Terii’s Cycling Babble


Better Luck This Time! I Hope!
June 25, 2020, 2:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last year, at the end of the first week in August, I hatched a daring plan. Starting the count on my birthday of 2019 and ending on the day before my next birthday of 2020, I was going to ride 5100 km. I called it, unimaginatively, The Birthday Challenge. Between those 2 dates, I was going to attempt riding 100 km for every year I’d have been on this planet as of my birthday in 2020.

I was excited and nervous as I launched into action on August 14th. I was going to need over 60 miles a week. For years, 90% of my rides had been less than 10 miles and a struggle at that, but I was going to try.

It was hard on me. My body felt exhausted after just the first few days as I struggled to keep the frequency of rides necessary, but I thought I was actually starting to get stronger after the few days of rest I could squeeze out. I made it a month and a bit more. Squeaking out just enough distance the goal was still possible.

There were still challenges, mostly weather related ahead. Bitter cold was still my enemy and winter was coming with it being a crap shoot of would we have a mild, wet, Mississippi like winter? Or would this be a winter from a decade back when we had hip deep snow for 5 months and temps in the teens?

In the end, it wasn’t my body or the weather that brought the challenge to a halt. It was Loke. The poor old man was too frail and unstable to come with me on most days. To make the challenge, I was having to leave him for 2-3 hours. It was hard for him to accept that. After all, for 99% of his 14 years, we’d been in each other’s company 24/7. Only if I add in his hospital visits, and mine, would I run out of fingers counting the number of times we’d been apart for more than a few hours to do errands or see movies. There was that brief time when I was working at the American Food store too, but that was just a few days a week and he had grandma and grandpa to spoil him while I did that.

As he aged, he was more clingy and started to get destructive when I did leave to get my miles. I couldn’t do that to my old partner in crime. I let it go to do what was best for Loke. He needed me and I lovingly accepted that in the winter of his life.

Well, he’s gone now. Also, I seem strangely stronger and faster on some days than I was even after the month of frantic riding last year. More stamina too.

Even so, I still believe the Birthday Challenge will be a challenge. One person in one of my recumbent groups was like, “Oh you can do that easy. That’s barely over 3200 miles in a year. That’s a snap. I have over 3900 miles this year already.”

What the hell? Measuring what everyone can do because something is easy for you is the stupidest thing in the world. My best ever distance in a year is 1300 miles and it about killed me in the end to break it. So, yeah, more than doubling my best ever for this endeavor IS a challenge for me and it won’t be easy.

Goodness. I get snippy rather easily, don’t I? I just get so fed up with people belittling successes, both my own and that of others, because it’s not even breaking a sweat for them. I do my best to cheer on anyone’s accomplishments, especially those people who post about, “I just got my first trike 2 weeks ago, and today was my first ride over 5 miles.”

I don’t hit them with, “Oh PUH-LEZ. My first ever ride on my first trike was over 7 miles. You should have been able to do that much at least on your first ride.”

I don’t know what life has dealt them or why getting to the point they could do those 5 miles is an accomplishment. Heart attack? Stroke? Bad long term choices in matters of diet and exercise, but they’re finally choosing to address their health in positive fashion? Doesn’t matter. I congratulate them about how awesome it is. Encourage them to keep at it as long as they love it.

Why is that so hard for so many people? Why does it have to be sneering, scoffing, and belittling? It’s that kinda crap and worse that has the world in such a crappy state beyond the whole pandemic.

But I’ve gone WAY off topic with that.

So, Birthday Challenge.

As one might have guessed by now, I’m gonna tackle it again. Obviously, it’s gong to be 5200 km rather than 5100 km. Even though I count my rides in miles even after 15 years in Sweden, I have a hard time letting go of my miles. Counting distance in km makes it seem so small to me even if the number is ‘bigger’. It’s just the way my brain works.

But 5200 miles would be almost quadrupling my best ever distance in 14 years of riding. I figure that’s gonna be hard enough more than doubling it.

To give some perspective. At 5200 km in a year, I’ll need to ride a bit more than 68 miles in a week. I will admit, that might be easier than I think given I’ve had several rides this year (June 5th’s 30.45 miles as prime example) where I practically flew and distance easy. I didn’t even feel that great after riding most every day for a month when I attempted the challenge last year. That was after going to the gym 2-4 times a week for over a year and a half.

I don’t know what’s changed, but I do love it and it might make the challenge easier.

Who knows. As I work at it, maybe next year I’ll be able to aim for a 5300 mile birthday challenge.

Right, perspective. Really shouldn’t go off on random babbles like that.

If I were to attempt miles, which would almost double more than doubling my best ever year, I would need a minimum of 108.5 miles a week. 434 miles a month.

My best ever mileage in a week was back in 2008 when for a few summer weeks I managed over 200 miles. That was my first official ‘best year ever’ for distance with something like 1230 miles. Clearly the 200+ miles a week didn’t hold for long, but I did it. I was younger, and yes, lighter, hadn’t had a stroke. Still, maybe I have it in me to accomplish such again.

I can tell you, it won’t be any time in the next few months.

Between now and my birthday, I’m going to be work on strengthening myself. Not just for riding, but reclaiming the upper body strength I’ve lost since February. That way, I’ll be able to put the bike rack on the car myself. That thing is just heavy enough that its awkward shape makes it extremely difficult to manage right now. Once I can do that though, being able to load everything without kicking Jens out of bed at horrible hours, I can at least go other places for fascinating rides which will help me with those miles.

Speaking of ‘reclaiming upper body strength’, it’s time for me to scurry off to the gym with a ton of sanitizer and get to it!



Mid-Summer and Little Frustrations
June 22, 2020, 8:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, the saddest day of the year has come and gone. Mid-Summer. From here, the days are in decline until the winter solstice. Ah well.

Such grand plans I had for the year. The pandemic threw a gargantuan monkey wrench in that idea. I mean one of those wrenches that are bigger than man.

Mid-Summer was celebrated on June 19th. I stayed in since, firstly, I don’t like to hit the roads on days when people are in a high celebratory mood which means drinking. It’s not as excessive as a non-pandemic Valborg, but Mid-Summer probably ranks as the 2nd most drinking holiday in Sweden.

That wasn’t the only reason I didn’t ride. I could have loaded the trike and headed off to the rail-trail around Eskilstuna for a 24 mile out-n-back which is 99.9% traffic free. The only time to potentially interact with cars on that ride is when I cross roads.

Alas, it was hot. I mean, up over 90 F hot. Even with a new found heat resistance of late, I find myself reluctant to push it past low to mid-80’s F. Even that borders on unpleasant, though at least there’s no sense of being an egg in a microwave. As a Baked Alaska though, the closer to 85 F it gets, the mushier the ice cream center becomes as it loses its chill.

Saturday was slated to be just as bad. So, I actually pushed myself out the door for a ride at 4 am. Best laid plans and all that. For one of the first times ever, there was NO legal parking any where near the storage. It was either illegal or pay. I thought about parking at the grocery and paying, but that was a quarter mile walk. If I was gonna walk that far, it might as well be the additional quarter mile from home.

The thing was, upon waking, my back was just KILLING me. My attempt to walk resulted in my back tell me off and making it clear there was no way I’d be making it to the garage.

At home, I sulked some. Then at about 5:17 am, Jens came blinking blearily out of the bedroom. Seeing me clad in cycle clothes, he asked if I’d gone for a ride. I admitted, I hadn’t and why. “I’ll drive you,” he said. He could have gone back to bed, but no. He stayed up, silly early on a Saturday, to drive me to the garage.

The ride wound up being just around the River Loop, though I did add extra.

Honestly, it felt like a complete waste. I felt as fast and strong as I had on the June 5th ride from the storage to Salsta Manor. Such power, stamina, and speed would have been better spent on a ‘proper’ long ride as I’d been doing. Just the cursed HEAT.

I had also meant to add the Burial Ground Loop for extra distance. That wound up ruined by the sheer number of people that just swarmed the paths as it came up past 6:15 am. Seriously?! It was the Saturday of a long weekend, following a Friday holiday and there were almost as many people on the paths that early as I would expect on a normal Monday or something. Silly me, thinking people might be enjoying a lying in to sleep off their excess of the previous day’s celebrations.

The Grave Mound paths would only be even worse. So, I finished up with 7.10 miles. And, for me, it was fast.

For speed data, Garmin Connect has 2 fields. One is average speed, which is pretty much what it sounds like. The average speed for the duration of the ride measurements. On adventure rides, that tends to wind up rather low because of photographs, hunting for runestones, flying the drone, etc.

Then, there’s Average Moving Speed. That one only takes into account the actually times I was moving. It omits the time I was stopped for whatever reason.

Well, for this ride, I only stopped twice. Quick photos for face book once and then to put the chain back on when it jumped off the chainring when I was turning the trike around at the end of the out-n-back. Even with those pauses, my average speed was 6.8 mph. Pretty damn good for me. However, my Average Moving Speed, completely blew my mind.

7.5 mph. I honestly can’t tell you when I was that fast last. It just boggles me that I have it in me even if it’s not every single ride.

There hasn’t been more rides for whatever reasons. Laundry and the like. Not to mention, still been so BLEEDING HOT. I’ve just not been able to get out for an early morning scurry.

I tried it this morning at 4 am, but it was the same issue as my first attempt on June 20th. My back was killing me when I woke and there was, again, no legal/free parking to be had in a quarter mile radius.

I need exercise. Then it struck that my arms have been giving me fits of late. Numbness, random pain. That could also mean that they might start trying to slip out of joints again.

I need the gym. I decided that, enough of this crap, avoiding everything to the point my upper body is breaking down. I went home, changed to a workout shirt, grabbed my gym bag and a bottle of hand sanitizer, hustled out the door to the gym.

I was wary first walking in. Though I hated to use so much of the sanitizer, I was putting it on my hands and then wiping down whatever was going to be used. The rowing machine. The kettlebells. Then I saw the woman I’ve been most friendly with at the gym had arrived. I wandered over for a chat.

Since I’d not seen her since February, we had a bit to catch up on. I was stunned when I actually broke down in tears, telling her about Loke’s passing. I didn’t expect that to be so painful since I told someone else with barely a thickened voice.

Turns out, her fiance actually caught the virus. He’s ‘over’ it now. Has the antibodies. The only symptom he had was losing his senses of taste and smell. They haven’t come back. Doctors can’t even tell him if or when it might return. So, someone I’ve met has actually caught it.

The workout actually went pretty good. I was kick butt on the rowing machine, which was a shock. Maybe my cycling has helped with that. My arms were worse. Big surprise, right? The machine for my back was actually not too bad. I managed 3 sets on 70 lbs just fine. My abdomen was a bit worse.

My inner thighs were the biggest shock. It seems they’ve practically turned to pudding. I could barely manage 1 set on half the weight I was doing in the first half of February before the cold, the broken rib, and the arrival of the pandemic.

But everyone was actually really good. No one ever came within 3 meters of any one else. There were spray bottles of disinfectant all over the place and hand sanitizer, so I didn’t even have to use mine. People seemed to be pretty good about wiping things off when they were finished.

That didn’t stop me from spraying whatever machine or piece of equipment I was going to use within an inch of its existence, wiping it down with a cloth that quickly became damp with disinfectant. Then I’d wait 35 seconds (my interval timer) before touching it again. Then I’d repeat the wipe down when I was done.

I don’t like the gym, but the idea of getting my arms and back to what they were in February has me almost enthusiastic about my return to the gym. Oddly, paranoid me has returned to my gym before Jens has so much as thought about going back to his.

So, that’s where things are currently. Slowly roasting through the days, but going to do what I can to get fitter, stronger (all over) and, hopefully, faster still.



That Time Again
June 14, 2020, 4:43 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Yep! The weekend long ride.

I did actually get out and do a short ride during the week though. June 8th or 9th. I forget which. I had laundry to do, so it was just a quick buzz around the Grave Mound loop for a bit less than 4.5 miles. The power and stamina that had me blasting through the ride on June 5th was still with me. I wowed myself by doing the distance in 38-ish minutes. Give or take 30 seconds. Completely shocked.

I didn’t get out for rides the rest of the week. Jens’ birthday was during the week and we went out to eat. I refused to eat grilled portabello mushrooms with grilled or steamed veggies, so instead, I had meat. That pretty much wrecked me for some days, so, no riding.

It’s hard eating out as a vegan. Restaurants refuse to get creative. It’s always mushroom served up as a pathetic meat substitute and a side of ‘nothing special done to them’ green veggies like grilled/steamed broccoli and maybe some green beans.

If I eat at home, I can have a tasty plate of nachos with homemade vegan sour cream and queso sauce or pasta with a yummy alfredo sauce. Using the homemade vegan cheese and sour creams, I can make a kick-butt twice baked potato that makes me roll my eyes with delight. Me, the hard-core, unapologetic carnivore, loving a vegan twice baked potato.

Oddly, I am almost a better cook as a vegan than I was as an omnivore.

Sorry for the off topic ramble, but it did impact my riding, so worth going on about as this is my ride diary.

Jens had been pestering me a bit about where I was going to ride this weekend. Nothing particularly called though. Friday, June 12th, I told him that I’d figure out Saturday’s ride when I woke up.

It didn’t really go so well. There was the thought that Jens drop me off at a little medieval church in Vattholma so I could ‘collect’ it and from there, I would have headed north, back past Tensta and chase churches and manors. I think the reason that idea fizzled is because I’ve ridden the area north from Tensta before and it was a brutal ride. I remember being hot, and a lot of traffic and accompanying fumes, exhausted, frustrated.

I looked in a few other places, but still not much called. Jens woke up and asked what I’d decided and threw a few ideas out, so I dragged my oddly reluctant self back onto the computer to look.

Up around a small village named Österbybruk, which was the site of old iron production, my eyes were pulled a bit northward to an even smaller blip on the map called Film. There’s a church there that I’ve meant to ride to a couple times, but the rides always fell a bit short. I’ve ridden the area south of Österbybruk two or 3 times and really wanted something fresher to sink my teeth into. Eyes wandering the map, the name Hökhuvud caught them.

In that little blip on the map, bigger than Film, smaller than Österbybruk, was a church of course. I have wanted to add that church to my collection for years. Ever since we passed when driving to Sing Island on Sweden’s east coast for Jens to fish for sea bass. Alas, it sat on a busy road and I had never managed to find a way to it from some place else and never found a way from it to other regions without, dealing with that busy road.

Well, looking from Film I spotted a way. Also, since June 5th’s ride being so spectacular, I looked further afield and found another church in a town to the south of Hökhuvud (Hawk Head for non-Swedish speakers), as well as what appeared to be a lovely length of road that ran further south. A small country lane, uninterrupted for quite some distance. It actually made me giggle.

So, it was decided. All batteries charged, stuff packed into my various bags and off we went.

I was so looking forward to getting the drone up at Film Church. Everything trike related out of the car, I sent Jens on his way and started to load up. While putting the last bits in place, a woman in her 70’s or so, came up. She was walking her bike along and paced up and down beside the church wall.

So, couldn’t launch the drone right then. I took my camera and went walking around the church in search of runestones as she finally headed off down a path that seemed to parallel the nearby lake. Perhaps by time I finished, she’d be far enough gone I could finally get aerial photographs.

Film Church

Nope. As I came back to the trike, she came back up from the path. So, I went into the bathroom to apply sunscreen on face and neck, but where I could wash it off my hands, hopefully keeping it off camera lenses. I hoped, beyond hope when I emerged, THEN I could do the drone.

Nope. I came out to the biking woman still there, along with an old man heading into the churchyard to visit/tend a grave. When yet still others arrived, I gave it up as a lost cause.

Loved the building and old farm equipment.

Pretty much the moment I rolled out, I felt the loss of the insane pep I’d had on my last long ride. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel as if I had the power to fly along and go all day. Not to mention, there was an ever-so-slight grumble of discomfort in one knee. That convinced me to take it even easier. It would have been silly to strive for the same performance I had on the 5th and wind up wrecking myself.

Disappointing. It made it unlike I’d be able to challenge my 30+ mile record.

It was a warm day even as I left Film Church at a bit after 10 am. On the way to Film, there had been faint smudges of high, thin clouds on the western horizon. Once I was rolling along though, they seemed to have vanished. Pity. They would have been welcome for the effect of lessening the sun’s impact.

Ah! Summer Scenery!

There was wind though. At times it lashed the trees at 15 mph or more and pulled at my Da Brim. Even if a hindrance to forward motion on the trike while moving south or east, the very directions I needed no less, it did mitigate the heat somewhat.

So, wind and higher temps, yet it wasn’t unpleasant. I pedalled along at a pace that didn’t aggravate my knee and whipped my head around, trying to see everything at once.

The road was paved, but still narrow. One of those country lanes that criss-crosses Sweden where it might be considered a lane and a half. Two cars have enough room to pass each other… just.

A different sort of road marker

I spend a lot of time on those kinds of roads. Naturally, they’re my favorite. A lot of times, they have little enough traffic so are pleasant.

As I came around the northern end of the lake and started south down the east side of it, the road was a little bigger, though still not quite a ‘full’ two lane road. It was also busier.

The cars were no problem as I rolled along at about 7 mph on the flats, slower on hills of course. Motorcycles though, that was a different story. About a dozen of them roared by me on that eastern side of the lake. More than half of them passed too close. A few may have been worried about swinging too wide out and getting hit by an on-coming car when passing me from behind. Others, they were just hugging the inside of the curves as they raced along in the opposite. Seriously, at least 3 of them, I could have reached out and touched them as they passed. The road might have been narrow, but not THAT narrow. Passing cars gave me more room. As if motorcycles don’t make me grind my teeth enough at home.

They frequently use the street at the back of our apartment as a speed way. Nothing like being jolted out of sleep at 1 am by some jerk’s motorbike SCREAMING down the street and echoing from the buildings. During the days in warm weather, with windows open so we don’t suffocate, we spend a lot of time rewinding things we watch because of it.

Along that madness, I found a spot by some mailboxes to pull off the road. No power lines above and about a 5 square foot spot of flat, grass free ground where I could launch the drone. There was an open view down toward Film Lake, which honestly, looks more like a bog. It would appear Film Lake is making its way into the history books just as Salsta Lake did a couple hundred yeas ago.

Overlooking a bit of an old farm

I was pretty focused on readying the drone, so I didn’t hear the woman call out to me the first time. The second time, I looked around, baffled and there was a woman pushing up the hill on her bike. I didn’t immediately catch what she said because, well, people rarely ask me about my Da Brim so it’s not a Swedish word pattern I’m familiar with.

A bit of Film Lake and the expansive reed beds around it.

The situation wasn’t helped that she really didn’t want to stop and lose her momentum up the hill either. So, it was a quick pattern of yelling back and forth as I told her I’d ordered it on line and gave her name Da Brim.

I’d barely launched the drone and had it less than 100 feet away, when a guy on a road bike, heading up the hill had apparently swerved to my side of the road to yell in my ear as he passed. Naturally, I jumped with a yelp and he laughed. His riding companion shook his head and offered an apology for his friend’s crass behavior.

While I’m getting braver with the drone, I wasn’t brave enough to send it buzzing the mile or so across reed beds and silting waters to the church. Even if I hadn’t been getting ‘High Wind’ warnings from it, I wouldn’t send it that far off. Though while choosing photos for the post, I did realize one has the church in it. Just so small as to be unrecognizable until one zooms in to the point of blurriness.

Fresh shorn alpaca always look so weird.

It was a relief when I reached the northern edge of Österbybruk and was able to make the turn onto the eastward stage of the ride.

The first mile or so of that new, smaller road was through a residential area. Lots of houses, kids riding bikes on the streets. And then, suddenly, at the appearance of 3 alpaca in a pasture, of all things, I was back in the countryside.

The black one didn’t look so odd as the other two

These alpaca, unlike the last trio I’ve met in previous years, had pretty much no curiosity in me at all. Only one of them even looked up at me. Perhaps the other two were sulking about their obviously recent shearing?

When they’ve got their fluff, alpaca are adorable. When they’ve been close clipped, they turn awkward looking. All scrawny neck and legs with barrel shaped bodies and over sized heads. These were no exception. So, if they were sulking, I can’t say I blame them.

Gubbo Road was fairly pleasant. I do want to say the difference between the number of trees in street view and the lack of them in current time is alarming along the first few miles past the alpacas. It definitely would have been nicer with all the trees seen in street view and not only because of shade. Trees are just so much nicer than stumps, torn ground, and general destruction of clear cutting.

After a couple of miles, knowing there was a lake just to the south, I started looking for a spot to launch the drone. I knew the lake was there because I recalled it from when I was looking at the maps. Also, there were occasional glimpses of water across the ruin of clear cuts or between trees.

Riding near lakes at this time of year has a special irritation, especially on windy days. Seed fluffs. As I rode along, there where white puffs from what I think are cattails flying on the breeze. Add in sunscreen and a little sweat. At one point, I think my cheeks may have looked as fluffy as an unshorn alpaca. It was hard to get that mess off without smearing sunscreen on my hands.

Finally, I came upon a parking lot. I think it was mostly to serve for those who wanted to walk on the Uppland Trail that ran around the edge of the lake and off across the landscape. Still for putting up the drone, it served admirably. Plenty of flat. The ground around it had been clear cut so for 100 yards or so there were no tall trees which always make me nervous if they’re too close.

Stordammen Lake

Up went the drone and I snapped a few photos of Stordammen (The Big Pond) Lake. Odd it should be called ‘Big Pond’ when it’s larger than many bodies of water nearby that carry the name ‘Lake’.

Out of curiosity just now, I looked up if the difference between a lake and a pond is size alone. Actually, it turns out it’s not about size at all. It’s all about depth, or rather if sunlight can reach the bottom of all the way across or if there are spots too deep for sunlight and therefore, plants can’t grow. Learn something new every day. Still, I’ll hazard a guess that Film Lake’s designation as such no longer stands, but it keeps the name because of its past glory. And who’s to say that when lakes or ponds were named in the past that it was with sunlight in mind back in say the 1500’s?

Actually pretty good as gravel roads go!

Because of street view and my Garmin’s map, I knew the lovely paved lane with so little traffic was soon to become unpaved. Naturally, when it did happen, it wasn’t any surprise. Oddly, my Garmin drew the road as a dotted line, as it might do with a footpath. Confusing as I’ve seen it draw dirt roads with yellow filled lines.

I was braced for the worst as I neared it. Turned into a pleasant surprise. There was some gravel, but the surface under the scatter of pebbles was rock hard, flat packed dirt. If the surface held for the entire distance of the unpaved, it was going to be a nice ride.

There wasn’t much traffic on the road either. Entire blocks of 10-20 minutes or more could pass with not seeing another soul. Best of all, no motorcycles buzzing me at less than arms length. No motorcycles at all!

Old barn and to the right, barely visible in trees, another building.

A bit further on, I discovered there were a lot of abandoned buildings/farms on this road. That realization first came when I spotted an old abandoned barn down the road and stopped to take a photo from the distance. As I put the camera away, I noticed the edge of a roof line highlighted by the sun of another building in the trees.

Oh, look! A second, collapsed barn!
Closer view of collapsed barn

Naturally, it was time to launch the drone when I reached the barn.

