Terii’s Cycling Babble

Trike Adventures on Ice
March 27, 2011, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Sounds almost like one of those ice shows.  Disney or something.  It was nothing warm and fluffy though.

Writing the blog earlier this morning lit a fire under my butt.  I asked my hubby if he would mind abandoning me, trike and dog somewhere in the countryside for a few hours.  He was willing so I laid out a route just outside of the ‘Been There, Done That Too Many Times’ lands though it would lead me to a place I’ve cycled through twice before.  If I was really froggy, I could probably even cycle home passed Ulva and Gamla Uppsala, though it would mean a ride of 40 miles or more.  I doubted I’d make it that far, but it was a possibility and Jens liked the idea of me cycling in the general direction toward home at least.

Every weather application/website or thermometer I checked insisted it was above freezing as I readied everything for the ride.  I’d tentatively planned to leave from Skogstibble which is along a section of the Sverigeleden I’d cycled almost 2 years ago now.  After a few miles though, I’d be on new ground with new churches.  On the way there, I decided to skip Skogtibble and start from the first new church.  I would cut nearly 4 miles from the ride.  4 miles I could apply to the other end, edging me a bit closer to home.

Ålands Kyrka

There was a bit of confusion and it turned out the second choice for a starting point wasn’t entirely good.  To get to the road I needed meant riding along a very busy section with no shoulder for about a 1/4 mile.  Not my idea of a good start.  So, I rambled around the churchyard for pictures and my constant search for runestones.  Sadly, there were no runestones to be found, but I did take a few pictures at least.  Oh! And do you see the clear skies and sun in the picture?  Yeah, so did I.

Looks So Very Old

One thing I decided as I assembled the trike.  All the weather things I’d checked and rechecked LIED about the temperature even if correct about sunshine.  In no way was it almost 40 F.  The wind was stiff and roaring through the trees with a bitter sting against my eyes and cheeks.  Before I even settled the seat, I was dragging on all the layers I’d thought to bring.  My gloves?  Completely inadequate.  It was new ground and I refused to be put off by something as paltry as wind.  Pfft!  I would conquer!  I had my bullet proof thermals on as well as thin thermals with cycle tights and 4 layers on my arms and chest.

As I settled things, Jens pointed out the sound of geese in the distance.  Kinda neat, but it didn’t hold my attention.  Geese generally mean Canadian Geese and while I like them, they’re kinda like the mallard ducks around here.  So many and so common, they blend into the scenery.  Kinda like blades of grass.

Where Did Spring Go??

The first two miles were brutal.  The wind, cold and dry, made my eyes burn so much I had tears streaming down my cheeks and could barely keep them open.  I kept thinking I needed a video camera mounted on my pedal boom so I could play it back to see the scenery I’d ridden though.  We flew over that distance at roughly 16 mph (from the few glances I managed to actually see my Garmin).  The speed wasn’t my choice, but my partner’s.  Loke was in his element!  A bitter chill in the air and a world of white all around is where a husky belongs.  He loved it!  Me?  Not so happy, but determined.

During the charge, I discovered the distant honking hadn’t been geese!  I heard it again and turned my head.  That gave my eyes a brief respite from the wind and I smiled.  Swans!  A pair of swans came from behind us fast.  Only about 30 feet away and barely 10 feet off the ground, they raced Loke and I.  The furry one’s pace fumbled a bit as he spotted them.  When those graceful, winged forms surged ahead, he poured on the speed to try and catch them.  After a few hundred yards, they canted upward, vivid white against the blue of the sky.  Swans seem to have grace in all they do.  Except maybe walking.  They do look a bit silly on land.  Sadly, no pictures.  Digging the camera out at 16 mph seemed too risky.

Worry gnawed at the back of my mind as I came up on the first turn.  I was certain it wouldn’t be paved and I was right.  It looked great though.  No snow or ice on it and while mushy enough to make me work a bit harder, it wasn’t a killer.  Loke really liked it and wanted to run, run, RUN!

Around mile 3, I spotted white on the road ahead.  Not terribly worried, we went on since it didn’t appear to be hard frozen ruts or the like.  Heh.  Yeah.  Not ruts.  Hard frozen, definitely.  We were climbing a hill when I lost all traction.  My forward momentum turned into a twisting, slow glide across the road.  When I stopped, I was cross-wise to the road direction, a sitting duck for any car coming over the hill.  All my studded rear tire accomplished was a spin.  I put a foot down and tried to push.  I even tried to get Loke to pull.  No good.  I somehow managed to get out of the trike.  With my feet sliding like crazy, I  pushed the trike back to a thin strip of gravel.  I managed to move about 100 feet with the momentum I gained from that short running start.  It was enough I was able to drag the trike to clear ground.  All of this left Loke completely baffled. He, of course, had no problem on the ice.

