]> SQUAREWHEELS.org.uk – Rides by correspondents of Richard’s Cambridge & Oxford cycle route


Rides by correspondents
of Richard’s Cambridge & Oxford cycle route

This page was last modified on 10 August 2020

This section was getting a tad unwieldy, so I have hived it off to this separate page where it can grow without disturbing the main page.

This is a reverse-chronological listing of selected rides by correspondents. The most recent ride by a correspondent is (? also) shown in the Status section of the main page.

On Friday 3 & Saturday 4 July 2020, Richard Horner rode from Oxford to Cambridge and back, right through the night! He set off from Carfax shortly before 1900hrs on Friday evening, and enjoyed some assistance from a tailwind to reach Great St. Mary’s at 0050hrs. He takes up the tale:

Then the hard work began as I turned to face a 15mph Souwesterly all the way home. Oh well nothing for it but to change into an easy gear and keep spinning away. Wonderful views of a barn owl at one point as I followed it along a lane for about 5 minutes. An attack of the dozies at around 0350 prompted me to stop for a twenty-minute power nap under an oak tree by the side of the road.

He refuelled with bacon rolls and awful coffee from the 24-hour Shell Flitwick garage near Ampthill (he told me it now incorporates a ‘Mini Waitrose’), which was enough to get him home to Oxford by about 0930hrs with nothing left in my legs. 168 miles in under 15 hours straight, self-supported too… Thank you Richard for sharing the tale of your fine adventure with us!

On Wednesday 8 August 2018, a contributor rode from Whitchurch to Cambridge on this route. They noted the full road closure at Steppingley.

On a Monday in July 2018, Samuel Serby set out in the early afternoon to ride to Oxford as leg 1 of a 3-day ride to Exeter. He had quite an adventure of it, becoming depleted of blood-sugar, dehydrated and suffering from cramp, and ultimately losing his way and relying on signposts in the dark; he wild-camped on the village green at Islip, making it to Oxford the next morning refreshed and ready for breakfast!

On Friday 8 June 2018, my brother Rupert rode the route Cambridge-bound. This was his first solo successful ride of the route since 2013, given his accident in 2014 and that I rode it with him in 2015. He covered the 85 miles (encountering a full road closure in Horton-cum-Studley and so diverting via Oakley and Brill) in 6h43m in spite of a gentle headwind.

On Saturday 19 May 2018, Lee lok hin and three others rode to Cambridge in about 10 hours, taking in an intentional diversion to Bedford; one accompanied him back to Oxford the following day in 7h50m, including time wasted fixing pothole-induced punctures. Good going, Lok!

On Wednesday 7 February 2018, Tom Salmon braved a freezing-cold day with settled snow evident in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire (though not on the road surfaces). He rode under clear blue skies from Oxford to Cambridge in 5 hours 20 minutes on the middle leg of a 3-day route starting & finishing in London. He notes, I’ve done plenty of cycling across the UK but this is one of the most beautiful routes I’ve taken. The roads are wonderfully scenic and quiet and I loved every minute. Thank you Tom, and I quite agree!

On Sunday 15 October 2017, James Gordon rode with Sue Chance, Brian Turner and James Mallinson from Carfax to Great St. Mary’s in exactly 9 hours; he reports that it was a total delight.

On Saturday 2 September 2017, Peter Fifield set off at 6am from Carfax into the mist, making only a 5-minute coffee pitstop in Ampthill on his way to arriving at Great St. Mary’s just 4 hours 23 minutes later. Extremely well done, Peter, especially in view of your (now former?) knee-injury!

On Sunday 23 July 2017, Alex Horn rode the route to Cambridge in 5h50m with his siblings riding too for most of the way; his father drove the support vehicle (!) and noted Stunning views, great skies, empty roads. Brilliant.. Alex created a Strava route too.

On 3 June 2017, Antonin Delpeuch rode my route Cambridge-bound in 8½ hours on his touring recumbent bicycle, a Velotechnik StreetMachine, to attend a Wikimedia meetup. He camped overnight before returning via London the following day.

On 21 May 2017, Tim Pickersgill repeated his feat from last July and rode from Oxford to Cambridge and back, starting from Farringdon, and again riding his fixed-gear bike! He reports that riding solo this time meant he paced himself better and so his overall time was over an hour quicker (yet!) than last year; that he again took the Kingswood diversion; and that he tried the Biggleswade & Potton diversion too on which he felt that “The B1040 is a bit of a fast road and the roundabout crossing of the A1 is not going to be ideal for everyone”. Amazing effort Tim and thanks for the information!

On 22-24 March 2017, John Mears rode to Cambridge and back with a day’s stay inbetween; it took him around 7½ hours both ways, starting from Abingdon and so incurring an extra 9 miles. He provided helpful updates about the road closures at Ampthill/Flitwick, Brickhills, and Ashendon—none of which were sufficiently closed to prevent passage of a bicycle—and mentioned The George & Dragon pub and coffee shop in Quainton which is cyclist-friendly.