There was a surprise once I had the drone up. A second barn at right angle to the first, visible one. The fact it had collapsed and with the way the land was shaped and tall grasses, I hadn’t been able to see it really. Except maybe a few pieces of wood. Certainly the extent of it surprised me. It had very likely been larger than the one still standing. Playing around with the photos, it appears when it collapsed, it had a vehicle of some kind in it as well as a trailer. Not very archaic either. I’m talking nuts, bolts, pneumatic tires kind of vehicle and trailer.

So close, yet so far.

I wasn’t quite bold enough to send the drone zooming around the tree tops to see if I could make out the roof of the building just barely visible in the trees. For that, I put the drone away and started walking across the wheat field on foot, following a line of plants crushed by tractor tires.

I kept hoping to find some remnant of a path to the building, especially seeing how old it looked with a stone foundation cellar. But no, it’s abandonment had been too long in the past and all such had been well over-grown. Adding to the frustration was a peek of more red faded wood to the left of another structure beyond the first one.

I could have pushed through the hip and chest high grass, but the thought of ticks made my skin crawl. So, I just paced around the fringes in frustration before giving up. Maybe if I remember I can go back during the winter when the weeds have shriveled, the trees dropped leaves and ticks are slumbering.

After that abandoned farm, it seemed old buildings were hiding behind every tree.

Okay, a slight exaggeration, but I spotted at least six. Who knows how many I didn’t spot. Clearly, this area had a time when it was more populated and more intensively farmed. Most of those ‘back in the trees’ buildings I didn’t get photos of because the resulting photos wouldn’t have been worth it. Trees and leaves with a hint of faded red paint on wood back in the shadows… if that. Fortunately, there were plenty of old, out-in-the-open farm buildings for me to point my camera at.

With the lake left behind and no other nearby, I no longer had the flying seed fluffs sticking to my face to contend with. It still wasn’t trouble free though. Seed fluffs were replaced with insects. Horseflies chief among them. By a miracle, I was only bit a few times. They never came in droves, mostly singles with the occasional team of 2 or 3. Most shocking though was they never came at my face or ears. That’s when I really freak out. An inch long biting fly going for my eyes will unhinge me.

One spot in the middle of the 8-10 miles of gravel travel made me wonder about the past nature of the road. In a spot with a cluster of houses and kept-up farm buildings was a stretch of paved road for 300-400 yards or so. Miles of dirt to either side.

Just past the mystery paved stretch
Pretty pasture.

Perhaps the gravel road had been paved at one time. That might explain why the dirt was so hard packed as to rival even pavement. It had been prepped to provide a solid foundation for an asphalt covering. It could very well have been when the population fell to the extent that the farm I’d found was abandoned, the government decided it wasn’t worth the cost to maintain pavement for so few people so they pulled it up.

Even as good as the base surface of the unpaved road was, it was nice when I reached paved surfaces again. I definitely was lacking the strength and staying power I inexplicably had on June 5th. So, when I no longer had rocks increasing the rolling resistance, it was a relief.

Slowly falling apart. So sad.

I still didn’t feel too bad though. I was tiring, yes, but not exhausted. My knee was uncomfortable, though never quite crossed the threshold into pain. Honestly, my feet hurt more. The temperature had edged up toward the low 80’s F, but amazingly, I wasn’t suffering from it like I used to.

5 years ago, anything over 75 F, especially under the summer sun would have had me shaking, on the verge of vomiting, feeling like my face was going to combust, and wanting to pass out. But lately, I recognize it’s warm and happily accept the cooling embrace of any shade or even wish for a bit of clouds, but I don’t need them. Not even sure it has slowed me down.

I think it would be prettier with clouds

Then I was done with going east and the road was all south, south, south. There were less trees and more fields so the wind buffeted me around some, but that helped take the edge off the sun. I slowed down a bit, having given up any hope of beating the 30+ mile recent record some time earlier in the ride.

I probably could have done it as long as I didn’t rush, but the idea of staying out on the trike for another 3 hours or so didn’t have much appeal. I was starting to feel the fact I’d only had only a few nuts. Maybe with an earlier start. Something more ‘meal like’ to break up the day would probably help too. Nuts and fruit can only take one so far.

I definitely was going to call it done when I reached Hökhuvuds Church.

Uppland’s Rune Carving #598

On a long glide down a gentle hill, relaxing and enjoying the cooling feel of the wind, when a sign leaped out at me. ‘Runsten’. I had to hit the brakes hard, looking for the distinctive shape. Then I realized, I’d seen it before though never on the trike. The runes weren’t carved on a stone. They were carved on a flattened bit of bedrock. The very earth itself was the runestone.

Red definitely was not a good color with which to highlight the runes on this carving. The paint kind of faded into the rusty hue of the rock face.

I can’t remember exactly when it was we first drove by Uppland’s rune carving #598. The sight of it definitely triggered a clear memory of driving along, turning back and me getting out to take photos of it. I even want to say my dad was with us, so that would be in 2008, probably when we were on our way into Dalarna on a sight seeing trip.

As I came closer to Hökhuvud, the road had gotten busier, so I was cautious pulling out from the stone and onto the road again.

From the runestone until I reached the end of the road where it met the busier 288. I remembered the area around Hökhuvuds Church being heavily trafficked. Enough so, that I often felt frustrated by my desire to ‘collect’ the church on a trike ride, but unwilling to risk my life for it kind of thing.

There appear to have been changes since the last time we drove by the church on our way to Sing Island. A bike lane was added to the side of the road. No physical separation from traffic, just a white painted line, but that’s more than what it used to be. I scurried across and made it safely to the church.

Hökhuvuds Church

I rolled to a stop at Hökhuvuds Church and… I was blissfully alone. Well, aside from the constant traffic on the street. But no one wandered the churchyard or the like. I called Jens to let him know where I was and got my rump in gear to get the drone up before anyone strayed along to ruin the plan.

It was actually a good spot for the drone. The trees close by were short as trees go and not very many of them. An open field flanked the church so plenty of room to maneuver.

I had a bit of fun flying around there. At first I was a bit nervous, sending the drone up higher to try and get a good angle over the top of the small trees that were blocking the view of the church when I first went up with it.

Oland’s River, not the Fyris, believe it or not.

Then there was a river of course, adding its own special accent to the scenery. Not the Fyris which was a surprise.

Once I was done flying the drone as far as I dared, I brought it down, packed it up, and proceeded to strip everything off the trike in readiness for Jens’ arrival.

It had been a pretty good day, especially since I finally got to fly at a church. The first since Järlåsa Church back in May. I’m also getting a bit bolder with it. But then I’ve been getting significantly more practice with it of late. The past 2 months, I’ve probably flown my drone more than all of last year. Dare I even say, more than I’ve used it in all the rest of the time I’ve had it? Not impossible honestly. Kinda sad to think about.

So, here I am about to hit ‘Publish’ on another long ride post at 6:40 pm, June 14th. Tomorrow, Monday, June 15th, the trike goes to the cycle shop. I think I mentioned in the post about my ride on May 31st, the right brake pad doesn’t have much grab left in it. Hardly enough to bring me to a prompt stop even if I’m not heading down any kind of a hill. So, need to get that fixed and get my gears tweaked again too.

So, here’s to coming rides. Not sure if I’ll go for a long ride next weekend as it’s the saddest day of the year – Midsummer. From then until December 20th or so, the days will be getting shorter. *mournful sigh* While Midsummer isn’t as bacchanalian as Valborg (pre-pandemic) is, there’s still quite a bit of drinking. I’d rather not end up as a greasy smear because one of the 1000’s of extra drunk people on the roads hits me.



Just… WOW!
June 8, 2020, 10:42 am
Filed under: Day Rides

After my ride on May 31st, I needed most of Monday, June 1st to recover. I’d been on paved roads for 99.5% of the ride which was a nice change from the previous gravel rides.

June 2nd through to the 4th, I kept planning to go for early rides on my local hamster tracks. Get out about 4 am, probably be back before the cycle paths got crammed with people who have no idea how to keep distance from others sort of thing.

Well, the weather kept nixing that idea. June. Frost. Not two words that typically go together. But the 2nd and 3rd were in the mid-30’s when I woke up and there was frost in the shadowy spots. I still have that aversion to go out into the cold during ‘warm’ months. Of course, then it warmed up to almost 65 during the rest of the day. That meant I didn’t want to ride because I didn’t want idiots blocking my way and coughing on me as I tried to squeeze past.

June 6th is Sweden’s ‘National Day’, and Adobe gave everyone Friday off to make a long weekend. I had no plans to go for a ‘out there’ ride, but with the forecast saying it was supposed to be in the 40’s about the time I wake up, I planned to do the early local ride.

Jens changed that. He was getting up at 7 am on June 5th to go swap tires on his parents car. Later, he was going to do their and our shopping. He was almost pushy about the idea that I go ride. Either he could drop me off somewhere within a half hour of our place, or I could do a ‘pick a direction and ride from home’ thing. To save my honey from more time in the car, I opted for ‘pick a direction’.

It was just before 8 am when Jens dropped me off at the garage. As I put everything on the trike, I pondered my choices. Any where toward the city center, of course, was out. So, I could go toward Gamla Uppsala and pick one of several choices from there. Or, I could head out on Old Börje Road which would also give me a multitude of options at different points.

Been a while since I’ve seen these gray sky lumps.

I felt more like heading west than out past Gamla Uppsala for some reason, so off on the first portion of the River Loop I went.

It was a glorious morning. By 9 am it was in the mid-50’s F. There was almost no wind and that early, the sun wasn’t very harsh. Also, the clouds were multi-level. Lower gray-ish puffs drifting above the trees with a higher, thin veil above them,which I hoped would keep the sun muted enough to not fry me.

And the colors! Last week’s ride had some summer shades of green and flowers. Just 5 days and there was very little of anything I would call ‘spring green’. It had all deepened into those darker, richer hues that announce summer’s arrival.

On Old Börje Road, I was surprised. Even right from the beginning on that steep hill up from the New Börje Road, I was stronger and faster. I’ve been needing my 40 tooth granny gear with the 22 front ring. I tackled it on 2 rings down from the 40. So, 3rd gear instead of 1st? I honestly can’t remember when I could do that.

Yes, the barn again, but the rock with flowers!

When I came down from the hill to the gentler road beyond, I was still strong and fast. As long as the grade was less than 3%, I was cruising along at 9 mph or faster.

I’ve been able to do that fast, but how long would it last?`It did feel different though. I felt good. Really, really good.

I’m not so accustomed to the trike feeling so much like flying when not rushing down a hill. I reveled in it like in the days of old.

I slowed down as I came up to the yellow house, trying to see if there was any improvements. I think one of the windows has been replaced. About 100 yards past the house, is a large old farm building I’ve always liked. I noticed it’s actually had a fresh coat of paint on the white trimmed windows and doors.

Annoyingly though, about the time I came up to the cross-road, Mother Nature was starting to clear her throat. I pulled over at the bus stop to make decisions. If I went left, I knew of a spot, tucked out of site from the road to answer the call of Nature. Right would take me out toward Ulva Mill. Straight, of course, would take me to Börje.

I decided against Ulva. Left would take me toward Läby and two choices. One to head back into Uppsala or I could ride out toward Vänge, which somewhat toward the area of the last 3 rides, just not out from Uppsala so far.

Börje Church – April 2010

I was drawn more toward Börje though. So, off I sped toward the first church I’d ever ridden the trike to.

Besides, I had the drone with me and wanted to toss it up there to see if I could get some good photos.

My pace continued to be amazing, right along with my strength and stamina. 6 miles and I was still feeling better than any first mile on my rides for the entire year.

It just boggled my mind. Once when I was complaining about how wrecked all my 2 years of hard work with 3-4 times a week at the gym, someone mentioned to me that, as long as it wasn’t silly long time before I started trying to build back up, it would go much faster than it had over those 2 years before the cold, busted rib, dying dog, and pandemic ruined my gym record.

Maybe that was true and my strength and speed on June 5th was from that. It was amazing.

I reached the church and rolled into the parking lot. But there was a problem. I got up and I really needed a bathroom. I was doing the ‘I Gotta Pee’ Boogie as I tried to focus on the church and what might be the best angles for drone shots. I gave up for the moment and dashed around in search of a restroom servicing the church, but no luck.

That required some thought. Was it wise to attempt a drone flight when distracted and twitching around with the ‘Gotta Pee’ dance? Given my fledgling skills at flying it and the number of trees around, not really.

Sheep and lambs!

I dropped back into the trike and pushed off as fast as I could, aiming for the outhouse at Old Farm. Pedalling the trike with a full bladder is uncomfortable, but it had to be done. The area near Börje church is all fields or houses tucked in the little woody patches with no real areas to get out of sight of the road.

I was glad I was faster and stronger, but that still felt like a LONG two miles.

I couldn’t fling myself from the trike or hustle across the lawn to the outhouse fast enough to suit me. Yet, when I opened the door, I had to pause. There on the floor was a dead yellowjacket.

Not good. I listened. Nothing. I eased in and spotted another dead one in the wash basin. Still no buzzing. I turned to latch the door and spotted a small nest, about the size of a pingpong ball in upper corner. I had to risk it though.

Old Farm from on-high!

Nature’s call answered, I went back to the trike and got the drone up.

I was thrilled to get photos of the little farm from above. Some didn’t come out too well, with a washed out sky and the buildings too dark. Maybe once I get better at flying, I’ll convince myself to take more time fiddling with the camera settings. At least the one overlooking the main buildings came out decent!

Then I sat down at the picnic tables to decide the next course of action. I flipped around on Google Maps with my phone.

Just loved this view of the pasture behind Old Farm

I was still on one of my country loops and would be for a few miles more no matter which way I took. On Old Farm side of the 272, a dirt road lead off to Jumkil Church which could be fun to get drone photos with. On the other side of the 272 I would have a choice of east or north west.

Jumkil would have to wait because if I headed toward the 272, there was the big hill with the bridge and sharp curve at the bottom running through a burial ground. I’ve wanted to get drone pictures of that since the day I bought the drone.

Once out of Old Farm, I rarely pedal once I tip over the crest of the ridge. Over half a mile of gliding and, if one doesn’t chicken out like I do, it’s possible to hit speeds in excess of 27 mph. I settle for about 20 mph.

My mind was already buzzing with glee at the thought of finally getting the drone over the burial ground. I was probably a bit too worked up about it by time I found a spot I could get the trike enough out of the road and I thought far enough from the blind spot of the hill.

I should have calmed down and taken the time to do better. Live and learn.
Trike and burial ground in background

When getting a new phone to replace my Galaxy Edge (whichever), I research for one with the supposed best visibility in sunlight. It was the Samsung folding phone which cost more than my high end desk top did when it was new. So, I went with 2nd best of Galaxy Note 10+. Though it’s brighter than most phones, it can still be hard to tell how good or bad photographs with the drone come out until I get home.

There is a DJI drone specific monitor which functions the same as phones do, but it extremely bright. Supposedly works awesome in the most intense sunlight. Of course, you pay out the nose for that puppy. Still, I think wistfully of such from time to time.

After the burial ground, I had intended to send the drone up at Åkerby Church. Didn’t happen. There was too much activity around the church. Some restoration (I hope) or renovation (I hope not) work going on.

By time I crossed the 272 and made to the next steep drop into a stream’s gully, I had decided where I was going and which way to get there. Ärentuna Church. Adjacent to that church’s parking outside it’s graveyard wall is a burial ground and remains of an ancient settlement. A few times I’ve wanted to fly my drone over that spot, as well as get a high shot of the church, for quite a while.

Before reaching the roundabout which would take me to Marsta and across the busy road, I had a silly little event that began with something near panic but ended with a ‘awwwwww’ of cuteness.

Too darn cute!!!

Rolling along a shady spot with some old buildings around and lovely birch trees, I spotted something in my peripheral vision that looked black and yellow, hovering to the side. My first thought was ‘Yellowjacket!!!’. I leaned away, but moved with me, only strangely. That’s when it hit me. It couldn’t be a yellow jacket because there was no buzz.

Stopping, I carefully removed my helmet to find it was something that looked like an inch worm, but yellow and black in color instead of green. It was dangling from my Da Brim by a silken thread like a spider. To get it off, I lightly brushed the tall grass by the trike to stick it in there.

As the grass rustled, there was a burst of black feathers and a bird awkwardly flapped off 3 yards before looking back at me with all the indignity a jackdaw fledgling could muster. Delightfully, he just sat there as I pulled out my camera and took his picture. He didn’t even flutter when I moved on.

Uppland’s Runestone #1089

The road between a spot on the map named Forkarby and the busy Gävle Highway was busier than I liked. Two full lanes and it felt as if it was a near constant stream of traffic. During that hectic stretch, there was a runestone. I pulled off into a driveway and scurried over the road to get a picture of it in spite of being convinced I’d probably collected it years ago.

Turns out, this might have been my first time seeing U#1089. No hint of it was to be found in my many years of photographs.

One drawback from these spontaneous kinds of rides is that I probably miss a lot. it’s rather hard to research all the archaeology in a 20+ mile radius of our apartment. Even if I do manage that a lot of what is close to the roads I ride isn’t visible. Ancient house foundations are often overgrown with trees if not robbed out completely. So, it starts to become something of a balancing act of trying to find what’s worth seeing and not wasting time hunting around for something that only remains in soil samples or historical records.

So glad it’s less than a quarter mile to the turn.

The Gävle Highway was busier than the road I’d just come off. That’s understandable though. It actually used to be the E4 before they constructed the current, 4 lane, American Interstate style highway that claimed the E4 title years ago. Seems weird, I can actually remember the time before that bigger road opened. The traffic through Uppsala was insane.

I made it across to the narrow shoulder. It didn’t stay narrow long, which was a blessing. There was a lot of traffic, but they gave me as much room as they when passing. Even with all that, the extra speed and strength discovered on this ride was so nice. It made that 0.25 mile of unpleasantness that much quicker.

Turning on the quieter country road, I felt quite upbeat as I pushed on at the brisk pace. By that time I’d done over 13 miles. The past 4 rides or so my knees have bothered me. The first of the 4 most recent, it was about mile 11. The second was about mile 12-ish give or take. The last one, I think there was some knee complaint at about mile 13 or 14.

Not this time. I felt strong and fresh and raring to race on.

Just before the turn to Ärentuna Church, there’s a burial ground. I thought about sending the drone up or looking around, but I’ve seen it before and just wanted to get to the church. It turns out, there’s more to that spot than meets the eye. A runestone or two as well as an old road and a bridge along with the usual mounds and sod covered stone settings. I guess I’ll have to go that way again at some point to chase the runestones down at the very least.

*grumble*

The last few hundred yards to the church, my upbeat enthusiasm was replaced with disappointment. The main burial ground by the parking which also contains the foundations of an old settlement, was once fenced in with wire and wood. You went through a to a sort of barricade that sheep and cattle couldn’t manage. Well, that was gone and replaced with electric wires. Where the ground had always been empty the 2-3 times I’d been there.

It was what was in that fenced area that bummed me. Horses. There was no way I’d be flying the drone anywhere around the church with those two there. Also, there were about a dozen people sitting at tree shaded picnic tables just beside the electric fence. That would have stopped my drone flight as well, so it was a double whammy.

My new friend.

I got up and went to look for a way in. But where the original animal barricade had been, just a few boards remained and there seemed to be no other way through the fence from that side. Just kept getting better, didn’t it?

As I stood frustrated, the horses curiously wandered over. The brown one came first, but not within reach, before it wandered over to the grass to graze. The black one though. He came right up where I stood at the boards which interrupted the electric wire. Much to my surprise, he reached over the slats and pressed his head against my torso.

Ärentuna Church

Frustration and disappointment evaporated as I melted at such sweetness. I’ve always been crazy about horses and this gorgeous boy amplified it with his bid for attention. I, of course, found a spot at the base of the jaw where it joins the neck and scratched. It was his turn to melt. Must have been 5 minutes before he went to go graze again.

Uppland’s Runestone #1014

Back on the trike, I rolled toward the bell tower. That’s when it hit me. A memory of being there with Loke and him sitting with the trike in front of the bell tower as I went to walk around the church. While I’ve been to the church on the trike alone, last year as a matter of fact, Loke was was still alive then. This was my first time with him gone.

That memory heavy in my mind, I took a moment to go into the bathroom for a sunscreen touch up.

Uppland’s Runestone #1015

As I work on this portion of the post, I’m just surprised at the fact that there are no photos or even a mention of this church and its runestones in the blog. I’m pretty sure I rode here last year solo on a long outing that came up through Storvreta and then over to this church, then off toward Skuttunge and maybe even all the way home. Just so weird. Did I really do a long ride to this place and not mention it? Given how sick I’d been of trying to make rides on my River Loop hamster track interesting, it’s hard to believe I’d miss such an opportunity for a real ride report.

The detested sunscreen applied, I went back out where a woman with a little dog was pulling a wagon full of big, green plastic watering cans. As we started a quick chat about how hot it was and the trike, it occurred to me that she didn’t look as if she was tending just a grave or two, but the other landscaping around the church. I took a chance. “Is the church closed?”

Photo of the best preserved murals in the porch, ruined by bad lighting.

“It’s open,” she answered. “We had some visitors, but they just left and I was about to close it. Would you like to go see the inside while I eat my lunch?”

She did not have to offer twice. I gushed about how thrilled I was to see inside as I wrestled my handlebar bag off the trike. She gave a happy laugh, saying she just loved to see people excited to go inside the church. I thanked her again, wished her a good lunch and rushed in while waving.

As I stepped into the porch, I was floored by the sheer number of murals. Then I was annoyed by the lighting. The source was from a kind of glassed in drop-pendant style. It was fairly dim, but worse, were the stark lines of shadows thrown across the walls from the metal framework holding the glass panes of the light fixture. I tried using the flash, but that just left the images blown out and unusable.

From the back looking forward

It’s a pity, because the images were interesting, some of them a little different than most I’ve come across. The best of the pictures in the porch I took that I share here was of the newborn Christ receiving the three wise men which is rather standard.

On another panel was an image of a type I’ve not seen before. Several figures sat at a table. Perhaps it was supposed to be the last supper, but only six clearly human were seated. Behind them lurked bestial figures, peering over their shoulders. Sins? Temptations? Demons?

Looking to the back

Above the table and its people and demons was what looked like a document, but the lettering was too faded to make out as it fit around a bestial figure. In one ‘hand’ it held a goblet, and in the other some kind of narrow, triangular object.

Baffled by the strange murals, I stepped into the church proper. My jaw dropped. Except around the inside of the window casements, there wasn’t a single square foot of wall that didn’t have some part of a painting on it, whether it was just ornamentation or scene from a Bible story, or something more sinister.

One of the ‘devouring’ beasts with demons in its maw

Once the surprise from the paintings passed, I noticed the little pipe organ practically at my shoulder. It might be that Ärentuna church is the smallest of the country churches I’ve ever been lucky enough to see inside. I thought Jumkil was small, but even it was still large enough to put its organ in a loft.

I took my time to look the murals over as I took photos. The imagery of demons an animalistic humanoids continued on the inside. Strangest were what I’ll call the ‘devouring beasts’, one of which seemed to be trying to swallow Christ, or a saint, while demons waited in its mouth.

