Terii’s Cycling Babble

Ruins & Touching On Norse Mythology
May 17, 2011, 3:18 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Written May 6th for May 5th Ride

FINALLY!  It was gray and 30 F when I woke, but around 8 am, the sun broke through and the temperature started to rise.  Jens and I got ready as Loke danced around.

 For the 2 days with the bad weather keeping my husband and I from doing what we came to Öland to do, Loke’d been a pain in our rumps.  Trying to bully Jens out the door mostly.  Even after all the walking we’d done on the 3rd with the Troll Forest, TWO iron age villages and a huge castle ruin to explore, he was woofing commandingly at Jens and trying to paw him out of his chair.  His way of saying, ‘Let’s go! NOW!’

 So, when it looked like we could actually get a ride in today, I was thrilled.  Hoping it might give Jens and I some respite from our bossy husky.

 Having lost 2 days, I decided I wasn’t going to try to do anything straight forward.  Essentially, I had broken down everything I wanted to see into 8 map sets.  25 miles on each map going from south to north on the east and west sides.  But there were certain things I wanted to make sure I cycled even if I’d already seen them on our sight-seeing day.  That way, I feel better about putting them in my cycling blog. Another of my peculiarities I guess.

St. Birgittas Chapel - May 3rd

 So, I made a loose plan to cycle south from a ruin we’d visited on the rain/snow days to a grave mound before cutting west across the island to another ruin and then north to a third.  There wasn’t much wind but I still didn’t want to cycle north.  It went counter to the lesson I’d learned on my first ride.  However, it was the only way to go to make sure I could get those 3 POI in since there was no telling what the weather would be like tomorrow.  I could only hope it was going to remain good, but I didn’t want to count on it.

 It was a bit of a drive to Kapelludda (Chapel Point) and the wildlife was out in force.  We almost hit a hare and then had another narrow miss with CHICKS.  No, not young women, but tiny, barely visible, balls of black and white fluff being encouraged to cross the road by their very strange parents.

 I’ve seen these birds around Uppland on rare occasions.  They’re the oddest I’ve ever seen.  Black and white, looking a bit like a shore wader.  They have peculiar rectangular shaped wings and fly erratically like a page of newspaper caught in a vortex.  Their calls are just as strange.  Turns out they have a crest on their head too, though I only discovered that when I came here where they are very common.

 It seems they nest in open grassy terrain and their young, like tern chicks, can walk as soon as their fluff dries.  We saw no signs of chicks before, so they must have begun hatching the day before or overnight.

St. Birgetta's Chapel - Ride Day

 We missed smooshing the little things, thankfully.  I go out of my way to avoid running over snails, slugs and frogs of any size on my trike and feel bad when I fail.  Running over cute, downy chicks would have broke my heart.

 Clouds drifted in the sky, but the sun was out and warm.  A chill hung in the air so I still needed my woolies on top and legs.  With the wall of the chapel ruin as a backdrop, I assembled the trike while Loke ran around with Jens sniffing things.

Another Windmill

 Jens wandered back and told me to look up the road.  About 150 feet away, one of those birds was running back and forth along the edge, calling.  I could just make out a tiny shape step out on the pavement and then take a wobbly hop back into the grass.  A parent trying to get its young to cross the street and it was being timid.  I watched for a few minutes as the mother/father desperately tried to get the chick moving, but it didn’t wanna.  I thought about going to take a picture of the tiny thing, but I didn’t want to stress it.  I was definitely going to make sure I didn’t run over it or Loke eat it as we passed.

Bredsättra Kyrka In Distance

Soon, Jens was driving off to one of his fishing spots and Loke was determined to catch him.  It is so funny how he does that.  Thing is, he doesn’t like riding in the car so I’m not sure why he’s so desperate to catch it.  Loke’s brain shutting down except for prey drive maybe?

 We ripped along at 17 mph.  With one stop for Loke to mark territory and two more for me to take pictures, we still covered that first mile in 4 minutes.  Crossed the 2 mile mark in 11 minutes.  That’s pretty impressive for us though I’m sure Loke would do better without my slow self bogging him down.  Of course, I’d rather us take it a bit slower than go as fast as we can and burn out in a shorter distance.  I still let him get that running burst in.  If I didn’t, I think he’d strangle himself on the harness.

 Oh! And I did get the briefest glance of the chick as we whipped by it.  About 3 feet from Loke, huddled in the grass of the ditch.  It was a puff of black and white feathers about the size of a ping-pong ball.  Loke didn’t see it because we were going so fast and all his attention was focused on the retreating bumper of our car.

 It was a mostly straight 2 mile road to the next turn.  A pretty 2 miles at least.  Fields to either side with hares running in panic at our approach.  Hmm.  I wonder if that’s another reason we made that 2 miles so fast?  There were windmills too.  Bredsättra Kyrka grew in the distance, white in the sun.  Like every church I’d seen on the island, it’s 1100’s or 1200’s roots were deeply buried under the facade of neo-classical design.  *sigh*

Random Scenery

 Shortly after our southern turn, Loke put on another burst of speed.  He was provoked.  A hare burst out of cover and instead of retreating the way it came or something equally sensible, it bolted down the road in front of us.  We hit 18 mph for the 200 yards of it’s roadway sprint.  Loke’s ears up and eyes bright with determination.  We couldn’t close the distance though it didn’t pull away either.  Finally it cut to the right and vanished in a hedge.  Loke tried to follow, but the harness tethered to the trike and my grip on his collar kept him running straight.  Definitely one of those moments I’m glad to have a trike.

Tjushög Grave Mound

 My maps reminded me of a grave mound ahead.  The road to it was unpaved.  Not a bad sort of dirt road at least.  It had a grass strip down the center for most of the way, but the bare earth to either side was smooth and hard packed.  The going was pleasant, though not much to see from trike level.  Only the very common Öland stone walls covered with bracken which hugged the road edge.  I stopped every now and again to pop up for a better look.

Branch Woven Tunnel To Sea

 The mound, Tjushög, came into view.  Öland’s largest at some 36 meters across.  In the middle of a walled field (surprise), it even had walls crossing it.  Admittedly, even as the island’s largest, it’s quite small compared to the ones I’m accustomed to.  Uppsala has spoiled me that way.  I still appreciated the sense of history it represented.  I love history!  The older the better!

