Terii’s Cycling Babble


“Saddest” Day of the Year Come and Gone
June 23, 2018, 6:25 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yep! It came and went! The summer solstice. From here until the solstice in December our days will get shorter and shorter. But onward to chronological order!

The weekend of the 9th-10th after my last post, I didn’t get out to ride as I’d hoped. It got too hot and too humid, so I stayed in and melted with the husky. The only interesting thing I did was go kayaking very briefly. Jens kinda bullied me out because he wanted us to be sure the kayak was functional before our trip.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled because, like I said it was hot. Sitting on a kayak, broiling in the sun isn’t any more pleasant than doing it while sitting on a trike.

Still, he was right. So, I got things together and was surprised. It appeared my going to the gym was paying off more than I’d believed. I’ve been careful about my workouts, taking it slow and easy in deference to the arm that was giving me such fits for all of last year and part of this one. So, while I’d been impressively consistent about something I despise so much (every other day like clockwork for over 2 months), I didn’t really think it was improving me much though except maybe reduced discomfort in the right arm.

Was I wrong! I got the kayak out of the garage and into the car. Yeah, it was heavy and awkward, but not as much as I remembered last year when I felt so strong after spending part of the summer kayaking. When we got to the rowing club, Jens was going to stick close, walking with Loke, in case I needed help with it.

I continued to be stunned. Got it out of the car with greater ease than I anticipated. Aired up was a bit more challenging because my left knee was killing me. Got it down to the water in record speed as Jens followed along, ready to take over if my muscles gave out. Then, getting into the kayak which felt tricky all last year, seemed almost a snap.

I’d forgotten my phone, so told Jens I’d stay out just for half an hour, to test the kayak. In that half hour, I remembered how much I really loved being out on that water. Yeah, it was hot and I felt a bit like a turkey in a baking pan, but it was so pretty. I could barely hear the traffic noises over the abundance of bird song. Blue sky, rippling water, and green all around me. The only flaw was my right shoulder and upper arm were unhappy as I paddled.

Back at the rowing club, I was surprised again when I got out of the kayak. It wasn’t graceful and it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the last time I’d paddled.

I know kayaking isn’t cycling, but my health and fitness are, and this was an indication both were improving.

Monday, June 11th, we had a ‘treat’. It RAINED. Glorious, glorious rain. Admittedly, it wasn’t much. Just enough to leave thin, scarce puddles on dampened pavement, yet the ground was still dust-dry almost as soon as it stopped. It probably wasn’t enough to save even a single blade of withering grass, but it gave me hope.

Tuesday, June 12, I woke to gloriously cool temps. 54 F! I was so thrilled with it, I pulled on my cycle clothes and was ready to go by the time Jens woke up. I was smart enough to wait with the extra layer until we were heading out the door for Jens to drop us off at storage before heading to work.

Loke was feeling all of his age and quite a few of his infirmities that morning, but still seemed determined to come with as Jens let me out. I pulled the trike up and got ready, Loke following at the running bar as if already hitched. I took it slow so he could shuffle along at whatever pace he wanted with lots of opportunity to stop and sniff. It made him happy. We did 2.14 in right about an hour.

After having lunch and seeing Loke settled where he couldn’t destroy anything, I headed out for a quick solo jaunt. More of an errand really. I went to the salon of a family friend who has done my hair since the month I arrived in Sweden. I felt better going in person, even in my goofy cycle clothes, than I did calling. Besides, it was motivation to get out on my hamster track which, clearly I need. It only got me another 2.6 miles. Not even 5 miles for the day, but at least my Fit big registered it as exercise.

The weather kinda flirted around the ‘hot’ phase, but thankfully not as bad as May. Between that and other things I can’t remember, I didn’t get out to ride again until June 19th. The earliest ride of the year.

Just before 3 am, I tossed awake, all covers kicked off, window wide open, and ceiling fan spinning like mad. Just too warm and uncomfortable for sleep to return. I struggled with it for about 20 minutes, but nope. Too unpleasant and, with a few hours sleep, I wasn’t tired enough for sleep to overcome the hot, sweaty feelings.

Birds were singing and sun already peeking over the horizon as I sat up, waving the white flag of surrender in the combat between wakefulness and sleep. As I put my feet on the floor, it occurred to me, I should go ride.

Loke didn’t even twitch an ear as I left the room. Just continued snoring away on his pillow by Jens’ half of the bed. I clipped to the pedals before 4 am.

I headed out for a quick jaunt on an old hamster track, the Vaksala/Granby Loop. It used to be a ‘short’ ride for me back when 5 miles wasn’t even worth pulling my tights on. Now, I consider it kinda long. Compared to what I’ve been doing the past 2-3 years, it’s sadly true.

It was a brisk 53 F out. I needed an extra layer! How on EARTH was it so cool out and yet, an apartment, wide open to such delightful temps with ceiling fans spinning, was too hot to sleep?! Bleah.

I didn’t bother taking out my phone or camera as I spun along the paths and roads. The turn to the burial grounds was almost a blur thanks to it being on the crest of a hill with a long glide down to the open fields beyond. Thankfully, there was little wind and the dust storms seem to have passed. I had some fun doing the ‘roller coaster’ stretch and waved at the closed Starbucks as I zipped by the mall. I was back home before 6 am with a smidge over 10 miles under the tires. Fastest ride yet. Perhaps another sign the gym has been good for me?

While I’m an early riser by nature, before 3 am is pushing it even for me, but at least it wasn’t wasted.

I didn’t ride again until June 20th. Where did the month go? The sun and a portion of the warmth returned, accelerating the death of grass and even a few trees around Uppsala. Some have browned leaves and a few even hang as bare as they would be in winter even though they were flush with green back in April.

On the days it wasn’t so warm, I didn’t ride because I’d think about it and Jens would say, ‘Take Loke’ when I had my heart set on getting exercise. Plodding around for 2 hours with my poor old man and then going out again for another 2 hours on boring hamster tracks? Just UGH. No. Without an errand, I can’t stomach doing the hamster tracks twice in a day.

Sunday, June 17th, was a rough day for the fuzzy. He’d been pretty wobbly on the 16th as well, but Jens decided to try taking Loke on one of his long walks. While my hubby reported that Loke seemed very interested and happy, he fell a few times, wobbled a lot and had a mild seizure that made him walk in a right-hand curve. I had to go get him. Once home, he flopped on his pillow and only stirred when I clipped the leash to his collar to get him out the door for the last call of nature before bed. He was still very interested in food though.

Monday, June 18th. He pretty much slept through it. The only time he moved from his pillow in the living room was when I dragged him out the door for slow walks. Oh and food. He was still happy to see his food dish, though he didn’t do the crazed spinning.

Tuesday, the weather shifted to cooler day-time temps and Loke did a complete 180. He was bright-eyed, energetic. Actually, he was a complete and utter bully. He woofed at me, stomped his paws, interfered with my hands on the computer, and stared holes through me. I would have loved to have gotten him out the door for a bit with the trike, but I had errands first and decided there was no way.

The wind. It was insane. When I came out of the health clinic from renewing my prescriptions, I made it back to my car with a few little red welts from where the wind had flung small sticks and what I believe was a drought stunted apple at me. Trees whipped around and coming out of buildings sometimes meant getting a hard shove. Even Loke didn’t like it when we went out to the grave mounds for a short walk. I’d say it was close to 30 mph sustained with higher gusts. Just crazy. Loke was almost turned into a kite flapping at the end of the leash.

Pity about those storm force gales. Otherwise, it was a perfect day for a ride. Sunny, but very mild temps that would have made it a pleasure to be in the sun.

Wednesday, June 20th, there was much less wind. So, when Loke started the day by his woofing-stomping-staring-annoying me, I was gonna try him out on the trike. Not to mention, I was having a rough time walking again.

That was most annoying because the week previous, I’d been great! I mean, seriously great. Best I’d been when out walking in months. Maybe even a year. I’d be out doing some errands where I was wandering around the big grocery or downtown between shops and it would hit me. NOTHING HURT. My feet felt fine, my knee, my hip. The muscles through the shoulders didn’t feel as if they were being ripped off by meat hooks. My breath came smooth and easy instead of feeling like an anaconda was wrapped around my chest and prepping me for dinner. It was a surreal, but extremely pleasant feeling.

Sadly, it only lasted a few days…

What? I wasn’t doing anything! I’m a good boy!

So, being unable to hardly walk again but with an insanely pesty husky, very little wind, and nice temps, the trike it was.

Loke, the Harasser, did his best to look all innocent as I picked up the phone to see if he’d continue bullying with it pointed at him. He stopped woofing and sat down, but his ‘I wasn’t doing anything’ look needed some work.

He was so excited as I started dressing. When I picked up my handlebar bag he was sitting wedged hard against the door, making sure I couldn’t forget him.

Once on the trike with everything settled, he heard the sound of the brake loosing and went bonkers. He threw himself into the harness and bounced on his hind legs to hurry us across the parking lot. He’s not kangaroo hopped in ages! I don’t think he was doing it even back in March before he started having such problems!

My furry old man continued to impress! We ‘tore’ through the first mile at almost 8 mph. A brisk shuffling jog that only looked slightly weird. There was still a bit of wobble in his back end. Every time I tried to slow down, he’d shoot me a disgusted side glance as if to say, “GET your hand off that brake!”

It was near the 1 mile mark when the momentum broke a moment. Loke started limping significantly. It appeared to be something in his right shoulder. Like husky, like owner, hmmm? I immediately stopped to check him. He seemed more annoyed with the lack of movement than with me poking at him and checking his paws. As I sat back down in the trike to ponder if I should turn back for home, Loke woofed and wagged his tail, brown eyes bright and expectant.

Onward it was! He limped a bit more for about 100 yards and then seemed back to his old self. Maybe the hopping combined with his ‘running’ was a bit of a shock to his muscles and they just needed a bit more time to warm up. So, we took it slower. He was so happy though. I’m glad I pushed on.

The sun disappeared and a bit of wind ruffled the leaves of the trees, tattered by bouth drought and windstorm. In a world of shriveled grass, wilting shrubbery, and struggling trees, it was a bit irritating to see that stinging nettles are doing just fine.

Happy husky. Even at almost 13, still happy to go at times.

As we passed through a small wooded patch along the paths, Loke had a moment where he perked up with a cat made a mad dash from dry undergrowth on one side to the other. He even made a short attempt to run after it.

Cruising around at about 5 to 5.5 mph, Loke was doing so well, I decided to turn north along the river for a bit. I even unclipped Loke from the running bar and put the leash on him instead in case he wanted to range off to the sides a bit.

Nope. He associates moving with the trike as moving WITH the trike. He had to be right there at my side. I had to watch him though as he had a tendency to pull ahead a bit. I really didn’t want him swerving in front of the tire. We were going slow enough I wasn’t too worried, but I remained careful. I must say, after about a quarter mile along side the river, it was much easier to turn around with the trike having Loke ‘loose’ from the tether bar. It confused him terribly, but it was still easier.

Can just see the tail..

As we came up on mile 3, Loke still  had plenty of spunk and I had to be quick about pulling the leash short as I came to a stop. Slithering on the pavement in front of us was a snake. Dark with a bright yellow ring around its neck, so probably the non-poisonous ringnecked snake. Good sized for the type I think, being a bit over 2 feet long.

I tried to juggle leash around to pull the camera out before it disappeared. I wasn’t entirely successful. Just the tail is visible as it disappeared.

AGAIN!

Loke still seemed pretty ‘zippy’ as we came back home with 3.65 miles. He was quick to lay down as soon as I stopped the trike though. I also gave him a bit of a boost to get up the stairs to our apartment.

He actually didn’t want to come to me to have his harness off. And then he paced around and even woofed a bit as if to say, ‘So, now what? We’re going back out, aren’t we?’

Such fun when he does that. Leaves me trying to figure out if I’ve come close to breaking him in his new fragile condition or if he really could have done, say a trip to the produce stand and back. I mean, it’s likely he could do it, but just would take a silly long time to accomplish. I do want him happy but the threshold of my brain’s tolerance for ‘tedious’ and ‘mind-numbing boredom’ is quite low. Though, perhaps thanks to my fairly strict restrictions of computer time, it’s gotten better. I mean, I’ve watched stuff on TV of late that would normally bore me to tears because I’ve burned through all the interesting stuff or have to save it to watch with Jens.

Nap time!

I think it was actually about the right amount. After about 20 minutes, Loke laid down for a nap and was content for the rest of the evening. The most peace I’d had from him in 2 days.

It actually had been a good ride though. It was nice to have Loke trotting along at an average of about 6 mph over the whole 3.6 miles. We did it in about 40 minutes. Which better than the 90 to 120+ minutes of the past months. My Fitbit even registered a bit of exercise from it! Can you believe it!?

I’ve not been out on a ride since, but may do one after this is posted.

I took Loke out for a walk elsewhere on another windy day. After we were done getting battered around, I decided I wanted to drive to Ulva Mill to see if any progress had been made on that gravel path I thought was going to be a new cycle path.

You know, I was right! Car barriers and the bright blue and white sign designating the path that winds off across the fields along the top of the high riverbank for pedestrians and bikes. I was so giddy! And that’s the ride I may do when done chattering here.

There’s a fellow recumbent trike rider who is in the same group on Facebook who was also in Uppsala for this week. When I mentioned the path on the group, he said he’d have to go check it out. Well, he posted back that it’s a lovely gravel path across the fields. Confirmation that it’s complete.

