The news wasn’t good – excessive rainfall had caused massive disruptions across London and Essex. Flooding had completely shut off some roads, with many vehicles stranded across the South East. The phone began ringing, with multiple team members stuck in traffic across the capital as a result of the heavy rain. We’d also suffered our first puncture of the trip and we hadn’t even begun riding! We wondered whether the trip was doomed from the start!
There was less pressure to leave bang on time than on other trips, so we decided to wait it out at our start point, Tower Bridge. As the absentees slowly made their way through the manic traffic, the team began their journey with a relaxing coffee.
In the meantime, the snails had made more progress than we had.
Finally the team of eight had made it to Tower Bridge, and just in time. Amie, Al, Tom, Irene, Neil, Paul, Hester and Simon stood in front of the iconic bridge, ready to begin their ride.
After a briefing from Tom and Danny, they set off tentatively onto the streets of London, unsure of what they’d find along the way to Harwich for our overnight ferry.
Leaving London on a bicycle is never too much fun, but the new cycle superhighway heading east of the city made things a lot more enjoyable than expected. The team had soon left the busy streets of east London behind and entered Essex.
The first stop was for coffee 18 miles in, it was 1:30pm! Paul decided to go all out and ordered a jacket potato and beans (in hindsight, a great idea – it was still a long way off lunch!).
After coffee, the team pushed on to lunch at the town of Maldon. The rain had stopped slightly and the team were in need of hot drinks and food. It was a record-late lunch (4pm!) and the team still had over thirty miles to cover!
It was to get a lot worse before it got any better. The heavens really began to open up after lunch and the team encountered multiple roads completely under water. A few were completely un-passable which involved diversions, but the team decided to brave some of them.
At one point, a careless Range Rover driver continued through the floodwater just as the team were passing through, causing a wave that knocked Irene over and into the water.
For the first time on a More Adventure trip, a bike and rider had been submerged. In her typical style, Irene just got up and got on with it. The whole team were focussed – they had a ferry to catch and it was now 7pm!
A little further on the team sheltered under a bridge.
As they ate some snacks, another thoughtless driver headed straight through a nearby puddle, drenching both Paul and Hester as they stood shivering. There were other times at which visibility was so poor that Danny advised they stay under cover until conditions and visibility improved. The team were really up against it but were still smiling.
Shivering, but smiling.
At last the cloud began to break and the rain stopped.
As the sun warmed the saturated ground (and cyclists), a haze of evaporated rain rose from the ground.
The team finally arrived at the port of Harwich at 8:30pm, just as the ferry was beginning to board. What an incredible effort by everyone, the resilience throughout the day was truly inspirational, this was obviously a determined team who now deserved a hot shower, some food and a few beers on board.