February 2022

A sunny outing in January

New Highway Code

Saturday 29th January saw the adoption of the new Highway Code, which we all hope will make responsibilities clearer, and the roads safer for all road users. Isis Cyclists’ Sarah Twine succeeded in getting our local BBC News interested, and she gave an interview and filmed a short ride using a 360-degree camera, both of which were incorporated into a short piece broadcast in South Today on Friday 28th. It was great to get a bit more publicity about the changes, which have not been well advertised at all, and we were all really proud of her.

The Government has published a document comparing the previous rules with the new rules. You can find it at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/updates. It’s rather long, but you could have a look at Rules 59 to 82 (page 5ff), which apply to cyclists. The left-hand column shows the rules that have been deleted in yellow and the right hand column shows the changes in italic text and highlighted in grey.

Saturday 5th February: Short & Steady Ride – Sandford Talking Shop

Meet from 10.00 am in Radcliffe Square 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 HallI. There is also the weekly food market for a bit of shopping.

Find out more about what is on offer on their website: http://www.sandfordtalkingshop.org/

You can order food online to collect on the day if you wish: email orders.talkingshop@gmail.com

From there we will return to Oxford via Littlemore, Rose Hill, Iffley village and Meadow Lane. This ride is 8.5 miles long and fairly flat. It will be taken at the pace of the slowest rider. The ride leader is Clare Farley.

Tuesday 8th February: Midweek Ride – “Great” and “Little” villages SE of Oxford

07-02-22: The route has been amended as the lunch stop has moved from Little Milton to Great Milton. The overall distance is almost unchanged. The link below shows the new route.

Meet in Radcliffe Square at 10:15 for a prompt 10:30 start. Our 32-mile ride leaves Oxford along the cycle tracks through Northway and the new estate at Barton and follows this itinerary:

Marston – Northway – Barton – Stanton St John – Wheatley – Little Milton – Little Haseley – Great Haseley – Great Milton (lunch stop at The Bull inn) – Cuddesdon – Wheatley – Forest Hill – Stanton St John – Beckley – Elsfield – Marston

Hopefully, the snowdrops will be out in the spinney near Little Haseley, which we have often visited at this time of year. The ride has some gentle undulations, and the only substantial hill is up into Cuddesdon. Please bring lights in case of poor visibility or a generally low light level. Since the lunch stop is around the 20-mile mark, you may also like to bring a snack for a brief stop along the outward route.

The leader is Liz Matthews. This is a social ride: partners are very welcome! Please can you let me know by email or WhatsApp if you intend to come, so that I can alert the pub if need be? Thanks!

Link to the Midweek Ride Route

Saturday 12th February: Medium Ride – Riding to The Sun

Meet at 10am in Radcliffe Square (at the back of the University Church) for a prompt 10.15am departure for a ride to a new coffee venue at The Sun in Wheatley.

We will take a meandering route(!) out of Oxford which will start off by heading across the University Parks cycle track before climbing to Headington via Harberton Mead. We will then wend our way through Headington and past Rock Edge before making our way on cycle tracks and minor roads to the Ring Road at the top of Horspath Rd. We’ll then ride to Horspath and up Gidley Way which is quite a climb! We’ll take it steady and regroup at the top before swooping down through Littleworth to Wheatley and what we hope will be a sunny stop at The Sun!

After coffee we will climb to cross the A40 and then ride a short section of A40 cycle track before turning up the B4027 through Forest Hill and Stanton St John to return to Oxford via Barton Park. The route is moderately hilly (~600 ft of climbing) with climbs to Headington and then up Gidley Way. The return journey has a slight but persistent incline on the B4027.

The return trip is just over 17 miles long and the leader will be Ellen Lee. There will be a pick-up point at the Ring Rd end of Horspath Rd, near the bus turning circle at approx 10.45am. If you want to meet us there please let Ellen know (either by email or WhatsApp, or the contact us page on the website) as timing is a bit uncertain and we wouldn’t want to go without you.

