July 2019

In this issue:

Ellen writes…

Welcome to the Isis Cyclists July 2019 newsletter. I hope that you have managed to get out and about on your bike, even though the weather has felt at times more like March than June.

I shouldn’t complain, though, because our weekend away turned out to be charmed, weather-wise. Yes, it was cold and very wet at times during the weekend, but not when we were actually riding. Twenty-four of us had a great time based at Banbury Hill, just outside Charlbury. Riders had a choice of two rides on the Saturday. Lucy Tennyson led a ride which visited Daylesford and Chastleton House, and I led a slightly longer ride to Stow on the Wold. As always good fortune smiled on us, especially in the morning when we were feeling in need of “a little something” and we came across a village fete in Bledington. The cake stall wasn’t opening for another 20 minutes, but we found refreshments being served in the village hall to tide us over until it was! After all the rain, the sun came out, legs and arms were bared, and the Cotswold villages and countryside looked stunning.


Enjoying a picnic on the return ride from Charlbury

I will be leading this year’s 50-mile challenge ride on Saturday 7th September. The plan will be to ride down to Didcot to pick up the Didcot to Upton cycle track which uses a disused railway track and is part of the Didcot to Wantage cycle route. From Upton we will continue on the route for lunch at a café in Ardington before entering Wantage, and returning home through the Vale of the White Horse. As usual the ride will be taken at a steady pace and we offer plenty of chances to enjoy the views in a part of the county that we don’t often get to ride in.

Hopefully July will see summer come to stay. Anyway, we’ve got another varied selection of rides, so we’d love to see you out on some.

Happy cycling!

Photos from June’s rides:


Meet from 1.15pm in Bonn Square at the end of Queen Street for a prompt 1.30pm departure. We will ride down St Ebbes to the river Thames and follow it towards Osney/Botley, along Willow Walk to N Hinksey and up a short stretch of Harcourt Hill.

The Conduit House is located off a track leading from Harcourt Hill; access is on foot only and is about a ten-minute walk from Harcourt Hill Road. It was built during the early 17th century. It is a remarkable survival of Oxford’s first piped water supply.

From there we will retrace our tracks back to the Thames and pick up the South Oxford Cycle Route to the Ring Road and down on to the Thames just South of Iffley, so that we can have tea and cakes at the Isis Tavern before returning to Oxford along the Thames tow path. The ride is 8 miles with a short stretch of walking. The ride leader is Clare Farley.


We will meet at the Beirut Restaurant (on the corner of Osler Road and London Road in Headington, OX3 7RA) at 09:45am for a 10am start. We’ll wind our way through Old Headington and Barton to the countryside. We will follow country lanes as much as possible onto Horton-cum-Studley and return via Stanton St John – a route that feels particularly rural. We will stop for coffee and cake at the Tractor Shed, Rectory Farm – so bring panniers and bags if you want to pick your own or buy their fruit and vegetables. For what is currently available, visit the Rectory Farm website.

This ride is about 13 miles and is hilly. All 4 hills will be taken at your own speed (at a gentle pace or walked) with regular regroupings, and of course there is the benefit of beautiful sweeping descents as a reward! The ride leader will be Lucy Wright.


Meet outside Oxford Campus Stores on Broad St, Oxford for a prompt 9.30am departure for coffee at Hacketts Food & Drink in Farmoor. The route will include a climb of Hinksey Hill to Old Boars Hill before a descent to Wootton. From there the ride continues through Besselsleigh and onto Cumnor where another descent (with hopefully clear views of the Reservoir) will take us to the coffee stop. The return to Oxford is direct via Botley. This 15-mile long ride is a mixed ride organised by Oxford City Cycling UK and led by Steven Tuohy. The pace will be similar to that on an Isis Cyclists’ long ride and Isis Cyclists are welcome to come along. You can see the route on the website of Oxford City Cycling UK.


Meet in Radcliffe Square, Oxford (at the back of the University Church) from 9.45am for a prompt 10 am departure. We will head out of Oxford via the river towpath and Willow Walk to North Hinksey. For a change, we will tackle Yarnells Hill which is steep, but can be ridden slowly or walked. We will then ride into the Vale of White Horse via Cumnor, Appleton, Hinton Waldrist and Pusey before reaching our lunch stop at The Horse and Jockey PH in Stanford in the Vale. The return route will be via Charney Bassett, Fyfield, Tubney, Cothill and Sunningwell. We will approach Oxford using the Sustrans path from Kennington and along the river towpath to Folly Bridge. The route is 37 miles long (17 miles out and 20 miles back) and involves a single hill (Yarnells Hill) from N. Hinksey towards Cumnor. After that the ride is pretty much flat. The ride leader will be Liz Weekes.


This month we will be investigating one of the iconic sights and sounds of summer in Oxford, the swift. Meet outside Lady Margaret Hall (Norham Gardens, Oxford) from 1pm for a prompt 1.15pm start. For our first stop we will walk into the University Parks to look at the newly installed swift tower whose design incorporates 25 nest boxes. We will then start the ride proper by briefly visiting the University Museum, home to the oldest monitored nesting colony in the country and described in detail in Andrew Lack’s book Swifts in a Tower. We will then take the cycle track to Marston and visit “my birds” in St Clements. I’ve been carrying out surveys here all summer, identifying nest sites and so, with any luck, we’ll see some exciting low flying and nest visiting action. From there, we continue to the Westgate Centre to view a building that incorporates “swift bricks” which are a cheap alternative to nest boxes and that can be incorporated in new buildings. Finally, we will end up in Jericho to look at a swift nest box. Refreshments will be in Jericho. The ride is approximately 6 miles long and will take around 3 hours (including refreshments) as there will be quite a lot to stare at! The ride leader will be Ellen Lee.


Our annual ride to the Reading Room. Meet at 1:15pm for a 1:30pm departure outside Costa Coffee on the main Banbury Road in Summertown. We will head north on quiet roads and tracks to Bletchingdon, and from there, via Enslow and Wootton, to Combe. Our tea stop at the Combe Reading Room is at the half-way point of the ride. After our cream tea we will head back to Oxford via Long Hanborough and Worton. From there, you can choose to head home via Eynsham or the A40, or via Yarnton and the Canal, via Wolvercote, to Summertown. The ride is 27.5 miles long (if you opt for the Yarnton route home) and moderately hilly, but all hills can be taken at your own pace or walked if necessary. There is a short rough section at Enslow, to avoid a busy hill, but it is possible for all types of bikes.

This is a mixed social ride, so male partners and friends are very welcome to join us. The ride leader is Jane Carlton Smith.


This ride didn’t happen last month due to rain and so we are hoping for better luck this time!

Meet outside the Up in Arms PH on the Marston Road (opposite Londis) at 6pm for a prompt 6.15pm start. We will head out of Oxford on quieter roads and cycle paths and head towards Islip for a loop around Otmoor before stopping at the Abingdon Arms PH in Beckley for refreshments. We will then head straight back to Oxford and take the quieter back roads through Barton to return to Marston Road where the ride will end. Please note that the majority of the ride (17 miles) will be before the refreshment stop and we will need to maintain a steady pace averaging 11 or 12 mph in order to make sure we’re not out too late. The ride is hilly, but hills will be taken at your own speed with regular regrouping. The ride leader is Natasha Williams. You can view the ride here at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30095265