 Though I really wanted to be sure I made it to all the places I’d planned for the day, a glimpse of the sea ahead pulled me further down the dirt road.  Since leaving the chapel, we’d been going through an inland sort of environment with no sight, sound or even scent of the sea.  Besides, I was curious if it might even be a new place for Jens to fish!  It was enough for me to add another mile or so.  A pretty view and in the distance I could see the lighthouse near where I’d started.  I could even JUST make out the chapel.  I had to use the telephoto lens to be sure.

Ocean View

Loke still ran well and I felt great as we went back to the paved road to continue south.  He drank water like crazy though.  I’m not sure why he was thirstier than usual.  It wasn’t hot with the sun having gone weak and watery through a thickening haze of clouds.  Maybe it was the lack of wind.

 And for the first time since we came here, it truly was almost calm.  Naturally, there had been a bit of a breeze along the shoreline.  Not surprising given we were very close to the water, but inland it felt almost dead still.  I could have easily ridden north if I’d known, but this was good too and I hoped it would be the same on the western side of the island when I did my northern leg.

Öland's Major River? Hehe

It made for a pleasant ride as we cruised past windmills and grave fields.  Those two seem to go together.  I’d say at least half the time I see windmills, they’re in the middle of a grave field.  Makes sense if one thinks about it. Those who made the grave fields put them in high places where they could be viewed from a distance.  The people who later built the mills, wanted them in raised, open places to better catch the wind.

 I think I even found the closest thing to a river on the island!  I spotted a nice little stone bridge over a water course Loke could have jumped over.

Gärdlösa Kyrka

 Soon, it was another church.  Gärdslösa and it was, once again, clad in the neo-classical facade.  At least part of it looked different.  The porch area was bare stone, a strong contrast to the white plaster of the rest.  The churchyard wall had an interesting feature.  Next to the gate, stone stairs had been built over the wall.  I noticed the same thing at Ås Kyrka as well.  Not sure why it intrigued me so much, but it did.

Gärdlösa Churchyard Gate

 The sun came and went as we pedaled through mostly residential areas broken with fields.  The crop lands around us were plowed instead of left to pasture and scrub brush laced with walls the south-west had.  Trees were common and quite a few houses sat near the road.  Barns and other buildings too.  Some looked at least a century old, made of mortared stone.  I spotted a ruins of buildings too, but didn’t take pictures since they were often right up against someone’s house.

Långlöt Kyrka

 The next church, Långlöt Kyrka, brought a bit of excitement.  Not only was it the turn to a place I’ve been itching to see before we even came here, but the church at the junction was NOT neoclassical!  Joy!  Romanesque maybe?  It had the tower, but capped in a simple peak instead of the round lantern-like design with elaborately painted detailing.  Whatever it’s design, it was at least distinct!  It had somehow been overlooked in the neoclassical frenzy which had gripped the island in the mid-1800’s.  I actually giggled as I took the picture.

Himmelberg Museum Open-Air Museum

Loke had another burst of speed as we made the turn, almost as if he’d been bored with going south.  I was more than happy to accommodate him.  The anticipated Ismanstorp fornborg lay ahead.

 The loping pace didn’t last long.  Some buildings caught my eye.  Some remnant of a village I think.  It had been made into a museum, which of course was closed.  A small road led between some of the buildings and I took pictures as I explored down it a bit.  It seemed to continue, so I dug out the maps for a look.  It did loop back around to the road I needed, but would have added almost 1 mile south and another going north for a half mile gain to the west.  No indications of runestones, old villages, grave mounds or anything else of interest, I went back.

Gorgeous Draft Horses

 Glad I did!  Or I’d have missed the horses.  Beautiful animals, but completely different from the Arabians and thoroughbreds that I saw on my first ride.  Some kind of heavy bodied draft breed.  Not very tall, but they must have had hooves the size of dinner plates.  A smaller boned horse was with them and when he trotted toward us, I could hear the sound of his hooves on the pasture ground, but when the others came toward me, their hoof falls were like bass drums.  THUD, THUD. I snapped pictures like crazy while Loke sighed and huffed with impatience.  I adored them!  It was hard for me to leave them behind, especially when one whinnied at me.

Flowering Tree

 I think we came to Öland at a perfect time.  Especially if the weather had stayed seasonal.  As in no snow!  Flowers are blooming like crazy and since it’s the slow season, the tourist hoards are absent.  It means a lot of places are closed, like museums, shops and restaurants, but I can live with that for the peace.  Somewhere along that stretch of road, this ride officially became my longest on the island.  I gave a cheer when the GPS rolled over to 16 miles.  For some reason, that triggered another running frenzy from Loke.

 Finally the sign for the fornborg appeared.  To my surprise, it was paved.  Gleefully, I urged Loke into a lope down that tree-shaded lane.  I stopped only once to take a picture of the ruined wall of some building nearly hidden in the growth before hurrying on.

A Greening Path

The trees were still dense at the parking lot and I saw no sign of what I’d come to see.  To my dismay, a hiking path led to the fort.  Narrow and studded with large stones, I gave it a long look of careful consideration.  I had no clue how far it went.  The path was pretty.  Framed by short, thin trees with a carpet of green growth and flowers.

 The part I could see, I thought I could avoid the rocks with a lot of swerving so decided to try it.

 It went well though quite slowly which frustrated the furry one.  After about .25 of a mile we arrived at a wire fence with a stile over it.  Beyond, across mostly open pasture, I could see a huge mound of rocks.  Excited, I swapped to my sneakers, collected maps, phones, GPS, and camera and locked the trike before hurrying on.

Outside Ismantorp Fornborg (Fort)


Opening Into Fort

From first glance, it looked like dump trucks had poured stones into a massive pile.  Here and there, peeking out of the fallen tumble, the original face of the wall was visible as orderly stacked stones in rows.  Finally, I spotted a section more orderly than the rest.  As I closed the distance, an opening revealed itself.  Through the narrow cleft, I could make out an expansive mound of grass and more stones beyond.