Link to the Medium Ride Route

Saturday 19th February: Long Ride – A Wander to The Kitchen

Meet at 10am in Radcliffe Square (at the back of the University Church) for a prompt 10.15am departure on my first adventure as a leader for this wonderful group.

I stumbled on a gem of a coffee stop a few months ago and planned this route around it. This ride is all on road and leads out of Oxford to Horspath and on through Cuddesdon, Little Milton and through Drayton St Leonard to the coffee stop. We return via Chiselhampton and Chippinghurst. The ride will finish when we reach BMW at the ring road. The ride is nearly 28 miles long and has a couple of hills but the views at the top will bring you joy. The ride leader is Les Durbin and Yvonne Macken will be sweeping, so we are in safe hands.

Link to the Long Ride Route

January 2022

Our midweek rides are often social rides at which male partners are welcome. Here we are at The Old Shed, near Charlbury, in December.

As we move into 2022, there is still uncertainty surrounding further Covid restrictions. We are planning on the basis that things remain the same, but please bear with us if the situation requires us to make changes in the way we organise our rides. We are still trying our best to choose refreshment venues that have both outdoor and indoor seating. Most venues seem pretty happy to accommodate outdoor eating/drinking – some even provide blankets!

Saturday 8th 29th January: Short & Steady Ride – Ruskin’s Ride

08/01/22: Bad weather has prompted us to postpone this ride until the end of the month. Do join us then, when we hope for a better day!

Meet at 9.45am in Radcliffe Square (at the back of the University Church) for a prompt 10am departure on a gentle 10.8 mile ride to North Hinksey where John Ruskin, first Oxford Professor of Fine Arts from 1869, lived. It’s opposite The Fishes PH. As their opening time is late on a Saturday, we’ll be taking our refreshments at the Jericho Coffee Traders cafe on the Osney Industrial Estate instead and returning to the centre of town using the river towpath. The ride is a flat one and groups will be lead by Sarah Twine and Yvonne Macken.

Link to the short & steady route

Saturday 15th Sunday 16th January: Medium Ride – North-East to Islip

15/01/22: Note the change of day and later start time, due to a forecast of mist and fog. Also, please bring and use lights, particularly rear ones, and flashing ones if possible. We will need to be as visible as possible!

Meet at 10am 11am in Radcliffe Square (at the back of the University Church) for a prompt 10.15am 11.15am departure for the pleasant village of Islip. Today we will be riding the route given below in reverse and so will be leaving Oxford via N. Oxford and Cutteslowe before taking the lovely Water Eaton track to Gosford. We will then head up the Bicester Rd for a short stretch before taking the road to Islip where we will take our refreshments at The Red Lion PH. After coffee, we’ll cross the River Cherwell and climb up the B4027 before descending and turning to Woodeaton. We will return to the City Centre via Marston and the University Parks cycle track. The route is 16 miles long and the leader will be Liz Weekes.

Link to the Medium Route (we are riding in reverse!)

Saturday 22nd January: Long Ride to Bletchingdon Waterperry

18/01/22: In light of the similarity between the route originally planned for today and last week’s medium ride, today’s route will now take us to the tea room at Waterperry Gardens. We will also start later than originally announced, in case of ice on the roads.

Meet outside the University church in Radcliffe Square at 10:45 for a prompt 11:00 departure, heading out through Marston, Northway and Barton to take the country road north-east to Horton-cum-Studley. From there, we swing into a generally south-easterly direction to Worminghall, and then south-west to Waterperry, which lies at the 15-mile point. Since we will probably arrive there around 12:30, you may wish to have lunch. The return route takes us across the A40 at Wheatley, followed by a climb through Littleworth, joining Gidley Way at the top. This takes us down to Horspath; thence to the ring road at the Mini plant and on to Horspath Driftway and Barracks Lane. We disperse just past the far end of Barracks Lane, at the junction of Bartlemas Close and Cowley Road, by which time we will have ridden a shade over 22 miles. The leader is Liz Matthews.

