July 2019

In this issue:

Ellen writes…

Welcome to the Isis Cyclists July 2019 newsletter. I hope that you have managed to get out and about on your bike, even though the weather has felt at times more like March than June.

I shouldn’t complain, though, because our weekend away turned out to be charmed, weather-wise. Yes, it was cold and very wet at times during the weekend, but not when we were actually riding. Twenty-four of us had a great time based at Banbury Hill, just outside Charlbury. Riders had a choice of two rides on the Saturday. Lucy Tennyson led a ride which visited Daylesford and Chastleton House, and I led a slightly longer ride to Stow on the Wold. As always good fortune smiled on us, especially in the morning when we were feeling in need of “a little something” and we came across a village fete in Bledington. The cake stall wasn’t opening for another 20 minutes, but we found refreshments being served in the village hall to tide us over until it was! After all the rain, the sun came out, legs and arms were bared, and the Cotswold villages and countryside looked stunning.


Enjoying a picnic on the return ride from Charlbury

I will be leading this year’s 50-mile challenge ride on Saturday 7th September. The plan will be to ride down to Didcot to pick up the Didcot to Upton cycle track which uses a disused railway track and is part of the Didcot to Wantage cycle route. From Upton we will continue on the route for lunch at a café in Ardington before entering Wantage, and returning home through the Vale of the White Horse. As usual the ride will be taken at a steady pace and we offer plenty of chances to enjoy the views in a part of the county that we don’t often get to ride in.

Hopefully July will see summer come to stay. Anyway, we’ve got another varied selection of rides, so we’d love to see you out on some.

Happy cycling!

Photos from June’s rides:


Meet from 1.15pm in Bonn Square at the end of Queen Street for a prompt 1.30pm departure. We will ride down St Ebbes to the river Thames and follow it towards Osney/Botley, along Willow Walk to N Hinksey and up a short stretch of Harcourt Hill.

The Conduit House is located off a track leading from Harcourt Hill; access is on foot only and is about a ten-minute walk from Harcourt Hill Road. It was built during the early 17th century. It is a remarkable survival of Oxford’s first piped water supply.

From there we will retrace our tracks back to the Thames and pick up the South Oxford Cycle Route to the Ring Road and down on to the Thames just South of Iffley, so that we can have tea and cakes at the Isis Tavern before returning to Oxford along the Thames tow path. The ride is 8 miles with a short stretch of walking. The ride leader is Clare Farley.


We will meet at the Beirut Restaurant (on the corner of Osler Road and London Road in Headington, OX3 7RA) at 09:45am for a 10am start. We’ll wind our way through Old Headington and Barton to the countryside. We will follow country lanes as much as possible onto Horton-cum-Studley and return via Stanton St John – a route that feels particularly rural. We will stop for coffee and cake at the Tractor Shed, Rectory Farm – so bring panniers and bags if you want to pick your own or buy their fruit and vegetables. For what is currently available, visit the Rectory Farm website.

This ride is about 13 miles and is hilly. All 4 hills will be taken at your own speed (at a gentle pace or walked) with regular regroupings, and of course there is the benefit of beautiful sweeping descents as a reward! The ride leader will be Lucy Wright.


Meet outside Oxford Campus Stores on Broad St, Oxford for a prompt 9.30am departure for coffee at Hacketts Food & Drink in Farmoor. The route will include a climb of Hinksey Hill to Old Boars Hill before a descent to Wootton. From there the ride continues through Besselsleigh and onto Cumnor where another descent (with hopefully clear views of the Reservoir) will take us to the coffee stop. The return to Oxford is direct via Botley. This 15-mile long ride is a mixed ride organised by Oxford City Cycling UK and led by Steven Tuohy. The pace will be similar to that on an Isis Cyclists’ long ride and Isis Cyclists are welcome to come along. You can see the route on the website of Oxford City Cycling UK.


Meet in Radcliffe Square, Oxford (at the back of the University Church) from 9.45am for a prompt 10 am departure. We will head out of Oxford via the river towpath and Willow Walk to North Hinksey. For a change, we will tackle Yarnells Hill which is steep, but can be ridden slowly or walked. We will then ride into the Vale of White Horse via Cumnor, Appleton, Hinton Waldrist and Pusey before reaching our lunch stop at The Horse and Jockey PH in Stanford in the Vale. The return route will be via Charney Bassett, Fyfield, Tubney, Cothill and Sunningwell. We will approach Oxford using the Sustrans path from Kennington and along the river towpath to Folly Bridge. The route is 37 miles long (17 miles out and 20 miles back) and involves a single hill (Yarnells Hill) from N. Hinksey towards Cumnor. After that the ride is pretty much flat. The ride leader will be Liz Weekes.


