Terii’s Cycling Babble

Meadow Larks!!
March 29, 2010, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Well!  That felt good!  My first ‘real’ cycling of the year!  It was only the Ulva/Gamla Uppsala loop which is about 14 miles, but it felt good.  Loke and I didn’t set any records for it, but that wasn’t really the point.

March 26th, River Still Frozen

I did get a very short ride in on the 26th.  It was warm enough though not terribly sunny.  I wanted to get my trike out to see if I’d gotten the little issue corrected that thwarted my first ride.  So, I had my husband carry the trike out and took it on the river loop.  Loke was quite happy and it was a good test to see how his stamina was as well.  He kept a good clip and when we got back home, he slept for 2 hours, woke up and started being a PITA again.  Annoying as it was, I took it as a good sign his stamina, while perhaps not up to a 40 mile jaunt, wasn’t in complete tatters after the winter.

I didn’t fare quite as well.  Much to my dismay, the muscles across the front of my thighs cramped up.  I had hoped my trainer would have kept me in somewhat better condition, but it apparently just can’t give me the same quality of resistance out in the open rides do.  Still, I think it did help as I recovered much quicker from that kind of discomfort than I usually did.

Otherwise, the ride was just… well, the River Loop.  The same trip I’ve done countless times before over the past 4 years every spring to work out the kinks in the trike, me and the dog before we start tackling the greater distances.  In spite of the snowy landscape with no outward signs of spring, I did find one indication of the season of renewal is here.  A face full of gnats as I was crossing a bridge over a little drainage ditch leading to the river.  Ahhh!  Spring!

I was actually itching to ride yesterday.  The forecast online was indicating it should get up to about 45 F with mostly cloudy skies.  I kept waiting, but it hovered subbornly at 34 F all day with a bit of rain thrown in for good measure.  Part of my desperation to ride as well is I’m getting a tooth pulled tomorrow (March 30th) and I don’t know how long it might be before I feel like riding.  I’m guessing at least 2 days I’ll be fairly miserable if the examples of friends and family who have had teeth pulled are any indication.

Today’s forecast was the same as what yesterday was, but I wasn’t holding out hope.  Even so, the temperature finally edged up to 41 F, the rain stopped and I saw a peek of sun.  Given a choice of spending the day before facing a phobia to get a tooth pulled doing laundry or getting out for a longer cycle ride with the dog, well, who would REALLY choose laundry as long as there was something clean in the house?  I checked to make sure my husband had enough shirts and such to get him through the rest of the week and out the door I bolted.

As I was getting things ready, Loke got into his old fever pitch of excitement.  Seems now, he believes me again when I start getting dressed into the ‘magic clothes’ and fiddling with certain things.  20 min later, we were heading out toward Gamal Börje road.

I do have to say, I did quite a bit of cringing on the ride every time I came up to a steep hill and shifted to my easiest gear.  Kept waiting for the chain to jump either off the front or the rear rings.  It did fine thankfully and I did actually start to trust it again.

Snow and Gray Skies

Though we’ve had a lot of rain which has been melting the snow like mad, we had so much of it that in the fields and such, it’s still quite prevailent.  Much to my surprise as I made my way down Gamla Börjevägen, I heard and saw meadowlarks!  Given the thick blanket of snow over the fields they were fluttering and singing their hearts out over, I might have wondered what on earth they were eating, if it hadn’t been for that swarm of gnats I found on the River Loop.  It was a pleasure to hear them again.  I must say, I missed them.

Loke threw himself right back into his old patterns as we went down the road.  The places he always stretched into a run along, he did so again.  One of the spots is acutally up a slight hill.  He KNOWS there’s a small house along the road there with about a dozen outdoor cats and he flies up that hill every time, desperately looking for them.

His average speed surprised me as well.  His cruising speed was between 8.7 and 9.1 mph.  He didn’t come anywhere near his best speed of almost 23 mph, but topped out at a more modest 17.8 mph down a couple of the early hills.  If it wasn’t for my bad knees on the hills, he would have came in with an average of over 10 mph, I think.  Of course, if I didn’t have my bad knees, I think I’d probably come in with an average speed over over 15 mph.  Oh well.

Snowy Field, Stone and Trees

One thing I always forget when I look at the temperature here in Uppsala.  If it says 41 F here, it is likely 38-39 F a few miles out of town.  By mile 5 on the ride, I was feeling the chill clean through my wool thermals and my outer layer.  I’d brought another layer to wear and was thankful for it even if it was barely adequate.  It doesn’t help my face though.  My cheeks felt like they were burning and the wind gets around the edges of the cycle glasses I wear and sends tears streaming down my cheeks.  Still, it was worth it.

