An unexpected day off today – work in darkness due to a flooded electricity sub-station. This latest deluge turned the Fairglen junction (A127/A130) into a small river and, by the time I made the return journey (by car, not by bike…I’m not stupid) part of the roundabout had been closed off. Hullbridge/Hockley/Rawreth/Battlesbridge seemed to be the worst affected local roads but things seemed OK around Chelmsford.
By lunchtime, the rain had cleared and the sun came out. Only one thing for it, then. I’ve never tried bog snorkelling and I can’t say it’s likely ever to appear in my ‘bucket list’, and it was looking increasingly unlikely that I would dip my toe in the water this afternoon of that particular curiosity. In fact, the first half of my usual short ride around the Hanningfields was fine. The only properly flooded section of road came on Middlemead past the play park towards South Hanningfield Village Hall, but this is the section of road where the pedestrian path begins to run alongside so, in the interests of sanity, for 200 yards, I broke whichever Highway Code rule forbids riding on the pavement. Robert Goodwill, Minister for Cycling, has recently advocated tolerance for pavement cyclists so I think I’ll be OK.
All fine through East Hanningfield and, not wishing to risk Butts Green Lane towards Sandon, I decided to head back towards West Hanningfield. I then came across this:
Proceed with caution!
It’s never an easy decision, is it? I decided the grass verge would probably be OK. At least there, only pride could be bruised. This was a mission requiring absolute focus. Unwanted spectators within a 4×4 would almost certainly herald a small tidal wave, loss of concentration and deep humiliation. In the end, I got half way across and took temporary refuge on a small rectangle of concrete. At this point, a van caused some gentle lapping, but neither of us came to grief:
With a flourish, I carried the bike over the final section, planted it on more solid ground and looked back on this small achievement. So much more satisfying than turning back!
I quite like winter rides like this – it’s the unpredictability that keeps things interesting. Providing risk is sensible, there’s usually fun to be had. Back at the top of the hill, the late sun made for a nice final snapshot: