Overnight on 28/29 July 2018 — return coach tickets
Since 1999 Southwark Cyclists have organised the main convoy to bring cyclists and their bikes back to London.This is the nineteenth trucking year. Our ninth without Barry Mason whose words have been adapted and updated here.
Can I start by reminding folk that ….
“While we take every care with your cycle we cannot accept responsibility for any damage that may occur in transit.”
How many people ride it?
230 riders in 2003. Numbers have increased since, may be 3000 in 2017 – we move 1,000 of those.
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, 28th July 2018. 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 leave 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 27/7/2018 this year – see www.moongiant.com/fullmoons/2018/.
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 who’s can. It can be dark out there, unnerving in the gravely 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 train station.
The Dunwich Dynamo is under the London Cycling Campaign’s £5m public liability (third party) insurance cover and if you are a member you are covered. If you are not please consider joining as this will give you third party cover. You may have other insurance to cover you for personal accident etc.
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 Inn likewise. More and more pop-up cafes along the route this year, follow our Twitter feed as we reveal where they are.
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.
We’re openly biased. We recommend the coaches for the snooze home, and the wagons for your bikes. It’s Hamiltons Removals’ most interesting job of the year! We put the bikes in their vehicles with their professional packers. Tandems and recumbents fit easily.
That said; whilst we will take every care with bicycles brought back to London, you and your bicycle remain your responsibility. If you’re worried about your pristine paint job then bring a wrapping sheet or blanket or similar, but we tell the firm to bring lots of cardboard and try to get all the pedals pointing in the same direction.
Tickets are now on sale; see the top of this page.
We’ve always sold out tickets, and there have always been some riders who have been disappointed in missing out on a seat, so for 2018 there will a reserve list once we have sold out.
It follows there will be the facility to cancel your ticket and make it available to the reserve list. If you cancel your ticket up until 14 days before the ride, and it is resold, we will refund the cost of an earlybird ticket less 5%
If you can’t make it and want to transfer your seat to someone else, you can do so by logging back into the site you booked on – see instructions from when you booked.
There is a transfer fee of £5, to be paid by the new registrant. No refunds will be made until your seat has been resold.
Transport back tickets are £25 if paid for on or before midnight on 31 May or earlier if sold out, £45 from 1 June or earlier if sold out, and £45 on the day IF space is still available.
We have often had to close online booking earlier due to all seats being sold, so don’t leave it to the last minute to book your return transport.
AND PLEASE BRING A PRINT OF YOUR BOOKING ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AS YOUR “TICKET”
After the ride is over
Take your time on the beach or head straight home as you wish. With an earlier start we hope that we can get those who wish home sooner and move more of you, avoiding a ride to Ipswich. The later convoys are for those who want to swim, eat, sleep, relax, and quite rightly slow down and savour the moment, not rush.
This year we load from 8am for a 9am first departure, last departure 13.30.
Return to Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.
Important: We close online bookings around noon on Wednesday 25 July 2018 (or sooner) to make sure the lists we use for loading are complete. We can’t afford to make a loss so we base the earlybird coaches/trucks ticket price on a cost-covering not-for-profit basis, transparent books.
Late booking is more expensive so as to encourage early booking and easier estimating of numbers. It’s difficult and extremely expensive to get more capacity at the last minute.
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.
People leave belongings on the coaches … jackets, cameras, bungee cords. All usually reunited later but its avoidable tiresome hassle – and at base YOUR responsibility.
We are good!
Logistic wizardry said the Guardian.
We moved 1000 people and their bikes back last year and this year we will have capacity to bring back about the same.
Helpers to unload the bikes will be waiting at the London end for us. Once back, some of us then find a pub.
How do I book a coach place?
Use the options at the top of this page. Print off your acknowledgement (it is the only acknowledgement you will get) and present it when loading at Dunwich Beach.
Can I buy coach-back tickets at the start?
No! Only at the beach end if any.
However – partly depending on the weather – there may be some no-shows on the night. We will be at Dunwich with a Q&A point from 7am on Sunday, possibly sooner, so if you are chancing it make sure you have cash. If you lose your ticket overnight, it is at this meeting point you come, to try to convince us.
The nearest station is in fact Darsham, four miles back along the route from Dunwich. Capacity is limited here although because there were bikes all over the two-coach train two 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 3am 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 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.
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.
Carbo-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).