December 2019

In this issue:

Ellen writes (or rather, asks)…

Isis ride to Steventon 16-11-19
Our high-vis jackets compete with the autumn colours on November’s long ride

Welcome to the December newsletter. This month, instead of mentioning the weather(!) I’m going to make a plea for help with designing a new logo for Isis Cyclists. Those of you who have been riding with us a long time may remember our previous logo, featuring a woman riding a bike in a dress and high heels(!) with a cape billowing out around her. It comes from a 1920s poster which you can see on the Poster Corner website. We can’t reproduce the poster here as we’re not sure of the copyright situation – which is one of the reasons why we can no longer use a cropped section of it as a logo. Also, is uses several colours and is quite “fussy”, not ideal for reproduction.

We like to refer to it as “the flying woman”! We think it does a great job of saying what the group is about. To me it suggests things like:

  • We really enjoy our cycling.
  • We aren’t “sporty.”
  • You don’t need to be a cyclist already to join in.
  • You don’t need expensive equipment or specialist cycle clothing.
  • Cycling makes us feel good.
  • Cycling gives us freedom.

Isis Cyclists have so many diverse talents that there must be one of you with a knowledge of/interest in/experience of graphic design who has a bit of spare time to create a new logo for us. As we like so many of the messages that the “flying woman” makes us think of, what we probably need is a more stylised, simplified and perhaps more modern version of her. We imagine that a monochrome image will be simplest and it should fit in with the style and colours used on our website. Oh yes, the flying thing is not actually compulsory!

If you think you’re the person for the job, please could you get in touch with me (if you don’t know my email address, use the Contact Us page on this website). We would like to have our new logo ready by the spring.

Happy cycling!

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


This short and steady ride will help you get into the mood for Christmas by visiting a couple of Christmas related exhibitions in Summertown. Meet outside the Sheldonian Theatre on Broad St, Oxford (opposite Blackwells Bookshop) from 12:15pm for a prompt 12:30pm start. We will take Sustrans Route 51 on minor roads and tracks to Summertown where we will visit the Winter Light Exhibition at the Sarah Wiseman Gallery and the Turrill Sculpture Garden Christmas Exhibition. We will then head south towards Jericho where we will stop for tea and cakes at the Branca Food Café. If the section of the Oxford Canal that is currently being resurfaced is finished, we will give it a try. The ride will be around 6 miles in length and is flat. The leader is Lilia Bonacorsi.


Meet by Costa Coffee in Summertown from 9.45am for a prompt 10am departure for a ride to Worton via the back lanes of Kidlington. We’ll ride via Cutteslowe, Water Eaton and a maze of Kidlington lanes, ways and avenues, including Begbroke Lane (if not too muddy!), over the A44 to Rutten Lane and through Yarnton to the Worton Organic Gardens for some of their gorgeous cake/puddings and maybe a little organic shopping. Back via Cassington and the A40 cycle path to Summertown. Distance is around 15 miles. No hills are involved in the making of this ride! Leader is Liz Weekes.


This long ride goes south-west to the award-winning Bothy Vineyard, which is open for Christmas sales from 11am to 6pm. Meet in Radcliffe Square behind the University Church at 10:00 for a prompt 10:15 departure. The outward route takes us through South Oxford, Kennington and either Sunningwell or Boars Hill, and we return via Cothill, Wootton and Cumnor. Because the vineyard doesn’t sell coffee, we will probably have an early stop at either the Flowing Well pub in Sunningwell or the Fox Inn on Boars Hill. Make sure you have room in your panniers for a bottle or two (or three!), but it’s fine simply to browse.

The total ride is about 21 miles, and will be generally flat if we go through Sunningwell, or with one short and steep hill if we go via Boars Hill. The leader is Liz Matthews. Because it’s so close to Christmas, this is a mixed social ride, and partners and friends are warmly invited to join us. And feel free to deck out your bike (and/or yourself) in festive garb.


November 2019

In this issue:

Ellen writes…

Overcast, but at least it’s not raining!

Welcome to the Isis Cyclists November 2019 Newsletter. It feels as though the rain never stopped in October. However this can’t be true because, somewhat miraculously, all the October Isis rides were dry and at least two of them enjoyed wonderful autumn sun.  Hopefully with the change in the month, there will be a change in the weather and that all our rides will enjoy a similarly charmed life. As the temperature will be dropping, don’t forget to pop an extra layer (or two!) into your pannier. It’s better to carry more than you end up needing rather than feeling cold and not enjoying the ride.

A couple of reminders:

  • To contact the ride leader before the ride (e.g. to ask a question or arrange a pick-up point), please use the Contact us page, clearly indicating who the email should be forwarded to. We will do our best to ensure that it gets to the right person.
  • It’s now winter, so check out our tips for winter cycling and make sure that your lights are legal. James Dawton of Oxford City Cycling UK has published a user-friendly guide to cycle lights, and Cycling UK has recently updated its guide to cycle lighting regulations.

Happy cycling!


Meet by the statue of the ox opposite the entrance to the Oxford Railway station from 9:45am for a 10:00am departure for this short ride that takes us along some of Oxford’s loveliest cycle paths despite staying close to the city centre.

