Terii’s Cycling Babble

Things Might Be Quiet Here
April 30, 2010, 3:51 am
Filed under: Misc

This year is not starting out well.  So, posts here might be scarce for a bit due to three reasons. 

1) I’m only riding the home loops, so not much to say.

2) Yet ANOTHER cold or flu keeping me in.

3) Computer problems even if I do get to ride.

Still, I’ll be doing what I can to build up my stamina for a tour though I’m starting to feel a bit discouraged.  Hopefully, I can get some new rides in and the computer issues fixed so all of you can hear about them.

The Latest In Road-Running Husky Fashion!
April 27, 2010, 11:36 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Loke's Stunning Fashion Wear

Loke is featured in this seasons stunning running booties.  Crafted from an a durable cotton knit in elegant midnight blue and stunningly accented with silver duck tape.  The delightful velcro fastenings ensure a snug fit regardless of the activity!

There it is!  The photo I promised of Loke in his booties.

And yep, I cycled today.  Just the Ulva/Gamla Uppsala Loop and not much else to really blog about it.  The most exciting thing that happened was stopping to shoo a toad off the cycle path before some cruel hearted person came along and squished it with a bike tire.

Other details.  It was the warmest day of the year so far at 61 F.  When I started riding it was 100% clear, but when I got home it was only about 40% clear.  Quite windy.  Loke was slow at first, though he picked up speed when I put the booties on him so either, his feet were tender when we started or he was trying to run away from the hideous shoes.

Craft Shops At Ulva

The river at Ulva is running clearer now.  It no longer looks like English tea with milk and a bit of dirt added to it.  The dark, but other wise clear looking water certainly improved the view though due to the sun shining on the water, it didn’t show up in the picture.

That’s about all I can really think of to write about for this ride.  Just another pedal around one of my home loops.

I’m planning a better ride for this weekend though.  I’ll probably head toward Stockholm from Odensala which will give me not only new ground, but also churches, at least one castle and more of the Sverigeleden.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

April 24, 2010, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, I woke this morning and felt a bit restless.  I started mapping a route from home out toward Steninge Castle, which would take me along another section of the Sverigeleden as I waited for it to warm up.  It was 27 F when I woke.

Mapping it started making me feel a bit frustrated as it would have been almost 2 hours of cycling JUST to get to some place new.  Seeing as I might not be able to start cycling before noon while waiting for it to get at least to 45 F, it was making me crazy to find a shorter way without playing Frogger with traffic.  So, when my husband woke up, I asked him if he would drive me to Danmark and he agreed.  I got a good man.

Danmark Kyrka

Danmark Kyrka

I’ve only cycled the route twice so it wasn’t so bad.  It also helped I was cycling  it in the other direction which gives places a whole different look if it’s a spot you’re not familiar with.  Oh! And yes, the picture above is an old one of Danmark Church.  It just seemed silly to clutter my 2 gig of space on here with another picture of that church.

Loop-to-Loops and Barrel Rolls

It felt great to be out even though Loke and I cycled 13+ miles yesterday and Loke was running very well.  Though it had been absolutely clear out when we were packing the car, clouds were starting to clutter the sky as I rode out from Danmark.  Even so, it felt like one of the warmest days of the year.

It was kind of funny with Loke trying to watch the plane as the buzz of the engine kept rising and falling in pitch.  I finally had to stick a hand out to keep him from bouncing off my right mud guard.

It was an easy trip past Linne’s farm and Fårboden (The Sheep Living Place).  It was a long easy coast down to the busier road where the Mora Stones are.  It seemed a LOT farther from that turn to the stones.  I think it was because it was almost entirely uphill which meant I was creeping along.  Loke was actually a bit impatient with it and helped me up the hills.  Fortunately, this time there no people with cameras around the Mora stones!

New Territory From Here On!!

I actually pushed myself up those hills a bit since I knew just past the stones would be new ground.  I actually cheered (which baffled Loke completely) when I saw the turn off for the Sverigeleden and I went straight past it.  I drew a deep breath and felt free.  Strange how something as silly as cycling over old ground was making me feel clausterphobic.

I think it was all the same to Loke.  He’s only been past Danmark and the Mora stenar once and since it was last year, he was still just excited to be somewhere that wasn’t Börje, Gamla Uppsala or Ulva.

A Random Windmill.

Once Loke and I got to the new ground, I relaxed a bit more in complete opposition with the furry one’s attitude about the trip.  He was all ‘Go! Go! Go!’ while I was humming and glancing around here and there and everywhere.  The first thing I spotted was a windmill waaaaay across the field.  Good thing there is such a thing as zoom, both optical and digital.  It actually took me a bit to get a good photo of the mill as I sat waiting for a cloud shadow to move so I could get a sunny shot.

There was a lot of sighing and huffing off to my right side as I sat listening to the birds while waiting for that cloud to move.  The things Loke has to put up with.  At least it wasn’t the evil blue socks!  I really should get a picture of Loke with those on for the giggle factor.

Uppland’s Rune Stone #490

There were also quite a few odd random stones scattered around.  I couldn’t really tell if there was any significance to them, but their shape and arrangement were not natural.  Finally, a couple miles on I found a stone that was significant.  My first new rune stone of the year!

It was a bit hard to see anything of the inscriptions, but I took the picture of it all the same.  As I always try to do now, the translation and whatever other info I could get from the little sign with it are available if you click the photo.

Loke also did his grass thrash at the base of it.  I tried to get a picture of him twisted all funny on his back, but he’d quit as soon as I’d get the camera turned on.  Little stinker.

