Terii’s Cycling Babble


A Pleasant Birthday
August 15, 2019, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So! I left the last post hanging about my appointment with a dermatologist on August 6th.

The appointment went well. The office was tiny. Just two very small exam rooms, a meeting room for the staff to one side and the reception desk all arranged around a 15 foot long hall way that had 2 chairs to double as the waiting room.

The receptionist was the same cheery woman who had made the call to schedule the appointment. When I walked in, she gave me this HUGE smile and said, in Swedish, “There’s our American who said her Swedish was bad, but’s really quite good!”

With a grin, I quipped back the same line though about her being Swedish and her English.

I was a bit early, but the doctor was able to see me right away and she was as nice as the receptionist. No desire to punch her at all. If anything, I want to whip up a batch of muffins to take as a thank you for being so kind. Jens would say that for the money they charge, of course, they’re nice, but still.

For the mark on my face, the very nice doctor did take a decently close look. She didn’t say anything about moisturizing, but otherwise it was the same as the doctor at the local clinic had said, just with a bit of kindness and respect rather than looking as if she wanted to be doodling on the table with a smirk. Oh, and more importantly, she was willing to give me an explanation of what it was rather than just shrug at me.

She said it’s just an age kind of spot. Not dangerous, but unfortunately, not much to be done about it though it might just exfoliate off one day. She did warn me not to scrub a hole in my skin to get rid of it sooner though.

She was a little incensed at the state of my hands and feet though with their ‘eczema’. It appeared the fact I’d spoken to a dermatologist about it, even receiving treatment for it, made her angrier. I answered her questions about the treatment and the response. The fact there’d been no tests or follow up really seemed to irritate her.

When she had all the information I had, she said, “If you had come to me at the hospital in Dalarna where I usually work, I would have ordered a series of tests and treatments for you. The treatment requires monitoring though since it involves oral medications.” She was completely upfront that doing it through her little clinic would be hideously expensive. What she did do though, was refer me to the dermatology department at the hospital.

I felt a bit hopeful about that, even though I’ve been to them. But, here was a fellow dermatologist sending a referral telling them to do ‘X’ tests and such. Because of that, I’m feeling a bit hopeful. Perhaps after so many years, I won’t have episodes where the skin splits open and leaves me hardly able to walk or touch things. Of course, there’s a chance the doctors at said hospital could just overrule her, but still. Hopeful.

She also wrote up several prescriptions to try to keep the condition under control while I wait several months for the appointment with the skin department at the hospital. Pretty much the same as what the hospital dermatologists did, but a bit stronger and it’s helping.

I didn’t go for a ride after the appointment. I was a bit wary doing it after the way my hip responded to walking less than half a mile during my brief time downtown for the appointment. It had felt pretty good when I woke up. But just walking across the street from where Jens dropped me off left me uncomfortable. Then he asked me to meet him at a parking spot across the river for easier pick up. Just a short distance to one of the bridges over and a bit of a double back to where our favorite restaurant is. By time I got there, it was as if liquid fire was pouring down my leg, starting up around the hip and collecting around my knee.

When I got home, all I wanted to do was cram a few pain meds in my mouth and stretch out to lay unmoving for a few hours.

Jens was being really nice about it, walking Loke without complaint. It was lovely, but I felt bad that he was having to do all of it. I decided to give riding a shot on August 7th. I mean, if I went with the old furball, surely creeping along at less than 1 mph wouldn’t hurt anything, right? It’s practically sitting still and in a comfy seat.

So, off we went! I got my feet settled and made certain that my right knee was aligned correctly with hip and ankle before pushing off in my 22-40 granny gear.

Loke was rather happy to be out with the trike. He wasn’t fast, stable, or strong, but he was happy. I actually rolled along in the grassy verge beside the paths as much as I could so he had soft surfaces and plenty of sniff while helping to keep my pace slow enough to match his. He was a bit tired for the last 200 yards of the mile, but I was proud of him that he managed it and it only took us 48 minutes.

Then I pushed myself off for a short ride solo. A whopping 1.4 miles that took me 37 minutes. I was being very careful of my hip. Low gear and low cadence. I was taking as few chances as I could to avoid making it worse.

It felt a little foolish when I finished. My hip actually felt pretty good, as if I could have gone faster and further. Almost as good as it tended to feel when first awaking in the morning but before I started wandering around.

As for Loke, well, later in the evening, he turned into a huge PITA, woofing and trying to bully us as he suddenly had plenty of energy, strength, and stability. Always the way.

The next morning, my hip was feeling a tiny bit better than on previous days even when I started moving around the apartment a bit. Loke appeared to have no ill effects either. I decided for both of us to go out again on August 8th.

I toyed with the idea of getting somewhere more interesting for the furball, but since I wasn’t entirely confident of my abilities to do more than a couple miles with my dodgy hip, I settled just to roll with Loke over the same 1 mile.

My furry old cycle buddy was eager to go. I took it slow, let him sniff plenty, but he did much better than he had the previous day. We finished the mile in a smidge under 40 minutes! Great going that he’d shaved off a full 8 minutes and wasn’t nearly as tired as he had been for the last 200 yards as last time.

Before going for a ride, I’d gone shopping and did a few errands. My hip had shown some improvement over the previous days before I went for the ride. Once in the trike seat though, there was little to no pain. Best I’d felt in weeks! So, I actually allowed myself a bit higher cadence as long as I didn’t push too hard. I wasn’t gonna worry about speed.

Spontaneously, I decided to head off for the burial grounds just to the north of Uppsala, Sweden. The area called ‘Old Uppsala’. I didn’t fret that while tackling the 1 mile gentle climb, I was only doing about 3 mph. I just enjoyed the fact I was moving! So tired of being a lump. Better still, moving and not hurting!

I was watching the clock though. I do what’s called ‘intermittent fasting’. I have an 8 hour window out of every 24 hours where I eat (generally in sensible fashion), and 16 hours where I fast. Slow as I was, it was starting to appear that I wouldn’t make it home for my last meal of the day (3 pm is the cut off time) I didn’t really relish doing a 4 hour eating window with a 20 hour not eating. The 8-16 thing is a snap for me, but trying to do a 4-20 and I’d probably be eyeing Loke as a tasty snack.

I was passing a pizza place, but I’m not particularly wild about Swedish pizza. It’s definitely not worth the large amount of calories for how little I like it. I crept through a round about and was about to pass another cluster of eateries, when the fact that one of them was a sushi place made my mouth water. It’s even my favourite sushi place in all of Uppsala.

Yummy!

Oooooh! The tasty sushi!

I rolled up, parked the trike, ordered some food and sat outside. I munched happily when it came out. I did rather wish they had the awning up as the sun came emerged. If it’s warmer than about 72 F, I always feel like an ant under a magnifying glass when the sun hits me.

I figured out one reason why I detest warmth and heat so much. It just sucks the energy out of me. The warmer it gets, the slower I want to go, until it reaches a tipping point where I want to hide somewhere cool.

Coolness or cold on the other hand energizes and invigorates me. I want to move and go, go, GO! I want to do things! Active things!

From there, with a not-too-full tummy, I rolled onward toward the burial mounds. As I rode the mound path, I was still feeling great. Hip pain free, hardly any complaint from my knee either. Clouds started to kindly hide the sun again, which made the temperature about perfect.

I made sure to take it easy on the mound path. There was a touch of a breeze to bring the temp down a little more. Going so slow, I was able to admire the flowers and observe things. I love doing that. One thing I noticed along the path was one of the trees was a pear tree. I’ve ridden that path in all seasons more times than I can even think of and I honestly never noticed that any of the trees were even fruit trees, let alone a pear.

Even as I enjoyed the sweeping views across the fields toward the city with the cathedral and castle dominating, there were little patches among the trees that made me a little blue. Dead trees.

The skeletal trunks and branches of dead trees are everywhere across the landscape. Hardly a place you can look where there aren’t a handful of them thrusting up the dead limbs among the green. Far more than there should be. Yes, trees die all the time, but not clusters all at once. One here, one there. One falls before any of the others next to it starts its death.

It’s just the way our summers have been so dry, never mind how viciously hot and especially dry 2018 was for 4 months. It’s just weakened so many trees and any additional shocks, a few days more of heat, or not quite enough rain, and then they drop leaves, lose bark and all that’s left is gray weathered wood.

At least this summer has been a bit wetter than the previous two and only a 2-3 weeks of really hot days. We’ve been a bit short on rain. You can tell it when wandering along the river. It’s a bit lower than it should be, but at least there’s been enough that the countryside is mostly green. I so missed green last year.

I was feeling pretty strong and pain-free enough to consider riding further, but I decided it would be silly to wind up hurting myself on the trike. As I was about to make the turn back toward the garage, an elderly man came walking along with his tiny little poodle off the leash. Seeing my ‘weird contraption’, the little dog rushed me, barking furiously, probably to protect his owner. I paused and put my hand out, saying, “Oh, stop that. I’m not so bad.”

The poodle stopped short and then suddenly was all sweet and cuteness, even jumping up on my tummy to lick my face. I chatted with the man a bit as the poodle happily settled down on me for scratches.

When I got back to the storage with 4.4 solo miles under the wheels, my hip felt better than before I’d started riding. Such a change. The last time I had hip problems, riding the trike was the source and I wound up needing physical therapy for the better part of a year. This time, it appears to be the cure.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that my Sprint is helping the issue since I suspect it began with me stupidly riding a stationary bike as part of a new exercise routine on some machines at the gym.

Pity, because that workout thing was doing me some real good before my leg started screaming about it. Now, I’ve been avoiding anything at the gym that involves flexing my hip over much. Including most of my kettlebell exercises.

With my hip doing so good on the rides, improving even, I was disappointed when Friday, August 9th, shaped up in such a way, I wasn’t able to go. Errands needed tending, stuff needed doing and then there was dinner with Jens’s family at about 2 pm.

It was a lovely dinner, cooking out with his parents and a sister and her hubby. Wonderful people I’m glad to be a part of the family with.

Skipping the ride combined with walking a bit more to get things done, set me back a bit. My hip hurt a bit worse both that evening and the next morning.

For Saturday, August 10th, Jens suggested that for his last weekend of vacation, maybe I should plan something more ambitious. I would have loved to fling the trike on the bike rack and speed off to the rail trail about an hour to the west, but I wasn’t sure enough of my hip to go do a 28 mile ramble. Also, I wasn’t sure I wanted the first true run with the new trike rack to be driving about 75 miles, some of it at interstate speeds.

After the initial ‘try the trike on the rack and drive around the block’, we’ve not done a more intensive test. Loke had that issue with a thorn in his foot, then it got silly hot followed by my hip imploding on me. With my birthday coming up, Jens really wanted to be sure the rack would be good for more than a half mile loop at 20 mph before ordering the ‘big number birthday’ trike.

So, to do a bit more of a proper test, while potentially avoiding damaging myself, I suggested that we load the trike and drive to the spot by the river where I often drop Jens and Loke off for a walk. Then I could drive the car down to where I usually pick them up, unload the trike and ride back home. Jens liked the suggestion, but altered it a bit by deciding that we’d unload the trike where I usually drop them off. He and Loke would do an out-n-back from and to the car.

Jens was a bit surprised when I had to fumble around with getting things strapped down and settled. He was under the impression I had it all worked out. Not sure how I could have done so since there’d been no chance to do so. I have a good imagination, but my memory isn’t photographic, so I had to puzzle out the dimensions and interactions of the two objects as I worked.

Then we piled into the car and headed off.

As we were coming past the castle, there’s a park between the southern gate of the courtyard and hospital. In that space were a bunch of cars, several horse trailers, and a kind of fencing going up as well as hints of posts and streamers. It looked like a jousting tournament. My first experience with such was right there at the same park just 1 month after getting my Trice assembled back in 2006.

Jens suggested that I ride by on my way home to see what was going on. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the idea. Coming up from the river path past the hospital to the park was a long, steep hill. I’ve gone screaming down it at almost 30 mph (on the rare occasions there were no pedestrians). While my hip feels better when riding, I wasn’t sure I wanted to test it that vigorously.

Then he suggested, “Why don’t you just follow the road down to it?” A fair suggestion. Pretty much a straight shot. Some climbs, a few over half a mile, but at much gentler grades. I sighed wistfully at the thought of the cool river path, but decided he was right if I wanted to see if it was the jousting tournament.

The drive with the trike on the rack went just fine.

We parked at the gravel lot where I typically let them off and Jens did the actual unloading once I pulled all the fastenings off. He didn’t want me aggravating my hip. As they set off along the shady gravel path along the banks of the Fyris River, I headed off toward the busy road flanked by a cycle way to suck car exhaust. But I’m not bitter.

Before I reached it, I spotted a little side road that terminated in a cycle path and calculated in my head that it must come out near the animal hospital (Loke’s 2nd home). If it kept me further away from that steady stream of traffic, all the better.

I emerged by the vet hospital and pushed on by it along other streets away from the bigger one. I wound along little side roads flanked by University properties, and an apparent solar energy research group. A nice little cycle path with a hedge on one side and small trees and benches on the other. Unexpectedly pleasant.

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Oh, for a 1000 miles of this!

Finally I did have to join up with the big road and its noise and exhaust. Less than a mile though and I came up to a fenced patch of forest. I’ve always wanted to ride through there, but not enough to leave the river path and travel that noisy road. This time, I didn’t have to choose. Even better, there were no sheep so I really could go in. Just sail through the wide open livestock gate.

It was so pretty and cool. The trees and undergrowth buffed the traffic noise. Just too short. Not even half a mile. But it was lovely.

Then it was out into the open again, but a gravel path cut across a field. As often as I’ve drive by that spot and even ridden the area on my trike a few times, I’d never seen that path or the interesting little building at the edge of some trees.

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No clue what it was for, but I like it. ūüôā

I stopped to go get a photo of it and also spotted a tent hiding in another patch of trees not too far away. Probably a beggar’s camp if the condition of the tent was any indication.

Then it was the last push toward the park. They had the ‘fencing up, just poles with some fabric. I saw the horses, some of them in full caparisons. Three of them even had proper medieval saddles. I stopped and locked the trike. Sadly, I didn’t have the cash or Swish (an electronic payment via phone).

I called Jens to let him know I was heading straight home rather than lingering at the event. Darling man offered to swing by an ATM and bring me cash.

I considered it, but decided against. While my hip felt awesome on the trike, I was under no illusions that if I had to stand around to watch the jousting or sit in the grass, it would become very unhappy, very quickly. Disappointed even as I knew it was the right choice, I unlocked the trike and headed for the deeply shaded path that drops steeply down from the castle park to the river-side park.

Another consideration was that I desperately needed to eat. Since I wasn’t sure I could make it home before my 3 pm cut off for food, I decided on ice cream this time. Not the healthiest choice, I admit, but less calories than a burger and I liked it better than the other options, including sub-par sushi. I sat by the river to watch the water flow as I tossed bits of cone to the sparrows.

Then it was the last 1.5 mile push home. I arrived at the apartment with 6.41 miles and felt pretty good. My hip grumbled a bit as I walked from where I parked into the apartment. I had just enough time to scarf down some real food and then bolted out the door to get the trike back to the storage.

I took Loke for that half mile.

I was so IMPRESSED! The first couple days, he was doing a sort of loose limbed, walking plod. Not this time. He was doing a loose limbed JOG. His tail was kind of up, he was surveying his surroundings and jogging (albeit slowly) along side the trike even up the slope between here and storage. As we came through the little park near the storage, which is a bit of a downhill, he even broke 4 mph! The fastest he’s managed all year! Best of all, he looked happy doing it!

That gave me roughly 7 miles for the day and I felt wonderful. Hip only bothered me walking.

I didn’t ride on Sunday, August 11th. Not sure why. Can’t remember for the life of me.

I did ride on Monday the 12th, sorta. 1.5 mile for the entire day which is the 1 mile roll from storage to home and then a half mile back. Mostly it was to stay off my hip while getting Loke some walkies.

Again, he did great! Shaved time off the morning roll and for the evening one, he was sooooo close to breaking the 6 mph mark as we came through the park.

Tuesday, August 13th, was more of the same, though he didn’t a bit worse than on the 12th. I decided that Wednesday would be a rest day for him.

Jens worked from home, which was kind of nice, as it was my birthday.

The day before, I had baked myself an American style Devil’s Food cake with fudge frosting, so I was good to go that way. Other than that, I was feeling kinda ‘meh’ about the whole day. Jens spent most of it asking, “Want to go to a movie this evening? Out to dinner?! Want a little something special as a ‘right now gift’ since you don’t have your ‘big number birthday gift’ trike?!” My answer to everything remained pretty much, “Meh,” though I was wise enough to add a ‘thank you’ and apologize for feeling just so indifferent to everything. I appreciated his willingness to do so much, but I was feeling oddly ambivalent about doing/getting¬† anything.

My awesome guy still booked a table at one of our favorite restaurants in case I shook off the strange mood. It was a strange mood. I wasn’t upset or depressed about turning 50, just… meh. I was more moody and down about birthdays 48 and 49 than 50. I guess the fact that I’m feeling fitter, stronger, and every waking moment isn’t all about existing in a haze of agony helps. *smirk*

Into the mix of this ‘meh’ birthday, also came a choice that I don’t think I’ve mentioned. Or if I did, I didn’t spot it while scanning the last couple of posts here.

A few weeks ago, a grandiose (for me) idea popped into my head. Between August 14th, 2019 and August 14th, 2020, maybe I should ride 5100 km. Why kilometers when I count my rides in miles? Well, because 5100 kilometers is a LOT less than miles. It’s like deciding to climb a mountain that’s half the height of Everest instead of tackling Everest itself when you’ve never climbed a mountain.

Why 5100 of them specifically? Well, 100 for each year I will have been on the planet when I turn 51 of course. It will also be my ‘best ever’ year in terms of distance even in miles.

The idea continued to pluck at me as my birthday marched closer. On the evening of the 13th and early morning of the 14th before I went to the gym at 5 am, I started fiddling with the logistics of it. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t terribly feasible.

Fact is, to stand a chance at it, I would need to ride a minimum of something like 98.5 kilometers every, single week. That’s 60-something miles rounded up to 61 for the sake of convenience. There are blog posts on here I mentioned my struggles and failures to pull off week goals of 50 miles, or even just 25 miles. Yet, here I sit facing 52 weeks of 61 miles, each and every week.

That’s challenge enough. Then, let’s throw in the fact that there will be weeks when I have colds or flu that Jens brings home or I catch from machines at the gym. Those kilometers/miles would have to be caught up. What about if/when it gets below 0 F this winter and riding would be a risk of losing fingers and toes? More miles to be made up somehow when the weather is mild enough. I could end up with a cascade effect and find myself staring at the remaining weeks when I need to do 120+ miles in hopes of making that 5100 km before August 14, 2020.

So, aside from THAT headache, let’s also consider time. I’m slow. I saw a meme on FB once that someone posted, “I cycle! I’m slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, but I cycle!” Well, for me over the past few years, I’ve related to that, though I kinda felt like my turtles were cold and stampeding through peanut butter. 61 miles, is at least 12 hours. More than that if I have a rough days because I’m tired from the gym, or have a pulled muscle, fighting 20 mph winds, picked somewhere with a lot of hills to climb. You get the idea.

Loke can only come with me for about 1 mile at a time which takes 30-40 minutes all by itself. Jens works. That means, for most of those hours, Loke will be home alone. I cringe to even think of leaving him alone for that long on top of the times I have to leave him to run errands around town.

In spite of the nightmare of the logistics, I find myself unable to let go of the idea. Jens also kept asking as the day progressed if I was going to go riding, which kinda kept pulling my mind back to the grand goal.

It was about noon when Jens asked if I was going to Dylan’s new grill truck to get one of those awesome pulled pork sandwiches. It was my birthday after all. I thought about it and decided that sounded good.

I grabbed my¬† purse and the car keys. As I reached for the door handle to step out, a little internal voice whispered, “You could ride the trike there. Burn off some of the birthday cake and the sandwich.”

There was an internal struggle. Part of me was, “But then I might not have time to shower after the ride if I decide we should go to the restaurant.” The other part was, “Exercise and maybe get at least a FEW miles in so you don’t end up too far behind before you decide if you wanna to do the 5100 km challenge or skip it.”

Back and forth. Suddenly I just threw my hands in the air and exclaimed, aloud, “Fine! I’ll ride the trike there!” and turned to get my cycle clothes on. Jens, who had been silent at his desk writing work e-mails, leaned over to peek around the kitchen door at me curiously. “I didn’t say anything and I’m not forcing you to ride the trike,” he said baffled. I grumbled it was me that wasn’t leave me be about it. He laughed.

I drove to the storage and got the trike out. You know, I was at Dylan’s food truck in under 7 minutes. Gotta love that big hill. Dylan gave me a bit hug with the birthday wishes and sat chatting with me as I tucked into that wonderful sandwich.

Tummy full of grilled goodness, I headed back to the path. It was a pretty day. The sun was pretty intense, but the clouds offered frequent cover and it was quite breezy in an appealing way. My ‘meh’ mood lifted a bit and I found myself smiling, spontaneously deciding to ride to the vet clinic for more of Loke’s soft food. I could take the northern river side path most of the way.

As I made the turn to cut into the industrial area where the vet clinic is located, I passed the receptionist walking toward the river with her adorable little dachshund. That was when I remembered the clinic is closed between 1 and 2 pm for lunch. I still did a loop through part of the complex for distance. I hit the cycle path again to follow it to the end before cutting back to the city.

I was keeping a pretty good clip and letting myself go with it instead of worrying about coddling my hip. As I hit the section of the River Loop on the south side of the 55, I decided to ride to the cycle shop, see if Bobby was in for a chat about possibly dealing with a new trike.

Bobby was in and I had a good conversation with him which left me feeling much better about what I’m getting to boot. I stepped out of the shop and found my eyes straying to the north along Vattholma Road, toward Gamla Uppsala. An easy ride, especially as strong as I was feeling. I bet combined with my dash north along the river, it would be close to 9 miles by time I got back to storage.

Off I went. Even on the 1 mile long, gradual climb, I found myself cruising at roughly 5.1 mph. I’ve not typically been that fast there. Generally I do about 3.8 mph for that stretch.

The ‘meh’ was gone as I rolled into the burial grounds. The place was packed. About 3 guided tour groups, people with cameras walking everywhere, a viking tent set in the open field next to the museum. I had a slow down a bit and wind my way back and forth between people.

I was free of the burial grounds proper and pushing along through a veritable blizzard of seed-fluff when I spotted a pair of girls walking a husky. He was stocky and more compact than Loke, smaller. I stopped to ask how old he was. 12 years as it turned out. I chatted with them a bit as he came over to rest his chin on my chest and stare softly into my face with silver blue eyes, tail wagging as I gave him scratches. Then he gave my cheek a soft lick before they all walked on.

As I began the last push to the storage, I realized I was going to be just a touch over 9 miles. I figured if I was going to even attempt this 5100 km challenge, my best bet would be 6 days a week with rides of around 10 miles. At least to start. So, to cut sharply off the main path to take a quick dash through a small residential set of streets for about half a mile before heading off to put the trike away.

Finished with 10.38 miles in about 2 hours. Just 50-ish miles left for the next 6 days.

I felt really good as I hurried home to throw myself in the shower. The ‘meh’ mood was lifted and I told Jens we were going to the restaurant.

The day actually turned out very nice. Jens took Loke for a walk and came home with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for me. I had awesome food both from Dylan’s and Frenchi’s restaurant in downtown Uppsala. I had an awesome ride even if it was just on my hamster tracks around home. Lots of birthday wishes from friends and family on Facebook.

Truly, it turned into one of the best birthday’s in a while. Jens has always tried hard to make all my birthdays great, even those when I was so down because of the stroke and the sheer amount of pain I was in for 3 years. This year has had a radical change in attitude since the stroke. I feel stronger, fitter, and even more positive. That helped my birthday as much as the good ride and all the affection and well-wishes.

I also rode again today, leaving Loke all by his lonesome for 2 hours, but I think I’ll put that in another post. This one is getting a bit long and my ride reports give “War and Peace” a run for it’s money for length. Or those of you who read mostly fantasy, any of the Wheel of Time novels.

 

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Aggravations
August 6, 2019, 5:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, since Loke’s recovery, not much has been going on. Jens has been on vacation. At first it looked as if we were going to do one of our cycle/fish trips to the south where I had discovered a paved rail-trail bike path in the area. Then we were going to go up north instead. Finally, we just settled on staying in Uppsala.

Sadly, part of that consideration is that Jens doesn’t want to have me sitting around to babysit Loke while he goes fishing. Loke probably wouldn’t appreciate being tethered some 10-20 meters away as Jens went flinging his fly rod around so, he wouldn’t be able to fish while I rode. I don’t want Jens stuck, sitting around all day with Loke, doing nothing, while I went riding.

So, the easiest solution was to just… stay home.

I had planned to start riding around here more, especially with Jens home for 3 weeks. It hasn’t really panned out that way. If it wasn’t my hip just KILLING me for days at a time, it was Sweden broiling in temps of 90 F. A few days we hit over 95 F. Unpleasant without AC, as I’ve mentioned before.

Sunday, August 4th, Jens walked into the living room to announce that this last week of vacation had him at my disposal for ground support while I did cycling or kayaking, which ever I chose. I really appreciated the offer, pity it came when I was having some kind of bizarrely bad day physically. I could barely walk across the apartment without pain and my legs threatening to collapse. Even something as stupid as trying to open a bag of salad was an agonizing struggle.

