Terii’s Cycling Babble

Dr. Dolittle Should Have Been There
September 27, 2010, 1:15 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Rain, rain, rain.  When it hasn’t been raining, it’s been misting.  There was one week day evening where the sun came out.  The trike had been left in the car and I went out to help Jens bring it in.  With a sudden burst of inspiration, I decided to take Loke for a quick River Loop!  My husband thought I was kidding at first, but everything I needed was on the trike.  GPS, Loke’s harness and the short lead I use on his head collar.  Don’t really need more than that for 5 miles on a cool day.  Loke would just refuse any water I offered him for such a short run. 

Between my last ride on the 14th and my ride yesterday (26th) that was the only cycling I did except for on the trainer.  I just couldn’t talk myself out the door for such gray, blech days and chilling rains.  I kept watching the forecast and hoping for a sunny day on a weekend so I could actually get pictures in other than murky light.  Yesterday was the day! 

Salsta Slott


It was a bit on the cool side, but sunny and we were on the road a bit after 9 am.  I’d decided to start at a place I’ve been before with the first part of the ride along a stretch I’d done just a couple times before.  To take pity on my husband, it was even in a direction other than toward Enköping!  My starting point was Salsta Slott. 

I LOVE Autumn!!


While I have been here before, I’m fairly certain it was before my blogging days.  Because of that, we got out of the car and wandered around so I could get my photos of the castle and the information signs.  They had English translations.  This means if you click the thumbnail of the castle you will get a LOT of history both of the estate land and the castle itself. 

As we did our walk around, I was struck by one detail of the day.  The wind.  The trees swayed with it and leaves quivered with that soft roaring sound wind makes.  It was definitely going to rank as one of my windiest rides, but I was determined to cover ground all the same. 

Jens was feeling a bit stressed as we started to unload everything so I could get ready.  He loves Formula 1 racing and there was a race scheduled for 2 pm.  He kept asking if I was going to be able to either call him to get me in time we’d be home by 2 pm or if I could stay out until after 4 pm when the race ended.  I assured him it was no problem even if I had to tuck up in the sun around a church or castle to wait.  Unless the day clouded up and turned wet, I was so glad to have sun that the idea of  sitting out in it for a lazy while was no hardship. 

Salsta Outbuilding (The Old Stable Maybe?)


Very soon, I was settling into the seat to wait for my husband to drive off.  Loke stood on his hind legs and doing the husky ‘yodel’ in desperation to run after the car.  I put my foot to pedals and we ripped out the parking lot at almost 17 mph.  Pretty good for flat ground, but the car still vanished in the distance.  Just outside the parking lot, I screeched us to halt.  That earned me a nasty look from the furry one as I dug my camera out to get a picture of a brick building.  Maybe it’s the Gamla Stallet (The Old Stable) mentioned in the information signs for the grounds and castle. 

Camera secured, we charged onward to whip around in a left turn at the end of the drive.  The road was smoother than the gravel of the drive along with a slight downhill slope toward a bridge and Loke picked up speed almost to 18 mph.  Have I mentioned he’s been running very well since his heart check?  I think it helped also to have the wind off to our side and slightly rear rather than dead into it. 

As we came on the bridge, I saw something in the middle of the road.  It was long, sleek shape calmly crossing the road.  Loke saw it and found another burst of speed as his prey drive kicked in.  The little animal saw us coming and moved a bit quicker to the left edge of the bridge.  I was squeezing the brakes to slow us down a bit as we started across.  On the lip of the roadway below the bridge railing, the mink did this little hopping run over the water as if keeping pace with us.  Yes, a MINK.  It was beautiful.  A glossy chocolate-brown coat and lithe grace as it made it to the other side of the river before dropping out of sight.  The entire time, it didn’t seem as if it were terribly concerned though we were less than 4 yards away from it.  I’ve seen minks a couple times since coming to Sweden.  Once at Gysinge, but from quite a distance.  Only a glimpse the second time somewhere I can’t even remember.  This was the first time I’d seen one for so long a time and so close. 

I was so excited I called my husband right away to tell him.  It had been less than 5 minutes since he’d left us, so he answered with an anxious “Are you alright??”  Poor guy. *laugh*  I babbled cheerfully about the mink for a minute or so before we went on our way. 

That was the beginning of the Dr. Dolittle day. 

I let Loke pick the pace as we rode on toward Tensta Kyrka.  I have to admit, I was quite surprised to find Tensta missing from my blog.  I could have sworn I’d stuck it in somewhere though if I’m right about my last rides in this area pre-dating my blogging days, I could be mistaken.  Even with me pedaling a good pace I had to stop after a mile or so to pull out my windbreaker.  That wind I’d mentioned was whipping down from the northeast and brought cold with it.  It rather reminded me of winter’s promise.  Fortunately, most of the way to Tensta was past open fields so there was at least sunlight to temper the chill. 

Autumn Along A Shady Road


As we were reaching Tensta, I spotted a sign for a grave field.  I’d seen it before the two other times I’ve ridden this way though I’d never stopped.  I decided this time I would.  I made the turn onto an unpaved, but otherwise nice road.  It was fairly shady, but I wasn’t cold enough to pull on another layer for my legs.  A bit more than a kilometer down, I saw the sign for the grave field. 

When I spotted the first of the standing stones in the middle of a fenced pasture, I started looking for an entrance.  I found it near a sign for site. 

Alas, walking through the field for a closer look at the stones was not to be.  It was guarded by the most vicious of protectors.  Cows. 

See The Way She's Eyeing Loke??


Okay, okay.  I’ll stop exaggerating.  We all know cows are a lot of things, but ‘vicious’ can rarely be attributed to the average female domestic bovine.  I am rather convinced those two cows with their calves didn’t want Loke in that field.  Mostly, they just stood there.  One as close to the electric fence as she dared with her little black bull calf peeking out behind her.  The other quite neatly blocked the zigzagging entrance made of upright poles. 

There was a small possibility they were only being curious as cows can be, but the one with the black calf did lower her head with a slight tilt at one point as if showing Loke her horns.  I even tried waiting them out, hoping they’d lose interest and go back to their grazing, but they stayed.  Mostly they looked at the furry one and kept drawing deep breaths and gusting it out in that way which is the big animal equivalent of a dog’s sniffing.  Where’s Dr. Dolittle when you need him?  I gave up deciding it wasn’t worth a trampling to go look upright rocks. *grumble* 

5 'Upright' Stones & 1 Rounded


I did manage to get a couple pictures by swapping to the telephoto lens.  It was a bit of a challenge, trying to keep the opening of the camera out of the wind so the sensor wouldn’t get dirty as I made the swap back and forth.  Still, it was the only I got remotely decent picture of some of the stones.  Aren’t telephoto lenses incredible?? 

The field dates from the ‘Older Ironage’ according to the sign.  There was quite a bit of writing, but too many unfamiliar words that don’t seem to be in my little language dictionary for me to translate.  Most of the information seemed to relate to the general countryside rather than this field itself. 

Saying goodbye to the cows, I turned the trike around to go to Tensta. 

Tensta - Upplands Runestone #1035


Back on the paved road, I had a bit of excitement.  As we were creeping up a hill, I heard a deep bark and turned just as a german shepherd rushed forward.  My heart hammered and I managed a burst of speed with the trike even as the dog stopped and just stared.  Maybe there was an invisible fence or something, but the shepherd didn’t come any farther than halfway across the yard.  It still got me moving up that hill to the first runestone at Tensta Kyrka. 

I like Tensta Kyrka for several reasons.  One thing is it has a nice, clean bathroom.  It’s tucked in a small, red and white building to the back between the churchyard and the Tensta socken (parish) museum.  There is also a nice faucet there where I gave Loke a nice long drink which he seemed to appreciate.  Like me, he prefers his water fresh rather than from a plastic bottle. 

Both of us refreshed, I slipped on my sneakers and collected my camera bag. 

I’m growing increasingly fond of that camera bag.  It’s a bit of a struggle to get the camera in and out with it either in the pod bags or attached to the outside, but being able to take the Canon and the telephoto lens is worth it.  It also makes it much easier to leave none of my electronics behind with snug pockets both for my cell and my GPS.  No juggling around with multiple bags.  At least until I actually manage to start touring and bring my laptop. *smirk* 

Tensta Kyrka Bell Tower


As we set out to explore the grounds of Tensta Kyrka, we got a surprise.  I would say I’m uncertain WHO was the more surprised.  Me, Loke or the hare, but given its reaction I have the guess the hare.  We passed a hedge on our way to a steep path leading up to the bell tower when it broke cover.  It dashed about 4 meters across our path and then did this wild sort of twisting leap higher than my waist.  Landing the direction it had come from, it ran back to the hedge.  It didn’t reach the hedge though as it did the same sort of jump as before to run over the path again.  Loke and I both were just too stunned to do more than stare as it proceeded to run in a small circle (no more than two yards across) not once but THREE times, reversed to run it in the other direction.  Only after all that did it streak off across the lawn to squeeze under a fence to a field beyond. 

Tensta - Upplands Runestone #1036


It wasn’t until the hare was out of sight that Loke seemed to shake off his amazement to want to chase it.  Even when it passed less than 3 yards from our feet several times, he didn’t try to lunge at it.  Like me, he only watched it with his head tilted.  I remember thinking at the time, “How on earth did it survive foxes if it does that?”  Given how Loke only watched it as if hypnotized, I guess that could be an answer.  

Though it seems very late in the season for new babies still needing care, I also wondered if it was trying to distract us while its young made an escape.  I know birds do that as well as a few other animals, but I’m not sure if hares are among them.  Since hares have their young out in the relative open unlike rabbits who make burrows, it wouldn’t surprise me if they use the distraction technique. 

The rest of the walk around the Tensta grounds was not as exciting, but pleasant.  I really do like the church’s appearance.  Aside from the church at Gamla Uppsala and the Cathedral in Uppsala, it was the only church I made a point of showing my father when he visited a couple years ago. 

