News updates


The December Alton U3A Social Cycling Ride will take place this coming Tuesday, 3rd December, setting out from Alton Community Centre (GU34 1HN) at 10.00am.

In keeping with tradition, there will be a Christmas-themed lunch as well, so bring your appetites along!

The plan is to ride over to Four Marks via Snode Hill and Medstead for a swift coffee break at Nosh Cafe (GU34 5EW) before heading off (by a different route) back through Medstead and then on through Bentworth and Lasham to the Gliding Club (GU34 5SS) for lunch.

I anticipate that we should arrive there at around 12.00 noon, or possibly slightly afterwards, so if anybody wants to skip the ride and head straight there, we'll see you in the car park.

We have a 12-seater table booked in my name from 12.00noon onwards, and we can always expand this a little if more people want to join us. As ever, spouses, friends and support crew are all welcome to come along, too, so that we can celebrate the magnificent achievements of our group, eat, drink and be merry, and generally have a good time together.

The ride there is about 15 miles, and from the club back into Alton is another 3 miles. Timings can be a little elastic, but I anticipate that we will all be back home by 3.30pm at the latest, and probably earlier.

The current weather forecast for the day is surprisingly good, with the BBC showing "sunny intervals and a gentle breeze" although it might be seasonably chilly at between 3 and 5 degrees celsius, so please wrap up warm. If anything changes drastically between now and then I'll let you know, otherwise, I'm looking forward to it!

Best wishes




The U3A Ukulele Group, led by Mike and Caroline Hayllor, had its first official gig on Saturday. We performed in the High Street to help entertain the visitors who had come for Santa Saturday, all in aid of HomeStart. It was cold, but thankfully dry. Fingerless gloves were our best option for warmth while not impeding our ability to play our ukes. What was so encouraging was that not only did everyone performing enjoy themselves, but we received some lovely comments from our audience - yes, people actually stopped and listened to us, and they weren't all friends or family! Mike did a sterling job leading the singing and keeping us in tune, as well as playing ukulele and percussion. His wife, Caroline, provided bass, and several of their band joined us to lend their support and add volume. We felt it was a great success and agreed we would be happy to do a repeat performance next year.

If anyone would like information about the group, please contact Christina Good 07501302892



The Rain Gods have not given up: after being outsmarted by Our Great Leader last month they were more canny on this occasion. They waited till we had started before inflicting a miserable drizzle on the eight riders who had assembled for the ride; the damp, and the fact that we had to make the ascent of Snode Hill, led to a first: a minor rebellion against the dictates of OGL. He wanted to pursue a more adventurous path ("with wonderful views") to the Village Stores and Café at Preston Candover, but his route had more hills than the alternative, and he was forced to accept the wishes of the insurgents (whether this was influenced by the fact that Mrs OGL was numbered amongst the dissenters is something that will intrigue historians in the future).

Harmony was restored as the drizzle eased off and the prospect of coffee and cake came ever closer, and OGL's reputation for advanced skill in navigating the countryside of Hampshire was enhanced by his proclaiming that "when we get to the T-junction we need to go left...or possibly right..." But we made it and refreshed mind and body over a hot drink and a calorific top-up. Our sense of achievement was somewhat overshadowed by the recent news that a cyclist from Aldershot has ridden 1,000,000 miles over a period of nearly 70 years. Our minds were well and truly boggled and our dodgy knees shamed by this report.

To avoid any chance of further insurrection OGL handed over responsibility for direction-finding for the return journey to his capable assistant, Richard, who guided us effortlessly to the suburbs of Four Marks. The fact that our route took us suspiciously close to Richard's home territory, thereby ensuring him an early lunch, should not detract from his performance. The rest of us made our way back to Alton in good heart. We cycled 20.48 miles...which leaves only another 999,979.52 miles to go before we too can get on the telly.

Rob Smith

Social Cycling Cult (I think you mean "Group", Ed) Report for September

Over recent months sightings of Blessed Brian (Our Great Leader) have become rarer than those of King Elvis in Alton High Street, so it was no surprise that for our September ride we were in the Care-ful custody of his steadfast deputy, Richard. A sturdy group of us made our way out through Chawton Park woods and up the long drag to Four Marks. There Richard treated us to a tour of the lesser known paths and tracks of the village, but happily we ended up at our intended destination, the well-named Nosh Bar.

