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For the second month running there was no cheery email from Blessed Brian, Our Great Leader and Behelmeted Behemoth, landing with a satisfying "plop" in our inboxes announcing the next Social Cycling group Ride on the first Tuesday of the month. Instead an eerie silence, meaning that we are still having to ride solo or with family members for another few weeks, with no prospect of a coffee, cake and comradely chat stop anywhere on the horizon.

Instead we are left to go through our memory store, of glorious rides and daring deeds of the past. To those dark days when every hill was a mountain of Himalayan proportions, and it was quicker to walk up Snode Hill rather than burst a lung and try to cycle up it. Now we are bronzed and fit, and we can grade hills according to their severity: Lung Buster, Gasp, Grunt, Puff, Drag, Minor Inconvenience. We remember the stirring deeds of the Yew Tree Six who ventured out into one of the darkest, wettest days of January two years ago and were rewarded with a life-saving hot soup at the pub of that name (OGL, Chris A, Chris C, Jim, Christina and the writer being the sodden six).

There was the rebellion of 2019: "This way, it's much more scenic", declared our OGL, but there was muttering from the troops (Mrs OGL being a prominent voice) as the hoi polloi wanted a less hilly route. For once democracy outwitted autocracy. And there was Geoff who blithely told us, as we gathered at the foot of a formidable looking incline, "this is Dead Horse Hill." We swallowed our fear nevertheless and made it to the top. These images will sustain us.

So we look forward to our group rides starting again, to the leisurely pedalling and the even more leisurely chatting, eating and drinking. Those days will return, so be of good cheer......Rob Smith



Normally, on the first Tuesday of the month the scene outside the Community Centre at 9.55am is one of excited anticipation, as members of Alton U3A Social Cycling Group meet for their monthly ride. On their minds is the prospect of coffee, cake and convivial chatter (for the more refined) and for the rest bacon butties, builders' tea and bull, and, almost incidentally, a bit of comradely cycling to add a feeling of virtue to the morning's calorific intake. And, of course, the assembled members await the arrival, on the stroke of 10.00 minus 15 seconds, of Blessed Brian, Our Great Leader, direction finder extraordinaire and fount of knowledge of cafes within a 10 mile radius of Alton.

But these are not normal times. Hence the scene at 9.55 on Tuesday 6 April was much more bleak. A nearly empty car park and not a single cyclist in sight, a reflection of the difficulties and suffering being experienced by so many people across the country. The Group (hastily renamed the Social (Distancing) Cycling Group) had had to call off its monthly ride. Whilst OGL, our Be-helmeted Behemoth, has seen off numerous assaults by the Rain Gods and other Meteorological Malcontents there was nothing he, even with his superpowers, could do about the Covid-19 outbreak.

But the members of the group are hardy souls, and as the weather warms up the amount of solo and family group cycling is increasing. A WhatsApp group keeps members in touch, and a running quiz has developed whereby members post photographs of places they have visited on their daily exercise breaks, leaving the rest to guess the location. One member (take a bow, Di!) has had to be banned from answering first, as her knowledge of the area is so great that she recognises every building and view that members post.

We wish all our members good health, and look forward to the resumption of normal service as soon as possible.

From Brian Good & Rob Smith