The clouds moved on a bit thicker shortly after I left the rune stone.  It made things a bit cool, which wasn’t a bad thing since Loke had actually started panting rather heavily.  He was actually thirsty when I stopped to pull my wind breaker on.  Less than 5 miles and he actually drank the water I offered him.  Generally he doesn’t start drinking until around mile 8.

Östuna Church

Our already pokey sort of pace was further slowed as there seemed to be a lot of uphill.  There was some down, but it didn’t feel like there was as much of it.  It took us a while to go the 7 km from the rune stone to Östuna kyrka.  It looks a bit like Börje though not quite so large.  It had a nice smooth parking lot with a large tree in the center of it, so I stopped the trike there to see if I could find some runestones.

All I did was walk around the edge of the wall since I didn’t want to take Loke into the church yard.  He had a huge, heaping batch of leftovers the night before and hadn’t gone to the bathroom much.  I didn’t want to risk him leaving a pile between the graves.  The only rune stones I found were fragments imbedded in the wall of the church itself near the ground.

Valloxen Lake

Around Östuna church, I had to change printed map pages.  I discovered to my dismay, that parts of two pages hadn’t printed correctly and I was missing a few miles.  I decided I wasn’t really worried since I had my map book AND my nifty new Garmin.

So, I went on, dodging potholes.  That actually annoyed Loke a bit since it means I’m either jerking him to the left, shoving him rather rudely to the right or worse, slowing way down.  Once he saw the water, the last thing he wanted to do was slow down.

I whipped around the left turn and went on my way past pretty fields with more glimpses of the lake sparkling through the trees.  I was chewing my way up a long hill and keeping an eye on my Garmin and what I could see of the maps I printed and discovered I was going the wrong way.  It was a bit more of an annoyance factor for Loke as I stopped and spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out what I needed to do to get back on course.

First Dirt Road of The Year

I managed to get turned around without getting off the trike and dragging it to go zipping back down the hill I’d struggled up.  I found the road I needed not far down the slope, but hesitated.  There was a sign essentially saying ‘No unauthorized cars here!’.  Well, I figured I wasn’t a car, so down the dirt road I went.

It wasn’t the best road I’ve ever been on though it was a long way from the worst.  It was mostly free of stones at least though there were little potholes scattered all over it.  Most of them seemed to be perfectly arranged so there was no avoiding them all.  It definitely kept my speed down.

Lake and Trees

I found the CUTEST house for sale while I was rattling along through the potholes!  It sat right on the lake shore.  An adorable 2 story swedish style house in bright yellow with white trim.  Not my favorite color, but I could over look it for the gorgeous lake view, the storage space, beautiful surroundings and given the size of the house, an extra room for a study for Jens.

I didn’t really give it serious consideration for purchase.  Given it was a lake front house, I was sure it’s price would have been well out of what we’d be willing to pay for living expenses.  My husband and I are not the sorts to live at the edge (or beyond) of our means.

It was a cute place though.  I kept thinking how Jens could just stroll the 40 feet or so from the deck to the lake shore and start fly fishing.  No.  I didn’t get a picture of it since it looked like someone was living there and home.  I don’t really like taking photos of private residences.  I do make exceptions, but I generally have twinges of guilt when I do.  *blush*

Qvallsta Estate

As a matter of fact, less than a quarter mile from the house for sale, I found one of those exceptions.  The buildings look like they’re only one story, but beautifully built and were obviously quite lavish for the area.  Sadly, I have no idea about any of their history.  I also liked the little mortar canons sitting on the lawn.  There were also a few old barns nearby and the like.  Definitely gave some feeling of history, though I couldn’t find anything online.

It was around here that again I got lost.  Part of the problem is that I haven’t figured out how (or even if I can) set my map display on my Garmin so that north is aways up toward the top of the screen.  Still, between it and my memory of what my printed maps were supposed to look like, I figured it out after just 100 yards or so and turned back around to take another turn.

Scenic View

The dirt road down the new turn was a definite improvement.  Everything I could wish an unpaved road would be.  It was smooth, well packed and very few stones.  Loke seemed to love it as well.  He was suddenly racing with me down the hills and throwing his weight into the harness going up.  I was welcoming it.  My right knee was bothering as well as the shoes killing my feet.  It was also nice to see Loke with so much energy after more than 10 miles.  I was also starving.  I’d only had a glass of milk for breakfast before I left since eating too much before exercise has been making me feel crappy.

Unusual Farm Building.

Unfortunately, I AGAIN lost track of where I needed to turn because of the skewed maps.  I came off the dirt road and took the turn toward Knivsta and after a short distance, I realised I was going back toward where I had first turned onto the dirt roads to start with.  Again, Loke had to suffer while I figured out where I needed to go.

I think it was worth it.  There were quite a few old farmstead buildings one of them quite unusual looking.  Also there were three ruins!  Nothing hugely impressive, but they still fascinated me all the same.  One was just a small square wall of foundation stones for a house or small buildings.  Another looked almost like it might have been a tower as it was some 10 feet tall wall like pile of stones with the same foot print as the other one.  The last was a a wooden farm house that had partially collapsed in on itself.  I’m only guessing it was a house since barns don’t tend to have chimneys.

Odd Ruin?

It felt like the whole rest of the way to Knivsta church was either up or down.  I mostly kept my trike in first gear.  Creep up a hill, zip down the other side with Loke charging along beside me with his tongue lolling in a doggie smile before creeping up the next.  He was still throwing his weight against his harness up every hill too.

My husband often tells me how impressed he is by the distance I cover.  I often reply that he should be more impressed with Loke.  I often coast down hills if I have Loke with me.  The fuzzy one has to keep those legs moving for every foot we cover.

