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'.

Update from Ross Clarke

Another quick update on Steve, he’s now been moved out of intensive care and onto the Trauma ward as of last week, which is really good, he’s now free of all monitors and equipment etc.  He’s improved massively in the last week and has even been walking around the ward (with a little help).  He’s probably got a couple more weeks in hospital but they may move him to Watford soon to be a little closer to home.  He’s still a bit mixed up and confused but his memory is getting better.

If anyone has been asking about visiting, they can now, he’s in bed 2 on the Trauma ward, take the lift to the 9th floor – its St Mary’s hospital in Paddington.  Visiting hours are 3pm to 5:45pm and 6:30pm to 7:30pm.  If anyone planning on visiting could drop me an e-mail first (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) just to make sure he hasn't been moved and there aren’t too many at once as they prefer only 2 – 3 visitors at a time.


24th May 2013: Update courtesy of Ross

Steve is improving gradually, he is still in intensive care, but is making good progress according to the doctors.  Since my last update they have stopped his sedation and pain killers and he is now fully awake.  He is still on the ventilator (through a tracheostomy) but they have been turning it off and letting him breathe on his own for a few hours longer everyday (yesterday he did 12 hours!).  They also put a valve onto the tube in his neck last weekend which allows him to speak, it was great to hear his voice – but he’s very confused and keeps forgetting things – according to the nurses its sort of like being in a dream world because of all the drugs and it will gradually wear off as they clear out of his system, apparently no one ever remembers being in intensive care.

He’s been having daily sessions with the physios, getting him out of the bed and into a chair with arm and leg exercises etc.  They keep telling us they are very impressed with the progress on his breathing for a man of his age, and put it down to his high level of fitness!.  Hopefully at some point over the weekend they will be able to switch off the ventilator totally.   It’s now been just over 3 weeks, and as it takes approximately 6 weeks for bones to heal he’s over half way through, and hopefully has the hardest part behind him.

I’m almost ok now, my eye has healed up leaving two nice scars.  The cut on my knee is still healing, the joint is still sore but I can bend it enough to turn the pedals on the rollers which has helped to loosen it up, I am hoping by next week it will be recovered enough to resume some training, so a comeback for the end of the season might be possible, having 3 weeks off has probably taken a huge chunk off my fitness.

I am down for the National 10 tomorrow but obviously giving that a miss unfortunately. Luke is down for the Hitchin Nomads F14/25 on Saturday on the same course he did last weekend.