Terii’s Cycling Babble

Beating My Head On Walls
February 26, 2012, 3:01 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

It feels like I spend a lot of time doing that. Still, I won’t give up.

We’ve managed to dodge snow for the past few days and this morning dawned crystalline clear if rather cold. I decided I’d actually make another attempt at the 18+ mile Börje/G. Uppsala loop, see if this time I could stay upright the entire way. Around 10 am, the temp had crept up to a near tropical 29 F so I decided it was time.

Loke was a bit twitchy about me getting ready, though it was hard to tell if it was because of the cycle clothes since he’d been that way since I’d woken up this morning. With Jens home, getting out the door went a bit quicker since I only had to go out once instead of running back and forth. Not to mention, the trike went out in one piece. I just had to slap the sheep-skin over the seat, sling the pod bags on and ready my flag.

Loke didn’t yodel too much and soon we were zipping along the streets toward the cycle path.

The first pretty Sunday in a LONG while and everyone was out enjoying it. The cycle path was probably the most packed I’ve seen it in ages. It kept our pace down quite a bit.

Soon we were crossing the 272 onto Gamla Börjevägen. I noticed I was actually feeling a bit nervous as we went along. Maybe a bit rattled from the spill. Hehe.

Not Supposed To Be A Lake Here

The temperature was a bit frustrating. My right side was actually quite cold as the wind came brisk and hard from over the fields. My left side was a bit too warm under the two layers of wool with the surprisingly strong sun full on. Only somewhere in the middle was I comfortable.

That wasn’t my only annoyance. My gears seemed to be a bit weird, rather sluggish to respond. When the chain did move, it would rattle and clack. I decided to talk to Jens about getting it serviced once I got home.

Oh! I saw my first hard core cyclist today! He gave me a cheery wave as he hammered his way back toward Uppsala.

I gave a little cheer when we rounded the curve along the church yard wall. We did not speed around it. I wasn’t going to risk being ambushed by ice again. Actually, I was already risking getting trapped by ice on this ride. When I’d driven the route a couple days before, there were a couple hills that stopped me from riding it. Two of the steepest were less than half a mile apart with a space of flat ground between them. The ice on the road was hard and slick. Combined with the slopes, I didn’t think I could get up those hills even with studded tires. So, if I’d ridden down the first hill, I probably would have had to call for rescue being unable to get back or go on. Gotta love ice. *bleah*

With Jens home though, I was willing to risk that those hills had thawed at least enough for me to get up them.

I made the right turn behind Börje church and slowed to a crawl. The wind which had been annoying from the right was down right brutal from the front. My knee started complaining before I’d gone more than 200 yards. I decided I didn’t want to suffer a 10 mile hard slog with a painful knee. A steep hill with that wind? Ugh!

Kinda Makes Me Miss The Snow

We turned back around. Loke seemed quite happy to do so. He actually ran for almost a mile as we doubled back. I considered heading for Ulva, but it would have the same wind problem. So, that left either doubling all the way back to the River Loop or toward Ströbylund and then along the 72 to the big grocery store before winding our way back to the last half of the river loop. The latter would put the wind at my back, so that’s what it would be.

By this time, the shifting had worsened. At one point, I’d even moved the shifter 4 or so clicks without anything happening at first. When it did happen, of course it jumped all those gears. Another time one click bumped me 3 gears.

As I was climbing a hill, I shifted to a lower gear and the chain gave a jolt and then just clattered. I knew that feeling. I remembered it too well from last year. My chain had jump the rear cog and was up against the spokes. I locked the brakes and pulled the chain back on the cogs, hoping I could at least get up the hill to the small parking lot of a build just ahead. Shifted down and… it jumped again.

I managed to not give a howl of frustration as I got up, put Loke on his leash and started dragging the trike up the hill. The parking lot was far from ideal. The entire surface of it was nothing but slick glossy ice except one little corner of it about 6 feet square. Needless to say, that’s where I parked the trike.

Loke and I had covered about 9.5 miles when I called Jens. A smidge more than half the 18+ miles I’d hoped to cover.