A Disordered Tumble


Circular Road Between Buildings

The entrance was quite narrow, maybe 5 feet.  Stones fallen from the sides long ago lay half buried along the bottom of the passage which was over 12 feet long so the way was far from level or smooth.  As we went, Loke kept stopping to look over his shoulder at me.  Whether wondering if this was a good idea or to make sure I was okay and coming, I don’t know.  For once though, he didn’t seem to be in a hurry and hadn’t pulled on the leash since I’d unhitched him.

Narrow Path To Collapsed Opening

I was grinning when I stepped into the open.  It was big.  Bigger than I expected it to look.  The first fornborg with it’s reconstructed buildings would have rattled around in it like a pea in a can.  At first, all I saw were randomly scattered rocks and low grass.  But patterns soon revealed themselves.  Here, an curving alley between the buildings or a straight one that way.  There, the tumbled stones formed an rectangular outline and a thinner place in the jumbled rocks where there had been a doorway.  From the inside, it seemed most of the wall’s top had fallen outward since it actually looked like wall instead of construction debris.  Opposite the way I’d entered, another opening beckoned.

Best Preserved Of Buildings


Narrow Opening Into/Out Of Fort

On the way, I found what is probably the most intact of the buildings.  All it really means is two or three of ‘walls’ still had parts of actual stone wall about 2 or 3 feet high rather than a vague outline strewn over the ground.  I went for a picture of it before going out the second opening.

 It was much narrower than the first.  Barely 3 feet wide though still almost 12 feet long.  It constricted enough in the middle, I had to turn sideways to avoid bruising my shoulders.  Good thing I’m not claustrophobic.  One man definitely could have defended it without difficulty.  Especially if he had a spear.

 From there, the light angles were better for pictures, but it’s difficult for a photo to show the scale of place.

Back Down Wooded Path

In someway, I liked it better than Borgholm castle.  The castle ruin is in much better condition with the corner towers intact and you can climb to different floors to walk through what once had been richly appointed chambers.  I enjoyed exploring it, even when pigeons, bursting out of pitch dark, little rooms, came at my head in a flurry of wings.  I screamed a few times because of that.  Creeping carefully forward into the dark, trying to get the camera to take a picture to see what was there and then a’ whap, whap’ sound as something rushes at my face.  Yeah.  I screamed and not ashamed to admit pigeons made me do it. Hehe.

 But before we came, I had been looking forward to seeing the fornborg more than I had the castle.  Maybe it’s simply the age difference between fornborg and castle.  The fornborg is much older and that always appeals to me.

 I was as reluctant to leave it as I had been leaving those draft horses, but I spent almost an hour there.

 The slow walk and frenzies of grass-thrashing seemed to have recharged Loke.  When I hitched him to the trike after wrestling it to face back down the trail, he wanted to run!  I was having none of it.  We crept along as I wiggled back and forth between the rocks to protect trike parts.  Once we hit the parking lot, I let go of the brakes and hit the pedals.  We sped back to the road at warp speed.

 During my calls to the husband, he seemed to be having a good time as well.  That made me happy.

Another Joy of Spring!

Less than a mile from the fornborg road, I had another horse moment.  Well, pony really.  In a paddock, a small pony mare grazed.  Not sure what kind, but definitely not a Shetland.  She was larger than that.  Her foal though was barely bigger than Loke.  He stood taller, but I’m sure Loke outweighed the little guy.  I did my usual, ‘You’re sooo cute!’ girlie squeal as I began snapping pictures, walking back and forth to get better angles.  He was absolutely adorable.  I doubt he was more than a month old.  Wouldn’t be surprised if he was less than a week even!

 For a few miles after leaving the fornborg, I was actually off the maps.  The map bundle with the fornborg on it had begun there and gone east and then north.  I hadn’t bothered mapping the area west of it since there had been nothing of interest between it and coast that way.  I managed to puzzle it out without too much trouble.  Soon, I was back on a new map bundle and looking for the next POI.

Odin Splinter

It was an Odin’s Splinter.  A large slab of white stone standing in the middle of a grave field.  The story goes that Odin tethered his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir (meaning slippery in Old Norse) to these stones when he was to do battle.  When the horse broke free and rolled on the ground, it formed a swamp called Gladvatten (Happy Water) said to be bottomless.  There’s more if you click the thumbnail, including the story of Sleipnir’s birth which gave me a double take as he was the child of Loki (a male Norse god) and a stallion.  The things I learn researching what I find while pedaling around Sweden!

 A dirt road next to the Odin Splinter allowed access to Ismanstorp from another direction.  Also somewhere down it was an old iron age village… the non-fortified sort.  I debated going for a look, but suspected it might be another hiking trail and maybe even one less trike friendly than the fornborg one.  I went on.

Högrum Kyrka

 Högrum Kyrka was the next church I came to.  Guess what?  Neo-classical.  Are we surprised?  Not really.

 Just beyond the church, I came to my first town/village of the day.  Rälla is a fairly modern place.  It was also my first ride on cycle path on the island.  I was glad of it when I came to Öland’s major road, the 136.  Off-season or not, it was busy.  It must be downright nightmarish during the big tourist season crunch.

 Actually, the cycle path along my first section of the 136 was a cycle shoulder.  About a 4 feet of shoulder with a clearly delineated marking on the traffic side and every mile or so had a bike symbol painted on the asphalt.

Another Grave Field


Something Other Than A Post Windmill

I can’t say it was pleasant.  During the time between the fornborg and the 136, the clouds had thickened and around me, veils of rain had been clearly visible.  None found me at least.  Then there was the near constant stream of traffic.  I tried to ignore it, enjoying instead the distant glimpses of the western shore or grave fields or windmills.

 Maybe it was the traffic or he just caught a second wind though his first hadn’t failed, but Loke turned into a machine.  Our speed for most of the ride had been pretty good when we’d been moving.  Clipping along between 7.8 to 8.2 mph and the ground mostly flat.  But the distance down the 136 toward Borgholm castle ruin, Loke pushed us to 8.7 − 9.3 mph and he held it.  Back and forth, his legs swung like quick pendulums in a ground devouring trot.  When I’d stop to offer him water, he tried to keep going even if it meant pulling against the brakes and my feet on the ground.  The GPS ticked over 28 miles.  Officially our longest ride of the year.  Still he kept the pace.

