Terii’s Cycling Babble

Like A Chicken…
April 30, 2011, 2:56 am
Filed under: Misc

… with it’s head cut off.  The frantic, almost blind scurrying as one attempts to do everything at once in borderline panic.  That’s been me the past couple days.  Furiously plotting rides while trying to figure out what are ‘MUST SEE’S on Öland and what I can let slide.  Trying to get Photoshop to stop crashing my computer long enough to get my maps from the computer into hard copy.  Stressing that I’m going to forget something critical in the packing frenzy.

Work on all this would have started sooner except I was laid low with migraines, so everything ended up kind of last minute.  Even so!  Öland here we come!

I doubt I’ll be able to post while out there.  It’s a bit difficult to work on photos on my Apple and I’m not even sure my husband’s work laptop has an image software I could use to crop and resize.  I’ll likely do as I did on our trip last August which is, I’ll spend the evening after each ride with the day’s text and fiddle with the pictures when I get home, making a post a day.  That seemed to work out pretty well.  I really am quite excited.  A castle and church ruins sit on the island as do a number of runestones.  Beach scenery!  Spring in national parks!  And fornborg!

What is a fornborg?  Ancient fortified village remains.  When they were in use, they were a large wall of earth built up in a ring and likely topped with a wooden stockade.  Within, the homes and other buildings critical to village life would have crouched, tightly packed in that defensive ring.  I took a peek at them via Google Maps satellite view.  Two of them are just large earthen rings to be seen.  One has apparently been restored with some of the buildings within.  Another one is the circular earth wall, and though the buildings are long gone, the outlines are clearly visible within.  Gives you a clear glimpse of how cheek to jowl life in this sort of village was.  I’m sure it won’t look nearly as impressive from the ground, but I want to see it all the same!

I really am excited and looking forward to this! *excited girlish squeal*

Soggy Ears
April 27, 2011, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

The long Easter weekend is over and I’m kind of sad to see it go.  I really enjoyed the rides I did with Loke and seeing all the new territory.  My husband was incredibly supportive and willing to drive me around for new ground.  Granted, I made sure it was in areas he could go fishing.  Not a bad trade off.

Salem Kyrka

I attempted a ride on the 24th, but I changed my mind after hiking through grave field area I discovered near Salem Kyrka (photo from April 9th ride).  It was the spot I stopped before the church where I couldn’t lock my trike and was unwilling to leave it for an extended period to hike around looking for the archeology.  I decided I could finish the trip, even extend it a little, after Jens, Loke and I explored the area.  Starting there seemed a good idea.

Small Cluster of Grave Mounds

We arrived and began the hike.  The terrain was quite hilly and the first leg of it, while beautiful if you kept your eyes to the right, was extremely noisy as it meandered parallel with the E4.  Loke was in heaven as the first part of the walk carried us through the cool shade of woods.  Within a few hundred feet, we came up to the first POI.  A small cluster of grave mounds with something called a ‘gravklot’ which is highly ornamented, large stone (2 feet in diameter) which marks a woman’s burial.  There were a lot of rocks and I couldn’t spot the gravklot probably because of weathering and lichen.

The path sloped up slightly, though it was nothing compared to the huge hill on our right.  All shrouded in trees, it was pretty.  I knew somewhere up there was a stone square of some kind.  The map wasn’t exactly to scale and with it stuck to a board we couldn’t bring it with us either.  All I knew was ‘up there’ and there was a LOT of ‘up there’.  So we stayed on the path and kept an eye out for a marker/path leading that way.

As we walked, we did notice a peculiar series of formations to the left, between us and the highway.  Marching in a straight line between path and the road below, were holes, maybe over a dozen.  Between 3 to 4 feet across with very steep sides and some of them were over 3 feet deep.  From center of one hole to the next was probably around 4 yards or so.  I couldn’t imagine anything natural causing such a regularity of size and spacing.  The sides and bottoms lay beneath a thick layer of old pine needles, leaves and twigs.  One even had a pine sapling growing out of it.  Very strange.

Ancient Roadway

The next find I’m sure most people would find a little underwhelming, but it fascinated me.  Sloping down toward the E4, Jens and I came upon a trench running cross-wise the path.  It was a small part of an ancient roadway.  The passing of countless feet, human and livestock, had worn a trench in the earth over a time which may have spanned thousands of years since there are indications the region has been in habited for over 3000 years.  A path forgotten for centuries until some archeologist came along said, ‘Hey! That’s not a natural formation!’.  To me, that is utterly fascinating.  And since my mother’s father was of Swedish decent (rather than Danish as previously thought), perhaps even my ancestors trod over it!  It’s hard to get a picture of a trench in a forest floor,  I promise, it’s not as flat as it looks.

After a bit of confusion through one section, we found ourselves back on the trail to wander along the backside of the big hill.  The change in the environment was startling.  On the side by the E4, it was all shadowy conifers and moist ground cover.  On the other it was light and bright.  Tall, graceful birches and some other sorts of deciduous trees  just beginning to bud.  Undergrowth that was a carpet of green studded in white flowers that swept up the steep slope.

Soderby Grave Field

The path followed along the base of the hill with no indication of a sign or path saying ‘Go up here for the stone square’.  Further away from the hill, it opened out into a beautiful clear field with a couple of older birches standing watch.  Strewn here and there were stones which, obviously, were not natural in their placement or shape.  We walked along the edge of a fair sized grave field.

There still was no sign of a path up the hill or sign pointing for the stone square.  I finally gritted my teeth and began the climb.  I made it up more easily than I expected.  Unfortunately, I was in for disappointment.  There were so many trees and randomly scattered rocks I couldn’t see anything remotely like a square outline.

By the time we got back to the car, I felt too worn to want to ride.  I expected some fuss from Jens about the long drive for a walk, but instead he suggested we drive further south to look at a castle.  I’m not sharing those pictures since the castle is in an area I intend to ride to and right along the Sverigeleden.

As the last day of the Easter holiday, I roused my husband around 7 am and tried to get him out the door for fishing at Singö after dropping me off in the area he’d picked me up last time.  He was willing to drive out there, but at the last moment, decided to go home rather than drive up to the island for fishing.  Another catch was our time was limited since we were supposed to be at my in-laws for dinner by 5:30 pm.

Uppland Runestone #513 - Rimbo

On the way to Skederids Kyrka area, we stopped at Rimbo Kyrka.  Loke and husband waited in the car while I ran around the church with camera in hand for the elusive Uppland’s Runestone #513.  I found it on the back wall of the church, right near a bench I’d noticed when I’d walked around it on the 22nd.  How I noticed the bench and missed the stone, I’ve no clue.

My previous oversight corrected, we drove on.

I decided not to start from Skederids Church itself.  When we’d left it on my last ride, I’d noticed a man working in his yard with a pair of loose Rotties.  There was no fence.  The idea of charging down a hill past a pair of very powerful and loose dogs who likely had little socialization didn’t sound like a good one.  I certainly wasn’t willing to risk the dogs training to our safety.  Instead, I decided the large parking lot where I’d given Jens the first set of GPS numbers sounded far safer.

Within half an hour since leaving Rimbo, the trike rolled out.  The temp was already edging toward the warm side, but still not unpleasant.  Loke was enthusiastic.  For over a mile we streaked along at over 16 mph.  In the wrong direction.  I didn’t have to turn back since I could easily have gotten to where I needed to go by taking a right turn, but it would have meant traveling on the 77 with the post Easter traffic.  Ummm, no.  So, we turned around and scurried back most of the way we’d come to get on the right road.

Rolling hills gave the road some interest as did the mingling of fields and woods.  The slight haze which had turned the sky almost white beneath a glaring sun faded to leave the sky a clear blue.  My mood was high and I had a happy husky loping and trotting along beside me.  Life was good.

Husby-Sjuhundra Kyrka

Uppsala's Runestone #539 - Husby-Sjuhundra Kyrka

Husby-Sjuhundra Kyrka proved to be built in a style a bit different from the rest on the previous ride.  Instead of a bell tower gate, it had a more common lantern topped steeple attached to the church.  A quick glance around found no signs forbidding dogs in the churchyard, so I swapped shoes and brought Loke along.  I think he was expecting to be left.  I thought about it, since taking pictures is a bit easier without him.  The sun felt quite strong with no shade close at hand and the way he gulped water after only 3 miles, I decided it best he come along.  I’m not really interested in roasting my husky.

Upplands Runestones #540 & 541

Husby-Sjuhundra was a goldmine of runestones.  Immediately next to the first entrance I came to was a tall narrow one.  Around the corner to the left, I found another pair mounted to the wall with iron brackets which I’d never seen before.  Free standing, embedded in church or churchyard walls, or even just propped up somewhere I’ve found, but this was new.

Uppland Runestone #558- Husby-Sjuhundra Kyrka

There was also a fourth stone.  Though it appeared nearly intact, I found no sign for it.  Enter the internet!  It is Uppland’s Runestone #558 and was discovered in 1983.  So, quite a late find as such things go, though it seems there were 7 others that same year.

When I finished my church rounds, Loke still glugged down a a lot of water.  That had me a bit concerned.  I mean, it’s generally been a challenge to get him to drink after five or six miles.  I thought he was going to be sloshing when we moved out.  When he finally quit drinking, I squooshed the left over water in the dish into his ear fur and front legs to help cool him a bit.  He didn’t enjoy it much.

While a touch on the warm side as Loke and I continued with the up and down hill ride, it was another of those days where I felt good in my skin.  I love those days.  I wish I had more of them, but I’m sure we all do.

The traffic on the road was light.  I saw more tractors in the fields around me than cars passed me.  Dust swirled up from the plowing and flocks of sea gulls with a scattering of kaya went in the wake of the tills.  They were having a feast from whatever small critters were turned up with soil.

Abandoned House

After a short stint (half a mile or so) on the now hated 77, I made a turn onto a quieter road again.  It began with a rather nasty hill.  Loke had plenty of time to sniff at the roadside plants sprouting up from the winter-brown sod.

After an amazingly level stretch of a couple miles, an old house falling to ruin caught my eye.  I’m not sure why, but old buildings like this house have always snared my curiosity and imagination.  Why was it abandoned?  How old is it?  What does it look like on the inside?  A house like this one, I could imagine it being over 100 years old.  I gave Loke another long drink of water as I simply stared at the lonely looking old home, slowly vanishing behind a screen of growth.

Much to my surprise, my next stretch was on a cycle path.  Unpaved mind you.  Rattling and bumping along as it alternated between solid gravel from edge to edge to a grassy swathe down the center.  Arrow straight and running seemingly through the middle of nowhere, I wondered if it was an old rail trace.  Small scrubby trees flanked the sides and for about a mile, there was a tall wire fence beyond which the ground was a marshy bog between the pale trunks of birch with rising ground beyond.  The came fields with old falling barns.