Old Road Marker

While we were going along, I spotted this old road marker.  It surprised me because I’ve cycled this way maybe over 50 times and I never noticed it before.  Maybe because it blends in with the colors of fresh plowed fields and the summer/autumn colors.  I guess it goes to show there are still new things to see on old ground.

In spite of the cold biting hard through my clothing and chaffing my face, I discovered I really needed this ride today as I crossed the highway and headed toward Ulva mill.  I hadn’t really realized how stressed I had been about the coming appointment tomorrow.  With each circle of the pedals, it was like anxiety was flowing out of me and a sense of calm and peaceful feeling of accomplishment and enjoyment was replacing it.

Gotta love endorphines!!!

With Snow

Loke picked up speed again as we headed down the last stretch toward Ulva Mill.  He loves the mill because of all the times I’ve stopped there to buy him an ice cream during the summer.  In that special way he has, he’s come to expect it.  He kept giving me dirty looks as I pulled passed where we usually turn into the cafe area and kept heading down the road to take the right toward the bridge.

Loke Snow Diving!

I think he forgave me when I turned into a small parking spot just over the bridge next to the mill and stopped to get a few pictures.  As soon as he was leashed and off the trike, he jumped over a pile of dirty snow and gravel to the fresh, clean white on the other side to begin thrashing, wallowing and face plowing through it.  Every minute or so, he’d stop to come over to where I was standing and stare in fascination at the torrent of water thundering over the spillway before he do this springing leap back into the snow.  I let him have his fun for a while and got some laughs from it.

Ulva Mill Stream

The grounds around the mill have quite a different quality in this type of weather.  The last time I was here, the trees on the small islet between the stream and mill race were clad in dense drapes of vibrant green leaves.  Now, they were stark things, gray and white skeletons almost with not even a hint of the life so soon to leaf out again.  Even the steam changed beyond ice along the edges and the stones capped in white.  The water during the summer is almost clear and fresh looking, but in this early spring run off it was murky, milky and brownish.  I’ll be glad to see it run clear again and the trees budding out.  Spring is one of my favorite times of the year.

After Ulva, the rest of the trip feels like I’m in the home stretch.  There’s a 4 mile or so stretch after the mill that is just kinda… bleah.  Trees on one side, even a rather nice house before it all feels like chain link fence and the blank face of a field with trees too far in the distance to photograph well.  Then it’s along another section of chainlink fence of the military air strip.  There is one spot I rather like.  It’s a pasture with a sloping hill with a single tree at the top.  In the right weather and lighting it can be visually striking, but the rest is just ground to cover to get toward home.

The last of the ‘bleah’ spot is along the old E-4.  There’s a wide shoulder thankfully, so the traffic isn’t really dangerous, but still not pleasant to have a steady stream of cars zipping by at 60 mph.

The old E-4 section isn’t very long.  Probably less than a quarter mile before it’s a left turn toward Gamla Uppsala.  As I passed by the field right at the turn, I looked for the swans that I had seen there several times last year.  Alas, they were either completely hidden by the white of the snow or absent.  Given I didn’t hear them calling, I’m guessing they weren’t there.  I do know the swans are migrating back though.  I saw a flock of them last week.

Gamla Uppsala Church

I discovered, this time of the year is the best to get a picture of Gamla Uppsala church.  Odd that one of the oldest churches is so close (I’ve walked to it many times) and this is the first picture I’ve had of it to blog.  Usually the leaves of the trees obscure it so thoroughly it’s impossible to get photo.

I also had no idea of the historical religous backgound of this place that has been tightly linked to my experience of Sweden from the beginning.  It was the first place I rode to on a bike (and discovered bikes are not good for me) and the first place I rode to on my trike.  The first week I was in Sweden but before I moved here, my then-fiance (now husband) took me on a walk here.

There was a huge temple (described by an eye-witness as being built entirely of gold) with three enormous statues of Thor, Odin and Freyr.  During a huge festival at the vernal equinox, there would be a series of sacrifices, both human and animal, with the bodies hung in the trees of a sacred grove.  Wikipedia has quite a bit of very interesting information and descriptions of you do a search for ‘Gamla Uppsala Church’ via Google.  Rather surprising to find such a dark and murky past so close to where I live.

Back to the cycling!

Actually, once I pass the church at Gamla Uppsala, I consider my ride mostly over.  It’s 2 miles to home and just a quick trip down either a busy throughway over a sidewalk, or along small residential streets with small box-like houses.  It took Loke and I roughly 2 hours and 15 min for the 14-ish miles.  He was soggy and a bit tired, but not TOO tired.  He’s perking up already even.  Again, another demonstration that he might be good to start touring in a few weeks!

