Dunwich Dynamo 2008
I got the idea for doing this back in 2007, when I read about it on Adrian Fitch’s blog. Seeing as VonSmallHaussen lives only a short distance from the start, we could combine a visit to see her with a little light cycling:
- 119 miles. Actually my first century ride ever. Actually, 50% further than I’ve EVER ridden in a single day.
- Overnight (starting some time between 8 & 9 pm)
- Unsupported. No sweeper bus, no signs, no marshalls. There’s a food stop after 70 miles, and the caff on the beach at the other end opens specially early at 0600 on the day of the ride. But that’s all - other than that, you’re on your own. Well, as on your own as you can be with between 400 & 700 cyclists!
As I’d been training for my 1/2 Ironman this year, I’d been working on the assumption that just cycling over this kind of distance would be a doddle - nothing to worry about at all. Over the week leading up to the event though, it started to dawn on methat it might actually be quite a big deal - especially when Adrian sent me through his Dynamo Checklist last Friday - the day before the ride. This read like the plans for the Normandy Landings, and made me think that at least someone was taking the ride pretty seriously.
We all drove down to London on Friday night, getting to VonSmallHaussen’s just before midnight - time for a couple of bottles of fizzy carbodrink before bed. Where I had a rotten night’s sleep - either nerves, or just the noises of a strange house. On Saturday, by way of relaxation, Algernond and his daughter came down from Cambridge, so we all went off to visit the museums in South Kensington. After three hours of shuffling round these, I felt oddly tired . . .
Then it was back to VonSmallHaussen’s for final prepping of the bike, and to meet Tall Friend (a.k.a. Fat Robbie), and Doktor Seth, who were also doing the ride. A light supper for about 5 lbs of various bar-b-q meats each, and we were off, arriving at the starting area at about 8:20pm We faffed around for a while, until I noticed that there seemed to be fewer cyclists about, and not wanting to be riding in anything other than a large group through the first 10km or so (”bandit country” according to the route notes), we set off.
We stayed together as a group for about the first 30 miles, then Fat Robbie and I pulled ahead of Doktor Seth - his urban hybrid was slowing him down, but there were lots of others going at his pace too. By about one in the morning, my body started to get a bit weird - my bodyclock was screaming at me to be asleep, and my lack of preparation was showing through in the form of a fairly heavy bonk. I went through about 45 minutes or so of torment and misery, just struggling to keep up with Fat Robbie, and following the line of twinkling rear lights along the road.
Fortunately at 2 a.m. we got to the 70 mile point, and stopped to re-fuel. I pulled out the banana, peanut butter and syrup muffins I’d made, and we had two each. Fat Robbie was just as well prepared, and produced a couple of tins or Red Bull. After sinking that lot, we re-filled our water bottles (Zym in my case), and met up with Doktor Seth arriving just as we were leaving. He seemed in pretty good shape, but in need of a little horizontal time (back pain - not tired. The Doktor’s always been able to party all night), so we carried on again while he got some recovery time in.
From then on, we dropped out speed a little but kept on pushing. It was quite strange the way we kept catching and passing the same groups of riders - a clear indication that everyone was starting to take regular-ish rest stops. Fat Robbie and I finally got to the beach at a little before 6:30 in the morning - completely shattered, but pleased as dogs with two tails. We had a light breakfast to celebrate (the works - fried bread, egg, hash browns, sausage, bacon, and beans, accompanied by lots of tea). There were two comments at the end of this - I remarked that another breakfast just like it would go down a treat, and Fat Robbie commented that given how his @r$€ felt, he was starting to have real sympathy with men in prison. I’ve no idea what he meant by that, but it did put me right off the idea of eating any more food.
With no sign of Doktor Seth, we crashed for a little sleep on the beach. VonSmallHaussen, who’d driven all the way out from London (2 1/2 hours) in Fat Robbie’s car to rescue us (now that’s a real friend), found me sleeping like a baby on the beach at just after nine o’clock. Dunwich is a steep, pebbly beech, but I can honestly say that I’ve never slept on a bed as comfortable.
But where was Doktor Seth? We started to worry at this point - given his progress when we left him, I was expecting him to arrive some time around eight. Eventually we got him on the phone - only a couple of miles up the road, having just finished repairing his THIRD puncture in the last 50 miles. That’s gotta be pretty soul destroying, so while VonSmallhaussen and Fat Robbie met him & loaded his bike onto the car, I got his breakfast ordered, so it would be there and on the table when he walked in . . .
. . . we all slept in the car on the way back to London, and then I got another couple of hour’s shut-eye at VonSmallHaussen’s, before packing Wife, Daughter, huge Dalmatian and bike into the car for the five hour drive back to Whitley Bay. Oddly enough, I was somewhat of a zombie at work yesterday . . .