We will head north along the canal before cutting across Port Meadow and turning south along Fiddlers Island. We’ll continue along the Thames to Donnington Bridge, where we head off to South Oxford, down Marlborough Road and back to the Thames. We’ll either have coffee at the roasters in Osney Mead, or The Fishes on North Hinksey Lane, depending on the weather and the number of cyclists. The ride is flat and 8 miles long and will be led by Karen Wolff.


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 medium ride out into the countryside to Beckley and Elsfield. Our ride will begin by cycling through University Parks and the cycle paths and side streets of Marston. After crossing the ring road, we will venture out in a north-easterly direction riding mostly on quiet country roads, and hopefully have some beautiful autumn colours in the hedgerows and trees. We will make our way to Elsfield and may even see the resident peacocks. 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. We will return through Barton to Risinghurst where we will stop for coffee and a Portuguese egg tart (Pasteis de Nata) and/or some other scrumptious cakes at the local Portuguese café, AKA Madeira Supermarket in Risinghurst.

This ride is about 12 miles and is hilly. All 3 hills can be taken at your own speed (at a gentle pace or walked) with regular regroupings, and of course where there is an up, there is usually a down! The ride leader is Lucy Wright.


Meet for a prompt 09:30am start in Broad Street, Oxford (by Oxford Campus Stores). We will be having a second attempt at last month’s ride that was affected by torrential rain!

The route will take us down Botley Rd and up Cumnor Hill. We will then continue through Cumnor village, Appleton and Fyfield where we will cross under the A420 to emerge in Tubney. From there we will ride through Cothill and Wootton before climbing up through Old Boars Hill. A descent of Hinksey Hill will bring us out at the A34 roundabout and we will ride a little way along the ring road cycle track before re-crossing the ring road and stopping for our refreshment break at The Oxford Garden Centre.

We will return to the Station via North Hinksey and Willow Walk. The route is approximately 24 miles in length and includes climbs of Cumnor and Boars Hills. The ride leader is Stephen Lee. This is a mixed ride, so male partners and friends welcome.


Meet outside the back of the University Church in Radcliffe Square for a prompt 10:00 departure to Steventon via the South Oxford cycle route, Kennington, Abingdon and Drayton. If you are starting out from south or east Oxford, you can join the ride at Go Outdoors. Please be in position by 10:10 to make sure you don’t miss us.

The Farmhouse Bakery & Café is on the northern edge of Steventon village in a new, rustic-style building: see As well as taking refreshments you might like to browse – and purchase – their breads, savoury goodies and cheeses.

This will primarily be an out-and-back route, with a couple of variations. It includes a couple of short and slightly squelchy stretches near Abingdon and on the Hanson Trail, but you are welcome to get off and wheel your bike through them. Overall, though, the route is not suitable for bikes with thin tyres.

The total length of the ride is 25 miles, but it’s mostly flat; the only really noticeable incline is just after Sunningwell on the way back. Some urban cycling will be involved in Abingdon town centre, and we will also follow the B4016 and B4017 for a few miles. See

The ride will be led by Liz Matthews. Please could you let me know (via the Contact Us page if you don’t know my personal email address) if you are expecting to come, as it may be prudent to alert the bakery if we’re a large number. Thanks!


Meet from 12:45 for a prompt 13:00 departure at The South Lodge, University Parks (OX1 3JA), corner of Parks Rd and St Cross Rd) for this, our final Sunday social ride of the year. We will start by riding along the Parks cycle track and down the Marston Rd to pick up the Cowley Rd and Barracks Lane which will take us out onto the Ring Rd. If you prefer, you can meet us at the end of Horspath Rd (where the buses turn). I would hope to be there around 13.15, but let me know if you will meet us there, so I don’t go without you.

After a couple of miles on the B480, we will turn right to climb up through Toot and Marsh Baldon. A short section of A4074 will bring us to the Golden Balls Roundabout where we will turn left along the B4015 to Chiselhampton. We will then ride another short section of B480 before turning off through Chippinghurst, Denton and Cuddesdon and to tea at the Mill View Garden Centre. We will aim to leave by 3.45pm at the latest, so that we can complete the 3 miles to the Oxford ring road before the sun sets. However, you will need lights to make your way home from there. The ride is 19.5 miles long and includes three hill climbs which will be taken steadily. As this is a social ride, male partners and friends are very welcome to join us. The ride leader is Ellen Lee.


Cycling UK Wantage invites you to join their annual festive ride from Wantage to Uffington White Horse Hill, which again is in aid of Whizz Kidz, the children’s mobility charity.

Guests and other cycling clubs are very welcome to join Wantage CUK at Wantage Market Place by 9.45am for the start of the ride, or at White Horse Hill NT car park (grid ref SU 293866) from 11.15 to 12.00 for mince pies and mulled wine. All proceeds on the day will go to Whizz Kidz. For more details, visit

October 2019

In this issue:

Ellen writes…

Animated conversation on the Didcot to Upton cycle track, an old railway line.

