Terii’s Cycling Babble


WOOL!
March 13, 2011, 2:02 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Snuggly, fluffy merino wool!  Gotta love it!  The plush softness doesn’t itch as it wraps you up in a cocoon of warmth.  I’d have been in deep trouble without it today!

That makes 3 rides this week, I might add.  The total is somewhere over 40 miles I think and today’s confusing tangle of a ride at 15.04 miles was the longest by a mile or so.  While I normally consider a mile nothing on the trike, I’ll take what accomplishments I can this early in the year. *chuckle*

Today’s outing had a touch of promise when it warmed to the point I was willing to brave it.  Broken clouds streaked over the pale, hazy blue sky as the sun peeked in and out.  It changed quite quickly.  By the time I set cleats into my pedals, the sky was utterly blanketed in verigated shades of gray.  A happy Loke dragged me over streets with quite a bit less ice than the previous run, but our usual wild mile was quickly interrupted by a taxi.  Near the school we regularly pass, cars parked on one side of the road as the taxi blocked the rest.  It didn’t seem to be moving any time soon and with the mounds of snow and cars to either side of him there was absolutely no way I could pass.  I don’t know what it is about cars lately, but they seem determined to complicate my life more than usual.

After waiting 2 or 3 min, sitting where he could at least pass me, I muttered a few choice words under my breath and turned down one of the residential streets.  Snow and slush covered every inch of it.  Little to no pavement showed through and we had to creep along as I struggled to protect my rear derailleur from damage.  I made a short block around the spot the taxi was choking off and it took me almost 15 minutes to cover a distance I would, on clear roads, have made in less than 2 minutes.

One thing I noticed as we rushed along the path today, people were out in force.  Dozens of joggers, walkers (with and without dogs) and even a few people riding bikes though they seemed to be ‘using them for transportation’ riders rather than the ‘out to cover miles in the country side’ sort like me.   The snow’s retreat is in high gear now.  Along the River Loop Extention, there was a wide band of winter flattened grass to cushion Loke’s paws.  Where the dirty banks of white lay thick along Gamla Börjevägen on Tuesday, it’s almost 3 feet further back and Loke had plenty of non-paved surface to run.  He seemed to appreciate that.

The flood of people didn’t stop once we left the path.  Along the 2 miles or so of the Gamla Börjevägen I rode today, there were another dozen people walking along the side of the road.  Also, a lot more vehicular traffic than on Tuesday though I have no idea why.

Around mile 6, I offered Loke water.  He stuck his tongue in it once and then lost interest.  As I packed the bottle and dish back, I spotted the obvious sign of the worsening weather.  Something fell from the sky.  I’d only spotted it from the corner of my eye and couldn’t tell if it was water or ice, but I knew I’d seen it.  I waited a few seconds and nothing else came.

The intersection where I normally turn to Ulva, I turned the opposite way toward Läby and ultimately Vänge.  The plan had been to cycle the path to Vänge, but go home via the route past the grocery store rather than a full out-n-back.  I figured with the River Loop Extention, it would give Loke and I roughly 20 miles, putting us at just shy of 50 for the week.  As we covered the 3 miles between Gamla Börjevägen and 72, it began to get noticably colder.  The little drops of rain and spits of ice were very noticeable as well.  Not enough to dampen me or my enthusiasm, but obvious.  Before we reached the 72, I had to stop to put on my shoe covers and gloves, the rest of me still toasty warm.

Wool or not, I was fairly certain if it really started raining it was possible I’d catch a chill simply because my head and hands would get wet and there was no wool for them.  When I came to the turn toward Vänge, I regretfully turned back toward Uppsala.  The choice made Loke quite exicted.  For almost 2 miles, he dragged me and the trike into a 14 mph run.  Tongue lolling happily, he gave me those bright side-glances I can only interpret as ‘WHEEEEEEE!!!’

It lasted until the path turned into a quiet access road well choked with ice.  I spotted the cat long before Loke did.  It was strolling along the side of the road and saw me before it noticed Loke.  Having spent most of my life as a cat rather than a dog person, I immediately noticed the ‘Oooh! A nice human who will give me scratches and pets’ body language.  It only lasted 5 seconds or so before it saw Loke.  Back arched, tail puffed out and came stiffly down and ears went back.  That’s when Loke saw it and they were off!  The cat streaked to the left as Loke desperately tried to follow with me keeping him on a straight line with the harness.  I’m sure he thinks I never let him have fun.

Then it was through a very icy residential area to avoid a very crowded and certainly dangerous highway.  I took those backroads around toward the area of the Field Loop.  It’s a good thing I hadn’t planned to work in the full field loop.  The unpaved path crossing the fields between the observatory and the wooded hill was utterly inaccessiable to my trike.  Where it met the path from the residential area I’d come from, it was a 3 foot wall of hard packed ice and beyond was nothing but the shiny smoothness of foot packed ice.  I’m certain to either side of that was knee (or thigh) deep snow.  The image of trying to cycle on that packed ridge of ice, sliding to one side and vanishing into loose snow popped into my head.

The path up the wooded hill and down the other side was completely ice choked.  The studded tire came into its own again on the climb and thankfully on the way down, my front tires kept enough grip so I could keep the speed down.  Loke gave me dirty looks as he strained against the drag, twisted me a bit sideways.  He couldn’t understand why we were letting one of his favorite hills go to waste!  I was even happier I’d kept us under 8 mph when we reached the underpass of the 55.  One side of it had a ridge of snow across the path, deeply rutted and not very soft.  In spite of the care I tried to take, it got a pretty good whack.  I stopped to make sure it was okay, but couldn’t see any obvious damage.

The long slope up the other side took us a bit of time and we ended up taking a different route than usual.  The normal way we’d go was much like the unpaved path across the fields we’d passed minutes before.  A white, hard packed ice ridge over deep, loose snow.  I churned on up into an area I’ve always cycled around, but not through.  It was a bit of a puzzle and I found some interesting sections of cycle path.  Maybe it will even be my way to navigate that area.

As I made the final turn toward the river and the swim hall, the ‘adventure’ wasn’t over.  I slowed down as I spotted what looked like chunks of ice scattered across the path.  Much to my surprise, it was almost 8 inches of water covered with thick pieces of broken ice.  I snatched the camera bag up high and crawled through it.  Loke was quite unhappy as he waded through the 4 or 5 yards/meters of it.  For the second time in 2 miles, I climbed out of the trike to check my derailleur.  Again, it looked fine.

It was raining and icing signifcantly for the last mile home.  Just a sprinkle, but the outer layer I had on top of my snuggly wool dampened and I could feel the water starting to seep to my skin.  It still didn’t feel very cold.  Nor did my rump which had gotten a bit wet thanks to the ice lake I’d cycled through.  Yes, it was deep enough for that.  As I staggered into the apartment, I was dripping wet and only my hands and head felt the chill.  Loke, again, was a mudball.

Not a bad ride for a gray, barely above freezing, rainy day.

While the wool held back the cold, I’m still glad I cut the ride a bit short.  I don’t think I’m quite ready to test it for an extended duration at 35 F and rain

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