The Dunwich Dynamo is an annual 120 mile through-the-night ride from Hackney to Dunwich. It’s not quite a sportive (no organisation, no entry fee), it’s not a race and it’s certainly not exclusive. WCC member Tim Burrows rode this week’s event. Here is his report:
Left 8.00pm, arrived after 120 miles 4.00 in the morning.
The Dunwich Dynamo started in 1993 when a group of messenger cyclists one Saturday night hacked off down to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. Having just got back into cycling I hadn’t heard about this. I was told about it by a friend who’s a bit of a hippie from Camberwell – so I was entirely convinced (image of beans, crystals and pyramids). It wasn’t helped by having ridden half the route the previous week when I went to watch the vets road race at Saffron Walden and struggled back home into a head wind.
However this Saturday the weather looked favourable wind SW on Saturday turning round to NW on the Sunday – magic. So I polished my lovely yellow bike – cobbled together some lights, went to ‘Tracey’s cafe’ for some ‘carbo loading’ and trundled off to Hackney.
Sitting on the green at Hackney I still wasn’t convinced and was very close to just turning back home – at 7.00pm there were a reasonable amount of people – but nothing special at 7.45 the numbers grew and the arrival of a character in a Arsenal/Dennis Bergkamp shirt giving out the route details finally got me motivated.
The first few miles me and everyone else were a little jittery – I’d say only one in twenty had a clue in navigation or where they were heading (I went off course after 1/4mile and continued a similar pattern throughout the journey), relying on a few ‘leaders’ and whistling to fellow stray sheep to get back on course.
People en-route, at roadside pubs, bus stops, front gardens were really friendly and supportive shouting words of encouragement. I think quite a few enjoyed the spectacle,
The only ‘lively’ moments had been up through Leyton to Epping – crap roads and a few boy-racers – and in Codningham (30 miles from nowhere) a few youths about to get an ASBO by putting a cone in the middle of the road and playing chicken before someone hung out their window and reminded them that ‘people were trying to get some sleep’.
As it got dark you really felt the adventure was starting – although the clouds kept out the moon and stars it made it warmer and added to the magical darkness of the next few hours. The roads were twisty and turny, up and down the whole dynamics were constantly changing. Sometimes on your own, sometimes in a group, you could be belting along on your own and starting to feel rather solitary, then you’d feel the glow of a front light coming up behind you or else you may be catching on to a long bobbing trail of flashing rear lights.
Hitting Dunwich was ACE – somehow despite my extra-get-lost miles I was one of the first in the cafe – had a fry-up then hit the beach, found a nice pebbly bit of the beach and using my cash-hat for a pillow curled up for a kip – woke up an hour later to the smell of people cooking bacon on the beach.
By now the beach was getting full – who managed to get fom London to Dunwich? Just about anyone – over a thousand cyclists – tandems, fixies, racers, new bikes, lots of old bikes, one bike which got an extra cheer was a guy on a butchers-bike with his dog on the front – apparently the dog hadn’t travelled so well this year and was a bit fidgety.
Well thats another ticked off my list – but definately one I’d love to do again.