Author Topic: Dunwich Dynamo 24-25 July 2010  (Read 53218 times)

librarian

  • Quiet please
Dunwich Dynamo 24-25 July 2010
« on: July 27, 2010, 09:04:16 pm »
It was great to meet and remeet so many YACFers. The YACF spot is an ideal place to congregate: handy for the pub and the Chinese. Pre-ride carbo loading therefore was a pint and mushroom chow mein. Thanks to TimO (I think it was) for organising and executing the Chinese food raid. The finishing touches to the preparation were made with the help of CrinklyLion and her rocket-fuelled cake. We couldn't in all conscience let her carry all that weight all that way so it was encumbent on us to eat quantities of it before the start. It was every bit as delicious as it looked, and it looked fantastic.

I'd intended to join Rogerzilla's Team Fast but when it came to it an 8 o'clock start seemed a bit early; it was still daylight and I was enjoying the company far too much. So I joined what appeared to be the mass exodus at about 9 o'clock. I came across Team Slow who had formed up and were hanging about just beyond the park. They were waiting for Wow and Crinkly whom they had somehow mislaid. I carried on, and about 40 yards later there was the tandem, waiting for Team Slow. I was just explaining the situation to Wow when a Team Slow scout arrived on the scene so all was well.

Once we were on the long straight road to Epping I started to push a bit harder and soon was overtaking group after group. As the miles rolled on the groups became smaller and more widely separated but never completely out of view. The flashing lights into the distance look very pretty but they are completely unsuitable for group riding. I was amazed how few people had the courtesy to set their lights to steady. It's true that flashing lights are more visible but on a ride like this any motorist coming up behind you cannot possibly be unaware of the presence of cyclists. And don't talk to me about the few people with headache inducing super-bright lights on flashing and angled straight back.

Early on in the Essex hills strange and disconcerting noises began to issue from my rear hub. With some of the graunchier sounds I could feel the bike frame juddering. I guessed that a ball bearing had broken up inside it but there wasn't much I could do about it other than hope it would keep turning. I'd thrown some camping gear into the panniers so the bike was quite heavy. This wasn't too much of a hinderance except when the hills became steep then I would get out of the saddle to a crescendo of grinding noises and frame juddering. In the last few miles before Sible Hedingham I really thought it was about to become unridable but it somehow held together. The feed stop was a little hard to find as the minor road I'd plotted in my GPS track didn't exist. I worked around and found it after about a five minute delay. All the time I was gathering a little knot of followers. Initially they were probably attracted by the grinding noises; they were then captured by the sight of a GPS on the handlebars which misled them into thinking I might know where I was going.

The hall was beginning to get busy and bicycle parking was starting to become limited. I trotted round the back and found a bit of wall to lean the steed against. Inside, trade was becoming brisk but the queue was not yet too bad. The tables were a sea of light blue as the place was mobbed by Dulwich Paragon riders in their club kit. As I stepped outside again it was clear that the feed stop was soon going to be much busier. Bikes and dead bodies were now littering the ground all around the hall. The hub seemed grateful for its brief rest and was a lot less noisy as I set off again.

I began to encounter the same 8 or 9 riders on road bikes and carrying very light loads. When the road went steeply up I slowed down dramatically and they would come flying past and disappear into the far distance. When the hills were less severe I would gradually catch them up again. When the way went downhill I would fly past with a chorus of defiant graunching sounds and leave them far behind. All the time we kept catching groups of slower riders some of whom must have set off very early indeed.

The informal food stop was extremely welcome. I'd missed the sign advertising it and it initially appeared to be just a group of tried tired and clueless cyclists entirely blocking the road. It was partly that of course but the bright lights on the right revealed its true nature. It was reminiscent of the buvettes set up by enterprising people on the PBP. The proceeds were going to the air ambulance which doubly justified the stop. I had a nice cup of tea and a veggie sausage sandwich, and got my dwindling bidons refilled. Fantastic.

The goal was getting closer and the sky lighter. Again the little group of roadies went past me on a hill and again I repassed them later on. We had now reached the welcome sight of the Dunwich road signs. Again the road was climbing and again they were reeling me in. I thought "dearie me" (or words to that effect), gritted my teeth and put in a major effort, finally dropping them for good. It was now the final run in and my GPS was telling me the exact distance to go, good news that I was able to relay to the dozen or so very tired riders I passed in the last couple of miles.

The magnificent ruin of Dunwich Greyfriars was passed, then I reached the beach which is always a great feeling. I glanced at my watch and it was 5:25. There were already quite a few bikes there. I found a spot for mine then joined the queue for the cafe. As the queue shuffled slowly forward I looked to my left and there was the wonderful pixieannie surrounded by the two things I needed most - food and a place to sit. I wandered over and was immediately engulfed in a sea of hospitality. Rogerzilla was still there, and there was Rich Forrest too, back from his recent 1200. By all accounts Rich is absolutely flying at the moment. He'd done a DIY 300km to get there and had arrived well ahead of schedule having averaged over 30kph.

Annie sat me down and plied me with food and drink. It didn't take much plying. Tea was my immediate requirement and it came forth in great profusion followed closely by a beautiful plate of couscous and salad. I was beginning to get chilled but this was not a problem as Annie draped blankets over me. I didn't have to ask for anything; I merely had to form the thought and Annie would immediately fulfill it, apologising the whole time for the quality of the service. Wonderful olive focaccia bread for which she apologised. A steaming hot plate of beans for which she apologised. More tea for which she apologised. Rogerzilla departed and Rich and I had pixieannie all to ourselves. I took full advantage and gradually became warmer and more and more stuffed with the bounty of the earth. Annie has given me a new name. As I drink tea and am not a vicar I must apparently be The Bishop

Other YACFers began to appear in various states of freshness or woe. All were overwhelmed by pixieannie's care. The gradual arrival of Team Slow was completed by the Wascally Weasel tandem. Wascally had broken 11 spokes in his rear wheel thus achieving the distinction of being the only person on the beach with a rear wheel less healthy than mine. It needed spokes and of course it was Annie who was on the phone sorting out an emergency repair. Sadly as I now learn the bike shop was unable to fix it. I hope they weren't too badly stranded.

The Pikes were there with their Pike Tandem cycling tops and their fiery playthings. Charlotte was there with her wood gassifying stove. Wascally Weasel had brought his impressive looking version of the same. The place was full of people I like and whose company I enjoy and I desperately wanted to stay and camp in the dunes, though pitching the hammock would have been a challenge. I did not have the leisure, however, and at around midday I finally tore myself away and began the ride home.

Pixieannie (of course) had produced some cone spanners and an apology as the thought "I could probably do with some cone spanners" had formed in my head. I had tinkered with the hub without actually daring to pull it apart and it was now much quieter and freer running though still a bit clanky. The wind was now in my face and the going was quite slow and tough. I stopped at a pub in Sible Hedingham and had a couple of pints, some salted nuts and a long rest. I felt a lot fresher after this and gradually the wind began to drop and eventually turn round completely until it was actually in my favour.

Eventually I detoured from my track and rode to Ongar on the off chance there would be a train heading west but I was too late and the last train had gone. I then headed north and picked up the original track. Hammocks are perfect for stealth camping in the woods and the temptation of Epping Forest almost got the better of me as I rode through it. But I needed to be home that night and I carried on, reaching London Fields again at about 0:30. It was then just a question of clanking my way across London, finally getting home just before 2:00. Both the bike and I were ready for a night's rest.