Riding the Dunwich Dynamo
A night ride from London to Suffolk
by Tim O'Rourke
Our attempts in June to celebrate a 'summer of cycling' were largely thwarted by the weather.
To the uninitiated, the Dynamo is an annual, ‘turn up and ride’ event from central London to the Dunwich beach on the Suffolk coast, a journey of 120 miles, made through the night.
Arriving in west London we collected our thoughts, congratulated ourselves on our lack of stress and headed out to join the gathering of riders.
Calling at the Look Mum No Hands café, we fabricated a shim from a can of San Pellegrino Limonata to prevent a slipping seat post in the Pearson Easy Come, Easy Go.
The crowds around the Pub in the Park had already begun to thin as we arrived but there was still a hearty throng preparing with pints and laughter.
We rolled out, maps tucked into laden back pocket and Garmin turned on, but the flashing string of red lights picked out a route through the bemused motorists and past the few cheery onlookers as easily as any navigational aid ever could.
The steady climb from Hackney Marsh to Epping Forest settled the heart, legs and lungs. Groups were beginning to form but we rode as a three, moving past packs of riders setting our own pace as we would on a local loop.
Tempo riding came easily to the Pearson, a higher cadence, ‘gentle on the knees’ gear propelled it forward with purpose. The frame and fork softened the harsher excesses of the tarmac beneath the very stiffly sprung wheels (a set of Ambrosio Nemesis may have made for a still more feathery ride).
Nervous clusters of riders at junctions made us test the acceleration of the touring frame. Remarkably it responded, perhaps helped by the light wheels, but it does seem to want to push forwards.
The small number of climbs on the route didn’t really afford much opportunity to test its climbing abilities. We couldn’t help but get out of the saddle on a few of the steeper rises and chase the bright beam ahead (cast by an Exposure Diablo, if that's of interest). The Pearson again followed its heading with composure and reassuringly gathered speed, able to hustle along with the more serious road crews who were seemingly out for a time.
We missed the official food stop, and chose instead to reward ourselves in Castle Headingham with a pub stop. The landlord greeted us warmly. Bottles refilled, coffee drunk and the pub dog (Sober) tickled behind the ears, we headed back into the inky, moonlit exterior.
We couldn’t help but enter the spirit of the event, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere, the crisp night air and the good natured banter between friends made on the road. The Pearson embodied that spirit.
The increasing glow in the eastern sky warmed the mind long before the first rays worked their magic on tired limbs.
We arrived at the shingle beach at 4.30am, the sun already completely visible above the sea. We made the journey in fair weather the whole way, remarkable for the current state of the British summer.
Whatever the weather, we’re sure there’s plenty of riding to be had this summer. Seatpost shim aside, the Pearson acquitted itself well.