What’s in your handbag?

The charmingly naive and deceptively simple question “whats-in-your-tool-bag?” triggered an embarrassingly long session of introspection.

What’s in your handbag? - What's not in your tool-kit?

What’s not in your tool-kit?

Apologies to readers who’ve had trouble tracking down fresh copy on owntheroad.cc since the recent transfer. I hope navigation is getting simpler, but if you haven’t found this message please let me know (cheap joke).

From my point of view it’s inspiring to be part of a stable of voices.

For example the charmingly naive and deceptively simple question “What’s in your tool-bag?” triggered an embarrassingly long session of introspection.

Obviously a nit-picker like me can’t answer – in concrete terms – unless the journey, vehicle and maybe, the purpose of the trip are specified. For example what’s in your tool kit for London-Edinburgh-London on a Burrows Ratcatcher? On the subject of that big test, remember – if you want a seat on next Summers’ edition – entries open on 5th of January 2013.

Then there’s the issue of limits. Where – for instance – does the tool-kit end and the pharmacy begin? Dental-floss goes in the pharmacy – obviously – but is useful for many repairs. Sewing needles go in the tool-kit but might be necessary – after sterilisation with the lighter which also goes with tools and is good for cracking chemical bonds – for removing splinters or draining blisters? There are plenty of simple questions but – if you aspire to get them halfway right – answers tend to be more complicated.

What’s in your handbag? - Sewing needle.

Sewing needle.

At an abstract level the glib professional answer to the question “What’s in your tool-kit?” is…

“Everything I need to make my travel reliable.”

…I’m not proud of it but glib has always been one of my favourite colours. Other answers might be…

1. Always a bike.

2. If not a bike then always an umbrella.

3. If not a bike or an umbrella then always surplus local currency.

4. 5ml Loctite 243.

What’s in your handbag? - add head-torch, tubes, lever(s), patch-kit and £50 in local currency

add head-torch, tubes, lever(s), patch-kit and £50 in local currency

Have a great holiday.

Not only a new year but also the first anniversary of owntheroad, there’s lots of excitement coming soon. The results of the Pssst competition, for which entries are still welcome. And news of the new ‘Dunwich Dynamo Daughter’ ride.

Thanks for reading.

Not an emergency

A perfect gentleman on wheels, Crampton, the snobbish young anti-hero, is resting on a roadside gate when… …among others, a very pretty girl flashed by—unaccompanied.Now, Mr. Crampton, in spite of his regard for Madge, was not averse to dreams of casual romance. And the bicycle in its earlier phases has a peculiar influence upon the imagination. To ride out from the familiar locality, into strange roads stretching away into the unknown, to be free to stop or go on, irrespective of hour or companion, inevitably brings the adventurous side uppermost. And Mr. Crampton, descending from his gate and mounting, not two minutes after she had passed, presently overtook her near the crossroad to Horley, wheeling her machine.

In H. G. Wells’ 1897 short story “A perfect gentleman on wheels“, Crampton, the snobbish young anti-hero, is resting on a roadside gate when…

“…among others, a very pretty girl flashed by—unaccompanied.
Now, Mr. Crampton, in spite of his regard for Madge, was not averse to dreams of casual romance. And the bicycle in its earlier phases has a peculiar influence upon the imagination. To ride out from the familiar locality, into strange roads stretching away into the unknown, to be free to stop or go on, irrespective of hour or companion, inevitably brings the adventurous side uppermost. And Mr. Crampton, descending from his gate and mounting, not two minutes after she had passed, presently overtook her near the crossroad to Horley, wheeling her machine.
She had a charmingly cut costume, and her hair was a pleasant brown, and her ear, as one came riding up behind her, was noticeably pretty. She had punctured the tire of her hind wheel; it ran flat and flaccid—the case was legible a hundred yards off.
Now this is the secret desire of all lone men who go down into the country on wheels. The proffered help, the charming talk, the idyllic incident! Who knows what delightful developments?”