Tensta Kyrka


You can see the shadows of several renovations though I could find no mention in any of the histories I found on the church.  They’re there though.  Mostly around the windows where you can see the outlines of at least two old window lines even around the current ones.  The details around the eaves give it a stronger gothic appearance too, I think. 

The biggest surprise I think, was what I discovered while looking for the history of the church this morning.  From the impressions given by the online photos, the inside is breath-taking!  Polished marble floors and soaring arched vaults.  A huge gilt chandelier hanging in the center.  There’s a raised platform built from the wall almost 6 feet from the floor where I think the priest gives sermon from.  It  is so richly ornamented and gilt that it is perhaps only slightly less elaborate than the one in the cathedral in Uppsala.  Murals seem to cover most of the walls. 

Tensta-Upplands Rune Stone #1034


I often wish I dared to peek at the inside of some of these churches when I find them open.  It just feels too disrespectful for me to go strolling through in my sweaty cycle clothes and ball cap to snap pictures like crazy.  I’m not particularly religious, but I’m considerate of others’ beliefs and try to show the same respect they would to what they hold sacred.  In that light, I don’t go gawking through the country churches like a tourist. 

I took the picture of the rune stone near the church and made a quick circle to check for others.  I offered Loke more water before I packed up, swapped shoes again and jumped on the trike. 

Less than a quarter mile after leaving Tensta, we finally felt the true force of the wind as we had to make a northerly turn.  Admittedly, it wasn’t exactly the full force of it since it was still a little to our right, but it was more than enough for me.  The fields that had been plowed and grew back in with a touch of short green grass were rippling furiously as we passed.  In my usual habit, I was trying to keep Loke on off the road, but he was crowding hard against trike to stay on the road for once.  It took me a bit to realise why he didn’t want to walk on grass and dirt instead of pavement.  It was a the wind.  It was whipping the weeds on the roadside at his face and he wanted to get away from them.  Against my better judgement, I grudgingly allowed it. 

Our next Dr. Dolittle moment didn’t leave Loke standing in confusion.  I had to clench the brakes hard to keep him from dragging us over the snake that slithered across the road.  I’ve seen quite a few snakes while cycling over the years.  Most of the time I only see their tails as they slip into the grass.  There was that one time I chased one off the roadway by waving my foot at it.  This one probably had been basking until we came up on it.  I was surprised to see it out at all as I would have thought it cold enough for it to be hibernating.  It didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry as it crossed the road.  Probably because it was a bit too cold to move quickly. 

Aren't They Cute?


A couple miles more brought us another animal encounter though not wild ones.  As I spotted the bell tower for Viksta Kyrka, I passed a pasture with a pair of Icelandic horses.  Immediately, they came ambling over.  Their stocky bodies already had the shaggy winter coats coming in.  It made them look like the teddy bears of the horse world.  Too cute for words. 

Loke watch them as they tried to anticipate where we’d stop.  They followed along the fence as I parked near the churchyard entrance.  Keeping Loke back from the electric wire, I waited for them.  The darker brown one was quite greedy about getting his forehead scratched.  He leaned into my hand and I could just make out his eyes half closed under the fly mask.  Then the lighter one decided he wanted to petting too.  They got into a bit of a tussle as the beige tried to shove the brown away.  If I hadn’t been holding Loke’s leash, I could have made both of them happy, but with it, I had no hand to spare.  As the brown one flattened his ears and chased off the other at trot, I went into the church yard. 

Viksta Kyrka In Autumn


Where I had spent over half an hour wandering around Tensta’s grounds, I didn’t linger too long at Viksta.  It was a nice enough church of white plaster with inset decorations on the gables.  It just didn’t have much to keep my attention.  Except for the gables, it really wasn’t much different than Börje.  There was only one rune stone.  Much to my irritation, it wasn’t identified.  The only other thing of note was a monument across the street near the parking lot, but it looked recent, not even a century old.  It had a bias relief of a fiddler.  I didn’t even stop to find out more about it or photograph it. 

On a side note, as I just now researched for history of Viksta, I did find information about the runestone there.  Uppland Rune Inscription #1061.  It’s apparently a hoax.  It is too symmetrical and there are a number of fake runes as well.  There was no more information than that. 

Leaving Viksta, it felt like the wind was picking up.  Above and behind my head, the plastic orange warning flag was popping and snapping like a little whip.  After about a mile, it went abruptly silent.  I glanced over my shoulder in time to see that little sheet of orange plastic merrily capering across a field of rich black earth.  All I could do was watch it make its escape.  I felt strangely vulnerable as I rode on with only a thin orange stick humming in the stiff breeze. 

My worry over the flag was soon forgotten, even if only briefly.  Loke and I came past a line of forest to overlook a field.  It had been turned some weeks ago and a thin fur of short grass, spring green, had covered the earth.  Browsing eagerly on that succulent new growth were a pair of deer.  They saw us at the same time Loke saw them.  As he lunged hard to the right with the instinct to chase, they ran. 

And They're Off!


Even when I had my little point and click which was easier to get in and out than the big camera is now, I normally wouldn’t have been tried to race it out against the deer to the tree line.  This time I did.  And I won.  Sort of.  It’s blurry as I was trying to keep them in frame and I couldn’t even take the time to zoom from about 20 mm to 55 mm so they would be clearer.  There was a lot of empty space around them as a result which I cropped away.  But I got ’em! 

The sunshine and all the animals I’d seen was making the ride very enjoyable than it otherwise might have been in those winds.  Loke was running well which also helped though working against that force of nature was slowing me down and wearing me out.  I was having too much fun to want to stop because I was getting a little tired though. 

It was also coming up on the deadline for me to call Jens for pick up and us still make it home for his race.  I decided then I’d rather keep going even if I did give out and have to sit in a parking lot of a church or the castle. 

I was coming up to my next turn when I noticed a large mound to the left.  It was quite distinctive being too regularly shaped to be anything natural without being a cone volcano.  I argued with myself about if I should trouble myself with digging the camera out for what could well be a just a pile of building rubble from the nearby gas station or the road.  I decided against it. 

The Beauty of The Seasons


As I came up to the intersection, I heard a whinny.  About eight horses were turned out to enjoy the sun near a large barn.  One of them was quite excited to see us.  The others only stared or ran for cover as we crept by, but the black one ran back and forth along his section of fence.  Neck arched, he kept calling out and galloping with his tail raised like a banner.  Beautiful. 

Taking a short break at the gas station to give Loke some water, I could just make out a sign with the cultural symbol on one side.  That decided me. 

Ottarshögen (The Ottar's Mound)


The parking for Ottarshögen (The Ottar’s Mound) was woefully inadequate.  I felt uneasy leaving the trike there even after dragging as close to the fence as I could.  Parking a car there, one would have to be careful with getting out of the driver’s side. 

Getting over the stile was a bit tricky for Loke.  The boards were close enough together I had no problem especially in my sneakers.  The width between was just enough it would have trapped a furry white paw if the fuzzy one stepped wrong.  Past that obstical, he was thrilled with the pasture.  Rolling around in the grass, blueberries, and what might have been lingon berries. 

I thought the mound was decently impressive.  Much smaller than the mounds at Gamla Uppsala, it was still interesting to see.  Around one of the sides, you could see the old escavation pit from either 1914 or 1916.  In the field on the other side of the road, I found an old root cellar with the door bricked in.  Such cellars are traditional in Sweden and quite a few of them can date back for centuries.  At least, I think it was a root cellar and not a grave.  I could be wrong as it was sitting in the middle of a barrow field. 

Other bits of random triva, ‘Ottar’ is also Swedish for otter as in the aquatic, furry mammal inhabiting both rivers and sea.  In the movie Beowulf, the first scene with Beowulf is on a ship and he says something about his ‘mother is the sea’.  His friend replies that his mother is a fishwife from Uppland.  I still laugh thinking about that. 

I was glad to get the trike moving again.  I cannot express enough how worried I was coming back from my walk around the grave field to find a pile of twisted metal because a car has hit it.  That vicious, cold wind was right in my face as I pushed on toward the next church.  I gave serious consideration to calling Jens.  It didn’t help my phone appeared to be dying though it had been almost fully charged when I left the apartment.  I pulled over and looked at my maps while I waffled. 

Pppft.  Loke was still running good and I’d been cycling outside so little this year, I’d suck it up!  I gave Jens a quick text that if he couldn’t reach me look for me at the castle or the church at Örbyhus and enjoy the race.  That way, if my battery completely died, he had some idea where to look for me without having to drive most of the route. 

By the time I reached Vendal Kyrka, I almost regretted it.  The wind was wearing me down quick, leaving my thighs and calves beginning to cramp. 

Vendels Kyrka

Vendal Church was impressive in a way.  Maybe it was the pain, but it didn’t really capture my attention the way Tensta does though they have a resemblance to each other.  Vendal is larger.  Though I had the sign with the information written in English, I still did an on-line search for the church.  It appears to be even more beautifully decorated than the inside of Tensta. 

What really interested me more was the mention of the boat burials found in the latter part of the 1800’s when they extended the churchyard.  Of course, I could see no sign of them.  Over the gates in and out of the church yard, were small ‘gate houses’ for lack of a better term.  Usually, such structures are only thick arches, perhaps 3 to 4 feet thick with a shingled peak.  These were deep wide arches with rooms built above them.  The one to the south had a little museum. 

The stairs were very steep and cramped.  It was difficult trying to manage the old wooden doors and convince Loke to shift around enough to get in.  My first impression of the tiny museum room was creepy.  The room was small, not much larger than our bedroom with a floor of time worn planks.  It wasn’t that which bothered me.  What did was a small, rickety dining chair toppled in the center and several strips of slightly crumbled duck tape on the floor.  The American in me seeing sinister things with that.  No blood though.  I shook it off. 

Beyond that strangenss, the room was held only photos and laminated printouts hung over the walls.  Some were diagrams of boat burials, photos more recent restoration projects of the mural inside the church, etc.  I didn’t take any pictures and only gave the rest quick glances.  I really didn’t want to stay in that room with the chair and tape.  Call me paranoid. 

