Wet Roads to The Stores.
Margot and I decided to make the most of a break in the weather, and pedal down to The Stores in Great Waltham. It was rather wetter than we anticipated!
We started by pedalling up the Flitch Way, coming off at Rayne. The first water we encountered was on School Road, where there is a regular flood a couple of hundred meters after crossing the A120, just after Mill Lane on the right. We watched several high axle vehicles plough through the water, and decided it was too deep to ride. Then a flat back truck paused and offered us a lift through it! So a slightly-built, incredibly strong young man lifted my heavy touring bike as if it was as light as a feather, onto the vehicle, along with Margot’s bike, and we hitched a ride for 50 meters to avoid the flood. Hurrah for strong young manual workers!.
As I tried to wriggle off the back of the truck,I snagged my cycling trousers, and discovered they were ripped on both legs when I got back home! But at least we got through the flood, because of the kindness of strangers!
We rode down towards Leez Priory, and saw various points where the River Ter had burst its banks. Also, as we turned right towards the Three Compasses, the road was flooded at the top of the hill. his always surprises me, as I expect floods at the lowest road point, but water always finds its optimal route. Margo is much more confident than me at riding through floods, so I always let her lead the way, and she was always right that the road surface was sound and passable!
The River Chelmer at Howe Street was also very high. The road was flooded on the east side, and Margo rode through confidently, waiting for me to follow cautiously.
We accelerated up the hill to ride into The Stores, and fell on lemon curd scones and almond and chocolate cookies. The Stores has had a significant reduction in trade (take-away only) and are only opening Thursday, Friday, Saturday at present.
Margot and I pedalled through Little Waltham and found the roads on the east side of the A131 were more flooded than on our route to the west side. The roads were often acting as a river route, channelling water from the fields, and all the water spraying up from my wheels meant I ended up with wet feet.
Healthy & safety tip for the season is about oiling bike chains. Jim usually puts drylube on my bike chain because it is less sticky and dirty than oil. But the main disadvantage of drylube, is that it comes off in water. The Essex climate means drylube is fine in summer. But when riding in wet conditions, the loss of drylube means the chain rusts quickly. So Jim has been using oil on the chain during winter. Given how wet the roads are at present, regularly oiling your chain makes sense at this time of year, to prevent rust.
We found the roads were sufficiently awash with water, and devoid of traffic, that we decided to follow the Boreham Road all the way to Great Leighs, rather than take the smaller roads. Here we were caught in a shower of rain. From Great Leighs, we flew up the old road past the old showground, and took the cycle route through Great Notley to London Road, where we went our separate ways home.
Fantastic ride. 20 miles, 10mph, clear skies until the end, and conducive company. What not to like!