Knivsta Kyrka

It was coming up on 4 pm when I came to Knivsta church.  It’s a pretty little church and there was actually a little open air museum that had a collection of a few farm buildings.  The bell tower wasn’t too far from the church, laying just behind what I’m guessing is the vicarage.

By this time, Loke and I were tired though we hadn’t even covered 20 miles yet.  I think for me it was the lack of food for the duration of the ride as well as the fact we cycled the day before and I’m not used to that yet.  Loke seemed to be losing a bit of his steam as well which wasn’t surprising given how much help he’d been on all those hills.

Knivsta Bell Tower

I’d pretty much decided that Loke and I wouldn’t be making to the castle I’d planned to end the ride at for a total distance of around 25 miles.  It was still almost another 5 miles to Odensala which I was DETERMINED to get to and then another 7 miles or so to the castle after that.

I didn’t feel terribly disappointed by the decision.  It had been a good ride with lots of new things to take pictures of, nice day with not a drop of rain, and beautiful scenery!  What was there to feel bad about?  With Loke starting to drag and my knee bothering me more and more, we went on our way for the final push to Odensala.  Loke barely even sped up down the slight slope from Knivsta church.

Open Air Museum Building At Knivsta

There was a LOT of uphill toward Odensala.  My knee didn’t like that at all.  I also discovered something I really disliked and it will mean that if I ever cycle that stretch of road again, I will NOT have Loke with me.  There were quite a few dogs along the way.

The first one was a huge shaggy black thing.  Granted, it was fenced, but it was quite a flimsy looking one and not very high.  That dog could easily have gotten over it if he’d chosen to.  He wasn’t barking either.  Just staring and drooling as every couple yards we’d go, he’d do a mock charge like a bear.  The second was immediately after him and it was a small loud dog.  His fence looked like he could wiggle right through.  Fortunately.  Both of them stayed put.

It was the third one that got my heart going a bit.  I was passing by a corral where a woman was working with a cute little draft sort of horse.  The kind with a dun body and cream on the belly and insides of the legs.  I cringed when I saw she had a pair of dogs frolicing in the paddock with her.  Fortunately, she spotted me and moved all the animals back out of my sight.

Unfortunately, the Saint Bernard wasn’t hers.  He came charging from a house and stopped with just a small ditch between me and Loke and the slobbering brute.  I made it past that point to a privacy style fence, but had no relief as the other end of it was open.  As soon as I realized that, I got out of the trike seat (on an uphill slope no less) with far more ease and grace than I ever thought I could.  I put myself firmly between Loke and the Bernard.  He stopped about 10 feet away and just barked and snapped.  Loke, THANKFULLY, just stood there, not even trying to look around my legs.  After about a minute, his owner came down and pulled him away.

Yes, I’m silly.  Getting between my dog and one that might want to fight.  I don’t do that when Loke has room to run if he gets in trouble, but if he’s tied to my trike, it’s my fault he can’t defend himself.  I have to do it for him.  Annoying sense of responsibility and all that. *chuckle*

Odensala Kyrka

Fortunately, after the Bernard, there were no more incidents.  It was just a pleasant jaunt the rest of the way to Odensala.  I was glad to see the church.  I called my husband to come get us, parked the trike and proceeded to change to my comfy sneakers from the torture devices that are my cycle shoes.  I also took the harness off Loke.  As I stretched out on a handy bench, Loke flopped down next to me and we both kinda dozed until Jens came.

Flat dog and I feel recharged.  A very good day.  I think I might have to rest tomorrow though and Loke’s feet definitely need a day or two to recover.

April 23, 2010, 2:21 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, sorta any way.  I was still trapped on one of my short loops, but at least I got OUT.  The first time in 11 days! #*/% cold!  Now to see if I gave my self a relapse.  Would be my luck.  Even so, this ride was desperately needed.  After not able to do much more than wheeze, sneeze, cough and gasp since my last ride, I was about to climb the walls with cabin fever.  Loke?  The less said about his behavior the better. *smirk*

There were a few days during this cold that it was actually a pleasure to stay in.  Temps barely above or even slightly below freezing, gray and SNOW.  I’ve been here for six winters now and this is the first one that we had snow here this late in April.  At least days like that, I wasn’t sitting here, sulking at the sunshine and 65 F temps while I hacked and sniffled.

The tabloids did say the volcano in Iceland would give us a cold summer though my husband doubts this is because of that.

So, I was working furiously on my book and checked randomly checked the temperature around noon.  47 F?  Sunny!?  I was SO out of here!  Loke got into a bit of tizzy as I was getting everything ready.  He was REALLY missing those runs.  I wrestled everything out and ended up taking a few minutes to talk with a couple of my neighbors.  One is a very sweet older woman who lives in the bottom apartment on the other end of the building.  As I was wrestling with the trike, she actually had a suggestion for me about a new place to store it.  That took quite a few minutes since I have a bit of a hard time understanding her.  I think it’s because she has an accent that throws me off a bit.

The other woman has a cute little dog and they always stop to say ‘Hi’ to Loke and I.  So, I socialized with her for about 10 minutes before I got under way.

From Clear Skies To This - 20 Min

Of course, once all that was done with those perfectly clear skies were cluttered with clusters of rain clouds and there was  stiff wind.  Amazing how quickly the weather can shift like that.  Odd that it always seems to do it between the time I decide to cycle and get pedaling. *eye roll*

It turned out to be not too bad.  It was a bit cold with that wind and in the shadows of the clouds, but I had extra layers packed in those black and red pannier bags I always take with me.  It was an uneventful ride.  Except for my Garmin Edge 705 impressing me for a moment at least.  I was pedalling happily along in one of the rare moments of sun, when it gave a strange beep.  I looked at it just in time to see ‘-Monitor Discovered’.  Huh?  Heart rate monitor?  Where?  Right then, one of those hard core cycle types whipped by and I had to laugh.  My Edge apparently picked up his HR monitor from 50 feet away or so.  Most of the time, those things can barely be picked up a meter away.

