December 2018

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(Spotted on a wall in Amsterdam a few years ago)

Ellen writes… Well, here we are contemplating the end of 2018 and the fast-approaching festive season. This month we have just the three regular rides (short, medium & long) to provide some distraction from all that Christmas stuff.

Throughout the winter we will try, whenever feasible, to start our rides a little later than usual to give the temperature the chance to rise a bit. So don’t get caught out: make sure you check the start time before setting out. We are very much hoping that we will be able to plug the gap between December’s long ride and January’s short & steady ride with a “pop-up” ride. We’ll keep an eye on the weather and choose a good day (assuming there is one) somewhere round the weekend after Christmas. So, keep an eye on your emails and join us to burn of the Christmas pudding.

Finally, a heads up on a couple of things for the new year. We are currently mulling over the possibilities for the 2019 weekend away and hope to announce a date in the next newsletter. Secondly, following the presentation Jane Carlton Smith and I gave to Cyclox in October, we thought it would be nice for members to enjoy a winter social meet-up over drinks and (of course) cake to view the many photos collected of our activities, the places we’ve visited and the things we’ve seen along the way over the past 10 years. After reaching this venerable age, I think we’re entitled to reminisce a bit. We are planning to gather on a Sunday afternoon in February and details will be in the next newsletter.

Whatever you’re up to this month, have a very good Christmas and New Year.

Don’t forget to make sure both you and your bike is fit and ready for your ride! Please ensure your bike is road-worthy and it’s a good idea to carry a spare inner tube as it may be possible to mend a puncture on the spot. Have a good breakfast too and carry a snack and drink in case you need a bit of extra sustenance.

Happy cycling!

SATURDAY 1ST  DECEMBER: SLOW AND STEADY RIDE TO SANDFORD FOOD MARKET

Meet at 10.00am at Bonn Square at the end of Queen Street for a prompt 10.15am departure. We will ride down St Ebbes to the river Thames and pick up the South Oxford Cycle Route and continue south along the Thames Towpath, recently resurfaced. Then we will head towards Sandford Lock to cross the Thames and take refreshments at Sandford Village Hall cafe. There is also the weekly food market for a bit of shopping.

Visit their project website: https://talkingshopsandford.wordpress.com/about/

You can order food online to collect on the day if you wish: visit https://talkingshopsandford.wordpress.com/goods-to-order/

From there we will return to Oxford via Littlemore, Rose Hill, Iffley village and Meadow Lane. This ride is 8 miles long. It will be taken at the pace of the slowest rider. The ride leader is Clare Farley.

SATURDAY 8TH DECEMBER: MEDIUM RIDE TO WHEATLEY

Meet in Broad Street in front of the Tourist Info Office at 11.15am for a prompt 11.30am start. We will leave Oxford following the Marston cycle path, then Old Headington, Bayswater Road and onto the cycle path along the A40 to take us to Wheatley for cake or lunch at the Sun Inn, Wheatley if they can accommodate us or at the garden centre otherwise. On the way back we will take the National Cycle route 57 via Littleworth & Horspath. The ride will be around 15 miles long and will include the climb from Marston to Headington and, after coffee, the hill from Wheatley through Littleworth towards Horspath. If coffee is taken at the garden centre there will be a “bonus climb”(!) of Ladder Hill! All hills can be taken at your preferred pace, or walked. The ride leader is Lilia Bonacorsi.

SATURDAY 15TH DECEMBER: LONG ‘FESTIVE FUN’ RIDE

Meet outside the Sheldonian at 9.45am with you, your bike, or both, looking suitably festive: e.g. tinsel twined around tubes, baubles dangling from the crossbar, mistletoe tied to your handlebars, reindeer antlers poking through your helmet etc. Let your imaginations run riot – but please ensure that your bike remains safe to ride. Christmas lights threaded through your spokes are not recommended!

We’ll ride out via the South Oxford cycle route, Kennington, Sunningwell and Boars Hill, and back via Dry Sandford, Besselsleigh, Cumnor and North Hinksey. Altitude-wise, there’ll be a sedate ascent up the Bagley Wood Road and a very short but steep climb out of Sunningwell (getting off and pushing is of course permitted!). Coffee will be at the Dog House pub in Frilford.

In the email version of the newsletter, Ellen indicated that we might stop at the Bothy Vineyard (next to the Dog House) for pre-Christmas tasting and sales. Unfortunately, it isn’t open until the next week, so we won’t be able to stock up for Christmas dinner.

