Terii’s Cycling Babble

It’s Begun!
March 10, 2011, 9:55 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Cycle Path Around Mile 1

Yep.  Can you believe it?  The cycle season has started.

Before I even started it already looked like it might be another difficult year.  I had severe pain in my calf.  Bad enough, I thought it might be another DVT (Deep Vein Trombosis) or blood clot for us lay-people.  All the tests came back clean and they told me to go to my usual doctor.  I didn’t bother.  I did gentle stretches with the muscles and spent almost 2 weeks with it propped up on a heat pad.  It definitely shot my 10 hours a week on the trainer in the foot.

I went right back into the trainer though at shorter time frames and so far so good!

Kronborg Castle aka Hamlet's Castle

It was last weekend that really got me itching to ride outside though.  Due to a family matter, we had to go to the southern part of Sweden right along the section where you can stand on a beach and make out buildings in Denmark.  There was absolutely NO snow.  It drove me nuts to see all that wonderfully clear roadway.  Just 30 miles north, snow lay thick on the ground and slushed up most of the roads, but in the area we were, it might has well have been late April already.

When we got home, we discovered our new GPS arrived so Jens insisted we test it by driving one of my cycle routes.  I picked Ulva/Gamla Uppsala.  Much to my surprise, much of the road was clear.  There were a few sections of road that were slick ice, but I decided I absolutely needed to ride outside and planned to do so the next day.  I wrestled a studded tire onto my drive wheel and the next morning, Jens decided to work from home just in case I needed rescuing due to mechanical failure since it would be the first ride off the trainer.

Tuesday dawned gloriously clear and by 10:30 am, I decided it was probably about as warm as it was going to get.  I wrestled into my heavy weight themerals (bullet proof I call them) and then dragged my tights over them.  My top I settled with a thin wool layer topped by a semi-windproof  top.  I had an extra layer for top and bottom packed.  Water.  Camera.  GPS.  As I ran around double checking everything, Loke just kind of stared at me with his eyes wide, not daring to believe.  A few times, he paced around like maybe he started to get excited but then he’d just lay down again with a disheartened sigh.  Even when I picked up his harness, he didn’t seem convinced.  Only when I stuffed my feet into the shoes, grabbed the helmet and told my husband I was ready did he start whirling happily.

The slush on our street thankfully wasn’t cold enough to choke the chain or hard enough to damage the derailleur.  We nearly had a moment of trouble when we headed out though.  Since I’d only put studded on the rear, I had slicks for my breaking wheels.  Loke wanted to do a full out charge and traffic was coming.  Fortunately, the person stopped and waved us on.

There is a river under there! Promise!

The furry one was definitely quite happy to be out.  He did his wild mile with me pedalling like a mad woman right along with him.  As we zipped through small lakes in the road and crunched over rotting ice, Loke kept looking at me with that familar tongue-lollling husky grin.  Ice still held the cycle path in a fairly tight grip.  It definitely made the big hill just before the bridge exciting.  My front wheels sliding wildly as Loke hit 17 mph with joyful bounds.  My eyes streamed with tears from the wind whistling around the lenses of my glasses in the 40 F temperature air.

The new ultra-heavy thermals were doing a great job.  Just 2 layers and my legs were perfectly fine.  If anything was cold, it was my face.  I barely felt the bad rolling resistance of the chubby 1.75″ x 20″, nobbly AND studded rear tire even the rare moments Loke gave me a little slack on the flats.  Birds called here and there as the sun streamed down from a nearly perfectly clear sky.  Before mile 2, I decided we were doing the Ulva/Gamla Uppsala Loop as our first trip of the year.  The 13 mile version since I knew the grave mound section would be impassable.

Snowy Scenery

When we made the right turn to cross the 272, Loke went almost as crazy as when we’d first started.  Fortunately, the pavement was clear so the brakes could hold against his kangaroo hopping.  Of course, then we had to tackle the 8% slope right at the start of Gamla Börjevägen.  The furry one was pulling so hard, he could barely breathe, but I wasn’t willing to risk blowing a knee out.  On the other side, he hit his fastest speed of the year.  Almost 19 mph.  A bunch of kaya (small crow-like birds) gathered along the road side helped spur him.  He even managed a few bounding jumps as if he could actually catch them as they scattered before us.  He was a dog in the throes of joy and couldn’t be bothered with paltry things like a drink of water at mile 3 where I stopped to finally pull on my yellow windbreaker.  The wind out in the country side was crazy… and cold!