Not Purple Crocus, But Pretty!

I spotted dandilions making an appearance.  I know they are the bane of American home owners, but I never saw as many dandilions at one time until I moved here.  Oh, it might amuse some of you to know that in Swedish, dandilions are called ‘muskrosor’ (am I spelling that right?) which translates to ‘worm roses’.

Other than, it was a quick ride on my Ulva/G. Uppsala Loop.  Felt like most of the time I was just ahead of the rain.  It sprinkled on me a bit the last 100 yards or so even.

Once we got home and I wrestled everything in, Loke started doing his face-rub on everything remotely resembling fabric.  So, I got a towel and he bounced happily over for me to ruffle and rub him down all over, especially his face.  I’m not sure why, but he absolutely adores it.  Another of his many quirks.

So, I guess that’s about all to babble about for now.  Hopefully, I can get out again this weekend though the forecast makes it look a bit risky with a fairly high chance of rain.  Warmer at least!  I would REALLY like to get out and ride another section of the Sverigeleden toward Stockholm.  Fingers crossed!

April 12, 2010, 7:50 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, it turned out to be a bit of an interesting ride… parts of it at least.

I’ve discovered that already I’m starting to feel a bit clausterphobic with my cycling.  Part of it is I want new places to see.  New churches, rune stones, ruins, scenery, etc to collect.  The problem is, particularly since it’s just the beginning of the cycle season, Loke and I both need to work up on stamina a bit more.  Pretty much most of the smaller/safer/more interesting roads in a 15 mile radius around Uppsala, I’ve cycled!  We need to be able to go for 35 miles at the least and that’s not allowing for loops.  Out and back trips are kinda like doing the river loop only a bit worse since instead of ‘I cycled here yesterday!’, it’s ‘I was already here two hours ago!!’

I almost talked myself into jumping onto the Sverigeleden and heading toward Stockholm, but was a bit wary about doing it without some planning so my husband could find me in case of emergency at the very least.  If it had just been me, I probably would have risked it, but not with Loke.

So, even though I was feeling more than a little apathetic about doing Börje AGAIN, or Ulva/Gamla Uppsala AGAIN, I dragged myself out, tying to get into the mind frame of ‘It’s a beautiful day, go out and enjoy it regardless of where you are!’  If I don’t get out and cycle, our endurance won’t increase, which was a good kick in the pants to get me moving as well.

Loke I think was picking up on my internal grumblings.  He didn’t make much fuss as I was getting everything out the door.  He didn’t make much fuss while he was hitched to a pole and I was putting the trike together.  The wild mile?  It was merely a quick mile.  As we went, I contemplated which route to do.  It was actually the river that decided me.  As we crossed the bridge, the water kinda looked a bit higher to me.  Certainly the current looked much quicker.  So, I decided to do Ulva/Gamla Uppsala and see if I could ride the Grave Mounds path to cover the River Loop as a finish.

Fur, Fur, More Fur!

I headed out down the extention for a few extra miles (3 miles actually) and stopped to give Loke some water since he was already panting pretty good.  I also took the time to dig out the brush and leave some fur for the birds.

At this time of the year and through most of the summer, Loke’s fur is like a never-ending box of Kleenex.  Pull a clump, another pops up.  Pull that clump, another pops up.  There have been times when I’ve brushed one area on him for half an hour and it just keeps coming.  It gets even worse right after he’s had a bath.

Still, better to leave what fur I can out in the country side for the birds and small animals to make use of rather than strangling our vacuum cleaner.

We went to the end of the extention and did the awkward turn around at the end to cycle back and then take the turn toward Old Börje Road.  I spotted three women walking with a dog and stopped to give them time to leash it before passing.  The scruffy, medium sized terrier looking thing was pulling at the leash and making this growling snarl as we passed.  I kept an eye in the rear view mirror until they were out of sight.

Well, apparently, the owner figured once we were out of sight, it was okay to let her dog loose.  I guess she forgot about terrier determination.  We were probably a quarter mile away when Loke started yanking around like he was worried about something behind us.  I didn’t see anything in the mirror, but that was because the dog was on the far right side of Loke and running for all it’s worth in an effort to catch up.  I only spotted it when it was less than two feet away from Loke.  I used a few choice words in surprise as it kinda thumped into Loke with a snarl before giving this wierd whine and trying to mount him all at a run.

Since it wasn’t actively trying to bite Loke, I just kept telling it ‘Nej!’ and pushed on a little faster, dragging Loke into a run.  Fortunately, the shaggy beast didn’t have much stamina left after it’s mad dash to catch us and flopped down to pant in the middle of the cycle path after about 50 yards.

I must say though, it definitely got my heart racing!

Kinda Sweeping View

After that it was just going along the same ground as before.  The incident with the dog left Loke a bit jumpy.  He kept craning around to try and watch out behind him more than usually does so I was extra careful to call out ‘Car!’ every time I spotted one coming up behind us in the mirror.  If the incident makes him freak out when I start using the trailer, I’m going to be beyond irate… though not at Loke obviously.  It wasn’t his fault.  He was minding his own business.

I did finally start to enjoy the day.  Loke seemed fairly indifferent.  It was a definite sign that he’s already quite bored with our old loops.  The rest of the ride between the ‘dog attack’ and Gamla Uppsala was uneventful though I did stop at Ulva again to look at the river and give Loke some water.

