Dunwich Dynamo tickets
Dunwich Dynamo 2011 FAQs: The essentials and coach back tickets
Dunwich Beach If you’ve read these before, please read them yet again for minor changes and darwins. If you’ve not read them before, welcome….deep breath……and careful, this ride will change your life. Dunwich Dynamo?
Simple. A turn-up-and-go challenging slightly-scary free-entry overnight on-tarmac just under 120 mile bicycle ride to the lovely lonely Suffolk sea at Dunwich. More?
It’s not a race. It’s unsupported. There’s no van following. It’s a long way for nearly all of us. There will be times when you wish you were tucked up in bed.
But you’ll love it. The adrenalin buzz, the experience, the achievement, the smiles will cling forever. For a lot of us it’s almost the highlight of our bike year. That rare and precious human collective/supportive thrill is fabulous. Unmissable. We should rule the world. Organisation?
Minimalist. Honest. Yes really. And we aim to keep it like that.
Patrick Field’s London School of Cycling has been in from the start and provides route maps and the half-way hall and food there.
For the past few years Southwark Cyclists have organised the convoy back. This is the twelfth trucking year. Time flies. How many people ride it?
Around 1500 in 2010 in perfect weather – the most so far. Say 1,000 in 2009. Ok weather. 550 in 2008. A wet at the start 450 in 2007 – the weather forecast was truly horrible and it rained hard all night long. We came out of the half way stop into yet more rain. 700 in 2006. In 2005 around 550 did the ride. 430 in 2004. 230 in 2003. Who does it?
Brompton A few semi-pro cyclists, more road bikes every year, more and more littlefixies, a whole fleet of low-life recumbents, several Bromptons, some tandems, a penny-farthing in 2009 year but mostly your average bike-to-workers for whom this is very very long ride. A daunting exciting challenge. How long does it take?
Most get to Dunwich between 7am and 9am the next morning……about 10 hours. Depends on your pace and number of stops. What’s it like?
It’s a friendly adventure with bike-minded people along surprisingly traffic free country roads that soon settles into bunches at various paces. People give each other the mental and, if possible, the mechanical support all the way to the sea. The glimpses of village Saturday night and the throbbing marquee in the middle of nowhere, bats, stars. The sense of very real achievement at the end is a huge lift that will stay with you. The worst bit is missing a night’s sleep. But that’s also the best bit. We ride into the sunrise.
Resonance FM’s ’Bike Show’ special 2004 Dunwich Dynamo programme is available online.
Here’s Rapha on the 2005 version
And here’s the 2008 route Bats?
We see them every year but I noticed them for the first time in 2005 … on the quiet road ahead. Serotin bats, the UK’s largest, are our only ones that sometimes land to feed. It looks like these have learnt to find moths and beetles, etc. on the tarmac. They’ve got much better radar than hedgehogs so you needn’t even try to avoid them. And no, of course they won’t go for your jugular. Probably. When?
Pub on the Park The next Dynamo, DD number 19, is on the weekend of 16/17 July 2011. Since when?
People have been riding London to Dunwich on the July Saturday nearest the full moon since 1993. Legend has it that a few half-civilised City couriers just headed east after work one balmy Friday evening…and kept going till they hit the sea. Splash. (Update … take your phone out of your pocket first). Where is Dunwich?
Map About 200km (120 miles) north east of London on the lonely Suffolk coast between Southwold and Aldeburgh right next to the internationally important Minnsmere bird reserve. The wind might push us there. Might. What is Dunwich?
A thousand years ago wool-rich Dunwich almost rivalled London. Coastal erosion means the medieval metropolis is now half a mile offshore, on a quiet night they say you can hear the watery tolling of the lost church bells. Nothing stays the same, the ride gets shorter every year. Where is the start?
Pub on the Park The ride meets at the Pub on the Park, Martello Street, London Fields, Hackney, London E8. Bikes everywhere. Bemused locals. (I’ll do a feeder ride from Greenwich that evening. Meet 6pm at Cutty Sark Gardens. The Greenwich Foot Tunnel lifts normally shut at 6pm….cross over to Island Gardens before then and wait there). What start time?