At the time of writing (Tuesday) the weather is forecast to be dry, cloudy and cold (3-5 degrees) with a light wind. However, please bring lights in case of poor visibility or a generally low light level.

Link to the Long Ride Route

Tuesday 25th January – Midweek Ride: North Aston

Meet at 10am in Radcliffe Square, Oxford (at the back of the University Church) for a 10.15am departure on a ride up and down the Cherwell Valley. There will be a pick-up point at Costa Coffee in Summertown (on the corner of Banbury and Oakthorpe Rds) at 10.30am. We will then make our way to Upper Wolvercote and join the canal, following the newly-rebuilt towpath past Duke’s Cut lock as far as the A44, then a generally good quick cycle path along the main road for coffee at Woodstock (~9mls).

We then follow fairly quiet roads north-east from Woodstock, crossing (in small groups, for safety) the fairly busy and fast A4260 at Sturdy’s Castle heading for the pretty village of Tackley, where there is a village shop.

A steady climb out of Tackley takes us to the Rousham road to cross the A4030 at Lower Heyford and climb a significant hill up to attractive Steeple Aston (where there is a steep down and up) continuing northwards to North Aston for lunch, where we plan to book at the Yurt at Nicholson Nurseries (~19 mls).

We start the homeward journey with a long descent to the Cherwell and then up into Somerton, turning south towards Upper Heyford with views to the west across the valley to the villages we cycled through earlier.    After a left-right in Upper Heyford it is a mostly straight and fairly flat run all the way through Kirtlington and down the Bletchingdon hill towards Water Eaton where we’re on the cycle path past the Parkway Station and back into Summertown.

If the weather has been dry and ground conditions are good we may take an alternative route along the off-road unsurfaced green lane through the woods from Woodstock, which misses Tackley and heads straight for Rousham.

This ride is 35 miles long and, unless we use the green lane, will not feature anything rougher than surfaced canal towpath. There are several significant climbs totalling approximately 1500ft. This is a social ride and male partners and friends are welcome to join us. The leaders are Karen and Dick Wolff.

Link to the Midweek Ride Route

December 2021

Saturday 4th December: Short & Steady Ride – Encountering (South) East Oxford

This 10.4-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. Starting from outside the Vaults and Garden Café in Radcliffe Square, at 10am, we will take the Iffley Road before branching off and riding through Iffley Village, and thence via the Florence Park and Littlemore Low Traffic neighbourhoods (while they are still in place!) into Greater and Blackbird Leys. There are green spaces and parks in this area and we will ride through most of them. Returning to Cowley Road via the Temple Cowley LTN, we’ll visit Halley café (fairly new, and not used by us before) for coffee and cake, to reward ourselves for a short and almost entirely flat ride. Please arrive at the starting point at 9.45am, to allow time for signing up and briefing before we leave promptly at 10am. 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, where the Green Fair will be in full swing in the Town Hall (it’s a super event). The leaders are Jane Carlton Smith and Karen Wolff.

Link to the short & steady route

Saturday 11th December: Medium Ride – Bothy Vineyard Christmas Fair

Meet at 10:00 for a 10:15 departure in Radcliffe Square for this medium ride which takes us up Cumnor Hill and through Besselsleigh, Dry Sandford and Cothill to the Bothy Vineyard, where there is a small outdoor Christmas Fair. Last year there was mulled wine and samosas on offer, as well as a few other stalls selling home-made gifts. We return to Oxford via Sunningwell and the Thames cycle path. The ride is 21 miles and involves the long climb of Cumnor Hill. The rest of the ride is either flat or downhill, and is mainly on country lanes and cycle paths. The ride leaders are Karen Wolff and Jane Carlton Smith.

