Terii’s Cycling Babble

About Dang Time! First Tour June 1-2
December 1, 2011, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Tours

Both for this post AND for the first tour.

Yes, I actually took the leap and did a tour this year! My first ever.  I began June 1, slept over night and finished on June 2.

I took a few days to pack, making a careful list as I tried to make sure I had everything I might need and likely quite a few things I didn’t.  I randomly chose a place just south of the western tip of Lake Mälaren.

I don’t remember what time we arrived at Kungs-Barkarö Kyrka.  I can’t even remember why I’d picked to begin at that church a few miles south of Köping.

Kungs-Barkarö Kyrka

Except for the wooden clad, steep peaked bell tower on one end of the church, it looked much like Börje Kyrka – that white plastered simple exterior with a high peaked wood-shingled roof.  I made a walk around it and discovered there’d been a fire recently.  I think that’s the third church I’d found this year which had suffered fire-damage recently enough you could smell it.  It seems to have survived just fine except for a bit of charring on the wood cladding of the tower.

No runestones, sadly.

All Loaded!

Church yard explored, I turned my attention to unloading the car and organizing the trike and trailer.  It was a bit cool, though not cold as I worked. I do remember the mosquitos were out in force.  I think I lost about a pint of blood as I packed everything up and hitched the trailer and dog to the trike.  Even Loke looked irritated at all the buzzing, biting insects.

With a bit of nervousness, I said goodbye to my husband, plopped down on the seat and moved off.  One good thing about getting underway was escaping the bugs.

Chalk Transport?

Loke was delighted with the new ground and we ripped along the first 2 miles at a run.  The furry one was a bit frustrated with the slower pace I was keeping.  It’s recommended to keep the loaded trailer below 15 mph.  Loke, of course, wanted to do a full charge of 18 mph or more.  I did stop during the first quarter mile to take a picture of the elevated hauling system which stretches for quite a few miles through this country side.  If I remember correctly, it was used to haul chalk, but I might be wrong.

Björskogs Kyrka

The wind was a tiny bit nippy, but not unpleasant as we came to the next church just 3 miles from the one I’d left.  Björskogs Kyrka sat high on a rather steep hill, proving a bit of a challenge to climb with the trike and trailer.  The grounds were pretty and green around a yellow painted plastered church of Neo-classical facade.

Loke refused the water I offered as I relaxed for a few minutes to devour a banana.  I tend to neglect food when I go on long rides, but since this was a tour, I figured I really couldn’t afford to do so.

Random Scenery

I didn’t push our pace at all.  After all, I had days to cover ground and burning out wasn’t in the plans.  Under the gradually lightening clouds, the temperature rose until I was slightly warm rather than cool.  Loke was panting, though not desperately so.

The way through Köping was a bit tricky.  There were a couple of churches I wanted pictures of and nothing seemed straightforward in the town. I do remember passing by the building where our friends lived when they first moved from Uppsala to Köping.  In the distance, I could see two steeples.  One lay in the direction I needed to go and the other was a bit in the opposite way.  Being in no hurry, I went to check out the western steeple first.

Pretty Chapel/Church

I found a very tiny church or a large chapel.  Quite pretty really. Red brick facade with a copper roof gone green.  I liked it.  I do wish I’d been able to get a picture of it without people clustered at the front of it, but we can’t always get what we want.

I didn’t spend much time here, feeling out of place with the people in their suits and Sunday dresses.  A parking lot isn’t the most interesting or comfortable of places to take a break either. 

One nice thing about Swedish towns is that while they have increased traffic, they have good cycle/pedestrian paths!  With occasional glimpses of the next steep through the trees to guide me, I wiggled my way along the paths to the east.  I found a lovely green park crisscrossed with paths.  Quite a few people were there, giving Loke and I rather startled looks as we went along.

Köpings Kyrka

At the head of one such path was the lichgate into the churchyard of Köpings Kyrka .  Leaving Loke with the trike, I did a quite circuit of the churchyard, but found no runestones.

