Last Saturday was the yearly ride to the coast for no good reason that is the Dunwich Dynamo. It was my fourth year taking part – I was a slightly different person four years ago. We all were.
This year I was riding with a new gang, after 2015’s manic solo ride and what can now be referred to as The Narayani Years (2013-4).
Arriving at London Fields shortly before 8pm, I met my colleagues Matt and Maeve, along with a bunch of Maeve’s glorious pals, none of whom – unusually – were ex Blue Peter presenters or editors for Vice.
A bigger group begets faffing, but eventually we were all of synchronised readiness and made our way out through the busy and confused Hackney streets. It definitely felt quieter than during previous years, but by the time we headed up towards Epping that hypnotic line of blinking red lights was present and correct. I was riding with faster riders than I was used to, but the pace didn’t feel forced. In fact, it was exhilarating – whooshing through the night in a pack felt like being involved in the Death Star trench run, without having to worry about Darth Vader.
The gang were all lovely, but certainly not as talkative as some I’ve ridden with, so there was much nighttime contemplation of the moon, the stars, and the primal terror of darkness. And something magical still about arriving at a pub staying open late, surrounded by briefly abandoned bikes, with happy humans taking a well earned break and trying not to think about the 90/80/70 miles left to ride.
Dawn came and still we cycled, and absurd joke now. The riding with the faster cyclists was taking its toll and I lost my energy and my mind for a while. But I kept up, and topped up my energy levels with a hot dog by goose poo lake, resplendent as ever in the gloaming, and a bacon and sausage baguette fifteen miles from the end, by which point we were suffering the infuriating sight of riders who had already made it to the beach and were – unthinkably- heading back to London.
During the last 40 miles or so I felt we took too many breaks – the traditional curse of the big group – and I lost patience with Maeve’s attempts to buy crisps with a credit card when there were only a few miles left to go.
But finally, there we were, at the beach, with the sun out and the water as calm as calm can be.
I collapsed into the sea for a swim, and then gwe collapsed into the pub for a pint.