Terii’s Cycling Babble

They’re Just Popping Up Everywhere!
March 28, 2012, 5:23 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Flowers that is. Since I first saw those on the ride past the shopping center, they’re all over the place. More of those white ones turned down my dad thinks are called Lilly of the Valley. Yesterday while running errands, I found a roundabout center  just blanketed with crocus which must have exploded out of the ground. Also some very modest ground hugging little blossoms like mini-dandelions along the on-ramp to a road.

I’ve ridden twice since the one I last blogged. Loke limped on the earlier one, but it turned out to be from a small cut on his paw. I’d planned to run him for the River Loop w/ Extension, but when I found the wound I decided to cut the ride short to go home and clean it right away. While I was irritated with the injury, I wasn’t worried because it obviously wasn’t from the return of the infection. So, that ride ended up being just over 2 miles and rather boring.

It still was a RoI (Ride of Interest) since it officially ticked my year’s distance total over 100 miles! Nearly 1/6th of last year’s total. I felt rather satisfied with that.

The days in between that ride and yesterday’s, I’ve been keeping a close eye on Loke’s feet since he’s finished all his medications. The swelling seems to be completely gone and I’d not seen any sign of infection… I think. Maybe.

A few days ago, while doing one of his daily foot checks, I thought I spotted a spot on the skin on the underside of Loke’s left front foot that didn’t look quite right. The fur might have had some of that all-too-familiar discoloration and perhaps the skin there looked a tiny bit too pink. Paranoia or was I just being hyper-aware? The thought of it made me sick though. Loke had taken his last dose of the antibiotics just 3 days earlier. When I found this ‘maybe’ patch of infection, I’d been carefully clipping the fur on Loke’s feet to clear it for his first slathering of Medihoney Barrier Cream.

That slathering has been a bit of a contention between Loke and I. Could be interesting if I have to do this to him for the rest of his life. *sigh*

So, I applied the cream and waited to see.

So far, the skin has remained healthy looking. If there was fur discoloration I might have seen, it faded. If the skin truly was a little too pink, it’s returned to the proper shade of white doggie skin. Honestly, it’s a little hard to tell. Honey is one of the main ingredients of the cream and, as we all know, honey is sticky. I now have to plop the furball into the tub every few days to wash his feet because they look down right filthy with the honey collecting dirt though I use as little as possible. Whether it’s my imagination or not, I do feel encouraged.

Monday morning at 5 am, I dropped Jens and his dad off at the train station. Jens had a business trip in the southern part of Sweden around his dad’s home town so decided to go by train and invited his dad with him. Not just a good husband, but a good son too. Brother as well. He’s very nice to his sisters.

Speaking of good husband, Jens utterly threw me for a loop.

A few days ago, he announced we’d gotten our income tax return. When he told me how much, I laughing said, “A new trike! One with a 26″ rear wheel for snow riding!” He looked puzzled and said he thought the ICE trikes were more than that.

I shrugged, admitting I wasn’t sure. Done with the joke I went back to work on my 3D model  and he went to the kitchen to write a work e-mail.

A few minutes later, “Well?” came out of the kitchen.

Baffled and mostly distracted I answered with, “Well what?” as I fought with the mesh of a tuning peg for my lute-like instrument.

“How much are the trikes in SEK?”

Stunned, I flew out of my chair to go stare at him. I didn’t say a word as I hurried back to my computer to look.

Turns out, the price once converted to Swedish currency was a little over half of what we expected. Jens seemed perfectly willing though he’s very nervous about the engineering of the new folding method of the current models.

At first I was excited as I looked through the various options and price differences. Giddy even. Then the alarm went off for Loke’s anti-inflammatory medication. It was like getting hit with a wall of ice water. Forlorn I looked between the trike on my screen and Loke. His feet have been so difficult and it seriously puts a crunch into my rides. He goes destructive and howls fit to raise the dead if try to take the trike out without him. Even a ‘quick’ 2 hour jaunt on an extended Börje/G. Uppsala loop could spell the ruin of many shoes or maybe even a piece of furniture. Jens and I can go as we please, but the trike better stay home with him. Regretfully, I decided the risk of little use outweighed the cost and Jens’ willingness to seriously consider a new trike.

Personally, I think Jens’ willingness comes from the fact he got so aggravated by hearing ‘There’s too much snow and/or rutted ice” when he suggested I take Loke for a run a few times.

Again, my husband has stunned me. “We’ll plan another trip to England.” I got a excited again though it was more at the idea of another road trip through the English country side and taking pictures of old castles, village ruins, and standing stones than it was over the idea of a new trike. Shows how much I let it go. I was even wondering if the Dartmoor pony mares had already begun foaling. The babies were so adorable and for wild ponies you could get pretty close. One hugely pregnant mare even walked around stealing ice cream from children.

Then I wilted once more. “No. Not with Loke’s feet needing constant attention. I can’t expect your family to wrestle him down every day. Nor would I wish it on the breeders either.”

So, Jens tried another tact. “So, you go to England and I stay home to tend Loke. Public transportation is very good if you don’t want to drive. Trains and cabs can get you to Falmouth and the ICE production site. Back to London. You could even take an extra day to maybe see the British Museum. Better yet! I think you should see if my sister can go with you!”

