I'm not a racist. In fact, some of my best friends are racers. But I'm more interested in bikes as enabling an enjoyable passage from A to B, not two-wheeled pain barriers through mountain scenery you're going too fast to enjoy. So, when I say I've just signed up for a 200km bike ride, you'll understand it is definitely not a race.
The Dunwich Dynamo is Britain's most famous best-kept cycling secret: an annual ride through a full-moon July night from London to the Suffolk coast along with about 500 other people. It’s not for charity, it’s not organised, it’s not a time trial. It’s not a demo or a commemoration, it has no official start or finish line, and there are no medals or certificates for those who complete it.
In fact, it’s not for anything. It’s just a very long ride in the dark with a lot of people. It’s gloriously pointless, sometimes painful, and done for sheer collective enjoyment, like football or opera or life.
And it’s precisely this non-organised, non-aligned, just-for-the-hell-of-it nature that is the appeal. Everyone who’s done it raves about their remarkable experience, and the cult's growing: from 200 riders in 2003 to over 700 in 2006. Expect about 500-600 in 2009.
This year's Dynamo is on the Saturday night/Sunday morning of 4/5 July. The reason to start thinking about it now is that booking has opened for the return coach, the only sensible way of getting back to London apart from turning round and cycling 200km back. (Some people do, apparently.) If you book now it's only £14 to secure a place for you and your bike back.
It won’t be long before its growing media coverage makes it mainstream, and it’ll get all corporate and sponsored and involve reality TV celebs and people in carrot costumes. So do it now while it’s still cool.