I’m feeling a bit better this morning. If the trend continues, I’ll take him up on that before the week is out perhaps. Or maybe I’ll go ride that 14 mile rail-trail about an hour to the west which, being a simple out-n-back, would save him driving all over creation.

I admit, I felt a bit frustrated by this episode, whatever it was. Earlier in the year, I felt great. I had energy to take Loke for a 3 mile walk, come home to do chores around the apartment before bolting out the door to for shopping, and cook. Now, I struggle to fold a load of laundry and get Loke around the 200 yard block walk. All that while STILL going to the gym consistently.

As for my hip, I think that’s down to a new workout method at the gym that involves both cross-trainers and a stationary bike. If I had to guess, it’s the bike that had the bigger hand in wrecking my hip. Those darn 170 mm pedal cranks with these short little legs.

Pity, because I was seeing fast improvement in both my body shape and fitness before the hip brought it to a screaming halt. I’ve been limping along with a reduced regimen. Back to rowing machines with my feet on the floor and avoiding any kettlebell exercises that require a hip flex under load. Dead lifts, the windmill. Pretty much 75% of my routine. The Milon machines (set up in a circle as you do rounds doing different exercises), I’ve avoided the ones that involve the legs and stuck to arms and back.

I was declining in my abilities before my hip started screaming though, so it’s not just a case of getting out of shape in record time.

In other news, my birthday approaches. Jens has taken to asking me every day, “Have you thought about ordering the new trike for your birthday?”

Yes, but I’m having trouble committing to it. Do I want the Rohloff hub or standard gears? Drum brakes or disc?

I’m really fed up with fighting with the gears. The last ride I did a while back, I had actually considered going for at least my 10-11 mile countryside hamster track, but other than my knee and hip being unhappy and strong winds kicking up to make pedalling even harder, the gears were slipping and jumping. Each time they did, it was a painful jolt through my hip. A great way to become unmotivated. I wound up just doing the grave mound path and river loop.

The good news from that was, my hip didn’t really feel any worse after the ride in spite of the jolts.

But with those stubbornly sloppy gears, it’s almost like the trike is trying to convince me to get the Rohloff. It’s just so pricey and I can’t test ride one before I get it. I do love the idea of being able to change gears while sitting still. Or not having to worry so much about gears jumping or slipping. Everyone I’ve talked to about the hubs has just gushed about them. Some claim to have ridden over 10,000 miles, trouble free and going strong. No maintenance except for changing the chain and regular oil changes in the hub.

Oooh, and also the consistent steps between the gears. *drool* Sometimes, swapping gears, it’s like the jump between one and the next is too little, but in other spots, a gear is too easy, but the next is just a bit too hard. Would be lovely to have the intensity of the gears, up or down, be the same as every other one. Provided the jump between them isn’t always just a bit too hard.

Brakes are less of an issue than they were. The main reason I was pondering a change to drum brakes was to make the trike fit better in a slightly smaller car by being able to quickly take the front wheels off. Now that the trike will be carried on a bike rack, removal of the front wheels is not necessary. I could easily stick with hydraulic discs as my current trike has.

But, that’s the source of my waffling.

Today (August 6th), my hip is feeling better and it appears we’re going to have a mild day. First, I have to get through an appointment with a dermatologist at 11:20.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this, but a couple months back, when the fields and such were being plowed and it was windy, I came back from a ride. I went into the bathroom, was washing my hands, when I looked up in the mirror. On the side of my left cheek, I noticed a brown smudge. Frowning, I rubbed at it. The skin felt oddly rough, but most of the color brushed away. Most, but not all. Baffled, I got a wash cloth and scrubbed at it with soap. The rough texture remained as did a slightly darker color, though barely noticeable. Honestly, the ONLY reason I noticed that thumbnail sized blotch was because the dust clung to to the roughened skin much better.

It just kinda freaked me out. I’ve had skin issues GALORE over the past 5-7 years, but other than a few pimple breakouts, my face has been untouched by what has effected the rest. I’ve accepted I’ll never wear a bikini again (not that I did often even when I was young and skinny), so splotches the world will never see, I’ve learned to accept. But the idea of my face turning into a big scaly brown mass freaks me out.

The very next morning, I rushed to health ward to see a nurse. She was actually concerned enough, she went to get a doctor to come look. The doctor wasn’t particularly versed in skin conditions, so they decided I should see someone with more experience in them. I took that to mean a dermatologist and was surprised when they booked me at the ward (instead of the hospital) the next day.

No, it wasn’t a dermatologist, just someone more knowledgeable than the other doctors about skin.

I never wanted to punch a doctor in the face as much as I wanted to put my fist through that woman’s supercilious expression. I don’t know if she judged me because I was just a fat woman with gray hair or what, but she just sat back in her chair, not even really looking at the scaly patch, saying ‘It’s nothing.’ The distance between us, I doubt she could have even seen it, since it was more about texture and just the tiniest big darker than my normal tone. I swear there was even a dismissive little smirk playing around her lips.

I couldn’t pry an explanation of what it WAS out of her or even if there was something that could be done about it, other than ‘moisturize’.

Moisturize? REALLY? That’s her answer to someone’s who’s face is gleaming with ‘moisture’ almost the moment she steps out of the shower? I’ve got seriously oily skin, so dryness is NOT an issue.

I railed about to Jens the following morning as I drove him to work. He suggested a private dermatologist. It would be expensive, but perhaps I’d get better treatment. As we drove on, he even found one on the internet with his phone and used my e-mail to send an inquiry about cost as well as possible times for an appointment.

My sweet guy trying to make me happy and fix the problem.

I didn’t hear anything for a while, but after a couple weeks, I did get an e-mail back. They said they’d tried to call, but I’d not answered, so e-mail it was. It would cost 1500 kr for a consultation, which could also include a prescription if necessary. They had ‘X’ dates available.

I discovered the e-mail a few days after the appointment slots had passed of course. For some reason I’d stopped checking my e-mail for about 10 days. Weird.

But the spot hadn’t grown or changed in any obvious way and vacation time was in full swing for all of Europe, so I was content to wait until things settled more into normal life.

This weekend, I noticed that the spot had become significantly darker. Since I don’t wear make-up or style my hair, I honestly don’t spend a lot of time examining my reflection in a mirror, so I’m not entirely sure when it changed. All I can say is that last week, it was as it had been since first noticing it. Then this weekend, I glance up in a mirror at a public restroom while washing my hands and the spot was far more noticeable. Definitely darker though I don’t believe the size had changed.

I told Jens and he suggested I e-mail the dermatologist again. So, I did that yesterday (August 5th). While doing so, I discovered Jens had given my phone number wrong. that would explain why I hadn’t noticed any missed calls.

Perhaps by the end of the week, I’d hear something back.

Nope. Less than 2 hours later, my phone rang and it was the dermatologist’s office. Yes, they could see me. Would tomorrow be good?

Completely blew me away. The last time I was scheduled to meet a dermatologist, I had to wait MONTHS. That was admittedly in the public system.

But I’m nervous. Will they do a better job treating my concern seriously? Will it really be nothing serious, but something I can get taken care of? I can accept that I’m getting older and not likely to turn any heads, but I’d rather not look like reptile either.

Fingers crossed!

And maybe I’ll get a ride in afterwards.



And He’s Back!
July 19, 2019, 8:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, it was a bit chaotic.

Went to the animal hospital around 10 am. Wound up being there for SIX HOURS.¬†Loke was pretty stressed about it, not that I blame him. I wound up laying on the floor in the exam room part of the time because it was the only way to stop him trying to climb in my lap or attempt to pace around on the painful foot. When I did that, he’d lay down and doze by my side.

The vet who initially took our case was a bit peeved with me, I think. After looking at the foot and deciding that they’d take x-rays, she gave him a general exam. Immediately, she voiced a concern that, as bad as the paw was, Loke objected less to her handling it than he did her palpitations of his abdomen. When I told her, Loke had been like that for months (unhappy when someone squished his tummy), she asked what it was.

I explained that we’d not done any tests on it. When it was first brought to light, Loke was at the verge of death and I wasn’t about to inflict additional procedures that would stress him just to find out… what? That he had cancer? Cancer that I wouldn’t have allowed chemo or surgery to treat and make his last days a misery? Why do it to him?

Then he recovered in most part from what nearly killed him back in 2018, but his energy was decent, his appetite was OUT of this world, and he was generally happy. But I still wasn’t going to torture my dog with procedures that would make him miserable for a few months more of lingering existence if they did find something. So, I was just aware of the abdominal pain and watching it for when it might be time to say farewell in the most dignified and graceful way.

Even with that explanation, I think it offended the vet’s sensitivities that I didn’t go digging into my dog to find out. Fortunately, Loke’s usual vets are all on my side with the matter. Honestly, her attitude annoy me rather than shamed me or made me upset. It’s my dog and I’m struggling to do what’s best for HIM. Not me and my desire for him to live forever, but for HIM and what time he has left.

As the day and hours wore on, they couldn’t really make up their mind what they wanted to do. X-rays to look for left over pieces of the thorn. No, they were just gonna jump right into surgery to dig for thorn bits. No, dose him with antibiotics (even though he’s got resistant strains of bacteria) and do ultra-sound on his foot and torso on Monday when the ultrasound team gets back to work.

Finally, it was the last option the vet went with. Antibiotics made me a bit nervous. What if I brought Loke home and they weren’t working? It was possible Jens and I would have a dog screaming in the middle of the night as his foot swelled to the size of a football because the super-bug infection was out of control.

Not to mention, Loke isn’t typically settled in our apartment. He lurches and scrambles desperately to his feet every time Jens and I so much as blink. He paces around because he’s bored, but he can’t do anything long enough to relieve the tedium. Not like he can take a 5 mile walk or trike jog. Half a mile and he’s barely able to stand, but 20 minutes later in the apartment, he’s pacing. And if we tried to restrict his movements? That would just frustrate and freak him out and he’d end up hurting himself worse. Then, there was also the fact that we’d have to wrestle in up and down the stairs for bathroom breaks. At the hospital, it’s all one level, and just a few short steps to a ‘potty yard’ from where they contain the dogs.

Better he stay at the vets where they could monitor the progress of the antibiotics vs infection. He’d be contained in a small space, but more likely to accept. He’s been at the vet before with their cages, he knows how it goes. At home he’s almost always free and expects, nay, DEMANDS it. Also, they could give him better pain meds there than we’d be allowed to bring him.

So, Sunday when I got a call from a vet, there’d really been no significant change in the foot. At least it wasn’t worse. Loke was just chillin’ in his cage watching the world go by as he stayed off the foot. They’d done x-rays which found nothing in foot or abdomen, but woody items can often be hard to spot in x-ray along with soft tissue issues. They wanted to do an ultra sound on Monday. Fine.

The vet offered to let Loke come home, but since it was reported that he was so calm and willing to just lay around off the foot, I was more inclined to let him stay there. Jens felt bad about it, feeling as if we’d abandoned Loke somehow, but I kept reminding him about how Loke would be jumping up every time we moved and being a bully which involves standing up, woofing at us as he stomps his feet.

Monday, July 15th, the call was a bit later in coming, almost 3 pm instead of about lunch. The news was good. The infection had responded to antibiotics, so the swelling was down, Loke was walking and standing on it with barely a limp at all. Ultrasound had found nothing in foot or in Loke’s torso so there was no explanation of the abdominal pain. The same abdominal pain that the current vet (3rd since bringing Loke in) could find no hint of even when she pushed around on his stomach. Needless to say, she was baffled.

So, Loke was good to come  home.

Went to pick him and he simply did not care about me. Didn’t look at me. Just loved on the vet and pretended I didn’t exist. Then it got even worse. I called Jens as I jumped in the car as I drove out of the parking lot, trying to communicate with my hubby, I was distracted by a sound. It was a barely audible whine. I stopped to look at Loke and yep, it was coming from him rather than being some odd car noise.

What on earth!? I couldn’t figure out if I should run back in with him to ask about it or just suck it up. I came home. Oh, it only got worse. Loke whined louder and it was fairly constant. He was perky, plenty of energy, wasn’t limping, didn’t care if we poked at his tummy. He’d gone to the bathroom plenty, fresh water, even gave him extra food in the hopes of SHUTTING HIM UP. Nope.

Then the bullying began which was essentially a louder whine with a bit of pitiful howl thrown in as he stood staring at us with huge, intense eyes and lots of energy. Jens wondered if one of his roommates at the hospital had taught him.

Honestly, I started to wonder if his problem was that he was desperate for another fix of the good drugs. Had 3 days in the  hospital on opiate painkillers turned my 14 year old husky into a junkie??

Fortunately, the furball kinda settled down once we brushed our teeth, turned out all the lights and went to bed. Every now and again, there was this faint whine, barely audible, that would thread through the apartment.

Whatever it was, it did lessen over the next few days. Now, Loke is back to normal and the owies on his feet look healed enough that I no longer need to bother with wrapping his foot to keep it dry and clean.

I might even be feeling confident enough that he’s back to normal to try a ride somewhere. Maybe even load the trike up on the rack and take it somewhere for a test.

