Terii’s Cycling Babble


Murphy Is Toying With Me…
June 16, 2017, 7:09 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I wound up not going for a ride on June 12th. The weather was just too unstable. We’d get a bit of sunshine and then black clouds would sweep in from out of nowhere with torrents of rain. Pea sized hail even came pelting down a few times. That would have stung if I didn’t drown in it.

On June 13th, Jens had to dash to work early. Worryingly, when I did laundry the day before, I found myself having problems. My body ached, I was short of breath. The symptoms I’d been suffering from for months before I took 3 weeks of antibiotics. That was disheartening.

With that going on, I really didn’t feel like suffering through walks. My hip had done fine so there was no reason for me to avoid cycling. So, Loke was getting to go out with me on the trike.

It was gray and a bit cool, though at least it didn’t look as if it had rained recently. I dressed in my summer weight clothes without underlayers. My only concession to the chill was my eye-bleeding yellow, soft-shell windbreaker. Everything gathered up, I stepped out of the building into… a windy, misting drizzle. Loke stood there, wide-eyed and wagging his tail at me as I evaluated the rain. It wasn’t much and would have taken forever to make me even damp, so I decided to go.

Got the trike ready only to discover that I’d left my Garmin hooked up to the computer in the apartment. Rather than pull Loke along with me, I left him with the trike in the grass and hurried back for the GPS. When I walked back, rounding the corner of the apartment, I was met with a surprise.

Loke, was laying sphinx like in the grass. 10 feet away, in the same pose and with long ears raised was a hare. The two of them just sat there, staring at each other. I tried to sloooowwwly lift my phone up for a photo, but the hare spooked. Oddly, Loke just watched it bolt for the hedge. He didn’t get up until I walked up to the trike.

Naturally, as soon as I settled in and we rolled out, the mist intensified into a drizzle that left splatters on the tights. It didn’t last long so I headed off for the cycle shop. I dropped in long enough to say hi to everyone and make an appointment for getting the gears upgraded and chain swapped next week.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. The wind blasted alternating mist and sprinkling around while the Garmin displayed temps that hovered around 50 F. I pushed on through the deserted paths. Being a weekday and in weather most people deem to miserable to be out in if they don’t have to, it was a nice, peaceful kind of ride. I extended a bit and would have done so even more, except the temp took an unexpected dip to 45 F. I was just damp enough that the chill started to dig in, so I headed back. Finished the ride with 5.03 miles.  My longest since Feb 12th. Roughly 18 rides.

Originally, June 14th was going to be a rest day as the original plan before my back blew out had been to ride every other day as I eased back into things. Still a bit wary for my hip after all. The plan changed when it was just too darn pretty out to spend with short little walks. I quickly came up with the idea to go to the cycle shop again.

This time, I wanted to buy some cleats for cycle shoes. My current Shimanos have been hanging on and on and on, but of late, they felt a bit tight. Perhaps that’s why the aches in my feet when pedaling has gotten quite uncomfortable at times. So, I needed more cleats to put on my extra shoes.

I’m not sure where my blue ones are that I purchased last year, but I did find another pair of black ones purchased 3-4 years ago. They’ve just been hanging out in the closet for when the Shimanos were done. They’re a tad bit over-sized which gives me a bit of concern the cleats might sit too far forward on my foot. Still, wouldn’t hurt to try.

We rolled out about 9 am. The temp had gone from 38 F when I woke up to about 65 F by 9 am. The only thing that kept the intense sun beating down from a flawless blue sky from being uncomfortable was the light breeze and low humidity.

I dashed into the cycle shop for the cleats. They only had one package on the wall, but Bobby went hunting in the back and found a pair of slightly used ones. Seriously, the only thing that hints they were ever on a shoe and cycled with was a bit of dried mud. The used ones, I wasn’t even charged for.

As I stepped back out  into the absolutely prettiest day we’ve had since before my last dose of Lyme disease treatment antibiotics, I decided to add a bit of distance to the ride. I was going to go back home via Gamla Uppsala.

It was warm enough that even I was glad for the patchy bits of shade offered by the trees along Vattholma Road’s cycle path. I made a stop about half a mile after the cycle shop to offer Loke some water. Annoyingly, it seems I didn’t close the canteen tightly enough. We were almost to the grave mounds when I reached in for the canteen and Loke’s collapsible bowl, I discovered the bottom of my pod bag was wet and the canteen empty. The idea of Loke pushing on and getting warmer without water until we got home was not a comforting one.

I made the turn to the mounds and spotted an icecream flag on the tree by the museum’s entrance. Fingers crossed, I stuck Loke in a nice shady spot and hurried up to the door. Closed and 20 minutes to opening. I turned back while trying to decide on waiting or not, when a young woman came walking up. In her hand was a set of keys.

Immediately, I asked if they sold bottled water in the museum. Yes, they did. When I asked if I could buy one for my dog, she didn’t even hesitate, holding the door open for me to come in. With profuse thanks, I grabbed one of the unrefrigerated bottles and paid up. She was quite interested in Loke, asking if he was a husky, were his eyes blue, and how old he was.

I was barely out the door when someone called out ‘Ursäkta!’ (Excuse me!). I stopped and smiled as two older women and a man hurried up. They wanted to know where the bathroom was. As I fumbled through directions in Swedish, one of them asked if I spoke English. I brightened with a ‘yes’ and was able to give them clearer directions.

Loke was glad of the water as I poured about half of it into his bowl. As he gulped it down, the man politely approached and asked if I was American in very thickly accented English. When I said yes, he was happy to chat about that. He had family in the States, San Francisco, mostly. I asked if he was Swedish and he laughed. No, his parents were actually Americans from Iowa who immigrated to Denmark when he was a young boy about 70 years ago. As he said that, I said, ‘Ahh! That’s the accent I’m hearing.’ He was also tickled to hear that my husband has a sister in San Francisco.

Such a glorious day!

Loke in the sun

I wished him a nice visit and pedaled on since Loke was watered up and starting to act impatient. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the mounds with the trike, and even longer on such a gorgeous and dazzling day. The colors were so vivid in shades of blue and the deep, intense green of summer leaves.

I admit that I’ve missed seeing the year grow into those colors. Pedaling day by day as the landscape shifts from muddy brown and gray shades into the bright, hopeful hues in a riot of spring flowers and new leaves blushing in soft yellow-greens, before maturing into the deep, clear shades of dark emerald and forest. Was nice to be out in it though. The birds seemed to agree. There was the music of nature all around, especially the larks, singing their little hearts out as they fluttered above the mounds and fields. I so adore larks.

I finished up with 6.97 miles. We’d left home about 9:05 am and ended at about 11:30. There was no reason to rush through it and I can think of worse ways to spend a couple hours. While on the warm side, it hadn’t been miserable. It might have been a different story if I’d been in black tights, but since I’ve torn the world apart to find alternatives to broiling black on the largest portions of my body, it wasn’t so bad. So what if I make eyes bleed when people see me in clashing shades of pink and purple.

The best part about that distance is that I felt great and if I don’t go by a round-about way, it meant the Vaksala Square produce market is in reach. I much prefer to fetch my fruit by trike than hubby driven car. Parking in that area is just such a pain.

Once in the apartment, I rubbed Loke down with a damp towel before putting it on the floor under the ceiling fan. He slept for 20 minutes and turned into a pest again. As for me, I felt great. It’s been 8-10 months or more that I can recall feeling that good after a ride. Also, it’s the first time since February I’ve ridden for 2 consecutive days.