With coffee and cake to sustain us we conversed long and hard on matters of great import (did we utter the dreaded "B" word? If so, no fisticuffs ensued), and then we made a rather speedier journey back through Wivelrod and Thedden (surely two of Dickens' characters) and enjoyed a speed rush coming down Snode Hill. A good morning's health boost in excellent company.

The only question is: will Richard, after tasting power for three consecutive months, be willing to hand back the reins to OGL in October. Be at the Community Centre at 10.00 on Tuesday 1 October to find out.

To sustain you until then here is a cycling joke:
Q. Why is the hill leading up to Medstead from Bentworth called Trinity Hill?
A. Because it's so steep it feels like its 1 in 3.


Report of the August Cycle Ride

The time: 10am. The date: Tuesday 6 August 2019. The moment when four cyclists waiting outside the Community Centre realised that for the second successive month Blessed Brian, Our Great Leader, was not there to guide us. A slight chill descended. Could the rumours - that he has been sent to a Boot Camp in the West Country to be purged of ideological impurities - possibly be true? Was he, at that very moment, locked in a dingy room being forced to pedal furiously on an exercise bike whilst listening to ukulele music and watching videos of Morris Dancers whatever it is that Morris Dancers do?

But Richard, standing in for OGL, said there was no time for conjecture. The Awesome Foursome had a job to do: The ascent of Snode Hill, followed by a dash to the distant reaches of Alresford. Hills that two years ago would have stopped them in their tracks were climbed with ease (should that be wheeze? Ed) and a well-deserved coffee and bacon buttie stop was made at the Courtyard Cafe. Having refuelled, the Fab Four made their way back through Bighton and Medstead and finished with a glorious descent through Beech. In the course of a morning the world had been set to rights and some health-giving exercise enjoyed. A fine combination!

Rob Smith


Report of June 4th Cycle Ride

Hi Folks

Today’s ride was a bit shorter and sweeter than originally planned – I made it 13.46 miles at an average speed of 9.4mph. On the plus side, we got back home in the dry, having managed to beat the inevitable rain. Also, I was very impressed by the overall level of fitness on display, as illustrated by the way the entire 10-person peleton cruised up Snode Hill and still managed to sustain a few conversations on the way. We couldn’t have done that a couple of years ago!

The refreshment stop at Garthowen Nursery was pretty good, too, and the Cappuccino and cake went down well…..

Around the table the conversation topics included:

Alton Beer Festival (best time to attend is apparently Saturday evening, when it is not quite so busy, or failing that when they are clearing everything up on Sunday morning and they can’t even give the stuff away...)

Badgers (why do they like to eat custard creams?)

Basingstoke Big Wheel charity ride (this year it is on Sunday 21 July)

Cycling holidays

Cycling naked around Bristol (don’t ask!)

To name but a few.

Many thanks to those who turned out this month, and commiserations to those who couldn't make it. The next scheduled ride will be on Tuesday 2 July when Careful Richard will be leading the group on yet another adventure.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that the all-important day for renewing your membership this year is Friday 9 August. If you can’t make it on the day and you would like to re-new your membership of this group, please let me know and I’ll make sure that you won’t get left out by default.

Meanwhile, enjoy the summer when it finally arrives!

Best wishes



PS. Today’s picture, taken outside the Tree House Coffee Shop, is attached for your delectation and delight.


Report of May 7th Cycle Ride

Tuesday 7 May saw seven members and one guest ready to follow Brian, Our Great Leader, on another momentous cycling expedition. Such is OGL's faith in our fitness and stamina that halfway to Binsted he took us off piste so as to attempt a route with a much steeper hill than the one we are used to.

Our morale was somewhat dented by Geoff who said that the climb we were about to undertake is rather ominously known as "Dead Horse Hill", but we are trained to follow where OGL leads, and that is what we did. We huffed and we puffed our way to the top (except for our guest who has lived for many years in Yorkshire and who was heard to mutter, "Call that a hill? Where I come from that's nobbut a b****y pimple") and were treated to (when our panting slowed and we could re-open our eyes) fine views over the surrounding countryside, the sight of a lark descending and a short exposition by Geoff on the numerous Roman settlements in the vicinity.

