Have you heard of geocaching?
If you have, then you probably know why we took it up (and how easily it can come to dominate your spare time). If not, well, the way we pitched it to Boo was…it is a treasure hunt for boxes (tiny through to large Tupperware) hidden in plain sight.
Why did we start geocaching?
Once we’d decided on our LEJOG challenge we realised that we needed to venture further afield on our bike rides as Boo needed to build up her stamina and strength. Putting in the miles for the sheer joy of it isn’t a problem for me but Boo does have a different approach to her cycling. She needs an incentive. Luckily that can be as simple as an interesting destination (and I’ve built up a list of good bike friendly cafes and ice-cream shops), and she does like company on a ride, or to try to beat our previous best time on a known route. Our Support Vehicle had been mentioning geocaching on and off for about a year and finally in June 2013 persuaded us to give it a go.
We registered ourselves as Family Tandem (so that we could include the whole family in our new hobby) and hunted for a roadside cache that appeared tandem friendly and at a suitable distance to encourage Boo to extend our rides.
One of the good things about geocaching is that it makes you look anew at places you often rush past. We had never previously stopped to look at this War Memorial so were shocked to discover the plaque commemorating cyclists.
Boo loves the fact that stopping in new places takes us near to new playgrounds for her to explore.
And she is never frightened of a bit of a scramble when caches are a little further off the track!
It is also a source of great joy to her to discover unusual home-made hides as well as the numerous plastic pots in many shapes and sizes.
Once we’d started it didn’t take long for us to persuade our Support Vehicle to join in the fun (plus she was starting to send us looking for too many caches that were too disguised by summer brambles to be really compatible with cycle shoes and lycra shorts!) By sheer coincidence the 2013 UK MEGA (a large gathering of geocachers with many social activities) was in Gaydon so we went along to find out more.
In case Boo was considering stopping our new hobby someone on the MEGA organising committee clearly knew how to encourage small people to be patient with their chattering parents and Boo loved the Zorbing experience (repeatedly)!
She even enjoyed the litterpicking in Myton Fields (known by the geocaching community as a CITO – Cache In Trash Out). We think it was the litter grabber that sold her on this event.
So, what has geocaching added to our cycling? We are lucky that there are so many sharing in our hobby locally who have created caches in tandem friendly locations giving us plenty of extensions to our known routes. It has also become a family hobby as we go out together on walks. We look at route maps with a different eye and really enjoying looking at our local area with a fresh approach. We have learnt a lot about the quirky side of our local history and have a new mental map of our county. Our favourite geocaching experiences so far have been on family walks rather than rides but we would definitely recommend the Halloween MEGA in the Northampton area and the Earthcaches for anyone interested in the geological make up of Britain.
In case riding LEJOG and raising money for charity wasn’t enough of a challenge; we are now aiming to find at least one geocache in every county we travel through (although some of this will be left to our Support Vehicle as we may not want to stop too often!) and Boo is looking to celebrate the Big Brownie Birthday by taking an appropriately themed Travel Bug the length of the country.
Sorry for so much geocaching jargon in this post; none of it made sense to me this time last year….what a difference a new hobby makes.