8pm for a 9pm start. That’s PM. Saturday evening. 16 July 2011. 197 days of 2011 gone, 168 left. Careful, that start time isn’t precise, people start to leave when they feel like it after 8pm. A sort of momentum develops like those bats from a cave, and suddenly it’s gone. Some leave much earlier and most can’t see the point of that. It’s not a race so what is the point? Be careful out there…
Be very aware that the first few kilometres follow very inner-city streets that were never a problem until 2005 when a lateish starter in a group of three got his bike taken from him by a few youths. Look out for each other and maybe leave your alone moments for the greener bits later. And, tragically, in 2006 in the village of North Weald, a stupidly driven van came round the corner on the wrong side of the road and killed well-equipped rider Andrew Rawlings, and injured another. The van driver has been prosecuted. Andrew’s family asked not to be contacted and no memorial or event for him was or is planned on the night. But our thoughts stay with him and his family. In 2008 a rider got hit by a can thrown by some young drunks from a front garden. When I phoned that in when I heard days later, the Essex policeman who took the call had been on the ride and loved it. House in question got visited. Another reason for always reporting yobbery. How do I follow the route? OS map You’ll be offered a route sheet at the start (suggested minimum £1 donation to help cover some costs) but the route is unsigned. The OS Travel Map – Road map East Midlands and East Anglia Including London covers the whole route. ISBN 978-0319230916. From around £2 plus delivery from amazon. (Southwark Cyclists will get commission if you use the use the link on the left.) Hackney fairies will try and put some night-light jamjar lanterns out along part of the way. And follow the flashing red-lights ahead. That memory will linger.
What’s the route like?
It leaves London surprisingly quickly and slightly confusingly, is all on tarmac, and once through naughtyboy-racer bouncer-guarded road-pub Epping Forest, it’s mostly unlit county lanes all the way with a few villages and small towns. Moreton, Leaden Roding, Great Dunmow, Great Bardfield, Finchingfield, Castle Headingham, Sudbury, Great Waldingfield, Needham Market, Framlingham, Rendham, Darsham, Westleton … Topography/Contours/Nasty bits?
A few short sharp hills and more steady climbs, nothing very serious, but mostly very flat. Tarmac throughout. What do I need?
Lights. The clear sky requested, Friday’s full moon, and lots of stars out there make it surprisingly undark. If you use little city lights you’ll sometimes want to tuck in behind someone with a beam… it can be dark out there, unnerving in the gravely tree tunnels. Bring a pump, a spare inner tube or two. Any stops?
Halfway stop Around 55 miles out the village hall at Sible Hedingham will be specially opened by lovely people and you can buy hot drinks and good basic food there. Best avoid the siren call of the open pubs. Unless of course you need coffee/loo. The few all-night garages can be handy. Moths to a flame. Note this carefully please: this is a turn up and go ride and we intend to keep it that way. We’ve no way then of knowing how many people will want feeding here in the early hours. We can’t of course afford to get food in and then not sell it. We’ll aim to feed 500 people then, the big majority of riders. But no more. Please make sure then you bring something to eat with you anyway, but especially in case there’s nothing left. There will be queues. And they’ve laid a new floor, please don’t dent it with cleats or stilettos.
And last year I was really shocked when coming out of the village hall … so much litter dropped by non-thinkers. Our lovely food people spent an extra few hours cleaning it all up and that wasn’t fair on them. Please respect your planet and use the bins. What happens if my bike or I break down?
There’s no following magic bus to sweep you up or mend your bike but fellow riders can often work wonders. The ride is unsupported. You are on your own. If you’re in trouble, expect help from fellow riders. But if you just get too tired or a knee gives out or whatever, then you’ll have to find a lift or cab to get you to the nearest station. Small print
Skip this. The Dunwich Dynamo is under the London Cycling Campaign’s £5m public liability insurance cover via borough group Southwark Cyclists who help organise the event. What happens at the finish? Dunwich Beach
Dunwich Beach. The steep shingle beach makes for great cleansing wake-up swimming. Good that 2008’s mass of jellyfish waiting for us were non-stinging. (I take a change of clothes and then, squeaky clean with a salt-caked hair-cut, get accused of not doing the ride. Shocking). Breakfast
The very good Flora beach cafe opens specially for us at 6am (some get in sooner, don’t bank on it) for cooked breakfasts, and turns back into a fish and chip shop for lunch. Most then snooze on the shingle a little, some then have a beer or two. The pub opens at 12 noon. How to get home?
A few seasoned riders just turn round and spin back to London. Most get the coach or train. Some just cycle up the coast for a long weekend. Train?