The route should be just over 20 miles, see: https://gb.mapometer.com/cycling/route_4070011. The leader is Liz Matthews.

If people think the idea of decorating bikes is fun but feel that the distance is a little too far, please let me know and I’ll shorten the route to a medium length (15-17 miles). More people are preferable to more miles!

SATURDAY 29TH DECEMBER: POSSIBLE POP-UP RIDE

Weather permitting! If a ride is taking place we’ll send a message to the mailing list, so keep an eye on your inbox day or two beforehand.

November 2018

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Cool bikes in the Design Museum Helsinki (photo by Liz Matthews)

Ellen writes… I think that there’s absolutely no doubt now that winter is on the way, so it seems timely to remind you that we will be running a full programme of our four regular rides over the chilly season, so why not wrap up and join us? Should weather conditions make the ride unsafe (snow, ice, high winds etc.) then cancellation will be announced via a Google Group email the previous night, so if in doubt do remember to check before starting out. We will try to get cancellations up on our website, but can’t guarantee to do this in time, so the Google Group email should always be your first port of call if you have any doubts. And do check out our tips for winter cycling.

The leaders’ group will be meeting this month to plan the next four months of rides, so if you have any requests to visit somewhere or know of a new teashop we might like to try out, then please do email us via the Contact Us page. We will also be setting a date and mulling over possible venues for the 2019 weekend away, so watch this space!

Don’t forget to make sure both you and your bike is fit and ready for your ride! Please ensure your bike is road-worthy, and it’s a good idea to carry a spare inner tube as it may be possible to mend a puncture on the spot. Have a good breakfast too, and carry a snack and drink in case you need a bit of extra sustenance.

Electric bikes: Over the past year or so, the number of electric bikes that can be seen around the city seems to have soared. If you have an electric bike and are unsure about whether or not you will be given a warm welcome on our rides, don’t worry! We are very happy for e-bike riders to join us and are very pleased that they offer people who might not otherwise get the chance, an opportunity to experience the fun of cycling. If you do join us on an e-bike, we just ask that you don’t go full throttle, but ride at the same pace as the rest of the group. And make sure your battery is sufficiently charged before you set out.

Happy cycling!

SATURDAY 3rd NOVEMBER: SHORT & STEADY RIDE: SANDFORD-ON-THAMES – NEW RIDERS VERY WELCOME!

This ride is ideal for newcomers and lapsed Isis cyclists, as it is mainly flat and is an easy route along the river towpath and quieter lanes and tracks in the city.  Meeting outside the Sheldonian Theatre on Broad St, Oxford from 9.45am for a 10am start, we will head out through south Oxford towards Kennington. This will be our busiest stretch along a B road, so we’ll form a safe group together. We then leave the traffic behind to take a track down to the river tow path and cross the Thames at Sandford lock; then we call in at the village hall for coffee and breakfast (and shopping) at the Saturday community market. Afterwards we’ll return to our start via Iffley lock, crossing the river over Donnington Bridge, and back to the city centre.

The ride is under 10 miles, and taken at the speed of the slowest cyclist, and will be an hour to coffee, and less coming back. The ride leader is Lucy Tennyson.

SATURDAY 10th NOVEMBER: MEDIUM RIDE: AN AUTUMN RIDE THROUGH BECKLEY AND ELSFIELD

Meet at 09.45am for a prompt 10am departure at The South Lodge, University Parks (OX1 3JA), corner of Parks Rd and St Cross Rd) for this 12 mile ride out into the countryside to Beckley and Elsfield. We will cycle through University Parks before ‘doing’ the inevitable hill to Headington, taking the gentler climb along tree-lined Harberton Mead. We will make our way through the quieter streets of Headington, crossing the ring road to Barton and to the countryside beyond. The other hill is just after we leave Barton, and both hills will be taken at a gentle pace, and we will wait for riders as necessary.

We will venture out in a north-easterly direction and ride mostly on quiet country roads with beautiful autumn colours in the hedgerows and trees. We will meander our way to Beckley and admire the expansive views and big skies over Otmoor and the countryside beyond from several vantage points. After the thrill of cycling down the hill at Elsfield, we will stop for coffee at the Victoria Arms in Old Marston, and should arrive there by opening time at 11.30am. The ride leader is Lucy Wright.

