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Maybe you’ll think it’s crazy that I devote a blog post, however short, to sweat, but I spend a lot of time dealing with… sweat. During the warm seasons, I typically ride about 150 miles per week, which translates to, roughly, 10 hours per week in hot and humid Alabama. Now, unless you’re a serious cyclist, you may be wondering what all the hubbub is because you get on a bike every now and then and you sweat, but it’s no big deal. Right? But I’m not talking about just getting on a bike. I’m talking real road cycling at 20 mph, which means you must drink a 20 oz bottle of water every hour to avoid dehydration and death. I completed a century ride once 9 pounds lighter than I started. That’s the kind of cycling I’m talking about here. Ok, so what’s this have to do with geocaching? Not all that much and that’s why it will be a short post, but there are a couple of considerations that are unique to cyclecaching.
The first thing you need to know is that you’re going to sweat much more than if you’re just cycling or you’re just geocaching. Got that? I repeat… You’ll sweat much, much more when you’re cyclecaching than when you’re just cycling or just geocaching. That’s actually a partial lie because you sweat nearly as much when you’re cycling, but the airglow around you is drying it and making it seem as if you’re not sweating as much. But that same false wind is also cooling you directly and indirectly through evaporation and, when you stop and stand still, you heat up and the sweat starts to flow, baby.
So, whaddaya do about it? Two things. First, look for shade and retreat into it as much as you can. When I’m going to be out cycling and caching for three or four hours, I will look for shade at every stop and make use of it as much as possible. I will find the cache and, if it is in the sun, retreat to nearby shade to open it and sign the log. I will then replace the cache and retreat back to the shade to plan my next move (look up the next cache, the route to get to it, and select it on my GPS). Second, and I don’t do this nearly enough, you can bring a small towel. I purchased a couple of polyester, micro-fiber sports towels just for this purpose since cotton is very heavy and even heavier when soaked with sweat. Polyester doesn’t soak up as much as cotton, but it dries much more quickly.
On with the show!
Consideration #1: Don’t sweat the logs!
You’re hammering down a hot country road and you stop for a utility box or signpost cache. You grab the cache and look around for shade, but there is none to be found. As you stand there opening the nano and unrolling the tiny log, the sweat starts to flow and as you lean down to sign the tiny, weather-beaten log, a river of sweat pours off your forehead, down your nose, and soaks the log. Way to go, jackass. To be honest, I’ve never actually soaked a log, but I have dropped a couple drops onto one a couple times and was horrified. After a couple of times, I’ve learned to be very careful, which becomes a bit comical. Just try to go about signing a nano log without leaning over it. Of course, the alternative is to remove your helmet, take out your towel, and towel off your soaking, fat head prior to opening the cache, but that adds a lot of time when you’ve got a time budget and a pocket query burning through it. Regardless of your strategy to deal with it, you must keep this in mind to avoid leaving behind a string of stinking, sweat-soaked logs.
Consideration #2: TOTT care.
If you want to be properly equiped for any situation, you’re going to be carrying a few tools of the trade: a phone and/or GPSr and a pen is the minimum. My minimum kit also contains a log roller, small tweezers, replacement logs, and one piece of SWAG. So, what? So, you’re going to have to protect you’re TOTT from sweat. You’re phone and GPSr will be resistant so there not too much to worry about there. I keep my phone (iPhone 6s) in one of the pockets on the back of my jersey, which is really a wet place to be. It does well there except for the sweat running down the earphones cord, which guides the moisture into the phone through the audio jack. That causes a bit of trouble. Not that big of an issue when I’m cycling, but certainly an issue once I stop for a cache. My mitigation plan is to take my headphones off when I get to my first cache and only replace them (or not at all) when I’m leaving my last.
There’s a bigger issue with the logs and any tools made from ferrous metals (like the log roller and tweezers). I keep the replacement logs in individual plastic bags, within an overall plastic bag, within an overall tools bag, within a top-tube bag on my bike. Wait. What? I’ve used these BikeHard AeroStashR bags since 2009 when I got back into cycling seriously. I keep the replacement tube and bike tools in a Timbuk2 Seat Bag, but the top tube bag is for glasses, pen, my caching TOTT bag, and maybe another small thing or two.
And for an overall tools bag, I just recently started to use a Green Guru Small Zipper Pouch. I had previously been using a simple 3×5 ziploc bag, but somehow water got in and my log roller started rusting. To be honest, I’d bet the zipper on the Green Guru pouch makes it less water-resistant than a 3×5 ziploc, but it is certainly much more robust.
So, that it. Short and sweat… I mean, sweet. Realize you’re going to sweat when you stop to find and log a cache. Take care not to sweat all over the damn logs. And figure out a good strategy to protect your TOTT. Otherwise, cyclecaching is a match made in… heaven?