Oxford Today readers share their fondest memories of spending time on two wheels at University.

Oxford Cycling

Last year, we asked you to recount your fondest memories of cycling in Oxford as a student. We had an overwhelming response of wonderful stories — some touching, others interesting, and several just plain funny — which shows just how integral the bicycle is to life in the city. Here, we’ve decided to  publish some of our favorites for you all to enjoy.


My bicycle was stolen, but we found it in town so phoned the police to ask what to do. ‘How d’you know it’s yours?’ they asked. ‘I keep underpants under the saddle to dry it – they’re still there!’
Steve Cox
Linacre College, 1991

Crash, Bang, Wallop

Instantly converting vertical and rapid forward momentum into a spiraling horizontal slide, still attached to the pedals and seated on the saddle, across both traffic lanes, due to black ice all across the Abingdon Road on a moonless night in 1980, en route from Lincoln to the OCMS (later Templeton).  Then biking away, uninjured.
Neil Wolff
Lincoln, 1979

January 1947.  It was the first day of the great freeze and the Broad was covered with compressed snow.  I mounted my bike and turned the wrong way. So I  instantly came off as the my front wheel locked and the bike skidded.  I landed on my bottom.
Norman Franklin
Balliol, 1946

With a wicker basket strapped to the handlebar and attached by struts to the front wheel, my student bicycle was good for carrying heavyweight textbooks. Hitting a pothole at Cowley Road roundabout, a sheared fork left me steering to safety. That basket may have saved my life!
Arthur Williams
St John’s, 1978

Daring Do

On a whim, decided to cycle round the Oxford Ring Road with some friends one night circa 1977. Weather not great, it was hard work and rather further than we thought...
Caroline Whately-Smith
St Hilda’s, 1975

The proudest achievement, of my whole life was cycling the whole length of the Marston Ferry Road cycle track without my hands on the handlebars. There are various barriers now, so maybe my feat will go unchallenged.
Jill Meara
Brasenose, 1978

I recall sitting at a pub with various other Oxford University Cycling Club riders following cycling cuppers; as aggregate times for each college’s riders were totaled, it slowly became more apparent that Mansfield, my college, had won the event. My first cycling ‘victory’ – I started racing at Oxford and continue to this day.
Tom Simchak
Mansfield, 2003

Fully Loaded

My fondest memory of cycling in Oxford is cycling back from the Dominos pizza outlet near the station to college with 6 pizzas balanced on top of the handlebars.
Ezra Lutton 
Jesus, 2004

I remember my friend Chris courteously offering me a lift on the somewhat delicate luggage rack of his fast, sporty bike to take me home to St Hilda's after a Catz disco. I broke it, but he never complained.
Sue Wagland
St Hilda’s, 1980

I bought some ice cream in the High, put this in the basket on the rear of my bicycle and cycled back to Jericho. All that remained was a pool of liquid covering my rear wheel.  It was the summer of 1976, one of the hottest years on record.
Michael Regan 
Pembroke, 1974

Brushes With the Law

When up at Pembroke College in the early 1960s, I played with the City of Oxford Silver Band and went to practices on my bicycle with my cornet in its case strapped to the carrier.  On one winter occasion, it was dark and I sensed a fellow cyclist coming up behind me.  I glanced behind and recognised a member of HM constabulary who was peddling hard.  Fearing that an encounter was best avoided, I pedalled harder but he gave chase.  As he had a superior set of gears, he caught up with me and, as feared, it was not an entirely social occasion.  Apparently, my back light was not working.
Howard Maskill
Pembroke, 1961

I was cycling down a narrow street when a policeman stopped me. "You're going the wrong way down a one-way street. If a car came the other way and hit you, you wouldn't have a leg to stand on." His mastery of English was a credit to Oxford.
Edward Dommen
Balliol, 1957

Late Nights

In my first year, some friendly Somerville undergraduates invited me to formal hall. I cycled from Holywell Manor to Somerville, unaware of how much revelry lay ahead. On my way home, I crashed into the cycle stand outside Balliol.  I wisely locked up my bike and stumbled the rest of the way. 
Melissa Holloway (nee Ford) 
Balliol, 2001

My fondest memory of cycling in Oxford was returning from a postgraduate fancy-dress party with a friend, both of us dressed in WWF panda outfits! As we cycled down Banbury road, car drivers were giving extreme double-takes at the sight of two slightly unsteady pandas.
Andrew Harmsworth
The Queen’s College, 1992

Love Is in the Air

Summer of 81, outside the Newman Bookshop, a girl on a bike asked me how to get to Iffley Road. That was memorable! After another 2 years we were married, at the Chapel of St Thomas More, behind the bookshop. The shop is no more, but we are more.
Julian Ashton
Oriel, 1976

Only in Oxford

Cycling up the High to evensong at Jesus, gown billowing and bottle of wine ready for formal hall with friends afterwards. The setting sun touching the Queen’s statues, filled me with a huge sense of peace, community and tradition. However much the essay crisis loomed, it always inspired. 
Lucy Stevens
Jesus, 1991

Cycling along the towpath from Folly Bridge to Weirs Lane, where my best friend and fellow student of Oriental Studies had a mooring for her narrowboat 'Qassedak' (Persian for dandelion), my bike basket piled high with Ottoman and Persian dictionaries.  We would spend our evenings translating set texts together. 
Ruth Davis
Brasenose, 1978

My fondest memory is the story that after the famous biochemist Professor Sir Hans Krebs, Fellow of Trinity College, passed away, his personal bicycle was for public sale or auction and the note read : genuine Krebs' Cycle.
Dickon Peter Yau
Trinity, 1971

And Finally…

As an American in Oxford, I embraced the cycling culture but struggled with some of the trans-Atlantic terminology.  Weary of getting soaked on my trips into college, I wandered into a high street shop and asked if they carried “waterproof pants”.  The reply: “You mean, like, adult diapers?”
Justin Hutchinson
Jesus, 2001

Image by Oxford University Images