Terii’s Cycling Babble


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.

Donkeys!

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!

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Awesome! I especially liked the picture of the donkeys (they look like maybe they want a ride on your trike — so intent) and the picture of Loke’s nose smelling the flowers. 🙂

Well, I went and did it! Started a blog! It’s all your fault! You’re in my blogroll, btw. (http://recumbutt.wordpress.com/)

Comment by Tom

Seeing the donkeys was definitely a treat. I was surprised how intently Loke ignored them.

And congrats on your blog. I’ll have to peek in on it every now and again, which I’ve already done once now. 🙂

Comment by terii




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