Terii’s Cycling Babble

Been Slacking
July 23, 2009, 8:45 am
Filed under: Day Rides

It’s true.  I’ll admit that I got sucked into fiddling with my 3D art stuff.  It comes in cycles (pun not intended) and holds me for days or weeks at a time.  It didn’t really help that the weather has been a bit brutal.  If it wasn’t on the warm side with an unclouded sky and sun waiting to roast me into heat exhaustion, it was windy.  Very windy.  Enough so it made the winds on my first stage of the Sverigeleden look like soft breezes.

Monday and Tuesday, I did at least talk myself out the door for short rides.  Shorter even than my ‘short routes’.  Essentially, when I first got the trike, my beginning routes are named, “The River Loop” (3.2 miles), “The River Loop With Extension” (5.5 miles), and “The Field Loop” (6.1 miles).  The Field Loop is almost an extra loop added onto the River Loop and I can pitch in the extension for a total of 8 to 9 miles.  I also used to do a there and back leg out to the grave mounds of Gamla Uppsala, but since they’ve put soft sand on the track, I avoid it.

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

Button above is the route I’d actually planned Tuesday night.  It’s the latter half of the route in the previous post, beginning where my husband rescued me and Loke.  When I woke up yesterday at 4 am, the winds were calm and supposed to stay much calmer than they were Monday and Tuesday.  I went into a frenzy of activity.  Printed maps, collected all the stuff I’d want to take with me on a ride and organized it.  Then at 5:30 am, I was waving a cup of coffee under my husband’s nose.  He did a bit of grumping about how he would have liked a warning I was going to cycle today so that he could have loaded the trike up the night before.  He seemed to accept it with reasonable grace when I pointed out I hadn’t known I was going to be cycling.

It must be said.  My husband is an awesome guy for being so supportive and completely helpful with an activity he has no personal interest in.  It simply amazes me all the things he’s done for my cycling addiction with no complaints and loads of encouragement, even when it means he loses sleep.

There was a misting drizzle as we were loading the trike.  By then I was committed and my husband told me I was stuck for it any way.  To be honest, it wouldn’t have stopped me.  It was so light it would dry almost as soon as it hit you.  It turned out I needn’t have worried.  The misting stopped as we drove and the clouds began to break up.

Just Beyond Forsby

Just Beyond Forsby

By 7 am we were in Forsby again and I was unloading and settling everything.  Loke was excited (as always).  I think he was hoping to meet the English Mastiff again.  I was glad we didn’t.  Loke with way too much energy and a knack of making nice dogs irate mixed with a 200+ pound mass of bone and muscle?  Thanks, I’ll pass.  My husband finally said bye and as he drove off, Loke went into a frenzy of chase.  It’s sort of funny when he does that.  Not to mention the look of annoyance when I stop for something as paltry as a photo.

It was a nice area to cycle.  The winds were blissfully gentle and the clouds sort of played tag with the sun.  It was cool enough I was actually wearing an extra layer on my top.  I love mornings.  I’m sure I’ve said that before.  Loke wanted to set a good pace at first, but for the first couple of miles, it wasn’t to be.  Hills.  They slow me to a crawl every time.  Loke for once, actually threw his weight into his harness and helped me up them.  Probably from a sense of irritation with 3 mph I was creeping along at in the first 4 miles of the ride.

View Down The Road

View Down The Road

It clouded back up, but that was fine with me.  The sun has become almost the bane of my existence.  One or the other thing needs to go.  Either hills or the sun.  Personally, I love the character hills give to the countryside so I’d kinda like them to stick around.  Granted, pictures do come out better with sunshine. *sigh*  I just can’t win.  Hills do give some wild rides, especially when I’m solo.

I didn’t try to push Loke or myself much on this ride.  It was just something to get out and enjoy.  A simple 32 miles from where I’d ended my first leg of the Sverigeleden to my front door.  It was fairly cool for a larger part of the ride, not much sun.  Loke was keeping a good clip and being happy.  There wasn’t much in the way of wild life on this ride.  I did hear a pair of cranes, but never caught sight of them.