There were demons with flails lurking about. In one corner where a vault started, a strange face looked out across the church. It was too faded to make out more than anguished or terrified eyes and a nose. Very strange. And you know, there was not a single angel that I could find. A skeletal figure in another corner. Beasts and demons, saints, other Biblical figures, sure. But not a so much as a wing tip of an angel.

Another pulpit with a sacristy entry.

I’ve seen other churches with paintings of figures that weren’t clearly human, but not to this extent. The one that comes to mind had a painting of a ship with human figures sailing up to a shore while horned and snouted figures in crude garments hailed them from land. But the Ärentuna murals seemed to have demons and beasts tucked in all over. I imagined the priests of the past for this church being the ‘fire-and-brimstone’ types.

I felt a bit bemused by the strangeness of the paintings as I left the church. I’ve been awed my the old murals in the churches, but this was more of a discombobulated feeling. They were still amazing and beautiful. I guess I felt the same way about looking at them as I do with Salvador Dali’s paintings.

I would have liked to thank the woman once more for letting me see inside the church, but she was no where to be found. I parked in a shady spot to decide where to amble off to next.

Thanks to getting inside Ärentuna church, I had my appetite whetted. Churches called. There wasn’t anything in the direction of Storvreta, except the possibility I could ride back home. That felt kinda boring. I could also cut back over to Bälinge. Again, felt boring. Both are places I’ve ridden around so much. I could also go to Björklinge. I’ve ridden there less, but still felt somewhat recent.

Honey suckle and invasive, renegade lupins that escaped eradication.

Then the name Tensta on Google Maps caught my eye. It’s a large country church and I remember the scenery being nice in the area. I’d been there perhaps twice in 14 years and it was probably 8 years or more since the last time. I remembered some of the roads between Ärentuna and Tensta were unpleasantly large though. Well, I could always try, particularly since the first busy road was only after 4 miles on nice, quiet country lane.

A smithy? Maybe?

There were memories, ghost-like, of Loke beside me over those 4 miles even though I believe I’ve only ever ridden it once. There was the spot when we saw a hare and Loke pulled the trike into speeds of more than 15 mph even after it stopped teasing us and disappeared in a ditch.

Further down, that place where a tree shaded pasture fence came up to the edge of the road and three 1 year old calves rushed over to say hello. One of them licked the top of Loke’s head, which he didn’t like, while the others shoved each other around to get petting from me. They even mooed forlornly after us as we moved on.

There were changes though. Like part of the pasture with the calves had been cleared of rocks and trees, ground flattened and ugly white blocks of modern, suburban like houses put up close enough anyone living in one could hear the neighbor’s TV. Ah, country life.

Of course, at Ärentuna, between my ride last year and this visit, they had taken down a bunch of the trees lining the gravel path leading to the church door too.

It turned out that the first mile on the busy road I remembered wasn’t actually on it. Pretty sure it wasn’t there when Loke and I came through years ago. For over a half mile, there was a dedicated and isolated cycle path beside it. When the path ended, there was a sort of little country road that splintered off and then rejoined further down for another half mile or so. The cycle path was all uphill, but it made up for it by letting me go ‘wheeee’ on the little side lane.

Then I was on the busy road I remembered. While there was no way I could match the 70 kph speed limit, it felt less of a hinderance since I was able to do 10-11 (17 kph) mph even with a gentle incline rather than 3 mph (5 kph). Over 18 miles and I still felt strong and raring to go. Not even the least little twinge from either knee.

Uppland’s Runestone #1043

Then I reached a spot where I had to scoot across the lanes to reach a dirt track. There was a runestone there by the road and I wasn’t sure if I’d collected it.

Good thing I did. No trace of U#1043 in my photos or blog.

You know. I wonder if the reason there’s no mention of my first visit to Ärentuna and this runestone in the blog with Loke, is because it was in 2008, the year before I started blogging. Would make sense. Doesn’t explain last year though.

Anyhoo, as I went to leave, I have a habit of back-pedalling the trike, or rolling it back a bit to get the pedals in good position to more easily get my right foot up. On this ride, for some inexplicable reason, the chain kept threatening to jump to the inside of my smallest front chainring. Well, it made good on its threat that time. I wound up sitting in the dust, getting my hands all black with grease to wrestle it back onto the ring.

Naturally, I had nothing to clean my hands with. I settled for rubbing them furiously in the dry dirt/dust of the ground to get the worst off before getting even more off by scrubbing hands on my tights. Good thing it was one of my older pair that is on the verge of retirement.

After that delight, when getting back on the trike, I pushed the trike forward to adjust the pedals and locked the back wheel to prevent it rolling backwards as I sat. Annoying. I also had to take great care not to back pedal during other times. It’s probably a very bad habit any way, but honestly, it’s necessary sometimes with my knees.

Go me!

Just before I pushed out into traffic again, I happened to look at my Garmin. Wouldn’t you know it? At some point along that busy road before the runestone, the ride had become my longest for the year by more than a mile. And I still had plenty in the tank.

As gravel roads go, this one’s pretty good. Better than on the last recent rides especially!

The passing cars were polite as I went back out on the road. Honestly, so were the trucks, but they were so big and, at speeds in the 70-90 kph range, they felt close no matter how much space they were able to give me.

After passing the access ramps for the E4, the amount of traffic eased considerably. Even so, it was with great relief when I turned the trike onto a gravel road.

At first, I was unhappy with the idea of gravel after rides on May 17th and May 22nd. I even looked at my maps to see how much more of the busy road I’d have to take.

1 mile. Hmm. While I was faster, I didn’t know if I wanted to deal with that much traffic for another mile. I took a closer look at the gravel surface and realized it was actually good. Gravel in the middle on on the sides, but between those strips, the surface was smooth and hard packed. Rattling minimum.

Some of the few dandelions still in bloom and more threatening clouds.

It turned out to be pleasant. I was passed only 3 times. Cars, once from each direction each. It was a bit harrowing when for some reason a huge semi appeared on that narrow dirt track. It had been close enough with cars, but when that big truck came by, there was no driveway or passing bay handy. I was half tilted in the ditch as he crept along. There was less than 1 foot between my handlebar bag and those big wheels. That was less than fun.

It hardly made a difference to my speed when I reached paved country lane again. Off in the distance across fields of deep summer green and a sky of puffy clouds, some with gray-about-to-rain bellies, Tensta Church was visible like a beacon.

My pace was still very good as I pushed on for the turn to Tensta. Even after more than 20 miles, it just blew my mind how great, strong, and fast I felt. Even when I was attempting the 5100 km in a year (100 km per year I’d have been alive), and had made it through the first month, I didn’t feel this awesome or quick. Truely, I couldn’t recall when riding felt so… effortless is the most suitable word I suppose.

Not a great photo. I wish I’d found a date for it.

As I crossed the old stone bridge, I pulled off on the other side to go take pictures of it. There’s an old farm holding there that also serves as a B&B, shop, and cafe. When there’s not a pandemic any way.

I love this spot. I’d stay here if it wasn’t so close to home.

The bridge which crosses a pretty little brook in a series of vaults. To one side is the grounds for the B&B and they’ve set it up as a lovely spot for guests. Charming wooden foot bridges crossing the burbling waters from bank to little islets in the middle of the water.

If I’d found a place like this on a trip Jens and I made, I’d be thrilled to bits. I do admit though, that I have found some pretty amazing places to stay on some of our trips. Like the one up at Nordkap. Cute little village of only 100 residents and our hosts were the most lovely people.

Tensta Kyrka – 2010

Memory ghosts of Loke were with me still as I rolled up to the church. It surprised me, how I teared up looking around, especially toward the bell tower.

Loke and I had arrived at the church and to the side, there’s a little open-air museum area with some old buildings. We were wandering around, so I could get photos. All of a sudden, there was a burst from a hedge and a hare stopped for a split second practically at our feet.

Before we could react, it did this weird leap into air and ran in 2 circles or so, sometimes as close as a yard from Loke’s jaws. Then it did that bizarre hop again, to do the same in the opposite direction.

Tensta-Upplands Rune Stone #1034

I remembered standing there, bemused and wondering how on earth hares survived if they did such silly stuff so close to dogs. As it bolted off toward a distant fence line at last, I looked down at Loke. He was just standing there, looking as befuddled as I, with a tilt to his head. After about 2 seconds, it occurred to him he should chase it and lunged.

I had to laugh. I guess that’s how hares survive in those situations. They just baffle potential predators.

Tensta – Upplands Runestone #1036

While the memory made me smile, it was still bittersweet. I have noticed though that as time goes and I visit the places with Loke memories, the sting of grief becomes less. Perhaps doing such rides in places like this is a good thing, beyond the exercise and miles and scenery.

Tensta – Upplands Runestone #1035

I stopped at the parking lot in front of the church with a frustrated sigh. In the churchyard, an elderly woman worked lovingly on neatening up several graves. I wasn’t comfortable buzzing around the church with the drone as she worked. It felt too disrespectful.

Not sure what this was originally used for.

Instead, I got up to see if the church was open. No luck there. The woman didn’t seem to be finishing up anytime soon. When another car rolled to a stop in the parking lot, I gave it up as a lost cause.

A few yards down from the parking lot, I did stop to get photos of the museum buildings. Not sure why I didn’t in the past, but then my motivations in previous years are often a bit baffling.

See The Way She’s Eyeing Loke?? – 2010

Just a few yards further on and prompted by a ‘Gravfält’ (Grave Field) sign, I tuned left onto a gravel road.

Loke memories where there too and knew exactly the grave field that I rolled toward. The ride I remembered but was doing in reverse was from September 2010 and I titled it ‘Dr. Dolittle Should Have Been There’. It was such a day full of random animal encounters.

One of those animal memories was arriving at Gödåkers Burial ground and finding a few cows in it with calves. I really wanted to go in and look at the stones, to get some better photos than could be had from the road. But the mamma cow with a shy, black bull-calf was not gonna let a white, wolf looking husky into the field with her baby. Every time I went to the barricade, she came over to block it. Several times, she lowered her horns at Loke in clear warning. It was both funny and frustrating.

As I pedalled down the graveled way, I wondered if there were going to be cows in the burial ground pasture again.

Nope! The pasture which contained the bulk of Gödåkers Burial Ground was empty. On the other side of the dirt lane, however were 5 half grown bull-calves.

I almost didn’t launch the drone with the 5 little bulls standing there, staring at me in the cute way curious young cows have. I didn’t want to panic them into injury. Then again, they hadn’t panicked over the sight of the trike, which often freaks out horses. Cattle don’t tend to be quite as spooky as horses.

After having been thwarted from flying the drone at both Ärentuna and Tensta Churches, I decided to risk it. I’d launch the drone a couple feet off the ground. If the cows spooked, I’d bring it down immediately.

I watched the cows as I hit the launch function which brings the drone to about 4 feet off the ground into a hover. The buzz made all 5 of the bulls startle a little. They stood for 2-3 seconds with their heads down, stock still in surprise. Then, as if synchronized, they abruptly relaxed and returned to normal standing postures, staring at me again. Didn’t so much as twitch an ear at the drone after that.

Drone’s view of Gödåkers Burial Ground. Several standing stones and burial circles.

The cows indifferent to the buzz of the giant hornet like device, I was almost cocky as I sent it off. There was the wire fence and just a few feet above that, a power line. I sent the drone zipping between fence and power line and then meandering off between some of the low trees before pushing it a bit higher up for pictures. The most daring I’ve been with the drone since ever.

I found it interesting that the name ‘Gödåker’ may derive from ‘Gudhiuaker’ which literally translates to ‘Field of the Goddess’. I wonder which goddess if that’s true. Freya? Gefion? Sif? Someone predating Norse pantheon?

Road through the burial ground. Standing stones to both sides and a few cairns on the right.

The bull calves hardly looked away from me the whole time. It was as if I was some unique puzzle they were pondering over. Even after I turned the trike around and sat down to look at Google Maps for my next destination, they only stood at the fence line and watched. I probably should have gotten a photo of them, but hindsight and all that.

Loke memories had pretty much chosen my next destination by then. I only wanted to check the distance. On that ride in September 2010, Jens had dropped Loke and I off at a nearby manor house called Salsta. From the grave field, it was almost 4 miles on the nose.

It beckoned, but I resisted.

I’d done about 24.5 miles by that point and still felt damn good. There was some weariness starting to make itself known, but it was quite minor and my legs and knees felt fine. I was gonna head for Salsta Manor.

Those 4 miles got a bit harder the further into them I got. About mile 26 one of my knees started to grumble some. Not enough for me to even consider stopping, but it did make me go with more care.

Not to mention when a random path through the trees caught my eye, I decided against it. It would have felt ridiculous to have fallen short of the manor house because riding on roots and pine needles wore me out or caused my knees hurt too much to continue.

I was very much looking forward to getting the drone up at the manor house.

The first sign I was getting close to Salsta was the sight of the big yellow stables in the distance as I crested the brow of a hill. It was welcome to see. It meant I was close to the manor, but also being at the top of a hill I could just glide down. Coming up on mile 28, something like exhaustion had finally caught up with me. My knees felt achy and I was close to running on fumes. It probably didn’t help that all I’d had to eat in about 8-9 hours was my morning smoothie and a few pieces of pecans.

The old stables that once had a library and smoking room

Tipping over the crown of the hill, I let gravity do the work until I reached the bottom where I stopped to take a quick photo of the stable. It’s quite impressive. The date over the doors in black iron numbers is 1931, but I seem to remember it predating that. It also used to be bigger, housing not only the manor’s horses, but a library and an oriental smoking room. I wonder if that means opium?

The same river as goes through Uppsala. Just much smaller.

The bridge going over the thin thread of water, that believe it or not, was the Fryis River. Yep. A sluggish movement of water not even big enough for me to turn around my kayak was the same as the one through the city of Uppsala, big enough for sizable tour boats.

I smiled a bit tearfully at the bridge. The last time I was there, Loke had gone completely bonkers when a mink (of all things) had scampered over the river on the bridge. I was so excited to see the mink, once Loke had calmed down I’d called Jens to babble about it.

My mind worked overtime on the final approach to Salsta castle down its long gravel lane. It wasn’t just the possibility of flying the drone I mulled. My Garmin was sitting at about 28.5 miles. That bugged me.

Salsta Slott – September 2010

Then I was distracted from those thoughts. There was a small residence near the parking lot for the castle, but also a road boom was down across the final approach. It was too low and no way for me to get the trike around it. I considered a few minutes just going for a walk to get closer to the castle for a quick up and down with the drone.

No, by that point, I was too tired to go stomping around carrying my handlebar bag and my drone case. It was annoying and I just wasn’t confident enough to send the drone up, perhaps irritating the people in the house so close, while flying over some very tall trees to get a good view of the manor on high.

Disappointed, I considered just stopping in the parking lot and calling Jens. That 28.5-ish miles on my Garmin taunted me though. “So, close to 30 miles,” a little voice whispered in my head. “You’re not as tired as you were on last ride of 19.8 miles. What’s another mile and a half? Ya know ya wanna.”

Durnit, that whisper was right. I thought maybe I’d just ride up and down the dirt lane a while to get the miles. Decided that would drive me insane in short order. So, I rode to the end of the drive, took a right and pushed slowly and uncomfortably up the hill. Almost immediately, there was another right turn and a sign forbidding motorized traffic. That was for me!

In 1600’s, all this was a lake. By 1850’s, the lake was gone

Not far down the turn, it turned into a downhill glide. It didn’t seem too steep though, so I let it go. Off to the right, was a strange sort of landscape I’m not sure I’ve seen in Sweden before. It was utterly flat except for these big dense clumps of bushes. They were the size of small houses at times.

I thought it likely that the open ground with the strange growth of bushes was perhaps the old lake bed where the Fyris River had widened. Salsta Manor had originally been built on a peninsula after all. Just a few centuries ago, the Fyris River was large enough to serve as a transportation route for boats carrying goods this far, and perhaps even up to its source in Österbybruk.

Once far enough that was I certain to be over 30 miles when back at the manor’s parking, I turned back and started the slow climb up the gentle hill. Even though it was after 4 pm, the sun had been gone for more than an hour, leaving me a bit chilled, I didn’t rush it. It would have been silly to break myself in the last 0.75 of a mile.

I watched the Garmin and the moment the counter hit 30.00 miles, I gave a cheer, stopped, and took a photo.

I was over the moon. While there was a time when a ride of less than 30 miles was hardly worth getting out for, it had been so long since I’d done so well. I truly couldn’t say when the last time was.

I had a huge, silly grin on my face as I rolled to a stop in the parking lot with 30.48 miles.

Leave it to my Garmin to deflate my joy somewhat. When I hit end ride and then save it, a screen popped up, ‘New Distance Record!’ and listed that my old distance record was 29 and some miles. Before I saw when that was, the screen was back to the usual home screen.

I’ve had the Garmin Edge 1000 for some 6 or more years. In all that time, I’d never done a ride over 30 miles?!

Once home and fed with my first real food in over 10 hours, I started scanning down the list of rides on Garmin Connect. I found the ride who’s record I broke. It was in 2015 when I went on a credit card tour on the Kattegatte Route in southern Sweden just a few months after the stroke.

It was dispiriting to see the sheer number of my rides that didn’t even break 10 miles. That holds true even in 2016 which finally my old ‘Best Distance in a Year’ record of about 1200 miles. Most of those 2016 rides were on my River Loop hamster track with some variations going into town for the produce market or the like.

Of course, I broke 30 miles on June 5th and while quite tired by the end of it, and needing most of June 6th to recover, it will hopefully mean I’ll be doing longer rides more often.

Here’s to covering miles!



An Easy Ride (Relatively)
June 2, 2020, 11:51 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

After the brutal ride of May 22nd (rocks. So. Many. Rocks), I wanted to get out for another ride for the last weekend of May that wasn’t quite so harsh. I’ve been saving my adventure rides for the weekends since Jens is freed from the computer after working all week. Working from home and still puts in 50 hours or more.

Saturday was laundry day, supposedly, but I was naughty and ate something I shouldn’t have. Wound up being so severely punished for it that I didn’t even get that done. Teach me to stay away from animal products.

I hoped I’d feel better on Sunday, May 31st and I did. So, I started to plan a ride.

For the past week, give or take, our frosty mornings have been behind us which is nice given it was almost June for pity sake. Of course, even with mornings in the mid-40’s, I’ve not been getting out and riding like I should during the week. I need to change that.

Sunday, May 31st morning was a nice one. It was, again, about 44 F maybe a bit warmer and the forecast indicated temps in the mid 60’s and sunny. I plopped down on the computer to decide where to ride.

I’m quite focused on the area I’d ridden the last 2 times (now 3). Just continuing to push westward from that first ride on May 17th which started on a lonely dirt road next to a runestone. At first I plotted a route that went from Järlåsa church, northward to the intersection at Östfora, only this time, where I went right before, I’d go left. As I explored the possibilities with my various maps (Google, OpenCycleMap, and the Swedish archaeology), a plan was formed. Maybe instead of starting at Järlåsa church again, I start somewhere near that intersection 5 miles north. That would mean I could have 5 miles extra of new ground to use my stamina on. Also, I wanted to ‘collect’ a burial ground on the edges of a town called Morgongåva (Morning Gift).

Järlåsa Church

When the dust cleared, I had a route that would total about 28 miles. It would have been closer to 19, but in a moment of unfettered ambition, I added a 9 mile loop around a lake in the area. I really wanted this ride to be the longest of the year and, since it seemed to be all paved, I was going for broke as it were. It wasn’t a perfect route by my standards, having quite a bit of out-n-backs. Almost 7 miles of it. Anyone who’s read enough of my posts will know how I feel about out-n-backs. But, I was gonna get a burial ground with hopefully a runestone or more and the miles.

While waiting for Jens to wake, I made sure the drone was charged and also plugged in my extra battery pack. He woke about the time I was making my breakfast smoothie, so I had to finish that and it never goes fast. If I try to gulp them, I feel queasy. We didn’t get on the road until after 9:30 am.

Jens was a bit nervous about the area I planned to start. It turns out it was very close to a drug rehab center that is fairly ‘prison’ like. He used the words, ‘Force people into treatment’. He didn’t want me starting within sight of the place.

We found a spot and as I started getting the trike ready, I was annoyed to discover that I’d left the battery pack at home. Jens asked if I had to cancel the ride and poo-pooed the idea. My phone was fully charged and if my Garmin went dead, I was sure I could manage. So, he left me to finish the final touches. I settled into the trike and turned on the Garmin. Immediately, it flashed “LOW BATTERY“. I stared blankly at that before it went dead. And no battery pack. Well, crap.

No Garmin. No Battery. No Problem (I hoped)

It would mean I’d have to do the ride with only my phone for navigation. Most of the way wouldn’t need it, I was sure, but it still made me nervous. Okay. So, phone mostly only for when I needed Google Maps to figure out turns, to call Jens, and fly the drone. I would keep my media posts and photos with it to a minimum.

I absolutely refused to let these little hiccups ruin the day which was shaping up to be nearly perfect from the look of it. The temp was in the mid 50’s with the air feeling just cool enough to be bracing and counter the strong punch of the intense sun. Not a single cloud in the sky. I had miles of lovely little country roads waiting for me.

Site of an old cottage apparently

And apparently more of those little black signs as I found on the May 17th ride awaited me as well.

A bit baffling as to why this was here really. Not like it was an inn or a factory. Just a little cottage where a man had a wife and 4 children. The man and woman passed and one of the widowed daughters moved in for a time, only to be forced to go live in a poor house with the cottage sold off. Nothing of the old cottage here now.

I found it so strange because it was so minor. Not a family of power and influence to fall on hard times. Just, average people living lives that most everyone else in the country lived, with a sad ending for some.

The next stop wasn’t very far either. Just a mile from where I started actually. It was a parking area for a swimming spot at the first lake was I passing near. Just gravel and some cars. Even a few campers where some people had parked and were sitting in lawn chairs and grilling an early lunch.

It was a good spot to re-calibrate the drone which hadn’t been done since it took its bad tumble when I did on May 22nd followed by the paint-mixer style rattling it endured on those rocky roads. So. Many. Rocks. *shakes it off*

I was a bit nervous as I went through the procedure. Not just from worry that the drone was permanently damaged, but also the controller kept giving these loud, piercing beeps that must have carried for miles. It hadn’t been doing that the last times I’ve flown it. There were no obvious alerts scrolling on my phone or the controller, just that intermittent scream. And people nearby of course.

Between the controller’s hollering and the buzz of the drone when it flies, I didn’t do more than launch it up off the ground to about head height and squint at it for 10 seconds or so. Rock steady. Whew.

With the lake nearby, I was eager to find a more isolated spot to get the drone up for a look at the lake. It didn’t appear it would be visible any other way. Too much distance from the road and with lots and lots of trees.

Speaking of trees, I was a tiny bit disappointed that significant portions of the scenery along the road weren’t as nice as I’d seen in Google Street View. Dratted clear cutting.

And finding a spot to launch proved more difficult that anticipated as well. Even in the areas of clear-cut where there were few to none trees, I couldn’t get the trike off the road thanks to ditches. The times when I was ‘lucky’ and had a track or some other spot I could get the trike safe, there was a power line above it offering the double hazard whammy of physical obstacle and electromagnetic interference.