Then, I can decide if I want to beat my head over the options of upgrades for my big number birthday.



So Much To Catch Up On
July 13, 2019, 6:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yes, I’ve been very quiet. No riding really.

My relationship with my trike has gotten complicated and burdened down with heavy layers of guilt.

Let’s kinda start from… well, the start. I was doing so good with the gym and my kettlebells, my fitness was improving.

Shrinking hips brought up a complication. The pedal boom on my Sprint 26 is pushed in just about as far as it can go. If my hips shrink much more, I’d need to move the boom in again to keep the pedals a proper distance. If I move the boom in further, my heels are going to start hitting the crossbars of the trike’s front wheels.

Now, there are ‘adapters’ that ICE sells to push the seat a bit forward for short people like me, but I hesitate to go that route since that would put my weight more forward, between the front wheels and less on the back wheel. That would mean less traction. That back wheel already slips quite a bit. I’d hate to have to walk up every single slope of greater than 5% with gravel because of that.

The new model Sprint (Sprint X Tour), has curved crossbars leaving more space between the pedals and bars for short people like me. Hence, my decision to get a new trike, beyond the ‘Oooh! New Pretty!’ impulse.

So, when Jens asked what I wanted for my birthday, I told him.

It was shocking how badly that went over. My husband has in the past been my biggest supporter and cheerleader for my obsession. Crawled out of bed at 4 am to drive me out to the countryside for all tours. Drove across multiple countries of Europe so I’d have my trike to ride for me to enjoy the holiday more. Let me buy stuff right and left for camping tours with hardly a blink of an eye though I’ve not gotten out the door for a tour in YEARS.

This time, it just upset him. He railed about the difficulties transporting the trike in the car without damaging the interior. He growled about the trike restricted the kinds of cars we could get. He was tired of SUVs and wagons. He wanted a NICE car. Tired of SUVs? Since WHEN!? Most of the time I’ve had to argue against buying some monstrous tank of an SUV. Now it’s an issue?

He hated the Sprint especially, with it’s big 26 inch wheel. Was the next trike going to have the same big wheel?! When I pointed out that I needed that big wheel to keep the derailleur out of snow and ice, he snapped back with ‘As if you’ve needed that this last winter! You barely rode!’

That all really stung. I never knew it bothered him that much. I mean, yeah it clearly irritated him at times, but that it was just the softened topping on a deeper ranker and frustration blindsided me.

And that comment about the big wheel being unnecessary was really unfair. Yeah, I’d barely ridden since the New Year, but that hardly negates the 7 years I DID ride in snowy weather. He knew why I’d practically stopped riding in January. Loke.

Now, much as this came as a shock to me and left a bit of a sting, I have to say that Jens’ frustrations are completely and utterly justified. My trike and my obsession to ride and transport it to ride in new places has dictated a huge amount of our lives. It has controlled not only the cars we buy, but where we live, apartments we’ve considered for moving to, our vacations. Even the dog we chose.

So, I started racking my brain for solutions. Perhaps drum brakes? With drum brakes, I could remove the front wheels and the trike wouldn’t sit quite so high in the car. Most often, it’s been interior ceiling clearance for the folded height of the trike that led us to pass on some cars.

I thought seriously enough on that possibility I even asked the guys at ICE if my old Trice’s drum brakes could be moved to my Sprint as a test run. The answer was yes, but I’d need to order a new ‘king post’ for one side. I talked to Bobby (Sweden’s most awesome bike mechanic) if he’d be able to do the work and he was down right enthusiastic.

Then I considered an issue I’ve been having with my trike of late. The GEARS. OMG! They’re driving me bonkers since that ride on the rail trail back in April. Slipping and skipping.

Maybe, just maybe I could consider getting an internal geared hub? That would mean less mess to potentially be smeared around in a new car too. No big derailleur hanger taking up space. No big derailleur hanger to get mysteriously bent or twisted or both. Consistent gear steps! Oooh, that sounded so nice!

I threw myself into research. My main hesitations with committing to the idea was cost, weight, and would the lowest of the 14 gears been easy enough to get up steep hills while loaded with camping year. See, I still haven’t given up on that!

The low gear is one of the biggest hesitations. If I tried to go for a front chain ring smaller than 34 teeth (current is 22), I risk excessive torque on the gear hub. It could even negate the warranty.

All other reports I’ve gotten about the Rohloff hub have been glowing though. One of the FB group has a triple ring on his, but he’s crazy fit with good knees even being a grandfather. People have told me of riding 10,000+ miles and still going strong with no issues. Just the occasional oil change.

I really like the idea of no longer dealing the the aggravation of gears gone sloppy and replacing a derailleur hanger multiple times a year because I somehow managed to bend it. Gearing issues have plagued me much of the 14+ years of riding. It would be so sweet to be done with it.

Another thing I also put forth to Jens again was a hitch rack. Imagine, getting any car he wanted as long as it had a hitch to put a rack on. No dinging up the interior of the car at all.

When I’ve suggested such in the past, it was met with flat refusal. This time, he entertained it and I started researching that. An external solution would offer greater possibilities. Like, if I don’t fold the trike, then maybe I wouldn’t need a Rohloff hub. Pretty sure most of the gearing mess ups happen with the folding and loading and unloading regardless of how careful I’ve always struggled to be. I could even keep disc brakes if I wanted. Surprisingly, I found myself kinda mixed about giving up drum brakes.

I found what seemed to be a good rack made especially for trikes and was about to pull the trigger on it, when reality slapped me in the face. I asked Jens if we had a receiver hitch or a ball hitch. He said it was a ball hitch, but he had no idea what a receiver hitch was.

Turns out, receiver hitches are not a thing in Sweden. We would have to special order one from the US and then find a place that could install it without destroying the car in question.

But that gave Jens a push and he actually started researching racks on his own. Bike racks. He found a type that said he’d be willing to try if I thought there was even a possibility it would work. We settled on a Thule bike rack made to carry 3.

It took a couple weeks before I was sure of which type and was willing to get one and make a go. Jens’ dad helped us. You know, it turned out to be ridiculously EASY?! The only modification I need to make is some padding and add some horseshoe locks to keep someone from wandering off with the trike.

Jens was actually pleased! “I can’t believe we didn’t try this sooner!” he declared.

I kept my mouth shut about how I’d suggested trying such many times over the years. I pick my battles.

That was a rough go for me though and for a while I almost hated my trike and considered just getting rid of it all… about a few minutes. Not long enough for me actually put it into action thankfully.

Then the other layer of guilt has been Loke. He’s old, he can’t be left alone much. I feel crushing guilt if I take more than an hour running errands let alone jumping on my trike for a 3+ hour ride with Jens at work.

Loke’s been declining and hasn’t been able to really go with the trike at all either. Even a ‘short toodle’ of 3 miles would break him. The day we tried the bike rack, I rode my poor neglected trike to the garage with Loke. Just about half a mile and it took us more than 20 minutes even when Loke tried to go faster.

So, I’ve pretty much been feeling like my whole life is just on pause, waiting for Loke to pass. Kinda left with a sense of being trapped in truth.

That said, any who read this in the next few days, keep your fingers crossed for my old furball. A couple days ago, I pulled a thorn out of Loke’s food. It was over half an inch long. I don’t mean, a half-inch long thorn had about 1/8th of an inch stuck in his foot. I mean the thorn was IN his foot.

The next morning, he was limping worse. So, off to the vet for a 4 pm appointment squeezed in we went. The vet shaved the foot and flushed the wound out, but decided against cutting the thorn’s path open to heal that way. I should have insisted she do that. I just didn’t want to cause Loke more pain. She seemed certain it would heal fine.

Loke didn’t seem to feel better. Indeed, it seemed he was actually starting to feel worse, but I passed it off as ‘Well, he had a needle stuck in the wound 4-5 times to flush it out with saline’. I should have listened to the whisper of my instincts.

This morning the foot is swollen and I’m wondering if Loke’s passing isn’t going to be allergies, age, a superbug, or neurological issues, but… a thorn. Just waiting until the animal hospital opens to take him there and hope for the best.

I may feel trapped, but I don’t want my constant companion of 14 years to die either. Not to something as silly as a thorn.



Wildly Inconsistent
May 9, 2019, 4:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I just can’t seem to get into a pattern of riding this year. After my last post about my April 19th ride, nothing. The mild temps and pretty days with the ground going bone dry, stunting the appearance of flowers and leaves, continued on, but I didn’t go out the door. Honestly, I’m not even sure why.

The good news is, the weather finally broke! A lot of people I spoke with were so delighted with the ‘pretty weather’, but it was already looking a bit rough on the landscape. Loke and I both were coughing quite a bit thanks to the sheer amount of dust in the air. Not as bad as last year, but enough that every morning, I was spending the first 20 minutes awake trying to get my throat and sinuses clear. The forecast just stretched on and on with sunshine and clear skies.

At the end of April, the forecast finally gave a possibility of moisture. It kinda traveled around though. Then April 30th, the clouds scuttled in and it started to look promising. That also happens to be the very day I had given in to necessity and put out a dish of water for the local, small wild animals. Hares, hedgehogs, birds.

Valborg celebrations apparently went off without a hitch in spite of the power keg that the landscape was (and may still be). There’ve already been a couple dozen forest and grass fires around the country. Some of them bad enough to require evacuations. There was a slight patter of rain. Not enough to even moisten the parched dust of the bare earth, though pavement looked kinda damp.

May 1st, Jens and I decided to go to Gysinge for a little cookout to try his plow-disc grill. Basically a big circle of slightly dished metal, like a shallow wok, you plop above a fire on its three metal legs. As we drove the 70 km (45 miles or so), we got speckles of wet on the windshield, but not enough to turn us back.

It was a nice cookout and Loke was the most energetic and fast I’ve seen him in ages. He even tried running at one point when I walked down a path with him. On our way back home, we passed through areas that had seen enough rain there were little puddles here and there on the road!

Later during the week, we had snow. Yep. SNOW. Enough of it that the roads here in Uppsala got a bit slushy. Typically, we would have had our summer tires on the car by now, but still had the winter ones and glad of it. That was followed up by a solid 24 hours of decent rain. It came soft, had a small break after about 12 hours where the water got to really soak in before another rain came along to gently patter down for another 6-7 hours.

I was absolutely giddy about the rain. People were giving me strange looks about it. Sorry, but I’d rather have a nice GREEN Sweden than 100 ‘pretty’ days as everything shrivels around me. I’m weird that way.

20190506_120104 alt

Nothing says spring like dandelions AND tulips!

And oh, boy. Did nature respond. Where the patches of flowers and green had been kinda thin and lackluster, it was lush and thick. Color bursting out everywhere.

That was part of what gave me a push out the door.

The May 5th ride wasn’t very long. I have a project I’m trying to do and I needed branches. So, Jens suggested I ride my trike with the trailer and see what I could find. Maybe I could even take Loke since the furball was perky and Jens was home to come get him when he got tired. Sounded like a plan. Loke seemed to agree, following me around the apartment and watching intensely.

As we stepped out for Jens to drive me and Loke to the garage, I realized I’d underestimated the temperature. I thought I’d be fine once I got rolling through. Generate a bit of body heat.

As I pulled the trike out of storage and pushed it to the top of the ramp, Loke was a hindrance. Once I had the trike up, I hitched him up and went to argue with the trailer. After sitting, neglected, for the better part of a year, the tires needed airing. That done, I discovered I needed to argue with the hitch on the trike. When the tires were changed, the hitch’s angle was shifted. It required a bit of a struggle to get the lever on the rear axle flipped so I could move it.

As I worked at it, the man who always has dog goodies in his pocket came over to say hi to Loke. He knows the furball is allergic so didn’t even ask if he could give him something. We chatted as I worked and after a final pat to the furball he wandered on.

Once the trailer was settled, I dropped into the trike’s seat and realized there was no way I could do much riding dressed as I was. It was COLD. The fact there were a lot of clouds didn’t help either. A bit of a wind and no sun and I found my hands starting to ache and shivers rattling through me.

Loke started out strong for the first 200 yards or so, but then the struggle began. He kept tripping over his front feet and his hind legs buckled more than once. Cold or not, I settled for getting into the grass by the sidewalk to let him go as slow as he needed, even stopping to sniff.

It was a good thing really. As I came to end of the grassy strip and was angling to get my trike to do a tight turn onto the street, I heard a voice call out. It was that very sweet woman with her cute little dog, Millie. She was so happy to see Loke, she was laughing and waving as she ran up to hug him. Mille, adorable as ever, dropped her treasured ball at Loke’s feet as if to share.

Cold and shivering, I still sat there for 20 minutes chatting with her. She adores Loke so much and was so happy to see him after our last meeting when I was alone and she had feared the worst at first.

Finally, she had to rush off for her volunteer shift at a cat shelter just outside of Uppsala.

After that 20 minutes of rest, Loke actually tried to pull the trike and run. That came to an ungraceful end when he nearly face-planted into some dirt by tripping over his own feet.