June 15th. What a near fiasco that was and where this post’s title originates. Murphy (as in Murphy’s laws) was toying with me. Things went wrong, but never as bad as they might have. It was almost as if Murphy was being a heavy handed flirt.

The forecast had promised to be cooler than the 14th, which would have been nice. The forecast lied. It turned out to be warmer even at 8 am with loads more humidity. Just a sticky, unpleasant kind of day. At least we had clouds for part of the ride and I was determined to go to the produce stand.

The old and the new.

While I waited for time to go, I attached the new cleats to the other shoes. Then I dressed. My feet seemed to have plenty of room in the new shoes as I dashed out the door at about 8 am. I really wanted to get to the fruit stand and back before the full heat of the day pressed down us.

Loke was fairly perky as we walked to the trike. Immediately, I had a bit of trouble with the new shoes. Or at least the cleats. It was a bit of a wrestle to get clipped and even more of a challenge to twist loose. With the day warming fast and the fact I have a husky, I didn’t want to waste precious slightly-cooler time fiddling with the pedals. I dashed back in to swap back to my tried and mostly true shoes. Then we scurried off to the storage for the trailer.

Getting the Burly up the slope and hitched went smoothly. In moments, Loke was jogging briskly as we rolled off to follow one of the main-line cycle paths to the train station.

Traffic on the paths increased the further into the center of Uppsala we went. The one that runs along the rail tracks all the way to the station was thick with people on foot and bikes. Some of those on wheels probably got a bit irritated with the fuzzy and I as we puttered along at 6 mph. There wasn’t much space to get out of the way though.

There was a touch of disappointment as I rolled down and up through the underpass beneath the track. There was the distinctive sound of an accordion, but it was a man sitting on a folding stool who coaxed the melody out of it instead of the woman with the voice that could soar through arias like swallows through air. Her singing was stunning. I hope that her absence there means her circumstances have improved. I’ll certainly miss those clarion notes.

As I started the slow creep up from that underpass, there was a woman walking along with a pug of all things. That little smoosh-faced little dog got excited at the sight of us, bouncing at the end of his leash and snorting in that way only pugs can. It was nice to see one excited and friendly instead of trying to lunge for Loke. Or cowering. Was kinda cute.

From there it was just a few yards to Vaksala square and the produce market. My timing was perfect. There was only one other woman there shopping, the produce I like most was already out. Better still, no line to pay! Loaded with half of a huge Greek watermelon and about 3 lbs of cherries, I headed us for home.

Well, that’s a nasty surprise.

The sun started coming out, but thankfully we had quite a bit of shade. As I was pedalling along, about 2 miles from home still, I happened to be kinda staring at my front rings and noticed a wobble in the chain. I slowed waaaaaaayyy down and watched for it to come around again. When I saw the straight line deviate again, I stopped and leaned in for a closer look. A broken link.

I stared at it in shock for a few seconds, wondering how long it had been like that and amazed that it hadn’t just snapped clean through as soon as that one side had given way.

I was about a mile from the cycle shop with no choice but to nurse the trike along, fingers crossed it would continue to hold. I kept to the lowest gears and away from any climbs up overpasses to avoid extra stress that might have finished the break.

As I crept down a mostly shady and flat cycle path, a voice called out to me as I was passing a bus stop. Smiling as I stopped, I met the gaze of an older woman. I asked her to repeat herself. She wanted to know about Loke. My aloof furball was his usual stand-offish self as she gushed over and petted him, chatting about huskies she used to have in her younger days. I had the feeling she was lonely and I’m always happy to stop and chat. She gave Loke a kiss on the head when the bus arrived and shuffled on board.

Amazingly, the chain held. Of course, for all I know, it’s been holding on for the last dozen rides, but still I rolled to a stop outside the shop with a sigh of relief. The gang there were great and Bobby grabbed one of those inserts to use as a patch since I’ll be getting a new chain next week. I told them I’d be bringing my lemon-raspberry muffins soon and Bobby grinned, saying, “And that’s why you get the prompt emergency fixes.”.

Made it home fine and dashed into the apartment to drop off the fruit and husky, deciding 5.3 miles was enough for Loke. It would be good for him to be able to rehydrate and lay under the ceiling fans. As I bent to left the melon out, something about the trailer’s wheels caught my attention. They looked as if they were a bit too far out from the body of the trailer. Once I had Loke and fruit snug in the apartment, I took a moment to fiddle with the wheels. I was right. The axles had somehow wriggled out of the slot though the locking levers were good and tight.

Wheels secured, I rolled toward the storage to put the trailer away though I’d be riding the trike back to the apartment. My strength and stamina still can’t handle the walk yet.

*sigh* Seriously?

Between the apartment and storage, it’s just a touch over a half mile. I was within a stone’s toss of the storage when there was this strange bang and then something scraping through the gravel of the path between the park’s trees. I stopped and sighed, not even needing to turn for a look to know what happened. A wheel had fallen off.

There was apparently no reason for it. The lever was still in the clamped position, but there the wheel lay  in the dirt. The other one looked like it was on its way out too. Those levers are tight. I put the wheel back on and rolled the last few yards to put the trailer away.

Getting back to the apartment was quick and easy since it’s mostly downhill. I finished up the day with something like 7 miles. Once I was safely back home I could chuckle about it. The chain had kinda snapped, but not enough to leave me stranded miles from home with 10 lbs of fruit. The wheel had come off the trailer… but not when it was loaded with 10 lbs of fruit. So, Murphy was flirting with me by making things go kinda wrong without them turning into full blown disasters.

Still, if there’s something wrong with the trailer either the slots the wheel axles or the axles themselves, that will be annoying. These trailers aren’t cheap and I’d rather not have to replace it. I don’t want to be without it either. It’s much more interesting to get my fruit and Loke’s dog food with the trailer and trike.

 



2017 – Worst Mileage Ever (So Far)
June 12, 2017, 3:53 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

This year is turning into such a fiasco. I’d say I’d want to start the year over, except two of the biggest issues that have wrecked my mileage started last year, if not clear back in 2015. The hip could probably be traced right to the stroke in 2014, so no help there.

However, I just loaded up stuff from my Garmin and looked at the list of rides through the year and my jaw dropped. Seriously, I had waaaaaayyyyy more rides than I thought I did through January, February, and even March. Here I thought I had many 15-16 rides for 2017. Nope. 37 as of yesterday’s ride. Quite a shocker there. My rides might have been pathetically short through January and the first half of February, but they were many.

So, where was I? Right.

So, last post, I had a good ride on the Sunday (June 4th) after taking the last of the antibiotics on Friday, June 2nd with the day between spent letting the meds purge out of my system. On that Sunday ride, it was clear I was out of shape, yes, but otherwise felt solid, hills were easy, etc…

It was so good, I was going to commit to riding every other day to start getting back into my riding pattern (with better leg position). Work on chipping down the weight I gained thanks to barely being able to move for the better part of 3-4 months.

Jens was home the day of the next ride, Tuesday. A national holiday here in Sweden actually, the equivalent of their 4th of July. Got dressed, bounced out the door for another ride, full of optimism. It was still gray and a bit on the chill side, but I felt pretty good. Loke was interested. Got the trike settled and rolled out. I even added a little more distance over the previous whopping 3 miles, finishing with over 4 miles. Hard to believe, I know. Felt good, a bit stronger even than the previous ride. Wondered how much I’m going to be using that 40 toothed ring on my rear cassette for hills.

