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

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 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!

March 2020

In this issue:

Ellen writes…


Sunnyhill, sunny day!

We hope that the definite signs of spring will tempt you out to join us on one of our rides in March. Also, don’t forget about the car/van assist ride on Sun 5th April. I will be checking the route out in the middle of March and will send an email around to the group shortly after that with full details and arrangements for co-ordinating travel.

Bike Oxford 2020

For those of you who would like to take part in the Bike Oxford event this year, the organisers given Isis Cyclists a discount code that will give you 15% off the ticket price. Provisional routes for this year’s event can be seen on the Bike Oxford website. The discount code is BOISIS152020.

The Oxford Greenways Project

I attended the initial workshop organised by the Oxford Greenways Project (its current title) on behalf of Isis Cyclists. It is a project that is jointly funded by the County Council, City Council and Oxford University, in order to identify and propose a series of routes linking the towns and villages within about 8 miles of the edge of Oxford, to the City. The idea is for these routes to plug into routes created and improved as a result of the Oxford LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan), which is currently in the final stages of approval by the City Council.

This project is following in the footsteps of, and learning and adapting ideas developed in, the Cambridge Greenways Project, which is a few years ahead of ours(!) and has just secured funding for the first two of its proposed routes. It was very heartening that there was huge support for the Oxford project across the political parties, from cycling organisations, the local district councils, both Oxford Universities and some employers. So, if you have any ideas for links, improvement to existing routes or entirely new ones which will help us to get access to the countryside, and those living in the countryside to get access to Oxford, why not have a chat with me on a ride or drop me an email through the Contact Us page (or to my personal email address if you know it).

Isis - FebCheck our photo site for pictures taken on our rides in February:


Meet outside the Sheldonian theatre from 12.15 pm for a prompt 12.30 start. We will take cycle route 5 to Wolfson College to see “The Ways We See” Oxford Photographers Exhibition. It’s open daily in the Private Dining Room and the Florey Room from 10am until 7pm, subject to College commitments.

We’ll then continue to Summertown and Wolvercote in order to try out the newly resurfaced canal towpath. We will finish our ride in Jericho for tea and cake at the Branca food cafe. The ride is short (less than 10 miles in length), flat and suitable for all types of bicycles (including e-bikes). The ride leader is Lilia Bonacorsi.


As usual, we are invited to join the Oxford Cycling UK half day ride which this month will be led by Steve Tuohy. Meet in Broad St, Oxford (outside Oxford Campus Stores) for a prompt 9:30 departure on a clockwise loop of Otmoor with coffee at Waterperry Gardens. The route will leave Oxford via Marston before riding through Woodeaton, Islip, Charlton-on-Otmoor, Fencott and Murcott. From there it will climb Pans Hill before heading for the coffee stop via Oakley & Worminghall. The return from coffee will take us through Wheatley, Littleworth and Horspath.

The entire trip is 29 miles long and will include two hills before coffee and one after. (This is the ride that was cancelled in February due to bad weather.)


Meet from 10am in Radcliffe Square, Oxford for a prompt 10.15am departure on a ride that gives you a choice of an on or off-road approach to our refreshment stop at The Oxford Garden Centre, near South Hinksey. Our route will begin by heading through the quiet leafy streets of North Oxford and Jericho to pick up the canal and river towpaths to Osney. We will then pick up Willow Walk to arrive at North Hinksey. This is followed by the main climb of the day, Cumnor Hill. This can be taken at any pace and walked if you wish.

We will then turn down Hurst Lane where decision time looms, because this ride has two leaders and so will split into two groups here. One group will head back to North Hinksey via Raleigh Park Rd, ride through the village and then turn onto the ring road cycle track for the short hop to South Hinksey. The other group will take the off-road Chilswell track, with its fabulous views back towards Oxford. The track emerges on Hinksey Hill, so we will cross the interchange on the cycle track and ride the half mile along the ring rd cycle track to South Hinksey. The groups will meet at the Garden Centre café. We will return to Oxford via Redbridge and the side streets of South Oxford.

The ride will be approximately 13 miles long and the only significant hill is Cumnor Hill. The two ride leaders are Sarah Twine and Ellen Lee.


