Want an example of exactly the kind of publicity cyclists don't need when the entire media, government and farming industry is looking for people to hand blame on?

How about "As our diarist's friends await test results on their animals, a cyclist ignores pleas to keep away". from the weekly "On the farm" column in Friday's Guardian. The column continues to detail the story of how the author's husband has found tracks of a rider on the coast to coast route which runs through their farm, as well as infected areas further on. The rider has ridden past "please keep out" notices and even left footprints to show they stood in front of them to read them and then gone on to push through cattle at standing at a gate further along the route.

Congratulations to this monumentally stupid, ignorant and thoughtless rider. Even if the cattle on this farm and neighbouring ones don't catch the disease, their selfish actions have almost certainly destroyed a huge amount of potential goodwill at this farm and all those they have communication with. Frankly, we hope the farmer caught you or at least got within shotgun range.

We must do everything we can to stop this happening. If you get wind of someone planning to go out riding on of limits or even potentially off limits land explain to them (even if it means through the medium of a stout piece of wood) that even if they don't spread disease their actions could cause mountain biking untold damage in the eyes of the rural population. If they do spread disease then not only have they destroyed the livelihood of whoever's farm it affects but they've now rendered that land unuseable by anyone, rider or rambler for months if a full scale quarantine is laid down.

Please act responsibly. At the end of the day the countryside is our playground, used for recreation. For those living and farming there it is their life. If we're smart now everything will be back to normal a whole lot sooner.

Thanks to The Guardian for permission to link to this extract.