Saturday, 28 July 2007


It's the time of year when around 700 cyclists descend upon Hackney as the sun goes down, realise that there are nicer places to be, and cycle through the night to the Suffolk coast.

Hailing from Suffolk myself, the Dynamo appeals, not least because the ride is flat as a pancake, with a good chance of tailwind. I also get to head back to my parents' farm afterwards to breakfast, sleep, eat the biggest roast dinner known to humankind.

I did it in 2004 and 2006, so this will be my third. It will be a bit different this year as I am going to do it at my pace rather than in a social group with uni friends. I am apprehensive because:

* I have to ride in from Ealing (about 15 miles), do the Dynamo (about 120 miles) and then cycle back to Shotley (about 40 miles) - this is a considerable undertaking especially as I will not have slept when it comes to turning round from Dunwich beach and heading back into a headwind... hopefully the wind will slap me awake and the cafe at Snape will be open.

* I've always noticed the perishing cold between 3 and 6 in the morning. And this is when we've had nice, warm summers. If it rains tonight, it could get very unpleasant. I am taking more clothes than normal, therefore - better to be too warm than too cold. Overshoes, gloves, the lot.

* I don't yet have a front light. I'm off to Ealing Cycles in a bit to see what they can do for me.

It's a completely different challenge to the sportives I did in June - there, the hills combined with the distance to make me wonder if I'd gone mad. The Dynamo is not a challenging ride in this vein, and would be supremely easy if completed during the day. The problem lies in the fact that you're not tucked up in bed, but cycling through a variety of weird little hamlets... your head goes long before your legs.

Cycling overnight: the first few hours are easy because you get that buzz from participating, from the fact that although it's late, the world is still awake. This wears off about 1 in the morning, when sightings of people and cars drop dramatically. The sunrises have been unspectacular both times I've done it, and last year the morning light was accompanied by rain.

Still, my legs feel excellent despite the many events completed in the past week, so I am looking forward to the ride. Honest!

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