This month we will be investigating one of the iconic sights and sounds of summer in Oxford, the swift. Meet outside Lady Margaret Hall (Norham Gardens, Oxford) from 1pm for a prompt 1.15pm start. For our first stop we will walk into the University Parks to look at the newly installed swift tower whose design incorporates 25 nest boxes. We will then start the ride proper by briefly visiting the University Museum, home to the oldest monitored nesting colony in the country and described in detail in Andrew Lack’s book Swifts in a Tower. We will then take the cycle track to Marston and visit “my birds” in St Clements. I’ve been carrying out surveys here all summer, identifying nest sites and so, with any luck, we’ll see some exciting low flying and nest visiting action. From there, we continue to the Westgate Centre to view a building that incorporates “swift bricks” which are a cheap alternative to nest boxes and that can be incorporated in new buildings. Finally, we will end up in Jericho to look at a swift nest box. Refreshments will be in Jericho. The ride is approximately 6 miles long and will take around 3 hours (including refreshments) as there will be quite a lot to stare at! The ride leader will be Ellen Lee.


Our annual ride to the Reading Room. Meet at 1:15pm for a 1:30pm departure outside Costa Coffee on the main Banbury Road in Summertown. We will head north on quiet roads and tracks to Bletchingdon, and from there, via Enslow and Wootton, to Combe. Our tea stop at the Combe Reading Room is at the half-way point of the ride. After our cream tea we will head back to Oxford via Long Hanborough and Worton. From there, you can choose to head home via Eynsham or the A40, or via Yarnton and the Canal, via Wolvercote, to Summertown. The ride is 27.5 miles long (if you opt for the Yarnton route home) and moderately hilly, but all hills can be taken at your own pace or walked if necessary. There is a short rough section at Enslow, to avoid a busy hill, but it is possible for all types of bikes.

This is a mixed social ride, so male partners and friends are very welcome to join us. The ride leader is Jane Carlton Smith.


This ride didn’t happen last month due to rain and so we are hoping for better luck this time!

Meet outside the Up in Arms PH on the Marston Road (opposite Londis) at 6pm for a prompt 6.15pm start. We will head out of Oxford on quieter roads and cycle paths and head towards Islip for a loop around Otmoor before stopping at the Abingdon Arms PH in Beckley for refreshments. We will then head straight back to Oxford and take the quieter back roads through Barton to return to Marston Road where the ride will end. Please note that the majority of the ride (17 miles) will be before the refreshment stop and we will need to maintain a steady pace averaging 11 or 12 mph in order to make sure we’re not out too late. The ride is hilly, but hills will be taken at your own speed with regular regrouping. The ride leader is Natasha Williams. You can view the ride here at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30095265

June 2019

In this issue:


At Wheatley windmill, 11th May

Ellen writes…

Isis Cyclists has got a busy month ahead that includes our annual weekend away near Charlbury and a good selection of other rides, including an extra evening social ride to celebrate National Bike Week which this year runs from 8th-16th June. As usual, there are a good number and variety of rides available to take part in and organised by Oxford’s various bike clubs, so why not check out the Oxford Bike Week website and see if there are any other rides that take your fancy? If you can face getting up early, the solstice ride is a wonderful thing to do, especially if the weather is good, and it gives you an excellent excuse to indulge yourself afterwards with breakfast at a café! I should also mention that there is also a leisurely Sunday morning ride organised by the Oxford City Cycling Group on Sunday 16th June to which Isis Cyclists are cordially invited.

Happy cycling!


Meet at 10am for a prompt 10.15 departure outside the customer services entrance to John Lewis in Norfolk Street (you’ll see all the bike racks – by those).  We will head over to Friars Wharf and Kennington and then pick up the lovely Chilswell Lane, exiting via Oxford Brookes at Harcourt Hill and heading to the Fishes in North Hinksey for refreshments.  We will then return to Friars Wharf via Willow Walk and the towpath.  The ride is just 10 miles long and the ride leader is Natasha Williams.  You can view the ride at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/13930590. The route details may change if there’s heavy rain before the ride.  Chilswell Lane is a gravel track, so not ideal for super skinny tyres but any uneven sections can be walked.


Final information is being sent to participants via our mailing list.


Meet outside the Up in Arms PH on the Marston Road (opposite Londis) at 6pm for a prompt 6.15pm start.  We will head out of Oxford on quieter roads and cycle paths and head towards Islip for a loop around Otmoor before stopping at the Abingdon Arms PH in Beckley for refreshments.  We will then head straight back to Oxford and take the quieter back roads through Barton to return to Marston Road where the ride will end.  Please note that the majority of the ride (17 miles) will be before the refreshment stop and we will need to maintain a steady pace averaging 11 or 12 mph in order to make sure we’re not out too late.  The ride is hilly, but hills will be taken at your own speed with regular regrouping.  The ride leader is Natasha Williams.  You can view the ride at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30095265


We’ll meet outside the Sheldonian (opposite Blackwells) at 9.45am, ready to start at 10am.  Riding along Barracks Lane, we’ll head towards Horspath and can pick up people at the junction of the Ring Road and Horspath Road (diagonally opposite the Mini Plant car park).  We aim to be there by 10.20am.  Our destination is Preston Crowmarsh, via Cuddesdon, Little Milton, Berrick Salome and Benson.  There is a short steep climb up Barracks Lane and a longer hill from Horspath up towards Cuddesdon, and walking is allowed!  We’ll have lunch at the Cart Shed at Preston Crowmarsh, where a table is booked for 10 at 1pm.

