Terii’s Cycling Babble

Öland’s Runestones!!
December 1, 2011, 8:11 am
Filed under: Day Rides

May 6th Ride (Written May 7)

The morning dawned warmer than it had on the 5th and promises of a prettier day were in the forecast.  In spite of the long ride the day before, I wanted to get another one in.  We are leaving tomorrow morning after all.  Once Jens woke around 7 am, I went into a frenzy of preparation.

I waffled a bit about where to ride.  Part of me wanted to include a pair of old Iron Age village sites in a ride so I’d blog them, but beyond those two sites only about 3 miles apart, there wasn’t much in the area.  Reluctantly, I decided I’d try to find a few runestones my maps and Jens had mentioned.  I didn’t know if I had enough oomph to get to the one my husband had fished near, but I was willing to give it a shot.

Långlöt Kyrka

We had a bit of confusion when it came to the beginning point.  We headed for a little village encouragingly called Runsten (Translates to Runestone).  We passed by the non-neoclassical church on the way.  A few other items of interest lay between it and Runsten and when we couldn’t find the stones, I decided starting from Långlöt Kyrka would be a good start.  It would even link this ride to the previous!  I liked that idea.

Random Roadside Burial Stone

Loke gave no indication of excitement as I readied the trike.  He wandered around with Jens, sniffing things and marking, but hardly looked at me or the trike.  It made me wonder how soon I’d be calling my husband to come get our furry family member.  If I ended up dragging him along after a mile, no way I’d go on.  Don’t want to kill my cycle partner.

Unusual Round Burial Stone

Even so, I sent Jens off and Loke and I started out.  The usual wild mile at the beginning of our rides was lacking.  It was more like a ‘kinda quick quarter mile’ before he settled into a 7.1 mph trot.  I was okay with it.  My legs weren’t really up to freneic activity either.

One thing I noticed.  The wind which had been from mostly north for most of the week was more like west-north-west and, while not the worst wind of the week, it was steady.  That made me unhappy since a good 15 miles or more of my ride was going to be west.  I paused at a bus-stop to look at my maps, wondering if there were other things I wanted to see.  I couldn’t go east.  North I’d already covered quite a few miles the day before.  Further south?  A few neoclassical churches which I’d already seen too many of earlier in the week.  So, west it was.

Lerkaka Windmills

The first mile and a half had plenty to see.  Less than a quarter mile from the church, a tiny pasture sat in the wedge between the road I was on and a dirt drive leading into a farm.  The remains of an old grave field filled it with a couple of normal standing stones and an impressively large and spherical boulder.  A short distance further on, a pair of stones  guarded either side of an entrance to another dirt road.

Horses Behind The Roadside Shop

Around 1 mile, I stopped at park-like strip with a little souvenir/ice cream shop just opening for the day.  I parked near a picnic table and collected everything I wouldn’t leave with the trike.  I also brought Loke’s long lead with the intention of tethering him in the shade of a windmill.

There were 5 windmills in a row down the road.  My map book also mentioned a linbasta (I had no idea what it was) and TWO runestones.  Rather than drag Loke along in the quickly warming sun, I found a nice grass patch in the shade of the first windmill to leave him wallowing happily.

As I walked off, I heard yapping.  One of the people at the shop had tethered a dog out.  From the sound and look, I was pretty sure it was a puppy.

Linbasta (Linen Shed)

I began to explore.  The first thing I checked out was across the road.  A linbasta it turns out is a linen shed.  In this case, it was a small stone building reminding me of a garage though it had a sod roof.  The buildings were used to dry stalks of linen after retting but before the fibers were separated.  Back over the street, I had a closer look at the windmills.  These were in very good condition, the stairs solid with no sign of rot.  Even better, the doors were open with signs inside inviting exploration.

Inside A Mill

The signs were requests for donations to help in the upkeep of the mills.  I would happily have given something if I’d had any kind of cash on me.  The inner workings of the mill I peeked into were intact.  The large, vertical gear fitting into the horizontal spoked, spindle above the mill stones.  Even the brake made of several lengths of wood pinned together in a flexible length curving over the top of the blade gear.  I’m glad I stopped and looked.