It was a bit after 12 pm, so I settled in for a longer rest and something that resembled lunch.  As Loke sat, looking around the park and sighing with boredom, I munched on some granola.  Every time I got an odd look, I waved cheerily.  Most of the time, I got a rather startled and hesitant wave back.

The sun was beginning to come through the clouds when I moved on, migrating my way east.  It was a bit of tangled web to find my way out of Köping.

The clouds peeled back more and more quickly as we went and with the sun’s arrival, the temperature shot up.  I’d gone from slightly chilly when we’d started that morning to unpleasantly hot.

Around 1 pm, there were few to no clouds and those were all far off near the horizon.  Unfortunately, it coincided with our arrival along a stretch of road  with not a trace of shade.  The road I traversed ran parallel to a rail track and the main road.  Given the amount of traffic on the main road, I was glad of the smaller access road.  I had little joy of the utter lack of shade however.

Ugh! Hot!!

Though I had little joy of this stretch of the ride, Loke was downright miserable.  His tongue flapped somewhere around his feet as he slowly trotted along with sopping wet ears, lower legs and belly.  I started to fret over a place to stop with shade for him, but it just seemed to be unending.  Finally in a passing bay, I swerved over so Loke was on grass rather than warm pavement and opened my umbrella.  It took coaxing both Loke and the umbrella, but soon, I had the furball shaded and laying down in grass.  Keeping his little water dish full next to him, I hunched sideways to get a bit of shade while I waited for his panting to ease.

His breathing had mostly gone normal when he got up about 20 min later, lapped a bit more water and then gave me a ‘Well??’ look.  Off we went.

It didn’t take long before he was panting pretty good again, but not far in the distance, I could see the steeple of the next church.  I hoped there’d be a wonderfully shady spot to park the trike and planned for us to rest there for an hour or more.  We reached it after about 15 min.

Munktorp Kyrka

Happily, the parking lot was surrounded by a wide verge of lush grass and old trees.  I coasted into a nice shady spot and tethered Loke where he had a nice, soft green bed and made sure he had plenty of water again.  I also gave him a little food before turning my attention to the church.

Munktorp (Monk Square?)  Kyrka had no runestones I found and I even had a chance to look inside in rather unusual circumstances.

As I finished my walk around the church and came back to the trike, a woman arrived with her teen children.  As they emerged from the car, she greeted me with a big smile and said she had seen us on the southern side of Köping.  As we chatted, more people arrived and another woman joined us.  It turned out there was a funeral scheduled.  By then, the sun had moved and put us in sun.  As I moved the trike into shade and topped off Loke’s water, the first woman asked if I needed more water.  I happily took the opportunity to top off my water.

Grave Slab In Munktorp's Porch

Gathering up my camera bag and water bottles, I followed her into the church where she showed me to the bathroom.  Thanking her, I ducked in to refresh myself and refill Loke’s bottle.  A few minutes later, I stepped out and into a problem.

The anteroom of the church was PACKED.  People in black suits and dresses stood shoulder to shoulder, milling around in what little space there was to offer condolences.  And there I was.  A plump woman in spandex and jogging shorts, faded ball cap, sneakers, all sweaty and streaked with zink sunscreen.  Rubbing against anyone would have left a bright streak on that dark fabric.  I scuttled to a corner next to the bathroom door and stayed there.

To my astonishment, I was accepted.  No one gave me even a curious look let alone a scowl.  I half expected to be told in an insulted tone to leave, but I might as well have been dressed in black rather than in  my grimy cycling clothes.  A few people greeted me and I told them I was sorry to have intruded and they had my condolences.  The widow was them and when I gave my sympathies, she gave me a quick hug.  I was touched.  I still feel a little teary at that easy acceptance I was given at a time of their terrible loss.

Soon the people filed into another room of the church for the service and I slipped back outside.  Loke stopped his grass wallowing long enough to look at me and wag his tail before flailing some more.

I was still hiding from the sun when the service was over and people came out.  A few more people stopped to pet Loke (and gather loads of white hair on their black clothes) and chat before I had the place to myself again.

