22
Jul
13

dunwich dynamo

It’s that time of year again. The night were Hauling My Carcass and I forego a night’s sleep to cycle from Hackney to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. Regular readers will know that this is the 3rd time we have done this although for the uninitiated, I shall briefly explain…

Dunwich Dynamo takes place on the Saturday nearest the full moon in July (for maximum overnight visibility). It is free to take part, is organised (by The Southwark Cyclists)  but not supported or marshalled. A group of like minded cyclist congregate in London Fields and a little before 8pm on Saturday, begin to head off through Hackney and then out through Epping and into the shires on their overnight cycle to the seaside.

It’s not a race and although there are some hardcore lycra clad clans desperate to get to the other end (Dulwich Paragon have got themselves a bit of a reputation), it is mostly a mixture of happy cyclists up for a bit of a challenge and an adventure. Lots of road bikes, some mountain bikes, fixies, singlespeeds (including myself and HMC), at least one penny farthing, one participant with his 2 dogs in a purpose built box and (last year at least) one person on a Boris Bike.

The procession of red flashing lights snakes off in front of you for most of the ride and it is the view that  comes to sum up the ride. People stop at pubs and lay-bys on their way to Dunwich to rest, refuel and, in some cases, sleep.

HMC and I have come to adopt a fairly regimented ritual – 3 stops en route at approximately 50km intervals and experience has taught us that plenty of food, plenty of liquid and a change of warm, dry clothes at the halfway point are the best way to tackle it. This year I had a mini panic at about 110kms when I ran out of water. I have never run out before and the thought of about 80km in the dark with no liquid did scare me a bit. Fortunately, a few kms later, we came across a wheelbarrow at the side of the road full of bottles of lucozade sport and an honesty box to pay for it. I don’t know who you are, but the person who placed it there gets my thanks – you helped me through the remainder of the ride in relative comfort. And that, in essence, is why I like the DD – someone thinks to put some emergency lucozade at the side of the road. With an honesty box. And cyclists stop, are grateful for the gesture, buy Lucozade and put the money in the box – even though it would be easy not to. Or to take some Lucozade and the box of money. But they don’t. It is a mutually understood and reciprocated gesture.

In the early hours of the morning, the tiredness and psychological demons take hold and, if you are prepared for it, can be easily combatted. HMC seems to hit his Black Spot before me, so we chat whilst he concentrates on staying awake and positive. Just after the sun comes up, it is my turn to struggle, questioning why I do this each year and struggling to keep going. Motivation from HMC and a Mars Bar gets me back on track in no time and the last 10-15kms are torn up as we both know the finish is in sight.

A brief stop at the beach to soak up the atmosphere and then we get changed and sort the bikes in readiness for the home journey. Southwark Cyclists lay on coaches but HMC and I have, for 2 years running, driven to Dunwich on the Saturday, left the car overnight and then driven home on the Sunday morning. This is, arguably, the toughest bit as you have stopped the physical exertion and are in the relative comfort of a car. And you have not slept for something like 29 solid hours. The drive back to mine is a little under 2 and a half hours but in that short time I had 2 cans of Red Bull, one double espresso and a cake to keep me going and focussed. Of course the upside is that I was back home by 10am and the rest of the day can be used for a shower, eating and catching up on some sleep.

It is not easy but the effort is definitely worth it as it leaves you with a lasting sense of acheivement and the urge to grin everytime the Dunwich Dynamo is metioned.

Same time next year then…


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