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Geocaching

Recently, with the kids being off for Easter and me being flat broke, I needed a cheep activity to get us into. I’d heard about Geocaching, mostly through twitter and a consultant we’ve used at work. It quickly became an obsession. My daughter loves it and so does my son as long as it isn’t too far and he can swop a toy or two. However, it turns out, it’s most certainly not just a family event.

This particular geochach I'd ridden right past many times but this time I stopped and enjoyed the location. The cache its self was very wet so I never signed it.

This particular geochach I’d ridden right past many times but this time I stopped and enjoyed the location. The cache its self was very wet so I never signed it.

Nor is it that cheep. As well as constantly buying little toys for the children to swop, I paid for a three month premium subscription to www.geocaching.com (worth it by the way). Then I ended up buying a Garmin Etrex 10 handheld GPS unit as using the phone app just killed the battery way too fast. It’s dead simple and pretty much just tell me the heading and distance to the geocache I’m hunting. It does other stuff as well but having having just a heading and distance is the most important part to me.

I never would have discovered this location if I hadn't been out hunting down geocaches. Just a beautiful place to stop and just 'be' for a bit.

I never would have discovered this location if I hadn’t been out hunting down geocaches. Just a beautiful place to stop and just ‘be’ for a bit.

Thanks to the little Garmin and Geochachin, I’ve got a great new way to explore new places. Now, when I have a bit of time, I’ll choose a geocache based on how far I have time to travel then I mount the Garmin on my bike and just ride. The Etrex 10 is not a sat nav so, with just a heading to go on, you have to figure everything else out for yourself. Whether you get it right or wrong, it takes you to new places and down roads you’ve yet to explore.

I’m currently of the opinion that the YBR125 is the best geocaching bike. I did take the VStrom off geocaching just before I sold it but having to stop on a hairpin bend caused me to drop the bike. The Guzzi, well, you always feel like you’re lucky if it starts and with all the stopping, there’s a lot of starting to do. I don’t like pushing my luck when it comes to the Guzzi. With the YBR, you always know that it will go down any lane and just as easily come back up it after you had to turn it round somewhere narrow. Also, it’s pretty much fuel intolerant. Most importantly, it’s so easy to ride, you don’t struggle to pay some attention to the navigation.

Another unexpected find thanks to hunting down a cache. I parked by the gate to a field and walked the last 450 metres. This old church was in the middle of the field. Apparently it's lit by candles and isn't connected to any water, gas or electric but you can still have your wedding there.

Another unexpected find thanks to hunting down a cache. I parked by the gate to a field and walked the last 450 metres. This old church was in the middle of the field. Apparently it’s lit by candles and isn’t connected to any water, gas or electric but you can still have your wedding there.

I’ve now got a list of Caches I’d like to find on my way home. Once I’ve found them, that’s it. They’re spent. Done. Next time, you go looking for a new one, somewhere new. That’s the beauty. I’ve now found most of the ones on my route to work so next time I’ll be finding a new way. In this way, I’m finding I am visiting new places, or even just noticing places I’ve ridden through or past hundreds of times. It’s been quite a revelation.

I recommend Geocaching to anyone who just likes to explore their world on a motorbike, foot, bicycle, car (if you really must), unicycle or whatever. Check out www.geocaching.com for more information and a better explanation of what geocaching really is. You could also do a google (other search providers are available) search for other geocaching websites. I also recommend the Garmin Etrex 10 over depending on a smart phone. Give it a go but be warned, you might get addicted!

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My Life In Bikes 2 – Kawasaki GT550

Foff to germanyolk always go on about what your first proper bike was, as if there is some magical cut off point between what is or is not worthy of being called a motorbike. For me, my first proper bike was the CB100n. My next bike, the one you need a full licence to ride, the one which everyone in my family remembers, was a Kawasaki GT550. Actually, according to the log book it was a Z550GT but the side panel said GT550 and that’s what everyone calls it.ang and jake.2

I remember it just as fondly as everyone else. Thanks to its shaft drive, huge range and comfy seat, it was the perfect touring bike for a young mechanic in the army who hadn’t yet seen the light when it came to faired motorcycles. Between us, we traipsed around Germany and the Netherlands, usually wet through and every so completely lost. The air cooled, four cylinder, detuned Z750 motor was a peach, just as long as it got decent petrol. As I remember it, the GT550 loved to carry weight too. Ang and I went two up camping where it was just as happy as it was carrying just me. In fact, I’ve never found a mule like it, though my Vstrom comes close.

bikes 012Again, it wasn’t perfect. Being naked, hanging on, on the autobahn, was hard work, especially in the inevitable rain. We fell out with each other when it left me stranded when the CDI unit blew out somewhere outside of Amsterdam. There were problems with condensation in the winter thus you felt compelled to change the engine and shaft oil much more often as it quickly turned an unpleasant shade of cream.bikes 010

But I loved it and admonished myself for selling it. Leaving the army to be a poor student, I’d assumed I’d not have the money to keep it. As it turned out, I quickly found a reasonable part time wage driving coaches so could have kept running it. If I had, who knows, the rest of history would probably have been very different. I’d happily have one again, for old time’s sake and sunny days, even if it does come with too many cylinders to be a real bike.

bikes 007

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Spring is in the air

Late winter / early spring is a wonderful time of year. Commuting involves daylight as long as you leave a little late and don’t stay on too long. And there are genuine opportunities to make the most of the ride with increasingly frost free tarmac.
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It’s that time of year when the irresistible urge to go the long way home creeps into the bike psyche. Heck. It’s not like it will get anymore filthy than it already is!

It’s not all good though. The roads are trashed! All that lovely new tarmac laid for Le Tour is already proving itself a cheep job. Gravel, gravel everywhere punctuated with potholes, so many potholes. And mud. Then, in the morning, you still need to be aware that frosty patches aren’t impossible, especially on higher ground.

Soon the spring lambs will be breaking from the protection of their mothers. Hungry for adventure they will wonder the lanes seeking greener grass, oblivious to the dangers of meandering out in front of traffic.  You have to assume a new danger lurks around every corner.

Even so, it’s a great time to be a Yorkshire biker. Go steady, ready for anything. The new season is just waking up.

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We’ve Moved AGAIN!

Right, tonight I got completely fed up with the way blogger puts posts together and seems to stop some users from posting comments. As of tonight, I’ve decided to move us over to WordPress and we’ll be posting here from now on. It just seems to work better for authors and readers alike.

Of course, you can still see previous posts over on blogger by clicking here (I’ll eventually put it into the links section too).

Also, if you really want to you can check out my older motoblog justaboutsurvivingbeingme here. 

Many thanks to anyone who’s managed to follow us this far. Hopefully there’s plenty more to come.

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