As I jounced along, I had to laugh.  When I’d talked with one of the guy at Inspired Cycle Engineering about my broken spoke, I’d mention I wasn’t surprised it broke since I’ve ridden on some pretty rough terrain over the 5 years I’ve had the trike.  He recommended big, cushy tires instead of my slicks, but I’d said the rough ground was less than 1/4 of my distance so, the big tire roll-resistance wasn’t worth it.  Yet, here I was on rough ground again and it looked to be a long haul.

A Pleasant Sight.. If You're Not A Golfer.

After a couple miles, the gravel smoothed significantly and I found myself pedaling through a golf-course.  It felt oddly out of place as I’d seen no houses only field and forest with a bit of marsh thrown in.  Not a hint of traffic noise, but the grounds between the roughs were extremely well tended.  This wasn’t a slip-shod excuse of a course.

It was also thick with wild life.  In the water hazards there were ducks and each pond seemed to have its own pair of swans jealously guarding it’s patch of grass and water.  One pair even looked as if they were ready to charge us.  Magpies screamed at us from the trees.  There was another kind of bird calling through the tangled thickets.  I couldn’t identify it until one of them finally burst from cover in a mad dash across the trail about 40 feet away.  A pheasant cock.  I tried to get a picture, but all I got was indistinguishable blur.  Worse even than the goose picture.

The only problem I had while passing through the golf course came when one of the water hazards next to the path was still overflowing from the winter melt and 2/3 of the path was under water.  Only a few inches thankfully.

Beyond The Green

The golf course vanished to be replaced with trees and fields again.    Occasionally, I’d pass by what seemed to be stone gate posts.  Stone columns about 4 or 5 feet tall and 1 foot square at the base about 6′ apart.  I think maybe they were the entrances to what had been fields and/or pastures.  Some of them still were, though I found one pair right against a wall of tree trunks and tangled undergrowth.  Maybe once a field now long over grown?

Lake View

I was sad to see the cycle path go, but the paved road was calm with beautiful scenery and hills.  When I saw the lake across the fields, I knew the next church was close as it sat close to the water’s edge.  Before I reached it, the lake view improved.  A blind curve near the brow of a hill didn’t seem an ideal place to stop for a camera wrestle.

The first view of Malsta Kyrka showed me a small, simple church of white plaster perched on the down slope of a rather steep hill down to the sun-shimmering ripples of the lake.  The view was more than a little marred by the clutter of scaffolding and glare of bright blue tarp over the roof.

Malsta Kyrka Lake View

I discovered the reason for both tarp and scaffolding as I parked the trike in a shady spot of the tiny parking lot.  I wrinkled my nose against the distinctive smell wafting through the balmy air.  The odor of charred wood and not the homey hearth-fire scent.  It reminded me more of every May 1st morning after the April 30th bonfires.  Almost a week too early for that, so only one explanation left.  The church had burned.

Uppland Runestone #559

With no signs forbidding dogs, I took Loke along with me.  The heavy, burned reek intensified as I went into the church yard.  Near the wall were piles of wooden shingles and a number of them were blackened and cracked.  I moved on down the slope toward the front of the church facing the lake below.  To my surprise, the door of the porch stood open and I could see the darker outlines of runestones leaning near the church door within.  I stood there for a moment and decided for once to take a risk.  Though not before I went back to the trike, tethered Loke and changed to my sneakers.  My cycle shoes would not have been kind to the floor.

I continued on around the church where movement flickered near the base of a grave stone.  Puzzled, I stepped to one side and tried to look around it.  A quick flash of something light brown and suddenly, Loke was all ears and quivering anticipation.  Me and the quick little creature played the sort of ‘out of sight’ tag that squirrels will do around the trunk of a tree.  After about the 5th attempt to see exactly what it was, it froze in view.

A weasel!  A tiny, lithe body clad in hazel-nut brown fur with cream along the belly and throat.  It stared at Loke and I for a moment and with a flash it bolted along the base of the church wall.  With a flick of its tail, it vanished into a crevice.  My very first weasel!  No way I could have gotten a picture of it.  Simply too fast.  I was grinning broadly as walked on.  Until I came to a pair of men in suits sitting on a bench and speaking.  I made my apologies for intruding as I scooted past.

Interior of Malsta Kyrka

Loke tethered in the shade and wearing my sneakers, I went back to the church entrance.  I found one mostly intact runestone and 4 fragments of one or more.  They didn’t look like they were all from the same stone.  Beyond, I could see the dark wood of the pews and the plastered walls with paintings of crosses which looked quite medieval.

Curiosity pulled me and I took a couple steps inside to get a glimpse toward the alter.  I heard voices around the corner, but decided I really wanted a picture.  I didn’t want to intrude further, so I took the picture from the corner of the doorway and quietly retreated.  I was glad to see the fire damage appeared to be minimal since there seemed to be preparations for some kind of service.  I knew the interior photo would be the one I’d use for this church since it was so much nicer than scaffolding and tarp.

Soggy Doggie Ears

More people were arriving as I went back to the trike to eat an apple before moving on.

I returned to the cycle path for about half a mile, mostly to avoid a large dog something like a German Shepherd with really long fur.  He’d been quite aggressive.

Once off the cycle path, the ride got a bit brutal.  The day had continued to heat up until it felt more like summer than early spring.  I’d been keeping Loke’s ears as wet as I could.  I made sure I drank a lot of water so I didn’t feel too bad.  Until I got to the climb.  75% of the climbing I did, I think it was along that one 3 mile stretch.  I know on some of the forums I look at, people talk about climbs of 1,000 or 5,000 feet in what seems like an insanely short distance.  Yet, here I am fussing about 300 feet over a bit less than 3 miles.  I even stopped a few times to see if my brakes had gotten stuck it felt so hard.  I was never much of a climber on my bike and I’m only slightly better at it on my trike.

At least the slow pace gave Loke a bit of a breather.

Uppland Runestone #567

I had to keep track of time as I pedaled on to the next church.  The bell tower was over a quarter mile before I reached the church.  I could just make out the church beyond and found myself not even bothering to dig the camera out.  The roof, zink or tin I think, looked rather scabby thanks to the black paint peeling away.  My impression of the church didn’t really improve when I got closer.  It even seems once I got to the churchyard, I overlooked taking a picture of the church itself while looking for runestones.  Only one and it was right next to the gate as I entered.

Loke and I weren’t there long before I was back on the trike, re-wetting his ears and off we went again.  My path took me to a smaller road and doubts wormed their way to my surface thoughts as I passed a farmhouse with a pair of snarling, picket-chewing chocolate labs.  The road turned to dirt and I debated turning back, but I wanted to find a grave field further north.  I pressed on.  Google Earth, my GPS and mapbook all agreed there was a road.

Ummm? Road??

Rocks, lots of rocks.  It made even the worst sections of the cycle path seem smooth as I did a lot of swerving.  In spite of the care I took, the rear deraillieur took some knocks.  For a bit, the rocks disappeared and the road nearly went with them.  A long, branch-arched corridor was all I had.  Small limbs lay strewn here and there over the trail.  I got a bit creative, pedaling with one foot while pushing the obstructions away with the other.  Slow, but easier on my back than getting up to drag and untangle them.  Loke tried to ‘help’ by grabbing some of them to drag along with us.  After about half a mile, it was back to rocks.

As I emerged from the rough track, I got a strange look from a farmer plowing his field.  I’m sure he’s rarely seen anyone come out from that direction let alone a recumbent trike with a white husky.

The junction took me to another unpaved road.  Very narrow, but smooth unless you count the short patches of wash-boarding.  After stones, soft dirt and leaves, I felt like I glided on air.  Even so, I was worn.  Jens had called to let me know he was on his way to Rimbo we could make it back to Uppsala in time to have dinner with his parents.  I thought I’d have enough time to take pictures of the grave field and make it to the next church.

The grave field was a lost cause.  At one time it might have been a field, but now it was a young growth wood.  Nothing to see but small trees and bushes.  The road widened and was so smoothly packed I even stopped to see if it really was dirt.

Estuna Kyrka

The last of the ride went as a blur.  Jens called from Rimbo and I gave him the cords for Estuna Kyrka.  I remember riding by a fowl farm.  Turkeys, geese, chickens and ducks all.  One of the turkeys was a huge, round tom.  Quite impressive.  I also remember turning onto a very busy road and gritting my teeth through the traffic.  I remember walking around the church on wobbly legs and finding pieces of a runestone (or multiple) mounted to the archway of the churchyard gate with no sign.  After that, I stripped the harness off Loke, sat down on the gravel box to wait for my husband.

It felt good to drowse in the car on the way home.

Started Out ‘Brrrrr’ And Ended ‘Ahhhh’
April 24, 2011, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Friday was the first day of the long Easter Weekend.  Good Friday and on through to Monday.  My husband planned to help a friend get a boat to water since our vehicle has a trailer hitch and his friend didn’t.  Boat moving would be  followed by fishing from said boat.  Jens suggested I plot a ride in the area there where he could drop off and pick me up on his way back and forth.  It was a great idea.  I debated for a short while about taking the trailer, but decided against it.

Gray & Windy Morning

I had some doubts when we were packing up to leave.  We’d had rain over night.  While not raining when we pulled out of the parking lot around 9 am, the clouds, heavy and leaden, still hung low overhead.  Various temp readings insisted it was 46 F, but it felt much colder with a stiff wind that bit right through clothing.

Rånäs Manor's Stable

I chose to start the ride at a little chapel not far from the Mörby castle ruins.  On the last stretch to it, we passed a rather impressive white barn which turned out to be the stables for a castle, though I’d call it a manor house.  I made careful note of the ‘slott’ as we passed it as well as a pretty stone mill and the old buildings which would have housed the people who provided the services for the grounds and manor.  I was baffled.  My Tourist & Cycle Guide maps had nothing marked for the area except for the chapel.  It’s usually pretty good about marking castles and churches.  How could it have gotten a tiny little chapel forgetting the manor house?  I knew I was going to be adding distance to my ride, pedalling toward Mörby for about a mile to get the stable, manor, mill and whatever else caught my eye.

Rånäs Stone Mill

As I hurriedly pulled on all my extra layers before getting the trike ready in the cold, it struck me a bit funny.  The last time I cycle in the area, I’d about frozen my… toes off.  That ride had been in June.  At least in April, that kind of cold is more expected.  Even so, it still was amusing that the mild morning’s we’d been having vanished the very time I was in the Mörby Slott/Fasterna Kyrka area.

My husband was feeling a bit antsy as we pulled everything out of the car.  I told him to have fun and sent him on his way with seat, pod bags, flag and various other things scattered around me on the gravel parking.  Loke sat where I’d tethered him to a light pole, woofing at me as I loaded the trike up like a packhorse.  It took me a while.  I’d never realized how much I rush when Jens is hovering, waiting for me to clip shoes to pedals before leaving.  Then, with camera in hand, I strolled toward the restroom in a building outside the chapelyard.  Only then did I turn my attention to photographing the chapel and environs.

