Friday 31 August 2012

A Big Day Out

To Dorset, for 114 caches.

Paul arrived at 8:30, and we loaded up his car with everything we'd need. Traffic was good, and we arrived at Cranborne at about 11am. I loaded up my saddlebags with two extra bike batteries, four bottles of water, sandwiches, bike repair kit, spare GPS, spare PDA, head torches (I was expecting to finish this ring possibly after dark) and extra batteries for those. And off we went. On the way there, it rained pretty steadily, but by the time we got to the start point, the rain was over, and we didn't get any more rain that day. Of course, we both had waterproofs in my saddlebags, just in case.

The Cranborne Chase Circular is about 15 miles and 95 caches, plus two Church Micros, plus a couple more caches with a short diversion. It's nearly all on bridleways, that's why we did it on bikes.

I started out with battery #7, my newest one, but after only 8 km, it died, and nothing would persuade it to come back to life. Not a big problem, though, because the other two batteries were fine. When I got home, I recharged them all, but #7 still doesn't show life. The LEDs don't come on, and I get zero volts at the output (but after charging, a full 29 volts at the input). I suspect the problem is an internal fuse, but the battery is under warranty, and I don't want to open it up unless the vendor approves. I've explained to him about the problem.

Most of the caches were quick and easy, but number 22 involved climbing a tree, number 43 we didn't find (in common with many other people) and number 63 was another DNF, although everyone else had found it easy. It didn't help that there was a bee-keeper doing his stuff several yards away, and we were aware of a large cloud of bees nearby. Very nearby.

A man up a tree

We got to number 53 at 3pm, which got us to the only village on the route, Sixpenny Handley, which was a lot sooner than I'd expected. This was because the going was good, and we weren't having to lift the bikes over difficult barriers. That was too late for lunch, but we went to the Sixpenny Handley village shop and post office,  and bought some extra food there; Paul got ice cream and crisps, I bought a fruit cake, because fruit is so healthy. So I had fruit cake for lunch, and then we pressed on. 

Many more caches later, we were back at the car at about 7:30 pm, having done 96 caches and 2 DNFs. It was still quite light, so we had a short rest and more nosh, and went on to a short series nearby along a byway, "Walk in the countryside", except we didn't walk, we biked. The track started out well, but soon got mushy, with lots of big puddles. But we found all nine of the caches, giving a total of 106. And it was still only 8:30.

So I suggested another series nearby, the Royal Ramble in Boys Wood. What a contrast! The caches were all very clever and mostly very difficult to find. But we found them all except one, and we found the bonus, so another eight caches, for a day's total of 114.

And that's a personal best for me. Paul nearly fell asleep at the wheel on the way home, so we had to stop so he could have a short nap, which recharged him enough for us to get home.

A very good day out.

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