Thursday 20 November 2014

Three disappointments

Today, I went to Ware, to do the Ware Wander, a series of 48 caches, with another 20 along the route. I thought I'd need three battery packs, so I loaded up with four, using two saddlebags, which was just as well because I rode about 20 miles, and I did need all four. And a head torch, because I thought I'd be caching in the dark. And a spare PDA, and all the usual equipment.

I had planned to do this yesterday, but that plan got pre-empted by the cremation of my Aunt Betty, who was a significant aunt in my life. So I went out today instead.

Last night, I got an automated email; there was a new cache in the series, just published! So I stood a chance of getting "First to Find" on it. I'm not really big on FTF, but it's always nice to score one. And so I decided to take a different route, so I'd start the day as close as possible to the FTF.

The first disappointment was that although I got to it at 9:30, it had already been logged, so I got second to find, which isn't anything. Still, a cache is a cache.

The second disappointment came a couple of hours later, at about 12 pm. I take great precautions agains punctures; I use very thick inner tubes, which are therefore thorn-resistant. I use Kevlar tires, and I have a gel insert between the tire and the inner tube, so that any thorns that do penetrate the tire, don't get to the inner tube. With this system, I haven't had a puncture since I started using it. It means that my wheels are a lot heavier, but an electric bike is heavy anyway, because of the motor.

But this wasn't a puncture. The inner tube had worked its way around so that the valve, instead of sticking out at right angles to the rim, was at a sharp angle. And because of that, the rim cut into the valve, and suddenly I had no air in my back tire.

So I stopped, took off the saddle bags, turned the bike upside down, and got to work. I pulled the inner tube partly out, and soon saw the problem. I thought about repairing it with a patch, but I suspect that it wouldn't work, because patches work best when you have the pressure of the tube keeping it in place, and that wouldn't happen with the valve.

Fortunately, I carry a spare inner tube. It isn't one of those nice thick ones, because they take up a huge amount of space - it's a standard thin-walled tube. Enough, I hope, to get me home. So I got my toolkit out, took the back wheel off, removed the duff inner tube, put in the replacement, pumped it up, and it held. So I replaced the back wheel, pumped the tire up fully, and was able to spend the rest of the day biking round my route. It cost me about 30 minutes. And that's why I carry a substantial toolkit when I got out caching.

The third disappointment was when I did a multi. I gathered the information, and set off. Soon, I came to the bridge, under which the cache would be. So I started to get down under the bridge, to find it. But the ground was steep and the ground was muddy, and you can probably guess what happened next. Splash! I was in the river and wet up to my knees, including two bootfulls of water.

And I couldn't find the cache - possibly it isn't there.

As soon as I found somewhere dry to sit down, I took off my boots and poured half a pint of water out of each, wrung out my socks, and put the socks and boots back on. I still had wet feet, but al least I wasn't walking in a pint of water. Squish squish squish.

I did a total of 68 caches today, so it was a good day out altogether. Here's a nice thing I saw along the way:

It's a pump, and if you turn the handle (which I did) it actually works.


  1. Dr Solly, you seem to have quite a few incidents like this with water, have you considered a pair of lightweight waders for your caching outfit? Maybe a pair of waterproof legwarmers with built in waterproof socks.

  2. It would just mean that I'd have to fall into deeper water.

  3. It's spelt Tyre not tire!