The Sketch

Time seems to have passed rather quickly since the inaugural Geolympix event in 2012. Apparently, it really has been four years. And because such things happen every four years, it must be time then for Geolympix 2016.

Back at the plot, as if there ever is one in my blog posts, this year’s event was to be held at the Ashridge estate, a place I’ve visited before for caching and not particularly enjoyed, if I’m honest. My memories are of poor weather and poor GPS and phone signal.

For the Geolympix weekend I’d been able to sponge a couple of days time of in lieu after working loads at the start of the year, and decided to take one of those as a full day off on the day before the event. One reason for doing that was that the caches for the event look seriously spread out. I didn’t think there’d be any way I could get them all done in a day unless I was on my own and starting really early, which I wasn’t. Kas had a monster training run to do on event day, so I had to marshall the kids for a part of the day.

So on Friday I packed my bike into the back of the car and headed off to Ashridge to attack the northern end of the new caches – chiefly the Cyclerama series running from Ivinghoe Beacon down into Ashridge.

A Bit of a Walk

I started off walking rather than biking, and went to collect a few caches on the beacon, including (I assumed correctly) the recently arrived “Ye Olde Survey Monuments” cache. There was an opportunity also to capture it at the “Clipper Down” location too. That’s less than a mile away. In fact, it seems strange that there are two pillar trig points in such close proximity.

After this walk, during which I got roundly rained upon, I decided to have a bit of a break. I moved my car round onto the Ashridge Estate and started off my bike ride from there. Whatever I did it was going to be an out-and-back job to do the Cyclerama series. The estate seemed a better starting point as it made for an easier duck-out if I was struggling.

On Yer Bike

So from the estate I cycled my way over relatively easy terrain almost back to where I’d been parked before. At the far end I had to hide my bike in some bushes while I walked down the hill. There were a couple of caches that I couldn’t possibly get the bike to. It was still there when I got back. The caches were quite hard going and quite slow to do though. I was struggling as ever with dubious coordinates under the trees.

I headed back to the estate and decided to have a pop at a few of the series round the other side. As I progressed, my heart was less-and-less in it with every pedal. A part of this was that I continued to find it hard going. Another part was that I kept getting interrupted by my telephone, including at one point a full half-hour long discussion with a recruitment agent. That call was good news. I was going to get a job offer from the company that had interviewed me the previous day. But it did interrupt my caching.

By this time it was also getting quite late in the afternoon, and I’d had enough. I texted Kas to say we’d be needing champagne, and I tried for one more cache (unsuccessfully) before biking back to the car and going home. It had been a fairly frustrating day, to be honest. I’d been out for over 6 hours and found fewer than 30 caches.

The Big Day

Sunday arrived with renewed enthusiasm and somewhat better weather. We set off quite early as Kas wanted to get in a long run. We dropped her off at Ivinghoe Beacon and drove round to try to park up. I was aiming for the main approach to the Bridgewater Monument, on the estate. I planned this because the organisers had said that parking was likely to be tricky. Turning up “well early” looked like a sound strategy. When I arrived there was practically no-one there, and I even arrived before some of the organisers.

We were well before the actual start of the event, so off we wandered into the woods to do some of the other caches in the estate, including Happy Hunter HP20’s “Big G” series of puzzles. For some reason I found these puzzles very easy to find in comparison to all the others on the estate. anyway, the girls and me walked off to the south-eastern side of the estate to do a loop around there plus half of the puzzles. We had a “running” breakfast in the bag to keep the kids going.

Meeting Up

By the time we got back it was pretty much lunchtime and we were overdue for meeting up with Norfolk12 (by about half an hour at least. She’d been doing what she does very well at such events. She’d accumulate useful information about nearby caches so we could go collect them in the afternoon. She’d got a few. She continued to do this while me and the girls grabbed some lunch at the cafe.

By this time I’d got a call from Kas to say she was more or less at the estate. And, of course, where were we? We were at the cafe, obviously. So we met up and Kas began the process of replenishing her electrolytes (or something) while the kids mucked about in the play areas and N12 and myself wandered off to find a venerable old multi-cache called TrOLL FREE which I’d tried previously but not found. N12 had done it and remembered where it was, within a few feet anyway.

After this little sortie, we then went and said hello to Kas again before heading off north of the event site to finish off the rest of the “Big G” series.

When we got back from there I’d about had enough and so had the kids and Kas. So we said a few quick goodbyes at the event site and picked up a puzzle that was patently obvious on the day, and then went home. Over the course of the weekend, I logged 64 cache finds including the event, plus another 10 lab caches. It’s not all of those on the site. It’s enough though, that I can’t be bothered with going back in a hurry.

The caches found over the course of the weekend at Geolympix 2016 were: