Bike Oxford – said to be Oxford's favourite cycling event – took place this year on Sunday 25th June and, for the first time, Oxford Health Charity had a 10-strong team of riders taking part. From 7am, they joined around 720 other cyclists at the Oxford University Rugby Club who were all readying themselves to take on their chosen circuit – either the short route (26 miles), the medium route (50 miles) or, for those wanting more of a challenge, the long route (75 miles)! As if the thought of their respective routes wasn’t daunting enough, they each knew they’d also be completing their ride on the hottest day of the year – in soaring temperatures of up to 30°C – as well as facing a strong head wind of up to 17mph! 

Yes, a gruelling ride certainly lay ahead for our Oxford Health Charity cyclists – some, highly experienced riders; others, taking on their first cycling challenge – but they all left the rugby ground with a smile. First, our five 75-mile cyclists – Trust staff members James Brown, Gareth Cox, Pete McGrane, Zelda Ackerman and her husband Christo; followed by our 50-mile rider, Trust staff member Jason Davies; and lastly, our four 26-mile participants – Gillian Pickard, and Trust Staff members Sue Butt, Sophie Behrman and her father Robert. 


Setting off from the rugby club, all riders were afforded a short tour of the city which took them to sites such as the Sheldonian Theatre, the Bridge of Sighs and Magdalen College before heading out of Oxford at Marston and on up to Islip. Here, the cyclists following the medium and long routes split from the rest of the crowd. While those on the 26-mile circuit rode through Oddington, Horton-cum-Studley and Stanton St. John before retracing their steps (well, wheels!) through into Oxford, the rest of the field continued northwards via Weston-on-the-Green, Middleton Stoney and North Aston.

At Duns Tew, the medium and long routes parted ways; starting the 50-mile riders on the return leg through Ledwell, Tackley and Bletchingdon and then back to Islip to re-join the short route. However, before the ‘long riders’ could link up with this return leg, they headed further north towards Bloxham and climbed up to the hamlet of Christmas Corner. From here, they set off southwards towards Ledwell – stopping for a much-needed pit stop at the Hook Norton Brewery feed station! 😊

“Riding that distance in that heat was extremely challenging but had to keep the wheels turning for a good cause.”

Being a more informal cycling event, no official record of times was taken, but participants were able to track their own progress along the route and all of our Oxford Health Charity riders conquered their respective courses impressively. Sue was thrilled to find that she was our first 26-mile challenger to cross the line, arriving back at the rugby club in just under 2 ½ hours! While Zelda and Christo smashed the 75-mile circuit in under 6 hours – despite experiencing bike trouble along the way!

And our team’s post-race rewards for braving their chosen routes in such hot and breezy conditions?

  • Sandwiches and ice lollies in the shade.
  • A fully-stocked bar with Hook Norton beer.
  • A high-quality finisher’s medal.
  • And the knowledge that, through undertaking their gruelling rides, they’d helped to make a HUGE difference to service users across Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. 


The running total for our team’s combined fundraising currently stands at over £2150, with riders raising funds for a variety of our funds/appeals including Where the Need is Greatest Appeal, Community Directorate Fund, Meadow Unit Appeal and Positivity Pot Appeal.

Speaking to the charity team after the event about why he decided to take on the 75 miles, Pete (Clinical Director for Community Services) remarked:

For me, Bike Oxford served two purposes. Firstly, it was to raise money for a charity that has supported many services across my directorate and made a fundamental difference in the lives of patients and staff. We simply couldn’t do much of what we do without the charity support. Secondly, the ride was a personal milestone having been off the bike for the majority of the year. This was the furthest that I had ridden in a year and it felt good to have it under the belt. I must admit to having relied upon the younger legs of Gareth and James to get around. It was a blisteringly hot and muggy day meaning hydration played a critical part. The course was excellent, showing some of the best parts of the county with a fabulous early morning spin through the city to set us up before leaving for the countryside. Food stops were well organised and I would urge anyone interested to give it a go. Riding a sportif is a great experience. Special thanks to Julie, Michelle and the charity for the welcoming drink upon return and being there before the off. Looking forward to next year already.”

To all of our amazing cyclists, the Oxford Health Charity team would like to say:

“We are so proud of you all and so very thankful for your efforts. You each did brilliantly, despite the heat and head wind, and the money you’ve raised will go a long way to supporting Oxford Health service users and staff within your chosen funds. It was a fantastic first Bike Oxford event for our charity and we’re looking forward to setting up again next year – even with the 6 a.m. start! We hope to see many of you back again with us in 2024.” 😊

Talking of next year, our planning will begin shortly for Bike Oxford 2024 and we’ll be starting to put a team list together soon. If you’d like to join our fantastic OHC cyclists and fundraise for us at next year’s event, please register your interest at: [email protected].

Or, if running is more your thing, why not consider supporting us in this year’s Oxford Half marathon which is being held on Sunday 15th October? Visit our event page for more information and to register your interest: Oxford Half 2023 | Oxford Health Charity.