I’m getting fed up reading that the 2012 London Olympics venues won’t match up to the Beijing Games in terms of design and spectacle.

Anybody who has visited the Olympic Park down in Stratford will know that London’s Games will be up there with the Sydney and Barcelona Olympiads.

This really struck home when I visited the site yesterday at the end of the London Festival of Architecture ride organised by Richard Fenne. (I was down as the co-organiser but in truth Richard did 90% of the work).

From the viewpoint of the Container cafe at the heart of the Olympic Park, the scale of the site takes your breath away.

Velo2Velo start on the South Bank

From here you have a grandstand view of Zaha Hadid’s humped-back Aquatic Centre and Populous’ stadium bowl, as well as views to the basketball arena and the site of Anish Kapoor’s controversial sculpture. The Hopkins-designed Velodrome is on the same site, but it’s so far away to the north of the huge site that it virtually disappears over the horizon.

Not being able to see the stadium posed a bit of a problem for us on Sunday as the ride was billed the ’Velo2Velo’. We were connecting the 1948 Olympic velodrome in Herne Hill with the 2012 velodrome via a series of parks, tow paths and cycleways.

Herne Hill Velodrome

Thankfully we were joined by Hopkins director Mike Taylor, who gave us his Sunday morning along with colleague Jonathon Watts to give a explain the Velodrome design first-hand to 40 lucky members of the public.

In true Rolf Harris style, Mike sketched out the stadium as he explained how the tough design challenges were met.

Mike Taylor sketching

This helped explain the engineering feat that will keep the velodrome at 26oC (track cyclists like it hot) while keeping specactors cool in the middle of August. Answers to these questions and many more will be revealed in Building very soon.

Thanks to the LFA for given us the chance to incorporate this ride into the festival and also to the Southwark Cyclists who marshalled the event and Greg and Will from Foster Lomas who presented their shortlisted design for a new monument in Aldgate, which will mark the start of the 2012 Olympic High Street from the City to the Olympic Park.

The London Festival of Architecture runs until Sunday 4th July. To book an architectural walk or ride visit the LFA website.

The 2012 velodrome