Borgholm Castle Ruin

 About 2 miles from Borgholm castle ruin, I saw the beginning of a separate cycle path though the cycle shoulder continued.  I wanted OFF that road, so we played Frogger to cross.  Bliss.  For about half a mile it was back from the road even with trees and bushes between.  Except for the traffic roar, one could forget there was a busy road a couple hundred feet away.

 At the blistering pace the furry one was setting, those 2 miles passed quickly.  I slowed us, against Loke’s will, as we came to the turn with the cattle guard.  Sitting across the road and a little down was one building I’d been admiring every time we passed it.  A tan stone barn or something similar.  I went to try for a photo better angle of the barn and spotted pedestrian gate.  Perfect!  I could tether Loke, cycle over the guard and reclaim him.

Where'd You Go??

I had to go around a section of wall between the cattle guard and the pedestrian gate.  Loke was completely baffled as I cycled away from him, instead of toward and disappeared.  When I came back from the other side, he stood there staring at me in confusion.  I had to take a picture of it.

Interior of Borgholm - Sightseeing Day

 My husband called and was on his way to Borgholm, though it was going to be a few minutes.  A little further down the same road, was supposedly another castle so I went to see it while I wanted for Jens.  It turned out to be too difficult to get to and with thick, screening trees I saw nothing.  I ended up waiting in the parking lot.

I Told You There Were Pigeons In Dark Rooms!

 Just as we began loading the trike into the car, I felt my first spits of rain of the day.  I seem to dodge the rain bullet quite a bit. *smile*

 Loke went to sleep right away and I felt tired, but not wiped.  32.53 miles for the day and we were out for 7 hours with all the walking and riding.  I could live with that.

Hello, Spring? Are You There?
May 16, 2011, 3:02 am
Filed under: Misc



Written May 4th

Snow??  Okay, a lot of people think the Swedish population wades around in the white stuff year round, but we do have our snow-free months and snow in May is rare.  According to my husband, the last time he could remember it happening was in 1986.

So, there were no rides on the 3rd and today.  Tuesday was cold, wet and very, very windy.  We had light flurries mixed with rain and it just was not the sort of weather either me or my husband wanted to be doing our chosen activities in.  For me, riding along with hypothermia.  Jens standing in cold water with a colder wind and snow trying to get fish to bite a shiny piece of metal.

Recreated Iron Age Structure. Livestock Shelter I Think

Instead we went sight-seeing.  I could put up with walking in that weather better than cycling.  We checked out a pair of iron age village sites.  Took a 1.5 mile forest walk and then spent 2 hours wandering around Borgholm castle’s ruins.  By 3 pm, the sun actually made an appearance and it warmed up, but I was exhausted from all the walking.  My feet hurt too.  I didn’t really want to shove them into the torture devices that are my cycle shoes for additional pain.

Loke's New Dog House?

Today, was even colder.  I woke to below freezing temps and a hard rain.  I thought it odd it would be raining at 30 F when yesterday at 38 F we’d had blowing flurries.  As if summoned, the snow came.  Thick and furious.  At times, the flakes were almost an inch across.  It alternated between heavy snow and rain for most of the day.

I do so hope tomorrow’s weather improves.  If I come away from this vacation with a measly 26 miles worth of rides, I’ll be quite irritated with myself.

Curse of Cash Card Phones
May 15, 2011, 6:00 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Okay! Hopefully back on track for catching up on posts now that the technical difficulties are taken care of!

Written May 3rd – May 2nd Ride

It was fairly nippy when I woke up.  Around 38 F, so I was quite content to let my husband sleep in as I worked on the blog for the previous ride.  The sun rose in a clear sky and I waited.  Around 6:30 am, I heard sounds stirring from the other room and Jens finally walked out, squinting, to ask if I’d make him some coffee.

By the time I handed him his coffee and a breakfast sandwich, the sun had vanished.  That took a bit of my enthusiasm with it.  Chilly out, looking like it might rain in brutally cold wind?  Ummm.  Yeah.  I could wait in hopes of a bit more warmth.

It was Jens who finally bullied me out the door.  It was quite cool out, but the wind wasn’t nearly as bad as the day before.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still quite forceful and I definitely had learned my lesson.  I was not riding north for anything.  That determination pretty much decided where I’d start.  Nothing for it, but the northern tip of the island at the lighthouse there.  Jens even knew places he wanted to fish along the stretch I’d be riding.

North Point of Öland

The sun started peeking out through the clouds on the much shorter drive north.  Less than 15 miles from our cottage.  Light and shadow played tag over the wind-swept spit of land leading to the lighthouse and waves frolicked on one side as wavelets lapped shyly on the other.  A thick spread of broken clouds ran before the cool north wind that would be at my back.  Very pretty.

Blue and Blue!

On the way in to the lighthouse parking lot, there had been one cattle guard, but my husband was more than happy to stop and wait there to help me get Loke across since it looked like a good spot to fish.

So, off we went!  It was beautiful.  The broken clouds showing glimpses of blue sky above the leaping waters with white caps rushing up onto a beach of pale, broken stones.  Loke and I burned through the first mile.  Less than 5 minutes and that was with a potty break for the furry one and a photo stop.  We flew and it felt like it was all downhill!  What a difference a direction makes!

A Spot of Sun

That brought us to the cattle guard in what felt like record time.  The railings were flat, so Jens just scooped Loke up and carried him over while I rattled across.  Then we both were on our way, since Jens had decided he wanted to try a place a bit further south.

The sun came and went as Loke and I cruised along.  We probably could have done a 9 mph average for the first hour easy at that rate.  If I didn’t stop.  I really needed a bathroom though.  A little further on was an outhouse as the stretch of beach to the west was a national park.  I stopped and made sure Loke, very excited still, wasn’t going to run off with the trike.

