Riding through the dark for hour after hour is a peculiar sensation. At times you start to think that you should be in bed. A little drifting off takes place.
For about half an hour I thought I was silently following Dave, before realising that the pattern of lights was wrong. As I pulled up a little closer I realised that this bike had a set of panniers and not the Super C Audax bag David has been using of late.
Realising he couldn't be behind me I put my foot down and overtook the next twenty or so riders over the next couple of miles. I pulled up alongside him relieved not to have lost the only rider in our group to have completed this ride or knew where we were going.
"Where's Warren?" he said
"I'm right behind you"
Warren had been riding on my wheel when I took off and just thought I fancied going a bit quicker so had tagged along.
The strangest sight of the night could have been awarded to many (Many) things, but I think it has to go to a half hour traffic jam around some roadworks. We queued for ages to cross a makeshift pedestrian bridge over the roadworks only pausing to consider whether it was designed for 50 riders and bikes ata a time afterwards.
From here on in I made sure I could see either David or Warren's lights. They are always a bit quicker than me plus as I have no sense of direction I figured it's for the best.
We stopped at the official food stop to consume further nourishment. This was down a quiet residential road at a community centre. A couple of hundred riders eating quietly in the car park.
Once past the 100km point the night seemed to just rush by...
As the sun came up we hit a bank of fog, which decreased visibility to almost zero. Fog turned to light rain which made grip, baking and visibility (I had no glasses on) considerations.
We stopped by a lake, where locked toilets and the lack of bacon alternatives made us press on for a rumour of a tea stop half an hour further on. An hour later (or maybe half an hour for Froome) we came across a house selling veggie or meat sausages in a bun and tea. I could've wept.
By now it was morning and riders coming back the the other way started to become more common. Our estimated finish time was getting progressively later.
People were now out on the streets to cheer us along in their quietest 7 O'clock in the morning voices. The miles ticked by and we finally saw signs to Dunwich about 20 miles further on. I can't say I wasn't relieved.
We tagged along with a guy on a fixie who had lost his friends for a bit before losong him on a hill. The miles flew by in the fog and damp.
We arrived in Dunwich at 09:27 a whole 13:10:57 after we set off . Admittedly we spent a lot more time off of the bikes than I expected to and there was a wind but that was an extraordinarily large amount of time to take to do the distance.
Warren headed straight back on the bus, whilst David and I partook of breakfast in the peculiar little cafe on the beach. All thoughts of a swim and a change of clothes were out of the window.
Claire and her friends who'd been at Lattitude dropped in for a post-breakfast pint before we got the coach home.
All credit to Southwark Cyclists. There was a lorry space and a coach space for me and I got back to London (having to eat my emergency falafel en-route) without much in the way of a hitch at all.
"Will I do it again?"
Yes I think I will, but for now there was still the ride home