Dunwich Dynamo 2015

"Somewhere during the night you will hear a voice say, ‘Why am I doing this? I am never doing this again!’ Look forward to this voice. Welcome it. Laugh at it. Embrace it. Look forward to hearing it again next year. Just know that it will come and that you will ride past it and be stronger when it fades into the shadows."

Yes, it’s hard to explain why you do the Dunwich Dynamo, and even harder to explain why you go on doing it. But we (probably) will.

The day (4th July) started early for Kev and Robin who kindly took Paul’s team van (tested to ensure that it could take six bikes – three with wheels off – and six riders with minor luggage) to Dunwich and then travelled back just in time to get the racks on their cars and wives in shotgun position (thanks Wendy and Bridget!!) to take the six of us – David, Ken and Les were the others – to Cambridge station for the 17.21 pm to Liverpool St. That, of course was cancelled, so a rush to clamber with bikes onto the King’s Cross train ensued, and only three of us made it. However, while we stood in corridors and gangways uncomfortable at the blockage we were causing, Kev, Les and David caught the next one to KX and arrived refreshed from having sat down all the way, just 15 minutes after us.
The 6 mile trip from KX to London Fields was hairy, messy and quite exciting. But slow! Once there, we stumbled across a great pub, the London Fields Brewery, which enabled us to get served without queuing. London Fields park was just around the corner, with a couple of thousand bikers gathering for le grand depart organique. That is akin to a bee swarm. Some start to move and suddenly everyone is off, heading for the Suffolk coast in the hope that the people in front know the way and know what they are doing. It is an (almost) completely unorganised – but far from disorganised – ride. We were a bit late leaving said pub, so were in the trailing bunch ... or so we thought. People were, in fact, joining the throng until well after 9 pm.

Getting out of London was difficult. By the time we hit Epping and North Weald it was dark. Every time we stopped, someone fell out of a pub to ask us what TF was going on. And there were a few people, even at 2 am, standing in their drives or on their lawns clapping and shouting encouragement. One household had even put lights on their planted Christmas tree for us, and another guy had a giant cow bell. It must be quite a sight to see so many riders pass in an almost never-ending string during the small hours. We saw some interesting sights ourselves – a butcher’s bike with basket filled with something; lots of fairy lights on an assortment of bikes; a guy dressed up like Mickey Mouse, riding for Mind; a group of at least four stepper bikes (look them up); a Fleetwood Mac fan with 4MW speakers; a lady with what looked like knitting in her basket who got to Dunwich about the same time we did ....
It’s a wonderful, mad world.

We – in full club regalia – managed to stay together for the first half of the journey, regathering whenever shops and bright lights appeared. Then five out of six of us missed the official Sible Hedingham feed station. We stopped in Sudbury and got in touch with Les who was on his tod there. Then we spotted a guy with a hamburger type container walking down the street and asked him where he got it. He didn’t actually tell us, but said there was a big BBQ going on for riders at the Sudbury fire station just round the corner, so we went there to see 20 or so tables positioned in front of the garaged fire engines ... they had obviously told firestarters everywhere not to bother that evening. So, got burgers along with hundreds of other apparently starving riders. These victuals were just enough to get us to Dunwich another 50 miles away. Some of us were hoping to find a fish and chips shop still open, but the last one was in North Weald. However, there were quite a few enterprising individuals along the second half of the route who had set up field kitchens in aid of themselves or, occasionally, a charity, so plenty of opportunity to stop and take on calories.

The darkest hour is just before dawn.
And so it was, at 04.39 that the sun peeked over the horizon. By that time, it had started to get a little chilly, despite probably still around 14°C air temp. Anyway, off came the extra garments and we were back in full strip. Gels became key for the last 30 miles, and some riders actually had a bit left to give it some minor wellie over the last 7 miles or so.

After Coddenham, the villages get sparser and the last section is through heathland, which can be a bit of a drag when you’ve got bacon on your mind. However, there were so many riders this year that you were never alone – which is pretty amazing over a stretch of over 100 miles. And the sun was warming us up. Thoughts still remained fully focused on a full English, but the queue was daunting, so some went for a meagre sausage roll from the shop. No reward, that. Next time it’s going to be eggs and bacon fried on the beach. Just need to get the logistics right. Will also take a map next time as the guys in front sometimes have even less clue than we do – as Robin found out. The rest of us were lucky, and as Robin did a few miles more, we all came in not too far adrift from one another.

To finish, an honourable mention for Les and Ken who were both limping even before they started, but managed to get through it all. True grit, gentlemen!!

The trip back was started prematurely as some of us were too knackered to move. So no swim again this year. But, as mentioned, with more of an organised beach party next time, we should be able to round it off in style before snoozing in the sun.

Here’s the official route with summary:

And here’s one representative of our effort:
More photos:
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1 comment

Ken's picture

by Ken on Mon, 07/06/2015 - 21:32
Well writ young Paul. And well ridden too. Ken 'likes' :-)
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