The Principal of Hertford College, Will Hutton, will cycle from Oxford’s Bridge of Sighs to Venice’s Bridge of Sighs next July, to mark one hundred years since his college’s building of the famous Oxford landmark.
Hutton sent out an email to Hertford students asking for their help in the attempt to carry out the challenge, set to take place over two weeks next July.
In the email, Hutton said, “Over the next twelve months we celebrate the centenary of our iconic bridge and in thinking about ways to celebrate, the idea of a sponsored cycle ride from the Hertford bridge to the Bridge of Sighs in Venice was mooted.
“This idea has increasingly caught my imagination, and over the last few days I have decided to do it – providing we can make it work. Believe me, at about a thousand miles over a fortnight next July this will be probably the most physically challenging thing I have ever done – and just the preparation is a daunting prospect.”
Although Hutton intends to hire a professional company to help with the organisation of the trip, he is also keen for Hertford students to become actively involved. As his email explained, “I am looking for a group of individuals who can share my enthusiasm for this idea and help get it off the ground.
“No, you don’t have to commit to ride with me, although you will be most welcome – my aspiration is to tap into the wider Hertford community rather than have the whole project driven by an outside contractor.”
About half a dozen students will be asked to help Hutton in four areas – route planning, technical support, accommodation and transport. He says that he already has two possible routes planned.
Hutton will formally announce the idea in September, when the centenary of the Bridge of Sighs will be celebrated by Hertford College with a series of lectures on the Bridge’s history, the screening of a short documentary about it, and a drinks reception and party.
Hertford’s Bridge of Sighs was designed and built in 1913 and now connects the two main college buildings, spanning New College Lane. It was first opened in January 1914. The Bridge of Sighs in Venice, or the Ponte dei Sospiri, was built in 1602 and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace.
The distance between them is 757 miles, just under the length of the famous John O’Groats to Land’s End ride in the UK, at about 840 miles.