As Jens held Loke’s leash while I dismantled the trike, a man walked over from the other building across the street, which turned out to be a carpentry shop. He was very impressed with the trike and quite eager to find out about it. After a few minutes, we started loading the trike which we managed to do without falling on rumps or faces. All the more impressive for me since I was in my cycle shoes with less traction than sneakers.

So, tomorrow, I’m calling the cycle shop that did such a great job last year. They were more than happy to work on it without the complaints of the cycle shops here in Uppsala. That makes it worth the 50+ mile drive to the far side of Stockholm. At least this didn’t happen during the middle of the touring season.

And It’s Official!
February 25, 2012, 3:20 am
Filed under: Misc

Or will be in a few days. Loke’s passport that is. This last blood test came back with a sufficient amount of antibodies. So, all that’s left is to get to the vet’s so it can be stamped or whatever to let Loke move freely through EU countries. Wouldn’t it be incredible if I actually managed to get to Belgium this year?

After all the fuss and hair pulling it took to get the passport, I’m glad we started when I did. If I’d waited and left it as a last minute thing I’d been stewing about the amazing trip I had to cancel because Loke wouldn’t have been allowed back into Sweden if we went anywhere other than Norway.

Otherwise, things are quiet. Waiting for the melt to progress and not be set back with new layers. I guess they’re to be expected though since March is typically our snowiest month. That’s true of the Gulf Coast of the US too though. The incredibly rare snow flurries in Mississippi have most often come in March by my memory. It always seemed like when it snowed, it wrecked spring break to the anguish of high school and college students.

Jens is taking a week long trip in a bit. It’s actually made me itchy to rent a cabin further south where there’s not a trace of snow or ice to be seen. Gotta love Swedish weather cameras even if I do feel a bit teased by the sight of all those clear roads, temps of nearly 50 F during the days and above freezing over night. My husband seems amazingly okay with the idea of spending the money. Just think! A week doing day rides in a new area before it’s what I consider warm enough for touring. *dreamy sigh*

My new helmet is ordered. It’s a racing helmet, but it seemed to fit best of all the ones I tried. I also ordered a sleeping bag! It’s rated for 35 F so hopefully no more shivering through 45 F nights and NOT a mummy bag! No more being pinned with my arms uncomfortably against my ribs/hips and ankles side by side just wishing I could shift position or even scratch my nose without having to unzip. Though it’s been delivered, I still don’t have it since it had to be shipped to my dad. The brand (Big Agnes) doesn’t seem to be sold any where in Sweden and the online places I found with Big Agnes goods that ship here didn’t have THAT sleeping bag. Now, just have to wait for my father to get it shipped to me.

I’m also replacing my sleeping pad with one that rolls up to nearly a quarter of the size. I’ll need that extra space for Loke’s shelter which is also big enough protect my trike seat from dew/rain over night. We’ve also been looking at camp stoves for me, but I haven’t quite convinced myself I need one. I barely eat on rides/tours and generally just a few bites of granola and nuts or piece of fruit. Not sure getting a stove would change that. Jens has said though if we do buy it, we’d make a point of going out every pretty weekend this summer to cook an outdoor meal. Meat on the grill and some kind of side-dish with the stove. That makes it more worth the risk. Hehe.

So, for now, that’s all of the cycling related stuff I have. Hopefully I’ll be able to ride soon!

General Update!
February 21, 2012, 8:28 am
Filed under: Misc

No riding since my destructive tumble.

The day before the new seat clamps arrived, we were blanketed with 5+ inches of snow effectively putting a stop to rides until it thawed.

The package arrived in the Thursday mail, but since I was still a solid ache from neck to ankle on my left side, I waited until Friday to finally put the trike back together. John sent me both types of the closers for the under seat clamps. The old levers and the slightly newer twisty knobs. According to John, there were a lot of complaints in the beginning about difficulty with the quick release levers. I said I had no problem with them though granted, they’ve been a bit fiddly sometimes. So, John sent me both lever and knobs.

I must say, I definitely approve of the knobs! Yes, in theory, all you should need to do is flip the levers, but sometimes, they twist in or out a few threads making it hard to close them or too loose. Hence, the fiddling. The knobs? Slide the puppies in place, twist until solid and you’re good! Fiddle free!

