What’s Going On?
Time for a final day of geocaching before we set off on holiday. The weather had been hotter than a hot thing so I was havering on what to do. Eventually, I chose to take my bike over to Letchworth to have a go at the new(er) series around the Letchworth Greenway.
I stopped at the garage, as ever, on my way out to acquire some consumables and to fill the cachemobile with motion lotion. It’s got somewhat more expensive to do that in the past few months, which isn’t great, but this isn’t a political commentary so we’ll leave it there.
The drive over was dull with a hint of boring, and I found myself parked up at Standalone Farm on the north side of Letchworth in well under an hour. I’d parked here before in 2015 on the fateful day when I dropped my GPS down a drain. I was hoping not to do that again. Anyway, parking here is good, because there’s a big car park, it’s technically free to park, and there’s no barrier gate, so you can’t get locked inside. It’s also not very far into Letchworth from my direction of travel, so cool. And the Letchworth Greenway passes right next to it. Winner winner, chicken dinner!
After parking it takes a few minutes for me to set the bike up. It won’t go into the car without taking the front wheel off, plus the handlebar mount for the GPS is a bit fiddly, to say the least. However, once it’s all set up, it’s a very effective way to go geocaching.
I was riding a clockwise route, which meant initially I was heading towards the north-west corner of Letchworth. Technically, this bit is right out in the countryside. No houses anywhere near, although they are spreading up all the nearby main roads. The ride was quite hard as there seemed to be a lot of steep hills to climb. I have to admit a couple of them were steep enough for me to get off and walk. It was also very warm, and whilst I wasn’t noticing it at the start, that would come back to bite me later in the day.
Anyway, progress was quite quick and I took the opportunity to hit a few side-channels to grab a few extra caches – especially a few from the “Norton Well Stroll” series. By the time I swung round and started coming down the eastern edge of time I’d done 25 caches in a couple of hours.
The East Side
Down the east side of town the Greenway is trapped between the town and the A1 motorway, so it’s a bit noisy and you go through some of Letchworth’s not-so-scenic parts. This was the part where I remember some time ago Ami and me abandoned a previous ride around the Greenway because it started snowing.
At one point up here I had to politely ask a gentleman if he didn’t mind me searching the bench he was sitting on. He was a nice uy and we stood talking about my hobby, plus a bunch of other random stuff, for a good 15 minutes or so. I was ready for a short break so it wasn’t any problem to stop and talk.
Around here there’s a little part where the Greenway comes into an industrial estate because it needs to find a way over the railway line. And then it goes back to the side of the A1 again before turning into the “southern” section of the Greenway caches.
Up until this point all had been going well. The finds were all quite easy and I was progressing quickly.
Heading Down South
Things started to go a bit pear-shaped once I passed the Baldock road. Not massively bad, but all of a sudden the caches seemed harder to find, and as a result my progress over the ground dropped quite significantly. I had a few DNFs too, which never helps.
I shot off briefly to the east to do some from the “Lannock Hill Wander” series, but was starting to struggle.
Several caches were supposedly available in the village of Willian but I couldn’t manage to find any of them and I was starting to get a bit irritated. If I’d have been clever about it, I would have stopped at the pub here and had something to eat and drink. But I didn’t, because I’m not very clever sometimes. So I kept going with my route taking me across country towards the Purwell estate, which is Hitchen rather than Letchworth.
As I enetered Purwell there’s a section where you ascend a long climb on a road. There were a couple of caches along it, but this is the point where disaster struck me, I’m afraid. I evidently wasn’t fit enough and hadn’t eaten or drank enough during the day, and I got cramp in both legs. It was probably triggered by attempting to pedal up that hill. It was bleedin’ painful, whatever. So I got off the bike and staggered my way up to the next cache. I was in so much pain I really couldn’t get back on the bike, so I started to push my bike up the hill (on the footpath) hoping the cramps would go away. It was hard going.
I was saved (somewhat) by a really nice guy who came out of his house to check I was OK. He offered me a chilled bottle of water, which I gladly accepted and necked rather quickly.
And after that little episode I decided that was enough for the day. Well, not quite, because I had to cycle back to the car. That was still quite a long way away, but with relatively few caches, so it wasn’t going to take long. The cramp thankfully held off for the rest of the time I was on the bike.
Once I got back to the car park I tried the cafe at Standalone Farm for some cold drinks and an ice cream. They had both.
The drive back home was uneventful aside from five minutes near Ampthill where the cramps came back. I pulled off the road and got out to stretch my legs for a while. Next time I must remember to take food and more drinks.