Cycling in Oxfordshire

Cycling in Oxford city centre

Cycling in Oxfordshire

Looking for information about cycling in Oxfordshire? Cycling UK's guide to cycling in Oxfordshire gives you routes, events, clubs and advice to inspire you to cycle in the county.

Oxford may not have quite the levels of cycling of its academic counterpart Cambridge, but if anything it’s a lovelier place to explore on a bike, with its countless gorgeous college buildings and easier layout – and thanks to its student population of all descriptions, bicycles are everywhere. This is a city where a lot of people get around by bike, from the local trundling to work, to the college rowing coach shouting at the crew while pedalling the towpath, handlebar in one hand, megaphone in the other. Even the buses between Oxford and London take bikes.

The Thames is called the Isis here, and there’s lovely car-free leisure riding along its towpath, perhaps continuing on lanes right up to the riverside Trout pub at Godstow. The Oxford Canal’s towpaths offer additional options – for sturdy-tyred bikes, anyway.

From Oxford to Woodstock – and Blenheim Palace – NCN5 takes you along 10 miles of off-road tracks and quiet roads – a good family outing (though you can’t cycle inside Blenheim Park). South from Oxford, NCN5 takes you along the Thames Route – not always by the riverside, though with plenty of car-free stretches – through Abingdon, Didcot, even all the way to Reading and central London, 100 miles away.

Leisurely road touring doesn’t come much better than the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, with its quiet lanes, rich countryside, cottagey pubs, cosy cafes and beautiful villages: Aston, Kingham, Minster Lovell, Bruern, Asthall, Kelmscott... there’s even a mini-Stonehenge: the Rollright Stones.

In the southwest of the county, the fabulous Uffington White Horse is just off the Ridgeway, whose first 43 miles from Overton (Wilts) though Oxfordshire to to Streatley (Berks) is a mountain biking delight. 

Cycling groups and clubs in Oxfordshire

Cycling UK Oxfordshire (Oxfordshire)

Hub for Cycling UK and CTC activities in the county, organising rides

Cycling UK Wantage (Wantage)

Rides for all types of recreational rider, including families, on roads and quiet lanes

CTC Wallingford (Wallingford)

Offers two rides each month, easy and medium

Didcot Phoenix CC (Didcot)

Touring, racing, Audax, off-road and events to encourage aspiring cyclists

Ridgeway Cycles (Wantage)

Farcycles (Faringdon)

Community (not a club) that rides routes devised to try to cater for a wide range of skills

Etape Cycling Club (Oxfordshire)

Zappis Cycling Club (Abingdon)

Abingdon Freewheeling (Abingdon)

Oxford Social Network (Oxford)

Oxford City (Oxford)

Oxfordshire Midweek (Oxfordshire)

Isis Cyclists (Oxford, Oxon)

Short rides for women in Oxford to encourage people onto bikes

Aether Ltd (Oxford)

What to take with you on your ride 

The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: in Britain you’re only a call away from any service you might need.

But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebag or rear rack and panniers are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.

Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy. (They don’t have to be lurid colours.)

If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock. 

It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They’re price of a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.

Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schraeder’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help.

Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required.

Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies. 

Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!

Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software before your trip. 

Paper maps are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan.

What have we missed? Recommend your favourite routes using the comments box below. 

Cycling routes in Oxfordshire

Cotswolds routes, canal paths, rural rides and getting round Oxford

Cycle A-way’s list of routes, maps and resources for Oxfordshire

Journey Planner

The Hanson Way Cycle Map (NCN5)

Didcot to Wantage and The Ridgeway

Cycle Rides in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds

Cycling events in Oxfordshire

Check out our events calendar to find a ride that suits you

Make sure your bike is working
(from our partners, Halfords)

Creaking cranks, wobbly wheels or slipping saddles are the last thing you want, but Halfords' guide to basic bike maintenance will keep you rolling smoothly. Whether you’re a regular commuter, a leisurely weekend rider, or prefer to tear it up on a serious MTB trail, signs of wear and tear might keep you off the saddle from time to time. Whilst we can’t promise to banish those roadside mishaps, we can help keep your bike tip top with our top tips!

You’re heading out on your lovely bike, with a pannier packed with your essentials. A glorious route lies ahead, but then you run into a spot of bother! Most of the time there are handy hacks you can do to tide you over whilst out and about, and we’ve taken a look into the most common bike problems and solutions…

Clicking saddle? Check that the bolts connecting the saddle to the seat post are not loose. Tighten until the saddle is firmly secured using an allen key from your trusty toolbox!

Squealing brakes? This could be down to dirt or oil on the brake pads. Give it a quick wipe down, then when you get home take the brake pads off and readjust.

Squeaky derailleur? A little lube should help. Remove any excess.

Creaky pedals? Dry pedal bearings, loose crank arms or a worn bottom bracket could be the culprit. Once home, remove and lube the pedal bearings, tighten and lube the crank arms, or replace the bottom bracket if it’s still making a fuss.

Problem areas

Some of the problems you find with your bike might need a closer look, and here’s where we can help!

Wobbling disc rotors, spongy brakes and rattling bolts needn’t be as pesky as they sound for long enough to keep you off your bike! Call and see us with your two wheels at your local Halfords, or with any other bike bothers you might have.

From as little as £15 a year, Halfords will take the labour out of looking after your bike. Halfords offer a range of care packages, they provide free fitting on all parts and accessories bought from Halfords, and even include an annual service worth £50 as part of the plan!

Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Membership gives you peace of mind insurance, discounts in cycle shops, rides & routes – for just £3.88 a month!