Just short of a mile back to the apartment, where I had to help Loke up the stairs.

I flew around the apartment, hunting down another layer of wool and grabbing a quick bite to eat.

I felt quite better with the extra layer as I sped off.

The ride turned out to be much shorter than I anticipated. Less than 4 miles as I found the branches I though I needed quickly. I felt self-conscious pedalling around with a good 3 feet of branches sticking out of the trailer. I ducked back into the apartment briefly to drop off my prize and then scurried the trike back to the garage for Jens to come pick me up. Between the branch hunt and Loke’s wobble around, less than 5 miles. Still, felt good to get out.

Oh, and I also got to meet the sweetest 11 week old golden retriever puppy.

Then, would you believe it, I went out again on May 6th!

Jens had the car in Stockholm, but the weather was nice (at first) and Loke was completely out of his canned food. Since the time he snapped at me when I tried to make him take his pills, it was critical to get him more of it. Riding it was! And at least it was warmer, and sunnier than on the previous day’s ride.

Loke was bubbling with energy as I started to get dressed and even did a bit of a spin as I pulled out his harness. As we set off on the walk, he went with intent purpose, brisk, and surprisingly stable. Once again, he was a bit impatient with me as I pulled the trailer out.

What a difference in Loke between the two days as we rolled out. I didn’t quite notice right away because I took him on the grass where he could sniff the trees and such again. Once I had to get us back on the little street, it was as if Loke were a completely different dog from the day before. He jogged along at almost 5 mph which is roughly his best since he got so sick 13 months ago. And his tail? It was straight up, waving and bouncing around like a cheerful little flag.

04-06 a Ah Spring

More joys of spring.

You have no idea how that made me smile. Since aged smashed into him like a freight engine, Loke’s tail has been an indicator of how good or un-good he’s feeling. Some days, it just kinda dangles, listless, like some overcooked noodle. Most days, it will at least come up to about parallel with his back as it sways around to help him keep his unstable legs balanced. On rare occasions, the tip of it has almost come above the level of his spine. It’s probably been the better part of a year since I’ve seen it up and animated like the days of old. Back in the days when the vets had to tether it to a hind leg after his surgery because he was pulling his stitches.

Without Jens around to come pick him up, I didn’t dare risk taking Loke on the 5 mile round trip to the vet clinic. So, we stuck to the same loop I had taken the day before back to the apartment. There, I saw him comfy with pillow, fresh water, and a goodie in the entry way where he couldn’t get into anything and off I went.

04-06 a Distant Rain

I expected to get damp at least!

There was no meetings of puppies or people as I cruised along, dashing down the big hill and then zipping northward on the riverside path. I couldn’t help but notice the clouds that started to clutter the sky and, on some of them, there were the distinctive smears of silvery gray sweeping down from them. Rain veils.

The only incident was right as I was making the turn from the path into the industrial complex where the clinic moved a few years ago, that I came to a stop.

A man was walking his dog, some kind of cute mix-breed bigger than Loke. She was very nervous of me and the guy was trying to coax her forward. She was having none of it just dug in her heels and was doing a soft, nervous ‘woof’ at me. I tried talking to her and even getting off my trike. Nope.

The guy was baffled as the dog apparently doesn’t react to bikes and generally loves people. I guess I was just too weird. Finally, he got her to move on her way so I could make the turn.

The receptionist at the clinic asked how Loke was doing and we chatted briefly as I paid for the 2 cans of food. Then it was back to the trike.

One might wonder why I had the trailer for 2 cans of dog food. Well, I’d spontaneously decided that it was time to start going back to my routine of riding to the produce market at Vaksala Square at least once a week. Watermelon *droooool*

I need the trailer for those wonderfully sweet wedges of Greek watermelons that are sometimes as long as a child’s leg.

I didn’t want to leave Loke alone too long though, so the meandering route I would have taken in the days of old with the furball beside me, I cut down as short as I could.

It was a bit harrowing. There’s 2 main ‘shopping’ streets downtown. One is exclusively for foot while allowing bikes to wobble through slowly. The other, cars are permitted, but bikes and pedestrians have right away. If there’s a 200 year old person doing half a mile an hour with their walker right in the middle of the street, cars have to deal with it.

That’s the one I took. So much traffic of all kinds. Throw in a truck trying to back into a tight space to make a delivery to a shop and road construction creating additional choke points combined with impatient cars.

At last I won free, scooted across a road that seems to separate busy from less busy as I headed for a small alleyway between two buildings. It’s a major foot and cycle path that ends at a crosswalk over King’s Street with lights. From there, it’s a straight shot across some bus lanes to speed down the underpass below the train tracks.

As I pedalled along the short bit of street to the path, I was stunned by the sheer number of bikes parked there. I mean, I’ve grown accustomed to Uppsala’s numbers of bikes, but this was crowded even for that and especially for that spot. I’ve ridden though there many a time, and yes, there were bikes parked, but perhaps only a few dozen even in the spots reserved for them. Not now. They were spilling out into the street. Much more and they’d have to start piling them on each other. I was just completely boggled.

I finally reached the market and, yes! They had watermelon! I grabbed a little wheeled basket, picked the half melon I thought looked best and started to look around. There were some apples that looked amazing as well as some black and red grapes nearly big as ping-pong balls. I even whimsically threw in a pomegranate just because I recently saw a video about how to easily cut one open to remove the tasty bits. I went completely nuts.

Ooof, it was a lot of fruit and quiet heavy.¬† I definitely felt its pull in the trailer, but it didn’t seem to slow me down much as I made way back toward home.

A big further on, I was sitting at a light when the trike gave a sudden lurch forward, as if I was going to be thrust into traffic. I clenched on the brakes there was a lesser bump. Realizing it was a collision into my trailer, I twisted around to look. It was an elderly man on a bike. He apologized, looking completely mortified. So frail looking a figure, I wasn’t going to add to his distress for something he might not have been able to help. The trailer and trike were fine. No harm done and I told him as much.

As I walked in the door with my burden of fruit, Loke greeted me with wide eyes, high wagging tail, and practically vibrating with energy. Confronted with that, I felt I had no choice but to take him with me to the storage. When I picked up his harness again, his did spins that put his earlier ones to shame. As we went onto the landing, I was cautious and kept him short. Good thing too. I’m pretty sure he would have launched himself in a clumsy leap down the stairs. It used to make me cringe when he did that as a young dog. Now, it’s just a high impact with the wall at the bottom waiting to happen. He’s caught me by surprise a couple times in the past few weeks. So far, he’s been lucky. I’d rather not keep trusting to that.

So, I got Loke hitched and, my brave boy, did his best to pull. He’s as weak as a day old kitten, but perhaps in his head, he was pulling the world and doing it well. We went up the gentle hill between apartment and storage at a fair clip, Loke’s tail cheerfully wagging like one of my flags. We did it in the best time we’ve had in months.

The pace slowed a bit as we came into the park. The gravel and little pine cones just seemed to give my furry old man fits. I also let him stop to sniff at the pine trees as we took it slow.

There were two women there, a mother and daughter, with a cute, little, toddling boy. He saw us, Loke especially, and his eyes went wide in wonder. Those chubby legs started wobbling our way as if he was an adorable piece of iron and we were a magnet. His grandmother tried to pull him back, but it was inexorable. I told them it was fine if he wanted to come meet Loke.

The cutie lost his courage about 5 feet away, content to just stand there and stare though his mom and grandmother tried to encourage him by showing how sweet (aloof) Loke was. Finally, the women laughed and said maybe next time.

Once at the storage, I felt a bit tired. The idea of walking back home didn’t appeal, so I only put the trailer away and Loke and I went back home with the trike.

It’s pretty much a downhill glide and Loke actually gave me annoyed looks when I tried to keep us under 5 mph. He didn’t try to run, just jogged along with amazing stability at just shy of 6 mph. Truly his best time in ages. We finished up with about 2 miles for Loke and something around 10 miles for myself.

And made it home just in time too! My tights were getting speckled with little droplets of rain for the last minute of the outing. 10 minutes after we were tucked snug at home, it was raining. A nice soft rain perfect for watering grasses, flowers, and trees. Oh, and crops of course.

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Oh, how I missed this!

And of course, once I was back home, I set my teeth into a HUGE helping of apples (disappointing), grapes, and watermelon (wonderful). It was glorious. The brutal heat of last summer which started in early May last year, deprived me of this routine and juicy sweetness. I’m hoping this year lets me go at least once a week with trike and trailer to get more of nature’s candy.

 



Much Better Than In April 2018!
April 22, 2019, 5:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

And still days to go!

Bear with me as I fill in some backstory about how April 19th’s ride came to be.

So. Doctor’s appointment was on Tuesday April 16th. I still had a couple days left on my meds so didn’t rush about getting the prescription filled. On Wednesday, April 17, I went grocery shopping at the mall and stopped in at the drug store to get my medication.

Only to discover the doctor hadn’t refilled the prescriptions. I hadn’t mentioned it needed done, probably because my subconscious thought it was obvious. Yearly check-up, yearly renewal of my medication. I dashed back home and tried to use the phone to maybe get it done, but the mechanical voice wanted me to give my ID number (fair enough), but then also the names of my meds and doses.

It didn’t seem terribly dependable to trust my ability to pronounce medication names for Swedish speakers with my deplorable American accent. I secured Loke and dashed off to do a quick walk-in to talk to a nurse and get it sorted. I had only one dose left.

That went surprisingly quick and easy. Nurse asked what I needed, I explained what had happened about forgetting to ask for the prescription renewal. She was gone for 3 minutes to talk to the doctor and returned saying it should be in the computer in less than 10 minutes.

And while, I realize I’m drawing this out quite a bit, it’s because I’m incapable of telling anything in short story style.

So, thinking all was good, I went back to the drug store. The guy pulled it up and got quiet with lots of typing and mouse clicking. Yeah, never a good sign. He explained that one of my medications wasn’t available any where in Sweden. The manufacturer had been slack, the supply had run out and dragging feet about getting it. September was the soonest they were listing for a restock. I’d have to go back to the doctor.

I asked what he thought my alternatives would be and he said the name of the medication I’d been on before I bullied my doctor to swap me to the now-missing type. I was NOT happy at the thought I might have to go back on the stuff that made me cough like mad. Especially when I couldn’t eat cough drops around the clock thanks to my intermittent fasting! Sarcasm there, but true.

I dragged my feet dispiritedly out of the shop. Hmmm. Just maybe, try my luck at the other drug store at the opposite end of the mall. Perhaps that one had a back supply somewhere. I don’t think the two franchises communicate about their stocks.

The girl there was much more helpful. First, she told me, there wasn’t any of the medication in all of Uppsala, should she order it? Wary that she might be unaware of the lack of supply, I told her I’d taken the last pill that morning. So, she broadened her search. She found a drug store that had it in a town about 20 miles away. I was so relieved.

06-27 a Alunda Kyrka

Alunda Church 2009

Alunda is a tiny village that I’ve been to the fringes of. Years ago, maybe back as far as 2009, the first year I started blogging no less, I’d started a ride from Alunda Church. Quite a warm day as I recall. Had to take lots of stops to rest Loke in shady spots. Back in those golden days when Loke and I both could do 30+ miles with a joyful ease as long as we didn’t burst into flame.

As I made the drive, a creeping annoyance took hold. Years ago, the smaller, busy road was converted into what I call a ‘carriageway’. It’s a 3 lane road lined with barricades and dividers. No shoulder to speak off and a speed limit of 100 kph though people go much faster. The middle lane swaps between the two directions giving intervals to each side for passing slower vehicles every few miles.

Carriageways have been the bane of a few of my routes. Planning a ride, using Google Street view, only to discover that in the 3 years since the street view as taken, the nice little road had turned into a carriageway, banned for bikes if anyone was even foolish enough to treat their lives so carelessly. Even in Sweden it would be foolhardy at best, suicidal at worst.

It can be so incredibly frustrating. A lovely little road intersects one, but the next road you need on the opposite side is a quarter mile, or less down the carriageway. No over or under pass. No cycle path. The only other way is a 30 mile detour even though you can see the medieval church you want to photograph and maybe go into just RIGHT THERE.

So, yeah. I rather resent carriageways.

When the one heading east out of J√§lla started construction, I was dismayed and frustrated. I even tried to see if I could still reach some the areas of small roads I wanted to ride even with it coming into being. There’s a bit of cycle path that goes on from the big roundabout near Granby mall and I followed it, only to find a dead end. Some of my riding hopes for riding out from the apartment to loop through that part of the countryside and back home were crushed.

Well, on the April 17th drive, I started seeing little parallel roads were I don’t remember any. Dirt, but still. There were even short bits of cycle path with underpasses in some spots where I definitely know there were none.

It got my brain to working. Would it be possible now to reach some of those areas by paralleling the carriageway without adding ridiculous distance? You know what? It was going to be my next ride. The Easter weekend was coming up, I could go ride for at least one of the 4 days that Jens could be home with Loke.