If you think you might be joining us, it would be very helpful if you could contact Jane Carlton Smith (though obviously you may not decide until you see what the weather is doing).  Returning via Shillingford Bridge and Dorchester, there are opportunities for wine tasting and tea, by popular vote.  We then return to Oxford via Drayton St Leonard, Stadhampton and Chiselhampton.  There are a few not very steep hills, unless we choose to avoid the main road and go through Cuddesdon.  There is inevitably some riding on main roads, but we’ll also enjoy some quiet roads and gorgeous midsummer countryside.  The ride is about 36 miles and is the first of our longer rides, leading up to the 50 mile challenge in September.  Jane Carlton Smith is leading.


Meet for a prompt 9:30am start outside Oxford Campus Stores in Broad Street, Oxford. We will be leaving Oxford via Headington and Barton before crossing the B4027 and descending to Horton cum Studley. We’ll then climb the hill and return to Stanton St John for tea at the PYO. The route will be approximately 20 miles long and will be taken at a typical Isis long ride pace (average 10mph approx). There are three hills to be conquered and riders are encouraged to take them at their own pace and can walk if they prefer. The refreshment stop is after roughly 15 miles and so the final leg of the journey back to Oxford (via Elsfield and Marston) will be about 5 miles long, so you won’t need to carry any fruit or veg you acquire too far! The leader will be Stephen Lee (stephen@133.me.uk).


Starting from Magdalen Bridge (wait on the pavement on the left hand side heading out of town), we’ll ride down Meadow Lane to Donnington Bridge, where we’ll join the towpath to ride north along the river to The Perch.  We have the option of a short visit to the church of St Margaret of Antioch at Binsey, then we’ll return along Binsey Lane to Medley Manor Farm, where a gorgeous café awaits us.  While there, you may be able to pick up some vegetables and of course some strawberries, from the stall.  We’ll meet on Magdalen Bridge at 1.45pm, to start at 2pm and should finish our tea by 5pm.  The ride is 6.3 miles long from the start back to the Station, and flat.  Jane Carlton Smith is the leader.


Meet in Radcliffe Square (at the back of the University Church) from 6pm for a 6.15pm departure. We’ll take a slightly circuitous route to get to the pub (the Flowing Well in Sunningwell), via Kennington and Radley, roughly 10 miles, and come back a more direct way (about 5 miles to the centre of Oxford). The ride is mainly flat, no real hills. This is a social ride, so male friends and partners are welcome to join us. Don’t forget to bring lights in case the ride back is in the twilight. The ride leader is Lilia Bonacorsi.


We will meet outside the Sheldonian (opposite the Weston Library) for a prompt 1.30pm start. We will be leaving through the Botley Rd and the much loved (not) hill to Cumnor. From here we will follow the Appleton Road cutting across to Besselsleigh, Dry Sandford and Sunningwell. We will reach Hogacre getting back into Oxford through Kennington and New Hinksey. We will end up in the lovely pop-up café at Hogacre Common, where you can laze around, admire the local products and enjoy the rest of your afternoon (hopefully  a sunny one).

The route is 16 miles and reasonably flat, once you have conquered Cumnor Hill.
As this is a mixed social ride, male friends and family are very welcome to join us. The ride leader is Leonor Barroca.

Please note that to get to the café, you will either need to carry your bike over a railway footbridge, or alternatively lock your bike on the Oxford side and walk over on foot.

May 2019

In this issue:

Ellen writes…


Tulips at Worton Organic Farm on April’s social ride

The lovely sunny Easter weekend made me feel as though summer is already here, so it’s apt that I start this newsletter by mentioning our weekend away. You can see a provisional programme on our Weekends Away page, but Jane Carlton Smith will provide more details nearer the time. If you’ve not thought about joining us, but would like to, it may be possible to sort out accommodation in a pod or to camp. However all the on-site B&B has already been booked up. There may still be B&B available in Charlbury itself. If you want to come, please email Jane Carlton Smith via the Contact Us page.

Oxford City Cycling UK is starting occasional shorter rides to a coffee or tea venue, usually on the second Sunday of the month. The ride will be led by an experienced rider at the pace of an Isis long or medium ride (i.e. averaging around 10mph). Isis riders are very welcome to take part. For details of the ride on 12th May 12th, see below.

