: The overflow valve for my mind
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Part 2 - A start to the evening

I decide to just follow my nose, ask a couple of pedestrians and hope for the best. After a while I spot another cyclist, he has panniers, a set of decent lights, and not only two water bottles but also what looks suspiciously like a flask of coffee. I put on a spurt of speed, overtaking a couple of cars, and then catch him at a set of lights.
“Excuse me, but are you by any chance doing the Dun Run?”
“Can I follow you to the start?”
“Well I don’t know exactly where it is”
Uh oh, this doesn’t sound good!
Then he says “I think it’s near London fields and I know how to get there”
“Ah great” I say “I know exactly where the start is if you can get me to that point. We’re just off the edge of my map at the moment.”
And so, in a moment of mutual help between two fellow travellers we find our way to the start of the ride.

My group, or rather those people I met on the internet, are easy to find. One has spiky red hair, another a solid black false eye, and another is licking the battery cables from his lights and jumping as his tongue is zapped by the current. Is it time to start worrying about the company I’m keeping? Then I spot my sister and her husband and their tandem that’s adorned with fairy lights. Yes maybe it is time to start worrying!

We head over to the pub for a pint, although for once I take the more sensible option and settle for a good but relatively weak ale. It’s going to be a long night. I also head round the corner for a quick Chinese takeaway to line the stomach and give that little extra energy. (Memo to self, ask for a fork or chopsticks next time, fingers and chow mien are a bad combination). Then it’s time for the final preparations, I need to find somebody called Barry and pay him for a seat on a coach back to London. I also need to find somebody called Patrick and get a route sheet so I know where to go.


Suddenly it’s nine o’clock and people are starting to depart. There’s a mass exodus out of the park with everybody following the first instruction of “Nth under blue bridge on Martello St”. I jump on my bike and follow the crowd. I know it’ll be easier to navigate out of London by following the crowds than it will be trying to navigate by myself. However I start doubting this wisdom after a mile as we turn through “No Entry” signs and into the path of oncoming traffic! The group grinds to a halt and we all try to lay blame on whoever’s navigating. Then we try to find who is navigating.

Back on track the group settles into an easy pace. I can’t see how many there are but I know there must be quite a few of us as pedestrians are stopping to watch as we swoop past and some oncoming drivers are bibbing tooting and waving. We keep going, I’m desperately trying but failing to follow the route sheet, its easier just to follow the riders in front. A lady on an elderly bike suddenly turns round in panic “I’m not part of your group” she blurts, before heading for the kerb in panic. As we come to a halt at one set of lights there’s a fumbling amongst all riders as we try to turn our route sheets over in our varying map holders.

Then it’s time for the first really amazing sight of the evening. We’re heading towards Epping and finally get off of the street lit roads. As I look ahead I can see the road gently curving to the right, and for what looks like a mile ahead all I can see in front of me and through the hedges in the distance is one solid line of red bicycle lights. There isn’t a break in it, it’s just one solid line. Some flashing, some fixed, but just bike lights for as far as the eye can see.

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