The Dunwich Dynamo for those of you who are unaware is a fairly organic cycle ride from London Fields in East London to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast some 111ish miles away. The ride starts at around 20:00 - although there is no real official start time - and goes on through the night with participants finishing the ride sometime the following morning.
I must confess that I had no intentions of doing the 'Dun Run' this year as the arrangements for travelling back to London by coach have always left me thinking, never again. Hearing that Mark (King of the Hill) was going to return by train and not coach induced me to purchase a train ticket.
The meeting point was at the cycle friendly cafe 'Look Mum No Hands.' Mark, Ian, Paul, James, Geoff and a few others were all there and after chewing the fat for a while we made our way to the official, unofficial start at London Fields. (I was very happy that Geoff was riding as I have completed many long distant rides with him and his company has been invaluable on all the previous Dunwich Dynamo ride I have participated in).
We arrived at London Fields in good time and there were already a mass of cyclists on all sorts of bicycles ready to embark on an overnight odyssey. Naturally we had to take several photographs of us and our bicycles and once fed up of doing this we set off into a fairly warm night.
The initial progress was painfully slow - as it always seems to be - but with lots of conversation and catching up to do the boredom of stopping and starting was eradicated.
By the time we reached the outskirts of Epping the sun was setting and made for some beautiful views. It was about this time that I saw the always smiling and every stylish Zoom Zoom glide by on his road bike. It was lovely to see him and say hello. He rode with us for a couple of miles before heading off into the distance, effortlessly.
As soon as I decided I was attending this years Dun Run I made the conscious effort to try and buy some lights that would adorn my bike. My efforts involved the purchase of a string of orange light that glowed and flashed in the dark. I was rather proud of it, especially as it only cost £2.98 from eBay. Mark had done the same but gone for green to match the colour of his bike and as he spent a little more the results were much better. Graham - who we saw at various points on the ride - had decorated his big wheeled bike with a truly impressive set of lights that rendered his bike almost Las Vegas in its brightness and ability to impress!
Lots of pubs and pop-up stalls selling food and drink were dotted along the route. We stopped whenever we felt we needed to. Sometimes this was to top up fluids. Other times it was for food.
Of course the initial group of riders started to thin out a little but I was rather dismayed that Geoff was nowhere to be seen for several miles. It seems that he was riding with and keeping company with a slower rider. Thankfully, Geoff was to catch us up which brought equilibrium back to the ride.
Unknown to me Mark spotted that my front Dynamo light was hanging which meant that the metal clip holding it in place had snapped and sheared off...again. With some electrical tape borrowed from James I simply tapped it to the front mudguard and carried on.
With dawn approaching we pressed on. This time of the morning on a night ride is perhaps one of the reasons many people love overnight rides. It seemed as though every type of British countryside bird was singing out competing for our attention.
With a few more miles to go we took advantage of our last food/drink stop at what appeared to be a farmhouse that had set up shop especially for this event.
Pressing on we saw lots of riders coming the other way. Many of these would be riding back! With a increasing amount of sand visible on the road Dunwich came upon us quite suddenly and with just over 111 miles we had done it.
Mark, Geoff and perhaps one of two of the others went for a quick dip in the sea. I stayed with the bikes and took some more photos of my bike.
Saying our goodbyes to those who were on a different train we headed off for Darsham Station some five and half miles away. Reaching the station we took the train to Ipswich which then took us to Liverpool Street. On this train we had to sit in our reserved positions and despite sitting next to Geoff, neither of us said a great deal as we drifted in and out of sleep. At Liverpool Street we said our goodbyes before heading our own separate ways.
Would I do it again? As always I enjoyed the ride but the getting home - although train was much better - is still an issue. I would like to do this ride on big wheels but the prospect of returning home via coach means it will almost certainly never happen. If I could return home by train? Maybe.
Many thanks to all my fellow riders.