My first port of call was Compton Cycles. I took the bike in for them to check over the headset and a little play in the rear wheel. (There probably wasn't anything wrong with the wheel but I thought it best to get it checked). Jim at Compton Cycles took little time in giving things the once over and in less than 10 minutes I was on my way again. It is a wonderful shop.
On the way to Compton Cycles I heard from Dr John and that he might not make the dynamo as his calf was playing up and he would tell me later. Not long after he confirmed that he was not going.
The rest of the day was busy. I had some family stuff to do as well as plugging every electrical item I was taking with me on the Dynamo into various sockets so that they would all be 100%.
Eventually, the time came for me to leave home and I set off. I reached London Fields in good time and even though I was earlier that the - sort of - official start time of 20:00, there were lots of cyclists about either getting ready, waiting for friends to arrive or just starting early to avoid the crowds.
Geoff had previously said that he would be riding the Dynamo (on big wheels) and like me would be starting earlier. Firing off a message to Geoff we arranged to meet a little further out from the start point. My hope was that I would be able to ride with Geoff as far as Epping Forest (or slightly beyond). To my delight we ended up keeping each other company for the entire 112 miles.
Pressing start on my Wahoo just before the blue iron bridge (sort of official start) I headed off and met Geoff at the Lee Valley Ice Centre.
|The official, unofficial start.
It was great to see Geoff again. While I navigated via my Wahoo, Geoff was using the spoken turn by turn directions on Ride with GPS. Both worked well.
|Geoff checking the route
As we cycled it gradually got darker and darker. In the distance on the horizon the setting sun threw up oranges and reds and the overall scene was one of great beauty.
|Sunset in Essex
The miles flew by on fairly quiet roads and before we knew it 44 miles were up and we stopped at Finchingfield. A pub was selling cheeseburgers for £5 and I bought one. It didn't last long as it was pretty good and just what was needed.
At Finchingfield I saw one of the many bicycles adorned with lights. I always like seeing them but perhaps as we had set off earlier I didn't see as many as I have on previous rides.
Pressing on after being suitably refuelled we decided to forgo the stop at the Sudbury Fire Station in favour of one a few miles up the road at Needham Lake. We parked our bikes overlooking the lake but as it was still dark the only thing we could make out were some swans fighting over the best floating spots.
At Needham Market there was a stall selling sausages with onions in a bun. They were wonderful and I seriously thought about getting a second!
The 100 mile mark arrived at 03:57 a.m. and it was the first time I have passed this distance on any bicycle for some time. In fact the last time I did was perhaps the Dynamo back it 2017!
I found the next 8 - 10 miles demanding. I had to stop to take on some fuel before pressing on. The last couple of miles I had a second wind and seeing a Brompton rider in front of me brought out the childish competitive streak in me and I had to overtake him. We reached Dunwich Beach just before 05:15 a.m. We had done it.
Going over to see if I was able to get my ticket for the coach journey home I was told that they wouldn't be scanning the bar codes on our coach booking confirmations until 06:30 a.m. Luckily they started doing it a little earlier and I got my ticket just before 06:00 a.m. and I had a place on the 09:00 a.m. coach.
|I made it!!
Geoff and I parked the bikes up and Geoff sat propped up against a little old beach hut/shed. It started to get colder and I felt absolutely frozen. Geoff was much the same. This lasted for over an hour before the sun made an appearance and started to warm things up again.
Just before 08:00 a.m. I said my goodbyes to Geoff who was going to stop off at a tea rooms for breakfast before cycling onwards to Ipswich Station.
I sat down where Geoff had and waited for the time to tick by watching the growing queue and the few brave cyclists who took a dip in the North Sea.
I boarded my coach just after 08:30 a.m. put my Brompton into the luggage compartment and retired to my seat. Wheels rolled about 10 minutes after the advertised departure time and not long after that I remember very little until we stopped at Chelmsford Services for a comfort break.
Once back on the coach I drifted off again for a short while and stayed awake thereafter. Getting to our stop near Millwall football ground was slow and cumbersome due to some rather selfish parking. We got there and once off the coach I got my Brompton from the luggage area, said thanks to the driver and was off to London Bridge Station not too far away. I was home and in the shower well before 14:00 which I was pleased about.
|A VERY quiet coach journey!!
I didn't actually feel too bad the next day. Apart from feeling a little like I needed an early night the next couple of days, I was fine. I think that if I did this next year I would definitely pack a lot lighter. I packed quite a bit of food and water but I need not have. There were lots and lots of locations along the route where I could eat or top up fluids. I would also check the route on my Wahoo as I had a few differences in the official tried and tested route. In all though I enjoyed this Dynamo more than any of the others.
Thank you to Southwark Cycles and Andy who out on the coaches and got us home. Special thanks to Geoff - yet again - who allowed me to tag along. It would have been a very lonely ride without his company and I am not sure that going it alone for 112 miles would have gone down well with Mrs Orange had I not ridden with Geoff.
So, would I do it next year? I think I would have to say the chances are high.