Terii’s Cycling Babble

A Short, But Long Ride!!
May 30, 2010, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Today turned out to be good.  I would even go so far to say, very good.  It did fall just short of perfect though… by 2.5 miles. *grrs* 

After my last ride, my knees just went into hysterics.  I was limping around for days and could barely walk the dog around the block.  It seemed even my last ride had kinda broken Loke.  He was limping a bit and had no energy for almost 2 days.  Just from Börje/G. Uppsala Loop??  It made thinking about making my 50 mile goal for the week difficult to believe in though I only needed 15 miles.  Then of course, yesterday was a downright miserable day… 

Today dawned clear though a bit on the cool side.  I waffled for a while, unable to decide if I should risk trying to go for a ride or not.  My husband settled it by saying he’d drive me.  So, I went into high gear and plotted a route. 

Lunda Kyrka


And WHAT a route!  I chose my starting point at Lunda Kyrka.  It was quite busy.  Being Sunday, I’m guessing there were services going on.  There was a little cafe sitting just in front of the church and the bell tower wasn’t far off.  With Jens taking care of Loke, I felt okay about making a quick circle of the church to look for rune stones. 

Upplands Runestone #354 at Lunda Kyrka


Uppland's Runestone #353 in Lunda Church Wall


There were two.  The first was right on the path leading to the church and Jens wandered around with Loke getting worked up with excitement.  He stayed out of the church yard as I went to circle the church and discovered a second stone set in the plaster of the back wall. 

Pictures done, we returned to the car for me to start getting things ready, but we both had a wary eye to the road the church sat just off of.  It was very busy.  While I only had to do about 1/4 of a mile on it before trying to turn across traffic,  it was going to be a bit hair-raising I thought. 

With an eye toward practicality, my husband suggested going the 200 yards or so to the turn off and getting out there.  I didn’t feel the least bit guilty at the idea. 

With such a pretty day, it was obvious there were going to be a lot of cyclists on the road.  Four passed us just in the time it took for us to get the trike out of the car for me to put it together and load every thing.  Watching them go by got Loke’s attention.  He started woofing for me to get a move on. 

The mad dash didn’t last very long.  Less than a quarter of a mile before Loke screeched to a halt to… umm… do business. *smirk*  As he was fertilizing the weeds, a pair of stones caught my eye.  They were too angular and regular to be natural and it got my curiosity up. 

Grave Field Stones


As Loke finished and we began creeping up the hill, I looked down the slope to my right and wouldn’t you know it, very obvious standing stones!  Even better!  A large wooden board with a weather proof sign printed with a map and several columns of writing!  A must see! 

There wasn’t much space to get off the narrow road, so I ended up in the grass at an uncomfortable angle.  As always, I was a bit edgy as I left my trike and moved out of arm’s length of it. *smirk*  As pretty as the spot was, it SMELLED.  It was like old sheep poop that had been rained on a few times.  I know there must have been something to it, because Loke was rolling all through the grass.  It wasn’t like his usual wallowing, but like he was trying to smear the smell into his fur. 

Rune Stone From Iron Age Burial Field


I took a quick look at the sign and it mentioned a rune stone.  With a glance, I didn’t see anything obvious so peered at the map.  Yep.  Rune stone and should have been very close to where I was.  Finally, I took a closer look at the largest of the stones and yep, it was the rune stone.  It was just that the face with the runes was turned out toward the field instead of toward the path and the road. 

There was no little sign giving it an Upplands Runestone number though the rune translation was on the big sign at least.  And if you look to the right in the picture, you’ll see my trike up the grassy slope waiting on the edge of the road. 

There was obviously more to see around the area, but I couldn’t quite figure out where the rest of the burials were and I was feeling a bit itchy to go ahead and ride.  So, quite soon, Loke and I were back up the slope and creeping along the hill again.  A few cyclists past us and all had a wave with a cheery ‘Hej!’ for us. 

I was determined to take things slow, both for myself and for Loke.  If a gear felt comfortable, I went one lower to spare my knees.  I thought I’d done a good job doing so when I rode the last time, but obviously not so I was being extra cautious. 

Cloud Shadow and Sun Shine


It was a pretty area to go with a pretty day.  A nice mix of road shaded with trees followed by wide glimpses of greening fields.  At one intersection, I stopped to see if it was the one I wanted and a very nice couple on their bikes stopped to chat as they discussed going down the same turn.  They asked if I planned to do it, but since it was gravel and so early in the ride, I told them I was heading to the next one down.  After a few questions about my trike and Loke, we said farewell and went on our ways. 

This area was THICK with cultural heritage spots.  Less 4 miles after I’d left the first grave field, I took the turn to another. 

It was an unpaved road which left me grumbling a bit.  I dug out Loke’s socks to torture him with, but it was better than him limping with stone bruises.  In spite of the soft sections that left my tires dragging a bit, it wasn’t too difficult and I took it quite slow.  It was almost a mile before I came to a second grave field. 

An Oblong Stone Circle... I think?


There was a mini-van parked there and the older couple had a very sedate looking dalmatian.  For a wonder, she didn’t seem terribly phased by Loke, so we let them sniff each other and chatted a bit.  They asked about how far we were going and about Loke’s socks.  When they left, I went through the fence and wandered around the field a bit.  In spite of the sign with the map, it was very hard to make anything out since fields are more about stone arrangements than high mounds.  A shape of knee or thigh high stones with a bit of space between and 15 – 20 feet in diameter doesn’t look like much from ground level. 

Though the history of the spot (going clear back to the bronze age) sort of intrigued me, I again felt a bit uneasy at the idea of my trike sitting right on the edge of the road.  A large tractor had already narrowly missed it as I talked with the dalmatian owners.  I was a bit worried the tractor might come back and this time, not miss it.  Also, since the stones looked almost like random jumbles any glacier might have left, it was hard to feel the connection to the past. 

My plotted route actually had me continuing down the gravel road, but I decided to be kind to Loke’s feet and my knees by going back to the road.  1 mile of gravel to get to smooth paving with much less rolling resistance… or bouncing and pushing much harder over 2 or three miles.  Hmmm.  Choices. 

It was a couple miles in the warm sun, but the wind was cool enough to be pleasant.  Loke was actually wanting to go a bit quicker, but I was determinedly keeping his pace down.  I only let him run down hills and then it was still not his all out charges, but an easier sort of lope.  While I kept track of our distance, I absolutely refused to look at the speed and start obsessing. 

Boulder Road Sign


As I was coming up to our next turn, I could look across a stretch of field less than a quarter a mile across and see a church Loke and I would be visiting later.  With it so close, it felt a bit silly to turn away from it, but in hindsight, I’m quite glad we did.  At the next intersection, there was a stone road marker.  Instead of a thin slab of stone or iron on a square rock base, this one was… a stone.  A simple boulder with the names carved on it with no prep work.  A first for me! 

As I made my left turn (away from the church so close), I discovered I was on the Kustlinje (Coast Line/Path).  Like the Sverigeleden, it’s well marked, but with red signs instead of green.  You know, now that I think about it, most of what I rode today were spurs of the Sverigeleden, but I didn’t see a single green sign.  Hmm.  I guess it doesn’t really matter though. Hehe. 

As I made the turn, there was a fairly annoying series of hills, but I went at them with the same attitude I’d had for the rest of the ride.  I listened to the birds, patted Loke, enjoyed the play of sun and leaf shadow around me. 

Prettiest 'Road Weeds' I've Ever Seen


Oh, and can’t forget the constant stream of greetings to all the cyclists passing me.  I even was passed by what appeared to be a hard core racing team.  They were ripping along down the hill and all their gear matched!  Bikes, shoes, helmets, glasses and of course, jerseys and shorts!  They were setting a blistering pace that was quite impressive to see! 

