Terii’s Cycling Babble


What Do You Mean ‘No Runestones’??
October 9, 2009, 9:12 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Yep.  Can you believe it?  I managed to find a 20+ mile stretch of Swedish countryside in this area without a single rune stone!  Or at least any that I could find.

I’d planned this trip a bit earlier in the week, but with my husband coming back from a ‘guys only’ fishing vacation with a cold, it got put off a day.  Kind of glad it did to be honest.  The winds on the Oct 7th were brutal.  Downing trees brutal.  But yesterday morning dawned clear and very calm.  Also quite cold with a thin skin of ice on puddles from rains on the 6th.  Around 10-ish or so, I decided it was warm enough to go cycling without wrapping up in 4 or 5 layers.

My original plan (I say that a lot, don’t I?) had been to get my husband to drop me off at Hammarskog to head to the place in the banner photo, past Uppsala-Näs church, then rejoin the Sverigeleden, follow it to a little place called Alsike before taking off on other roads to pass by a few churches and end up at a castle.  As I was getting the trike, dog and myself ready, I decided maybe to reverse the trip and cut out the stretch from where I would have joined the Sverigeleden to Hammarskog and ride home instead.  Saving Jens the trouble of picking me up.

So, at around 10:45, we headed out for the Venngarn Slott.

Tower At Venngarn Castle Grounds

Tower At Venngarn Castle Grounds

The entire grounds of the castle look like they’ve been mostly converted to some kind of residential area and were a bit confusing.  Finally we found a spot that was good to unload the trike so I could assemble it.  It was near a fairly modernized (but perhaps quite old originally) stables with a couple of those big shipping crates around it.  Bleah.  But it was also very close to a delightful looking little tower sitting on its own little hill with mossy stone steps lead up.  Across the parking lot and a bit down the slope was a pond surrounded by autumn yellow trees.

Loke as always was quite wound up.  I can’t really blame him.  Between my knees and ankles acting up, which I think is the colder temps and rain with the colder temps, husband’s vacation and then his cold, our rides have been very short and close to home.  Not enough to really burn his energy or work his furry little brain.  Jens was quite hard pressed to keep me unwrapped from the leash while I tried to get the trike ready and Loke ran in circles.

Pond at Venngarn

Pond at Venngarn

It felt a bit cool as I rode out and my husband drove off.  Once I warmed up from pedaling it wasn’t so bad.  I took a different direction than the one the car did in an effort to find the castle.  As I anticipated, it was hard to slowly ride around and figure out which way to go to hopefully find a good angle of castle or any other buildings that tend to be associated with such places.  Loke was just too wired and wanted to go NOW!!!  Go FAST!  I found what I thought was the castle and to be honest, I was quite disappointed.  Enough so that I didn’t even bother trying to stop for a picture and pushed it so Loke could have his first wild mile without dragging me.

Of course, as I researched Venngarn Slott for my blog, I think it wasn’t the castle I found but a building built later when the castle and grounds were used for various public services.  Ah well.

Scenic View

Scenic View

The path leading out from Venngarn Slott was flanked by fields and trees and I enjoyed it while I could.  Cresting a hill, there were the golds of autumn in the fields and the broad leafed trees.  Pale in the light of the day, the moon hung in the sky at around 3/4th full.

Loke was running at a hard clip.  The temperature was only around 50 F or so.  Perfect for him to be able to kick up his heels without overheated too quickly.  I had thought to bring my soft-shelled (and bright day glow yellow) windbreaker and was glad of it.  It felt very good to be out and on new ground.

Scenic View

Scenic View

 The ride past the Venngarn Castle grounds was a bit irritating and when the huge semi-trucks (almost always double trailer) thundered by with traffic on-coming so they didn’t get over very far, it was harrowing.  I managed to not grit my teeth and tense up when it happened though.  I didn’t want Loke picking up on my alarm and get fearful.  As it was, he didn’t care if they were 20 feet away or 5 feet away.  Rather have that then him freaking out.