During the week since the accident I made an appointment with the vet to get Loke’s blood test for rabies antibodies to validate his passport. During the wait, the 5″ of snow began to get packed down until Saturday when it warmed and rain came. Since then, everything has turned into a nightmare of slick, treacherous ice. Can barely put a nose outside the apartment without skidding wildly down the street. There are also deep frozen ruts in places, just waiting to smash a derailleur if I were crazy enough to take the trike out.

We’re still thawing today though. Most nights since the thawing started, we freeze, so it’s slow going.

Yesterday was the vet’s appointment. I skidded, slipped and wobbled while Loke walked along the streets to the clinic. I’m surprised I didn’t have to drag Loke along since the only time we walk that way is to go to the vet.

Blood taken, waiting for vaccine

He was miserable as soon as we went in though. He cringed at the sight of the clippers and kept jerking his leg as the vet tech shaved the fur so they could find a vein. As the paper work was fiddled with, I asked if we could get Loke’s kennel cough vaccination. Poor fuzzy. What he thought was an innocent walk just kept getting worse for him. He despises the nasal squirt. Can’t blame him. I’m sure getting a cold, very sharp smelling liquid blasted up a nostril when you smell 10x better than a human is pleasant.

Niklas, the vet, was glad to see Loke’s feet looking pretty good too.

So, if the thaw continues like it is today, I might get back out again before the first of March. Fingers crossed! Until then, I’m jumping on my trainer and watching DVDs.

Bad Ice Led to Nice
February 13, 2012, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Strange title, but all will be revealed.

Yesterday was a glorious day, but since I’d done a hard slog through sand-like snow for 10 miles the day before, I didn’t go out with the trike. Instead, to enjoy the glorious day, I went walking with husband and furball at the burial mounds at Gamla Uppsala. It was even above freezing.

So, when I woke this morning to 14 F (-10 c), I was a little disappointed I didn’t at least TRY riding yesterday. Still all the weather forecasting things I have access to insisted it would be mild today. Around 10 am, it came true with a balmy 28 F. As I got dressed, Loke stayed against my right leg as if glued which made moving around a bit of a challenge. Then as I pulled on my last torso layers while outside with the trike, he set to singing in his strange half yodel, half bark. Almost like a proper working husky waiting for the brake on the sled to let go. I even tried to video it with my iPhone, but every time he’d go quiet and sit patiently. I’d put the phone away and he’d start up again.

Gorgeous Day!

In moments we were streaking down the road which was still a little boggy with sand-like snow. The furry one was thrilled to be out and enjoying the day. Dog were everywhere which make Loke a bit more excitable than usual, but he listened pretty well to my ‘On by’s. The sunny skies and calm winds convinced me to maybe try the Börje/Gamla Uppsala loop which is about 18 miles. It would be our longest ride of the year!

As we finished the first half of the River Loop without the extension, Loke was delighted when we made the right turn over the 272 onto Gamla Börjevägen. With his help we powered up that hill a little more quickly than usual and he went into a flat out charge down the other side. The road had much less ice than the previous time I’d gone down it to do the Ulva/G. Uppsala loop and it didn’t seem slippery at all. Even so, I did my best to stay off the ice ridges except when traffic forced me to do otherwise. As we went, the last of my doubts about doing the slightly longer run evaporated. I was smiling and happy with grinning, tongue-lolling husky at my side under a blue sky surrounded by white snow. Life was good.

When we went straight at the cross-roads, Loke poured on with more speed. We haven’t been down those roads in months. It was almost like new ground to him and he wanted to run.

Börje Kyrka via iPhone

Up a slight hill and then down the steeper backside as it whipped around the curve past a little school and there was Börje Church. Though Loke wanted to go at a mad charge, I stopped to take a picture with my iPhone and felt oddly pleased that at 6 miles from home it was only 1/3 of the total distance I planned to ride. Humming to myself I put the phone away and off we went.

