Sunday, 24 July 2011

Dunwich Dynamo

photo placid casual

I spent last Saturday night cycling from The Pub on the Park in London Fields to the the lost city of Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. 200km spent in the company of 1,500 or so other night riders.

It was the 19th edition of the Dunwich Dynamo, for its first few years it was run by a group of enthusiasts as a semi-promoted event but ever since it has become entirely self-organising. It is in its lack of officialdom that the magic of the Dynamo lies; no registering, worrying if you'll get a ticket, instructions, marshals or even start time. Simply people cycling from A to B through the countryside. There's no website, yet everyone knows the date it will take place next year and every year; the nearest Saturday to the July full moon.

The fact that the Dynamo is devoid of any central organising body means the participants feel a huge sense of ownership and pride in the event, something that would be much diminished if it were a commercial undertaking. This form of grass-roots as opposed to top down event model is much more viable in the age of social media. Old hands suggest what to take to newbies via twitter, route maps appear on cycling forums and of course the whole thing is recorded and shared. And of course bits of commerce appear to make the whole thing work; village halls opening to serve food in the middle of the night and buses and lorries for transporting people and bikes back to London.

Resonance FM's Bike Show did a pre-event programme on the history of the ride, including an interview with Rosie Downes who planned on turning round and cycling straight back to London and Leo Tong who was preparing to do it on a Boris Bike. (Rosie achieved her goal as did Leo who took only an hour more than I did to make the 200km!).

Following the Dynamo the Bike Show did a special show made up entirely of riders' AudioBoo uploads. You can listen to that here.

photo marcus_jb1973