Dunwich Dynamo XXII

In It to Win It

by Sam Walker   July 11, 2014  

All those commuter challenges have paid off: now you're ready for the main event. It's time for the Dun Run.

The Dunwich Dynamo, that annual critical mass of cyclists converging on London Fields for the purpose of forming a miles long snake of blinking lights wiggling its way to a sunken city in Suffolk, is the premier Smoke-to-the-sea pilgrimage, drawing a field of thousands.

Every year the organisers are at pains to say it's not a race. They even print it on the route sheet given to all comers: "This is NOT a race."

Nevertheless, any group ride is going to summon the competitive instinct in a select few. If you're keen to be the first to watch the sun rise and wow Strava while you're at it, here's a guide to helping you win. Or 'win', if you prefer the tongs of irony.

Leave early. This provides an obvious competitive edge which it would be foolish to forgo. If the goal is to get there first, or at least in the leading peloton, what's the point of dawdling over a pint?

Don't drink at the Pub on the Park. This is a classic schoolboy error. Nobody is saying you have to be teetotal, but lubricated socialising is not going to get your head in a place where it needs to be.

Don't ride a Boris Bike, penny-farthing, Brompton, or any other non-standard bicycle. Fixed gear is OK because they're obviously a committed bunch, and recumbents are fine, too, as it's not a particularly hilly course and the last thing I need is the 'bent crowd on my case. Ride your Sunday Best in anticipation of that sabbath victory lap.

It is not necessary to shave your legs for this night out, as any marginal gains will probably be offset by the debilitating effects of razor burn on virgin depilators; but if you already do, keep to your routine.

Stay with the tried and true. Now is not the time to change groupset, tyres, or for god's sake, saddle. Leave the washing machine unmolested.

Tune your bike, of course: it is the instrument of your dominance. Get the tyre pressure the way you like it; pull out any weeds or playing cards from the spokes; make sure all quick releases are battened down.

Wearing Rapha won't make you any faster, but it probably won't make you any slower.

If you're soloing, you'll want to find a pacesetter. Make sure they have GPS. When they flag, find another.

If you're forming a team, choose the members of your chain gang with care. Obviously no Boris Bikers, penny-farthingers, Bromptonistas, etc., but of primary import are the personalities going into the mix. Beware the bodge artiste, who is bound to frustrate with at least one mechanical; the social butterfly; and anybody doing it for the first time unless they've been thoroughly vetted (e.g., "I won the Dalston Dynamo last year" is not a good recommendation). All will challenge productive momentum.

  

Keep chatter to a minimum. Flapping gums add wind resistance.

Don't get into any fights in Essex. While I have no desire to cast aspersions on the former eastern kingdom of the Saxons and current seat of power of Essex lords and ladies, the county has been known to engender a certain robust expression of opinion, particularly during the generously scheduled grogging hours. The temporary spike in adrenaline is not worth it, nor the visit to A&E – there goes the rest of the night.

Maintain a safety zone; you don't want to suffer the same fate as Cavendish. This won't be too difficult once you get past Epping Forest, but keep alert for lost sheep coming back into the fold from side lanes. Speaking of which...

Don't get lost! I can't stress this enough. Do not, under any circumstances, simply "follow the lights". Solo riders, I'm talking to you especially. It can get lonely out there in the middle of the night.

Use powerful lights. Forcefully splitting the darkness will prompt some to give way or even pull over as they mistake you for a car, thus gaining the canny lumeneer further advantage. Over-the-top taillights set at 'stun' are a further means to an end.

Skip the mid-ride mess hall. You'll be having the breakfast of champions.

If you can't organise a support van/pit crew, stash spare tubes, C02 cannisters, etc. along the way, just in case. It goes without saying you're not going to be loading yourself down with consumables.

Toilet breaks. No need to go into too much detail here. Mind the wind direction; don't just aim left or right because you dress that way.