On Friday 17 February 2017, Roger Bryan rode it Oxford-bound in 6h15m as part of a ride home to Swindon. The weather permitted him to sit outside in the sunshine enjoying coffee and cake in Woburn—“Not bad for February”! Roger first rode the route a decade ago and at that time assisted me with an update about the road closures relating to the Stoke Hammond & Linslade western bypass; this time he advised that Froghall Road at the south end of Ampthill is closed. Thanks Roger!

On Saturday 21 January 2017, Nick Lee rode it Oxford-bound in 6h45m including stops. I suspect it was just as well that he did ride it that quickly, as he will have been trying to keep warm: the temperature was below freezing when he set off, and barely rose above 2°C all day. At least there wasn’t a headwind! (Weather data from University of Cambridge Digital Technology Group.) Thanks to Nick for advising of the road closure at Ashendon.

On Saturday 24 September 2016 and the overnight thereafter, Mark Charlton rode it Oxford-bound. Amazingly, it was the second half of an 18-hour, 206-mile overnight ride from Lincoln to Radley (arriving 9am Sunday), and he rode the Cam-Ox section almost entirely in the dark and the rain. Bravo, Mark!

On Sunday 14 August 2016, Alessandro Abate made his third annual ride of the route, Cambridge-bound; he completed it in just over 5 hours which is extremely good going! He praises the scenery through which the route passes, and I could not put it better: “Let me just emphasise the beauty of the countryside – I’ve run the route in April, June, and August this year – and each time of the year offers its own distinctive landscapes, light and hues, vegetation, and country scents … all of them charming”.

On Tuesday 2 August 2016, Richard Bowman rode the route Oxford-bound in around 5h40m. He started from the West Cambridge site and joined the route in Comberton; he used the Kingswood diversion to avoid Ashendon hill as it was getting dark, and finished at Marston. He reports that the A1 was very difficult to cross. I think there is no single ‘magic’ solution to this problem, but some times of day are worse than others.

On Saturday 16 July 2016, Tim Pickersgill rode from Oxford to Cambridge and back, in the course of riding 329km from Faringdon (SW of Oxford). Incredibly, he was riding a fixed gear bike! He used the Kingswood diversion to avoid Ashendon hill which, under the circumstances, is quite understandable! Also incredibly, he travelled from Carfax to Great St. Mary’s in 4h58m; and even taking into account a brunch-stop in Cambridge it took him 12h21m from Carfax to Carfax (14h43 for the full day’s riding).

On Saturday 10 October 2015, Bruce Hill rode from Oxford towards Cambridge (turning off after Gamlingay to go to Eltisley); he was on day 2 of a longer ride from Bristol, completing each leg in around six hours.

On Sunday 23 & Monday 24 August 2015, my brother Rupert and I rode the route to and from Cambridge. It took us a little over 7 hours each way, door to door (84 miles, but without diverting ourselves to visit Carfax nor Great St. Mary’s on this occasion). However, for reasons given below Rupert regards this as his personal worst, for it may be considered to have taken him 8,768 hours (or 1 year 8 hours!). In any event, we made it together safely in spite of a great deal of rain throughout the Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire sections on both days.

On Sunday 21 June 2015, Alessandro Abate rode from Oxford to Cambridge on this solstice day in around 7 hours; he was helped by the prevailing tailwind, but hampered slightly by a fall on a gravelly curve near Soulbury and by puncturing on one of the Woburn Park cattle-grids. He returned by X5 coach the same day.

On Saturday 20 June 2015, Claire Hemmingway cycled from Oxford to Cambridge in around 6½ hours in spite of the poor weather much of the way; she was raising money for a trip to Malawi to work with children.

On Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 May 2015, Rich Lawrence rode to Oxford in a little over 7 hours, returning to Cambridge on Sunday in 6½ hours despite the rain. He noted that a new pedestrian crossing has been installed in Sandy on the B1042 between the railway bridge and the Everton turning. In his email he was kind enough to provide a link to Google Street View, which also showed me that two new mini-roundabouts have been added to the route there.

On Saturday 23 August 2014, two people (in addition to my brother) rode the route: Chris Waite, who after taking the X5 to Cambridge rode back again in 8 hours including breaks and with some minor detours; and John Courouble who rode from Oxford to Cambridge in 8 hours plus breaks. John said that the Old Sun in Ampthill doesn’t do food at weekends but let him sit in their garden with a drink from them and food from the chippy!). One presumes that Chris and John must have passed one another on my route somewhere in the Ampthill area…

On Saturday 23 August 2014 was my brother Rupert’s accident. He had set out to ride my route to Cambridge, to have tea with our dad and then ride back to Oxford; he’d done the same in two previous years. Meanwhile I was testing a newly-drafted route from Staines to Cambridge where we would have met. However, something went wrong: Rupert and a car collided at the Tram Hill crossroads near Brill; he was attended by the wonderful Thames Valley Air Ambulance (a charity which richly deserves support from us all). After 10 days’ Intensive Care at the John Radcliffe Hospital and a further 2 weeks on the Trauma Ward, he was discharged home. His recovery has been such that in August 2015 he rode the route strongly with me in spite of the weather, making it look easy and showing up my own level of fitness!

