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Monthly Programme

Welcome to Isis Cyclists, an informal member group of Oxford Cycling UK. We publish details of our rides month by month, and you’ll find the current month’s rides in the online version of our newsletter (scroll down below this introduction). During the current coronavirus pandemic we are offering a limited programme of rides, in keeping with the Government’s rules and guidance from Cycling UK. We will be concentrating on short and medium rides for the time being. Rides will have a maximum of 6 people, and you will need to keep to social distancing rules at all times.

We have also published a selection of routes on this website, so that people can continue to go for rides independently.

There’s quite a lot of information on this page, most of it designed to reassure you. Please do take the time to read and absorb it…

The plan

We are organising rides twice a month:

  • 1st Saturday morning of the month: 3 short & steady rides (8-10 miles)
  • 3rd Saturday morning of the month: 2 medium rides (11-20 miles)

Each group on a particular day will take a different route. The routes and group leaders are advertised monthly in the newsletter. Routes are selected from the ‘selection of routes‘ page of the website, so you can look at them beforehand and choose one. However, each group must contain no more than 6 people: the leader and 5 participants

We are operating a first-come, first-served system to avoid the complexities of booking and the risk of people booking but not turning up, thereby leaving unfilled spaces. 

Longer rides will continue to be organised informally through the ‘Bike Buddies’ WhatsApp group. Alternatively, you can find some routes to follow yourself on our ‘selection of routes‘ page.

Before you leave home:

  • Social distancing rules mean that we cannot offer any mechanical assistance. So, make sure that your bike is in good working order and you have a plan for getting home if the worst happens. Happily, breakdowns occur very rarely. In any case, Short and Steady rides tend to stay within 3 miles of the city centre. 
  • Pack sanitiser and/or wipes, and a face covering.
  • Although the ride will include a refreshment break, there may not be a suitable café. So, if there is no café stop, or if you don’t wish to go inside one, bring something to drink and eat. (See the newsletter for the arrangements for an individual ride.)
  • Bring a padlock which is long enough to loop through your frame and a railing (or similar), as you won’t be able to share someone else’s.
  • This should be self-evident… if you have been around someone with covid-19 symptoms in the past 2 weeks or are experiencing covid-like symptoms yourself (even if you haven’t been tested), stay at home!

At the start of the ride:

All rides will meet in Radcliffe Square

When you arrive, you will find one leader at the back of the church and the other two on either side of the Radcliffe Camera. Simply join your selected group. If it’s already full, you will need to join another. If all three groups are full (unlikely!), you won’t be able to come out with us that day. 

Group leaders should be in position a quarter of an hour before the advertised departure time. If your leader hasn’t arrived yet, please keep your distance from others and don’t accidentally end up in a large group. 

The leader will fill in the rider register herself in order to avoid passing round pen and paper. The register will also serve as our record for the NHS track and trace service, so we ask you to co-operate by giving your name and personal contact number, as well as an emergency contact in case of need on the ride.

On the ride:

We ask you, please, to: 

  • Follow your group leader and try to avoid bunching up, although this is difficult at crossings and junctions. Just be sensible and do your best. 
  • Don’t ride two abreast, unless we’re on
    • very lightly trafficked roads with adequate width and very good sight lines or
    • wide off-road routes.
  • Look out for each other and let the leader know if anyone gets behind or needs to stop for any reason. 
  • If you need to stop, just tell the leader and they will find somewhere safe to do so.
  • If you start to feel ill with covid-like symptoms during the ride, please tell the leader. We’ll have to ask you to leave the ride immediately. 

Every ride will still stop for a refreshment break, either at a café or in the open air (e.g. a park). If the area is in Tier 1 (medium risk), it is still possible to visit a café; if the area moves to Tier 2 (high risk) or above, it the break must take place in the open air. The description of the ride in the newsletter will tell you the planned venue. When we stop, avoid parking bikes on top of each other and/or sharing a padlock.

After the ride:

If you start to feel ill with covid-like symptoms and/or test positive in the next 2 weeks, please let us know (as well as the NHS tracing service), so that we can co-operate with the NHS tracing service. Use the contact email info@isiscyclists.org.uk; you should also pass this to the tracing service.

And finally…

We apologise for this long list of instructions, but we must make sure that we can all enjoy our riding safely by following the official guidance and staying within the law. The ride leaders are doing as much as they can to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection on our rides, in accordance with the risk assessment measures published by Cycling UK (see the list of links below). However, we cannot eliminate risk entirely, so we ask you to act responsibly for both yourself and others.

