Terii’s Cycling Babble


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.

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