Check out Google Photos for pictures taken on our rides in April.


Meet at 10.15 for a 10.30 departure for this month’s short and steady ride, which starts at the entrance to University Parks where Norham Gardens meets Parks Road.

The ride will take in Parks and meadows to enjoy the summer flowers North Oxford has to offer. The route will follow the national cycle route to Sunnymead and Cutteslowe Park and then traverse Five Mile Drive to join the canal path at Upper Wolvercote. We continue along the path to Walton Well Road and cut across Port Meadow to the Perch Public house for coffee/tea and cake in the garden. The route will return to the starting point and is approximately 7 miles. Ride duration is  2½ hours, depending on length of coffee stop. Due to the route along the towpath and short section across the meadow, thin tyres and road bikes are not recommended for this ride.

The ride leader is Sarah Twine.


We’ll take a slow and leisurely ride around some group exhibitions using the path along the river whenever possible, heading first to south Oxford, then circling back to our start via Iffey, Botley and Jericho. Meet outside the Sheldonian in Broad Street at 1.45pm to set off at 2pm. Ride leader Lucy Tennyson.


Don’t be put off – we will take the hills gently and they can be walked if necessary.

Meet at 10.30am, for a 10.45am departure on Magdalen Road, the corner with Cowley Road outside the old Bingo Hall and opposite the City Arms pub. We’ll cycle up Barracks Lane and on to Horspath and via the windmill to Wheatley, Holton and Great Milton, approaching Cuddesdon from the mill. We will have an early lunch break at the Bat and Ball in Cuddesdon.  We’ll return to town via Horspath and Barracks Lane again. The ride is 14 miles.  The ride leader is Clare Farley.


The ride will leave from outside Costa Coffee on the main road in Summertown at 10.00am and go to Annie’s Tea Room at Thrupp for coffee. It will be led by Stephen Lee.

Please note that the 10km “Town & Gown” ride is taking place and so some roads in central Oxford may be shut, so leave plenty of time to get to the start. 


Meet in Bonn Square in front of the New Road Baptist Church from 6:00pm for a 6:15 departure. We’ll cross the river and take the tow path towards Osney, turning off through the Osney Trading Estate then on to Willow Walk. From North Hinksey we will wiggle our way up Cumnor Hill by way of residential roads, avoiding the home-bound commuter traffic on the main road. This involves the inevitable climb, which can be walked. We then cycle through Cumnor village towards Appleton, branching off onto the delightful Besselsleigh Lane which takes us to the Greyhound pub for drinks and/or food. Our return trip takes us back down Cumnor Hill and along the Botley Road cycle path. The route is 12.5. miles long and male partners and friends are welcome. Please remember your lights for the ride home! The leader is Karen Wolff.


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. We will continue through Kidlington, Hampton Poyle and Bletchingdon and onto Kirtlington then onto the track down to Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden 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.

Note: You only need to book if you want the ‘Full Jeeves’ menu option.


Our second Sunday afternoon mixed social ride take us south-east from Oxford. Have an early, hearty(!) lunch and meet at The Plain, on the corner of Cowley Place and Iffley Road (by the cycle racks in front of the Magdalen College School sign), for a prompt 1pm start. We will head out down the Cowley Road to the Barracks Lane cycle path, crossing the ring road next to the Mini Plant. We then continue through Horspath and up the hill to Cuddesdon, before undertaking our tour of the Miltons and Haseleys: the Littles first, then the Greats. Heading back, we swing north-east at Wheatley for tea at Waterperry Gardens, then retrace our steps (tyre-tracks!) to Wheatley, returning to Oxford via Littleworth and Horspath.

The route is 24.2 miles long to the dispersal point at the end of the Barracks Lane cycle track; the terrain is mainly undulating with two substantial hills: the first after Horspath on the outward leg, and the second after Littleworth on the return section. There is also a very short stretch of unsurfaced track at the top of Gidley Way, which can be walked.

Note that the tea stop is after 18 miles (roughly 2 hours of cycling), and so we’ll have a roadside refreshment halt after an hour or so; bring a snack if you suspect you’ll get peckish.

As this is a mixed social ride, male friends and family are very welcome to join us.

The leader is Liz Matthews, and you can view (and download) the route at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29841481.

April 2019

In this issue:

Ellen writes…

Bath Bike Trail - croppedThe clocks have changed, so it must be spring! It’s certainly been looking like it the last few days. The chiffchaffs are calling from the roadside trees and there were new-born lambs and piglets (in little concrete igloos or perhaps “pigloos”?) on my ride on my day off last Tuesday. I don’t know about you, but I just want to be outdoors all the time, enjoying the new green shoots and new life.

You may have noticed that Google+, where we have kept our photo colection, has shut down. We are currently experimenting with alternatives and hope to have a solution up and running by May. We’ll keep you posted.

