The Man with the Hammer by Rocco Malatesta
I may get taken as a masochist, but I welcome the visit from the man with the hammer at 5am.
He’s like the strict teacher that everyone in the school fears, but when you get to his class, you realise that he just doesn’t fuck around, he wants to help you better yourself and is usually kind, thoughtful and respectful – and punishment is fair and justified.
‘The Man’s’ lesson is the point at which we learn that self will can, and will, fail us.
We’re taught in life to fight, to overcome obstacles, to tread on toes and to steamroller problems.
You’re strong, we’re told. But you can be better. Push harder. Just do it.
We’re then given a million problems that one can only ‘defeat’ with the advertised product and as a result, we become weak, burdened by problems that are not ours, pain that does not exist.
We incorporate this into our daily lives and strive to overcome these problems every day. Bigger house, more pointless shit to put in it. Magazines, Trainers, even children. The latest habitat coffee table, hand crafted in India from the armpit hair of a dolphin.
However, the simple reality is that these behaviours are little more than our self will desperately trying to stamp itself on the world.
After 60km of riding a bike, these thoughts of madness generally fade. The body is undertaking too much to bother wasting energy thinking. This is a good thing.
However, we are still living our entire lives powered by ‘ourselves’. But when ‘the Man’ comes for us, that all changes.
I remember the first time I met him like it was yesterday. It was the first London to Brighton I did at Ditchling beacon and I got off my bike and cried like a child.
I couldn’t go on. What I didn’t know what that this ‘Beware Horses’ sign marked the end of the climb, but I was so buried in self pity that I couldn’t look up and see the crest of the hill.
The man taught me something that day – that self will can and must be torn down and replaced by something that has power.
Through the medium of my bicycle I set about reinventing my life, being the person I wanted to be, not the person I was told to be.
The Man showed me my God.
I hope that he will show you yours.
When he comes, *if he comes*, welcome him with open arms.
Dunwich Dynamo takes place this year on July 13th 2013
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Pilgrimage to the East Coast
So, the Dunwich Dynamo rolls around again.
Newbies quake and rally around the old timers, desperate for some reassurance. Stories of Boris bikes and Penny Farthings get rolled out to relieved sighs and glances.
It’s easy to see how many people fear the dynamo.
First, it’s a night ride, and exhaustion hits that much harder when coupled with sleep deprivation. Second, it involves some serious pack riding. Thousands of cyclists jostling for positions and lines, most unaware of the fine etiquette of the peloton. Third, it’s two hundred bloody kilometers long. Oh, lorks.
But the Dynamo isn’t a harsh or unkind mistress. She does not cause you to fall to the roadside, to walk home, or call a cab.
She does not force suffering or pain or injury. That is not to say she is not demanding – but demands are achievable.
The riders biggest enemy is their own fear.
When viewed through the warm haze of 364 days recovery, the ride is beautiful. It is the fine wine of the randonneur, the subtle blue cheese of the Audax rider. Like touring, but without the boredom. A night of fellowship and warm air gently swirling around your helmet. No tears and little sweat. Just take a chilled out pace and point northeast-ish. Keep going until the sun rises and you run out of land. Bliss.
The mind buzzes at the thought, buzzes like a thousand freewheel pawls, tapping their gentle rhythm all the way down from the hill from Epping.
Like a troupe of mechanical grasshoppers calling in the soft undergrass for a mate, so too does the well travelled road to Saxmundham call forward the rider.
Should a brother [or sister!] falter? A Samaritan stops, picks them up, puts them back on the bike and gives enough gentle encouragement to keep them going.
Should a mechanical strike? There are enough experienced mechanics about to put right any issue.
To the experienced, the Dunwich Dynamo loses it’s fearsome figure and becomes a pilgrimage.
Everyone finds something different in the warm night air.
Last year, I learned that anyone that told me I couldn’t do something was talking out of their arse. I learned that I could do anything.
I also learned that when the ‘Man With The Hammer’ comes calling at 5am regarding a debt of suffering I owed him, I could carry on regardless – despite him shaping me with mighty blows against the anvil of my naivety.
Subsequently, I learned to bring some satchets of Electrolyte powder this year.
I found peace, beauty and a feeling of all enveloping love, as the warm sunrise lifted my spirits and enlightened my soul.
Light cannot be observed to shine so bright without darkness, and the warm morning air must be contrasted to the chill of the pre dawn hours in order to be most appreciated.
Luckily, the best company awaits to carry you through the dark and into the embrace of the Framlingham butty stop.
Have courage, and know that the person that stands on Dunwich beach is a different person than the one that departs London fields.
Look forward to meeting that person, for they will have a most amazing story to tell.
Video: Is of a fellow DD rider and not me.
You may remember our earlier article by Alex Murphy on the Restless Ride that he and a number of howies staff and friends took on the night of the Spring Equinox Across Wales. Here finally is the film featuring author, cyclist and howies fan; Rob Penn.
The Rest Less Ride took the peloton of 16 riders from the west coast, all the way to the east. They cycled unlit back-roads riddled with pot-holes, gravel and barrier-less hairpin bends. They passed through deep dark valleys, through forests and up mountains, in a race against the sunrise.
The Rest Less Ride celebrates the pleasure of cycling and the friendships it forges.