Terii’s Cycling Babble


Goodness, I’m Slacking. :6
March 27, 2011, 7:37 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Seriously, I am.  I wish I could grump that I have no idea why, but I know exactly.  I’m bored.  Loke’s bored.  We’re both bored of the same ol’ loops as we try to build ourselves up.  Then of course, Loke’s feet need time to toughen up since I haven’t made him many socks in spite of the sewing machine we purchased almost exclusively for the purpose.  If I knew it wouldn’t kill Loke and I both after the first 6 hours or so (if lucky), I’d throw my gear in the trailer and take off.  I’ve tried looking at the maps for SOMETHING new I could ride to/past on a 3 to 5 hour easy loop, but nope.  I’ve pretty much covered everything in a 10-15 mile radius around Uppsala.

I could blame the low-grade cold I’ve been fighting.  It does make it harder to gather the UMPH to go out for a tedious ride, but it’s no real excuse.  Did I mention I’m bored?

My last ride was on the 23rd.  I’m tentatively planning to go for a ride again today in spite of the cold snap we’ve had.  After all, I do have the ultra-thermals which could double for bullet proof armor.

Any-hoo.  The last ride, March 23.

The day started out glorious.  The 2nd warmest day of the year.  It had stayed above freezing the night before and warmed so quickly, I got my earliest start of this new cycling season with me setting foot to pedals at 9:30 am sharp!  As I was wrestling the trike out, I felt quite warm in my lightest thermals under my tights and standard cycle top.  I decided Loke and I were going to do Börje for the first time this year.  Loke seemed quite glad to be out even though I turned toward the same ‘ole River Loop we’ve already run.. what? 5 times this year?  We skimmed along in the gorgeous sun, dodging a surprising number of people for a weekday morning.  We couldn’t even do our usual mad charge down the hill toward the river.

From Pristine Snow Covered Ice To This

I was quite surprised when I saw the river.  It had gone kind of yellow the week before, where the water was starting to seep through the ice, but a few nights of good freezes ans a 2 inch snow fall had turned it back to pristine white when I passed it on the 20th.  No longer!  The melt water is finally hitting the river and pushing the river level up above the ice.  A stunning transformation in just a few days!  As I took the picture (see my shadow on the river!  The closest I’ve come to being in these photos. Hehe), I noticed the clouds coming to flaw what had been a pure blue sky.

Loke actually sighed and slowed down a bit as I turned to cross the 272 onto Gamla Börjevägen.  As we moved between the fields and into the teeth of a brisk wind, the speed of the encroaching clouds seemed to swallow the sun.  20 minutes after starting out in a strong sun and temperatures warm enough, I wondered if my thermals might have been unneeded, I tried to huddle back into the sheepskin covering my seat and pulling up the collar of my wind-breaker I’d had to wrestle.  The temp had done at least a 5 degree F drop (2-ish for the metric users) and with no sunlight and wind bringing the lingering cold of snow-covered fields right into my face- Well, you get the idea.

I debated turning back a few times in the next 15 min as we crawled against the bitter breeze.  I argued with myself to do at least the loop which would take us out toward the 72 and then past the shopping center for roughly 10 miles.  At last, I gave a sigh as I decided to suck it up and do the Börje/Gamla Uppsala Loop any way, icy wind and inadequate thermals or not.

Börje Kyrka Over The Snow

Loke and I both perked up with a bit more interest as we went straight through the intersection we’d been turning right or left at so often this year.  I know, I know.  Less than 10 rides and I’m grumbling like we’ve ridden this stretch a few dozen.  The decision felt like a good one, even as I had shoulders hunched to keep the collar of my windbreaker up to my nose and the knitted cap under my helmet pulled down my upper eyelids.  Even through gloves, I alternated shoving hands between my back and the sheep-skin for warmth.  I felt even better about the ride when I spotted the church across the fields.

