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

May 2020

Ellen writes…

IMG-20200419-WA0000_2Well, here we are five weeks into the lock-down and I hope you, your family and friends are keeping well and getting out to exercise on your bike or on foot. The weather has been glorious, and I know that many of you have been taking full advantage of your one exercise per day. Riding during lock-down has required some changes to the way we ride and where we ride. As I said to a dog walker who was getting flustered when she couldn’t get her dog out of my path, “what’s the hurry? It’s not like I’m in a rush to get anywhere”.

Anyway, riding more slowly and having the “brain space” to look around rather than computing collision avoidance with all the usual stationary and moving road hazards, has led me to make some real discoveries on my own doorstep. I’ve seen buildings and architectural details that I’d never noticed before in 30+ years of riding in Oxford, enjoyed the fantastic spring flowers and blossom and nearly been in collision with a muntjac deer running down St Aldates in the middle of the afternoon! I hope you’ve had some memorable lock-down moments too amid all the other stuff.

IMG_20200411_185029It’s been fantastic to see all the new riders out enjoying the quiet roads and tracks. It’s been particularly heartening to see so many families with young children. It would be great if they feel confident to continue riding once the lock-down eases. Cycling UK are running a “Campaign from your couch” encouraging people to write to their local papers demanding better facilities for cyclists moving into the future. Please do check this out and take part if you have a little spare time. It would be a wonderful thing if something really positive, like more active travel were a side-product of this horrible pandemic.

The Bike Buddies WhatsApp group has continued to be busy with photos, videos and accounts of lock-down cycling experiences. I’ve collected a small fraction (!) of photos to put into our Isis in Isolation photo album this month, so why not check it out and see how many places and faces you recognise!

The new Selection of Isis Routes page on this website has proved very popular with our members and others. The selection of routes is constantly expanding, so it’s worth keeping an eye on it.

Oxford Artweeks have been a staple of our rides every May and so I’m very pleased to be able to let you know that, although there will be no 2020 Artweeks in the “real world”,  virtual Artweeks 2020 are happening between 2nd and 25th May and you will be able to visit all the venues at any time of day (or night!) from the comfort of your sofa. Check out the Artweeks website for more details.

IMG-20200410-WA0011Finally, the Isis Leaders’ Group has been batting around ideas for what the group might do once group riding restrictions are lifted. How will we celebrate, are there new types of rides we want to add to our program, how might we deal with (hopefully) increased demand? We’ve had some thoughts, but would really appreciate some “blue sky” thinking from you too. Please do let us know your hopes, fears and ideas via info@isiscyclists.org.uk.

Best wishes for a healthy month and here’s hoping that restriction will begin to ease soon.IMG-20200409-WA0009

April 2020

Between Charney Bassett and Kingston BagpuizeEllen writes…

It seems like a lifetime ago since the March short and medium Isis Cyclists rides took place, because so much has happened! I hope that this newsletter finds you, your family and friends fit and healthy. This is the strangest newsletter that I’ve ever had to write, and one in which the weather probably won’t feature at all.

Bike rides: the key message

I recently read that a study in China concluded that people who were fit when they contracted the virus were five times less likely to need hospital treatment than those who weren’t. I suspect that most of you require no encouragement at all to get outside walking, cycling, running, gardening etc. The good news is that, unless you are having to self-isolate, you can still get out for exercise once a day. I’m sure you’re sick and tired of being reminded, but…

We would like to strongly emphasise the message from Cycling UK (which has oversight of Isis Cyclists) that you should only go for a ride alone or with members of your household unless any of them have reason to self-isolate. Under no circumstance should you cycle or take part in any cycling activity in groups.

Before you set off on a ride, check Cycling UK’s Q&A on safe cycling during the coronavirus outbreak for their current advice, which is in accordance with the Government’s guidelines. Do revisit the Q&A regularly, as the advice may change.

It’s been hard to keep up with the fast pace of change over the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, we will now have a few weeks of stability before the rules change again.

Keeping your social distance on a bike

If any of you are at all worried, my experience has been that as long as you avoid places such as the river and canal towpaths at popular times, you will meet very few people indeed and almost everybody is being very sensible and maintaining at least the 2-metre recommended distance.

Social distancing has thrown up some interesting challenges such as how to get across the cycle track on the Botley Interchange if there is a cyclist approaching from the opposite direction. What is the etiquette? I’m not sure! Yesterday, I encountered a group of people in Wolvercote trying to herd five sheep while social distancing (with each other, not with the sheep!) which looked like even more of a challenge.

Keeping in touch through Bike Buddies

Riders who are part of the Bike Buddies WhatsApp group have been out and about this first week of the lock down.  The group was set up to help members find friends to ride with in those now far-off days when such things were permitted. However, with the more stringent restrictions Bike Buddies has morphed into a morale-boosting-cum-support group. There has been a steady trickle (and sometimes a positive gush) of encouraging messages and photos of what people have seen when they have been out exercising. So if you would like to keep in touch, do ask to join. All you need is access to WhatsApp and to email info@isiscyclists.org.uk or use the Contact us page to let us know your name and your mobile phone number, and we will sign you up.

If you are unlucky and are self-isolating, and would appreciate a cheery wave from a passing bike buddy, please let us know and we will do our best to arrange it!

Where individual riders have been – and some ideas for you

Why not check out our new Google Photo album Isis in Isolation to see where in and around Oxford we’ve got to and what we’ve seen in our first eight days of lock-down? Or if you are in need of inspiration about where to ride, our new selection of Isis Cyclists routes can help with outings of all shapes and sizes, guaranteed to fit anyone!


I wish you all the best for April and if you see me out and about on my daily exercise, please do give me a wave!

Happy cycling!