I quickly changed my mind after a peek into the outhouses.  People had been using them for garbage cans.  Bags of it crammed in around the seats even.  I suppose I should be happy they hadn’t just strewn it all over the beach since there were no garbage cans in the area.  In that situation though, I’d take out what I brought in.

Öland's Northern Most Burial Ground

I could hear the waves below and the occasional cry of a sea bird over the deep-throated hum of my tires on the less-than-smooth pavement.  The metronome staccato of Loke’s paws on gravel and grass almost made it musical.  It had turned into a beautiful day.

Very quickly, I came to the end of the national park and in the last little parking area with its sign, I spotted our car and my husband fiddling with fishing gear next to it.  I swerved over to pull in behind him.  I didn’t do it just to say hi.  Right past the southern end of the parking lot was a grave field.  Quite a few stone cairns piled on the beach.  Jens took Loke and the three of us went for a short walk among the graves as I took pictures.

Top of Burial Cairn, Waves Beyond

My husband mentioned the waves were kind of unnerving.  The shore along that stretch is very shelf-like.  Almost terraced.  Flat section, sharp vertical drop, flat section, so on.  The tide was just at the perfect height so waves would come rushing up to hit the edge of a shelf only a few inches below water.  The impact threw these high arcs of spray every 3rd wave or so.  In places where he could get deeper, he mentioned, the larger waves pulled pretty hard.  He told me he was going to sit and enjoy the view, make a few casts while drinking a cup of coffee before moving down the same path I was going to ride.  I told him I’d see him in a bit.

One Of Many Starting Points

I passed a couple of older men on my way through Byxelkrok, which by the way is one of the starting points for the Sverigeleden!  It winds through the northern half of the island before one would have to catch a bus to carry their bike over the bridge to the mainland.

The men, one riding a bike and the other walking one, both gave me startled looks and waved as I passed.

I must say, a Monday on this part of the island in the off-season is quite peaceful for cycling.  I think on my whole ride I saw less than 10 cars.

I followed the Sverigeleden through a small residential area on the south-west end of Byxelkrok.  The signs pointed me down a tiny road following the shore line.  I was somewhat familiar with this stretch since we’d driven it after my previous ride.  It wound through pine woods with beach beyond or over wind-swept grass/scrub with beach beyond.  Most of the west side of the road was national park land, but the east side was dotted with small houses and little summer cottages.

Blå JungFru (Blue Maiden or Virgin)

Across the water, a large mound of an island sat, with bare rock bright against the darker green of plant life.  On one of our drives, Jens had wondered what island it was.  I’d told him I didn’t know.  But as I watched the view of it change subtly with our progress along the shore-line, it came to me.  After looking at my map book for so long, a small splotch of an island had engraved itself on my memory.  Blå Jungfru and I also recalled there is a boat out to it.

Blå Jungfru translates to ‘Blue Virgin’ or ‘Blue Maiden’.  It’s really just a hill sitting in the middle of the water.  The whole thing is a national park.

There were a number of cattle guards along the road, but they were no problem.  Off to the side of each was a paved section, made to be gated when animals were present, but all the gates were open.  The ones lacking the paved strip, had small wooden bridges to one side with a gate held closed with strong springs.  Those two, I had to stop, untether Loke to lead him across.  Then I’d clip him to a tree, ride across and on we’d go.

Cliffs. If Only Light Had Been Better.

I was in view of a line of red cliffs when I noticed it was time to call my husband and let him know the dog and I were just fine.  No answer.  I tried once more and thought little of it as I took the picture of the cliffs.  They didn’t come out very well since the light angles threw them into a dark shadow.

The next time I tried to call Jens, I started feeling a bit stressed when I got a notice that the amount on my phone card was very low.  It also occurred to me he hadn’t passed me.  I have an annoyingly fertile imagination, but I pushed the worrisome thoughts back and kept going.  One thing was certain, Jens would have to call me as it seemed best to save what little phone time I had left for emergencies.

Loke's New Stylin' Socks

He did call and said he hadn’t heard his phones ringing in his pocket over the crash of the waves as he stood thigh-deep in water.  Completely understandable.  I’m certain the only reason I knew to answer my phone was because it was in the little belly pocket sewn into the front of my cycle shirt.  I felt it vibrate and never would have heard it over the roar of wind in my ears.

Though I’d only been out for less than 2 hours, Jens came to get me since my phone was so low on time.  The plan actually had been to check out a couple other spots he wanted to try and I’d start cycling anew.

It didn’t work out that way.  Instead we had a driving adventure over very rough roads I wouldn’t take the trike down if I could help it.  Big rocks everywhere just waiting to ambush my rear derailleur.  It was a jouncy ride, a bit hair-curling at moments as I could look out the window and see the road edge some 3 feet away or less dropping into a 10 foot fall with jagged rocks for us to crunch onto.

We did find some interesting sights though.  An old quarry close to the water.  Öland used to be famous for limestone it seems.  The entire island is made of it.

Sweden's Only Wind-Driven Scubbing Mill

An old scouring mill was really interesting to see as well.  It was a very tall windmill.  The lower parts were open frame made of bent tree limbs.  It drove flat blocks of stone in a circle to scour limestone flooring slabs smooth.  Apparently it was invented by a man who lived on Öland.  It replaced the horse or ox driven scouring mill which an example of lay on the other side of the road.  I’m not surprised someone on Öland invented the wind driven one given the island is mostly limestone and wind. *chuckle*

VERY long explaination and history if you click the mill’s thumbnail.

We bumped along that road for the better part of 2 hours.  By then, we decided we should shop for dinner and go cook it.  Both of us were quite hungry.  We also recharged my phone’s time while at it.

So, not a long cycle, but a good day.  Right now, I’m waiting to see what the weather is going to do this morning.  I woke to 28 F and gray.  Not something I want to ride in.  To think, my last ride close to home, I was overheated and soaking down Loke’s ears.  Summer was muscling in on spring’s time.  Now, it seems winter is trying to shove spring away.

Come on temps!  Get to upper 30’s at least.  PLEASE!