Courier Stone

I felt like I was chewing my way over the distance between Vendel Church and castle.  It was like I was trying to pedal through gel and my legs were really starting to fuss about it.  The road was also a busier than I liked.  When a small parking area for a courier stone offered itself, I gladly took it.  I even managed to walk the short path to the stone.  It didn’t look like much.  Just a big moss covered boulder, the inscriptions lost either to time or under a carpet of growth. 

Örbyhus Slott

Örbyhus Slott.  I was glad to reach it.  It sat on a lake shore at the back of a golf course.  The stables, high on a hill at the edge of the road were a small cafe and the check in point where people pay course fees and the like.  It was so crowded with people are cars I didn’t bother taking a picture of them.  The grounds of the castle itself were nicely empty though.  Best of all?  The public was allowed to go look! 

I was very slow over the drive to the castle itself though.  It was covered with quite a bit of loose gravel and Loke’s feet were starting to get a bit tender.  Going fast over big stones was not what he needed.  It was worth the trip.  The castle was much like Steninge if I’m getting the right name to the castle I’m thinking of, though it was larger.  Steninge had more decorative touches though, like the statuary in alcoves just below the eaves and such. 

Serene Even In The Wind

It was tempting to rest there for Jens to find me.  The castle was pretty and there was a hedge lined path leading down to the lake edge with a trimmed lawn.  I could have tossed my sheep skin down and stretched out.  There were trees with turning leaves and a pair of swans bobbing along on the wind rippled water.  So very, very tempting with aching thighs and a wind-burned face. 

I talked myself out of it.  Cars weren’t allowed in the area I was in which would have made it hard for my husband to find me.  Sitting in the parking lot of the stable-turned-office-cafe wasn’t terribly appealing either.  Sighing, I again sucked it up and decided to push on for the church in the actual town/village of Örbyhus. 

It was painful.  Busy with cars all over the place and the shoulder covered with big stones so every time I pushed Loke off the road, he was limping.  Throw in muscles that had gone from fussing and aching to screaming with every push and pull of the pedals.  Getting to Örbyhus didn’t really improve how things would have been at the castle stables.  The way to the church was up a very steep hill and I couldn’t see any indication that I’d find something other than a modern building.  Wincing, I turned my way back to the grocery store I’d come in on.  There was a wide swathe of grass between the parking lot and the road with a row of trees.  I pulled off there and tethered Loke free of harness and head collar to wait for Jens. 

It was about a 40 minute wait.  Wind and screaming thighs or not, I really had enjoyed it.  Loke was pooped, I got to see a lot and the animals were great.  I was still so happy to get home to a hot bath for my legs and to chase off the chill.

And The Word Of The Day Was….
September 15, 2010, 8:22 am
Filed under: Day Rides


It was the pretty sunshine that decided me to go out the door.  It demanded I try finding those rock etchings.  I mentioned it to my husband who was working from home who immediately told me to get my stuff together.  We were barely 10 miles out of Uppsala when I noticed the high thin clouds that looked a bit thicker further west.  *sigh*  A sunny ride was not meant to be. 

Böglosa Kyrka


About an hour later, we were Boglösa Kyrka under light gray skies.  My minor annoyance at having lost the sunny skies deepened into irritation when I realized I’d forgotten my Garmin GPS at home.  Jens hates it when I forgot things like that generally because it means I might not want to go.  This time, he insisted I go any way.  I had my printed maps.  I had the map book.  Worst case, I just follow the signs to Enköping.  Grudgingly, I agreed.  Besides, Loke seemed VERY excited.  He was tethered to what I think was a modern hitching post, twisting in circles as he woofed at me while I got the trike ready. 

And yep, he was really eager to go.  We blasted out of Boglösa’s parking lot at what felt like warp speed.  He had the tether on his running bar pulled out as hard as he could.  Unfortunately, I had to slow him about 150 yards down the road to make a turn onto gravel which I thought would lead me to the first set of the carvings.  Being without my GPS left me uncertain and the crude sign was not terribly helpful.  I couldn’t tell if I really was on a road or a driveway leading down into a working farmyard.  With a tractor chugging around, I was a bit reluctant to push deeper into the tangle of barns and work buildings. 

Growling under my breath, I turned back around for the paved road. 

Again Loke pulled out all the stops.  I’m guessing he was easily hitting 16 mph though I wouldn’t be surprised if he was running closer to or over 17 mph.  You should have seen the look he gave me when I pulled us to a stop less than half a mile further on for the next carving marker.  Alas, that one wasn’t to be either.  It was a hiking path though Google Maps showed it as a short deadend road.  The way up to it was very steep and strewn with gravel.  No way I could pedal my trike up it and not entirely certain I could drag it up either.  Beyond, the 800 meter long path was only about 2 feet wide with dense growth to either side.  I wasn’t about to leave my trike sitting on the widened section of shoulder that served as the parking lot. 

I was growling under my breath as I skidded down the slope back to my trike and the road.  I seemed to do a lot of that this ride. 

The next carving area did little to improve my mood.  It was a pretty area at least.  Pasture land that had been left to nature.  Only the coming and going of the cows to disturb it.  No plowing, no planting.  Not even cutting the trees or carrying away the old fallen ones.  It is essentially used the same way today as it was thousands of years ago.  It’s a national park and had a little pamphlet with a small map on the back marking the spots of interest with that pointy “R” symbol. 

Loke seemed to object to this stop less than the other ones.  He got to trot around and sniff, wallow around in the deep grass as I looked over every stone surface I thought was big enough to hold a carving.  The map wasn’t terribly helpful as I found it very difficult to orient myself.  I couldn’t make out the directions of the fence line very well without the sun (or my GPS).  No matter where I looked, there was nothing but slabs of stone covered with moss and lichen or erratic boulders cluttered around.  After taking a closer look at the map, I noticed it showed a power line running through the pasture and two marks near it.  I still couldn’t find a thing. 

It finally occurred to me why I might not be seeing what were supposed be almost a dozen carvings scattered in the field.  I wasn’t a trained archeologist who could spot the least little ancient scuff on a mottled rock and clearly see the highly stylized boat, foot, woman or animal shape.  If the marks were highlighted as they do with runestones, I probably had looked over dozens of the carvings and never knew it.  If they weren’t under a thick mat of moss. 

I’d spent probably close to 45 minutes in the field.  Loke actually seemed to enjoy it.  He ran around like a mad dog, sniffed, pounced.  At one point, he had flung himself down onto his back and was wriggling along.  He as actually creeping up a slight hill with a weird inverted worm like motion.  That brightened my mood for a bit.  I was laughing so hard. 

After a fruitless field wander, Loke and I were back on the roads.  Again, it wasn’t too long before it was another stop.  This one definitely improved my mood.  Stone carvings.  It was a large dome of rock just covered with extremely stylized etchings that had been carefully highlighted with paint and signs (in Swedish AND English) to explain what one was seeing.  It really drove home WHY I’d not seen any in the field.  I seriously doubt I’d spotted any in the field even if someone grabbed my head, pointed me at a stone with one and said, ‘Right THERE’. 

Foot Prints & Cup Marks... I Think.


Here, it was mostly ships, foot prints and what were called ‘cup marks’.  These are mostly the footprints.  To quote the sign, “There are a large number of footprints, both traces of naked feet and shoes on this rock.  All of them are turned downhill with toes pointing towards the foot of the hill.  Older reasearch interpreted the footprints as a symbol of a god not to be depicted.  The footprints symbolized the divine presence of the god.  Other reasearch believes the prints could be an indication of human presence.  That humans and gods are strolling side by side on the rock.” 

Ships and Cup Mark


Here are 3 ships and a cup mark.  Quoting the sign – “Ship carvings appear in vast amounts.  They are often simple with strokes representing the crew.  Masts and sails are missing.  The Bronze Age ships were not sail ships, but were paddled.  The carved ship is not necessarily to be seen as a depiction of a real ship from the Bronze Age.  There were probably other symbolic values connected to the ship image.  There is a possibility it could transport people and objects, not only in geographic distances, but also in spiritual. 

Feet, Cupmarks & Ships


To travel by ship into the next world is a common belief in many religions, for instance in the Greek and Egyptian mythology. 

Cupmarks were small round depressions which purpose is obscured.  The cupmark may represent a kind of territory marking, a way for the people set the boundaries of the hill and indicate their presence.” 

The Bodice


This is called ‘The Bodice’.  Quoting the sign – “This site is known mostly because of the bodice figure.  It is deeply cut and has probably been engraved and grinded over and over again, on several different occasions.  The bodice is placed over five female figures, the only known among the rock carvings in Uppland. 

It is mentioned as a ‘chair’ in older literature but nowadays we rather think of it as a bodice.  The measures and cuts are very similar to findings of clothing in Danish Bronze Age burials.  The bodice was a garment included in the Bronze Age man’s wardrobe.” 

I was glad to find this site and it really did convince me I’d been surrounded by rock carvings in that pasture, but simply couldn’t see them.  Take the five female figures mentioned in the bodice sign.  I couldn’t see a single one of them.  I’m sure if I’d spotted the bodice in the field I would have seen it.  It was the only one to be deeply carved enough to be obvious. 

Wolf or Dog With Other Shapes


I wandered around on the bridge and tried looking for more carvings since some of them were quite faded, but all the ones I did spot had at least a trace of paint however old.  I was very pleased to have found an animal carving too!  There was no mention of it in the signs, but it looks like animal to me.  Maybe a wolf or a dog.  It’s to the right of the image around the midline. 

According to another sign, this was a very different landscape 3000+ years ago.  Sweden has been rising steadily since the retreat of the last ice age.  Pressed down by the sheer weight of the glaciers covering it, some parts of it are still rising at almost an inch a year.  So, when these carvings were done, it might have been possible to paddle a ship right up to the hills that have the rock carvings. 

Another example of the land rise, is back in the 1400’s, Uppsala had a direct connection to the Baltic sea.  Now, except for one small river which can get you to one of the larger lakes and THEN to the Baltic through Stockholm, it’s landlocked. 

