All the way back in mid July, I decided I would take part in the Dunwich Dynamo. A 120 mile ride overnight, from Hackney, London to Dunwich on the east coast. This would be the longest ride I had ever done, and the first ever night ride I had ever done.
I got lured into doing it by a few members of Cyclechat who I spoke to regularly, and I agreed to come along with them. I booked my train tickets a few weeks before the event, and brought a lovely Carradice saddlebag to take my food in.
I was planning on sleeping until around 3pm that day, then to go to the train station for my train which was at 5pm, and sleep for another hour on the train. At 7am on the day of the ride, I was kindly informed by my father that I was needed at work, was getting paid double time, so it was all good.
Finished the day at work, contacted the people who I was meeting up in London to finalize details, then set off for the train station.
I got to the station, stood where I was meant to to load my bike, then put it in the guards van. There were 3 other DDer’s on the train, as you could tell by the amount of energy gels they had in plastic bags on their rear racks. I took my seat after locking my bike and went to sleep till I got to Kings Cross.
I arrived in London, unlocked my bike and went out of the station, looked at my map and set off. I then realised that I printed directions from the wrong part of the station where I exited, and soon got lost going up Pentonville Road which was highly congested. After about 30 minutes cycling, I got to City Farm where I was meeting Anthony and Rosie from Cyclechat which was only 3 miles from the station. Anthony was already there and I introduced myself, then shortly after Rosie arrived and introduced herself. We rode down the road to the the Pub on the Park where the meet point was, and I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of riders which were there. I think the estimated number was about 1750.
Rosie then left us to go meet up with her friend from work, and Anthony and I were left all on our own :(. We waiting for about 30 minutes till a large amount of people started leaving, then we left. Cycling through London en mass was quite a weird feeling. We took up pretty much the whole road, and got cheered on by children. We even had a little child (around 8) shout “Go on Andy Schleck, you can do it.” which was a bit of a weird moment, but I will always remember it.
I lost Ant in London somewhere, but I just followed the rest of the cyclists. We then cycled through Epping Forest, which was a lovely stretch of road. Red lights blinking in the distance, all across the road. This stretch was a lovely downhill, and I was cruising at about 35mph for about 7 miles.
I stopped at a garage to have a quick nature break, then met back up with Anthony. Pretty much nothing to talk about for the next 30 miles, then we stopped to have a quick rest and came across a couple who had a puncture. They hadn’t brought a pump or a puncture repair kit on a 120 mile ride, only a spare tube It took us 15 minutes to get the tyre off, and the woman decided it would be best to try and lever the tyre off from both sides of the rim She left us, and took a piss in the gutter about 5 yards way from us, which was disgusting. After about 30 minutes, we had fixed the puncture (with no help from him and her) and make a quick exit. I was only planning a 5 minute stop, but thanks to them it turned out to be a 35 minute stop.
We would of been making good time if it wasn’t for those two idiots. At this point I think we were averaging about 16.5 mph average rolling. We hit another downhill section, then my Magicshine mount came loose and I nearly had the Magicshine through my spokes at about 30 mph. Very worrying. We stopped and fixed that in about a minute.
We came across another stranded woman walking with her bike trying to phone her friends. She punctured aswell and claimed she was running tubular wheels, which she was not. We pumped up her front tyre, and it seemed to be still holding air, so we left her to cycle on.
We spent about 30 minutes at the half way stop, I had a little nap and Anthony went and sat on a swing and ate his tuna baguette. When we hopped back on the bikes, The saddle sore which had been developing for the past 65 odd miles had suddenly hit home. I was wearing two pairs of shorts (bad idea) so I took one pair off.
The next 10 miles or so were torture, and averaged about 14 mph. We kept taking rest stops every 10 miles or so because I was really struggling. I kept getting cramp, and on a climb at about the 90 mile stage, Anthony dropped me and said he’ll wait at the top. He didn’t, then I bonked big time. I made it to a little house on route which was selling bacon cobs, then brought one.
After the break at the little country house, I carried on and got totally lost with 5 other people. The insisted that we should retrace our steps back to the house selling the food (about 5 miles) but I got my iPhone out and tried to get back on route. I rode alone for about 10 miles trying to get back on track. I saw Rosie going the other way and knew I was heading the right way. I then saw some riders in the distance. I caught up with these. I then get separated from these with about 10 miles to go with more routing disagreements. Me and a few other riders stood around looking at my iPhone for directions, and saw this was the last stretch. We had one more turning to go then we were on the last road to the beach. We all stuck together and all pushed each other to the limit. I think for those last 5 miles I averaged 20mph. I was so happy to of been so close to the finish, that I just told my legs to shut up and carried on riding.
I met up with Anthony at the beach, and had something to eat. My train was due at 3pm at Lowestoft, 30 miles away and I had several hours to kill. The worst thing was that I was sat next to a guy who took his shirt off, and had massive man boobs. I ate the remaining of my food and then rang my mum. This was the most painful, yet best thing I had ever done. My mum told me how proud she was of me, and I fought back the tears.
I knew my Granddad was ill before I set off the morning before, and when I asked how he was doing, she refused to tell me. I knew then he had most probably passed away. I decided to bail out riding to Lowestoft and get the taxi.
The train journey back home was horrible, I didn’t know fully how my Grandad was, and I was bonked and tired. When I got back to Nottingham, my dad hugged me for the first time I was a child, and I knew it was what I thought without him actually telling me.
The Dunwich Dynamo had been the best thing I had done in my life. I had pushed myself to the limit, both physically and mentally.
I will definitely be doing Dunwich Dynamo 2012 in memory of my Granddad and will attempt to beat this years time.
A few stats for you :
Calories eaten : 4500
Amount spent on food : £12.50
Amount drank : 5.5 litires
Time Taken : 11 hours including stops.
Average speed : 14.1mph
Total mileage : 125 miles (200 km’s)