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.


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