Things may seem strange at first, but we’ll soon get used to them and be able to focus on the cycling once again.

Useful links:


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Isis Cyclists and Oxford Cycling UK are part of Cycling UK.

I want to be motivational and inspirational for everybody: my big aim is more women on bicycles.” – Marianne Vos

December 2020

In this issue:

The spectacular annual murmurations of starlings on Otmoor proved a popular destination for individual rides in November.

Ellen writes…

Hello Everybody,

Unless there is a last minute hitch, the rule of 6 outdoors is back this week, and so we are able to offer our intended programme of rides in December! However, as we are emerging in the new “improved” Tier 2, I’m afraid that there won’t be any indoor cafe stops. You are strongly advised to bring your own refreshments as it may not be possible to get take-away coffee and cake.

I hope that you have managed to get out and about a bit during the current lock-down. With short days, this is much more of a challenge than it was in the spring. I’m lucky that my work recognises the importance of fresh air and exercise. This means that I can take an hour or so out in the middle of the day to get on my bike. On sunny days, being outside during daylight hours is just such a mood lifter.

I’m not the only Isis Cyclist who has been out there making the most of slightly quieter roads. Below is a link to “Isis in Isolation” photographs for November 2020. I make no apology for having selected a number of stunning skyscape and sunset pictures. When the gloom has lifted, we’ve had some wonderful skies to enjoy. November is a real transition month. At the start of the month the autumn colours were still really vibrant, but by the end the countryside is definitely in winter mode. For obvious reasons there are fewer people in this month’s photos, but plenty of stunning scenery.

Isis in Isolation – November 2020

Saturday 5th December: Short Rides

Meet from 9.45am for a 10am departure in Radcliffe Square, Oxford (at the back of the University Church). Note: each ride comprise 6 cyclists maximum.

Sarah Twine will lead a scenic city parks ride which is a 7-mile route taking in some of Oxford’s many parks and green spaces. It will include a climb up to Headington, but on a quiet back road where riders can go at their own pace or walk if they wish. If you want to check the route out beforehand there is a link below:

Route: https://gb.mapometer.com/cycling/route_5073247.html

Ellen Lee will lead an 11-mile ride which will head out through North Oxford and Jericho before cutting across to Botley Rd and Osney Island to North Hinksey. The route then returns to Oxford via Wytham, Wolvercote and down the newly surfaced Oxford Canal. The link to the route is below:

Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/34460213

Saturday 19th December: Medium Rides

Meet from 9.45am for a 10am departure in Radcliffe Square, Oxford (at the back of the University Church). Note: each ride comprise 6 cyclists maximum. However, it may be possibe to run a second group to the Bothy Vineyard, subject to the availability of an additional leader.

Liz Matthews will lead a ride south-west to the award-winning Bothy Vineyard, which is holding a Christmas mini-market from 11am to 5pm. The outward route takes us through South Oxford, Kennington and Sunningwell, and we return via Cothill, Wootton and Cumnor. In addition to the Bothy’s own wines, there will be other stalls selling jams, cakes, fresh samosas and other goodies, all in a Covid-secure environment. Since the vineyard is ending its wine production, this will be one of your last chances to purchase its produce, so leave room in your panniers for a bottle or two!

At a distance of 20.7 miles this ride is on the long side of medium, but is generally flat. Because it’s so close to Christmas, feel free to deck your bike (and/or yourself) in festive garb.

Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/34164184

Karen Wolff will lead a 17-mile ride which will be the reverse of the route in the link below! It will start by climbing Cumnor Hill before riding through Besselsleigh, Dry Sandford, Cothill, Sunningwell and back into Oxford along the Sustrans track and river towpath.

Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/34164184

November 2020

Ellen writes…

Autumn berries near Cothill

I can’t quite believe it, but this is the 100th newsletter that I’ve written since I took over doing it in 2012! I was very much hoping that it would be an up-beat edition, with plenty of interesting rides on offer. However, the announcement of the new national lockdown well and truly scuppered that hope!

So, we are back where we were, unable to offer any rides until the lockdown that starts on November 5th is lifted. However, rest assured that we are ready to start as soon as we possibly can. In the meantime, it is still be possible to ride either with members of your own household (or bubble) or with a single other person.