It was a bit after 3 pm when the heat broke thanks to a thickening scatter of cloud and Loke and I moved on.  After Munktorp, the road was more pleasant.  Curvy and occasionally touched with shade from trees as well as sky.

Loke and I made good time through the country side as we made for a castle where I’d planned to camp.  By this point, Loke was wearing socks, which he disliked.

Strömsholm Slott

The castle is called Strömsholm Slott and Jens and I had been there a few weeks before on a ‘drive around Mälaren Lake’ road trip we’d taken one day which was why I’d planned to camp there.  Long history if you click the thumbnail.

To my dismay, when I reached the castle, I discovered most of the places I might have pitched a tent to be occupied.  It seems there is a riding school at the castle and there was a large competition.  Tents, horse trailers, RVs everywhere!  It was around 5 pm.

I stopped at a cluster of old red wooden buildings which had been outbuildings for the castle and probably a few centuries old.  After a quick peek in the tourist shop there, I pondered what to do as Loke and I ate ice cream.  I finally decided there was nothing for it, but to ride on until I found someplace to camp.  Fortunately, even in late june, the days are wonderfully long.  Even at 5 pm, I still had hours of good light.  Ice cream done, Loke’s sock’s checked, we continued.

Random Scenery

The path I’d picked away from the castle was not an easy one.  Cars were forbidden, but not bikes.  It had been grated recently, so the stones were loose and large.  Our speed was probably not much more than 4 mph.  I kept an eye out for a place to stop, but most of it was either fenced off or growing grain.  Gritting my teeth, we pressed on.

I was only too glad when we came to paved roads again.  I wasn’t on pavement for long though.  I made a turn onto a small dirt road that wound its way between paddocks and barns of a farmstead.  To my surprise, it turned into a cycle path.  As 7 pm came, I began to feel a little anxious, knowing I was coming up on another town.  I didn’t like the idea of being exhausted and sleepy in a place I couldn’t legally camp.  As the path ran straight between a pair of fields, I saw the shoulder of a mound of rock with a cluster of trees and stopped.

First Camp!

Under the trees against the nearly sheer face of the rock mound was a small hollow.  With only 5 meters between rocks and cycle path, was it ideal? No, but not far ahead was a residential area and for the entire distance between that spot and the castle had been residential and agricultural lands.  I decided it had to do.  I tethered Loke and pitched the tent.

It was a rough night.  First of all, Loke.  He didn’t want to sleep.  He spent quite a while woofing at me to move on.  THEN it was the foxes.  Once it got darkish around 10:30 pm, they started yapping which made Loke completely nuts.  He kept pacing around, peeing and flinging leaves and dirt everywhere.  I guess I should be glad Loke was there.  I’m sure his presence kept the foxes at distance.  Still, it was rather like suffering through a neighbor’s mouthy dog barking all night.

Second of all, the cycle path was amazing busy!  Even at 2 am people were cycling and walking past.

Then there were the rocks and roots.  As I said, it wasn’t an ideal place to camp.  Lastly, I was COLD. Even wearing all my layers I was shivering as it got to around 40 F.  Over a 40 degree drop from the warmest part of the day to the coldest.  Brrrr.  I needed a better sleeping bag.

Around 2:45 am, I decided to give it up.  Sitting up, I stumbled through the faint light to feed Loke, check his feet and give him water.  Shortly after 3 am, I had plenty of light and began to break camp.  The furry was nearly hysterical with joy as put everything in the trailer and harnessed him.  By 3:30 am we were tearing at warp speed down the cycle path!

Of course, it so happened that less than a mile away, I found what would have been a perfect camp site!  It was even a historical site.

This Would Have Been A Better Camp

A lovely grassy sward overlooking the glass calm waters of a widened stream or a small lake.  I stopped to admire the place as well as look at the signs.  It turns out the place was the location of a battle!