Parts of the Island Under Water

It was definite that the river was up higher than the last time I’d ridden past it.  It was impressive to watch and Loke really wanted to get down to the raging water.  I knew better than that.  He’s afraid of water deeper than his tummy, but it hasn’t stopped him from miscalculating a few times with comical (to us humans) results.  A brief plunge in tiny streams or still water is funny.  If he jumped or fell into that, it could have be worse than simply not funny.  He can be aggravating, but I do love my fur dispenser.

Two Smaller of the Three Burial Mounds

We went on and soon we were coming up to Gamla Uppsala again.  I made the turn that would take us along the church yard wall past the side of the church instead of the back of it and coming out near railroad tracks.  I had my fingers crossed that the path wouldn’t be a soggy morass of mud with the spring melt such a recent thing.  It was actually firm, puddle and mud free for most of it’s length.

This Snow Is Determined!

It was also VERY busy.  Everyone was out enjoying this glorious weather.  I came across this man and woman who were out walking their four dogs.  Quite an odd mix.  A white little thing with lots of fur that I can’t think of the name, a jack russel, something like a very tall skinny chihuahua and the largest of the bunch was a Finnish breed.  Fortunately, they weren’t agressive as they all came running over as soon as I stopped and refused to heed thier owner’s calls.  Also fortunate, that Loke was worn out enough to NOT irritated them.

We talked for a few minutes as the little dogs swarmed all over me, each trying to win a spot on my lap and lick my face while the Finnish dog was standing in front of Loke with a wagging tail and trying to touch noses.  It was cute.  The man actually knelt to stroke Loke for a while, exclaiming what a beautiful dog he was and also this was the second time he had seen us with the trike.  After a few minutes, I went on my way with a cheerful wave and the dogs following me for 50 yards or so.  I wonder if they were envious?

Loke still had a bit of energy to run when we hit the river loop section again and started down the hill toward the bridge for the second time in the day.  I made the turn along the stretch of path running along the river and slowed down to enjoy the area and let Loke do a sort of cool down.  I also stopped to have a look at the spot with the picnic tables.  The tops of them were almost a foot underwater.  The river was definitely up!

Merganser Duck... I think? Yes! It Is!

As I was going past the back of the swimming hall, I noticed a duck.  Ducks on the river aren’t uncommon.  Actually, they never leave.  They just gather up around certain areas, mostly downtown and almost always, they’re mallards.  This one wasn’t!  I think it was a merganser which is a thin billed species of duck that eats fish.  The edges of the bill are even serrated to grip its prey better.  Mergansers are easy for me to remember since I had one slice up my fingers pretty good when I was working as a volunteer at a wildlife clinic in Mississippi.

Seeing the different kind of duck was a nice end to the ride.  I feel pretty good, Loke is curled up like an artic fox on his bed.  Not a bad day at all.

Ho-Hum… River/Field Loop
April 8, 2010, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

I really wasn’t planning on blogging this ride.  After all, I’d already blogged one (or is it two now?) river loops this year before adding this one.  How many times can someone blog the SAME route?  Well, every time some little detail catches my attention that I want to not only share, but keep in my own memory.

Loke and I both felt our 19 mile ride on April 6th more than I thought we would.  I had a migrane all day yesterday and Loke barely moved out of his bed until around 1 pm.  He had a good appetite and such, but he really wanted to sleep lots.  We both felt much better this morning and it was quite warm though with a dull gray overcast.  Around 11 am the skies cleared and knowing we have a bunch of rain on the way, I decided we’d go for a short ride.  Just the river loop with the extention and maybe the field loop section stuck on.

This Spot Without Snow

Though the ground was old and familiar, it still felt good to get out.  I discovered quite quickly there was a good stiff breeze coming across the fields.  Still, not being in any hurry, I didn’t pay much attention to my speed and just kept the pedals going round at whatever speed and force my knees would allow and enjoyed the day.

Loke and I had made the turn down the extention path running parallel to the river in the upstream direction when I somehow spotted something on the flattened grass between the path edge and the drop of the bank to the water.  It was a rodent of some kind.  It had an almost black body with a paler belly and was simply sitting crouched in the sun.  I almost wondered if it was dead when I stopped for a closer look, but it perked up warily when I stopped.  Unfortunately, it didn’t sit still as I started digging for my camera.  Quick as a flash, it vanished in the taller, dried stalks down the slope of the bank.

I’m not sure, but I think it was some kind of vole or lemming, since it had a much rounder, cuter look to it than a rat.  It’s face was shaped kinda like a dwarf hamster’s, though it was about 3 times the size of those and with a furred longish tail.  Still, I thought it was neat to see and it decided me to blog the route.

I did the out and back of the extention and where Loke and I usually turn to finish the river loop, I went straight.  It’s along a fairly busy road with business/industrial clutter along it, but still the easiest way to get to the field loop.  We went between a pair of fields before heading under the 55.  There’s a cluster of garden plots out there near the observatory and with the sunny warm weather, it was busy.

The cycle/foot path across the fields was fairly dry and virtually clear, except for one spot.  The unpaved path meets up with a paved one that takes a sharp left and I think all the snow from the paved one was just kinda pushed across the unpaved when they plowed it.  I got stuck.  My rear tire had no traction, Loke couldn’t get any grip on the slush and ice to help and I was on an upslope making it very difficult to not roll back while attempting to get out of my seat.

Fortunately, a very nice guy suddenly ran up and grabbed the other side of Loke’s running bar to hold the trike still while I got up.  Another one of those warm fuzzy moments that reinstills one’s faith in humanity.

Lingering Snows In Shadows of Trees

I pulled the trike out of the slush and gravel to a spot I knew I could get traction on, thanked the guy and went on my way up the wooded hill.