That’s the gist of it any way. When I still seemed resistant to the idea of going to test ride a trike, he still thought I should go to England with his sister. I think he feels guilty for the trips he’s taken without me. Even when most of them have been for work, it’s still been places like Las Vegas or Paris with a bit of London thrown in. I can’t say I’m envious. I’m just not a big city girl. Give me small towns or country villages any day.

One last shocker for me from Jens, he would want to find a way to keep the Trice even if we got the new Sprint. He’s been trying to figure out how to store it! Given how he complains about how little space we have, that’s astounding.

So, that’s how things stood when I wrestled the trike out to take Loke for a run yesterday. Nothing special, just planned for the River Loop with Extension barring any limping.

The sun shone but not too warmly as it came through a curtain of high thin clouds that turned the sky white. Still birds were singing and it felt warm enough to go without an extra layer of wool or even a jacket. The trike was stripped down to it’s bare necessities since it meant one less trip out the door and climbing the stairs. I can just take the main body out, come back in to change to my cycle shoes, grab helmet, seat, flag and dog along with my crappy spare purse to carry phone, poopy bags and keys. I wrap the purse strap around the headrest of the seat. A lot more manageable than my pod bags for such a short ride. If it gets much warmer though, I’ll still need the pod bags to take water for Loke.

Loke was the most excited I’ve seen him for a ride in quite a while. Even the one I blogged last where he’d followed me around what I’ve dubbed ‘Clipped in and Ready to Roll’ position, he didn’t have this excitement. His nearly perfect right side heeling was punctuated moment of wild spinning.

That excitement held as we went out the door. This was the old Loke. The yodeling, kangaroo hopping bundle of fire that wanted the yank the trike at high speed for our wild mile. His tongue flapped in that huge husky grin with happy looks at me when the only times I slowed him down was to cross streets or turn. I found I wasn’t stressing about his feet. No more than I was last year before the infection frenzy. I didn’t even keep a paranoid eye out for random limping. We just enjoyed the moment.

As we shot past the school, flew through the underpass and up the hill to the left turn along the 55 toward the river, I felt it. Though it had been absent around our apartment and by the school, it made its presence known. That sadistic wind was back and it was cold. A stiff northerly that brought the remnants of winter’s bite in its caress. I suddenly regretted not having the huge bulk of my luggage rack with bright red panniers that always carry my bright yellow windbreaker. I wasn’t willing to give up the ride though. Not with Loke so wound up.

As we reached the top of the slope beyond the underpass, I got a thumbs up and a big smile from a guy saying, “Roligt!” which translates to ‘Fun!’

We made good time along the same-old-same-old loop. Off to the north though, I could see this dark blanket of clouds washing toward us on the back of the norther. I started to wonder if a frigid rain was going to be added to the mix. It was particularly impressive to see as we turned onto the extension which went right into the wind.

Toward the end of the extension cycle path which runs right up against the top of the river bank, I spotted a white car parked to the side of the path. That irritated me since it WAS a car and not a city work truck. As I came close enough to make out it was actually a police car, I noticed a man hurrying from the middle of the field as he waved for my attention. I stopped and politely waited for the officer. Once he was close enough to be heard over the wind, he warned me his K9 partner was in the car. The back hatch of the car was propped open a little and the dog was in a kennel cage. He just didn’t want me to be alarmed when the dog reacted to our presence. I thanked him and he went back out into the field with a smiling nod.

Though I’d been warned, that dog STILL made me jump and squeal like a little girl. Pedaling up to the car, waiting for it. Passed the front passenger door, waiting for it. Passed the rear car doors, waiting for it. Came to the open hatch and it was like the cartoon Tasmania Devil exploding out of nowhere. So, yeah. I jumped. Hehe.

I don’t know what it was about that field, but in the 4 minutes it took for me to reach the end of the path, work the trike around a 5 or 6 point turn and come back, another K9 unit arrived. The new officer gave a bemused smile as we came up followed by a cheery ‘Hej’ and a wink before walking out into the field to meet the first one. Oddly, neither dog reacted to our passing.

The dark clouds were looming ominously and blocking the sun as Loke and I went by the swim hall and across the road to follow the river a little further. With construction of a new wing at the swim hall, the cycle path is often closed off for cranes to lift things over. I add a little distance to avoid playing musical crossings at the intersection. It looked like we were about to get dumped on as I rushed us along, but it held off as I made it back home. Loke still had a bit of energy as we came back in. Me? I was chilled. Surprisingly, we’d made the 6.4-ish mile loop in under an hour. Pretty good considering more than half of the time was spent straight into the teeth of the wind along with stops for Loke to do his business. I guess it shows how much Loke helped and how much the tailwind boosted us once we’d turned south.

Annoyingly, it didn’t rain at all. 20 minutes after getting home, the clouds blew away and the sun was shining again. Just in time for me to go shopping for things for Loke.

