VIRTUAL group rides and races have become the new normal for Dunfermline Cycling Club members during three months of lockdown.

But, while their regular activities have had to be put on hold because of coronavirus, finding different ways of getting in the saddle is maintaining spirits while they await the go-ahead for racing to return.

With social distancing measures remaining in place – and likely to be for some time to come – club rides, normally held on Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays, are not taking place, while regular competitive events like the Jack Murray Road Race, Eileen Roe Shield Women's Road Race and Tour of the Kingdom Sportive, have either been postponed or cancelled.

The club's Knockhill Mountain Time Trial had been due to take place before COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, at the beginning of March, but flooding put paid to that going ahead.

Like many other sporting organisations across West Fife, the cycling club have found the last few months tough going but chairperson Scott Hutchinson said they were "keeping in good spirits".

"There's certainly been a big impact as you would expect," he told Press Sport.

"The club's outdoor activities have obviously been on hold, so that's all of our social rides and group rides throughout the week. We can't do any of them because, generally, there's more than eight people and you're normally within a couple of metres of each other.

"We had to cancel pretty much all of our events this year. We hold a number of competitive races, as well as the sportive, so that's all been cancelled, and I'd be surprised if there's any racing activity before the end of the year now.

"We are starting to see some of that being relaxed down in England but, obviously, we're a wee bit behind up here.

"The club's pretty much on hold in that regard."

Despite that, the club and its members have been embracing technology to keep pedalling and stay connected, as Scott continued: "We've tried to keep the members engaged largely through online activity.

"We've got a private Facebook page so there's been regular posting on there and we held our first-ever virtual club meeting a couple of weeks ago, which was quite interesting.

"Cycling's quite fortunate that there's quite a number of virtual training platforms, notably one called Zwift. Essentially, it's a massive, global platform, almost like a gaming platform. If you want a comparison, it's maybe a bit like XBox Live.

"Effectively, you can ride these virtual courses alongside people from all over the world. It's very clever and you can organise group rides and races on that. We've been using that as a way of keeping the membership engaged.

"That's certainly helped when maybe the weather's not been so great or you want to ride with a bit of company. We've got a few partners, husbands or wives within the club, so they were allowed to go out together, and a lot of the club have been going out and enjoying the sunshine on their own, but we're definitely missing the social aspect."

Scott, who in November was elected onto the board of Scottish Cycling, added: "For some people, that might be their only social activity, so I think it's quite hard for some of the members.

"That's why we've tried to keep up the engagement online but it's not the same. Meeting up with someone for a coffee on a bike ride is one of life's fundamental pleasures, and I know that many of us are missing it, including myself."