Tonight at around 8pm I will leave Hackney on my bicycle, joining me will be an estimated 3000 other cyclists. We’re heading for Dunwich in Suffolk, we’ll probably get there between 5am and 11am. But why?
Dunwich Dynamo – phwaaaat?
The Dunwich Dynamo (a.k.a the ‘Dun Run’) is an entirely unplanned, unofficial, unsupported and marvelous ride from Hackney in London to Dunwich. As to why it happens each year, well that’s a bit like asking why Starlings marshall in epic numbers before migration, why Wildebeest stampede or why people like riding 25kg Boris bikes through London. On the closest Saturday to the first full-moon in July each year the natural phenomena that is the Dunwich Dynamo just kinda happens. It may have been an organised ride once, but it was so long ago it probably doesn’t matter. A bit like how we know the Olympics used to be participated in by athletes who were start-bollock-naked, but it doesn’t have much bearing on the modern games. Thankfully. But then that’s what us cyclists like isn’t it? Enjoying long bike rides is a bit like finding a band that none of your mates have heard of, then declaring them as the best band ever. If that band then hits the top spot we’re horribly chuffed that we heard them first!
Dunwich Dynamo – phhhwwyyy?
Every rider has their reasons, and if I’m honest with you I’d have to admit I’m not really sure why I think that riding 148 miles through the night is a good idea (the route is 120 miles, but I cycle back to Ipswich from Dunwich afterwards). When non-cycling (‘normal’) people find out that I’m planning to forgo sleep to pedal halfway across the country their first question is usually a confused babble of vowels and guttural sounds while they attempt to wrap their minds around the distance. The second question / assertion is surely I must be doing this for charity? The reply that I’m not doing this to raise money tends to result in the questioner reverting back to the aforementioned mumbling confusion. I imagine I’d get much the same reaction if I told friends I was going to attempt to carry out my own vasectomy using nothing more than an olive-pitter and a toffee hammer.
If you created a scale that had expensive highly organised Sportives at one end of the scale, and Critical Mass at the other then you’d find the Dun Run sitting somewhere in the middle, probably with a can of beer in hand.
I guess there probably are some riders taking on the Dun Run as an opportunity to raise some charity cash, and chapeau to them, but the vast majority of participants seem to be in it for nothing more than the job of a longish bike ride with thousands of like-minded souls. And that’s one of the many things that separates the Dun Run from expensive sportives or any other type of organised ride, there are no aims other than getting to the coast. Nobody stuffs themselves silly at the rest stops to try and make sure they ‘eat-back’ their entrance fee. There are (almost no) chain gangs gunning it for a record-breaking time.
Dun Run – don’t let lack of experience put you off!
The Dunwich Dynamo is such a relaxed ride I often recommend people take it on as their first 100 mile ride. There may not be technical support from mobile mechanics, but if you have a problem you can be sure as hell someone will help you out. If you’re not sure you have the legs for the miles then you’ll be amazed how well the community spirit of the ride will sweep you along.
I could rattle on endlessly but in many ways (and in-spite of the HUGE numbers of riders) the joy of riding the Dunwich Dynamo is actually quite a personal thing. So instead I’ll leave you with some links that might help get you hyped about joining us all next year.
The Dunwich Dynamo, find out more.
- Dunwich Dynamo official site (well, as official as this ride gets)
- Dun Run Facebook group
- 21 Reasons you should ride the Dunwich Dynamo
- My ride report from 2013
About the author
Andrew Culture is a professional writer and reviewer who has been writing about everything to do with bikes and cycling for many years. Andrew is also a musician and award-winning zine author.