Got home and decided to jump into the shower to clean up. My mood was so pleased with how well the ride went, I was smiling and practically singing. Then, I bent to grab the shampoo and felt it, a split second before the pain struck. The weird, sickening sensation of a vertebrae slipping wrong in my lower back and then it popped. The pain hit like a bolt of lightning and was so bad everything went gray, my pulse whooshed and thudded in my ears. Only slumping against the wall kept me from tumbling into a heap. Apparently, I screamed because Jens appeared, trying to help.

I received my first trike in 2006, my beloved Trice Q. It was a birthday present from my dad and Jens, with the cost split between them. It was crippling backpain that originally led me to a trike. I’d moved to Sweden, this wonderful country almost made for cycling right along with places like Denmark and the Netherlands. But my back was so wrecked, I could barely walk let alone jump on a diamond frame bike. The years of back pain evaporated within months of getting the Trice.

So, needless to say, I wasn’t surprised the back had done this to me. After all, since February 14th, I’d hardly had any exercise with some days being so bad even getting up to get a glass of water was a challenge with the Lyme Disease pain. Those 2+ months of so little moving around had done my core muscles no favors. Jens also theorized that while I’d had the Lyme Disease symptoms so bad, my muscles were tense from the pain which helped stabilize my spine. Then of course, the pain went away, the muscles relaxed, and one bad move…

Everything hurt again. No matter how I sat or stood or what just hurt. I just wanted to find a position on the floor and not move.

Thankfully, Wednesday (June 7th) wasn’t a holiday. I called the health ward for an appointment. I was offered one 8 days later for a doctor and over a month for a physical therapist. I declined both and steeled myself for the 200 yard walk to the ward for a walk-in time with a nurse. It was worth the pain, though oddly, after the first 20 steps or so, as long as I moved very carefully, walking didn’t hurt. Saw the nurse and was immediately given a time with a doctor for 1 hour later and a physical therapist the next day. Much better.

The doctor poked at me a bit. Under her examination, I realized how weird this back issue was compared to the last. As long as I sat bolt upright, perched on the edge of a chair with my thighs angled 90 degrees or more to my body, I could generally get up with little pain. Walking hurt hardly at all, except the first few steps if I’d been sitting wrong. I could even bend in a few unexpected directions with little pain. The worst though was if I tried to lean back and then come forward to rise. The exact things I needed for trike riding. I felt crushed.

But the doctor gave me some muscle relaxers and I shuffled home.

The PT was very nice and had actually remembered me from a few years ago with the foot issue. That or her notes had been surprisingly detailed. She even asked about my trike and Loke.

So we did our thing. Her exam and guiding me through some exercises. She said that my lower spine is extremely stiff. When bending, most people do it from the waist, the vertebrae at the lower back. Me, I bend with my hips.

So, I’ve been doing the exercises like a good girl and taking the relaxers. Thursday was still a bit rough. Friday, I actually started to feel much improved. Nevermind I was spending most of my waking hours sitting, perched on the edge of the coffee table while staring at Netflix. Sitting with any degree of recline meant a world of agony if I had to get up for any reason. Walking also started to hurt even less than it already had. So, all through Thursday and Friday, I either sat on that spot of the coffee table or was walking. Lots of short little walks or just pacing around the apartment. My feet actually started to hurt from it all not to mention my upper back with all the sitting so stiffly upright with no support. For the first 3 nights since the disc slip, I slept on a mattress pad on the floor which felt less painful than the bed.

Saturday (June 10th) though, I felt pretty good. Much to my surprise. Even was well enough to go have dinner with the hubby for his birthday as a belated celebration.

Sunday, June 11th, I felt better still. Enough so that when Jens and I went out to get him Starbucks, we stopped at the storage. The hubby followed me down and hovered, ready to act as I risked sitting down into the trike. No problems. Put my feet on the pedals. No problems. Then the real test, I gently shifted myself to get up. No pain. Planted my feet, grabbed the front boom and carefully rocked up into a standing position. Nothing hurt.

Once we were back from getting Jens his latte fix and my breakfast had settled, I got dressed. Loke was only moderately interested. I still had Jens go down and push the trike up the ramp. That kinda puts an oddly placed strain on my back so it seemed safer to have him do it. My wonderful man waited while I got settled, clipped in and even for a couple minutes, watching me roll across the park to be sure I wasn’t going to start screaming and flopping around like a beached fish.

Nope. It was actually going pretty well. The only difficulty I started to have was when I had to get up 2 times in less than a minute. Loke ‘did his business’ and that needed cleaning up. Then, the trike felt hard to move. So I got right back up to check the rear wheel. Turned out I’d just forgotten to loosen the parking break. There was a bit of a twinge in my back when rising that 2nd time.

The bigger issue for the ride was with my feet. My shoes, oddly, were very tight when I put them on and it made my feet ache as I pedaled. After a few hundred yards though, either the shoes stretched or the swelling went down and I felt better.

It was quite warm though and not just for Loke. Especially when the sun was out and it beat down on my reclined shape, it was bordering on uncomfortable. Thankfully, clouds abounded and generally shaded the sun. There was also a nice breeze which helped. The Garmin displayed about 74 F.

There were a lot of people out and about. Joggers, cyclists, walkers, even a few people on roller blades and 3 on roller skis. I followed the same 3 mile route as my first ‘post antibiotic’ ride, intending to keep it short until more certain of my back.

Unexpected passenger

As I came through the parkland between the residential areas, some odd movement up near the brim of my Da Brim caught my attention. It appeared I had a stowaway. An inchworm of all things. I kept a close eye on it as I stopped at an intersection of cycle paths to let a group of 40+ people roll through. Some kind of tour group I think.

Once they passed, I pedaled on until I found a spot where a shrub grew right next to the path. It took hardly any coaxing to get the inchworm from my Da Brim into my sleeve and, then from there, onto a leaf.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We went down the hill and by the river. Admittedly, from the position of a recumbent trike, one can’t really see the river now. The summer growth of weeds is such a riot that only a wall of green is visible.

Once I got back and stood up, my back felt so GREAT! No pain, more relaxed and yet stronger. As soon as the injury happened, getting so I could ride again was my main focus. Not for miles or number of rides, but because trikes have been almost magical for my back. Even that first ride back in April of 2006 when I eased myself down into a Trice Q at ICE’s headquarters in England to test it out, my back felt so much better when it was over. The best it had felt in over 6 years. I was sure it was just what I needed once I got to where I could get in and out of the seat without killing myself. My faith was vindicated.

Just a smidge over 3 miles.

Though I’d originally intended to do every other day for the first couple weeks, I’m thinking I might go ride again today at some point. See if it continues the improvement on my back. Also, after being penned up AGAIN because of physical issues, I really just want to be out and doing even if only the local hamster tracks.

Also, I really want to build up so I can start going to the Vaksala’s produce market for my summer fix of watermelon and cherries. Gotta have those fruits!



What A Roller Coaster
June 5, 2017, 4:58 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, the past 7-10 days have been a bit of a fiasco, but hopefully I’ve turned a corner now.

So, here’s the update.

Friday (June 2nd), I finished the antibiotics for the Lyme Disease. There’s been improvement. Actually, when I woke on the morning after my 4th dose, I was shocked at how great I felt. I honestly had no idea how long it had been since I’d come out of bed with a bounce with little to no pain. Not in anything. My hip felt fine, but so did the rest of me. I had energy! The doctor had warned me that the antibiotics would make me hyper sensitive to sunlight, or at least the UV light, but I’d bounced out of the bed at 4 am. Though dawn was coming fast, it was still early enough that sunlight wasn’t much of a threat. With Jens away on business, I bolted out the door with Loke and we went to the Grave Mounds where I walked the full loop with him. Roughly 1.2 miles. It’s been ages since I’ve been able to do that. Truly, I think it was the best I’d felt in a year, or perhaps as much as 2 years.