This hill probably only covers a few acres and sits surrounded by fields.  A little island of trees, shadows, ferns and mossy rocks.  And at this time of the year, snow determinedly holding on.  I’ve always been fond of this spot.  Mostly because I like trees, rocks and ferns.  Loke I think really like the LONG slope on the other side of it he gets to charge down at break neck speed.  Though, he wimped out a bit on this run, hitting only 14.5 mph instead of 17-20 mph he did last year.

Rocky The Flying Squirrel?

As I took pictures of the trees, I heard something on the other side and looked up.  It’s not often one gets to see one of Sweden’s little red squirrels.  I’ve lived here for a bit over 5 years now and I’m certain I’ve seen less than 20 of them.  They’re fairly elusive and in far less concentrations than gray squirrels in the southern part of the US.  Some places in Mobile, AL probably have 20 grays per 100 square meters.

There are also black ones, which might just be the same species, but a different color phase.  I’ve seen about dozen of those, but always at the Skansen zoo/cultural park in Stockholm.

Even so!  This is the first time I got a picture of either kind and it was hard to get the little guy in frame and click before he’d jumped to the next branch.  Was rather proud of myself that I caught him in mid-leap.

Loke: "I could get him if it wasn't for the trike!"

Loke’s attention, of course, was riveted.  He’s mostly given up on birds, unless of course, they’re trying to hide in a hedge instead of taking off.  Squirrels do something else to his brain.  I think he recognizes they don’t have wings, so it’s almost like he believes if a squirrel can get up there, then so can he.  The first time he saw one, it was a good 10 yards up in the branches and Loke was setting himself up to leap straight up as if he honestly could jump that high.  It was funny.  I have such a silly husky, but I love him.

Tire and Paw Trap

I was a bit worried about the path down the other side of the hill.  It used to be very bad and I expected it to be even worse after this winter with the country roads being any indication.  It was fine until we passed back under the 55.  Then there were a series of the fissures along the sides and down the middle.  Makes it a bit trickier on a cycle/foot path to avoid them as there’s not as much room.  Loke is generally smart enough to not step in them, but I know how easily distracted he can be and there as a dog running loose in the field next to us.

It was a slight up-hill climb, dodging the cracks before we made the turn onto the path running between the edge of the field and the bottom of a treed hill of a small parkland.  I’ve always loved that section of path.  It’s on a slight downhill and nice smooth earth that is kind to Loke’s paws so we usually take it fast.  Not a wise thing this time.  There were a couple of ruts from spring melt which gave me nasty jolts.  I think Loke was a bit disappointed we couldn’t take it as fast as we usually do.

As we were heading back to pick up the last part of the river loop, I was coming up to an apartment as a women was just coming out of the building with her dog.  I was perhaps 50 yards away or so.  As soon as she saw me, she abruptly turned and rushed back to the door.  She didn’t go back in, but instead, firmly blocked the dog between herself and the wall with her long coat hiding the dog’s head so he didn’t see us go by.  It struck me, how sad it was her pet must have been so dog agressive she felt the need to do that.

I made the turn back toward the river and I spotted something that surprised me, along the half-mile or less stretch of path between one road the the path along the river was a small cluster of memorial items.  A framed photo, candles, flowers (fresh and wilted).  Loke was running so I didn’t get to stop for a closer look, but the photo was of a bearded man in his late thirties or early forties.  It was rather chilling in a way, wondering how on earth had he died there?  Was it violence?  Or another of those wierd deaths that we’ve had in Uppsala so far?  The woman who froze to death at the grave mounds.  The dead man they found in the river who they believe fell in at the beginning of the freeze only to be found after the thaw.

Can Still See The Table Tops!

Then it was the home stretch along the river.  I’d noticed on the river loop extention how high the water was.  It’s usually smooth, glassy black surface was a muddy kind of brown and not reflective at all as the current marred it with small ripples for the entire length.  I thought  it was the highest I’d ever seen it.

I realized that impression was wrong when I passed by this one spot that has always had picnic tables down by the water’s edge.  Well, usually they’re BY the water’s edge and not IN the water, but during the spring especially they’re unusable.  They’re even chained to the trees to keep them from being swept away.  With the tops still a good foot above the water’s surface, I knew it wasn’t quite as bad as I’d thought.  Twice, I’ve ridden by here and the tables’ tops were a good 6 inches or more under water.

As I came up to the bridge leading over the river to the swim hall, I spoted someone with a video camera.  Guess who they were filming?  *sigh*  Well, I don’t think I’ve ended up on You Tube… yet.

A few minutes later we were home with my Garmin saying we had gone about 8.7 miles.  Loke is remarkably flat and every now and again, he gives a long groaning stretch without getting up.  I feel pretty good, but I think it was better to have kept this trip short after how wiped we were from Tuesday’s ride.  Maybe this weekend, I’ll get my husband to drive me out into the country side somewhere for a proper ride to make a more interesting blog!!

Out Again!
April 6, 2010, 4:12 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, Loke and I both seem to be building up fairly quickly.  Today I decided to cycle my Börje/Gamla Uppsala loop if the weather cooperated.  It did.  Around 10 am it was warm enough and I went into action.  I didn’t make it out as quickly as I thought I would.  My dad called and was feeling chatty.  Today was his first offical day of retirement.  He’s feeling a bit uncertain about it work-a-holic that he is.

It was beautiful when we set out.  Loke was glad to be out and I was quite happy to be trying out my new Garmin Edge.  I had to get a bit creative about the mount for it.  It’s on the mounting bar for my rear view mirror.  It actually worked perfectly there!  I didn’t even have to use the backlighting, which is good for my battery life.  It was a bit wierd not having my GPS on my wrist.  I kept looking at my wrist and having little moments of panic, “No! My Garmin’s strap broke!’ *smirk*  I was still doing it even toward the end of the ride.