For the record, I hate semi-trucks.  To make a long story short, about 8 years ago on a drive from Alabama to 29 Palms Military Base in Cali, I had a day I called, ‘Let’s kill Terii Day’.  Several incidents of getting boxed in and nearly crushed by various semi-trucks.  When the day was done, I locked myself in a hotel room with a tub of Bryer’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream until I stopped shaking.  I’ve gotten over it mostly, but when in an unprotected position like my trike, I still feel a bit tense when they pass too close.  So, I’m rather proud of the fact I hid it well enough that Loke didn’t pick up on it.

Haga Kyrka Bell Tower & Trike in the Shadows

Haga Kyrka Bell Tower & Trike in the Shadows

Haga Kyrka

Haga Kyrka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though it was only for a few minutes, it was a relief to get off the larger busier road for a nice quiet, dead end country lane as I went to get a picture of Haga Kyrka.  The slope up to the church caught me by surprise so I ended up kind of stuck in a gear too high so it took a bit of fiddling and work to climb it.  I didn’t dare gear down since I didn’t have much forward momentum and I learned the hard way not to roll backwards between gears.  I did it once and the rear derailleur looked like it exploded.  There wasn’t really much to the church.  No runestones in the churchyard or walls.

A bit further on, there was a bit of excitement.  At least I knew it was coming up before I got to it.  As we drove to the castle, I noticed a yard very close to the busy road.  It was surrounded by a high fence.  On a bit rocky knoll that gave a view over the solid privacy part of the fence I caught a glimpse of two large dogs intently watching the traffic.  My first thought was “Ooh, that ought to be fun to pass”.

Actually, it wasn’t that bad.  Fortunately, the yard was along a down hill slope of the ride and being along such a busy strip of road, the owners had made sure the fence was strong.  I’m quite glad of that.  The two dogs I’d only caught a glimpse of were Rotties.  They came charging down their rocky perch, belling out agressively.  Loke (as always) wanted to stop and look, but I pulled him on with the command ‘On By!’.  The two angry dogs hit the end of their fenced yard and one of them actually started chewing at the wire of the fence.  I zipped down the hill and left them behind.

 

Curious Horse
Curious Horse

Down the slope and around the curve out of sight, I found a space that let me get off the road enough to check Loke’s paws.  The shoulder along this section of the ride was not paw friendly.  There wasn’t any glass, but lots of rather large stones and with the traffic along the ‘get away from the Rottie’ charge, I’d been forced to make Loke run flat out over those stones.  His feet were fine, so I took the moment to give the furry one some water and look around.

I found that Loke and I were being watched rather intently.  There was another horse in the same pasture, but it was more interested in grazing than staring curiously.

 

Vassunda Kyrka

Vassunda Kyrka

Shortly afte we left our interested watcher, we passed an intersection that took much of the traffic toward Enköping.  Loke and I relaxed a bit with the lighter flow of cars and, more importantly, big trucks.  We continued quite happily toward Vassunda Kyrka.

As I took the turn to do a ‘there and back’ to the church for pictures, it was clearly visible in the autumn sun across the fields.  As we headed toward the church for closer view pictures, Loke spotted a hare.  The last quarter mile or so to the church was a made dash as the critter teased Loke horribly by running along the road for a bit before vanishing in a field.  Much to my surprise, Loke actually listened to me when I yelled ‘On By!’ when it swerved away rather than trying to do a right turn lunge after it.  He still kept running flat out for a bit more distance though.

Alas, more close up pictures of the church as well as a search of runestones around the church yard was not to be.  The parking area of the church was surrounded by construction fencing and dumpsters as well as digging equipment.  The only spot to stop was still very close to the road with nothing to lock my trike to.  Granted, sitting in the middle of the country next to a church, I might not have to worry about someone snatching such a wierd looking machine as my trike, but still.  There was enough space for me to get off the road that I felt safe enough to stop and let Loke have water and a breather as I ate a banana.

As I ate, I debated with myself for a bit over taking another ‘there and back’ to Alsike Kyrka.  I decided against it as it meant staying on the bigger road instead of turning onto the smaller country roads in a quarter mile or so.  We had passed it on the drive to the castle and it looked identical to Vassunda.