That picture of Börje is a prime example of why I love taking my larger, heavier Canon with the telephoto lens with me.  I never could have gotten such a good shot with my point-n-click.  Not without walking for 20 minutes across that snow with uneven ruts of a plowed earth lurking treacherously below.

Loke hit a pretty good lope as we rounded the curves that took us past the church about 15 minutes after it appeared in the distance.  He loves the curving slope that goes by the school.  It’s another one of those spots he delights in hitting a full run.  As we sped toward the church, I debated stopping to search the churchyard for additional runestones.

Uppsala Runestone #912 - Börje Kyrka

Börje Kyrka does have a runestone I know of.  It sits as part of the outside of the churchyard wall about 5 feet from the road.  It’s one of the most simple carvings I’ve found.

After my lesson with Vänge, I admit, I did consider stopping to look for another stone in the church yard or lower walls of the building itself.  One look at the parking lot choked with chunks of broken ice rapidly changed my mind.  In stead, we streamed past at almost 12 mph to whip around the curve where the road followed the churchyard wall.  I made a point of looking for the first sign of crocus along the ditch bank there as well.  It’s where I found one last year though I think it was a few weeks later in the year.

The road between Börje and the Gamla Gård is a pretty one.  A few farms and less than a handful of houses sitting up against the road for 2 miles.  The fields along there aren’t the huge flat expanses of a kilometer or more across where the wind comes screaming across the snow either.  They’re smaller, so the trees are visible as more than a dark line on the horizon and they break up air flows a bit too.  It’s a bit hilly as well so a few spots where I creep at 4 mph or less followed by decent stretches where I can cruise as fast as Loke is willing to run.  He was willing this time.  We covered the 2 miles at around 10 min, which considering the time I had to spend climbing, was pretty good.

This ride seemed to be a lot of ‘I considered’ and it held true again when I came up to Gamla Gård.  I know I’ve mentioned the place many times.  It’s a collection of farm buildings including a farm house from the 1700’s.  A group of residents in the immediate houses and farms in the area make it a point to collect old buildings, move them and then lovingly restore and maintain them.  I’ve had many a lunch or snack brake there.  Sitting under the shade of graceful birch trees at a picnic table while Loke, tethered to one of said birches, does his grass-thrash.  A few times, I’ve had the company of some of the men who are retired, have the time to care for the buildings and grounds, and only too happy to share the history of their buildings in a choppy combination of Swedish and English.  They’ve even proudly unlocked the house once so I could take a peek, even climb up into the loft/attic to take pictures of all the old butter churns, spinning wheels and farm equipment they’ve collected.

There is an outhouse too which has been a life saver every now and again.  It’s amazingly clean.  Even more impressive, though it is your traditional wooden outhouse, I’ve never seen fly or other insect there.  It’s cleaner than a few modern bathrooms I’ve suffered.

I sit here laughing as it occurs to me what, as a cycling enthusiast, I consider a luxury and important.

Field & Back of Gamla Gård Farm House

It would have been nice to get pictures of the half-dozen or so buildings arranged in the farm-yard with snow.  Particularly, the sod-roofed one.  But the gravel road was not melting gracefully or kindly toward my trike’s use, so I settled for taking a picture of the back of the farmhouse from the road.

From the Gamla Gård, it’s a long downhill slope.  Alternating between gentle glide and clench-the-brakes-with-white-knuckles-so-Loke-can-keep-up charge, it makes an easy mile for me.  Good thing Loke likes to run.  The steepest section is where it jags into a sharp ‘S’ curve with a bridge over a small stream right in the middle.  The latter part of the ‘S’ is one of the steeper hills on the route at almost 10%.  Without Loke, I’ve hit 28 mph (45 kph-ish).  With the blind SHARP curve, it really gets my heart going and a bit dry mouthed as I’ve wondered each time I’ve done that would a I lose traction and skid to the wrong side of the road just as a car came whipping down the hill from the other direction.  It’s also there, I once had a bird hit the brim of my hat when I was doing 25 mph.

