Monday, 2 July 2012

Dunwich Dynamo is a Great Success

Well, we all survived the Dunwich Dynamo, arriving at the coast around 5.45. That meant we didn't see the sunrise over the sea but it was a beautiful dawn anyway, and crystal clear. As we had a lift waiting for us - thanks, Sian! - we didn't linger for breakfast, either, although I did have a quick paddle. I thought my feet had earned a paddle after all that pedalling!

A good tailwind made the ride seem easier than I expected although not everyone felt the same and the rest stops in the last 30 miles were very welcome for a lot of people. We stopped at the one offering bacon rolls and flapjack, plus drinks, free water ad more, about 30 miles from the finish. While John and JR enjoyed the bacon rolls I tucked into some of the best flapjack ever. I'm pretty sure that's what got me to the end feeling a lot fresher than I did on the Norwich 100 a few weeks earlier.

In over 100 miles I saw only one really stupid driver and two very foolish cyclists without any lights whatsoever. Maybe they wanted to die? I also heard about one faller but don't know if he was badly hurt. Getting out of London was slow, as expected, but there were no mishaps and I actually felt sorry for the car and van drivers who were swamped with cyclists, not all of them obeying the rules of the road. 

Once out of the city we headed towards Epping and into the Essex and then Suffolk countryside as the daylight slowly faded. The weather was dry and clear, coolish but not cold, and with a very helpful and quite strong SW wind. I was surprised to reach Dunmow at around 11pm.

John's Garmin was preloaded with the route and served us very well, apart from the minor detour to the refreshment stop at Sible Hedingham, at around midnight. Most people seemed to find it, though, judging by the crowds around the community centre! We were encouraged to support the villagers by buying refreshments but I don't think they needed our business - they were doing very well anyway - and we were carrying enough food that we could opt out of the very long queue. 

The next few hours were in darkness apart from the hundreds of cycle lights, most of which are very good these days and some of which are quite dazzling. A feint glow moved around the northern horizon as the sun prepared to rise over the Suffolk coast at 4.38 and the moon was about three-quarter size.

But the most memorable vision of all was the almost continuous stream of blinking red tail lights that lasted for most of the 114 miles to Dunwich - an amazing and memorable sight.

There were 1500 riders in 2011 and I think there were even more this year. One estimate was 2500 and I wouldn't be surprised if that was accurate.They came in all shapes and sizes, many of them 'serious' cyclists on fast road bikes but a good number on slower, older or less efficient machines, too. Most of them made it to the end. Two people joined in spontaneously when they saw the ride passing them in Epping Forest, where they'd spent the day mountain biking, and they made it as far as Needham Market, around 80 miles from London.

I'm not quite that spontaneous but I'm pretty sure I'll be back!