Terii’s Cycling Babble


Longer and Farther and RUNESTONE!
March 21, 2011, 7:12 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, 7 days between one ‘real’ ride and the next was not part of the plan, but there it was.  The 14th was a planned rest day and I needed it.  After that- well.

In my defense, I did kind of ride on the 15th.  Though I still felt I needed another recovery day, the day was gorgeously clear and not too cold which has a whole new meaning since I bought the ultra-heavy woolies.  My husband actually bullied me out the door.  I started out with the half-hearted intention of riding the Vänge route I’d cut short on the 13th due to rain.  The ride ended up being MUCH shorter.  My body ached all over and my legs had absolutely no strength.  I felt utterly and completely wiped, drained and exhausted.  Loke seemed to agree with me.  He had no interest in racing along at 14 to 16 mph over the first mile stretch.  He just splashed along through the melt water and gave a sigh every now and again.  The 15+ mile route abruptly turned into the a 3+ mile route.  The only time Loke or I either one went faster than 5 mph was down the big hill toward the river.  I think we hit about 7 mph which is usually Loke’s absolute minimum cruising speed on flat ground, not his top speed of the day.

Absolute basic River Loop done, Loke and I both staggered through the door and flopped onto various soft surfaces and didn’t move for a while.  After that, the days sort of escaped.  Wednesday passed as another rest day.  Thursday, the curse of laundry devoured the day.  Friday, the additional snow I’d been expecting to come along and delay this apparent spring finally turned up.  It IS only March after all.  It wasn’t a raging blizzard thankfully.  Just 2″ of wet white that came down looking a lot like powdered sugar which I let melt through Saturday before finally going for my ride yesterday.

Yesterday dawned beautifully and around 10:30 am I started getting things together as my husband kindly walked the dog.  Loke and I both had a lot more energy this time.  The mad charge was back as we tore along past the apartment buildings, houses and finally the school.  Being Sunday and so pretty out with temps around 45 F, the cycle path (multi-user really) was packed.  People speed or pole walking, or just plain walking with and without dogs.  Lots of joggers.  It was more like a roving obstacle course than a bike/foot road.  We ended up taking the big hill at less than 9 mph simply because there wasn’t space clear enough to zip down at 16-19 mph.

After that, we just settled into a moderate pace.  Loke and I both are starting to feel the ‘clausterphobic’ symptoms of covering the same ground over and over.  I fought with it last year.  Even so, I was determined we were going to do the ride up to Vänge and back.  I had to bully Loke along into a decent speed down the hills as we rode along Gamla Börjevägen.

I decided one thing as we went, I’ve really enjoyed riding this early in the year and in the colder temps.  The years before when I’ve started the cycle season, the fields and woods pass by me in a bleah melange of gray and brown.  Too early for grass, crops and leaves, but late enough most of the snows are gone.  Not this year.  I’m pedalling along in a world of white fields bringing out the greens of the conifers.  It’s beautiful even when the skies above are a leaden gray.

I’m not sure why, but I got a lot more waves and smiles from passing cars than usual.

Loke picked up speed a bit as we made the turn toward Läby.  The other stretches of road in the area he’s run a lot of more, particularly the turn toward Ulva, so maybe that bit of road feels kinda new to him.

As we crossed the tracks, I had a bit of a surprise.  Nothing drastic.  Just the mouth-watering aroma of grilling meat!  Oooh, someone was getting a jump on summer!  It smelled like pork ribs.  While I hadn’t been particularly hungry, my stomach growled and I was salivating.  Loke stumbled a few times from trying to run with his nose straight up to the sky as he sniffed and started to drool.  I had to drag him past because he tried to turn longingly toward the house where the delightful smells originated.  He gave me sullen looks for almost half a mile before he forgot about it.

At the 72, Loke actually bounced off my front wheel even though I’d said ‘Höger!’.  Apparently not paying attention, he’d reflexively tried to go left toward town as we’d done before.  Suddenly, his tongue was lolling in the husky smile and he pulled hard into his harness as we faced Vänge.  I happily accommodated him, pushing harder and faster into the pedals as we hit almost 15 mph.  We zipped past Läby church and then slowed for the first of the long, but not terribly steep climbs.  At the crest of the hill, doubts reared their ugly heads.  A thick stand of tall trees across the highway reared close up to the road and apparently the warmth of the sun hadn’t reached the cycle path.  Snow looked deep, chain-strangling and, if hard frozen, derailleur busting.

I stopped to stare at it for a long while.  Loke was willing.  He gave me an impatient woof and then kangaroo hopped.  I decided to try it. Worse case, I would have to get off the trike and turn it around.  I slid, skidded, crunched and ‘slooshed’ over the 10-15 meters.  It wasn’t frozen solid and I managed to keep the rear wheel mostly in a flattened track about as wide as my hand so the chain wasn’t scooping snow/ice into the tubes.  When I made out the other side, the slushy snow had packed over the rims of my front wheels.  As we raced down the slope, it slung that freezing wet right into my face.

The rest of the way to Vänge remained clear of snow.  There were a few people even out along this country stretch.  I passed 5 people walking, 3 with dogs, and nearly a dozen cyclists, but none of the ‘hard core’ types.  All the bike riders had smiles, waves and even a few thumbs up for me.  Soon we rolled into Vänge.

Vänge Kyrka - April '07

Vänge is small village.  They have a sort of convenience store, a school, quite a few houses and, of course, the church.  How on earth have I managed to ride past Vänge even since I started blogging and not show the church?  Well, there’s that oversite corrected.

