Newcastle Overnight: Sydney’s Answer to the Dunwich Dynamo

Noticed the flyers around advertising the ‘Newcastle Overnight‘ lately? Wondering what it’s about, or if you should give it a try this Saturday? 

Some enterprising chaps (and/or perhaps chap-ettes) have decided that Sydney should have an overnight mid-summer ride. Chapeau, I say – couldn’t agree more! I’m not affiliated with the ride at all, I just wish I’d had the idea first.

So what is it? In their words:

Simple. A turn-up-and-go challenging free-entry overnight 160km bicycle ride on-tarmac from Sydney Observatory Hill to Newcastle on the northern coast of NSW.

… and that pretty much says it all. It was riding London’s equivalent event, the Dunwich Dynamo which attracts hundreds of riders each year, that rekindled my love of cycling. If you’re tempted to give the Newcastle Overnight a go, but aren’t sure if you can make the distance, you might just surprise yourself. I managed to make it to Dunwich Beach riding a mountain bike, and my only training was my 5km each-way daily commute through pancake-flat London. But it’s not about the distance or how fast you get there, it’s about the challenge, and the camaraderie of riding a bloody long way through the night with a bunch of equally foolish other people. At the time, when I could still turn a phrase, I wrote:

For me, the wee hours of the morning were eerily magical (maybe it was the delirium brought on by exhaustion?)… Riding through the countryside in the pre-dawn darkness, following the red lights ahead of you as they seem to flutter up the next hill… you couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the weekend.

There’s some selective quoting going on there, and if you want a more honest idea of what to expect it’s worth reading the full post.

In short, if you’re even considering doing it, you should give it a go. That said, my tips for making it through the night safely would be:

  • Have lights front and back. Good ones. Take spares if you’ve got them.
  • Carry something to eat, at least a muesli bar or two – if you start to tire in the middle of nowhere, you’ll need it.
  • Carry water. Drink it. It might be cooler at night, but you still need to hydrate.
  • Wear some padded shorts. Seriously.
  • Carry a spare inner tube. Or 3.
  • Take it easy, enjoy yourself, and look after the other riders around you.

I’m still not sure if I’ll be able to do the ride myself, but I hope everyone makes it to Newcastle safely, has a blast doing it, and it becomes an annual fixture.

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