It was interesting to try to imagine much of the road I was traveling as being underwater.  The area had apparently been a very busy area for Bronze Age man in a spiritual sense.  Another sign I’d found along the road mentioned there were over 1600 carvings in the area.  They had been VERY busy! 

I was feeling better about the day once I’d found some visible rock carvings.  There was one other turn with carvings, but I missed it.  The only place that MIGHT have been the turn seemed to be someone’s driveway.  Without the GPS to compare it to the maps, I wasn’t willing to risk intruding.  One thing I could tell without a GPS.  The wind was rising fast and hard.  The steady flow was likely over 15 mph with gusts pushing into 20.  Not the worst winds I’ve ridden in.  I think my 40+ mile ride from Sala to Forsby along the Sverigeleden last year still holds that title.  All the same, I was working harder. 

Random Autumn Colors


Loke and I went on unhindered any longer by the frequent stops in my search for rockcarvings.  I have to say, he was running d*mn good!  Granted, we’d done a lot of stopping in the first 2 miles which meant he had long breaks between the short, mad charges, but the next 4 miles or so, he was running almost the whole way.  Hills slowed me (and therefore him) down, but there weren’t that many.  So, he spent a long while loping along at 13 mph and going for flat-out runs at what felt like 16 mph for stretches I’m estimating were over a quarter-mile at a time.  I can’t remember the last time he ran so well!!  I was also a bit impressed with myself.  I was managing to keep up the pace so he wasn’t dragging me in spite of the wind. 

We made a turn onto a slightly bigger road that was leading directly into Enköping.  Unfortunately, to continue the way I wanted to go meant going into the town itself.  Since I had been riding on a peninsula for the past few rides and was starting to come out of it, it meant riding around an inlet of the lake.  Enköping sat right at the top of it.  Of course, towns generally mean cycle paths and Enköping was no exception. 

Random bit of information, Copenhagen (I think it was.  Or maybe Amsterdam?) is apparently building 6 (yes SIX) lane cycle paths.  Not Sweden, but impressive all the same. *chuckle* 

Though the road I was on wasn’t a major one, it was one of the most direct ones into Enköping without hitting the highway and Enköping is the closest place for people to work or shop who live in the more rural areas.  I was very glad to get to the area with the paths. 

As I pedaled along, relying on my printed maps and the desperate hope that maybe streets would be well-marked (usually a vain hope), a guy on a bike passed me with some smallish bird-hunting type dog.  Loke saw him and threw his weight into the harness to catch up.  I had to hold him back as the guy continued along, his dog glancing back at Loke worriedly.  The furry one was pulling so hard against the brakes he could barely breathe.  Goof ball. 

I finally took pity on him and crossed the road since the direction I wanted was on that side any way. 

I got a bit lost in Enköping’s industrial area for a bit before I finally found the way I needed.  Not far that way, I found a sign for a cycle path labeled ‘Haga’.  Perfect!!  Haga was the next stop on my map.  A castle or manor house! 

The path was unpaved, but not too bad.  Even the worst unpaved cycle paths I’ve found are never as bad as moderately bad gravel roads let alone the truly awful ones.  So, it was pleasant going though I was a little nervous as the direction.  There had been a couple turns since I’d seen the sign with no other ones to give a hint.  Still, since the direction I needed was away from Enköping and flanked by a small river on one side and the 55 road on the other, I was fairly certain I couldn’t go wrong.  It would have helped if the sun had been out to give me a clearer sense of direction. 

Worthy of Vermont


It was a pleasant ride.  As it went mostly through woods it was more protected from winds than the roads had been.  Here and there were splashes of color though not as much as I might have liked since it was mainly conifers and birch trees.  Birch trees do change, but their long, hanging branches only go yellow.  It sometimes makes the trees look like they got highlights put in. *chuckle* 

Loke was still going along like a well-oiled machine.  Since we’d hit Enköping, he’d finally let go of the need to run like the wind and settled into his ‘traveling trot’.  Easily over 8.5 mph as he still hovered on the edge of easing into a slow lope and he was quite happy to run down any little hill we came across.   Occasionally, we’d get a break in the trees where there were fields or even small residential areas being built.  Amazingly, the houses they were building had a wide range of variety to them.  Not your usual ‘cookie cutter’ type clusters. 

The cycle path ended at a dirt road.  To the left was a house and a wooden fence in old Swedish tradition as well as a sign saying ‘So and so lives here and (a dog’s name) too!”  To the right, it led down toward a line of trees. 

The trees actually shaded a narrow lane.  Glancing to the left, I could see the brick gate posts for Haga Slott. 

Haga Slott


I was a bit hesitant to go in at first.  There have just been too many castles/manor houses with privacy signs this year.  Rather quickly I realized this one was actually a hotel.  There was parking for guests and a large welcome sign as well cafe style chairs and tables set out over the lawn under the shade of the old trees. 

I took pictures, gave Loke some water before going on.  The next stretch was more unpaved, but it was a decent road.  A bit more rocks down then center than I like, but for Loke’s sake, I bumped along to ease his feet.  Even by this point, he was still moving very well. 

Then we came to the 55.  It was worse than expected.  I think the problem was the fact it is a fairly major road between the north side of Lake Mälaren and the south with two moderate sized towns between as well as perhaps the shortest way to Stockholm.  Coming up on nearly 4 pm, people were probably already starting commutes.  I’d used Google Street View to look at it and it hadn’t looked too bad with decent shoulders. 

Well, the shoulders were narrower than they had appeared and the traffic was fairly bad.  Not quite as bad as the 77 when I rode down it to reach the turn for Mörby castle ruins, but bad enough.  No rude drivers at least.  The trucks were the worst.  Huge semi trucks that whipped by fast enough to shove Loke and I around with the wind blast.  The sky was darkening with the thickening of the cloud cover and the traffic quickly getting worse.  I gritted my teeth to head for Svinnegarn Kyrka. 

It was only about 1.5 miles down the road from the turn and few hills so it wasn’t too long.  I would have been faster except I was half off the shoulder and bumping through the rocks.  With the big stones everywhere, I went a bit slower to hopefully keep Loke from getting stone bruises.  It was downright unpleasant and I was incredibly glad to see the church. 

Jens had called while I sat at a bus stop waiting for a thick clump of a dozen or so cars and four trucks to pass.  I told him where he could find me. 

Svinnegarn Kyrka


Svinnegarn Kyrka was a bit unusual looking.  From the angle I could see it was a long, tall rectangle with a squat wooden tower on top.  The parking lot was blissfully smooth, shaded by dense trees and far enough back from the road I felt safe from the traffic. 

Before I collected the camera bag, I swapped to my sneakers and took the harness off Loke.  He looked rather disappointed as I stuffed it in one of the panniers.  I gave him a pat and we walked into the church yard. 

Uppland's Runestone 773


The first thing I noticed was a runestone.  The first (and only) one of the day!  It was a rather simple looking one.  I guess I’ve gotten used to more elaborate ones, but this one was almost as simple as the one sitting in the churchyard wall at Börje.  Almost, but not quite. 

I did a slow wander around the church, keeping Loke away from the grave stones.  He still seemed to have plenty of energy.  I didn’t find any more runestones either standing alone or imbedded in the church or churchyard wall. 

The straight lines of the church were broken only by one addition that stuck from the back end on the left, but it looked like it could have been built when the rest of the longhouse section was. 

Door to a Coal Chute?


At the rear, I found another of those innocuous little dark wooden doors with latches and hinges of iron.  As before I opened this one too since it wasn’t locked. 

The opening was covered with two layers of  rusty iron grating and sloped sharply down into what must have been a cellar in the church.  There was a possible mention of crypts in the information I found, so I suppose it could be a window into that the same way Lilakyrka church had the openings into what appeared to be a mausoleum.  With nothing more to see than the plaster and stone ‘tube’ dropping down, I closed it. 

Loke was sighing a bit as we finished the stroll around the church.  I was clear that however far we’d gone was not enough to satisfy him.  But as it was close to 4 pm and the traffic on the road was worse than ever, I wasn’t about to call Jens and tell him we were further down the road. 

Beautiful Entryway


Before I left the church, the entrance caught my eye.  I guess before, I’d been too focused on the runestone. 

The bricks were rounded in a reducing pointed arch.  It was rather beautiful and certainly distinctive.  When I took the picture, something about the door itself caught my eye and I went for a closer look. 

At first glance, I thought it had been burned.  When wood burns, it gets a strange scaly pattern to it, like the scales of an alligator (where it gets the name).  It looked like there were spots like that on the wood.  Curious, I touched it and then took a closer look.  The door was iron!  I don’t know if it was full iron or just iron sheets laid in an overlap and held on with large rivets, but the face at least was iron.  It was also at least 10 to 12 feet tall, I should also mention.  That line of bare stonework beneath the plaster was almost to my shoulder to give a bit more scale.  I’m 5’2″. 

I also liked the ornamentation on the door.  They reminded me of the metal cup shaped pieces that are sometimes place in the center of old wooden round shields. 

Done with photos, I tethered Loke to a near-by tree and began organizing things with the trike for breaking it down.  I was going to leave the seat on as a chair until Jens came, but there were other things I could settle and put away.  I happened to look up over the fields across the street and sighed.  Rain.  I could see it from the trees in the distance becoming more and more hazy.  

I felt the first drop, there was my husband.  Before the rain was hard enough to get through dense leaves overhead, we were packed and on our way. 

In his usually thoughtful manner, Jens had remembered to bring my GPS and we drove my route in reverse so I would have at least a rough estimate of my distance and a log of it on my computer.  When it was done, it showed 11.02 miles.  I probably did closer to 13 miles with the out-n-backs to reach some of the stone carving areas not to mention getting lost in Enköping. 

So, in spite of the huge amount of frustration I felt at several moments during the ride, it wasn’t truly a bad day.  I got excercise.  Though not nearly as much as he wanted, Loke got a bit of work out as well.  It had taken us over 4 hours to cover the distance, but more than an hour and a half of that was spent walking around in search of the carvings and I did a lot of stopping and map reading when I was lost. 