I headed out along the cycle path that I always ride for most of my various loops.  Now though, I have to make a bit of detour.  They erected these barriers at two intersections along my usual cycle path within the first 1.25 mile.  The first one is no problem.  There is still enough room to one side that I can JUST squeeze past.  Granted, they are springed so I can kinda shove them, but then they snap back and catch Loke in the butt or hit some part of my trike.  It’s the other two that sit where the path crosses the road that were the problem.  Now, only one of them is.  A car apparently skidded off the road during the heavy ice of winter and knocked down part of one.  So, to get around the most problematical one, I take a right turn down the street and zig through a residential complex to come out on the cycle path again.  A minor inconvenience, but those sorts of barricades, which are no problem to a standard bike, can be the bane of my existence.

It felt good to be out and just the perfect temperature for wearing black and sunny skies.  After the first couple miles, Loke started dragging a bit.  I don’t think he was tired, I think he’s already starting to get that sense of boredom with the area around here.  There were a lot of people out today, both on the cycle/foot path and lots of cyclists on the road as well.  All of them calling out and waving as they passed.

The First Time Here This Year!

The snow is going quick now and the landscape is sort of turning into that murky ‘bleah’ brown shade.  Once I got around Börje church though, there was more snow thanks to the fact that it stays a bit colder out in the countryside.  When we took the turn to go to Börje instead of straight to Ulva, Loke picked up speed.  I think he was glad to see some ground he hadn’t run across in over 6 months.

It felt kinda nice to see Börje church again.  I suppose after all these years and the fact that it was the first ‘out in the country’ church I cycled to back in ’06 when I first got my trike, it feels kind of like an old friend.  Silly and sentimental perhaps, but that’s how I feel.  I’ve gone on routes that came at it from all three sides and it has been a place to take a quick rest in a shady spot during the summers and offered the most delicious apples in the autumn.  A launching point for many other longer loops.  It was the church that firmly set my odd compulsion to collect as many of these little country churches as I can with my camera.

It Really Is Spring!!! Yellow Crocus!!

It is only around 6 miles to Börje from the apartment, so I had no real need to take a break and Loke was turning his nose up at any water I offered him, so I didn’t stop in the church parking lot this time.  As I was whipping around the curve onto the road that goes to the Old Farm, I spotted something that brought me to a screeching halt… much to Loke’s irritation.

I just love these flowers and they seem to be everywhere around Uppsala once spring gets underway.  There is even one house in our neighborhood who’s entire yard turns into this vivid purple-blue carpet of the violet crocus, which are my favorite color.  I still like the white and yellow variety too though.

Loke Out Doing What He Loves

After I saw the flowers, I started looking more carefully around me.  Much of the fields around Börje were just that uninspiring brown, but here and there I could see the slight swelling on the twigs of bushes and trees in the beginnings of leafing out.  It brought a smile to my face to see especially after the strange winter we had.

The winter was extremely brutal to these little country roads too.  Most of them were perfectly fine back in December when I was finally forced to stop riding.  Now, after the hard freezes and mounds of snow, many of them have these long cracks running down the center.  A few of them are over a hundred yards long and wide and deep enough for me to put my entire hand into.  Fortunately, they are generally easy to avoid though one road had very large and deep one to the edge.  I was forced to ride down the center of the road to keep my tires and Loke’s feet out of the 10″ wide and nearly as deep fissure.  The Swedish road department is going to have a busy spring and summer fixing that mess!

Around mile 12, it got quite cold.  Even enough so that my hands were stinging and my feet inside the cycle shoes felt chilled and achey.  Fortunately, I’ve learned to pack extra clothing for just such emergencies.  I had my bright yellow, soft shell wind breaker and another leg layer that I stopped to wrestle on.

Brrrrr... Cold Front!!

The temperature drop must have been a cold front that pushed through since it’s supposed to be colder tomorrow and with a chance of rain.  The clouds definitely increased and there was this one heavy, sullen looking line of clouds that had me a bit worried about getting sleet.  Thankfully, it was just a chilling wind that chased me the rest of the way home.  The sun would peek out every now and again, which helped warm me up some, so it wasn’t too bad.  I think Loke appreciated the colder air as he had been running a tiny bit on the warm side for a while.

The entire trip was about 19 miles.  Totals for the 5 rides this year?

First ride – .20 mile.

Second ride – 5.3 miles

Third ride – 13.8 miles

Fourth ride – 10.5 miles

Fifth ride 18.9 miles

So!  Loke and I are building up quick though we didn’t set any speed records.  Who knows?  Maybe I will try an over-nighter already this month.  My husband is supposed to have a business trip to Detroit again this April, so maybe I’ll run away until I know he’s not bringing back a nasty flu like he did this year.  Hehe.  Either way, I’m keeping my camera this time so I can take pictures of where ever I ride.

Oh!  And I’m very happy with the Garmin Edge!!  I love the variety of fields you can pick for the cycle function.  Like heading!  I actually giggled with glee when I saw that and added it.  The map is very nice also.  It is a definite upgrade to my gear!

First Ride After Tooth!!
April 3, 2010, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

On March 30th, the tyranny of the tooth was over.  After a day of starvation in prepartion for the sedative, the tooth was removed with far less anguish and hysterics than I anticipated.  Whatever they gave me definitely took the edge off the world and left everything fuzzy.  I was told not to cycled for two days or so.

