THOUSANDS of riders took to the New Forest today as they sped through the national park as part of a controversial two-day cycling event.

Now in its fifth year, the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive has established itself as one of the UK’s biggest cycle events allowing riders to take part in either a 58-mile or 86-mile ride, starting at New Park, Brockenhurst.

But it has attracted criticism from some quarters with cyclists becoming an increasing nuisance in the region as they flock to the park to enjoy its breathtaking views.

Earlier this week Dr Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, wrote to transport minister Norman Baker calling for a formal licensing system to be introduced.

The New Forest National Park Authority plans to draw up a code of conduct for cyclists and a charter for event organisers following concerns raised by residents and other organisations.