Terii’s Cycling Babble

Transportation As Well As Fun!!
August 31, 2009, 12:59 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, it’s not often that I use my trike for actual transportation like most Swedish people will use a bike.  Mostly because bike theft is rampant and I’ve been reluctant to trust my trike out in the open for more than  a few minutes.   Today I had an appointment and decided that while Jens could drop me off for it, I’d ride home.  Loke, sadly had to stay home which means that we had to put the trike in the car.  If I’d taken the trike out this morning, the fuzzy one would have been absolutely hysterical at the idea of HIS toy going out the door without him.  This way, he had overnight to forget about it.

Old Blue Building

It's Blue, I Promise!

The ride home isn’t one of my favorites since it’s through Uppsala.  Don’t get me wrong, Uppsala is a beautiful small city, but I still prefer the open spaces of the countryside over traffic noise and dodging traffic (foot, bike, and car).  I kept looking for a good angle down one of the streets to get a nice shot of the big church, but there just was no cooperation.

Still, it felt good to cycle though I’m not wild about threading my way through the city streets.

Ooh! And I saw another trike too!  It was a side-by-side tandem!  I thought that was just so neat and we all waved cheerfully at each other as we pedaled past.  It’s always good to see others who are bucking the against the ‘Diamond Frame Bikes are the only REAL bikes’ mentality.  Aggravating to no end when I try to get parts or work done on my trike and have the shop employees/owners grump at me ‘Get a real bike’.

I have a real bike, thank you.  So what if it has a fully supportive seat instead of a butt numbing saddle and three wheels letting me make it up hills without walking?  It’s a highly engineered machine!

The Leaves They Are A Changin’
August 29, 2009, 11:28 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Yep.  It’s true.  Autumn is rushing upon me here in Sweden.  Wednesday while walking the dog before I had to rush off to an appointment, I noticed clusters of leaves here and there in some of the trees that stood out brightly against the green of summer.

T0day, I finally had a bit of time to get out and cycle in the first time in what feels like forever.  Just a couple of hours before in-laws come over for dinner, so I kept it just my short Ulva Loop.  Just in the two days since I first noticed leaves changing, the numbers have tripled.  Pity I didn’t have my camera with me to mark the beginning of fall.

Loke was thrilled to death to get out and run again.  He and I both have suffered quite a bit as far as our stamina goes.  I can’t say I’m surprised on my part of it, though I’m surprised Loke’s stamina dropped so much.

There was one little moment that again had me kicking myself for forgetting my camera.  I was cycling along and much to my surprise, I found a small snake sitting in the middle of the road.  Traffic was coming, so I stopped not to far from it so the cars would go around it instead of squishing it.  Sweden has two species of snakes and one of them is poisonous.  This little guy looked a lot like a garter snake in the states, which isn’t venomous, but I wasn’t sure if this was the non poisonous one or not.  So, I settled for shooing it into the grass by waving my feet at it.  Loke was remarkably oblivious.  As I was gently chasing the little critter along, he was looking around at everything except for the slithering shape on the road.  Only as it slipped into the grass did he FINALLY see it and tried to pounce.  I’m not sure it did any good.  If the snake was trying to sun himself since it was a cool day, he probably went right back out a few minutes after I left.  Still, I tried.

This trip was also the first time I got to use my new low gears on familar ground.  It gave me a good idea of how much they really do help.  Other than that it was just a standard short loop on a windy party sunny day.  I think it went a long way to refuel my motivation though.  Hopefully I can get at least ONE successful tour in before snow and ice shut me in for the rest of the year.

Sorry.  No pictures to share.  I made sure I packed my camera into my trike bags as soon as I got home, so hopefully I’ll find something worth taking pictures of next trip!

Cursed! Cursed, I Tell You!
August 19, 2009, 10:18 am
Filed under: Misc

Well, the list of obstacles this year keep mounting up.

My new right hand, 5 arm short crank arrived a few days ago.  I wasn’t in much of a hurry to mount it since the weather was horrible.  That kind of rain you go out in and drown.  Sections of road were flooding enough that I would have needed a snorkel to navigate given my trike’s low profile.  Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I definitely would had the lower part of my body submerged and Loke unhappy as it would have been almost chest deep on him.  He doesn’t like it once water gets half way up his legs.  That kind of weather just took the urgency off swapping out my chain rings to the new crank and installing it on my trike.

This morning, the weather was nippy at 46 degrees when I woke up, but crystal clear and I went into high gear to go for one of my 14 mile routes around lunch time.  As I was removing the bolt that holds the chain set to the bottom bracket, the head sheared right off.  Given how little force it took, I’m suspcious that what I thought was a damaged crank might actually have been the bolt giving way.  So, now I’m stuck with the end of a bolt in my bottom bracket.  Until I either find a way to get it removed or replace the bottom bracket… I’m cycle-less.