I finally made it over what seemed to be a gradual ridge and was able to relax on the down slope for a bit.  I was a bit happy when I saw the signs for my next scenic stop though it amused me that it was another Granby.  And that is not a typo.  Within 3 miles of our apartment there are two places called Granby.  Then I discover this one, though it’s a quite a few miles further away. 

Uppland's Rune Stone #338 Side 1


Upplands Runestone #338 - Side 2


Zipping through the day which had gotten quite warm, I soon made a quick stop as a rune stone caught my attention more than usual.  I’d never seen one of this design.  The usual stone slabs I was quite accustomed to.  Boulder stones were still interesting, but I’ve seen a few of them.  This one was more like a giant 4 sided dice that had one point stretched up.  Only two of the three visible faces were inscribed.  I took a few minutes to walk around it to make certain the third side facing the field didn’t have something on it as well. 

I also took the opportunity to wet Loke’s ears down. 

About 400 meters further on, I reached one of the cultural heritage sites I’d been looking forward to.  I even had a moment of thinking, ‘Oooh’ when I saw there was a little cafe across the road from the parking lot. 

All thoughts of a cold drink for me and ice cream for Loke went flying as a female yellow lab came belling and running out of the yard of the house/cafe.  Her barks didn’t sound terribly aggressive, but the fur all down her spine and across her shoulders was standing straight up and she was not a Rhodesian Ridgeback cross.  I came out of the trike and put myself between her and Loke, even risking sticking my hand out to block her.  With me, she was friendly, even so far as licking my hand before trying to get around me to sniff Loke.  I wasn’t about to risk Loke’s boorish behavior to her temper though.  I know better. 

Fortunately, the owner came and herded Ester back to the yard and got one of her children to take her into the house.  With a regretful sigh, I turned my attention to new cultural heritage. 

Granby Uppland's Runestone #337 - Largest in Uppland


I was a bit disappointed when I saw it was mostly just another grave field.  There was one thing I did want to see in it though and that was Uppland’s largest stone carving.  It was a bit of challenge to navigate the slope and stones with my nightmarish cycle shoes, but it was manageable. 

Granby Grave Field & Village Remains


It was a pretty field, I have to admit.  All through the vivid green grass were thousands of these beautiful five petaled yellow flowers.  They seemed to glow in the sunlight as much because of their hue as well as the glossy nature of their petals.  Scattered here and there among them were little splashes of white and more subtle glimpses of tiny purple flowers peeking up beneath them.  My shoes and Loke’s feet were yellow from all the pollen. 

It turns out the stones I walked over and around were from a Viking/medieval settlement.  I never really saw the grave section of this site as it was somewhere on the other side of the runestone and I wasn’t about to walk THAT far out of sight of my trike.  Still, this was the farthest I’d ever gone from it to explore something like this. 

Orkesta Kyrka


From the old settlement, it was a short ride to Orkesta Kyrka.  It was feeling quite warm by the time we got here.  I parked the trike and went to explore the church yard with Loke. 

One thing I had noticed with the churches I’d seen today, was the bell towers were built within the church yard itself.  It didn’t seem to be terribly common.  Most of the time, the towers are placed across a road, or even hundreds of yards away and on top of hills.  A couple times, I know I’ve found the church and cycled on almost a quarter mile before at last finding the tower. 

There were a pair of runestones in the church yard.  I couldn’t find any signs for them though. 

What the...?

Pictures taken, I was walking out of the church yard.  As I do so, I tend to look at the grave stones to see what are the oldest I can find.  I passed one stone which looked rather new, but my cursory glance became a stunned stare and then a laugh. 

Sitting in the middle of a Swedish church yard was a stone to a Robert Montgomery of the 1700’s.  He was a colonel and boss for Nylands and Tawastehus and in a Dragoon regiment. 

It wasn’t so much the English name that floored me.  Our family name is Montgomery… and my brother’s name is Robert.  It was just one of those wierd coincidences.  It was only a fluke that I’d even looked at the stones at all, let alone walked out a different way then I went in. 

I had to send the picture to my family to give them all a laugh. Hehe. 

After leaving Orkesta church, it was back the way I came to head back to the church I’d seen across the fields hours ago.  More hills were tiring me out quickly and I was taking it even slower to save my knees.  I’d been keeping an eye on my GPS though.  I was determined to get at least 15 miles which would have given me a week total of 50.2 miles. 

Markim Kyrka

The turn to Markim Kyrka was on a bit of a welcome downslope.  I coasted down it with Loke still running pretty well beside me and came up to a farm.  A problem revealed itself.  A HUGE dog came running out of the farm yard.  It looked like a Bernard cross of some kind.  Fortunately, Loke had enough energy we managed to out run it and make it to the church. 

I did a quick circle of the church before parking in a shady spot to look at my maps and see if I could find some way out without passing the dog again.  My only option was over an unpaved road that looked VERY brutal.  It would have added 5 miles of distance, half of it over that nasty gravel of huge sharp stones and the other over ground I’d already covered. 

I knew I couldn’t do it.  Those 2+ miles over the unpaved would have taken about the last of my energy and would have meant trying to find a place for my husband to come get us where I wouldn’t be in arms reach of passing cars.  By the time I would have gotten back to new ground, I’d have been too exhausted to go on.  With a grumble about aggressive, loose dogs, I called and told him where to find me.  At least that was simple. 

So, it was a good day.  Perfect would have been reaching the castle on my route which would have given me over 15 miles for the day and 50 miles for the week.  As it stands now, I’m lacking 2.4 miles and tomorrow starts a new week.  All because of a dog and me getting tired. *sigh* 

Well, I’ll try again this week, right?

Old Ground, But Good Ride!
May 28, 2010, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Yep, I finally made it out the door for the second time this week. *eye roll*  Mostly, it’s been quite chill and raining.  Yesterday was a pretty day, but I had laundry to do.  I may not love laundry during the winter, but I don’t really hate it either.  During the summer, I despise it.  So many glorious days lost because I have to drag clothes over to the other building to wash them.

I seriously didn’t think I was going to get out for a ride today though.  I woke around 4:30 am to rain.  Around 6 am, it was still raining.  Then sometime a bit before 10, I suddenly realised there was sunlight streaming through the window.  I checked the temp, looked at the clouds to see how threatening they looked and it all seemed good, so I went into high gear.

After walking the dog, eating an early lunch, airing tires, changing clothes, getting the odds-n-ends together… I was pushing pedals around 11 am having decided I was going to do the 20ish mile Börje/G. Uppsala Loop.  Things almost went bad right away.  Around 1/10 of a mile, Loke was doing his mad charge and we passed a woman and her dog.  It was a big black thing and she was talking on her phone, so she didn’t see us coming.  The leash almost snatched right out of her hand.  As it was, she managed to yank the dog short when he was less than 2 feet away from me, definitely in arms reach.  All I saw was flashing teeth with the ‘eeeewwww’ of dog food breath as we zipped passed at 15 mph.  Ahhh… who needs coffee when I have adrenalin from moments like that?  *smirk*

Fortunately, the rest of that first cycle path stretch was blissfully clear as Loke and I went on our merry way.  As always, I relaxed quite a bit once we were off the paths and on the road leading to Börje church.  Not too much traffic and aggressive dogs are VERY rare.  We weren’t going very fast for the first 4 miles or so.  Just poking along at around 7 mph and enjoying the day.  Clouds playing tag with the sun, a brisk breeze rustling the weeds and wild flowers along the road and the wheat in the fields.

It’s really amazing how fast that wheat is growing.

I also had a very brief Swedish lesson.  An older couple was walking along the road.  They cheerfully waved as I approached and when I was close enough the gentleman asked if I was on a long trip.  What impressed me most about this interchange, is I didn’t have that ‘translation moment’.  Anyone who’s learned a second (or more) language knows what I’m talking about.  He spoke, I understood without my brain telling me, ‘He asked if you’re on a long trip’.  They laughed when I told them just 30 km.  I think they were dubious about Loke running that far if nothing else.