Flowers in the Wheat

Flowers in the Wheat

There is one significant drawback to the Sverigeleden. It doesn’t generally pass many of the ‘sights to see’ listed in my map books.  Make no mistake, it has gorgeous scenery I can happily and cheerfully pedal through all day, but it also seems to avoid so many of the churches and other landmarks I’ve set myself to ‘collect’ via photos.

There were 3 in one small area and I was tempted to add a few miles with a bit of out and back to track them down.  I quickly rethought that plan when I came to the turn for the first one in the first 5 miles of the ride.  It was a mile and a half down a freshly grated dirt road.  The loose stones strewn completely over its surface looked like boulders.  It wasn’t much of a mental leap to decide to not torture myself (and Loke) that way so early in the ride.

If I ever really do want to do the Sverigeleden, it’s going to be a struggle to not add several hundred miles to the distance weaving back and forth across it.

Österunda Kyrka

Österunda Kyrka

One church I did pass was Österunda Kyrka.  The original långhus (main area for the worshipers), kor (alter area I think), and sakristian (area the priest readies himself for sermons) were built sometime in the 1200’s to 1300’s.  Decades later the vapenhuset (entry way) was added.  The långhus and kor had simple high, straight arched vaults of wood and these were upgraded later to star arches.  It’s gone through various other renovations and additions over the centuries.  It was a rather small and unassuming looking little church.

Östersunda Bell Tower

Östersunda Bell Tower

The bell tower sat some distance away.  I like the bell towers.  I think they give a special character to the Swedish countryside.  Of course, I think that most countries have their own little touch that makes them special.  Now, if I can just explore more of them.

I still remember the first time I saw one of these free standing belfries and it completely baffled me. Like this one, it was quite a way from the church so the idea that it might hold the church bell didn’t cross my mind. It wasn’t until a bit later when I saw one that was actually next to its church that everything clicked and I went ‘Oooh! A bell tower!’ Makes sense since most of the small, old country churches lack a steeple to hang a bell.

This one sat on its little stone hill surrounded with trees and I actually came to it before I passed the church a bit of a distance away down the slope.  I decided to take a shot of it with my trike in the foreground.  Loke was with me on the other side of the road.  He had way too much energy to leave with my trike to get him in the photo.  I could just see it.  Walking across the street, turning to take the picture and there goes Loke with my trike, racing down the hill and over the horizon.


Uppland's Runestone #1168 - Österunda Church

Uppland’s Runestone #1168 – Österunda Church

There was a runestone next to the bell tower as well.  This one was a bit damaged compared to the others I’ve shared on my posts here.  All that is left is “And Gislaug allowed to be raised this stone after Järund.”  Like many of the runestones found near the churches, it was used as a threshold for one of the church doors before being moved into the church yard some time in the 1800’s.  It was moved again to its current spot in 1931.  I’m not sure how it came to be broken.

Quite a few runestones I’ve found before I began blogging have been in pieces.   Sometimes, they’re mere slivers of what they were originally.  Some, are patch works of their original pieces and concrete filler to hold them together.  Still, like the ancient little country churches, they fascinate me and I try to get photos of as many as I can.

Just past the church, the Sverigeleden made a turn onto an unpaved road.  This one was one of the better ones.  It hadn’t yet been turned into a torture course by being grated.  Give me a bit of washboard surface with the occasional shallow pothole over unavoidable 1 to 2 inch stones scattered all over.  Generally, I still end up on some stones since I try to give the smoothest possible surface for Loke’s paws.  I’m not hard hearted enough to take the easy path for myself at his expense.

Abandoned Buildings

Abandoned Buildings

Along the first patch of unpaved, I came upon a collection of old dilapidated buildings.  The leaning walls, sagging or collapsed roofs, tumbled beams joined by the tall growth of weeds, young trees and wild flowers around and through them gave an air of melancholy to them.  The smallest structured wedged between an old barn and a collapsed tumble of roof joists and broke clay roof tiles seemed the most forlorn with its small door and window.  It was almost as if it still waited for the ones who had left it so long ago to return.