Watch out for wildlife! (Not a reference to Essex.) Not just because perpetrating roadkill comes back to bite you in the karma, but cleaning squirrel guts from brake calipers eats up minutes you don't have to spare.

If you wear earphones, get your playlist sorted. Only you know your biorhythms, but queuing "We are the champions" too soon will introduce you to the wall prematurely. "Tubthumping" is OK whenever.

Remember: no doping. Nothing harder than jelly babies. You don't want to be stripped of your title come some dystopian future where your DNA can be still be scraped from the silverware of the Flora tearoom, bringing shame to you and your progeny.

Leave something in reserve for the final push on the home stretch. Again, don't get lost. Aldeburgh is no consolation prize.

Have your sweetheart waiting for you on the beach in Dunwich. Absence makes the heart beat faster, as does the prospect of your just reward in the bushes behind the victory podium.

Those who turn around and cycle the 120 miles back to London are advertising that they didn't give it their all. Treat yourself to a ride home.

 

The Dunwich Dynamo
Official site

The Dalston Dynamo
"Because Suffolk is a... long way away"

It's not a race
Not with that attitude it isn't

Lost
It's been known to happen

 


jollygoodthen

15 user comments

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The weather doesn't look great for this one.

Hopefully i can take part, but I'm at my daughter in law's first birthday party on Saturday. If i can just stay away from the booze....

posted by Scoob_84 [184 posts]
11th July 2014 - 12:12

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Scoob_84 wrote:
The weather doesn't look great for this one.

The forecast leaves me gloomy. Having missed last year's due to a death in the family, I'd really like to go, and perhaps should just Harden the Fuck Up (#5 on Winnipeg CycleChick's list, which I covered here). On the other hand, I've already done it 5 or 6 times, which is enough times to know it's more fun dry.

posted by Sam Walker [22 posts]
11th July 2014 - 12:26

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Looking for a reasonably brisk (28-30kph) group to ride with tomorrow - whatever the weather.

Email me: leo.lerner96@gmail.com

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
11th July 2014 - 12:49

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Best of luck to everyone coming to beautiful Suffolk!

http://www.suffolkcycling.com
Blog and GoPro videos

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posted by Suffolk Cycling [33 posts]
11th July 2014 - 14:58

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Thanks for this article - helping me to get in the mood. I've told too many people to wimp out because of a bit of rain although I know it could be grim.

Early rise in the morning to drive to Dunwich, leave my camper van there and head back on the train before the ride.

I did it last year and it was surreal and amazing even if the last hour and the queue in the pub for breakfast were somewhat tough. Having a gps will be great for confidence: last year I was often solo with minimal confidence I was on the right road although it all came good in the end.

See you on the beach!

posted by Pauldmorgan [164 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:52

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Scoob_84 wrote:
The weather doesn't look great for this one.

Hopefully i can take part, but I'm at my daughter in law's first birthday party on Saturday. If i can just stay away from the booze....

Your daughter-in-law's first birthday party...? Married young then!

posted by jellysticks [80 posts]
12th July 2014 - 18:20

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Managed to do the whole ride in a pocket between rain storms that must have been travelling west at the same speed as we were. Super lucky.

Thanks as ever must go to the amazing people that set up tea and bacon sandwich stalls by the side of the roads in the absolute middle of nowhere. Heroes, every last one of them.

posted by Pauldmorgan [164 posts]
13th July 2014 - 20:40

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I opted out – had a movie* to watch – but am pleased to hear it was possible to outwit the weather. Chapeau!

* for the purposes of this post, not for real. Actually I went for my own little night ride in Far East Sussex.

It rained.

posted by Sam Walker [22 posts]
13th July 2014 - 22:02

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Hi, managed to complete the 2014 DD but not without incident. I am trying to find out where I crashed, any help would be appreciated. It was before the 1/2 way feeding point at Sible Hedingham, lots of others managed to avoid the huge pot hold on the left side of the road. Lot's of people had punctures here and at one point a fellow kind cyclist was warning people to go around it. I would like to know the town/road if anyone know's where I am talking about.