So many people are shocked by the distance Loke covers.  Our veterinarian included.  I don’t know why.  Huskies in the really big sled races can run 100 or more miles in a day, eat, sleep for a few hours, wake up and do it again.  The most I’ve taken Loke is something like 43 miles which was my very first leg of the Sverigeleden last year.

The only other thing of interest that happened was Loke almost dislocating my wrist when he tried to turn sharply to the right and chase a pheasant cock as it burst out of the weeds and took off across a field.  Ever since an incident  few days ago, Loke’s gotten really intense about pursuing the larger birds.  While my husband was walking him, Loke apparently got his teeth into a ring-necked pigeon.  It seems the poor bird was crouched in a hedge and wasn’t quick enough to escape.  Before Jens really knew what happened, Loke had killed the poor thing and he had to pry Loke’s jaws open to get him to let go.

I still thought it was really neat to see the pheasant as I tried to convince Loke that he was NOT going to be able to go after it.

Other than that, we just stopped at the mill for ice cream again and rode home through the grave mounds.  I was surprised there was no mud after all the rain we had overnight and early this morning, but it was good and firm paths.  I was determined to get at least 20 miles, so had to fiddle a bit with adding some of the River Loop, but I did it.  Right at 19.97 miles… which if you add the distance I covered from the apartment to where I turn on and turn off the GPS, would easily give me that extra .03 mile. Not to mention for about a tenth of a mile when I left Ulva, I forgot to turn it back on.

So, that puts me at 35.5 miles for the week.  Just 14.5 more and I will have made my goal of 50 miles.  Hopefully weather and knees will cooperate.

Sorry about the lack of photos, but it was just the same old scenery I’ve taken several times and I’d accidently left the memory card for my camera at home.

Ever Feel Like The World Is Against You?
May 24, 2010, 1:22 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Then it’s good to know I’m not alone when I have moments where I feel like that.

Last week was a bit of a bummer.  All my will power just crumbled under the pressures of my body.  Bad knees and back shot any chance of me getting even a measly 50 miles in.  It utterly soured my mood.  Throw in a few migraines and I was just having a peachy time!  Maybe I’m just finding it difficult to recall when I do obtain goals, but it honestly feels like every time I try to set one, even something as minor as cycling 50 miles in a week, it’s like the world (and my own body) rise up in rebellion to deny it.

Okay, that’s enough.  It’s a  new week, so no more wallowing in self-pity.  Same goal.  Try to get 50 miles this week.

Saturday turned into a  glorious day and my husband kept asking if there was any place I wanted to be driven to get at least a short ride in even though my knee was bothering me a bit.  He knows how down I’ve been.  Finally, he couldn’t stand it any more and took Loke for his business walk and then chased us both out the door with instructions to not come back until I’d at least done the river loop.

Bless that man.  It did help.  The day was absolutely perfect.  Around 70 F and not a cloud in the sky with almost calm air.  Though it was on the warm side for Loke, it was just right for me.  So, I just wet his ears and lower legs down and cycled for a bit over an hour by doing the River Loop w/Extension and the Field Loop together for a total of 8 miles.  It still meant less than 30 miles for the total last week, but it felt good and I took it nice and slow for my knee.  Pity I couldn’t count it toward my 50 miles for this week. Hehe.

Yesterday, the weather was just awful.  The temperature did around 15 degrees of down turn with a high around 55 or less, leaden gray skies and this spitting, unending rain.  In spite of the chill we even had a thunderstorm!  Probably only about 6 or so growls of thunder, but still.

Today came out gorgeous.  Of course, I had a dental appointment this morning, which was fine since it was around 40 F when I woke up.  By the time I got home from my appointment (getting a cavity fixed which was a painless snap), it was perfect and Loke had already had a nice long walk with Jens while I was getting the tooth tended.

The air was actually chill enough, I pulled on an extra layer on my tops.  It turned out to be the perfect choice and had me dressed just right.  The sun was very clear and very warm which was a nice balance to the stiff (chill) breeze blowing around.  I decided to do my other short loop… which from now on, I’ll call Jalla/Vaksala Loop.

It really is quite astounding how fast everything grows once it gets warm enough here.  Already the greens are starting to leave behind those softly bright yellow tones and are into the deeper, more vibrant shades of summer.  The sunlight had that almost glass like quality to it.  I don’t really know how to describe it, except to say it gave all those greens and bright yellows an almost hard edge to them.  A sharp clarity where everything stood out in perfect and intense focus to the human eye.  The dandelions seemed to almost glow.

It was a bit of a drag starting out at first.  Right into the force of the wind and the cycle path still had quite a bit of gravel on it.  Still, I wasn’t in any particular hurry, so Loke and I just poked along through the residential area toward Gamla Uppsala.  Once we were passing Gamla Uppsala, we picked up the pace quite a bit.  Loke was running at a pretty good lope for over a mile until we had to cross the street and make our turn.  I was rather surprised to have made it over both crossings of the train tracks without a single train!  I’ve had as many as four trains go over those crossings in less 10 min it takes me to go from 100 yards on one side of the first to 100 yards to the far side of the second.

From Winter to Summer

Loke picked up speed again once we got out into the ‘country’.  Maybe it was the scent of the cows in the distance.  These weren’t the curious sort.  They just laid around, chewing their cuds as we went by.

The next field over though, there was a hawk that jumped out of the taller grass about 50 feet away.  50 feet doesn’t sound that close, but for a wild animal with a 3+ foot wing span, it’s still breath taking.

As I rode on, I almost started to wonder if I should call this route the ‘Lazy Short Route’.  Though Loke wasn’t pulling that much (he rarely does), I didn’t seem to need to pedal much.  Which isn’t a bad thing given my knee, though it means I don’t get as much exercise.

With the cooler air, Loke wasn’t as interested in water as he was the last few runs.  Still, I dutifully offered him some at the usual spots.

Camera Did Not Do Justice.

I had a bit of interaction with a horse on this ride.  There are quite a few stables along this route and I guess this particular horse had never seen me before.  He was in a fairly small paddock and the poor thing panicked when I came up.  He ran like mad for the far end of the small space, which of course, got Loke into wanting to go at a dead run.  I yanked on the brakes and started talking to the poor thing before he really freaked out and threw himself through the electric fence.

He was a pretty animal.  Just your usual brown bay with a blaze down his forehead roughly ? shaped.  Once I stopped and began talking, he calmed down in  a surprisingly short time.  After pacing back and forth a bit and drawing in deep breaths of air and snorting them out for our scent, he began to get curious.  In less than 10 minutes, he was standing with his head over the fence looking at us intently.  By the time I was satisfied he wasn’t going to do anything potentially damaging to himself from fear, I moved on.  He ran, but instead of it being in a terrified gallop away from us, it was along the fence line with us.

The next stable over, we had a herd of horses come charging down toward us.  Just 5 or so of them.  The funny thing was, they left a woman with a grain bucket to come run with us for the length of the pasture.  I think that’s the first time I’ve seen horses willing LEAVE grain. Hehe.

Much to my surprise, there was not a single foal in spite of the 30 or 40 horses I must have seen today!

After that it was just a quick jaunt to Vaksala where I decided to do a little detour.  The last time Jens and I went to check on one of his fishing spots, I was reminded of a runestone just a short distance from the Vaksala church.  So, I made the turn to go ‘collect it.

Uppland’s Rune Stone #961

Enter Rune Stone #961.  It’s a very beautifully carved stone and I can see why Öpir was one of the leading rune carvers of his time.  Translation and details about the stone (as translated from the info sign) if you click the thumbnail.

