Terii’s Cycling Babble


Another Ride… Finally
June 16, 2010, 11:40 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Sadly, it appears my rides will be quite infrequent.  Not even really enough to gain any real health benefit from them.  For some reason, for the first time ever, riding my trike has been killing my knees. 

Anyway… on to the ride. 

The days have been mostly touch and go.  If they’ve been clear and warm, I’ve not wanted to ride any way because it didn’t seem worth the knee pain to do the Ulva Loop AGAIN.  The days my husband has been home, they’ve been chill and miserable or he was away on his fishing trip.  I was glad he got out and had a real vacation type thing.  He even took pity on Loke and took the furball with him so the poor thing would have more to do than mope around the apartment. 

Monday, Jens made the suggestion that since I had been cycling routes sort of along his way to work, I could plan one for him to drop me off on Tuesday.  The man knows my weaknesses.  While unwilling to risk the possibility of hurting myself for 3 days or so over old ground, I couldn’t resist new ground with fresh churches and runestones.  Since I’d had a long break from cycling, I think he was hoping whatever the problem was would have recovered. 

I started looking at my maps and suddenly hit on a rather ambitious sort of plan.  I had to clear it with my husband first as the drop off point was a bit further out of his way than I think he had in mind, but he was agreeable. 

So, bright and early yesterday, I set up the maps to print and started getting everything together.  We were on the road by 9 am. 

Husby-Långhundra Kyrka

 

My starting point was Husby-Långhundra Kyrka.  It’s an unassuming little church with a lot in common with Börje in appearance except for the patterned brick work on the upper ends of the building. 

Jens and I were actually here for a small medieval gathering weekend before last.  They had jousting, royal processions (probably with SCA royalty, hehe) and even medieval style church services.  Being here then was much of what spurred me to try to work this place into a route. 

The long rest apparently did Loke a lot of good.  He had the most excitement at the idea of a ride that I’ve seen in over a month.  Kept wrapping himself around the trike as I was trying to get it together and loaded.  My husband finally had to take the furball and walk off a way where he could only stand at the end of the leash and stare longing and woof at me. 

With Jens in a hurry and Loke so impatient, I almost forgot to take a picture of the church!  It was hard to get Loke to slow down and loop him back around.  With him so impatient and the church yard crawling with lawn workers, I didn’t feel comfortable taking Loke in to look for runestones, especially when he hadn’t had a chance to go to the bathroom.  I don’t let him mark or ‘deposit’ in church yards, so I just took the picture and let Loke lead us off at a mad charge. 

Old Road Marker And Old Barn

Loke was running very well and pulling quite hard.  I let him.  I was determined to take it as easy as possible for my knees and the more he worked, the less force I had to put in the pedals. 

It was a bit on the cool side temp wise and clouding up fast.  There was a good risk of rain, but Jens had assured me that he could leave work to come get me at any time and if the rain proved too cold, I also had an umbrella to keep myself dry. 

But for the first part, it was quite pleasant and even a bit of sun.  I was enjoying that quite a bit as Loke and I went up a hill.  With the slow pace, I spotted a ring-necked pheasant cock about 10 yards away.  It was fairly calm though wary as it watched us for a second before slowly walking off into a tangle of shrubs and tall grass.  One day, I would love to actually have the time to get a picture of one, but they’re never calm enough to stand around and wait as I dig for my camera in the pod bag, pull it out of the little dry sack, then out of its case and wait for it to come on. 

Around mile 2, I had a bit of unease.  I was cycling along and glanced over at the farm house we were passing on our right.  There, sprawled out in the grass of the yard was a HUGE german shepherd.  Country dogs are notoriously under socialized which makes them dog aggressive and worse, quite often, they’re loose.  I don’t know what it is about German Shepherds in Sweden, but they are also quite often aggressive toward humans as well.  So, there I was, an unknown human on a wierd looking thing with a male dog passing a typically aggressive breed of loose dog. 

Thankfully, it stayed asleep, but I had a bit of dilemma about getting BACK by as the church I was heading toward was a short double back to get to the next turn. 

Vidbo Kyrka

I decided I’d worry about it when I needed to and went on to Vidbo Kyrka. 

Upplands Runstone #375 - Vidbo Kyrka

Upplands Runestone #376 - Vidbo

Therewas quite a bit to photograph here.  As at Husby-Långhundra church, a frenzy of lawn work going on, so I didn’t want to take Loke in.  Even though I’m careful to keep Loke close so he doesn’t do what comes natural to a male dog in such places, people can still get quite hostile. 

Road Marker Built Into Vidbo Churchyard Wall

I found no less than two rune stones.  I’ don’t think there were more as I did circle the church outside the churchyard wall.  Some small wooden building I’m not sure what its purpose was, the bell tower and a road marker! 

