Cycle 120 miles from London to Suffolk overnight.
At first it sounded like an awesome idea, then, once I’d agreed and thought about it some more, it sounded faintly ridiculous and almost impossible.
I guess I found it pretty hard to form an opinion on taking on challenge like this, considering that I’d never even cycled half this distance, and I can’t recall ever having stayed up all night. Let alone combining both activities into one ride, with no support to come and pick you up, should your bike, or your body, decide to give up on you.
In the end our bikes gave up on us before we’d even started but this didn’t seem to hamper our progress too much.
The Dunwich Dynamo is in its 20th year. Legend has it the ride was inaugurated by a group of bike couriers who wanted to see the sea. Abandoning their empty pint glasses in Hackney, they pedalled until Suffolk.
The ride has grown year on year, and there were some estimations flying round of over 2000 cyclists taking part this time round.
You get a kind of route map, but we couldn’t really be bothered to look at it, and just followed other people, we would evaluate if they looked more pro than us – inevitably yes. [Exhibit A: I was cycling in my swimming trunks...] And then head in that direction.
My bike had been giving me a bit of trouble for the first 60 miles, Hills felt like belligerent mountains, punishing me for some kind of horrible crime my knees committed when I was a child. Fortunately when we hit Sudbury there was an amazing free cycle repair stand. Their mechanic spied my wheel grinding against my frame, acting like a permanent giant metal brake. He fixed it - my new hero. I wanted to pop him in the mange tout crate balanced on the back of my bike and take him with me, but he had other bikes to fix! I must give a massive shout out to Torque Bikes of Sudbury. If you are in the Sudbury area you should go there! http://www.torquebikes.co.uk/
The next 60 miles seemed like a breeze compared to the first 60 miles; there’s probably some sort of metaphor about life there, but I’m not quite sure what. I would definitely recommend bringing a fully working bicycle if you do want to try this event; it makes it more fun.
There's something cool about experiencing all of the different light conditions in one go. Starting in sunny evening London, through the dusky blue light of nightfall. The Twinkling stars, under a watchful Moon guiding you through deep dark countryside, followed by rich breaking sunrise, and glorious blue skies of the perfect, all too rare, summer morning.
I’d say it was doable for anyone who cycles to work regularly and has a sense of adventure. It was a broad church. Mario and Luigi on a tandem. A bike crew who looked on their way to the Olympics [Team Dulwich] a bike crew who seemed to be most concerned with stopping in every pub [Team Barnes]. The main uniting feature was the love of adventure, and doing something different.
I took some random photos along the way with my new GoPro camera, I’ve been obsessed with their amazing marketing video. Honestly watch it, you will not be disappointed.
I now constantly have this soundtrack in my head. Throughout the whole cycle it was there humming around my brain, making my every move seem epic, I unwrap my second Walnut Bread and Jarlsberg sandwich, Boom I’m a legend, it’s business time.
There were lots of nice people, the weather was amazing and jumping in the sea with beaming sunshine was wicked. Maybe if the weather wasn’t so good then it could be kind of annoying, but I know I’ll be doing this again. I'd honestly say it's one of the best things I've ever done*.
Other things I learned
My Cycle Bro Jess and I realised we knew lots of Eminem lyrics from the second album.
Props to everyone who opened up their front gardens to make coffee – you are heroes, The coffee I had at 50 miles was almost as good as the bike repair at 60.
If you know of any other cool or crazy rides, let me know as this has definitely given me the taste!
*some other things I've done include - Nigel Winterburn's Soccer School, seen Sisqo live, failed a job interview at a McDonald's**
** it was much better than all of these things