I was still wrapped in that warm glow when Loke tried to pull us even faster around the curve that follows the churchyard wall. At 10-11 mph, it was too fast to stop as quickly as I would have needed to and no where I could really swerve when I spotted the sheet of ice reaching across the road. I had a sick feeling in my belly as I felt the rear wheel start to fish-tail. For once, things didn’t  happen in slow motion. It seemed a split second before I registered the trike tipping and then the loud THUNK of my helmet smacking pavement. My first thought was “LOKE!”. I hadn’t heard any yelps or canine screams. Before I could move, he was suddenly stomping on my head and shoulders. A few seconds more for my brain to settle let a cold feeling run through me as I saw clearly I was laying across the road right at the end of the blind curve.

Things didn’t seem quite right as I tried to get up. I was strangely tangled in Loke’s tether, the seat and the trike. Somehow, I managed to get my feet under me, grab the seat with Loke still attached and set it at the edge of the ditch. Then hurrying, slipping here and there on the ice, I grabbed the trike to drag it as far out of danger as I could. Panting and feeling a slight ache in my head, I took stock.

I think it was only THEN I realized the seat had been separate from the trike. That still wasn’t my first concern. I gave Loke a quick once over to make absolutely sure he had no injuries. He was fine. He stood there, wagging his tail with his husky smile as if to say, ‘We go now?’

I unclipped him from my seat and leashed him so he could go play in the snow at the bottom of the ditch as I checked everything else. It was then I found broken, curved pieces of black plastic as well as a few metal leavers. The clips that hold the seat to the trike body had torn apart! I said a few choice words with the realization that I couldn’t just slap the seat back on and make it home on my own.

The Aftermath

The dazed feeling retreated as I was faced with calling Jens, dragging everything to a safer spot and waiting up to 2 hours for rescue.

The seat and Loke went first since they were the easiest to deal with. I made it to the churchyard gate before dropping everything and tethering Loke to the gate itself. Then I told him I’d be back and slipped and skidded my way back to the trike. I swear that patch of ice was the only slippery one for miles around. I brought the trike back around the curve, about a 20 yards of dragging, flopped down on my sheep-skin over the snow and made the call.

It needn’t be said that my husband was a little concerned. When I said accident, he thought I’d been hit by a car or the like. I assured him I was fine, but couldn’t get home. He was on his way. As I sat there, Loke was a strange combination of playful (pouncing around in the snow next to me) and extremely lovey, which is incredibly rare for him. He’s affectionate on occasion, but generally brief. This went on for several minutes until he laid down next to me with his head in my lap.

As I waited, a pair of women came out of the old vicarage house across the street from the church. One went on down the road, pole walking, but the other, smiling came over to ask with a little laugh if I was so exhausted I had to sit in the snow. I told her I was waiting for my husband because the trike had broken. She asked a few more question and once she realized I’d rolled the trike, hit my head and Jens could be over an hour coming from Stockholm, she insisted on calling her husband. She was not going to have me sitting for an hour in the snow no matter how many layers of wool I was wearing if she had anything to say about it.

Turned out her husband was more than happy to give me, trike and Loke a lift. I called Jens to tell him, but he wanted to be home with me since I HAD hit my head on the road, helmet or not, even if it was uncracked.

In moments, he was there with the Volvo version of our Ford Station wagon. I introduced myself but never got names in return. As we loaded the trike, I offered to pay for gas, but was cheerfully and firmly declined. They were just glad we were okay! An absolutely lovely older couple, nice as could be. I said farewell and thank you to the woman as I got into the car.

The gentleman was quite happy help, as he kept telling me and his English quite good. I told him so and he laughingly told me of an American he’d worked as an electrician. Very nice and very generous who smoked huge cigars and the two of them had often talked politics, so he’d learned English. I asked if he’d always lived in the area. He said he’d been born in Rimbo and laughed when I told him I’d cycled there. Then he had lived in a tiny village near Ro Church and I told him I’d cycled there as well and the church was quite pretty. He smiled at that.

Soon, I was unloading the trike in our parking lot and thanked my benefactor profusely. He said he hoped I really was okay and would be back on the road again soon.

It felt good to get everything back in the apartment and I’d only been home for about 15 min when Jens arrived. Shortly after that, I made the call to Inspired Cycle Engineering to see about ordering replacement clips. A woman answered first and when I told her I was calling to get small parts for my trike because I’d rolled it, her first response was to ask if I was okay. I assured her I was and gave my name. “Oh! Teresa! Hi, let me just transfer you to John!”