Best of all?  We avoided the rain!

Began Where I Ended
September 12, 2010, 8:25 am
Filed under: Day Rides

I guess it was a near thing whether or not I cycled yesterday.  I woke up to a morning that was dull, leaden and damp.  There were a couple things in its favor though.  The first was that I’d been looking forward to continuing the route just south of Enköping.  The other was my eagerness to see how well the new camera bag worked with my cycling.  Throw in that my husband was pushing a bit and while not warm, it wasn’t cold either, I decided to go. 

Veckholm Kyrka


Of course, Jens generally is eager for me to ride because he knows it works the dog better than an hour’s walk ever could.  In short order, I had everything aired up, printed and packed and out the door we went.  The rain was the misty spitting sort that came and went as we drove toward the church my husband had picked me up from last weekend. 

Loke was excited as Jens walked with him around the church parking lot a bit.  My husband also pointed out the runestone near the bell tower which got me grumbling about the lack of signs for both of them in the church.  Within a few minutes as the light misty rain began blowing in on a light breeze, I was ready to go. 

Loke was hopping kangaroo like as Jens headed for home to do a few errands.  He always wants to run after the car.  It took a few moments to get him to realise ‘No, we go THIS way.’  After that, he was off like a shot as we zipped down a slight hill to whip around a left hand turn less than 100 yards away. 

Rainbow Tree


With the light spits of rain, my husband had been a bit worried that I’d call for a pickup even before he made it back to Uppsala.  I was fairly certain I wouldn’t do that.  Granted, the car dash info had said the ambient air temp was 55 F, but it felt warmer and the ‘rain’ was more like a heavy mist or a very light drizzle.  It dampened my face as I went and made little spots on my contacts so I blinked a lot, but it wasn’t enough to get through even my light cycle clothes.  I’d also made sure to pack thermals and my yellow cycle jacket.  Worse case, if it did start raining more heavily and I was worried about getting chilled, I had the umbrella to hunch under to wait for it to pass. 

But all it did was mist and I happily went on.  Loke was running strong and scenery was beautiful with surprise splashes of intense color in the trees.  There is a lot more color this autumn than there was the past 2 or 3 years.  It’s not like the images you see of Vermont or New Hampshire, but at least it’s more than the trees maybe getting a bit yellow before the leaves leap from the branches! 

It was really good to see Loke running with his old fire.  It might not have had the blazing speed when he was two or three, but he was eager and quite happy to run along at 16 mph for stretches of a quarter mile or so when the hills weren’t slowing us down.  A wonderful change to be working to keep up with him instead of feeling like I’m dragging him. 

Torsvi Kyrka


At the pace we were setting, very quickly we came into the first church of the day less than 4 miles away. 

Torsvi Bell Tower & Trike


I was surprised!  It reminded me a lot of Jumkill with its unplastered field stone walls.  Jumkill is smaller and the stone darker, but this one was a close second to becoming a new favorite of small country churches.  It had its own little quirks too.  The roof was steeply pitched.  More than any other church I can remember seeing.  Also, one of the windows had been bricked over. 

I don’t mean as in ‘filled in’ like the shadows of windows you can see on many churches I’ve found.  The window was still there with two different layers.  The outer layer was probably newer with clear glass and wooden panes.  I would guess it was installed to protect the glass beneath which looked much older.  A softly rippled surface and traces of old paint gave it the impression of being leaded stained glass.  But about 6 inches inside that old painted glass was a brick.  I don’t know why it tickled me so much.  I think it was because it was an active attempt to preserve some older character of the church while refitting it to their needs.  The brick still looked very old.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out it dates from the 1800’s or earlier. 

Random Scenery


A few yards back down the road in a field surrounded by an old dry stone wall, I saw a large stone.  It didn’t look like a boulder deposited naturally.  I took the camera and wandered for a closer look, but I couldn’t tell if it was a runestone or not.  I debated walking out, but a quick glance at the thick growth changed my mind.  When I do things like that, I often wonder if I’ll be able to camp!  Can’t even walk through waist high weeds without being paranoid of ticks. *eye roll* 

To my credit, I did dig out the telephoto lens for a closer look, but I saw nothing on the stone and there was no information sign to be seen.  I think if I’d spotted a sign, I’d have gone.  Walking out and finding just a rock would have irritated me to no end.  Almost as much as walking out and finding another mystery runestone.  Just seemed better to let it go. 

Most of the way to Torvi Kyrka had been uphill and being an ‘out and back’ to collect the church, it meant an easy ride back to the road I needed to continue.  Loke still had plenty of zip as we rushed down the hills past old farm steads and curious cows who stared at us with hay dangling out of their mouths.  The misty drizzle had stopped making the day a bit more pleasant. 

I discovered one thing.  When I’m out with Loke and someone passes me while we’re gliding down a hill, I get a little twinge of guilt.  The idea that it looks like there I am in my arm chair with pedals and making Loke pull the weight.  Silly I know. 



As we went on rounding curves and climbing or coasting down hills, something pulled me to a stop.  At first I thought I was looking at a sheep hugely over burdened with wool because what I really was seeing was completely unexpected.  A pig.  A HUGE sow ambling around a field of green growth grazing like a sheep would.  Not the biggest pig I’ve seen but big enough. 

The largest was a young boar our wildlife clinic had rescued as a feral piglet.  He’d been so cute and only about 8 inches tall when he was brought in to us.  Three years later, the farmer we’d found to adopt him invited us out to see him.  There he was, fat and happy and almost as tall as my waist. 

I was a little worried as I eyed that sow.  She seemed to be just wandering the field with nothing to keep her back.  She didn’t seem like she was going to take offense at my being there, but the last thing I wanted was to have to drag Loke along to out run her.  I looked closer and saw that almost hidden by the slight bankment between pig and road was a stretch of wire about a foot off the ground.  Electric fencing. 

I relaxed at that point.  As I dug out my camera to take a picture of this unexpected sight, I saw a couple of other sows doing the same as the one close to me and further back a temporary looking shelter of translucent plastic, metal tubing and tin sheets.  In front of it were dozens of more pigs.  I’d come across a whole pig farm!  Surprisingly, there was none of the nauseating reek remembered from my other near brushes with pig farms. 

Loke was fascinated as he sat down while I took my pictures.  He wasn’t entirely certain he wanted to chase it like he does with sheep, hares, cats and goats, but he definitely was curious.  As I put the camera away which takes a fair amount of wrestling with the new camera bag, a tractor pulled onto the road from further down the pig farm.  I offered Loke some water as it slowly moved down the road. 

Much to my surprise the farmer stopped and opened the cab door of his tractor.  He was a pleasant looking man in his 60’s with a bright smile, gray hair streaked with white and blue eyes.  Over the racket of his machine’s engine, he asked if everything was alright.  I told him yes and held up the water bottle and Loke’s drinking bowl.  He gave my trike a curious looked and asked a few questions about it and complimented Loke before wishing me a good journey.  With a cheerful wave, he chugged on down the road dragging a huge trailer behind him. 

It was the first time someone in a tractor has done more than waved or nodded in passing.  Made me feel a warm and fuzzy toward humankind. 

As we continued on along the road fronting the pig farm, the pigs got younger and smaller.  From the gigantic sows, down to younger ones who were more active as tall as my mid-thigh, then just above my knee.  Finally we came to the recently weaned piglets were slightly less than knee high.  Now, those really had Loke’s attention.  As we came around the curve to their bit of fenced pasture, they did what piglets do with anything strange.  They ran like mad, squealing at the top of their little voices.  Prey drive triggered, Loke pulled so hard against the harness he was kangaroo hopping.  I pushed against his shoulder so he didn’t end up in my lap since the piglets were on the left.  Pushing hard on the pedals, I told Loke ‘On by!’ and made use of his pulling. 

A Carved Stone But No Runes


Loke generally runs hard for a bit even once the ‘prey’ is out of sight, but I pulled hard on the brakes less than 100 yards after we’d passed the end of the piglet field.  A runestone!  With a sign! 

I dug my camera out and trotted across the road for a look.  As I took my pictures and Loke wallowed, I quickly discovered it was, in fact, not a rune stone.  Or rather, I at first thought it had been damaged so the runes around the outside of the very stylized image of a four-footed animal, but when I looked at the sign to take a picture of it for later full translation, it said there were NO runes. 

When I read that, the first thing that popped into my head was, “I wonder if this is the third stone of Gute’s monument from my last ride?!”  On my last ride, I found two stones side by side dedicated to a dead father by two of his sons.  That sign had mentioned a missing third stone of the memorial which had borne no runes but had been engraved with a stylized four-footed beast.  Hmmm.  Possibly?  This stone was quite a few miles away though and it seems that whatever department or organization keeps track of these would have made the connection… right?  Or could it have taken a plump, trike-riding American woman who can only passingly read Swedish to solve the mystery?  That idea makes me laugh. 

Loke still had plenty of energy to be impatient as he waited for me to wrestle the camera back away.  Admittedly, it does feel somewhat like a chore to use the new camera bag.  Especially trying to wrestle it into my black pod bags which keep things in easy reach by my seat.  Getting the camera out was much quicker when I was just keeping it in a plastic shopping bag for extra weather protection, but I always felt like I was going to grab the bag wrong to have it fall to the pavement. 

Still, in spite of the effort, I do think it is worth it.  The camera is MUCH better protected.  It would certainly survive a 12 inch drop in the nice new case we got for it.  The case can also hold my cell phone and outer pocket I can quickly shove my GPS into.  All I have to do when I move away from the trike is grab the camera bag and all my electronics come with me without needing to dig around in 3 different places.  Best still?  I can bring the telephoto lens!! 

Kungs-Husby Windmill


Probably less than 200 yards beyond the runestone as we passed by a tree-line to look out across a field, I stopped again to wrestle the camera back out.  Loke gave a suffering sigh and me an annoyed look.  In the distance over another line of trees was the top of a windmill.  The standard lens for the camera only goes to 55 mm and it left the windmill as a tiny speck so I decided to give the longer lens a try. 