We did this ride two years ago and it was most rewarding.  Meet inside Jacob and Field (on Old High St, Headington, near Waitrose) from 9:30am for a coffee, before departure at 10am prompt.

We will head off under the underpass onto the Bayswater road towards Stanton St John. We will then ride past the church and down the hill and head for Boarstall via Bernwood Forest.  We may have a short stop to admire Boarstall Tower, which is just off the road.  After a short stretch on the Thame Road we turn for Brill, climbing the hill that brings us out by the Windmill and the Pheasant Public House, where we will have lunch.

If you are planning to come, it would be very helpful if you could tell the leader, Jane Carlton Smith, and also let her know what you would like to order from the menu. You can pay on the day.

The return route starts with a long freewheel down the hill to Oakley, then on to Worminghall. We then turn for Wheatley, Littleworth and Horspath before the ride concludes at Horspath Driftway (on the ring road). The ride is approximately 25 miles long and hilly, but will be taken at a moderate pace. It is expected to take about 5 hours, including stops. There is the option to have tea at Waterperry if enough people want to make a day of it.

The ride leader is Jane Carlton Smith, and you can view the route on Mapometer.


Meet in Radcliffe Square, at the back of the University Church for a 13:30 departure for this social tea ride where male friends and partners are very welcome. This ride will take us through Botley, Farmoor, Swinford, Stanton Harcourt and on towards Aston, where we will stop for coffee at Aston Pottery. The (mostly flat) return route will be through Brighthampton, Newbridge, Appleton and Cumnor. The leader is Leonor Barroca, and you can view the route on RideWithGPS.

Women-focused bicycle events in Oxford this month

Book event at Broken Spoke – Friday 20th March

7pm, Broken Spoke, Osney Lane, OX1 1NJ

Broken Spoke is hosting a really exciting book talk event with two cycling superheroes: Jools Walker and Emily Chappell, focussing on women’s cycling. They have both published new books in the past year so we will be hearing a discussion between the two of them, followed by a Q&A panel and book signings.

The tickets are priced on a sliding scale to make the event accessible to people on different incomes. Further information and tickets on Broken Spoke’s website and/or  Facebook.

Train like a woman: How to adapt your cycling training to your hormones – Friday 24th April

Organised by Cowley Road Condors
7pm, Florence Park Community Centre

Join Level 3 cycle coach and experienced bike racer Jasmijn Muller for an evening talk on ‘how to train like a woman’. Listen to some of the key things she picked up from Dr. Stacy Sims’ inaugural “women are not small men” course, which she completed in November and December 2019, as one of just 50 lucky people in the world.  Learn how to adapt your training for optimal performance through the various stages of the menstrual cycle. Find out how different anti-conception methods impact your training and performance. Discover how to mix up and change your training and nutrition once (peri)-menopause hits and your hormones are all over the shop.

Further information and tickets (£8): Cowley Road Condors website and/or Facebook.

February 2020

In this issue:

Ellen writes…


We do use our feet for other purposes here, to climb Jarn Mound on Boars Hill.

What a fantastic start to Isis Cyclists’ 2020! Not only did all our three regular rides and one “pop-up” ride (to Boars Hill) go ahead unimpeded by the weather, we also saw record numbers of riders joining us. It was wonderful to see so many faces, familiar and new sharing the joy of cycling in the winter. If you haven’t managed to join us on a ride yet, why not do so in February?

January also saw the opening of booking for our 2020 weekend away at St Katharine’s, Parmoor. Sixteen cyclists have already booked places in the retreat house with more planning to camp nearby. Space is still  available in the house if you would like to take part. If you aren’t on our mailing list and are interested in taking part, please get in touch through the Contact Us page.

I would also like to give you advance notice of another “special” cycle ride: a car-assisted ride on Sunday 5th April, starting in Pangbourne in Berkshire and visiting The Living Rainforest in Hampstead Norreys. The ride will be a fairly challenging 19 miles, with several climbs and several descents down narrow, twisty roads. However, by then spring should have well and truly sprung, and the countryside should look wonderful. Full details will appear in the March newsletter.

Happy cycling!



Respectful cyclists always dismount at a lock.