Little Slice of H*ll. Little Did I Know

I was shaking as I caught my breath.  Less than 200 feet in 15 minutes and I felt like I’d gone 5 miles in 10 minutes or something silly.  The picture does no justice since you can’t see the true expanse of the ice around the curve.  No way I was going to skate around the curve to get a better shot either.  Falling on my rear or face isn’t my idea of a good time.  Pretty sure it would ruin the rest of the ride.

I gave Loke a drink and then pedaled on.  Less than another 200 yards around a curve, I stopped to stare in dismay.  Ice.  Smooth, gleaming like wet, polished alabaster.

Birch Trees In Snow

The next three miles must be among the hardest I’ve ever ridden.  It was harrowing and exhausting.  Long stretches of the slick topped road where I had to build up momentum before hitting ice.  My gears had to stay low, but I needed pedal quickly so I wouldn’t lose the forward movement and yet not so fast to spin the tire.  Desperately trying to steer around curves with front tires which didn’t want to hold the surface beneath them.

Loke came into his own.   Usually, the furry one only pulls at the first mile or so of a ride, when he sees small animals to chase, or on very rare occasions up steep hills.  He’s a very smart dog and after the fiasco of the first ice patch, he sensed what was needed.  He pulled hard and steady.  I encouraged and lavished praise upon him as we skidded and slid on our way, praying the whole time he wouldn’t decide he needed to stop and mark the deep snow bank to the side.  He didn’t.  The furry one was a husky with a job and he did it flawlessly.  I’m utterly convinced that without Loke, I would have been calling my husband for a rescue in the middle of that 3 mile ice rink.

Each spot of clear road, I’d stop to catch my breath, sip water and offer some to Loke.  I pedaled so fast I sweated in spite of the cold.  I felt nauseous a few times both from exertion and, when I’d start to slide in weird directions or slow down, worry of getting stuck.  Insane cadence and struggling to control my direction took their toll.  Where there wasn’t ice, the dirt was a thick mire that slowed me to a crawl.  It took me an hour and a half to cover the 3 miles and reach clear roads.  Paved roads.  When I realized the worst was over, I had to wait for my muscles to stop twitching and my breathing to normalize before I could go on.  After the insanity of the frozen road, solid pavement under the wheels felt like air.  Even with the wind and my knobbly rear tire, it felt like I flew.  Loke was still happy to run and I noticed he barely pulled.  He’d done his duty to get me to good ground and was happy to just keep up.  I was fine with that too.

We covered the distance from the icy nightmare to the small village of Järlåsa.  Somewhere between those two points, the sun vanished behind a blanket of cloud and somehow the frigid wind got even colder.  It didn’t help, I was still fairly exhausted from the adventure.  A bit less than 3 hours of cycling to cover 9.65 miles and I found myself looking upon Järlåsa Church.

Järlåsa Kyrka

It was a surprise.  A stunning, round church of stone and yellow painted plaster capped by a domed roof with a central copper steeple.  It was quite beautiful and I was enchanted.  I’ve seen a few other round churches, but I think this one was the prettiest.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I began to shiver.  Even the warmth generated by pedalling wasn’t enough to counter the chilling I got.  Most of it was from my face and I had trouble keeping the cap down over my ears.  I gathered the camera and Loke to find a good angle to collect the church and look for runestones.  Sadly, none to find it seems unless there’s one lurking at the old ruined church I just found out about as I blogged this.  Maybe I should start researching the churches before the ride though it would ruin the surprise I get when I find gems like this.  I suppose on a later ride, I can start from here to find the ruins before I leave.

I was so cold and tired when I finished my round of the church, I decided the ride was over.  Yes, I know.  Less than 10 miles and I was giving up.  But I wasn’t sure I could push the pedals much farther.  It was long miles to the next point of interest and if I became too wiped to go on, there wouldn’t be a spot as nice to wait for a pick up either.  I went to sit in the near tropical warmth of the tiny bathroom for a while after I called the hubby.  Tethering Loke with a long line, I sat down in the trike with my back to the wind.  Hat down as far as I could pull it and collar of the windbreaker up to my nose, I waited.

Loke didn’t seem too happy with that.  When I’d turned the trike around, he immediately moved into the correct position to be hitched and followed it as if he had been tied to it.  After a few minutes, he woofed at me.  Even pawed at my leg and arm.  When that didn’t work, he sat staring off in the distance with deep sighs.  Clearly, he hadn’t run enough, but I didn’t have anything left.

It felt so nice to get home, jump into a near scalding bath and soak.  Loke’s fairly quiet, but not as flat as he was after the last ride.  About right for both of us, I’d say.


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