There was a bit of chaos about what day to do it. Jens wanted to do things like go walk downtown for an outdoor lunch and I wanted to ride. I at last claimed Good Friday for the ride and planned to leave early.

Jens did try to persuade me to wait until after I did a Starbucks run for him. I put my foot down on that because that would mean not leaving until around lunch time, complicating my eating schedule more than the ride already was. Cycling and my fasting are definitely not getting along.

I’ve had some people suggest that I just take sandwiches. Jens thinks I should just be fine with fruits, nuts, and granola, and I would if I came home to a nice big meal, but 4 pm is still prime riding time if I want to do the all day thing like I used to. And I want to!

Seriously, if I start riding more than once every 2 weeks, say 4x a week, I really don’t want to spend those 4 days living like a squirrel with barely a hint of a hot, proper meal to be seen. Just because I can be happy with just a bit of salmon and cauliflower, calling it a meal, doesn’t mean I’d be thrilled to give that up for, as one person suggested, days of PB&J.

For the record, I detested PB&J even when I was a kid and it hasn’t improved. My other sandwich choices are a bit brutal on cholesterol levels and those that aren’t revolt me, so… yeah.

On the matter of eating convenience, if I left earlier, I’d get some good miles and at about 2 pm, pull out my little camp stove and see if it still worked. Pancake mix holds up just fine with no refrigeration, just add water and heat under a pan. Mmmmm… pancakes. If I left when Jens wanted me to, I still would have practically been in town when ‘dinner’ time rolled around.

It was a difficult day to dress for. It was 28 F when I woke up at 5 am. About 34 when we walked out the door to the car. The forecast was reporting a high near 70 F. Legs are the hardest part when dressing in layers that will need to be removed. I settled for a ratty pair of track pants that I didn’t care if they got grease on them from rubbing on the chain or chainrings. But it was sunny!

20190419_073814 alt

Just shambling along.

Jens dropped us off at the storage a bit after 7 am. To give my hubby a short break, I was going to do a 1 mile toodle with Loke back to the apartment. There, I’d load some more things on the trike, like the drone.

Jens also grabbed me a naughty breakfast. McD’s ‘Toast’ which is something like thin, not sweet pancakes used as bread for a grilled cheese. I took the time to devour it and grab the rest of the gear. Only then, I realized I’d forgotten the camp stove at the storage.

Sighing, I headed back there. Without the need to do old Loke speed, I felt pretty good, creeping up the 4% grade toward the storage. In my mind, it boded well for a good day of riding.

As I stopped in the little parking area, one of the very sweet women I’ve come to know over the years we’ve had the storage, came walking along with her darling little schnauzer, Mille. She saw me and a look of devastation crossed her face, hands to her mouth, eyes tearing up.

It took a me a second to realize what was going on. I waved my hands back and forth and shook my head. “Loke’s fine! He’s just not able go with the trike much any more. Still enough energy to be a pain in the butt at home though!”

She gave a gasp of relief and then a weak chuckle as she wiped her eyes. “I was so scared when I didn’t see him.”

Bless her heart. I stood there and chatted for a while. It was worth the time to reassure her as she cared so much for my furball. I amused Millie by throwing sticks since her favorite mini pinecones weren’t around.

20190419_092128 alt

Winding my way out of town.

Finally, we parted ways and I dug around for a while before finding the stove. It felt good to be officially on my way once I packed it in my rear pannier.

It was warming up fast. In the time it took for me to get back to the apartment with Loke, eat the breakfast Jens got me, back to storage, chat with the nice woman (who’s name I REALLY should learn), and find the stove, it had probably gotten at least 5 degrees warmer.

Once I was actually moving in purposeful direction instead of scrambling in circles, I found the urgency lightened a bit. It always feels like quite a bit of climbing, gentle but up all the same, when heading out of Uppsala. I wanted to be going the entire day and the plan was for me to just go and Jens would pick me up when I tired.

06-01 e Vaksala Tower 2 Pano

Tower of Vaksala Church – 2014

As I pushed on toward Granby and Vaksala church where the 288 shot off to the north-east, it continued to warm fast. By time I was in the area of the mall, I was overheating and wanted to get those track pants off. I hadn’t planned to stop at Granby, but rather than dancing around in my stocking feet on the cycle path within view of the mall, it seemed nicer to just go to the bathrooms there. Two birds with one stone. I even took the time to have a small beverage at Starbucks and chat with the ones working.

I admit, I felt a bit self-conscious walking through the mall in my cycle tights with running shorts and bright blue and pink Lycra sport top. At least it was just a few steps from the restrooms to the escalator and then an even shorter dash out the revolving door.

It was a bit of a struggle coming up from the underpass from the mall to the cycle path that heads toward Vaksala Church. They probably should have made the slope a few degrees gentler and gravel for the tire to slip on did not help.

After the underpass, it’s still a bit of a climb up toward the church and the Iron Age burial grounds to either side of it. Not brutal hills, but significant and, though I felt strong enough, I didn’t push too hard. Really didn’t want to blow out my knees before I even started.

20190419_102242 alt

WHEEEEEEE!!!!!!

In minutes, I was perched at the top of the slope and looking down the looooong drop beside the 288 toward Jälla.

A perfect moment for a photo stop with the land dropping away in gentle rolls into the distance. As I snapped it, the realization this was first struck me. This hill is well known to me, but always from the other direction. I’ve climbed it when choked with gravel in the early spring. The pedals have turned to push it up in summers and and autumn when the path was smooth and clear. I’ve even struggled with the climb through 4 inches of snow on studded tires. Everything in between. Rain, ice, you name it.

Not this time. Now, my trike was gonna fly down it. Phone put away, I set my feet firmly against any possible bumps and pushed off.

I’ll admit it. I was giggling gleefully as the Sprint raced like its name. The wind blowing through my hair made a roar in the ears that rivaled the traffic noise. I kept my shoes pressed hard on the pedals and just flew. It was fun way to get past a boring and annoying stretch of travel. I could have done without the facefull of wiper fluid though.

Breathless laughter bubbled up as I started to slow and time for leg power returned.

There was an loop I used to ride that added a few miles to my Vaksala Church loop, but I stopped doing it because I decided too much of it was boring. For miles, just utterly flat, the vast fields stretching off so that trees were just a black smudge on distant horizons. A steep hill or 3 thrown in. Just never felt it was worth the miles or the time. Once I passed the turn off for that abandoned hamster track, I was on territory I’d only ever ridden once before years ago when the carriageway was just torn ground beside the busy smaller road it once was.

Like most of the rolling done so far that morning, it wasn’t very interesting. The carriage way on one side. A few houses on the other. Then it was houses on the right and a big brown sound-wall on the left.

Cresting a gentle rise, I braced for the worst scenario – the dead end. Fortune smiled upon me! The road did a sharp rightward curve right were a cycle path began, blocking car traffic with several boulders.

I rolled right into a place that is heaven or hell depending on your tastes. A brand, spanking new, residential cluster filled with cookie cutter houses. They seemed to be divided into small neighborhoods. This little patch of streets had big, white 2 story houses with a huge sun-terrace built over a carport, completely identical except for the cars parked by them and the numbers on the side. The next streets over had a different type of house and further over, still another. The street I followed was parallel to the noise-wall and carriageway. The strip of land between wall and residential street was reserved for apartments, townhouses, and what Swedes call row-houses. The row houses were built almost as single building with doors ever 20 feet or so. Looked disturbingly like a motel more than permanent housing.

And the sheer number of kids! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that density of children between the ages of 5 and 11 outside of a school yard. They were yelling and bounding around on the postage stamp sized laws or chasing balls into the street, riding bikes, kick scooters, staring in open mouthed wonder at the odd, plump woman on the really weird bike.

04-19 aa Up And Out

And uuuuuupppppp!!!

I reached the end of the street and found a steep hill covered with trees. The first trees visible since I rolled into the neighborhood. The cycle path went up in a bit of a switch back right to the parking lot of a decent sized grocery store.

Since I hadn’t really planned the ride and some of the area wasn’t even updated on most of my map stuff, I had a bit of confusion at the grocery store. I found a spot out of people’s way to sit and flip around between PlotaRoute, Google Maps, and my Garmin’s maps to puzzle out the best way.

Most every where I looked seemed to be churned ground with the beginnings of construction or more houses that looked as if they were popped out of a factory’s assembly line. It was a rough dash down a hill on a crudely paved cycle path covered with gravel before I made a turn into another of those up and coming residential clusters. There were a few houses, tightly packed at the beginning of it, but further in it was just rough paved streets, fittings for future light poles, and crushed rock path beside the pavement where bike and pedestrian paths might one day lay. Across the broken ground consisting mostly of broken boulders and tree stumps, were 2 or three houses, just kinda sitting in the middle of the destruction on their own. One woman was just stepping out with her two kids and called out a cheery hello from one such house.

Trying to thread my way through the tangle of half-finished streets, I got myself into a dead end where a backhoe was parked with a big pile of dirt and debris. As I backtracked and rolled by the house with the friendly mom, I wondered if this might be the end of my attempt. I took a chance and made a left where the asphalt disappeared into soft, loose sand, generously mixed with egg sized rocks.

04-19 ab Encouraging

Encouraging!

04-19 ab Less Encouraging

Hard going, but at least it’s going!

After a few hundred feet more, I slowed and stared warily at the kind of temporary fencing they put around construction sights. Hanging from it was a vivid orange sign I’ve come to associate with detours. Hopeful, I pedaled for it.

Yes! ‘Walking and Bike Road’ with an arrow. Looked like me and the trike were going to make it a little bit further. I was almost humming as drove the trike through the fence opening and onward.

The humming didn’t last long. I had to save my breath to move the trike through the even softer sand. My rear wheel slipped and spun in the stuff as the speed dropped to ‘Old Loke’ pace.

I reminded myself I still had a good 9 hours before sunset. Loke was snug at home with Jens for company. Being picked up somewhere down the road was already prearranged with just the location to be decided on when I got tired. I put it one of the easier gears and slowly crept over the sand.

I did wonder how much of it I was going to have to get through though.

04-19 ab Unexpected Pavement

Lovely surprise!

Turns out, not much. Just one more sign detouring for bikes and pedestrians and less than a quarter mile, pavement. Most encouraging was the condition of it. Not pot-holed, broken down asphalt of an abandoned road. No. It was lovely smooth and practically new under the dust of dried mud tracked on it by big machine tires. With a grin, I pushed off and the trike was soon humming along at over 7 mph.

I was relieved to be surrounded by a bit of trees and out of the packed housing development. I needed to find an out of the way place to answer a call of nature.

As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I discovered how used the mystery paved road was. People walking back and forth along it in greater numbers than I thought they would be given the apparent distances from the houses by then.

One was a very chatty man who waved me down when he saw me. Asked some questions about the trike and mentioned how great it would be if they made trikes like mine, but with pedals for both arms and legs. He was quiet taken with that idea.

04-19 ba Further Down Carriageway

Yes! Still going!

It was a bit further on, with a steep climb up a road of rocks that I found privacy to shut Mother Nature up. Was a rough downhill too. My route took me onward down the lovely new road and straight through an intersection where it joined with the carriage way with nothing on the other side but dead ends. That was fine with me, because right there was the start of another cycle path running parallel with that busy road.

The scenery was also showing signs of improvement. Along the surprise stretch of new road, it had least been trees rather than torn ground and new, tightly packed houses. They had been rather small and scrawny. Some variety more than those stunted pine sticks would have been welcome as well.

04-19 ba Much Nicer Scenery 1-1

Finally! Scenery worth looking at!

I still felt strong speeding down the ribbon of new-ish paved cycle path. The temperature by this time was pushing well into the 70’s F, but the clouds which had been thin wisps in Uppsala had gotten a little thicker. They blocked what would have been the worst of the sun’s impact. An unfortunate side effect though as the sky wound up looking white or washout in most of the photos I took.

It wasn’t raining, though the landscape is starting to get a bit desperate for it even so early in the spring. Yet, with that veiling of the sun, I wasn’t broiling in misery either. It was just on the warm side of perfect.

Being so close to the carriageway after the density of the newly developed areas got a bit tiring. The constant bombardment of noise and the feeling that I’d been out riding for 3 hours or so and very little to see for it was wearing me down. I distinctly remembered the cycle path ending at a road that sorta peeled off from the carriageway and wasn’t crammed to the brim with humanity.

04-19 bb More Like It 1-1

Oh sweet relief! Peace at last!

04-19 bb Flowery Hillock 1-1

The white flowers didn’t show up as much as I hoped. The rocks and trees are still nice.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the remembered junction and had a good screen of trees between myself and the traffic to muffle the steady roar. I didn’t realize how pushed I’d felt until I reached that delightful haven. Suddenly, flowers and patches of green buds on trees seemed to leap out at me from all sides. It was almost as if they’d been hiding from all the bustle and noise as much as I wanted to.

