October 2021

Saturday 2nd October: Short & Steady ride – Encountering East Oxford

This 11-mile ride, taken at a slow and steady pace, uses cycle tracks and paths to explore areas of Oxford which you may not have visited before, as well as some more familiar parts. It includes very short stretches of main road.

Meet outside outside the Vaults and Garden Café in Radcliffe Square, at 9.45am, to allow time for signing up and briefing before we leave promptly at 10am.

We will take the Iffley Road before branching off and riding through through Iffley Village, and thence via the Florence Park and Littlemore Low Traffic neighbourhoods (while they are still in place!) into Blackbird Leys. There are green spaces and parks in this area and we will ride through most of them. Returning to Florence Park via the Temple Cowley LTN, we’ll visit Flo’s café for coffee and cake, to reward ourselves for a short and almost entirely flat ride.

The ride should take around 1.5 hours at most, plus the time taken for refreshments at the end. You will be led back to central Oxford if needed. The leaders are Jane Carlton Smith and Julia Millington.

Link to route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37514761

Saturday 9th October: Medium Ride – An Afternoon Ride to Abingdon

We’ll gather in Radcliffe Square for a quick briefing at 1.50pm, and head out of the city via the pretty roads to Sunningwell, before taking an off road route into Abingdon for a tea stop. The return will be along the cycle way out of the town joining the river towpath to cycle in past the Isis and Donnington Bridge. The ride leader is Lucy Tennyson.

Link to route: not yet available.

Saturday 16th October: Akeman Street (Roman Road) from Kirtlington to Chesterton

Meet at 9.45am outside Costa Coffee at the junction of Oakthorpe and Banbury roads in Summertown (note the different starting point). We will be riding up to Bletchingdon and then riding a loop to include Weston on the Green, Wendlebury, Chesterton and Kirtlington. There will be a new (at least to Leonor) coffee and cake (or even lunch) stop half way through. The total distance is 30 miles if you come from town or around 26 miles from Summertown. The ride leader is Leonor Barroca.

Link to route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37591086

Tuesday 19th October: Midweek Ride – Moreton and More

Please be by the Bayswater turn on the ring road roundabout at the top of London Rd, Headington from 9.45am for a 10am start.

This 37-mile route starts at the roundabout at the top of London Rd, Headington and takes riders east via Stanton St John, Worminghall, Shabbington and across the River Thame to North Weston. Here the route picks up the cycle track along the A418 and into Thame. If we feel like it, we can ride into Thame in search of coffee and cake. We then return to the edge of Thame, heading along Rycote Lane to pick up Moreton Lane which leads to the hamlet of that name. We’ll be riding along a tarmac single track straight road which after a while turns into a farm track with a decent surface, solid but with occasional loose stuff on top. It’s fine for most bikes, although maybe not so pleasant in the wet.

We’ll climb up and over Horsenden Hill and will come out in Tetsworth. If we feel it’s time for an outdoor refreshment break, we can turn right and coast down to the village green where there are plenty of seats. Then head back along the A40 for a couple of miles. The route leaves the A40 at Postcombe (along Salt Lane) and you will now enjoy some roads through South Weston, Adwell, Wheatfield, Stoke Talmage and Clare that have splendid views both over to the Chiltern escarpment and in the other direction down to Oxfordshire’s clay vale. We then avoid the right turn to Chalgrove and carry on towards Brightwell Baldwin, to pick up the bridleway into Chalgrove. We can eat our own snacks in the churchyard or get food at one of the pubs.

We’ll return via Little Milton, and then turn off for Cuddesdon and Garsington.

Link to route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37623415

September 2021

Saturday September 4th: A short & steady ride with a challenge!

Please gather from 9:45 in Radcliffe Square, Oxford, for a prompt 10am departure for this short and steady ride to the south-west of Oxford. We begin by riding through St Ebbes and crossing the river to pick up the towpath towards Osney. We will then use the new cycle path to Willow Walk and North Hinksey. We will ride through the village and pick up the main road up Cumnor Hill. This is where the challenge comes in! Please don’t be put off. Most hills can be tackled successfully if they are taken at the right pace for you and you can always walk if necessary. We will stop to re-group and catch breath every so often.

