The Dunwich Dynamo
Sands Challenge #3: Dunwich Dynamo
Saturday, 20th July 2013
The Dunwich Dynamo is an annual semi-organised, through-the-night cycle ride from London Fields in Hackney, London to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast - a distance of approximately 112 miles.
The ride (usually abbreviated to "Dun Run" or "DD") takes place overnight, hence "Dynamo". It is usually scheduled to take place on the Saturday night closest to the full moon in July, partly for tradition but also because it is easier to cycle by moonlight.
The ride originated in June 1993, when a group of bicycle messengers left London for a fun ride to the coast on fixed-wheel bikes, inviting members of the public to participate. The ride has continued through the years on an unsupported 'turn up and go' basis. The route was planned by the London School of Cycling and organisation, including the transport back from Dunwich at the end of the ride, is arranged by Southwark Cyclists.
This was the third ride as part of my 2013 'Sands Challenge' to raise money for Sands - the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.
There was a decent team line-up supporting me on this ride, with local cycling friends Adam, James and Dan, and my fellow JOGLE rider, Rob.
It was a perfect evening for the ride - a balmy summer evening, with everyone in good spirits, although some unknowingly underdressed, with bikes that were under-maintained and a lack of food for a long distance ride.
It was a quick start out of London and into Essex, with the biggest danger being those drinking outside pubs on the route stumbling into the road. We managed to evade any serious encounters in the urban areas, then we were into the moonlit country lanes for a beautifully undulating ride. I remember thinking how nice the ride might have been in the daylight.
Between the hours of 2am - 4am were definitely the toughest, with the dreariness setting in coupled with the early morning fog, dew and plummeting temperatures, everyone was getting cold quick. James had nothing more than a thin t-shirt and shorts on, and was getting cold, so we all found extra layers we had to try and keep him warm.
There were no major issues for the team, only James getting a recurring puncture. His tyres were in shreds. The third time was unfortunaltey one too many, and we were all out of spares. My wife, Jen, had kindly offered to come and collect James and his bike and drop him off at the nearest train station. This meant Jen missed us crossing the finishing line.
I can’t tell you how glad I was of the lift home afterwards. I can’t thank Jen enough for getting up early to come and get us. The thought of trying to make our way home after that night, shattered and hungry, doesn’t bare thinking about.
Thanks to all the lads who cycled with me. It was a special ride with a very different set of challenges. I’ll remember it for a long time.
A Saturday Night in July, mapped by Strava
On the same day / evening as the Dunwich Dynamo, Strava happened to create a global heatmap of all athletes’ routes during that 24 hour period, depicted by the heat map above.