Dunwich Dynamo 2023 — 1 / 2 July
Out of stock
Overnight on Saturday 1 / Sunday 2 July 2023 — return coach tickets
Since 1999 Southwark Cyclists have organised the main convoy to bring cyclists and their bikes back to London.
What are you selling?
We’re not selling tickets for the Dunwich Dynamo itself.
The Dunwich Dynamo is not an organised ride, everyone taking part does so independently and completely at their own risk. Please consider taking out appropriate insurance to cover yourself and your bike.
If you join The London Cycling Campaign, membership will include third-party liability insurance. It will not include cover for personal injury, bike theft or damage, or for damage to your bike in transit. Southwark Cyclists is a local group of the London Cycling Campaign and membership also helps our campaigning for safe cycling across London.
So what are you selling then?
We’re selling transport for you and your bike back to London from Dunwich.
How do I get on your transport?
Step one: buy a ticket. Link at the top of this page.
Ok, I’ve got my ticket; now what?
Step two: ride your bike to Dunwich. Then come and see us at the beach. We’ll set up our gazebo somewhere near the Flora Tea Rooms at the beach car park, and open up about 7am. Show us your barcode (it’s in the email we sent you when you bought your ticket) and we’ll give you a paper ticket that gets you on a specific coach and your bike on a lorry. Take your bike to the lorries and we’ll help you get it on the right one, then you can relax until it’s time to go. Get to your coach half an hour before it’s due to leave so we can leave promptly (it takes longer than you’d think) and away you go.
If you’re in a hurry to get on the first bus, then queue up, get your ticket and then think about breakfast and swimming. If you’re feeling a bit more relaxed, you can get breakfast, go for a swim, have a little snooze and then come and see us. Make sure you arrive at least 45 minutes before the last coach. Sounds like a long time, but we need to get packed up and on that coach ourselves.
When will we leave? When will I get home?
We’re still finalising the coach schedule, but we’re expecting to load the first convoy from 8am and depart at 9am for those who want to hurry home, followed by others mid-morning and a final departure at lunchtime, for those who want to swim, eat, sleep, relax, and quite rightly slow down and savour the moment.
It normally takes about three hours from leaving the beach to arrriving at the dropoff point in London.
Where will you drop me off?
We’ll return you to Bolina Road, near Millwall Football Ground, where our friends Lewisham Cyclists will reunite you with your bike and send you on your way. It’s close to South Bermondsey station, and handy for Cycleway 10.
You’ll keep my bike safe, right?
Well, I’m required to tell you that “while we take every care with your cycle we cannot accept responsibility for any damage that may occur in transit.”
That said we will take every care with bicycles brought back to London, but you and your bicycle remain your responsibility.
If you’re worried about your pristine paint job then bring a bubble wrap or similar, but we tell the firm to bring lots of cardboard and try to get all the pedals pointing in the same direction.
If you have a pristine paint job and perhaps expensive carbon frame or whatever you may be better putting your bicycle in one of the coach holds than in the back of one of the trucks. However do bear in mind that bicycles slide around inside the coach holds and so some protection is still needed, especially to the bits of the bike touching the floor of the coach hold when the bike is lying horizontally.
Remove the lights and bags from your bike if you can. If you can get them off without a screwdriver, then they can get pried off by the bike next to them. We’ve always got a collection of lights when we’ve got all the bikes off the lorry, and while we usually reunite them with their owners, it’s a hassle for everyone, so bring yours on the coach.
The Dog ate my ticket!
Your dog eats emails? If you find yourself at Dunwich without the ticket you definitely bought, come and see us anyway. We’ll ask you some questions about your ticket, you’ll convince us that you’ve paid for it, and we’ll get you on a coach.
Do I have to buy my ticket in advance?
Not if you’re feeling lucky. There are often last-minute cancellations and no-shows, so if we’ve got spare places then we’ll sell walk-up (ride-up?) tickets on the beach for the same price as advance tickets. But no promises.
We don’t sell tickets at the start of the ride — anyone who could sell you a ticket is probably already in Dunwich by then.
Are you good at this?
Well, the Guardian called it ‘Logistic wizardry’.
Do you make a huge profit off this?
We usually end up with a small surplus, which goes back into our campaign to make London a place where a child and their grandparent can cycle to any destination, easily and safely.
Money from the route sheets goes to the London School of Cycling (LSC) who check the route and provide the glow-worm signage. If a loss develops, we’re in trouble.
What about the ride itself?
The DD has been running since at least the early nineties, and Southwark Cyclists have been organising transport since 1999. That was kicked off by Barry Mason and this, apart from some updates because it’s 2023, is more or less how he described it:
How many people ride it?
230 riders in 2003. Numbers have increased since, about 3000 in 2019, and we moved 1,000 of those. Post-pandemic, numbers are still going up, but they’ve got a little way to go.
A route-sheet will be available at the start. Never assume anyone else knows the way.
We see them every year but noticed them for the first time in 2005…on the quiet road ahead. Serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus), 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.
Where is Dunwich?
About 200km (120 miles) north east of London on the lonely Suffolk coast between Southwold and Aldeburgh, right next to the internationally important Minsmere bird reserve.
What is Dunwich?