The first stop was the vet clinic to buy more of the specialty skin support food. As I entered, the two vet techs gave me looks of horror. You know, the ‘Oh no! Not AGAIN!” I grinned and assured them I came only for a bag of food. They gave relieved laughs at that. They asked how he was and I told them his feet looked healthy, the swelling was essentially gone. I also told them about the possible beginnings of the infection’s return and admitted maybe I was just paranoid, but it looked fine now as I slathered his feet daily with the Medihoney product. They were glad to hear and hoped it remained that way.

At the pet store, I took him in to weigh him. When I pet him, he’s starting to feel down right skeletal, like he’s losing weight. Don’t get me wrong, he’s always been a bit thin. Huskies are meant to be. It eases the impact on their joints if they’re not carrying excess weight. Even the vet said that after saying Loke was ‘a little underweight’, but he’s healthy and it’s better if he’s running a lot. Of course, I think if I fed Loke up to a weight Niclas would say is correct, the breeders might say he was obese. They thought Loke was rather fat last summer when he was weighing in at 24 kg (53 lbs).

But the scales say the furry one is holding in right at 22.4 (roughly 50 lbs). I still might increase his food a bit.

A woman passing by exclaimed, “He’s beautiful! Like a wolf!” She was even more impressed when Loke got on the scale and sat when I told him too. He’s such a good boy… at times.

That’s enough cycle/dog related babble for this post! Here’s hoping I get a few more miles in and my sleeping bag arrives soon!

Nearly Perfect Ride!
March 21, 2012, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

It was! Really! Nothing went wrong. The sadistic wind was no where to be found. Loke didn’t limp a single time. I didn’t need 3 layers (2 of wool) to poke my nose out the door with the trike. All three wheels stayed on the ground and seat attached. The rear derailleur had no meltdown. I wasn’t starving or nearly blind with a migraine.

The only things preventing me from declaring it a perfect ride are too minor to mention. I sound like one of those teachers who never gives anything more than an A- because ‘nothing is ever perfect’, don’t I? I’ll get to today’s ride after playing catch-up.

Friday before last (March 9) was the beginning of meteorological spring. The weather forecasters declare it so here in Sweden when an area has 7 consecutive days where each 24 hour period has an average temperature above freezing. So, when March 16th came, still above freezing, spring was officially here. Now, just need the equinox to make it doubly official!

Flash-backs of Öland.

Three days later? Snow! Not quite blizzard, but impressive all the same. The wind was howling around too. Fortunately, it was barely freezing and melted quickly on every paved surface, which I’m sure those city workers who had already started the annual ‘Great Vacuuming/Sweeping’ would have been pulling their hair out if it piled up.

During all this, Loke’s foot continued to improve. No more limping and the swelling was disappearing rapidly from his toe-webbing thanks to the most recent medication. THAT has been an adventure. A side affect of the anti-inflammatory Loke’s taken is increased thirst and urination. He more than quadrupled his water in-take and his morning pees were marathon sessions. He’d even lean against a nearby surface with his eyes closed. Except when Jens and I were sleeping, he was going out every hour and a half. Fortunately, his dosage has gone down by half and it’s more normal. It’ll get halved again in a couple days. If he’d stayed on the larger dose, I’d have been worried for his kidneys.

Since the last ride as well, I’ve been a bit sick which is why there’s been almost 10 days since I wrestled the trike out.

Today, I woke and felt okay. The morning was sunny with high thin clouds and the forecast said it could reach 14 c (58 F). Around 10 am, it was already about 10 c (50 F). I was going to do it! Loke was going to get a decent pace for the River Loop WITH Extension at the very least. I pulled on my normal cycle clothes with the idea of putting the extra layers over so I could get them off more easily if it proved too warm. Taking the trike body out first told me I wasn’t even going to need any layers. It was glorious! Birds singing and sun warm with calm air. I giggled.

Once I put his harness on him, Loke stayed glued to my right leg in ‘Hitched and Ready to Roll’ position as I tried to get everything else together in the apartment. Made it a bit more of a challenge.

About 10:45 am, I clipped in, released the brake and off we went! I could tell Loke expected a rolling walk. He didn’t try to drag me across the first street at Warp 7. He even gave me strange looks when I didn’t try to slow him down as he started loping. As we went on, I toyed with the idea of taking us further. 18+ mile Börje/G. Uppsala loop crossed my mind, but that seemed too soon to try with Loke’s feet. Instead I decided Läby church and then past the grocery might be better. That’s about 11 miles and not something we’ve done this year.

First Ride Of Spring!

Loke’s speed picked up when I didn’t make the turn for the shortened river loop I’ve been using for his rolling walks. By the time we reached the 272, he was loping along with the husky grin that I’ve missed so much. Coming down the first hill, I watched his stride very carefully, looking for any trace of a limp which I would have immediately turned home for. He ran smoothly and happily. It was hard to keep from fretting over it, but the beauty of the day began to work its magic on me. Soft, barely noticeable winds, a sun that was warm without being unpleasant and meadow larks! Those beautiful singing little birds I’ve missed so much are back! It sounded like dozens of them fluttered over every acre of ground singing their little hearts out.