And me?  My legs feel fine.  Not too tired and not crampy at all.  Not sure I’m up to 3 days in a row of 35 miles each, but certain better than the past springs after a long winter without cycling!

Cursssessss….. (said in sinister thwarted villain voice)
March 23, 2010, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Day Rides


We had a bout of warm weather and the sun, a gentle wind and temps between 40 to 50 F had the huge piles of snow melting like mad.  The 10 to 12 inch sheet of ice that has been our street since December was starting to develope little micro-canyons with the small river of melt water toward one of the few open storm drains.  Quite a few roads around had been mostly clear of snow and ice for a few days, but ours and the others between the apartment and the cycle path near the school remained stubbornly impassable.  One section of the street wasn’t ice, but I wasn’t passing it in my trike either.  I’d have been up to my hips in water.

But there were enough roads clear that I was so desperately itching to ride.  I decided to talk my husband into driving me along the Ulva/Gamla Uppsala loop with the idea of starting at a little drive through fast food place not far from the Gamla Börje road.  It was clear!!  So, the next day, I got everything together (I thought) for a short ride with Loke.

It was sort of funny.  I was getting in the clothes and making sure we had water, checking air in the tires and Loke kept watching me.  None of the hysterics he used to get.  It was like he was afraid to believe it was happening.  Maybe he thought I was just toying with his emotions after the trike sat on a trainer all winter while I pedaled in front of the TV.  It wasn’t until I put the harness on him that he got a little exicted… but still not much.

Hubby dropped me off at the Sybilla about 2 miles from home and I got the trike put together, swapped shoes, got the flag set, doggie hitched and Jens drove home.

The sun was shining, it was almost 60 F and barely a breeze (provided the trike wasn’t moving).  Loke went completely nuts and kangaroo hopped at the end of the tether until we got moving to a respectable clip.  It was GREAT to be moving again!!

For the whole 1/4 mile it lasted. *eye roll*.  Just a few yards after leaving the Sybilla parking lot, we crossed the 272 (or is it 72, I confuse the two) and started up the STEEP hill that is the beginning of the Gamla Börje road.  Suddenly, my chain went wierd and didn’t seem to be grabbing teeth as it made this clacking noise and all forward progress halted.

There I was, with a hyper, insane husky doing his best to drag me up, me gripping the breaks like mad to keep from rolling backward and potentially breaking something while franticly wondering how on EARTH was I going to get out of the seat at such a hideous backward angle.  Imagine laying in a lawn chair that someone has lifted the end up 1 foot and trying to get up… only if you let go of a brake, you’re going to roll wildly backward into a VERY busy intersection while dragging a dog with you.  Yeah.  That will get the blood pumping.

Somehow, I did it.  No minor feat given my back has been bothering me and I’m not a slim woman by any means.  I had a moment of trying to wrestle Loke into a semblance of calm so he didn’t rush out across the street when I put him on his leash before I could look and see what happened.  My chain had jumped off the rear cassette and was stuck between gear sprockets and spokes.  I also realized, I’d forgotten the tether cable so even if I was close to something I could have hitched Loke to, I had nothing to tether him with that he wouldn’t chew through in 2 seconds.

Stuck on a narrow section of semi-busy road with a shoulder that was an ankle deep morass of mud in the middle of an otherwise glorious day.  I had to go home and fight with the gearing on my trike.

I hate adjusting cycle gearing.  Have I ever mentioned that?  I’m not sure I have, but I am now and I can’t adequately find the words to describe how MUCH I despise it.  I think I’ve faced my trips to the dentist knowing I was going to get my teeth drilled with more calm.

Loke On His Way To China

So, my husband didn’t even make it all the way home before I had to call him.  The picture above is the only one I managed to get on the incredibly short ride.  At least Loke had fun while waiting for Jens to come get us. *smirk*

The oddest thing was, Loke had been a complete butt for the past two weeks.  Tense and scrabbling desperately to his feet if Jens or I so much as scratched out noses.  Pushy, woofing at us even after an hour’s walk.  We couldn’t have gone more than .25 of a mile and he came home, flopped down on the floor and slept like the dead for 3 hours!  It’s the most relaxed and calm I’ve seen him since some time in November!  It was WONDERFUL!

Since then, March has been toying with me.  The next day (March 21st, spring equinox), the lovely spring day with almost 60 F temps was a distant dream as it was 28 and blizzard!  In less than 8 hours we got over 10 inches of snow!  The yesterday, we had highs of 40ish F and things were melting like crazy.  Today is 33 F.. rain snow mix.  Forcasts keep promising weather that will clear the roads, but it’s always tomorrow.

Hopefully, I got the chain issue fixed so the next chance I get to ride won’t be cut short. *fingers, toes, legs and eyes crossed*