August 2020

Ellen writes…

Hello Everybody,

Well, here we are, (nearly) in August, and I’m afraid that I still can’t give you any news about when we are likely to be able to start organised group rides again. Just to reiterate; we are an informal members’ group of the national cycling organisation, Cycling UK. We can’t restart our rides programme until told by Cycling UK that we can do so. I know this will be particularly frustrating to those of you who enjoy our shorter rides.

Informal rides through the BikeBuddies WhatsApp group

Those of us who have been riding throughout lockdown have been busy organising ourselves into groups of six maximum and riding together, often several times in a week, which has been wonderful: see our Isis in Isolation photo album for July 2020.

These rides are generally a minimum of 15 miles in length and have no leader or sweeper as official Isis Cyclists rides do. Obviously, there is a plan and somebody knows where the ride is going, but ultimately everyone is responsible for themselves.

If you would like to join a ride on this basis, then email info@isiscyclists.org.uk with your name and phone number so that you can be signed up to the Bike Buddies WhatsApp group. If you would like to ride but worry that these rides will be too fast, etc. please still sign up.

There are plenty of shorter routes on our website and if you put out a plea for a bike buddy on the group then you will probably still find some. If the route is short, then nobody will expect to ride fast. I normally go on a town-based 10-mile ride on my Brompton on days when I work, so you may find I respond!

Cafés and tea rooms that have reopened

Many cafes are now open, and you can usually get a takeout if you don’t want to sit inside. Here is a list of venues and their opening hours, compiled by Oxfordshire Cycling UK’s midweek group.

County Council bid for funding for active travelling schemes

Finally, I’m sure that, whether you have been on two feet or two wheels, you will have enjoyed the better air quality and quieter roads that lockdown has brought. The County Council is currently preparing a funding bid for 2.4 million pounds from central government for tranche 2 of funding for active travel schemes. They received only half of what they bid for in the first tranche because they were not sufficiently ambitious, and we and other cycling/walking/environmental organisations in the county don’t want this to happen again. So we are asking for people to write to their County Councillor. The more emails they receive the better, and the more you can personalise your letter the better too.

Those of you living in E. Oxford may also like to politely enquire if/when the low-traffic neighbourhoods in Cowley will be implemented (which was part of tranche 1). Cyclox have helpfully produced a template email: for this, and more information please send an email to info@isiscyclists.org.uk.

I think that we’ve all seen an increase in motorised traffic in and around town lately and the worry is that this will only increase as people return to work and don’t want to take public transport. Thanks to all those of you who have responded to this plea via Cyclox or other cycling/walking organisations that you belong to. Together we can (and hopefully will) make a difference.

Happy Cycling!

July 2020

Ellen writes…

Welcome to this edition of the Isis Cyclists Newsletter. Things have eased somewhat during June, and small groups of riders have been organising themselves to ride together via the Bike Buddies WhatsApp group. A maximum of six riders can now ride together as long as social distancing is followed. The much anticipated changes to social distancing are unlikely to greatly affect our group riding because it seems that 2m will still be the advised “inter-personal separation” in most circumstances that we encounter whilst riding. What we expect to change is the opening of pubs, restaurants and cafes. Food will be served on the premises. However, we don’t really know how this will work yet, how much pre-booking will be required and to what extent things will vary from one establishment to the next.

There’s no sign yet that we can start organising formal rides again. It will be good to see how catering works out by trying it individually and in small groups over the next few weeks. My feeling is that whenever we start up again, things will not be the same as they were in the “old days.” We have always worked hard to keep Isis rides as informal as possible to allow last-minute decisions to join and to avoid booking. However, the new world we will be emerging into will probably require more prior commitment. Anyway, we will see how things unfold.

I have been riding throughout lockdown and one thing I’ve noticed is that having a proper sit-down café break makes a ride much less tiring. It allows your body to refuel and to recuperate. So I think that, if we have to have more “do it yourself” refreshment breaks when we restart formal rides, we will need to moderate distances slightly to compensate. Hopefully we will have fully worked out new ways of doing things before the weather deteriorates. However, I have been trying to think of places where we could plan al fresco refreshment stops undercover. If you know of any public areas that are covered, perhaps in your local park,  please let us know. As we start up and head into autumn this knowledge will be very useful.

Here is a link to Isis in semi-isolation June 2020 where you can see what some of us have been up to this month.

Enjoy your riding and stay healthy in July!

June 2020

The reality might be a bit more complex, but there’s no doubt about it – getting out and about on your bike is good for your health, pandemic or no pandemic!

Ellen writes…

Welcome to another “compact” lockdown version of the Isis Cyclists Newsletter for June 2020. First and foremost, I hope that you, your family and friends are all well and that you are starting to be able to get a little bit of normality back in your life. As you will have seen, the rules on exercise have loosened quite a bit recently with groups of up to six people from different households being able to exercise, together providing the usual 2m social distancing guidance is followed. For more complete details, see the links at the top of this page. So, although this still means that Isis Cyclists can’t organise group rides, small groups are allowed to ride informally together. The Bike Buddies WhatsApp group is and has been used to organise such rides, so if you want to sign up for it, then let me know via the contact us page on the website, giving your name and mobile phone number. I should stress that these are private rides agreed between participating riders and are not organised by Isis Cyclists.

Sarah with one of her doors of the day

Talking of Bike Buddies, May has seen us enjoying a “door of the day” competition/quiz. Sarah Twine spent the month photographing college doors and each day we had to guess which college had the “door of the day”. It was surprising and illuminating in equal measure. It was surprising how hard some were to guess! Most doors were fairly pompous, as might be expected, and a few involved a lot of bling. We decided that the prettiest door belongs to Hertford College. Why not check it out when you’re passing and see if you agree? Huge thanks to Sarah for doing this. It might seem a small thing, but actually all these things add up to help us keep sane while our lives are on hold and we are very grateful. We’ve also been sharing photos of the rides we’ve been on and you can see what your fellow Isis Cyclists have been doing in the Isis in Isolation – May 2020 photo album.

I realise, with a bit of a shock, that this is the 95th edition of the Isis Cyclists Newsletter that I’ve written since 2012! My 100th edition is not that far off, and I am keeping my fingers (and everything else) crossed that it will be an ordinary run of the mill edition, one with a ride programme (remember them?). At the moment, it’s very hard to predict what will happen. Will we have a steady relaxation of restriction until we can get going again or will it be in fits and starts? Whatever happens, Isis rides may well be able to start up before cafés etc. return to normal, so we may need to go through a phase of carrying our own refreshments or getting take-aways and stopping somewhere with plenty of space outside. Inclement weather will be a challenge! One thing that we do want to do when we start up again is to have a big celebration picnic!

All the best for a fabulous and healthy June!

The tranquil Thames near Culham

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 info@isiscyclists.org.uk.

Best wishes for a healthy month and here’s hoping that restriction will begin to ease soon.IMG-20200409-WA0009