you're the biggest idiot in cycling. Why? Because you're ruining every single future event that might happen on that road or circuit. Image you've just witnessed 1000 cyclists on a sportive or 50 in a road race and then you see gels scattered everywhere or your lamb choking to death on one. Then you would be the first person to get angry, call for the cancellation of the next event and ruin it for everyone else. This is exactly what is happening around the UK and more and more events are coming under pressure because of inconsideration numpties that can't carry a piece of packaging to the next feed station or the finish.
So just remember at your next sportive, race or ride that you're quite possibly ruining it for everyone else and yourself.
Pack it in and put it in the bin.