John remembered me as well and expressed the same concern when I told him about flipping the trike. When I told him what I needed, he sounded baffled. At first he thought I needed a new mesh, but once we were communicating well, he was flabbergasted. In all his years, he’d never heard of a single clip breaking let alone all four at once. Laughing, he said just for that accomplishment, he’d send me all the replacements for free. They’d be in the mail directly and on their way. I’ll probably have them before the end of the week!

I cannot say enough good things about the people at ICE. Awesome customer service to go with a wonderful trike. Even after 6 years they’re still helpful and generous and surprisingly, remember a plump American woman who lives in Sweden that came to their production center in 2006.

So, while fish-tailing and toppling the trike on the ice was bad, the follow up gave me a warm fuzzy feeling about the kindness to be found in people.


More Miserable Than It Looked
February 7, 2012, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Brrrr. Hard to see but it's snowing.

That sums up this ride. Thankfully, it was short.

The past few days, Loke has been a huge PITA. Woke us up one morning at 4:30 am for no apparent reason. No need to pee or other. Then remained a pest for the entire rest of the day.

Though he let us sleep in this morning, he’s been a bother for most of today too. Thankfully, the bitter arctic blast we’ve had freezing this part of the country solid for the past week broke. I woke to an almost tropical 22 F. Much better than -7 F. Around 1 pm, it was nearly 28 F. With the fuzzy one harassing me, I began to pull on my thermals and get everything ready to go out the door for at least the river loop with extension.

It’s occurred to me how much the change of clothing has shifted my attitude toward cycling. While I wasn’t running out the door last week in below 20 F digits, once it’s around 25 F, I actually consider going for a ride. Those thick, snuggly thermals have given me another 20 degrees to consider riding in. Before, if it was much below 40 F, I’d balk. Now, it’s more a question of how deep the snow is (or if it’s raining) rather than temp. At least until it gets into the extremes.

Loke was in a frenzy of hysterical joy as I dressed, put on his harness and began carrying things out.

The snow was well packed on the roads and paths along the route, so I had no fear for my chain and derailleur. Loke did his usual leap into the mad charge for the first mile. Even though I was wearing only two layers (bullet proof thermals under lycra) I felt fine.

Before that first mile finished though, things changed. By the time I came to the school about half a mile from the apartment, I began to feel the soft touch of cold wet points on my cheeks. At first I thought it was my right tire starting to throw up ice. It turns out I was half right. Some of it was ice cast up by the wheel. Some of it was tiny grains of snow, rather like sand blowing in on a rather stiff north wind.

By a mile and a half, the tire began to throw up more ice like crazy. My glove began to gather a hard crust of it. Worse, from temple to hip on the right side started to collect its share. The absolute worst was on the neck. The bitter cold from the ice caught a direct path to my brain via the carotid artery. Direct brainfreeze. Fortunately, I had my face mask in my panniers. It did wonders to protect my neck, cheeks and ears, though my glasses (and eyes) and everything below my collarbones was out of luck.

The falling snow thickened, driven on the playful wind and pushed harder by my speed. Some of the snow melted and began to refreezing meaning even the spandex top couldn’t shed it any more.

I’ll admit, I was tempted to cut the trip to a measly 3 miles. Looking at Loke, I found myself unable to do so. Even though it was just the River Loop with extension, he was so happy. He had that tongue lolling husky grin I’ve been seeing so much of in the pictures Loke’s breeder posts on Facebook every few days. His fur on the left side of his chest was frosted with the same ice I was getting coated with as he loped along, trying to pull the trike faster. He’s been deprived so much in the way of food, I couldn’t do the same for a run. I sucked it up while feeling guilty we weren’t doing something like Ulva/G. Uppsala or Börje for more distance.

Just outside our apartment, I had a short chat with one of our neighbors. She has a tiny little dog that is a Chinese crested/chihuahua cross who often greets Loke. She was more than glad to stop and hug on the fuzzy one as he bounced around, apparently very happy to see her. My guess is, he was begging for some of the bread from the local bakery she had with her. *smirk* She was very impressed at our distance in such weather. She was even more so when I told her about the ride a while back that was over twice the distance.