A Gorgeous Autumn Day

A Gorgeous Autumn Day

It was a bit after 1 pm when I finally came off of the larger roads and to the peace of the smaller ones.  The temperature had gone up enough and I was mostly in the sun so I took off my windbreaker.  The few times I passed into shadow, it was still a bit cool, but it felt nice.  Loke was still running quite well and not over heated in the least as we passed mile 10 or 11.  He was even frisky enough that he was putting weight into his harness to help me up hills.

It’s easy to tell how much Loke is helping me when he pulls.  His running bar has some spring action.  When he pulls against it, he draws out a bit of extra rope that is stained black from the lubricant that keeps the spring from rusting.  Two inches or more, he’s pulling very hard.  Half an inch, he’s still helping but not much.  All white and the latch jingling against his harness ring, not at all.  Odd as it may sound, I try to keep it to ‘Not at all’.  It means I’m working the trike and Loke can run farther since he’s not expending energy dragging my butt.  Crawling along up hills at 2 or 3 mph, I don’t mind the help though.  Saves my knees and means I’m not going along at under 2 mph.

More Autumn Scenery

More Autumn Scenery

I had to smile when I found the first of the green signs for the Sverigeleden.  It was a nice quiet intersection.  The mile and a half since making the turn off the large road had been completely car free.  The deeper gold October in Sweden gives to the sun deepened the greens, golds and occasional splashes of orange and red of the trees.  That beautiful light I mostly associate with mornings and that autumn days in the early afternoons of southern Mississippi never know.

Shortly after I joined the Sverigeleden, I passed a small country house.  There was a woman working in the yard, pulling up the dead flowers she was probably going to replant in spring.  She actually gave a surprised laugh when she saw us and clapped.  As I got closer, she asked if she could get Loke some water.  With such a gracious offer, I pulled into her driveway and unhitched Loke so he could sniff around a bit though I was careful to keep him from peeing on anything.  That would just have been rude I think.

She came back out with a bowl of water for Loke and a glass of saft for me.  It was a chance for a Swedish lesson as we talked for a few minutes while I sipped my drink.  I always feel so lifted from such little kindnesses, rather like the guy who gave me the home-made doggie shoes at the beginning of the year.  I was smiling broadly as I hitched Loke back up, waved bye, and went on my way.

There were a few more miles through the woods and agricultural countryside before I came to the town of Alsike.  It’s a small village or town that sits outside Marsta that is one of Stockholm’s many suburbs.  The path of the Sverigeleden got a bit confusing, but some lucky guessing and my printed maps helped keep me on track as I wound past modern houses and businesses to cross a set of train tracks.  Small as Alsike is, it wasn’t long before I was back outside of it and heading down a slope to go under the E4.

Loke is generally very unflappable as we ride round.  There are times, however, when he startles easily for one reason or another.  I’ve learned that if I warn him from time to time about cars coming up from behind us, he’s fine.  This is especially true when there is a lot of traffic noise and he can’t hear what’s coming behind us.  So, I was very sure that I warned him about the two cars that passed from behind as we went under the highway since we couldn’t hear them over the E4 traffic.

View From A Hill

View From A Hill

About a mile beyond the E4 underpass, we headed down a slope with a four way intersection visible.  I recognized the place.  The ride I blogged where I first found the way to Danmark Kyrka had led me to the road and I knew a left turn would take me not only onward on the Sverigeleden, but past the Mora Stenar as well.

I guess the mile stretch of the Sverigeleden goes over the road the Mora Stones are on, I’ll have to start calling “Camera Street”.  Just before you get to the Mora Stones, there’s a transformer station.  There was a guy there wearing a business coat and slacks who was pointing his camera toward the little building that houses the Stones.  He looked surprised as I passed and ‘Click!’.

