An Outline History of Alton Cycling Club

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Since its foundation the Alton Cycling Club has had at least three distinct periods of existence, each separated by a decade or more. It was founded originally in 1878 as the Alton Bicycle Club, in the same year as the national bodies the Bicycle Union (later the National Cyclists’ Union) and the Cyclists’ Touring Club were established. The first members of Alton Bicycle Club enjoyed leisure rides and massed-start racing on local open roads until this was banned by the NCU in the 1890s.  There was also a tricycle club at this time. A club continued to exist in Alton throughout the late nineteenth century but waned either before or during the early years of the twentieth century. It is likely, though not as yet confirmed, that it folded along with so many other clubs at the outbreak of the First World War.

Nothing is then known of a cycling club in Alton for over a decade, but a new era began in 1934 when the new Alton Cycling Club was founded. Records of this time exist from 1937 onwards which show club members were very active in time trialling and enjoyed weekend social rides. The club continued throughout the Second World War and into the 1950s but then floundered again in 1959, a time which coincided with a huge growth in car ownership and increasingly busy roads. Cycling had become less popular as a sport and there was no cycling club in Alton during the 1960s or for most of the 1970s.  Alton cyclists interested in racing had to join the Farnham club, while leisure rides were organised by a CTC group established in the 1970s.

The third and current phase of the Alton Cycling Club began in 1978 when the club was re-launched by a group of local cycling enthusiasts, and it has continued to grow over the years to a recent peak of over 90 members following the 2012 London Olympics. Members today take part in time trials, audaxes, sportives and off-road events as well as regular club runs. Cycling has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity nationwide, and the Alton Cycling Club today is in as strong a position as it ever has been to promote all types of cycling activities for local cyclists.
January 2015
JLM