The Dunwich Dynamo 2019 is done for an other year. So what did we learn? This was the first year I participated in the event other than standing at the start line cheering. It has been a goal of mine since working at London fields cycles in the ’90s. I was too young, timid and or inexperienced at the time and as the shop was so close we have always been insanely busy on that particular Saturday every year. This year I was determined to take part. Whilst undoubtedly challenging, I’m pleased to report that with a reasonable degree of fitness and a reliable bike it is quite achievable and an undeniably rich experience.
As a result of my near successful attempt to reach Dunwich I thought I would list a few of the things I found helpful to assist potential newbies in planning their attempt next year.
I was advised to ride at my own pace. I didn’t and it caused issues. I rode with my partner who was a bit slower as I was riding a geared bike and she rode a single speed. This mismatch meant she worked hard to keep up which wore her out and I kept cooling down because of the slow, stop-start pace causing a multitude of niggly injuries. There are thousands of cyclists on the road, pick a group who are going at your speed and tag along.
The shared experience with my best friend will be something I will never forget and wouldn’t have changed a thing. Because my partner was so fatigued and I was worried about back, both knees, my shoulder and a dislocated toe we quit just a few miles from the end. We also had to get back to Ipswich, another significant leg to a long journey.
The multiple minor injuries brings me on to the second valuable nugget of insight. My physiological woes were probably due to over training before the event. My preparation began two months before the ride with six to ten mile sessions seven to fourteen times a week. I over did it. I should have attained a good level of fitness and taken the foot off the training gas a couple of weeks before. Building up my energy reserves and allowing my joints rest and recovery before the event would have been wise. I cycle lots already so mixing it up with long walks and trips to the pool would have been a good idea.
I read somewhere beforehand that these ultra distance rides are basically eating competitions. I feel whoever stated that was essentially correct. Tiredness can be overcome with enthusiasm, sugar and caffeine etc. Energy levels will drop however. To keep your energy up you must eat lots. Real food is great for comfort and moral but nuts and energy gels are the hi tech, hi calorie boost that will keep you powering on with a grin on your face!
Nuts and gels are great cos they weigh so little for their calorific content. Be warned however, there is such a thang as too much of a good thang! Gels can turn your stomach and toilets are in short supply on the Dynamo route. Real food can be bought along the roadside and from pubs along the way. Water can also be topped up at most stops.
The Dunwich Dynamo 2019 was brilliant. If you want to do it next year but not sure you’ll make it, you’re not alone. It is intimidating but with a little preparation, the right clothes and a sensible pace anyone with reasonable fitness can achieve this and have tones of fun in the process! If you don’t believe me think about the last time you stayed out partying all night, It’s totally doable! If people of pensioner age can do this so can you!
Watch this space… I’ve got loads of other insights just no time to jot them down. leading up to the event next year I will add to this page of ‘things learned.’