The next day was more of a set back. That’s pretty much how most of the 3 weeks went, though I didn’t really have a day quite as incredibly awesome as that one. There was always some Lyme Disease symptom niggling at me. If it wasn’t neuromuscular pain, it was weakness. If it wasn’t weakness, I was short of breath. You get the idea, but each day was still not as bad as those the weeks previous, so it was still progress.

The restriction of going out into the sunlight has been frustrating. We’d quite literally had the absolute best stretch of weather in months. Over 2 weeks of gloriously clear skies, warm temps and very little wind. Only one or two days got what I would call ‘too warm’ (says the heat wimp) hitting temps of 80-85 F. Most of them were about 65-75 F. Yet, with the improvements, I’ve not felt nearly as moody and frustrated as I was at the beginning of the year… or the 6 months before that. Feeling like I’ve probably found answers for why I’ve been breaking down so badly and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel has made things so much more bearable.

Friday, I was standing in line somewhere, groceries I think. It hit me, I had that ‘awesome pain-free’ feeling again.

Earlier in the week, I’d decided Sunday was going to be my next day to ride. While, physically, I felt capable of riding, I wasn’t going to wake up at 2 am to go for a ride to get back home so I could hide from the sun by 4 am. Sunrise is roughly 3:30 am currently. The only reason I wasn’t doing it on Saturday was because I wanted one full day off the antibiotics so they’d be out of my system. Would have been stupid to rush it and wind up crisped because I didn’t wait another 24 hours.

But that last week has been harsh. For some reason, I wound up with strained, knotted muscles all through my upper back and shoulders. For about 3 days, I was practically laid flat and so much as twitching a finger made me whimper. With help of Jens’ youngest sister, recommending stretches and a session of therapeutic (painful) massage, I started to recover.

So, Sunday, (June 3rd), I felt pretty good. I had Jens drive me to Vaksala Square for the produce market since I’ve not been able to ride there what with crippling pain and then medicated sensitivity to sunlight. It was something of a flea market kind of gathering there. Lots of stalls and people clustered around the produce market’s tent. Dodging through the crowds, I didn’t notice a spot where the cobble stones had been ripped up. My ankle twisted so violently as the foot came down half on and half off the stones. I saw stars and somehow managed not to fall on my face.

Even so, a woman rushed over to grab my arm and stabilize me as she asked what had happened. Was I okay? I thanked her and explained I’d sprained my ankle. I stood there a moment and then hobbled painfully onward to get my watermelon and cherries. I was treated to a new vision of stars every few steps. It’s been years since I’ve hurt myself like that.

Jens spotted me hobbling back and drove up as close as he could to save me the trip. He thought I was so slow because of the watermelon I’d bought for both myself and his parents.

Morning of June 4th, my ankle still hurt a lot, yet I was going to try for a ride any way. Though it still stabbed with pain if move side to side the least little bit, just flexing it forward and back was relatively painless. That’s all pedaling needs, especially with cycle shoes that clip to a pedal.

Loke didn’t move much as I pulled on my cycle clothes. He looked a bit more interested when I struggled to get on my cycle shoes though. The left one felt tight and a bit uncomfortable thanks to the ankle swelling extending down into the foot area, but overall tolerable.

Once I picked up the furball’s harness, I had every scrap of his absolute, intense focus. He sprung up and scrambled over, giving a little whirl in front of me as I untangled the straps. Then he was very still with a raised head to help get it around his neck. After that, he jumped the gun a bit, flailing with his right front paw in an attempt to rush it through the loops so I could buckle everything in place. Once he heard that last click, he about bowled me over to bounce around again before wedging himself in front of the door as if worried we’d forget him.

And it was a ‘we’. Jens offered to drive me to the storage to spare me the hobble from the parked car and down the slope to the storage door. Then, the dear man even insisted on going down the slope and pushing the trike up for me. All I had to was step out of the car, attach my handlebar bag, clip Loke to his tether and plop into the seat.

Loke seemed to forget his recent little issues. He threw his weight into his harness, jaws parted to let his tongue flop in that canine expression that can only be called the ‘Husky Grin of Joy’. We darted through the park with the fuzzy one providing most of the power as I was more focused on evaluating my ankle than speeding along.

And it felt good enough. No fiery, sharp stabs of pain as it flexed with the pedal turns. It seemed it was satisfactory to get me at least 2 miles.

There was one thing that flawed the start of the ride. I felt rather… cramped in the trike. Sadly, this whole fiasco extending back to the beginning of the year has wound up with me quite a few pounds heavier. I have issues with comfort eating. If I’m emotionally drained or upset, I eat. If I’m in pain, I eat. Well, pretty much since the last few months of 2016 until mid-May, I’ve had truckloads of both emotional upheaval in terms of frustration, despair, and anger with my physical struggles as well as the constant pain from my mucked up hip and the delightful (sarcasm) symptoms of the Lyme Disease. It made controlling my diet that much harder.

So, throw in that overwhelming impulse to eat that slipped more than usual with a sharp dive in the amount of exercise I could manage and it’s a recipe for disaster. I went from cycling a minimum of 5 hours a week, often more, to pretty much 2 hours a month at best. I tried to replace at least a tiny portion of that with the gym, but the weeks between getting the skin biopsies and waiting for the doctor to get back with me got so bad I couldn’t do so much as lift a 4 lb barbell. Even the days I could do something at the gym, a 30 minute routine twice a week wasn’t going to replace the calorie burn of 1+ hour ride 3-4 times a week. Admittedly, I was still getting out to walk with Loke for about 1.5 hours a day on most days, but that was just slow, agonized staggering around that didn’t even cover a mile. If that burned the calories found in a single raw cashew I’d be amazed.

Other than that, the ride felt… well, amazing is about the only word I could put to it. In many ways, it was almost as impressive an improvement as when, after just a couple days of following Jens’ sister’s recommendations about how to help my hip, I swung out of the trike without it screaming at me.

For about a year, the rides have been a struggle. I was riding more frequently, fighting to improve my fitness and the distance I could go only to continue a downhill slide into gritting my teeth through the painful circles on River Loop. Well, the ride on June 4th was… more like ‘back in the saddle after thaw’.

The first 6 years of recumbent trike riding, I had the Trice Q. Still have it actually, it’s just dismantled and sitting in the storage. I loved that trike, but it simply couldn’t handle snow and ice. So, between 2006 to 2011, cycling was seasonal for me. Once there were ridges of plowed snow along the roads, ruts frozen in what had been slush on the cycle paths, or more than an inch of snow, it was a no go. Then, when spring thaw came, I’d have to start building up strength and stamina again. I’d feel a bit out of shape and unable to go very far for the first few weeks, but it generally came back pretty fast.

And THAT was how I felt on this past ride. Not like I was fighting a downhill struggle with my body, but just that I’d been cooped up off the trike over winter. My hip hasn’t bothered me in weeks, so that it felt fine on the ride wasn’t much of a surprise though it was a relief. I didn’t feel particularly strong, but the weakness felt more like a matter of fitness than what I’d been facing for the better part of a year. My stamina went quick, but I wasn’t gasping for air like a beached whale either.

I felt… good.

And you know. I felt and continue to feel hopeful. I’ve had bits of that since I started taking the antibiotics, especially after that first ‘great’ day where I woke up and was filled with a sense of something like myself of old. It’s like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m going to come rolling out into the sunshine with my trailer rattling along behind me on some adventurous tour far and away from the hamster tracks I’ve worn deep ruts into over the past 2 years.