It was far from peaceful here.  In Sweden there is a member of the crow family that is very common.  It’s called a kaja (pronounced with the ki from kite with yah. Ki-yah).  They’re a highly intelligent bird and have a certain appeal to them.  They have black bodies with a dark gray around the head.  Like crows, they can gather in huge groups and in an old falling apart barn across from the buildings in the picture, one such mass of them had gathered.  I was surprised to hear the sheer number of them actually in the slouching barn.

Österunda Lake

Österunda Lake

I cycled on and was able to catch little glimpses of a lake from across wheat fields and between trees.  Sweden is full of lakes and streams.  Sweden has more than 97.500 lakes over 2 acres in size.  That’s not including the countless little ponds, rivers, streams, and brooks.

It wasn’t too long before I was past the first of the unpaved sections and went through a small collection of houses called Ribbingebäck.  Sadly, no church, no rune stone, no ruins.  Most of the houses even looked like they’d been built in the last 50 years or so.  It was just a short jump through to another unpaved section.  This one was even better than the first and it was a section I’d been looking forward to as it went through a section of old conifers, soft leaf loam and mossy rocks.  Ever since my husband and I first drove the route from Broddbo to Uppsala over the Sverigeleden, I was anticipating this 5 mile or so section.

The shade was dense and the packed earth of the road had few stones.  That made good going for both Loke and myself.  If there was any drawback, it was the sheer number of those flies.  Again, they don’t bite, but when you have a few hundred of them clustered around you, it’s still annoying.  There were a few mosquitoes as well.  Still the beauty of the forest was worth it.  Here, I do wish I’d had sunlight since none of the pictures I took of the moss covered stones scattered between the tall straight trunks of the pines came out.

Mmmm... Strawberries!

Mmmm… Strawberries!

When I go for my long rides, I always take some kind of food with me.  This trip I’d packed some raw cashews, a bit of peanut butter with some crackers, and a banana.  Oddly, it’s actually quite hard for me to eat when I’m cycling.  Even on the first leg of the Sverigeleden when Loke and I were out for over 10 hours, I ate only 5 or 6 raw cashews and my banana.  The canned pineapple and peanut butter and crackers went untouched.  This time I actually ate a bit more.  All along the forest road were wild strawberries and wild blueberries.  I think this section of the ride annoyed Loke a bit as I kept stopping to gather up the strawberries every time I found them and add some of the blueberries.  A quick wash with water from my water bladder and it was a wonderful snack.  The wild strawberries might be small, but they have so much more flavor than the domestic variety.

I’m not generally too crazy about blueberries, but something about harvesting your own food from what nature (completely unassisted by man) provides seemed to make them taste almost as good as the little strawberries.  The blueberries extremely common around here.  They grow on little plants no more than 10 inches high all over the forest floor.  You can’t take a walk off a forest path without turning your shoes blue at this time of the year.  I didn’t spot any lingon berries though.

Skogstibble Church

Skogstibble Church

I finally emerged from the cool shadows of the forest stretch to come to paved road again and Skogstibble.  It was another tiny collection of residences and a few farms with little else except for a small daycare or elementary school and, yes, Skogstibble kyrka.  It was a small cute church set back off the Sverigeleden on its own little loop of road.  Thankfully, I discovered a bathroom here as well.  Sadly, I can find no information on the history of this church.

Friendly Kitty

Friendly Kitty

Near the entrance to the church was a runestone.  Since there was less than half of it and not much to translate, I’ll leave it at a brief mention.  As I was leaving the churchyard, a cat emerged from the growth along the parking lot.  I could tell she desperately wanted to come over for a bit of affection.  You could hear it in her meows.  Of course, desperate as she was, she wasn’t going to brave Loke.  I felt kinda bad for her and would have loved to spent a few minutes scratching her ears.

