A milestone for the group
It is now ten years since the ‘Five Miles to Fabulous’ ride that led to the formation of Isis Cyclists in June 2008. As if in recognition of our achievement, an article on the Red Bull website in February named us among the eight best cycling groups for women in the UK and described us as ‘the most approachable and welcoming cycling club in Oxford.’
As time has gone on and the group has grown, the organisation of Isis Cyclists has been taken up by a committed band of 12 ride leaders. However, all of us would readily acknowledge Ellen Lee as the driving force behind the group and an invaluable source of knowledge and wisdom, not to mention roadside mechanical repairs!
With thanks to Lucy Wright, who once again compiled the facts and figures from leaders’ ride sheets.
This year we ran 53 ‘regular’ rides, plus the weekend away and 50-mile challenge. An additional five scheduled rides were cancelled, mainly on account of the weather. Data on riders are missing for five (9%) of the 53 rides. The figures below are therefore based on the rides for which we do have data and should be treated with some caution.
Overall, participation is more or less unchanged from last year. In terms of unique participants, 101 women rode with us. Of the total, 56% had ridden with the group previously and 45% were new to the group (these proportions are almost identical to 2017–18).
The table below summarises the average number of riders on each type of ride:
More about our rides
The ‘Stop & Stare’ themed rides run during the warmer seasons on different days during the week. This year’s highlights included:
- ‘A Turner around Oxford’, exploring how two artists called William Turner represented Oxford and its environs, and
- Tours of the ‘blue plaques’ in Oxford that celebrate women. On one memorable ride, the group was treated to an impromptu, and moving, reading at the former home of the poet Anne Ridler.
Our tenth anniversary weekend in mid-July took us to the peaceful setting of Braziers Park on the edge of the Chilterns. Home to the oldest secular community in Britain, it’s more used to hosting yoga retreats than a party of lively women cyclists. But the residents were all very welcoming – including a highly sociable pig – and served hearty, nutritious meals to ensure our legs kept pedalling despite the heat.
The annual 50-mile challenge on 9th September saw us riding south and east, again in glorious sunshine. We explored some lovely villages tucked below the Chilterns: Adwell, with its tiny 19th-century church and the glorious garden of Adwell House, was perhaps our favourite stop of the day.
We also experimented with a couple of innovations during the summer of 2018:
- Two-speed rides, to try out the idea of running long rides with a slower group following the faster group. This allows riders who may not be able to keep up with the pace of our longer rides, but who have staying power, to enjoy outings to our more distant destinations – this year, to Bridewell Organic Garden and Brill.
- Pop-up rides. If one of our ride leaders finds themselves with some spare time, the weather is nice and they feel like a cycle ride, they will post to the Google Group to let others join in. Anything from a short amble to a long ride may ‘pop up’, and since riders may only get a day or so’s notice, it pays to check one’s email regularly!
Engagement with the community
Activities in the local community have included a presence at Oxford Green Fair (December 2017), the Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon ‘cycling for all’ event (June 2018) and and the Elder Stubbs Festival (August 2018). Cyclox approached us with an invitation to speak at its meeting in October 2018.
Our 12-strong leaders’ group continues to meet three times a year to plan the rides programme for the next four months. In February we held a working lunch to discuss all aspects of rides and ride leading. It was a very productive session and we came away with several good ideas to make rides run more smoothly, and the intention to organise some formal training in leading and first-aid.
Isis and Oxford City Cycling UK
We continue to value our close association with the main Oxford City Cycling UK group, both through our monthly joint rides and through our representation on the committee.