Well Now….
May 15, 2017, 6:45 am
Filed under: Misc

The last 4 days have thrown me quite a shocker while both clarifying and confusing things.

I don’t seem to have mentioned the issue that led to the discovery of my current predicament, which were skin spots. Why would I mention odd skin spots? What impact do they have on my cycling? The answer would be not much. On the surface at least.

So, last year at some point, I suddenly started breaking out in weird spots. They were popping up everywhere and fast. I panicked and ran to the doctor with images of them spreading from places that are securely covered by clothing to places above the collar bone. The idea of having this huge red splotch on my forehead was unpleasant and not to be endured. I don’t remember exactly when, but I’d say it was sometime between May and June.

The doctor was baffled, especially since they didn’t hurt or itch or any other obvious symptom other than existence. All she could really do was give me a referral to a dermatologist. The appointment would come in the mail.

So, I waited. Months I waited. Then the spots started spreading again and a few actually changed the texture of the skin and started to itch. Another panicked dash back to the doctor. She still had no answers, but assured me the referral was still flagged though an appointment hadn’t been set yet. She recommended an OTC hydrocortisone cream. It kinda worked on the spots that bothered me. They didn’t go away, but the itch did.

And still I waited for a dermatologist appointment.

Then, finally a few months ago, about 10 months after the referral had been flagged in the computer, I got a letter with an appointment time.

The dermatologist was very nice. When I showed her the spots, she was a bit taken aback by the number of them. She wasn’t sure what they were though. The only thing she could think of was ‘Borellia’, though she didn’t really think so. She asked if she could get biopsies of three of the spots as well as blood tests. My heart sunk at the mention of blood tests even more than the word ‘biopsies’. I agreed.

The biopsies were unpleasant, but not as bad as the first. Instead of cutting away the skin with a scalpel and stitching the wound closed, she used something like a leather punch and just took tiny little bits of skin, leaving little holes that were covered up with a bit of bandage. I was told the tests could take as long as 6 weeks for an answer.

The blood test was predictable. The very nice nurse who had assisted with the biopsies tried 3-4 times with no result. She apologized, telling me that the blood had to come from a vein. No finger-jabs. It was decided I could just go to the hospital’s lab the next day since the nurses there do nothing except take blood and so are generally more skilled.

Well, that turned into a bit of a circus as well. The first nurse at the lab the next morning was a younger one. She missed on both her attempts before going to get the supervising nurse. That was a very nice woman who had immigrated to Sweden from Africa some 20 years ago. She only tried once, but the vein eluded her. Since she couldn’t reliably find any others, she wasn’t going to just go randomly jabbing in the hopes of MAYBE hitting something. She patted my hand, seeing how upset I was and said she’d see if it was possible to do it via the finger jab. I answered that the first nurse the day before had said it couldn’t be done that way. She looked a bit baffled, but said she’d make some calls.

Bless her heart. It took her about 20 minutes to get an answer, but it turned out that YES, it could be done by collecting blood from a finger prick. I think it shocked her how downright enthusiastic I was as she sat down to jab my fingers. No fear, no flinching, just profound and cheerful sense of relief. She laughed and patted my arm when I told her she was my most favorite nurse in the world.

And so, I waited again.

Well, it was about 8 weeks, I think. Can’t remember exactly when I went through all that, but pretty sure it’s very close to being dead on a year since I first ran to the doctor with the spots.

The reason for the extra time was because the tests were contradictory. My blood said, ‘No problems’, but the skin results strongly hinted at Borellia. Unusual for a Swedish doctor, instead of marching me back into the lab for another attempt to get blood from a vein to retest, she simply prescribed the antibiotics for it. 3 weeks and she would check up on me in 6 to see how I was doing.

While the word ‘Borellia’ didn’t seem familiar to me, there was a little voice that whispered in the back of my mind that I should know it. So, I looked it up and oh, yeah. Swedes call it Borellia for the Latin name of the bacteria causing the infection. A tick borne infection. Americans would know it better as Lyme Disease.

I had mixed feelings about that. A complex muddled of feelings. Relief, concern, aggravation, and many shades and layers in between. Lyme Disease can cause neurological effects.

Well, that complicated Gordian knot of emotions only grew larger and more tangled when I went to the CDC web site. Muscle pain, nerve pain, joint pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, face feeling numb or losing muscle tone on one or both sides. I’ve had them all. I looked at the photos of the types of rash that can develop as well and right there amongst them are the ones that could have been photographed right off me.

Other than feeling gutted, I don’t know how to feel now. Even knowing it’s a perfect storm of the post-stroke symptoms (muscle and nerve pain) that are so identical to many symptoms of my highly likely case of Lyme Disease, it’s still distressing. How much anguish I might have been spared if it had been caught earlier? What if the two times I’ve been in the hospital for a numb face had absolutely NOTHING to do with the stroke or ‘fat clots’ in my brain, but everything to do with Lyme Disease? What if my recent decline in ability and sharp rise of agonizing pain that makes it a challenge just to get up for a glass of water a lesson in agony. The months of trying to walk and suddenly feeling like all strength has gone out of my limbs like a puppet getting its strings cut?

As for the tick bite? Never found one bitten into me, but I have a pretty good idea where it probably was. I still have a spot on my right side, more toward my back. It had looked rather like a bruise, but never went away, didn’t hurt. It never looked like the bullseye or any of the other more distinctive indicators of a Borellia infected tick bite spot. That was more than 2 years ago, right about the time when I felt almost ‘back to my old self’ after the stroke.

To think, I’ve been declining ever since all because of a tick I never even saw…



FREEEDOOMMM!!!
April 23, 2017, 5:01 am
Filed under: Misc

Freeedooommm!! As per Mel Gibson’s yell in Braveheart as William Wallace was being executed. Explanation coming.

I’m still here, just not very active in terms of blog or riding. Almost through the month and I’ve one whole ride to show for it. Or is it two? Not sure and the Garmin site is conking out so I can’t see.

Last week, I dropped the trike off at the shop to get the spring thing done to it as well as contemplate options for upgrading the gearing since the chain needs replaced as well. 9 speed cassettes are near impossible to find now. Kinda like 26 inch tires. So, upgrading to 10 speed.

The gears aren’t done yet, as Bobby wanted to research the options and figure out the cost before ordering, but he did get the tires and pedals swapped. Once that was finished, I rode it from shop to storage. Longest ride since Valentine’s day. Thankfully, my hip hardly seemed to notice it.

Naturally as soon as I swapped to smoother, not-studded tires and back to my SPD pedals, the temperature dropped and we had ice, snow. I wasn’t going to risk skidding around while people in cars with summer tires did the same. Not to mention having subfreezing winds howling through the cleat slots in the bottom of my shoes. It’s been nice not having my toes feel like they’re getting twisted off with pliers this winter. I’d kinda like to keep it so.

Once it warmed up, of course, I slept wrong and aggravated my hip. Yay.

But there is progress. I’ve been reveling in having most days with a mostly pain free hip. I’ve been jealously guarding that feeling which has de-motivated my urge to ride. Also, since my miles were so abysmal during even January and February before I waved the white flag to my hip, I just feel there’s no way to catch up the lost miles to make 2017 the new ‘Best Year Ever’.

But, in the past week, there has been a new mental shift from, ‘No! I won’t ride because I like my hip not causing constant pain’ to ‘I want my freedom back!’ I’ve been working hard to cultivate it.

