Terii’s Cycling Babble


New Ground!
June 21, 2009, 8:10 am
Filed under: Day Rides

I’m sure all of us wake up in a ‘Mood’.  Well, that was what I did on the 20th of June.  I felt incredibly restless and impatient to get out on the trike and see some place I hadn’t pedaled over before.  Ideally, it would have been by having my husband drive me out some 35 or 40 miles and me find my way back home.  He was feeling a bit delicate however since the night before was Midsummer, which is a very big holiday here in Sweden.  Generally full of much food and drink.

Still, I was determined to go since I didn’t want to sit and be grumpy all day.  So, I plotted out a big loop with my maps, both the very pricey and indispensable touring books and the nifty ‘Map My Ride’ online mapping function.  The ‘Map My Ride’ web site said it would be roughly 42 miles and it would take me over new ground and some that I hadn’t cycled in around 2 years.  So, I loaded up on lots of water and packed a bit of food for me and Loke before bullying my husband to wrestle the trike out.

It started out as a pretty day, but I found that having Loke with me was sort of like poking at that sense of irritation I woke up with.  After about 3 miles, he was bored since the first 10 miles or so were going to be over roads and paths we’ve been over so many times before.  There really was no way I could tell him that it was going to be different.  His speed dropped to below 6 mph and between his pokey-ness and water breaks, it took  us 1 hour and 30 minutes just to go 6.5 miles.  With that, my impatient mood and stressing about Loke’s paw sucking the joy out of the ride, I finally just stopped and called my husband to come get him.

I did feel kind of bad as I packed him off and waved bye.  That vanished as I hopped back on my trike and moved out.  Suddenly, I was cruising along at over 10 mph and zipping down hills at speeds anywhere between 19 and 30 mph.  It didn’t help my up-hill speeds any.  I was still crawling up the slopes at speeds of just 5 mph or less.  Generally, I view going up hills as a sort of rest break for Loke.  A time of slow lazy walking to catch his breath.

Random Scenery

Random Scenery

Although the day was pretty, it was also fairly cloudy.  Those huge fluffy clouds with ponderous gray undersides that have the potential to be scattered showers.  Around mile 10, that’s what happened.  One of the clouds started showering and doing a fairly good job of it.  Panic hit.  Though I would love to scan my map books and be able to print both my scanned and online maps and bring THOSE with me, our printer is down.  So, to help keep me from getting lost, I was depending on my memory of the maps online and my very expensive touring book.  The panniers on the back of my trike are in no way water proof and while my map books are in a snug plastic binder thing, it is in no way sealed.

I found a tree along the side of the road and waited.  It was just one cloud, right?  Not very big, the shower shouldn’t last long and I would be able to pedal on with my books safe.  After 15 minutes, I noticed that, as it was at ground level, so it was at the cloud’s level – perfectly calm.  No wind to move the cloud, so it was cheerily sitting there and drenching everything.  The tree was getting wet enough to no longer be remotely considered shelter.  I considered for a long moment before sucking it up and jumping back on my trike.

That rain was cold.  I’m not even sure if Sweden (unsurprisingly) is capable of a warm summer rain.  I haven’t been able to find any rain gear to fit me and I was kicking myself for not packing some wool thermals that will at least still hold some warmth even when getting drenched.  It had felt fairly warm in the sun, but with it gone and something close to ice water falling, it should have been fairly miserable.  Truth is though, when I’m caught in moments like that, I do enjoy them in some perverse way.  It’s a challenge.  My husband was home, he had my maps online so I could have told him where to find me and gone home in a snug car.  Instead, I was pedaling on.  I do admit, I considered having Jens come get me for the sake of my threatened maps.

I made it along another 4 miles or so through increasingly heavy rain to the first of the major landmarks on my route.  Funbo Kyrka.  There, I found a small school and they had a shelter built for the children to wait for buses in bad weather.  Only three walls and a roof, but about 10 feet by 15 feet.  Most importantly DRY.  I pulled in under it and checked the maps.  Much to my surprise, the top section of my pannier had mostly resisted the rain.  There were a few drips that had gotten through, but not enough to threaten my maps in their plastic sleeve.  I was at a loss of how to keep them dry.  So, stuck waiting the rain out, I decided to eat something.  I pulled my paper plates and fork out from the plastic bag and… “Hmm. I doubt they’ll fit in this flimsy plastic storage bag.  I’ll check.”  The phrase ‘Like a glove’ comes to mind.