Contemporary understanding of the diversity of human desire may dispute Wells’ comic suggestion that all men who go cycling alone in the country are secretly hoping to come across women with punctures. There is however no doubt that – in the absence of a more autonomous, reliable or dignified strategy – ‘eye-liner mechanics’ offers some kind of fall-back plan. Assuming the person with the problem has allure for the characters who carry puncture tools, not just for their own convenience, but also in hope of ingratiating themselves with others found in distress.

Relying on aid from a passing stranger is called ‘eye-liner mechanics’ because its exponents may substitute a kohl pencil for a tool-roll, pump and, one or more new or carefully patched, tubes; although many modern-day ‘Cramptons’ find a rare mixte more fascinating than subtle use of mascara.

You may not guess it from the masthead picture…

…taken outside the Swan public house, Hackney sometime between the advent of the safety bike and the demise of the old Ordinary – but owntheroad.cc is fully committed to equal-opportunities.

It is therefore pleasing to report that the first response to the no.1 Owners Club competition is a sequence of still photographs – submitted by reader J. Stables – that explode Well’s crude Nineteenth Century gender stereotyping like it were a tube trapped awkwardly between a rim and a tyre-bead. Bang!

Not only is the person in Jane’s pictures clearly unstressed by a crevaison, she has also chosen an indoor repair location. This wise precaution eliminates the risk of socially awkward, bike fanciers – who may pass en groupe – getting injured in any stampede to offer unnecessary assistance.

A puncture is not an emergency.

pssst – sample entry

The following is a sample entry to the first OWNERS CLUB competition. It’s OK but not that memorable. I didn’t want to set the bar too high. Twenty kilometres from the end of an early season 200, near the Herfordshire-Cambridgeshire line, rolling out of Litlington to join the A505 for a short stretch, I started to feel a little jaded – a normal feeling for a fat, lazy, old bloke, at that stage of a ride, at that time of the year – as if my bike were stuck to the road.

The following is a sample entry to the first OWNERS CLUB competition. It’s OK but not that memorable. I didn’t want to set the bar too high.

ONE THORN TWO TUBES

Twenty kilometres from the end of an early season 200, near the Herfordshire-Cambridgeshire line, rolling out of Litlington to join the A505 for a short stretch, I started to feel a little jaded – a normal feeling for a fat, lazy, old bloke, at that stage of a ride, at that time of the year – as if my bike were stuck to the road.

As I prepared to swing onto the dual-carriageway there was a nasty bump as the front wheel hit a pot-hole. Within a few metres I realised I was running on the rim, the tyre had gone pop.

The hole in the road didn’t seem that big – but hey – no big deal. The name plate for the side road provided a handy leaning post while I flipped off the front-tyre. No need to remove the wheel on a pretentious Burrows bike where the hub is mounted on one side only, like a Vespa.

Pumping the old tube confirmed it was a compression puncture, a snake-bite. I installed a new one, inflated it, remounted the tyre, remounted the bike and pushed on into the frosty darkness.

Twenty minutes later, labouring up a hill I noticed my front wheel was softening, again. This time the failure was harder to trace, a tiny pinhole from a thorn trapped in the tyre. It was – I realised – the second puncture from the little vegetable item. The first compression puncture had happened because my tyre was already perforated and half empty.

A penalty of the pretentious bike is two wheels of different sizes. I’d run out of good small tubes and thought for a moment about jamming a ‘559’ in the ‘349’ cavity and trusting it to last the remaining sixteeen klicks, then remembered the old adage ‘a puncture is not an emergency’. I patched the last of my little tubes. The low temperature meant the solvent took a while to evapourate, during which time I tried to warm my feet with crazy moonlit dancing.

I was close enough to the time-limit to be watching the clock. The second stop – feeling the inside of the tyre like Hellen Keller, solitary glue sniffing, rattling my cleats on the glistening frosted tarmac – took nearly twenty minutes.

Next time you get a compression puncture from a surprisingly small impact, especially if you were finding the preceding kilometre unexpectedly hard work, double-check the snake-bite didn’t come because a previous puncture had deflated the tube to the point where it could no longer keep the rim above the road. That way you’ll limit yourself to one tube per thorn.

Doorstep adventures

November, December are sweet months in the Northern hemisphere, reflecting on what you managed last year, imagining future adventures; the period before you have to try and match dreams to reality and risk getting ground between the two.