As usual, what I could find (or manage to translate) on the church and the stones is available if you click the photos. 

I settled down and nibble on some of the grapes I’d brought as I looked over my map book.  There were other ways to go from Vidbo, but it would have taken me completely off my planned route.  I should point out, that I’m not that completely rabid about sticking to a planned route IF I have everything I need to cover all circumstances.  What drives me to stick to the plans (this year especially) is consideration about what happens if my knees go?  I want to stay in areas where Jens has a better chance of finding me with the least amount of hassle.  I don’t want to make my hobby (and potential problems) a complete nightmare for him.  I wouldn’t want to make him regret his efforts to support my madness. Hehe. 

I decided to risk going back by the farm house.  It turned out to not be a problem.  I’m not sure where the shepherd went, but he was no where in sight and we made it past fairly quickly as it was on a slight downhill slope.  With only 3 miles beneath his paws, Loke was still quite happy to do a hard run so we weren’t in area long. 

Next Church In The Distance

The day was still pleasant at this point.  Loke was running incredibly well and more than happy to pull whether there was a hill or not.  We ended up on a dirt road for a bit.  It wasn’t a perfect one, but it wasn’t one of those I look at and wince, cringe and grit my teeth as I made the turn on it. 

We still were making okay time, better than I make while at home any way.  Roughly 5 miles an hour with stops to give Loke water, random scenery photos and such.  I didn’t let it bother me.  It was just nice to be out and exploring new ground.  The clouds were increasing as was the wind.  I knew what that meant, but since the temperature was okay and it looked like the rain was still a ways off, I was content to keep going. 

My next photo op was visible for miles, the top of the tower showing clearly over the tree line as I made my way down the unpaved road.  I actually took quite a few pictures as I approached.  The final stretch made me a bit wary as the church sat right across from a house with two huge dogs.  Something that looked and sounded like mastiff crosses.  I wasn’t sure the comparatively little picket fence was going to stop them.  It did.  They only ran back and forth and barked out in those incredibly deep bass voices of theirs. 

Skepptuna Kyrka

Skepptuna Kyrka Back

Skepptuna Kyrka was something of a surprise.  I’ll be the first to admit I was only expecting another Börje type structure, not this surprising combination of a striking patterned brick tower with its base of mortared stone.  It gave a presence to the church the others lacked.  I suppose it just might have been its unusual nature, but I really enjoyed discovering it. 

Upplands Runestone # 357 - Skepptuna

Upplands Runestone #358 - Skepptuna

Skepptuna was also home to two runestones.  I just noticed I must have made an error about part of the translation of the sign for #358.  I thought it said it had been mortared into the foundation stones of the tower in the 1400’s and it’s obviously not sealed into the wall.  I guess they might have moved it since then.  Another of those little confusions I guess. Hehe. 

After I finished my circle of the church in search of runestones, Loke and I headed out again.  The dogs that had barked so furiously were busy elsewhere and we went on our way in peace. 

The clounds continued to thicken as we went on.  I even got a few spits of rain in the face at one point.  A bit more worrying was the drop in temperature.  It still wasn’t unpleasant though, so I was willing to keep going. 

Närtuna Kyrka

I guess there wasn’t really much to hold my interest between Skepptuna and Närtuna Kyrka.  All I really remember is taking the turn on to the very rutted and toothrattling gravel road leading to the church.  It was shaded with large old trees and the grounds of the church were being mowed.  Even beyond getting the grass cut, everything else was immaculately kept.  The wooden outbuilding was freshly painted and little beds of flowers were set around a little stone and plaster building just outside the churchyard.  The church itself was not much different from several I’ve found much closer to Uppsala.  Getting a decent picture of it was difficult because trees blocked the view or I couldn’t get far enough away from it without waded through chest deep grass.  I wasn’t impressed enough by it to risk collecting a few dozen ticks. 

Närtuna Runestone #?

It had one runestone stuck in the plaster of one wall.  The sign was fairly dirty with lots of bird deposits so about all I could make out was that it was carved sometime during the 1000’s.  Of course, most of the stones seem to have been carved between 1000 AD and 1100 AD.  Now that I think about it, it was a busy century or two for stone carvers if the ‘Runestone Era’ was only around 2 centuries or so.  I am a bit peeved I couldn’t even get the runestone number. 

Loke and I took a bit of a rest there.  It was a nice spot with the scent of fresh mowed grass and birdsong. 

Again, I don’t remember much happening between Närtuna and the next runestone I took a picture of.  I do remember the runestone marked the beginning of another minor aggravation. 

