Dunwich Dynamo 2009 and our comedy bike

Digg! this story! Digg! this story. July 6th, 2009 Von SmallHaussen

I remember just under a year ago, being on holiday with Karl and his family and chatting about the Dunwich Dynamo (he and a couple of friends did it last year for the first time and I picked them up and took them home). The conversation went a bit like this.

Me: The Dunwich Dynamo - you guys looked knackered, but there was a stange sense of chilled out happiness in the air, like everyone really enjoyed it.
Karl: yeah, it was really good, are you going to do it next year.
Me: Mmmm, but I have a bike which has been sitting in the office car park for the last year collecting dust, I haven’t even ridden it to work for such a long time. Not sure I’d be able to do it, how much training would I have to do. And I’d never keep up with you guys. I’m not doing it if you leave me behind - that won’t be fun.
Karl: (Joking - I think) I know - lets get a tandem.
Me: (Definitely joking) Okay - but only if it’s covered in fairy lights.

And so it began…

Karl arrived down on the Friday night, and on Saturday we met up with a friend on pootled about - took a visit to the Bike Recycling place just off the Lea Bridge Road for a new brake lever, and also bought one set of new pedals at the final minute as one of the front pedals was loose. Karl added the final finishes to the bike (our call signs and the fairy lights), and our partners in crime - Rob, Robbie and Matthew turned up at about half four. The Doktor and his partner came over and before I knew it, we were ready to go. At this point I had locked the front door, but a nervous stomach delayed the start for a couple of minutes.
My call sign
The Doktor and his partner had agreed to come and see us off, and also cycle up to the Lea Bridge road with us, to make sure we set off in the right direction, so off we all headed down to London Fields – where we were greeted by the sight of about 800 – 1000 other riders. We picked up a map and our tickets for the coach back and before we knew it, it was time to go.
I think we were probably some of the earlier riders, but we knew it would also take us longer so we set off at just after eight with our escorts, who waved their goodbyes about five minutes later. As we were heading down the Lea Bridge Road and up towards Walthamstow I encountered a small problem with the handle bars, which had come loose, and gradually dropped lower and lower, bashing my knees. We persevered for a while, and by the time we stopped the handle bar had dropped by almost 180 degrees down (yep – I have one very bruised and swollen knee now). Fixed the handle bar (although it had to be constantly fixed throughout) – and continued off through bandit land aka Epping Forest. The “she’s not peddling on the back mate” comment was already wearing thin and at this point I wished that our comedy bike had got a comedy squirty flower for us to use.

After Epping forest we started to encounter the hills – whoever says, ahhh Sussex is flat, you’ll be fine, neglected to factor in two things.

Firstly – half of the trip is in Essex which definitely WASN’T flat.

Second – Daisy is made from steel (and probably got some lead weights in there just for fun).
Daisy still looks happy
We got some great speed up going down the hills, what with the weight of the bike and my backside, and I managed to get over the scariness of the speed, and lack of control over my own destiny, but we’d be flying down the hills at 30mph, get to the bottom ready for the up, only for Daisy to screech to a grinding halt about a metre up the hill. We then had to pedal like crazy people and bust a gut to get to the top, the sound effects and bad language coming from me was quite something. There was one hill in particular that we both looked at and just said in unison – lets walk! There was no way it was going to happen!

Most of the rest of the journey to Lavenham (just over half way and our feeding point) was a bit of as blur and passed without incident, although we did finally get to meet Adrian Fitch who cycled with us and chatted to us for a while. Amazingly we saw him again at Lavenham, but then he told us that he’d been there for about two hours when we arrived (I knew there was no way we could have been going that fast).
just checking where we arejust over half way - doing okayjust over half way - and looking a little pink
After peanut butter and banana muffins and some flapjack, we set off again. The boys would cycle with us for a while, then head off, stop and wait for us. We’d cycle by, wave (well they couldn’t miss us really) and then they’d come and catch us up again. This carried on until about the 90 mile mark, where we stopped for more refreshments (muffin for me, flapjack for the boys) and watched the most beautiful sunrise (shame about the pylon right in the centre of the pic). By this time I was starting to get close to the wall. My backside was killing and I was starting to feel tired.
about 90 miles in - amazing skyline90 miles in and starting to hit the wall
It started to rain at this point so waterproofs were donned and the next 20 miles were pretty much more of the same. At one point we caught up with Matthew, who didn’t bring waterproofs and waved at him as he was lying under a tree looking a little beat up and ready for some rest. We caught up with the other two who took it in turns to ride one behind us and one next to us (for which I’m eternally grateful).