“If Winter comes can Spring be far behind?”

Percy Bysshe Shelley

November, December are sweet months in the Northern hemisphere, reflecting on what you managed last year, imagining future adventures; the period before you have to try and match dreams to reality and risk getting ground between the two.

The good news for people who live in London and like to start bicycle journeys from their front door is that, in 2013, there will be no clash between the Dunwich Dynamo and London-Edinburgh-London. In fact the traditional Saturday night spin to the beach comes seven days before Albion’s premier touring test, making it an ideal final shakedown if the grand out-and-home to the Athens of the North is in your programme.

I would recommend bike racing to anyone as an excellent route to self-reliance and contentment. If you’ve ever been in a bike race everything else tends to seem comfortable and easy.

The problem with bike racing is that almost all participants end up losing. Non-competitive time-trials are much more forgiving. All you have to do is cover the course, inside the time limit, and you get the same medal, the same entry in your palmarès, as the fastest finisher who may have come in two days before you and had time to feed, sleep and go out training, before you were back in the hutch.

On a gentle downhill, on the last morning of the 1995 Paris Brest, I dozed off. In my experience this produces a sharp alarm-signal, which I assume originates from the spirit-level mechanism in your ear. I woke to find myself toppling to the right, and fortunate enough to be running through a village with a tarmac footpath beside the road, and a dropped kerb in exactly the right place to allow a comedy, recovery swerve up onto the sidewalk. It was early, the little town was quiet, nobody minded, but I took the hint and stopped for coffee.

In the cafe flicking through a newspaper on the counter – as tired pilgrims straggled past – a good-news, picture story caught my eye, featuring the great ride’s first finishers triumphantly rolling in. Even in my battered, sleep-deprived state I was struck by the charming novelty of reading – in yesterday’s paper – the provisional result of an event thousands – including myself – were still enjoying.

‘special-needs’ start for L.E.L. 2005. Does it get more glamourous than this?

London-Edinburgh-London goes the pretty way and stretches to 1418 kilometres, close to 900 miles. If that sort of distance sounds impossibly arduous remember the time-limit – 116 hours and 40 minutes – is based on an average speed of 12 kilometres per hour. If you can average 16 kilometres – ten miles – an hour that leaves you six hours a day for sleeping, sit-down feeds and sociable networking.

These kind of events are less physical challenges than tests of efficiency and determination. If you pass you’ll become one of those happy people who say – without any sense of boasting or bravado – “…it’s only 200 kilometres.”

pssst – owners club competition no.1

There are many good things about cycling, two personal favourites are pain and dissappointment, another is that random happenstance, the puncture. Too many people these days are so frightened of this inevitable failure that they end up riding around on tyres whose casings are so hard they may as well be rolling solid rubber, like it was 1885.

“My tyres and tubes are doing fine but the air is showing through.”

Hank Williams

A couple of months ago Simon Baddely sent a link to a post on his – always interesting and thoughtful – web-log, ‘Democracy Street’. The story features a pleasant and diverting puncture…

“…always a satisfying procedure when time’s unimportant”

It got me thinking. Is it time for a bit of team-building and knowledge sharing amongst readers* of this screed?

There are many good things about cycling, two personal favourites are pain and dissappointment, another is that random happenstance, the puncture. Too many people these days are so frightened of this inevitable failure that they end up riding around on tyres whose casings are so hard they may as well be rolling solid rubber, like it was 1885.

It’s true that a badly timed flat can be inconvenient but a well planned schedule really needs to allow a few minutes for this kind of thing. As living legend Mike ‘Barcelona Mike’ Burrows, the wizard of Rackheath has observed:-  “A puncture is no worse than tea with your in-laws”.

When did you last back-up your hard drive?

First ever OWNERS CLUB contest.

  • Please send in your best puncture story.
  • No length limit but if it’s over 700 words it better be very, very interesting.
  • The story can be educational, share your mistakes so others don’t have to make them. Here’s an example.
  • The story can be happy, did a puncture enable you to meet the love of your life? stumble on a secret swimming spot? discover a fifty-pee in the gutter?
  • The story can be remarkable in any sense but it must be trueish and must feature a puncture.
  • Entries may be published – in part or fully – on owntheroad.cc but all rights will remain with you the author.
  • Attach text and any supporting images – non-proprietary formats preferred – to an email and send it to…
  • patrick@londonschoolofcycling.co.uk.
  • with the subject line “pssst”.
  • The judges decision is final.
  • There will be a mystery prize or – if the quality is up to it – mystery prizes.