Uppland's Runestone #503

Though I’d been watching the GPS fairly closely, I ended up going past my next turn.  It was both a good and bad thing.  The good, because I found a runestone I might otherwise have missed.  The bad?  It very likely meant the road I was supposed to take was something very easily overlooked and therefore.. unpaved and unpleasant looking.  After ‘collecting’ the runestone, I checked my maps and resignedly doubled back. 

Yep.  It was very unpleasant.  Moist earth strewn with stones the size of small hens’ eggs and a mushy looking center line.  Still, stubborn as I am, I decided to try it. 

After a short distance, it was clear it was not a good idea.  Much as I hated to do it, I ended up walking Loke on the worst parts of the road because I might have smashed my rear derailleur arm if I’d given him the best part of the road like I tend to do.  I stuck a double layer of his booties on to try to cushion his feet from the stones as much as possible.  I thought he disliked his booties before, but this was a whole new level of loathing and he kept giving me scornful looks. 

It got bad enough there was no ‘kinda smooth’ part at all, but by then I was close enough to the turn off it felt silly to go back.  Granted, I reached the turn off and going back could not have been done soon enough.  I was stunned!  My printed map, GPS and even my map book showed a road!  What I found myself looking at was corridor between the trees of flattened grass, scattered with mud puddles (not slightly muddy water pools, but MUD) and broken branches cast about as thick as my wrist. 

Maybe I should correct myself.  Stunned is probably an understatement.  Dumbfounded?  Flabbergasted?  I checked and rechecked, mostly by zooming in with my GPS as close in as it would go and it firmly showed I was sitting at a road.  That was the most confusing thing of all.  There are very real roads my GPS doesn’t show.  Generally small gravel/dirt ones that are still fairly navigable by trike.  Others of the same size or a little smaller, it might show as only a tiny dotted line.  It was showing this… track as a road as well-marked as the paved one I’d turned off of to follow the rock-fest.  I would say a standard car like say the Alero I drove last in the US could not have gone down it.  Our SUV might have, but without 4WD, I wouldn’t have been confident of our odds avoiding getting stuck.  A little trike with road slicks and a gear system less than 2 inches from the ground at times?  No way on earth. 

After more map searching, the maps did agree on one thing… the rock strewn path deadended a mile or two further on.  There was no help for it.  I had to go back and find another way.  I looked and decided about the only way to salvage the route was to take the back roads toward a town called Rimbo and then cut up to the 77 ASAP to hurry back to the road I needed for my end point.  With a bit of grumbling, I did just that. 

The roads weren’t too bad.  Quite a bit of hills, but I simply dealt with them in my ‘slow but steady’ way.  Even after some 15+ miles, Loke was still determinedly helping me up the slopes.  I made sure to praise him bunches for that. 

Along the way, I spotted what I am fairly certain was a runestone.  I did take a picture of it, but it didn’t come out very well since it was from way across the field it sat in the middle of.  I wasn’t willing to leave my trike perched on the edge of the road and push through the waist-high wheat.  From what I could see, there wasn’t a sign for it any way. 

We did have a bit of a very minor incident along the stretch as well.  I was coming up on a field where I could hear the chug of a tractor and the air was filled with the scent of fresh mowed hay.  Spotting a truck parked near the field, I had a bit of a ‘Uh-oh’ moment almost like a pre-cog.  As I passed the clump of trees that had hidden most of the field, I saw a woman slowly walking through the waist-high hay with her eyes down as if she were looking for something.  I didn’t even wait to see what I expected.  Though it was a bit up a hill, I started to push harder and encouraged Loke to help for all he was worth. 

The woman never looked up, but I kept my eye on her and field, knowing what I’d see hopefully later than sooner.  There it was.  BOING!  The head and shoulders of a large dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback I think, popped up and it saw us.  As soon as I’d seen the truck, I’d known there’d be a dog and probably a large one and I was right.  Lots more of bunny like boings as the dog came bounding through the tall hay and Loke and I going for all we were worth up that hill.  The woman STILL hadn’t noticed her dog charging as fast as the hay would let him toward the road and us. 

Just as I lost sight of the field behind some trees and we crested the hill, I heard her start screaming the dog’s name.  Loke still had plenty of steam and I was glad to see it was a nice long descent as I put as much force to the pedals in as high a gear as I dared.  Once we started the downhill, I wasn’t too worried.  The dog had still had a lot of hay to clear to reach us and then it either needed to run through a tangle of woods or come to the road and follow us around the curve.  On a downhill straight, I’m generally confident that few other dogs can run almost a mile in those conditions and then catch Loke and I on a downslope.  They give up before they can manage it, or they don’t have the stamina to hold the chase.  So, either he gave up (or was well-trained enough to go back to his owner when she screamed) or we out ran him so well he never even showed up in my rearview. 

