The day had arrived for a small band of cyclists to cycle a combined 620 miles overnight.
Karen, Paul aka Compo, Ivan, Ian, Peter and I were dropped off at London Fields at 7.15pm on Sat 8 July by Team Dynamo Support (aka Mick and Tim). With the weather being dry and barmy the place was packed with people out for the evening as well as hundreds of cyclists awaiting the start of the Dynamo ride.
Having been in the car for a while, we all naturally gravitated towards the loos but it seemed that everyone else did as well. After a brief discussion we decided to start the ride at 7.45pm and find a more convenient convenience on the way. So off we went to our first rendezvous at Moreton.
The ride out of London towards Epping was fun! - narrow streets, loads of traffic and so many cyclists. You really needed to concentrate and we all worked hard to keep together. Eventually the traffic thinned and greenery started to appear. We had arrived at Epping and the light was just about holding. Mick had set up camp Dynamo just outside Moreton Church and after just over two hours we hit camp. A brew and some time off the bike was very welcomed. As we sat there all manner if bikes streamed past us along with all manner of lights - flashing, coloured and dim! 21.5 miles in 1hr 55mins.
Next stop was Castle Hedingham and we needed to our lights to ensure we were seen and could see, plus also it was starting to get cooler. This leg was the longest at just over 30 miles but was also the start if much more familiar ground (all those places Mick takes us) - heading up to Leaden Roding, Great Dunmow, Finchingfield and finally through to Castle Hedingham. Quick text to Mick when we hit Sible meant Mick was camped outside the Castle entrance with the kettle already boiled. Peter had decided he was only going to cover half and as agreed he departed at this point and cycled home to Braintree. 52.3 miles in 4hrs 59mins.
The five of us left the comforts of Camp Dynamo and headed up the hill towards Needham Market - our next stop. Why is there always a hill whenever you just start off? Anyway we all got up it and progressed towards Sudbury. There were real pinch points on the roads with sometimes too many cyclists too close together - certainly for my liking. It was really dark now and so you really needed to have your wits about you and make sure you looked over your shoulders - sometimes both of them. We flew through Sudbury past both the bike shop and the fire station which were open and packed. Camp Dynamo was under the light from the Sue Ryder shop in Needham Market Railway Station - it was a welcomed sight. 78.2 miles in 7hrs 28mins.
We're now in sight of the finish - just 17 miles to our next stop although they say the last miles are the hardest. With everyone feeling good and refreshed we set off towards Framlingham Castle. There were still so many cyclists on the road and also a number off the road fixing their bikes. The sun was starting to come up and the morning was absolutely beautiful, but definitely chilly. A slight miscalculation to Framlingham Vineyards meant Ian's local knowledge allowed us to briefly cycle the wrong way down the street to our last visit to Camp Dynamo. Mick was there in the grounds of the castle and we sipped our brew as the sun connoted to rise. 95.6 miles in 9 hrs 19 mins.
Ok...we're on the last leg. 17 miles or so. The road is quieter now of cyclists - although worryingly there are some coming back the other way. There was some talk amongst the five of us about cycling back...but I don't think there were any takers this year. Together we cruise comfortably in to Dunwich which is absolutely heaving with cyclists. Mick is there at the finish and snaps us we arrive.
We've only gone and done it!!!!!
Karen, Compo and Ian all decided they needed a swim and trundled off to the sea. They said they felt refreshed when they returned. There were rumours and some sightings of skinny dippers - I hope it wasn't any of the Easy Riders...
Ivan and I also needed some liquid refreshment and headed off to the pub. Not bad having a beer at 7am on a Sunday morning.
A big thank you to Mick for driving and supporting us throughout the night and ensuring we had hot drinks and a place to chill. To Tim for driving us there and picking us up again.
And to Karen, Compo, Ian, Ivan and Peter for the company and support. A great ride with amazing people - well done all.