Rånäs Chapel

Rånäs Chapel is a small wooden structure.  The same red painted paneled walls as Singö Church had though it’s smaller and without the tower.  It’s surrounded by old trees and a dirt road curves around behind it to a cluster of farm buildings and a house.  As I strolled the churchyard in search of runestones, a woman came walking down the road with a chow-chow.  Upon seeing Loke, she immediate turned back.  I’m guessing her chow wasn’t very dog-friendly, but then, they rarely are.

Fasterna Kyrka Over Lake

I still wasn’t done.  Only a small paved road and short stretch of field separated the chapel from a lake and across the wind-rough, leaden waters, Fasterna Kyrka stood out atop its hill on the far shore.  I wanted that picture.  So, of course, the careful juggling of camera lenses took more time as did trying to hold the bigger lens steady in hard wind while fully extended.  I finally had to walk to a tree at the edge of the parking lot and brace myself against the trunk to accomplish it.  Worth it, I think.  Pity I couldn’t see the ruins of Mörby from there.

Camera packed, I finally moved out.  I’d sent Jens off around 10:15 and as I moved out to go find the barns, manor and mill of Rånäs, it was 11:05.  I drew a deep breath and told myself I was NOT going to sulk about lost miles.  I was doing what I wanted which was enjoying my surroundings and getting pictures.

Rånäs Manor

The area around Rånäs Manor was surprisingly busy.  People walking every where, waiting for buses.  The manor itself was once used as a mental health ward, but now is a used as a hotel as well as a spa and conferences.  Loke and I cruised back toward the white stable at over 16 mph as I stopped every few hundred meters for pictures.  Each time he’d give this deep, huffing sigh and stare at me with his ears tilted back a bit.

Farm Building, Wind Downed Branch, Loke Ears

When I finally reached the stables, the horses in the paddocks were very fearful.  I felt a bit bad, but at least they only ran to the far side and stood there staring rather than looking as if they might try going through the railings.  I hurriedly made the shot and then turned to leave to avoid stressing them too much.

The area around the manor was quite pretty.  Small streams, ponds and tiny lakes surrounded it, all shaded by trees most of which were quite old.  A very tranquil sort of place.  I took my time exploring around the manor and mill, getting photos of both from various angles before I considered myself done and pedaled my way back to the proper path.

Blue Sky Over Lake Near Ekebyholm

I know I already mentioned it was cold, but forgetting the sheepskin I use to cover my seat in chilly temps didn’t help one bit.  At least I’d brought all my layers so I didn’t feel too bad.  I would have been happier if I’d remembered my mittens though.  Even so, it felt good to be out.  The countryside was pretty as we rolled through it and Loke had a lot more zip in his legs than he’d had for the two trailer outings (yes, I made another one but didn’t post).  It felt like there were a LOT of hills.

One of the worst was coming into a little village called Ekebyholm.  It felt like I was crawling UP through the place for ages.  With a narrow road lined by oaks, I was glad of the cycle path which had begun as I entered the village.  I’ll admit it was pretty though I didn’t get any any pictures.  I didn’t really feel like stopping on an 8% slope, struggling to keep from rolling back while digging the camera out.  Just seemed a bit… precarious is the word I’m looking for.

Ekebyholm Slott

As high as the climb had been, the decent matched it and had sharp curves as well.  Loke was quite happy to run with his tongue lolling grin as we tore along, the large white outline of Ekebyholm Slott appearing beyond the trees and the lake beyond.  I didn’t bother with walking around.  I stopped long enough to snap the castle, drink water, water Loke and move on.  It just didn’t inspire me much.  A white box flanked by two other white boxes and except for the pretty lake view, it lacked the pretty ground Rånäs had.

Geese! What Sort? Dunno!

The road away from the castle was long, straight and almost flat.  The lake shore curved away from the road and fields covered the intervening space.  I began hearing the honking of geese or swans, though I couldn’t see anything at first.  Finally, I spotted a cluster of moving shapes in the field.  Yep, geese.  Much to my surprise they weren’t Canadian Geese or even barnacle.  I’m not sure what kind of goose.  Given the coloring it could have been any of at least 3.  Graylag, Bean, or Greater White-Fronted.  I’m not enough of a goose expert to be able to tell the difference between those three at a glance from almost 100 yards away.  Actually, I probably couldn’t tell the difference between them even from 10 feet away. Hehe.

Either way, it was cool to see a different kind of goose!  That makes 4 types of wild geese I’ve seen.  Canadian, Barnacle, this brown kind and once, a lone Egyptian goose which admittedly was probably an escapee from somewhere.  I can’t imagine an Egyptian goose winding up in northern Indiana otherwise.

The geese were a bit jumpy and only one flock of the four or so I passed along that mile stretch stayed still long enough for me to catch with the camera.  It didn’t come out very well, but I’d have no pictures if I’d tried to swap lenses.

At Least I Had Pretty Scenery For Repairs

Somewhere between Ekebyholm and a problem with one of my brakes, the clouds began to break up and the cold began to ease.  A few miles past the castle, while climbing a hill, I’d used my right brake.  Abruptly, my progress was even slower and harder.  I fiddled with my brake handles to discover one flapped loose meaning the cable must have been stuck in the sheathing.  I pulled over as far as I could and managed to push the brake lever back out a bit.  I limped along for almost a mile more before finally finding a spot I could get off the road.  Under mostly sunny skies, I fought with the brake cable.  Lacking oil, I had to settle for forcing the tube to move along the wire until it freed enough to let me use the brake without locking tight.  It took me about 20 minutes and I was more than warm enough to shed my 200 g wool thermal top by that point.

Spring Flowers

The brake problem gave Loke a good long rest and he had plenty of energy to run.  The place I’d stopped to do my repair was near the top of a hill at the bottom of which sat the junction with the 280.  In an effort to avoid the larger 280, I’d plotted down a road almost directly across from the one I would be coming off of.  Google led me wrong again… sorta.  I guess there was SOMETHING just over the busy road that maybe had been used by wheels.  It looked more like a short tractor trail where white wrapped rolls of hay had been stored.  It wasn’t even dirt, but flattened grass.  I toyed with the idea of attempting it.  At least it wasn’t mud scattered with arm thick branches like the last ‘not really a road there’ incident last year.  The slope down to the hay bale storage area which might or might not have had a path continuing beyond was quite steep and being uncertain if my slick rear tire could get enough of a grip to get me back up, I chose to ride the 280.  After all, it was less than a mile.

A harrowing mile it was.  Rather like the 272 only hillier.  Again, I reminded myself I’d be stuck on roads like this while touring so… get used to it.  Naturally, more easy to say than to do, but I managed.  Even found time to enjoy some of the beauty of spring flowers and a blue sky rapidly losing all trace of clouds.

Rimbo Kyrka With Bell Tower Gate

I was only too glad when I came closer to Rimbo and a cycle path began.  I even had the convenience of a crosswalk over the 280 followed by another stretch of cycle path leading to Rimbo Kyrka.

Rimbo Kyrka was surprising.  Quite beautiful really and very, VERY busy.  People enjoyed the sun on the park-like grounds outside the church, some walked through the churchyard grounds.  And so friendly!  As I made my way up the last bit of hill and started looking for somewhere to lock the trike I was greeted with smiles, waves and cheery ‘Hej!’s.

Here, I had to leave Loke with the trike while I explored the grounds.  Even if there hadn’t been several signs forbidding dogs in the churchyard, I wouldn’t have taken Loke in with so many people.  I can understand why they wouldn’t want dogs in the churchyard given so many animal owners don’t have sense enough to keep them from using it as a latrine.  I don’t take Loke in with me when he’s not had a chance to go potty before I arrive and it’s an easy matter to keep him from marking gravestones and trees in the churchyard.  I found a place back from the picnic tables and people sprawling in the grass to tether Loke to a small tree.  He had nice thick shade from a spruce tree and left water with him.  He sat staring after me for a few seconds and then laid down without drinking.

Uppland's Runestone #515

The churchyard was one of the most manicured I’ve ever seen.  In one memorial garden near the first runestone I found.  The grass was fine and close clipped, verdant green even so early in the year.  I don’t think I saw a single weed around the base of any tree or gravestone.  Even right up against Uppland’s Runestone #515, the grass was short.

I was walking toward the church itself, beautifully faced with large slabs of mortared stone and arched windows, when a man hailed me.  Gray haired, but fit, he asked if I’d been the one cycling up the hill.  I answered if he meant the one with the white dog, then yes.  He was very chatty, asking about Loke, where had I cycled from, how far was I going, what kind of bike was that?  He also had comments about the weather and dogs in general.  20 minutes later we parted ways.

Uppland's Runestone #514

Near the front of the church, I found another stone, Uppland’s Runestone #514.  There weren’t any others I found, but in doing my research on Rimbo Kyrka, there is mention of Uppland’s Runestone #513 which is walled into the eastern wall of the choir.  I’ll have to pick it up the next time I’m cycling in the Rimbo area, provided the runes aren’t inward facing.  It’s annoying that I even LOOKED in the walls for stones.  Grrr.  Anyway….

I returned to Loke who still laid patiently in the shade for my return.  As we pedaled onward, I went in a wake of yet more smiles and even a few more conversations, though much shorter ones.  I followed the wrong road for about a mile before turning around and getting back on track.

Getting through Rimbo was easy enough with a nice cycle path.  That’s not to say Rimbo was particularly inspiring, but the only way to the next road was through the town.  I also had to pass through one of the seediest places in Sweden I’ve ever been to.  The central bus station.

Stone Bridge Under Cycle Path

I was a edgy as I made it onto the 280 again.  But it couldn’t be that bad since it was part of the Kustleden which is an established cycle route, right?  The first couple of miles had a cycle path and was pleasant.  I was passed by quite few other people walking and cycling where the smiles and greetings kept coming.  Once the path ended, it became a bit more exciting.  Most of the time, I was given plenty of room, but when two cars were meeting next to me and the one coming from behind chose not to wait, it was close.  One passed me so close I’m not even sure I had a hand’s breadth between the car and my rear view mirror.  That got a surprised squeak out of me.  Thankfully the others who passed close gave me at least a foot of space. *smirk*

It was about 3 miles of holding my breath every time a car came up behind me and not many places with space to offer Loke water.  I think we both were glad when the turn off the 280 came.  From there, it was a short coast to Rö Kyrka.

Rö Kyrka

Rö Kyrka was done in the same style as Rimbo, with the bell tower gateway into the churchyard and walls faced with mortared stone.  On the gate was another ‘Dogs Forbidden’ sign, so I had to tether Loke in the shade.  He didn’t seem particularly bothered, laying down as I walked off.

I liked the style of these churches with their belfries serving as gatehouses and lovely stone walls.  The grounds here not as finely manicured as Rimbo, but the ‘weeds’ were wild flowers blooming everywhere.  Runestones were absent as I made my round and returned to Loke and trike.

