Dunwich Dynamo

On the 12th of July at 8 pm, I set off on a 120 mile, overnight cycle journey with about 2,000 other riders, called the Dunwich Dynamo. The route took us from London Fields in Hackney, up to a small village called Dunwich, on the Suffolk coast. It was by far the longest cycle journey I had ever done non-stop (I cycled the Thames in 2008, but that was over five days). I found the experience of riding together with so many other people to be quite energising, and didn't become tired until the last 20 or so miles - by that point we were all very spread out anyway. I went with some family friends who then gave me a lift in their car back to Diss, where I caught the train home.

This took a long time.

The route was fairly flat the whole way, being an overall down-hill, although there were moments near the end where any sort of non-negative incline was a struggle. The weather was a bit iffy. Although the wind was (thankfully) behind us for virtually the entire time, it did rain a couple of times and I had to get off and put my coat on. Cycling with a coat on is very sweaty, regardless of the temperature outside.

This was my first really long cycle journey, and as such I over-prepared. I took a lycra cycling vest, padded shorts and standard trainers (I would have liked clipped cycling shoes, as they give you extra force while pedaling). I also borrowed my sister's Cannondale road bike with racing handlebars - my city bike would not have cut it, with its hub gears and non-streamlined posture.

Food-wise, I took five home-made chocolate flapjacks and six sandwiches (three peanut-butter, three salmon), of which I ate two of the former and one-and-a-half of the latter. I was surprised at how little hunger I felt for the entire journey, but I did make sure to take small bites regularly out of whatever I had in my back-pocket. It is also very important to keep hydrated, so I kept my bottle open on my frame holder and took regular sips of water. I also took some energy gels, but did not get any use out of them so cannot say whether they are any good. I also had a "protein recovery" milkshake when I arrived; these are supposed to prevent exercise-induced muscle atrophy.

One thing I would definitely change if I were to do this trip again is the quantity of weight on my back-rack. I took two panniers, and these were a significant burden towards the end. I could easily have stored all the food in the same pannier as my coat and water.

Other than that, I enjoyed the trip enormously and would not hesitate before doing it again next year!

You can read more about the Dunwich Dynamo at Southwark Cyclists' page.

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