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 over the autumn and into the winter. 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:


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

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!

August 2020

Ellen writes…

Hello Everybody,

Well, here we are, (nearly) in August, and I’m afraid that I still can’t give you any news about when we are likely to be able to start organised group rides again. Just to reiterate; we are an informal members’ group of the national cycling organisation, Cycling UK. We can’t restart our rides programme until told by Cycling UK that we can do so. I know this will be particularly frustrating to those of you who enjoy our shorter rides.

Informal rides through the BikeBuddies WhatsApp group

Those of us who have been riding throughout lockdown have been busy organising ourselves into groups of six maximum and riding together, often several times in a week, which has been wonderful: see our Isis in Isolation photo album for July 2020.

These rides are generally a minimum of 15 miles in length and have no leader or sweeper as official Isis Cyclists rides do. Obviously, there is a plan and somebody knows where the ride is going, but ultimately everyone is responsible for themselves.

If you would like to join a ride on this basis, then email info@isiscyclists.org.uk with your name and phone number so that you can be signed up to the Bike Buddies WhatsApp group. If you would like to ride but worry that these rides will be too fast, etc. please still sign up.

There are plenty of shorter routes on our website and if you put out a plea for a bike buddy on the group then you will probably still find some. If the route is short, then nobody will expect to ride fast. I normally go on a town-based 10-mile ride on my Brompton on days when I work, so you may find I respond!

Cafés and tea rooms that have reopened

Many cafes are now open, and you can usually get a takeout if you don’t want to sit inside. Here is a list of venues and their opening hours, compiled by Oxfordshire Cycling UK’s midweek group.

County Council bid for funding for active travelling schemes

Finally, I’m sure that, whether you have been on two feet or two wheels, you will have enjoyed the better air quality and quieter roads that lockdown has brought. The County Council is currently preparing a funding bid for 2.4 million pounds from central government for tranche 2 of funding for active travel schemes. They received only half of what they bid for in the first tranche because they were not sufficiently ambitious, and we and other cycling/walking/environmental organisations in the county don’t want this to happen again. So we are asking for people to write to their County Councillor. The more emails they receive the better, and the more you can personalise your letter the better too.

Those of you living in E. Oxford may also like to politely enquire if/when the low-traffic neighbourhoods in Cowley will be implemented (which was part of tranche 1). Cyclox have helpfully produced a template email: for this, and more information please send an email to info@isiscyclists.org.uk.

I think that we’ve all seen an increase in motorised traffic in and around town lately and the worry is that this will only increase as people return to work and don’t want to take public transport. Thanks to all those of you who have responded to this plea via Cyclox or other cycling/walking organisations that you belong to. Together we can (and hopefully will) make a difference.

Happy Cycling!

July 2020

Ellen writes…

Welcome to this edition of the Isis Cyclists Newsletter. Things have eased somewhat during June, and small groups of riders have been organising themselves to ride together via the Bike Buddies WhatsApp group. A maximum of six riders can now ride together as long as social distancing is followed. The much anticipated changes to social distancing are unlikely to greatly affect our group riding because it seems that 2m will still be the advised “inter-personal separation” in most circumstances that we encounter whilst riding. What we expect to change is the opening of pubs, restaurants and cafes. Food will be served on the premises. However, we don’t really know how this will work yet, how much pre-booking will be required and to what extent things will vary from one establishment to the next.

There’s no sign yet that we can start organising formal rides again. It will be good to see how catering works out by trying it individually and in small groups over the next few weeks. My feeling is that whenever we start up again, things will not be the same as they were in the “old days.” We have always worked hard to keep Isis rides as informal as possible to allow last-minute decisions to join and to avoid booking. However, the new world we will be emerging into will probably require more prior commitment. Anyway, we will see how things unfold.

I have been riding throughout lockdown and one thing I’ve noticed is that having a proper sit-down café break makes a ride much less tiring. It allows your body to refuel and to recuperate. So I think that, if we have to have more “do it yourself” refreshment breaks when we restart formal rides, we will need to moderate distances slightly to compensate. Hopefully we will have fully worked out new ways of doing things before the weather deteriorates. However, I have been trying to think of places where we could plan al fresco refreshment stops undercover. If you know of any public areas that are covered, perhaps in your local park,  please let us know. As we start up and head into autumn this knowledge will be very useful.

Here is a link to Isis in semi-isolation June 2020 where you can see what some of us have been up to this month.

Enjoy your riding and stay healthy in July!