With that taken care of, I faced the idea of continuing rain with less trepidation.  That not so big cloud had not only not moved, but had seemed to swell from the time it started sprinkling to the downpour it had become.  Fortunately, by the time I finished munching my tuna salad sandwiches, the rain stopped.

Funbo Kyrka

Funbo Kyrka

So, I moved out to look at Funbo Kyrka.  It’s a nice church with the usual churchyard of grave stones around it and large old trees shading parts of the grounds.  I haven’t quite been able to translate all the info on it yet, but it seems the original parts were built in 1180.  There were renovations to the church in the 1300’s, 1400’s, 1600’s and 1700’s.  The small dirt road continued on around and there are other structures as well.  A pretty stream is crossed by a stone bridge built of three arches.  I wasn’t able to find a good unobstructed angle of the bridge for photos. The tangle of shrubby undergrowth was just too thick.

Uppland Runestone #987 - Funbo

Uppland Runestone #987 – Funbo

In the churchyard, I found a rune stone from the 1000’s AD.  According to the information plate, the inscription roughly reads (barring my bad translation of old Swedish words and syntax), “Kättil and Gyrid allowed to raise this stone after Torsten, their son.  Vide and Roland (something) the stone after their brother. God help Torsten’s spirit.”  The stone was used as a threshold stone between the ‘vapenhuset’ and the church.  While, ‘vapenhuset’ seems to translate to ‘weapon house’, I  think it means something like the entry foyer of the building and the worship area of the church proper.  It was moved to the church yard in 1866.  The runes are referred to as ‘mirror turned’, reading from right to left instead of left to right.

Past Funbo, the area got quite a bit more hilly and it seemed all of it was up.  At least the scenery was nice, so I was semi-content to stare off through the trees as I forced my legs to keep dragging me up.

Old Road Marker

Old Road Marker

I almost feel like the long climb was worth it.  What goes up must come down, especially since I hadn’t really had any significant down slope time before reaching the uphill spot.  For almost 3 miles, I got to rip along between 19 and 23 mph with easy pedaling to keep my speed up.  Throw in a few semi-sharp curves and it definitely got my heart racing with something other than effort on the pedals.  I loved it.  Something I wouldn’t have been able to do with Loke, sadly.  To be honest, I did miss his company… at least going up the hills.

I was seriously enjoying the new scenery I was getting to see.  That sense of frustration and irritation that had driven me out the door and had me send Loke home after just 6.5 miles evaporated.  There seemed to be plenty of downhill to zip along and I pedaled my way through both rain and sun.  At one point, I stopped along the road for a few minutes.  There was a woman leading her horses into pasture.  I decided to wait as she was fighting to get the fence open and quite a few horses spook when I pass.  They probably won’t look twice at a bike, but with my trike, I’m quite a different profile.  Most of the horses along my usual routes are used to me and respond with curiosity or even an eagerness to run along the fence with me, but I tend to use a bit of caution when I pass unfamiliar animals.  It would break my heart if I spooked them into hurting themselves.  So, I waited until she got both of them in the pasture since a panicked horse charging along the road would be a bad thing.  She definitely appreciated it, waving and saying ‘Tack så mycket!” (Thanks so much!)

Lagga Kyrka

Lagga Kyrka

The next little village area I came to was Lagga.  As always I spotted the sign for the church and made my way there.  Lagga Kyrka’s main part (the longhouse section) was begun in the 1200’s with parts added during the 1300’s.  Other improvements and renovations were added over the centuries.  I can’t say there was much that pulled me about this particular church.  I guess maybe there’s just a look or feel to it that left it so removed from the sense of past that should feel connected to it. By it’s outer shell, it looked as if it could have been built just decades ago.

Uppland Runestone #481 - Lagga Kyrka

Uppland Runestone #481 – Lagga Kyrka

Predictably, there was a runestone in against the churchyard wall.  “Torgisl and Torsten and Vibjörn and Olev allowed to raise the stone after Torbjörn, their father”.  This stone like the one at Funbo, apparently spent part of its life as a threshold between the vapenhuset and church as well as in the church floor itself.   The ones who carved the runestones are unsurprisingly called runemasters and generally, they’ll sign their work much in the same way an artist signs a painting.  This stone was unusual in that it wasn’t signed.  According to the information plate, its style is much like other stones in the area carved and signed in the same frame by a runemaster called Fot.

There was another brief spit of rain as I left the smaller back roads and joined up with a busier one.  That part of the road actually tied in with a section of the Sverigeleden and I planned to follow that back to another area I was familiar with to finish the ride home.  Along the busy section too was something I’d been curious about for some time, the Mora Stenar (The Mora Stones).