Oh well.  At least this will give me a bit more time to see if Loke’s mystery limp returns.  Monday around 10 am, Loke walked into the kitchen for a drink of water, he was only using three legs.  The left hind leg, he was holding away from the floor.  I could find no wounds, or swelling.  He didn’t seem to mind me handling the paw or manipulating his leg.  There had been no whining or yelping to indicate anything had happened for him to be limping so drastically..  That entire day, even on his walk, he was hobbling along.  He greeted my husband when he arrived home from work on three legs.  We went out the door to walk to the vet’s and mysteriously, the limp vanished.  My husband decided that it was probably useless to go to the vet saying, “But he was half crippled 5 minutes ago!”  He’s been walking fine since.  Weird dog.  Still, I find it worrying and will be watching the fuzzy one like a hawk.  I’d be heartbroken if anything happened to my cycle partner.

And sorry, no new photos to share.

Screeching Halt
August 11, 2009, 6:23 am
Filed under: Misc

Well, I don’t know what caused it, but it seems that my right hand crank is damaged.  Last year it was my left crank, so I guess my right one decided it was its turn.  I wondered a bit if the loosening crank might have been what helped cause the chaffing.  Maybe its wobble making me pedal different and caused things to abrade in the wrong areas though it didn’t feel like it was wobbling at all.  After the incident last year with the damaged crank loosening the bolt, I seem to be rather sensative to it.  I noticed it within the first mile when I took the trike out yesterday for a short (14 mile) ride.  I was even sensative enough to it that I could feel the wobble when I pedaled, but couldn’t sense it when I tried to move it with my hand.

So, I cut the ride short and came back home.  In just the 2 miles to home after I discovered the wobble, I had to tighten the bolt twice more.  The problem is I have 155mm cranks with a road chainset.  From what I understand, short cranks are more common on mountain bikes with the much lower gearing.  I don’t really want my gearing that low, so I’m not very interested in a mountain chainset, but it’s looking to be very hard to find the short cranks on road chainset now.

I am very much a convert on the short cranks though.  When I damaged my left crank last year, I changed to a normal 170mm road chainset.  It was brutal.  Absolutely killed my knees.  It took me a month to find a replacement for the short crank that had been special ordered when I first purchased my trike.  It looks as if the model has been discontinued.  Fingers crossed that I can find some still laying around in stock somewhere!  Until I find a replacement or find a service here in Sweden to cut down longer cranks, my trike will be gathering dust.

Until then, I’ll just try to think nice thoughts, and share a couple of photos from past rides.

Enjoy these glimpses of Sweden!
Ekeby Windmill

Ekeby Windmill

Shady Lane

Shady Lane

Best Laid Plans…
August 3, 2009, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Tours

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

That is what my 67+ mile tour amounted to. *sigh*

Originally, I was supposed to do the tour over Thursday and Friday, but I over did the packing and there was no way I was going to be ready.  Then Saturday we had plans and I knew we wouldn’t get home quite late, so a 5:30 am start Sunday morning was out.  So, even though my husband’s vacation was over, Monday morning it was.  I had planned to find a place to camp the evening before and spare my husband a 5:30 am wake up and drive through the countryside.  He decided that it would be better to have the early wake up and probably get to work in better time.

I woke around 4:15 am and went into a frenzy to get everything packed into bags so I could break the trailer down for transport.  I packed the trailer first to make sure all the stuff would fit.  Around 5:20, I was waving coffee under my husband’s nose.  It still took a bit to get the car loaded and everything settled to move out.  Between my frenzied jumping around to get everything packed and feeling a case of nerves at this first trip, I got overheated.  But we got everything nestled in the car Tetris style.  I was quite pleased how well everything fit.

Frösthult Kyrka

Frösthult Kyrka

There was fog this morning and in some areas it was quite thick.  The air was a bit cool, which was nice.  It had been a few days since the last ride, so Loke was in a fever pitch of anticipation.  Thanks to us driving the route last week, we knew exactly where Frösthult Kyrka was.  The only date I could find for the church was something about 1210, but I couldn’t translate it.  Also buried here is a Swedish Christian Missionary who went to convert Native Americans in the Delaware area between 1643 and 1648.

It took a while to get everything dragged out of the car and more than a bit of scrambling to get the trailer hitched and loaded, dog settled, cycle shoes on and such.  I sent my husband off before I was ready to start pedaling so that he wouldn’t be terribly late for work.

I was a little nervous about the extra weight of the trailer and its effect on my knees as I settled myself into the seat and started out.  As ever, Loke wanted to explode into a high speed charge down the road.  I wanted to keep my speed below 15 mph because of the trailer.  That seemed to irritate the furry one quite a bit.