After that it was just a quick jaunt along some cycle paths between the mall and home.  It was very noisy at one point as it seems there’s one collection of trees that is a yearly nesting site for a murder of crows.  Some 15+ crows all flapping and cawing as they tend their eggs and young.
I toyed with the idea of adding the river loop and extension for a bit more distance, but as I started it, Loke was lagging and my knee was aching a bit.  Loke’s slow pace could have been because of boredom, but I couldn’t claim the same of my knee, so I cut the extra distance a bit short.  Still gained a couple miles by it though.
It was a nice ride and I feel good about it and Loke is now flat as a rug.  I might even ride the loop again tomorrow by going to see my MIL for my weekly Swedish practice!
And fingers crossed for my 50 mile goal. *mutters under her breath*

It Wasn’t So Bad…
May 18, 2010, 11:56 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Once I got out the door any way.

Though yesterday was gorgeous, clear with temps in the low 60’s, I didn’t get to ride.  Around 10 am as I was taking Loke on his business walk in preparation for going for a ride (I was even dressed in my cycle clothes!), I got slammed with a migraine.  It was a full blown one, not the annoying aural type that generally doesn’t hurt as it plays games with my vision and makes my tummy do somersaults.  I curled up on the couch with a pillow over my head and listened to the TV most of the day.

Today dawned a bit cloudy, but it had stayed quite warm over night.  It was 55 when I woke up at 4:30 am and I probably would have started getting ready to cycle then, but my husband was waking up at 5 am to leave on a business trip for a few days.  I wanted to see him off.

So, I worked a bit on one of my books as I waited for him to wake up and get ready to go.  Once I saw him off in the taxi, I got moving.  I was out the door with Loke for his pre-cycle walk a bit after 7 am.  It was a beautiful morning and I was looking forward to what would have been my first truly morning ride of the year.  I saw a hare in one of the yards as Loke and I passed.  The birds are also fledging.  I stopped to watch one harried mother or father bird try to feed the train of fussing, stubby feathered puffballs screaming after it.

By 7:20, I was working on getting everything together.  Water, camera, cell phone and GPS.  As I was doing all that and getting dressed, I got something stuck in my left big toe.  At first I thought it was a splinter of bamboo from the mats we put down in place of rugs.  Whatever it was it HURT and there was no way I could put my foot in a shoe with it.  That wasn’t the end of painful things.  As I was putting Loke’s harness on and bent across him to grab straps and fasten buckles, I got a spasm of back pain.  In turn, my knees buckled a bit which caused them to flex just a little too deeply… and they screamed.  I almost flattened poor Loke.

By then, I had everything but myself and the dog outside.  Knowing that a trike ride often makes my back feel better after such an attack, I was determined to do at least the river loop.  It did help.  Even the test ride on the Trice QNT I did in England at Inspired Cycle Engineering in 2006, I got off the machine with my back feeling better than before I sat down on it.

Two hours later, I finally managed to dig out a small sliver of glass.  It seems like every time a glass gets broken in this apartment, it’s MY feet that collects the elusive shards. *grrr*

It sort of took the ‘ooomph’ out of me and it wasn’t until 10:30 I finally got everything out and we got started.

A Perfect Spring Day

Today, I actually left the sheepskin at home!  The weather for the first hour of the ride was absolutely perfect.  I wasn’t the least bit chilled and I didn’t feel hot at all.  Oddly, the claustrophobia and impatience I’ve been having with my usual routes was absent.  Maybe I saw enough new things on my ride Saturday to hold me over, but I was imply enjoying the day.  Sunshine, perfect temps, flowers, trees with new leaves, bird song, the scent of fresh mowed grass.  Even Loke seemed okay with the Ulva/G. Uppsala loop with the river extension added.

The second hour of the ride began to warm up and I started wetting down Loke’s ears and legs to help him dissipate a little heat.  Loke didn’t seem to mind it in spite of the fact he usually dislikes anything remotely ‘bath’.  I pour water into my hand and then kinda ‘squish’ it into Loke’s ear fur.  He doesn’t try to avoid it or shake it off as I do it.  Just stands there panting and scanning for critters he’d want to chase.

The ride between home and Ulva Mill was uneventful, which is good since my husband is in Amsterdam which would have made a rescue a bit difficult.  By the time we’d gotten to the mill, even I felt a bit warm and Loke’s tongue was bouncing around his knees somewhere as he ran.  We pulled in and after I tethered Loke to a picnic table away from where most of the people were enjoying the sun and cafe food, I went to buy us ice cream.

Eyes Dreamily Half Closed

Loke knew what it meant as I walked off.  He was sitting pretty and licking his chops in anticipation before I even made it 10 feet away from him.  It took a bit of hunting to find something without chocolate.  I wanted Loke to enjoy his ice cream without getting poisoned.  I watched the swallows coming and going from their nests under the building eaves as I held it for Loke to lick.  When he was done, I offered him more water and then waited for half an hour so he wouldn’t get sick from running so soon after eating it.

Since it’s been a couple of days without rain, I took the Grave Mound path back.  It turned out to be some kind of school field trip.  Just a little past the museum, I came across a group of girls around ten years old.  They all exclaimed happily at the sight of Loke and the trike.  I even stopped so they could swarm all over Loke.  He just sat down to take in all the pats, strokes and cuddles of girly affection.

He was panting VERY heavily when we got home.  I’m not sure why, but Loke really pushed hard the last 2 miles to home and overheated.  Even before I got the trike in, I wet down a towel to rub him down.  Since I started blogging as soon as I had Loke settled and the trike seen to, I’ve been listening to him pant.  Fortunately, as I’m wrapping up this little babble, he’s now sleeping flat on the floor and not panting at all.

It was 16.2 miles.  Will I actually manage to hit my 50 mile goal in a week for the first time?  I don’t know, but barring any more obstacles, I intend to try!

Lotsa Churches & Castles!
May 15, 2010, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Today was a good day!

It was raining when I first awoke at around 5 am.  But by 6:30 am the sun was out and it was quite warm all night, so temp was already good for riding.  I hurriedly printed out a set of maps I’d already plotted and around 7:15 am, I was giving my husband a few nudges and offering coffee.

Things didn’t start out too well though.  First, I managed to irritate Jens by getting grease on my brand new (and fairly pricey) cycle shirt while helping him get the trike in the car.  Then we had driven half an hour when I discovered I’d left my helmet.  There was quite a bit of grumbling about that as we drove home and then BACK out.

Odensala Kyrka

We got to Odensala around 8:45 am.  Loke was excited as Jens and I wrestled the trike out of the car and I worked to get it put together.

Along the road just below the parking lot of the church was what appeared to be a bike race water station.  They were all quite curious about the trike and Loke as I got settled and said bye to Jens.

The ground was fairly flat at first, so Loke got in a good sprint right off.  Less than half a mile and he even found a bit of incentive to run faster.  As we passed a field, I spotted a hare loping along in the bottom of the ditch.  Loke saw  him.  The hare saw us and the chase was on!  The bunny type critter rushed along for almost 100 yards in the ditch before deciding to sharply cut off to the right.  Loke tried to follow, but tht didn’t work too well since I had the leash to his head collar.

It felt so good to be out again and for a bit of the way I was on the Sverigeleden.  The sun was shining though there was a thin haze giving the sky a pale cast.  What fields hadn’t been recently plowed were covered with carpets of bright green.  The trees are having a slower start, but are beginning to show their new garments of pale yellow-green.

Shaggy Red Bull

Before the second mile, I got my second delighted giggle of the day.  Scottish cattle and cross-breeds!  I think of all the cattle breeds, this one is my favorite.

All of them stopped and stared after Loke and I as we went by.  They didn’t seem as intensely curious as other types of cows I’ve cycled past.  These were quite content to simply watch.  No stampede along beside the fence with trike.  Pity.  That would have been quite a site to see.

I was still quite thrilled to see them and was humming happily as I went on.  Just a few hundred yards further on, I spotted a snake!  Half of it any way.  Just the half end of it slipping into the grass along the road.