There are times when I don’t notice how much unpleasant noises get to me until their absence washes over me like a soothing balm.

04-19 bb Spring Flowers 2

Well, hello spring beauties!

Though the peaceful road beckoned and the surface was good for rolling, I found myself ambling at a pace barely faster than a walk, stopping to admire flowers or close my eyes to the bliss of birdsong.

There were a few houses tucked among the trees to the right side of the road (opposite the carriageway), but there was space between them. Imagine, not being able to open your kitchen window and reach your hand out to your neighbor’s window to borrow a cup of sugar. How do they ever survive!?

I’d barely done 10 miles and it was already after 12:00 pm, but it still felt like an accomplishment. The discovery of a navigable route in spite of the carriageway to fresher ground. The personal equivalent of discovering the Great Northwest Passage.

04-19 ca Burial Mound Maybe

A possible burial mound.

The landscape opened up a little and I came upon a pasture that had a random little hillock in it. Round and looking a bit oddly placed for anything natural. I snapped a photo of it just in case it’s actually a burial mound.

I took a short pause to sip water and examine what the road ahead was like according to various maps. It was heading back to reconnect with the carriageway.

I really wasn’t looking forward to that. I wanted more countryside, free of the steady ‘WHOOSH’ of motorized conveyances traveling at high speeds. There was a sign for Funbo that pointed down a dusty lane that intersected where I’d paused to decide my options.

03-26 f Funbo Kyrka

Funbo Church – 2016

I like Funbo. It’s a pretty church and has a lovely brook nearby with a stone bridge I’ve never quite been able to photograph. Good place for Jens to pick me up if I got there and was tired. It had been a while since I’d gone there and at least some of the roads between me and church had to be something new. Also, it would be exactly the kind of ride I wanted to achieve by finding a way to evade, but sorta follow the carriageway. No time like the present.

I took a nibble of a Snickers Bar to keep my energy up and pushed off.

04-19 cb More Sandy Soft

Slow, but pleasant going.

That unpaved lane was only about a mile long, but I took it very slow, as much by choice as the fact that it was soft sand and rocks. Lots of photo breaks and even just to listen to the babbling of a little brook or warble of a lark somewhere across the fields or pastures.

04-19 cb Babbling Brook 1-2

Chuckling and gurgling along.

This was precisely what I had been looking for and definitely worth the moderate aggravation it took to reach it. It was even better knowing that if I wanted to ride it again, I’d reach it faster because I’d know the way.

The brook parted ways with the road side and went winding off across some half-wild pasture land. Fields on the left began to taper off into rockier ground as I made a slow climb up. Have I mentioned that I couldn’t stop smiling. This was heaven for me!

 

04-19 fa Pretty Pasture 2

I just LOVE this. Imagine it with green grass and maybe summer flowers!

I reached the top of the climb and absolutely had to stop for a photo. The road was a bit inset to the landscape, so I had to scramble up an embankment a little higher than my knee for the shot I wanted.

Before I turned back to the trike, I heard hoofbeats and only then noticed that I was at a juncture of two pasture fences that formed mutual corners. The most stunning horse was coming right toward me.

He was an absolutely lovely boy, a coat that was a sort of dark gunmetal gray that bordered on black and splashed with subtle dapple rings that the weak sun highlighted. Sort of the same effect when you can see the rosette spots on a black leopard in the sun. His black mane and tail were just noticeably streaked with a gray just a few shades lighter. As if that wasn’t enough to make him stand out, his face had an almost calico pattern of brown and white as if someone had gone and painted a roan’s horse pattern there.

04-19 fb Dusty Lane 3

Near perfection.

I really wanted to get a photo of him, but he came fast and then a prompt spin at the corner of the fence. It turned out he wasn’t coming to see me at all. I was simply standing right near his toilet. He did his business and trotted off again.

Pretty as he was, I really didn’t want to share photos of horse butt and toilet use. I would almost suspect him of being canny and making sure he didn’t present a flattering view as I edged on hoping for a chance.

04-19 fb Dusty Lane 4

A view back the way I came.

There were other horses there as well, but it seemed the gunmetal man was the big boss. He was dominating the ‘upper’ section of a pasture that was almost tiered. I could just make out the pricked ears and expression of interest of a white horse in the lower area. He/she moved toward me and the dappled black made a sound I’ve never heard out of a horse. It would have been more expected to come from a rottweiler. Seriously.

The white horse stayed down pasture and I can’t say I blame it one bit. I finally had to give up on hoping for a good angle on the boss and moved on.

04-19 fb Possible Ruin 3

Thought it was quite strange.

I’m glad I was paying so much attention to my surroundings or I might have missed the peculiar collection of stones just past the horse paddock.

04-19 ga Old Buildings 1-2

Not ruined old buildings

It looked almost modern, just a few semi-straight rows of rectangular-ish shaped stones. For the life of me, what it might have been for eluded me. I was intrigued enough that I got up off the trike and went for a closer look and better photo angle.

As I snapped it, the square shaped almost ramp like structure at the near end made me think of those kinds of barns where there’s a stone and earth ramp up to the building’s second story. That offered one possibility. Pretty sure I was looking at the foundation support stones of an old farm structure. Quite a few old buildings are just wooden floor supports held off the ground by stones exactly like this.

04-19 gb Dusty Lane 5-2 Pano

I could wish for a 1000 more miles of views like this.

I could be wrong about. If I’m right, then this would have been an impressively large building to use this kind of support. If it had still stood, it might have claimed title of the largest I’d seen.

Not far around that curve hugging close to the old buildings, I came to the end of that sandy lane. Just 1 mile, but it had taken an hour. Stopping near the horses and then again at the ruin and for whatever other reasons I might have stopped rolling. Totally worth it.

04-19 gb Old Barn 1-1

As I see it falling to ruin, I wonder about its stories.

The next road I turned onto was paved so my speed picked up significantly. I don’t think I enjoyed the scenery any less.

The almost hidden building slumping to one side is a good example. It was fair distance away as I clipped along at almost 8 mph, but I spotted and stopped. Zoomed my lens to the max distance to take a snap. The good thing about the sheer amount of megapixels cameras have now days is you clip a small portion out of a picture and still have a good quality image.

I should have listened to my instincts and sent my drone over for an even closer look at the structure. I’m not sure why I didn’t. I think because I couldn’t see the interesting feature of the stone that seems to be part of it. I thought it was just a slumped barn.

I really need to use my drone more. I did use it, about another mile down the road, but it wasn’t at nearly as interesting a place as the slouching building would have been. I didn’t use it at the strange stones because of the horses. Always something, isn’t it?

It was coming up on 2 pm when I decided it was time to stop for my attempt at cooking pancakes on a camp stove.

I finally found a spot that wasn’t right on someone’s yard and with plenty of space to pull my trike out of the way. It as kind of tucked among some pine trees where cars might park. Assembly of the camp stove only began when I brushed as much of the pine needles and cones away as I could. Picked the spot that was mostly gravel to set to work.

04-19 ha Could Go Better

Scene of the crime against pancakes.

It was… a mixed success. I blundered around and didn’t get the stove quite set up right so couldn’t rest the pan on it. I’m also not nimble or flexible enough to sit on the ground while it was cooking. I had to do this awkward kind of kneeling squat which required constant shifting to ease my knees.

I called it done after getting three very small pancakes half cooked. Better than nothing I suppose.

Not long after I got everything packed up and was on the road again, my knees started to complain. I think it was around mile 20. Not surprising. I was over 700 feet of climbing which is more than I usually get during a ride.

As I was writing about my cooking fiasco, it crossed my mind the knees might have also been aggravated by the positions I was forced into by the grounded stove. Well, whatever it was, they started to hurt.

04-19 ia Old Buildings 2

Random Scenery

And for some bizarre reason, my stubbornness kicked in. I reached a cycle path along a busy road. Funbo was close, perhaps 2 miles. Did I go that way? Nooooo. Silly me, I got it into my head to get home myself, knees or not.

The cycle path parallel to the 282 was not a kind one. It seemed I was so often going up hill and not nice, ‘kind’ hills either. These were hills from the bad part of town who laughed viciously as they stuck ice picks in my knees and twisted. Still I pushed on.

04-19 ja Random Scenery

More scenery

I started recognizing things though. Last year, I rode that path but from Uppsala and out into the countryside on a day there was still snow lingering in places. I remember that because I found a piece of antique farm equipment and walked through knee deep snow to get a good photo of it.

Recognition made it feel as if it was the home stretch, but in truth, there were still miles to go. The knees were increasingly unhappy. Every now and again, the niggling thought that the wise thing to do would be stop and call Jens would wriggle into the light of consciousness. Generally, when it was most inconvenient. No place to safely park the car and load the trike mostly. So, on I went.

04-19 ja Bastu Maybe

I think it would look better with a traditional tile roof.

I finally reached a brief tipping point. The long climb up came to an end and it felt sooooo good to look down at a long drop. In the distance I could see where the cycle path moved away from the 282 where it would join a small road with some old farm houses and buildings. I braced myself and started down.

Hoooooo boy. That descent made the one by Vaksala church feel like a mole hill. The trike picked up speed until it was screaming down the slope. Or maybe it was me. Speed pushed up to nearly 30 mph as I held on to the steering bars with whitened knuckles and only heard the roar of wind, the almost shrill buzz of tires, and the slam of my pulse in my ears.

Only part of that was speed. The other portion making the charge so harrowing was the unevenness of the path. It wasn’t so much cracked and broken with potholes just, as I said, uneven. Sort of like a duvet a cat has walked on, leaving dips and rises. At that speed, staying on the trike was like riding a bucking horse. Heel slings and aggressively studded pedals or not, there was real concern my feet were gonna go off the pedals no matter how hard I tried to press them down.

The brakes squealed in protest as I brought the trike down to under 25 mph for safety sake.

Finally reaching flatter ground, the trike gracefully slowed and I passed by the bent runestone before needing to pedal again. I kept it slow though, craning around to look for the other runestone across the road. The one which hasn’t been properly collected. I couldn’t find it at first, but the little stone bridge I have absolutely no memory of definitely caught my eye. It was on my side even.

04-19 ja Looks Like Drought

Starting to look a bit like a drought if you ask me…

The idea of getting off the trike for a few minutes felt like a winner. So I parked it and started to walk across the field.

Though from a distance, it looked nice with spring’s first blush of green shoots, it revealed a more worrying story as I trudged across it for better angle on the bridge. The ground was hard and cracked like smashed tile. It should be sticky mud at this time of year…

On the 15th, when I despaired at letting such a ‘rare’ gorgeous day go by without riding, we’d had gray and some rain in the day before that. On the 16th, I was overjoyed and had the almost manic ride because it also turned out so beautiful and with temps bordering on warm. By the 18th, my joy at such pretty days edged into worry as the past 2 summers have been bone dry. That outlook was not improved when a glance at the 10 day forecast showed only an endless string of pretty days. I mentioned to Jens my concerns. He gave me a wry look and said he’d heard them talking on the news about that very thing that morning.

2017, the river even stopped flowing over the spillways and was a mere trickle down the fish ladders. Oddly for being so dry, it was surprisingly cloudy. We had some nice days, but for the most part, the sky was hidden by gray. It was cool too though it didn’t stop some trees getting so desperate they were wilting and grass went brown in a lot of places.

Last year, ooooh, 2018 summer was brutal. Starting some time in May temps were pushing into records that had been set decades ago, even more than a century, in some cases. It wasn’t just 1 day was a record-breaker here, and another a week or so later a record-breaker, but nearly every SINGLE day. Too often, temps were pushing into the high 90’s. Sweden doesn’t know how to do AC and most places don’t even have it. You couldn’t find a fan for sale in any shop in the entire country. The sky remained stubbornly clear and the sun beat down cruelly. Svartb√§cken Street has a median lined with trees. There was not a green leaf to be found and some of them looked utterly dead. Crops were failing. Wheat never made it even knee high before it went brown with barely a seed head on it. Harvest was in July as farmers desperately tried to salvage what they could. Everything was yellow and brown, no green to be seen. It was almost like a dust bowl; grit and grime everywhere and the sky would go kinda of a pale mustard color from wind pulling up the topsoil. Livestock and wildlife were suffering and everywhere you looked there were buckets and basins of water out for small animals. Baby birds, barely feathered, threw themselves from nests in droves, desperate to escape the heat. We had over 300 forest and grass fires. It might have even gone over 500, but I just stopped keep track after I heard 300.

So, as we look so dry already and had no rain in the forecast, I have to wonder – Will it be a cool drought or a hot drought? If it’s gotta be a drought, I’m rooting for a cool one. It would be nice to not spend 3 months planted in front of a fan, trying not to melt or heat-stroke.

04-19 ja Old Bridge

How have I missed this the other 2-3 times I’ve ridden this path?

Any way. Concerns aside, I got to a good spot and took my photo.