It was around then, I noticed a minor problem.  Splatter.  The melting snow along the road way was full of dirt and grime, turning Loke’s legs and belly black and drenching everything on the right side of my trike.  That included the camera bag.  Fortunately, it has a rain cover and I quickly wrestled it in place before the water soaked through.  It wasn’t helping the arm of my wind-breaker OR my panniers though.  I’ve ridden in some truly wet situations, but nothing had caused this much flying mud and wet as this snow-melt.  I stopped to double check nothing was going to get ruined before making the turn toward Ulva.

Let's Go Already!

The fur dispenser really pushed me on this ride, but I didn’t mind.  I was even rather proud of myself when on a 1% uphill grade against a wind probably hitting nearly 20 mph with higher gusts with that hideous rear tire, I hit and maintained 16 mph for over a mile.  Loke loved that.  Especially since we were coming up to the house with all the cats.  I just know he was hoping to find a few and watch them scatter.  Of course, then he kept impressing me by holding a 15 mph average for almost 2 miles when we made the turn back toward the 272.  He even gave me an irritated look when I dared stop for a water break and to take pictures.

I didn’t stop at Ulva, which came as quite a disappointment to Loke.  I’m not even sure the cafe is open even if the courtyard hadn’t been choked with ice and snow.  Shaded by the buildings, it wasn’t melting very quickly and I wasn’t going to risk bike parts to hard, rutted ice.  It was along this section the rear tire showed its worth.  The steep slope up just over the mill-race bridge was a combination of slick ice with touches of gravel here and there.  Even when knobs and studs, it slipped some and Loke threw his weight into the harness to help.

Around mile 9, the burn was starting in my thighs.  Last year, I was feeling it around mile 3 on a 5 mile loop, so it was an improvement over last year.  Loke’s pace held good and his feet looked fine from what I could tell, so I wasn’t willing to call Jens.  If I could keep the pedals turning, I was determined to make the full route.  Gamla Uppsala came and went in a blur as I focused everything into moving forward.  The muscle  just above the knee to mid-thigh burned with the lactic acid.  Oddly, the cold which had left my feet untouched for some 10 miles began to bite hard into my toes.  I didn’t want to stop to dig out my neoprene shoe-covers as I wasn’t certain I could get my legs moving again.  It was probably a fair assessment as it proved very difficult to push on the pedals from a standstill when I had to stop for a light.

The last mile turned into quite a challenge.  Ice lay thick on the cycle/sidewalk, rotting and crunching beneath tires and paws to bog us down.  Then there was the idiot who decided the sidewalk right up against the traffic light was a perfect place to park while he ran into the bakery.  I had to get off the trike, unhitch Loke and try to wrestle the trike between car and building.  A woman came along and helped me out.  She bravely held onto the mudball my dog had turned into inspite of her beautiful long coat of tan wool.  After that, it was a just a slow grind of less than a half mile through the lake the cyclepath had turned into.  With snow walls to either side, there’s no place for the melt water to go.  The result is a half mile long puddle some 3 inches deep.

I’ll admit, getting up the stairs was a challenge, but with my husband home, at least I didn’t have to wrestle the trike in.  As for Loke?  He just gave me a baffled look while waiting for me at the landing.  During the evening, he seemed slightly calmer than usual, but not nearly as tired as I thought he should be after over 13 miles for the first time since… October, I think.  Maybe the dozen or so times he went jumping through 3′ feet of snow while we walked with snow-shoes kept him in good condition?  Who knows, but I think he could do 20 miles already.  Me?  Not likely for 3 or 4 more rides at least. *chuckle*

But it’s begun and it feels so GOOD!  And I’d be out for another ride right now if it wasn’t for the curse of laundry!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

A lovely read. I’m gld the cycling year has got going for you :0)
I’m off for my first cycle camp of the year tomorrow and I’ve packed a sleeping bag and a quilt because I hate cold nights!

Have you seen this Scandinavian bikers blog?

Comment by dexey

No, I hadn’t! Thank you for the referral! I’ve thought about cycling the Åland islands at some point though I wouldn’t be doing it in the winter which would mean a LOT more ferrying. Of course, the fact the right of use laws being more restrictive there could make traveling a bit more of a problem. 😛 Ah well. Hehe.

We had a few hours of sunlight again today with almost 6 c temps. I was so tempted to ditch laundry and cycle again, but we had little in the way of clothes left. *sigh*

Comment by terii

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