Ugghhh! Wind!!
May 9, 2011, 1:15 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Written May 2

May 1st Ride – Öland

Very little of yesterday went as planned.  I woke early, which was expected.  I always wake early.  I might have slept in a bit since the sun actually rises about 20 min later here in Öland.  I fiddled around to get maps ready and decided I’d ride from the southern part up the west side.  According to my maps, it had lots to see.

Poor hubby.  I guess it wasn’t much of a vac ation day for him.  I pried him out of bed around 6 am.  As he drank coffee and tried to collect his wits, I was running around like a mad woman.  Fresh water?  Check!  Thermals?  Check!  With the temp around 34 when I woke and a forecasted high of 51, I knew I’d needed my woolies at least for the first part of the ride.

Even so, we weren’t on the road until 7:15.  Jens did a bit of teasing about how we could have waited for the bread.  Given the fiasco of just trying to begin the ride turned into, I have to agree.

What do I mean about the bread?  Well our snug and very comfortable cottage sits in the backyard of a lovely old house which has been divided into little apartments also for rent.  The owners of the property also operate a coffee shop/bakery next door.  One of the perks to staying here is a complimentary morning delivery of some of their baked goods.  I have to say, it smells like a VERY good bakery.  The delicious scents wafting through the early morning air as I ran back and forth to the car had me salivating!  Pity they’re only open Friday-Sunday.

The long drive to the southern tip of the island left my husband a bit dismayed.  He admitted his image of the island’s size was small enough one could toss a rock from one end to the other.  He thought maybe 30 miles from tip to tip and roughly 10 miles wide.  It’s more like 100 miles long and maybe 20 miles at the widest, so we were on the road a while.

Eketorp Borg

My original plan had been to start at a fornborg in the south.  A fornborg is a fortified village.  This one appears to have been used from the Iron Age right through to Medieval times.  I expected an earthen wall topped by a wooden or stone wall maybe and a few restored (translate ‘completely rebuilt) buildings within.  I was half right.  As we came up on it, I could see in the distnace a fairly large, crenelated stone wall.  Very Medieval looking. (Lots of info in above thumbnail)

Eketorp Central Building

As we drove toward it, I had a flash of annoyance as we rattled over a cattle guard.  Darn it!  I HATE those things!  The trike deals with them fine, but it can be a nightmare to get poor Loke across and this one was doozy!  It changed my mind about beginning there though I was determined to get pictures.

Sod Roofed Building & Northern Gate

The parking lot was a distance from the fortifications so we piled out of the car.  The wind slammed into us.  It cut right through the light wool thermal top I’d pulled on over my cycle top.  My hair turned into dozens of little whips.  Jens hunched his shoulders and turned up the collar of his coat.  Even Loke ducked his head with flattened ears.

Right into the teeth fo the gale we marched.

Cluster of Buildings In Eketorp

It was interesting to see the little signs they had along the path.  The impression they tried to create was the parkling lot was modern times and the closer you got to the village, the further back in time you went until reaching the historical time of the fornborg.  So, starting with cell-phones and internet, successively older things and events were shown.

The last 100 yards or so had a sign forbidding dogs so my wonderful hubby stayed with Loke as I went on.  About 20 feet tall with the crenelations adding another 3 feet and THICK, the wall was impressive.

Building, Fence & Broken Wall - Eketorp

I passed through the gate arch into a mostly recreated village.  Small stone buildings with distinctive thatched roofs huddled in the stone circle.  Off to the east, part of the wall had collapsed long ago and had been left.  Buildigns in the center, east and south side had been completely restored.  Just to the west of the northern gate, a few buildings went into lesser and lesser states of recovery.  Here was one next to a completed one where the timbers making the roof were bare and you could look in.  The next one over was only walls.  The next, only parts of walls and the last two were little more than outlines of foundation stones.

Foundation Stones - Eketorp

The largest building in the cetner, completely restored, had been turned into a museum.  I’m sure it’s where they keep the cultural items they’ve found at the sight.  Of course, it wasn’t open.  It might even still be closed for the off-season.

Closed museum or not, I was thrilled with getting to see the village!

The walk back to the parking lot was much easier.  Well, except for my hair blowing around my face.  It felt like if I’d given a hop, I would have sailed for 10 – 12 feet before coming down.  The wind was that hard.

With the huge cattle guard and no where convenient to start the ride on the other side of it, it seemed beginning from the lighthouse would be the next best thing.  I wanted pictures of the chapel ruin along that road!

Ås Kyrka

On the way to the lighthouse, we stopped at a church on the way so I could ‘collect’ it.  There wasn’t much else on the stretch of road, so it’s not likely I’ll ride there.  As husband and husky waited in the car, I did a quick run around the church in the swirling winds.

I want to point out the churches here are rather boring.  They’re kind of like houses in a modern American suburb.  Cookie cutter.  You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  Maybe the color of the plaster changes and small details at the top of the steeple, but otherwise, very much the same.  Not like the ones around Uppland.  I’m never sure what what awaits as I crest a hill or round a bend for the first peek.

On we drove to the lighthouse!

Southern Light House - Lång Jan

Imagine my consternation when the road to the lighthouse had not 1 but FOUR cattle guards!  Nasty ones I might add.  The ones on Fårö (Sheep Island) had been a major headache, but at least the metal bars had been flat squares and Loke and I could walk across them, albeit, one slow, careful step at a time.  Not so for these.  They had narrow, round topped peaks to make sure hoof (or human foot or doggie paw) slid off into the pit beneath.

At least these cattle guards were in use.  All through the scrub and grass to either side of the road were cows.  My heart sank even deeper when I saw the young calves everywhere.  I had images of getting stomped while the protective mothers charged Loke.  Jens didn’t think there’d be a problem.  Of course, he’s not sitting at the perfect height for a kick in the head if wrong either.

Southern Tip Scenery

By this point, I was very frustrated.  All wanted was someplace interesting to start from and cattle guards and now bovine mothers thwarted me.  Granted the lighthouse didn’t impress me much, but starting from the southern most point of the island had interest value.  Water to either side, sea birds everywhere and a chapel ruin less than a mile north.

Jens came to the rescue.  He would drive Loke over the first guard which had no walk-through and meet me at the first parking shoulder on the other side.  Then the furry one and I could cycle past the ruin for pictures while he went to make sure the other guards had walk-throughs and if they were unlocked.