Walking back to the trike, I finally spotted the other runestone sitting in the middle of the other field across the way. There was some internal debate on walking over to it. After all, the ground wasn’t a miring muck that was going to stick to my shoes as every other time I’ve been in the area.

Alternatively, I thought about buzzing the drone over to do the work for me. I find I’m still pretty nervous about that though.

I just let it slide and started rolling again.

The rest of the way back home is a bit of a blur. I took a short break at that cluster of farm houses I mentioned where the cycle path turned into a small road. There was a woman out in the yard with two kids. She saw me and was so intrigued she came over for a chat. Her amazement when I described where I’d been riding made me smile. She called her grandkids over to come see the neat bike.

Then it was onward into a more industrial area, so newly developed it wasn’t on my various map apps and devices. I just kinda winged it until I got somewhere I recognized and then made the most direct way back I could think of.

28+ miles and some aching knees and a sore hip, but I counted it a good day. The rail trail ride of the same distance was soooo much easier. Of course, it didn’t have almost 900 feet of climbing for its distance.

 

 

 

 

 



Behind on the Posts, But Ahead of the Miles!
April 21, 2019, 4:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Lots to catch up on. Where to begin? I guess I’ll try to stick to some kind of chronological.

Basic trike stuff. After the rail-trail ride on April 6th with the slipping gears, I went to the cycle shop on that following Monday (April 8th)¬† to schedule a time to get them worked on. There’d been a Facebook Post earlier that morning that the shop was slammed with people wanting their spring tuneups so they were solid booked for the entire week.

Bobby repeated as much when I walked in, but I just smiled and said to schedule me for next week then. He tapped at the counter a second and then asked if I had the trike with me. Yep, in the car. “It might take me a few days, but I’ll squeeze you in.”

Awwww. Such a nice guy. Maybe all the muffins help too.

I didn’t expect to hear anything for a few days.

Things moved on while the trike sat at the cycle shop. Most notably is Jens was getting grumbly about my hobby again. He’s worried about the age of our car, fretting that a major breakdown could be coming for it. He would love to replace it, but dreads the fact that we’d have to put Loke and the trike into a nice shiny new (to us at least) vehicle. He sees the dog hair everywhere and the dings and scrapes from the trike.

It doesn’t help that he’s pulled to smaller cars unexpectedly. The man who always wanted to get something I considered one step away from an aircraft carrier is now looking at things that would be a tight fit for the 28 inches (give or take) of my trike’s folded height.

It’s gotten me pondering solutions to reduce that folded height. I even dragged out my poor neglected, dismantled Trice to consider cannibalizing it for the drum brakes to replace the disc brakes on my Sprint.

Why drum brakes? Well, drum brakes would make it possible to take advantage of quick release axles. Technically, I could put them on the Sprint’s wheels with the disc brakes, but I’m a clutz and thanks to the stroke not always very coordinated. It would be tricky to get the wheels off and on without bending the discs. Bent discs are bad. Drum brakes are a snap. I love the stopping power of the discs, but missing the simplicity of the drums more and more. If the wheels can come off, that may drop the folded height of my trike by 5 inches or more.

I asked Bobby and ICE about the possibility of the swap and both indicate it’s possible, though ICE says I would need to replace the king posts on the Sprint. The current ones aren’t built to take a disc brake. Fair enough.

It would mean giving up any hope of getting my sweet Trice road worthy again. Or, I could buy what’s needed from ICE for the conversion and leave my Trice untouched.

Also, I’ve started toying around with the idea of a new ICE trike. They’ve released a ‘Sprint X Tour’ which has a tweaked frame with swept crossbars and indexed locking handle bars. While the frame with it’s new crossbar shape is the most significant if I continue to lose weight, the handlebars make me drool. No more eyeballing to see if I have the handlebar back in the correct position for optimal turn radius while being easy on my arms. The crossbars only mean that I’d have heel clearance when I have to move the boom in again. There’ve been a few other tweaks as well, but those are the two that REALLY stand out.

The reason I’m even considering a new trike is because, well, this year is a BIG BIRTHDAY. I want a big gift to console myself.

In spite of Jens’ current annoyances with trikes, I did tentatively put it forth. His first grouchy comment about it was, “Will it still have that huge back wheel?” When I pointed out that I needed that back wheel to keep the derailleur out of the ice and snow for winter riding, he returned with the fact that I barely rode this winter. Never mind dealing with an ailing dog took the wind out of my sails or the fact of the previous 6 winters I’ve ridden through?

A bit irritated that my generally loving and willing-to-put-up-with-something-that-makes-me-happy hubby was being so hostile to an activity that gives me incredible joy while allowing me to make memories that stay bright as new pennies even years later, I offered a suggestion I’m not entirely thrilled with.

I said that in theory there was always the option of an internal geared hub with a 20 inch tire. No derailleur to worry about. It would add a heft weight to the price tag along with actual pounds to the trike. A compromise. Compromise, of course, being defined as something no one is really happy with. Much to my shock, he told me to research it.

So, that whole mess has put even getting drum brakes on my current Sprint on hold.

Bobby called on Friday to say the trike was as ready as he could make it. It turned out that the derailleur hanger was bent. I told him maybe I’d hit it on the car loading it. No, it had been pulled outward and twisted. Odd. So, he’d tried to bang it back into shape as well as he could, but it was probably still a bit sloppy. I told him I had a spare and went to drop it off. He said he’d text me in a couple hours to let me know it was done. No second text that day.

Saturday, after doing research on the internal hub, I went to the cycle shop¬†to talk to someone in the shop about if they’d be willing to work on an internal geared hub. The general answer was ‘Sure, but we’d have to ask you to supply and store the tools and materials yourself.’ Fair enough. My favorite cycle shop is a tiny place and they can’t really afford either the money or the space to keep specialized stuff around to work on just one person’s bike/trike.

Then Neil said it was 150 kr for the work done on my Sprint. I was surpised it was finished. Turned out, for some reason, the text didn’t go through. So, I got the trike back and took it right to the garage so it wouldn’t be sitting in the car, annoying Jens.

Monday, April 15th, gorgeous day. Temps in the high 50’s, not a single cloud to be found, and almost no winds. Loke wasn’t feeling well though so I didn’t feel good about leaving him alone. It broke my heart to watch the day slip away without rolling around in it.

Tuesday, April 16th, I woke with a sort of fiendish glee. My yearly check up for stroke follow up. I’d quit taking my anti-cholesterol medication and was braced to defend that position.

Turns out, I needn’t have worried. The doctor listened, nodded, and said, “It’s a good thing you ran out of the meds and discovered this, isn’t it?” I managed to not get snarky and point out that I’d been begging for help for 3 years with the pain and shortness of breath.

Not having to fight her combined with the really nice nurse who has 3 for 3 managed to get blood out of me on the first try had me almost dancing on air. The weather was nice. A few thin streaks of clouds, but it was slightly warmer at about 63 F. Hardly any wind. Listening to the thumping rhythm of a song by a Mongolian metal band, I felt like I wanted to fly.

Then I decided, Loke was just going to have to deal with it. I was going for a ride. The euphoric sense of a giddy, practically manic mood enveloped me while I dressed to ride. Loke watched me in bafflement as I threw in moments of primitive, almost tribal dance combined with my pitiful version of metal head banging to The Hu’s song “The Wolf Totem”. I’m not into metal, but something about this song just grabbed a place high in my favorites. It has a strong beat and the low, fierce voice of the lead singer demands to be answered. My first taste of Mongolian metal music complete with some traditional instruments and even throat singing tossed into the words I can’t understand, but which demand an answer none-the-less.

Loke seemed kinda interested when I pulled out his harness. Off to the storage and I started assembling the trike. He laid down to wait for me to get it together.

The ride almost didn’t happen. Got everything together, dropped into the seat and pushed off. The chain slipped, jerked, jumped, and skipped. The chain ring wouldn’t even do so much as a quarter turn without it skidding over the rear cogs. I kept trying, shifting through the gears and lurching the trike along toward the car where it would be dismantled and tossed in the back for an immediate return to the cycle shop.

I hit my granny gear and… it stopped. The slippage, I mean. Suddenly, the trike worked fine. I decided to edge the trike back toward the apartment by way of the football fields to get Loke a bit of an amble and see how it went. If it went badly, I could walk back for the car and load the trike at the apartment. If it went well, I could just keep going once I had Loke tucked up at home.

Loke wasn’t doing anything fast, though he seemed kinda happy to be out. He struggled a bit though. Fell once, on grass thankfully. His hind-feet dragged a lot.

That gave me a good 40 minutes to consider where I’d ride. Ulva mill? If so, which one? The short 13 mile ride to it or the 18 mile? Oooh! What about the 21 mile?! No, not 18 or 21 miles. Didn’t want to leave Loke that long. Through the city beside the river? That would be shorter, just 8 miles or so. What about out to L√§by Church? That’s about 14.

I still hadn’t really decided once Loke was cozy with fresh water, a chewie and his pillow. Without consciously deciding, I found myself headed toward the cross-roads on Old B√∂rje Road where I’d have 3 choices on which loop. The Ulva Loops (long and short) or out to L√§by.

Such perfection! Not just the weather, which was warmer than it had been on the 15th, but how I felt. I felt strong. I felt free. My strength enough to send the trike skimming over the asphalt like a swallow over still waters. Rather, given my current fascination with the Mongolian music, like a fleet horse charging across the Mongolian Steppes.

THIS! THIS is was why I loved my trike back in those years before it became painful and restricted by my traitorous body. Freedom pure and simple. The warm sun on my clothes, the music of birdsong and tires on pavement, a cool wind to temper the heat of exertion. NO PAIN! I missed this so very badly. And here it was, returned to me and I couldn’t stop smiling and spin of my legs with the pedals seemed to catch the tempo of that song, ‘The Wolf Totem’ in my head. I was all but shaking a fist to that beat at the sky in triumph.

I know it sounds ridiculous or exaggerated, but it’s not. April 16th was a day I couldn’t stop smiling. I just want to dance and fly.

Since I’d nixed the 18 and 21 mile loops, I decided to go with Ulva Mill short instead of L√§by. I wanted to get detailed photos of the mill for a project.

About the time I made the turn at the crossroads, a thin smear of cloud, just enough to dim the sun a bit, firmly placed itself between me and the source of warmth, and stayed there stubbornly. It got a bit chilly with the sun weakened as it was. A bit frustrating really. To the east and west, flawlessly clear sky and just that long streak of cloud with a roughly north-south orientation staying right where the sun was.

It was about 8 miles to the mill and I admit, I’d pushed myself hard enough I was feeling the hills and speed. The gravel of the path across the fields slowed me down a bit more. My knees started to complain a bit. You know what? Didn’t even phase me. Still smiling, I cheerfully slowed and adapted to compensate.

I made several stops at the mill to get all the angles I needed for the work project. and then headed home. I was glad when that annoying cloud gave me a break and let the full glory of the sun come down again.

In spite of my knees, I decided to make the dash home down the burial grounds path. Though it’s slower going with the gravel and a couple of very steep, but very short hills, it was more direct and I wouldn’t be tempted to just leave the trike at the apartment and walk back to the car later.

20190416_153426 alt

As always, will be one of the biggest bonfires in the area… or would have been.

As always, it was pretty out at the mounds. I smiled at the sight of the growing mound for the Valborg bonfire just a couple weeks away.

Though it was just one of my countryside hamster tracks, it had bee a great ride on what was a great day. Even after that exertion, I still had so much energy and still couldn’t stop grinning wide enough to put the Joker to shame.

20190418_124444 alt

What the HELL?!

A few days later, I took Loke for a walk out at the mounds and found that some hugely entitled jerk had burned it. Nothing more than a smoldering pile was left with the scent of wood smoke drifting on the breeze. This year will be the 14th Valborg that I’ve been in Sweden and this is the first time someone’s done this. The crassness and self-entitled ego. It’s like someone old enough to know better sticking their hand in a wedding cake and sneaking off with a chunk of it when no one’s looking.

I spent a good hour seething over that. I’m sure they had their fun, robbing everyone else of a celebration tradition.

I don’t poke my nose out of the apartment on Valborg mind you, but just that someone would do this hits my last nerve.

Shake it off, Terii. Shake it off…

Okay, onward!

A few days ago, while organizing photos and updating my Garmin Connect account with the most current rides, I got curious and took a quick peek at April 2018, wondering if I was at least coming close to the same miles.

April 2018, I went for rides on 9 days for a whopping total of (drum roll) … 47 miles. I was blown away. In just 2 rides for April 2019, I was right around 42 miles. That I’d been feeling stronger was obvious with the ride on April 6th being my longest ride in 3 years at 28 miles. I’ve not ridden as much with the reluctance to leave Loke home alone. If not for that, I might well have come close to already beating the total miles for 2018, which was pitifully small thanks to those evil medications and then the twisted ankle, the ridiculous ‘Mississippi Summer’ heat.

My next ride was going to leave April 2018’s distance in the dust and far out of sight.

But, that’s for another post as this one has run on long enough.