Also, when you sign in for a ride, you will soon notice that the sign-in sheet has an extra tick box for giving us permission to put photos of you taken on the ride on our website and the replacement for Google+. If you are happy about this, please do tick the box. This applies to close-up photos, group photos etc., and photos where you can be readily identified. If you don’t want us to use photos of you, please don’t tick the box, let the ride leader know and avoid group photos. We will do our very best to respect everyone’s wishes.

Another change that you will notice is that our joint ride on the last Sunday morning of the month has been replaced with a social afternoon tea ride. The joint rides have been a great way of introducing some of our riders to slightly faster rides and a number now ride regularly with the City Cycling UK group. However, we feel it’s time for a change. We want to make a long “Isis Cyclists” -style ride available to men who don’t want to cycle far or fast. We’ll be trialling this new idea until the autumn and so please do encourage male friends and partners to join us, but also feel free to spread the word more widely. Lucy Tennyson will be leading our first Sunday tea ride on 28th April: see below.

Finally, the Abingdon Festival of Cycling takes place on Sunday 14th April. The festival, which is organised by Abingdon Freewheeling, offers free road, mountain and family bike rides throughout the day. For more details see:


Meet outside the Sheldonian in Broad Street from 10:15 for a 10:30am departure for this short ride on quiet roads and cycle paths through Jericho, Wolvercote, Wytham and Botley. This is the ride that was cancelled due to cold weather at the start of February, so we are hoping for better luck this time! We will take refreshments (coffee, homemade cakes or brunches) at the Manna Cafe in Botley. From there we’ll head back into the city down Willow Walk. The total ride length is 8.5 miles and is more or less flat. The leader is Karen Wolff.


Meet at Costa Coffee in Summertown (corner of Oakthorpe Road and Banbury Road) at 10:00 for a prompt 10:15 start. We will ride north to Wolvercote and then to the beautiful village of Wytham. We will then come down towards Botley, follow the quiet back lane of Osney Mead and St. Ebbes to end up in the Abingdon Road for the Portuguese treat of ‘café e nata’. For the return we ride to the Donnington Bridge and follow the river and canal back through Jericho to the starting point.

This is a flat route suitable for all riders and bikes; it is a 13 mile ride and you can see the route at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29538515. The ride leader is Leonor Barroca.


Meet from 13:15 for a 13:30 start from outside Costa Coffee in Summertown (corner of Oakthorpe Road and Banbury Road). We will make our way on quiet roads to the Cutteslowe Cycle Bridge where we can pick riders up (on the Oxford side of the bridge) at around 13.40. If you would like to be picked up there, please let the leader know, so she doesn’t go without you. From there we will ride to Kidlington via the Water Eaton track, Hampton Poyle and Bletchingdon. We will then descend the hill through Enslow and take a minor road to Tackley and Rousham Gap where we will pick up the Sustrans route and green lane to Woodstock for tea. After tea we will head directly back to Oxford along the A44 cycle track, picking up the canal to Lower Wovercote and then Summertown via the Woodstock Rd. The route does include a couple of climbs before the tea stop, but none after.

The entire return route back to Summertown is 25.5 miles and includes some 4 miles of good quality Sustrans track and a short section of rough but made-up road, so should be fine for all except road bikes with very thin tyres. Because it will be 18 miles to the tea stop, we will have a short roadside break before, so please bring a snack and a drink. The eta at Woodstock is 15:45 and we should be back in Oxford around 5pm. The ride leader is Ellen Lee.


We will meet outside the Sheldonian Theatre (opposite Blackwells) at 2pm, to start at 2.15pm.  We’ll search for cycle barriers which make it difficult for bikes to pass, especially bikes with trailers for children, mobility bikes or cargo bikes.  This is in support of a project to improve Oxford’s cycling infrastructure.  The route is not set, but will include some cycling by the river and if you would like to come along, please nominate any barriers you know of (central Oxford area – see link for map), so that we can see for ourselves and take a photo for the project.  The coffee stop will depend on where we end up, after all there’s loads of choice, and we should be finished by 5pm.  The leader is Jane Carlton Smith.  You can view the area we are interested in at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1QvlSJ8FDlQQ6VwIk_X6CXYsRBSMoxKGx.


Our first of a new series of Sunday afternoon social rides is a medium length flat route to the organic café at Worton where they serve homemade cakes in a delightful market garden setting where the owners specialise in cut flowers for weddings. If we’re lucky, the tulips which surround the outside seating should be in flower. Meet outside the Sheldonian Theatre on Broad St, Oxford from 1.45pm to set off at 2pm, going out of town along the river towards Wolvercote and then taking the cycle path along the A40 before heading away from main roads. We’ll return from Worton via Yarnton, Kidlington and Water Eaton. Ride length 17 miles, and we’ll go at a relaxed pace. It’s a social ride so male friends and partners are welcome. We aim to be back by 5.30pm. The ride leader is Lucy Tennyson.

