It was also the first time I was going to attempt a ride of more than 130 km on my Long Haul Trucker, with a yet unbroken-in saddle. A lot to fear, maybe, but surely would add a bit of spice to an otherwise easy and flat ride to the coast.
Saturday evening and we, as always, are rushing to get things done on time. Pack loads of food, drink, check bikes, lights, clothing, weather forecast, routes, batteries, spares, and again, weather forecasts. The night promised to be very pleasant, with temperatures above 10C throughout and a tailwind all the way to the beach. Lovely, especially when comparing with last years predictions of rain (which never turned out to be true though!).
|Relaxed atmosphere before the off|
By 9 pm we were already battling our way through traffic to get out of Hackney. Heading North East we soon got on the road leading to Epping Forest. I grabbed a coke here as was already feeling tired and sleepy after a busy week with not much sleep. We re-joined the train of riders and made good progress, crossing the M25 still in (some sort of) daylight.
|Audaxer (left) meets Mario Bros|
|Through Epping Forest|
|Crazy number of cyclists going through|
Proper night time cycling it was now. Very few motorised traffic, and the lanes became ours, with the exception of a few random drunkards that we saw on the roads, in the dark, going who knows where. We made progress passing through familiar Essex towns, and eventually got to the half way stop in Sibble Hendigham by 2 am. As expected, it was packed with cyclists, with queues that were completely off-putting for getting food. Luckily we had brought our own food, and it was still relatively warm, so ate our sandwiches happily while observing others pulling in and out.
|All types of bikes, at the half way stop|
|Sunrise in the countryside|
|Lucy in good spirits|
50 km or so to the coast we came across the famous bacon butties stop, in someone's garden. We too stopped here last year, both feeling completely knackered and in much need of a rest. This time though, we knew what to expect and made a quick incursion into the garden for some hot food and a coffee. Dan was being hit by the sleep deprivation bug, so he was happy to get some caffeine in. Pop up stops are all over the place now - people have realised there's potential for business here! The owners of this garden had also set up a tent where people seemed to be having naps in their cozy sleeping bags! Had it been cold and rainy I would not have minded, but it was time to go hit the roads again for the last stretch to the beach.
|Bacon roll and coffee stop|
|Wheat fields and sunshine|
|Lucy enjoying the final kms|
|Lucy & Dan followed by many others|
|Finding a clear spot for a snooze|
|The beach full of tired bodies|
|Some folk came very well prepared!|
Bring on Dunwich Dynamo 2013!!!