The summer solstice has also come and gone. Saddest day of the year because from here on, the hours of light become less. It was celebrated as a holiday here in Sweden on Friday, June 22nd. The ‘May Pole’  like poles went up, wrapped and wreathed with ivy and flowers. Traditional foods and drink. Family, friends, and festive. Much to the dismay of the Swedes, it was also the first truly rainy day we’ve had in months. I’m sure many across the country lamented that fact. Sunshine and blue skies, but as soon as it was time for one of Swedens biggest outdoor holiday, went, cold, and, in their eyes, miserable. Me? I loved it. Never mind the holiday, we got RAIN! Enough that even the soil under the hedges shaded by birch trees had some damp to it. We had big puddles and water gurgling down storm drains.

So, that’s it for now. I’m going to have breakfast and consider squeezing that ride in before we need to start packing for our Norway trip that we leave for on Monday!

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Yay! Not Hot!
June 8, 2018, 7:22 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

As promised, the heat broke. Never mind that it’s forecasted to return, but hey! We got a break from it! Even had a patter of rain that did absolutely no good except to raise humidity levels. It was less than 1/16 of an inch. No way it even reached the shallowest grass root. Just kinda made the pavement damp. Yay! (sarcasm).

Meanwhile, forest fires are burning to the east and west of Uppsala. Or maybe the one to the east has been put out. Either way.

Anyhoo, on June 4th, I dashed out for a ride. I mean, it was almost cold! I couldn’t resist! I was practically giggling over it. Loke did his best to be his perky younger self and was definitely interested as I readied to ride. He even sorta pulled for the first 100 yards or so.

What’s wrong with this image? IT’S JUNE 4th! Not October.

My aim was for the storage with the furry one, then back to the apartment before scooting off on a solo dash for the produce market. Loke interested and as perky as he can be under his current circumstances, but also slow and a bit wobbly. So, we took it easy and fairly short. As we came along the path under the trees by the American football field near the swim hall, I happened to look up. I sighed.

Leaves of several trees were yellow and even with a splash of red. Autumn like colors and barely even into June.

Back at the apartment, I tucked Loke where he wouldn’t get into any trouble. Water, toys and even his comfy pillow were all within his reach before I headed out to get watermelon.

Hard to see the gulls flying through.

I took the time to enjoy the weather. I stopped at the river side just beyond the underpass by the police station to take a few photos. Still toying with the camera.

I think I’m finally warming up to some aspects of the new produce market arrangement at Vaksala square. I found a half of a big watermelon that didn’t look overripe. No way was I going to be able to fit it in the fridge. The cherries looked pretty sad, so I didn’t get them. While standing in the register line, I called my lovely mother-in-law to ask if she would like some watermelon! Of course, she said, but she and my father-in-law wouldn’t be home for a couple hours. Fair enough. I could just drop their share of the melon off with the car later.

I dropped my haul of juicy fruit off at home and didn’t have the heart to just leave poor Loke alone again just minutes after walking through the door. So, on went his harness and I took him with me to get the trailer back to storage and rolled back home. Over 3 miles for Loke for the day. Pretty good for the old man of late. I was over 8 miles for the day.

June 5th was glorious! I slept with a window open with the sort of slumber reserved for babies with fully tummies and momma humming lullabies. It was barely 40 F when I woke up and closed the window before creeping out of the room.

Poor Jens. I always close the bedroom door when I get up so as not to disturb him. After that I threw open the kitchen window and the living room balcony door. It was windy so that cold air came howling through the apartment with an impressive cross-breeze. I wanted to dissipate as much of the accumulated heat from the inside of our apartment as I could. Bundled up on the couch under snuggly blankets, I was happy as a clam. Right at 6 am, the bedroom door open and groggy Jens stepped out just as a truly monumental blast of frigid air slammed through the apartment. He gasped and shuddered, eyes wide. It honestly looked like someone had dumped icewater on him. He was suddenly scurrying around to button everything up, hunting for his heavy bathrobe and puffy sheepskin slippers. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed.

Much as I would have loved to, I didn’t ride that day. Too much to do. A bit later, clouds scudded in and it looked as if we were going to get a pour down of rain. It never came. Not in Uppsala any way.

June 6th, a very short ride. I was so sleepy. So very, very sleepy. I keep thinking I sleep well but then a few minutes after I wake up, I can hardly hold my eyes open. I end up staggering around zombie like for the day, clinging to consciousness only through sheer force of will. Jens finally bullied me out the door though, mostly to get Loke a bit of ‘exercise’. I took the camera and we crept along, taking over an hour for 1.8 miles.

That’s it for the rides at the moment. Otherwise, the only other thing going on that might be cycle related is another trip to Norway in the works. This one, I would be chasing down Norway’s famous ‘Stave Churches’. Truly impressive. Even if i don’t ride, I’ll have to share a few images any way.

So, that’s about it for now. Goodness! A blog post under 1k words! Wonders never cease?



Loke, Cameras, Heat, and Such
June 3, 2018, 3:54 am
Filed under: Misc

Just an update. No rides, mind you, but still stuff that does impact my cycling and blogging of rides.

Loke – Well, he’s doing pretty well given the circumstances. He’s still having trouble getting to his feet sometimes. Trips and wobbles on occasion. When it’s cooler in the evenings, he has interest to go out though he’d rather just stay in and melt under a ceiling fan during the hot hours. As for the tumor? Practically gone! I can hardly believe it! No noticeable lump and the ulcer is barely more than 1/8th of an inch across. Quite an improvement from something that looked like the size of a large grape under the flesh with a gaping wound over it. *shudder* For a dog who I didn’t think was going to see May back in the middle of April, he’s… good. Not as good as he was back in March, but not staggering around with 3 paws in the grave either.

Camera – This story is a little more involved.

So, on May 23rd, I packed up my Canon 200D and went off to the camera shop, upbeat and ready to borrow a lens for a test. The guy was more than willing to do so and we walked back to the lens case. As soon as he reached for Tamron 70-300 mm lens, things came to a screeching halt.

THAT’S the lens?!” I blurted incredulously.

He pulled it out. “Yes.

It’s HUGE! The 16-300 mm Tamron lens was tiny! This is a monster! Even the Canon 70-300 mm isn’t nearly as big.”

It really was big. To be fair, the 70-300 mm lens that was smashed might be as long, but at least it wasn’t as big around as a grapefruit. And talk about heavy. Oof.  It just wasn’t going to work for me. The lens was wider than the camera’s body so it wouldn’t have even fit in the compartment I’d made for it.

So, back home I went and threw myself into trying to figure out if there was somewhere. ANYWHERE that had my old telephoto lens. Or one enough like it to make no difference. Finally, I found that there was a ‘version 2’ of my old lens. I could go look at it and perhaps buy it at a shop called ‘Scandinavian Photo’ which claimed to be the largest photo-supply shop in, well, Scandinavia. They were even open on Sunday.

So, Sunday, May 24th, I jumped on the train for Stockholm. The camera shop was downtown, apparently not too far from the station. Perfect. I’d go there and then maybe off to the mall in the area which has a delightful kiosk with yummy gourmet chocolates. It’s past time for me to send a package to my family back in the states. I always try to send them some of those awesome goodies.

The train ride, was well, a train ride. I’m glad I have a habit of arriving early though. I jumped on the train as soon as it pulled in and took a seat. By the time it rolled out, the train was packed. People were having to stand for the journey. Annoyingly, I got motion sick. What on earth?! I mean, yeah, I’ve gotten seasick on ships and larger boats since I was in my early 20’s, but motion sick on a train? All that’s left is cars and my trike. Heaven forfend such a thing from happening.

The train arrived at the Stockholm central station just before 11 am. I went to plug in the shop’s location on my phone only to get a notice that it didn’t open until noon. Oops.

Oh well. I started off toward the mall with the chocolate shop then. Stockholm is one of those cities I thought I didn’t mind too much. It’s clean compared to most. Lots of things I find interesting to see and divided up into islands. This time, it was just too hot, too many people. My body seemed to break down within a couple hundred yards with feet and muscles through my shoulders screaming.

It’s frustrating really. One day, I can go walk at Wiks for 2 miles, no problem. The next, just getting around the block with Loke kills me. This was one of those ‘around the block kills me’ days.

I took it slow and got to the mall, found the chocolate shop. I had thought to maybe shop for more light weight summer tops. Instead, I bought a cold, fresh pressed juice and found a place to sit for a bit. When it was finally close enough to noon, I started out again.

It turned into such a fiasco. Maybe it was because of the tall buildings that my phone didn’t have enough of a connection for Google Maps to work well on the walking setting, but it wouldn’t update with any accuracy. I’d start walking and move off a few hundred yards and it would just show me where I’d been. Then it would give this jump and display that I was on ‘X’ street, completely off the plotted route, when I was on ‘B’ street. Or the other way around. After stumbling around for a bit, I finally gave up and ducked into a tourist center, grabbed a paper map and went all old school.

All the while, the heat, the noise, the sheer press of people and traffic, remind me why I typically despise cities.

Finally, I got on the right road, scanning for building numbers as I walked along the crowded sidewalk. I gave a distracted glance across the street and did a double take. The central train station, right there. The original building is actually fairly graceful with Victorian accents and holds center stage in a way with the expansions taking a more modest approach in the chaos of Stockholm. Now, see if my phone’s Google Maps had just plotted back the way I’d come from the station to the mall (direct), it would have clicked in my head. Instead it had marked a string of dots off in this direction and then down Queen Street (site of that terrorist attack a couple years ago), the over and around. What. The. H*LL?!

Muttering, I put my phone away and walked through the door. The guy at the register laughed when I blurted, ‘Woah!’

Scandinavia Photo claimed to be big. With that declaration, I expected something maybe… triple the size of Uppsala’s camera shop? Maybe even quadruple. Nope. I can’t even calculate. The area where they had just lenses and cameras on display for people to get their hands on was more than double the size of the entire Uppsala photo shop. Then of course were the accessories – bags, tripods, filters, video cameras, flashes, light meters and more. Also a couple of photo studios for rent and on several levels. I mean, all things camera. Just… wow.

They were doing brisk business, so I took a number, found an out of the way spot to sit on a step, desperate to get off my feet. My number came up and a very nice woman introduced herself and asked how she could help. I opened the backpack to pull out the old lens.

“I need to replace this.” I held it out to her.

She looked a bit baffled until she took it and it rattled. “Oh! Well, that’s a very expensive maraca.”

I told her how it had happened and then explained that I knew this model lens was no longer produced and went briefly into the story of chromatic aberration with the Tamron lens. So, I wanted the upgraded version of my old lens that I’d heard was out. Was it possible for me to look at it? Perhaps even put one on my camera and snap a few photos to check for purple fringe?

She said the new model was so new they didn’t have one for display yet, but she was willing to open one up and let me try it. She even let me step outside to snap some photos of the train station across the way. You know, I discovered that my 200D’s touch screen will let me not only view the photo after I’ve taken it, but I can even ZOOM in to check the pixels on the contrasting edges of say, a roof-line and the sky? The camera just keeps impressing me.

And it all looked good with the new lens. It was the same size and shape, just a couple buttons rearranged and a little LED display screen for a couple extra bells-n-whistles. I called Jens to ask if he minded. He didn’t.

Even better? They were having a special on that exact lens. 20% off! Kismet? I was practically on Cloud 9 as I waltzed out the door.

It was well after lunch time by this point. I was hungry. I thought about finding somewhere to eat in Stockholm since Jens was going to be tied up with something until after 4 pm. I thought about more staggering around the crowded, loud, and hot city and, no. Just no. I plodded back into the cooler space of the train station and found a bench to sit on for about 15 minutes before heading off to the platform 5 minutes early.

Then it was back to Uppsala. I rode in the upper level of the double-decker train. Again, glad I was there early. It was standing room only for those later arrivals.

Hungry and with a couple hours to spare, I inched my way exhaustedly through Uppsala to one of our favorite little restaurants. It’s one of those sorts for smaller meals. It’s called ‘Plock’ which translates to ‘Pick’ in English. You pick a little of this and a little of that. I relaxed and sated my hunger until it was time for Jens to pick me up.

So, camera settled! Mostly. I’m looking into sturdy lens case now and a couple of ‘carry systems’ have intrigued me. Something to have the camera quick to use if I get up from the trike and walk around, say, a church? Something less agonizing than a strap around my neck or over the shoulder. I kinda like the idea of one of those clip like things that can fit on a belt. I could just have a nice, sturdy mesh belt with the clip on it. Get up from the trike, clip the belt around my hip. Camera on one side, maybe lens on the other?

Turns out my bag can’t accommodate the camera with the long lens on it. Maybe if I hadn’t put in the foam inserts to reduce rattle. Not worth it though. I’ve always had to swap my telephoto lens off and on for use and transport, so no change. Completely acceptable.

And the heat. Oh, and lack of rain. Just on and on. Even during the nights, it’s not getting so cool (downright cold) any more. Jens, Mr. Sleep-All-Summer-Under-Goose-Down, has been kicking off covers and complaining about how warm it is. I’ve noticed some hint of discoloration in the leaves of a few trees. Looks like they’re starting to go brown on the branch. Baby birds are leaping from the nest way too early because they’re just cooking in them and desperate for shade. This weekend, the trains south of Stockholm stopped running because the tracks are warping. Ankle high wheat is turning yellow. Some of those fields that were yielding up so much soil to the wind are, at best, thin with sprouts, withering for want of water. At least it hasn’t been so breezy, so there’s a lot less dust flying around. May was the hottest on record and we had NO precipitation for the entire critical growing month. Those blueberries in a previous post won’t be turning blue if we don’t get rain soon if it’s not too late already.

