With Knight Frank Cycle to MIPIM fast approaching, we're meeting some of the riders taking part. First up, it's Riette Oosthuizen from HTA Design LLP, who is returning to Cycle to MIPIM for the second time.
What do you do?
I am Partner, leading the urban planning team at HTA Design LLP. I work on a range of residential and residential led mixed use projects. The majority of my team’s clients are local authorities where we assist in providing planning advice on their housing delivery programmes. I also work on a number of estate regeneration projects, a role I really enjoy. Whilst my team is imbedded in a design practice, 50% of our planning portfolio is delivered working with other architectural practices. This keeps things dynamic and interesting.
I am very interested in how multi-disciplinary teams interact in establishing buildings and places where people live: I am keen to ensure as far as possible that we develop our learning in how these places affect people’s lives over the long term.
Tell us a bit about your involvement with Cycle to MIPIM
I first got on a road bike almost exactly three years ago when I expressed an interest to take part in pedElle. At the time, I had never cycled in cleats nor, in fact, cycled on anything apart from my Brompton. I am hugely thankful to the many fantastic women out there who were immensely supportive in teaching me how to cycle, in particular Charmaine Rees. The pedElle community is a hugely supportive network of amazing women encouraging other women to cycle and do much more in their careers. I have got to know so many great women to cycle with who have become friends.
In what way is your company involved?
HTA Design is very supportive of cycling and raising money for charity. We have set up our own club, The Rouleurs. We have sponsored Cycle to MIPIM teams for a few years now. We have also sent at least two riders a year to pedElle since my initial trial of the ride. It has become hugely popular and women are lining up in our office wanting to take part! We usually get a team together to do Ride London for charity too.
How do you value the networking benefits you get from the ride?
I am an introvert; as such I find networking events extremely painful. Mingling does not come to me naturally. However, talking to someone whilst cycling is different. It is somehow easier. You get to know people on a different level, and the suffering that sometimes comes with extreme exertion makes people open up in a different way.
What draws you back every year?
I have come to love the social aspect of cycling. You see so much more on a bike. I used to run very long distances enjoying the isolation, but cycling in a group is much more fun. There is also something quite calming about hearing the collective whirring sound of a peloton.
Name three things that no one ever tells you about Cycle to MIPIM:
- You make friends for life.
- If you are vegan, you might get tired of being fed boiled vegetables by French hotels. The lunchtime salads are amazing and compensates for this, however.
- You might cry but it is okay (well I did).
What does fundraising for Cycle to MIPIM’s charities mean to you?
I have seen first hand the difficulty that some families can experience in adopting children who may not have had the best start in life. It is a real privilege to support the work of Coram.
What has been the most effective way to boost your fundraising efforts?
After three years of cycling it becomes more difficult extracting money from friends and family. However, we have had some success as a company getting clients to sponsor our shirts. We also work with the amazingly talented Sandy Morrison, whose sketches and paintings always contribute hugely to our efforts.
How do you plan to celebrate once you’ve reached Cannes?
I was hugely relieved last year when we arrived in Cannes – it was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. However, I was also really happy to not get up the next morning at 4.30am. It is great being met by familiar faces.
And now for the quick fire round:
- What bike do you ride? Orro Gold Ultegra
- Who are your riding buddies? Nicola Gordon, joining this year’s Ride to Cannes, Anna Parry, Paola Zanotto (both legends), Helen Grey (we are due to celebrate a special birthday later this year with a huge cycle ride), Evelyn Mullins (she is a badass, always cycling the same speed whether going uphill or on a flat), Natasha Rees (my room mate last year; she is a huge inspiration and always very calm), Penny Moss (I love her jokes) and my colleague Pavlina Stergiadou (lots of surreal conversations about life, the universe and everything).
- What’s your favourite pre-ride fuel? Porridge made with almond milk with lots of crunchy peanut butter (I am slightly obsessed with peanut butter)
- What’s your favourite post-ride treat? I usually find it quite difficult to eat post ride – I quite like some salted cashew nuts.