My Dunwich Dynamo experience

Last weekend along with 1,500 other people I did the Dunwich Dynamo, a 120-mile overnight bike ride from London to the Suffolk coast. The day before the dun run I was really scared, I may have even shed a wee tear of fear. We had been planning the trip for some time but worrying about laming out and fear of some unforseen mishap if I did decide to do it really hit me. What I had failed to ingest reading every account of the ride I could possibly find, is that it’s mostly downhill. Downhill! AIl in all it was tough, but all in all it was a lot easier than I thought it would be and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

We set off from London Fields, following hundreds of cyclists as they made their way east to Essex. This part was quite fun, drivers rolled down their windows and asked us how far we were cycling and someone’s mum came out at Dagenham to cheer on her son. Once in deepest Essex we’d heard it was full off drunken idiots yelling outside pubs, it wasn’t too bad but a poor man got pushed into a pothole by some lairy guys and was pretty badly shaken up. We stayed with him until an ambulance came, hope you are healing up Steve. ETA: Not only does the poor guy fall off his bike but I get his name wrong… Sorry Tom!

As we had a bike mechanic and a total bike geek in our gang we stopped a fair few times to help people out, so it ended up taking us a lot longer to get to Dunwich than we thought. Also, this was the first time we’d cycled together and everyone has a different pace and need for rest. We didn’t make it until 11, when we’d already been passing the hardcore crew who cycle home since 6am. Towards the end of the journey I greeted every cyclist I crossed with a slightly pursed-lip embarrassed smile.

This is a breakdown of what ran through my head over the 16 hours it took us to get to the Suffolk coast, if anyone ever wants to swap brains give me a call.

The first stop is a pub stop, hooray!

Keeping up momentum for the night was a fairly simple process of eating constantly, you don’t get hungry, you just start to feel like ‘I hate life, this is rubbish and I want to throw my bike in a ditch and die’. As soon as I started to feel like that, I would reach around in my jersey and pull out a bit of granola. It’s really strange to have your emotions be entirely food-based. Sugar can get me hyped up, so I went down the carb route, a lot of people swear by energy gels but I think they’re withcraft and I refused to have any.

This is what I had: a really disgusting three-course meal at Pizza Express before we set out, 4 of the Dunjack bars I invented, 6 granola bars, a 9-bar, a Twix, sausage in a bun, some macaroni cheese from a pub that was handing it out, minestrone at the halfway stops, loads of nuts, half a guinness, a few swigs of Jack Daniels coffee and chip butty when we got there.

I wasn’t kitted out to the nines like a lot of people, but having a jersey with a back pocket for my camera and snacks was really handy. Having a breathable layer is a total must, you work up a sweat and you don’t want to get clammy. My Nike Free Runs were totally brilliant, I decided at the last minute to bring them and it proved a really good idea. They’re breathable and really light, they’re also really bouncy so getting off the bike and walking was made a bit less painful. Here’s some other stuff I took with me:

Cashmere jumper and hat – sounds a bit Liz Hurley, but cashmere is cosy and really breathable, so it’s perfect for something like this.
Padded shorts – they look rank, but they were a lifesaver.
Leggings – really good workn over the shorts for nighttime, obvs I took them off as soon as the sun came out for tanning exposure.
Long socks – I get sore knees and these kept my muscles warm so I didn’t strain them. They’re also easy to roll down without stopping when you get too hot.
Silk scarf – again a bit Liz Hurley, but I get sore throats from the wind (so princessy, I know) and silk is really good at regulating body temp. It also made a good hair tie and a a face cover when we off-roaded through a fly-ridden marshland later on.
MP3 player – towards the end we all had to retreat into ourselves a bit to slog through the last 40 miles. I wouldn’t have made it without music, listening to Death Grips on full blast at 5am really helped me power through.

I would also take anything that makes you feel human, for me that was a bit of make up as I can’t be without blusher, and a toothbrush and toothpaste was so good. I also packed a swimming costume for the arrival at the beach and the world’s tiniest towel.

This is a 7 year old doing the ride with his dad, what a champ. We spoke to him on the beach and apparently his dad had been feeding him sweets every ten mintues to keep him going. Good move.

I can’t really talk about the ride because it feels like a dream now, there were some bloody awful moments as well as some really great ones, but time is fast erasing the worst bits and all that remains is a glow of satisfaction and the image of the sunny Southwold countryside.

Say my name yo!
Someone get this lady a tattoo artist, stat.


After we got to Dunwich, we swam, passed out on the beach and then headed to The Ship for lots of food and a well-deserved pint. Then it was off on a whole different adventure to Southwold, taking the coastal path through marshes and country bridleways, the views were absolutely incredible, click on the bottom pic to make it bigger.

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