Random Scenery

With Rö Kyrka barely a mile behind me, my cell phone jangled with an incoming message.  Jens had alerted me that he’d be done fishing in half an hour.  Not even 3 pm, so quite a bit earlier than the 5 pm he had quoted earlier.  I took a quick look at my maps and calculated between his 30 minutes to finish and time to drive to my general area, I could reach the next church and maybe the one after since less than 2 miles lay between them.  The way was not too busy.  At least not compared to the 280.  I had time to admire the scenery and in places it was lovely.  Sitting high up on a ridgeline with fields falling away to the blue shimmer of water below.  Or just clusters of trees where flowers speckled the ground in the sunny spaces piercing the shade.  I didn’t feel tired, Loke was still running well and it seemed his foot pads had turned to iron almost overnight.  It was over 15 miles and he still didn’t need the socks I’d hurriedly sewed for the ride.  Made me a bit wistful to end the day.

Jens finally called for coordinates which I gave.  He said he’d call for updated ones once he reached the general area.  Feeling a bit more pressured to reach the next church, I scurried on.

Skederids Kyrka

A Torturous Climb

Skederids Kyrka sat at the head of a tiny lane.  Even if I’d met a small car on the road it would have been tricky to manage a passing without getting off the trike and pulling it into the grass.  There was also a high, steep hill for the last stretch.  Like the two churches before it was stone with a tower/belfry gate and again, no dogs allowed.  Poor Loke.  Just wasn’t his day, was it?

I found no runestones, but this church made up for it.  Passing through base of the tower, I noticed a set of very narrow, very steep stairs curving.  Curiosity got the best of me and I climbed the four stone stairs to find an almost ladder steep flight of wooden stairs to the small room above the gate.  There, another steep climb into the belfry itself which was completely open.  With bad knees, extremely steep, and each step about half again as high as modern ones it was slow.  Finally I managed to get into a good position to get the picture.  A close up of church bells.

Church Bells

Yes, I’ve caught images of the bells from the frame towers and maybe a few times on the larger enclosed towers when the top shutters are open, but if I could have found the space to stand up, I could have touched these.  It’s amazing what can make me grin in silly fashion.  Crawling up torturous stairs through dust and cobwebs while wondering if there are bats or nesting birds to take a picture of bells and I’m as giddy as a school girl.  Good thing I never claimed to be normal.

Then I had to face the climb down which was more of a challenge.

I still felt strong (even after the stairs).  Loke had energy to spare.  Across the fields I could see the next church.  There wasn’t enough time to make reach it so I resigned myself to 18 miles.

Jens soon called for coordinates to the church.  Shorter than anticipated, but a good day.

What a Drag!
April 17, 2011, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Day Rides
Loke, Trike & Burley Cargo Trailer

But in a good way!

Jens was quite willing to drive me to the Enköping area for new ground, but it felt like a lot of trouble with a late start.  Not to mention there were several sections along the route I’d plotted which sat on busy roads.  Much better to do that section as early in the morning as possible.
Rather than than deal with the hassle of the drive for a 3 hour ride, I decided I’d suck it up and do one of my routes.  To give it some purpose other than racking up miles, I decided I’d take the trailer weighed with a bit of water.  Practice for touring.
It went remarkably well.  The first five miles were a bit rough being against a stiff breeze.  Once I made the turn toward Ulva, things picked up.  Once the wind was no longer a factor it seemed the extra weight didn’t slow us at all.  Once I finished with the 13+ miles, I felt fine.  Loke’s flat on the floor atm.  At 63 F and clear skies, he got a bit warm.
Well, that’s all I can really say about the ride.  After all, it was only Ulva/Gamla Uppsala Loop and uneventful at that.

A Perfect Spring Day!
April 15, 2011, 1:55 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

And it was perfect!

I didn’t know it would be though.  It certainly didn’t start out well.  The weather forecast had rain and clouds to the north and south with a chance they’d move in over us.  My husband suggested a ride and that I’d probably be best going northwest.  That way at least I’d be moving away from the impending weather.  I plotted about 2 miles of a route that way then changed my mind.

Skuttunge Kyrka

I wanted those two runestones on the other side of Skuttunge Kyrka (Photo from 04-10-2011).  I was determined!  So, I laid out a route from there that wound northwest from the end point of my last ride.

I printed everything and turned my attention to the trike.  I’d swapped the tire the evening before, but hadn’t fetched the pump from the car.  Pump fetched in the morning and I cheerfully aired the tire.  And aired the tire.  And aired the tire.  A leak and a bad one.  I stared in horror at the wheel which, fortunately, I hadn’t yet put back on the trike.  Getting on the Marathon Plus tire had been a nightmare and I wasn’t looking forward to wrestling it off to swap a tube then back on before beginning the ordeal of getting the wheel on the trike.

I’ll admit it.  For me, getting the rear wheel on the trike is generally difficult.  I try to battle it on without unlinking the chain and after 10 minutes or so, my back is screaming and my arms have had enough.  Then it turns into a grease fest as I fight to undo the chain, put the wheel on then re-thread it back through the rear derailleur.  Laugh if you will, but after all this time, it is still something I dread almost as much as adjusting gears.  Admittedly, I hate the chore of scrubbing the grease from my hands as much as the rest.

With all that looming before me, I felt fed up enough to not want to go.  Enter Jens!  He wouldn’t let me blow the ride off.  He walked Loke while I entered combat with the tire.  Where getting it on the night before took me ages, this time it popped right on.  Then my husband hovered as I began the next chore.  I decided I would get that rear wheel on without undoing the chain even if it killed me.  As I wrestled and swore like a drunken sailor, it finally happened.  Took me 10 minutes and I wanted to lay down for a few hours, but I DID it.  Hopefully I can do it again in less time the next time the rear wheel needs removing.

Grave Stone? Runestone? I Cant Tell - Skuttunge

All my weather related things insisted it was 40 F as we drove out of Uppsala under skies clear as the ringing of a silver bell.  It was warmer than that.  I already wondered if the thin woolie top I had under my cycle shirt needed to come off.  I held off because there’s usually a temp difference between Uppsala and the countryside.  Looking southwest across the fields, I could see a collection of clouds that grew thicker until the horizon was a gray smudge.  It receded in the distance as we neared Skuttunge Kyrka.

As predicted, the temp was a bit cooler out at the church making the extra top layer just perfect.  My legs with only my cycling tights felt fine as I readied everything.  Jens gave me a bit of teasing as I struggled to cram everything into my panniers.  90% of the space was taken up with various layers of wool and other as I tried to fit my sneakers, locks and cables, container of cubed cantaloupe and various other things into the crevices.

Loke was remarkably calm during the prep.  Not lethargic or disinterested, just calm.  Even hitched to the trike with me in the seat and untwisting the helmet straps as my husband drove off, he sat with a wagging tail and waited.  Once I set foot to pedal, released the brakes and told him to move out, he was a off like a streak.

Upplands Runestone #1118

At 16-17 mph, I scanned the roadside for those remembered runestones as the trike rolled beneath the mid-morning sun with blue sky all around.  Only a few hints of clouds clung to the far southern horizons.  Out of the shade, it was warm except for the cool wind of our charge touching my cheeks and hair.  Pleasant.  No tearing eyes, no stinging skin.

In minutes, I spotted the reason I had been so determined to cycle in this direction from Skuttunge.  Runestones!  Right where I remembered them from 2008, they waited at the head of a T-junction where a dirt road joined the paved one we cruised.

Rather than argue with Loke who would want to yank around trying to sniff and mark everything within 20 feet, I left him hitched to the trike.  I did take the precaution of using the flexi-leash though.  I wouldn’t put it past him to decide he’d rather not wait and race off with the trike, cellphones and all.

Uppland Runestone #1121 - Fragment

The light angles weren’t optimal for the pictures, but I think the little light flares add a nice touch.  I’m just silly that way.

While I packed the camera away, I abruptly realized that I felt great!  It was more than the weather, my felt good in my skin too.  During most of my rides this year, most of them have felt like a challenge for one reason or another.  Tests of endurance against the cold burn on cheeks or struggles against ice or wind.  Annoying little aches and pains as my body readjusts to cycling outside.

I had none of it on this ride.  Perfect weather and I felt great physically!  I went on toward Björklinge with a huge grin.  I even hummed and sang random bits of songs, albeit breathlessly.  Around Loke and me, spring was in full force with fields greening and bird song all around.

Purple, Yellow & White

Uppland Runestone #1113 - Fragment

We made the turn toward the village and the road whipped around a bend along the yard of a house before dipping down to a stream.  As we whipped around the corner, something about the red picket fence caught my memory and it solidified as we zoomed down the slope.  A runestone!  Fortunately just over the bridge was some kind of utility building with enough of a parking area for me to turn around.  It confused Loke a bit as we chewed our way back up the slope where a grassy area sat wedged between red picket fence and the road.  I had just enough space to get the trike off the road and not crush the crocus growing there.

Near Björklinge, I spotted one of Sweden’s many open air museums.  A vicarage I think.  I pulled in and did a slow circle of the parking lot as I tried to decide if it was worth stopping for pictures.  Annoyingly, there were simply too many cars.  If they’d only been in the parking lot, I would have done it, but cars were parked even in the grassy center courtyard in front of just about every building.  Bleah.  I want buildings.  Not cars.

It didn’t ruin my mood though.  I shrugged off the loss of pictures and went on.

Björklinge Kyrka

Björklinge is a small village with the old E4 running through the center of it.  As villages go, I’ve always considered it a obstical than anything else.  The houses are all modern and it’s large enough to have cycle paths, schools and a gas station.  It also has a distinctive looking church.  Oddly, I’d never taken pictures of it before or ever stopped to look for runestones.  I did so this time to correct that lapse.  It was the mother lode!

It was busy enough in the area, I actually locked my trike to a light post at the edge of the parking lot.  I wasn’t worried about the elementary school kids, but the church yard was large enough it would take me some time to walk it.

I have to say, I love the new padlock I bought.  I had a small one which gave me huge amounts of trouble to get around the loops of the huge cable.  Everything has to be in just the right position to get everything squeezed in and latched.  Not so with the new lock.  Open, slip cable loops in place and close.  I’m on my way in seconds. *happy sigh*  Little things can make me so happy at times.

Björklinge Mystery Runestone

Immediately from the parking lot, I found another runestone.  My third for the day!  Irritatingly, it had no sign.  Even so, I dutifully collected it and hoped maybe I could find something on-line.

Spring was making headway in the churchyard.  Snow drops and some other kind of flower of a blue-white color were everywhere with a scattering of crocus.  Butterflies fluttered around the blossoms accompanied by the soft drone of honey bees and bumble bee’s deeper rumble.

Uppland Runestone #1045

I rounded the corner of the church and found myself staring at four runestone.  They stood evenly spaced along the church’s south wall, flanking the door there like guards at attention.

I felt like a kid in a candy shop as I took the first picture.  That feeling turned into ‘peeved’ when I looked for that runestone’s sign which only deepened as I worked my way down the line.  I even did a general sweep for single sign for the group.  Nothing to be found.

As I did research this morning, even Wikipedia mentions the lack of a sign for the stones.  At least I found a couple of sources to give me the information I usually get on sight.  All except for the mystery stone next to the parking lot.  Hmm. Now to cram them into the blog. Hehe.