Thanks in advance

Graham

posted by grahambennett [1 posts]
14th July 2014 - 17:03

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Oh that was fun. Hadn't dun it since 2008 when it was 8 hours of rain-induced misery. Amazing how much it's changed. Used to be you would find 4 or 5 guys for an hour or two, then maybe ride alone for a bit, then find another group. And there was nothing open past Moreton. But this time I was never on the road alone, there were multiple stops, though I ignored them all. And I didn't really need the food or thermos I packed assuming that there would be no food and lots of rain. Note to self for next year - take the carbon bike, don't stop, draft lots and set a PB!

Seeing people riding away at 8pm as I rode into Hackney - well I thought that was taking the piss but if you're really slow, why not.

Seemed to be two schools of thought on how to do it: Ride fast and drink or ride at easy pace and not stop. Very entertaining being repeatedly overtaken by the same riders as they bar hopped.

Also added 25km on end to bring it up to 2 whole Audax points, but then I am old and slow so I had to get my thrills somehow. As for the 'riders back' well I get that too but I would keep going up the coast - riding back against the tide would be a little stressful wouldn't it?

Always a good ride but now a properly brilliant event.

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posted by alotronic [247 posts]
15th July 2014 - 9:04

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grahambennett wrote:
Hi, managed to complete the 2014 DD but not without incident. I am trying to find out where I crashed, any help would be appreciated. It was before the 1/2 way feeding point at Sible Hedingham, lots of others managed to avoid the huge pot hold on the left side of the road. Lot's of people had punctures here and at one point a fellow kind cyclist was warning people to go around it. I would like to know the town/road if anyone know's where I am talking about.

Thanks in advance

Graham

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153034824294741&set=gm.1015305...

posted by Ratfink [17 posts]
15th July 2014 - 19:49

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Lightning, biblical rain, high fives, fireworks, dressing gowns and a great data visualization from Strava. God I love the Dunwich Dynamo: http://wp.me/p3QKcJ-fK

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

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posted by sm [334 posts]
15th July 2014 - 22:11

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HC, if you "love and hate hills in equal measure," consider going with the love and coming along to my L2H (being promoted here and here, pick your poison). You can even sing some new verses of a Dylan song, which he does all the time, too. How about this one?* Should be surreal as we scale the heights and plumb the depths of Far East Sussex.

Anybody reading this who's interested in a day ride down to the sea is also invited, though please note again that H word that ends in ills.

*or this:
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of London
With the Hastings blues again?

posted by Sam Walker [22 posts]
16th July 2014 - 4:31

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Interesting Sam. Could be up for it, assume train back is easy enough? What pace you reckoning on? And what time you setting off?

Oh, and I love the Christmas album. August is never too early to belt out some Dylan festive cheer.

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

sm's picture

posted by sm [334 posts]
16th July 2014 - 21:22

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The train is easy. Pace will depend on whoever shows up, but I imagine it will be… something in the middle. I don't use a computer, so I don't even know what my pace is. I won't trigger any speed cameras, but I don't hang about either. I think those self-selecting for this ride will be fit enough to not want to dawdle (delightful as dawdling can be), but not so fast as to dismay those buffeted by the slipstream. Having said that, it's not merely an A-to-B affair; we'll be passing various historical points of interest which warrant a Vacation-style appreciation at the very least. Don't have any lectures planned though.

Start time to be determined. Probably 8 or 9.

I'm not expecting a big turnout. The links posted above will give an indication of the number of interested parties, and are the best source of further info. The last time I did this ride there were three of us. I think even the very first Dun Run had that beat by a comfortable margin.

I play the Dylan Christmas album every Christmas without fail.

posted by Sam Walker [22 posts]
16th July 2014 - 23:57

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