Husby-Arlinghundra Kyrka

It wasn’t much futher when the next church was visible across the distance.  It was again one of those moments where I go ‘Oooh, so that’s how I get to this church!”  I’ve been seeing it from the E-4 for years as we’ve zipped passed on our way to and from Stockholm or anything south of Uppsala.

As I went on, groups of cyclists wearing numbers.  It didn’t seem to be exclusively a ‘hardcore cyclist’ type of race.  One of the riders who passed me was a man who appeared to be a rather spry 70 years on a touring bike with a number on his chest and back.

Flowers and Towers

As I was rounding the curve on the last stretch to the church, it was a bit of an exciting moment as a pack of those hardcore cycle types were bunched up in a tight pack.  The leader of the twenty or so of them gave me a startled look as he rounded the blind curve and started waving his  arm and warning the others to becareful trying to pass on the outside.  It was further complicated by a car stuck behind me.

In spite of the confusion, all the bikers had smiles, thumbs up, waves and ‘Hej’s for me.  No irritated looks or curses at all.

The temperature was already the warmest it had been all year when I pulled into the parking lot the church.  I actually felt like I should have left the sheepskin at home.  In cooler weather, I cover my mesh seat with a sheep skin to keep the chill from my back.

Husby-Arlinghundra Church Rune Stone

Because of that fleece, it felt good to get up and walk around, letting my back cool and dry as I went into the church yard.  I wanted a closer view of a rune stone I’d seen imbedded in the church wall.

Unlike most stones set into walls, this one was actually complete.  There was a little sign with it, but to my annoyance any information that had been on it was gone.  It was just a black plate stuck on a metal pole.  The information I found on the church made no mention of the stone.  So, a mystery to bug me from time to time. Hehe.

I enjoyed the countryside riding while I could.  Unfortunately, this route I had planned was going to take me through Marsta, one of the suburbs of Stockholm.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m not entirely thrilled with urban riding.

My foray into Marsta was no exception and it started off with an irritation as soon as I crossed some invisible line between country and town.  The road turned into a cycle path, which is really no huge problem.  Until the path crossed a rail track any way.  It had it’s own little booms, but the annoying part were the fixed booms set to slow cyclists down so they actually stop and LOOK before crossing.

For someone with a standard bike, it’s no problem.  They get off and navigate through the boom, stroll across the track and through the booms on the other side.  For me, with a recumbent trike and a husky, it was a LOT more complicated.  Walking my trike means kinda shuffling along in a stooped position and had to yank it back and forth to get it through.  Loke, of course, wanted to sniff around and not really pay attention to the ground under foot.  There were four inch spaces to either side of each track with a drop 10 inches at least.  Easily something that could have hurt him.

A Semblance of Nature

My troubles weren’t exactly over when I finally managed to get through that.  The cycle path was smooth and easy, with a pretty grass median between it and the road.  The ditch had been designed into a rocky little brook with trees and little scatters of bright tulips and dandilions.

I paused in a shady spot to give Loke some water and check his feet before glancing at my maps.  Unfortunately, they don’t really show cycle paths.  Satelite images sometimes can help me pick them out, but they hadn’t been terribly helpful for the section of very busy road and round-about I was going to have to navigate across.

The Beauty of Spring

I went on down and sure enough, the cycle path ended at a shopping center right against the road I needed to cross, but with no way over except to play Frogger where two high traffic roads intersected.

Frustrated and feeling quite hot and Loke agreeing with me as he panted heavily, I decided to try doubling back to the nearest cross-walk and see if I could find some way on the other side.  It turned out to be a good choice.  A cycle path led me to another street.  It passed under another very busy one, turned into another where I had a cycle path leading to cross-walk and off I went, leaving Marsta behind.

It was a long hot stretch.  There was a cycle path and freshly paved, so it seemed to collect and throw back the sun’s heat with interest.  Absolutely no shade, which was really brutal on Loke.  I stopped and wet down his ears and legs as best I could, knowing I would have to stop and let Loke have a long break when I found decent shade.

Stables At Steninge

The road led first to a beautiful set of stables that had been converted into a sort of tiny mall with a cafe and high end crafts like glass-blowing.

It would have felt wonderful to stop in the cafe and buy ice cream for Loke and I, but as you can see there was no shade for me to tether Loke in.  I wasn’t about to abandon him even for a few minutes in the full glare of day light.  As nice as an ice cream might have been, I was far more worried about finding a grassy, shady spot to let Loke flop down for a rest until his pants slowed.

Steninge Slott

I went across from the stables and headed down the elegantly maintained gravel path that led up to the door of Steninge Slott.

As pretty as the day was, it was a bit of a challenge to find a chance to get this picture without people cluttering it.  I hurried down the path, stopped to get the picture and then made a bee-line for the thickest tree-cast shade I could find.

Quite a few people stopped to chat with me as Loke and I relaxed.  One was an older man who was quite interested in the trike.

Got 'im!

There were also a young family.  A woman with her SO and thier incredibly cute 1 year old son.  The little boy was utterly enchanted by Loke and after I told the parents that Loke was quite friendly and also too tired to jump, they were willing to let the tyke toddle closer.  He stopped about five feet away and held out his chubby hands.  Every time Loke moved, he’d give a squealing giggle and hide against his dad’s legs.  Finally, the father picked him up and brought him over where he stared wide-eyed as Loke licked his fingers.  It was cute.

After that, I walked around a bit and let Loke go wallow on the grass.  I think he does it because it helps dissipate heat trapped under his fur.  I also brushed him a bit.  Loke’s shedding had slowed down from the first few weeks of its start, but the heat seemed to kick it into overdrive all over again.

There were a couple things breaking the symmetry of the grounds.  A clock tower and another building that might have been the chapel, but I couldn’t find a path down to it that didn’t involve devilishly loose gravel which would have risked my deraillieur.

Gold Sphinxes Guarding An Entrance

There was also a stone entrance through a tiered ridge of earth, capped with golden sphinxes.

Beyond was a little memorial garden.  I didn’t really read about who it was dedicated to.  Only that he was wrongly stoned to death by a mob before being aquitted of the charges against him.  Whoever it was, was only temporarily interred here.  Once he was cleared, he was buried permanently else where.  There is also a tiny sort of chapel memorial to one side, with an angel scribing on  a scroll in latin (or was it Swedish?) carved in stone.  I guess it shows how little attention I really paid to it, that I can’t even say which language it was written in. Hehe.

View Across The Lake

I pedalled around a bit more, getting pictures of a few more buildings, scenery with trees and flowers and of course, the gorgeous lake view at the back of the manor.

Loke was only lightly panting when we took our leave.  Unfortunately, the way out of Steninge was the same we had came in on.  At least it wasn’t all the way back to Marsta.  There was a turn about half way.  Even so, it was a long hot trip back down that fresh, black paving under the heat of the sun.

I had a bit of hesitation after the first 200 yards down the turn.  There was a sign forbidding cars and scooters.  Still, with my usual sense of logic and not being a motorized vehicle, I pressed on.  It was reassuring that I saw a couple of other bikes as well as people walking around or simply sprawled out in the sun on blankets.

Interesting Path.

Doubt returned when I came to the first turn off that road.  Unpaved and with a boom across it.  Hmmm.  And the map web site had chose this automatically?

Loke was all for it.  He loves roads like this more than any other.  I think it’s because of the woods more than anything.  Or maybe it’s cool earth under foot instead of weeds or pavement.  Either way, he was pulling at his harness.

I was game.  The map had showed roads and I was willing to trust it was all the way through.  The first boom was a bit of a challenge.  Too low for me to ride or roll the trike under though there was room to sort of go around.  I had to get off it any way to get it over some rocks and roots.

It was nice under the thick shade.  The earth must have been nice under Loke’s paws since it was still damp from the rains.  The surface wasn’t too bad.  Quite a few rocks, but decently packed rather than muddy so we didn’t get bogged down too much.