Uppland Runestone #1046

Uppland Runestone #1047

Uppland Runestone #1048

Finishing the circuit around the church, I’ll admit I did a bit of grumbling about the lack of information.  At least I found something thanks to the web!

Our path took a bit of a winding turn through the residential area flanking the old E4.  With less than 4 miles under wheels and paws, Loke and I both still had plenty of zip.  It was a bit hindered on my part though because speed bumps that work for a car also do a pretty good job on a trike at 15 mph.  If I take them too fast the only thing keeping me from leaving the trike is the fact my feet are attached to the pedals and my grip on the handlebars.

Uppland Runestone #1117

In only minutes though, we were surrounded by pastures, rocks and trees.  In one fallow field, with the winter-brown grass flattened from snow now gone, I spotted yet another runestone.  9 runestones in less than 5 miles!  I didn’t bother changing into my sneakers to tramp across the spongy ground while Loke started rolling around.  I think he found something he wanted to smell like unfortunately.  At least it didn’t seem to be anything _I_ could catch wind of.

Since Loke seemed a bit warm, I offered him water which was ignored as he scanned for small animals.

Our speed was pretty good as we glided through the countryside.  A few puffy white clouds cast shadows here and there in the distance, but we had uninterrupted sun.  It felt like a perfect day and I was happy to be out and alive in it.  Loke seemed to be enjoying himself too though I think he missed the colder temps.  I watched his breathing and color, making sure to offer him water often.

Butterfly Amid The Blossoms

It really amazes me the difference a week can make.  Last week, snow was still a common sight in the more shaded parts of fields and woods.  With the lack of sun and a bit of rain adding to the winter melt, quite a few fields had turned into shallow, temporary lakes.  After a couple dry, sunny days, the waters were receding and now flowers were springing out of the ground everywhere.  Bees and butterflies moving around them with a frenzy of renewed activity.

Winter is still being stubborn about surrendering though.  I did find snow in the more deeply wooded areas and in the ditches where the dense trees to either side kept all but the noon-ish sun from reaching it.

Cranes! First of the Season!

Another mark of spring were the appearance of cranes.  I spotted no less than 3 pairs of them.  Definitely the most I’ve seen on a single ride and close to the most I’ve seen in a cycle season.  Only one pair stayed in camera shot long enough for me to catch.

Other signs of spring I would rather not have seen.  Snakes and frogs are emerging.  It’s not that I dislike snakes and frogs mind you, I would simply have rather seen them slithering or hopping away into the road-side growth rather than road-killed.  I felt especially bad for the snakes.  It seems though I’ve seen both the poisonous and non-poisonous sort with a fair frequency, they’re actually endangered.  Even my husband who has a phobia of snakes was saddened when I told him about the ones I saw on the road.

Between Fields And Forest

Around mile 10, I took a look at Loke’s feet for no particular reason.  I’m glad I did.  The skin on his pads looked thin.  He hadn’t been limping though, so I resolved to do frequent checks.  I wanted to avoid another incident like that one last year up at Stör Blå Sjön (The Big Blue Lake) with Loke hobbling around because of stone bruises.  I felt just terrible.

If not for hills, the road we traveled would have been arrow straight for almost 3 miles as it cut through dense conifer woods.  Here, snow lay in a long pile for almost the entire length of the shallow ditch to both side.  The shade made me glad of the thin wool shirt I  had on under my cycle top.  I love forest land, but with nothing but the small rises and dips along the way, it did start to feel a bit boring.  The only other roads that met this stretch couldn’t really be called roads at all.  Mostly dirt tracks, or slightly flattened stretches of moss leading off between the trees.

Greening Pasture & Distant Lake

It felt good when curves and bends actually returned!  The first one to turn up proved even Loke got bored.  He’d been trotting along at about 7.4 mph when I wasn’t slowing us down with my ‘hill-creep’.  When the view ahead vanished behind a line of trees where the road did a bend, his head and tail both came up and abruptly our speed went up to 8.6.  It’s odd how I never noticed that before.  He does it on turns too.  When we turn right or left, particularly when I say höger or vänster, he kicks out with a bit more speed for a bit.

As we got closer to the next village, a high thin layer of clouds moved in with more of the wooly looking puff-balls below for company.  It didn’t dampen the sun light in the least and certainly nothing like the rain clouds my husband had been convinced would overtake me.

Harbo Kyrka Bell Tower

Harbo was a small village about the size of Björklinge, I think.  A residential stretch with a school and probably a grocery, gas station and pizza place tucked in an area I didn’t cycle through.  As I wound my way long, a couple with a dog called out greetings and waved.  The dog was a large animal, mostly black with a lopsided streak of white down his chest.  I tried to puzzle out what kind of dog it was and then noticed his startling, silver blue eyes.  I immediately stopped to ask if it was a husky… from a distance.  He didn’t seem to be the friendly sort.  It turned out he was a husky mix.  Before I found out what the mix was, I decided to move on.  At least Loke behaved himself.  He only sat down and looked at the other animal’s antics in curiosity.

Harbo Kyrka

It was nearly 2 pm when Loke and I rolled in at Harbo Kyrka.  Like Björklinge it had a distinctive look to it though I wasn’t overly fascinated by it.  Still I did my runestone search and dutifully took the picture.  There were no runestones.  It seemed I had all the runestones of today’s ride before I hit 6 miles.

It seemed to be recess time for the school sitting about 100 yards away from the churchyard.  A rather large group of kids were playing in the field next to the church.  Suddenly, Loke and I were mobbed.

It started innocently with two girls who ran over, asking Loke’s name and then we were surrounded by about a dozen boys and girls.  They weren’t fearful of Loke, but they didn’t unthinkingly barrel into him either.  They gave him chances to sniff them before burying him under a pile of affectionate petting.  Fur flew.  Which reminds me, I really should start brushing him on the dry runs.

There were other questions from the kids, but they spoke all together and so quickly, I couldn’t follow more than a few words.  Finally I told them my Swedish wasn’t very good.  One of the first two girls who had approached raised her hand, ‘I speak a little English!’.  Actually her English was quite good, better than a lot of Swedes in their 20’s even and I made sure to tell her so.  I couldn’t identify the accent to it though.  Swedes seem to have a wide range of accents when they speak English.  My husband has a slight British touch to his spoken English.  His middle sister at times sounds completely American.  This girl’s was something completely new to me.

For about 15 minutes, Loke got petted and coddled, sitting like a king who deserved all the attention in the middle of that throng as I answered questions via my young translator.

When they were all called away, I settled down to nibble a bit of cantaloupe after making sure Loke had all the water he wanted.  I debated calling Jens for our pickup actually.  Though working from home, he’d warned me of phone conferences running from 2 pm to 4:30 pm where he wouldn’t be able to leave.  It was coming up on the deadline to call.  Loke had enough energy to be a pain in the rump as I ate, so I decided I’d risk riding on.  As I left Harbo, the couple who had been walking with the silver-eyed dog called out goodbye’s from where they waited at a bus-stop… sans dog.

I felt a bit of shock when I made a turn and found myself looking a familiar stretch of the 272.  Quite a bit further north than the nerve-wracking stretch I’d ridden on my last outing.  It suddenly clicked that I’d finally seen the church I’d wondered about all those times we’d zipped through the edge of the village on our way to the streams at Gysinge.    Kind of an ‘Oh, THAT Harbo Kyrka from the sign!’ moment.  I made the turn a bit nervously since my last experience with the 272 was unpleasant.

Actually, the traffic was much less and about 20 mph slower which made all the difference.  A cycle path edged one side of the road, but using would have put Loke close to the on-coming traffic.  Traffic doesn’t usually bother him under one condition.  That I’m between him and it.  It can miss me by 6 inches and he’s fine.  Nothing but 3 feet of open air between him and a passing car or truck and he wigs.  As I usually do, Loke’s comfort and well-being are important to me, so on the road I stayed.  The edge of Harbo came quickly, but from there it was less than a 1/4 mile to the turn.

I’m not sure what it was about the scenery after Harbo, but nothing about it inspired me to dig out my camera.  It was nice enough to look at and I still enjoyed myself immensely.  I also kept a close eye both on Loke’s paws and my GPS.  The skin was getting thinner, but still looked okay and Loke showed no discomfort as we went along at an average of 6.5 mph even as mile 19 slid by.  Ideally, I would  have loved to hit 23 miles to make this ride the new longest of the year.  I cheered with lots of pats and cuddles for Loke as the distance blinked over into 23 miles.

By that point, I was feeling the distance.  My legs were tired and stopping sounded wonderful.  The problem was, finding a place.  Most of the spots I saw were too small to wedge the car into with fairly busy road.  One I found was big enough, but Loke needed shade which it lacked.  Nothing for it, but to go on.  I kept giving Loke’s feet careful looks every few minutes.  They were starting to look a bit too worn for my liking.  Finally, at almost 26 miles, I spotted the turn onto a dirt road.  It wasn’t very wide, but it had a grassy verge between the dirt and a row of pine trees casting lovely shade.  Not even a ditch broke the ground between the road and the field on the other side of the tree line.  Perfect!  Just like the rest of the day.  Shade and soft grass for Loke to rest on, well out of traffic with room to load the trike.  I even liked it for myself!

I stripped Loke out of the harness, filled his water bowl and set it in reach with him tethered to one of the pines.  Barely 3 pm, I sent Jens a text telling him I was done with the ride, but Loke and I had found a comfortable place to wait, so no stress.  I meant it.  It was still a beautiful day, birds were singing as I sat surrounded by trees, fields and mosquitos.  Big ones.  A pair of them probably could have carried Loke off if they wanted to.  But there weren’t many what few buzzed around us couldn’t ruin the day or my mood.

After about 5 minutes of sighing and staring at me as if to say, ‘You’re serious?  We’re stopping NOW??’, Loke gave up.  First he laid sphinx-like.  Then he kinda tilted over to one side with his head still up as he looked around.  The next thing I knew, he was flat in the grass and asleep.  He usually can’t unwind that much to sleep outside with the promise of fresh smells and animals lurking in grass and field.  Yet, there he was.  I half expected him to start snoring.

I amused myself by staring across the fields or surfing the web and YouTube on the iPhone, which for a wonder had reception though there wasn’t a village close I knew of.  Around 4:30, nearly on the dot, Jens called, got the coordinates and was on his way.  I really love that function.  It’s not always 100% accurate, but it got him close enough I saw him when he drove past the turn.

In minutes, Loke went from sleeping on soft grass to sleeping in the car.  A perfect day!

Getting Back Into the Spin Of Things
April 11, 2011, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Three days, three rides.  Granted, the previous two barely count with less than 8 miles between them.

Yesterday I woke to clear skies and 40 F.  We’ve had clear skies on a few mornings over the past couple weeks, but they quickly degraded.  It made me a little suspicious of this one.  I checked weather.com.  It insisted mostly sunny throughout the day and a high of 51 F.  Jens was emphatic I go for a ride.  For having no interest in riding himself, he’s beyond supportive for my hobby.