Though it wasn’t a rolling walk, I did keep Loke’s speed down to around 7 mph, relenting only on the down side of hills for 10 mph. Since it was significantly warmer than our last dozen rides, I made sure to offer water every couple miles which he ignored. I made sure to torture him some too. Stopped at a bus stop around mile 4.5 to give him a brief, but intense brush down. Make all those singing birds happy.

Nothing Says Spring Like Green!

We made the turn toward Läby church and I felt a pang of nervousness. After all, it was along that stretch of road my derailleur gave up the ghost, but it went fine. A gentleman was walking his dog along the side of the road and Loke put on the speed. I’m sure he would have hit 20 mph if I’d have let him, but I kept him around 10 mph until we reached the rise of a hill and slowed to about 3 mph.

The hill was one of those that rises in stages and the road took a curve as we climbed. I had a pang of panic when along a small, dead-end road of dirt, from the corner of my eye, I spotted something large, brown and white bounding when we came to the next steeper section of the climb. Being so close to a cluster of houses, my first thought was ‘Crap! Big loose dog!’. As I turned my head to face it, I saw it was running away. A split second later, I realized it was a deer! Broad day-light and standing on a dirt road surrounded by houses. When I first spotted it, it had to be no more than 50 feet (15 meters) away. By the time I realized what it was, it was probably 150 feet away. I had to give a laugh of delight at seeing a deer so close mixed with giddy relief that I didn’t need to face down an aggressive dog.

Soon, we were cruising along curves and gentler slopes toward the 72. Loke still ran strong with a flapping tongue and giving me happy looks. In the distance, I could Läby church growing closer. As often as I’ve cycled past the church, I’ve never actually stopped there to look for rune-stones. I decided to correct the oversight and also take a picture of a runestone I’ve known about for a year though I’ve never cycled past it. I discovered it when my driving instructor had me drive past it during one of the lessons.

Läby Kyrka - 2007

Part of the reason I’ve never stopped at Läby church is because it lays on the opposite side of the 72. I’m not fond of playing Frogger across the traffic, but this time it wasn’t so bad.

Läby is tiny even for a country church and the church yard about the size of a postage stamp. Though the church and grave yard both date to medieval times, the earliest stones I could find had dates of birth in the late 1700’s with death in 1818. It took me less than 3 minutes to make the loop around the building.

The next turn I needed to reach the runestone was less than 100 yards up the road on the same side. Rather than risk the traffic on the 72, I made the scramble back to the cycle path and pedaled to the next spot that would let me cross again. That passage went less smoothly, but we made it in one piece.

03-21 b Uppland Runestone 903

It Pulls, But Will Have To Wait

Just around a curve immediately off the 72 and past a barn redolent with the smell of manure, I found the runestone I’d remembered. It felt wonderful to get the first runestone picture of the year! Loke sat impatiently as I pulled the camera out and stood to ‘collect’ it. He even woofed at me. Bossy furball. I sat back down to put the camera away and the view ahead caught my eye. I photographed it wistfully and stared ahead for a few seconds. The fields and road ahead which I’d never cycled called out to me. Regretfully, I turned the trike around. I wasn’t going to risk hurting Loke’s feet by adding who knew how many more miles.

Getting back to the cycle path was even more exciting than crossing to the runestone had been. Things were peaceful on the path though. Traffic may have roared along less than 20 feet away, but I only had to share my little road with one other cyclist who was out of sight less than 4 minutes after passing me. That’s on an arrow straight stretch of pavement. Yep. I’m slow.

Not far from the big grocery store Jens and I shop at the most, Loke actually drank the water I offered him which was around mile 8 or 9 I think. Quite surprising given he seemed a little warm coupled with the medication.

Only smooth packed dirt deep in a forest could be better.

Passing the cluster of stores, I made for the backside of the pet shop remembering a cycle path I stumbled on once. In spite of apartments on one side and street and shopping centers on the other, its a green haven of trees. Except for occasional glimpses of brightly colored building walls and the white noise of traffic, you could be miles from civilization. Though he hadn’t been laggard, Loke still perked up significantly when we paced into the shade of the trees. It felt almost chilly.

The entire patch of wood held a tangled web of paved and lit paths. It was less than 3 minutes of pedaling to the turn which I’d first taken when I’d made the discovery last year. Rather than head toward a service road and then through a neighborhood dense with little houses and side streets, I continued along the path which took me roughly the way I needed to go. Far more enjoyable than dodging cars and homeowners. My Garmin of course, showed no road.

The peaceful stretch of path ended on a small residential road  running along a cluster of fenced football (soccer) fields. I clutched at my brakes and smiled.

First Blossoms of Spring!

Flowers! Not just sprouts, but full blossoms! The first ones of spring! I stared at them blissfully as I offered Loke more water.

As I put the water dish and bottle away, a horn honked. Glancing up, I was met by a smiling man giving me a thumbs up in a postal truck.

I was in mood nearly as bright as the sunny day when I went on. The road came out in a familiar area and in minutes I was climbing the wooded hill along the Field Loop. The dirt path running between a natural park  and a huge field was a muddy mire with the snow melt seeping from the huge hill of the parkland.

Is it a dog or a rug??