SATURDAY 17th NOVEMBER: LONG RIDE: WIGGLING TO WORTON

Meet at the Sheldonian, Broad St, Oxford at 9.45am for a 10.00am departure for a meandering ride of around 13 miles out to Worton Organic Gardens for coffee and cake. We’ll leave Oxford by heading north through Cutteslowe and onto the track to Water Eaton. We will then make our way through the back roads of Kidlington, past the church, before we cross the railway and the canal and ride along Begbroke Lane to the A44 cycle track. We will turn back towards Oxford before turning off through Yarnton village and onwards to Worton and the Organic Gardens. After coffee (and possibly some shopping) we will take an 8 mile long route back via Eynsham, Farmoor and the Botley Road. The return route is 21 miles and there are no hills to speak of. There are two sections of off-road track which are fine for all but the thinnest road tyres. Ride leader is Liz Weekes.

SUNDAY 25th NOVEMBER: JOINT ISIS/OXFORD CYCLING UK RIDE TO COFFEE AT WATERPERRY GARDENS

Meet outside Oxford Campus Stores in Broad St, Oxford for a prompt 9.30am departure. We will leave Oxford via the University Parks cycle track and Old Marston before crossing the ring-road and climbing Elsfield Hill. After wending our way through the village, we will turn onto the B4027 through Stanton St John and onto Forest Hill. After a short section of A40 cycle track we will descend through the village of Holton and then turn towards our refreshment break at Waterperry Gardens. After coffee we will return to Oxford via Worminghall, Stanton St John and Barton, arriving back in Oxford at the Headington roundabout.

As usual with these rides, the pace to coffee will be around 11mph to enable us to arrive by 11am. The return journey will be at the usual Isis Cyclists long ride pace of about 10mph. The return route will be approximately 22 miles in length and includes three hills which can be climbed at your own pace. The ride leader will be Ellen Lee.

October 2018

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Pausing for a breather on our annual 50-mile challenge on 9th September.

Ellen writes… Well, the blackberries are over and sloes are looking almost ripe, so it must be autumn. This means that our Stop & Stare and evening social rides have been wrapped up and put away till the spring. Despite this, we still have a good variety of rides and I hope that you find one to suit you. Even though the temperature is lower, as is the sun in the sky, it can be absolutely wonderful riding among the autumn colours.

As you may have realised, 2018 is our 10th anniversary, and this month, to celebrate this fact, Cyclox have asked us to give a presentation entitled “Isis Cyclists – 10 years of sweet success” at their October meeting on Tuesday 16th October. Jane Carlton Smith and I will be there giving our take on various aspects of the last 10 years’ activities and the hope is that it will spark a lively discussion on how to encourage people (and women especially) to get out on their bikes. What can we do and what do local and central government need to do? We all have our opinion on this, so come to the meeting, relive the last 10 years, join in the discussion and eat some cake afterwards!!!! The meeting will be held at St Michael at the North Gate, OX1 3EY at 7.30pm. For more details visit the Cyclox website.

SATURDAY 6TH OCTOBER: SHORT & STEADY RIDE: A FARM IN THE CITY

This is a short City ride taking mainly cycle paths and a farm within Oxford City! There is one gentle hill which can be walked.

The ride meets at 10.15 for a 10.30 departure beside the south lodge of University Parks, on the corner of St Cross Rd and South Parks Rd. We will cycle along the Marston Cycle path, up Harberton Mead, Pullens Lane, Warneford Lane to Hilltop Road. From there we will take the Barracks Lane cycle path, cut through cycle paths to Florence Park and have a coffee stop at Oxford City Farm Festival (OX4 3NU) which has plenty to nourish you this Autumn. From there we will cycle to Donnington Bridge and pick up the tow path to Folly Bridge and back to the centre of Town where the ride will conclude.

It is envisaged that this 8 mile ride will take approximately 2 hrs depending on the length of time spent at the City Farm refreshment stop. The ride leader is Sarah Twine.

SATURDAY 13TH OCTOBER: MEDIUM RIDE TO WHEATLEY

Meet in Radcliffe Square outside the University Church at 9:45am for a prompt 10.00 departure.  We’ll head out via the Marston Road, Elsfield, Forest Hill and Stanton St John to the café at the Mill View Garden Centre, Wheatley (10 miles). There are two steep hills on the outward route: Elsfield Hill and Ladder Hill in Wheatley: please feel free to get off and push your bike up either or both of them. After coffee we’ll return to Oxford via Garsington and Cowley. The total length of the ride is a shade over 17 miles. The ride leader is Liz Matthews.

