Saturday, 4 July 2009

Dunwich Dynamo

Regular readers will know I don't mind a long bike ride... or trying things that might make you question my sanity, so when I heard about an overnight 200km ride from London to Dunwich Beach, of course I was keen. As a guardian writer puts it: "What I love most is its sheer random pointlessness."

The guardian piece does a good job of capturing the experience. For me, the wee hours of the morning were eerily magical (maybe it was the delirium brought on by exhaustion?)... Riding through the countryside in the pre-dawn darkness, following the red lights ahead of you as they seem to flutter up the next hill... you couldn't imagine a better way to spend the weekend. And then the rain started. And the muscles started to hurt. And you run out of food. And you can barely lower yourself onto the saddle anymore...

Finally you make it to the beach, and it looks like some sort of cycling Normandy - bodies and equipment strewn across the beach. Nevertheless, swimming in that cold grey water was better than a dip at Bondi on a scorching January day back home. My companion and I reheated ourselves in the nearby cafe/fish shop. Raising our cups of tea, I toasted "Well, we did it." "Yep. And never again." came the reply. Within a few days we were already talking about doing it next year.

There's a picture gallery of the ride on londonist, which completely fails to convey the feelings of exhaustion and misery that came in the early dawn light, nor the elation of finally finishing. If anyone is considering it, there's a bit more info in this post, and now that I've done it, I'd also suggest: forget the organised food stop at half-way, the queues are ridiculous. Take your own, or stop early and have a pub dinner; arrange your own transport back, whether it's a friend with a car or cycling back to the train station (a lot of people were nearly stranded in Dunwich after the coaches and vans failed to pack the bikes properly).

Finally, maps of the ride:

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