Thursday 6 June 2013

Big day out

As planned, I went to Hanningfield Reservoir yesterday, and spent 11 hours caching.

First, I parked in what I thought was the car park for the nature reserve. After walking in a circle for ten minutes, I decided that it wasn't, and there was no access to the nature reserve. So then I parked in the right place, except that I followed the arrows for "4WD parking" which meant I parked a fair way from where I should have been.

No bikes allowed in the nature reserve, boo hoo, so I went on foot, and did all the caches in there except for the chirp, because I don't have chirpiness. That took about two hours; I walked about two-three miles (there's a puzzle cache in there too, which lengthens it a bit). On the bike, it would have taken half the time. Oh well. And the tracks were very bikable.

Then I relocated the car - the nature reserve car park closes at 5pm, and I knew I'd be back long after that. I parked near the reservoir, on a handy patch of grass. Then I got the bike ready, including all three batteries, both saddlebags, three bottles of water, the bike tools, sandwiches, spare GPS and a head torch. I wasn't planning to be back after dark, but it's better to have it and not need it than ... in the event, I didn't need the torch, or the third battery.

The first cache, number 1, took me 20 minutes. Most of that was spent in not understanding the hint. Number 57 was easy, but then I got completely stuck with number 56. I hunted for half an hour, and then gave up.

This was not looking good - it was now 12:30, and I really wanted to be back at the car before nightfall. Gulp.
But things picked up after that, and I was making quick finds for nearly all of them. There was one more DNF (but I was conciliated by finding a rather nice multitool not far from the cache), and a couple more that took a long time - longer than they should have.

I'd planned this so that when I got to number 16, I could bomb out and bike back to the car, missing out numbers 15 to 2, but things were looking good when I got to that point, so I pressed on. I do like to plan my day so that if something goes wrong, or even if everything takes longer than I'd hoped, I have a fallback plan, and I'm not forced to continue on.

I picked up five puzzles cache too; none of them were en route, they all needed a bit of a diversion. But as I was on the bike, that wasn't too bad. I usually reckon that when I'm on the bike, any time spent on the road is floccipaucinihilipilification, so a digression that is mostly along tarmac is not a problem.

I got back to the car at 8:30 pm, and sat drinking coffee and eating grapes, watching the sun go down and reading "Piece of cake" by Derek Robinson, a cracking Battle of Britain book.

I must have done about 20 miles, and when I got home, I was getting a bit of cramp in the leg. Also, the second toe on my right foot feels like it's been rubbing against something, so next time I go out, I'll wear a toe protector on it.

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