June is shaping up hot as well and still no rain on the forecast for the next 10 days. Saturday, June 2nd, was Stockholm’s annual marathon and the officials were worried about runners collapsing with heat exhaustion if not stroke. At least one woman should be fine though. She was on the news for having run 40 Stockholm marathons and 80 if she’s a day. She’s not worried at all. She ran a marathon in Havana, Cuba a few years ago when it hit over 120 F. I’ve not heard anything about it yet.

We did get a slight kiss of rain Friday night. So little there was no trace of it the next morning except for streak patterns in the dust on the cars.

At least a brief relief from the high temps is in the forecast for Monday – Wednesday. Tuesday is supposed to be down right nippy. I’ll have to get out and ride on those days before it gets warm again. Maybe even get some flight practice with the drone.

Anything else? Oh, hotels booked for our northern trip. Not sure if I’ll be taking the trike though. Norwegian roads look kinda scary to ride on. Even their major ‘highways’ are narrow 2 lanes winding through the mountains, squeezed tight between cliffs and rock faces with no where for a cyclist to get out of the way if someone comes whipping through a blind curve. The forecast for the area this week is cool and rainy. I wonder if the heat’s gonna follow us?

And that’s caught up. Until next time. Hopefully I’ll have rides to report then.



Rides and Random Stuff
May 23, 2018, 8:15 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Quite a bit has happened since my last post and not just rides. Let’s see if I can’t stick to some semblance of order.

First, the heat! Monday (May 21st) was another broiler (mid-80’s F). Yesterday was cooler (78-80 F) and today will be cooler still (high 60’s) if the forecast holds. After today though, we’re talking back up in the mid to upper 80’s and still no sign of rain. At least now, there’s a bit of cloud action going on.

Between the 11th and the 18th, I pretty much stayed home. Combination of ‘just too damn hot’ and ‘can’t leave the husky for too long’. Temps were actually pushing into the 90’s and on the 16th, Uppsala was the hottest spot in Sweden and setting records for May which is already the warmest May since records of weather began. A fairly high (for here) humidity combined with not a breath of wind made it even more unpleasant. Going into the sun in those conditions just felt like the sun was crisping my skin like a Peking duck (mmmmm peking duck…*drool*). Stayed in, under the ceiling fans with Loke, our apartment closed up like a nun’s habit because every single time I opened a window, a yellow jacket would come buzzing in and harass us. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Not pleasant.

During this broiler period, there was a beacon of hope in the forecast. Thursday, May 17th. The temp was supposed to go from 85+ F to the low 60’s and stick around for a couple days. I was counting down the hours.

The 17th, I didn’t get to ride as I’d hoped. I wound up running around like a mad woman. Driving Jens to Stockholm for work, then dealing with Loke because he decided to chew part of the tumor off while coming back from Sweden’s capital city. I couldn’t drive and watch him both. When we got home, he bounced out of the car with blood everywhere. It looked pretty bad even after I cleaned it up, but the vet clinic was down one doctor because of illness and so had no openings. I decided it could wait until the next day as the bleeding stopped fairly quick. Then I had a few more errands to tend to, leaving Loke in a secure spot with the cone of shame around his head. To think, the day before I had thought to myself, ‘Hey! The tumor’s looking much better!’

Finally, Friday, May 18th, I managed to escape for a solo ride. The forecast was warmer than the day before, supposedly getting up to high 60’s. I almost didn’t go, feeling stressed about getting Loke to the vet and various other things that needed done. Jens was working from home though and chased me out the door.

It was sunny, but so wonderfully cool as I set out. Not even 60 F. I was excited too, because I was taking my new camera with me. Little did I know what chaos lurked all because of a lens.

I was about to get a crash course in ‘Chromatic Aberration’.

The first hint I had was when I took a picture of the little park near the storage. With the small view screen of the camera, I didn’t notice the issue though. Maybe just a little blurry because I’d had it on a more manual setting? I tried again, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. I told myself, I just needed to take the time to learn and be sure I took photos on the full auto setting as well as what I played with.

Since the ride had to be short to make sure I had time to get back home and clean up before dashing off to the vet, I decided I’d do the Grave Mound Loop. It would offer some nice opportunity to use the camera, but keep me closer to home.

Pretty, but OOF that wind!

One thing I didn’t expect was the wind. It had been brutal since the temperature dropped. The day before when coming back from Stockholm, there were spots were the air had a yellowish cast like when the wind comes up across the Sahara desert and picks up the finer grains of sand. Not one of those choking dust-storms that sends camels fleeing, but the milder kind. All those freshly plowed fields exposed to the dry air and the harsh sun were drying out and the wind was stripping off the top soil. Our little patch of Sweden was having a mini-dustbowl.

A car sitting for 10 minutes will have a fine coat of grit on it. Any place with windows and doors open finds dust over every exposed surface. I was sitting in Starbucks one morning. The door was open to let the heat out and I could see billows of dust swirling into the shop over the tiles.

Though I couldn’t see it at the start of the ride, that dust was still blowing around, carried on that stiff north wind. I could feel it. My eyes itched and watered and I couldn’t stop coughing. No, it wasn’t allergies. I’ve never found anything I’m allergic too. Just dust getting in the eyes and throat.

Even with the wind and tearing eyes, coughing, and on that 3-4% grade, I was still faster than if I’d had Loke with me on a calm day.

By the time I reached the turn for Gamla Uppsala, my skin had a layer of grit on it. The only easy place to cross Vattholma Road now is a few yards past the Gamla Uppsala entrance. So, I pedaled to it and in the distance, I could make out one of those plowed fields. No tractor out there, but there was still quite a cloud of fine-grained top soil getting pulled up by the wind.

Yay! More grit I’ll need to wash off.

Naturally, by time I got the camera out and zoomed toward the field, the thickest of the blasting dust was out of the shot, but what remained still impressed.

We desperately need rain. Still true as of this writing and no relief in sight on the forecast. A moderate sprinkle that sticks around for 2 days, to soak into the earth and give whatever it was that the farmers are planting in that dirt a chance to sprout and stop the dust storms.

Last year was hard on the trees, though at least that was a cool and cloudy summer even if dry. We had leaves withering and turning brown and the river stopped flowing over the spillways. This summer may shape up to be as dry, but with the heat and the unhindered sun, even harsher to the vegetation.

Getting more trees between me and the open, dry fields offered some relief for my eyes and throat. Having the wind at my back gave me a boost too. The trike rattled briskly along the base of the royal mounds (the 3 largest). I was surprised by the crowds though.

Hundreds of school age children, I’d guess between ages 8-10. It must have been the ‘end of year field trips’ before summer holidays. They were all over the tops of the mounds, they were walking in double lines with their teachers. I came to the edge of the big charge down the hill and sat there for about 5 minutes and a stream of kids came walking up and by me. Many waved and called out about how cool my bike was.

Only when the last kid was behind me, did I tip the trike over the edge for that wild charge down. I love that hill.

I did the 5.3 miles in roughly an hour. The wind slowed me a lot, but so did the pauses to fiddle with the camera as I wanted to be comfortable with it for our trip around Mid-summer. I was back in plenty of time for Loke’s vet appointment.

That actually turned out to be a bit anti-climatic. The gaping hole and flap of skin Loke had inflicted on the tumor had miraculously disappeared and, if anything, it looked even smaller and less angry than before Loke had chewed it. Franz, the vet, was surprised when he looked. His best guess is the tumor is the type they thought it could be and it’s finally responding to the lower testosterone levels. Not only is it smaller and the ulceration reduced and looking less angry, but the lump is softer as well.

Franz just said for me to keep doing what I’ve been doing, keeping it clean. I told him I try, but it turns into a major battle as Loke tries to tuck his tail and sit. I needed another arm to keep him from sitting while holding up his tail and doing the cleaning. Franz’s solution was direct. ‘Would you like me to shave back the fur for several centimeters so there’s just skin to clean?’ I took him up on his offer. We’re all much happier for it. Loke still tries to sit when I clean, but I can get a few quick swipes in and the ick comes right off. The joys of an old dog.

The next day, May 19th, it was supposed to be hot again. Mid-80’s, but that morning was a shock when I woke to our window thermometer showing 38 F. An almost 50 degree swing for the day. Boggles the mind.

I kinda meant to ride early, before the heat hit hard. While I waited for it to warm up into temperatures that didn’t require electric socks and heavy wool, a project I’ve had in mind engrossed me.

I’ve had my Arkel handlebar bag for quite a while now. While absolutely LOVING how sturdy it is and weather-proof to boot, one thing has driven me crazy about it. All 7 liters being wide open space. No compartments. I constructed one divider out of cardboard and duck tape, but Loke saw fit to yank it out and shred it (while eating all the cough drops) when I left him home alone one day.

Since then, it’s been back to a jumbled mess. A particular headache for those times when I’d take my DSLR camera. Phone on top of the camera. Phone under the camera. The camera getting tangled up with the charger cable connected to my battery brick when charging my Garmin or phone. Just kept waiting to drop and break something with all the juggling required every time something had to come out of the bag. *beats head on wall*

I had a plan to correct it. Just hadn’t gotten around to it. Months ago, I’d bought some thin, but fairly sturdy (and cheap) cutting boards, a silver gel pen to mark on the boards, a right angle ruler, and box cutters to cut the boards. Finding super glue was the problem. I looked everywhere. Can’t walk into any American hobby shop or grocery store without tripping over the stuff, but in Sweden? It’s almost like trying to find a unicorn.

Getting the 200D camera gave me a kick in the butt for tackling that problem though. Then on May 17th, it occurred to me. Hot glue gun instead of super glue to stick the parts together. So, I went and bought one. Only 99 kroner and it wasn’t even the cheap one. That’s about 12-13 dollars.

Before and After! Yay! Organization now possible!

So, early in the morning on May 19th, I started work on a divider. It turns out scissors worked better for cutting the plastic. More accurate too! I measured and trimmed, figured out how I wanted to lay it out, how big compartments needed to be for specific things. My camera over here. My phone with battery brick in that little space. Another for ‘whatever’. Then I got the bright idea of lining the bottom of the camera compartment with closed cell foam to reduce rattle and impact, even arranging a sort of air space between layers for more of a buffer.

Once I started the task, I was so focused that when I finally looked up, satisfied with the results, it was already quite hot, coming up on 2 pm. But I had compartments! A fair trade.

The camera drama made a major progression on that day as well. Though sunset isn’t until after 9, so I theoretically had plenty of time, I didn’t ride, mostly because I didn’t want to broil in that heat, under that sun, reclined on my trike. So, Jens dragged me and Loke off to Wiks Castle to walk the grounds there. I took the camera naturally.

Even with the small view screen, it was obvious something wasn’t right. No matter which settings I used (landscape mode, various semi-auto, or even full auto modes), the photos just looked oddly blurry and wrong. The only exceptions were close up photos of flowers.

Being so shady, it was a pleasant walk. I’m even more convinced that ravens are nesting in a particular pine tree on the grounds too. I even saw one of them swooping toward a thick clump at the top of it. RAVENS! Thrills me to bits!

I’ve taken blurry photos before, but this was completely different.

It wasn’t until the next day (May 20th) that I downloaded the photos and got a good look. I was horrified. My computer screen only confirmed what I thought was visible on the camera’s view screen.

Every photo had this bizarre purple/pink/green halo along the edges of things. No matter what setting, it was there and just looking at them made my eyes cross and even slightly nauseous.

I threw myself into trying to solve the mystery. Was it the camera? Was it something else? I looked at the first photos I took with the 200D and they were fine. Why did they look so bad now? It took a moment for me to remember the first dozen or so pictures had been with the lens that came with the camera. The pictures out at Wiks and even the blurry one of the park by the storage had been with the new 16-300 mm Tamron lens. The lens then?

Jens started snapping photos around the apartment as I attacked the internet. Chromatic Aberration (or purple fringe) is what the issue is called. It turns out every camera and lens has some degree of it. I’ve very likely been looking at it in most photos with my Canon 400D, but it was so minor (to me) that I didn’t recognize it as a ‘problem’ so never noticed. Some of the videos I viewed on the subject showed photos where, ‘Now you see here, the purple fringing is quite significant.’ Umm. No. I see nothing significant, nothing I’d have said was wrong with what they were showing. My recent photos on the other hand.

If anything, the photos Jens took in the apartment on full auto were worse than those at Wiks. It was like looking at old style 3D photos where you need the red and blue glasses to resolve it. I was about at my wits’ end.

Realizing that was getting me nowhere, I took a breath and started to think more methodically. The 200D did fine with it’s original lens. So… maybe the Tamron lens?

I was a couple more hours bashing around on the internet and playing with both cameras and all available lenses. The 400D camera didn’t seem to have any issue with the Tamron lens. The 200D had no issue with it’s original 18-55 mm lens or my 28-105 mm lens. Zooming in within a few dozen pixels around an edge of contrast just made it look blurry and pixelated, but no purple or green colors in shades to make the eyes bleed.

To make the test as fair as possible, I also took a crash course in camera settings which was made possible by the ‘guided settings’ mode on the 200D. I snapped a photo with the 400D and Tamron with the auto-setting. Downloaded the photo (looked fine) and made note of F-stop and aperture, as well as ISO and all else. Then, with the 200D on manual, I chased down all the settings to set them to identical values. I snapped the same picture with the same conditions of lighting and the Tamron lens with those settings. Purple fringe.

