Last edition I mentioned our new Bicester series of rides, and I’m glad to say that the first two have been a great success. We had 27 riders in April and 20 in May. Experienced group riders will understand that this number of cyclists introduces its own challenges.
In both cases we split into two main groups. The second time, being more prepared we had a shorter route and a longer route, so people could choose their preference of 20 miles or 28, and both groups went to the same coffee stop. I seem to have adopted the habit of calling morning stops ‘coffee’ and afternoon stops ‘tea’. Both of course were at well-chosen locations with excellent cake.
Even within these groups, we like to split into smaller bunches when travelling on busier roads. My belief is that while we cyclists have full rights to use the roads, politeness encourages politeness. Splitting into smaller groups (no larger than 6) with space between makes passing easier and safer. The odd thing is that going into single file feels like the ‘polite’ thing to do, but makes the group longer, and potentially harder to overtake. What I don’t like doing is encouraging motorists to pass when there is plenty of room – especially if a car is coming the other way. I often sit a foot or two out to the right to act as a discouragement to unsafe passing.
Anyway, the Bicester group is thriving, there’s a great buzz of social conversation as we ride, and some have already started meeting up midweek for additional rides. Feel free to join us on the third Sunday of each month (10am Bicester Leisure Centre).
On the campaign trail, we managed to organise a lot of cycling input to the county council’s Local Transport Plan consultation – at least 15 organisations that I know of. We now await the results, but this is ‘strategy’ so don’t expect instant results! We have also managed to get a cycling representative (that would be me) on to the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Transport Group, which should give us the chance for earlier and more influence.
On to the rides – I’ve been busy on this day in late May putting them on cyclingukoxfordshire.org. I’m looking forward to the Century ride – an annual challenge and cycling treat. It’s a particular joy to lead other cyclists to their first ever 100-miler, or their first ‘since younger days’. On my first one in 2012, I had a piece of treacle sponge about the size of my saddle for elevenses (touring bike, not race bike saddle!) and this kept me buzzing for the whole day.
- Off-road rides (2nd Saturdays at 10am). Despite iffy weather, we’ve been lucky with these rides so far this year. We ride about 20 miles – more or less according to appetite and weather and the next few will start near Wallingford and explore the Chilterns. A sturdy mountain bike with knobbly tyres is required – though if you want to try out your ‘cross bike we’ll be happy to watch you suffer!
- Bicester Social Cycle Rides (3rd Sundays at 10am from Bicester Leisure Centre). Our new series has proved popular and we aim to have 20 mile and 25-30 mile rides meeting at the same coffee stop. On 19th July we will return to enjoy the fun of Bicester Bike Day.
Other rides and events
- 28th June: Century Ride. Our annual long-distance highlight. If you have ridden 100 miles before, or if you would like to achieve it for the first time, this is the ride for you. It’s a long way, but we make it as easy as possible, with a measured pace and 3 refreshment stops. We start from Eynsham early in the morning and will head north – beyond even Banbury – before turning west and heading back south through the Cotswolds.
- 4th July: Pot Luck Supper. Our popular summer social evening. CTC Members from across the county are welcome to bring and share food, drink and good company. Will be held at my house in Steventon making use of our new club gazebo. Arrive from 6:30pm for the grand opening of food at 7pm. (Address details will appear on website, or contact me).
- 8th August: Explorer Ride – Chinnor. Our Explorer rides boldy go to parts of the county that you might not have cycled in before, or even beyond. This one, run by Martin Casey, will include the traffic-free Phoenix trail.
- 27th September: Explorer Ride – Witney. Same plot, different place, and hosted by Neil Tigwell and CTC Witney. I suspect he may head into the Cotswolds.
For all these, you will find more information on our website www.cyclingukoxfordshire.org . You will also find links to the local CTC groups in the county, and some of their special rides we like to share with a wider riding audience.
We would be glad to welcome you on our rides, and to help you find the rides that you’ll most enjoy.