*Readers of owntheroad.cc  =  ‘Owners’ [thanks to Lydia for this neat coinage.]

handbags and gladrags

Now we have an investment-quality, made-in-England musette, with both. You could even use the map to get to Harwich.

“Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.”

Victor Hugo

So far this season has seen the launch of…

Now we have an investment-quality, made-in-England musette, with both. You could even use the map to get to Harwich, for Hoek van Holland, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Köln or Berlin.

The straps are attached at an angle so the bag rests stable on your back until you need an inner-tube or a banana.

French vocabulary is so poetic. The peloton, more glamorous than the bunch, a musette more refined than a bonk- or butty-bag. For best effect these last two are delivered in a gritty (pronounced ‘gritteh’) Northern accent, ideally in a moorland hailstorm.

A musette is a small folkloric bag-pipe, that gave it’s name to a style of French accordion music, and also – because of a supposed resemblance – to a road-racer’s feed bag, passed up by a soigneur, at a zone de ravitaillement.

The real things are disposable promotional items. Once the contents have been transferred to jersey pockets and bottle cages the musette is slung away to be retrieved as a trophy-relic by some devout witness.

“This scrap of cotton? It once held Laurent Jalabert’s fourth breakfast.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQKf0IOKXgI&version=3&feature=player_detailpage]

The DD bonk-bag is made to much more exacting standards – an item nobody would want to throw into a hedge. It’s screen-printed, with a timeless design, it will still work well and look great moon-bleached and faded, on DDXL in 2032.

Available on London Fields, on Saturday night, maybe on Dunwich Beach on Sunday morning, if somebody can be a bothered to haul stock over Essex and Suffolk.

also from Bikefix in WC2 by personal visit or mail-order.

Retail price = £20

Strictly limited edition.

You know you want one.

See you on London Fields, on the road or on the beach.

batteries not included

 

 

 

“If string will do the job use string.”

Mike Burrows

The Five-Bob data display.

 

You will need…

  • 1 Zip-tie
  • 1 Bulldog clip

Zip-ties – AKA cable-ties – can be purchased in bulk from electrical wholesalers in various lengths and weights. If you’re too tight to pay cash-money for a supply you can find a pirate sign – for example “FILM UNIT” –  cable-tied to a lamp-post and cut it down carefully. Cut the tie where it’s tail enters the head to leave the longest remnant possible.

Alternatively a fine blade can be inserted into the head to lever the ratchet spring open and unlock the tie in one piece. String also works and can be transferred easily between a fleet of machines.

Bulldogs come in all sizes. They are available at stationers. Choose one that suits your application.

Tie the bulldog clip to your handlebar stem, or any exposed cables where its contents will be easily visible on-the-fly.

That’s it.

If the clip tends to rattle on the bars while empty you can make an acoustic damping system using a small section of rubber sheet – cut from failed inner-tube – secured with more zip-ties or double-sided cellulose-based, pressure sensitive adhesive tape (Sellotape).

Use your data display to carry…

  • route-summary information – road numbers, places en-route etc.
  • shopping lists
  • destination addresses
  • flyers
  • maps

Works well with…

  • a plastic bag for rain-proofing
  • a head torch to read data in the dark

Also works with Twenty-first Century bikes.

gone with the lamp-lighters and cinema projectionists

It’s entirely appropriate that a frivolous event – a night ride and beach party – has origins shrouded in mystery.

Barry Mason had flair. It was he who invented the Dunwich Dynamo’s creation myth; that a bunch of cycle messengers set-off after an evening drinking session and didn’t stop until they reached the North Sea. Barry always prefaced this confection with ‘legend has it…’ but despite the caveat his sticky tale passed into history.
It’s entirely appropriate that a frivolous event – a night ride and beach party – has origins shrouded in mystery. The problem with Barry’s story is that it may – over time – lead those without much adult memory of the Twentieth Century to misunderstand what those times were really like.