It felt soooooooo good to stagger into the apartment with the trike, shuck off the ice stiffened clothing. To shake off the slight chill and brighten my mood, I heated milk for some of the wonderful orange hot chocolate mix my perfectly wonderful husband bought special for me from a coffee shop. They don’t usually sell the mix, probably because people don’t ask for it, but my husband did ask because I loved it so much the last time we were there. It was definitely the perfect end to an otherwise rather miserable ride.

Updates on Feet!
February 5, 2012, 5:48 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Getting an e-mail that someone had asked about Loke’s feet via comments, reminded me I’ve been remiss in keeping the blog up-to-date!

Loke’s feet are improving. The last wound is nearly healed and he’s coming to the end of the antibiotic pills and the fungal ointment. I’m reservedly optimistic. He’s not been a happy puppy though. I dig out the cotton balls and ointment and he slinks off to his bed with all 4 feet tucked securely under him. When my husband’s home, we manhandle poor fuzzy onto the couch where Jens cuddles him as I do what needs to be done. The only thing he hasn’t minded is the pill, probably because it’s rolled neatly into a piece of ham that he gulps down with no idea there’s something extra in it.

I’m fairly sure Loke hates the new diet, or would if he could think of his sudden deprivations as a diet. So many of the things he loves he’s no longer allowed. We had reindeer in a sour cream sauce with mashed potatoes (VERY Swedish!) and he spent the whole time drooling as we ate. Then he tried to bully us into giving him his share of left over potatoes. Nope. He had to settle for 100 g of reindeer meat instead. He liked that, but he still really wanted some mash. Poor thing can’t understand why all his favorite things are suddenly a no-go. Jens feels guilty every time he eats something as Loke sits next to him with ribbons of drool hanging from his mouth and eyes nearly bugging out of his head with his silent pleas. Admittedly, I get little twinges too… then I think of how bad his feet look when in the full force of an infection and it goes away.

On the upside, we’ve cycled a few times more! Last week sometime, Jens came in from a walk with the fuzzy one to say it was a gorgeous, if cold day out. The snow on the paths was packed down so it shouldn’t clog my chain, I should go riding. I agreed.

We did just the river loop and extension. It was a pretty day even if it was 28 F or so. Loke was so happy to go he yodeled more than usual and he ran fine.

The next day was as pretty though a tiny bit colder. Jens was at work, but I decided it might be worth the risk to drag everything out in spite of my back. We did the Ulva/Gamla Uppsala loop. The roads were a little less close to perfect for winter riding than the cycle paths had been. Ice! I didn’t have my studded tire on. I also didn’t have my shoe-covers so by mile 8, it felt like someone was twisting off my right big toe. I stopped at Ulva Mill to run into the bathroom to warm my toes.

As I came back out, it hit me another wonderful part of our rides had also been taken from Loke. During the summer, I’ve often stopped at places with ice cream and bought something for Loke. Most of the time, it’s been at Ulva. So, when I came back out, Loke was sitting cutely and wagging his tail as if to say, “I’m ready! Where is it?” That was my first, full blown sense of guilt for Loke’s food change. *sigh*

Loke drove me completely nuts on that ride. He kept trying to eat mucky snow. You know, that brown/gray crap that’s scraped off the road, contaminated with who knows what and extra? I’d offer him cold, clean water and he’d ignore it, only to try to gulp the gunk with in 3 steps of moving out! My arm started killing me from trying to keep his head up when I wasn’t riding as far from the dirty mound at the road edge as I could.

Since those last few rides last week, the temp has plummeted. I’m talking -15 c to -22 c plummeted. That’s 5 F to -7.5 F. Yes, below 0 F. Too much for me. I’ll admit I’ve been surprised that I’ve gone out multiple times at the -4 C (mid-20’s F). I guess it just shows that I’ve managed to get my clothing managed a bit better for cold riding. Hopefully when it breaks I can ride some more, provided we haven’t gotten 3 feet (1 meter) of snow by then. I do wish I had a 26″ on the rear of my trike. It would extend my riding by a few months by keep the rear chain a few inches further off the ground.

So, thank you for the well-wishes to Loke and I’ll try better to keep things updated if there’s a change!