March 2019

In this issue:

Ellen writes…

Snowdrops near Lt Haseley 16-02-19 - 1

Snowdrops galore near Little Haseley

February came in like a lion and went out like a lamb! Isn’t March supposed to do that? The confusion has continued with the last few days feeling much more like late March than late February. It seems a long time ago that we had to cancel our February short ride due to snow and ice. Now the butterflies are out and the pigeons are nesting enthusiastically (unfortunately, under my solar panels!). However, some sanity did reign this month with snowdrops putting on a wonderful show on our long ride, although our medium ride enjoyed some excitingly blusterous conditions.

In March we have another varied programme of rides and, with any luck, we’ll have plenty more signs of spring to enjoy before the month is out. The short ride has a suffragette theme and will take riders to some of the locations around the city associated with suffragette activity. The medium ride will be exploring some of the “hill” villages to the south and west of Oxford and the long ride will be heading out to Bletchingdon to sample the delights of the Batch Café which, for some unknown reason, we have never visited before. By the end of the month spring should be in full swing and, with any luck, we’ll find some new-born lambs and plenty of green in the hedges as we ride to Wallingford with Oxford City Cycling.

Tea and memories 17-02-19

Sharing tea and memories of a decade of Isis Cyclists on 17th February

Whether you’ve been braving the elements on your bike all winter, or whether you are just trying to get up the courage to return to two wheels, we hope that you’ll find a ride to suit you. We have recently added a new page to our website entitled Meet the Ride Leaders. So if you want to know a bit more about what makes our leaders tick (at least from a cycling perspective!) or just to put a face to a name, then why not check it out?

Happy cycling!


Our short ride this month takes a suffragette theme to start the week of celebrations for International Women’s Day on the 8th. Meet outside the Sheldonian in Broad Street from 10:15 for a 10:30am departure. It will be a slow and steady potter around some of the sites of suffragette activity in the city, and will include a ride out to Binsey Well and ride (or push if you prefer) across Port Meadow. We’ll stop for coffee in Jericho. This gentle ride is ideal for newcomers to Isis, or anyone who hasn’t done much cycling recently. Rain could be on the cards after the recent burst of sunshine, so bring your waterproofs. Ride leader is Lucy Tennyson.


Don’t be put off – there’s only one significant hill to climb (ascent is less than 500 feet for the whole ride) and it can be walked if necessary.  Meet in Radcliffe Square (by the Church) at 10.15, for a 10.30am departure. We’ll cycle through South Oxford and up to Boar’s Hill, where we’ll turn off into the beautiful old village.  We then go down the very steep hill to Wootton and head for Besselsleigh, where we will cross the A420, taking great care.  From the Greyhound Pub, we can take a fairly quiet road to Cumnor and then return down to West Oxford via cycle lanes and residential streets, to have coffee and/or snacks at The Fishes.  We’ll return to town via Willow Walk (enjoy it before it is dug up to build the new bridge).  There is also an opportunity to have a fish and chip lunch at Hayman’s, in the Osney Mead Estate (http://www.osneyfoodshed.co.uk/), though you would probably need to book (if you fancy this, I would like to join you, so let me know).  We should get there around 1.15pm.   It’s 14.4 miles in all, with about 12 to coffee (ETA 12.15pm).  The ride leader is Jane Carlton Smith.


Meet from 10.15am for a 10.30am departure outside the back of the University Church in Radcliffe Square, Oxford. The ride will leave Oxford via the University Parks Cycle Track and Old Marston before crossing the ring road and heading to a new (i.e. as yet unvisited by Isis Cyclists) café at Greenhill Farm in Bletchingdon via Woodeaton and Islip. Hopefully, the wild daffodils in one of the woods we pass between Islip and Bletchingdon will be in flower and we will be able to stop briefly and admire. After coffee and cakes, and/or a light lunch, we will return via Hampton Poyle and Kidlington, approaching north Oxford using the track through Water Eaton. The ride is approximately 22 miles long and does include a few not too steep climbs which can be taken at your own pace, or even walked. There will possibly be a short section off-road into the north of Kidlington which will be less than ideal for bikes with thin tyres. However, an on-road alternative is available. The ride leader is Liz Weekes.


Meet outside Oxford Campus Stores in Broad Street, Oxford for a prompt 9.30am departure. The ride will leave Oxford via the Barracks Lane track and Temple Cowley before picking up the B430 Watlington Road as far as Stadhampton. Here we will briefly take the A329, soon turning onto a minor road through Drayton St Leonard and onto Dorchester. After passing the Abbey and crossing the River Thame on the old bridge, we will get onto the cycle track next to the A4074 to Shillingford where we will cross the River Thames and ride into Wallingford for coffee. After coffee we will re-cross the Thames in Wallingford and head towards Benson via Crowmarsh Gifford and Preston Crowmarsh. From Benson we will continue through Rokemarsh and Berrick Salome to Chalgrove, Little Milton, Wheatley and along the A40 cycle track into Headington. The return trip is approximately 37 miles long and the 16 mile section to coffee will be taken a little faster (average 11mph) than usual, but the return trip will be more leisurely. There are two short climbs before coffee and a long gentle climb (from the River Thame bridge to the A40 flyover outside Wheatley) on the way home. The ride will be on road apart from a few roadside cycle tracks, and is thus suitable for all bikes. The ride leader is Ellen Lee.