Talk about a confused husky.  There was the trike.  He was in his harness.  Yet he had to jump in the car and watch as I pedaled behind.  He was so thrilled when Jens stopped, I caught up and he was tethered to the trike.  He threw his weight into the harness and off we went.  Loke pulled even harder when Jens passed us.  Howling north wind or not, we managed to hit 16 mph.

St. Johannas Chapel Model

Jens waited for us at the chapel ruin.  He’d driven ahead and doubled back when he saw a large part of the cattle herd was on the road ahead.  Even though he didn’t think there’d be any worries, he still didn’t want me to stress so was going to take Loke past the last cattle guard.  He walked with me and Loke over the chapel ruin though.

St. Johannas Chapel Ruin

I guess ‘ruin’ is almost too generous a word for the grass mound there.  Without the sign and the small bronze model of St. Johanna’s Chapel on a stand, I would have thought it was a grave cairn.  A few stones peeked through the sod with a hollow in the top and you could just make out it was square shaped… kinda.  I took pictures and off we went.  Hubby and dog in the car, me on the trike.

Loke was very unhappy to be stuck in the car again with the trike fading in the distance.

I felt the full force of the gale without Loke.  The narrow spit of land had little to nothing to break the north wind.  It felt like climbing an unending hill at a 10% grade.

The cows did offer a distraction.  I got looks of bovine astonishment as I slogged along.  Only one cow was actually in the road when I went by.  She stared over her shoulder at me until I was about 10 feet away with one wheel on the far edge of the gravel shoulder.  I would have gone over further, but there was a steep ditch and I wasn’t interested in rolling.

Suddenly, the cow tossed her head and gave a kick before trotting off in alarm.  It wasn’t an aggressive kick.  More like a ‘I don’t know what you are, but see what I can do?  You don’t want to mess with me’ kind.  It missed me by a good 7 feet, but it gave me an interesting perspective of her hoof at face level.

Soon the last cattle guard and Jens were in sight.  As he clipped Loke to the bar, I gasped, ‘Okay! I’m done!’  It didn’t seem to amuse Jens too much. Hehe.

Southern Tip Scenery

Loke heard the click of the cleats into the pedals and pulled.  I gave Jens a quick wave as the husky dragged the trike into motion.  I was glad of the help in that breeze.  I questioned my sanity about riding into it.  Of course, I didn’t really have much of a choice being at the southern tip.  I was not about to disassemble the trike and have my husband drive us more though he’d offered.  Since I wouldn’t do that and sat at the southern most parts of the island, the only way I could go was north.  It was time for Jens to go find somewhere to fish, not continue to play chauffer.

Ottenby Grave Field - Standing Stones On Horizon

Within 300 yards of making the turn to the road up the western coast, I irritated Loke by stopping for pictures of Ottenby Grave Field.  Mostly blue skies served a backdrop to lage rounded stones and strange square cairns.  When I think of grave fields, they are like Ottenby rather than the ones I’ve found in my home territory.  Those tend to be hard to spot with small low stones mostly hidden in the grass leaving you to question if they were placed there by man or dropped by glaciers in the Ice Age.  Ottenby was the first of several I found during the day and I had no doubt man had a hand in this landscape.

Ottenby Grave Field - Mounds On Horizon

The grave field was quite large and I finally found the turn to parking for it where I took a picture of the info sign.

The field went a ways past the sign.  The stones and cairns gave way to the soft curves of small mounds on the west side of the road.  To the east, it was covered with grass and brush, criss-crossed by little stone walls.  The walls were used to divide agricultural land.  Some I found were built as late as the 18th century.  Some might be older, I’m not sure.

King Karl X Gustav's Wall

The mounds and cairns of Ottenby’s grave field were still in sight when King Karl X Gustav’s wall appeared before me.

I’d thought maybe one of the walls further back might have been it since that one stretched into the distance to either side of the road.  Supposedly, it was built from coast to coast (roughly 3 miles at this point) to hinder deer.  Even in Sweden, all deer belonged to the king so he was trying to keep them where he could more easily hunt them.  At least, that’s the impression I had.  When I’d seen that first wall I thought there was no way it would stop a deer.  It might stop Loke unless he got really determined, but not a deer.

THIS wall could likely have stopped all but the most determined deer.  I’d estimate about 8 feet high and over 3 feet thick at the base.  It narrowed a bit toward the top.  I’d seen no sign of it as we came down the eastern side leaving me to wonder if it had gone to ruin over there.

Grave Mounds & Stones At Parboäng

It felt like the wall was barely out of sight before I came on another grave field.  This one had an unusual stone rising from one of the mounds.  Very, very tall and thin, sitting on its end.  It’s even been given the name of ‘Tall Maja’.  A small dirt road was dug down through the middle of the field to a farm behind it.

Less than 8 miles and my legs were killing me.  Loke had given up pulling miles before so it was all me against the wind.

Ventlinge Kyrka

It was a relief when I came to the first church of the ride.  Ventlinge Kyrka.  I debated walking it to see if there were any stones, but given how wobbly my legs felt, I decided I’d rather save my energy on pedaling.  Besides, most of the information I’d gotten from my Sverigeleden map book seemed to indicate runestones were far and few and not generally around churches.

Windmill Across The Fields

Wind, wind, wind.  It definitely dominated this ride.  Coasting?  Not happening as I fought for every foot and yard I covered.  Thankfully, the island is much flatter than Uppland.  There were no 7%, 8% or 12% slopes here.  I was especially happy of that since I was climbing from sea level.  What little climbing I did any way.  Even on the extremely rare downslopes, I still had to pedal just to keep moving.  With wind speeds around 15 mph sustained, it was brutal.  We had one harder gust which lasted about 3 seconds.  My speed dropped in a heartbeat from 7.3 mph to 4.1.  It was like hitting boggy mud.

