Terii’s Cycling Babble

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!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Sounds like that was a lovely ride, Terii. Thank you for sharing it. It seems that you and Loke have become a real team. I got in a couple of rides to work this week. I’m hoping to ride again on Monday. Enjoy the weekend.

Comment by Tom

Hope the weather is as good for you there as it is here. It’s gorgeous though a bit on the warm side for Loke.

Comment by terii

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