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.

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice. Makes me want to hit the road with
my camera and Hadassah (Border Collie). I
have the P-38 with fat tires and will be
posting a few off road ride reports. Keep
riding and be safe.


Comment by rcoldtmr

Hadassah will love you for it. 🙂

Comment by terii

Nice ride report, Terii. Keep on cranking. 🙂

Comment by Tom

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