I decided Loke and I would start at Järlåsa Kyrka.  That was the church where I ended the Ice Rink Ride.  Since there’s a ruin somewhere around 500 meters north of the church and a possibility I could finish the ride at my doorstep, it seemed a good idea.  So, off we went.

On the drive west, we had traded the clear blue skies for one scattered with a bit of gray beneath a thin veil of mares’ tails clouds.  The temperature still held good and winds calm.  The light still was better than the past rides of the week.  As I organized the trike, I reminded myself NOT to forget Loke’s drinking dish.  I’d left it in the car on the 9th and Loke had to drink by catching squirts from the water bottle.

Järlåsa Kyrka

The five miles the day before hadn’t even put a dent in Loke’s energy, so he was bent on the mad dash.  That ran in conflict to my determination to find the ruin.  With my GPS set to miles rather than kilometers, I was trying to guess 500 meters as I gripped the brakes and craned my head back and forth.  Nothing.  I couldn’t spot a single thing resembling a ruin or even a road or dirt track to a ruin.  I did a bit of a double back when I was certain I’d passed 500 meters, but it still eluded me.  I finally gave up and let Loke run.  Probably a good thing or he might have strangled himself on the harness otherwise. Goof.

We covered ground pretty quickly.  I was keeping an eye on the GPS and we covered 6.48 miles in the first hour even with ruin search crawl and Loke’s ‘business’.  Also a water break for which I had to dig out a hole in the soft shoulder with the heel of my cycle shoe, line with a plastic bag to use as a water dish for Loke.  Guess what I forget even after reminding myself not to?

For about an 8 mile strip, the ride was rather ‘eehh’ for lack of a better term.  Or rather my surrounding were.  Everything else was great!  For once it wasn’t wet, cold, windy or any combination of those.  I wasn’t hot either.  No dust.  All of those were a great improvement!  But as I went along, nothing caught my attention or demanded a photo.


Around mile 9, I screeched to a halt with an ‘Ooh! So CUTE!’.  Donkeys!  The first I’ve seen here in Sweden.  Come to think of it, the first donkeys I’ve seen since visiting a miniature horse farm when I was 14.  My quick approached gave the poor things a start, but as soon as I stopped and started talking to them, they were all curiosity.  Loke was remarkably indifferent to their presence.  He sat down and stared down the road.

A herd of Scottish cattle were in a near-by paddock, but they all had their back to me as they laid down.  Photos of big red-brown lumps don’t look much like shaggy cows.

A few more miles passed in a ‘ho-hum’ stretch of scenery.  Part of it, I was searching for a church marked on one of my maps, but like the ruins, it eluded me.

Too soon, I came up on the 72.  I’d been facing this stretch with a bit of trepidation.  At least it was only a mile and a half to the next turn.  There simply was no way to avoid it to get to the roads I needed on the other side.  It was nerve-jangling.  It’s a two lane road with space enough for cars meet each other comfortably, but nothing really in the way of shoulders and with a 55 mph speed limit with a few curves and hills.  I had flashbacks of the near miss with the bus and truck earlier in the week.

I wasn’t going to chicken out.  After all, if I’m touring, I’d have to deal with roads like this at some time so might as well get in the habit.  I kept telling myself that on the urban ride on the 9th too.  It went uneventfully except one car came from behind me as another was passing from in front.  I could have stuck out an elbow and touched the one on my side as it roared by without slowing.  Other cars worried me not by passing so close, but because they were going completely into the other lane.  Now I don’t need THAT much space.  More than a foot is nice but less than 10 feet is good too.

Spring Flowers And... A Husky Nose!

With profound relief I made the turn into the dirt road I needed.  I didn’t even care it was freshly grated and slightly boggy.  The only reason I worried over the condition of it was trying to spare Loke’s paws from the rocks.  It went up and down a surprising amount.  I also have labeled it, ‘Dog Lane’.  In less than a mile stretch, I passed one house with 5-8 Samoyedes, another with 3 Chow-Chows, and another with a pack of Afghans.  I seemed to move from barking bedlam to another.  As I came up to Oxsätra, I was again looking for a church which eluded me.  The only place I could think it might be was on a road forbidding any traffic, even bikes.  Two in two days.

I toyed with the idea of ending the ride in Oxsätra since the parking lot of a small grocery would have been convenient to wait and the ride was already my longest since the spoke broke.  But the weather was still pleasant, Loke had energy, I had energy and if I made it to Skuttunge it would be my longest ride of the year.  I’d do it!

You do notice I’ve pretty much surrendered the idea of beating last year’s total by the end of April, don’t you?

I can’t put my finger on what it was, but the scenery on the last half of my ride was more pleasant.  I found myself smiling more and looking at the passing trees and fields.  Even the rocks and needle covered ground under clusters of conifers.  I was off the mapped route I’d brought along which was the map from the Ice Rink Ride.  It had ended at Öxsätra, but I’d been over this territory at least twice before and knew the way with no difficulty.

Åkerlänna Smithy

It didn’t stop me from finding things I’d somehow missed before.  I think that’s the theme for the year.  ‘What Terii Didn’t Spot The Last Times She Rode Through’ Year.  And this ride I finally noticed a small wooden building painted red with closed black shutters.  On the wall near the barred door I spotted the sort of signs they use for cultural interest.

I tried to get a picture of the inside through a small hole in one wall.  About 9 inches or so across, it was large enough for me to rest the camera on the edge and aim it into the dark.  I couldn’t get it to work though as I had trouble remembering how to make the flash work.  I really should learn little things like that.

Moving on, Loke still seemed to have plenty of go, but I have to admit I was starting to feel tired.  Even by this point the trip was the longest we’d done in over a week, but Skuttunge was only 5 miles or so away.  The River Loop with extension is the same distance and that’s a snap.  I could make it there easy.  Home was probably too much of a stretch at more than 15 miles.

The road between Åkerlänna and Skuttunge became rolling.  Up and down.  The last time I went down that road, I’d been swarmed by flies, but except for one bug which hit me on the cheek, it was clear.

I noticed more of the wind damaged trees along the road and deeper back in the forest.  It’s easy to spot the recent damage as the wood is still bright and fresh looking rather than the weathered gray color it gains after a bit of time.  For every mile I went, there was one downed or broken tree.  Some were split in half along a forked trunk.  Others had their tops snapped off and everywhere were twigs and branches scattered along the road side.  That wind had been brutal.

Uppland's Runestone #1110

Loke and I came rushing down a hill and I spotted something in the middle of a pasture.  I stopped quick as I could and turned to go back.  A little dirt road went along the pasture and I used it to park.  A section of the electric fencing was missing so getting into the field was easy.  Loke bounced around rolled a few times.  I’m sure he was trying to collect the aroma of sheep.  There on the crown of a little hill studded with boulders the size of everything from basketballs to beachballs was Upplands Runestone #1110.

Moss and lichen mostly obscured even the paint of the runes, but I was still pleased with the find.  I even remembered another pair of stones along the road to Skuttunge.  Not sure what happened to the pictures of those.

A half-dozen cyclists passed me as I chewed through the distance between the runestone and the Skuttunge vicarage.

Skuttunge Vicarage Tithe Barn

I looked forward to taking a pause at the vicarage.  I’ve ridden passed the place twice before.  The first time, still new to the whole exploring cultural sites, I wasn’t brave enough to go in.  The second time, I went down the short drive to be greeted by a very nice, outgoing man and his equally nice, outgoing golden retriever who was in fact white rather than golden.  They treated me to a look inside a couple of the buildings and we talked for almost an hour.  Loke wasn’t with me for that ride.

Bakery - Left, Barn (?) - Right

I parked in front one of the barns close to the road and carefully walked in with Loke.  While the golden was very sweet with me, Loke has been known to aggravate the nicest animals.  It seems the care takers weren’t home, but I guess that was just as well since Jens had called.  He was on his way to the church about a kilometer away.

I took quick pictures of a few of the buildings.  I wish I still had the ones of the bakery interior, but I seem to have lost all my photos from 2008.   I’m a little upset by that.  I don’t really remember where I rode that year, except for a few places.  The photos might have gotten eaten by one of my many computer failures.

Skuttunge Kyrka

Pictures taken, I hurriedly hitched Loke to the trike and turned us around to peddle like mad for the church.  A kilometer isn’t far and the church came into view after a quick glide down a hill, back up and around a bend.  I paused only to photo the church before racing on since I knew Jens could be arriving any moment.  I didn’t even stop to take a picture of the first crocus I’ve seen this year.

Since the last time I passed here, they’ve added a new parking lot and what is either a tiny park or an extension of the burial yard.  I went by that to the other side of the church yard where the gravel parking lot remained.  It’s easier to dig a hole into gravel than asphalt which let me give Loke water.

I never did find those other two runestones I remembered.  It’s because they were on the way to Skuttunge, but not on this side.  I’d never come to the church from this direction.  If Jens hadn’t already been coming, I would have gone in search of them.  I guess they’ll wait for another ride.

Loke and I both were glad to settle into the car for the ride home for dinner.  The warm glow of accomplishment left me almost giddy.  At least I’m sure it wasn’t ALL the heated easing the tension in the back of my legs. Hehe.  After all, I’d beaten the cycling difficulties of the week and finally managed to set a new ‘longest ride of the year’ record.  Not bad!

Ahh! Urban Riding! Cough-Cough
April 11, 2011, 7:15 am
Filed under: Day Rides

I’ll be double posting today since I couldn’t bring myself to post about my ride on the 9th or even yesterday morning before I rode.  5 miles and I was just too frustrated and stressed to relive it without a good buffer.

Saturday, April 9th – 2011

The day’s beginning was a bit gray, but I thought tolerable.  My husband suggested I plot around somewhere south of Stockholm since he had errands to run in that end of town.  It sounded like a good idea so I took him up on it.  Route plotted, things packed and off we went.

As usual, I had set my beginning point at a church.  The day’s headache began as soon as we turned off the E4.  We had to double back and loop around since the car GPS didn’t recognize where the church was and by the time I identified roads which might have taken us where we needed, we’d zipped past them.  Finally, I found the right road and we were moving toward the church.

View From Tullinge Churchyard

The area around Stockholm can be amazingly hilly.  I suppose it’s because most of the area is large mounds of rock pushed up between the various lakes or shore of the Baltic.  The way to Tullinge Kyrka was a perfect example.  All up and down made worse by a rather nastily rutted road full of potholes as it snaked back and forth.  I had images of screaming down those hills with a speed crazed husky since it would have been the first mile.  Worse, hitting a pothole while doing that and snapping a dozen spokes or hitting a pothole, snapping the spokes as trike, dog and I flew headlong into trees or stone wall around a house.  Not happy images.  I might have been willing to do it when Loke had already covered 10 miles or so and we could take it slow.