I felt a bit nervous juggling everything in my lap as I made the swap, but I was delighted with the results.  I am definitely getting spoiled with the versatility of the camera over my old point-n-click!  Unfortunately, the camera bag isn’t quite big enough to hold the camera with the long lens on it.  The telephoto fits into its spot in the bag as perfectly as a hand into a properly tailored glove.  So, when I use the telephoto, I have to swap back to the standard before putting everything away. 

I don’t really want a larger bag though.  We have a very nice backpack which holds the camera and the extra lens as well as charger for the batteries and pockets for a couple other things.  I was quite unwilling to take it though as there’s no way to easily mount it to my red panniers bags and carrying it in my trailer if I were touring?  The thing would take half the space I need for paltry things like say a tent, food and sleeping bag! 

This bag is small enough I can easily grab it.  It holds the telephoto lens.  Space enough for an extra battery or three and memory cards as well as phone, GPS, and ID.  It has straps on the back as well as D-rings so I can in theory mount it to the outside of my pannier bags by the D-rings it has.  Problems solved! 

Kung-Husby Kyrka


Poor Loke just was not getting a break on this stretch of the ride.  Less than 4 minutes after taking the pictures of the mill and putting the camera away, we came upon Kungs-Husby Kyrka. 

Kung-Husby Kyrka Runestone


I parked the trike and went for my usual circle around the church and found a runestone set into the plastered wall of the porch.  Loke was making it difficult to use the camera.  He still had a lot of energy left and, as always, he wanted to mark every stone and tree as his.  I was keeping him short since it just feels rude to let him do so.  I was half tempted to go tie him to the sign next to the big hollow tree.  But once I had the picture of the stone and did a quick sweep for others, I was done. 

As seems annoying common for the area to the southeast of Enköping, there was no information about the stone.  *grumble*  No information about the church on-line either.  Kung-husby just seems to be a void of non-information. 

Even though it was less than 15 minutes since Loke had water when I first spotted that big sow at the pig farm, I relaxed there for a few minutes.  I offered him more water and settled back in my seat to eat a granola bar.  As I nibbled and ignored the drooling husky next to me (who can’t eat wheat which was in the granola bar), I debated what I wanted to do next.  Yes, I had a planned route, but if I diverted from it for a bit to do an out-and-back which would bring me right back past Kungs-Husby, I could get a castle and maybe a runestone. 

I quickly discarded the idea though.  The main reason was the extra distance.  If it had been say just 5 miles to the castle, I would have been willing to take the idea a bit more seriously.  5 there, 5 back.  It would be a couple of hours, but hey!  No real big deal.  Throw in that it really wasn’t terribly impressive as castles (or even manor houses) go and I remembered the roads were pretty bad from the time we drove there a few weeks ago.  I was even less thrilled with the idea.  The death blow to the brief two or three minutes I contemplated the extra distance was the fact I honestly didn’t remember exactly where that runestone was. 

Grönsö Slott


The whole peninsula was covered in a webwork of small country roads and it could have been any one of the others which we had driven over, but I’d missed with my trike that had the stone.  It wasn’t worth it to use the rest of my ride time to bump and rattle my way out to an unimpressive looking manor house with nothing else along the way except the long shot of a runestone.  The other way had much better chances of runestones and several more churches as well.  But since I was in the general region and I can’t see EVER willingly clattering along 20 miles of an out-and-back just for a plaster and stone box with bunches of windows (though the grounds were pretty nice, but not as much as Wikk’s), here’s the picture. 

I was going to insert the runestone here as well, but as I was translating the sign for the description for the thumbnail, I discovered, I’d probably ridden within a half mile or less of the stone!  It was somewhere near a church a little further on, so I’ll put it around there.  Guess, it’s a VERY good thing I didn’t head for Grönsö Slott!! 

When I was finished with my ‘lunch’, I went to put my feet in the pedals only to discover my cleats were so choked with wet dirt I had to use the water bottle to rinse them clear.  The grass in the church yard had apparently been very damp and the dirt under the trees was more like dust as well as dry.  I resolved to change to my sneakers next time. 

Loke and I took off, but very quickly ended up turning back around.  Less than 100 yards from Kungs-Husby church, I adjusted my hat and realized… I had no helmet.  Rolling my eyes and muttering about my scatterbrained nature, I turned around to fetch it off the ground where I’d left it.  Grumbling to myself, I stuck it on my head and we left Kungs-Husby again. 

Random Picture


Around the twelfth mile, Loke was still running pretty good.  Our cruising speed was 8.3 mph with short stretches where the furry one was pulling us into 13 mph lopes.  It was fast enough that my legs were working at a steady pace and it felt good to get the exercise.  Down hills, he was still willing to go even faster, but the random moments when he had me pushing the trike up to 16 mph for a quarter mile or more weren’t happening so much.  That was fine.  Our hourly average was still only around 5 mph.  Of course, that was mostly because of the time I was taking to stroll around church yards to find runestones.  The Canon camera being pulled in and out of the side pod bags AND it’s snug case also took extra time. 

One reason Loke might have been willing to move at such a brisk pace is we had made a turn from the tiny country roads onto a slightly larger country road.  During the first 10-12 miles, I doubt we’d seen more than 8 cars.  During the two miles or so from the turn from the road with Kungs-Husby church and the next church, I’d been passed by over 20. 

Lilkyrka Kyrka


Lilkyrka was actually a proper village.  Complete with sport fields, clusters of residential streets and a school.  The church was the first building of the village I saw as I came down the road.  It was pretty little church.  There were to be extra sections built onto the back.  One of them had its own iron door, painted black against the weather.  A handle in the center was also made of iron and shaped into a flower.  More black painted metal flowers adorned the corners.  I had the impression it was a small mausoleum.  Around the side of the addition, I found a tiny door. 

Only about 10 inches across, it wasn’t locked.  Just rough, dark old wood latched with dark, lightly rusted iron.  Curious, I actually opened it.  There was a small window crossed by four bars, two horizontal and two vertical.  There wasn’t anything to be seen inside as it was pitch dark with a slightly musty smell of damp soil.  I suppose I could have been nosey enough to have used the flash to take a picture of the inside to see if there was anything.  Instead I just closed the door and went on my way. 

Down the road just past the church, I spotted a sign indicating something potentially interesting to see.  There are two kinds of signs that can catch my attention.  One looks like a pointy ‘R’ that usually indicates runestones.  There’s another which looks like a square with the corners twisted into loops.  Those can mean almost anything.  Grave fields, grave mounds, castles, manors, runestones, archaeological sites.  Whatever you find there can date from the stone age all the way to the early 1900’s. 

The road took me down toward a school area and then off to the side where I found a shelter, two picnic tables underneath it with a sign.  It turned out to be both an exercise path with the cultural path that ran along, across and away from the main path.  It was just covered with all sorts of grave markers, little stone circles, a stone outline of a boat and on and on.  Some 20 or more different things to see along a 2 mile or so path.  That definitely had my interest.  With the path I could see wide and smooth with soft gravel that would be kind to Loke’s feet, I took off. 

Alas, it wasn’t to be.  Down a short hill around a curve, it turned into a grassy trail.  I decided I’d rather come there with Jens and we could walk.  Sighing, I pedaled back to the main road. 

Though it actually WAS a proper village, it was still quite a small one and on my trike without stops probably would have taken me less than 10 min to ride into and out of.  The new road was thankfully as small as most of the others I’d already ridden through the day.  That meant less traffic!  Villages are nice, but I really enjoy the countryside. 

Interesting Old Barns


The ground was slightly rolling as I went along, slowly climbing hills and zipping down the other sides at respectable pace.  I had just crested a hill when I noticed the character of the buildings I was passing.  They were only barns, but looked quite old and different from others I generally see.  Though it was a downslope and Loke was willing to run I screeched to a stop to take pictures of the barn. 

Curious Young'un


As I was wrestling the camera out, I heard hooves.  A mare came trotting over the field across the road.  She had absolutely no fear as she came with purpose.  It was clear to me, she was one of those horses that likes people.  Ears forward, head up and intensely curious, she stood at the fence and watch.  I took a picture of her before twisting around to take photos of the barns behind me.  As I turned back, the mare was still there, but from across the field came a foal probably about six months old. 

It stopped when it saw Loke and I.  With its front legs slightly splayed and head down, it seemed to regard us with astonishment.  As I dug the camera back out, it began to slowly walk toward us with no real fear.  It seemed to have much of its mother’s curiosity and friendliness.  Within a minute or so, it had come up to the fence line, trying to reach over it without touching the live wire to sniff at us.  Utterly charming. 

Another Shady Lane

Packing the camera, I was smiling broadly as we moved on.  The little horse gave a whinny, kicked up its heels and ran along the fence as Loke and I zipped down the rest of the hill along the shady lane.  Loke really seemed to enjoy that.  Surprisingly, he seemed to view the foal as a running partner or playmate rather prey.  I guess it was too big to be prey, but small enough not to worry him like the mare would have been. 

Loke was losing a bit of his forward momentum.  He still wasn’t dragging, but he was significantly slower than he had been over the first 10 miles or so.  That was fine.  I wasn’t exactly hammering the pedals either as we were coming up toward 14 miles.  14.20 miles was the distance of our last ride, I was determined to break that distance.  Loke’s feet looked fine, I was feeling pretty good so it was going to be easy! 

Old Ruined Building

Farmsteads and fields vanished for a mile or more as I went.  The beginning of the forested area was marked with a ruin of all things.  An interesting collection of old stone walls with hints of the wood in the windows and forming the beginnings of the roof which had collapsed at some point.  The trees behind it had bright splashes of autumn shades.  I snapped the pictures and went on my way into a stretch of forest. 

It was a beautiful area.  It was mostly conifers forming a dense growth over mossy ground and stones.  Sprouting from the dense green covering the earth were mushrooms.  Some of them were quite large.  One sort, a pretty coffee brown was over eight inches across. 

Loke picked up a bit of speed.  He loves woodlands and forests.  I guess it harkens back to his wolfy ancestry. Hehe. 