Just A Pretty Spot

It was still a bit slower than on pavement and a bit more work to get along.  There were a few more turns and booms.  I passed by what looked like a summer camp for kids as I pressed deeper.

Finally I reached what seemed to be a deserted stretch.  The road got a bit worse, but was still managable.  The hills were murder.  I also started seeing lots of moose poo.  In one way, that was kinda neat.  On the other hand, it was a bit worrying.  Early spring means moose calves.  Moose calves can mean very angry mothers especially with a predator type animal attached to my very strange looking machine.

I called my husband about then as I was creeping up a hill.  As we were talking, I saw a moose!  It was a huge brown shape as it trotted off through the trees.  It was soooo cool.  Especially since it was going away from me.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a picture of it.

Norrsunda Kyrka

As pretty as the woods were, I was glad to reach paved ground again.  It was a quick zip across a fairly busy street to the next church.  It was a bit more elaborate than the usual country church, which was a surprise.

I loved the stone of the tower as well as the statuary on the brick section of the church.  The rune stones were just fragments and I couldn’t find any information about them.

Loke and I rested there for a bit.  I let his panting slow, wet down his ears and gave him all the water he could drink.

Then we were off again.

It was a bit harrowing to get across that busy street again, but we managed it.  As we rounded a curve, I spotted a cafe!  Yes!  Shade to leave Loke in while I zipped inside to get ice cream.  I rolled up and… closed!  They closed for the long weekend. With a sigh, I pulled us on.

The way to the next castle was mostly on a cycle path.  HOT.  Broiling in the sun.  I had to take it easy with Loke.  I played a sort of dodge with a couple of teen boys cycling with two girls around eight or nine years old.  They weren’t my concern really.  It was their unleashed dog.  Fortunately, the animal seemed indifferent to Loke and simply stuck by one of the boys.

The girls were nice.  They rode ahead of the boys and chattered with me, asking questions about Loke and my bike.

Rosersberg Slott

Rosersberg Slott was not as impressive as Steninge to my eye.  It was bigger I think, but that was about all that could be said of it.  In spite of that, it seems to have had a rather rich history.

Now, in the building off to the right of this view of the building, they’ve rented it out for what seems to be offices.  One way to pay for upkeep.

Loke and I didn’t stick around here long.  We hurried back past the boys, girls and dog to take the next turn.  Imagine my dismay when it turned out to be yet MORE unpaved road.  By this point, I was starting to get worn down so bouncing over rocks and dealing with gravel while trying to go up hills.

A Horse Across The Lake

Still, I went on.  It headed toward another lake.  The road got small.  Little more than a path which when it came to a beach, ended up cluttered with the bikes of a bunch of boys swimming.  They moved them and I went on.  The path was only about 4 feet wide, but all my maps had showed it as a road.  I had to laugh at that.

Then it was under a boom and along more unpaved.  It widened back out into a road that went through a national reserve which was kind of nice as I pushed on to the next castle.  There were other people on bikes who went by, others hiking along.  Even a pair of women who waved me down to ask how far it was to Rosersberg Castle.  I was able to tell them by pulling out my maps.

Runsa Slott

That one turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.  It looked as if it might be quite pretty, but it was marked as private, so this was the only shot I could get of it.  Apparently, I missed a turn somewhere else and didn’t get to see a the ruins of a fortification from 1000’s and a 55 meter ‘stone ship’ (stones laid out in the shape of the hull of a long ship) from the 500’s.  Kinda peeved about that, but oh well.

As I headed down the road toward my next turn, I had a few nice meetings with people.  The first was a group of about 10 guys on bikes.  The borderline hardcore types.  They were all cheerfully friendly, asking how far had we gone?  What kind of dog was that?  Wasn’t the weather just perfect?  When we came to a hill and I slowed to a crawl, they all waved and shot ahead, hammering up the slope.

The next one was a man mowing his lawn.  I stopped across the street from his yard in a patch of shade because Loke really needed water.  He turned the mower off and crossed the street to talk.  It was a nice chat, in Swedish even!  After Loke caught his breath and cooled down we said bye and I went on my way.

I finally came on my turn to head to yet another castle, but only groaned when I saw it.  A steep hill and unpaved road.  I couldn’t do it.  I was too tired to attack a hill AND gravel.  I looked at my maps and decided to avoid that and drive straight toward Edsby

It was a bit of irritation at one point.  A couple of boys started to pass me on a narrow road.  One on a bike and the other on roller blades.  They swerved around me and then didn’t pull back over.  The next thing I knew, a car horn blasted just a few feet away from ear.  Loke almost leapt out of his skin.  Fortunately, that was all of the incident.

Edsby Church

After that it was less than 20 minutes to the end of the ride at another church.

Edsby Kyrka was pretty and sat on the shores of the lake.  Sadly, I can’t find any infor about it.  I found a shady spot to wait for Jens to come get me.  Loke seemed happy for the break and flopped down after gulping lots and lots fo water.  I felt kinda bad that I couldn’t get him down to the lake shore to play in the water.

It had been a really good day.  Thanks to all the gravel roads and what felt like an insane number of hills, it took almost 6 hours to go 23+ miles.  Granted, I spent quite a bit of time sitting here and there for Loke’s sake, but still.

It was still quite nice to get home.  Mostly to get my cycle shoes off since I’d slammed my toe into the coffee table the night before.  Loke’s been completely flat since.  I feel like I worked my muscles without killing myself and best of all!?  New ground!!

I think I can manage to cycle my loops around here a few times before I start feeling clausterphoic again. Hehe.

Comedy of Errors?
May 13, 2010, 7:47 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, I don’t know if yesterday’s ride really counts as a comedy of errors, but it certainly felt like it in some ways.  However, at least it wasn’t in the way that completely ruins the day.  And I have pictures!!!  Sorry if the first two are boring. *grin*

Stamp Booklet For Sverigeleden

My husband knows I’ve been kinda chaffing at the difficulty of my year cycle wise, so he told me to make cycle plans.  I sort of resisted since I didn’t want to completely wreck his vacation by making him drive all over the place.  However, I knew that he had joined a fly-fishing club a couple days before.  For a small yearly fee, you can fish at one of their two lakes (ponds really) without the need for a license.  They ask you release most of the fish, keeping only one per person to eat.  I decided that I could plot a route in the area near those lakes, Jens could drop me off somewhere along the way and pick me up.

So, I got maps printed, he got fishing things packed, we got the trike loaded and off we went.

Look! My First Stamp!!

Jens and I have had a slight contention over the stamp issue, mostly  him teasing me.  Last year, I rode through Sala which was one of the stamp points for the Sverigeleden booklet, but I didn’t have the booklet, they didn’t have the booklet, so I was out of luck.  My husband has been saying HE thinks I should do the ride again.  I’ve been saying, I already EARNED that stamp, I’m not going over 40 miles the same ground (granted, it was pretty) AGAIN.

Well, our drive yesteday took us through Sala and my husband was actually the one who suggested we stop and let me get the stamp!

So, that’s what we did.  I even managed to direct him to the closest place to park flawlessly from memory.  Of course, construction everywhere managed to make that a bit difficult.  There was one parking lot close and it was packed and half of it full of rubble and work machines.  So, I ended up jumping out of the car and heading to the Information Center alone.  With traffic backing up behind us as I got out, I didn’t take the time to dig out my camera to get photos of Sala.

Norrby Kyrka

Norrby Kyrka

Oh!  On the way into Sala, I made note of the church I took a picture of last year as I pedalled through there.  Norrby kyrka.  I rather like the design of this church, all the little detail on it.  Gothic maybe?  No clue architecture has never been a strong point for me.

The oldest parts of the church date from the 1300’s.  1887 an architect (his name if you click the church photo) designed the newer parts which is probably its appearance today.  Older interior details are a medieval baptismal font and painting from the 1500’s.