So, summer has well and truly gone, but never fear, there’s something wonderful to experience on the bike in every season. Let’s hope for some sunshine and spectacular autumn colours as we roll along on this month’s rides.

Our first car/van-assisted ride at the very end of August worked out well. A good group assembled in Lechlade and headed off in the direction of Kelmscott House. Several of us took the chance to have a look round on what was the last day it was open to visitors for two years. I think everyone enjoyed the opportunity to cycle in less familiar surroundings and my Brompton certainly had great fun trying to keep up with the “big bikes”. We have one or two ideas for future such expeditions and hope to have our next one in the New Year.

Ellen knows just the thing to fill that hunger gap between coffee and lunch.

Summer lasted just about long enough for our first few rides in September and in particular for the 50-mile challenge ride. A record-breaking 24 riders took part on a pleasant but not (thankfully) super-hot day. As leader, I was very relieved that it was dry because I’d included over 10 miles of off-road riding in the route, which headed down to Didcot to pick up Sustrans route 544 to Wantage and includes a lovely section of old railway path and several lovely spring-line villages, including Ardington where we had lunch. The afternoon took us into the Vale of White Horse and flat roads on our way back to Oxford. Despite the 1000+ miles cycled by the group, we didn’t have a single puncture!

No wonder everyone is cheering: from here it’s downhill all the way to the end of the ride!

We have already booked a venue for our 2020 weekend away. Full details and booking instructions will appear in the January newsletter. However, in case you want to put the date in your diary to avoid disappointment, it will be from 17th19th July. We are going to the Chilterns again, this time at St Katherines, Parmoor which is a retreat house near the village of Frieth. There is a campsite nearby for those who want to enjoy the full outdoor experience.

Happy cycling!

Check our photo site for all the latest pictures taken on our rides in September:


The October short and steady ride is a slow and scenic route around  north and west Oxford, and will take in autumnal delights such as the horse chestnut trees and apple orchards of Wolvercote.

Meet outside Costa Coffee, Banbury Road, Summertown from 10:15 am for a 10:30 am start. The route will take National Cycle Network routes, other cycle paths and quiet roads to Wolvercote, Wytham and then Botley. In Botley we will ride into N. Hinksey village to pick up Willow Walk to reach the West Oxford Community Centre for refreshments. We will then continue across Port Meadow, through Jericho and back to the Banbury Rd meeting point. The entire ride is approximately 9 miles long and mainly flat with a few slight upward drags and the ride leader is Sarah Twine.


Meet from 10.00am for a 10.15am departure at the junction of Headington Road and Osler Road – just up from the Shell petrol station. The ride will leave Oxford via Old Headington before crossing the ring road and heading to Stanton St John, Worminghall, Holton and Ladder Hill in Wheatley before stopping for refreshments at Mill View Nursery and Cafe.

We will return via Wheatley Windmill, approaching East Oxford via Horspath and Barracks Lane. The ride is approximately 17 miles long and does include climbs which can be taken at your own pace, or even walked. The ride leader is Clare Farley.


Meet for a prompt 10am start by the statue of the Ox outside Oxford Railway Station. Please note the later than usual start time to allow those affected by half-marathon related road closures to find their way to the start.

The route will take us down Botley Road and up Cumnor Hill. We will then continue through Cumnor village, Appleton and Fyfield where we will cross under the A420 to emerge in Tubney. From there we will ride through Cothill and Wootton before climbing up through Old Boars Hill. A descent of Hinksey Hill will bring us out at the A34 roundabout and we will ride a little way along the ring road cycle track before re-crossing the ring road and stopping for our refreshment break at The Oxford Garden Centre.

We will return to the Station via North Hinksey and Willow Walk. The route is approximately 20 miles in length and includes climbs of Cumnor and Boars Hills. The ride leader is Stephen Lee. Please note that this is a mixed ride, so male partners and friends welcome.


Meet by the statue of the ox opposite the entrance to Oxford train station from 9:45 for a 10:00 departure. We will head off through the parks and back streets of Botley before climbing Cumnor Hill. After the hill (which can be taken at your own pace) the rest of the ride is level or downhill. We’ll ride on country lanes through the pretty villages of Cumnor, Eaton, Appleton and Fyfield before stopping for refreshments at the Dog House Hotel at Frilford. We then turn towards Cothill, then Sunningwell before returning to Oxford via the Thames path. The route is 24 miles in length and will be led by Karen Wolff.


Remember, this is the day the clocks change and so you should bring lights with you.

We are leaving from Costa Café in Summertown at 1:15pm prompt. The ride will take us through Woodeaton, Islip, Oddington, Charlton-on-Otmoor, Murcott, Horton-cum-Studley and Stanton St. John. We will get back into Oxford through Barton,  Headington, Headington Quarry and Wood Farm where we will try a new café where they have promised to have plenty of ‘natas’.  We will get back to the starting point through beautiful Old Headington.

This is a 27-mile ride with a couple of hills, but these can be taken at your own pace. It is also a social ride, so male partners and friends are welcome to join us. The leader is Leonor Barroca.

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.