I’ve been eating better to help with my weight. It’s been driving Jens a little nuts because he’s like, ‘Hey! Let’s go to our favorite restaurant’ and I respond with a ‘meh’ at best or an outright no.  I’ve committed to more gym time to do the exercises my SIL has recommended. She’s even gone with me twice so far. Once to teach me the exercises and again to be sure of my form.

And I’m not doing this to just plop my rump in the trike seat and do circles on the River Loop. The key word here is FREEDOM.

That is something I’ve been losing for the better part of 2 years now. Even with last year being the best ever in terms of miles, it’s been the absolute worst for quality miles. Out of some 200 rides last year, close to roughly 170 of them have been on what I call ‘hamster tracks’. About 140 of them, just on my basic River Loop hamster track. Even just going for ‘short’ 8 mile jaunts to do things downtown like I did until about September last year became too difficult. I loved doing errands on my trike. Admittedly, I loved pelting out through the countryside for 20-30+ miles more, but still, the 7-12 mile rolls to tend to things while dragging my rattling trailer around was nice too. I’ve lost it. Lost it all. I’m trapped on the same 3-6 mile circle when I’m not deprived of the trike all together.

My trike used to be my wings. Well, they’ve been clipped and left me flapping in small, repetitive circles. I’m sick of it.

It’s been brought home harder to me the past couple weeks too. Firstly, the yearly produce market has started appearing at Vaksala Square near the concert hall. Parking in the area is nigh impossible and, since I’ve been able to cycle so little, my neuromsuclar pain makes it agonizing to walk a half mile, particularly if I try carrying 5 lbs of fruit for half of it. It has to be the trike. Both to remove the parking issue, but also to help remove the symptoms of the nerve pain.

The other portion of having it ‘brought home’ to me happened on Friday when I ran an errand in the area of Enköping.

Enköping? one might wonder.

Well, it appears that Loke has had the bad sense to go get allergic to reindeer, which yes, relates to the errand in Enköping. Loke’s new potential allergy been a multi-layered discovery and mostly by accident. He’s been having issues for quite some time. Stiffness and limping that had us undergo the treatment with a shot a week thing. It kinda seemed to help, but then a few days after the injections, he’d been stiff again. Even after the last one, while he was better than before the treatments, it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped.

Then toward the end of last month, he developed another symptom of inflammation though I’ll spare the details.

When his then current batch of boiled reindeer ran out, I was too busy to carve out a 4 hour window to boil another block. Running errands so couldn’t sit at home for that long a stretch of time. Jens didn’t work from home at all for over 2 weeks so he couldn’t babysit it either. I didn’t want to do it in the evenings because then it has to sit on the stove overnight because it’s too warm to go in the fridge until well after I’m desperate for bed.

So, for about 8 days, Loke had just kibble. After about 4 of them, he started moving better. Very little limping, almost no stiffness, and the other symptom disappeared as well. My tender-hearted hubby insisted, no, it couldn’t be the reindeer. Maybe Loke just got into some bread crumbs that had dropped to the floor while Jens was cutting from a loaf. He absolutely hates the idea that the rest of Loke’s life will be nothing but kibble.

I finally had the time to boil up more of the meat and WHAM, the symptoms came back. Stopped giving it to him and they disappeared again. Jens still isn’t entirely convinced, mostly because he wants to have something to spoil Loke with, but I’m pretty sure and since I’m in charge of the furball’s feeding and medical, that’s just the way it is.

Unfortunately, a diet of nothing but the hideously expensive (nearly 100 USD per 17 lbs!) binds Loke up. So, I did some research online about dog-food from rabbit sources. My efforts turned up very little at first, until I found a rabbit farm out on the fringes of the Enköping area. I sent an e-mail and yes, they package the scraps from their butchering to sell as dog food. Several different kinds even. Some is just internal organs, some with a mix muscle and organs, even a kind that includes pulverized bone. It’s all from what they provide for restaurants so from good quality source.

So, Friday, off Loke and I went to the farm just outside of Enköping. It was on the drive that brought home hard just what I’ve lost in terms of cycling. The first 2/3rds of the way there was on the big roads, so it didn’t hit me so keenly. Then I made the turns onto the small country roads and pang hit. I’ve ridden most of the roads I drove down. Explored churches, chased down runestones, rolled by the gorgeous scenery of rolling hills, wooded patches, and charming wooden farm buildings painted in the traditional Swedish red. Some of them are roads I’ve never ridden the trike down and views just as stunning. I ached to explore them on 3 wheels with a husky jogging along side.

It drove the final nail to secure my determination. Correct the imbalance between muscle atrophy of the muscles inside my leg and the over development of those on the outside. Get my ability to ride long and far again. I need it.

We found the farm no problem and the man was very nice. An older gentleman who didn’t know much English, so we had to muddle along since rabbit based dog-food doesn’t come up in my conversations in Swedish very often. He carefully described what he had in stock. I picked the mix of meat and organs. Then I was horribly mortified. I’d been absolutely convinced that I had 200 kr on me, but when I went to pull it out, I couldn’t find it any where. Annoyed at myself and sad for Loke, I went to hand it back. He shook his head and pushed it away, saying if my dog could eat it, I could pay for it when I came back for more.

The drive back out from the farm only pounded my determination more firmly. Oddly, instead of taking me back the way we’d come, GoogleMaps took me down the smaller roads for much longer. I felt almost teary as I drove by Långtora church, one of first few mentioned in my blog. Swung around a sharp curve where a runestone sits that I’ve passed on the trike 2 or 3 times while pedalling through scenery to make one smile. Riding by pastures and knowing they were burial grounds that I’d not properly ‘collected’.

I stopped at a few places on the way back to walk Loke. He enjoyed that immensely.

He was also drooling with the smell of that frozen block of meat tucked securely in a bag. When we got home, he was looking between me and the bag while kissing the side of this kennel when I went to get him out of the car. As I carried it in, he was prancing along in anticipation.

After the first tiny serving of it, so far so good. No noticeable allergy effects so far. Last night, I gave him a slightly bigger share of it. So, we’ll see. Fingers crossed. It will make Loke happier I think, as well as the hubby though he’s sworn he will NOT touch it for anything on this earth.

Another benefit if we can continue feeding him the stuff, it will make that solid gold kibble we feed him last longer.

So, here’s hoping that a soon-to-be 12 year old husky and a stroke survivor will soon be riding around as they once did years ago…



Sad Start to March
March 7, 2017, 6:34 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

There were a few more rides after the one last mentioned in my last post in mid-February. Just quick little half-hour jaunts per my sister-in-law’s recommendation. The last was on the 23rd or some such before things took a nose-dive. The reasons for the lack of rides are varied.

One of them is that I simply got busy. This task, that task, those errands. It felt silly to lose almost 2 hours out of the day for a measly 30 minutes of ride what with dressing in layers, readying the dog, finding parking, etc. Another hiccup was that after a few rides, the improvements in my hip during rides started to reverse. Nothing drastic as the what drove me to ask my SIL’s advice, but still discomfort. I began to wonder if I’d improve faster if I didn’t ride. So, I decided to take a few days off.

After those first 4-5 days, my hip felt much better. Hardly a twinge or ache to be felt and I reveled in it. Feeling the best there I’ve felt in months made me reluctant to risk a ride. Ironic really. I didn’t want to go to a physical therapist because I was terrified he/she’d tell me to stop riding. Yet, R told me to keep riding… and there I was, having stopped.