February 2019

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Cold and wet, but still smiling on the long ride to Annie’s tearoom at Thrupp on 19th January

Ellen writes… Welcome to the February 2019 newsletter. January offered a bit of a mixed bag weather-wise, but the Isis rides were lucky not to coincide with any of the really cold weather and were well supported. The joint Isis/Oxford City Cycling ride to Thame had the most exciting weather: a strong wind and some rain and hail. I’m impressed to report that the Isis contingent were the only ones to make it to Thame; everyone else decided to cut the ride short at Waterperry. Normally, we only cancel rides if we judge that conditions are or may become unsafe.

Cold weather is forecast for February, so if you are in doubt, please do check before you leave for the start. If a ride is to be cancelled, the ride leader will post an email to the Google Group no later than 9am on the morning of the ride.

This month we have an additional social event on the afternoon of Sunday 17th February. Details are below, but it would be wonderful to see lots of you coming to enjoy tea, cakes and Isis cycling-related memories.

We’ve also had a very good take-up for our 2019 weekend away at Cotswold View, Charlbury. Jane Carlton Smith, who is co-ordinating accommodation, says:

Our planned weekend away has proved very popular and all the five PODS that we reserved are now allocated to one or more people in each.  There is the possibility of sharing a couple of PODs, so do contact me if you would like to be put in touch with the person who has taken it up.  There is also a 6 person POD that we have not reserved; it would be suitable for 3 or 4 adults. The two tent pitches that we reserved are also allocated, but there are more pitches in the same area, with grass standing.  If you want one, please book direct with the site (https://www.cotswoldview.co.uk/), quoting Carlton Smith Group in the notes at the bottom of the online booking form.  I can send you a site map if you would like to see the layout. There is an adjoining area for camper vans, so please book direct with the site if you want to come in a van, again quoting Carlton Smith Group. So far, we know of 20 people who have booked.  Please let me know if you have booked and not notified her, so that she can keep track.

Finally, remember  to make sure both you and your bike are fit and ready for your ride! Check out our tips for winter cycling.

Happy cycling!


** This ride has been cancelled on account of the snow. Karen now hopes to run it in the spring. **

Meet outside the Sheldonian in Broad Street from 10:15 for a 10:30am departure for this short ride on quiet roads and cycle paths through Jericho,  Wolvercote, Wytham and Botley. We will take refreshments (coffee, homemade cakes or brunches) at the Manna Cafe in Botley. From there we’ll head back into the city down Willow Walk. The total ride length is 8.5 miles and is more or less flat. The leader is Karen Wolff.


Meet in Radcliffe Square (by the Church) at 10.15, for a 10.30am departure. We’ll be taking a leisurely route through North Oxford and Old Marston, up (sorry!) to Elsfield, round Beckley, through Stanton St John to Forest Hill and the cycle track by the A40 and into Headington. Here we’ll have coffee at Café Bonjour before bombing down the hill back to central Oxford. It’s 16 miles all told, with 14 to coffee. The ride has a few hills, the steepest of which is Elsfield Hill. All hills can be ridden at your own pace and walked if necessary. The ride leader is Liz Weekes.


We will meet at Jacobs Brasserie (on the corner of Osler Road and London Road in Headington, OX3 7RA) at 09:45am 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 there. We will pass through the 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.

Of note: This ride marks my 10 year anniversary with Isis Cyclists and the route is an extended version of my very first ride with the group. Fingers crossed that it will be a glorious spring day as it was 10 years ago! I do hope that you can join me. 


You are all warmly invited to St Margaret’s Institute on Polstead Rd in North Oxford for tea, cakes etc and a chance to share memories of the first 10 years of Isis cyclists, possibly prompted by a collection of photographs taken on our rides. We hope you will enjoy reliving some of the adventures that we’ve shared together over the years, the places we’ve visited and the things we’ve seen along the way. There won’t be a formal presentation. We’ll just project images to enjoy and spark off (hopefully!) happy memories and kick start conversations. The hall will be open from 2pm to around 4pm, so if you can’t make it for the whole time, do feel free to drop in for part of it, it will be great to see you. Natasha Williams is in charge of catering and sends the following message:

I’m not a whizz in the kitchen but I’m sure many of you are.  I’m thinking cakes/cookies, etc and maybe some quiches and sandwiches. So, if you’re happy to pledge any items or tea, coffee and soft drinks, please let me know via the Contact us page and I’ll make sure we have a nice selection of goodies. If you’re not going to be able to make the event but would still like to contribute, I can receive donations at my flat.