Even with the Tamron looking fine with the 400D, I didn’t give up on it being the lens and rather than the 200D. My beloved 400D Canon is over 10 years old. Sensors and other bits of processing power as well as compatible software in the 200D are that much more advanced. The 200D has quite a few more mega-pixels and the resulting photos on the ‘L’ setting for saving the files are 2000 pixels wider and longer than those on the 400D which offers more pixels for flaws to spread out over. Make them ‘bigger’. The sensor is more sensitive. Perhaps the Tamron lens was just incompatible with the 200D.

That had me jumping in the car and driving north toward Gävle to return the lens. They took it back and refunded the money with no fuss. Just as well. I went armed with all my research and had even crammed examples of my experiments on my tablet to beat them over the head with if they gave me guff. It was not needed.

As much love I have for my 400D, I’m already quite attached to the 200D. The ‘guided mode’ for the settings has already taught me more about using a DSLR than a decade of searching for videos and arguing with incomprehensible (to me) settings with the 400D. Fortunately, the 400D’s auto didn’t do TOO badly most of the time. It’s certainly been much better than the old point-n-click I used when I first began blogging here.

May 21st. Why didn’t I ride? You know. I can’t remember. Maybe it was just too hot and since I dislike the idea of leaving Loke penned up with the cone on, alone, for more than an hour or two, I just let it go.

Yesterday (May 22nd) though, Jens worked from home after a mid-morning appointment here in Uppsala. I was going to ride and I had a plan encompassing two errands. Most obviously of course, was the fruit stand. I need my yearly fill of cherries and awesome watermelon. The other was camera related. With the return of the Tamron 16-300 mm lens to the store, I still crave a 300 mm lens before our north trip. I’ve missed it so since the last one was smashed. I was going to go to Uppsala’s only camera shop and look at lenses.

Loke was no where in any of those plans. The last rides I’ve done since May 11th, he’s given no indication of interest as I pulled on the clothes and shoes. Given some of the rides where I took him even though he didn’t show enthusiasm as I dressed, wound up with him plodding for just a few hundred yard and then stopping to stare off in the distance or give me looks that felt an awful lot like reproach, I decided to just stick with walkies.

Well, as I wandered around pulling on the tights and top and then sat down to put the shoes on, there was Loke, head on my knee, puppy eyes and wagging tail. That surprised me. As a kind of test, I went for his harness and held it up. He came right over and put his head and leg through the loops with no prompting, then looked at me all bright-eyed and eager.

So, I asked Jens if he would be able to drop Loke and I off at the storage and maybe come get Loke somewhere if rescue was a necessity. ‘Yeah. No problem.’

The furball didn’t exactly go bounding down the ramp, but when I pushed the trike up and out, he went right to the running bar to be tethered up. He wanted to go.

I was fiddling with the trailer when an older gentleman came wandering by. We’ve met him before as he lives in the complex where our storage is located. He stopped to look at Loke.

Your dog looks tired.

Believe me. This is Loke’s new ‘I wanna go’ face.

I glanced at Loke. He was a bit squinty as he looked off toward the park and perhaps not his old bouncy self he was in March, but interested. “He’s 13 years old. You’d look tired too if you were 90,” I answered lightheartedly.

What are you doing taking a 13 year old dog out with a bike in this heat!? Take him home to go sleep! Walk with him tonight!” Judgement just rolled thick in his voice as he waved a hand at first the sun and then me and Loke.

I fought to keep my tone from going acid. “He wants to be here. He sat in front of the door as I got ready. He begged to come. I have plenty of water. I’ll go slow and stop often in the shade. I even have an umbrella for shade if there’s none near-by. He needs a walk any way and I can’t walk very well, so I’m walking him with the bike. My husband will come get him if he gets tired.”

Me and the man just stood there for a good minute or two staring daggers at each other. Finally he just made a disgusted noise and walked on.

Poor Loke. In the apartment, he thinks he can go for a 30 mile run and want more. The spirit is still so young and willing. Whatever I was trying to do with him to make him happy, this man was suggesting, to put it mildly, Loke should just go home and sleep until he died. No more fun or living. How cruel that would be?

It did sour my mood for a bit as we rolled out. Loke worked hard as he could to dispel it, though probably completely unaware of the exchange or how it had affected me. My furry old man actually kinda/almost pulled the trike across the street to the park. Bless him, trying to be his former self. He gave it up once we were across the road though. I let him amble through the park in leisurely fashion. The shade was nice and while the sun was blistering, the air was actually fairly cool feeling.

I couldn’t say exactly what temp it was at that time and any remarks about speed are just guesses aside from ‘slow’ or ‘leisurely’. Why? Because it seems after my last ride, I forgot to turn the Garmin off. The battery was dead and I didn’t have the connection cable to hook up the battery brick.

We emerged out of the park and Loke shuffled on. I kept him in shade as much as I could as we rolled down the cycle path. Experimenting, I stopped only to have Loke stare at me in annoyance and sigh. That much at least is like his old self, showing me he wanted to keep going. We probably weren’t doing much more than 1.5 mile per hour at a rough guess. I could definitely have walked faster, though it wouldn’t have been nearly as comfortable or able to continue for long.

We hadn’t gone far when the sun dimmed somewhat. A high, thin layer of cloud had scuttled between us and the sun. Sadly, nothing that hints at rain the trees so desperately need. Some leaves are starting to look positively wilted. Still, it probably brought the temp down a little and it certainly seemed to give Loke a bit more oomph. He started ambling a bit faster. Even edged into a bit of a jog in spots.

I decided to go with the old basic River Loop with him, going back around to the apartment to drop him off with Jens. He enjoyed it. Coming down the long hill to the bridge over the river, he even stepped up into a brisk, if loose-limbed jog. Had to be 5 or 6 mph. I mapped out the distance later on Plotaroute.com. 2.15 miles. It took about an hour and a half not counting the time to argue with the pushy man. Once back in the apartment, Loke started bugging Jens. *sigh*

I bolted back out the door after taking the time to grab the charger cable for the Garmin.

I set off for the most direct route toward the camera shop.

It was the same guy there to help me as when I went in to buy a replacement lens cap last week. He was more than happy to help and talk lenses. When I started to tell him the whole story about the purple fringe with the Tamron lens, he nodded. “Yeah, that problem was coming up a few weeks ago. We called Tamron about it and pushed to have the software updated.”

I blinked. “The lenses have software installed in them?”

He grinned, “Everything’s connected.”

I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. One can hardly brush their teeth without a toothbrush connected to a smart phone. Still, my internet research had never hinted at such as a possibility for the issue.

He asked to take a look at it and kinda chuckled when I said I’d returned the lens. He also confirmed that it hadn’t been happening with every camera either which explains why it was fine with my 400D. Unfortunately, they only had Tamron lenses for the size I was looking for and I still felt a bit burned. He said he would need to have Canon brand lenses shipped from their other shops from way down south, but assured me the Tamron lenses were actually quite good. Before the software issue, they’ve sold a lot of them and people like them. Now that they’ve supposedly been fixed, people are happy with them again.

Then he really surprised me. “If you like, you can take this lens out for a few hours to try and see. We could then take a look and see if there’s a problem and what I can do to help fix it.”

You’d actually let me borrow it?”

He grinned cheerfully again, “Of course! Really, they are quite good though I can get you a Canon in a while if you prefer. We’re just out of them.”

I decided I’ll try the lens, but preferably when I next have the car rather then when I’m riding around with the trike, on my way to the fruit stand. Perhaps on Saturday. Pick up the lens, drive back out to Wiks.

While I didn’t get a lens, the stop felt very productive. Certainly walked out with a lot of information to settle in my brain.

After that, I tried to make a stop at a bank, but couldn’t find somewhere I was comfortable parking the trike when I might have to stand in line for an hour or more to get my ATM card fixed. Something wrong and it won’t let me withdraw cash with it.

With the produce market, I’ve always preferred to use cash over the card, but now I can’t withdraw, so I’m stuck using my credit card. The bank would have to wait.

The watermelon looked a bit iffy, but I finally picked a quarter that looked decent. Since it was just a quarter rather than a half and it was the best of them with the others looking barely edible (to me), I decided getting extra melon for my mother-in-law would have to be on another day. There were also some cherries. Not many, but I grabbed about a pound of them.

Then it was back home, with the trailer rattling behind me to carry the watermelon.

I pulled up to the storage with 4.99 miles on the solo fruit run. I sent a text to Jens. My hubby sent back that he was stuck in a work call for another hour. Maybe I should bring the trike home. He wanted the car for work the next day any way, so maybe I’d like to have the trike on hand to ride.

That offered a bit of a dilemma. There’s room at the apartment to put the trike fine. Or there’s room for the trailer. Both? Not so much. I couldn’t carry the watermelon without the trailer. I was a bit tired and the sun was back out, full and strong, so I didn’t relish the idea of riding home with the watermelon, back to storage to put the trailer away, then back home sans trailer. Just ugh. Too much back and forth.

The solution was ridiculously simple. It’s rather cool in the storage. Not refrigerator cool, but nothing one would call ‘warm’. Just leave the melon with the trailer in the storage and come back for it when I went grocery shopping for dinner. An hour or so wouldn’t hurt it.

So, that’s what I did.

To get back, instead of just heading across the little park, I went the opposite way which was a nice gentle descent to the cycle path by the American football fields and then past the swimhall and back home. That added 0.91 mile to the rest of the day. Just a tiny bit over 8 miles. Not bad, especially since Loke got a bit of an outing from it.

A fairly productive day.



A Semi-Continuation of the Last Post
May 13, 2018, 9:31 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

So, starting this post just an hour after I hit ‘Publish’ on the last. It was just running so long!

On the 11th, I bravely decided to go for another ride. I know. Right? Two rides in two days! That’s not happened since March where I did it twice. Then came old age hitting Loke like an avalanche and being able to escape for rides became problematical.

The plan was to hitch up the trailer and trundle off to the produce market… with Loke. See if I could get him at least a slow, lazy mile or two for Jens to have a bit of a break.

So, I found parking close enough to storage that I wasn’t going to melt in the heat before reaching it. As I pulled everything out and was hitching the trailer, I heard a cheerful voice calling, “Hi, Loke!”

There’s a lovely nice woman who lives in the complex where our storage is located. I honestly can’t remember her name, but her little Schnauzer is an 11 year old sweetheart name Mille. The woman and Millie both came down to greet us and for me and the woman to chat. And we talked and talked. Dogs, the differences between the US and Sweden, weather. You get the idea.

Loke laid down and slept. Millie found a small pine cone about the size of a ping-pong ball. I heard a little ‘yap’ and looked down. There, on my shoe, sat the cone and Millie was looking up at me with a wagging butt. Smiling, I reached down and threw the impromptu ball up the ramp. Oooh! She loved that. Her little legs scrambling as she chased it up the incline and then halfway back down when when she missed the catch. Then, back on my shoe, eyes staring hopefully up into my face as me and her mom chatted. I must have thrown it more than 20 times.

Our conversation was winding down when the other incredibly nice woman I know in the complex came along. She needs a mobility scooter to get around, but was so happy to see Loke after so long, she brought it right down the ramp so she could half get off the scooter and love on the furball. To my surprise, he was happy to be affection. That’s rare.

Lovely shaded path.

It had already been warm before I spent half an hour or more chatting. That meant the ride with Loke was going to be VERY slow with as direct a ride to the fruit stand as I could work out. The first portion was a gentle down slope for a few hundred yards. At the beginning of the year, Loke would have been pulling the trike at 12 mph. This time, we did just 3 mph and made a left turn onto the cycle path that runs by the American Football fields.

I slowed us to about walking pace. Loke seemed happy with it at first. Stopping to sniff from time to time. Then he slowed even more and became increasingly wobbly in the back legs and tripped with the front ones a few times.

Nope. No way was I going to risk him like that all the way too and from the fruit stand. I suppose I could have coaxed him on a little further and have Jens come pick him up. I just didn’t want to chance it. He was home with just 0.93 mile. He also went directly to Jens and started bugging him as if he could have kept going. *beats head on wall*

So cool and restful

From the apartment, I jumped straight onto the cycle path along Svartbäcken Road right where it goes under the other busy road by the police station. It’s so nice to have that underpass open again! From where it was a brief amble in the shade along the river which is looking lovely in the colors of spring and summer.

I came up to the big pink-ish bridge at the intersection and swerved over to stop at the ice cream stand that opens there every summer. It’s just standard Swedish ice cream, which is pretty good though it doesn’t hold a candle to the ‘gone-forever’ wonderful stuff of the place that closed. I went with mint chocolate chip and chocolate in a cone. My trike made a comfortable seat to nibble it while watching ducks on the water, once I moved it to the shade.

There was a bit of looping around at that point, as I went kinda spacey and made a wrong turn for the next easiest way to the fruit stand. Other ways that would have been quicker and more direct were complicated with construction last I looked. I decided to stick with the most recent way I knew was clear.

In no time, I was rolling to a stop at the fruit stand. There were three giant ‘cartons’ of those big watermelons though not so many cut ones. I bounced out of the trike, grabbed a basket and walked over to the table where one of the guys working the stand started slicing melons with a machete. The first ones were disheartening. With big gaping cracks in the flesh and hollows. When melons look like that, I associate them with eating sand soaked with sugar water. They’re just way too sweet and so very, very gritty.