20 minutes later, I was carrying the trike through the apartment door, a little sad to have the ride end. Though Loke had been quite perky the entire run, he came in, gulped water and laid down as I ran in and out. When I had everything in, I told him to get up so I could get his harness off. The only thing that moved was his eyes. He opened them and rolled them a bit to look at me before closing them again with a sigh. Don’t worry though. About half an hour after I started this post, he was chasing one of his toys around.



The Paw Drama Continues
March 13, 2012, 7:12 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

There is a bit of cycling thrown in. Not much admittedly, but some at least.

The last visit to the vet Friday, March 9th showed Loke’s infection making inroads toward healing. The area was dry and the wound next to his nail showed good granulation. More worrying, the swelling along the front edge of his webbing had spread up the side of one toe and inching toward the other. I’m not entirely sure about the anatomy of the webbing of a dog’s foot, but it felt like the problem was along some kind of connective tissue along that front edge.

Niclas was baffled and went to do a bit of research before deciding to give Loke a medication for the swelling. He thought it’s some kind of inflammation though uncertain what is causing it. He told me it might be a week before I saw improvement, but if it got noticeably bigger I was to call him right away. I made a point of asking if it was okay to continue the rolling walks. No running, just keeping Loke to a walking pace with the trike. He said yes, but definitely no running and keep the distance down, not my 20+ km outings. 3-5 km was fine.

I was half cringing as I went to the pharmacy, but surprisingly, the medication was less than a 1/10 of the cost of the vet visit. Certainly better than matching it.

The next morning (Saturday), Jens and I went to an ‘out door activity’ expo. All types of fishing, camping, scuba diving, climbing, skiing, kayaking… you get the idea. It comes every year in March and we generally make a point to go. Usually we go on the Thursday it opens because the sheer number of people during the Saturday and Sunday make us completely nuts. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it this year since work had the hubby in Paris for a week. Saturday it was. Didn’t help it is in the same convention center as a boat expo.

I bought another pair of my favorite kind of shoes! Five Fingers! Even a good pair of hiking boots or sneakers leave my feet feeling pounded with sledgehammers after more than a 20 min walk. Oddly with ‘bare foot’ shoes, my feet seem invincible. These are cute black and white pair with sneaker like lacing. A bit heavier than my old pair so I can wear them when it gets below 50 F without my feet freezing. A great price too! Over 400 kr off the normal price.

Even better though, Jens and I found a really good deal on the Primus shelter I’d decided on for Loke on our overnighters. We had to order it from the Naturkompaniet ‘stand’ at the expo, but it was already 150 kr cheaper than it had been when I looked at it in the store at Stockholm. We also received another 10% off for ordering it from them at the expo. When I it first looked at it online 3 months ago, it was over 800 kr, but we bought it for barely over 600 kr.

I was over the moon as we drove home. The shelter meant being even closer to being ready for tours.

That lasted until the next morning when I gave Loke his pills and did the daily foot check. The swelling had spread to the 2nd webbing of his foot. I felt absolutely devastated. I’ll admit, I sat down and cried which led to a depressive state for the rest of the day. What would we do if our high energy, needs-to-run furball ended up crippled? He would go insane from boredom and excessive energy with no way to burn it. What would _I_ do without my cycling partner?

Apparently, the meds just needed another day to work. Yesterday when I checked, the swelling seemed down. Or at least different so I decided to hold off on calling the vet clinic. I felt a little better. Not exactly hopeful, but not quite so upset.

Today, the swelling is definitely better in both parts of the webbing. If the trend continues, I might think about giving Loke a proper run. Still only around 3 miles, but let him stretch his legs a bit so he won’t be giving me so much in the way of nasty looks.

I’ve also decided to order a Medihoney product. A skin cream which will hopefully keep the infection in check until the antibiotics are out of Loke’s system enough that when the infection returns we can get a clean sample. If I have to massage Loke’s feet every day with a honey based skin cream for the rest of his life, I’ll do it. I might grumble about the necessity of it, but I’ll do it and then kiss the furball between the eyes as I tell him he’s my good boy.

Okay, that out of the way, on to the cycling stuff!

I made an attempt to go riding yesterday. Sunday I should have, but my mood was just too dark for me to emerge into the light of a golden sun. Yesterday, the hubby worked from home, so I decided I’d take Loke for a rolling walk and then take a longer solo ride. Jens could keep Loke from shredding shoes and howling over the fact the trike was going without him.

As Loke and I trundled along the basic River Loop. The sun shone down and last autumn’s leaves bounded and skipped over the paths like herds of tiny, panicked gazelles. Of course, that made Loke want to chase them so I did a lot of brake clenching.

While those capering leaves made for a pretty image, I wasn’t happy to see them as they were a sign of the high winds I could feel tugging on my hair and snapping the flag. By the time I got back home with the furry one, thin clouds had moved across the sun, dimming it and equally dimming my enthusiasm/determination for a long ride. I was also starving, but Jens was so paranoid about someone riding off on my trike I couldn’t take time to slap a sandwich together.

