Oxford to Banbury by bike

Oxford to Banbury by bike

Quote of the ride – Whilst mooching around Banbury…
9-year old Bobby: shall we get mummy a surprise?
Me: sure Bob, what shall we get her?
Bobby: Well she loves leprosy…
Me: (in fits of laughter) do you mean Le Creuset son?
Both: (Fits of laughter)

Yesterday started with some fantastic news. Over the last few months, I have been working with some friends to set up a local Cycling Without Age group here in Oxfordshire where I live. Well, yesterday we got the confirmation that our registration as a charity has been accepted and approved. The bike is now ordered and we’re getting excited to fundraise for our second and third bikes and start putting them to good use!

What better way to celebrate this than to go on a bike ride and enjoy a pub lunch?

Cycling Oxford to Banbury

We started just north of Oxford in a village called Kidlington and cycled the National Cycle Route 5 (NCR 5) north through various villages until we arrived in Banbury. After lunch, we had a mooch around Banbury and then caught a train south to Oxford with the bikes so that we could cycle home and back to our starting point.

The team and our bikes

This was a ‘Dad and Lad’ bike ride. I did this journey with my 9-year-old son Bobby. We had been planning to do a family ride with my daughter and wife too to Blenheim Palace but as we had a poorly crew member they stayed tucked up back at home.

I was on my trusted 3-speed Dutchie and Bobby on his much loved Claude Butler road bike – I know, we’re an eclectic bunch…

The Route

Here are the maps of our ride from Strava. We took it slowly, and there were even a couple of hills where we realised our limitations (mainly mine) and we walked up.

We went from Kidlington through Woodstock, then up muddy tracks and narrow roads through beautiful villages such as Middle Barton, Over Worton, Nether Worton, Barford St. Michael, Barford St. John, Bloxham and Bodicote, before arriving in Banbury.

Once we did this section and caught a train with the bikes back to Oxford, we finished our ride by cycling from Oxford station to Kidlington.

The route we took was along the Oxford Canal north to Wolvercote – this section has recently been resurfaced and is now great for cycling. We then went along Five Mile Drive and up the Banbury Road to Kidlington to finish our ride.

Taking the bikes on the train

This was the first time we have taken bikes on the train but was very happy with the experience. I appreciate that this may have been different in rush-hour though.

We took our bikes in the lift at the train station, hopped on the waiting train and we were on our way.

Feeling cheeky at this point – taking the lift to the platform
Our rides on the GWR train back to Oxford

Our thoughts on the ride

The section of the NCR5 just north of Woodstock was in a very poor state and in places was almost impassable. We were wishing for cycle routes which were actually cyclable here as we were scrapping the mud from our brakes…

Both of us were muttering negativities at this point and we almost gave up and turned back.

Bobby’s caked up brakes

Once we left the mud behind though it was a gentle and steady ride and an almost car-free route until we got to Bloxham. Even cycling through Bloxham it was pretty much car-free as the NCR5 takes you down some rather pretty and winding side streets.

We’d certainly recommend the NCR 5 route from Oxford to Banbury (about 35 miles) for a bike ride for families with children who are used to those distances. But only once it has dried out a bit – I’d image it’s beautiful in the summer. However, in the state that it is currently in, it really is not an enjoyable ride in its entirety.

Over to you…

Have you cycled this route? I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Maybe you have a ride which you would like to suggest? If so, please comment in the section below as I love reading and replying to every comment received.

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