2013 Dunwich Dynamo

Report by Craig Sears-Black
Dulwich To Dunwich

Saturday 21st July progressed like many others with regular chore, DIY, ferrying children and gardening but my day ended sitting in a Suffolk pub eating a Brie filled roll and drinking espresso.

At 19:15 I left home on my bike after packing a small shoulder bag with a pair of shorts and big chunks of flapjack made by my daughter earlier in the day for my ride. The bag had been a source of much debate - what do you actually need to take for an overnight ride and the train journey home?  The saddle wedge was packed with tubes, first aid goodies and tools so I settled on a minimalist approach to save weight.

As the London Overground from West Hampstead approached Hackney Central, Graham Ricketts' warning to make sure my bike wasn't nicked started ringing in my ears but this was clearly an unnecessary comment. On leaving the train at 8:15 I immediately started to swim against a huge tide of bikes that had already left London Fields but made it to the start to experience a gathering of some 1,800 cyclists preparing for the night ahead.
The first 15 miles was completed through East and North East London streets en-masse at a very slow pace as the bubble of riders made their way north in the fading light. Once past the M25 I made my first stop at a petrol station to take on board a cheese sandwich and from that point there was a steady stream of riders in front and behind with flashing rear lights as far as the eye could see.

The event has reached such awareness and magnitude that every pub en-route catered for riders seeking sustenance and several gardens were turned into refreshment areas with hot dogs and drinks being served through the night.

My night passed surprisingly quickly; teaming up with similar paced riders of all sorts to share the work at the front but there is no denying that between the hours of 3 and 5 I did ask the question 'Why?'.

Daylight brought with it a damp chill but the pace quickened as I found an experienced 'Dun-run' rider wanting to be ahead of the breakfast queue. We made it to Dunwich beach well ahead of the masses and soon after 6:00 had a 'full English' in the Dunwich Pub that was to have a line of hungry cyclists snaking down the lane waiting to be served their breakfast by 07:00.

I had planned to ride to Saxmundham to catch the 08:45 to Ipswich but decided I would actually get an earlier train by cycling directly there. Fortunately a couple of others had decided the same and we made our way at a fairly brisk pace to catch the train to get back to Liverpool St by 11:00.

So, reflecting on the event as I returned home for Sunday lunch, it was an interesting challenge and certainly at a total distance of 240Km achieved a number of firsts for me as a novice cyclist.   It's something I would do again but it's an experience best shared with friends to take a leisurely approach as the time really doesn't matter; its the shared experience of cycling through the night for no reason whatsoever other than 'because you can'.