Terii’s Cycling Babble

August 19, 2010, 9:56 am
Filed under: Day Rides

The tenses may seem a bit confusing, since I wrote these vacation blogs on my laptop computer at the cabin when we had no access to internet, but I wanted to catch the memories and images while they were still fresh in my mind. 

Written August 13, 2010 

Well, the time for the vacation came.  I’ll admit that with all that had been going on to make this such a rough year of cycling for Loke and I, I faced it with a bit of trepidation.  I mean, MOUNTAINS!  Given the problems I’ve had with my knees this year and the fact I hadn’t really had a chance to build up my strength and stamina for the trip like I’d planned, I was truly wondering if I was going to end up sitting in the cabin or stuck by the lake shore fighting horseflies while attempting to write on my books. 

First Sign of a Mountain!!

The trip up was nice.  We didn’t really rush though we didn’t really meander along either.  Got to see some nice scenery.  At first it didn’t really seem like there was much in the way of mountains.  Even less than 50 miles out it was starting to look a bit disappointing.  Then the last 30 miles or so, things improved.  The lake our cabin at the fish camp sits along is ringed by low mountains.  Those tree furred, gently rolling and rounded types like you find in the Appalachians.  I actually considered that encouraging.  I wasn’t facing slopes like the Rockies or those gorgeously scenic, but jagged peaks of Norway. 

Pretty Morning

The fishing camp sits on shores of Stora Blåsjön (Big Blue Lake) and as I said, ringed by mountains.  The cabin is snug and clean and the owners incredibly nice and helpful.  They are dog lovers and even hold training classes for hunting dogs and offer kennel pens for people to keep their dogs in if they need/want to do something that Fido can’t join them for.  We had a lovely sunset the first night here and the first morning was gorgeous with low clouds drifting just above the lake and becoming fog when they met the mountains.  It was beautiful when they sort of crept into the valleys between the peaks.  I just LOVE it when you look across a mist filled valley surrounded by the mountains. 

Ankarede Chapel

The first day, Jens and I didn’t really do much in the way of the activities that brought us here.  Though I was a bit relieved by the nature of the terrain, I was still a bit wary.  Amazing how the possibility of pain does that to a person.  So, we spent the day mostly scouting around.  We drove to one area about 5 miles from the camp which according to my map book mentioned some kind of a chapel.  It was fairly hilly (no surprise) and quite scenic and the chapel turned out to sit at an old Sami village.  I decided that would be my first trip.  A sort of test run from the village back to the cabin. 

We also explored a bit more and it gave me a few other ideas for other days if my test ride didn’t kill me.  I don’t want to give the surprises away. 

So, this morning, my husband and I got moving.  I woke up around 5 am, but took pity on him and let him sleep in.  We didn’t get moving out the door until almost 9 am, but that was fine.  This is a vacation after all.  I ended up annoying Jens when we got to the village though.  Turned out I’d forgotten the adaptor to one of my trike tubes and the tires desperately needed air.  There was no helping it.  We had to drive back to the cabin. 

Ankarede Village Traditional Sami Huts

Other than that little snafu, the village was actually quite a perfect place to start.  It sat right on the shores of a few streams that Jens could do his fly fishing without having to drive back out from where he dropped me off.  Also, since I was cycling toward the cabin, he didn’t have to stress too much about needing to cut things short.  Oh, except for one little catch.  Our cell phones have no coverage up here.  So, I had to be prepared to sit for a couple hours if something happened that meant I couldn’t go on until my husband waded out of the water and drove to come find me. 

It turned out it wasn’t needed though.  It was a nice short ride.  About the same distance as the River Loop at home (5.something miles).  The difference was, it was all up or down.  Given how bad the horseflies were in the village, I half expected to be driven mad before I even made a mile.  Turned out I needn’t have worried.  Once I got moving, I think saw fewer than 8 of the flying bloodsuckers… except near this one little lake. 

Little Lake - August 12th

It is a beautiful lake and I was looking forward to getting there and taking a few pictures of it.  I have one taken from our scouting day which was just too perfect an image to resist.  The water glassy calm with a mountain in the background reflected in the surface.  You know.  The traditional ‘Mountain and Lake’ shot.  I slowed down between the two hills with the intention of taking another picture of the lake and mountain just to get Loke and the trike in the shot even if it wasn’t as perfect a day for ‘mountain reflected in lake’ moment.  I’d barely come to a halt when suddenly over two dozen horseflies swarmed up from the grass of the shore line.  It was a miniature version of an incoming bombing raid and I was the target.  I took off as fast I could manage even though it meant trying to power my way up another hill.  As I went, I saw a dragonfly.  With as many horseflies as he had there to eat, I’m surprised he wasn’t too fat to fly. 

