Oxford in autumn is swathed in colour, when the richness of the light casts a translucent hue over the city, mellowing the vibrancy of the summer. Blended pastel shades are mixed with a glowing voluptuous orange. The smells are earthy, of decaying vegetation and smoky air. My absolute favourite time, when nostalgia stirs and the senses are awakened. It’s a seasonal transformation that can be fully appreciated on two wheels with a flask of coffee and an afternoon to kill.
Agne and I decided our first ride would be by the river. We cycled along the River Isis, which is the Oxford part of the River Thames (we hope to continue on this path and complete an Oxford to London cycle one day…). We had lunch at the Isis Farmhouse, feasting on casserole and chilli - glorious sustenance for the cyclist - and turned back when we got to Sandford Lock. We cycled home mostly in silence and without stopping, absorbing the peaceful stillness that had settled over the river as the sun was setting. A pinkish haze rested delicately upon the water. It was compelling to see how the optimum conditions of light, colour and moisture combined to create this effect.
Here's a map of the route we took. We started at Zappi's bike cafe, a one-stop shop for bicycle and coffee lovers, where we drank coffee, ate toast and inflated our bicycle tyres. Isis Farmhouse, where we stopped to have lunch, is about half way between our starting point and destination. We then cycled all the way to the Sandford Lock where we could have had dinner at Kings Arms. Instead, we turned around and came back to Oxford while there was some light left.
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
- Arthur Conan Doyle