Vallby Kyrka

By the time Vallby Kyrka was in sight, I was starting to feel a bit tired.  By this point we had covered almost 17 miles. 

I did my usual stop and circle the church yard before settling back in the trike seat.  I left Loke on his flexi-leash with enough slack to wander around and sniff as I pulled out maps.  While I was feeling a tiny bit tired, I wasn’t really sure I was ready to wait there for my husband.  3 miles further up was another church which was fairly close to the end of the original route.  I’d added a few more miles to get to a castle further on. 

Upplands Runestone #719

Ah, and apparently around here somewhere is that runestone I mentioned further up.  I have no real clue where it is around here, but the information sign did say it was the Vallby Socken (=Parish?), so it had to be within a mile or so of the church.  So here it is.  I must say it is probably the most Christian runestone I’ve ever come across.  The stones often say something along the lines of ‘God help their soul’ or ‘Mother of God’, but this one specifies Christ and mentions light, paradise and the ‘best world for Christians.’.  That definitely sets it apart from other stones I’ve seen. 

I’ve also noticed some runemasters have rather odd names.  The one who probably carved this one was named Livsten (life stone or living stone?).  Then there’s always Fot (Swedish for ‘foot’). 

Loke was still moving good and had a respectable amount of energy, so I decided we’d go on to the next church and as importantly, what might have been a rune stone about half a mile past that church.  At least there was a point ‘R’ mark in my map book there.  I was definitely curious to get another runestone if I could. 

About halfway from Vallby to Böglosa, I gave Jens a call.  It kind of threw a wrench into the idea of riding past the next church to the maybe runestone.  It turned out that he had gone back to Uppsala to do his errands and then decided to drive back to the area I was cycling.  There were a couple of nature reserves in the area where he could forage for chantarel mushrooms.  So, when I called, he was within a couple miles of the church I was heading to. 

Sure enough, as I came along the road, I could see a parking lot and part of a churchyard wall.  Along the edge of the road, there was Jens.  In a cheery voice, I told Loke, “Look!  It’s Jens!”  Loke’s ears and tail went up and he was suddenly craning and twisting his head around to look for him.  I pointed and said it again, but the furry one just didn’t seem to see my husband about 50 yards ahead.  It was hilarious to watch him eagerly looking around while completely overlooking the object of his search.  FINALLY he saw him and threw his weight into the harness and we zipped into the parking lot at almost 15 mph. 

Böglosa Kyrka

The church itself was simple.  It looked a lot like Vallby Kyrka without the steeple tower or the red brick addition.  We loaded the trike and I wearily did my loop around the church.  I didn’t find any rune stones. 

Jens did show me a little spot down a small road that went behind the church where there was a cafe as well as a sign.  It described a series of rock carvings in the area within a 2 or 3 miles of stone age rock carvings.  Oooh!  Apparently there was one that the church I didn’t find.  However, finding out about the rest means I have yet another excuse to go back and ride in this area.  I need to look for that medieval fortress site as well as run around to chase down all those rock carvings dating from 1800 BC to 500 BC. 

It had been a good day.  Lots to see, not too cold, only 20 minutes of anything remotely like rain.  Loke was flat and I felt perfectly tired with no pain.  What more can a girl ask for?

It’s Getting Cold!
September 6, 2010, 11:12 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Autumn is definitely on it’s way! 

I’d been fighting a rather nasty cold for over a week.  Not wanting to push myself, I wasn’t going to the gym or doing much riding.  What riding I was doing was as easy as possible and only for Loke’s sake.  That meant roughly two rides on the river loop when I thought I was starting to recover. 

The past two mornings had been quite cold.  When I dragged myself out of bed to get to the gym by 5 am, it was 39 F and on a few clumps of drying grass that had been mowed and not raked, I spotted the tinest bit of frost.  I thought it was strange that was the only place I saw frost.  Even car hoods and windshields were only wet with dew. 

I’d already planned a route the day before and as me and my husband did a few morning chores, we finally loaded up and were on our way around 11:30 am.  At least by then it was warm enough I wasn’t going to need 5 layers or something silly like that. 

The route I’d planned was around an area of land that extended out into Lake Mälaren a bit.  Technically a pennisula perhaps, but a rather short, wide shaped one.  Kinda like the difference between India and Italy.  But I’d mapped out a bit over 30 miles.  It zigged and zagged over the area laid out so that I could stop at 6 or more churches and two castles in the area.  Given the later start and how short the days are getting already, I doubted I would finish it all, but it’s easier to have too much planned and stop in the middle of it than it is too have to little planned and ending up stopping sooner than I like. 

Villberga Kyrka


The church I chose as the beginning of my trip was Villberga.  Loke was a rather excited as we worked to get the trike unloaded and everything settled.  Though the morning had started out bright and sunny, it had gone gray before we even loaded the trike back at home.  Even so, I was looking forward to the ride.  It was going to be Loke’s first REAL run since he got the clean bill of health from the animal cardiologist!  I got my pictures and searched for runestones while Jens wandered around with Loke outside the churchyard. 

As my husband drove off first, Loke went completely nuts and took off at full speed after the car.  Since we had a bit of a downward slope we actually hit a bit over 18 mph.  I think that’s Loke’s highest speed all year!  As Jens went out of sight, we whipped around a curve and passed a little pasture full of fluffy wooled sheep.  All of them looked up and stared after us with rather comical expression that were even funnier because all of them had huge clumps of grass hanging from their mouths. 

Uncommon Sight In Sweden - Corn!


Loke was running very well.  Maybe it was the more than a week long break from real runs that had done him good, or the cooler weather.  Either way, he ripped us along at around 14 mph for almost 3 miles! 

When he finally settled into his ‘travel speed’, I stopped to offer him some water and check his paws.  I was a worried that they already looked a bit odd.  Kinda white.  Still, they didn’t feel too soft, he wasn’t limping and didn’t care that I was poking at them.  As we went on, I kept off the road as much as I could.  It meant a lot of pushing through chest deep weeds making him do a kind of running hop.  I figured it was better he do that then risk his feet.  It would even have the added benefit of wearing him out! 

Uppland Runestone #723


Uppland Runestone #724


Immediately after Loke’s first water break and foot check, I came on a pair of runestones just around a curve in the road.  As I took the pictures and read the sign, I was a bit baffled at how I was going to tell which was #723 and which #724.  The sign had the answer.  #724 had the cross while #723 was the ‘pointy like an arrow’ stone. 

That simplified matters. 

Translations of the stones if you click their respective thumbnails.  Other pertinent information – They were carved sometime during the 1000’s AD (no surprise).  Originally, the monument to Gute was comprised of three stones.  The third one (gone missing) had no runes, only the carving of a stylized fourfooted animal. 

As I made the turn near the runestones, I passed by a sort of community center.  I was a bit wary as I went by as there seemed to be some kind of gathering involving dogs.  Fortunately, all the others seemed to be in their car kennels, except for one who was very focused on the ball his owner had.  I don’t think he even gave Loke a glance as we went by. 

Löts Kyrka


Before even the 5th mile, I came upon my 2nd church.  Löts Kyrka.  With camera in hand, I did a slow walk around the churchyard, looking for random runestones either in the yard itself or imbedded in the church walls.  It was a bit of a struggle as we went as I kept Loke on a short lead so he wouldn’t mark the stones.  It drove him crazy.  Here were all these perfectly good stone ‘trees’ for him to leave his calling cards and I wouldn’t let him do it. 

That in turn drove ME crazy as I was using our nice, Canon camera instead of my little point and click.  Nothing like trying to manage a large camera, trying to twist a real lens and hold the entire thing still while a dog is yanking on one hand. 

The reason for the switch?  Well, my old point and click had been driving me crazy for a few years now.  Yellow or green skies… or blank white when there WAS blue there, I promise!  ‘Noisy’ images when there was the least bit of low light.  Throw in that it was starting to act up from time to time.  Not focusing even with turning off and on a few times, the auto-cover on the lens not wanting open. 

The Acorns Demanded A Photo!


The search for a replacement wasn’t going well.  I wanted something with at least a bit more mega-pixels, but at least x6 optical zoom and most important to me of all?  Regular AA batteries!!  I didn’t want something I was going to have to worry about recharging while out on a week long camping/cycle trip.  Oddly, there is a scarcity of power outlets in forests between towns and villages. 

Jens actually suggest I at least try to take our big camera since the search to replace my little one was going so badly.  So, on the trip up north, I did try it.  That’s why the sky was so blue (and true to life) in those pictures.  Even after all the pictures I took on the trip up north (most of the time forgetting to turn off the camera, sometimes overnight) and my trip yesterday (again forgetting to turn it off between shots), it still shows a full charge and we have two other batteries aside.  Certainly enough to last me a week or even a month.  So, I will actually learn how to use our ‘proper’ camera! *cheers* 

Back to the ride! 

As I left Löts Kyrka, I decided to take a slightly different route back toward the turn off for the castle.  Originally, I’d planned an ‘out and back’ to get the pictures of Löts for my collection before heading toward the first castle, but if I made a mini-loop that would add only around a mile to my overall distance, I could avoid going directly past the community center with the dogs.  Was worth the peace of mind. 

As I worked my way back toward the turn off to the castle, I passed a small group of cyclists.  Two older couples just out enjoying the countryside on ‘comfort’ bikes that were probably older than I am.  They all gave me big smiles and seemed to approve of my armchair with pedals. 

I Adore Buckskin Horses!


It turned out that the road leading toward Fånö Slott was unpaved, but it was one of those nice ones.  Good, smooth packed dirt with only a scattering of stones in the middle and edges.  I even think my rolling resistance was better on it than on the paved one.  I know it was easier on Loke’s feet and he didn’t have to run-hop through weeds! 

It was pleasant going.  The sun was even trying to make an appearance which would have been nice from a photo standpoint.  The day was also a bit on the cool side though not so much that I felt the need for an additional layer as long as I was pedalling.  If I had any complaint about the day other than the gray ‘bleah’ of the sky, it was the BUGS.  Seemed like every few minutes I was getting some small flying thing in the eye or up the nose. 

