Chit Chat March 2016

Tue, 1 March, 2016

It’s wonderful to see the days getting a bit longer, a bit of sunshine and even some dryness returning to the country after a long wet winter. (Apologies if we are returned to rain or snow by the time you read this).

As I do a lot of off-road riding, so I am particularly sensitive to the rain that leaves the trails soggy, and even worse that chalk-clay clag that sticks to your tyres turning any bike into a ‘fat bike’, but much heavier and without the benefits of any discernable grip. Partly in reaction to this, four of us took a day-trip to Wales the day before writing this and spent most of the day climbing up and whizzing down the more waterproof tracks at Cwmcarn.

But that’s just me, and others among you prefer different types of riding. For that reason we recently ran a survey of CTC members in the county to see what rides and other events you would be most interested in.

The top results clearly reflect the CTC’s touring heritage of longer and more exploratory rides. The two 100-mile rides we are planning will certainly fit the ‘all-day’ category.

With the busy rides programmes of our own, and of other CTC groups in the county, we are not currently planning any of our own ‘Explorer rides’ this year. But CTC members and guest riders are welcomed on rides organised by all the groups in the country, from Bicester and Oxford, to Witney, Wantage and Wallingford. And if you free to ride in the middle of the week, I can recommend the far-ranging Midweek group rides, and the pubs that they go to.

All-day rides 89%
Explorer rides in and around Oxfordshire 79%
Multi-day rides further afield 68%
Bicycle maintenance course 68%
Christmas dinner at a pub 63%
Cycling treasure hunt 53%
Joint rides with other CTC groups 47%
Summer picnic and ride 47%
First Aid training 37%
Off-road rides 32%
Summer BBQ 32%
Ride leader training 32%
50:50 road / off-road rides 26%
Pot luck supper 16%
Back on your bike shorter rides 16%

It was interesting to see that many of the responders were keen on learning more about bicycle maintenance. This is something we will discuss further in the Committee. If you have specific ideas for what range of skills this should cover, and how we might do this, please let us know.

Talking about social events separately feels odd, as our rides are all social events too. But among the more specifically social ones, Christmas dinner was the most popular. For the summer, a picnic was preferred to a BBQ or a supper. Our plans fit well with these survey results because our ‘end-of-summer’ social event will be a picnic on 18th September, with rides in from all parts of the county, and a ‘treasure hunt’ ride suitable for families from the venue.

Tri-vets Century ride

Every three years, CTC groups across the country run CTC Triennial Veterans Century rides. With a title that long, you won’t be surprised that it is almost always abbreviated to ‘Tri-vets’. These are special rides that encourage those over 50 to complete a 100km or 100 mile ride.

We will be running ours on 19th June, a 100 mile ride with the support of ride leaders and sweepers. We have a great route planned, with three refreshment stops provided by local Women’s Institutes in Wendlebury, North Leigh and Steventon. Based on past events, these will be both substantial and very tasty, and a great chance for banter. They have become as much a feature of the ride as the actual riding.

We are now open for registrations, which you can do at or by contacting Peter Hallowell, editor of this magazine. In 2013 we were full to maximum capacity with 72 riders for this event, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

We will also need riding group leaders and sweepers for the event. Some of these will come from the over-50 participants, but this also opens up the opportunity for younger riders to enjoy the day out and the special atmosphere.

Regular Rides with CTC Oxfordshire’s local groups

  • CTC Bicester Social Cycle Rides. 1st Saturdays and 3rd Sundays, both at 10am from Bicester Leisure Centre. These are 20 to 30 mile leisurely rides with a coffee stop. If the group is large, we split into shorter/slower and longer/slightly-faster groups.
  • CTC Wallingford rides. 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month, both from Wallingford Mart Place at 1:30pm. This 1st Sunday ride is a gentle 20-25 miles.   The 3rd Sunday is a bit longer and a bit faster, usually 30-35 miles.
  • CTC Witney rides. Most Sundays, starting at 9:30am at the Buttercross in Witney
  • Off-road rides. Will start on 23rd April and will run on the 2nd Saturday afternoon and the 4th Sunday morning from then until September.       These will have different starting points, distances and terrain, so please keep an eye on the website.

Special rides and events

  • 22nd May – Annual Century Ride. We’ll prepare for the Tri-Vets by running our regular 100-mile ride open to all CTC members a bit earlier in the year over the same route.
  • 19th June – Tri-vets Century. As described above. Please send me a message if you are under-50 but would be interested in leading or sweeping for a group.
  • 18th September – Summer Picnic. Our main summer event will switch from evening to daytime and run later in the year with a picnic event at Standlake. We will be organising rides to, from and around this event with other CTC groups, and including a family cycling treasure hunt.
  • Dates TBD – Ride leader training sessions. Our 2 ride leader workshops last year proved successful and we plan to repeat similar events in 2016, starting with one in Bicester.       These work by exchanging knowledge and practical experience between all the participants, and work best with four to ten people, so please let us know if you are interested.

For all these, you will find more information on our website . You will also find links to all the local CTC groups in the county, also including Oxford City, Isis women’s’ cycling group, CTC Wantage and the Oxfordshire Midweek group.

If you are not sure whether there is a group offering rides that fit your own preferences drop me a line and I’ll try to point you in the right direction

Happy cycling,

Robin Tucker