Terii’s Cycling Babble

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!


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

“As my husband drove off first, Loke went completely nuts and took off at full speed after the car.”
That’s the point he realised that he was running back home :0)

Have you looked at the Panasonic Lumix cameras? Leica lens and, to all intents and purposes, the same as the Leica at half the cost. A second battery is quite cheap to buy and carry.
I’ve introduced a ‘bent trike friend of mine to your blog. Hers is: http://iaintnotomato.blogspot.com/

Comment by dexey

Running back home? Then Loke should be dragging his feet or running hard the other way. He thinks home is the most boring place ever. Fur brain.

As for the little point and click cameras, I think I’ve gotten addicted to taking the bigger one now that I know Jens isn’t going to call me every 20 minutes with, “You haven’t broken/lost the camera yet, have you?”. We’ve had it for a couple years and I still haven’t learned to use the manual settings because I just couldn’t motivate myself to fiddle with trying to take pictures around here to learn to use it. Now, if I’m out cycling and taking pictures any way, I can face fiddling with the settings with a more enthusiasm! 🙂

As for sharing the blog, feel free! The more the merrier!

Comment by terii

It’s me ‘The Bent Trike Friend’ It does look nice and flat, in your country, is it? I dream of a flat platau. 🙂

Comment by caroline

When my now husband and I were discussing marriage and which of us was going to move where, he said, “The area around Uppsala is pancake flat”. It’s fairly level with some places that have moderate hills, but compared to southern Mississippi and Alabama where I spent most of my early life it’s almost mountainous. Hehe. I think it has just enough up and down to give the place character without making cycling a nightmare for someone with bad knees. 🙂

Comment by terii

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