The rest of the way to the 77 was blissfully uneventful though the clouds built up enough and started spitting a fine misty kind of drizzle.  Worse, it got very cold.  Cold enough I was wishing not just for my woolies and gloves, but for my neoprene shoe covers too.  My feet were so chilled they ached.  It’s mid-JUNE for heaven sake!  I shouldn’t need neoprene shoe covers!! 

The 77 itself, was a nightmare.  The huge shoulders so evident between the E4 and my beginning point had apparently ended somewhere past Husby-Långhundra.  There was NO shoulder and traffic screaming by and a lot of it for such a kinda small road.  Unsurprisingly, I came across my first rude Swedish driver as he/she laid on the horn, caught behind me with on-coming traffic.  Couldn’t really blame them, but it didn’t help things one bit.  From the edge of the pavement, it sharply dropped off into a ditch so I couldn’t even escape off the road. 

Cold and the rain started coming worse, my legs were tired.  I came up on a bus stop and pulled into the relative safety to call Jens to come get me.  Of course, it happened to be the one moment during the day where he actually needed about half an hour before he could escape.  *eye roll* 

With the umbrella, I was able to stay dry enough, but the wind was bitterly cold and I was starting to shiver especially since I’d quit pedalling.  My fingers and feet ached.  Loke was impervious.  He was more than warm enough and his top coat of fur sheds rain like oiled leather. 

I sat there and shivered for a while with traffic zipping past me less than 10 feet away.  Loke was alright for a while, but then he got it into his head he didn’t want to be there any more and wanted to move on.  He kept trying to pace around, getting tangled with parts of the trike even though he only had about 3 feet of slack, woofed at me.  Even pawed at me a few times. 

Between that and the traffic, I decided I had one of two choices, move on or let Loke go play with the cars.  Okay, we both know I only had ONE choice and I took it.  The rain had stopped enough, so I put the umbrella away, refastened Loke to the run harness and waited for the moment when I couldn’t see any headlights behind me.  I took off like crazy as fast I could push the trike and Loke.  He didn’t resist my urging too much. 

After the mad dash to the next bus stop, I pulled over and let the traffic pass until again, it was clear behind me and off I went again.  I did that sort of leap-frog the entire half mile to the turn I needed and thankfully there were no hills to climb.  A bus-stop here, the patch of earth over the culverted ditch for tractors to do their field work there or a driveway.  I was soooo glad when I reached the road with signs for ‘slottruiner’ (castle ruins). 

I was still feeling well enough to go on and with me moving again, the cold wasn’t so bad though my feet still felt it.  The 20 minutes or so of rest at the bus stop seemed to have done me a lot of good and Loke of course seemed as fresh as a new-mown hay.  There was quite a bit of hill climbing along this stretch, but I was expecting it as I remembered it from the one time my husband and I had gone to the ruins before.  I also remembered to call Jens and let him know was I off the 77 since he had started on his way to me just before I started moving again. 

Fasterna Kyrka

The rest of the ride was uneventful and it wasn’t long down the nice TRANQUIL country road when I could see both Fasterna Kyrka on its hill and the ruins of Mörby Castle on its own hill across a field from the church.  I stopped to take pictures of both and while the ones of the church came out well from a distance, the castle ruins not so much because the misting rain created too much of a haze.  

It was something of a relief when I made that last climb up the church hill and rolled into a quiet setting with picnic tables and a view of the ruins across the way. 

Mörby Castle Ruins

I gave Jens directions on how to find me from Rimbo and did a slow walk around the church to look for runestones.  I didn’t find any though there was a nice shot of the ruins from the churchyard when the rain let up enough to clear the air. 

I knew Jens was coming soon, so I didn’t take the walk across the field to the ruins, especially since they are closed any way.  It would have been nice to get closer photos, but I was tired and I was fairly sure my husband was not going to want to take the walk in a drizzling rain across a muddy field in a business suit.  Who can blame him? 

Jens arrived less than 15 min after I did at the church.  How perfect was that?  Just enough time for me to take a very slow stroll around and get my pictures.  Total distance?  26-ish miles.  Not bad.  I wasn’t expecting to make much past the 3rd church.  In spite of the mad, frantic pushes past the dog in the field and the stretches along the 77, my knees felt fine.  I felt almost hopeful. 

Granted, this morning, I can’t get out of my chair without wincing and Jens took pity on me and gave Loke his morning ‘business’ walk in spite of the fact he’s left for a business trip before lunch.  So, my hopes my knees might be behaving didn’t last long. 

I’m trying to not let it get me down too much.  I’ll still get in what rides I can.  They won’t be often, but I’ll make darn sure they’re not Ulva/G. Uppsala loops either.  I may not be able to make myself cycle enough to have my knees hurt this much (or worse) every day, but I can’t give up cycling completely… even if it’s just a couple times a month.  I’ll just have to make sure the rides are worth it.

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