There will be a donation tin to help cover the cost of room hire and if there is any extra, it will be given to a cycle-related charity.


Meet outside Oxford Campus Stores in Broad Street, Oxford for a prompt 9.30am departure. The route will leave Oxford via Headington and Barton. It will then continue through Stanton St John, and Worminghall to coffee at Waterperry Gardens. The return route will take us to Wheatley and south to Cuddesdon before descending to Horspath and Oxford (via Cowley). The return route is 26 miles long and does include some hills. Before coffee there is a climb up to Headington followed by one from Barton towards Stanton St John. After coffee we have the hill up to Cuddesdon to look forward to. All hills can be taken at your own pace. The ride to coffee will be slightly faster (average 11mph) in order to get to Waterperry in good time. The return route will be a bit more relaxed. The ride leader is Natasha Williams.

January 2019


Ellen and Liz W in action!

Ellen writes… A very happy new year to everyone!

As most of you know, 2018 saw our tenth birthday and we have therefore been looking back with much fondness on our first decade. Back in October, Jane and I gave a presentation to Cyclox entitled “Isis Cyclists – 10 years of sweet success”. As part of this I gathered together lots of photos of us and of what we’d seen and where we’d cycled to during this time. On Sunday 17th February, we’ll be having an afternoon social gathering at St Margaret’s Institute on Polstead Rd, Oxford to which you are all very welcome. The plan is to drink tea/coffee etc, and eat cake (of course!) while the photos are projected for us to enjoy and, no doubt, reminisce wildly. Full details will appear in the next newsletter, but please put this date in your diary now!

One of the pleasant things to do in the depths of winter is to think about the summer! That’s exactly what we’ve been doing over the last few weeks as we’ve been planning our 2019 weekend away. The weekend will be from 7th – 9th June and we are returning to the Cotswold View site that we visited in 2016 weekend away. It’s located between Charlbury and Enstone, and as in previous years we will offer a ride out on the Friday afternoon, a choice of two rides on the Saturday and a return ride on the Sunday. For those of you who were on the 2016 weekend, there is so much great cycling available that we won’t need to repeat much of what we did then. We are planning to have a picnic on the Friday night and we will eat out on the Saturday night. For more information about the accommodation options, please visit the Weekends Away page.

Don’t forget to make sure both you and your bike are fit and ready for your ride! Please ensure your bike is road-worthy and it’s a good idea to carry a spare inner tube as it may be possible to mend a puncture on the spot. Have a good breakfast too, and carry a snack and drink in case you need a bit of extra sustenance. And do check out our tips for winter cycling.

Happy cycling!


Meet in Woodins Lane (where it meets Paradise St) off the road by the temporary traffic lights from 11am for an 11.15am departure. We will be heading towards Boars Hill and so some ascent is inevitable. However all hills can be taken at your own pace, or walked, if preferred. This 15 mile ride will explore some of the countryside between Oxford and Boars Hill and will take refreshment at the Bystander PH in Wootton. The ride leader is Natasha Williams. 


Meet outside the Sheldonian Theatre, Broad St, for a prompt 10:30am departure through University Parks and Marston. After crossing the ring road we will take a northward route through Woodeaton and Islip to Bletchingdon. We will then turn south again through Hampton Poyle to the cycle track across the fields to skirt the north side of Kidlington. A brief stretch alongside the A4260 takes us to Thrupp for lunch at Annie’s tearoom at the Canal Yard. Afterwards, we will retrace our steps to the top end of Kidlington, thence to Gosford and back into Oxford via the Banbury Road.

The ride is just over 22 miles, with two modest climbs (one through Woodeaton and the other up to Bletchingdon), and will be taken at the slightly faster pace normal for Isis long rides. Lunch will be after 14.5 miles, so you may wish to bring a snack to eat at one of the regrouping halts. If the weather is unpleasant we can shorten the ride by cutting across from Islip to Kidlington.  The ride leader is Liz Matthews.


Meet outside Oxford Campus Stores in Broad Street, Oxford for a prompt 9.30am departure. We will be leaving Oxford along the Cowley Rd and the Barracks Lane cycle track. We will then cross the ring road and ride through Horspath, Littleworth and Wheatley. From there, the route will take us to Waterperry, Worminghall and Shabbington before picking up the cycle track into Thame.

The return route will take us back to Worminghall and then to Stanton St John, entering Oxford via Elsfield and Marston. The entire route will be around 32 miles long and includes a few climbs which, as usual, can be taken at your own pace. The pace before coffee will average around 11mph which should get us to Thame at around 11am. The return route will be taken at a more relaxed 10mph average speed. The ride leader is Leonor Barroca.