Construction lawyer Chris Hill is taking the scenic route to MIPIM this year. His first "on the road" blog entry explains why he and 14 others are tackling 1500 km in just four and a half days.
Oscar Wilde, I think, said, during his sad last years in exile in Paris, that he did not believe any more in art or culture but instead placed all his hope for the future of humanity in the bicycle.
Fifteen construction professionals, including me, are also placing our faith in the bicycle to get us from London, all the way across France to Cannes on the Cote d'Azur, to the giant bun fight that is MIPIM - a total distance of 1500 km. We will (hopefully) be doing it in a staggeringly quick 4.5 days, leaving London on Friday 10 March and arriving to be greeted on the Croisette (or sea front to the uninitiated) at Cannes by Ken Livingstone (assuming he is not suspended) on Tuesday 14 March at 4:30pm.
It is not just a cheap way of getting there. We are raising money for four important charities - the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, The Sarah Matheson Trust for Multiple System Atrophy, The Tom ap Rhys Pryce Memorial Trust and Architects for Aid (A4A). We are aiming to raise £100k.
We are grateful to Peter Murray of Wordsearch who was the founder/instigator of the MIPIM tour - although the organisation has been shared between the participants. We have all been incredibly impressed by the meticulous organisation. The way in which this group of people, previously for the most part unknown to one another, have come together to create this project in such a short space of time is a tribute to the construction industry . I suppose putting together project teams to perform out of their skins on the spot is what the industry is all about. Things will of course go wrong and I intend to faithfully report the good and the bad in this blog over the next two weeks or so. However, at the moment we look slick.
Training has been intense, led by another architect and former domestique (that's a kind of unsung hero of the peloton - not a cleaner) James Burland. He has taught us how to ride to a wheel, how to ride in echelon and how to pee without getting off the bike. We have toured Regents Park and Richmond Park relentlessly on some very cold and dark mornings and this Sunday morning it all comes good.
On Sunday 5 March we are introducing ourselves to the public by riding the prologue to our tour and the first stage of the real 2007 Tour de France. Starting at 9:30 am, the whole magnificent peloton will be convening outside Buckingham Palace to ride en bloc to Canterbury. We couldn't get the Queen to come out and see us off (although she will be waving from behind the net curtains) so instead we have architect and broadcaster Maxwell Hutchinson. Upon swift and safe arrival (I have already checked the weather and it forecasts a wonderful 20 mph tail wind!) we will be treated to a magnificent lunch by the good burghers of Canterbury (well we might have to pay for it actually) before travelling back to London via Nic Sampson's mother-in-law's in Maidstone for tea and cakes.
Wish us luck. Thanks most of all to all our sponsors, major and minor. It is of course not too late to sponsor us. Here is the link to the Capita Percy Thomas website and the sponsorship forms.
Alternatively, to make a cash contribution please contact Helen Bryant at email@example.com