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.

January 2020

In this issue:


Gathering for the ride to the Bothy Vineyard on 21st December

Ellen writes…

We had plenty of gentle and mild weather in December so that (unusually) all our rides went ahead on schedule. We even managed to avoid any encounters with flood water!

The new year is always a time for taking stock; thinking both about the year ending and the one to come. 2019 was another great year for Isis Cyclists, as you can read in our annual report for 2018-2019. We have continued to enjoy our usual mix of confidence-building explorations in and around Oxford and more challenging rides into the countryside beyond. Obvious highlights were another wonderful weekend away based in Charlbury, a 50 mile challenge ride that explored villages at the base of the Berkshire Downs and a car/van assist ride from Lechlade that visited Kelmscott Manor on the very last day it was open for two years. However, no ride is “ordinary.” Each one is a sociable exploration in which the familiar can sometimes be magically transformed into something new by the seasons, the weather, the company and any number of “happenings” along the way. Let’s hope for plenty more in 2020!

2020 weekend away: 17th-19th July

We are returning to the Chilterns, 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. There will be a separate mailing with full details later this month. If you haven’t joined us for some or all of one of these weekends, why not go for it in 2020? I think that anyone you talk to who has taken part in one will thoroughly recommend it.

Happy cycling in 2020!

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


Meet at 10am for a prompt 10.15am start at the bottom of Walton Street (where it meets Worcester Street and Beaumont Street) and we’ll take advantage of the closed road and ride up through Walton Manor to Wolvercote, around to Wytham and then along to North Hinksey where we will take refreshments at The Fishes (see its breakfast menu).  Breakfast is served until 11.30am.  We will then return via Willow Walk and the tow path back to the city centre where the ride will finish in St. Ebbes Street (by St. Ebbes Church).   The ride is a fairly flat 9 miles and will be taken at the pace of the slowest rider. The ride leader is Natasha Williams.

The route is available at


Meet by the statue of the ox opposite the entrance to Oxford main rail station from 10:00 for a 10:15 departure. This ride takes us in a circle right round the city of Oxford using tow paths, cycle lanes and quiet roads. We will exit the station at the back and drop down to the canal where we’ll follow the towpath, as far as we can in a northwards direction. We’ll then go up onto quiet roads when the tarmac runs out and on towards Wolvercote. From there we wiggle our way through Summertown, then join the Marston Ferry cycle path before heading up Harberton Mead, then along Hilltop Road and back down the hill to Barracks Lane cycle path, then Florence Park. We’ll then cut through to ‘Sylvie’s’ on the Iffley Road where we’ll take refreshments. After coffee it will be straight back to the city centre along the Thames towpath. The ride is 12 miles long and will be led by Karen Wolff.


Meet outside Oxford Campus Stores on Broad St for a prompt 9:30am start on a leisurely ride to Yarnton Nurseries organised by the Oxford Cycling UK group and led by Stephen Lee.

The route will wind its way north on minor roads and paths and cross the ring road using the Cutteslowe bridge. It will then take the Water Eaton track to Kidlington and will cross the railway and canal to pick up Begbroke Lane. This will bring us out on the A44 cycle track, a little way to the north of the Yarnton Nurseries. After coffee we will return to Oxford directly using the A44 cycle track and, if it is dry enough, the canal towpath to Wolvercote. The pace will average about 10mph and the ride is flat (apart from a couple of bridges near Water Eaton) and approximately 15 miles in length. Please note that this is a mixed ride and so male friends and partners are welcome.


Meet by the Vaults café entrance at the University Church in Radcliffe Square at 10.45am to set off at 11am. We will head out through Marston and over the ring road to Elsfield, from here circling  Otmoor via villages including Horton cum Studley, Murcott and Charlton on Otmoor. In recent months, the fields have been flooded and the River Ray has burst its banks in low lying areas of Islip, where we will stop at the Red Lion pub (now part of the Jacobs Inn group) for bar snacks or lunch about three quarters of the way round. Bring a flask or drink and a snack to keep you going.

You can take a look at the pub menu at

We will be cycling on roads throughout, and hopefully the later start means it will be free of ice. However, I will adjust or shorten the route if we have unfavourable weather The 22 mile ride is gently undulating with a couple of hills which we won’t rush.

The ride will be led by Lucy Tennyson. You are welcome to wait for the group just over the ring road by the Woodeaton turn at around 11.15am.

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.