In the years when the DD was a pay-to-enter event, selling enough tickets to cover fixed costs was the difference between profit and loss. Down at Critical Mass sometime in the mid-Nineties, diligently passing out DD flyers with a coupon on the bottom, a scruffy young man took one, read it carefully and asked:- “Do any couriers do this?” Then answered his own question. “No courier would ever do that.”

His declaration was over-statement. There were some bike messengers who rode for fun, but in those days – when delivering letters and packages on a bicycle was a real job, not a lifestyle – many more of them hung up their bikes at the weekends, just as toilet cleaners put down their brushes and carpenters their chisels. On Saturday nights some of the most adept messengers travelled by taxi.

For the benefit of teenage readers; a coupon is a form cut from a newspaper, magazine, leaflet or flyer (a flyer is a promotional piece of paper like the ones promoting industrial pizza that get shoved through letter boxes)

In olden days people cut coupons out, filled them in and sent them – in paper envelopes with cheques or postal-orders – something like Paypal only slower and more concrete.

Email, electronic artwork, email attachments, automated bank transfers, Wi-Fi; it’s easy to forget how fresh this stuff is. Every kilobyte, one less cardboard envelope or – for pedants – one cardboard envelope fewer.

Is it a coincidence that just as the last Scottish Highlanders were cleared off their lands and embarked for Nova Scotia, New Zealand or Birmingham, the British aristocracy went wild for tartan, Queen Victoria had a bag-piper under her bedroom window and – in Edinburgh – North-Brit male toffs started waltzing around in pleated skirts with little daggers stuck in their socks?

The Last of the Clan

When the last un-contacted forest aboriginals get their first taste of Coca-cola, and first experience of steel tools, rich kids start wearing Campagnolo seat-pin bolts through their nasal septa and sporting warrior tattoos.

Sturmey Archer sprocket circlips?

When I explained the theory – that a global infatuation with ‘bike courier chic’ is(was?) a clear symptom that the riders with big bags and radios are running out of road – to Bill ‘Buffalo Bill’ Chidley, the King of the Couriers, he disagreed. As counter-argument the legendary self-advertiser cited a recent case of a messenger who had to ride from Soho to Clapham to deliver a hard-drive.

Later – on reflection – I tried to imagine how many old-school couriers it would have taken to carry two terabytes of paper correspondence?

One of the rules of mass-participation cycle-touring is…

Never assume anyone else knows the way.

If you ride the Dunwich Dynamo next week and follow a handful of red lights for half an hour you may find they’re not going to Dunwich at all, just heading up to the all-night garage in Bury St. Edmunds for a packet of cigarettes.

Keep the route-sheet handy – even if you know the way, it sets a good example to greener pilgrims – and this five-bob data display system will add old school Twentieth Century messenger-cool to almost any bike.

problems of giantism (part 2)

Cycle sport is fascinating and glamourous. Most people don’t have the fortitude and humility for cycle sport with it’s grueling diet of pain, disappointment and humiliation. A road race – even at the bottom of the pyramid –  may have fifty starters, only one will win. In cycle-sport second place is also known as ‘first loser’.

the Cannibal on another good day

Cycle sport is fascinating and glamourous.

Most people don’t have the fortitude and humility for cycle sport with it’s grueling diet of pain, disappointment and humiliation. A road race – even at the bottom of the pyramid –  may have fifty starters, only one will win. In cycle-sport second place is also known as ‘first loser’.

Eddy Merckx once said  that:- “In racing, there are always more bad days than good.”

And he was Eddy Merckx.

There’s a category of person – almost all men – who love the frisson, the glamour, of cycle-sport but lack the courage, fortitude and humility required to participate. Some of these people enter events that are NOT races, then try to win them.

“Re: Dunwich Dynamo 4th / 5th July 2009

by *********** » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:39 pm

Yes – it’ll be my fifth year (I DNF’d in 2007 due to the weather).

We’ll be leaving at 8pm and going like a bat out of hell. This may not be in the spirit of things, but it avoids having to pass hundreds of slower cyclists on dangerous roads, and the queues for food can be appallingly long if you get there late.”