Meet from 10.00am in Bonn Square at the end of Queen Street for a prompt 10.15am departure. We will ride down St Ebbe’s to the river Thames and pick up the South Oxford cycle route and continue south along the Thames Towpath, enjoying the most recently resurfaced section along the railway line. 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. You can order food by email to collect on the day if you wish.

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


Meet in Radcliffe Square, at the back of the University Church from 10:00am for a 10:15am departure for coffee at the Sunny Hill vineyard in Horspath. We will start by taking the University Parks cycle track to Marston before riding through East Oxford, past the Cowley Centre and on to cross the ring road by subway on Long Lane, Littlemore. We will then take an interesting route, mainly on surfaced tracks and quiet roads through Greater Leys to emerge on Grenoble Rd and then onto the B480 for a short distance. We will then turn towards Garsington and start what is the only substantial climb of the ride; it can be taken at any pace and even walked. This will take us up through Garsington and onto the Wheatley Rd with potentially fine views over to the Chiltern Hills. We will then descend the long, straight hill to Horspath for coffee, cake and, who knows, maybe a taste or two of the products of the vineyard. Their own wine, sparkling cider and cider vinegar (all organic) are on sale, so it may be worth bringing an extra pannier. After coffee, it’s just a short two-mile hop to the ring road, where we will go our separate ways.

The route from the centre of town to the ring road (at the end of Horspath Road) is about 12 miles and back to the centre of town via Barracks Lane, a further 3 miles. If you live in East Oxford, we can pick people up on Rymers Lane, opposite Florence Park at approximately 10:35am. Please let the ride leader know (via the Contact Us page) if you will be at the pick-up point, so that we can wait if we arrive early. There will be some surfaced tracks on the route and one substantial hill as mentioned above. The ride leader is Ellen Lee.


As usual, we are invited to join the Oxford Cycling UK half day ride which this month will be led by Steve Tuohy. Meet in Broad St, Oxford (outside Oxford Campus Stores) for a prompt 09:30 departure on a clockwise loop of Otmoor with coffee at Waterperry Gardens. The route will leave Oxford via Marston before riding through Woodeaton, Islip, Charlton-on-Otmoor, Fencott and Murcott. From there it will climb Pans Hill before heading for the coffee stop via Oakley & Worminghall. The return from coffee will take us through Wheatley, Littleworth and Horspath. The entire trip is 29 miles long and will include two hills before coffee and one after.


We will meet at the Beirut restaurant (on the corner of Osler Road and London Road in Headington, OX3 9BJ) at 9:45am for a 10am start, heading out to Stanton St John and cycling through Forest Hill and the outskirts of Wheatley. As much as possible, we will follow country roads and quiet lanes through the rolling Oxfordshire countryside searching for snowdrops and other spring flowers that might be waiting for us. We will pass through the rural villages of Great Milton (of Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons fame), Great and Little Haseley before stopping for a break at the community run Little Milton Village Shop where we can have coffee and cake or a bacon or sausage bap – perfect sustenance for a cycling brunch as we tend to arrive about 11.30am. Once refreshed, we will return via Cuddesdon where we will pass Ripon College (a centre of theological training and research), before descending to Horspath and back to Oxford. This ride is about 22 miles and has several hills or undulations, which will be taken at a gentle pace or can be walked. The ride leader is Lucy Wright.


Meet from 10:15 for a 10:30 departure at the junction of Norham Gardens and Parks Road, by the entrance to University Parks, for this mixed social ride to the Milk Shed at Weston on the Green. We will head off through North Oxford and Summertown following route 51, cross the bridge to Cutteslowe Park then take the cycle path along the Banbury Road for a short stretch before turning off to follow the route across the fields to Water Eaton. From there we follow quiet lanes through Hampton Poyle and up the hill to Bletchingdon, then downhill to Weston on the Green, taking a late coffee or early lunch at the Milk Shed. Our return route takes us back through Bletchingdon via an alternative road, and across the fields to Kidlington church. From there we’ll head straight back to Oxford along the Oxford Road. The ride is 23 miles long, and there are a couple of hills (which can be walked). As this is a mixed social ride, male partners and friends are welcome to join us. The ride leader is Karen Wolff.