Terii’s Cycling Babble


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. 

A HUGE Sow

 

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?

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