Once at the top, we’ll turn down Hurst Lane and return to North Hinksey via back lanes and paths. The reward for the climbing is coffee at Jericho Coffee Traders Roastery on Osney Mead. Our return will be via the towpath and South Oxford. The route is a smidgeon over 10 miles and is flat apart from Cumnor Hill. The ride leaders are Sarah Twine and Yvonne Macken.

Link to route: https://gb.mapometer.com/cycling/route_5293677

Wednesday 8th September: Evening social ride to Sandford Lock

Meet from 17:15 in Radcliffe Square (in front of The Vaults cafe) for a prompt 17:30 departure for the last social evening ride of the summer. We will make the most of the remaining daylight by cycling along the river towpath and Sustrans track to Kennington. Here we will turn down Sandford Lane to Sandford Lock where we can have refreshments at The King’s Arms PH. Take a look at the menu

Please remember to bring lights with you as the nights are drawing in. The return route is along the unlit river towpath. The route is pretty flat and around 10 miles in length. As it is a social ride, male partners and friends are very welcome to attend. The ride leader is Lilia Bonacorsi.

Saturday 11th September: Medium ride – A wander around Woodstock

Meet in Radcliffe Square, Oxford from 10.45 for a prompt 11am departure (please note the later than usual start time!). The route will head out through North Oxford to pick up the track through Water Eaton to Kidlington. It will then continue up the eastern side of Kidlington and pass by Oxford Airport before meeting the A44 cycle track for the short hop to Woodstock. There will be an extended stop to give time for lunch/brunch at The Oxfordshire Museum plus a chance to look round the museum and/or the town.

The route back will be direct along the A44 cycle track and newly surfaced Oxford Canal towpath. The route is 20 miles long. Although this is longer than most medium rides, there are no hills and it includes a long break. It is expected that we should return to Oxford between 3pm and 3.30pm. The ride leader is Lilia Bonacorsi.

Tuesday 14th September: Midweek long ride – Social picnic ride from Cumnor or Eynsham to Chadlington (car-assisted)

This ride, led by Liz Matthews, will have two starting points:

  • 9:30 by the war memorial in Cumnor High Street (just above the mini-roundabout with Appleton Road)
  • 10:00 in Eynsham village centre, in front of the church

The earlier than usual start is intended to avoid the afternoon build-up of traffic between Eynsham and Farmoor, so please be prompt! We will ride out to Charlbury via Cuckoo Lane, East End and Fawler; thence to Spelsbury and Chadlington. We will picnic on the green opposite the Café de la Post in Chadlington, where you can buy a hot drink and/or top up your lunch. (If it’s wet, we may picnic instead in Spelsbury, in the shelter of the old village fountain.)

We will continue across the River Evenlode and up the valley side, with an optional detour to the tiny church at Shorthampton. The route then skirts Wychwood Forest to Leafield, Mount Skippett and Wilcote, and heads back to Cumnor via Cuckoo Lane and Eynsham. The total mileage from Cumnor is 35; from Eynsham it’s 27. The route has a number of short ups and downs, a long ascent out of the Evenlode valley and, if you started in Cumnor, a climb up Tumbledown Dick at the very end.

It’s a social ride, which means that male partners are very welcome.

Parking:

Cumnor: We may be able to accommodate your car in our drive; if interested, please contact me in advance via my email address (if you know it already), the Contact Us page WhatsApp. Otherwise, there is a car park behind the village shop/Old School in the High Street next to the war memorial.

Eynsham: There is a large free car park at the end of Clover Place, off the Witney Road just before or after Bartholomew School, depending on the direction you’re coming from.

Refreshment stops (or lack of!):

There is no coffee stop on the outward route; however, we’ll pause for a snack en route, so bring something to stave off your hunger. If you’re starting from Eynsham, you can have a coffee before setting off; the Wholesome Earth café in Mill Street is open from 9:00. However, please be outside the church by 10:00.

Link to route (starts from Cumnor village centre): https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37319952

Saturday 18th September: Annual 50-mile challenge ride

This year we will be riding a gentle, more or less flat route into the Thames Valley. Coffee will be taken at Aston Pottery and lunch (after a loop taking us as far as the village of Filkins) at Blake’s Kitchen in Clanfield, where there should be plenty of outdoor covered seating. If you would prefer to take a picnic lunch, then the green is just the other side of the road, and takeaway drinks can be purchased. Assuming the weather is on our side, there will also be a picnic tea stop in either Standlake or Northmoor. There will be other short breaks along the way, so come prepared with plenty of snacks to get yourself going. Neither coffee nor lunch venue requires booking.