There!  Got two minor irritations out of the way in one trip! *laugh*

The day had started out pretty enough when we left Uppsala, but the further west we went, the denser a high cloud cover became.  By the time we reached Norberg where Jens was going to drop me off, it was on its way to being one of those gray sorts of day.  There didn’t really seem to be much of a threat of rain and thankfully, even without the sun it was plenty warm enough at almost 60 F.

Norberg Kyrka

It didn’t take us long to find the church in Norberg.  The little town of Norberg seems to have quite a long history in spite of its rather humble appearance.  The town can be traced firmly back to the 500’s AD though there are indications there has been settlement in the area clear back to the stone age.

I couldn’t really find a good angle to get a picture of the church as it was crowded around with so many buildings, so I settled for this one ‘bleah’ photo.  I didn’t look for rune stones either.  I was already pushing 1 pm and I wanted to ride and make sure Jens had time to find his lake and get a couple hours in.

My whole ride was almost scrapped.  As I was fiddling around with the trike while my husband tried to get Loke to go to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to stop and scrape something off sidewalks as I made it out of town, my right knee started screaming.  Painful enough, even I almost screamed with it.

Still, Jens encouraged me to at least try.  He’d wait at the church for a bit for me either to decide I couldn’t ride and come back, or if it was too bad to make it back to the church, he’d come get me.  With a bit of trepidation, I agreed, though he had to help me get my right shoe on because I couldn’t even bend the knee enough to do it myself. *eye roll*

Actually, it didn’t seem that bad once I got going.  Of course, Loke was helping like crazy for the first bit, but I just took it easy and tried to pull on the pedals rather than push.  I think that was what made it possible.  Gotta love clipless pedals.

As we had driven into Norberg, I decided that I was going to cut about 5 miles off my original planned route.  On the maps, it had me going almost due east out of the town before doing a jig north-east and then to the south-east to pass another church before taking off south along a canal system.  But the 256 we came in on was smaller than I thought.  With my original route crossing it, it seemed more interesting to be able to use those 5 miles extra to check out the area along the canals.  Also, if my knee became too much a problem it would be much easier for my husband to find me on the same road we had come in on.

It was around this time that the ‘comedy of errors’ began.

My cell phone had been a bit low in battery when I woke up, so I put it on charge.  Normally, it gets full charge in around 20 minutes and that can last me a week or more.  It had over an hour to charge.  Yet after two miles when I stopped to give Loke water, I went to call Jens to tell him it looked like it was working out, it gave me a low battery warning.  What the -??  I almost could have screamed (for the second time that day).

Without phones to coordinate my location, it would have been near impossible for him to find me even with the maps.  I’m the navigator in our little family.  After letting Loke drink, I frantically looked at my maps and decided I could, in theory, just pedal down the 256 the entire way.  Granted, there wasn’t much in the way of churches and the like, but it had been pretty and would get me out and some mileage under my belt.

So, I called my husband and hurried explained the situation and that I was going to stay on the 256.  So, once he was done with what he was doing, all he had to do was drive back to Norberg and follow that road toward Sala and he’d find me.  We agreed.

I still wasn’t entirely happy with the plan, but the alternative was for me to sit there at the bus stop until Jens came right away.  So, on I went.

Just A Lake View

We had only gone around 4 miles when I saw a rather grimey sign I hadn’t been able to read as we whipped by in the car.  ‘Hyttruiner’.  Honestly, I had no idea what a hytt was, but I knew the word ‘ruiner’ and it was enough for me.  It was a dirt road, fairly well strewn with stones that I ended up bumping down.  Immediately off to the right was a huge barnlike structure.  When I say huge, I mean it.  Over fifty feet high, around same the wide and as long as the block we live on.  There was a section over-built the lower portion a bit with thick wooden beams helping to support it.  I actually felt nervous as I went by.  The structure was old and I could see parts of the beams holding up the overbuild were rotted away.  It almost felt like that portion could come down any moment.

Goes without saying, I didn’t stick around that spot to try and figure out how to get a picture of it.  I’m sure it will stand perfectly fine for decades more, but I still didn’t like it.

Though old and on the verge of partial collapse (to my eye at least), the building wasn’t what I would call a ruin.  Before I could even really wonder if that was the ‘hytt’, I rounded the curve in the road (and corner of the building) and saw proper ruins!  Nice old stone walls and these two peculiar large rusting structures.

Högfors Hytt (Ironworks) Ruins

Blast Furnace

Turns out ‘hytt’ means ironworks.  I’m generally not that fascinated by Industrial Era kind of things, but I was still quite happy to take a look at this one.  Probably because of the unique-ness of the building and for some reason parts of it reminded me of Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, Alabama.

I have many fond memories of that fort.  From the times my dad would take the family there when I was a girl before it was dug out from all the sand and open to the public to the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) events held there when I was in my early 20’s.

Norberg Stream

Any way.  Högfors is one of the most recent ironworks in Sweden with construction completed in 1915.  The long charcoal shed was completed at the same time.  Hmmm.  Could that HUGE building I was eyeing warily be the charcoal shed?  Shed seems to be such a paltry term for something that could hold my entire apartment’s building.

Other than the two blast furnaces, there were also a sinter plant (no clue), a power station, foundry, flour mill, carpentry workshop, smithy, and a saw mill.  The entire work force comprised about 70 people.  The operation was shut down in 1953 and most of the structures demolished in 1974 though the blast furnaces remain.

In spite of the 20th century nature of the ruins here, there were reports of a blast furnace at Högfors in 1539 and also one of Sweden’s first forge hammers 5 years later.

Oh and Högfors (translates into high rapids) gets its name from the high waterfalls of the Norberg Stream as it passes through this area.  I didn’t see anything I would have called a waterfall though.

Another Smaller, Enigmatic Ruin

The first manor house in Högfors built by a Jacob de la Gardie who was commander in chief and iron master.  I might have seen it in a distant kind of way, it looked a bit like smaller, plainer version of Hammarskog.  Given I was feeling a bit in a rush because of the whole phone issue and wanting to stay on the 256 in case Jens was trying to find me, I didn’t spend long in the area and didn’t ride toward the big-ish looking white house.  I snapped my few photos (didn’t even read the information on the sign until now as I thankfully remembered to get a picture of it).

As I was wrestling my trike around to hurry back down the dirt road to the 256, the second part of the ‘comedy of errors’ appeared when my phone rang.  Obviously, it was Jens.  It turned out the lake thing was a bit more complicated than he had thought.  There wasn’t a clear trail to the lake and he was a bit nervous about getting lost in the woods.  He doesn’t mind the outdoors, and likes camping, but he’s the first to admit, he doens’t have much of a sense of direction in a forest.  Drop him in a city and he’s fine.

He knows that I’m a bit more of a woodsey girl with a decent sense of wild direction, so he wanted me to help.  In a way, it was a sort of solution to the phone issue though it meant cutting my ride short.  I was willing to help Jens find the lake… not to mention, we had my bike GPS to help us.  Even without roads, I could still mark the location of the car and get directional bearings from it.

Lots of Lakes Around Here

Since I still had a bit of lingering battery charge in my phone, I told Jens to head back to Norberg and then down the 256 toward Sala the same way we had arrived.  When he got out of Norberg, call me again and I would give him distance and landmarks to locate me.

 It wasn’t long before he did call and I started looking for a place to load the trike without blocking traffic.  Within a quarter mile, I found it.  A little tongue of land reaching out into a lake.  There were trees and about a dozen row boats in various stages of delapidation, even one that someone was rebuilding.  More convenient was the looping driveway so my husband could pull in, load the trike and us leave without fiddling with avoiding trees and boats.  Loke could poddle around in the lake as I sat in a chair and rested my knee.

