Since then our annual jaunts with Havering CTC in Essex have visited North Fambridge and Witham, but the ride to Heybridge Basin was worth repeating.
We met at the excellent café in Norton Heath, popular today with off-road motorcyclists, who roared off just before our departure. We had 6 from South Herts, 5 from the 40Plus and 8 from Havering (of whom women seemed to outdo men, in more ways than one).
Our route was similar to last time, following NCR 1 through Chelmsford, except that Judy, on the Trice, refused to use the footbridge at Sandford Mill again. This is exactly the same width as her wheels and quite scary to cross, so she took the Baddow Road route hoping to meet us later. Amazingly, she arrived at the other side of the river at exactly the same time as us and merged back into the peloton without stopping.
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We then crossed under the A12 and took a more northerly route than last time, allowing us to skirt around the Danbury ridge on some lovely lanes, which saved quite a bit of climbing. An added bonus was that all of the lanes were very well surfaced, even Cut-a-Thwart Lane, which had been terrible last time.
The route from Maldon followed the banks of the Chelmer navigation, quite narrow but well surfaced, and took us right into Heybridge Basin. The sun was out, the tide was up and it was so much nicer than last time we were here. The two pubs and the café weren’t too busy, because most people were outside sailing, canoeing or simply sunning themselves.
Our way back avoided the 15% hill as we followed the coast through Maldon, passing the quay, the Marine Lake and the promenade to leave the town on the Mundon Road. It didn’t take long to reach the café at BHN via Purleigh, Cock Clarks and Bicknacre, although I had forgotten that it was actually quite hilly around here. We know about hills in Hertfordshire, but keeping up with the fast Havering females was a challenge. I was so glad we had postponed the ride for a week as that avoided the 30+ degrees of last weekend.
Service at the garden centre was swift and the tray bakes were loaded with calories, refuelling us for the rest of the journey through Ingatestone and back to Norton Heath after a special ride with a great group of riders.