The circular route from Eynsham is almost exactly 40 miles long (see route below) and therefore, if you ride from Oxford, the total ride length will be somewhere between 50 and 56 miles, depending where exactly you start from. There will be two organised rides to Eynsham:

  • Group 1 will be led to Eynsham by Liz Weekes and will meet at the roundabout at the top of the Woodstock Road. It will take the A40 cycle track.
  • Group 2 will be led by Ellen Lee and will meet at the end of Willow Walk (in N. Hinksey) near where it meets the road through the village and will ride to Eynsham via Farmoor. Please choose whichever is most convenient.

Both groups will meet at their respective start points at 9:15 for a prompt 9:30 departure.

Alternatively, you can make your own way to Eynsham (by bike or car) and meet us at 10am in the square near St Leonard’s church.

Once we have gathered in Eynsham, we will take the opportunity to re-arrange into suitable sized groups to make our way to coffee. On our return to Eynsham, we will split again into N. Oxford (A40) and W. Oxford (Farmoor) groups for the return to Oxford.

The pace of the ride will be steady with regular refuelling breaks. Judging from previous 50-mile rides, I would expect us to be back in Oxford between 6pm and 6.30pm. However, as the nights are drawing in, I would suggest bringing lights, just in case.

Although there is no need to book for the ride, it would be very helpful if you can let me know (via the Contact Us page) if you are planning to take part and which (if any) group you will be joining in Oxford. I will set up a WhatsApp group for the event, so if you are not part of Bike Buddies and would like to be included, please let me know your mobile number. We have found that this is a very efficient way of keeping people informed, contacting riders on the day, and sharing photos and impressions of the ride afterwards.

Link to route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37324823

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!

June 2020

The reality might be a bit more complex, but there’s no doubt about it – getting out and about on your bike is good for your health, pandemic or no pandemic!

Ellen writes…

Welcome to another “compact” lockdown version of the Isis Cyclists Newsletter for June 2020. First and foremost, I hope that you, your family and friends are all well and that you are starting to be able to get a little bit of normality back in your life. As you will have seen, the rules on exercise have loosened quite a bit recently with groups of up to six people from different households being able to exercise, together providing the usual 2m social distancing guidance is followed. For more complete details, see the links at the top of this page. So, although this still means that Isis Cyclists can’t organise group rides, small groups are allowed to ride informally together. The Bike Buddies WhatsApp group is and has been used to organise such rides, so if you want to sign up for it, then let me know via the contact us page on the website, giving your name and mobile phone number. I should stress that these are private rides agreed between participating riders and are not organised by Isis Cyclists.

Sarah with one of her doors of the day

Talking of Bike Buddies, May has seen us enjoying a “door of the day” competition/quiz. Sarah Twine spent the month photographing college doors and each day we had to guess which college had the “door of the day”. It was surprising and illuminating in equal measure. It was surprising how hard some were to guess! Most doors were fairly pompous, as might be expected, and a few involved a lot of bling. We decided that the prettiest door belongs to Hertford College. Why not check it out when you’re passing and see if you agree? Huge thanks to Sarah for doing this. It might seem a small thing, but actually all these things add up to help us keep sane while our lives are on hold and we are very grateful. We’ve also been sharing photos of the rides we’ve been on and you can see what your fellow Isis Cyclists have been doing in the Isis in Isolation – May 2020 photo album.

I realise, with a bit of a shock, that this is the 95th edition of the Isis Cyclists Newsletter that I’ve written since 2012! My 100th edition is not that far off, and I am keeping my fingers (and everything else) crossed that it will be an ordinary run of the mill edition, one with a ride programme (remember them?). At the moment, it’s very hard to predict what will happen. Will we have a steady relaxation of restriction until we can get going again or will it be in fits and starts? Whatever happens, Isis rides may well be able to start up before cafés etc. return to normal, so we may need to go through a phase of carrying our own refreshments or getting take-aways and stopping somewhere with plenty of space outside. Inclement weather will be a challenge! One thing that we do want to do when we start up again is to have a big celebration picnic!

All the best for a fabulous and healthy June!

The tranquil Thames near Culham