Öland Runestone #37

Once I’d peeked in the mill, I finally spotted my first runestone on Öland.  It was back over the road down a bit from the linen shed.  Erosion and lichen obscured the runes and weathering had removed most of the paint, but here it is!  Öland Runestone #37!

#37?  You mean there were at least 36 other stones on the island and this was the first one I’d found?  Disappointing.

I strolled back to reclaim Loke.  He was laying sphinx-like in the shade and staring after me as the puppy still yapped.  It got a bit more excited as we walked back to the picnic table .  A woman emerged from the shop and came over with it on a leash as I repacked my shoes and camera.  After asking if it was okay, we let the two furry ones meet.

He was a cutie.  Some kind of spaniel type though I think too big for a cocker spaniel when she told me he, his name was Melkin or something like that, was four months old.  Loke was remarkably sedate.  After about 3 minutes of being timid, Melkin became playful and actually annoyed Loke.  Talk about a turn of events.  Loke is usually the one doing the annoying when it comes to other dogs.

From time to time as Loke sniffed around while us humans talked, Melkin would come over and plop his rump down on my feet then sit up, with front legs off the ground, back against my shins and look up at me adorably.  Young as he was, when he mouthed my hand, he was very, very gentle with those needle-sharp puppy teeth.  After a 10 minute chat about or dogs, the woman and I parted company.

Random Scenery

The scenery was pretty in the bright sun.  I passed what might have once been a grave mound, now badly damaged.  A stone or two stood on the top of the chaotic pile, but it had been torn apart and looked more like the earth debris from construction.

Around mile 2, I was feeling moderately irritated at still lacking that 2nd runestone.  Swerving off into a driveway near a closed gate to be off the road, I started digging my maps out.  A black shape rushed us from the yard beyond.  The expected barking and snarling never came.  We’d found another puppy, this one a half grown black lab.  She only whined at us as with her muzzle through the gate pickets.  She wanted petting and play!  Her howls followed us as we left.


Öland Runestone #36

Barely 100 yards from the black lab’s yard, I found the 2nd runestone (Öland Runestone #36).  We’d missed it both times we’d driven down the road to and from Runsten Kyrka.  It sat less than 2 yards from the side of the road.  The runes were clearly visible thanks to the red paint, clearly better cared for than the first one.

The last stretch toward Runsten Kyrka (another neoclassical facade), I noticed the wind again.  It had picked up slightly and, worse, shifted.  It now came from the south and west.

Serious thought to stopping crossed my mind as I pushed into the parking lot of the church.  I think if Loke had acted even the tiniest bit more tired than he did, I would have given in.  But it was probably our last ride of the vacation unless of course, I got in a very short one before we left.  I didn’t think it likely, so this would be my last chance.  I sucked it up.

Runsten Kyrka (Runestone Church)

The turn inland came immediately after Runsten Kyrka.  Fields and trees mostly.  One serious drawback to riding at this time of year through Öland’s agricultural land made itself known.  Fertilizing.  I think it’s mostly done with pig poo.  For one stretch of almost 2 miles, it was bad enough I almost vomited.  Riding with the collar of my cycle shirt over my lower face gave some relief, but not much.  I pitied Loke who panted with his tongue out as he trotted along.  I don’t even want to imagine what he must have been tasting.  Bad enough dog’s sense of smell is 10x stronger than a human’s.  Then again, if he could have, he’d probably have rolled in it.

Old Fashioned Well Dipper

Though pretty, the scenery for parts of my westward ride were torturous because of the stench.  Lovely buildings with flowers and stone walls and the smell.  Circling raptors and the smell.  The view down the road painted with the glory of spring by trees flushing with the pale green of new leaves and blossoms along the ditch and, you guessed it!  The smell!

Other than the scenery, little else lay along the westward road.  It was part of the Sverigeleden though!  My maps were unnecessary as I could follow the green signs all the way to Färjestaden at least.  From there, I’d have to follow the maps through Öland’s largest town to the southern end where Jens said the runestone stood.