Bike Buddies, our WhatsApp group, can still be used to arrange single riding partners in addition to sharing your adventures, asking for riding-related help/information and keeping in touch. If you are not a member and would like to join, send an email via the Contact Us page and I’ll add you.

On the bright side, after some nifty rescheduling to avoid the wettest day ever recorded in October, we managed to run both short & steady and medium rides in their new Covid-friendly format. It was wonderful to meet riders whom I hadn’t seen since March and to find out what they had found to do to get them through the lockdown and subsequent easing. It seems that everyone who has cycled has found it a source of comfort and inspiration, a real aid to maintaining sanity. Despite the onset of colder weather, we will be continuing to call upon its unique ability to uplift mind and body.

Anyway, here are some photographs taken during October’s Isis Cyclists rides: Isis In Action – October 2020 Photos

I hope to bring some better news concerning group cycling in my 101st newsletter next month!

Happy cycling!

October 2020

In this issue:

Note: The short rides originally scheduled for Saturday 3rd are now taking place on Saturday 24th.

Picnicking at Lechlade on 6th September

Ellen writes…

Welcome to the October 2020 edition of the Isis Cyclists Newsletter. After months of Isis Cyclists inactivity, and assuming that Covid-related rules don’t change again in the next few days, we are restarting rides!

Isis rides won’t be quite the same as they were, but we have concentrated on getting a system in place that allows a reasonable number of riders to take part while avoiding the need to commit in advance. Please read the notes at the top of the Home page for a reminder of what you need to know and what you need to bring with you when joining a ride.

To help you choose a ride we have included links to the routes on our ‘selected routes’ page. Please note that all of the rides will start in Radcliffe Square, even if the routes shown in Mapometer or Ride with GPS begin somewhere else.

And before I forget, here is the link to photographs of what Isis Cyclist members got up to informally in September. Let’s hope that this will be the last “Isis in Isolation” photo album!

Saturday 17th October: Medium Rides

Please meet in Radcliffe Square promptly at 9:45am so that the leader can fill in the rider registers and explain how the rides will work before you set off at 10:00am.

Group 1:

Group 2:

Saturday 24th October: Short Rides

Please meet in Radcliffe Square promptly at 9:45am so that the leader can fill in the rider registers and explain how the rides will work before you set off at 10:00am.

Group 1:

Group 2:

Group 3:

September 2020

Ellen writes…

Welcome to the Isis Cyclists September 2020 newsletter! I hope that you are all well and have been able to get out and about this past month, despite the weather. It seems to me that it’s either been ridiculously hot or cold, wet, and windy! 

Restarting group rides: not for the foreseeable future

Hopes that we would soon be able to restart our programme of group rides received a setback with the re-imposition of strict restrictions on gatherings, announced on 9th September. This is a big disappointment, particularly as we planned to focus initially on short and steady rides, which many of you have missed during the lockdown.

We are keeping the Bike Buddies group going for people to get together informally in groups of six or fewer, and various buddies enjoyed a great selection of medium and long rides during August. The routes on our website have been a great success and we are hoping to add some more soon, particularly for shorter distances. They have proved a fantastic springboard to adventure! You can see what the Bike Buddies have been up to in August in our latest Isis in Isolation album. You may notice that a few have ventured well beyond Oxfordshire!

Resurfacing work on part of the Sustrans route in Abingdon

Some welcome resurfacing work will start soon on the Sustrans route between Abingdon and Oxford, from Abbey Meadows, Abingdon through Barton Fields towards Radley Lakes. For several years this section has been a rough ride, so improvements can’t come soon enough. I understand that the track will be both widened and resurfaced. Apparently they will be using “flexipave”, the same surface that was used recently to upgrade the Peep-O-Day lane section (south of Abingdon). Here, there were issues with pedestrians and cyclists breaking through the barriers to use the track before the surface had settled properly. This meant that repairs had to be made that shouldn’t have been necessary, and which sucked in resources that could have been used for other cycling projects. So we have been asked to obey closures as they are for our own benefit. The best current estimate is that Abbey Meadows/Barton Fields section of track will be shut from September 7th to November 18th. There will be a diversion signed via Audlett Drive.

I’ve heard rumours that the Canal and River Trust has applied for money to continue its resurfacing work on the Oxford Canal northwards from Wolvercote. It would be wonderful if this comes to fruition. The section completed this spring is wonderful and has really enhanced the canal towpath cycling experience.

Happy cycling!