So, I waited as he cut through another melon. Then another. After about 10 minutes or more and all the melons looking the same with cracks and hollows, I gave up and started looking at the other fruit. Seems too early for cherries. The Belgian strawberries they had were pretty, but had almost no scent which generally means little flavor. The green grapes had that yellowish tinge which just screams they’re overripe and cloyingly sweet. The red grapes were mushy which means the same as the yellow color in the green ones. Nectarines? You could have used them to drive nails through concrete.

Back-way cycle paths with more shade.

I came away from the market with nothing. I drank some water and then pedaled on back toward home. It really was a pretty day. The green colors intensifying from the softer yellow or more pale shades of green that mark spring into the deeper, richer, harder colors of summer. There was a tangy sweet smell in the air that had taken me years to discover came from birch trees blooming. You’d never know it to look at them, their flowers are so incredibly modest and green, but the scent of them just fills the air like magnolias do in southern Mississippi.

It was also a tiny bit cooler than on the 10th. Must have been less humidity too, because I just didn’t seem to feel it as harshly. Surely I was acclimatizing that quickly? It might have been as simple as all the trees along the cycle paths and the 2 and 3 story buildings offering more shade than the country roads with fields to all sides. Probably safer to go with that theory.

I was coming up to the mosque when I heard the phone ring. It was Jens. He wanted to know how far out I was since he had errands he needed to run. I had to be there to dog sit as well as bring the car back to the apartment.

It turns out he’d also arranged to have a cook out at his parents. The first of the year. Trips to restaurants and cookouts after all my rides? How on earth am I to lose weight like that?! (Mostly joking)

In the spare time between the rides on the 10th and the 11th as well as for a fair chunk of May 12th, I devoted myself to researching cameras. Having cleared up the debate ‘twixt full and cropped sensor, I was looking into the various Canon models available. Features, sizes, that sort of thing. As I kept flipping through 3 potential choices (2000D, 200D, 80D), I did tell Jens that since I knew I was going for a cropped sensor, we could just get the lens replaced and not worry about the camera just yet.

Spontaneously, Jens suggested we drive up to Gävle where one of the electronics stores had all three of the cameras I was debating over. It was more of a ‘go look’ trip and he figured we could stop at a fishing spot he wanted to check over.

Jens waited in the car with Loke as I wandered in. As I looked around, a very nice guy wandered over to help. Henrik. We talked cameras and it turned out the 200D was the better Camera between the 2000D which I’d already sort of known. We also talked lenses since they had a 10-18 mm for closer in shots like say, church interiors or trying to get pictures of a church from the outside when it’s surrounded by trees. Lots of back and forth running between Henrik and Jens, I managed to reject the 2000D as a possibility and even more firmly rejected the 80D. That one was such a chunky, heavy brute of a camera that it was about as bulky as a full sensor one. Ugh.

Without intending to, I walked out of there with a camera. Oops.

I didn’t get it without Jens’ blessing though. We’ve been talking about a new camera since the 70-300 mm lens was smashed during that car fiasco a couple years ago. I also ran outside to ask, ‘Are you SURE it’s okay?’ about a dozen times. So too, I replaced that long lens but with a 16 to 300 mm. The 10-18 mm lens I passed on because the only one they had was the display.

One of the reasons for this camera plunge is because Jens and I have scheduled a week to go up north just after Midsummer. For that, especially if we decided to go into Norway, I wanted my telephoto lens replaced. With the advances in digital technology over the past 10 years with sensor improvements and ISO enhancements, as well as the fact I liked the way the 200D felt, went with it. Early Happy Birthday, I’ll say.

Now, I’ll have over a month to get used to it. I should go out shooting with today. It will also still fit on my tripod without it collapsing into a pile of bent aluminum.

I do find a sentimental attachment to my old, trusty 400D though. Makes me almost sad to part with it.

The 200D does seem to be chock full of possibilites that might mean I can start using more advanced functions though! I felt almost giddy as I was flipping around with the selections on the touch screen!

Oh, and I also got a white one. I just really liked the way it looked. So refreshing to find a DSLR that isn’t BLACK.



I’ve Been Riding!
May 13, 2018, 6:34 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Three rides since my last post about the one on April 28th!

Part of that was a perfect storm of hindrances to additional rides. The 29th being ride-free was desperately needed for recovery. April 30th was Valborg where Uppsala gets drenched in a flood of alcohol so deep that some of the historic buildings cover their lower outer walls in plastic to protect them (seriously). There’s also the tents the hospital puts up to deal with the huge influx of alcohol poisoning cases. That makes me a bit leery about going out on the roads when half a city’s sense of judgement is so distorted that the hospital needs to expand their capacity to treat alcohol poisoning. May 1st, Jens had something he wanted to do so I had to stay home all day with the husky. After that, Jens was off away 3 days to London for work.

Of course with Jens gone, that effectively seemed to nail my feet to the floor. Rather, it seemed I’d be ride-less as Loke has been too weak and lethargic.

May 4th, that kind of changed. Loke was a huge pain in the butt. I mean, he’s always being a bit of one. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, plenty of energy in the apartment only to act like he’s 3 breaths from the end of his life as soon as I take him out.

On the 4th though, Loke was an even bigger pest in the apartment than he’s been. In my face, nudging my hands and arms, but pulling away when I’d reach out to pet him. Standing 2 yards out of reach and stomping his feet as he woofed at me. When he remained semi-bouncy on his morning walkie, I decided we’d try a ride with the trike. Say, perhaps go to the garage to get the trailer and then ride to the Vaksala Square produce market? Sounded like a plan!

I get that you’re eager, but this is not helping me get shoes on faster…

The furball seemed kinda interested as I dressed. More than he was all through April any way. It seemed every time I turned around, I was tripping over him. Also, I’m not entirely sure he really understands how unhelpful he can be as I try to put my shoes on. Once I locked the door, he proved a little too enthusiastic for his current abilities going down the stairs. I managed to snag his harness and keep him from crashing headfirst into the floor at the bottom of the landing.

As I settled into the trike, there was a minor change of plan. The trailer was at the garage, but the main tire pump was at the apartment and far too large to try carrying on my trike. While I do have a travel pump, it is something I would only use in emergencies. I didn’t relish spending an hour at the garage, furiously working my little pump to blow up trailer tires. I’d just have to see what other way I could carry any possible fruit home. Besides, that would also make a shorter trip in case Loke’s energy fizzled out quickly.

Little did he know what lay in store. Muahahaha.

We shuffled off at about 4 mph. Loke enjoyed it. A light wind ruffling his fur, about 54 F with sun/cloud mix. Not a bad day really.

As I pushed on for the the center of town, I thought about how bad Loke had been shedding on his first walk of the morning. He had little tufts sticking out all over and I pulled a few handfuls off and cast to the wind. When we walked just a few yards on, I heard a racket behind us and looked back to see a mob of sparrows having it out over the fur. A full on birdie riot for husky hair. The groomer was kind of on the way to downtown, so why not stop by to see when she had a time available to see us.

We crept and rolled that way. Perhaps I’m not being fair to Loke. We actually were doing about 4 mph, which is pretty good for the past few weeks with him.

I’m friendly with Jennifer, so we chatted as she finished brushing out the dog she had on the table. She was sympathetic upon hearing about what’s been going on with Loke. Asked if I should bring him to her to say bye ‘when the time came’. Definitely!

When she finished with the current dog, she put him away and came to look at her appointment book. Nothing until July. I was about to make the appointment when she suddenly said, ‘Actually, if you can leave him, I’ll fit him in. I can’t give you an exact time I’d be finished with him, but we can do it. He’ll feel better without all that itchy, shedding fur.’

I was truly touched and took her up on her offer. Loke wasn’t entirely thrilled by the change of events.

With Loke in the care of Jennifer, I hustled out the door and rushed off. I still wanted to see if the produce market had watermelon, even if I didn’t buy any. Then I had another awesome idea. I should go by the cafe that had that awesome ice cream. I sped off practically drooling at the idea.

I was in for a nasty shock. I made the turn through the roundabout by the big grave yard and bumped down the cobble stones. Something didn’t look right. First, it was the roses that used to grow up and over the door frame. They were gone. Right after that, I spotted something else. The cheerful little, hand-painted sign over the door with the name of the cafe was missing. I rolled up past where I usually park and a hand written note on the door said, ‘Sushi coming here! Next week!’

Noooooooo!!!! The place that had my absolute favorite ice cream of all time had close. Poof! Vanished! They had the ill-grace to disappear with my chocolate cherry crunch.

I was in a sulky funk as I came bumping and shaking down the hill of cobblestones toward downtown and then up over the iron bridge. From there, it was a quick dash to the train-station and then up toward the produce market.

Now, isn’t this all neat and tidy tenting!

They’ve had a bit of a change this year. In the previous years, the ‘tent’ was made of multiple tarps strung up every which way to keep the rain off. Well, this year, they have a set of lovely matching tent tops and some with sides to form up the shaded and rain-free area. Must be much quicker to put up in the mornings too.

Oh and they had those watermelons I so love which remind me of my childhood summers in Mississippi. I thought about grabbing a quarter of one to see if I could somehow carry it home sans trailer. One look at the line for the register changed my mind. Almost 30 people in it. Since there was no firm time-line no when Jennifer was going to be finished with Loke. I wanted to be securely back at home and ready to fetch Loke with the car when she called. Better to get him that way than risk wearing him out or hurting him by having to run him back home with the trike. Finished the day with just a tiny smidge over 7 miles. About 4 of those, I actually got my heartrate up enough my Fitbit called it exercise.

Loke was so fluffy pretty when I picked him up.

Then for 6 days, there were no rides. Rather strange since some of that was over a weekend, so Jens would have been home. During that time, there was a change in the weather. The cool days shifted and I found myself grumbling about temps pushing 80’s F. Visually, the weather has been stunning. Clear skies, often with not a cloud to be seen, but oh, how that sun hammers down when one is laid out like a turkey underneath the broiling element of an oven.

Nor does it help that I’ve never really been fond of being warm, never mind hot. I mean, a chilly atmosphere and cuddled up under a blanket kinda ‘warm’ is fine. If it gets to be too much, you can just kick the blanket off and voila, you’re good. But ‘warm’ where the air temperature is something you can’t escape, so you’re just warm no matter what you do, I detest. Hot is even worse.

Having grown up on the Gulf Coast, 75 F doesn’t sound particularly warm. A lot of people there would be complaining about it getting a bit chilly. I thrived in those temps and colder! Now that I’ve adapted to Sweden, it’s right on the edge of ‘too warm’. If you have clouds or somewhere with lots of shade, or a nice brisk wind, it’s okay. Heaven forbid if it’s clear and no wind and no shade. I just start unhappily broiling. So does Loke for that matter.

Needless to say, the past 3-4 cool summers have absolutely spoiled me. This one is shaping up to be a hot one. And my theory is ‘warm winter/cool summer’ countered by ‘cold winter/warm summer’. I’d need to look back through my blog posts, but I really do think that every time we’ve had a winter that was on the warm side, the summer has been cooler. This summer is more like the first 4 or so for me in Sweden and all those winters were ‘proper’ winters with temps in the 20’s, teens or colder with knee deep snow.

Any-hoo!

My next ride was May 10th. Though it was on a Thursday, Jens was off because in Sweden the Pentecost is at least a bank holiday. My nice hubby offered to take care of the dog so I could get the trike out and get exercise. It’s frustrating on the now extremely rare occasions I go out with Loke. 3 hours with him, we get maybe 3 miles and my Fitbit insists no exercise.

After getting our Starbucks’ fix, I got dressed and headed out the door. My generally trusty Canon camera came with me, as did the drone with all batteries charged. The plan was to again do the Börje/Gamla Uppsala Loop while stopping in spots that I could launch the drone and maybe do flyovers of little burial grounds that are scattered all over along the ride. It would also be good to add extra distance and make it the longest ride (so far) of 2018. Besides, I want some flight time logged so I’m good and ready for our trip up north in a few weeks. Dare I say it? Maybe even in NORWAY!

I get ahead of myself.

Sweet, sweet shade.

Even though it wasn’t even yet 10 am, it was already significantly warmer than the forecast had declared. Warm enough that Jens didn’t even suggest I at least take Loke for a short trike-walk. Also, Loke seemed a bit stiff and tired after the slow, careful ride to the groomer where he’d set the pace. Better to let the old man rest.

I loaded up the trike and wrestled it around to get rolling for the most direct way to Old Börje Road since it’s better if my extra distance to be on the country roads, not portions of the River Loop. While pushing up the gradual climb from the apartment, I made sure to savor the little patches of shade I passed through. There were be very little of that outside the city.

Before I’d even gone a mile, I was sticky and my face felt flushed-hot which gives me images of spontaneous combustion. I sipped some water, not that it helped cool me in the least, and kept on.

The soft greens, the flowering trees all say ‘Spring’. The heat says, ‘SUMMER!’

This wasn’t going to be a fast day. I’m not interested in fast, just ‘out for more than an hour and faster than I can walk’.

It seemed a bit breezy as I came along the cycle path toward the 272 where I’d scoot across to Old Börje Road. Then it was the slow climb up that short, steep hill. The downward glide on the other side was glorious. Little patches of shade and the wind of hitting 20+ mph.