It felt a little warmer as we moved along which I was quite glad of.  I stopped at one point to get the blood flowing to my toes again.  Sometimes those cycle shoes of mine leave them numb.  I swapped Loke to his flexi-leash, but he just stood there staring at me in confusion as I moved back and forth.  Finally, I picked up a small rock and threw it into the snowy field.  It began a frenzy.  The furry one bound after it and his face vanished as he began a search.  Some crazy, circular bounding and he finally flung himself down to wallow in the snow.  Frantic digging followed that for about 5 minutes.  When he calmed down, another tossed stone set him off.  He enjoyed himself.  Goof.  It really perked him when I hitched him to the trike.  He set off with as much vigor as our first mile usually has.

I didn’t stop at Ulva.  The cafe was closed and no way I was going to take the trike down an icy and very steep slope to get a closer look at the river.

Stone Fragment - Gamla Uppsala

By the time we made it to Gamla Uppsala, it was noticeably warmer and I decided to check out the churchyard there.  5 years of cycling past Gamla Uppsala at least a dozen times a year and I’d never looked for runestones there.  Gamla Uppsala church had them.  I found the three fragments first.  Clustered together, they lacked the sign giving any hint of a history.  The larger of the three didn’t have any runes I could spot, but I did think the etching looked a bit like a ship with a cross on the sail, but I have a feeling there is so much of the carving is missing, it could be a standard cross surrounded by a band of runes.

During the slow circle of the church, I again mentally kicked myself for having forgotten my sneakers.

Uppland's Runestone #978 - Gamla Uppsala

I found the sign for the mostly intact runestone at Uppsala before I found the stone.  I had a moment of confusion as I looked around for it.  The sign had been pulled up and leaned against the wall of the church almost 10 feet away.  Another reason it took me a bit to spot the stone was its color!  A bright, rusty red?!  Take a look for yourself!

I’m used to stones being various shades of gray from almost white to a dark slate hue with flecks of brown.  This is the first red one I’ve found.  Maybe by looking at the stones used in the church, I shouldn’t be so surprised.  A few are very dark red.  I’m going to make a guess this stone was definitely not made from granite which is what runestones generally appear to be carved from.

Translating the information on the sign, shows this stone’s oddities reach beyond its unusual color.  This is also one of the first runestones I’ve found to have a history as an alter table in the church.  The other interesting point is the name of the one who commissioned the stone.  Sigvid Englandsfararen or in English, Signvid England’s Traveler.  The first I’ve found a name with more than just a first name though the second one is more a descriptive term than a last name.  Kinda like Eric the Red.

I was definitely glad I stopped!

After that, it was just a short jaunt home.  I went along the busy road flanked by cycle paths.  Not only the most direct, but also the one I knew would be passable.  Some of the residential streets were still pretty ice choked and the grave mound path would be even worse.  Unpaved roads and paths are the last to melt.

When we got home, Loke immediately flattened out.  That surprised me.  Our last ride, 3 days earlier was 20 miles and the furry one had plenty of energy!  He bounced around with his ball, slept for an hour and then bullied Jens for his walk.  The next day, he tried to bully me out the door for a ride.  18 miles and he was flat on the floor.  And so flat the next day, we had to bully him out the door for his walks.  I might have worried except the day before our run, I’d taken him for vaccinations.  Kennel Cough, Parvo and Distemper.  It might have left his immune system in overdrive and little energy for anything else after the run.

Speaking of vaccinations!  While I’m dragging, I am still hoping to have a cycle season rich in tours!  When I took Loke in for his shots, I asked about getting a doggie passport.  After asking my husband about it since it was a moderate chunk of change, I took care of that yesterday.  Loke was given a rabies vaccination, his passport stamped with the info and in 5 months, he’ll be checked for the antibodies.  If they’re present, he’ll be cleared to move freely in the EU community!  While the odds of us riding outside of Norway or Sweden this year are small, at least the option is there come late August or early September.  I feel excited at the idea!

Hmm. I think I found the oomph to get out for a ride today!  Happy Day!

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