You would have thought I’d learned. At least for a while.

About a mile after I’d fixed the drone, toward the end of the first lake, there was a dirt track running to either side of the road. Signs indicated it was the Uppland’s Trail no less. A network of trails that criss-crosses Uppland (think Swedish State). Another sign pointed to church(something) about 2.5 km away. Interesting. On the south side of the road, closer to the lake, there’d been a clear cut a while back, so not so much in the way of tall trees. Perfect.

Though, wouldn’t you know it, rocks. I didn’t need to go far though. Right?

So just 50 yards or so down from the road, I stopped to send the drone up.

I’m still quite nervous about flying the drone and this first flight of the day was no exception. It was not helped I had trouble keeping eyes on it thanks to the sun. I didn’t want to send it too high or send it off too far and definitely lacked the confidence to send it out over the lake itself. With those limitations, I thought the resulting photos were pretty much a flop. I didn’t even bother to share them on Facebook later in the evening.

Siggefora Lake from above

While perusing through photos for this post, two of the photos were well aligned that they could maybe stitch together in a bit of a panorama. So, I tried it and, I’ll be damned. It looks decent!

After buzzing around nervously and getting a few so-so photos, I brought the drone down. Curiosity tugged at me to continue on down the trail. it looked so cool and inviting and maybe it would come out along side the lake somewhere.

A bit down, there was parking lot and a sign. Not much information about the immediate area though. Just a general sort of blurb about the Uppland’s Trail with no mention of Church-whatever. Leaving the parking lot, I didn’t make it far. There was a road boom. Too low for me to go under. Too wide for me to get around. Saved from my own curiosity, I made the short climb back up the rocky path to the road.

At times, the sky just looks weird being this solid a blue. Looks even more odd in photos.

Except for a bit of nervousness about my phone having to bear the weight of multiple functions on this ride without a battery pack, I found I felt very good on the ride. The scenery was gorgeous though, of course, I still believe that a few clouds would have spruced up the scenery some. At times, I also missed knowing how fast I was going when I found spots that I could hit a good pace. Oh, and lets not forget ambient temperature and gradients on the climbs.

Something else that’s been surprising me on the last 3 rides, is my tolerance for heat. A while back ago, I could have gone riding on a day like May 31st, with its intense sun and moments where the air was still and I would have been suffering. Used to be that, under a hot sun when the air hit anything over 70 F, I felt like an egg in a microwave. It was as if the heat went straight to my bones, amplified and threatened to come bubbling back up until I was gonna spontaneously combust. Flushed hot face, couldn’t breathe, nausea. That sort of heat intolerance.

The nameless lake.

But lately, it’s like the sun feels intense, but never goes much past the surface. Kinda like a Baked Alaska. Outer meringue might be warm and crispy, but the inside is still chill. I might not be thrilled with the impact of the sun on my surface, but at least I don’t feel as if I’m gonna have a heatstroke the moment it hits me. Still not a big fan of warm.

With that, I was quite happy when I left the fields behind for a bit of shaded lane along the lake. At times, even as close as I was to the water, I couldn’t see much due to the density of trees and thickets. The lake isn’t named on the maps. It’s not much longer than Siggefora Lake, but narrower

Shade and oh, the colors!

Such a pretty little lake and, once again, I would have loved to get aerial photos of it with the drone. The problem with trike off the road, open space with no overhead power line persisted, so I had to content myself with shore shots.

It was such a relief that the ‘meat affliction’ from the day before had lifted. May 31st was too glorious a day to be wasted with curled up on the couch and watching TV while suffering. In truth, May 30th was about as nice, but there was that whole laundry thing and the fact I had some of Dylan’s excellent pork to celebrate the fact that accidentally throwing my phone had only cracked the very new screen cover I’d gotten for it.

I’d barely left the last glimpses of the mystery lake behind when I was given another treat. The trees and shade suddenly parted and in the full impact of the sun were horses. So many horses. Nearly as far as the eye could see, open ground covered with barns, pastures, and paddocks with what had to be more than 100 horses total. Dirt roads stretched off into to the distance of the valley dropping off to the left of the road, all flanked by fencing. Even up near the road were smaller paddocks with horses often kept in pairs.

While impressive for the sheer number of horses, it wasn’t very attractive otherwise, so I didn’t bother to take photos. Even with the gentle downhill slope of the road, I took it very slow, chattering and soothing every horse I came across that seemed on the verge of bolting.

They were beautiful. All shiny coats and healthy weight with bright gleaming eyes. Well cared for.

Thought this might have been the next turn. Gave me a pause.

Not having the Garmin with its handy maps made things a bit confusing at times. Once I left the paddocks and pastures behind, I started looking for the northward turn that would take me around the next lake. I actually winced when I saw it. There didn’t seem to be many rocks on it, just the grass strip, but I know that can change in a blink. I pulled out the phone for a Google Maps check.

Maybe apple. Maybe cherry. Undeniably beautiful.

Whew. Wasn’t the turn. That one was actually just shy of 2 miles away. I would have had to think long and hard about that northward lake loop if it had been. But it wasn’t, so onward!

So glad I got out on this day. Just – WOW
Couldn’t get enough of the scenery

This was an amazing time of the year. A mingled combination of things of spring and the stronger, bolder hues of summer. Mostly it was in the trees leaves as most of the spring time flowers have started to fade, except for dandelions. But there were fruit tree blossoms and the spring green of leaves which has that hint of of sunny yellow. Then there’d be trees with the richer green of deep woods with a splash of vibrant blue or purple of a summer bloom.

I did notice the bird vocalizations weren’t as frenetic as it is earlier in the spring. I still heard larks, but it wasn’t like the sky was full of them. There were other amusements to replace the throng of bird song. I was pedalling by a field which hadn’t really started to grow whatever crop may or may not have been planted in it.

Was getting rather whimsical with my pictures.
Not as close a squeeze as it looked.

As I rolled by the acres of dark earth, I heard a distinctive call prompting me to crane my head around in search of the sources. Lapwings. Odd medium sized birds that belong to the plover family. Black and white with a cute little crest at the top of their heads. Their wings are this weird rectangle shape and their flight rivals bats for its erratic nature.

I spotted them, right about the time one of them made a defensive attack. He/she came swooping right at my head and near enough I ducked. I couldn’t help it, I laughed. Part of me disliked I was distressing them so, but the sheer boldness of them delighted me. I hustled on, not wanting to upset them too long even as I scanned the dark dirt for pale, sandy colored puffs running over it which would have been their chicks.

The attacks kept up for a more than 100 yards. One, I think might have come close enough I heard the touch of feathers or the lightest scrape of a beak on my helmet. And then, they were content that they had driven off the attacker. At least they didn’t resort to pooping on me.

As I toodled leisurely over the countryside, savoring the scenery and pausing for photos every 2 minutes (so it felt), my mind was working. The thoughts it pondered were triggered by the sight of that grassy track I had first thought to be the one I needed for the northern lake loop.

A glimpse of the lake I didn’t loop

Really, the lake loop had been an after thought added for extra miles to pad the ride into the ‘longest of the year’. The big draw for the outing had been scenery which had paid off in spades and getting to the burial ground at Morgongåva. The loop was about 9 miles. I started to fret. What if in the middle of the loop, if it ended up being rocks most of the way, I had to call Jens for pick up because I was too tired? I REALLY wanted that burial ground.

The time I reached the turn for the lake loop, I’d talked myself out of it. Even so, it was good to see that it appeared paved, at least at the start, as I passed it. And who knew, maybe I’d still do it if I felt strong enough after leaving Morgongåva once I’d been to the burial mound. There was still quite a bit of ‘oomph’ in me after almost 10 miles. That decision left me quite a bit more relaxed.

It felt like quite a bit of climbing once I passed the lake loop turn. I refused to stress about how the inclines impacted my speed or might tax my strength in the long run.

Interesting the stables were named in English. And not to worry, I moved the trike after the picture.

As I came up to the turn for Morgongåva with a blip on the map tagged with the name of Molnebo, a cluster of interesting buildings caught my attention. I swerved off the road to explore a bit.

Hey! This building turned 100 years old last year!
Loved it!

The buildings were fascinating. Especially the ones that were of a type I’d rarely, if ever, had seen in Sweden. Some, obviously, were the typical timber style painted the Falu red with white trim at windows and doors. But then there was that huge yellow and white one built in 1919. A barn? Hay storage?

A cute bridge crossed the tiny rivulet of water and in one spot, it looked as if there were the footings of a previous bridge perhaps. One cluster of buildings incorporated ruined stone walls which I found extremely intriguing. Sitting so close to the running water, I wondered if it might have been an old mill.

The crumbling stone walls is the remains of an old watermill, I think.

And wouldn’t you know it? It was an old mill! Research didn’t find much except that the manor and surrounds had a new owner as of 2017. Oh, and an old ironworks on the site as well, complete with a big hammer forge as well as a blast furnace. It’s all gone though. A bit of the even older watermill survived, but nothing from the ironworks.

I felt a bit intrusive as I skulked around, trying to find the best angles of some of the buildings for photographs. On one hand, it looked open and inviting, but on the other it looked like a home and no sign of parking for visiting public.

As much of the manor house as I dared to get.

There were signs of horses all around, other than the obvious stables across the road from the drive that is. The little gravel drive up to the bridge was flanked by paddocks with scraps of hay, bits of manure, and hoof prints, though they were currently empty. As I tried to look confident in my explorations just over the bridge, I could see a huge pasture beyond the manor house and dozens of horses.

I had just taken the photo of the manor house, when someone came out of one of the outbuildings that looked to have been converted into a cottage. I didn’t exactly hustle my way back to the trike, not wanting to appear as if I felt I’d been trespassing, but I didn’t linger either.

Honestly, it’s hard to know at times if one is or isn’t trespassing in Sweden. I mean, clearly, if you’re tromping across someone’s small lawn and over the kid’s toys, you are. But on an estate like this? It feels a bit more ambiguous without ‘Privat’ signs.

Leaving Molnebo behind, I made the turn toward Morgongåva. I didn’t seem to have taken any photos on the 2 miles to the town. I guess there wasn’t much to see. Or maybe I was getting too excited about the burial ground to notice what I was passing.

Bike path on fringes of Morgongåva. Horribly unfair. Road with shade. Path with full sun.

As I came into the town though, I do recall that I was starting to feel the ride. It also felt like most of the winding way through it was all uphill. I had to use Google Maps a lot as I worked through the maze. It wasn’t just to get to the burial ground either. The lack of food had me feeling a bit peckish. All I’d had was my morning smoothie and a small handful of pecans after all. A restroom would also have been nice.

Most of such conveniences didn’t seem to be on the end of town with the burial ground, except one summer cafe supposedly right next to it. That, of course, was closed thanks to the pandemic.

Burial ground from ‘Younger Iron Age’ (450 AD to 1050 AD)

The final stretch to the burial ground was a hot one. The open ground around it meant there was some air moving though, which helped, but that sun. Amazes me how intense it can feel this far north.

Uppland Runestone #1174

Molnebo wasn’t even 3 miles away when I rolled to a stop at the burial ground. I’d felt pretty good and still raring to go there, but at the burial ground, I was in the first stages of exhausted.

There wasn’t any proper parking for visitors to the gravefield. Maybe they expect people to park at the cafe and then stroll over. A fair assumption, but it didn’t really help me. Fortunately, by the slap-dash foot bridge of boards and pallets, the ditch was bone dry and very shallow. I just pushed the trike down the gentle slope of the ditch’s side to park it under a birch tree, in the ditch.

Uppland Runestone #1175

Trike out of the way of passing cars, I made the short walk over the fallow field to the runestones for close up photos. Then I went back to the trike where I could use the trike’s seat to put stuff as I fiddled with getting the drone up.

It was rather breezy at ground level around the burial ground and even windier over about 15 meters. It made me cautious. More than usual I mean. Still, I got it up and took a few shots before packing everything up to move on.

Before I did, I sent Jens a text to let him know I was probably going to cut the ride a little shorter. I was feeling pretty rough. So thirsty and water didn’t seem to help. It occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t drink I was craving so much as calories. Instead of going back the twisty way I’d come through Morgongåva, I stuck to the little service road and rolled toward the part of the town that fronted on the 72.

Uppland Runestone #1173

I came up to the intersection at the ‘train station’ of the town and had to wait as a train came to a stop. As I waited for the booms to come back up, a shape caught my eye. At a glance, it looked like a runestone but just a little too ‘finished’. Curious, I went for a closer look.

I was right! The stone wasn’t an original runestone, but a copy. The original is in Princess Gardens, just below the castle in Edinburgh, Scotland.

A click on the photo will bring up more information on the story behind it.

By time I finished taking photos, the train had moved on and the booms had gone up. I scuttled across the tracks to the cycle path along side the 72. Right beside the single platform which is the entirety of Morgongåva’s train station, was ‘the candy shop’ and across the busy road, a pizza and bar.

My last experience with a pizza place’s attempt at vegan kinda put me off that. After my reaction to pork on Saturday, May 30th, I wasn’t going to risk anything with meat or cheese. So, I parked the trike outside the candy shop.

Actually, the shop was a strange combination of things. A surprisingly large shoe section. Some clothing. Oil, filters, wiper blades, and windshield fluid. Other than the obvious bunches of loose weight candy, there were chips and drinks all over the place. A spot in the back even sold flowers and gifts. You could also get some hot food like hotdogs and not sure what else as there was some cafe seating too. Oh, and a restroom. Jackpot!

I settled for a cold soda and a sort of frozen ice-cream (but not cream) thing from the cold case. It was like a pear sorbet onna stick. Truly awful actually. Pear is probably one of my least favorite fruits. Was the best I could figure for staying vegan.

I plopped down in the trike’s seat with my scrapings of calories and chugged half the soda down right away. While waiting for the carbonation to settle and burble into a workable equilibrium in the tummy, an old man started chatting with me about the trike.

There’s a bit of an alcoholic culture in Sweden. Some of the hardcore drinkers will gather in public places to drink the day away. I don’t think the candy store was a drinking spot so much as selling cigs and quick food. This man was one of those people caught in that culture by his addiction. I could smell it and he was a bit wobbly.

A glimpse of Ax Lake

The conversation at first was along the lines of, “That bike looks very comfortable! I bet you can take a nap in it! Or eat lunch! Or read a book.” Then his eyes really brightened, “Or drink!” He really seemed to love the idea of that. 3 wheels, not needing balance and a comfy place to sit while staying drunk.

Finishing my pear horror of a sorbet-cicle, I said farewell to him and rolled on.

I didn’t want to go back through the portions of Morgongåva I’d come through already. It’s a nice enough town, but kinda… I don’t know. It’s mostly just late 1900’s houses and apartment blocks with the occasional shop or other service or such tucked away. Winding back through it to hit the 1.5 mile road I’d come down to arrive in it just felt like too much trouble.

Hoping for a way to get from the cycle path along the 72 and back on that road, I scurried over to said path to hunt a patch shade. Once I found one, with a bit of a view of one of the two lakes at Morgongåva, I pulled out Google Maps.

I was right. There was a break in the protective curb of the cycle path for people to reach the road I wanted back on. There was still about a minute or so when I considered just pushing west on the cycle path which ran all the way to Heby from Morgongåva. Scenery is kinda ‘meh’ mostly because of the constant noise of traffic and sucking exhaust, but I was fairly tired and it was direct and quick, relatively speaking.

No. No. If it took me longer, so be it, but I’d come out for scenery and to have fun. Not endure a cycle path along a busy two lane highway. I pushed on to the break and hustled back across the 72 to head back to Molnebo.

The scenery was nice, heading back north, but it must have been mostly trees with nothing truly eye-catching since there were no photo stops either on the way down to or up from Morgongåva.

Another interesting building at Molnebo
Another view of some buildings at Molnebo

I reached Molnebo and would you believe it, I actually sat at the intersection for a minute or so, looking back to the east, considering doubling back the mile to the turn for the northern lake loop. I was tired and one of my knees was starting to hint that it would disapprove strongly later in the loop if I was silly enough to attempt it, but for a moment it was a possibility.

No. Better I head to Heby which was an hour or more at my pokey pace. Definitely more if I did any photo stops or drone flying.

I crept by a part of Molnebo as I pushed off toward Heby. In the distance there were a couple dozen or more horses wandering in the knee-high, lush grass of a huge pasture. By the road, in a paddock was a pair of horses apart from the others. One a lovely, almost black color and the other a typical brown of most horses. There was a bit of fretting for a few seconds and then, as if a switch flipped between their pointy ears, they were suddenly fearless and curiously standing at the fence to look at me.

Aren’t they lovely?

After chattering at the lovelies for a few moments and certain they weren’t gonna do anything silly that might get them hurt, I moved on.

I must have been quite tired on the way from my second visit at Molnebo to Heby. Almost 4 miles and I only took a couple of ‘down the road’ shots. Granted, the last 2 miles into Heby, I didn’t feel particularly comfortable stopping on a 2 lane road with a 90 kph speed limit and very little shoulder to speak of.

I get a bit ahead of myself though. At one point, before the bigger road which had 2 full lanes, I stopped to give my right knee a bit of a rest as it had started to complain. As I sat there, baking in the strong sun, I heard a mighty noise. The deep rumble of motorbikes. Not the Kawasaki crotchrocket types. I’m talking cruisers and choppers. Some were like the Goldwings. You know, those type of motorbikes that are like the Cadillacs of bikes and probably cost as much. One of those was even a delta trike style (1 front wheel, 2 back) that had a sidecar, all body work in deep burgundy.

But about 30-50 bikes came thundering by me. A good 5 minutes of motorcycle after motorcycle after motorcycle. Must have been a rally or the like going on somewhere.

All told, the number of motorcycles I’d seen over the course of the day was close to 100.

It was with a bit of trepidation that I came to the 2 lane, higher speed road for the final 2 miles into Heby. It didn’t look too bad as I paused at the junction to make sure no one was coming at 100 mph or something silly. I pushed out.

Actually, it was kinda fun. Most of the way was downhill. For something like 1.5 mile, I didn’t even pedal. Mostly because it would have done no good. The 15-17 mph glide was too fast for me to assist. It would have been just useless spinning and risking a leg-suck because I wouldn’t have had enough pressure on the pedals to prevent it. So, I braced my feet and just enjoyed the ‘wheeeeeeeeeeee’

Once in Heby proper, it was a little confusing to find my way to the church, even with the steeple above the trees to guide me. Lots of looking at Google Maps and orienting myself by the view of it over the leaves for me to finally get there.

Västerlovsta Church in Heby

I admit, I winced when I saw it. The building sat high up on a very steep hill, but that’s where I’d told Jens to pick me up. That climb to the front of the church had to be more than an 18% grade. There was no spinning up that sucker. I would have needed a much, MUCH lower gearing to be anywhere near spinning.

Once up on high, it was a bit anticlimactic. Trees blocked most of the view of the church. Just as well, since it looked as if it would have been rather boring thanks to all the renovations that hide any trace of its possible medieval origins under a bland skin 1800’s design. Always feels such a shame to me when I’m faced with that. History pretty much erased from view.

Up on the hill, there wasn’t much room for parking either. Just a couple of handicapped spaces and I felt guilty at the idea of using them to load up. At the bottom of the hill, which I’d ignored in my determination to ‘get to the church’, I saw a good sized parking lot by a small school. Perfect.

If you look VERY closely, you’ll see the only cloud I saw all day.

I texted Jens about the change in plans and tried not to go flying into the street coming down that hideous slope. Having very little friction in my right brake didn’t exactly help. Fortunately, my left one still had plenty of grab.

It was a bit of a wait. Soon, I’m gonna need to take the car and do loops without Jens dropping me off or the poor man will be spending the entire day in the car every time I go for a ride away from the hamster tracks. He’s encouraged this way of doing things for now, helping me build up strength and confidence for bigger and bolder things. Things, by the way which were derailed by the pandemic and a cracked rib keeping me close to home and, worse, out of the gym. I had plans for tours later in the year after Loke’s passing.

Oh, I haven’t forgotten how my 2 years of consistent gym attendance has been ruined. It’s just hard to try and make up for it at home lacking the rowing and weight machines.

Jens finally found me. Once everything was loaded and I flopped gratefully into a seat requiring no pedalling, I was shocked to see what time it was. After 5 pm.

No wonder I was so hungry! And no, I didn’t even pretend that I was going to do my intermittent fasting. I got home and had 2 small, doubled baked potatoes. Vegan of course.



Another Ride of Self-Abuse
May 24, 2020, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

May 17th’s ride on less than 7 miles of gravel road had left me quite worn down. After the ride was over, my knees ached and complained for a few hours. I was surprised that passed before bedtime, truth be told. The muscles felt used and tired, but my knees felt okay and I slept pretty well.

I didn’t ride between the 17th and the 22nd. I can’t recall how good/bad the weather was for some of it. Mostly, it was I focused a bit harder on advancing the spring cleaning. My sister-in-law was coming to stay with Jens and I for a few days in our 600 sq foot 1 bedroom apartment. She’s a lovely woman I adore, like all of Jens’ family and I was happy to accommodate her. We have a decent air bed that inflates with a pump and is very quick and easy to put up and take down. Granted, the only space open enough to accommodate it is the kitchen. Of course, that helped us all since I get up so early and with the kitchen door close, I wasn’t bothering her by emerging at 2 or 3 am with my insomnia to plonk on my computer.

She arrived Wednesday evening, which was perfect timing. Jens was off work thanks to a holiday for Thusday and Friday, so she wasn’t going to be tiptoing around as he did his work calls.

Thursday, May 21st, the weather was almost spectacular. The only thing in my mind that kept it from being a perfect day was it got just a little too warm in the apartment. The sky was absolutely clear, it was pushing 80 F, if it didn’t break over it. Clearly the warmest day of 2020.

I actually would have gone for a ride except I couldn’t find my keys. Without them there’s no unlocking the trike, opening the storage, fastening down the bike rack on the hitch. If I was gonna ride on a day when Jens didn’t have to work, it was gonna be off the hamster tracks.

My hunny to the rescue. Later that evening, he found my keys! It was too late to ride of course, but Friday, May 22nd was supposed to be a nice day, a bit cooler than the 21st. Though I didn’t plan on an early start. The morning was supposed to be one of those frosty ones that have become so common.

It turned out to be one of the warmest mornings maybe for the whole year. Almost 45 F. I started getting ready. Quietly. I didn’t want to wake Jens up just to drive me, though he probably would have done that provided it wasn’t like 3 am. I didn’t want to wake my sister-in-law either. So, just pulling on a layer of clothes was all I did.

Finally, my sister-in-law woke around 7 am and I went to make my smoothie. In the middle of that, Jens woke up. I was gonna finish breakfast first though.

There was only a rough outline for the day. No specific ride laid out, just the rough plan of ‘Jens drops me off at Järlåsa and I go north. Then, who knows?’

It was a bit of a later start than the previous ride in the area, leaving the apartment at about 9 am where on the 17th, I had the trike set up and was wandering over to that runestone a little after 8 am. I was reminding myself there was no rush though. I mean, going to bed at 10 pm, and there’s still quite a bit of daylight. Soon, there will be plenty of daylight even then.