Friday (April 2nd), my MIL came over to help with some spring cleaning and light redecorating in the livingroom with slip covers for the couches and new bamboo mats in place of the fur gathering oriental rug.  It made it a bit difficult to escape for a ride and the weather was kinda ‘bleah’.

Today dawned gloriously clear and I kept an eye on the temp.  It was about 25 F when I woke.  Around noonish, we were supposed to go to my in-laws for lunch.  As it quickly warmed up, I had an inspiration to to take one of my ‘short loops’ that goes very close to my in-laws with Loke.  Around 10 am, it was around 45 F, clear skies and almost no wind.  PERFECT!

Gamla Uppsala From A Distance

It turned out to be harder than I anticipated.  I was having trouble catching my breath and it felt like a lot of work to push along.  Loke wasn’t exactly a speed demon either.  It might have been the gravel in both of our cases.  Increasing the rolling resistance for me and stinging Loke’s paws.  It will definitely be nice when ‘The Great Vacuuming’ begins.

What is ‘The Great Vacuuming’?  It is when all the gravel that has been laid down over snow and ice through the winter is picked up by these big trucks with vacuum like attachments.  Some have arms that can swing out with large spinning brushes to gather the gravel out of the grass of medians and such.  They’ll clean up all the streets and cycle paths that have been graveled.  Makes cycling (or even walking) so much nicer.  It is definitely more needed this year than the previous ones since I’ve lived here.  The sheer amount of snow was not quite record breaking, but was close.

I realize now, as I type this, once I turned onto a road that hadn’t been graveled over the winter, our going became so much easier, even up the hills.  With the warming sun on my black clothing and no wind as we pedaled through the country side, it became pleasant.  Loke was quite happy to be out and running, but I still noticed that neither of us were exactly racing along.  It was becoming clear that I was going to be late to my in-laws.  Still, the day was so pretty I wasn’t terribly worried, so I called to tell them to start without me if I was too late.


The snow has been going fast.  Places solidly blanketed in white just two days ago are showing patches of earth beneath.  A couple fields were almost clear entirely, showing the dark, almost rich black of the turned soil.  It might have been the route, but there were far more meadow larks than there had been on my Ulva/Gamla Uppsala loop.

Along one part of the road, I had to stop for a train.  I took the opportunity to give Loke some water and also to brush out some of his coat.  He’s been shedding like mad and we don’t have dust bunnies in our apartment.  We have dust whales.  As I brushed him with a flurry of huge clumps and drifts of white swirling around us, I could see in my rear view mirror a couple of birds swooping down to gather up mouthfuls of the fur for nesting material.  It was kinda fun to see.

Just liked this image.

There were a lot of horses out today as well.  There was one moment that was a bit worrying.  I was passing a barn when there was this tiny young woman with a HUGE horse.  I don’t mean huge in the sense of ‘Clydesdale’, but a very tall thoroughbred type.  He saw us going along and his head went up as far as it could go and ears forward.  Even from 30 meters away, I could see him tense up as did the woman leading him.  Immediately, I slowed down and started calling out to him, praying he wouldn’t take off and drag the woman with him.  Thankfully, he just stood there and watched as we made our way by, me chattering cheerfully the entire time.

I also discovered something new and quite nice about this route.  There was one stretch of it that goes along a quite busy road used for commuters to and from Uppsala from the surrounding tiny village areas.  Last year, it meant riding on the shoulder for about a mile with cars and trucks whizzing past at 60 mph or so.  It was a big shoulder, but still unpleasant when a truck or bus goes roaring by 8 feet away.  Well, they’ve put in a cycle path!!  A nice, smooth stretch of paving with lights (not that I need them) and a good sized ditched between the shoulder of the road and the path.  More than 20 feet separating cyclists from traffic.  It was so nice!  It will be even nicer when they get the gravel off of it!

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful.  Loke and I continued to poke along.  I did see a pair of cranes fly over head, which was nice.  Loke saw a cat he really wanted to play with.  Conveniently, it was on the way up a rather steep hill, so for that one I got a lot of help.

Vaksala Kyrka

Not far after that, it became mostly residental and boring part of the ride.  Loke recognized the area though and sped up quite a bit.  He knew we were going to go see my husband’s parents and he absolutely adores them.  On this ride, I also bothered to stop and get a picture of Vaksala kyrka.  I rather like this church.  It’s a bit like Danmark and Jumkil churches combined.  As often as I’ve ridden this route, this is the first time I clicked it.  This makes church #2 photographed for the year.  I’m only counting those I haven’t already ‘collected’.  As I always try to do now, there is information if you click the photo.

Loke was almost running flat out for the last mile to my in-laws.  He wasn’t overly tired since the run had only been around 11 miles.  Still, it took a bit of an edge of the hysterical energy he generally has when we visit them and he calmed down very quickly once he got over the inital excitement.  I parked my trike in their garage and went up to a nice meal of nettle soup, bread, cheese and Swedish waffles with strawberry preserves and whipped cream.  Mmmmm….  Loke even got some cheese and ice cream!

A very nice day.

My New Toy!

Oh!  Before I forget!  My husband got me a new toy.  He decided I was doing so well with the whole dental phobia thing and knew I was a bit upset over the idea of losing a tooth, he mentioned that maybe when I got it pulled, we would get me a Garmin Edge 705.  When I staggered home, still a bit foggy from sedative and pain meds, on March 30th, he suddenly handed me a bag with the new cycle GPS and European map.  I was so thrilled.  At least… I think I was.  I know I was when I woke up from a 2 hour nap. *hehe*  I’m hoping this will help with my touring so I can find places to refill water and buy groceries!  Just like a car GPS, it lets me search for places and will guide me to them!  Just makes me giddily eager for my first tour!!

Now I just need to make sure I have everything I need.  *sigh*