7 July 2023 : Richard Brown director at Keith Williams Architects reflects on his part in the 100km London to Cambridge cycle ride organised by engineers Conisbee.
“After a chance meeting with KWA’s former marketing manager Tabitha Sudbury, I received an invitation to spend a day on a “social” cycle ride to Cambridge from Allan Dunsmore of Conisbee Engineers where Tabitha now resides. Originally planned as a gruelling 200km return journey from their Islington offices to their Cambridge outpost and back, the return leg was scrapped by popular demand. Though a regular cyclist to and from our London Bridge studio, I was somewhat sceptical that my body would tolerate the leap in distance, nevertheless I decided to grasp the nettle and go for it.
Meeting at their offices early for the ‘grand depart’ I encountered a friendly mixture of Conisbee staff, other architects and a smattering of clients and advisors. Over coffee and croissants a shared bond emerged amongst the elite protagonists forged by completing the marathon MIPIM cycle ride earlier in the year. I felt that I might be lagging just a little.
The day turned out to be the sunniest, driest, and hottest of the year so far, but it seemed to give energy to my limbs as we weaved our way along a convoluted route through the backstreets of London to the wide open spaces of Epping Forest and a halfway meeting spot. Here, Conisbee’s Cambridge team having cycled south, plied us with more coffee and cake whilst comparisons of bikes and kit were made. The clear winner to my eye was a beautifully restored Colnago steel framed original (well done Doriano). Cycling in its purest form!
The final leg was mostly downhill into Cambridge. A quick tour of the city’s outskirts revealed the immeasurable pharma industry led changes since I was last in town, with huge shiny buildings somewhat soullessly humming away without windows or much in between. I worried at lot over CO2 emissions.
On to the city’s core and our journey’s end at The Mill pub where we all took a much needed drink (or two) to recover. Never being more than a stone’s throw from notable architecture we sat in front of the distinguished riverside Darwin College Study Centre (1994) by Dixon Jones.
Nicely refreshed and perhaps overoptimistically, I decided to tackle the return 100km leg, but then the wheels literally started to come off. Punctures, walking and infrequent trains made up the rest of the day!
Thanks be to organisers and all who took part, for the distraction from projects on site and RFI’s even if only for a few hours.
The aches and pains though lingered a little longer.”