“Just follow the red lights?”

There’s a terrific thrill to riding in a stream of random strangers, following the wheels ahead, oblivious to where you’re all going. The DD route was subject to pretty continuous tweaking in the early years. Now it’s been stable enough, for long enough, that plenty of people know it by heart. Thirty years have made “JFTRL” a more reliable strategy, particularly for the exit from London. Further up the road, when riders are spread more thinly you may struggle to find lights to follow.

Finchingfield 2010: image James Medcraft.

If JFTRL is your only navigation plan you may have to ride faster – or slower – than you’d like. You may have to stop when you’d rather not, or keep going when you’d prefer to stop. You may be misled by locals going to buy cigarettes in Bury St.Edmunds. How will you cope if delayed by a puncture, a ‘mechanical’, a call of nature?

The trickiest navigation of the ride is beyond the River Gipping in Silly Suffolk. Here you’re on narrow lanes through isolated hamlets. Unless you are fan of shivering on a mistly seashore you’ll be riding this section in daylight when only people with status issues keep their lights on. If you miss the route you’ll probably make it to the coast? The North Sea is a big target. But will it be fun or a lonely ordeal?

Concentrating only on others, not paying attention to where you are and where you’re going, may spoil your ride and – worst of all – delay your ascension to the sainted category ‘someone worth following’.

Never assume anyone else knows the way.

About patrick

a founder of the legendary Dunwich Dynamo
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