Plenty to worry about in this exemplary gem pruned from the archive of an internet forum. The writer’s identity has been redacted.

No shame in not finishing, if you tried your best, better luck next year. Not finishing due to the weather – in 2007 there was a brisk tailwind, it rained during the night, which was warm, and the morning was fine and steamy – is the sign of an ill-equipped, ill prepared and callow rider. Not finishing a planned journey because of the weather, in England, in July, is pathetic.

I’m guessing the writer’s never held a racing license or pinned on a number to ride against the watch, that their idea of “like a bat out of hell” equates to a brisk but comfortable pace, and is a long way South of 40 kph?

These criticisms are matters of taste. The real embarrassment is the idea that they don’t want to overtake hundreds of slower cyclists on dangerous roads. Usually there are 364 and a half – this year one more – days when you can ride from Hackney to Dunwich without passing more than a dozen bike riders.

If you don’t want to meet other pilgrims why are you riding a social event?  None of the roads on the DD‘s recommended route are subject to avalanche, landslip or flash floods. If you find them more dangerous than you want them to be then you’re doing something very wrong.

last of the Flemish hard men?

An unwritten rule of cycle racing is ‘there must be blood”. In a race you’re expecting to take risks. As Sean Kelly sagely observed…

“You don’t think about hospital. You think about winning.”

Cycle-touring is different. Nobody is standing by to scrape you off the road and put you in an ambulance if you miscalculate. If the difference between success and failure is the width of a tyre you overslept or misread the ferry time-table. The point is to be reliable and efficient, to travel and to have fun.

The formal stop on the Dunwich Dynamo – this year at the delightfully secluded Sible Heddingham Village Hall – is to allow the luxury of running water and flush toilets. Hot drinks and a short menu are offered for sale to help cover the costs of opening and staffing this amenity. If you find the idea of queues ‘appalling’ fill your bottles, eat the food that you’re carrying and leave the rest for those who are less well prepared or more tolerant of waiting. If the food’s run out or the line is too long DON’T KVETCH. It will only draw attention to the fact that you’re lacking in the prime virtue of cycle travel SELF RELIANCE. Keep the place tidy.

The Dunwich Dynamo is a free event. It’s idiotic to float a free event and then complain if others use it to act out their harmless fantasies. If folk want to treat the Dunwich Dynamo as a road-race – and can somehow overlook the fact that it has no entry fee, no start time, no finish line, no prize list and no UCI ranking – and they manage not to endanger or inconvenience anyone but their own sorry selves where’s the harm?

In most jurisdictions bike racers are fined or disqualified for dropping litter. At the highest level, where a discarded bidon or empty musette will be fought over as if it were the blackened toe-nail of a medieval Christian saint, nobody minds. Debris is part of the show. In extreme instances…

…valuable equipment may be left behind in the frantic struggle to keep up.

Some people who’ve only seen bike racing on TV think it’s OK to drop litter so long as your bike has no mudguards, your riding as fast as you think you can go and your wearing a replica pro-team jersey. The truth is that affecting the reckless habits of a big time bike-racer on a free-to-enter touring ride makes you look like a DOOFUS.

If your cruising speed is North of 30 kph why not leave late and breeze through the field offering words of encouragement to the halt and the lame? A push on the uphills(ASK FIRST)? You might meet some nice people? If you find someone in trouble you may be able to offer help? There’s a surprisingly large number of people who think fitting a tyre is difficult, that a puncture is an emergency. Set a good example, remind people – softly – to be quiet in villages.

If you prefer to ride early and go as fast as possible remember your sweetie wrappers and dead tubes aren’t holy relics. If you drop them you put the future of the event in jeopardy. You carried them out, You take them home.

And make sure you’ve enough clothes to be warm on the beach in the small hours.

problems of giantism (part 1)

Cycle-sport is fascinating. You can learn a lot from studying it, even more from taking part; but – really -trying to go fast on a push-bike is perverse. If you want to go fast get a motorbike. When travel is voluntary there’s no problem with going slowly. If travel is a pleasure why would you want to get it over as quickly as possible? The real point of a push-bike is to go slowly.