Shelter For the Mora Stenar

Shelter For the Mora Stenar

Expecting something like standing stones or runestones, I was more than a little surprised to find these actually sheltered.  It’s an unassuming sort of building stuck close to the side of the road with its coral pink stucco and a golden looking Swedish Crown capping it.  The parking was simply a bus-length (and wide) widened section of shoulder across from the shelter.  I was a bit edgy parking my trike there and then clumping across the road with my cycle shoes.  I love my trike and having traffic pass it at speed with less than a yard’s clearance makes me uneasy.

Mora Stones

Mora Stones

Fortunately, the stint on the busy road section was blissfully short.  Just a couple hundred yards past the Mora Stones, I was pedaling along a narrow paved road between grain fields and thankfully in the sunshine again.  A glorious chance to dry out and warm up.  I went by a collection of old Swedish country buildings that had something to do with Linne, but with the sheer number of people that seemed to be there, I felt no real need to stop.

Linne is something of national pride to Sweden.  For those who don’t know (as I didn’t), he’s the man who first developed the system of giving latin names and categories to the various species of plants and animals.  Particularly around here close to Uppsala, there are quite a few places that have something to do with him.  Gardens, paths, etc.

Danmark Kyrka's Steeple

Danmark Kyrka’s Steeple

I got to enjoy that nice warm sunshine as the road twisted through wooded areas that didn’t quite shade the road.  At some points I could spot the E4 in the distance.  It”s a major highway that runs clear up to the most northern reaches of Sweden all the way down to Rome (broken by a ferry trip) in Italy.  Passing along one tiny field, I spotted the steeple to Danmark Kyrka and the church bells began to chime out.  I’ve seen this steeple and faint glimpses of this church many times over the years on my way to Stockholm and often thought, “I wonder how I would cycle there.”  Well, now I know.

Danmark Kyrka

Danmark Kyrka

Danmark Kyrka is one of the more distinctive churches, I think.  With its tall steepled bell tower built onto the church and red brick facade rather than pale painted stucco appearance, it stands out from most of the other country churches.  I haven’t quite been able to translate all that I found about its history.  What I have puzzled out is that the original structure was built in the 1300’s.   Of course, there are other renovations on the church through the centuries.  One of them was in 1889 when lightning struck the tower down.  In 1979, the copper plating was added to the steeple.

Danmark Vicarage & Trice Trike

Danmark Vicarage & Trice Trike

Sitting next to the church was the prästgård (Priest yard/farm/garden) which in English would be called a vicarage.  Essentially, the priest’s house and yard.  I tend to feel a little odd taking photos of these as often it is still someone’s home and I don’t know them.  Skuttunge’s prästgård is one of my favorites   It’s not just the one house and a single additional building, but a full collection of buildings and the care taker is a very nice guy with almost fluent English.  I spent almost an hour chatting with him and his wife while getting slobbered on by their gorgeous and very friendly golden retriever.  The care taker even gave me a tour, showing me the inside of baking house and a couple of the other buildings.

But, I go off the subject of this ride.

Actually, the rest of the ride home was rather… ‘Ehhh’ for lack of a better term.  Just ground to cover as I wound my way through a contemporary residential area.  Along the way, I lost the Sverigeleden.  I think it was because I was focused on the roads and the cycle path (and the Sverigeleden) took off in some direction away from the road.  Still, I recognized the area I came out in.  It was raining again, after 5 pm and I was really starting to feel the ride.  I sort of knew the way where to pick up part of the Sverigeleden again to find my planned route home.  The problem was, it was going to add perhaps another 8 miles than if I just made my way directly.  The draw back to ‘directly’ was that it would take me almost through the downtown part of Uppsala.  While generally bike friendly, busy Uppsala streets can be a bit hair raising when you’re head is at bumper height with most cars.  ‘Tired, hungry, cold and wet’ won out over ‘less traffic and more interesting’.  I pushed directly into the center of Uppsala and ended up in an completely unfamiliar area.  I wasn’t lost exactly since I knew home and/or river were ‘That way’.  I zig-zagged my way along, sticking to small residential streets until I popped out on an intersection and looked around with a sense of, “I’ve only been here a couple hundred times”.  Within 15 minutes of that, I was home as the clock hit 6 pm.

Soggy and with skin only a step from being ice, it felt incredibly good to be home.  Almost as good as I felt getting in touch with new places I’d never been or had only seen from a disconnected distance, zipping past in a car.  Sometimes, I think I just need those solo trips.

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