Then, much to my dismay, as I came up to the Mora Stones building itself, there were three people off to one side at the back of it.  One man sitting on the edge of the foundation with a broadcast quality video camera being operated by a second man and a woman behind him with earphones and a clipboard in hand.  It looked for all the world as if they were filming a documentary about the stones.  I actually stopped as I debated waiting until they finished.  I realised it might be quite some time, sitting on the side of the road with almost no shoulder and traffic that might be increasing with people going home.  I went on by.  Hopefully, they’ll reshoot or I’ll be pedalling past on my trike with Loke in the background of some Swedish documentary. *blush*

Less than 100 yards past the Mora Stones, there was a widened section of shoulder.  A car had pulled over and a man was standing at the back of the car.  As I came up, he was grinning widely and waved, taking several pictures as Loke and I went by.  Three camera incidents in less than half a mile.  The last time I had that much camera attention was cycling over the gravemound loop near home when there was some kind of carnival going on with hundreds of people.

It wasn’t much past the third camera occurence that I made the turn onto a quiet road that still took me along the Sverigeleden.  Though I’d been this way before, it was new ground for Loke and he was still running quiet well.  Even after 15 miles, he was still pulling the rope out an inch to help me up hills.

Narrow Lane

Narrow Lane

I found a little spot near some mailboxes that pulled off to offer Loke some water and eat my second banana.  There was a perfect shot of the buildings (photo right) with the road and the trees.  So, before eating and giving Loke water, I quickly snapped it.  As we sat and relaxed for a few minutes.  Loke’s ears went back and he stood up to look the way we had come from as we both heard this muffled sort of bang.  Or maybe a thud is a better description.  The sounds kept coming and Loke was looking a bit worried.  I was just baffled.

Finally, up the hlll and around the curve a car slowly came up with a violently rocking horse trailer.  Through a tinted window, I could see the top of a horse’s head and those ears were not happy ears.  Flat back against the crest of the neck.  Loke and I both just stared after it as it shook, banged, crashed, and thudded down the road and around the curve.  I felt sorry for the horse.

Linne's Hammarby

Linne's Hammarby

I waited until all sounds of angry or upset horse stuck in a small trailer were gone before I moved out again.  A about a mile past the trailer incident I passed Linnes Hammarby.

The first time I passed here, I didn’t stop to explore.  I didn’t stop this time either, except a quick pause on the road to snap a photo.  I’m not sure why this place holds no appeal for me to stop and look around, but it doesn’t.  Explanation of Linne’s Hammarby is in the description of the photo if you click it.  I’m getting better about putting info there.

Scenic View

Scenic View

The road along the section between Linne’s Hammarby and Danmark Kyrka was peaceful.  There the only vehicle that even remotely got close to me was a tractor chugging around a field to turn the cut stalks of wheat under the soil in preparation for winter.  The deep old gold color of the light was getting richer as it was coming up around 3 pm.  It still amazes me how quickly the days can get long or short here.  It seems just two weeks ago there was still so much light at 8 pm.  Now, 3 pm in October reminds me of an December afternoon at 4pm in Mississippi.

Scenic View

Scenic View

Still, it must be said.  I love having seasons!  More than the two that Mississippi has any way.

Along here, I was also surprised by a spider frenzy.  Fortunately, I’m not afraid of the eight-legged little critters.  There just seemed to be countless newly spawned spiders riding on the breeze.  The lingering weed stalks of summer weeds along the edges of the road had streamers of web, gleaming and shimmering in the sunlight, lifted up in the light wind.  It was quite pretty.  I’ll definitely take the occasional baby spider over hundreds of flies in my face any day.  Even if the flies don’t bite.  Of course, the spiders didn’t seem to either.

The trees around Danmark, which had been a deep rich green in the summer, had gone to a sort of pale yellow green hue.  The area around the church was quiet busy with a tour bus and several cars.  Since I’ve already photographed and blogged the church, I simply waved at some of the people who exclaimed at the pretty husky and the wierd bike as I went zipping down the hill and around the curve.

Past Danmark Kyrka, the area goes from beautifully country to rather boring residential.  I coasted back under the E4 with Loke surprising me with enough energy to move into a run down the hill.  It might not have been his flat out 20+ mph hour run, but it was more than 12 mph at least.  Then there was the long slow climb of almost half a mile up the other side to a set of train tracks.  I took the turn the Sverigeleden signs indicated and went on my way.