It was bad enough even Jens voiced concerns and doubts over the wisdom of taking these roads for the first stretch with Loke wound up.  I agreed, but decided we could still go take a look at the church and see if any of the other roads in the area would be easier.

Honestly, the church was a disappointment.  A gray box with thick walls covered in gray plaster and a peaked roof with black shingles.  SHINGLES?  I haven’t seen asphalt shingles since I left the states!  Even that word looks strange to me now let alone actually seeing them again.

Tullinge Belfry On Burial Mound

The churchyard itself was beautiful though.  Still cloaked in dull browns and grays of winter dead grass and trees not yet awakening to spring, it rose and fell in a cluster of small hills.  The only flat area seemed to be right where the church itself sat.  The bell tower was more like a bell frame I’ve seen here and there.

While doing the research for this post, it turns out the churchyard and the area around the church are of far more interest than the church which is a recent structure from the late 1950’s.  All those little hills in the church are burial mounds with the belfry frame standing on the largest.  The frame is made of larch wood from the trees growing around the church.  Information on the area if you click the belfry thumbnail.

Well, now I feel less disappointed by my stop at Tullinge Kyrka.

The next hour or so proved to be a huge headache as we went on toward Tumba Kyrka.  Trying to puzzle out the insane maze of streets through the suburb of Stockholm was aggravating.  Even if we did find it, it didn’t look like there was a way to the paths/roads I needed for my route.  I was so over the idea of cycling in the area by the time we found the church.  Finding it was the last straw.  It was more modern than Tullinge!  All funny angles and roof slopes, like it had been designed in the 1970’s by some disco architect strung out on acid.  Or a pretentious artist wanna be in the 1990’s.

I told Jens he could run his errands and I’d wait in the car with Loke and watch YouTube on my iPhone.  He wouldn’t let me give up.  As we left the church, I told him to turn down another street which happened to be the one I needed.  Supposedly, it was an early industrial site, but it wasn’t even impressive enough to take pictures of as I unloaded the trike.

As Jens drove off on his errands, Loke and I started out.  He urged me into a 16 mph dash toward a large barn about a quarter mile away, following maps and GPS.  That’s about as long as it lasted before I had to stop us and turn around.  The road I’d picked turned into a private area.  Not many of those in Sweden, but it seems I managed to find one.  We headed toward busier roads, which thankfully had a cycle path.  As we went along, I looked for a runestone we’d passed during our lost wandering.  It sat only meters from the flow of traffic, but it must have been in one of those areas where the cycle path went high up above the road since I never saw it on the trike though I searched.  I probably passed it while cars zoomed 10 meters below, wedged between the rock face of the hill and the shore of a small lake.

Now THAT Is A Gate!!

It wasn’t a very pleasant area to ride in though at least I was able to avoid the traffic on the road for most of it.  The main problem was dust.  The Great Vacuuming/Sweeping has only just begun and countless cars driving over gravel slowly crush it to fine powder.  It seems the area had been dry just long enough that every time a car or bus passed, it kicked up a huge cloud of it.  I pulled the neck of my thermal shirt up over my nose in an attempt to reduce how much of the crap I inhaled, but it still was making my throat hurt.  The roads were still a maze and even with my GPS and maps, I made a wrong turn.  I puzzled out the where and how of it after half a mile, but it was half a mile of no cycle path, up a fairly steep hill with traffic whizzing by.  Oh, and dust.  Did I mention the dust?  At least once I figured out where I made the mistake, getting back was easy.  Wheeeee!  Loke got to do a flat out charge for that half mile.  After the creep up the hill, he was well rested for it.

It was a huge relief when the residential tangle gave way to a less urban area.  Open fields, clusters of woods!  Granted, even in the suburban nightmare there were clusters of woods, but they’re so much nicer when they’re not surrounded by traffic and dust clouds.  I pedaled along the blissfully low-trafficked road toward a spot on my map marked with one of those pointy ‘R’s.

I pulled into the parking lot and went to the information signs.  The place I’d found had quite a few archeological spots.  An old road which had been traveled so frequently and long, you could see the trough where it had once been.  A mound, stones with strange holes and even a stone circle.  I didn’t get to see or photo any of it.  I had the wrong lock for my cable and couldn’t get it around the thumb thick loops for anything.  No way I’d leave my trike unlocked for a 30-40 minute hike through hilly (burial mounds maybe) pasture land either.  Still, it might be a nice place for my husband and I to walk the dog one day.  There was even a little cafe on a hill next to the parking lot which should be opening soon for the summer season.  So, I WILL get those pictures sometime.

Thwarted, I rehitched Loke and we moved on.

Salem Kyrka

It had been getting colder once I left the urban area and the wind was more of a problem too.  I think those two factors coupled with the aggravation of the entire day convinced me to call it quits more than anything else as I came up to Salem Kyrka.  I had a dull headache, my throat hurt from crushed gravel and probably exhaust fumes.  The ride had been essentially nothing but frustrating and after all time spent puzzling over the maps and navigating my way around dead ends, I’d only covered around 5 miles in an hour and a half.  My husband’s errands weren’t likely to last much longer.

I pulled into the church parking just as the sun came through long enough I to get a good picture of the building highlighted against the backdrop of clouds.  As I called my husband and gave him the GPS coordinates, Loke showed an intense fascination in the dry stone wall of the churchyard.  Not interested in marking it mind you, but shoving his nose into every crack and crevice.  Even pawing at the stones.  It baffled me until I saw a notice posted in the weather proof information board warning of snakes in the wall.  The poisonous ones.  They’re not generally deadly, but I’m sure a bite on the nose would have given Loke quite a bit of trouble.

It’s a pretty church and fairly distinctive.  Hard to believe at one time it was known as ‘the slimy church’.  Of course, in old Swedish, it seems the word ‘slemma’ which means slimy could also be used as ‘lousy’, ‘old’, ‘poor’.

In no time, Jens was there and we were packing up.  It felt good to finish the Ride Of Aggravation even if it was just 5 miles.  At least the GPS coordinates seemed to work flawlessly.  It brought my husband right to me!  Pity we hadn’t discovered this sooner.

Tricksy Weather
April 9, 2011, 6:43 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, yesterday was something of a lesson in aggravation.  Actually, I could say that of this entire week!

The spoke issue stopped the trip to Öland as well as the local rides I would have taken even with Öland canceled for some other reason.  Like my husband being sick, which he was.  While I was glad to have him around this week instead of picking up some nasty flu in Detroit which would have put me down for 3 weeks, I would have spared him the tummy bug he’d caught if I could.

I also discovered Loke’s had another flare of up that fungal infection in his foot.  The vet warned us it might never really go away and there would likely be intermitted returns of it.  At least we know what it is now and caught it early.  Treatment already underway.

Neil (one of the great guys at ICE) sent me a FedEx tracking # with my e-mailed order confirmation.  Electronically, I watched my package leave England to land in Paris before shuffling from one place to another there before landing in Stockholm at 8:04 am Thursday morning.  Nothing was budging me out of the house until that package arrived.  Around 1 pm, the door bell rang and I bounced to answer it.  I was actually grinning and laughing with glee as I accepted it.  That earned me a few quizzical looks from the FedEx guy.  By 1:30 pm, I’d swapped tires around.

Did I go for a ride with my new front wheel?  No.  Wind howled outside.  Usually in our snug little apartment, we can’t hear the wind.  Thursday, I could hear it.  It came and went with this dull roar.  The sheet metal of our balcony wall would rattle and bang from time to time.  A few trees went down here and there and at one point, a friend of my husband’s was apparently stranded in Stockholm because the gale force winds took down some of the electric lines the trains use.  Nope.  I wasn’t going out and having Loke thrown into my lap or getting blown backwards while trying to pedal.

Yesterday dawned gloriously clear and around 40 F.  Jens was feeling well enough he wanted to try one of our fishing/cycling outings.  I quickly mapped out two for him to choose from.  One was a 30-ish mile loop around Gysinge (aka The Streams) and another was about the same distance, but more of a zig-zag starting from an island called Singö he likes to try catching sea trout at.  He chose Signö.  Destination decided, we packed up.

By the time we were on the road, the sun was vanishing.  10 miles outside of Uppsala, I noticed flecks of rain on the windshield.  By 20 miles, it was raining.  It was still raining when we reached the island and the 56 F temps we had started out in dropped to 36.  Guess who left bullet proof thermals at home?  Yep, I did.  Hey, 56 F and sunshine, my thin woolies with my wind-resistant leggings as backup would be fine.

Singö Kyrka

After driving for a bit more than an hour and a half, Jens and I both were determined to make an effort.  I wanted to try my new wheel and my husband wanted to practice his fly casting in the Baltic.  So, on to Singö Kyrka we went.

It proved to be a pretty and quite unusual church.  It’s the second wooden church I’ve seen in Sweden counting the one at the Sami village in Stor Blåsjon last year.

The rain lightened a bit, so while my husband shuffled his fishing gear around so we could unload the trike, I grabbed the camera.  I didn’t find any runestones, but given how lovely the church was, I happily walked around it.

As always, information on the church if you click the thumbnail.  I also found this site which has three photos of it.  One is it’s appearance today as well as a photo from 1910 and 1930.  http://www.singo.dk/lankarvanstraspalten/kyrkan.html

As I worked to get the wheel on the trike and put everything else together, the rain intensified.  I started getting aggravated at my hair, my glasses fogging up, the hat on my head as I struggled.  My back helped not at all.  I had to work in 10 second bursts as bending over made it ache.  The extra layers I pulled on while settling the trike fell short of keeping me warm.  My upper body was fine since I found my 200 gram weight top in the car, but my legs were cold even before I started.

Jens still encouraged me to go for a short ride.  At least to the parking area he’d leave the car at to fish.  He’d even wait in the car with a cup or two of coffee before pulling his fishing gear out.  It was only a few miles and Loke was already so wound up, I agreed.

I regretted it almost immediately.  The wind generated by 15+ mph speeds combined with cold rain felt like ice.  I could barely see through my glasses as Loke spurred us faster and faster.  By the time I nearly ended up as the filling in a bus/truck sandwich, I was shivering.  That was around 1.5 mile.

Yep. I had a close call yesterday.  The road was one of those narrow country sort with no middle line.  Cars can pass side by side, but there’s not a lot of space for it.  As we were rounding a curve at 17 mph, a bus came roaring up behind us and began to move over to go around just as a light goods truck came racing from the opposite direction right on what would have been the center line if there had been one.  The bus slammed it’s brakes with that stomach-turning ‘ur-ur-ur’ sound as it and the truck both swerved sharply to their respective sides of the road.  I didn’t even want to look in my mirror to see how close the bus came to rear-ending me and I bit the inside of my cheek hard enough to draw blood at the near miss of the truck.  Loke didn’t even notice as he galloped on with his doggie grin.

Fortunately, the last .7 mile to the parking lot was uneventful.