As I came proper into the ‘countryside’, the sheer force of the wind stunned me. It had seemed merely breezy on the cycle path. No, it was out-n-out windy. It was coming from the back too. Deep down, it went against my instincts to continue out with a tailwind, but I just figured I’d make a day of it even if it meant bucking a hard headwind on the way back to Uppsala.

I watched the temperature on my Garmin. Even with the wind, it kept creeping up and soon hit 80 F. UGH. Of course, winds from the back when riding a trike or bike are tricky things when it comes to temperature perception. Once you get moving fast enough with the tailwind, there’s the sudden illusion that the air is utterly and completely dead still. And that happened as I clipped along the flats at over 12 mph. 80+ F, under the hammer of a blazing sun with a sky so clear it seemed like the crystal of a magnifying glass amplifying that hot light.

The grass! The fields! The trees! All green now!

I must say though, the warm temps had made an almost miraculous change on the landscape. When I rode through the loop on the 28th of April, there were hints of green in the winter brown grasses, with some patches of proper green, but there was still the muted murky tones over the entire countryside because the trees still looked so bare. The buds were there, but you had to be just a few feet away from the branches to spot the swellings on the twigs.

Not so now. It’s all green! Green! GREEN!

The shades on the trees are still those with a soft yellow hue to them that speak of spring, but they are green. Hot the light might have been, but it made those colors pop. And the blue sky above? Just… wow.

Skimming down one of the flats with that wind pushing on my back, I eagerly approached the old house to see if it was still there. Yes! Still there! The wood cladding on the eastern outer wall had been stripped off, but it appeared to be in preparation for replacement. There was also a large pallet of clay roof tiles sitting in the yard. I smell restoration!

As I came down the hill toward the crossroads, my eyes kept straying to the left. It wasn’t because I was thinking of cutting the ride short on the Läby Loop, but there’s a dirt road that runs semi-parallel to the paved lane I’ve always taken that way since 2006. My various archaeology sites have burial grounds and even a runestone hiding somewhere along there. I’ve known about them for about 2 years, but since I wasn’t riding the longer loops (over 15 miles) again until this year, I’ve never tackled it. You know what? I was going to do it!

Besides, I hoped that getting off the asphalt might be cooler. Garmin was reading almost 85 F.

My hopes were dashed. It was actually warmer at the start. As I made the turn and pushed up a bit of a hill where there was no shade yet trees to either side to block the wind, the Garmin’s display jumped to 92 F! I gulped water and pushed on.

Burial ground to the right.

Trees so close, but no shade.

I was glad when it opened up again so I had the full force of the wind, bringing the temp back down to about 86 F. The unpaved surface had some washboard-ing and a few shallow ‘potholes’ as well as the general bumpiness of random loose rocks the size of quail eggs, which kept my speed down. The tailwind overtook me nicely, blowing through the mesh of my seat and cooling me down a smidge. Such a relief. The whole thing made me grateful I had tights in colors other than black. Can you imagine?! Reclined on the trike, under that sun in those temps while half of the body is covered in black?! Give me my bright plum any day.

Looks burial-mound-y.

As I passed by the incredibly smoothly plowed fields, it occurred to me that some spots there would be absolutely perfect places to launch the drone. Of course, it equally struck me that it was likely a very bad idea to launch the drone. The wind, if anything, was getting worse. A steady blowing of something close to 15 mph with chaotic gusts much higher. It offered some reprieve from the heat, but kept my drone firmly tucked in its bag.

It was frustrating. Especially when I was curious about this random mound in the middle of a field just calling for a low fly-over by a drone to see if there was any order to the rocks studding it or other indication that it was what it appeared to be. A possible burial mound.

The promise of shade beckons!

As I came up to where my next turn was to be, I was a little confused and concerned. The way it sat lower than the surrounding ground, I couldn’t see it until I was within 50 yards of it or so. A modest little track rather than a full on road. It was flanked on either side by barbed wire fencing.

Hrrrmmm. Not my favorite surface. I’ve had worse though!

The rougher ground made climbing the hill there more labor intensive. Once firmly under the shade of the trees, the relief from the constant pressure of wind was significant. I was being diligent about applying sunscreen to hands and face, but the wind was starting to make my cheeks feel a little raw.

I positioned myself on the track in such a way that seemed to offer least rolling resistance and pushed on. The next turn gave me a bit of a pause, however. Instead of packed dirt (with or without a grassy strip), it was all loose rocks.

I drew a breath, made the turn and just reminded myself I was in no hurry. It’s all exercise to build me up to greater things! Right?

Irritation set in as I came to a large round area cut clear in the trees maybe 30-40 yards across. The surface of it was a combination of loose dirt and rocks. There was obvious sign of a way forward. The map indicated a for bikes and walking straight ahead that would lead to a cluster of small dirt roads emerging right at Börje Church. I couldn’t see it. Just a wall of trees and undergrowth.

Sheltered from the wind and with so much space in the center, I decided to send the drone up. No where else. Just straight up since I wanted to turn it on to do a compass calibration any way.

I sent it just 30 meters up and it got buffeted by the wind, giving me a warning on the controls. I brought it right back down and packed it up. At least I ‘officially’ got to fly the drone on the ride.

I could wish for a 100 miles of this!

Working the trike around in a gradual turn on the mushy surface to start the hard ride back to the paved road almost 2 miles away, against the wind, I spotted what looked to be a spot near a boulder where grass and undergrowth at the tree line had been flattened down. I stood up to look.

YES! The trail! And it looked so lovely! Smooth packed earth with a cushion of pine needles here and there. The occasional rock or root. Nothing my Sprint couldn’t eat for lunch and want more. A broad grin just wouldn’t go away.

The trail didn’t stay quite so Sprint friendly. Rocks and roots became more frequent and sometimes clustered quite inconveniently. I had to get up, lift the rear wheel, and walk it over the worst spots. Just twice, which wasn’t too bad. The trail wasn’t more than a couple thousand feet. It wasn’t fast, but it was a pleasant little distance. Mostly shady, sheltered from the wind. Shockingly, there were very few bugs. Honestly, I fully expected to be lunch for several thousand blood suckers. Nope! Was buzzed by one thing that might have been a horsefly. If so, it was just a fly-by (haha) and no biting.

Blueberries! Rather, they will be in a few weeks!

There were hints of forest sweetness coming in the weeks to come.

At the end of the path, I was able to ride through the last couple hundred yards, though at no faster than walking speed. It required very careful calculations to find the best path for the rear wheel. Before I knew it, I was back on a proper road. Dirt, but in fair condition with only a little washboard surface and very few divots of something resembling smooth, shallow potholes. Most of it was downhill too. I just let the trike coast along, leaning into the curves while whipping through at speed.

Börje is lovely in the distance.

When Börje Church came into clear view was the only stop made. A rather pretty scene it made, even if the field in the foreground was just dry, freshly plowed dirt. I stared contemplatively at it as I put the camera away, wondering if I dared try the drone again. The parking on the side of the church abuts a wide field so I could take off and land with what I thought was plenty of distance from any trees. Did I dare risk the wind? It wouldn’t hurt to go evaluate.

It’s going slow, but the wall is being rebuilt.

The unpaved road comes out a bit past the parking, so I had to pedal by the front of the church to the parking. Naturally, as I passed, there was a ruckus at the door to the house of the vicarage across the street, and a small crowd of people came out. They were all dressed ‘in Sunday best’ rather than full on hot summer day casual. They began to stroll across to the church. No, I wasn’t going to send my buzzy, noisy drone up as people were about to go in for Pentecost worship. Ah well.

A wide loop through the parking lot and back onto the road to head off toward Old Farm. Work on the north-western corner of the churchyard wall seems to be progressing. It does appear that during this chaos of ripping apart and repairing, they took out one or more trees that once grew between the road and stones. A silver lining to that I suppose is that in the coming spring thaws, it’s less likely that black ice will be lurking in wait for innocent trike riders who come racing down around that hilly curve.

The loop I was aiming for was 21+ miles. Börje church is just six miles from the start or about 7 miles with the alternative dirt road/foot path I’d taken. Somehow though, as I made that turn which almost hugs the churchyard wall, it feels like a halfway point. I’m not sure why.

One significant change as I flew through the turn, the wind. I abruptly found it in my face and completely unforgiving. It was expected. I geared down and hunkered into the seat to grind away the miles.

The scenery was a distraction as I crept along. Since I have a vague idea now of where there are burial grounds along the way, I kept an eye out for them as well as admiring the burst of green that had been lacking before.

Always drove me crazy if this was a runestone.

It’s mostly fields for about a half mile or more after the church. It made me itch to send the drone up to fly over the tree clusters across the dirt to explore what I now knew to be burial monuments. There was one such with a large, chunky stone thrusting up in such a way that strikes me as ‘not natural’. I keep wondering if it’s a runestone.  That was one spot where I really wanted to take the drone out to go look. Nope. Just too much wind.

How much archaeology destroyed for a few skinny trees?

Creeping through the countryside like a snail, I noticed how much plowing was going on. It was hard to miss. The earth is so very dry and with that much wind, dust flew in storms around every tractor. Quite a few times, I was forced to pull my shirt up over my lower face to keep from inhaling too much of it. Doesn’t seem to be a good practice for topsoil to send it flying like that.

One spot I stopped, knowing for sure there is (was?) a small burial site. As I clicked my camera phone at it, I had to wonder, how much of the archaeology had been wiped out by the heavy equipment that had mowed down greenery on that outcrop. Certainly couldn’t see any signs of a burial ground. Just chewed earth and ragged stumps. For what? The trees had been small, skinny things. No use for timber. Toothpicks perhaps?

Of course, how many ancient burials do I walk across as I go into Starbucks at the Granby mall? I keep saying it. Can’t walk 3 feet without tripping over some ancient cultural site here in southern Sweden. It still breaks my heart though.

The journey against the wind and into the dust continued. I came up to Old Farm, suppressing the urge to risk the drone. The best shots of the farm would have been within 10-15 yards of the trees. If I stopped, I might have succumbed to the temptation and had a harsh gust blast it into the trailing, blowing strands of birch branches.

Taking the time to admire what I’ve under-appreciated all these years.

With the winter damaged road making it too unsafe to go screaming down that looooonnnngggg hill to the river at 27 mph, I finally stopped and snapped photos of building I’ve always (briefly) admired as I sped by.

So beautiful the way the countryside rolls.

While the wind made it ill-advised for me to play with the drone, it didn’t stop me from scoping out places I could maybe launch from. Especially as I made that slow climb up from the river by Old Farm. There’s burial mounds there and it’s open. I’d love to maybe buzz around there to get some flying practice as well as get a view of the site from up high. Something like a tractor inlet for the fields would be about perfect. No houses for almost a quarter mile which is awesome!

The dandelions seem late this year. No vast fields of them yet.

I didn’t really have a chance too look too closely though. There was a tractor stirring up more dust and a lot closer to the road than the previous ones had been. Perfect wind direction to bring it right to me to. Dust in my eyes, mouth. Had to keep wiping my Garmin’s display clear. I really wanted to get out of his range.

As seen in the photos, clouds had scurried in to break up the single sheet of blue the sky had been. At times, I even had a brief little patch of traveling shade to offer solace during the hard labor against the wind.

As I rolled up to Åkerby church, I was feeling every inch of the ride since making the turn by Börje church. I rolled by the entrance of the churchyard to tuck the trike out of sight behind the church itself. I just kinda melted into the seat for a bit, waiting for the twitching and aches to leave my legs before pulling myself up and slinging on the drone bag along with the handlebar bag with the camera so I could go runestone hunting. Embedded in stone wall encircling the graves around the church a runestone lurks. Or at least a sizable fragment of one.

On wobbly legs, I started my search. It was cut short. Much as thighs and knees were unhappy with walking at that moment, my shoulders with the weight of the bags were just screaming bloody murder.

There’s been an internal raging debate going on in my head for a few weeks now. Camera upgrade. The question of whether to go full sensor or stick with the cropped sensor. The cropped one is generally used in what are considered beginner’s cameras. One of the drawbacks of the bigger sensor was a question of size. Well, that little stroll cinched the deal. I thought I was willing to deal with the greater size and, therefore, weight.

Nope. Not at all. I was going to go for another cropped sensor like camera. Just my old 400D is over 10 years old now and improvements in digital technology mean that even with a camera that is considered in the same class as my 400D was when it was purchased new, I should get better results. Besides, I still needed to replace that smashed lens which would cost more than a cropped sensor camera body. The compatibility of lenses is less than ideal between the two types, so I needed to be sure which camera I was going with before getting another 70-300 mm lens.

I only searched about a quarter of the wall before I stumbled back to the trike and divested the weight of the bags. No how was I getting a heavier camera. The pressure on my shoulders from the straps thanks to either the Lyme Disease or nerve damage from the stroke would drive me to my knees if I tried it. I was so sure, I even texted Jens at that moment to tell him. Besides, cropped sensor cameras are about half the price of the others.

I actually sat in the shade of the trees by Åkerby church. Is it my imagination or do I not have a close up photo of the church on my blog? I found one distance shot, but nothing close unless one counts some interior photos from that time I came across the caretaker. I’ll have to correct that. Maybe with my drone?

Drone. Drone. Drone. I’m not obsessed. Not the least little bit.

Not sure I’ve photoed this root cellar before.

White amongst the green

I pushed on from Åkerby, convincing the legs it wasn’t really that much further. Only 8 miles. That was going to be 8 miles for the 18 mile loop. The wind was not only robbing me of the chance to fly my drone, but also to make the ride longest of 2018.