As I pedaled passed fields it was easy to tell the farmers are readying for the end of the growing season.  Some were still harvesting their crops of oats or canola seed.  Others were turning the earth in preparation for the coming snows.  Every now and again, I was pulling over to wait for a tractor to chug its way passed me on the road. 

Fancy Stables - A Good Sign A Castle/Manor Is Close


It wasn’t too long before I got an indication that I was close to the castle.  Generally if there’s a stable associated with the castle or manor house, it’s more than a red wooden barn.  The stable at Steninge Slott that had been turned into a collection of shops and cafe on the inside is another good example.  This one was a bit rundown and unkempt sadly. 

As I came down the road, the buckskin horse on one side and over the canola fields watched with interest as did another two horses on the other side.  Their pasture fronted right on the road and they were a bit nervous.  I made sure to go slow and talk to them.  Soon they were only curious, reaching their heads over the fence and blowing softly to try and get our scents. 

Front View of Stables


One of them, a dark brownish smokey-gray was almost as beautiful as the buckskin.  In my opinion any way.  His brown and dark gray roan patterning unusual enough to set him apart from most horses.  He was also rather well muscled so he’s obvious used for more than trotting or cantering in circles in some arena or paddock.  He ran with us for the short stretch along the fence before it ran out. 

I made the turn toward the castle itself and there were still more horses and they were beautiful.  This place seemed to have nothing but gorgeous and very distinctive looking horses.  Their paster was rocky toward the front and fronted the lake separated by the water only by some kind of reed-like plant over six feet tall.  Further back, a fairly steep hill rose, studded with more glacial laid boulders and topped with large old trees. 

No matter how I called out, the pair of horses there were just too nervous of my trike to settle.  One was what I can only call a ‘white buckskin’.  He had the same dark legs, muzzle, mane and tail with the dorsal stripe down his spine as buckskins do, but was white coated instead of tawny or tan.  The other one was an absolutely breathtaking little Palomino mare.  Tiny, almost pony sized, and… elegant is the only word that comes to mind.  I would have loved to gotten pictures, but by the time I dug the camera out, they were over the hill and in the trees. 

So, I packed the camera back and went on with a sigh. 

Fånö Castle/Manor


Within a few minutes, I was sighing again… in slight irritation.  After climbing a gravel strewn hill (my favourite as my regular reads all know *eye roll*), I came up on a sign – “Fånö Slott, Privat”.  Pretty much the same word as English, just without the ‘e’.  Pity.  What I could see of it was fairly nice.  Not as extravagant as Steninge or Wikk’s, but pretty with gorgeous grounds covered with old trees. 

At least getting out of there was easy.  Wrestled the trike around and then a quick coast back down the hill to the smooth unpaved road onward. 

The way forward was lined with apple orchards and fields.  With autumn here, you could see the bright red cheeks of the apples still holding onto the trees as well as the sharp scent of the fallen ones fermenting.  There were a few more horses.  A small farm had a pair of little Icelandic horses.  Icelandics are among my favorite breeds.  They’re small, compact little animals with hugely fluffy forelocks poof out when they run.  Makes them look cuter than round-bellied Shetland ponies.  While they can come in surprising color and marking combinations, these were just a very dark brown as they trotted along with us for a few yards. 

Shady Lane


Just a bit past the Icelandic horses, I came on a stretch of the kind of road I love most.  Well, one of them any way.  I’ve been kinda spoiled by my cycling in the mountains above the tree-line, but for some place with trees, it’s my favorite.  A smooth road, deeply shaded with trees.  *happy sigh*  Those are especially nice on a warm summer day.  If I could find a route that had 30 miles of nothing  but that, I would be in heaven.  I guess it could make for a rather boring blog post though. 

Stretches like this also seem to be spots Loke really likes.  I’ve noticed a certain order to his likes and dislikes when we’re riding mostly indicated by how fast he wants to go.  Any place new over any kind of place we cycle lots.  No brainer.  After that, he likes open roads with lots of traffic or through towns least, then smaller open roads, smaller roads with trees, unpaved road, unpaved road with trees and his absolute favorite?  Unpaved cycle/hiking trail through nice green woods.  Those, he goes absolutely crazy for and will try to go at a dead run as long as he can. 

Not terribly surprising, that sums up my least liked to favorite roads as well.  Granted I’m a bit more picky.  If it’s paved, I rather that it’s not covered with egg sized stones, mud-traps, roots, etc… 

Lake Mälaren, Cows and Clouds


Far too quickly I was back out in open land with fields to either side.  One field we passed was covered with a canola crop which was being harvested by a rather sleek, modern looking harvester.  Given it was almost 100 yards away, it rather surprised me when Loke seemed frightened of it.  We’ve had huge tractors pass us on tiny, unpaved country roads close enough for me to reach out and touch the wheels with him only looking bored and impatient to move on.  This machine, he kept darting worried looks with his tail slightly tucked as we went by.  Maybe it sounded funny to him over other kinds of harvesters and tractors and it was on HIS side not mine.  Who knows.  But he pulled past it a bit faster. 

Touch of Autumn


It was sometime around the 9th mile or so when I called my husband to let him know we were fine.  With the time I’d taken to wander around the churches as well as various other breaks for water, pictures and the double back I had to make at the castle, we’d been out for a little over 2 hours.  Jens asked if I was ready for him to come get us, but with Loke still running good, his feet looked no worse and I felt fine, I told him I wanted to ride a bit more which would get us to a place easier for him to find.  Simplifies things if Jens has a specific place to aim for rather than ‘Somewhere between kilometers 16 and 18’. 

The faint hints of the sun struggling to come out left as the clouds thickened.  I even thought I felt a few drops of rain on my hand, but it was hard to be sure.  I wasn’t too worried since I’d wisely packed woolies as well as my cycle jacket. 

I came up on a tangle of turn-offs and stopped to figure out which I needed.  As I was flipping through my maps, two older men on Vespa motorscooters came up and paused at the same intersection.  They smiled and said it was a nice bike and a beautiful dog before we all went on our way. 

Hacksta Kyrka


Hacksta Kyrka's Crooked Porch


My next church was Hacksta Kyrka.  This one offered up a few oddities.  Like in the picture above, it just looks slightly… off kilter.  I even stood there and just looked at the church and the three pictures I took in the view finder of the camera to make sure it wasn’t because I’d held it crooked or something.  But no.  It is the church and for that reason, it deserved another photo to emphasize that, particularly with the porch. 

Hacksta Kyrka Bell Tower


When I was done wrestling with the dog/camera combination, I settled on my trike for a few minutes to look over the maps and eat a granola bar.  The skies were looking darker and it was coming up on 3:30 pm and getting cooler.  It’s dark enough by 5 pm that law would require me to have lights.. which I didn’t, so I knew I was coming up on the end of my ride. 

Even so, I decided that Hacksta was a bit out-of-the-way and the next church down the way would be a much easier place for my husband to get to.  One road that was almost a straight shot from where Jens had dropped me off as a matter of fact.  It was only 3 miles away, so unless Loke went really slow or I found a couple dozen things to photograph, we could be there around 4 pm.  So, I made sure Loke was well watered, checked his paws which looked fine and off we went. 

It actually went quicker than I expected.  Loke was clipping along at around 8.4 mph for most of the way, except for the hill or two I had to climb. 

Speaking of hills, I think I am convinced that my GPS was measuring the slopes in the mountains with a fair degree of accuracy.  This means that Uppland which is one of the ‘flatter’ areas of Sweden has steeper hills than most of the ones I navigated even coming down from Stekenjokk.  Those averaged 4% grade.  I was climbing and descending 9% and 10% yesterday. 

Veckholm Kyrka

About 10 minutes before I estimated we’d arrive at our end point, I gave Jens a call to come get us and told him we’d be at Veckholm Kyrka.  A few minutes before 4 pm, we glided into the parking lot. 

Veckholm was outwardly much like Hacksta Kyrka… except it looked level.  That’s not to say it didn’t have its own little surprise.  So, as I parked the trike and took Loke and camera out for a wander to look for runestones.  From the parking lot, Veckholm looks like most small country churches that dot the landscape all over mid to southern Sweden with its plastered walls and wood shingle roof. 

Chapel on the Back of Veckholm Church?

At the back, rather like a diamond necklace added to a t-shirt and worn jeans, was this bright PINK addition.  It was jarring to say the least.  From rough plaster and a simple building to elaborate detailing and stone work with plenty of ornamental accents.  I guess this is chapel that is mentioned if you click the thumbnail of the church for information.  In which case it was added in the mid-1600’s. 

I did find a runestone in the churchyard, or part of one any way.  But it had apparently been moved and broken.  From the look of the paint, I’d guess it had been recently moved.  It sat tucked in a corner where the porch met the longhouse section of the church like it had been put there and forgotten.  Next to it sat another stone slab, but I think it was more recent than the runestone.  It seemed to be a carving of a cross and some latin writing, but all too faint to photograph. 

Veckholm Kyrka's Tower & Mystery Runestone

Across the parking lot was the bell tower and it was a bit different than usual with four large sundials set into each face.  There was a flock of birds trying to cling to the tall spire affixed to the top which was a bit amusing to watch.  Not far from the tower was another runestone.  Sadly, neither of the stones had any identification so, no translations and I’ll save the space for other photos!  You can see the second stone in the foreground of the bell tower picture though. 

I admit, I was glad when Jens arrived.  The wind had picked up a bit and it was getting colder.  I almost had to dig out my jacket! *smirk*  But it was a good ride.  Loke and I did roughly 14 miles which was a bit less than half of the distance I’d mapped out.  Not a bad thing, it means I have a ready-made route to ride in the near future!  My knees didn’t hurt.  Loke wasn’t limping.  That made things all good.  Even better, Loke was just tired enough to not harass Jens and I later that evening.  He was content to just doze and stare at the TV when something caught his attention. 

Maybe sometime in the next week or so, I can finish the other half!