Glömminge Kyrka

I was feeling the distance and wind when we hit the 136 opposite Glömminge Kyrka.  We coasted down the steep slope to stop in the shade next to an old farm building sitting next to the church in a residential area. Leashed with the long line, Loke drank water and then stared, drooling, as I munched on a cinnamon roll I’d packed.  I checked his feet.  Time for the socks!

I wrestled them on the resisting husky and then slapped duck tape on the bottoms so they’d last longer than 2 miles.

The way into Färjestaden was confusing.  All the Sverigeleden ended at the bridge junction where bikes have to be loaded onto a bus to go across.  I didn’t see any of the roads mentioned on my maps.  I finally had to guess.  Heading west as far as I could and then south seemed my best bet.  It made for a circuitous path thanks to many dead ends.

Trees, Field, Sea and Wet Husky Ears

Finally Out of Town!

Finally, after riding through residential roads and past a mall and ferry landing, we found ourselves on a nice cycle path.  One problem.  The wind had shifted so it came completely out of the south, the very direction we were going.  Not blowing as hard as on May 1st, but Loke and I both were very tired from the 15 miles we’d already covered and the 32.5 the day before.  So, even a 10 mph wind was killing us.

Jens called to say he was done fishing.  I admit to hovering on the edge of giving up.  I told him I was coming to the southern edge of the town.  ‘Not much further’ he said and he’d drive to the stone which would take him a bit.

Not much further.  In a car with an engine doing all the work over slightly rolling hills and into the force of wind has an entirely different meaning than an exhausted woman and dog with a trike.  Every inch of my legs were screaming though hard to say if my knees or thighs hurt more.  Loke slowed down.

I hate to say it, but the only thing that kept me going was the fact there was no where to stop.  About 20 feet of grassy slope and ditch separated the cycle path and road even if there’d been a bus stop bay on the road and there wasn’t.  The way my legs felt, I didn’t even want to hike/climb across that once let alone 3 or 4 times to get everything in the car.

So, on we fought at 5.5 mph or less.  Creeping up a windy slope and barely faster down the other side.  Each slope was only 2% or less, but it was murder with that south breeze.

I gave a weary cheer when I finally saw the sign point down a paved west road for the runestone.

The wind seemed to vanish as we made the turn.  Distantly, there was a gold colored blob of our car and an even smaller shape of someone walking around.  Jens.  ‘Loke!  There’s Jens!’ I told the furry one.

His head came up and began craning desperately around even as he found energy to leap into a 15 mph charge.  He looked in every direction for Jens except straight ahead.  Even when I said ‘Titta!  There!’ and pointed, he’d briefly look ahead and not see my husband before glancing left and right at a hard gallop.

Finally, Loke did spot Jens and stretched out into a dead run at almost 20 mph.  Fastest of the year I think.  My husband began walking toward us as I clenched the brakes, but Loke was determined to reach him.  I yelled for Jens to get out of the way because Loke didn’t want to stop.  He quickly moved aside and we shot past.  Loke threw his harnessed weight backwards and the brakes did the rest.

The fur brain was so happy to see Jens.  He was all cute and tail-wags as Jens leashed him and rubbed his fur.  I was happy to see my husband too.  The ride was over.  21+ miles.

I think it’s the first time Loke couldn’t wait to get into the car.  Usually we have to bribe him with treats or insist he jump up.  He might be the only dog in the world who dislikes car rides.  As soon as Jens opened the hatch so we could pack everything, Loke leapt in and curled up on the pillow we brought for the trip.  We almost had to drag him out of the way.

Öland Runestone #1 (Karlevistenen) & Loke Wallowing

Trike loaded, I managed the 100 yard walk to the runestone sitting in the middle of the field.  Öland Runestone #1.  Yes.  #1!  Also called the Kärlek Sten.  A very unusual stone because it has a poem on it though I couldn’t find a translation of the runes.  On the back were more common looking letters that are actually a butchered sort of Latin meaning ‘In Jesus’ name’ or the like.

As I took pictures, Loke found still more energy to flop down and wallow in the lush grass.  He spent about 5 minutes doing that.

On our way back to the cottage in the island’s northern reaches, Loke and I both dozed.  I don’t know if I would call it a good day, but it did have a sense of accomplishment to it.

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