September 2019

In this issue:

Ellen writes…


Out and about on the 40-mile ride on 17th August

Well here we are on the brink of autumn. Most of our August rides had lovely weather except for the medium ride to Bletchingdon where the brave few were battered by wind and rain, but still made it to the café! The social tea ride suffered the opposite extreme with temperatures rising to more than 30 degrees. I hope that you will be able to take advantage of some of our September rides, especially as we will be enjoying our final stop & stare and evening social rides of the year.

Our experiment with organising a van/car assist ride on 31st August was very successful. Eleven riders enjoyed the Cotswold scenery on our ride from Lechlade. Some of us also enjoyed visiting Kelmscott Manor with its Arts & Crafts connections. Some of us also enjoyed a look around Fairford Church which has some wonderful mediaeval stained glass showing you in graphic detail what to expect if you end up in hell! We are hoping that we might have a couple of such rides a year. They really let us explore more distant countryside that otherwise we just wouldn’t get to see. We have some more ideas, so watch this space.

The Isis Cyclists leaders got together in July to plan rides until the end of November. However, we are always pleased to receive suggestions from you about places to visit and new refreshments stops to try out. So, please do let us know if you have any bright ideas. You can always use the Contact us page; messages do get through to me.

Happy cycling!

Check our photo site for pictures taken on our rides in August:


The September Stop and Stare is a stop and pick ride to Rectory Farm three miles east of Headington. Meet at 11am outside Jacobs and Field near Waitrose in Headington. We’ll go in search of autumn strawberries and any vegetables in season, so bring your containers, and a pannier or two! There’s also  a farm shop and cafe. This six-mile ride will involve a bit of a pull up to Stanton St John. However, don’t let this put you off as we will go at a slow pace suitable for all and walking is absolutely fine. The ride leader is Lucy Tennyson.


Starting out

Meet from 9am for a prompt 9.15am departure in Radcliffe Square, outside the Vaults Café. This year’s route will take us through Abingdon and Didcot to explore some of the spring-line villages of the Berkshire Downs. We will leave Oxford in the direction of Kennington. If you live in South Oxford, you may instead prefer to meet us (at 9.30-9.35am) on the Abingdon Rd, near where it meets Bertie Place and outside the Travelodge. If you want to meet us here, please email me to let me know, otherwise me might go without you.


We will begin by riding to Abingdon on road via Kennington, Bagley Wood, Sunningwell and Shippon. Our first stop of the day, after 9 miles, will be for coffee at one of the cafés in the Market Square. We will then pick up Sustrans route 5 to Sutton Courtenay and Didcot, riding around the perimeter of the power station (interesting, but perhaps not scenic!). We’ll then ride through Didcot, passing the train station and the joining Sustrans route 544. This will take us to the village of Upton on a disused railway track which is also a local wildlife site. We will stop on this section for a snack, so please don’t forget to bring something to eat and (very importantly) drink. After Upton we have a climb to the top of Harwell Hill where we should get panoramic views back towards Wittenham Clumps.

That is the highest point of the ride, so we then descend to ride through the Harwell Campus before going across country and through the lovely villages of Ginge and then East Lockinge before arriving at our lunch stop, the Grocer Chef Café in Ardington, at which point we will have covered just over half the ride (26 miles).

We will start the afternoon with the traditional after-lunch climb, luckily only a small one, up to the A417 which we will cross and descend into the Vale of White Horse, passing Lain’s Barn as we go. We will then ride through East and West Hanney, Lyford and Garford before arriving at our afternoon stop at Millets Farm. We will have ridden 38 miles at this point, so will be ready for an ice cream or hot chocolate (depending on the weather!). The final 13 miles back to Radcliffe Square will be through Tubney, Fyfield, Appleton and Cumnor, and we will enter Oxford by riding triumphantly down Cumnor Hill and the Botley Road.

Hills and road surfaces

Should you be lucky enough to have a choice of bikes, you may be wondering which one to choose to be your companion for the day. Here’s some information that might help you decide.

The hills on the ride are not particularly steep. The first is from Kennington (Upper Rd) to Bagley Wood. The ride is then pretty flat till we climb out of Upton and over Harwell Hill. This is a long but steady climb (with some nice views to distract us!). The hill immediately after lunch, up to the A417 is short and steady and the final upward gradient is the long slight drag up through Appleton and Cumnor to the top of Cumnor Hill.