The nearest station is Darsham, four miles back along the route from Dunwich. The first train of the day is at 8.45am (this was correct on 21 April as I update this but check yourself) then every two hours……change Ipswich, arrive Liverpool Street 11.02am. The single fare from Darsham to London Liverpool Street is £34 on the day, from £6 in advance. You can book from mid May in advance via www.thetrainline.com, delivery is free, and Southwark Cyclists will get commission if you book with thetrainline using this link. Ipswich station is 30 miles away and has 3 trains an hour. Journey time of about 75 minutes, £31 on the day. There’s no warning of engineering works yet but Sunday is the favourite day for them and coached sections that might have no room for bikes. Check National Rail Enquiries for engineering work notices nearer the time, enter your journey and click ’check for updates’. And careful … that Darsham train is only allowed to take 4 bikes. If the Guard obeys the rules you might have to wait and wait. And some are now riding to the station before Darsham to ensure they get on. If there’s bikes on the train before you are your reservation won’t help a bit. You’re platform fodder. Coach? loading We’re very biased. We recommend the coaches for the snooze home. That company’s biggest job of the year. We put the bikes in furniture vans with their professional packers. Tandems and recumbents fit easily. If you’re worried about your pristine paint job then bring a wrapping sheet or blanket or similar but we’ the firm to bring lots of cardboard etc. We work the coaches/lorries on a cost-covering not-for-profit basis, transparent books. Any surplus gets split between the London School of Cycling and Southwark Cyclists to help pay for the glow-lights, the food and general expenses. If a loss develops, I’m in trouble. Hugely important note: Sorry…no refunds since that would make organising all impossible. The vans load from 11am and the convoy leaves Dunwich Beach at 1pm, getting to West Smithfield, London EC1 (Smithfield Market) about 3 hours later. dUnloading And sorry, no, we can’t add in extra stops. And the arrival of the huge furniture vans then convoy of 6 or 7 big coaches in that tiny village is a wonderous sight, and always a huge relief to me. (Ask me about the black cab story…but on the ride not by email) (Note … that 11am loading start was new for 2006 to ensure a 1pm coaches departure. We left on time ever since except 2009 when the lorry firm mistakenly arrived with one that was too small … had to get an extra … delayed us an hour. Logistic wizardry said the Guardian). We moved a record 720 people and their bikes back last year. Once back, some of us then find a pub. Optional extra. Coach tickets are £14 if paid for on or before 31 May. And £27 from 1 June and on the day. (Early booking then costs the same since 2006. Late booking has gone up £1 since last year to cover the increased fuel costs. Late booking is more expensive to encourage early booking and easier estimating of numbers. It’s difficult and very expensive to get more capacity at the last minute). Early booking is advised … seat numbers are of course limited. We try to ensure there’s room for all who turn up, but cannot promise that. Some ask that the coaches leave much earlier. No. The convoy is for those who want to swim, eat, snooze, relax, and quite rightly slow down and savour the moment, not rush. Hence the leisurely timetable. People leave stuff on the coaches … jackets, cameras, bungey cords. All usually reunited later but it’s avoidable tiresome hastle. We and the drivers check the coaches before they head home but please look after your stuff.
How do I book a coach place?
Barry’s office Here and now via Paypal. You don’t need a Paypal account though. Most debit/credit cards will do nicely. You’ll get the immediate Paypal acknowledgement and soon after I’ll send you a note saying please pick up your ticket from our little office outside the Pub on the Park from 7pm on the night. You really need that ticket to get you on the coach back. Numbers
Can I buy coach-back tickets at the start?
Be nice. Be considerate. And, very seriously, we got sensible complaints from nice local people after the 2004 ride. Our first such. We got more complaints after the 2007 ride. Please please remember that we’re riding through villages. People will be asleep. Do stay quiet in the villages and don’t chat loudly under bedroom windows at 3am in the morning or at any other hour. Thanks. My Survival tips:
Do some longish rides beforehand … Southwark and Greenwich and Lewisham Cyclists do a lot: see Rides and Events on our website Don’t overdo the alcohol, etc for a few days beforehand Pack spare layers of clothes, it can be very warm or chilly or damp or wet Money. Always handy Phone: yes Jeans have lumpy under-seams that you don’t notice for a few miles. Then you notice. Tools: at least a pump and a couple of spare inner tubes. Tyre levers too Make sure your bike is in good nick. Give it a good clean and service a few days before. On the day, give it another look and, for example, flip it over and check the tyres for those infiltrating little sharp bits. If you’ve been thinking about getting new tyres, splash out before the ride Lights: you’ll need them. LEDs can last all night, but bring spare batteries anyway, tuck in behind someone with a beam for those tree-tunnel lane stretches Saddle? Apply Vaseline, cream or similar if/before your bits get sore. Recumbent riders, they boast, needn’t bother Carbo-loading works for me: a huge pasta meal the night before. A friend of mine swears by cutting out caffeine for a few days beforehand so that the 3am halfway coffee really jolts Drink water before you get thirsty, snack and nibble before you get hungry. That way you’ll avoid hitting the spirit-draining brick wall of no energy Don’t sprint off with the skinny greyhounds unless you are one. Settle into a group doing a pace you like. If it turns out slow, dance in the pedals and catch a quicker group. Bit too fast? Drop off the group and wait to be caught up Swim at the end And keep looking at our website Love it
Barry 21 April 2011