A bit before 10, Jens asked I call every 2 hours or so to let him know I was okay. Before putting the handlebar bag and the drone case on the trike, I carried them with me to the restroom where I pulled off the light thermal layer I had under my tights and cycle top. It was that warm, especially if I took the sun into account.

Then I hustled to the front of Järlåsa church to take advantage of the lack of people. I was gonna send the drone up.

Järlåsa Church from on-high

I found myself quite nervous about flying it around to get the best position. There were trees close and I wasn’t secure in my ability to judge the drone’s position to them, or that it might not just get all weird and swervy all of a sudden. Not helped by the trees that always seemed to be just in the right place to block, or make it feel blocked in the best spot for framing the exact shot I wanted.

A drone photo taken, I plopped on the trike and rolled off.

The first quarter mile or so was downhill. It was going fast until in the middle of it I recalled the old church ruin I wanted to try to find. I stopped and turned around as a gaggle of 10 year old boys goggled at the trike and made ‘cool bike’ sounds as I waved and went back toward where I thought the ruin might be.

Couldn’t find it. I spent almost 15 minutes rolling up and down a little section of that bigger hill trying to figure out where it was supposed to be. The main problem was the yards. It was all cute little red houses with red painted picket fences. I have a feeling the circular remains of one of the two churches that predate the current 1700-1800’s circular church were tucked up in there. If I had to guess it’s the house that seemed surrounded by drystone walls. You know, the kind of walls that are typically around country chuchyards?

I had to give up finally. There’s not much of the first stone church left from what I understand. Just a small round lump that could have been anywhere.

Of course, since the ride, I’ve pinned it down a little better. It appears to be down a deadend side track behind a house. If I’d had that information, I could have found. Ah well.

Thought maybe it was a burial ground or old settlement, but nope. Just a pretty ripple in the middle of a field.
The last clouds of the day slipping off to the west.

It was a beautiful day. Except for an odd line of clouds between Uppsala and Järlåsa on the drive, there had not been any other. That strangely long, but incredibly narrow march of clouds had stretched across the 72. I saw that smudge a little longer when I first started north, but after a while it was gone and the sky was just an unbroken dome of flawless blue.

The last I saw of it was when I had whimsically turned down a dirt track with a center line of dandelions to get some distance from the houses by the road. I pulled the drone out and began flying it toward a rumple of tiny little hillocks and trees across the field, thinking it might be one of the old settlement ruins in the area. According to the archaeology map site, no. Nothing there. It’s just a pretty feature in the landscape of the field.

Or maybe it just hasn’t been examined. I suppose that’s possible though unlikely given how thoroughly everything else around has been documented.

A little off road, just because!

It was another of those days with almost perfectly still air. When the trike wasn’t moving, there were moments when, perhaps, there could have been the feathery soft caress against my cheek like the long distant memory of a breeze, but those felt rare as I made my way north. The choice to strip off the thermal layers had been a wise one especially when I was in the sun while creeping up a hill. It meant I cherished every moment of shade on the uphills and loved the descents where the wind blew through my hair.

Not blue yet, but they will be!

My sense of random exploration continues to hold strong. Not long after I left the fields behind, a narrow track leading off through the trees pulled me. Off I went, not even stopping to think about it. The shade was nice and there was that delightfully spicy scent of pine hanging in the still air between the trunks.

Soon-to-be-blueberries! As far as the eye can see!

And the blueberries! It seemed every square foot was covered with those knee high little shrubs except where the narrow pine trunks shouldered up or the path ran through them. Provided the weather doesn’t get into the crazy warm range with no rain, it looks like it will be a bumper crop year for Sweden’s wild blueberries. At least in Uppland.

That first little off-road jaunt was less than 15 minutes when there was a small tree trunk across the path. It would have been possible to drag the trike around it through the blueberries, but I had the rest of the day and miles of road with possible other trails to explore too.

The ride was almost over shortly after it started. The woodland was left behind for another batch of fields and I thought I’d send the drone up to see what the views might be like from above. I pulled off onto a short gravel drive that led to nothing and began the prep. With drone in one hand, my phone attached to the controls in the other, I stepped away from the trike to get far enough from the metal to not interfere with the drone’s compass and such.

A rock turned under my shoe, twisting my ankle horribly and down I went. Reflex made me free my hands so I didn’t smash my face into the rocks. My phone and the controller landed on a clump of grass. My drone bounced on its ‘butt’ and then came down hard on its back.

The horror of the drone’s bounce was a sliver of a second before the white hot waves of pain replaced it in my mind. That and the nausea as I curled up on those rocks, clutching my screaming ankle to the tune of my own screams muffled behind gritted teeth.

It was my left ankle too, which I think I think is more susceptible to such injuries after I twisted it so badly in Norway a couple years ago. For a good 5 minutes, probably more, all I could do was lay there and sob, trying not to throw up.

At last I was able to let go of my ankle and uncurl enough to pull over to the drone. It was scratched and dinged, of course. A few minutes later, I got myself over to the controller. Still just sitting on the rocks, I risked sending the drone up just a couple feet from me to see if it would still fly. It was just the quick launch that takes it up 3-4 feet to hover, waiting for the pilot to do more. It wobbled in the air like I need to calibrate that sensor again as I had done on the previous ride.

I wasn’t up to it at that moment. So, I just brought it back down and hobbled painfully to the trike to put everything away. Then I noticed the few scratches on my hands from catching myself as I fell. Oh happy day! Better than eating rocks though.

Then I just sat in the trike for a while longer, my left leg draped over the wheel to keep any pressure off my ankle. As the pain ebbed to a dull throb, I risked putting my feet on the pedals. There was no immediate increase in pain, so I did a small circle. There were a few sharp twinges, but nothing I couldn’t endure.

I actually decided to go on. During some of my previous ankle injuries over the years, it sometimes seemed the trike actually helped as long as I was careful about how my leg was positioned or I didn’t mash the pedals too hard. The hills to that point hadn’t been very difficult either. I felt it was an acceptable risk.

Besides, at almost 70 F, it was too glorious a day to spend pent up inside if I could keep those pedals turning without adding to the injury.

So sad. I could see this fixed up as a little work shed

I think it was a good choice. About 15 minutes after I started rolling again, I called Jens to check in. I told him about the fall, but that I planned to ride on at least for a while unless it got too painful. After riding for those few minutes though, my ankle felt uncomfortable, but no more than an annoyance really.

And it really was such a pretty day. There’ve been a few of these in 2020 admittedly. May 21st was one of them, but it had been a good 4-5 degrees warmer. Ambient temperature for May 22nd as I rode was probably around 68-72 F, but in the sun with no wind, the heat index was probably closer to 80 F. It was on the bare edge of becoming what I find unpleasant, but didn’t quite go over. Such a day close to temperature perfection would have been a sin to waste over something as paltry as a broken ankle. Right?

No clue what it is, but I know it’s not natural.

So, I rode on, taking it easy as I reveled in the scents of spring and pines, soothed by birdsong and wind. You know, there’s no way I wasn’t passed by a few cars on that northward stretch, but there must not have been very many or I was completely zen because I can’t recall a single moment of vehicular annoyance.

Actually after the ankle twisting, the next annoyance I recall was the discovery that a seam had popped on my right shoe. Durnit! I love those shoes! They’re comfy and don’t pinch my toes or rub blisters! You know how rare it is to find shoes to fit my feet with their wide and high instep in a country of skinny and low insteps? Picking up diamonds off the ground rare. That’s how it feels when I have to start the search for a new pair of shoes any way.

There was a bit of grumbling over that as I made it to the end of that road.

A Pasture in Spring Green

I sat at the ‘T’ junction for a while, trying to decide which way to go. Left would take me west. Right would, obviously be east, but also back toward Uppsala. If back toward the city, Jens wouldn’t have to drive so far to pick me up.

In my mind there was also the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I could surprise him by calling for a pick up at the storage! The road sign said it was 33 km (just a smidge over 20 miles) back to Uppsala. My distance at that turn was just a touch over 5 miles. How great would it be to have gone 25 miles in a day? Definitely my longest ride for the year!

Heck, probably my longest ride in multiple years. The only other rides in the past 3 years or so that might come close in my recollection is the out-n-back on the railtrail from Eskilstuna. I think that’s in the 24 mile category. Might be closer to 25.

The dandelions gave this scene the perfect extra POP of color.

Silly as it may sound, it felt possible. I hadn’t tried any walk since getting back in the trike after twisting the ankle, but it felt fine for the 3 miles or so I’d been riding. Hurting less with each mile I’d done. Hardly even twinges to be felt. While not fast up the hills as I’d been taking those easy for my knees and general stamina, I wasn’t having problems with them. After the last ride on the gravel roads, anything paved felt like a dream.

Just loved the birch trees and the look of this pasture

I was gonna do it! Right it was!

Oh for a twist, a turn, even a little curve

It’s a good thing the scenery to either side was pretty because the first mile and a half after that turn was arrow straight. Something about the roads so single directional that one can use them for a straight edge to draw a perfect line is just so boring. It’s kinda like the northern border of Florida which some random person in the past said, “Well, there’s no river to follow, so fine! I’ll just slap this ruler down on the map and *SLASH*, there’s the border between Florida and Georgia.”

Is it a weird thing to be bored by?

But as I said, the scenery was at least pretty in shades of spring green and flowers all over, especially the vivid yellow of dandelions. The unbroken blue of that utterly clear sky.

Not sure what this building was. Perhaps once little school like an earlier one I passed?

Another quirk of mine. I find absolutely clear blue skies kinda boring especially if I’m taking a lot of photos. Unless there’s mountain peaks or trees or something to break up the line of it any way. Give me clouds. Cheerful little puffs or even the risky dramatic skies on the ride of May 17th. Just something to add that extra layer of interest in my pictures.

While I know there are softwares aplenty that can replace a sky and change the lighting in a photo to match (not counting Photoshop), that just seems disingenuous for documenting my rides. If I were doing art photography, that’s different. I want my photos pretty, but not lying about what the weather was like or how it looked.

I really am quirky and rather picky about the strangest things.

The light brown horse being a bully

Finally the road started to have a little curve to it and that offered a bit of shade from time to time. Very welcome. Riding east, there was little that struck a cord of recognition in me. Part of me felt I had ridden the area sometime in the past, with Loke at my side, but maybe not this particularly road back to Uppsala? I wasn’t sure.

Then I saw them. A pasture and paddock area that held not only a pair of horses I didn’t recognize, but also two donkeys. One of them I was sure I’d seen before.

These two donkeys were old acquaintances it seemed

And after looking in my photos, I’ve confirmed it. A photo of some donkeys right in these paddocks and the two there this time were there when I passed here in April, 2011. There were more donkeys then, about 6. Now it seems just the two with the pair of horses.

There might be a third donkey in the near future. Hard to see in photos, but the white one had a belly as round as an exercise ball. Seriously. Looked ready to pop and primed to have a litter instead of the usual single foal donkeys typically have.

At the time that I took this photo, there was the idea that maybe I’d ride back through here in a month or so to see if a bundle of joy had arrived or if little Miss Bebe (as my mental voice has decided to name her) is just as round as a frightened roly-poly.

I have since reconsidered that thought and if I do so, it will require careful weighing of options. All will be revealed as I babble on.

As I put the camera away, the one horse continued to bully the other while leaving the donkeys alone. Pity he seem like such a meanie. I really loved his coloring. The lighter brown and a slight dapple pattern to his coat. I wonder if he’s as big a handful under the saddle?

Chattering happily at the curious donkeys, I rolled on.

Nice!

Not long after that, Mother Nature cleared her throat. The timing was actually rather perfect as I happened upon one of those random ‘through the wood’ trails.

Quite pleasant really. The under growth was more than just blueberries. The scent of the conifers was lovely. The surface, even with the central grassy strip, was easy to ride. The shade was also a nice buffer against the sun as the ambient temperature had very likely edged up toward 74 F and probably over 80. Oddly, I didn’t seem as sensitive to it as I’ve been in the past. Maybe I’m just more resistant or perhaps it was low humidity?

Nature’s demands answered, I found myself riding on down the trail a little further. There was a spot where it went from wonderfully packed dirt and grass to some loose gravel with the strip grown with woody weeds rather than grass a horse would love to munch. Naturally that happened right as it went up a hill. My back tire slipped quite a bit, but I made the climb into a patch of sunlight where an old clear cut was growing back over with trees about 5-8 feet tall. Then there was a fork. One way was overgrown with short grass, but passable. The other was more of the same, dirt and grass, but went toward a small building where sunlight glinted off a car.

I could see a tent there, depending on number of rocks and roots.

As I rode down the grassy way, it occurred to me that part of my curiosity and exploration might be a subconscious preparation for loaded cycle touring. Dragging around a trailer with camping gear and looking for places suitable to set up for the night.

After just 100 or 150 yards or so, the grassy way petered out into a rather rough looking footpath, so infrequently traveled, even it was grassy. Just before that though, there was a wide open flat area to one side. I didn’t check the surface beneath the obvious ground cover, but it was easy to imagine a little camp there. Obviously, I was not the first to think so. There was evidence of a fire probably from last year. The grass was lush and thick around and between the charred lumps of wood that formed a small circle about a foot in diameter.

I got up to turn the trike around to go back. When I sat back down and tried to pedal, something went wrong. A stick in my derailleur I thought.

Oh boy was I right. I’d barely done 2 or 3 cranks on the pedals, but there was a birch twig insanely wrapped around one of the cogs in my derailleur. It had pulled and wrenched the chain all through the system before I realized it.

I swear, birch twigs that look so lovely with green leaves, blowing in the wind like a horse’s tail, are worse than the strongest cordage at times. You can almost use them as cords for tying things up. These were wrapped so tight I couldn’t get a grip and just a little too stiff for me to unwind.

I needed something that I could push between the ‘strands’ and maybe cut them into smaller pieces that would more easily pull loose. Something like a knife… or scissors!

A while back, I decided to cut some pipe insulation into a short enough piece to fasten to the frame of my old neck rest so I wouldn’t have the bars slamming into my neck and base of my skull with every bump. After that, I put the scissors in my handlebar bag. On the previous ride, I’d started to feel a little silly that I still carried them around. Magically, it didn’t seem so silly then as I pulled them out and set to work with much more ease. I still broke a nail though.

The last of the twig removed, I was about to pat myself on the back for getting the problem solved with minimal drama, when I saw chain had fallen from the 40 toothed rear cog, wedging between the cogs and the spokes of the wheel. Not good. I had problems removing the rear wheel before I had the stroke. I didn’t relish arguing with it while sitting hunched in pine needles.

Again, fortunately, I was able to work things around for enough slack and get it back in place. Trike upright once again, I was about to sit down when the biggest threat to continuing the ride reared its ugly head. The chain had also fallen off the small front chainring. It threatened to lock itself tight against the bottom bracket the same way it used to on my old Trice.

Perhaps that could have been the biggest ride ender. Sometimes when it happened on my old trike, the only way to free the chain was to remove the chainrings which requires a special kind of wrench. Guess what I didn’t have?

Luck was with me again. Perhaps it was even the same luck that kept me dry on May 17th while the rest of Uppland was getting drenched and snowed on.

Pretty scene, but wouldn’t it look better with a bit of cloud to breakup the blank blue? 😛

Such a relief when I was able to finally move on from that. I set off at a fairly brisk pace when it was flat or downhill. Still feeling strong and enjoying the ride.

It was about mile 10 when I discovered the ‘seat of the pants’ type of planning for rides in areas I didn’t know too well came back to bite me in the tush.

I glanced at my Garmin which was on the map screen and realized less than half a mile ahead, the road was going to end at the dreaded 272.

One does not ride on the 272 when they are an incredibly pokey woman on a low slung recumbent trike. Particularly when said woman forgot her brightly colored flag. It’s a busy road with a speed limit around 70 mph, but people have NO compunction about driving it much faster. Just 2 lanes and a shoulder that doesn’t have enough space for a mouse let alone anything bike or pedestrian like.

That left me with 2 choices. Find a spot to stop and wait for Jens, turn back for 5 miles to go west, or see if there’s an alternative.

A closer look and I spotted a faint line that hinted at some kind of road that linked up with other tiny, twisty roads through a sea of green that was the map’s way of saying, ‘Here be woods’. Okay. I decided to try that.

There was a sign forbidding motorized traffic when I found it. Was a rougher version of the dirt and grass track that had led to the spot where the twig twisted in my derailleur. There was even muddy potholes. The first wet spots I’d seen on the entire ride. About 300 yards or so on, it joined up with the dirt road.

And the road wasn’t too bad! There was the usual gravel to the sides and spots with it in the center. But the rest was lovely, smooth, hard-packed dirt lacking even potholes and washboarding. It was completely doable!

At the start, there were a few houses. Two of them made me roll my eyes. Seriously, who thinks, “I want a country house. Oh, I know! Let’s buy this plot right next to this other house to build close enough that I can open a window and borrow a cup of sugar without either of us stepping out side!”

If I were to get a country house, I wouldn’t even want to be able to see or hear the neighbors. No overhearing conversations. Not a hint of what TV show they’re watching or music they put on. Just birds and wind. A nice buffer of owned land with the house dead center so no one could even consider plopping down on top of us.

Anyhooo!

The same waterway that’s in Uppsala, but smaller.

The first mile or two was country landscape. Woodland, yes, but fields and little country houses too. I also crossed the Fyris. You know, the river that once powered Ulva Mill and I’ve ridden along every time I’ve done my River Loop hamster track a thousand or more times over 14 years?

Still the Fyris

That was a surprise. In Uppsala, the Fyris is big enough for good sized tour boats. While smaller north of the swimhall, it’s still plenty big for say my kayak or canoes well beyond Ulva Mill and even past Storvreta. But one spot where I stopped to take pictures of this adorable little waterway, definitely wasn’t big enough for my kayak or any canoe. It was a shock to find it was actually the Fyris.

This is a crying shame. An old Volvo. I was thinking ‘ambulance’ for a bit. Now, I wonder if it’s an old coroner’s vehicle.

Not much further on, the road surface became rougher. A few potholes and hint of washboarding. More loose pebbles. It all meant harder and slower going.

I made a point about not stressing about my speed. Was I moving? Yep! Good enough then!

I kept my eye on the Garmin map. Every time I came to anything remotely like an intersection, I checked each one to make sure it wasn’t a dead end. There was one such meeting of the little dirt roads where one choice would have taken me back to roughly the area of the wrapped derailleur. I actually considered that, but no. I wanted to keep heading toward Uppsala in some form or fashion. No backtracking.

Freshly grated except for this narrow little strip.

For that goal, one turn gave me pause. It was the only way to go as the other way was a dead-end and I didn’t want to turn back. It was up a long-ish looking hill for starters, but the main sticking point was a freshly grated surface except for the far right edge.

When first I made my way onto the little gravel roads, I was passed by a single car near the bridge over the mini-Fyris river. Nothing since then. The only people I’d seen was a man out feeding his kenneled dogs with his son.

When I made the turn onto that freshly turned nightmare of dirt, I knew it was gonna be a blissfully quiet ride. I mean, seriously. Look at it. Just two narrow little stripes that I think were small wheels of the road rake the tractor dragged along. No car tires. Not a single set.

That actually wasn’t the worst to come.

40 – 50 minutes. An hour? More? I don’t know. Felt like eternity.

After a bit of slogging along with a slipping tire and trying to push my left front wheel through the soft, loose dirt and rocks, I came up to a recent clear cut.

While the stumps didn’t look particularly raw, the wood stacked along side the road smelled fresh and had a bit of sap that didn’t look too old oozing from the cut ends. As for the road itself. It was mostly loose and churned, nothing packed down tight. The ‘pebbles’ were goose egg sized rocks. If I had to guess I’d say that they put down the huge honking rocks for a road surface that gave heavy machinery some traction and keep it from just digging into the softer dirt.

With the big stones making it hard for the front wheels to move and twisting under the back wheel when it turned, I’d push the pedals and often not gain any ground. At least twice, I had to get up and push the trike for a some yards. And I had thought the fresh grated surface was hard to ride. I found myself hoping for the return of those halcyon moments of small pebbles with loose dirt.

You know it was bad when getting back to this is a relief.

The torment of the huge honking rocks did end and it was a return of the fresh grated surface. It felt almost easy compared to what I’d just endured. Unfortunately, it was all up hill again and with older clear cut to either side. Yet, it felt a relief.

The lake still had its trees!!

Somewhere along here, just over the ridge of clear cut was a small lake. I had somewhat planned to launch the drone for a look at it. However with the torn ground, sun bleached rocks, and scatter of broken limbs, it would have been a horrible disappointment to go through the effort of sending it up only to find the lake was a puddle in the middle of ruination. So, I kept on.

A lost chance. It turned out that around the curve at the top of the climb through the clearcut and then down a quick, bumpy dash of a hill, the trees were intact and there, between some of them, was the shimmer of water. I stopped and pulled myself onto exhausted and wobbling legs to totter to the edge of the reeds for a photo.

It was somewhere around that small lake I had the first sign of human life I’d seen in hours. A very nice couple riding gravel bikes gave me cheery greetings as they sped down the hill I was trying to climb.

The ride continued to be brutal. It was all up or down. The climbs were hard. Pebbles flew out from under my back wheel. My knees hurt. Most of the way I navigated through the confusing tangle of tiny dirt roads was through a nature reserve. That was good. It meant less clear cutting.

I had to be careful on the downhills though. There were potholes lurking and if I slammed into one at 14+ mph, it might have shaken a foot off the pedal and left me with leg suck.

And that would have really sucked. Through most of the nature reserve, I had no cell coverage. If anything happened, odds were I would have been stuck there until someone blundered upon me. Given I was 3 hours or more in that area with only the couple for the entire time, it might have been a very long wait.

At least the ups had some downs.

But even over the hard slog, there was beauty and things that made me smile. Or in the case of the wild boar I saw, quickened my pulse. So many butterflies. A lot of yellow ones. A few white. A handful of one kind that was mostly black. The other type that is in shades of black, burnt umber, and orange who’s caterpillars feed on the hated stinging nettles.

Most enchanting though were the ones I’d never seen before and they were everywhere! I would have loved to get a photo, but they didn’t sit still long enough and they were so TINY! A wing was barely the size of my thumbnail. The color of them. They were the perfect color of lush, summer grass fed by plenty of soft rain and good soil. That vivid sort of green that rivals emeralds. Dainty fluttering jewels that danced on the still air. I couldn’t stop smiling at the sight of them even as my knees screamed up the hills.

It was probably close to 3 pm when I finally saw my first car. It was parked just off the road, but no one in sight. I still had no cell reception though.

Oh, blessed civilization!

It was almost 4 when I came down a hill and the trees parted. The view opened up across a field of dandelions and in the distance, I saw houses. Houses would mean cell coverage again.

I looked at my distance and winced. I was at 19.4-ish miles. Soooo close to 20 miles and I craved that nice round number. No way to get to the city under my own power though. I was somewhat boxed in against the 272 again, but at least I’d planned for it by that point. All the other little roadways would have taken around the city to the southern side adding some 10+ miles. After the first clear cut with its big stones, I’d just been aiming for my longest ride of the year while coming to rest in a spot easy for Jens to pick me up.

