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Dunwich Dynamo

§ Mountain biking

I’m tired; stiff and tired. Over Saturday night and into Sunday morning, I joined friends Catherine and Peter on the Dunwich Dynamo, a 120 mile night ride from Hackney to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. It was to be the longest ride any of us had cycled in one day.

We met about 300 other cyclists at 9pm by the Pub in the Park on the edge of London Fields in Hackney and set off into the evening. We were out of London surprisingly quickly and once through Epping Forest, the route took us along quiet country roads through pretty English villages. After about 35 miles the we found ourselves in a sizeable pack of riders who whisked us along at brisk pace, all the way to our half-way ‘lunchtime’ stop at 2.30am in Great Waldingfield village hall. We rested for an hour or so, recharging energy levels with spicy beans & rice and bananas, and headed back into the night.

By now the packs of riders were pretty fragmented so we did not have the luxury of a peleton in the second leg of our journey. We were joined briefly by a recumbent rider whose dynamo had failed and made use of our lights through the narrow lanes, and we chatted about the benefits of cycling in an arm chair (no sore arse for one). Every now and then a copper coloured full moon appeared and villages became less frequent. At about 4.45 the sky started to brighten but alas the cloud cover denied us a sunrise – it was still a boost though because it meant we were nearing our destination. Finally the sign we were hoping for: Dunwich 7 miles! The countryside turned sandy and barren and we knew that beach was just over the next rise. We swooped down through Dunwich village and suddenly there we were: in the car park by the beach surrounded by masses of other bikes. It was 7.15 am and time for breakfast!

Bikes and cyclist littering the beach at Dunwich

The Flora tearoom by the beach had opened early especially for us (and the business that 300 hungry bikers would bring, no doubt) and served a cracking full English. The cafe was nice and warm too, which was fortunate because it was bitterly cold outside – the hot sunshine we’d been promised did not appear until 1pm, coinciding with the arrival of the coaches and a removal lorry to take the riders and our bikes back to London.