Fog & Gray Skies

Fog & Gray Skies

He mostly ignored the trailer, but from time to time, he’d suddenly give a startled jump if it gave a particularly loud rattle or maybe if he saw it from the corner of an eye or the like.  Right away I took a slightly different turn than I’d plotted.  It wasn’t too bad though since it took me to the road I was supposed to cross.  I simply had to travel about 150 yards along the shoulder with early morning commuting traffic whizzing by toward Stockholm.

Once I was past that road, traffic was blissfully non-existent.  I continued on past fields with the sun hidden behind clouds and the soft gray veil of fog  that was in places softly glowing by stray beams of light.  The air was still cool and Loke was making a good clip.  His legs were wet from the dew clinging to the grass along the side of the road as I kept him off the road as much as possible.  Surprisingly, he was pulling more than usual.

River Scene

River Scene

As I covered the first few miles, I was rather pleased with how easily I drew the trailer along behind me.  I had expected to feel something of a strain on my knees, but I simply took it easy and kept the pace down a bit.  Just .5 mph less than usual.  I had also changed out my small chain ring from 30 teeth to 26 teeth and it made quite a difference going up hills.

Tranquil Waters

Tranquil Waters

Very quickly, the road shifted to unpaved, but one of those mostly smooth ones with a light scattering of stones along the center and edges that were easy to avoid for both myself and Loke.  It also wound along a small, dark and slow moving river/stream.  The fog was slowly lifting and grazing cows watched us as we pedaled by.  I was relaxing into the ride, my stress about the extra weight of the trailer fading as it continued to feel easy.  It was becoming fun.

We made a turn and the road became quite a bit rougher.  I’m fairly sure it was grated since the exploration last week.  I pushed to the far side of the road.  I was rattling, the trailer was rattling, but Loke at least was in the grass and off the brutal stones.  Even with the uneven surface, I still was having a fairly easy time with the 30 or so pounds of weight that I was dragging along.  There was something that was making itself uncomfortably known though.  I was starting to chafe.

Härnevi Mill

Härnevi Mill

I spotted a sign that said “Härnevi Kvarn” (Härnevi Mill).  Just down a tiny unpaved track off the dirt road I could see a little white plaster and brick building.  It looked like there was space enough at the end to turn the trike with the trailer around and I was curious enough to go look.

I can’t quite puzzle out the history of the area, but there doesn’t seem to be anything specific on the mill.  Just something about the area stating that there was a grave field from early times and there had been seven mills in the area.  What the mill sawed or ground, I couldn’t find.

Mill Pond

Mill Pond

To explore the area more comfortably, I pulled on my normal shoes to walk around as the last of the fog and clouds cleared.  The grounds were nice with a mill pond, mill race, and a gurgling little stream. Peaceful with birdsong and water sounds in the summer warmth.

I also took the time to stick some socks on Loke’s feet.  He wasn’t pleased with it, but I felt a bit better about his paws.  I also took the time to change from a short sleeved shirt to my long sleeved, moisture wicking cycle top.  Even though Loke had his socks on, I kept him to the smoother parts of the road where I could find them.

Härnevi Kyrka

Härnevi Kyrka

The chafing was getting worse as I went along.  The dirt road went on for a while more until I came to Härnevi Kyrka.  The bell tower was across the road from the church with a large flat graveled parking area.  It was perfect to park the trike as I looked around.  The church was built sometime during the 1400’s.

Lots of trees around the church so it was hard to find a good shot of it.  Just next to the churchyard wall was a small cafe.  It opened at 11 am, but it was only 9:30.  I checked my maps and continued on.  The dirt road seemed to go on and on.  Though after the church, it smoothed out again which was nice.

Stone Bridge

Stone Bridge

I was happy to see paved roads again, though not so thrilled with the size of the road and the traffic on it.  Along this road I found the stone bridge Jens and I have driven past on several occasions, but I never really had a chance to get a picture of it.  I pulled into driveway of an abandoned house.  Loke and I walked back along the road to the ‘new bridge’ that had a bit of distance from the old stone one which gave a good shot.  It was a bit edgy as there was no shoulder on the new bridge.  No traffic came along which was surprising.

Grave Mound In Distance

Grave Mound In Distance

Just past the bridge, there was a long moderately steep hill.  The view leading up to it was nice at least.  Off the road was a steeper hill covered with grass and small trees.  It looked identical to grave mounds.  I found a parking area off the road and a sign.  It was for a nature reserve and my guess had been correct.  It was a collection of grave mounds, the largest of course was for some high ranking chieftain   Most of it was built up in just a few centuries after  Christ’s birth.