My husband had apparently finished his coffee quickly because he wasn’t in the car when I got there, but I saw him walking toward us over the bridge from the tiny island where the best fishing spot is.  I felt terrible at the idea of stopping soon since it had been such a long drive, but Jens decided he hadn’t dressed for wading in the Baltic in 36 F either.  56 F yes, but not for 20 degrees colder.  Since neither of us wanted to do our activities in the cold rain and near freezing temps, my sense of guilt eased somewhat.  Very quickly, we were packed up and snuggled down into hot car seats.

The total ride distance?  2.3 miles. Not even the distance around the most basic River Loop.

Uppland Runestone #595 - Very Unusual Stone

Uppland Runestone #595 Side

There was one additional stop on the ride home.  Every time we’ve driven to Singö, we’ve passed by a sign for a runestone.  We’ve always whipped by it on the curve too quick to stop for it.  On the way home this time, we remembered it.  I’m sharing it now since it’s along a stretch of road I would try to avoid and unlikely to cycle it.  There are far more pleasant stretches of road to pedal along than this 10 mile stretch.  If there had been more than a single runestone along it to tempt me, but there’s not.

This stone really surprised me.  It had two complex and highly religious images on it.  Before finding this one, the stone I deemed most religious in context was one which the runes spoke of Christ and paradise as the best world for Christians.  The pictorial carvings here show mass and Sacrament as well as referencing a bible story on the side.  Full info to be seen if you click the thumbnail for the front of the stone.

We still took care of another cycling related issue before the day was out.  When it came time to shop for dinner, I walked Loke around the pastures of an old farm (1800’s or earlier and now owned by a 4-H group) right across from the mall where my husband went into buy groceries.  He also went in search of a new battery for my ‘cycle phone’.  I have 2 cell phones.  One is an iPhone which is essentially useless when I’m riding my bike.  It seems like 3 feet from any building and I lose service and since I tend to spend most of my time in the open countryside, yep. Useless.

My old phone has great coverage, but recently the battery started to wig out.  One call would drain 90% of the charge.  At least, I hope it was the battery.  I love that old phone for the incredible coverage as well as the fact it used to hold a charge for a week.  Perfect for touring!  Hopefully, the new battery will prove as reliable.  Seeing as Jens likes me to call in to let him know we’re fine, it’s kinda critical.

Wow. I can manage quite a babble from just 2.3 miles of cycling, can’t I? *chuckle*

I Got A Headache
April 5, 2011, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Misc


It astounds me how 1 little piece of wire caused me such aggravation.  I turned into such a tangle of stress over whether the cycle shop could fix the spoke in time.

I’ve calmed down now, but I really did give myself a headache.  Wanted to go on my trip, irritated (understatement) that the ONLY spoke I’ve ever had break in my life had to happen two days before my first big cycle trip.  As I wrestled the wheel of the trike, the drum brake axel caught my eye.  Oooh. Could that cause problems with the spokes?  Yep, it did.  Because the hub is much larger in circumference than a typical hub, the spokes are about 10 mm shorter.  The wheel guy at the shop apparently had no idea how to adapt a longer spoke and called me this morning saying there was nothing he could do.  He’s never seen a wheel like this.  I’m certain it takes a bit of fiddling to adapt a longer spoke since one end has to be threaded and the other is not only bent, but has a flattened tip like the head of a nail.  It was just beyond his skill and knowledge it seems.

I called ICE.  They’ve always been great and they remained so.  Spokes were cheap and in stock so they could be dropped in the mail today.  At my husband’s insistence, I also ordered extra wheels.  Yep, two extra wheels are coming with the spokes.  A bit pricey, but I kind of skipped on getting anything for Christmas.  Late, but hey!

I ordered a front wheel and a back.  It turns out the front wheel is what’s called ‘Mirror Laced’ meaning it will work for the left or the right.  I’ll be able to slap the new wheel on when it arrives.  There will even be a tube and tire on it which saves me the bother of buying new tires.  I use a Marathon Supreme for my back wheel, so I will have two new Marathon Racers coming with the wheels.  For the seasons that swap between ice and dry, I’ll be able to swap between studded and slick rear easily.  Perfect!

It was only 5 USD more to speed the delivery from 4 days to 2, so I’ll be back on the road before the end of the week.  The wheel with the broken spoke will be back at a cycle shop as I’m happily riding again.  Such a relief!

I’m still aggravated about missing the trip though. *grumble*

April 2, 2011, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, gray and rain earlier in the morning, yet I decided to attempt a ride.

A bit of a late start.  I actually decided to do an older route since I discovered rune stones I’d missed at some churches.  Amazing what you can find when you take time to look at pictures.  It was going to be a fairly straight route to get three of them in a go while making it my longest ride of the year.  Even better?  I could finish it at home.  Perfect!  After scrambling around to collect things and get ready, we drove out around 11:30.

Stavby Kyrka

Stavby Kyrka

Stavby Kyrka.  Obviously, the picture is from summer.  2 years ago actually as I’m saving photo space.  I’ve only been to this church once when I forgot my shoes and couldn’t do the ride.  Rather peeved my husband doing that.  I didn’t notice runestone when I took the picture two years ago either.

Snow lay pretty thick and the wind had a chill to it, but nothing near the cold from the ice rink ride.  I wasn’t too worried as I dug the camera out.

Uppland Runestone #1122 – Stavby Kyrka

We did a quick stroll around the church yard and I collected the runestone.  Embedded in wall, it looks turned sideways.  We finished the stroll just in case there were any other stones hiding.  If were doing a good job of it if so.  Though doing quick research on the church revealed there’s a grave mound somewhere close to it.  I guess it’s another reason to tie this church into another ride.

Loke hopped and yodeled as I got the trike ready and my husband drove away.  A frenzy gripped him and with him setting the pace, we hit 18.6 mph even with a 1% grade.  Loke hasn’t even gone that fast down the hill toward the river.  He gave me those tongue flapping grins as he charged along at a hard gallop.

I’d been worried since the first mile or so of the ride was already on unpaved surface, but it was firm and obviously fast since we flew along.  As I came up to the first turn, I heard honking of geese or swans.  I couldn’t see anything in the field near by until I turned onto the pavement.  Through a line of tall reeds, I could make out moving shapes.  White and dark ones.  I thought the dark shapes might have been cranes which would have been rather surprising.  Cranes and swans sharing a field.

Swans & Deer

It took a bit of juggling to swap the lenses on the camera.  I’m not fond of doing it in windy conditions.  I have images of bugs and dust getting on the sensor, but it’s worth it for the versatility.  I zoomed in and smiled.  Not cranes!  Deer.  Deer and geese and juvenile swans!  Even zoomed all the way in I knew it wasn’t going to come out very well.  Tall reeds between me and the animals helped not at all as far as focus went.  Even so, there’s the picture!

It was surprising how much of the countryside I remembered.  Going along, I’d smile remembering the riot of colorful flowers along a white picket fence, gone now.  This was the curve where the house with the big dog and low fence sat.  Though brown grass and trees instead of green, the house and dog were still there.  There was the sport park where I’d stopped to eat cherries and let Loke cool off in the shade of a tree.

Loke and I made good speed.  Our average for our rides so far this year have been in the 5.5 mph range.  Pretty slow.  Of course, that includes all the stops I make as well as slow hill climbs and walking around church yards for runestones.  Even so, our average this time was coming out over 6 mph.  Something like 6.2.  I was thrilled!

Rasbokils Church

Rasbokils Church

Rather soon, I made the turn into the parking lot of Rasbokil church.  Again, a summer photo to save space.  I really should have taken another now that the scaffolding is gone.  I like these kinds of churches with the white-washed geometric designs in the yellow walls.  The runestone is visible just to the left of the door.  I really have to wonder how I missed it the first time I was here.

Loke and I did a stroll around the entire church.  As we passed a pile of cut brush, Loke picked up a small branch to drag.  He’d bound ahead with it so he’d have time to lay down and pull twigs off before I’d catch up.  Then he’d bounce ahead again to repeat.  I think tearing sticks apart is his 2nd favorite activity, right behind running with the trike.

Uppland Runestone 1012 – Rasbokil Kyrka

We finished the loop at the runestone and we went back to where the trike was parked.  I tethered Loke to a sign so he could sniff along the wall and wrestle with another cut branch.  He picked one that probably weighed as much as he did.  He played with his over-sized stick and drank water as I sipped water and nibbled a granola bar.

About the time I finished eating, Loke began woofing at me.  He was ready to go.  He’s just a machine.  Granted, we’d barely gone 5 miles, but he wanted to go.

I barely needed to look at the maps or the GPS as we went along.  I knew the next unpaved stretch was coming up.  I had my fingers crossed it would be clear.  The dirt was a bit soft, but free of ice.  Loke went nuts at the sight of unpaved ground.  The snow covered fields ringed and studded with the dark green of conifers glided by to the wet hissing sound of tires against mud.  Loke’s belly and legs began to turn black from the splatter.  Our good pace continued.

Around mile 10, I stopped for Loke and I to take a bit of water.  As I held Loke’s bowl for him, I heard ‘PWANG!’.  My first thought, “Oooh. I really don’t like that sound.”  I grew up around an acoustic guitar player.  The sound reminded me of a snapping guitar string.  Since I had no guitar that left the closest thing.  A spoke.  Cringing, I ran my hand around the outside wires of my left wheel.  One of them moved.  I fiddled (carefully) with it as it considered.  It had snapped right where it bent to thread into the hub.

I wasn’t surprised.  I know about metal fatigue.  I’ve been bouncing, jouncing and slamming through/over ruts, curbs and potholes for 5 years.  5 years of rattling, clattering and vibrating over the big stones of freshly turned gravel roads.  A few thousand miles.  Was a broken spoke so surprising?  No, but it was irritating.  The sound of goals breaking.  The 22 mile minimum I’d wanted to make a new record for the year.  The goal of exceeding last year’s mileage total by the end of April.  Not to mention the sound of vacation plans snapping.

Yep.  Vacation plans.  I had planned on going to Öland.  It’s an island just off the coast.  2nd largest in Sweden’s archipelago.  It’s been settled at least since the stone age.  Churches, runestones, faint hints of earthen works and of course burial mounds.  Bleah.  Not likely I can get the spoke fixed on Monday to leave on time.  *sigh*

I decided I shouldn’t make the full ride, though sitting in the middle of a dirt road and giving my husband vague directions didn’t sound like a winner either.  Loke and I eased along the last mile or so of dirt road to Rasbo Kyrka where I called for a rescue.  It’s possible the wheel would have held all the way home, but I’d rather not risk ruining the rim completely.

It didn’t take long for Loke to figure out we were stopping.  I tethered him just out of reach of the trike and settled in to wait.  He woofed and huffed at me.  He even whined.  When I tried to take his harness off, he kept backing up when I tugged at the buckles.  When I tried to pull it over his head, he kept walking forward to keep his head in the loops.  When my husband arrived and I moved the trike a bit, he immediate moved into hitching position at the running bar.  Something tells me he didn’t want to stop.  *smirk*

Ah well.  Now to see how long I have to wait to get a working wheel.  Loke might be sulking at me for a while.