A thousand years ago wool-rich Dunwich was as big as London. Coastal erosion means the medieval metropolis is now half a mile offshore. On a quiet night it’s said you can hear the watery tolling of lost church bells. Nothing stays the same; this ride gets shorter every year.
Where is the start?
The ride meets on London Fields by the Pub on the Park, Martello Street, Hackney, E8.
There may be feeder rides — watch Facebook etc. — especially www.facebook.com/groups/DunwichDynamo/
What start time?
Be at the Pub on the Park by 8pm for a 9pm start. That’s PM. Saturday evening, 1st July 2023. There’s no mass start time; people start to leave when they feel like it after 8pm. A sort of momentum develops like those bats from a cave. Some leave much earlier and most can’t see the point of that. It’s not a race so why rush? If you want to ride faster leave later to avoid shivering on the beach.
Be careful out there…
The first few kilometres are on inner-city streets, so take care and look after each other and save solitary moments for the greener bits further on.
How do I follow the route?
You’ll be offered a route-sheet at the start but the route is unsigned.
There may be night-lights to Sudbury. You can follow the red-lights ahead — a memory that will linger — but don’t assume they all know where they’re going.
What’s the route like?
It leaves London on the Lea Bridge Road and Woodford New Road, it’s all on tarmac. Once through Epping Forest it’s a mix of unlit country lanes and winding B roads. Villages and small towns include Moreton, Leaden Roding, Great Dunmow, Great Bardfield, Finchingfield, Castle Headingham, Sudbury, Great Waldingfield, Needham Market, Framlingham, Peasenhall, Darsham, Westleton …
Rolling through Essex, across the flat Suffolk Prairies, there are some short short sharp hills in the last 40k getting smaller as the Lost City approaches.
What do I need?
Lights. The clear sky requested. Lots of stars out there and the near full moon make it surprisingly undark – full moon 3 July this year.
Your city tail-light will do the job but if your head-lamp can’t shine a beam on dark lanes you’ll need to keep up with someone whose can. It can be dark out there, unnerving in the gravelly tree tunnels. Bring a pump, a spare inner-tube or two (and associated tools), and spare batteries if you might need them.
Also see survival tips below
Look out for pop-up stops. More and more open each year.
Carry food and water to avoid queues or disappointment at sold-out late night eateries.
Litter and noise
Don’t drop litter. Don’t make noise near homes in the small hours. Cycle-tourists can pass like ghosts leaving only cash to keep country pubs open for another year. If you want ambient music use headphones — go cycle-touring because it’s fun not to annoy your parents.
What happens if my bike or I break down?
The ride is unsupported, there’s no following magic bus to sweep you up or mend your bike but fellow riders often work wonders. If you’re in trouble, expect help from others but if you just get too tired or a knee gives out or whatever, then you’ll have to find a lift or cab. Sudbury has a rail station.
What happens at the finish?
Dunwich Beach. The steep shingle beach makes for a great cleansing wake-up swim.
The Flora Tea Rooms opens specially for us at 6am (it may open sooner at 4am, but don’t bank on it). The Ship at Dunwich will be open from 3am serving breakfast and beer. Everyone is welcome!
Once fed, most then snooze on the shingle a little. Some then have a beer or two.
How to get home?
A few seasoned riders just turn around and spin back to London. Most get the coach or train. Some just cycle up the coast for a long weekend.
These days Dunwich is very busy all year round, and there’s very limited parking. The beach car park at Dunwich is private and a large part will be reserved for Southwark Cyclists’ lorries and coaches. There’s no overnight parking unless pre-agreed with the car park’s owner.
We’re openly biased. Get the coach. Details above.
The nearest station is in fact Darsham, four miles back along the route from Dunwich. Capacity is limited here but as there were bikes all over the two-coach train a few years ago they have banned bikes on trains from here!! You may be able to book from Ipswich.
Check Abellio and National Rail Enquiries for engineering work notices nearer the time – enter your journey and click ‘check for updates’. Abellio are not being helpful this year either so far:-(
Be nice. Be considerate – of each other and the locals. Noise is the chief complaint made against us by local residents in towns and villages along the way.
We do not want to read, reply to and give feedback to riders about irate emails and voice messages this year. So, please use common sense and be courteous to sleeping folk when passing through and stopping off in residential areas and be as quiet as possible.
Do not chat under bedroom windows at 3 in the morning or at any other hour.
And do not under any circumstances leave litter.
This good behaviour is for the benefit of local residents as well as your fellow riders, as it will ensure the continuity of the ride in its present ungoverned, unpoliced, unticketed form, for years to come.
Our Survival tips
Do some longish rides beforehand … Southwark, Greenwich and Lewisham Cyclists do a lot: see Healthy Rides. 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.
Most jeans have lumpy under-seams that you don’t notice for a few miles. Then you notice.
Tools: at least – a pump, a small multitool, a couple of spare inner tubes, tyre levers.
Make sure your bike is in good nick. Give it a good clean, lube 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, chamois cream or similar if/before your bits get sore. Recumbent riders, they boast, needn’t bother.
Carb-loading works for most: a large pasta meal the night before. Some swear by cutting out caffeine for a few days beforehand so that the 3am halfway coffee really j o l t s.
Drink water before you get thirsty, snack and nibble before you get hungry. That way you’ll avoid hitting the spirit-draining brick wall (or bonk) 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 (a change of pants is a good idea).