Loke & Trike On A Down-Slope

By the time I got to the lake and had the horsefly blitz, I have to say I was rather surprised and impressed with myself.  I had done a mile in a bit less than 10 min.  It was mostly uphill as the village is a good bit lower down than camp.  My knees?  No problem!  I was shocked!  My breathing was a bit more labored when I was creeping up those hills, especially when trying to escape the horseflies at the lake, but that was to be expected with the higher altitude.  We’re more than 1500 feet higher than Uppsala.  At least here we are.  I was still happy to finally find a decent stretch of downhill. 

View Across the Lake

I don’t know if I was starting to adjust my pace or my body was trying to acclimate or maybe the hills just eased up on me a bit, but after the first mile and a half, it got easier.  Loke wasn’t running too badly, the sun was trying to come out which was nice since the day before had been completely gray.  We crept up the hills (painlessly knee wise) and zipped down the short dips on the other side.  After a bit, I cleared the wooded section and came out where the road is lined by small houses and farm steads.  There was one field I stopped to take a look over the railing along the road.  down a 70 degree slope was a tiny pasture, less than an acre where a pair of cows grazed.  The reason their field was so small?  Because on the far side of that was might have been a sheer drop to the lake below.  Those cows better not break through the fence. 

Lake, Mountains and Drying Hay

I continued on past a few old buildings and fields with hay drying in the traditional old fashion here in Sweden.  Instead of stacks, they set up what look like wooden fence sections and drape the hay over the railings.  It’s rather intriguing to see and gives you a glimpse into how places like this might have looked back in the old days.  There was even something more that finished the scene off a little further down. 

In a field with a few sheep, was an older man.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he was over eighty.  Still had a full head of hair, gone shock white and full beard in a softer pale gray.  He was dressed in clothes that looked like denim jeans and a blue long-sleeved shirt.  He was kinda on the lean side and had the look of a man who had seen a lot of work in his life, but it had left him decently fit even in the winter of his years.  As I came past and his sheep jumped up and huddled close at the strange sight of my trike and probably the wolf-like appearance of my dog, he stopped swinging his scythe and after a moment of staring, waved. 

Yes, you read that right.  Stopped swinging his scythe.  He wasn’t moving quickly and his swings were a bit short and choppy, but there he was cutting hay in the way that was done centuries before machines did it for man.  With a wickedly curved blade around two feet long attached to an equally curved long handle almost 6 feet long with an extra grip at right angles around half way.  Grim Reaper style scythe. 

Grrrr... Powerlines.

I wish I’d dared take a picture of him.  It would have been an interesting image and I could easily see working it up as a black and white with a sepia tint like an old fashioned photo.  With my uncertain Swedish and the fact that the older people are in Sweden, the less likely they are to know English, I was just too shy to ask.  I didn’t feel right with the idea of just digging out the camera and clicking the lens at him without making certain he was okay with it and I didn’t really want something posed either. 

He smiled a bit as he watched me and Loke go by, leaning on that long curved handle.  I don’t know why, but that moment really touched me.  Maybe it was the idea that it might be an honest glimpse of another era instead of a mock-up or recreation.  In the yard of the small house across the road from the field were those fence like sections with their drying hay.  Hay he had likely cut to help feed his sheep through the winter and would continue to do as long as he was able. 

A little bit further on, I had a beautiful view of the big lake over two hundred feet lower in elevation.  The sun was playing peek-a-boo with the clouds and the surface was not quite glassy, but still smooth enough that the sky and mountains on the far side were reflected in the water.  The image was softly blurred though, like the memory of a dream upon waking.  A small boat with a couple of pleasure fishermen had made a turn before going still again.  The wake it had made was spreading outward in broad ripples over the surface and the way the sunlight and reflections played over those curving, long waves gave it an almost surreal quality as if an impressionist painter had stroked his brush through the center of the lake.  Sadly, the picture I tried to take didn’t come out very well.  I think the UV filter on the lens washed out some of the details of light and by the time I got it off, the ripples had vanished behind a clump of trees. 

Still, that scene takes a close second to the old man and his scythe though not quite as enduring as I’m sure I’ll see other breathtaking moments of natural beauty in my stay here and certainly in my life.  I may never see another man who still works his land and tends his livestock as if he were in the early 1800’s and not the early 2000’s. 

