Author Archives: adam

Dunwich Dynamo 2016

Dunwich Dynamo, or simply the dun-run, is a semi-organised mass bike event from Hackney in London to the beach at Dunwich, overnight, on the weekend closest to the full moon in July. That’s 110 miles, in country lanes in the dark. A ride for good legs and gooder (sic) lights.

I first heard about it a few years ago and last year a friend had a go and really enjoyed it, so naturally we agreed to tackle it together this year.

The Steed

Dunwich Dynamo Bike

Dunwich Dynamo Bike

Having not ridden this before but with ideas of riding back, I opted to take my “faster” bike in the hope it might make the return leg easier. I loaded it up with a last minute panic buy toptube bag for food and managed to attach a jacket to my saddle bag (not that it was needed, the temperature barely dropped below 17 degrees all night).

Every other pocket was loaded with food as well. Just in case. Apart from some arm warmers and phone/money. In hindsight that much food wasn’t really needed, there are plentiful stop points with a variety of food options. Still, it’s always good to have some as a back up.

I’d also panic-last-minute had the rear wheel trued and replaced a heavily fraying gear cable. This didn’t seem like the kind of ride to be testing the limits of wearing out equipment.

As it turned out, the bike was a good choice for me and made the ride comfortable (well, at least as much can be expected for a ride of that length?). However, at the start and throughout the ride, an amazing variety of bikes were on display. It really is a ride where you can turn up on whatever you own and give it a bash.

One of the most memorable bikes was a four person, two higher, two lower, side by side, contraption, which was being ridden for charity:

Dunwich Dynamo Four Person Bike

Dunwich Dynamo Four Person Bike

Ready, Steady, Go

The ride starts at/outside Pub on the Park in Hackney. I had opted to take a train to Waterloo and cycle over from there (to save a few miles). Leaving Waterloo, I picked up other cyclists like the Pied Piper – not that I had much idea of where I was going – and we made it to the pub a short while later. There are cyclists everywhere. And bemused locals. Amazingly (well, not really, but with the help of mobile phones) all of our small group located each other.

We set off with some of the first groups of cyclists, leaving not long after 8PM. Tradition seems to dictate a pre-ride beer, and while it was very tempting, previous experience of beers on long rides have not proved to be very conductive to maintaining any kind of will to pedal.

It’s a very jovial and fun atmosphere as you leave (actually, for the whole ride) but the early part was also my least favourite part (of the ride over). Lots of cyclist mingling with cars on fairly busy roads and drivers being either confused or angry at the amount of cyclists “in their way”.

Dunwich Dynamo Depart

Dunwich Dynamo Depart

In fairness, it passed with out incident – actually there were a few inexplicable crashes in the earlier miles, possibly through over excited riders touching wheels or clipping pavements (everyone seemed to be fine) – and once we made it past the first few miles and out towards Epping Forest, things started to calm down.

Riding a non-circular route like this provides some logistical challenges for the return and non of us were opting to take the available coach-ride back. This meant we all had further to go than the 110 miles of the ride so we had agreed to press on throughout the ride to allow time to finish our journeys. This meant skipping some of the food and rest stops.

We made our first stop after about 50 or 60 KM at an unofficial (even more than the semi-official stopping points) cafe/restaurant, who seemed very amused about the masses of cyclists ordering coffees and asking to use the facilities so close to closing time. Maybe they would be a good candidate for opening late next year, although probably best to stock up on some nuts/crips/other snacks if so.

With some coffees and cokes drunk, we continued on into the darkness.

Night

Riding through the night, following endless red taillights is quite an eery experience. You have very limited awareness of your surroundings but still (hopefully) an intimiate grasp of what is happening immediately ahead and behind. It was a full moon but still very dark in places. We were riding in some fast groups and it wasn’t always possible to tell if we were still altogether, looking backwards didn’t really reveal anything useful, but we always appeared to be near each other.

Dunwich Dynamo at Night

Dunwich Dynamo at Night

Burgers.

Dunwich Dynamo Fire Sation Stop

Dunwich Dynamo Fire Sation Stop

Coffee.

Puncture.

Dunwich Dynamo Puncture

Dunwich Dynamo Puncture

Dawn at the Beach

Dunwich Dynamo at Dawn

Dunwich Dynamo at Dawn

And Back Again

Prudential RideLondon 100 Alternatives

Prudential RideLondon 100 Commiserations

Prudential RideLondon 100 Commiserations

A few weeks ago those lucky enough to have received a place on the Prudential RideLondon 100 will have had their confirmation delivered in the post and those unlucky will have had their commiseratory magazine delivered.

If you were one of the unlucky ones, you might be wondering what event to tackle in place of the RideLondon 100. Fear not, although the RideLondon is one of the flagship events in the UK sportive calendar, there are other premium events taking place that are worth your consideration.

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Christmas Gifts for Cyclists

It’s time to start thinking about what to buy your significant other and time to start drafting your letter for Santa. Join us as we take a look at some excellent and (relatively) inexpensive Christmas gifts for cyclists.

Books

If you or your partner or family are into cycling, it’s inconceivable that there won’t be a cycling book that appeals. There are just so many available. Do you want to read about your hero? Do you want to read about hills? Do you want to read about the history of a particular race? Or do you want to read about the dark side of the sport? There’s something for everyone. Here are a few suggestions:

Bradley Wiggins – My Time

Bradley Wiggins My Time

Bradley Wiggins My Time

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Cycling with Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud’s Disease, or Raynaud’s Phenomenon, is a condition that affects blood supply to certain parts of the body, most often the fingers and toes.

The blood vessels go into spasm and the toes and fingers lose blood flow and can turn a white or blue colour.

It’s a fairly common affliction and can be particularly troublesome for cyclists as our hands and feet spend prolonged time outside over the winter months.

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11 epic cycling adventures for 2015

It’s a grey, rainy day here today at Cowbell HQ, winter is definitely coming. This is typically a time of rest, followed by steady winter miles in preparation for next year. It can be hard to put the millage in without a goal in mind. Take your pick of any of the following sportives and races to have an epic ride planned for 2015 and all the motivation you need to ride through a grim winter.

Fred Whitton

Fred Whitton Challenge Hardknott Pass

Fred Whitton Challenge Hardknott Pass

The Fred Whitton is a challenging early year sportive around the Lake District, in May. It packs in over 3000M of climbing in the 100M route. With two big climbs near the end of the route. Punchy.

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8 Tips for riding a wet sportive safely in the rain

If you’re unlucky enough to wake up on the big day to dark skies and dampness in the air, there are some precautions and tips you can follow to ensure you still have a safe and fun ride.

Slow down

Slow down and you’re more likely to successfully and safely complete a wet sportive. Breaking time is increased in the wet so keep it in mind. Your tyres will have less traction and are more likely to lock out and skid than they would in the dry. Even though it’s tempting to ride a sportive as fast as possible, for your own safety, take it a bit easier.

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