That’s where he found us.  After that, it was a short drive to the place with his lake.  It was a very short, but very rough walk.  I fell once, but fortunately all the wood and ground I landed on was soft.  I’d brought my sneakers to replace my cycle shoes for when I was off the trike, but they are NOT good for rough terrain.  Even my cycle shoes might have been better.

The little lake was pretty, though more of a pond.  The only drawback were the mosquitos twice the size of the ones I grew up with in the southern US.  Once Jens was satisfied he could find the place without my help, we went back to the car.

All in all, it was a good day.  Loke and I got out to do what we like best.  My husband has found a place he can practice fly fishing without needing a license every time he turns around.  Fun for all!

Shot Myself In The Foot…
May 11, 2010, 8:18 am
Filed under: Misc

Figuratively speaking of course.

This has been the coldest and wettest spring I’ve seen since I arrived here in Sweden.  The temps have been in the low 50s and spitting with rain for most of the days for the past week.  Nothing like the years before where, as I mentioned, I was heading out for rides at 5 am so Loke wasn’t getting heatstroke.

Glorious Day and No Cycling

Today dawned gloriously clear and the sun has that pure quality that gives a special light to the day as you can see in the photo.  The weather man (and Weatherbug on my computer) promised of temps in mid/upper-50’s.  Very little wind as well.  Around 9:30, it was about 46 F or so and with the sun that is warm enough to ride as long as I have my woolies on under the cycle clothes.  So, I checked the air in the tires, filled the water bottles and took Loke out for his ‘pre-cycle business walk’.  As I was nearing home I almost screamed when I realized one fatal flaw to my plans for an outdoor ride today.

Loke’s harness is in the car with my husband in Stockholm.

*sighs*  Good thing my husband and I have trained ourselves out of swearing in general or I would have been giving a unique English lesson to the children in the playground of the daycare across the street. *smirk*  I really did want to cut loose with a few choice words though.

Why was Loke’s harness in the car instead of hanging in the entryway where I always put it after a ride?  Well, my husband’s youngest sister and her husband wanted to try out their new backpacks over difficult terrain.  For some odd reason, they wanted to complicate their experiment with a hyper and insane husky.  Rather than fight with a leash, Loke was put in his harness with a 6′ lead fastened to a belt Emil wore.  We drove them to the state park and picked them up as well, which means Loke’s harness ended up in the car.  It’s still there, tucked in the corner next to Loke’s car crate.  Loke had a good day though.

Any way, no harness, no Loke going with me.  Unfortunately, if the trike goes out the door without him, Loke goes into hysterics.  Destructive, howling separation anxiety.  So… No ride.  I really don’t want to face a mob because Loke howled for two hours and then have to clean up the couch he ripped apart.

At least the only time he acts that way IS with the trike.  Me and my husband can come and go with no problem.  Shows who Loke really loves, doesn’t it?

So far, this year is turning into a bigger disappointment than last.  I’m already more 150 miles behind my total for these first months than I was last year which was HUGELY behind the year before any way.  No tours.  Very little new ground.  Cold, gray, wet weather threatening me with hypothermia and the deep vein trombosis that can come with it.

Still, trying to stay in the spirit of my goal of cycling at least 50 miles in a week, I am going to get on the trainer for a couple hours which is about the length of time it takes me to ride one of my short routes.  I rode it for an hour yesterday as well.  I honestly never really thought I would be using the silly thing once we hit the end of March or so. *sulk*

And the weather for the rest of the week?  Rain and low 50’s of course!


Well, the hubby came home with the harness, but by then it was almost 2 pm.  He kinda bullied me out the door, but starting out that late all I really did was go around the 3 mile river loop.  Loke was bored with it, I was bored with it… so I just kinda dragged Loke into keeping a respectable pace and we were home 23 min later.   I’ve also put in 3 hours on the trainer though!

May 4, 2010, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Sorry, no pictures since it was old ground again.  Just me babbling.

Though it was quite cold this morning, it warmed up enough for me to go for a ride around 10:30.  The weather wasn’t bad, though a bit breezy.  The sky had a high, thin cover of cloud at the upper elevations slightly dimming the sunlight and the rest was scattered with big, puffy clumps of other clouds lower down.

I even had a reason to ride.  Jens and I are going out to eat with his parents this evening, so Loke needed either a very good walk (walking is brutal on me) or a run.  Since I feel much worse after a 30 min walk (nothing to Loke) than I do from a 30 mile ride… riding the trike with Loke running it was.  So, sunshine, knees the best feeling they’ve been in days and a reason to go – out I went.

During the ride, I decided that next week, I will set a goal to ride 50 miles this week and definitely next week.  That comes out roughly to 4 of the Ulva/G. Uppsala loop, or my other short loop.  The reason I decided this was because I could have ridden yesterday, but I ended up blowing it off.  I just had no motivation even though I managed to get myself dressed, the dog walked and air checked in the tires.  By then it was around 12:30 and I lost the ‘oomph’ to make the three or four trips to the parking lot with various parts of the trike, bags, and dog.  No other excuse than ‘Bleah.  I don’t wanna do it.’

That attitude will definitely keep me from riding out to new areas and I won’t have it.  Especially since in August, my husband and I have actually planned a vacation where I’ll be cycling and he’ll be fishing in a lake that is supposed to be great.  Since it’s in a mountainous region, I really need to try and get my stamina up for those long slow climbs.  The Sverigeleden sits right there next to where we’ll have our cabin and not too far away there’s a place to get my booklet stamped!  If I want to do more than 5 miles a day there, I NEED to be trained up a bit.

So, those are the reasons for my goal of 50 miles a week.  It’s not much, but I’ll probably increase it after accomplishing it.  I’m going to do my d**nedest to make no excuses.  There are only two things I will allow to dissuade me.  First is rain and below 55F.  Rain and 55 F or warmer, I’ll give riding in it a shot and just pull on a couple layers of wool since it holds warmth even wet.  If I still end up too chilled, then I’ll reconsider that temp limit.

The other is of course my knees.  I absolutely will NOT risk giving myself more frequent and worse knee problems.  The last thing I want is to be permenantly disabled.  All that would do is stop me riding completely or I would have to swap to a hand crank trike.  I get enough wierd looks so I really would like to avoid that.

So, about the ride.  It was Ulva/G. Uppsala loop again though I added the extention going upstream of the river and took the grave mound path home from Gamla Uppsala instead of along the road or through the residental area.  It was quite breezy which made the 16+ miles a bit more of a work out than it usually might have been.  There were even dust devils twisting across the plowed fields.  There have been buds on the trees, but so small that you couldn’t really see them until you got quite close.  Now, some of the trees actually have a faint green aura about them as their leaves are beginning to unfurl a tiny bit.  Much to my surprise, the huge pile of ash from the bon fire out at the grave mounds was still smoldering.

Hmm.  I guess I should explain about the bonfires.  Sweden celebrates the end of April and 1st of May.  There’s a kind of festival down along the river in Uppsala where people gather for picnics and to drinks LOTS.  Friday evening, my husband and I drove through downtown Uppsala and there were men and women staggering around (and being sick from excess) all over the place.

Out in the more open areas of the country, piles of wood are set ablaze into some very impressive bon fires.  The one at the grave mounds, they begin gathering materials for it in January.  This year, the pile was higher than a two story house and over 30 feet in diameter.  So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised it was still sending up tendrils of smoke 4 days later.

We also drove through the country for a bit.  It was neat to look across miles of fields and clusters of trees and see several fires blazing in the distance as dusk gathered.

Another random thought – I was looking back over some of my posts from last year.  I found it rather interesting that during the last week of April in 2009, I was heading out on my rides with Loke at 5 am to ‘spare him the heat of the day’.  This year it’s been the complete flip side where I’m twiddling around until 11 am so it will be warm enough I won’t come home blue.

Okay.  That’s enough for now.  I think I’ll plot out a few routes and try to ride on later this week.