I finished the long slow climb up half a mile or more of a hill.  It was definite proof of the value of that smaller chain ring.  It was a nice long glide down the other side and Loke got to kick up his heels a bit which he really enjoyed.

Torstuna Kyrka

Torstuna Kyrka

The next church on my planned route was Torstuna.  This church is originally a middle age structure, but all the renovations through the 1700’s have seemingly wiped away any trace of that first building.  Can’t find much else after that.

I tried to walk around in search of runestones, but ended up being threatened by a standard poodle and a German shepherd lurking in the background.  I decided not to press my luck so went back to my trike.  I rested for a bit, let Loke have a bit of water and a breather.

Most of ground that I was covering was open wheat fields.  Still pretty as I went along.  Not far after that, I passed a field with a number of mares with young foals.  There was another dog incident right past the field.  It was jumpy moment as a chow came charging across the yard.  I got up off the trike and faced it down, but once it got close it seemed to be more friendly than threatening, even with Loke.  It sniffed and wagged its tail before turning and finally obeying its owner’s calls.

Uppland's Runestone #839

Uppland’s Runestone #839

I finally came upon a couple of rune stones.  One sat right on the verge of the road, easy to see, painted clearly and not terribly weathered.  Alas, it lacked the little placard which usually has the information for the stones.

The other one sat further back from the road and required some wading through tall grass.  Loke adored that.  He flopped down and wallowed around in the weeds as I looked at the stone.  It was carved sometime in the 1000’s.  The translation reads, “Amunde and Ödgärd allowed to be raised this stone after Anund, their son, and built a bridge.”

I’m not sure which bridge, or where, that was built in Amund’s memory.  If it still existed, I would be quite curious to see it.

I let Loke wallow and flail around a bit more before he jumped up and wagged his tail, ready to hit the road again.

The chafing was getting quite bad as I’d gone on and it was getting bad enough, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue much further.  Still, I didn’t like the idea of ending the tour before it really had begun.

Loke was starting to feel a bit hot, but the next church was right around the corner.  It almost snuck up on me.  I saw the sign right at the turn before I even caught sight of the church itself.  There was a smooth gravel drive that led round to the front of the building facing away from the road and wonderfully shady trees.  I parked in a nice deep patch of shade and fastened Loke to one of the trees with some water.

Nysätra Kyrka

Nysätra Kyrka

Not much info on this church, but I thought it was kind of pretty with the lower base of stone and the upper portions of brick.  I wandered around (painfully so) in search of any rune stones.  Loke got a nice long drink from a bucket I filled from one of the spigots in the church yard.  Back at my trike, I munched on a second banana and some of my granola with some chocolate covered cashews mixed in. Mmmmm…

Loke and I relaxed there until he finally quite panting.

As I left, I knew the end of my little adventure was rushing upon me.  The pain was growing.  I was gritting my teeth and my knees began adding to the problem as I wasn’t sitting or pedaling properly.  The chafing wasn’t going to heal quick, so pitching a tent for a couple hours to continue on wasn’t going to help much.

I knew Biskopskulla wasn’t too far from from Nysätra, so I was determined to make it at least that far.

Biskopskulla Kyrka (Bishop's Hill Church)

Biskopskulla Kyrka (Bishop’s Hill Church)

Biskopskulla Kyrka was built in the 1100’s and early parts of the 1200’s in the roman style.  The tower was added sometime in the 1200’s.  Not much else is known from the early history of the church, though there is speculation that it was a private project.  There were no runestones on the grounds.  Oddly, most of the gravestones, weren’t that old.  I think I found only two that predated the 1900’s.  There were two very small weathered stones that might have been much older grave stones, but it was too hard to tell what they might have been.

I called Jens and told him I couldn’t go on.  It had only been a few hours and a lowly 16 miles.  He asked me to at least try out the tent as I waited for him to escape work.

My tent!

My tent!

It was fairly easy to set up.  Even better, it’s freestanding and light weight.  Even partially in the sun, it turns out that it doesn’t get that warm even with the fly on.  Granted, I had the door open, but even most tents that I’ve had door open or not, you roasted.

It would be an incredibly tight fit for 2 people though it is rated for two.  For me alone, it’s quite roomy.  It’s tall enough for me to sit up in, though just.  Granted, I’m a bit of runt standing at just 5′ 2″.  I even discovered two little mesh storage pockets near the entrance.  I’m very happy with it.  It was a fairly comfortable wait for Jens actually.

I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to make the full distance.  It would have been nice to have at least made it to the first of the three castles.  I accomplished a lot though.  I discovered that one of the things I was worried most about was turning out to be almost no issue at all.  It wasn’t my stamina that gave out, or my knees, or my legs.  The trailer was good.  The tent was great.

Hopefully my next attempt will fare better!