Terii’s Cycling Babble

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.


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