As I write this, two days after the fact, my legs remain weak and I’ve not caught up on enough sleep (I don’t quite know what day it is). Yet I’ve already got the next DunRun in my diary (4-5 July 2015) and am trying to plan (read: force my friend to do the bulk of the work) my next 100 miler (hopefully next month).
There are several things that make the Dun Run special. The route – 113 miles from London Fields in London to Dunwich Beach in Suffolk – is not flat, but is more undulating than hilly. It is also bloody easy to get lost – we added 17 miles onto our journey; everybody I talked to subsequently, apart from the real old hands, had gotten lost for a tiny bit. It’s not supported, so if you get a puncture, you better hope you’re not lost (eep). Some of the roads are beyond shit – one poor chap apparently fractured his wrist in a massive pothole in the dark. And it’s overnight, and so thus totally against your natural body clock (very tempting to have a little kip by the side of the road at 2am when your friend’s summer tyre has punctured and you’re 10 miles into the wilderness of Suffolk).
And yet it feels the best thing in the world. Around 2500 cyclists take to the roads. Why? Fuck knows: for the fun of it. And that’s about it. No other reason. Cycling for cycling’s sake – no hierarchy, no racing, no my-bike’s-better-than-yours. They all come out for this: you have the teamed lycra brigade out in force; people in sandals and shorts; others having a few pints along the way; some on Bromptons; doing it on a Boris bike is becoming a thing, and so on. One chap rode with his 9 year old son from Sudbury to Dunwich.
All the way, there are blinking little red lights to guide you, stretching into the black as far as the eye could see, miles upon miles. Even when you got lost (we went over Sudbury by mistake), it’s highly likely that there are others lost near you and together, you can find your way back – just two little red lights in the distance are all the hope that you need to just keep pedaling and pedaling and pedaling (lovely chaps they were, too).
But it’s really the unsupported factor that’s so crucial, so important, so fantastic. We say its unsupported, but it’s 2500 cyclists who are all there together, who spread it by word of mouth, celebrate it together, and will help each other out if on breaking down. Its been going so long that pubs stay open on the route and put on provisions – teas, chocolate bars, sausage rolls. Boy Scouts do the same nearish the end (and are a life-saver). Two young girls were handing out free water somewhere around midnight; families standing in their garden; pissed up people (mostly) cheering us on; Greater Anglia put on extra services from the local station to get the broken 2-wheeled idiots back to somewhere approaching civilisation (Ipswich).When we went past a massive pothole, there were a group of cyclists making sure no one else went into it. People kept stopping and making sure those stopped were alright to fix their tyres. There’s a rough official route – that some kind soul puts out tealights along the way (although, they don’t always last the bad weather), but there are many unofficial ones. As long as you get there, and you get there with people. So, it is supported, but supported by people, by community – and that’s what makes it awesome.
Fuck Sportives, fuck organised rides, fuck gloopy high5 shit handed out in community centre. To be fair, they’re a lot of fun. But the DunRun is bloody great.
Next year’s can come soon enough. But, neither can bed time.