As ever, click the thumbnail for pertinent information.

I slowed down a bit as we came into the village.  After a few minutes, I decided to do something I’d never done before though I’ve been through the place more than a dozen times.  I was going to actually stop at the church and look for runestones!  It’s amazing that with my obsession with churches and runestones, I’d not done so before.  Maybe one day, I’ll even stop to look for runestones at Läby which I pass each time I ride between Vänge and Uppsala.

As I parked near the church gate, gathered camera bag and all electronics, I realized I really should have brought my sneakers.  Still, I wanted to see if runestones waited.

Upplands Rune Stone #905 - Vänge Kyrka

Yep.  Within clear view of the gate next to part of the church sat Uppland’s Rune Stone #905.  Loke made getting the picture difficult.  He yanked me around, wanting to mark all those conveniently placed stones just calling for a bit of his scent, but I persevered.

It seemed to be the only one though there were parts of the church yard I decided to skip because the snow was nearly knee deep in places.

As I settled everything back into place on the trike, an older woman came to visit the grave of a loved one.  She stopped and risked petting the soaked sponge that was Loke.  For once, the fur-brain didn’t try to jump.  He just sat, wagging his tail and taking the attention he sees as his due.  We chatted briefly in Swedish, mostly she asked if he pulls a lot.  I answered no, and joked he was a lazy husky.  Mostly he just runs.

Once she’d given Loke a few more pats and told him he was a beautiful dog and went into the church yard, I had to spend a few minutes digging the ice away from the cleats in my shoes.  Actually, I banged at it with the clip to one of Loke’s leashes to break it up and THEN dug it out.  Yes, definitely must remember sneakers for walking.

The trip back down the 72 and past the shopping center was uneventful.  There was a 5 minute break to talk to a man with a yellow lab as the dogs touched noses.  I slogged back through the icy stretch, collecting more ice on my front wheels to wash my face with.  I dodged almost another dozen people on bikes.  Two were even the hardcore, spandex wearing, racer types.

In the residential area past the shops, I cheered when my GPS showed 16 miles.  The ride had officially become my longest of the year!

My legs felt it too.  They were aching, but so close to home would have been silly to call Jens.  Especially since Loke was still running well.  For Loke, the husband would be called.  For me?  I suck it up as long as I can if the trike isn’t broken.  Soon, we were on the cycle path coming to the back of the wooded hill.  I seriously underestimated the impact the 2 inches of Friday’s snow had on that entire stretch.  It was rough enough to clatter my teeth.  The steep slope up to the treed crown was slick with it as well.  In the middle of the climb, Loke decided a certain rock under a dusting of snow demanded his attention and he jerked us to a stop.  Even with my chunky, knobbly and studded rear tire, it was hard to get going again.  The wheel spun and finally I had to bully Loke into helping.  No way I could have gotten off the trike at that angle.  It finally grabbed and I made sure we didn’t stop until we got to the top.

On the other side, it was the opposite problem.  The downhill was just as slick as the up.  Worse, Loke loves to run down there and he spotted a dog ahead.  Off we went!  I gripped the breaks for all I was worth and while the front wheels weren’t spinning, they weren’t grabbing either.  The Loke’s pulling force dragged me around sideways so we shot down the slope toward some poor, unaware woman with the full length (2 meters/6+ feet) of my trike hogging 90% of the path.  Desperate, I yanked my right foot from the pedal and slammed it into the ice, hoping to drag the trike back straight, slow us and NOT yank my leg under the crossbar.  I had images of a dislocated hip.

It worked… kinda.  The trike did at least straighten and slowed a tiny bit.  My yelling ‘Vänta!’ and ‘Easy!’ at Loke made the woman turn.  Her startled expression passed in a blur as I missed her with almost a meter to spare.  Once straight, I put my other heel to the ice.  It slowed us a bit more and gave me a crude kind of steering as I used the pressure of my heels to keep the trike on a forward facing track.  We still did between 10 and 11 mph down that hill.  As we came to the bottom, I spotted bare pavement and pulled my feet up.  I also eased up on the brakes a bit so we didn’t slam to a stop.

Beneath the 55, I locked the brakes and went limp in the seat while I waited for my heart to slow.  Even the time I hit 32 mph on the trike didn’t shake me up that much, but then I had control.  Loke just stood there, wagging his tail and glancing between me and the dog ahead.  Completely oblivious.  Fur-brain.

By the time we passed the dog which had added fuel to the near disaster, Loke wasn’t even interested in him any more.  *eye roll*

After that, I was glad the rest of the way toward home was uneventful.  I was eyeing the GPS as we went and felt a thread of aggravation that the trip was going to fall a hair short of 20 miles.  I decided we’d take a bit of a detour to swing by Loke’s vet and schedule his kennel cough vaccination.  Two birds with one stone.  Appointment made to make sure Loke didn’t get kennel cough to stop him running and make 20 miles.

The vet tech stepped out the door and locked just as I pulled up.  I yelled ‘Nej!’ in a melodramatic fashion and laughed.  She asked if everything was okay and I explained.  She smiled and told me to just come in tomorrow.  There were few enough scheduled appointments a walk-in would be no problem.

20.24 miles when I pulled up to the apartment door.  Perfect!  A tired me with lots of exercise and a tired dog stretched out on the floor for the night.  Both of us with the longest ride of the year under our belt/collar.

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