I managed to push on for that extra 0.6 mile and finished with 20.04, parking at a little crossroads of 3 dirt lanes meeting with a paved single lane country road.

Longest ride of the year by 4-something miles. I was exhausted, a little sunburned, and my knees hated me so much. I also felt sorry for my poor drone. Not only had it taken the knock when I fell, but every hill on those dirt roads must have been like a paint mixer for the sheer force and amount of vibration it endured.

Hard as it was, I still counted it a good day. I celebrated by going off the vegan wagon with one of Dylan’s incredible pork sandwiches. After only having a smoothie at 7 am and 10-15 pecans, some water, that sandwich tasted so good, it should have been illegal. Seriously.

I’m paying for it, but after a day like that, it was so very, VERY worth it.



Glutton For Punishment
May 23, 2020, 9:03 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, the weather was weird there for a while. May 16th, we had rain and then, at one point, we had hail. It came down for nearly 10 minutes and reached the size of peas. It completely covered the back lawn like some kind of bizarre snow. The mornings of course, continued to be in the freezing range.

Yet when I woke up on May 17th, it was in the low 40’s F and sunny. No way was I going to waste the opportunity to get out for a ride elsewhere. Jens was home and I was going to take advantage of it.

Järlåsa Church – March 2011

The place I picked to start the ride was a bit odd. Down the 72 to a tiny little dirt road just off the main way where I’d follow the unpaved country lane to Järlåsa Church. From where, I’d follow another unpaved stretch until just before it rejoined the 72. I was just curious to ride there, and best of all there’s a runestone right where the first dirt road joined the 72. I’ve wanted that stone for years.

It wasn’t going to be a particularly long ride. 7-ish miles, but I figured I’d take my time and it was going to be gravel the whole way, so was still likely to take me 3 hours, especially if I stopped for photos a lot.

We loaded the trike and set off before 8 am. The clear sunny morning had given way to a thin blanket of clouds over Uppsala, but it was almost 50 F. As we headed west 15 miles or so, down the 72, we came out from under the cloud bank into blue skies and sunshine with just a tiny hint of a breeze.

There was a convenient tractor access to unload everything. As I settled the drone’s new case on the rear rack, Jens asked I call every couple of hours and drove off. There was a moment of panic as my phone wasn’t in the usual spot of the handlebar bag. Panicked, I jumped around waving my arms as Jens turned onto the 72 and sped off. Fortunately, a few moments later, I found it. It was hiding in the bag with the bananas and granola of all places.

Uppland Runestone #889

Panic over the phone done with, I went to the important work of walking over to the coveted runestone a short distance away on the other side of the road and a ditch.

The ground was a bit rough to walk on, but I made it without breaking an ankle. Already, not having rolled even an inch on the trike, I had a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Like I said, I’ve wanted that stone for a long time.

Before I moved out, there was one additional task to take care of. Back during the ‘not winter’ we had, I had gone out on a pleasant morning to just fly the drone around. Well, the one launch I made, it was behaving so erratically that it was landed immediately and I came home.

For a while, Jens has been very pushy about me calibrating it and getting the drone out again. He’d all but bullied me into bringing it for this ride.

Off I go!

There was actually a spot on the tractor access level enough to do the calibration. So, for about 15 minutes, that’s what I did. Once it was over, it hovered nice and stable. No wobble or looking as if it was going to stray off on its own random adventures into trees. Otherwise, there was nothing interesting to fly more for photos, so I just packed it back and sat down to pedal off.

The surface wasn’t too bad to start off. Most stones were packed down pretty well except along the edges, of course. The rain over the previous day had wet it down, but it had drained enough that it was only a tiny bit mushy.

Replace the trees with live oaks and it could be sitting on a plantation in Mississippi!

For the first mile or so, it was fields and a handful or less of farm houses to either side of the dirt road. There was one house that went beyond ‘farm house’. As I rolled closer to it, it looked so out of place. It looked for all the world like a small antebellum plantation house. The trees along the drive weren’t live oaks, but for that one detail, it could almost have been sitting in a pre-Civil War plot in the southern states.

I wonder how old the house is and if it might actually have been patterned off the antebellum homes of the south. I mean, architects have never been shy about about borrowing heavily from the styles of other places. Wik’s castle borrows heavily from French design when it was renovated in the 1700’s if memory serves. Why not from the pre-Civil War US?

A glorious spring morning
A hint this road may have been important in the past.

And then, the open fields of farms were behind and I rode a rougher surface between an old clear cut on the left and a woodland of protected nature reserve on the right. It was work to get along and not helped by the fact it felt as if it was on a constant uphill grade.

As I pushed along, it struck me how quiet it was. Actually, since Jens dropped me off, I’d not seen another human being even when there were farm houses in sight. Not a single car had passed either. By time was past the fields and into the landscape of trees, I couldn’t even hear the dull roar of traffic from the 72. Just the various squeaks and rattles of my trike, the wind, and birds.

So empty of humanity and it was bliss. It’s times like that which are the only moments of quiet for me. When I’m at home or any place where there’s people even remotely in the vicinity, I can’t ‘do nothing’. I have to keep my mind distracted or thoughts can take an ugly turn.

On my trike, especially when there’s no cars, no immediate reminder of humanity’s constant swarm, I can sit and just ‘be’, immersing myself in the now. I did that a few times on that abandoned stretch of road. Sat in the trike, eyes closed and listening to the birds and wind, feeling the warmth of the sun that countered the coolness of the air. *dreamy sigh* Recharged from such little pauses, I’d push on, carefully sparing my knees.

There was a hint that the empty lane had perhaps been a significant roadway in the past when one of the traditional road markers appeared on the edge of the trees. Now, except for me, it was a forgotten lane for a mile and a half.

Starting to look a bit unfriendly up there.

During the first mile along the fields, the clear blue I’d started out in had become dotted with cheerful puffs of white. About halfway into the mile and a half along the nature reserve, some of those clouds had become decidedly less cheerful looking. Their bottoms flattened and a darkening gray. It bore watching.

The forecast had said it might be partly cloudy, but there was no mention of rain. Of course, we all know how exact a science meteorology is, right? But I had layers of wool packed, so a light sprinkle would have been no problem to endure. I never wear rain gear any way, except to pile on layers of wool which help maintain warmth even when wet.

Even though I was taking it easy, staying in my easier gears and trying to spin in a gentle tempo rather than mashing on the pedals, it was tiring. The fact the rocks kept slipping under my back wheel didn’t help either. At times it was like being on some kind of sadistic sort of cycle trainer. Outside, but pedalling for 5 miles while only moving 1 mile.

For less than 3 miles, I’d been pedalling for over an hour and a half. As I said, I wasn’t pushing myself. My knees had already been grumbling in protest as it was, but I was determined to be out.

Finally! A little downhill!

Finally, the trees parted and I found myself looking at my first downhill since I’d started the ride. In the distance, I could see sunlight on the fields beyond angry clouds. With a sense of relief, I pushed off down the bumpy descent.

Well, THAT’S not good

The wind was distinctly chill once out on the more open terrain. Once I cleared the trees on the left and could look to the north, there was a surprise waiting for me. Darker clouds with trailing streamers of rain.

One cluster of clouds was doing a slow creep across the fields right toward the little road on which I had to pass. The race was on!

Well, perhaps ‘race’ is too generous a term. I was slow. The rain cloud was slow. If there’d been any spectators, it would have been like watching snails charge toward a finish line.

There was just nothing in me to push faster in an attempt to try and beat the wet falling from the sky. My knees were complaining, the surface was still covered with loose rocks and the dirt was looser and wet enough to be boggy. It wasn’t quite like riding on churned sand, but not far off. I went with hunched shoulders, expected to get dumped on at any moment.

Yet, it never happened. There was maybe a single drop, two at the most that might have tapped on my Da Brim, but no more than that. I’m not sure if I beat the rain or it just missed me, but dry I stayed. I counted it a minor miracle.

Pretty, and curious rather than afraid.

The end of the first half of the ride finished with yet another climb on those rocks. Just over the trees atop the hill I worked, I could see the dome of Järlåsa Church’s roof.

Slow as I was, I had plenty of time to look around. All around, on every horizon was dark clouds and veils of rain. Annoying, it has to be said. Those little bursts of rain brought wind gusts as well and those were quite chilly at times. Enough that I was pulling the sleeves of my fuzzy thermal tops down over my fingers for lack of gloves. I didn’t relish getting wet in 40 F temp especially since I didn’t have any extra wool layers for my legs if it was more than a light sprinkle. Those streamers were definitely more than light sprinkles.

I reached the church and came to a stop in the parking lot. The restroom there was a welcome respite, not only to answer the call of nature, but to get out of the wind and get a little bit of warmth back in my hands.

Back out in the parking, I thought about putting the drone out and getting an above shot of the church, but it felt too busy. People visiting the graves, someone mowing a lawn at a house a few yards away. Getting out and flying around with something that sounded like a couple hundred soft-ball sized bumblebees felt too intrusive.

I did check to see if the church was open. Alas, no luck.

After trying the church door, I sat in the trike and looked around at all the clouds. After about 10 minutes as I struggled with the choices of calling for a pickup rather than risk rain or push on, the sun actually came out over the church. Then it was time to call Jens to check in any way. I pulled my phone out to discover a text from him had pinged in about 15 minutes earlier. “It’s snowing here! Are you okay?!”

Wait, what?! Snow in Uppsala? It had been almost 50 F when we left the storage to drive to the runestone! Now it was snowing??

I called and told him I was fine and had been dry… so far. There were rain clouds everywhere, but it was in the low 50’s and the rain had missed me. I told him I was going to wait a few minutes to decide if it was going to be time to come home or to get a few more miles in.

As if to help the decision, about 5 minutes later, the patch of sun overhead extended off to the west, the clouds parting like the Red Sea. That avenue of warm light pulled me onward.

At the bottom of the hill, more rain
Pretty sure this was snow.

From the church it was a screaming, mad dash down a steep hill for a bit less than a quarter mile. I went all white knuckled and tense as I hit over 20 mph. It was a short paved strip before bumping hard down onto more gravel, but I had already known there was going to be more of that. At the bottom, I took stock of the situation around me. More clouds and more rain veils.

Before reaching the trees on the other side of the fields, there was a streak of ‘rain’ that didn’t look quite like rain. Rain is typically a gray in a hue that is the same, or very close to, the same shade as the bottom of the cloud it comes from. This was a pale gray, almost white really, and had a ‘wispy’ look to it.

Also, though the probable snow never reached me, my Garmin’s temp display took a sharp 10 degree drop from low 50’s to low 40’s F. Brrr.

The assault of cold winds that came with the lack of sun and threats of rain wasn’t constant though. After all, it had been a corridor of sunlight which lured me away from the church.

I was glad it did. The going was marginally easier than it had been on the first half of the ride. The surface of the road firmer, but that meant the pebbles were more likely to spin under my tires. It was also busier with cars passing by me with an unexpected frequency. To be fair, there were more houses.

Sunshine and history, hand in hand.

It turned out there was also more obvious history along the way. The first hint of that I got was pedalling slowly along and came up to a tiny little rill your average person can just jump over. Of course, cars can’t jump so there was a smidge of the a bridge. As I came up to the rail, I spotted a sign just to the side.

Another Road Marker and more important looking than the first

It turned out, the bridge had a name, Porslinsbron (The Porcelain’s Bridge). Just to the left of my trike in the photo (I think) was a porcelain factory between 1795 to 1822 when a man named Olof Petter Rothenburg-Rudbeck took over such a factor in Vänge and relocated to this location. There’s nothing left of it except the place name of the bridge and historical records.

The slow pace gave offered plenty opportunity to keep an eye out for other such signs. There was also about half an hour where I had sunshine and temps bumped back up into the 50’s. Even with my spinning rear tire on any incline greater than 3%, it was a pleasant ride in spite of aching knees and tiring legs.

One motivation that drove me onward was my curiosity about the lake. On the map, the little road ran right against the shore of a small body of water. Bigger than a pond at least, though just a drop in the bucket compared to Mälaren.

Lovely view!
Pretty scene with the adorable bridge

I’m glad I went on. The meandering along the lake shore was lovely. The people in the area clearly take care of it. Flower studded clipped lawn with picnic tables. There’s even a spot where another tiny rivulet comes down to the lake where someone built a cute little wooden arched bridge across.

Not sure what that ‘puddle’ is, but it is man-made. A silt choked dock area maybe?
A well so close to the lake?

There were more cars and people moving around as they tended to their yards. There was also a mystery spot where a small road branched off the lane I was on. Cars were crammed in everywhere and even a parking guard. I didn’t see what could be drawing so many people. Honestly, I was too tired to even think of investigating.

This bit of unpaved roadway had a heyday back in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. I found signs for an inn though there was nothing to see at the spot except a bunch of chest high thickets. Apparently within a 300 yard stretches there were actually TWO inns as this had been a significant thoroughfare toward Uppsala in the past.

In another spot, there was also a sign for a smithy which had been in operation from 1764 until 1940. Again, not much left except for the foundation… which the current owner had used to put up his summer house.

More scenery and approaching clouds to the west

My energy started to flag once I left the views of the lake behind. My back tire seemed to slip more. It was harder to push the trike onward. The scenery seemed to lose its magic in the face of my exhaustion and the unwillingness of my legs to put up with much more of the unpaved surface and hills. Hills, which were never very long mind you, just briefly steep and close together.

And then of course, the hour or so of sunshine along the lake I’d gotten to enjoy started to get a bit shadowed. The clouds on all horizons crept in, shrinking the opening of blue above.

Oops. It didn’t look good.

Then came the moment when I was sure I’d pushed my luck too far. I was about half a mile from where the road was going to rejoin the 72, so had started to look for a spot to wait for Jens. A dark scowl of a cloud swept up on the wings of a chill wind that dropped the temperature by 12 degrees or more. I pulled out all the wool I had and wished for a hat too. Any thought of sending up the drone in the field across from where I waited disappeared with the rise of heavy gusts.

I sat hunched in my trike, waiting for that cloud to start dumping either rain, snow, or both on me.

It never came. It was all threat and bluster. By time Jens arrived, the sun was peeking back out and the temperature started to rise.

Jens asked how much I’d gotten rained or snowed on, shocked when the answer was none. There’d been dense flurries with rain-snow mix in Uppsala for hours. Even on the way to get me, he’d passed through three fairly heavy rain showers. Yet I’d stayed dry for the entire ride.

Maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket? My luck is rarely that good. I was so exhausted. It was good to sit in a seat I didn’t have to pedal and even better to get home and eat. Coming up on 2 pm, I’d had nothing since about 7 am. I was ravenous.



Surprises on Old Ground
May 15, 2020, 10:05 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

After May 6th, I didn’t ride. Part of it has been the weather. Mornings have been frosty. May 11th, at lunch time, there were snowflakes swirling through the air. I haven’t been able to get the OOMPH (not the meat replacement) to get out into the chill for rides.

And there’s been other stuff, but I haven’t decided if I’ll touch on that.

The next ride, however was May 9th.

It was one of those days that my mood was beyond foul. It was vile. I was hovering on the verge of smacking Jens with blunt objects. I snarled when spoken to, I paced through the apartment like a big cat with a broken tail just looking for something to rip to shreds. Everything grated on my last nerve like sandpaper on raw flesh. It was not helped by the fact that it seemed no matter what I did, it went wrong. Not disastrously wrong, but just pushing toward that last annoying straw that snaps the camel’s back kinda thing. Oh, and let’s toss crappy sleep on top of all that. That always helps a mood.

Then Jens, taking his life precariously into his own hands, started pressing me to get out for a ride. Thankfully it was warm enough. It might have gone very differently if I’d decided it was too cold to ride given my current aversion to extra or puffy layers.

The original plan had been to load the trike and go to Ulva Mill since Jens had an errand there. Just the short distance to the storage, I decided I’d just ride from the garage. I could NOT be bothered with the effort of loading the trike. There was this image in my mind’s eye that I’d be trying to get it on, something would go wrong and I’d hulk out and start smashing it while shrieking in white hot rage.

It really was a glorious time to get out for a ride. It was about 60 F, not much wind and the sky was blue with just thin, veil like smudges of clouds. I wasn’t really sure where I was going to ride. I had mentioned to Jens that I had thought to do one of the countryside rides that went through Ulva Mill area, but I didn’t know if the bridge had been reopened.

At first, even in the open air and sunshine, I felt as if I rolled under a dark cloud sparking with lightning, but the truly gorgeous weather did act on my mood like water wearing on a stone. The soft air and warm sun just kinda working to smooth the jagged edges of the temper. There was some set back to it though. The SILLY amount of traffic on Old Börje Road. Seemed every 10-15 seconds a car was passing from one way or another. There was no way to listen for larks with the roar of rubber on the road reinforced with a noisy motor spewing fumes in my face.

Before reaching the cross roads where I’d have to decide which ride it was gonna be, Jens called to let me know that the bridge was open. That decided me. I went straight through the crossroad, heading for Börje church and the rest of the 18-ish mile loop beyond it.

On the other side of the cross-roads, traffic was a bit better. There were times I could actually hear a lark or a lapwing for a change. My mood started to improve a bit faster with lesser traffic.

With the tension going out of me, I was able to enjoy the day more and observe my surroundings. I wasn’t taking many pictures for the first 5 miles or so because it’s spots I’ve ridden and photographed so much. Once I was headed on the road to Börje beyond the cross-roads, I started taking a few more. It’s been a while since I’ve gone that way and I was relaxed enough to notice.

20200509_130302 alt

Someone to the rescue!

One spot that made me smile and do a quick snap was discovering a little cottage like building apparently getting a renovation. I’ve always liked the little structure and, as always, the neglect and ruin into which it was slumping made me sad. So good to see it made someone else sad and they were now remedying the situation.

Like the yellow house, I’ll be keeping an eye on its progress.

I wonder if it’s the same couple doing this building as are doing the yellow house. The woman mentioned they’re also doing some building near the cross-road.

I pushed on toward the church and had to give a bitter sweet smile at the memory of how much Loke loved that stretch. A sharp downhill with a tight curve into a mostly flat dash straight past the church with another gentle downhill and curve to whip into a turn. He so loved to run that half mile.

05-10 b Börje New Angle

Börje is lovely in the distance. May, 2018

Börje Church holds a lot of memories for me too. Stopping there in the autumn to pick apples. Right by the churchyard wall is where I hit that black ice and flipped the trike. Loke might have saved my life by stomping on me to bring me out of my addled daze so I could move out of the road before some car came whipping around the blind curve and smashed me. Börje was the first Swedish country church I rode to on my first trike back in 2006 along with its runestone in the wall being the first of those as well. Out of all those memories, there was one that was lacking.

With my desire to keep the triking group I’m part of on Facebook regaled with images of my ride, I stopped in the grass at the vicarage across from Börje church to get a photo of the bell tower. A good thing I did too! As I put the camera away, I grabbed the back of the trike to turn it for a quicker start out of the parking lot. My gaze absently swept over the front of the church. Whiplash about ensued as my attention went from distracted and lazy to direct in a split moment.

The door of the church’s porch was ajar. 14 years passing this church on dozens of rides and not once had I ever seen the door open that I can recall. I’ve never seen the inside of Börje church.

I don’t think I looked away from that slightly open door even once as I grabbed my handlebar bag off the trike and fumbled with the lock to make sure it stayed put. Nor do I believe I looked away as I scampered across the road and made the hurried scramble up steps through the churchyard gate and to the door itself.

By the door, there was a small ‘A-frame’ sign. The church was open on Saturdays and Sundays through the summer during day-time hours. I guess that means it’s now acting as a ‘Road Church’. A new development

20200509_131458 alt

Interior of Börje Church’s porch. Even faded, the paintings are lovely.

Slipping quietly through the half open door to avoid disturbing anyone, the first thing that leapt out at me were the murals. Second was the unusual shape the original doors might have been. I thought what a shame it was that they had been bricked in for more conventional door shapes.

20200509_131339 alt

An Alms Bucket.

The next thing to catch my eye was an old alms bucket locked to a bracket on the wall beside the outer door. I loved the old iron work and just the sense of age it had. It fascinated me to no end.

During the moments where I took my pictures and just admired the walls and the alms container, 3 other people came out of the church. I stepped well back against the wall to give them space to pass and then went in.

20200509_131622 alt

Finally! The interior of Börje Church! From Crappy to Happy Day!

While not the most stunning of little churches I’ve seen, it was beautiful and I felt giddy finally getting inside. It was empty, but I moved quietly. While not religious, I do show respect for others beliefs and it just seemed wrong to go stomping carelessly through a building that has seen some 700+ years of time.

20200509_131722 alt

Interesting Pulpit.

I couldn’t stop craning my neck around, trying to see everything at once. I don’t know why I was rushing. Perhaps it was just disbelief at this chance and excitement?

One of my favorite details was the pulpit. A rather nice one, but in most ways, very like most others I’ve seen. The one difference that made it distinctive was where most pulpits are mounted by a stair case along the wall, or in rare instances, from a small, but grand sort of staircase entered through a small structure, this one was entered from another room. My guess is, one comes into it from the sacristy. Pretty neat I thought.

20200509_131700 alt

Faded, but beautiful. Mostly angels and maybe some saints. Can’t tell for sure.

The murals were everywhere. Pity they were so faded. For the ceiling photo, I increased the contrast to bring the images into better view. I bet in their glory days, the paintings were stunning. They’re still pretty.

I heard someone come in as I walked to the front of the church, stopping short of stepping up into the chancel area

20200509_131752 alt

A triptych from the 1300’s.

Above the alter was a triptych. I’m a bit uncertain which it represents.  The central figure in the middle panel is clearly Jesus. There are 12 secondary figures, which initially brought to mind the 12 Apostles. It’s just that 2 or 3 of them look very feminine, such as the one immediately to the left which made me wonder if the two beside Jesus might be Mary and Joseph. If that’s so, then maybe the others are saints? My research offered no hints, only that the artifact dates to the 1300’s.

Finished with my exploration, I turned to leave as two men, one perhaps 50 or 60 years old, the other in his early 20’s, climbed up to the organ loft. I’d only taken a few steps when the older of the two, dressed in all black, sat down at the organ. I all but dropped my handlebar bag to fumble my phone out as the organ came to life.

I couldn’t stop grinning as the pastor played something to warm up a bit or perhaps blow the dust from the pipes. Not only was I so lucky as to finally see the inside of Börje Church after 14 years, but also getting to hear a pipe organ for the first time in a Swedish country church. The day really had improved!

After I recorded a bit and went to leave, he started playing around with the higher range. Those organs really have reach from deep bassy voices that can vibrate in your chest to shrill high notes that can give a penny whistle a run for its money.

I was practically walking on air as I went back to the trike.

The next few miles of the ride were nice. Just around the curve that was the site of the 2012 crash, I made the right hand turn and breathed a sigh of relief. For a bit, the way would be less trafficked. I mean, even less than it had been after the cross roads. I spun along enjoying the greening of the landscape, helped along by the rain we’d had in previous days. Most of 3 miles, the only sounds were those from the trike and birds. Perhaps the distant roar of traffic far out of sight. I was passed by one car.