For a flashback, one of my first rides with my trike years ago, I’d found a woody patch in Uppsala to ride through.  I stopped to drink some water when a long haired apricot colored cat appeared.  In seconds it had run up to  jump into my lap where I sat on the trike and began to purr.  I still get a warm fuzzy remembering that.  I love cats.

Stone Barn

Stone Barn

Shortly after we left Skogstibble behind, the clouds started to break up more.  They had been fairly solid again about half an hour into the ride and stayed that way for a long while.  With the sun mostly staying out, it was finally time for me to remove my extra layer.  Loke started feeling the affects of the heat and his feet were getting tender.  A few miles past Skogstibble (around mile 20), was Hagby and there I decided Loke had had enough.  I called Jens and asked him to come get our fuzzy one.

To be honest, I thought about going home with Loke.  I’d been fighting with a migraine for a fair chunk of the ride.  My migraines don’t always involve pain.  I occasionally get the ones called aural migraines   Spots or graying out of vision, sometimes more of a kaleidoscopic effect, dizziness.  This one had the spots and occasional bits of dizziness along with spikes of pain every now and again.  Still, it was only about 12 miles home.  I could suck it up.

With Loke on his way home, I put the hammer down for a bit.  Granted, for the hardcore cyclist, it would have been a loafing speed, but for me, I was screaming along for a bit.  On flats I was able to hit and maintain 15 to 17 mph.  Up some of the gentler hills I was still able to hold 8 mph.  The steeper ones, I was still crawling along at 3 to 5 mph as always, with or without Loke.  Downhills, I was ripping along between 23 to 26 mph.

It quickly turned unpleasant though as I came up to Vänge.  In spite of clouds everywhere, I seemed to have own personal sunbeam staying with me with a grim (and sadistic) determination.  I was broiling as I crawled up hills.  On the flats and downhills, it seemed like every large bug for a 5 mile radius was aimed right at my face.  A beetle the size of a june bug doing a body slam between one’s eyes at 20 mph stings like mad.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

All the heat and the bug aggravation kicked my migraine into overdrive.  Still, with less than 10 miles to go to home, I was determined to not call my husband to rescue me.  Unless I was completely incapacitated, it just felt silly.  This section of the ride also told me how much harder I push myself without Loke to temper my pace.  My feet had felt fine the entire 20 miles with Loke.  3 miles into my solo stretch, they were starting to ache.  As were my thighs.  It felt so hard not to pedal harder/faster though.  I just couldn’t talk myself into slowing down and taking it easy without finding myself pushing hard again 5 seconds later.

I made it home in one piece, desperate to take off the cycle shoes and jump into a cool bath.

The 20 miles with Loke had taken over 4 hours.  Granted, we spent bits of time to let him go to the bathrooom, or for me to take pictures, two or three minutes here and there on the forest stretch to collect strawberries and blueberries.  Even so, it still shows how much faster I was alone in that I covered 13 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Not impressive for serious cyclists, but for me with bad knees, aching feet, and a migraine, I think rather respectable.

For the record, this trip put my year’s total at 590 miles.  I’m not entirely convinced I’ll hit the goal I so loftily set at the beginning of the year of 2,000 miles.  I’m not even certain I’ll break the 1,250 miles I made last year.  That bout of colds, tooth aches and tendinitis ate up a lot of prime cycle time.  Throw in my fits of slacking… it doesn’t look too good.

On the upside, the tent I ordered for touring has FINALLY shipped from the US.  If I can actually get out for some tours, I stand a good chance of making up some mileage.

On the Loke side of mileage, he’s sitting at roughly 470 miles for the year.  Another 50 miles or so (2 trips minimum) and he’ll have broken his last year’s best of 512 miles by a comfortable margin.  Yes, I did a lot of solo rides last year.  The sun just didn’t seem to bother me nearly as much.

So, on to planning my next day ride… and as soon as the tent arrives, my first overnight tour!!


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