Cyclecaching

Cyclecaching

My wife and daughter introduced me to geocaching during a recent vacation. We took a short vacation in the Appalachian Mountains and had planned an agenda that left one day free so my daughter suggested that we do some geocaching. Now, none of us was totally new to this. My wife had taken the kids caching several times when they were much younger and they all enjoyed that, but that was many years ago. I don’t think I was ever included in those sessions, but I seem to remember giving it a try by myself with zero success. So, my first encounter with the game was negative and I never really thought about it again.

Well, during our day of caching in the mountains, we searched for and found eleven caches with no DNFs. Now that I have more experience under my belt (~100 finds), I know this to be an unusually good result. I’m sure that was partly due to the fact that we had three people (three brains and six eyes) searching rather than one, but I also suspect a bit of luck. But not only did we find almost a dozen caches, we found a good variety of caches in size, difficulty, and design. Some we liked, some we liked a lot, and some we didn’t like so much. We even found a travel bug (of sorts). All in all, it was a great introduction into caching for me.

At the end of that day, I logged onto Geocaching.com, created an account, and logged all of our finds. To be honest, I’m not sure why I did that in hindsight, but I’m going to go with two reasons. First, I was curious about the entire enterprise and I wanted to know more about it. And, second, I’m an information management (or data warehousing) specialist and I’ve just got this weird thing that I never, ever toss out information. It’s really funny some of the data that I’ve kept over the years, but I can just hardly stand to throw out data as it goes against my every instinct.

That really should have been the end of that, but I didn’t drop it because I was immediately struck how this activity dovetailed with two other aspects of my life: business travel and cycling.

Over the last 17 years, I’ve spent hundreds of days on my own in cities around the world and, unbeknownst to me, probably passing right by thousands of caches. Because I’ve spent so much time alone in strange cities, I’ve developed a real aversion to sitting in a hotel room and to compensate, I’ll read or explore the city (either walking or running). I’ll even combine the two by going for a long walk carrying an iPad and end up in a pub to have a few beers and read. It’s easy to see how geocaching fits into the downtimes while on business travel.

When I’m at home, I spent a lot of hours on my bicycle. I’m a full-time bike commuter, but I also spend a lot of time cycling for fitness and recreation. When the weather is good, I’m usually logging about 150 miles per week. I love riding with the local cycle club and I try to join the group rides whenever I can, but it doesn’t always fit into my schedule nor lifestyle and so I spend many hours each week riding out on back roads on my bike. Just pulling up Geocaching.com and looking at the default search around my home shows over 650 caches within 10 miles. Over the last seven years of cycling, I’ve pretty much ridden every one of those roads passing by hundreds of caches.

And then there is my interest in bicycle touring, which for various reasons I haven’t really been able to realize yet. Bike touring takes you to new locations, with time to spare. (Figure 14 hours of daylight with just five hours of riding if you’re riding 70 miles per day at a relaxed pace. Maybe six hours if you figure in a coffee stop, a lunch stop, and a grocery stop.)

So, I’m a couple of months into this new hobby and I’ve had a chance to try out it out during business travel in Stockholm (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), Bellevue (Washington), Denver (Colorado) and to mix it into my solo bike rides and, so far, I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve had a few questions regarding caching in general and these are easily answered via resources on the Internet, but I’ve not really found much in the way of resources for the combination of cycling and caching. To be honest, I’m not even sure what we might call this combination as I’ve seen reference to “cyclecaching”, “cyclocaching”, and “velocaching”, although the last one might refer to something different. I think I prefer cyclecaching at the moment. My immediate reaction was to start a blog to fill that hole, but I’m not really sure how deep that subject goes so, for now, I’m just going to consider this a new category on BikeLaneEnds and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

I’ve got a couple of post in mind specific to cyclecaching. The first will be a step by step tutorial on how to use RideWithGPS (or other route-mapping tools) along with Geocaching.com’s “Find Caches Along a Route” feature. I’ve also signed up for the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG), which will take me through 7 different cities in Georgia on a bike and I’ll most certainly be blogging day by day if only to keep my family updated as to my health and progress. But I also plan to pick up caches in each of the cities and along the way. I’ll be riding with a group so it will be interesting how I might be able to stop to log a cache and then catch back up to the group. (I was planning to ride the B&W Truckster, but when I think about having to chase down the group alone six or seven times a day after a solo stop, I may want to ride the Orange Crush instead. Maybe I can talk another strong rider into stopping with me to share the load when chasing down the group.)

I guess that’s it for now. This is just an introduction to the new category of posts of my blog and only time will tell how much I post on the subject. But if anyone happens upon this blog who has similar interests, I’d love to hear from you and share experiences and techniques.

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