Link to the medium ride route

Tuesday 14th December: Midweek Social Ride to Lunch at The Shed, Charlbury

The route is 22.8 miles long and will start and finish in Eynsham. It is a quite hilly, but attractive route. Meet in the square at 10.15 for a 10.30 start. If you would like a coffee at the start arrive at 10am. You can park in the square or in the doctors’ car park (OX29 4QB). (To get to the square you follow a short footpath).

We will start cycling out of Eynsham along Cuckoo Lane and through East End. The route then goes along quiet, pretty lanes to Fawler. We continue up to Charlbury and then skirt round the outside before taking a right turn up to the Old Shed Cafe where we will have lunch. This is where the group had an away week-end before the pandemic. We are not able to book, but there should be plenty of space.

The return ride sees us cycling through the centre of Charlbury and into Cornbury Park where we cycle along a track. We may have to push the bikes at this point but it is not far. We continue up to Finstock and through Wilcote, where we pass Bridewell Organic Gardens. Continuing along quiet country lanes we rejoin Cuckoo Lane and back into Eynsham. This is a social ride, so male friends and partners are welcome. The ride leader is Julia Millington.

Link to the midweek ride route

Saturday 18th December: Long Ride Around the Southern Villages

A 24-mile ride starting in Radcliffe Square (at the back of the University Church) and ending on the Ring Rd at the top of Horspath Rd. Meet from 10am for a 10.15 departure. Please make sure you arrive promptly so that there is time to sign-up and listen to the leader’s briefing. For those from the east of the city, there will be an additional pick-up point at 10.30am on Donnington Bridge (north side). The ride leaves Oxford via Boar’s Hill (the only hill on the route) before descending to Bayworth and Sunningwell. Here it will take a short stretch of well-surfaced off-road track (Pen Lane) to enter Abingdon where refreshments will be taken at one of the many cafes in the centre. It then follows NCN 5 south to Sutton Courtenay, Appleford, Long Wittenham, and Clifton Hampden. It returns to Oxford via Marsh & Toot Baldon and the B480. There are a few short sections of good quality off-road track which are suitable for all but the narrowest road bike tyres. The ride leader will be Leonor Barroca.

Link to the long route

Thursday 23rd  December: Christmas Lights Ride

Meet in Radcliffe Square, Oxford (at the back of the University Church) from 6pm for a 6.15pm departure on a tour of some of Oxford’s Christmas light displays. We plan to cycle around the highlights of Morrell Avenue and East Oxford then visit a particularly impressive display in Kennington and the entire route will be less than 12 miles in length, fairly flat and taken at a steady pace. There will be several stops along the way to admire both artistic and cheesy illuminations. Option of Christmas drinks on the return journey into Oxford. The ride leader will be Sarah Twine.

November 2021

The AJ Bell Women’s Tour passing through Oxford on 4th October.

Saturday November 6th 2021: Short & Steady Rides A Short Riverine Ride

Meet at 9.45 for a 10am departure from Radcliffe Square for this gentle meander along the tow paths of Oxford. We will head south along the river to begin with, cross Iffley Lock to join Meadow Lane, then come back over the river to join the Sustrans route through Grandpont. We briefly reunite with the river before ducking off into Osney Mead to take advantage of the lovely new cycle path which leads us to our refreshment stop at WOCA. From there we continue north along the river before turning off and cutting back to the city centre via Jericho. The ride is just under 8 miles and flat. The leaders are Karen Wolff and Liz Weekes.

Link to Short & Steady Route

Tuesday 9th November: Midweek Social Ride to Ducklington

At nearly 35 miles this ride is quite ambitious for the time of year, so we will set off promptly and keep moving at a reasonable pace to ensure we get back to Oxford before the light fades. In any case, please bring lights.

Meet outside Costa Coffee in Summertown from 9.15 for a 9.30 departure. The plan is to cycle north along the canal towpath from Wolvercote to Yarnton; however, a short stretch just before Yarnton is currently closed. When we checked the route we found a way round (a short, slightly rough track), but if that isn’t an option on the day we’ll ride alongside the A44 all the way from the Woodstock Road roundabout to Yarnton. From Yarnton we follow a quieter road through Cassington to Eynsham, where we may have a short refreshment stop (Lyall’s café or bring your own).

