Celebrating three award-winning women in cycling

Celebrating three award-winning women in cycling

By Alison Hill and Kathryn McNicoll 

Three Oxfordshire women were nominated for Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling 2022 and here we celebrate their achievements. 

Ellen Lee, co-founder, organiser and ride leader, Isis Cyclists

Ellen was one of four founding members of Isis Cyclists in June 2008. She has been a constant presence since. The group runs short cycle rides with the aim of encouraging more women to ride. Ellen loves to watch their confidence grow through cycling. Each year there are about 100 riders in the group, with a variety of different rides available each month. The most popular is the short and steady ride of 10 miles. Every trip involves cake. Some women remain with the group, while others move on to cycle solo or with a faster club.  

Ellen has vivid memories of being given a gold and purple bike with white tyres and stabilisers on her sixth birthday. This prompted her lifelong love of cycling. On a trip to Shropshire with her parents in a heavily laden car, aged 16, she saw a group of cyclists stopping to admire the view and she knew then that she had to start long-distance cycling. 

Since 1990 she has kept a record of all her bike rides on her mileometer. Having cycled the equivalent of eight times round the earth already, her ambition now is to cycle to the moon, a distance of 221,700 miles. She reckons she will celebrate that moon landing in March 2024.  

Jane Carlton Smith, ride leader with Isis Cyclists and JoyRiders Oxford

Jane has been honoured for her work with women cyclists in Oxford, particularly those who are inexperienced or nervous. 

Jane grew up with bicycles, first as a child in her road which was a play street, then as a young adult cycling from Chelsea to Vauxhall Bridge for work.

Not long after moving to Oxford she decided that a bike was the only way to move around the city. She travelled to Brookes to do her Masters, to the council offices for her job – all by bike. She now has an e-bike and has cycled many long-distance routes including the Devon Coast to Coast, the Way of the Roses, and the Coast and Castles. 

She was nominated for this award for her work with Isis Cyclists and particularly her role with JoyRiders. Jane wants other people to experience the contentment that she gets from cycling. JoyRiders’ mission is to ‘help new and returning riders to gain the confidence to cycle for fun, health and their everyday journeys’. She is also enthusiastic about last year’s Black Women Bike – a 6-week course in Blackbird Leys, which she hopes will be repeated every year.  

Kathryn McNicoll, trustee and honorary secretary of Cyclox 

As a trustee of Cyclox Kathryn has led two major projects giving free refurbished cycles to those in need. Early on in the Covid pandemic she was instrumental in setting up the Bikes for Keyworkers project in partnership with Active Oxfordshire.

With the help of furloughed mechanics and the general public, Kathryn arranged for the collection, refurbishment and distribution of 380 cycles to keyworkers during the 2020 lockdowns.

Under her guidance, last year’s Sanctuary Wheels project provided the same number of bikes to refugees around Oxford and Oxfordshire over the summer. The project has now been handed over to Asylum Welcome.

Kathryn now organises Dr Bike sessions at summer festivals around the city. Cyclists can get free bike repairs and friendly advice from experienced mechanics.

She has cycled most of her life, but when she moved to Oxford in 2001 she found that cycling was the easiest way to get around the city, see friends, shop, travel into town. She now has an e-bike which allows her to go on much longer journeys.


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