Cliff Faced Mountain In Distance

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  Just chewing my way up the hills and coasting down the other sides.  Cars passed me with the people often giving me startled looks before waving.  The residents of the area who were out in their yards and enjoying the sunshine were quick with smiles and calling out ‘Hej!’  The views of the lake I caught between clumps of trees were still beautiful though not quite as breathtaking as that one moment with the reflections and ripples. 

The steepest slope of the ride was right before I made the turn onto the road our cabin sits along.  Fortunately, it was a very short hill.  After that, it was an easy downhill coast to the fishing camp.  5.07 miles.  We did it in about 1 hour and 20 min.  That REALLY impressed me.  Given the amount of time I’d spent fiddling with my camera, the number of up-slopes, and keeping my speed low on the downhills so I didn’t overwork Loke (we still have our appointment to get his heart checked), our average speed wasn’t really down that much.  I’d figured the trip would have taken me at least 2 hours, yet I was pulling in at the camp in less than an hour and a half and my knees didn’t bother me at all.  On the other hand, the muscles in my legs were talking to me a bit. 

The driveway down to our cabin is very steep and gravel, so I was a bit too timid to risk the trike to it only to end up zipping and skidding down into the lake or something.  But the woman who runs the camp came out of her house and spent quite a while ‘ooh’ing over Loke.  Given she trains dogs for hunting which means they need stamina to go all day, she was also very intrigued with the trike especially with the idea of running a dog with it.  The stability of it was what really caught her attention.  The fact a dog couldn’t yank it over.  She let me keep it up on the top of hill near the little shop until Jens got back from fishing.  Very pleased with my trip, I wandered down to the cabin with Loke. 

I have to say, the results of the trip have left me quite impressed.  I’ve had a bit of that muscle burn/ache, but my knees haven’t so much as given a twinge.  As for Loke?  He was anxiously at the door less than 20 minutes after we got home and still has had plenty of spunk to try and badger us out of the cabin every chance he gets.  Right now, he’s laying in front of the door and sulking because Jens left him when he went out for a bit of evening fishing. 

Sverigeleden & Places Along It

Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll take another trip down along the Sverigeleden since the fishing camp sits RIGHT on it.  I feel rather obligated to at least cycle part of the 25 miles toward Gäddede since Jens and I stopped there this afternoon to get my booklet stamped.  We were exploring a section of the Sverigeleden toward that way and into Norway though I doubt I’ll make it that far.  The town of Gäddede is quite small so Jens pointed out that if the tourist office was open, maybe I should get the stamp now in case the opening hours are silly short over the weekend and maybe even closed Sunday.  It is after all past the peak of the summer season in the area now. 

So, I went in.  Just as they were in Sala when I tried to get my booklet and stamp there the first time, this girl had NO clue about the booklet, the Sverigeleden, or where the stamp was.  She spent a few minutes digging through drawers and looking at every stamp she could find, but just couldn’t find it.  Finally she found a stamp that had the name of a business as well as the address so it had the name ‘Gäddede’ in it.  She used that and then scribbled her signiture over it.  I’m not sure it would be accepted, but since I seriously doubt I can get all of the 24 stamps before the booklet expires in 5 years, I’ll just collect them for my own sake.  So for me, it will work.  Especially since the alternative was to leave with a blank square. 

I guess it really shows how few people bother with the Sverigeleden booklet though.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

There, I knew that I’d enjoy it. Lovely trike, scenery and dog (not necessariy in that order)
Have you spoken to the fellows at ICE about your knee? They do a short crankset that encourages you to spin rather than pressure the cranks. Mike Burrows the recumbent designer is a great advocate and he will machine your own cranks down.

Comment by dexey

Glad you enjoyed it!!

As for cranks, when I ordered my Trice, I had it fitted with the short cranks (155 mm) though the brand of cranks have been discontinued so if another one breaks I will have to get something machined down unless I’m willing to give up my road chainset for mountain.

I’ve had problems with my knees since I was 15. I think the recent problem is I’ve just been sitting a bit different in my seat, or something happened to weaken something in the way of muscles/tendons. I have noticed an improvement since I joined a gym about a month ago which is why I could ride up mountain roads without pain. I can’t use thier stationary recumbent bikes though. The 170 mm cranks just KILL my knees after a few minutes. Hehe.

And just to let you know, I’ll have another ride posted tomorrow sometime.

Comment by terii

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