Off I went with a gurgling tummy. With the veiled sun, it felt much colder than 50 F and I’m sure the north wind didn’t help. It was relentless. I crossed the 272 onto Gamla Börjevägen. I just kept feeling hungrier and hungrier as a headache began to build up. I came down the first hill across the highway and straight into a wall of wind. Definitely brought back memories of my last tour where parts of it felt as if I slogged through sticky mud instead of solid pavement. My thoughts of a 35+ mile (50+ km) ride dwindled to the 18 mile Börje/G. Uppsala loop. I hit a stretch Loke and I usually cruise along at 10 mph and I was only doing 6 mph with a hill which would slow me down to about 2 mph. I stopped at the next bus stop.

At the rate I was going, a measly 18 mile loop was going to take me over 3 hours. The few hills I’d done without Loke reminded me how much he really helped. I was ravenously hungry in spite of the two oranges I’d eaten before Loke’s rolling walk and my head felt like it was going to split open. The sun dimmed a bit more and I just felt miserable. All joy had gone out of the ride. I turned for home.

With that wind at my back I ripped along. Except for one steep hill, I maintained a speed of about 16 mph. Gotta love tail winds though it wasn’t all the wind. I pushed like a mad woman with images of ham sandwiches dancing in my head.

When I staggered back through the door with the trike, I’d covered around 10 miles total. Annoyingly, those thin clouds vanished about 20 minutes later leaving a flawlessly clear sky. I was too miserable to make another attempt as I think I discovered the main culprit that killed my will and determination for a decent ride. 2 hours after the outing, I was buried under blankets on the couch with sweating shivers as I eyed a thermometer with a blinking 38 c on it. That’s roughly 101 F.

My fever’s down a  bit, but I still have a monster headache, so no riding today. Not even a rolling walk with Loke. One thing yesterday showed me is that Loke is more than just a cycling companion. He’s like my physical therapist. He pushes me in terms of distance and time on the trike (when his own feet aren’t having problems), but he also tempers my pace so it’s not so brutal on my knees. My left knee is bugging me quite a bit after yesterday’s pedal hammering which I wouldn’t have done so much of with the furball at my side. I need my buddy with me on my rides. Yep.


Veterinarians & Spring
March 8, 2012, 7:01 am
Filed under: Misc

My, but this blog is turning out to be more on Loke than my cycling. I can’t help it though. The gray and white 50 lb (22.5 kg) furball has become a huge part of my favorite activity. I love his company. I love his goofy, tongue flapping husky grins as we zip down a hill or the way he gives me the strangest looks for reasons I can’t fathom. Even when he seems peeved because I told him right and then turned left is endearing. It might be slower going with Loke, but it is rarely boring and I’m sure I smile a lot more than I would do if solo.

Needless to say this foot issue distresses me on so many levels. Not only having Loke unable to do what he loves most in the world, but the idea that it might be taken from both of us indefinitely.

Loke and I went back to the vet on Monday (March 5th) when, in the process of scrubbing and slathering his feet, I discovered a lump in the webbing between two of his toes. It felt hard and about the size of a pea. I think it’s in the same spot where I discovered the most recent infection wound which prompted this round of treatment. I was down-right heart sick as we walked to the vet to make an appointment for Tuesday. Niclas said he’d not be in Tuesday, so had me taken to an exam room.

It wasn’t a long wait. Niclas took a quick look and pondered for a moment. He decided our biggest concern should be getting the original inflection taken care of. The lump was a concern, but since Loke was on antibiotics, we should see how it played out. He wanted to look at it again on Wednesday (March 7th). When I asked how much I owed, he waved it off with a smile and shake of his head.

Yesterday also was the last day for the ointment on Loke’s feet. Sadly, his toes looked no better than on Sunday/Monday. Too pink and a bit raw around the edge of one toenail. The lump was still there, but seemed less puffy though not much smaller if that makes any sense. We went to the clinic for our appointment of course. It surprises me I don’t have to drag Loke when we walk that way since the only time we take those particular roads are on the way to the vet.

A quick look at the foot, Niclas decided to give Loke another injection. I also plucked up the courage to discuss medicinal honey. Niclas seemed rather intrigued when I told him about my research and agreed it wouldn’t hurt and if it helped that would be great. When I mentioned that it could be ordered here in Sweden from a veterinary supply site, he told me if the site only allows vets to order, he’ll do it for me. All I have to do is tell him exactly what’s needed. He wants to see us again on Friday. When I went to to the reception counter to pay, I was told we’d settle up during my next visit.

If I had to guess? Daffodils!

On the way back home from the clinic, I found what I consider the first traces of spring. Yes, hedges and the like are budding, but they’ve been budding most of the winter before freezes wiped them out. These are the first sign of flowers I’ve seen. I’m more inclined to believe these as a sign of spring’s arrival over unpredictable shrubbery.

Of course, this indication the threat of snows may be passing left a bitter sweet feeling in its wake. What would the warmer weather bring? Cycling and tours? Languishing at home because of Loke’s feet? Ideally, I’d love for it to be out and about with a healthy, grinning husky. Or worst case, a summer like the last one where heat kept us in, not a stubborn infection. Fingers crossed all around.

I have taken Loke out for a couple more rolling walks (out with the trike at walking speed). With my husband away on business, it’s the only way to be sure Loke gets enough distance to take care of business. I’d rather not be nudged out of bed by the furball at 2 am. That’s too early even for me!