There’s also fun to be had on that stretch. Almost a half mile of ‘WHEEEEEE!!!’ There’s a few spots of that on the 18-ish mile loop. That one past Börje Church about half a mile. Then, once you’ve climbed up from that first WHEEEEE!! there’s another one that stops at the base of another climb, atop which sits the ‘Old Farm’. Just past old farm is what is probably the biggest of the mad, downhill dashes where one whips around a curve over a bridge as fast as they dare. It’s not quite as fast as it used to be since they repaved it with chipseal. Chipseal. *shudder* That stuff just plays havoc with rolling resistance.

As I hit that first long downhill, I whimsically pulled out my phone, securing it to my wrist for the downhill glide. I didn’t pedal much, just enjoying the ride and trying to keep my front left fender from rattling all through the recording.

I noted some changes in the surroundings as I climbed up from that downhill dash. A house I know had done some serious expansion and remodeling. Across from it, what had been a steeply wooded hill of nothing but trees now had a fresh gravel lane heading up and over the ridge.

Then it was another 20 mph charge before the climb back up to Old Farm.

House at Gamla Gården

House at Gamla Gården – 2015

I was glad to reach the old farm. There’s an outhouse there, always clean, with water and soap to wash hands, and no smell. The timing was perfect. As I rolled to a stop outside the gate, I was a little sad.

When I first discovered Old Farm back in probably 2006, I was utterly charmed. A lovely green space to take a rest. Answer nature’s call, have a light snack while letting Loke sniff around, all in the shade of beautiful birch trees and surrounded by spring flowers early in the year. I loved those birch trees.

Now, no more birch trees. Two or three of them were cut over the past few years, but now they’re all gone. The last 6 or 8 of them just went down recently from the look of the stumps. The raw wood hasn’t gone gray, which happens within weeks or a few months of weathering. It was as pale as fresh buttermilk. Now the whole yard is sunshine. There were flowers, almost dense enough to be called a carpet, but it didn’t make up for the loss of those beautiful trees with their branches of vibrant spring green swinging like locks of beautiful hair in the breezes. I’ll miss their shade when I ride there on warm days.

I left Old Farm and went down the really big WHEEE!! I chickened out a bit at the bottom curve. There’s always this image of coming down that hill at 30 mph, my tires losing grip as I whip the curve. Or worse, coming down, hitting that curve and smashing into the grill of a car that’s hugged the inner part of the curve in the wrong direction like a race car driver on a track.

The rest of the ride would have been fairly usual I think, if not for the pain that started around mile 11. My knees were unhappy with me. By mile 12, one of my groin muscles decided to join in the fun. I probably should have stopped at Ulva Mill for a pick up, but I really hoped the pain would just stop so I could make it home.

From Ulva, I took the gravel field path along the river that joins up with the old E4. That was probably a mistake. While the rolling resistance wasn’t like riding in loose sand, it was harder work than if I’d stayed on the road even with it’s 2-3% gradient.

By time I reached pavement again, my knees and groin were unforgiving. Naturally, there was no where for a car to sit while a trike was loaded on a hitch rack. I had to push up that long (.56 mile) 4-5% grade to the nearest safe spot. I reached the odd little loop of pavement by the old E4 where one can turn toward Old Uppsala and sent Jens a map pin of where to get me.

After a while, he called. The hitch was stuck in the car where it tucks away. He’d been fighting with it, but it just wouldn’t come loose so he could mount the bike rack. No way to come get me.

That was unpleasant news. There were 2 ways for me to get home. My usual way through Old Uppsala which involved a few climbs, all of them fairly short, but very steep. In theory, going along the E4 toward the storage was also feasible. The wide shoulders went all the way down to the road with the garrison and the residential area beyond which I often use as extra distance on my River Loop hamster track. It was shorter, though later it was surprising to see it was only shorter by half a mile. More importantly though, few to no hills. Maybe even a tiny bit of a decline.

I hesitated to take the old E4 though. It’s unpleasant enough to endure it for the .56 mile from where the cycle path ends to the turn toward Old Uppsala. Adding a mile or so more wasn’t gonna be fun with traffic blasting by. Add to it that people sometimes use the shoulder as an extra lane to get out of the way of cars going faster than they are.

I sighed and turned the trike toward Old Uppsala. I was just coming up the steep hill by Disa Farm when the phone rang again. Jens was able to get the hitch out. As I struggled painfully with the climb, I gasped out Disa Farm.

As I rolled to a stop in the parking, Jens arrived and helped me load the trike.

If he’d picked me up at the loop by the old E4, the ride would have been 13-something miles. At Disa Farm, I had 15.3 miles for the whole thing. Even the 13 miles would have been the new ‘Longest Ride of the Year’. Still it felt good to break 15 miles.

Since then, ride wise, I’ve been pretty lazy. Poor sleep is a lot of it and stress. Jens’ father is having some medical issues, enough that he’s had multiple trips to the hospital. We’re hoping those have gotten under control. But with the pandemic crap on top of the rest, it’s worrying to have my awesome father-in-law in the hospital. None of us can visit him, but at least he doesn’t have the virus and is in a section of the hospital that doesn’t deal with Corona patients. The Swedish medical community is being VERY careful.

Frigid mornings and chilly days even when it’s not been raining, or even better, snowing, add to my reluctance to go out for rides. I just feel the cold so keenly of late.

So, that’s all for the moment. Hopefully things will improve soon. But it was a nice ride for about 11 miles and I got to see inside Börje Church and hear a pipe organ!!



Still Riding!
May 6, 2020, 1:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, after hitting send on my last post of April 22nd, I went out the door for a ride. That, or I didn’t mention that day’s ride because it was pretty horrible. The weather was glorious. No clouds, still air, maybe a little nippy, blah, blah, blah.

I didn’t get out as early as I wanted to avoid the crowds on the paths, both commuters and people out for exercise. Jens had to take his mom to the doctor’s office though for nothing serious. That went quicker than expected so I was in the trike by 8:30.

I didn’t even make 3 miles. I was racking my brain for ways to avoid the crush of people rushing to work and school and actually was doing pretty decent at it. The first mile was mostly downhill, so it felt pretty okay. Then I actually had to start pedaling and it was HELL. I couldn’t breathe, my vision was graying out as I gasped like a beached fish. My feet were SCREAMING no matter how I tap-danced on the pedals. Nope! No way was I gonna suffer for miles more with all that going on. I struggled back to the storage.

Even after all that, I got myself out the door for a ride the next day (April 23rd). My hunny, with the best intentions I’m sure, was being a bit of pest about me going pedalling. Even to the point of assuring me that his work load for the day was light so if I wanted to do one of those ‘pick a direction’ rides he could come pick me up with no problem.

Though not the earliest start, which meant it was a bit of a gamble with how crowded the paths might be, I decided to risk it. Would be nice to get out of the house again.

I set off to the north, toward Gamla Uppsala with the vague notion to kinda head off toward Funbo. Not too far from Funbo, I seem to recall an old mill that I was curious to re-examine.

I have to say, it turned out to be a perfect spring day for a ride. The sky was utterly clear and the sun warm with still air just cool enough that it didn’t get hot. Unlike the previous attempt, I felt pretty good. My cadence was just shy of 70 RPM which is pretty darn good for me. As I went up that first mile of gentle climb, I didn’t feel too bad at all making April 22nd even more of a mystery.

When they moved the rail line through the major portion of Old Uppsala into a tunnel, they turned most of the old rail bed into a gravel cycle path. The section on the north side of Old Uppsala, I’ve ridden a couple times, but never the part on the south side of the burial mounds parking. This time, I was gonna try it!

Just a quick scurry across Vattholma Road at the proper moment and I rolled onto it.

Nope! The gravel was loose and mixed with some sand. A perfect quagmire to my tires, combined with that 2-3% slope. I turned around to go right back to the paved path.

20200423_112542 alt

Old Rail Bed – North end. Not a single cloud to be seen.

I stopped at the new bathroom area at the Gamla Uppsala parking before heading on to the north again. The first two times on the north end of the short rail-trail were fine, so I gave it another go. MUCH better than the south end. More solid a surface and it was downhill. Away from the steady stream of traffic, it was more peaceful too with larks singing. The paved, road-side path is more fun, being a long 15-20 mph dive down from the ridge upon which Gamla Uppsala sits, but the other way is almost tranquil and had fewer people.

From the bottom of the trail where it rejoins the cycle path, it was time for a steep-ish climb to where I was supposed to make a turn.  I came up to the intersection and paused. One way was kinda off toward Funbo by going along roads that make up a portion of my 10 mile country loop. There was an impulse to continue north. I’ve not gone that way nearly as often. It’s possible to get to Funbo by way of Storvreta, it’s just further. Even if I didn’t make it, Jens was ready to come get me no matter where I ended up.

Northward ho! For a while, there were shockingly few people on the miles long cycle path. Then it was about noon-ish, I think when it seemed there was a swarm of not only people on bikes, but pedestrians too. That struck me as very strange as I doubt there was a single house for miles.

Annoyingly, not even a hour after having stopped for a rest break at Gamla Uppsala, less than 3 miles, Mother Nature was making noises again. It was quickly becoming urgent.

I don’t know why or how it happens. At home, I can gulp water or other liquids like a fish and only need to answer nature a few times a day. Drink very little and border on dehydration, and I’m needing to go every 20 minutes if I’m on the trike! It’s infuriating.

Along a busy road, fields with no screening trees anywhere, I got desperate fast. There is a gas station and restaurant sort of thing near where the E4 crosses the road. I decided to pop into the restaurant for the restroom and to see if they had any options for a vegan meal.

It was just as well, I wanted the food, because the bathroom was either pay for it or for customers.

The only thing remotely vegan they had was a vegetarian pizza, so I ordered it without the cheese. Got the code for the bathroom, sweet relief, and then waited for my pizza.

20200423_124052

Cooked crust but raw veggies and WAY too many olives!

While the staff were very nice, one guy even curious to chat with me about the US and he knew where Mobile, Alabama was, the pizza fell on its face… hard.

It must have been some serious magic going on in the oven to have cooked the dough into a mostly crispy kind of crust while leaving every shred of vegetable on it absolutely raw. Also, the cook went seriously insane with the olives and I really dislike olives. Mushrooms I’ve learned to be okay with, but olives still make me cringe.

I also discovered that while it looked as if there was enough tomato sauce on it, I couldn’t taste so much as a hint of it unless it was a piece of the crust that lacked anything else.

Still, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna get home before 3 pm for real food, so I settled for flicking the olives out the way, cutting pieces of it, rolling them into tubes and munching on it like a burrito. Managed to get a bit more than half of it down before my stomach protested at the abuse.

While their vegan pizza left much to be desired, a woman at a nearby table had burger and fries. I could hear the fries crisp with each one she ate and the burger looked and smelled divine.

I confess. I almost broke. Somehow, I stayed strong though.

I left the restaurant and pushed on, tackling another of the climbs that the area has. Generally not very long, but steep and I’m just so very slow on them.

20200423_133619

The road less traveled! So brown for this time of year!

Still on the fringes of Storvreta proper, I paused where a gravel path joined the paved one on which I traveled. The 4-5 times I’ve ridden to Storvreta, I’ve passed that path, cutting through a field and disappearing into a patch of woods a short distance away. Curiosity always made me turn my head as I went by, but I never jumped on it. After just a short pause, any thought of pushing toward Funbo and searching for the mill beyond evaporated.

Crossing the stretch over the field, it struck me how dry everything looked. Fresh grass was scarce. Where it was sunny, there were few to none in the way of spring flowers. Some fields had blushes of green where farmers had plowed earlier in the month when we still were getting a little rain.

Other fields though were the brown of desiccated, winter dried grain stalks left from last autumn’s harvest or the pale dusty brown where plowed dirt had gone parched, lacking either the seed or the moisture to sprout them.

20200423_134110 alt

Up and over, stopping to look at the pretty, purple flowers not visible in the picture.

No, flowers were reserved for the shadowy hollows of the woods where the boughs of trees protected the moisture from greedy sun and wind.

I didn’t stress about my speed as I crossed the field or pushed up a hump of a little hill at the fringe of the woodland. This was fresh ground, new vistas. I wanted to savour it and save my knees for what lay beyond.

There was quite a tangle of paths in that patch of woodland. One of them seemed to run off toward the area just south of where I’d had the pizza. Perhaps if I went this way again, I’d take that path to get away from the constant buzz of traffic on the road.

There was the additional good fortune that I appeared to have it all to myself.

The absolute bliss of seeing nothing but rocks, most of them under thick, shaggy coats of moss, trees, and a few shy, woodland flowers didn’t last too long. It seemed hardly after a blink, the path was running off between two rows of houses, with their small backyards to either side and an occasional intersection leading off to meet with with the streets.

20200423_135443 alt

A bit rough, but pretty.

20200423_135450 alt

See! Flowers!

Then, it was back to dense trees though all around, there were glimpses of tile roofs and brick walls of apartments and houses. The path got surprisingly rough. No hint of gravel, just big knobs and obstacles of tree roots with pine needles. It required quite a lot of work and some creative swerving in a couple spots.

I was pretty much ringed in by residential streets by that point and the paths met up with them. They were small and quiet, but I was disappointed that I was surrounded by houses and small apartment blocks. I stopped to flip around on my Garmin’s map to see if there was something worth heading for or if I should just turn back.

Intriguingly, there seemed to be more ‘country’ paths if I pushed on a bit further. So, that’s what I did.

The way off the residential streets was over a narrow board bridge crossing a ditch. After eyeing it dubiously for a moment, I decided it was wide enough. And it was, by the width of a finger for each front wheel. An inopportune sneeze could have had me in the dry ditch with the trike on top of me it was such a narrow margin.

20200423_142451 alt

Not bad! I was intrigued!

The path turned into one of those striped tracks. Trees to the left, a field to the right and a rail line against the field.

One good thing about the lack of rain at that point was the grass in the center and to the sides of the track was withered and flattened after the winter. Rain might have left it all tall and lush, something that would have been harder to push through. I did have to wonder though if Jens would be able to reach me if something happened.

Ah well, if something did happen, I’d just have to figure it out, right?

Tension just flowed away as I ambled along with the trike. The surface wasn’t too bumpy. The sun was pleasant. Birds were singing and since leaving the streets, I’d not seen another human being.

Every now and again, I’d stop to search the paths dotted on the Garmin map. I realized this was the complex of paths that linked up with Jälla to the south. If I could reach Jälla, then there was a chance I could head to Gränby from there and back home all on my own.

With that planned out, I started searching for the intersection I needed.

20200423_144640 alt

Not too bad, but it’s always more about what it becomes.

Discovering it didn’t inspire much confidence in me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a perfectly lovely foot path. Nice and wide for a hiker, good surface. For my trike? Workable, but heaven forbid if it got much narrower.

20200423_144751 alt

No how. No way.

It was pleasant actually. Then, I came to the path headed off in the direction required.

It was a rut of loose dirt and torn grass going up the side of a steep hill. Nope. The path that had led me there continued, but not toward anything helpful to me and it was a bit narrower so I’d have had to push through with branches grabbing at me. The bigger track seemed to go on toward some country roads though, so I turned back.

Winding onward to the south, more people turned up, all of them on mountain bikes. At least with the triple track, there was plenty of room to give distance for passing. Everyone was polite and it was all, ‘get over as far as possible with a cheery greeting’ kind of thing. People in town could take lessons.

20200423_145541 alt

Uhhhh. What happened?!

So, there I was, rolling happily along and heading for a country road ahead when the track threw me for a curve. It disappeared.

Seriously, all that remained was a narrow strip of packed and rutted dirt between woods and the soft earth of a plowed field. I was really glad of the lack of rain at that point. Swedish field dirt turns into a gooey, clinging mess if its wet. Trying to walk on it will get you a 10 pound clump on each foot after just a few steps. Getting a trike wheel through something like that would have been impossible. One wheel in dry loose dirt wasn’t bad, just hard work.

At the end of that dirt strip, was a essentially a rough lawn. Given that people had been passing me and had to be coming and going from this area, I did as they must have and went on. I stayed respectfully to the side, following the faint hint of a path until I reached the unpaved road.

The road was a dead-end with maybe 6 houses on it. Yet, I was passed by over a dozen cars as I pedalled on and reached pavement. It was just weird how much traffic there was for such a nowhere road with so few houses. Seriously.

After all this, I was actually feeling quite exhausted and my knees were starting to hurt. Rolling along, I started looking for somewhere to stop for pick up. Looking at the map, it seemed I could come out near the restaurant. Big parking area, perfect spot to load the trike. The road did a bit of a curve and then a steep up and over the rail track. Just looking at it made my knees scream. Right about there was a big tractor access for the adjacent field. Plenty of space for the car to tuck in with room to maneuver and no problem loading the trike.

As I waited for Jens to come find me, I started to hear a duck. That was baffling as a quick glance around showed no hint of water any where. The sound kept coming though. Finally, I got up to look. It turned out that a field boundary I thought was a rough strip of growth was, in fact, quite a deep channel and it had a little bit of water in it. Down there, in a puddle I could have hopped over, was the mystery duck.

And, I made it home in time to have my dinner before 3 pm! 12.2 miles and a nice day.

The next ride wasn’t until May 2nd. The reason being, we had another cold snap, complete with spates of snow. Another day where it was chilly and, for some reason, I REALLY was suffering from the lower temperatures. Walked around the apartment bundled up to the ears and went to bed that night under a mountain of blankets.

May 1st was warmer, but we finally got some much needed rain. Most of Sweden was already under a fire ban and it was only April. Of course, the ‘April and through summer fire-ban’ seems to be turning into a ‘thing’. It was also Valborg and remarkably, most Swedes showed unexpected restraint. There were no mass waves of alcohol poisonings and screaming and shouting until all hours of the night. Part of that was probably many of the official activities for the holiday were canceled and the unofficial ones were stopped by rain.

Being the weekend, Jens offered to do the ‘pick a direction and I’ll come get you’ thing. It didn’t look certain at first, since the morning started with rain. That stopped about 9:30 am, but the clouds stayed heavy and threatening. When the street started to get dry patches, I decided to roll with his idea since it was warm enough. After being cooped up for so long though, I was willing to risk it. I decided to head off toward Funbo and that mill again.

I wasn’t the only one getting out, but a startling number of people weren’t being as reasonable as I was about what activity to do. Along the way toward Gamla Uppsala, the soccer fields were PACKED with people. If there’s still a ban on gatherings of more than 50, I’d say this broke it by 4 times over if not more.

I don’t know why, but I just lost the oomph to make it a pick up later. After making the turn off Vattholma road, my mind was made up to just do the 10-ish mile Vaksala Loop.

I didn’t turn out that way though. I wound up just doing my shortest country loop that I’ve dubbed ‘Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Loop’

There were larks singing and I thought, maybe things were already starting to look a bit green. It did appear especially that the birch trees had gone berserk and were wearing their spring time finery of pale, yellow-green.

The ride turned into a tiny bit more than the 10 mile loop. I find I have an odd impulse to just take off in random directions off places I’ve ridden countless times. I was coming down the country road when an unpaved track of gravel and pine needles heading off through the trees caught my eye.

IMG_0815 alt

Almost a fairy tale path.

20200502_120941 alt2

Can’t help but to love spring!

It’s probably caught my eye most of the 100 times or more I’ve ridden by it, but I always just kept going. Well, this time when giving the customary curious glance, I was enchanted by the flowers. All through the patch of woods there, small white blossoms peeking up from the green of leaves carpeted the ground. There was no resisting.

It started off wide enough for a car, but soon narrowed down to more modest proportions. Still plenty for the trike though. The wet earth was perhaps a little boggy under the tires, but I truly didn’t care. The flowers were everywhere and sleepy birdsong filled the softly muted shadows of the wood. I was beyond content to be rolling along at a walking pace. Gave me plenty of time to just take it all in.

IMG_0816 alt

Just perfect. Wish I’d had 1000 miles more of this to explore.

Going along the path got slower still when it narrowed again and still more at one point when to get past a rock in the middle of the narrow path, I was tilted at a 45 degree angle and expected to just flip right over.

I had hoped to follow the path along to where it came out further along the road I usually ride. The plan was thwarted by a fallen tree over the trail. It had been there a while. Long enough for no less than two paths to be worn around, but they were very narrow, meant for people squeezing between saplings and thickets, with sharp turns. Not what one would call ‘navigable by trike’.

20200502_122229 alt

No further on the flowery way

There was nothing for it but to turn around. I couldn’t really be disappointed. It was just as pretty going out as it had been going in. I managed getting around that big honking rock much better as well.

Birdsong in the woods so very different from that of the fields. Less of it it seems, but a dreamy quality to it. There was one bird calling out so beautifully, I stopped and closed my eyes just to listen. A soft wind in the branches above, the bird, the musty scent of damp forest loam.

I must have sat there, just being immersed in the moment for 15 minutes or more. Until a loud hammering gave me a start. I’ve heard a lot of woodpeckers before, but this one hit decibels I never could have imagined coming from the pointy beak of a bird on a tree trunk. It didn’t ruin the moment, just changed it and gave me a good laugh.

20200502_130354 alt

Pretty girl or boy

The rest of the ride was fairly standard. I considered just having Jens come get me at Vaksala church. I was torn. I wanted to avoid the paths which, I’m sure where crowded with people who either have no space to social distance, or have no clue, or don’t care. It just felt silly to get a pick up when I was just 2 miles from home.

I was right, it was a madhouse on the paths, but manageable. As I pushed on toward the mall, I diverted and headed off along the cycle path instead of going into the mall area proper. I was hungry and there was no way I was going to get home in time to start my fasting phase by 3 pm. So, I pedalled to Max’s for one of their no-chicken sandwiches.

Even though it was just my country hamster track, it turned into a really nice time thanks to the random impulse to explore the flower path. Came out just a bit under 12 miles and was out for over 3 hours. According to Garmin Connect, my average moving speed for the ride was 5.1 mph. I must have been moving even faster than I thought for the time I wasn’t on the path because I was slow there even not counting the stops for photos and listening to birds.

On May 3rd, I think it was, we got more rain. Actually, one spate of rain that came marching through was a full on storm with lightning. One strike was pretty close.

When I went out for a ride on the 5th, the Swedish landscape has really responded to the moisture. Fields that just a couple days before were a dusty desert brown, now have a blush of pale green. Flowers, such as dandelions, which were so rare earlier in the week have just sprung up all over. If it keeps up, there were be huge fields turned yellow with them in a few more weeks.

As for the rides on the 5th and 6th, it was just the Gamla Uppsala mound loop. A number of factors I really don’t want to get into, but at least I have gotten out. Unless it’s very cold or raining tomorrow, I’ll go again. If I get out early enough, I may even do something like the Läby loop. Maybe this weekend, I’ll push out for an 18 mile ride or something.

I’ve also looked into potentially riding in the area around Falun. Load the trike up, drive to the old copper mine, ride through the town to Stora Kopperberg (Big Copper Mountain) church where some of my ancestors might have been baptized, married, and buried. That could be fun, but will need more planning and it’s a lot hillier in Dalarna than it is here in this part of Uppland.

Of course, that depends on the state of the whole Corona virus thing.