On Saturday 12 July 2014, Oliver Mahony set out from Eynsham at 5am and rode (via the cycle-paths beside the A40 to join the route at the Elsfield turning) to Cambridge in 9h15m; he returned the following day with painful sunburned legs, a headwind and rain but still made it back in time for a certain football-match being shown on TV… He also mentioned that there is a new T*sco shop by Sandy station.

On 21 June 2014, Adam Poland-Goodyer & Leigh Hatton rode from Cambridge to Oxford in 5h53m; they found the scenic route really enjoyable and did note how it gets a bit hilly towards the Oxford end!

On 12 & 13 April 2014, Alessandro Abate rode from Oxford to Cambridge and then back again, in 7 and 8 hours respectively thanks to the prevailing westerly wind.

On Sunday 29 September 2013, Linda Moore rode from Cambridge to Oxford—having ridden the British Heart Foundation’s charity ride from Oxford to Cambridge (which uses well over half of my route) the previous day! She completed it in 6h48m, diverting after Boarstall via Honeyburge, Stanton St John, Forest Hill and the A40 cycle-track to Thornhill Park & Ride: a useful point to note, actually, for those whose ‘base’ at the Oxford end of the route is their car.

On 23 August 2013, my brother Rupert rode the route Cambridge-bound into something of a headwind and in about 6-and-a-half hours. Between Steppingley crossroads and Ampthill he was sent on a diversion through Flitwick, as that junction was being made into a roundabout. The notes have been updated to reflect this.

On 17 August 2013, Clive Richards rode from Warborough (about 9 miles south-east of Oxford) to Cambridge and back in just 13h10m overall, a total of 193 miles—a stonking effort!

In mid-May 2013, Miles Chetwynd-Stapylton rode the route in 7h40m but got horribly lost at Brook End House on the way into Sandy. I am not aware of any deficiency in the notes at that point, but know it is easy to lose track of which instruction comes next when riding a route from notes for the first time.

On Saturday 15 September 2012, Alan Iwi rode the route Cambridge-bound. Alan spotted a couple of syntactical errors in the notes, and also supplied a modified version of the route’s KML file which I have adopted as the ‘official’ one: it is less than one-tenth the original size but is effectively similar! He also fed the KML file into Bing Maps which, when zoomed in, can helpfully show Ordnance Survey Landranger mapping. Thanks, Alan!

On 23 August 2012, Rupert rode the 170-odd miles from Oxford to Cambridge and back without undue difficulty; it took him 5h19m outbound, he had 3h20m rest & some tea, then returned to Oxford in about 7½ hours: A bit slow, v sleepy but legs fine! He had done the same both-ways ride on 23 August 2009, the outward journey taking barely more than 5 hours and the return taking 8 hours despite losing an hour to lighting-dynamo problems.

On Tuesday 31 July 2012, James Chadney and Simon Waterhouse rode on a tandem (probably a first for this route!) from Cambridge towards Oxford, turning off in the Brill area to reach their destination near Abingdon. The printed route-notes fitted neatly onto a home-made map-holder on the handlebars.

On Saturday 19 May 2012, Mike Francis plus seven others rode the route from Oxford as far as Everton, branching off to the north thereafter to reach Fenstanton instead of Cambridge. The group, whose members are aged between 40 and 67, likes a challenge and on this occasion also raised £1700 for Leukemia & Lymphoma Research.

On 3 & 4 December 2011, Rob Gooder plus six friends (some of them inexperienced cyclists) rode from Oxford to Cambridge in 11 hours; he returned with two of the more hardy ones in 7 hours the following day; they used the GPX file to navigate.

On 6 July 2010, Gerard rode it Oxford-bound; instead of printing the route-notes, he loaded the GPX file into his GPS receiver and navigated that way. See also his website, Cycle routes from Oxford.

On 9 April 2010, Colin Russell rode both ways in a little over 11 hours… and that was on a fixed-gear training bike. The mind boggles! A followup enquiry from me confirmed my suspicion that Colin was in training for a race: Styrkeprøven, a single-stage race from Trondheim to Oslo (540km / 335 miles) which is held each June; Colin duly completed that just inside 24 hours (overall average speed of 14.0mph).

In October 2009, Michael and Andy rode the route Cambridge-bound in under 6 hours 53 minutes (plus half-an-hour for lunch in Ampthill)—not bad for two 15-year-olds on mountain bikes!

On 12 September 2009, Simon Fitzmaurice rode it Oxford-bound. Near the end of August 2009, Maggi and Mike rode from Oxford to Cambridge over 3 days, staying overnight in Aylesbury and then at Village Farm B&B in Thorncote Green.

In early July 2009, Philip and his wife rode from Oxford to Cambridge over two days with an overnight stop at Little Brickhill, and stayed at The White House B&B which is only 175 metres from the cycle-route, and report that it was really good!

Previous previous rides by correspondents are not (for now, at least) recorded here.