He still doesn’t like going so slow, but he’s adjusting to the idea I think. The last outing of 2.7 miles on Tuesday, I accidentally left the gears on the highest setting when I took it off the trainer. A week ago, it wouldn’t have been a problem. Loke would have just thrown his weight into the harness to drag us along our ‘wild mile’ where I could easily gear down. Instead, I had to try and roll forward with one foot while working the pedal with the other wishing it would bump to the middle chain ring. No help from Loke at all.  Such is the price, I guess.

On one of our last outings, we saw a male pheasant. It was along a residential street with cute little houses all sitting cheek to jowl. Not an area one usually associates with wild, non-aquatic game birds. Gave a little interest to another wise yawn-inducing ride. I’ll be taking him out again today for another 2.7 miles at 4-5 mph. Ho-hum. At least the weather’s been pretty even if a bit nippy!

Waiting, Waiting, and Waiting
March 5, 2012, 7:39 am
Filed under: Misc

For what? For Loke’s foot to heal. For the package with my sleeping bag and pad to arrive from my dad in the states. For the insurance to reimburse money from the vet visits so I can purchase Loke’s shelter.

All Important Signature

At least ´this photo shows ONE thing I no longer have to wait on. That’s the page with Niclas’ (I’ve been misspelling his name, sorry!) signature making Loke’s passport valid. One slight glimmer of a silver lining in the otherwise negativity. Of course, it will annoy my husband if we can’t get Loke’s recurring infection under control so I can actually take the furry one on tours into other countries. *sigh*

Already considered a few times jumping on my trike and pedaling toward Denmark once the nights quit hitting the low 20’s.

I did actually get a couple rides in since my last post though of one them barely counts. Just a smidge over 4 miles at about… 4 mph. Loke really needed a long walk, but with Jens’ new job consuming so much of his time, it fell to me. Back aching, I decided the only way to do it was take the trike.

It kind of worked. Made Loke completely crazy mind you, but otherwise it went fine. He simply couldn’t understand why we had to poke along. No running at all for which I kept getting nasty looks. As long as I kept him to smooth, clear pavement I saw no sign of limping. As soon as we came to gravel covered path or I swerved him into the grass/ice/snow to do his business, he limped.

Then a couple days ago, he’d been limp free, so I decided to risk a more proper run. Just a bit over 3 miles and I was careful not to push him. Our top speed was no more than 12 mph which still got me irritated glances. When Jens reported Loke limped during his evening walk, I took a close look. Remember the little wound I found just before our last trip to the vet clinic? Well apparently, it’s still around. Just hidden. I found a slightly swollen little knot which I proceeded to scrub with the iodine solution. Loke seemed to sulk at me for a while after that.

Yesterday, it hit me that as irritating as all the things connected with Loke’s feet may be, one thing bothers me most of all. Loke’s wariness of me. All the foot scrubbing/slathering and hair clipping means he dreads my approach even if I just happen to be passing by. I’ve gone from being the protective alpha, giver of food and provider of 10-20 mile runs to The Tormentor. It just breaks my heart. At least we still have ‘Love the Puppy’.

What’s ‘Love the Puppy’? I lean over and hold my arms out, saying ‘Love the puppy!’ (of course) and Loke goes all cute and wiggly as he comes over to get hugs, scratches and kisses. He knows when I do that only affection will be the result. I’ve never used it as an easy way to get hold of him for whatever medical treatments I need to inflict. I will chase him around the apartment before I abuse ‘Love the Puppy’.

The ‘Love the Puppy’ phenomenon is only a few years old and I’m not even sure how it developed. I just remember one day, I did it and Loke came right to me and very adorably. I tried it again a few minutes later with the same result. It works only for me. Jens tries it and Loke just gives him a look from 10 feet away wagging his tail.

Okay, so I’m a cutsie sap at times when it comes to Loke. I don’t dress him up though! End of embarrassing revelations for now. *blush*

So, that’s where things stand right now. Just waiting and torturing Loke with foot scrubs.

A Yo-Yo Day
March 1, 2012, 7:06 am
Filed under: Misc

You know, up-down-up-down. Though it was more disproportionate than that. More like up, up, up! WAY DOWN.

When Jens dropped my trike off at the cycle shop on Monday, they said it would be finished on Tuesday. Bless them. Of course, Jens had such a work load on that day we settled for getting it Wednesday. Since  he really didn’t want to bring it home to find out it wasn’t right, he insisted on me being with him so I could give it a quick ride to test the gears. We’d leave for his 10 am meeting in a nice area for shopping and I’d wander the shops until the meeting ended.

Tuesday, I walked with Loke to the vet to make an appointment to validate his passport AND get his feet checked. Yep. His feet. He’d started licking one again. Sunday was the first time I think. I caught him licking briefly, checked thoroughly with nothing to be found so assumed he had gotten something on the paw. The next day, I caught him licking a couple times. Monday afternoon, as he lay on the balcony in the sun and fresh air, I watched him doing the ‘flea gnaw’ furiously on one of his feet. Again, it looked fine, but that day, I thought I’d spotted a few subtle limps as well. So, he had an appointment on Thursday for passport and to get the foot checked.