This 50 mile ride is unusual in including quite a lot of off-road paths and tracks in the route. Almost all the off-road is in the 17 mile section from Abingdon to lunch at Ardington. My estimate is that about 2/3 (i.e. 10 miles) is off road. However all but 2 miles of that is paths with hard surfaces, either tarmac or the usual Sustrans hard surface with compressed gravel. There are 2 miles divided into three sections (the longest of which is 0.8 mile) consisting of tracks with a hard base but loose surface. Finally in the afternoon we will unfortunately need to ride several miles of main road in three or four sections. Most of the main road riding will be on the A338 which isn’t generally too busy and has relatively little commercial traffic (at least on a Saturday afternoon). There will also be short sections of A415 to get to and from Millets Farm. I’ve chosen the route so that we won’t need to make any right hand turns off main roads.


Lunch will be at the Grocer Chef Café in Ardington. They have asked us to pre-order so that they can have our food prepared and so we won’t need to wait too long. If you are coming, please could you check out the menu on their website: Choose either from the lunch menu or the specials which are apparently updated regularly. Please email me by the evening of Thursday 5th September at the latest.


Meet from 10:15am for a prompt 10.30am start from Radcliffe Square, Oxford (at the back of the Vaults Cafe). This short and flat ride will visit 2 or 3 Open Doors venues in the city. It will be no longer than 7 miles and we will aim to take refreshments either at the last venue or shortly afterwards. The rider leader will be Natasha Williams. If you have any particular requests for locations to visit, then please email Natasha and she will try and incorporate your suggestions.


Meet for a prompt 9:30am start outside Oxford Campus Stores in Broad St, Oxford. This moderately paced ride (average speed 10.5mph) will leave Oxford via the Barracks Lane cycle track and Horspath. There will then be a climb up to Cuddesdon before riding through the pleasant villages of Great and Little Milton. After a gentle coast downwards we will arrive in Stadhampton for refreshments at the Crazy Bear Farm shop. The return will be along the B480 before taking the minor road through Chippinghurst to Garsington. The entire route is 22 miles long and includes one hill and a few undulations either side of coffee. The leader is Steven Tuohy. Isis Cyclists are very welcome to join in and bring male partners and friends.


Meet outside the Sheldonian Theatre on Broad St, Oxford from 5.45pm for a prompt 6pm departure. We will head south to the river then New Hinksey and Kennington, through Bagley Wood. We will then follow the beautiful Sugworth Lane down back to the river up to Iffley Lock and Iffley, getting back to town through Meadow Lane. We will finish in Marston for drinks/food in the newly opened Up in Arms in Marston Road. This is a 12 mile ride and the leader is Leonor Barocca. As usual for our social rides, male friends and partners are welcome to join us.


Meet in Broad street in front of the Tourist Information Office at 13:15 for an 13:30 start. The ride will leave Oxford using Sustrans routes 5/51. There will be a pick up from Cutteslowe pedestrian bridge over the ring road, next to the Wren Road school  at 2 pm (please let the leader know if you are meeting us there). We will continue through Kidlington, Hampton Poyle and Bletchingdon and onto Kirtlington then onto the track down to Jane’s Enchanted Tea Gardens near Pigeon Lock.

The return journey is via Tackley and Woodstock, returning to Oxford down the A44 cycle track. This route includes several sections of off-road tracks. Most have a good surface (in the dry) but there is one section just before Tackley Station that is probably not suitable for bikes with very narrow road tyres. This route (which is approx. 26 miles long) does include a couple of hills in either direction which can be taken at your own pace or walked. The ride leader is Lilia Bonacorsi.


Meet on Route 57 just inside the ring road at the end of the Horspath Road (where the buses turn round) at 1.15pm for a prompt 1.30pm start.  We will join the B480 and ride directly to Dorchester via Drayton St. Leonard so that we should arrive in plenty of time to be able to indulge ourselves on what is the final opening of the Dorchester Abbey Tearooms this year! The return route will take us across the fields on a bridle track, to cross the River Thames on the footbridge to Little Wittenham at Day’s Lock. This track should be fine for all but bikes with very narrow road tyres, but even then it’s not that long and can be walked. From Little Wittenham we will ride to Oxford via Sutton Courtenay and Abingdon. The return route will be approximately 30 miles long and involves a single hill on the B480 before coffee and a slight pull up out of Little Wittenham afterwards. The ride leader is Natasha Williams. As this is a social ride, male partners and friends are very welcome to join us.