Cycling 120 miles with bacon and ikat

The Dunwich Dynamo isn’t a race – it’s not even an organised event. It’s much more a rite-of passage – an annual 120 mile bike ride from London Fields in east London to Dunwich, on the Suffolk coast. It’s been going for over 20 years and the route is just “known”, and the date is the Saturday closest to the full moon in July. Riders set off sometime between 7 and 9pm, and generally don’t make it to the beach at Dunwich until sunrise, or some hours thereafter.

I’ve written a full report on my ride over at my RiverRunner site if you’d like to hear more about what it’s like to cycle for 9.5 hours on a heavy mountain bike having previously only ridden 30 miles. It was tough, and some parts were more enjoyable than others!

This post is more about what I sewed in the leadup to the race, both for James and myself. My copy of the latest Sewing Bee book arrived two weeks ago, and I knew I wanted to sew up the men’s cycling jersey, just to see how it compares to my Surf to Summit men’s top, if nothing else! I did a bit of work behind the scenes on the show and book this year, and I helped out a bit with the instructions for this one but never had the pattern to sew it up myself until my finished book arrived.

bacon jersey - 1

The pattern is for a long sleeved, close fitting top with a horizontal chest seam, half zip, and folded, stand collar. I modified the original pattern to be short sleeved, and added a big back pocket similar to the one on my Surf to Summit as it feels kinda weird to have a cycling top without it. The fabric is the real standout here, however – I bought this bacon-print lycra from Spandex House when we were in NYC last March, and I knew it’d be perfect for the carnival-esque vibe of the Dynamo.

bacon jersey - 2

This was a relatively quick make, and it fits James pretty well right off the pattern sheet, though there is a bit of twisting at the collar that I think only a sewist would notice. I’ve only got a ladies dress form so you’ll just have to forgive the photos below!

bacon jersey - 3

bacon jersey - 4

bacon jersey - 5

We got a lot of compliments on the ride, with hungry riders saying how much they loved it, and a lovely guy wearing a Heinz ketchup jersey became fast friends for quite a few miles after seeing his bacon brother (the guy in the Heinz baked beans jersey was disappointingly not as friendly)!

bacon jersey - 7

Since I had a spare day after finishing James’s jersey and all my shorts had either inappropriate levels of padding for such a long ride, or were too short (and caused chafing on those 30 mile sportives), I decided to sew myself up a pair of Duathlon Shorts using some great ikat lycra from Imagine Gnats and a chamois pad from Aerotech Designs (US-based).

ikat Duathlons - 2

I wish to god there were some chamois pad suppliers anywhere in Europe selling retail amounts (if you know of any PLEASE speak up!), because these Aerotech pads are fantastic, and they include really good and detailed sewing instructions, too.

ikat Duathlons - 3

I’ve made so many Duathlon Shorts I could pretty much sew them in my sleep by now, but I wanted to take the shorts for a test ride with the chamois basted in place “just in case”. So I set out for a short 7km ride up to our local park and back the day before, and everything felt great so I then densely zigzagged the pad down right along the edge both to keep it in place and reduce the ridge.

ikat Duathlons - 5

I’m pleased to report that both these shorts and the Surf to Summit top I sewed in 2014 held up really well! I only got a bit of chafing where my bum/leg hits the front edge of the seat, but I think I would’ve had that no matter what I was wearing as a consequence of being in the saddle for that long as a novice.

ikat Duathlons - 6

I got quite a few compliments on my shorts as well, especially from the other ladies riding it – presumably they know how hard it is to find cycling gear in nice prints, too, so maybe I’ve inspired a few to take up sewing!

ikat Duathlons - 10

Read my full ride report over here or make your own cycling gear with my Duathlon Shorts, Surf to Summit Top (ladies) or Surf to Summit Top (men’s) sewing patterns.

14 Comments

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  1. 1
    Karen

    You are amazing considering the state you were in at the start of the year!! How strange of the baked beans person. Bacon and ketchup. Priceless like your hubby. Well done the both of you K xXx

    • 2
      melissa

      aww, thanks so much! I’ve been concentrating on endurance since I recovered from those awful months of illness so my speed has definitely suffered. 🙁 The British Transplant Games track races should be “interesting” this weekend!

  2. 3
    Renee

    Sounds like a fun ride. I have used your duathalon pattern for bike shorts a few times and just padded with fleece but love this link to the chamois pads. Will definitely use in the future. Not sure if you used it but I’ve used a roll on anti chafing cream for long rides. I think the bacon top is fun but I think your surf to summit top has more functional features and can be adapted for multiple sports much easier. Its on my to sew list for sure.

    • 4
      melissa

      thanks! Yes, I used my husband’s chamois butter from the start, and then reapplied at the halfway stop, too! The DIY fleece padding is great for short rides but the factory-moulded gel and foam chamois pads are just unbeatable for long ones! I just wish I could find a European supplier selling retail amounts!

  3. 5
    Linda (aCraftyScrivener)

    Well done! And perfect timing -was riding the pm and decided to make some new shorts (using your pattern!) though I doubt I will go with something as bright…..

  4. 6
    AllisonC

    Well done on staying awake all night and managing to finish with a smile on your face! That bacon print is quite mad, but perfect for an event like this.

  5. 10
    Claire Corry

    Well done on the ride sounds a great challenge. Think cycling shorts may have to be next on my sewing list I only have some boring black ones. Would be great to get hold of those pads and if of course some great material.

  6. 12
    Jane M

    Your sewing and your stamina are always inspiring. Thanks for the link to the bicycle padding and it’s nice to know the directions work well.

  7. 13
    M Kate McGinn

    You had me at cycling and bacon printed lycra :-). Your gear turned out great, and THANK YOU for the chamois supplier tip. I gave up the search a while back but it’s back on. Love your Ikat shorts! More colors and prints in my cycling future, for sure.

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