Near a mockup of a crude wooden bridge was the information sign.  I was standing where the battle of Herrevadsbro took place in 1251.  Such a peaceful looking place for a bloody event.  I sat on the mock bridge to eat my granola breakfast as I watched the strengthening dawn.  Loke sulked some distance away, tethered to a flag pole.

It was still short of 4:30 am when I put away the food and we moved on.  I wanted to be out of the small town before frenzy of commuters in the area began rushing toward Stockholm, Västerås and Enköping and I still had to go further into the town to take a picture of a church before leaving it.

Kolbäck Kyrka

It took a bit of wiggling along the quiet streets to find my way to Kolbäck Kyrka.  I found no runestones.

The next hour and a half was spent backtracking not just the distance from camp battle site to the church, but also toward where I’d emerged north of the castle onto the paved road.  We made good time.  Loke was running happily in the early morning and I felt good, hardly tired at all from the 32 miles we had covered in the first day.

Mystery Fornborg

It couldn’t have been much later than 6 or 6:30 when I stopped to take a look at a fornborg.  It sat high on a steep hill covered with low blueberry bushes and other ground hugging growth with a few narrow paths twisting through.  The once village itself was no more than a tumbled ring of rocks sitting on the brow of the hill like a crown.  Loke was actually quite happy to stop here.  He frolicked happily through the bushes as I climbed to look for a way into the inner section of the stone.  If any existed, I couldn’t find one.

I love the faint red-gold touch the rising sun gives to the photo of the fornborg.

As we came down, Loke abruptly yelped, leaping almost a meter into the air.  He landed and began chasing something through the bushes.  I pulled him back and checked the paw which had come up first, but there seemed to be nothing wrong with it and no problem with his walk.  Soon we were out of the field and on our way again.

Shortly after the fornborg, we came to the worst stretch of the ride.  I thought it was even worse than the broiling stretch on the west side of Munktorp.  A main artery between Köping and Västerås and commuters had begun.  Traffic was whizzing by and most of it was uphill.  No shoulder.  Not fun and it didn’t help that it seemed Loke limped occasionally.  I kept checking his feet under the socks, but his feet looked fine.

It was a huge relief when we turned off onto a smaller road.

Säby Kyrka

Säby Kyrka was our next stop and I found myself eyeing Loke worriedly.  As he had on the big road, Loke seemed to limp every now and again.  Not so much that I was certain he was limping, but enough that I was suspicious.  As we made our fruitless search for runestones, I watched Loke very carefully.  I also spent almost 15 minutes going over every millimeter of his foot, looking for some spot of skin too thin on his toe pads or a cut or thorn, anything.  He gave no sign of pain at my handling.  I waffled for a bit and then called Jens to being the drive to come get us and let me know when he was on the west side of Västerås.

Loke was still desperate to run, so I gave in.

Stora Rytterne Kyra Ruin

By the time we reached Stora Rytterne Kyrka ruin, he was limping quite badly.  Our speed had dropped to barely more than 4 mph as I nursed the furry one along.  The road was narrow with no place to sit safely let alone space for Jens to park while we loaded the trike.  There was nothing for it but to keep on.

The ruin was one of the best preserved church ruins I’ve seen outside of Sigtuna.  Loke still tried to be bouncy as we explored the ruin, but his paw was bothering him quite badly.  When I took a look it was swollen and felt warm.  I was baffled.

There was no help for it, we had to sit there and wait for Jens.  In spite of his foot, Loke was restless and even pawed at me as if to say he still wanted to go on.  He wasn’t fooling me.

The only thing I could think of was perhaps when he had jumped and yelped at the fornborg, perhaps he’d been bitten by the one poisonous kind of snake here in Sweden.

Soon, Jens was there and I was home by about 10:30 after having cycled over 15 miles for the day, even with Loke limping slowly along for the last mile or so.

We kept an eye on Loke’s paw, but by the 3rd he was already showing significant improvement and by the 5th, he didn’t have the least little limp much to my relief.

So, barely 48 miles for the entire tour, but we got out and did it!  I loved it and I think Loke did too though he didn’t seem to like sitting still all night.  Goof.

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