I knew I had a number of miles to cover if I wanted to get to Harwich. I had planned to not pick up NCR 1 until Chelmsford. It was quite nice just riding the road, even though there was a fair amount of traffic. The only part that wasn't so nice was a section they were chip-sealing. The cars were pretty good at not shooting rocks at me, and giving me lots of room. There was too much loose gravel near the side (there is no shoulder), so I had to ride fairly out into the lane.
I made the 23 miles to Chelmsford pretty quickly. Although there wasn't much to photograph today, I did take this one of an interesting sign.
I'd say it's not much of a secret if they put it on a sign!
I used the last of my fuel this morning, so I thought I would look in Chelmsford for more. I was walking around the shopping area, and was just about to give up when I saw a shop called Blacks. It was an REI type outdoor place, so I was able to get more fuel. This should be the last fuel I have to buy.
In Chelmsford, I picked up the Sly-Dog Route 1. This lady I talked to outside of Blacks said that Route 1 went everywhere. She was pretty spot-on about that. I think if I could see an overhead of the way the route goes, it would look like one of those Family Circus comics where the kid has to go someplace close, but takes the most serpentine way to get there. Of course, what that does, is add miles.
After doing one of the route's special little trails, I came out to a road. A short distance along the road and the route sign said to turn onto a Bridlepath. But, there was also a road alternate. With my previous experience with Bridlepaths, I took the alternate. It turned onto a nice quiet lane. I was enjoying this way, when I started feeling some rain drops. It was quite pleasant as I was pretty warm. Then...it started raining harder...and harder...and harder still, until I was soaked. But, I wasn't cold. It rained so hard that my glasses were useless, so I took them off. Then I had to go even slower because my depth perception is not so great without any glasses. As I was climbing up this little ridge, I could hear thunder, and see occasional lightning. I've learned how these storms are here. It pours, but doesn't last long. Sure enough, soon the rain stopped. I put my regular glasses on, as they were dry, and continued riding. Slowly, I dried out. The storm had created a few puddles. This one was more like a lake.
I had to walk Betsy. I apologized to her because she had to wheel through the water, whilst I walked on the side in the grass (it did get a bit squishy for me too).
I was still fairly wet when I came into Maldon. Since I had only had a small pita for lunch, and I saw a Subway, I decided to take my wet self in for second lunch. Also, it had free wifi, so I was able to post yesterday's blog (the wifi at Dobbs Weir had been blown out in a storm).
Continuing on, I had a bit of trouble picking up the route again. I finally found it again in Wickham Bishops. I was riding along, when I noticed the wind picking up, and some serious dark clouds. It was starting to remind me of Scotland and Ireland. I was mostly dry from the last deluge. Not for long! Again, it just poured buckets! I was thoroughly re-soaked. I passed a guy who was standing under a tree waiting it out. I was already too wet to bother.
So it's pouring, and the route takes one of it's oh-so-fun trail diversions. At least, from what I could tell amidst the running water, it was sort of a paved path. I came to a sort of a gully where I had to ford a large puddle. There was nothing to do but just ride through it. I couldn't get any wetter. The trail went sharply uphill after the puddle. There was so much water and debris running down the hill that I had to walk "upstream". At the top, I continued riding, but through puddle after puddle. The rain had lessened, so at least that was good.
As I got closer to Colchester, I really hoped to be able to take a short cut, and avoid Colchester. I was at an intersection when Jim, the guy waiting under the tree, caught up to me. I was trying to determine which way to go to not go through the center of Colchester. He actually rode with me, and got me headed in the right direction...sort of. His way would take me onto A120. When I got to it, it was a very busy road. In fact, it looked like a motorway. It wasn't, but I didn't really want to ride it anyway. I ended up coming into the edge of Colchester. I got on a road that roughly paralleled A120. I put Harwich into the Garmin. Not long after I was following the Garmin, I picked up Route 51. Sweet! Route 51 would take me to Harwich! I turned off the Garmin.
51 was very well signed. It was not too serpentine of a route, and didn't take any "special" roads/paths. Still, it was longer than the "car" way.
Just on the edge of Harwich, I saw a caravan park that allowed tents. I pulled in. The guy came out and said the ferry was just a 15 minute ride. He said they get lots of one-nighters catching the ferry. It is mostly mobile homes with a small space for tents. The potty shack and shower is in a mobile home. Let's just say...it's seen better days. But, the shower was hot, even if I could barely turn around in it. There's no toilet paper, so I've pulled out my emergency roll.
The ferry is at 9:00am. The gal in the office kindly (without even asking) drew me a map to the port.
Now I think I'll hit the sack. I'll get up earlier than usual, but it's a 6 hour sailing, so I can sleep on the boat.
Total miles for today: 81 (the car way would have been 67)