 



Fulfillment of a Minor Dream
April 22, 2020, 10:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I hope this post finds all who read this post (and don’t read it) well, safe, and healthy.

It’s been going relatively okay here. A bit frustrated with the Corona scare, but who isn’t. Sweden still hasn’t gone into any kind of real shut down. Some businesses are closed. Last I heard theaters and museums were shut tight, but that was voluntary rather than decreed by the government. Schools are open. Most shops, especially the grocery stores, have put up marks in some areas to help people keep distance. Some smaller shops limit how many people come in. Public service announcements all over with directions on how to wash hands and remind people if they feel unwell to stay out of the public spaces.

For the most part, I’ve been avoiding public places as much as I can, which is quite a lot. Jens does most of the shopping right now, as it gives him a chance to shop for his parents who are being extremely careful about their social distancing given their age.

But it’s impacting my health and I’m starting to worry about the fact that my blood pressure has increased a bit in spite of the medication, and my resting heart rate is about 8 bpm higher than it was before I caught that cold and the insanity came over the world. There’s no room for a treadmill or rowing machine, which means if I want any kind of cardio, I ride or I walk outside.

Naturally, I’ve opted for walking.

Just kidding. Riding of course, though I’ve taken to swinging a kettle bell around when my rib lets me and trying to do stretches. Can’t do the ones where I lay on the floor, but some others are okay. Cursed rib.

Since my last post on the 5th, I’ve done 7 rides. Yep! Seven!

I’ve made an effort to get out when it’s early, hoping to beat the swarms of people that come out later. It’s been kinda tricky though. So many mornings when I’ve awoken, it’s been near freezing, if not below freezing. We’ve had more frost and snow in April than all through December, January, February, and most of March.

With just a few exceptions, the pattern of the days has been, frosty in the morning, then it warms quickly to the high 40’s or mid 50’s F. Oh, and sunny. That means every Swede who isn’t at work because they’re supposed to be social distancing goes running out the door and choking up the paths and trails.

To be fair, I’ve kinda been one of them, but I make an EFFORT to keep my distance from others. Too many people almost seemed as if they were making a point of crowding those they pass.

I rode on April 6th. It started off just cold enough for frost when I woke the first time. Managing to get back to sleep for a bit, I hustled out the door to ride when I woke the second time at about 41 F.

The plan had been to ride the old ‘field loop’ which I’d not done in years. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Coming down the big hill to the bridge over the river, my rib started to complain with the pedalling, so I cut it shorter than I wanted before I hurt something.

Still, it was a nice ride with flowers all over and sunshine. Even butterflies here and there. Managed to avoid the worst spots of humanity.

April 7th’s ride was an earlier ride as the morning proved warmer than the previous. It started at about 38-39 F, though by time I wandered out the door at near 6 am, it was closer to 36 F. I would have gone earlier, but, once again, my lights had now charge so I had to wait for the sun to brighten the sky a bit.

The paths were surprisingly clear of people. I expected a few at least to have started doing jogs and walks before whatever job some might still be going to. Nope! There was an additional treat too! Clear paths! The gravel laid down over the bit of winter we had in November was had been swept away. Smooth sailing!

20200407_055516 alt

So pretty and only a short time to see it.

It would have been nice if the ride had started 15 minutes or so earlier though. I think April 7th was the morning of the ‘Pink Super Moon’. Even if it wasn’t, the glimpses I had of the moon before it set were stunning. It was full and big and beautiful. Would have been nice to have seen more of it.

I took advantage of the peace while I had it. Also, the rib pain that had cut the ride short the day before was conspicuously absent.

Determined to make it be the longest ride of the year, I headed off for the out-n-back along the river bank to the north. It was so still, not a breath of wind so the river was like a sheet of perfectly polished obsidian. Dark and yet so gorgeously reflective.

Though it was just another loop on my local hamster tracks for the 1200th time, it was a reminder of how much I used to adore getting out early. Seeing the sun rise. The golden hour of light that paints the world in amazing hues. The feeling that I have it all to myself for that small sliver of time before others come rampaging through with no regard for its wonder and peace.

20200407_060953 alt

No clouds, but a glorious sunrise all the same.

The delights kept coming. I got to hear lark song. I miss the larks once they’ve moved on to warmer climes for the winter. It’s always good when they come back.

20200407_061723 alt

Water like an obsidian mirror

The lack of stamina was still quite apparent, but I could swear my strength was as good or perhaps even better than before all the chaos of 2020.

I felt pretty good though when I reached the end of the cycle path. Every time I roll that way, I wonder if they’ll ever extend the path onward along the sleepy Fyris River, perhaps all the way to Ulva Mill. That would probably become my favorite ‘short ride’ of all my local hamster tracks.

There’s a gravel road where the path ends. Left takes one to the busy 272 which already competed with the larks with it’s roar of traffic. Right, goes over the river and right up to a gate. A back entrance for the garrison I guess. I decided to step out on the bridge and get a photo the river in the sunrise. Totally worth the 2 minutes.

20200407_070631 alt

What on EARTH?!

Sitting down on the trike and flipping back the lid of my Arkel handlebar bag, I was shocked to notice something. The front edge of my bag was ripped. What on earth?!

I did some poking and looked around the bag in general and came to one conclusion. Mice. Not only was the edge of the bag frayed from the chewing along that top edge, but a closer look found the foam in the bottom where I made the dividers with holes in it too. Probably the little critters were after stuff like the nearly microscopic bits of chocolate from all the times I put a Snickers bar in there after a couple bites to finish later. Or bags of nuts.

Checking my side bags found more evidence. An empty bag of pecans that had its contents removed by way of small holes chewed ALL over it. A baseball styled hat I used when it rained to keep water out of my scalp and eyes was completely destroyed. But it was hit and miss what they did or didn’t chew. Like the hat had more holes than Swiss cheese, but the gloves tucked right up against it untouched.

So, clearly the storage has been overrun with invaders and it’s my fault for keeping nuts and granola in my bags when the trike is parked there. I didn’t used to do that, but since I started trying to deal with riding and my intermittent fasting, I did. I never know when I might be out on a ride and it’s coming up on 3 pm when I’ve not eaten since noon. I could just reach in my bags and pull out some nuts or granola. Obviously not a good idea.

Fortunately, the damage to the bag was minor and doesn’t impact its usefulness in the least. The other stuff that was damaged it annoying, but ultimately replaceable.

The funny thing is, it took me so long to actually notice. I’ve been riding with the bag like that probably since the ride I took after Loke’s passing. Ah well, at least it was my longest ride of the year when I got back to the storage. A whopping 5.3 miles.

The next ride was April 10th. The mornings between the 7th and 10th were frustrating. The mornings were so cold, but the days became so pretty. Sunny skies, mild temps. The sheer masses of people all determinedly crowded together on the paths to enjoy the pretty weather. The thought of going out and ‘joining’ them made my skin crawl. Some Corona virus moron passing just a foot from me and sneezing, passing it on.

My awesome husband had an idea. Why didn’t we put the trike on the car and drive to Wiks Castle. Jens could walk on the environs for exercise and then when he was done, he’d come pick me up from where-ever I’d ridden. A sound plan.

Not surprising, but it was busy at the castle. Jens and I found it hilarious that people had parked as if their cars needed social distancing. Every other parking spot was empty.

It’s a fun ride, coming down from the castle’s hill. Along the way, I discovered that while it was all sunshine and blue sky with just a few puffy clouds, it was also quite windy. I had to work against it all down the lane from the castle back onto the road. Fortunately, once I turned right, the wind was at my back and things got easier.

I’ve ridden the area there a few times, but it’s been long enough that I enjoyed it. I tired pretty quickly. After just a bit over an hour, I was tired, the clouds had thickened so there was less moments of sunshine and I got cold. I stopped at Västeråker church to wait for Jens to come. The little country roads are quite narrow and the parking at the church is generous and a prime place to load the trike. Certainly better than a tractor easement on a space that’s not even 2 full lanes wide.

It was just 4.53 miles, but at least I only had to swerve wide to avoid 3 joggers instead of dozens of them on a 2 meter wide cycle path. Oh, and on the way home, there were rain clouds east of Uppsala.

I didn’t ride again until April 15th. Just frustrated and stymied by the density of people. It wasn’t much better on the 15th, but I was just desperate.

I tried my best to avoid spots where typically people are most dense, like down by the school. It was just impossible though. Even spots where over the course of some 14+ years, I’ve seen maybe a total of 3 people, I suddenly doubled the amount in just that single ride. It was crazy. I knew better than to even consider riding the grave mound paths.

I tried to do the out-n-back along the river, but wound up cutting that short because there was a cluster of about 6 women packed together in a social little group with strollers. Coughing and sneezing was coming from at least 2 of those strollers. No way I could pass those little plague carriers with social distance. I cut through the industrial area, which at least WAS clear of pedestrians and cyclists and pushed on back toward Uppsala.

Spontaneously, I decided to see how bad my old field loop might be. Not clear, but it was more manageable than anything closer to the apartment, river, or the burial mounds. Some parts of it, I couldn’t even see a living soul, which was nice.

I did get a little choked up as I climbed the wooded hill though. Loke, back when he could run, loved that hill. Not the climb so much, but just the chance that he could stretch out for a full on mad dash down the other side.

I also remembered the squirrel incident. We spotted a squirrel in the trees and Loke wanted that critter SO bad. He seemed so convinced that if the squirrel, a 4 legged critter, could get up there, then so could he, also a 4 legged critter. What was funnier when we rode that path again after 9 months had passed, he was desperately looking for that squirrel.

Now that I’ve done the hill alone, it will be less of a wrench next time.

Coming down the hill, it got crowded on the other side of the 55. A few times, I was half in the ditch because a pair or trio of people were sprawled out across the path which would have made passing a challenge even without wanting the extra distance.

Still, I got out and had something of a work out. Longest ride of the year too! 7 miles. I was a bit disappointed with the fact that one of my knees developed a slight ache. Thankfully, it was better by the next morning.

I looked at the forecast for the coming days and decided that, if my knee let me, going for a ride on the next day (April 16th) was probably for the best. It was supposed to be relatively warm in the early morning and less so in the days after.

I’d not been sleeping well for some days (still haven’t been) and I woke up at 3:30. I could tell sleep wasn’t going to come if I laid back down, so I got up, comforting myself that it would make it easier to get out for the early ride I craved. As cobwebs cleared from my head, the sounds from outside came into my awareness. A deep, rushing, roaring sound with occasional high pitched whines. Wind. And not your typical playful breeze. This was wind with teeth.

That rather blew my enthusiasm away. While it was 41 F, with winds in range of 20+ mph, it was gonna feel much colder. I sluffed off for a bit and then a closer look at the forecast had me resignedly pulling on my middle weight layers and cycle clothes. Frosty mornings I wasn’t up to riding in followed by mild temps and sunny skies where people would be out in the hundreds. If I wanted a peaceful ride, this was my only chance for a while.

I plopped down in the trike at about 5:30 am. It was brutal, that wind. I was nervous going under trees as I pushed off toward the burial mounds. I surprised myself on the first half mile or so, which is a steady 3-4% grade. Even with the gale in my teeth, snapping my flag around with enough violence that a broken pole was a real concern, I kept a good pace. Better than some days with no wind shockingly.

Other than the wind, it was so gorgeously clear. The light was so, SO beautiful. Another of those reminders harkening to the days when early morning rides were standard and exactly why that was so.

Did I mention the wind? I crossed over the 55 and decided I couldn’t stick to the Vattholma Road any longer. The wind was from the north and came tearing down the street like it was a wind tunnel. The moment I was able to, I turned off into a residential development that’s tightly packed town houses with small lanes that zig-zagged. That and some trees offered shelter and made the going so much easier.

I used to ride those paths frequently, before they improved the ones along side Vattholma Road. It wasn’t too much of wrench to ride there without Loke for the first time. There’s no special or significant memories of any of it. It was just a way we went and nothing ever really happened.

I ended up being diverted off the route though. I turned onto a small street along some houses and a sign for road work and blocked road showed up. I pushed on toward the visible barricade, hoping I could just squeak by. What might stop a car can be quite passable for people or bikes.

From the look of it, if the of the hedge had some give, perhaps I could push through. The first foot or so had unexpected resistance. Then I took a closer look at the hedge. Oh hell no. It was the evil sort of hedge like those near our apartment with inch long thorns.

I carefully backed out and resigned myself to hitting Vattholma Road sooner than I wanted. As I pushed against the wind toward the crosswalk where I cut over to head for the mounds, I admit, the wide open countryside, bathed in the honey glow of the early sun had a profound siren’s call. I yearned to go straight down the hill and into the landscape of fields and woods beyond.

But that wind was stronger than the call of the open roads. I let it blow me back toward the beginning of the gravel path along the burial mounds.

It was unexpected, but it turned out that much of the mound path was sheltered from the raging air. The ridge of the mounds itself blocked a lot of the wind at at the beginning and then it was trees and another ridge. There were a few spots where the trike got buffeted around where chinks were found, but it was fairly pleasant. On the way, I called Jens to ask if he could come get me at the storage rather than tackle the paths that would be busy with joggers and commuters.

I didn’t ride again until April 19th. Jens spent all day Saturday encouraging me to go for a ride, but the weather didn’t quite cooperate. Sunday though, the weather was a bit better and I felt more in the mood. Jens was offering to drop me off somewhere and pick me up when I was done. I opted to just have him drop me off at the storage and planned to ride off to the north west.

I started rolling about 10:30 am. It was a glorious day. Mostly clear skies, warm sun, the air hardly moved at all. I struck out for Old Börje Road. The plan was to take it easy. I was gonna stop for photos or just to listen to larks as much as I wanted. I’d go as slow or fast as I pleased. If I just wanted to laze about at 3 mph, so be it.

As I’d noticed on previous rides, I felt stronger and, yes, even a little faster than expected. I crested the first steep hill at the beginning of Börje Road, whipped down the hill and started the push past the first stretch of fields.

Typically, at this time of year, the fields are just full of a riot of larks singing their hearts out. Not this time. Except for traffic sounds, it was silent. No larks or birds of any other kind. No wind. Just… eerie.

I’ve ridden that stretch of road so much over the years. It was one of my first countryside rides when I’d finally gained confidence enough with the trike to start going off the local paths. I didn’t resent it on that day though. I was away from the crowds of people cluttering the paths closer to town. Out on the little country lanes, there was plenty of room for everyone.

So many Lycra clad road riders were out and they were so cheerful! I guess the pretty weather and maybe they were feeling the liberation of bikes after being somewhat shut in. Every single one of them waved and called out happy hellos.

Since I’ve ridden the Ulva loop without Loke a fair bit, though this was the first since his death, it wasn’t as big of a gut punch as other spots where I’d not ridden without Loke ever. Still, as I started up the gentle, long slope toward what I’ve affectionately dubbed the ‘Kitty Cottage’, I did feel sad. There’s a house that has an elderly couple in it. They used to have about 5 or more cats. Several of them were always to be seen lounging or stalking across the yard. Loke always used to make a crazed half-mile dash to see the cats.

IMG_0191 alt

The old house, 2018

I was brooding on that memory a bit. Then I was distracted by ‘the house’. Not the Kitty Cottage, but the old yellow house is just before the cottage.

It really is an old house. I’ve always given it a couple centuries at least. Ever since the very first ride out toward Börje, I’ve loved that house and it broke my heart watching it slide into ruin as the years went on. Paint more faded. A window, perhaps broken out. Holes in the roof where a tile slid loose.

Then, back in 2018, I saw the old wooden gate had been removed and the lawn cleared of debris. Something was clearly happening. I was afraid it was going to be demolition so an eyesore of modernity could replace it’s faded elegance.

On a following ride, I saw that the porch was being propped up and a pallet of new tiles waited to be installed on the roof. Since then, I wasn’t riding much, caring for Loke, but when I did, my heart soared to see hints of progress.

As I came up the last bit of the climb before the ground tilted down from Kitty Cottage, I saw that the foundation of the old yellow house looked stronger. Fresher. I was coming up to the drive when a woman stepped out into the road, looking both ways and then gesturing for a man driving a tractor to come out. I stopped to give them the time and space for him to get moving.

As he chugged down the road and the woman gave me a smile, walking back toward the house, I called out in English, “I was so happy when you started working on the house!”

It led to a lovely chat, about 10 feet kept between us, as I gushed about how much I loved the house and how sad it made me watching it fall apart over the past 14 years. She described how much work it was, but a labor of love. Then, I’m not quite sure where it came from, I boldly asked, “Can I have a peek inside?”

She hesitated, but finally agreed. “It’s a mess,” she said apologetically. “We haven’t had much chance to do the interior. Just the roof, fixing the foundation, shoring up the frame, getting it weather tight. You’ll have to use your imagination.” I assured her it was no problem.

As we walked around to the side, she explained the house had been in the family since sometime in the 1800’s when her great grandfather (or was there another great?) bought it. It wasn’t a new house when the purchase was made, but it wasn’t old either.

Neglect is unkind and it was a mess. Ceilings torn to the beams. Walls of cracked and broken plaster, often with huge patches had fallen away to reveal the wooden slats behind. Most of the floor was cheap plywood temporarily over bare frame boards. Debris from what had to be pulled away or left over building supplies crammed around.

I saw it all and perhaps she worried, I’d just declare how awful it was. No, not me. I saw the past and the future possibilities. As we stepped into the kitchen and I got excited by the sight of the old plaster and stone, wood-fire stove/oven, she brightened. She pointed up to the ceiling in the kitchen where newer wood was hanging down. Her father had apparently been determined to put in a modern drop ceiling back in the 80’s, but he hadn’t gotten very far before he stopped trying to fix the house up. That was going to be the first thing to go in the kitchen. It was going to be wood boards and beams.

We walked through and she warmed to the subject. The windows were all handmade in the style of the when the house was built, right down to the glass. The panes were either salvaged or from a glassblower in Germany.

Even in its decay and ruin, it was beautiful. The proportions of the rooms. The position of the windows and the way the light streamed through and how perfect it would be when the rooms were restored to their former glory. I went completely nuts when we passed through a doorway and I stopped before going through to peer at the damaged wall. So many layers of wallpaper. Not machine made stuff either. I’m talking OLD, block printed Victorian (and earlier) wall paper. Even faded or stained with water damage, they were so beautiful.

The woman was telling me all they were doing and hoping to do for the house. It was going to be a gentle restoration. Some modern conveniences of course. Updated wiring that wasn’t a fire hazard. A fridge and proper stove in the kitchen, but sympathetically worked in to remove as little of the sense of charm and age. But everything else was going to be done as it had been done when the house was built in the early 1800’s (she thought). Her great-grandfather (or was it another great?) had bought the house in the 1800’s. It hadn’t been ‘brand new’, but it wasn’t old when it came into the family.

Her face glowed when she talked about what they hoped to do and how they’ve been talking to the craftsmen located in Gysinge who specialize in work on the old manor houses and such.

It was only the first floor I got to see. There was only one stairway and it’s in such poor condition that it’s dangerous.

For 14 years, I’ve longed to see the inside of that house. Hell, I actually would have loved to be the one to have it restored, but no way Jens and I could afford it. So, on a random ride, an unexpected crossing of paths, the little dream was mine. I got to see it. I love that house more than ever.

Maybe one day, I’ll get a chance at another walk-through.

The lovely couple wished me a good ride as I pedaled off. Even a mile down the road, I felt as if I were gliding on air, I was so giddy from having that chance. I’m still rather shocked at my blatant wheedling to go inside.

I continued in great spirit without really rushing.

It started to get a bit chilly at times thanks to thickening clouds. They blocked the sun more and more as I made the right turn toward Ströbylund. There still wasn’t much wind moving on its own, but there are quite a few big hills to go racing down  as one comes out of Ströbylund and heads off to Vänge. Every time I went speeding down one of those hills and the sun disappeared, it was enough to make my hands ache since the mice chewed my lighter weight gloves.

Still, I enjoyed the ride. I’ve not ridden there in ages so I had that sense of freedom added to the lingering euphoria of getting to see inside the yellow house.

I stopped at one point to snap a random scenery photo and enjoy a patch of sunlight without the wind to sap its warmth. To the left, was the busy road and wide open fields. To the right, tangled undergrowth of a patch of woods. I had just dropped the phone into the camera bag when there came a racket. A deer burst into the open, no more than 10 feet away. It stopped, head down with wide, startled eyes. I’m not sure who was really more startled. The deer or the one it had nearly stomped on. Naturally, there was no chance to grab phone or camera before it did a leaping whirl to blunder its way back under cover.

20200419131223_IMG_0790 - alt

Root cellar at Ekeby Museum

As I came near the fringes of Vänge, which is a tiny little village, I decided I would scurry across the 72 and go explore Ekeby. It’s a somewhat well preserved example of row village.

Laundry shed with it's water pump and my trike in the foreground

Trice trike by the wash house – April 2007

Loke and I discovered the place ages ago, April 2007. Oddly though, I never explored it. I simply rode in far enough to park at the laundry house, took a picture of the Trice sitting by the pump and rode away.

20200419_131340 alt

Wash House with my Sprint

This was the time for exploration. I parked the Sprint at the laundry house. In a nod to my first stop here, another photo was taken with the trike in roughly the same spot I believed I’d put the Trice. Not quite, but close enough.

20200419_133447 alt

Inside the wash house

This time, happily, there was no curtain on the window of the wash house. I went for a peek. Stuff was still in there. The window glass was a bit smudged so the photo came out hazy from where I smooshed the camera lens against the glass. Better a bit of smudge than a glaring reflection.

Is it strange that I can find something as mundane as a wash house fascinating? I just adored the old hearth and tubs. The wooden frame work to the side is some kind of roller to press fabric. We actually have one in same cellar as our laundry room, though it’s function is automated with electricity and some kind of machinery unlike the one in this photo.

20200419131608_IMG_0791 alt

Some of the buildings at Ekeby

I’ll admit, there was something of an ulterior motive for my exploration of the row village. I really needed to answer a call of nature. It always seems to be the way, doesn’t it?

Not sure what possessed me to walk around the site rather than ride. Perhaps it was the bike racks set up outside the gates. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt for me to pedal along the dirt tracks and then walk through the enclosed yards.

I say this because as I was walking back toward the wash house where I’d parked the trike, I felt near death. Hard to breathe and body hurt. A complete about face compared to how I’d been feeling on the trike, that’s for sure.

20200419_134841 alt

Buildings, a sledge, and something to work in the fields

I sat down and put my camera away, considering what to do next. It was almost 2 pm and my fasting begins at 3 pm. For food for the day all I’d had was my breakfast smoothie and a few pecans. The sun had completely disappeared. Though the clouds didn’t look the least bit threatening, it was unexpectedly cold without sunshine. Oh, and my eyeballs were floating with no apparent way to deal with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay going ‘in the wild’ if I have to, provided I can find somewhere that isn’t mooning passersby. As importantly, that I have TP.

Barely over 9 miles, but I was gonna call it. To be fair, even with less than 10 miles, it had been one of my absolute best rides in ages. Getting to see the house, taking the time to explore Ekeby. I wanted to end on a high note.

As for my food issue, Jens had ordered me fried rice from a take-away place. YUM!