Bucked by our physical achievement and new-found knowledge we made good time to reach the cafe at Kingsley Country Market. There we lingered over our coffee and cakes and conversed - below is a summary of some of the topics covered:

Agricultural Holdings - relative size thereof over the years
Chelsea FC - Europa League, prospects of progressing in
Clarkson, J - obnoxiousness of
Courses, new - how to promote
Froyle, Upper and Lower - rationale for their being so-named, Friday morning coffee and cake sales at
Hedges - removal of (1960s), replacement of (since 2000)
Hop pickers - numbers, arrival and departure of, stopping places for
Potatoes - traditional day for planting of
Premium Bonds - introduction of, minimum holding, chances of winning, comparison with other investments
Saxophone - ability to perform alongside ukulele

Refreshed in body and mind we made our way back to Alton. We knew there was a long climb up to Binsted, so OGL distracted us by taking us along a lane called "The Straits" (which was anything but and included a steep hill); we were undeterred and in total covered just over 15 miles whilst experiencing fun, fresh air, friendship and frothy coffee.

The only disappointment was that Chris didn't give his flashy new bike an airing. Rumour has it that the police have had to recalibrate their radar guns in order to catch him as he zooms along the local roads. We eagerly await a glimpse on our June ride.

Rob Smith


Hi Folks
Another splendid outing today - good exercise, good company, and some uplifting distant views along the way.
I'm sure the cakes at the Country Market just keep on getting better each time we go there, too!
Special thanks are due to Geoff for the impromptu educational input on the history, geography, and ecology of the area as we all took time out to admire the view after the climb up past Mill Court........
For the record, my Strava showed that we covered a total of 16.7 miles at an average speed of 9.5 mph. Not bad, eh?
The obligatory team photo taken at Sleaford after the coffee break is attached.
Here's looking forward to our next ride, on Tuesday 4 June!
Best wishes
Brian Good



After some 18 months activity the Social Cycling Group is maturing (the same cannot be said for its members whose trajectory is generally in the opposite direction). The group's maturation can be shown by the way it deals with hills.

When we started, every hill, regardless of length or gradient, caused us all to experience the long list of side effects that you normally only see when you bother to read the leaflet that comes with your latest medication: extreme breathlessness, sweating, heart palpitations, watery eyes, flat feet, itchiness and rashes, runny nose, fainting fits, memory loss, muscle cramps, dehydration and giddiness.

But now we are much more discerning We have learned that there are four types of hill, namely (in descending, if that's the right word,) order of severity: The Pant, The Gasp, The Grunt and the Push.

The Pant (Snode Hill comes to mind) still causes all the above physical effects, but many of the other hills we encounter have been put into lower grades and we now manage them with equanimity.

So it was that when Blessed Brian (Our Great Leader) announced that we would go up to Four Marks through Chawton Park Wood we were not filled with alarm, as that hill is now either a Gasp or a Grunt, depending on how often you go out on your bike. What he hadn't told us before we started is that the track leading to the foot of the hill was a muddy swamp (his cheery cry of, "It was all right last week when I used it, folks" did not entirely dispel our dismay). But we churned our way through the boggy bits and either gasped or grunted our way to the top and on to the Four Marks Golf Club for the compulsory refreshment and chat stop. There we lingered contentedly till it was time to speed our way back via Farringdon, the Worldhams, Wyck and Holybourne with only a Push or two to test our developing leg musculature.

It was about 15 miles in all, our average speed would have made a tortoise blush, but we enjoyed ourselves no end.
Rob Smith

From Brian Good
Hi Folks
Another splendid ride today - good company, good coffee, and surprisingly good weather considering the forecast!

The vital statistics - we covered 16.6 miles at a majestically sedate average speed of 8.8mph (I blame the mud in Chawton Park Woods.....)

The attached slightly fuzzy photo proves that some of us were there - those who missed out can only sit and lament their misfortune. (See Gallery)


SOCIAL CYCLE RIDES will be on the first Tuesday of the month throughout the year. They will start at 10am and will be at a leisurely pace of a distance that the riders are happy with. As far as possible, routes will follow quiet roads, and occasionally, firm off-road tracks.
No one will be left behind!

Although a reasonable level of fitness is desirable, these are social rides, strictly for
pleasure, and are not intended for racing or intensive exercise.
Riders do not need to be super-fit, and it is OK to get off and push when we reach the steeper sections.
All participants must have an e-mail address so that we can keep in touch in case of any last-minute change of plans.

If you are interested in joining this ride, please email:

Please also ensure that your bike is roadworthy.