The Dunwich Dynamo has been running for 23 years, initially aimed at a handful of bicycle messengers who were required to pass through a series of control points on their 200km journey from east London to Dunwich, on the coast of Suffolk. Fast forward to the present day and the event attracts thousands of cyclists, ranging from the super-serious sportive crew to curious denim short-clad riders on hybrid machines. The ride departs London at 7pm with the aim of reaching Dunwich beach by sunrise. However this creates a logistical issue – how to get home? And as a solution, Rob Harwood created the Omanyd (Dynamo in reverse!). This extended version leaves Colchester, heading to Dunwich, before completing the route in reverse, therefore nullifying any early morning transport headaches. This ride also forms part the annual Colvelo “Monument” series, a group of four rides totalling over 1,000km between April and August.
Unlike many other long rides, the 2016 Omanyd rolled out from Colvelo’s out of town meet spot on Bromley Road at a cautious pace – or perhaps it was the underestimated southerly wind making things seem conservative. Well over a dozen riders were in attendance, including seasoned mile-chompers and some for whom this would be their biggest ever day on a bike.
In fact, the group made great progress, reaching Woodbridge well before 8am before finding a coffee shop called Honey and Harvey. It’s always nice to find somewhere which doesn’t serve a long black in a small bucket (author’s bias there!). The ride tapped onto Dunwich where we enjoyed a lingering stop, and spoke to the café staff who were clearly enjoying a bit of downtime before their annual peak.
After a stop at Needham Market, the ride meandered to Sudbury where the group was bolstered by Andy C and Rob; riding the “lite” edition which was introduced this year to allow riders to enjoy the festivities of London Fields but without the 160km warm up before Sudbury. It was quite comforting to be joined by others who hadn’t just spent 3 hours dealing with an aggravating headwind and increasing temperatures! From here the route started to undulate which broke the group up. After the now customary slump on the green at Finchingfield, the group embraced the last 70km knowing everyone was pretty fresh and we were slightly ahead of last year’s schedule. From here the ride wound through Dunmow, through the Rodings and towards Epping. A quick pep talk on the High Street reminded everyone to be wary and stay in tight formation – the next 20km of the ride demand perhaps more concentration than having just ridden 240km allows.
The group splintered heading through Woodford, passing through Leyton and towards London Fields. The northbound riders became more frequent until the roads are awash with blinking lights and hi-viz jerseys, with shouts of “wrong way!” and “you’re late!” – unbeknown to them the Colvelo rider’s were minutes away from a victorious first pint.
A few beers on the green soaking up the sounds, sights and smells of the city and we soft-pedalled down Commercial Road towards London Liverpool St. Station for the journey home. As per last year the train ride involved cheap imitation Belgian beer and the last scraps of food from the station’s various outlets.
As mentioned before this is a superb day out and the pinnacle of the Colvelo calendar rides, combining a test of fortitude and a great day out with your mates. Highly recommended for 2017!
Words by Liam Hendry