The weather has been terribly confused. Unable to make up its mind if it’s winter or spring. All our snow was gone at one point, except what lurked, hidden under the gravel from where the plows had shoved it into the gutters. Then, I even spotted the first hints of daffodils and tulips peeking out of the turned earth of a flower bed while walking Loke.

The very next day after seeing those, the snow came back. Inches and inches of it. I almost went riding in it when it first started to fall because it was so lovely and wasn’t so deep as to make riding harsh. I chickened out though. Then we got even more snow. Caught the city by surprise it seemed as it took forever before plowing began. Actually, it started so late, I had to wonder why they even bothered. Traffic had mostly cleared may streets, even ones as small as the one where our apartment sits.

Over the weekend, the snow stopped and the sun emerged. Gorgeous day. Breathtaking with the inches of snow and blue skies.

It wasn’t until yesterday though, March 6th, that I finally braved the trike again. It was such a glorious day. Not a cloud to be seen over Uppsala, though I discovered it was mostly cloudy in Stockholm when I drove Jens to his office. On the way back from that errand, it was easy to see more clouds lurking on the distant northern horizon on the parts of the E4 that goes through miles and miles of vast, open crop fields. Neither cloud covers even approached Uppsala. The entire day, it remained dazzling and flawless, as if the city lay beneath a bubble of perfection.

Between the beauty of the day and the fact Jens wasn’t around to take Loke for a long walk, I finally dragged myself out for a ride. First in 11 days. 11! Quite a bit more than my ‘no more than 2 full days between rides’ rule.

I was nervous as I dressed and we finally stepped out to drive to the storage. I gave the trike a quick check before rolling it up. Pressure in the tires, making sure the brakes weren’t grabbing, that sort of thing.

Loke was fairly ‘meh’ about the outing. I don’t blame him. It was a pretty day though. We crossed the park and set out on our short 30 minute toodled as a test. At first, I felt pretty good actually! Enough that I decided to add a tiny more distance with an extra loop along some other streets. I kept my pace down, watching my legs, and… my hip started to ache in spite of all my care.

It was especially noticeable on the last .5 mile or so back to the storage. No where close to the near crippling intensity last month, but significant and frustrating. I parked the trike back in storage with a whopping 2.06 miles. The first for the month of March.

Sad really, but I’ve given up on any hope of making 2017 better than 2016.

I’m actually feeling very despondent about riding right now. Part of it because I’ve started copying my blog posts to save as backups. Looking back over the time when a 20 mile ride was ‘short’. Or the days when I could plop myself down on the trike at 5 am and finish up the day with an amazing outing 12 or more hours later. Back when rides were about discovery and magic. Not just… hamster tracks to get miles and try to stop Loke from harassing Jens for walkies. The quantity of my rides might have increased sharply, but the distance per ride and the quality of them has taken a sharp-nose dive. For the places seen, runestones, churches, and other things I love to find and explore, 2016 was the worst year even compared to years where I rode 600 miles or less. 90% of the miles just round, and round, and round on the River Loop or dashes into Uppsala. It’s depressing. It’s frustrating.

That’s probably another reason that the frequency of my rides has declined so sharply. I’ve just lost heart and so very profoundly bored with being stuck with 1.5-4 mile rides on the River Loop and suffering when I do ride.



Plodding February
February 13, 2017, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Ho-hum.

Despite my best intentions, February has turned into no small dud. My goals and hopes for it were modest, no more than those I had for January though with 3 fewer days. Just 100 miles broken into 25 mile blocks over four 7 day periods. Yet, the goals of the first 2 blocks came up so very short that the month goal is pretty much blown.

That said, I’m oddly not feeling particularly stressed about it. Not at the moment any way. Maybe I’ve just mentally decided to roll with the punches rather than let them hit hard.

A lot of the missed miles comes down to Loke. When he limps as much as he’s been and has also decided to go quite slow, it just makes it harder to accumulate the distance. I’ve had problems too. So many rides just feel like massive struggles. Legs that have absolutely no strength or vitality and every turn of the pedals is an accomplishment of the highest order. Then of course, there were a few days at the beginning of the month that had highs of 2 F. That is not a typo. I really do mean 2 F (-17 C). Even without the foot thing still giving me fits at times, I’m not sure if I’ve got the gear to brace single digits for a ride.

It’s meant low mileage and it’s not likely to change for this week either.

The furball is still limping quite a bit. He has his good and bad days, but at least it doesn’t seem to be related to foot sores and infection with increasingly resistant bacteria. The skin between his paw pads actually looks pretty good right now. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a combination of age and long-term inflammation that he’s probably had for years. Allergic responses that are finally catching up to him.

When we went to see the general vet about Loke’s nose, she noticed he was stiff in the feet and ankles. She recommended a kind of treatment for him. Did I mention that in the last post? Or the one before? Can’t remember. Well, any way, it’s a series of shots that are supposed to help joint pain and function. 1 injection a week for 4 weeks and then follow up shots every 3 or 6 months as needed. It supposedly has had very good results.

On my side of things, other than the strength and difficulty of pushing the trike along, I’ve been arguing with my hip a lot. It’s not a new thing, though the intensity of it is getting problematical again. It doesn’t generally bother me when I’m actually pedalling the trike, but getting up and walking after a ride was sometimes a lesson in pain. Getting my right foot in the pedal made me see stars at times as well.

It was especially bad this week. I rode on the 11th and was hobbling badly to get from the storage to the car after an 8+ mile ride. Yesterday, February 12th, I was still in a lot of pain. Limping and lurching around. More on that, but I want to talk about socks first!

 

Oh, yes! The foot warmer conundrum. Anyone who’s read more than 3 of the most recent posts would know that the batteries of my Hotronic footwarmers are on the way out. Every time I use them, it’s a gambling game of ‘Will They, Won’t They Work?’. Admittedly, even when they do, they’ve seemed kinda limited of late.

So, during the first week of February, I was furiously researching alternatives. That was slap in the middle of those days we had single digit temps for our highs. Finally I found something that made me kinda excited to see. Electric socks. Unlike most electric socks though, these didn’t just have a cluster of heating under the toes and hope for the best for the rest of the foot. No. These socks proudly proclaimed that their heating went around the toes and up the top of the foot. That honestly sounded sooooo much better than a little disc of heat situated under the toes like the Hotronic heating element set in a shoe sole.

Before, I made the plunge and bought them, the weather shifted. Around February 4th or so, the temps climbed well above freezing and it looked as if it was set to stay that way. To me, it suddenly made buying the electric socks redundant. Get them just so the battery could sit and age until late October, early November?

Naturally, just to trip me up, the temp did an about face and we got cold again. Jens was nice and ordered the socks for me on the 7th. Would you believe we got a notice that the package was ready to be picked up on the morning of the 9th? Jens told me to take his passport to see if the point of pickup would let me have it. It’s just a hop-skip-and-jump from the apartment. Actually, almost dead center between home and storage where I keep the trike.

It seemed fitting then that I fetch it via trike.

And they did let me have the package! When I took it, I was dubious that it was the full order as it barely felt heavy enough for electric socks let alone socks with a battery and charger. I texted Jens I thought they’d forgotten the battery as I walked out to the trike and dropped the envelope in the trailer and pushed on to fetch dog food from the vet clinic. Naturally, the hubby had me stop and open the package.

It wasn’t even socks! It was little round balls of black rubber with bolts in the end of them. No clue what they’d be used for. Utterly baffling.

That is, until I actually gave the the invoice more than a passing glance. It was an order for a Jens Sturnberg rather than my hubby’s last name. Jens laughed when I told him, ‘What are the odds there’d be an order from 2 Jens in the same day?’. I gave my hubby the order number on the invoice to call about the mix up.