The bum breaks became a little more frequent from this point on and just nine miles from the end, I finally hit the wall fully and had to get off the bike. I planted my face into the gravel and just laid flat on the ground starfish stylee and focused on my breathing in the hope that I could find some inner strength from somewhere. The boys didn’t really know what to make of this prone shape on the floor and I could hear them talking to each other saying, do you think she’s okay, what should we do, what’s she doing? Did a back stretch and eventually sat up to see three concerned faces looking back at me and not quite knowing what to say. They fed me a power gel and I perked up enough to get back on the saddle.
Just after this we saw our first sign for Dunwich – 8.5 miles away – which was a huge relief, but it still felt like an eternity. As we approached Dunwich, I recognised the Heather fields and knew we were nearly there, but my bum was so sore I needed another break. Karl, rightly refused and made me stand and cycle, as we headed closer and closer to the beach. The final mile was sheer agony and felt like it took forever, but eventually at 7.30am, just over 11 hours after setting off from London, we made it, and immediately joined the breakfast queue. It was till raining at this point but we joined the queue nonetheless.
We made itQueue for breakfast
After about half an hour we were nearing the front and Matthew still hadn’t arrived. We called him to see if he wanted us to order for him, but he was still 8.5 miles away and not sure how long it would take him so we left him to it. Eventually breakfast was ordered and a table found and we got stuck into a well needed fry up (veggie breakfast and hot chocolate for me, full English and tea for the boys).

After breakfast we found ourselves a spot on the beach, the boys bravely went for a swim, then we loaded up the bikes. Hans and Siegfried go for a swim
Matthew turned up - he’d been under a tree for 45 minutes, waited for the rain to stop, cycled for a couple miles, sheltered under another tree, cycled a little more, found a café, stopped – then made it to the beach. We slept for a couple of hours on the beach before Matthews sister came to see us which was very lovely of her – was so nice to see a friendly face.
A couple of hours kipsleepy cyclists enjoying the sun
She hung around until it was time to get the coach back – which was when I fell asleep properly (I know this because I kept waking myself up with belly rumbling snores). The coach dropped us off at Smithfields and eventually the bike vans arrived. We had two options for getting back to mine – shorter route with hills, or the slightly longer flat one – guess which one we chose! Was really quite nice as we cycled past my office so I got to show the boys my normal cycle route home, which is quite a nice trip and only about 3 miles long – thank goodness – hooray – over and done with and with the rose tinted glasses already on only another year until we get to do it all over again.

I thought that we had the best comedy bicycle for the ride, but have heard tales of one person cycling on a unicycle, and if you search flickr, there are pictures of someone doing the dunrun on a penny farthing – now that’s style! Next year we just need to add squirty flowers, a comedy horn that plays clown music and square wheels and we may be able to take the crown back!


  • Type: Cycle
  • Date: 07/06/2009
  • Time: 22:21:14
  • Total Time: 11:15:00.00
  • Calories: 5326
  • Distance: 120 miles
  • Average Speed: 10.67 mph

Entry Filed under: Cycle


  • 1. Dunwich Dynamo 2009 and o&hellip  |  July 6th, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    [...] View original here:  Dunwich Dynamo 2009 and our comedy bike [...]

  • 2. Adrian Fitch  |  July 7th, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Congratulations. A herculean effort.

  • 3. Rob H  |  July 7th, 2009 at 8:45 am

    We weren’t cycling behind to give support….we were taking it in turns to draft you…..you’d be amazed at the size of the aero hole that Daisy makes !!!!!

  • 4. Robbie  |  July 7th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Not as big as your aero-hole, Roberty.

    I briefly thought you were worshipping the dawn when you went face first onto the gravel. We were rather worried - took a lot of willpower to get back up again.

    Next year then! (the horror has worn off already)

  • 5. Karl On Sea  |  July 9th, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I am seriously wondering about the idea of building a trandem. Sheldon Brown has some instructions on how to construct such a beast . . . .

  • 6. Von SmallHaussen  |  July 10th, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Cool - do it!

  • 7. Do The Right Thing »&hellip  |  October 8th, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    [...] your canapés at a sophisticated cocktail party. The prize pot is actually the tub that he left at Von Smallhaussen’s in the summer , but we’re assured that it has a long shelf life, and what appears to be hairs in it are [...]

  • 8. Do The Right Thing »&hellip  |  November 21st, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    [...] Von Smallhaussen and I did the Dunwich Dynamo this year on a late-70s Pashley tandem that I’d rebuilt [...]

About:Von SmallHaussen

Location:Stoke Newington London United Kingdom

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