Dunwich Dynamo XX

It was that time of year again – the time when I meet up with a couple of thousand of my closest friends at a pub in That London and head off to a café for breakfast, just 110 miles or so up the road.

Yes that’s right: Last Saturday was the Dunwich Dynamo!

In case you didn’t know, this is a slightly organised ride from London Fields in Hackney to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast – a few miles short of Lowestoft. Oh, and it’s an overnight ride, usually held on the Saturday closest to the full moon in July, but this year a little earlier to avoid conflicting with the Olympics.

I’d stayed at Algernond’s on Friday night, so on Saturday afternoon, we drove our cars to Dunwich and left them parked up, before getting the train to London. The train was surprisingly busy – barely enough room on the train from Darsham to Ipswich (where just 15 of us got on):

… and definitely not enough room on the train from Ipswich to London – this was an intercity train, with bikes to be stored in the guard’s van, and we only just made it on.

We met up with some friends at Liverpool street, and cycled up to Von Smallhaussen’s – she’d laid on a super supper of pizza, cooked by her own fair hand.

Then it was the ride to the start at London Fields, where I bumped into Adrian Fitch – it was reading his account of the 2007 ride that led me to become a regular – this was my fifth:

The Dulwich lot were all in uniform (some even with matching booties!), while we were dressed rather more stylishly. Here’s Algernond sporting a rather smart hat and Danger Mouse T-shirt from Forbidden Planet:

And yes, there were a lot of bikes:

We set off probably a little early, at just after eight, but pretty soon realised that our group of six would have to split into pairs – the difference in pacing over just the first five or so miles was just too big.

The ride itself was perfect. Light tailwind, clear skies, and cool enough to merit a second layer, but not cold. I was riding my fixie, and the tailwind meant the 44×16 gearing was about right – 100rpm works out at just under 22mph, and for the first 60 miles or so, we managed an average speed of over 17mph. I was riding with Tall Robbie, and I think he was surprised at how well my bike was performing – especially going up the gentle rolling hills through Essex.

Naturally, I’d blinged the bike up, using the fairy lights that were bought for the 2009 ride:

and I also played with some long exposure shots to get a sense of how this ride always plays in my memory (those are my fairy lights on the left):

Around 15 miles from the end, we missed a turning. Actually we weren’t alone in this – there was a group of about 20 of us standing in the pre-dawn light, at an unfamiliar junction, scratching our heads. As we headed off a car pulled up and the driver asked Tall Robbie what on earth was going on – he’d passed cyclists heading in all directions over the last few miles. When Robbie explained, he commented that some of them were definitely not heading to the beach!

Sunrise was at just before 5am as we left Peasenhall (home of the legendary Pea Festival – talk about Suffolk rock’n’roll), and we got to the beach just before 5:30am. It’d taken us a shade over seven hours in the saddle to cover 112 miles. Not crazy fast, but not bad at all!

The Flora Cafe was its usual welcoming sight, and provided the Best Cooked Breakfast And Cup Of Tea EVER. Thank you to the owners and staff who get up in the middle of the night to lay this on. I bloody love you. 🙂

And once again, the beach looked like a tsunami had hit a ship full of bikes:

Tall Robbie and I both had the ceremonial North Sea Baptism, before drying, changing, and settling down for a few hours’ kip.

So. Will you be coming along for next year’s ride?

The Dynamo is the highlight of the year for me. It’s not a race (though you can go fast if you want), and all sorts of people do it (didn’t see a Boris bike this year though). We ride it for the glory of the sunrise, for that great cooked breakfast, for the cold of the sea, and for the most comfortable shingle bed you’ll ever sleep on.

But most of all, we ride it for the companionship:

I’ve already marked the 20th & 21st July 2013 in my diary.

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Posted in Bike Culture
2 comments on “Dunwich Dynamo XX
  1. algernond says:

    Heh. I went in the sea also. Were you sleeping st that point ?

  2. […] 2010, 2011 (don’t try this at home, kids. Tom still starts crying when I talk about it) & 2012. I’m REALLY looking forward to this year’s ride, which is on the 20th / 21st […]

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