Ouch. I’m still a bit sore.
The Dunwich Dynamo, sort of organised by both the CTC and Southwark Cyclists (though, knowing the intricate political systems and relationships between the warring factions of bikes and those who ride them, I’ve probably fucked that right up) is an annual ride to the coast. From London to Dunwich. Overnight.
I’ve done it once before, this time I took more than 1 gear. And what I thought would be enough food. 4 Mule bars, 3 gels, 2 ham and cheese croissants.
I met the people I would be riding with in Brixton and headed out to the hipster badlands of London Fields.
Fortunately Sam J took a hit for the team and bagged all the punctures for the evening, collecting one in Lambeth and one in Tower Hamlets. After an inspection of the tyre, Sam made a decision to swerve the Dynamo for fear of more of the same.
We pushed on, showing extreme navigation skills that would stay with us throughout the ride, and eventually managed to meet up with the rest of our grupetto.
The Dynamo is not a race, not a sportive, and is really a run/potter to the beach at Dunwich. It heads up and out of London via Epping Forest. Which is always hairy, and becomes crazy at pub o’clock, with cars whipping down the road. At night, with people keen to move from one amazing night venue to another, there’s a definite feeling of unease.
High powered cars end up crossing the central white line and speeding past line upon line of blinking red lights. From the more gentle pulsations to the full on eye watering blasts from red LEDs.
Once through and off and away from the main roads, the mood changes. Usually night riding puts me in a beautiful space, appreciative of where I am in the world and all the things that are right with my life. It was really busy last night. Probably about 2000 people according to some people. This long line of slower moving lights became an obstacle to get past to reach the mindstate I wanted. Unfortunately, there were always more lines in front of me. So rather than slowing down and enjoying the ride, I was pushing on. Well. As much as I can.
We missed the first pub, deliberately as it was too busy, found a quieter one. Stopped for a beer after 32 km. Then off we went again. And it was here that something changed, or I might be remembering it wrong. My bike felt really good, I felt really good, and just kept pushing. Eventually there were 3 of us. Then they dropped me.
I made the mental calkilation and prepared myself to carry on riding to the coast by myself, or until I got caught up by the rest of our group. Fortunately, roadworks meant the ride stopped. And everyone got off and walked their bikes up and over a wooden bridge and regrouped. Thankfully, I caught up with the two ahead and we sat down waiting for the rest of our group. We must have been there nearly an hour, and in that time nobody investigated the possibility of ignoring the diversion and going through the roadworks. Until the rest of our group demonstrated their ingenuity and the possibility of ignoring the diversion.
We got back together and rode on. I still couldn’t shake the feeling in my legs and my head, so kept pushing rather than pootling. Skipping the food stop, “it’s like the evacuation of the Vietnamese embassy down there!”, the night continued (without rain!) until a final stop 60 Km from the end.
We got our water from the tent, showing typical sprinter techniques of using a line to direct us to the head of the queue and positioning ourselves at the front using other people’s energy. Yes. We jumped the queue.
Onwards! Rolling hills, flatter sections, more pushing on. At one point, it felt like there were 6-8 of us in a line pelting it through the night. Then the cloud changed, we were riding through a cloud. And the next thing I know, there’s 4 of us. And we’re following lights.
And then we get lost. Or go off the route. Anyway. Whatever. It’s getting light, a fabulous sunrise was hoped for. It wasn’t apparent. We manage to get back on route. We think there’s not too far to go. It’s 4 am. We left at 9 pm. Nobody has had a nap. It’s all a bit strange, we manage to find Dov. Who’d ridden the whole thing in 53 x 11. I don’t remember him being ahead of us.
There are four of us now, and I think we were riding for about an hour to get back to where we need to be. We’re back. We follow others. We think we’re nearly there.
We see a sign.
Dunwich “24 Km”. Great. 15 miles. We are nearly there. But it’ll be at least an hour, and it’s really rolling. Or feels like it. I remember taking a gel, and getting really off my face.
There’s definitely some gurning going on. I remember taking my last gel and getting even more off my face and spinning like mad.
The final run into the beach, we’re greeted by people cheering. That’s pleasant!
We get to the beach. It’s grey. So grey I can’t see the nuclear power station. Everyone looks weird. I start getting cold. There is nobody else from our group here. We get some food and beers and a cup of tea.
It was miserable for an hour. And then we move to another area while we wait for our bus.
It’s not a tough ride, it’s only 120 miles. But there’s so many weird things with longer night riding. (Because I’m such an expert).
I really can’t get rid of the feeling of pushing hard (for me) when I’m off my tits on sugary gels. This, coupled with the way that you don’t see everyone you set off and that you all regroup, tired, emotional, and with different experiences, makes me think night riding is just a proxy for raving.
Given the tired state, the super banter at the afterpartybusride home, and the need for a beer before feeling ok, I think this is a valid comparison.
Here’s my “performance“
No pics I’m afraid.