Since my riding has become less than a solo endeavour, and I’m now accompanied most times by Tommy on his shiny new bike, the circular route around the sea wall I once enthused about so dramatically was slowly getting less challenging. Times to complete the 4/6/8 or even 10 mile routes were improving, and aside from a couple of definitely not competitive stretches where you can safely go flat out for as long as your lungs will let you, none of the routes really felt as good as they did on my first few outings.
To this end, we started riding off the island.
Geographically, I may have mentioned a couple of times that Canvey is flat. Consisting mostly of over-urbanised housing it’s easy to forget that the entirety of the island was once marshland and is all below sea level. I say entirety, but ‘Canvey Heights’ is definitely a good 15′ above sea level. However, I refuse to count this as this is only because this area was once a landfill site before becoming a country park (in the loosest sense) but I digress.
Naturally, by default, anywhere ‘off’ the Island is uphill. For the roadies, there’s Essex Way, for the off-roadie’s theres Hadleigh Downs, for the clinically insane, there’s the Canvey Way (A130), the A13 and many other perilous, but still up-hilly byways. For a tubby, unfit 52 year old the first outings were daunting and a bit of a worry.
We found a route through to Leigh-On-Sea which wasn’t to lung heavy, and rode this a few times. It runs along the creek, past 2 tree island and ends in Leigh (where you can stop for seafood and beer if lockdown is lifted). As routes go, it’s pretty relaxing unless you have a pathological fear of cows. Once you’re through the gate at the end of the marina onto the footpath proper, there are often random cows just standing about and they genuinely give no fucks about people, dogs or bikes. They tend not to move, so be prepared to go around them.
The path itself starts off as gravelly rockyness, but then transitions to a more muddy/sandy section for the majority through to 2 TreeIsland where asphalt (albeit overgrown with blackberry bushed) makes for a smooth run into Leigh. There’s some stunning views to be had and it’s really a ride for all abilities (even me) without too much effort.