I have to say, I missed the gliders as I pushed on from Åkerby toward Ulva mill. I’m not surprised they weren’t out though. The wind would have had them tumbled all over the air-strip like toys in a toddler’s room after a tantrum.

Crossing that stretch between Åkerby and Ulva was brutal. The wind, my weariness. My feet were giving me fits as well. At times, they were fine and I could pedal along with no discomfort. Other times, it was like the ball of the foot was on fire or in that ‘painfully numb’ state. How is that even possible? If it’s numb, it shouldn’t hurt! Oh, but it does. The worst was when it bizarrely felt as if someone was stripping away the soles of my feet with a belt sander. At times, I’d barely go 300 yards before I’d have to stop again to detach from the pedals and wriggle the toes in the shoes.

Random old building.

I was surprised how much quicker I was able to go when I reached the cycle path along side the last leg to Ulva mill. It’s mostly out and exposed to the wind which came from a front quarter. Combine that with the exhaustion, I would have been happy to just go faster than I could walk. Instead, I was clipping along at nearly 8 mph. Go me!

Ulva mill. I was so glad when I reached it at just a bit before 4 pm. I decided to stop in spite of the bee-hive of human activity that swarmed around it. The parking field across from the mill grounds was packed. Bikes and motorcycles zipped around. I still rolled in between the buildings and found a haven of shade near some picnic tables. I staggered to my feet, grabbed the bags and tottered into the cafe. Some chilled water in one hand and an ice cream in the other, I reemerged to sit at one of those tables and savor the sensation of cold things in the shade. Comfortable as my trike’s seat is, it felt so good to sit on something else.

Naturally, as I forced myself take the time to enjoy the ice cream and cold water rather than devour them like a ravening, starving beast, Jens called to inform me he’d booked a table at a local pub/restaurant in our neighborhood for 6 pm. At first I was a bit frustrated because I was ‘ruining’ my appetite. Then it hit me. My last calories had been about 8:30 am with Starbucks hot chocolate. By the time I had my treat at Ulva, my Fitbit said I’d burned almost 3000 calories with 4 hours and 40-minutes of exercise. Yeah, I wasn’t going to let a bit of ice cream ruin whatever I ate at Sherlocks.

I had to be honest with myself though. I didn’t know if I could make it by 6 pm. I wasn’t going to further kill myself for it either. So, I stubbornly sat at Ulva, refusing to rush back into the slow crawl against the wind toward home.

I left Ulva and climbed back up from the river. The possible cycle path rambling out across the fields caught longing looks from me. I didn’t have the energy and strength to risk a possible ‘out-n-back’ on what could be loose gravel over hills let alone the time. My average speed wasn’t helped by the seeming near constant need to unclip my feet to wriggle them around.

Somehow, I made it to Gamla Uppsala. While the much easier way along the Vattholma Road beckoned, I was determined to put the trike in the storage rather than at the apartment. I just knew though, if I rode so close to the apartment, there was no way I’d push onward to the storage. I’d crash and burn out, stopping at home to collapse. So, off onto the grave mound path I went.

It actually turned out to be a fun ending to the ride. I lucked out on the big hill. There weren’t any of the 1000’s of joggers on it as I came screaming down, gravel flying, strands of hair whipping in the wind. I flew through the turn and gravity slowed me for the nice, shady wood section. Perfect really. I got to say hello to the tiniest chihuahua puppy. I swear he wanted to run with me. Or maybe just sit in my handlebar bag for a ride. Too darn cute.

I called Jens when I thought I was about 15 minutes from the storage. It was well timed. I had rolled down, unlocked the door and gotten everything back in when he arrived. I didn’t even need to sit and wait.

While the restaurant is within a 10 minute walk of our apartment, I drove while Jens walked there with Loke. There just was no way my legs were going to work for a walk there and back.

In spite of the fits the wind gave me, the discomfort of my feet, and the pressure to get back home with a time limit, it was worth it.

There was another ride the day after this Börje/Ulva Mill Loop, but this post has run long enough. I’ll save the Fruit Stand ride for the next post and combine it with Camera chatter.



Visiting an Old Loop.
May 1, 2018, 9:25 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Goodness. I’m a posting mad woman of late, aren’t I? Of course, it helps that I’ve had rides to post about.

Only one ride since my last post. Such a slacker, I know.

There was a minor contention during the morning of April 28th. Jens offered to do a long walk with Loke, freeing me to get a ride that would be actual exercise. Dreaming of a nice long outing, I wanted to a fairly early start, but Jens wanted to relax until about noon and then have me drive him out. I kind of won. Jens decided that as tired as Loke had become on the last long walk by the river, maybe it would be better to just do a walk out to the Grave Mounds and back here. That way, if the fuzzy became too tired, the walk could be shortened.

So, first I went off to Starbucks for our hot-chocolate and latte fix, back home by 10 am. Planned to wait until about 11 am for the food to settle and then go.

Nope! My stomach started doing roller coasters for some reason. I really wanted to go ride, but not have an ‘accident’. So, I waited. And waited.

Jens was out walking with the furry one when things at last relented and ceased the assault on my tummy. I was dressed and getting the trike ready at about 12:30.

First, I had a bit of a task to perform. When I took the trike out of the car last time and assembled it, I noticed that one of the seat clamps wouldn’t tighten. The threads in the collar were stripped. Second time that’s happened. Fortunately, the first time, I ordered extra clamps when getting the replacement. So, I had to work the knob out of the stripped collar and get the new one put on. That was about a 15 minute wrestle because I stubbornly refused to remove the seat.

It was mostly sunny as I moved out. Big puffs of clouds here and there and off in the distance, they were bigger and dark on the bottoms in that dramatic way we’ve had for the better part of a week. Rather than take the back streets in the opposite way of where I intended to ride, I headed straight to the big street and headed north. Extra distance would be for another time.

When I rode the 8+ mile Gamla Uppsala/River Loop a few days ago, I hit the ground over 8 mph for more than the first mile. From where I started, heading north on Svartbäcken, it’s up a bit of a hill, which slowed me to about 5 mph. Still pretty good for me on a hill.

Flowers taking their moment in the sun!

It also gave me a chance to admire the little park across from the grocery store. I guess you call it a ‘dell’. It’s down in a low hollow, just a few dozen yards across in all directions. A green place once it shakes off the winter browns. It’s gorgeous in spring. The trees will burst into white flowers in a few weeks. Now, it’s the time when grass has started to come in and, with the sun able to come in through the currently leafless trees, thousands of purple flowers have sprung up. Lovely.

I picked up some good speed once I crested the hill and zoomed on toward the connection with part of the River Loop. It wasn’t quite the fun downhill dash all the way to the turn that I hoped for. Outside an apartment building, a moving truck had parked on the cycle path. I had to swerve over onto the pedestrian path right near the doors of the building to get by since I couldn’t get down the curb without possibly scraping the underside of the trike.  Not wanting to run someone over if they stepped out of the building, I took it slow until I reached the cycle paths.

I hit about 9 mph on a bit of a flat as I pushed on down the path. At one point, I had a bunch of boys on BMX bikes, yelling encouragement as they struggled to keep up. We were all laughing and pedaling like mad before they swerved off onto a street. That, of course, was followed by a fast blast down the big hill to the bridge across the river. Hoping for a nice long ride, I didn’t push, but just coasted the whole way down. It was so nice to be able to take full advantage of gravity. From there, it was just a short hop to cross the 272 and start pedaling up that first silly steep climb on Old Börje Road.

Oof! The wind! Pretty day though!

Road view on a pretty, if windy day.

It felt so good to take advantage of the descents though as well as see how fast I could comfortably clip along on the flats. It wasn’t quite as fast as I had hoped, as I discovered a brisk wind barreling from the south-west across the fields. Since it was hitting from just left of front, it meant some work to push against. My Garmin showed about 68 F in the sun which, while cool, wasn’t uncomfortable with those capricious breezes. Just about right as I pedaled briskly.

You know, I did not expect the amount of traffic I encountered on that road. Weekends seem to be the worst along Old Börje. It is typically quieter during the weekdays.

Countryside in spring

There was one minor issue which caught me by surprise, particularly with my level of reduced fitness. Into the wind, which slowed me, I was still hitting the top gear available on the 2nd chain ring and spinning quickly. I could definitely have used more gears on the 3rd ring. Since upgrading my rear cassette from 9 speed to 10 and adding a 40 tooth cog though, there was no way to get enough chain on the trike without having too much slack with the small ring and smaller back cogs. In favor of being able to climb hills easier on my knees even if much slower, I sacrificed my big front ring in favor of the 40 tooth on the back.

As I pushed on, I was hopeful to find the old yellow house still there. As I mentioned the last time I posted about riding past it, there was work going around it which I hoped was restoration rather than demolition. Happily, the house was still there and there looked to be some building supplies to one side. It still seems it is being restored and may well stay on site. Yay!

As I passed that old house, I turned my mind to deciding how far to ride. Around the 4.5 mile mark, I’d reach the cross-roads. Left would make the ride roughly 12 miles on the ‘Läby Loop’, so named for the church I ride close to on the way. Right, would be Ulva/G.Uppsala Loop at about 14.5 miles. Straight, well, that was a bit more of a possible challenge. 18+ miles on the Börje/Ulva Loop.

The inside of Jumkil. July 2016

Before I was forced into such a late start by my traitorous tummy, I had thought to do the Börje/Ulva Loop. My dilemma continued right up to the point I was speeding down the hill with the cross-road looming fast at the bottom. My eyes were drawn wistfully to the twisting road straight ahead. It called with a song as sweet as any siren’s serenade.  The last time I’d gone straight through the intersection was back in… 2016, I think? I believe that was the year I ambitiously rode to Jumkil church and was so incredibly fortunate to have a chance to see the inside of it and another church that I’ve ridden by countless times over the past 12 years. All because of a very kind caretaker.

Late start or not, I felt good and the sun sets after 8:30 pm, I was going to do it! I threw my arms up in the air and yelled like a winner of a race as I sailed straight through the intersection.

With a bit of flat road, I pushed up into my middle chainring and my smallest back cog to clip along at about 11 mph. There was a bit of a break in the wind along there, so I probably could have gone even faster if I’d had the big ring to use. Ah well.

That reminds me. I really should replace the battery in my cadence sensor now that I can spin with the pedals thanks to having my SPD shoes back!

Seems like I always pause here. Not sure why.

I took a quick break to photograph down the road beside one of the lovely barns on the ride. Not sure why I like the view there so much, but I do.

Pig fencing? Yep! A sign this was a pig farm a little further down confirmed.

I meant to blast onward as fast as my legs could spin the pedals, but an unexpected sight had me stopping again to do a quick click. Where over the past years that I’ve ridden here, it’s always been a crop field, wheat mostly, though there was canola planted here one year, there was now a bit of electric fencing. Not your typical layout for electric fencing either. Two strips of electrical tape topped by a bare electric wire which is common, but not all arranged with a total height of barely more than 2 feet.

My experience with livestock fencing isn’t exactly extensive, but the only time I’ve ever seen fencing like this was for, well, pigs. Free range pigs. Animals given space to amble and forage around in wide pasture ground the same offered any horse, cow, sheep, or goat. Off in the distance, I thought I saw a few short, blocky animals that might have been pigs.

This shack looks considerably more weathered since I last saw it.

A few yards down from where I took the fence photo, was a sign along side a gravel drive. Yep. Freshly plowed pasture ground for a pig farm. Can I call it or can I call it?

Traffic was still a bit heavier than expected. They were all really polite though. Didn’t crowd me and one person waited until I waved for them to pass on a curve with limited visibility. Then I was making a wild dash down the tight curve by the Börje school and racing up to the church.

I still feel a fond sense of nostalgia for Börje church. The first one I reached with my trike back in 2006. The first ‘collected’ on a ride. One could say it was the first such ‘adventure’ that opened my eyes to how much freedom a shining machine of candy-apple red and three 20 inch wheels could offer in exploring this new country I had adopted as my home. Such grand times I’ve had.

Börje Kyrka – 2009

Perhaps, with revisiting these old loops of lengths greater than 8 miles, I can begin to recapture that sense of adventure and see more of this corner of the world. I’ve missed doing it. New places, new experiences.

There was something going on at the church. A backhoe was in the parking lot as well as what looked to be a shipping container. The earth between the churchyard wall and the road was scraped clear of grass, the dirt churned, and caution cones set everywhere. I think there was probably a tree or two gone along there too.

I stopped only long enough to click a photo of the runestone in the churchyard wall for my Facebook trike groups before dashing down the hill and around the sharp curve. From there, it was an immediate hard right turn.

So many bees! Oh, and yellow jackets. Lots and lots of yellow jackets.

I stopped again after the turn as well and smiled at the road ahead. So long since I’d been here. At the time I didn’t even know how long since my trike’s wheels has touched that pavement. I wanted to savor the moment.

My ‘savoring’ was interrupted by a surprising amount of buzzing hum. The kind of hum a bee makes, but more. So very much more. Puzzled, I looked left and up. The branches of some kind of tree loomed over my head. What at a distant glance had appeared as leaves of pale yellow green, were in fact a sort of modest, puffy flowering.

Those flowers must have smelled sweet on some level undetectable to humans, because the bees were flying from puff to puff in a frenzy of industrious effort. So many that they filled the air with a low hum of wings.