One of the Many Faces of the Sverigeleden

One of the Many Faces of the Sverigeleden

After the turn over the tracks the last time I’d gone this way.  I’d somehow lost the Sverigeleden.  This time, I managed to stick to it.  It was a bit more pleasant as it skirted the edge of the residential area along some wheat fields.  In the distance, I could see the steeples of the Uppsala church and the bright coral color of the castle next to it.  The photo didn’t come out well enough to share though.

I passed through Nåntuna which was cycle paths the whole way, again skirting the edges of a residential area.  I ended up stopping rather suddenly at one point when Loke began limping rather badly.  I’d been checking his paws at regular intervals and they had been holding up well.  I’m always careful to watch for glass and there had been none that I could see.  Of course, the limping began when I was along a section of path flanked by woods and pastures on both sides instead of sided with a parking lot at least on one edge.  I took a look and found a tiny cut at the edge of his central pad.  The main  problem seemed to be a pebble about a 1/16th of an inch across tha had gotten shoved into it.

I carefully removed it and stuck a sock on him.  He didn’t look too happy about the flapping blue bag reinforced with duct tape.  Still I figured it would be enough to get us to the place where Jens and I sometimes go to let Loke run loose.  It’s a small field set up for agility training and securely fenced in.  It gives us a place that Loke can run, sniff and play without being tethered.  I knew my husband could get there without the fuss of trying to guess where I was.

As I went on though, Loke stopped limping almost immediately.  When I got to the turn where one way would take us on our planned route an the other would take us to the agility course, I stopped to consider.  The furry one still had plenty of energy and with the boot protecting his foot, no limping.  I double checked and it didn’t even look like the wound had bled.  On we went.

10-9L Autumn Across River

Autumn Across the River

It was a road that I’ve ridden on a couple times.  It follows along the same river that runs through downtown Uppsala.  It’s a pretty area with lots of trees and a few houses tucked back from the road on one side and pasture land that runs right down to the river’s edge.  Across the river, there’s the unpaved river path that runs for miles along the bank right to downtown Uppsala at the pumphouse I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog.  Blissfully, along this entire stretch, there was not a single car.  Loke and I both savored the lack of traffic.  At least, I know I did.  Loke might have been completely indifferent to be honest.

Scenic View

Scenic View

Scenic View

Scenic View

The sun was getting lower.  While it deepened the autumn colors, it also started to get colder and I had to pull my windbreaker back on.  About that time, I realised even though we were just 6 or 7 miles from home, our ride was about over.  Loke, even with his little blue boots, started limping.

I checked his foot again, but there seemed to be no change.  I dug out the phone and called Jens.  He knew the road I was on so finding us was going to be no problem, though I decided to continue on very slowly at least until I found somewhere to stop better than on the road or in the middle of someone’s drive.

Within minutes, Loke stopped limping again, but I decided not to push any farther or aggravate my husband by calling him and saying ‘Never mind!’ as he might have been well on his way already.

Magpies

Magpies

We made it a bit further and came to the parking area of the nature reserve that’s in the area.  It sits right against the river and was a pleasant place to wait.  I removed Loke’s harness and tethered him to a parking sign so he could be more comfortable.  Some clouds moved in a bit and dimmed the sun even more.  It quickly dropped the temperature.  Enough so that my fingers felt uncomfortable and you could faintly see little puffs of my breath from time to time.

With that sudden drop in degrees, I decided that I was definitely going home with the dog.  I’d have been a frozen popsicle by the time I’d gotten home otherwise.  Not to mention it might have gotten late enough that I might have been ticketed for riding my trike without lights.  Yes, police here in Sweden will stop and hand out tickets for riding a bike without adequate lighting after sundown.

While I love the colours and the cooler days, these times do herald the approaching end of my cycling for the year.  While I don’t have to worry about falling if my trike hits black ice, I do have to worry about snow choking my chain or ruts in ice smashing my derailleur.  I also have problems with hypothermia no matter how carefully I dress.  So, we’ll see how many more rides I cram in.  Granted, I might fit in quick rides on my short routes, but they hardly seem worth blogging after so many times.

Fingers crossed!  Maybe another ride this weekend!

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