The route then takes us to Sutton and Stanton Harcourt before turning along peaceful Tar Lane and the Northern Cross Valley bridleway, which has a good surface. The lunch stop is at The Bell, Ducklington (see below); alternatively, you can picnic on the bench by the duck pond, warding off the marauding mallards. In the afternoon we enjoy a few exhilarating swoops along the Aston Mile before turning left along the lane through Yelford to the A415 at Hardwick. From there it’s back through Standlake, Northmoor, Newbridge, Kingston Hill (the day’s only climb) and Appleton. There will be an optional tea stop in Cumnor before zooming down Cumnor Hill back into Oxford. The route officially ends in Frideswide Square.

The leader is Liz Matthews.

Lunch at The Bell: It will help The Bell if we send our menu choices the day before. The current menu is different from the one on the website, so I’ll post it on the new Midweek Rides WhatsApp group on Thursday 4th. If you aren’t a member of the group, send me a message by email (if you know my address), via the contact page on the website, or a direct message on WhatsApp, and I’ll send you a copy.

Route: Link to the Midweek Ride Route

Saturday 13th November: Medium Ride Greats & Littles

This 18-mile ride, taken at a slow and steady pace, explores the undulating area SE of Oxford through Great Milton and Haseley and Little Haseley and Milton with a break at the community shop and cafe in Little Milton. It includes some hills which can be taken at your own pace.

Meet opposite the City Arms on Magdalen Road, at 9.30am to leave by 9.45am. We will set off up Barracks Lane, head across the ring road towards Horspath and take a short detour to avoid the closed road by the railway bridge. A short sharp hill leads on to a downhill into Cuddesdon and the mill before rising again to reach Great Milton. We’ll continue through Great Haseley and Little Haseley and then Little Milton. We’ll return via Cuddesdon to enjoy the hills and views in the opposite direction and back down Barracks Lane to E. Oxford. The ride leader is Clare Farley.

Friday 19th November: Evening Ride around the Lights

Meet in Radcliffe Square, outside the Vaults & Gardens Café at 6pm, for a ride to appreciate the highlights of the Oxford Christmas Light Festival. We’ll visit the Castle, where a Son et Lumière is running that evening, celebrating the 950th Anniversary of the Castle. We’ll ride around some of the other sights, to be determined nearer the time when details are published (see Oxford Lights Festival). It’s not possible to plan a refreshment stop at the time the newsletter goes out, as there may be changes in rules and regulations, so we’ll have to play it by ear. The ride should finish by 8pm. The leader is Jane Carlton Smith.

Saturday 20th November: Long ride Dead-ends and Donkeys

Meet outside the Premier Inn, by the roundabout at the end of Oxford Road, Cowley (Cowley Road), where it meets the Ring Road. We will start at 9.30am, because daylight is limited in late November.

This 32-mile ride starts on the cycle track on the B480, immediately beyond the ring road roundabout, and ends at Donnington Bridge. It includes a couple of stretches of main road, and goes “off piste” a couple of times to investigate the bits of Marsh Baldon we normally sail past, and also Mackney, which is an isolated hamlet south of Brightwell cum Sotwell, and is lovely. The route takes in the Baldons, Clifton Hampden and Little Wittenham. We then head for Brightwell cum Sotwell and down Mackney Lane to the hamlet (the Dead End). Returning to Brightwell, we will visit the Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary which has a café. Our route home passes through North Moreton, Appleford and Sutton Courtenay, after which we can take the Hanson Way (Peep o’Day Lane) to Abingdon. We can get refreshments there if the Donkey café isn’t open, or if we want another stop! And then back via the Sustrans route. We’ll finish up at Donnington Bridge, from where you can find your way back home.

There are some hills in the first half of the ride, but fairly flat in the second half. The leader is Jane Carlton Smith.

Link to Long Ride Route