I put it back in the trailer and toodled on while Jens apparently worked things out with the guy we’d ordered from. Apparently, it’s one guy running the webshop. Jens called me back to tell me he’d been extremely apologetic and had flung another package with socks and battery together. He was going to dash out the door to chase down the delivery truck which had _just_ left his location. He later emailed Jens to say he’d caught it.

As for Loke and I, we made it back to the storage with a 17 lb of dog food in the trailer. 6-something miles. It would have been more if I’d taken the kibble to the apartment first, but I was feeling so weak and wiped, I just wanted to get the ride done. Even now, the kibble is still sitting in storage, in the trailer. I just haven’t had the oomph to lug it from storage to the car.

Loke and I went out again on February 10th. One of my glove liners has gotten threadbare. Literally. A spot on the thumb has worn so thin that the loops of yarn are no thicker than a human hair. By some miracle they’ve not broken and officially become a hole. The errand to encourage a little more distance was to shop a replacement. We’d also gotten notice that in less than 24 hours, the replacement package was ready to be picked up. I did that with the car on my way to the storage, instead of looping around extra with the trike.

We covered over 8 miles for the loop. Loke did amazingly good. Slow, but pretty much no limping, which was a win in my book. Sadly, no glove love. The shop was making its shift from winter to spring/summer, so the glove selection had dwindled and nothing was suitable for my fingers or my needs.

Oh, but how I hurt. The car was less than 100 yards away. Could see it easily from the storage, but it took me several minutes to hobble over to it. The pain, trying to lift and swing the right leg in as I tried to get into the driver seat left starbursts in my vision. While I’d been pedalling, I was fine. Nothing horrible, but getting up at the shop and then, of course, when putting the trike away was a completely different story.

Usually it eases up after a little bit of time. Nope. I was lurching painfully around on the 11th too. Even though the battery had been charged and my new socks were ready for their test run, I just hurt too much to take the trike elsewhere in the car for a ‘trial by ice’.

Since I wasn’t going anywhere on Saturday, we had a semi-spontaneous dinner gathering planned with my husband’s family. His youngest sister came over early to vacuum up Loke fur since I could hardly move across the room let alone push a vacuum around. Doesn’t help Loke’s been blowing his coat like mad for the past 2-3 weeks either. I swear, he’s dropping enough fur to make another husky every hour.

R also happens to be training for a career in Physical Therapy. I asked for some advice and she had me lay down and do some moves while she poked at my hip. She said she thought it might be that I’m sitting wonky when I’m pedalling the trike and that it’s pulled some muscles tight while putting a strain on others. Perhaps something about the alignment of my leg with the hip and it’s letting the muscle on the outer thigh get stronger while the inner muscles weaken letting the leg get pulled into an uncomfortable position.

As she said it, I imagined me pedalling and what might happen with the inequality of muscle strength she described. I sat on the couch and put my feet on the coffee table in a semi-approximation of feet on pedals. Sure enough, my knees wanted to pull to the outside.

Her recommendation was a series of stretches twice a day, some gentle exercises to try and correct the imbalance of muscle strength. Also, she actually wants me to keep riding, maybe even try to go every day. BUT, she wants me to take it slower and only go for about half an hour at a time for at least 10-14 days. The goal is for me to be mindful of the position of my knees during the pedal strokes and keep them in the proper alignment as much as possible while the muscles adjust and it moves into muscle memory so I don’t have to keep thinking about it.

Honestly, it was better than I expected to hear. I was dreading that I’d pay to go to a physical therapist and have them tell me to stay off the trike. I think Loke and I both would have been clawing at the walls inside a week. Even 30 minute ride restriction is better than nothing. Hamster tracks or not.

Yes, I really said that.

So, yesterday (Feb 12th), I started dressing. I wanted to test the socks and our (mine and R’s) theory about my bad pedalling habit.

The socks. Well, that turned into a bit more of a challenge than anticipated. It’s a good sized battery first of all. Second, there was no way to carry it. It has to stay around the general waist area thanks to the length of the cables, but there was no clip to fasten it to belt or waist band. I looked on the web site to see if there was some accessory I’d missed, but nope. I used to have a fanny pack, but couldn’t find that either. Jens recommended I tape it to my leg or waist. Ummmm… no.

Finally I had the brilliant idea of pulling on a base thermal layer, then pulling on a sport bra over that. Then, I tucked the battery in the front of the bra with the nice, snuggly wool underlayer to act as a buffer in case it got overly warm. Because I’m so short, there was just enough length to still run the cable from battery to socks!

Finally! A real use for an otherwise annoying woman’s garment.

I limped out the door with Loke for a short ride. My hip felt only a little bit better with just 2 stretching sessions, but I was determined. I’d plotted on a map for about 1.7-2 miles, figuring at the current pitiful speeds Loke and I have been averaging that should be about 30 minutes. Slow and steady. Loke was fine with that. He was a tiny bit limpy and quite happy to go slow. My cadence was way down, about 60-63 RPM as I focused more on keeping my knees, especially the right one, in more. I tried to align it properly between the ankle and hip.

The results were shocking. Truly. Less than 200 yards from the storage, Loke stopped to… ahem, do business right there in the middle of the street. I fumbled around for a bag and, completely without thinking, rocked to my feet. I stood there, dumbfounded for a good 5 seconds, waiting. No pain. It was just like a switched flipped somewhere. I honestly can’t recall the last time getting up from the trike had felt so natural and… painless. Months easily without at least some level of significant discomfort that would make my steps awkward or give me pause.

I warily shifted my weight and stepped over the bike frame to go to Loke’s mess and still, no pain.

Honestly, I hardly noticed the tedium of the rest of the 1.8 miles hamster track loop. I couldn’t stop grinning or staring at my knees to keep them positioned properly.

There was a bit of very mild ache in my legs after the ride. Most of it felt like muscle fatigue as if some of them were working for the first time in a long while. It still was uncomfortable a little when I went to get into the driver’s seat, but still the easiest time I’ve had in months and the least amount of ‘owie’.

As for the socks and the carry arrangement? Just fine! To check the battery and the settings, all I had to do was tug back the neckline of the outer layers to see it. My feet were snug and warm just on setting 1. Admittedly, I wasn’t out for very long though at least it was in the 20’s for the ride.

Of course, the weather promptly turned. Today’s 30 minute ride, to send back the stuff accidentally shipped to my Jens instead of Sturmberg, it was 46 F. 42 F with windchill. Needless to say, I didn’t need the electric socks or my heavy duty wool.

Oh, forgot to mention that for the past 4-5 days, the weather has been GORGEOUS. Okay, so most of them quite cold, but clear with a cheerful sun. Even today was mostly clear, just thin clouds that did nothing to noticeably diminish the sunshine. Very little wind. It’s been a wonderful change over the dismal murk we were having. A bit frustrating that I’ve not been able to ride further, but hopefully with R’s advice and me being more aware of the bad knee habit, that might change…

Oh, and Loke goes tomorrow to get the first shot of that treatment. Yep, on Valentine’s Day because I love him. Hopefully it will give him some relief. His limping now isn’t due to tender, raw skin between his paw pads. The skin looked pretty good actually. Not red or angry at all. So, it must be the stiffness and discomfort in the joints that the foot specialist commented on last year.

Then on the 15th, it’s off to the groomer. Just in time. We’d be up to our knees in husky fur otherwise. Though if my hip continues to improve, at least I can vacuum without killing myself.

Sorry. No photos. Just round and round on the hamster tracks with not much of interest to see.