The wind dried Loke and me out pretty quickly too.  Both of us stayed thirsty even while gulping water like crazy.  The good news though was with the cool day, stiff breezes and slower pace the furry one wasn’t overheating.  He still seemed happy to take a rest in the shade when I stopped to look at a sign along the road.  It was for an old shale and cement production site.  As we sat there drinking water, a man pulled up and asked something.  Unfortunately between the wind howling around the edges of my ears and the chugging of his car’s little diesel engine I couldn’t hear him.

Alvar Landscape

Shortly past that, the west side of the road took on the soft hills and unnaturally placed stones appearance of a grave field, though I’d seen no signs.  I did find signs to the east side.  Mostly about the alvar which is the sort of landscape with the grasses and scrub crossed by walls.  One place was both a pasture and also had old foundation stones for iron age houses and such scattered around it.  As I read the sign and looked across the pretty view, I would have loved to looking for those foundations.  I just didn’t have the ‘oomph’.  Especially if I wanted to keep riding.

Wary Horses Around The Windmill

The western grave field was STILL rolling on when I spotted a horse in the distance.  I made note of it and then went back to keeping an eye to the other side for a sign to figure out which grave field I was seeing.  Suddenly, the thudding of hooves had me looking east again.  A herd of horses, some 10 strong came running up to the fence line.  Two of them were Arabians, a white and a dainty, little dapple gray.  The rest were in shades of brown, Arabian and Thoroughbreds both.

Stopping, they stared at me, nostrils flaring in an attempt to catch our scent as the wind rippled their manes and tails.  They abruptly turned and galloped hard for the north before curving away to the east and back toward us.  Beautifully groomed, their coats gleamed.  They did that for almost a mile.  Curiosity warring with the wariness of something new and strange.  I laughed with delight.  Loke only kept his head down and jogged ‘doggedly’ into the wind.

They finally stopped near a windmill sitting in the middle of their pasture and watched us ride on before going back to their grazing.

Södra Mockleby Kyrka

The grave field was briefly interrupted for a short stretch of town and another church.  I only stopped long enough to dutifully collect the big plastered, rectangle with it’s square tower and lantern steeple.  I have discovered while doing research on this church a number of runestones used to be here, but have since disappeared.  Pity.  I would have been nice to get a few runestones at least.

Also, much to my surprise, all the churches on this ride have thier origins in the 1100’s though the story for each is the same.  Most of the original church either demolished or covered over in the 1800’s for renovations of neoclassical design.  They also didn’t seem to mind the churches being multi-use either.  Warehouses or defensive stuctures.  It makes them a little more interesting to me.

  On the other side of the village, the grave field continued with the rolling mounds studded with stones.

Finally, near a clustered formation of stones, I found a parking shoulder with a sign.  It took a bit of fiddling to get the trike positioned so it wouldn’t roll backwards UPHILL with the force of the wind.

Gettlinge Burial Ground. Mound & 'Gate' Stones

The almost 2 mile long grave field was Gettlinge Grave Field.  I had finally come to the northern head of it.  A little further on, just past a windmill, was another grouping of stones and two very large upright stones which the sign commented stood like a pair of gate posts at the entrance.

I gave the windmill long consideration.  The little door at the back stood open and curiosity pulled.  I looked at those rickety and very steep stairs leading up and decided I couldn’t do it.  My legs just weren’t up to it.  I wasn’t even sure I could push on by that time.  Somehow, I still found myself back in the seat with Loke tethered next to me and we went on.

Smedby Kyrka

As fields opened up to the west and I caught sight of another cookie cutter church in the distance, Smedby (Smith Village), I decided I’d stop there.  Only roughly 15 miles.  As I said, I had to fight for every one of those miles.

Opposite the turn down the short road to the church was a dirt track with a nature reserve sign for another of those alvar environments.  Next to the track was a windmill.  This one was a faded blue gray color and one of the blades fallen into the thick growth at the edge of the little clearing around the mill.  Also in the clearing was a table made from an old mill stone.  A comfortable place to wait for my hubby and far more interesting than the church.

Windmill Near Smedby Kyrka

As I was trying to get far enough back to take the picture of the mill and not end up stuck in thorny scrub bushes, a pair of birds burst out of cover.  They looked a lot like ptarmigans, but I can’t image them this far south.  It must have been a pair of pheasant hens though they seemed smaller and not shaped quite right.  Maybe a different kind of grouse?  Who knows.  I don’t. Hehe

The door to this windmill wasn’t locked.  Only held shut by a large chunk of wood.  I actually made an attempt to climb up, but I couldn’t bring myself to trust the weathered looking planks of the steps and the entire mill shaking in the wind didn’t inspire confidence either.  So, I settled at the table to wait for Jens.

The leg pain really kicked in during that wait.  From ankle to waist, the muscles tried to cramp and wouldn’t stop twitching.  My knees ached.  Worst were my hips, my right one especially.

The chair heat in the car felt soooo good when we had everything stuffed back in the car.  I’d enjoyed the scenery and definitely got exercise.  Loke was flat on his pillow and sound asleep, so not a bad day all things considered.

*Assorted Grumbling*
May 8, 2011, 5:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Okay.  The vacation posts will be delayed a bit due to technical difficulties that need to be taken care of first.  Mainly, Photoshop is acting out too much to accomplish anything with the pictures.  I have a LOT of them and rebooting my computer 2-5 times for each as I struggle to crop and resize is too much.  Sorry for the delay!

Not a good way to start a morning.  *sigh*

Öland – Wind, Walls & Windmills
May 8, 2011, 3:58 am
Filed under: Misc

Ismanstorp Fornborg - Thank You MapMyRide Satellite Map View!

Well, we’re back from our week on Öland and it was beautiful.  I’ll have to count the vacation a success.  My husband, Loke and I all got to do our favorite activities.  The cottage was very nice and the bed amazingly comfortable.  I woke up without back pain!  That has to be a first for a vacation bed!  The owners also ran a bakery.  It’s only open Friday-Sunday at this time of the year, but those days, fresh baked rolls were left on our door-step.  Unfortunately, it didn’t include their incredible cinnamon buns, but they weren’t that expensive and it was only a 50 foot walk around the corner of the main house to get them.

I got to ride and Loke got to run, though not quite as much as I wanted.  What we did do was great!

Now, I’ll get to work on the pictures for the pre-written posts!