Cycle-sport is fascinating. You can learn a lot from studying it, even more from taking part; but – really – trying to go fast on a push-bike is perverse. If you want to go fast get a motorbike. When travel is voluntary there’s no problem with going slowly. If travel is a pleasure why would you want to get it over as quickly as possible? The real point of a push-bike is to go slowly.
Going slowly means that –  if you want to make the kind of trip that can be drawn on an Ortleib 30th anniversay pannier, away from polar regions in Summer –  you’re going to spend some time riding in darkness.

Nowadays the Dunwich Dynamo has plenty of alliterative homage.

In twenty years riding all night has migrated from almost secret vice for lonely old men to become an established niche in the many-roomed mansion of bicycle-madness.

At this time of year some people email to ask: “How to register?” “Are there places left?” even “How much does it costs?” It’s more of a pleasure than a chore to explain to them that it’s just a ride to the coast. Turn up. Set off. Have fun.

When people ask “if I organise it?” I counter with an illustrative question who organises Christmas?

It just happens.

Jez Hastings – co-founder of the Dunwich Dynamo – rode the Centenary Paris-Brest in 1991. The Dynamo’s start – rolling out of a capital city in the evening –  is a self-conscious homage to that great event. The Dunwich Dynamo – like the Paris-Brest – now attracts a range of pop-up cafés along the route. These range from the long established professionals…

“Sirs

Your cycle event passes through the village of Peasenhall where I have a business called Emmett’s. We have been in operation since 1820 making traditional hams and bacon and held a Royal Warrant for over 35 years.

We have now opened up a cafe serving teas, coffees and light meals.This has proved to be very popular.The reason for my email is to highlight this service in respect of the Dunwich Dynamo and to see whether we could have a link to your site.

I look forward to hearing from you

Mark Thomas
EMMETT’S
www.ebacon.co.uk”

…to enthusiastic front-garden gazebo and camping-gaz amateurs.

The growth of pop-ups seems to be reaching a breakthrough but it’s not all positive.

“Patrick

Since I suggested the food stop at ********* I have been getting some very worrying feedback from local residents who are deeply unhappy at the behaviour of some of the riders who cause considerable and prolonged disturbance as they pass through the village, causing many folk a sleepless night. The intention was that our local Guides group run the food stop, as my daughter is in Guides and this was to raise funds for her work in ********, but I am very concerned that as we will present a fixed target for local resentment the risk of an unpleasant reaction on the night is too great for us to take. In view of this I have taken the decision to abandon the idea. This is obviously a great shame but even if there is no reaction on the night the blame for any disturbance will be laid at the door of Guides and my family, and this is something I cannot afford to risk.

Kind regards
*******”

This gracious withdrawl is a symptom of a persistent problem.

We all know riding a bike doesn’t make you a nice or sensible person. Some people are so dumb that – because they set off from Brixton, Shoreditch or Homerton and have only been riding a bike – they think they’re still in the inner-city deep in sleepy Suffolk. Others, following the modern delusion that riding a bike gently for 185 kilometres is some kind of ordeal, worthy of being sponsored to collect money for homeless pandas, don’t have the capacity to consider the feelings of others. Like hikers on the summit ridge of Everest shuffling grimly past the dead and dying they can’t think beyond their own survival.

Most of the persistent disturbance comes from distressed pilgrims debating navigation at junctions. Someone stops because they don’t know the way and aren’t following the route-sheet. Another clueless nitwit rocks up and they start a conversation. A third person arrives. The first decides it’s time to adjust their wardrobe or eat a sandwich, more come through, before you know it there’s an impromptu cocktail party going on.

Now don’t get me wrong. The Dunwich Dynamo is a social event, but there are plenty of rural lay-bys, isolated verges and moon-lit glades to stop for a snooze, a cigarette or even some frantic networking far removed from bedroom windows. The idea is to show control, for a thousand seasoned tourists to pass like ghosts leaving ne’er a banana skin to betray their stealthy passage.

Instructions on how to make a handy routing information holder for less than one pound will follow shortly.

If you’re planning to make the trip this year – why not? –  please set a good example, make it look easy and – softly – encourage others to do the same.