SATURDAY 20TH OCTOBER: LONG RIDE: LUNCH AFTER A HILL CHALLENGE!

A ride via Abingdon and Boar’s Hill for a hill challenge and then Sunningwell for lunch. Meet at Bonn Square at 10.15 to depart at 10.30. We will proceed down St Ebbes to the Thames and south to Sandford, Radley and off-road Route 5 into Abingdon. We will then continue through Abingdon to Shippon, Gozzard’s Ford, Cothill, Dry Sandford and Wootton. From there we will mount an assault on Boar’s Hill via the back route and then descend to Bayworth and Sunningwell for lunch in the Flowing Well Inn. From there we will return to Oxford via Kennington. The whole route is 20 miles (15 to lunch and 5 afterwards). The leader is Clare Farley.

SUNDAY 28TH OCTOBER: JOINT ISIS/OXFORD CYCLING UK RIDE TO COFFEE AT ASTON POTTERY

Meet outside Oxford Campus Stores in Broad St, Oxford for a prompt 9.30am departure. We will leave Oxford via Botley Road and the B4044 towards Eynsham.  We’ll then make for Aston Pottery via Stanton Harcourt, Hardwick & Yelford. The return will take us to Standlake on quiet roads where we will pick up the A415 for a couple of miles, crossing the River Thames at Newbridge and then turning back on minor roads through Netherton, Appleton and Cumnor before entering Oxford along the Botley Rd.  The route has a couple of hills either side of coffee but is otherwise pretty flat. The aim is to get to coffee at 11am and to do this we will need to average about 11mph. The return route will be at a reduced pace of about 10mph and the entire route is approximately 33 miles long. The leader will be Leonor Barroca.

September 2018

Isis wild swimmers
Several of our members are keen wild swimmers – so where better for an Isis Cyclists’ dip than in the River Isis?  (11th August)

Ellen writes… If you’re a big fan of hot weather you must have enjoyed the last few months! However, now we seem to have returned to something more normal as we head into the season of mellow fruitfulness. This month we have our usual mix of rides and also our 50 mile challenge, which seems to have become a regular feature. I think I am right in saying that this is our fifth such ride, and so far we have ridden a different route each time. I’m not sure how long I will be able to carry on inventing new routes, but I’m sure that we’re OK for a few years yet! This year we are riding south and east for a change and it will give us a chance to explore some lovely villages in the “foothills” of the Chilterns.

If you like your rides a little shorter, then don’t despair. We are trying out a new coffee venue (the Barracks Lane Community Garden) on our short and steady ride this month and delving into Oxford’s working past on the Stop & Stare ride. Whichever ride takes your fancy, let’s hope for some friendly riding conditions and plenty of cake!

As usual,  make sure both you and your bike are fit and ready for your ride! It’s a good idea to carry a spare inner tube as it may be possible to mend a puncture on the spot. Have a good breakfast too and carry a snack and drink in case you need a bit of extra sustenance.

Happy cycling!

SATURDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER: SHORT & STEADY RIDE VISITING THE BARRACKS LANE COMMUNITY GARDEN

Meet from 10.15am for a 10.30am start outside the Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street, Oxford. We will begin by riding across the meadows on the University Parks Cycle Track to Marston before climbing the back way to Headington and riding through Brookes Campus. We will then descend to Barracks Lane where we will have coffee at the Community Garden. Afterwards we will make our way to Iffley, cross the river at the Lock and return to the centre of town using the towpath. This ride is less than 10 miles in length and has one hill which will be taken at a steady pace, or can be walked. The ride leader is Lilia Bonacorsi.

TUESDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER: EVENING SOCIAL RIDE TO THE FISHES, N. HINKSEY

Meet at 6.15pm for a 6.30pm getaway at The Ox statue in front of Oxford Railway Station. We will ride briefly west along Botley Road to get to Binsey Lane. Then from Binsey village we will take the river path which is a little rough but rideable on most bikes, perhaps not the narrowest tyres. At Godstow Lock we will be back on the road to Wytham and then south to Botley and on to North Hinksey, where we can eat or drink or both. From there the route back to Oxford is via Willow Walk and Osney Mead. The route is about 7 miles in total. We’ll be at the pub by about 7.30 for anyone wishing to join us there. Bring lights for the return to Oxford. Partners and friends welcome. The ride leader is Clare Farley. 

SUNDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER: ISIS CYCLISTS 50-MILE CHALLENGE

Meet from 9am for a prompt 9:15am start in Radcliffe Square, Oxford (at the back of the University Church). The ride is in three sections of 15, 18 and 18 miles. In addition to the two refreshment stops we will also stop for a stretch, bite to eat, drink etc. in the middle of each section, so please make sure you are carrying something to eat and drink.

This year we will ride out of Oxford through Marston and Headington and make our way to Thame for coffee at Treacles Tearooms. On the way we will ride through Stanton St John, Worminghall, Ickford (where we will have a short break) and Shabbington. After coffee we will ride along the Phoenix Trail as far as Towersey before returning to road to ride through some of the pleasant villages at the foot of the Chiltern Hills (Sydenham, Adwell, Wheatfield and Stoke Talmage). We will then make our way to lunch at the Waterfront Café in Benson, via Cuxham, Brightwell Baldwin and Ewelme. The route back to Oxford after lunch is fairly direct and takes us through Berrick Salome, Chalgrove, Little Milton, Cuddesdon and Horspath. As always the pace will be steady, and I hope to make it back to Oxford around 6pm.

The route starts with a climb up to Headington and Stanton St John, but the remainder of the first section is fairly flat. The second section (to lunch) is undulating. The hills are not particularly long or steep, but there’s not that much flat riding once we pass through Sydenham. The final section is flat until we approach Little Milton and Cuddesdon (hills we know well!).

In summary, the route will be either on metalled road or good quality track and will be hillier than last year. If you start and finish in the centre of Oxford, you will have ridden approx 51 miles. If you live in Headington and would like to meet us on the Barton side of the Green Rd roundabout, let me know (so we don’t go without you). I would expect to get there at 9:35 – 9:40am. The ride leader is Ellen Lee.

SATURDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER: MEDIUM RIDE TO SCULPTURE IN THE VINEYARD

We will meet in Radcliffe Square, opposite the Radcliffe Camera, outside the Vaults & Gardens Café, at 10.00am for a 10.15am departure.  It’s about 8 miles to Bothy Vineyard, where there is a huge sculpture exhibition and refreshments.  We will stay there for 1½ hours, to enjoy the sculpture and have something to eat.  We should be back in Oxford by around 2.30pm. The ride is just over 17 miles on relatively quiet roads.  The ride leader will be Jane Carlton Smith.

More details are at http://www.sculptureinthevineyard.uk/ and there is a £2.50 entrance fee to the exhibition, which is well worth it.  It’s a lovely setting and you can buy a bottle or two of wine while you are there.

FRIDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER: STOP & STARE RIDE OXFORD’S WORKING PAST

On this flat ride around central Oxford we will visit former industrial and commercial buildings that have been converted into housing.  We’ll note the shift from 19th-century industry to residential accommodation, reflecting the industrial decline that we’ve seen in our lifetimes and the huge and unmet demand for housing in the city.

We will meet in Radcliffe Square, opposite the Radcliffe Camera, outside the Vaults & Gardens Café, at 1.45pm for a 2.00pm departure. The ride is 5 miles long and mainly on quiet roads and cycle paths, to avoid the crowds.  It should take 1½ to 2 hours, with stops.  We’ll have tea at Manos Café in Walton Street.

The ride leader will be Jane Carlton Smith.

SUNDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER: JOINT ISIS/OXFORD CYCLING UK RIDE TO COFFEE AT THE BARN, STRATTON AUDLEY

Meet in Broad Street at 9.15am for a prompt 9.30am departure.  We will head out through the University Parks Cycle track to Marston, up to Islip and around Otmoor to the east of Bicester and stop for coffee at The Barn in Stratton Audley.  The return journey will be via Boarstall and Woodperry.  I’m afraid we can’t cycle out in this direction without encountering a few hills but they can be taken at your own pace.  Please note that this ride is slightly longer to coffee than usual at nearly 19 miles and, as it’s a joint Cycling UK ride, there will be fewer re-grouping breaks and riders must be capable of riding at a steady 12mph on the flat.  The total ride distance back to the High Street is 37 miles.  ETA back to Oxford could be around 2.30pm depending on how long it takes to get served at The Barn.  Ride leader is Natasha Williams.  The route can be downloaded here at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28459904