I stiffened as something yellow and black swooped down to hover briefly in my face. My mouth went a little dry at the sight of it. Not a bee, but a yellow jacket. I held my breath and stayed perfectly still until it moved on, my eyes following it to one of the tree’s flowers. That’s when I noticed that about half of the ‘bees’ were, in fact, yellow jackets.

I would love to ride in one someday.

I promptly flung my phone in the handlebar bag and scurried onward. Bees, I don’t mind. Yellow jackets and I don’t have a good history.

Not far after the bee tree, I heard a different kind of buzz and looked up to see a small, single prop plane. Behind it, a glider was getting up to speed. I got to watch as the glider broke loose and continued serenely on its own, the noisy tow-plane heading back toward the air strip.

I’ve always been fascinated by gliders. And hang-gliders for that matter. Just such an amazing, and peaceful way to explore the world from on high. Maybe someday.

Smiling, and glancing up frequently to the sky with it’s near constant parade of tow-planes and gliders, I started the up and down between Börje and Åkerby churches. Those downhills along there are downright (haha) exhilarating.

Not as ugly as some clear cut hill sides. Still makes me sad though.

I’d not even reached the ‘Old Farm’ before I felt a little pang at some changes along the way. There were piles of logs along the road in some places. One stretch of hill had so many trees removed from it. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still made me sad. I have seen worse though. Ground left raw and churned into an eye-sore of destruction with broken stumps sticking up and a few scraggy twigs left standing. There were more trees left standing and I didn’t see many stumps, nor did the ground look terribly chewed up and spit out.

Flowers can still make me smile.

It left me wondering how long it had been since the cutting happened.

I finished that first downward charge there and set to climbing the next hill. More clear cuts, but not as extensive as the earlier ridge.

A huge tractor chugged off the field, onto the road just behind me and came creeping up I inched upward. I pulled over as far as I could as the farmer gave me a grateful wave and squeezed over as far as he could. There was just inches to spare, both on his side, my side, and the space between us.

Massive wheels, taller than I am and pulling a huge raking sort of arrangement that would have flattened out to 3x the width of the machine dragging it. Two parts of it were folded up so it was no wider than the tractor. Rows and rows of metal tines, each as long as my arm and several inches thick, seemed to hang over my head like a threat. I couldn’t shake the image of something breaking and having the thing fall, impaling me with two or three of those tines. *shudder*

Was glad when he was past me. I took my time even more slowly up the hill to give him plenty of opportunity to be off the road by time I started the next downhill dash.

House at Gamla Gård – 2015

The farmer waved again from field he was working as I zipped by, spinning hard on the flat. Doing about 12 mph on the level, I flashed by a huge pile of deadwood awaiting Valborg night bonfires of April 30th. Then it was up the quite steep climb where I’d be approaching Gamla Gård (Old Farm).

These collection of old buildings, rescued and maintained by the local residents used to be a frequent stopping point on my rides, when I did these loops so often as training for rides else where. Back before my body started breaking down because of the stroke followed hard by Lyme disease. So many days, Loke and I would stop here so he could have some water and cool off in the lush grass under the shade of the birch trees while I had a simple lunch and listened to the birds.

There’ve been a few changes, which left me a bit sad. I’m not sure why. Some trees are gone. There are two picnic tables now, instead of one, and they sit on slab of big red stones inset into coarse gravel, which is actually kind of nice. The traditional fencing around the ‘farm yard’ was looking older, more lichen covering the staves.

The guys restored it beautifully! Love the mill-stone step!

One definite improvement though is the building which had been just recently rescued from ruin elsewhere had been fully restored. When I last saw it, the wood was looking a bit too weathered and the door, falling apart and hanging crooked. In place of a ceramic or even sod roof, it had been covered over with a tarp.

The restoration has been beautifully done. The gorgeous door made with diagonal beams in a chevron pattern was stunning and I absolutely loved the millstone slab they used as a stoop. I heartily approve! It makes me so happy to such such buildings preserved. One of the reasons this is one of my favorite local places.

I’ve always loved this little gatehouse too.

After doing some digging, it appears I last rode by here 3 years ago. I guess that could explain why some of the changes seem so drastic. If I’d been coming by several times over the summer, it wouldn’t have felt so jarring.

I didn’t linger long. Though I was going faster than Loke and I have in perhaps years, even with the hills, time was ticking onward. I really wanted to make it home at a reasonable time for dinner as lunch time had slipped away with no food to sustain me. At the end of the dirt lane that leads to the parking spot of the old farm, is a bit of a steep incline. I spun up it and then paused at the top for dramatic effect.

For over a half mile, a long descent awaited. My top speed at the bottom usually caps at about 27 mph thanks to the blind sharp curve right where there’s a bridge across a river. I chicken out about going faster, not wanting to skid into grill of an oncoming car.

And example of winter damage that made me cautious flying down the hill

Today’s dash down only hit a bit over 17 mph. The condition of the road after the first winter snow in years was just too shoddy to instill the confidence to go faster. Then, of course, a car came roaring up from the blind spot at the bridge, straying into my lane which had me hit the brakes hard enough to drop to 5 mph. I only managed to get back to about 12 mph to sail across the river.

As exhilarating as coming down that is, there is a steeper climb to leave the ravine. Not as long, but steeper. Creeping along gave me plenty of time to look around at my surroundings, even when it was just a solid wall of grass on both sides leading up to fenced pastures over head. As I started to come back up to ‘ground level’ as it were, I happened to look left. “Huh. Those lumps look like they might be mounds. Could that be a burial ground?” I paused long enough to take a picture before chewing my way onward.

I’m getting sharp-eyed. Indeed, a burial ground. From Stone Age to Iron Age.

Naturally, once I started writing this post and came this point, prompted by the photo, I pulled up my trusty archaeology map. Wouldn’t you know? I was right! There are also a couple of mounds on the right in the low, flat area by the river’s curve. While the current bridge is all modern construction of concrete, there was an older bridge of stone vaults, about 12 meters long, back in the 1800’s. Oh, and the horse pasture that partially surrounds ‘The Old Farm?’. Yep, burial ground.

And between Börje Church and The Old Farm? Perhaps another half dozen smaller burial grounds I’ve been taking in as just a small aspect of the surrounding landscape without realizing what I was only half seeing. One of them, I could have sat on my trike and tossed pebbles at, it’s so close to the road. That one, I will forgive myself for missing though as it’s covered in trees and thick undergrowth.

Ah, southern Sweden. Can’t take 3 steps without tripping over Stone, Bronze, or Iron Age archaeology. Not quite as intense as say, Greece, where there’s not a square inch you can scuff without turning over 3 types of artifact. The next time I ride the loop, I’ll look at the entire way with a new appreciation. I’ve been circling it off and on for 12 years now and yet, it has become almost new with this knowledge.

About the time I left the old farm, the temperature started to drop. The starting chill was mostly due to the loss of sunlight behind a thickening veil of higher clouds behind the clumps. Combined with that stiff wind, I really started to feel it by the time I passed Åkerby church. I didn’t stop there, though I’ll have to do so next time as I just found out there’s an ‘uncollected’ runestone hiding in the churchyard wall.

Pretty scene and just noticed one can see the top of Gamla Uppsala church in the distance.

I had no problems crossing the busy road and continuing on the small country lane. Overhead, the tow planes still buzzed, leaving gliders in their wake. I was clipping along at about 11 mph when I spotted someone in my rear view. Fully decked in Lycra road gear and on a racing bike. He passed me like I was standing still. 70 if he was a day. He told me, ‘Good job!’ as he buzzed by.

Naturally just as he passed, I stopped. It didn’t happen because I was sulking, but because I wanted to photograph the peaceful scene of a grazing horse. As I cropped this photo to put in the post, I only now noticed one can just make out the top of Gamla Uppsala church in the distance. A little triangle point jutting above the tree-line to the left. Roughly 4.7 miles away as the crow flies. I had no idea it was visible from so far off! Imagine how it must have been when it was a cathedral!

Left? Right? Windy, 48 F and dressed for 55+ F. Right it is!

Camera tucked back away, I charged at a high spin for the half mile flat before another steep down and up through a ravine at a tiny water course. At the top of the climb out, I paused after pulling forward enough out of traffic. Left, an unpaved road wound, rock strewn surface not too bad as such things go. That direction would bring me out at Bälinge, adding about 3 miles to the ride. Those extra miles would put me at the longest ride of 2018. Right, was the more direct way home for 18+ miles. Left? Right?

Bälinge Church in the distance.

Time and temperature decided for me. It was right at 4 pm with probably 8 miles to home. It had gone from low 60’s to under 50 F since I’d started. Throw in complete lack of warming sun and that wind. As much as the idea of a longer ride called, I was getting cold and already well past ‘hungry’ into the realm of ‘ravenous’. I headed off to the right.

Next time I come this way, hopefully earlier, I’ll tackle the 21+ mile total.

There was another up and down right away, I spun through it as quick as I could. I was starting to feel the ride by this point though. I had hot spots on my feet and my left knee was starting to have some pain. My muscles didn’t feel too bad though, which surprised me.

Rolling on, it seemed everywhere I looked there were changes. A few centuries old buildings were missing. One of them had caught fire and I had hoped it would be restored, but it seems it was demolished instead. The stretch between the long hill ending in a bridge and onward toward Ulva, hadn’t been ridden by me since sometime in 2016. That would have been the same ride where I was fortunate enough to peek inside Jumkil and Åkerby churches.

It felt like no time at all when the grassy air strip appeared on my right. This was the launch point for all those gliders I’d been seeing.

Down… down… down.. and landed!

Even with the wind howling across the fields with not even a low shrub to block it, I stopped to watch, hoping that I’d get to see a glider going up. It seemed they were wrapping up for the day though. One tow-plane took off, did a quick buzz and then landed, all without a glider. Still I waited. After about 15 minutes, a glider started circling in for a landing. I snapped a quick series of pictures until it came to rest gently on the grass.

I finally gave up and pushed for home, joining up with the cycle path along a busier road until almost to the mill. Then it was a brisk down and slow back up to and from the mill race as I shot past Ulva.

I didn’t think it had been so long since I’d last been at Ulva. Yet there were changes. One was a new paved drive flanked by decorative brick posts for a house that sits on a high out-crop of rock above the mill and river there.

Hard to make out, but there’s a smooth, gravel path leading off across the fields beside the river…

Opposite was a brand new curving strip of gravel with the easiest access points of it blocked by barricades. It was fresh enough that the tidy edges hadn’t yet had a chance to ‘crumble’ as it rambled off into the distance, following the contours of the Fyris River. Beautifully finished surface too. I stopped to stare it contemplatively.

It looked suspiciously like the beginnings of a paved cycle path or a gravel one soon to be opened. An almost perfect match for a gravel stretch just off the same road where it intersected with the old E4. Dare I hope? Perhaps before the year is done there will be a new way to get from Ulva to the old E4, across the fields and beside the river?! My heart was all aflutter at the very thought.

The temptation to bump across the little ‘ditch’ and explore how far it went was strong. The drive to satisfy my curiosity. Cold, hunger, and the fact it was after 5 pm had me reluctantly letting it go.

As I came streaking down the hill to the old E4, I did stare mournfully at what might be the other end of the path before making the turn for the last push to Gamla Uppsala.

I was flagging as I whipped by Disa Farm museum and came around the curve to start the climb up beside the church there. It’s not the steepest climb of the ride, but it was the hardest. Muscles ached and burned and my left knee complained more vociferously than before. I stopped at the juncture where I could either take the mound path, or glide down to Vattholma Road for a gentle, mostly all downhill descent practically to my front door. It was the lack of steeper climbs that clinched the deal. On the mound path were the two very short, but very steep climbs I wasn’t sure I was up to. If I took the road-side cycle highways, the only real climb I’d have was the underpass beneath the rail-line. It wasn’t as steep as the other two.

I was soooooo glad when I rolled to a stop at home. It was a bit of a struggle to pull myself out of the trike, but I’d done it. Even with me slowing at the end and all the hills I’d had to climb, it remained the fast ride I’d done in probably 2 years. Legs like noodles and an unhappy knee only made the sense of accomplishment even richer.

I collapsed into a puddle on the couch and pretty much stayed there for the evening.

Jens took a moment to surprise me. As I flattened into sofa cushions, he came up with a catalog from our favorite camping/outdoor shop, Naturkompaniet. He tapped at an item on the open page. “Would this be something you’d be interested in for your tours?”

It surprised me. I’ve not even attempted a tour since the one in 2015 which was a hotel tour rather than camping. Even with an ailing, elderly dog effectively keeping me tethered close to home, he still keeps my dreams in mind and considers them when he sees something that might make them a little easier. This time it was an Amok hammock sleep system.

Maybe some day. I have a feeling it won’t be this year though.

Loke. Such a bundle of contradiction. He’s doing better in some ways, worse in others. The tumor is smaller. The ulcer on the tumor doesn’t look as… wrong, having shrunk some and looking more like raw meat with little to none of that gray stuff. He’s often bright eyed and perky while in the apartment, particularly for Jens, but rapidly runs out of ‘oomph’ even on walks in interesting places. Oh, and he trips over his front feet quite a bit now too. Used to be just his hind legs. I guess the front ones got jealous and didn’t want to miss out on all the fun.

Jens is about to head off on a business trip for a couple days. Maybe I’ll make another stab at taking Loke with the trike to save me a walk and see how he does. It would be nice if I could at least do a 3-5 mile toodle without him stopping in the middle of it. My feet hurt.