Wednesday! Jens took Loke for a long walk that morning. With the car kennel in the basement to transport the trike and the fact the furry one has shown destructive tendencies to the interior of cars if left loose in them, he couldn’t come. My husband reported Loke had definitely limped. I took a look and faintly between the toes, the skin looked a tiny bit too pink and right on the very edge of his webbing I spotted the beginnings of an infection wound. Jens said we’d try to get back early enough to take Loke to the vet today since Wednesdays are ‘Walk-In Day’ at the clinic. Poor fuzzy looked devastated as we left.

It was cloudy during the drive and when Jens and I parted company outside the parking lot in Stockholm. I wandered leisurely through the crowds and buildings toward a stretch of street that had two camping/outdoor activity shops, deciding to look for the shelter I thought would work nicely for Loke on our trips. The first one didn’t have it, but I still enjoyed poking around and going ‘Oh! That would be nice!’ at various little things as I returned the cheerful ‘Hej!’ of every employee in the shop. Hehe.

The next one was simply a slightly larger Naturkompaniet that we have in Uppsala.  I went up stairs where a young woman restocking asked if I needed help. I decided to ask about the shelter. It would be nice to see how small it packed down at least. Even when I asked for it by name and in Swedish, she was uncertain, but asked another guy and he knew exactly. Then she said, ‘Would you like to see it set up?’

It caught me by surprise, but I answered it would be great. In a heartbeat she went to get one and we pushed things back to have enough space. It went up in a snap and was surprisingly stable even without being staked down with its odd shape. Bigger than I thought and had a mesh screen door to keep out bugs though other wise open on that side. A tarp fastened along the guy lines on that side could make a nice little porch to protect my trike seat or even the trailer and lots of space in the shelter itself for the furry one!

The girl was thrilled with it as well. She does a lot of sea kayaking and camping around Stockholm’s archipelago. With the small size and weight of the shelter packed, it would be perfect for it. She even thanked me for the discovery. I felt bad not buying the shelter, but was definitely happy with it. Jens just wants to wait until we get some of the vet bills back from the insurance company.

Since I didn’t want to break myself, I wandered to a coffee shop. The sun was shining in a clear sky by that point and the temperature had climbed to over 50 F! I had orange hot chocolate and a muffin before heading to the car to leave my coat rather than carry it around. I’d just come out of the parking lot when Jens called finished with his meeting.

The shop was done with my trike. It waited not far from the door with a pair of very fascinated children. One of them even sat in the seat holding onto the steering handles and trying to reach a pedal with his tippy toes. The guy who greeted me assured me the work had been no problem, but the derailleur had needed parts replaced. At least, I think they only replaced parts. I can’t imagine getting a new rear derailleur for less than 150 Kr (15 USD) though it is about the cost of the little cogs. I asked if I could give it a test ride even before I paid and he cheerfully said yes. I didn’t need my cycle shoes to plop down and do a quick quarter mile while I shifted around. It worked great! I had my trike back!

The warm glow of its return didn’t last long. Until about the time we walked through the door. Loke whirled around in joy of our return… limping badly. I looked.

The skin, between toes of the upper part of his foot instead of the under, had gone from faintly too pink to bloody raw meat in less than 6 hours, oozing and pussy looking. Jens was buried under work calls and I do 95% of the vet stuff with Loke, I had no worries slinging him in the car and taking him to the vet straight away. As quick as it had worsened, no way I was going to wait another 24 hours for the appointment.

All the staff there feel for Loke. Every one of the vet techs patted him and told him what a good boy he is as we went to an exam room. I still remembered to hand Loke’s paper work to the main vet nurse to get it done. Less than 3 minutes later, Niklas came in. He said only, ‘Again??’  I told him how it had proceeded as well as how it had gone from faint pink to raging red and oozing in just the last 5 hours. The vet asked when Loke had finished the antibiotics. When the answer was ‘Two weeks, maybe less,’ he hung his head and scrubbed at his short cropped hair before flinging himself in a frustrated slouch in the other chair. It was too soon after the antibiotics to take a sample for the lab. The results would be inconclusive, a waste of money. The progression I described was too rapid and severe to leave untreated in the hopes of waiting until we MIGHT possibly get a clean sample. He couldn’t in good conscience wait.

Our best bet was to treat Loke again and hope that if it DID come back (something none of us doubt honestly), it would be long enough after to get the sample we needed. Niklas also recommended another kind of food, specifically to support skin. I sighed that Jens wasn’t going to be happy with that since we’d already spent a fair bit of cash on expensive specialty food for allergies, he waved a hand with an assurance he’d GIVE us a 15 lb bag for free to try. Then we talked other possibilities. One being that we might have to resort to buying a special vaccine from the US. Ironically, Niklas explained, Sweden’s joining the EU had shot treatments of problems like Loke’s in the foot. In the 90’s, a sample would have been taken (provided we could get a clean one), sent to Uppsala University Veterinary Department where a vaccine specific to the strain of Loke’s infection would have been produced. Joining the EU had put an end to that. The one from the US was pretty good even if more general.

Loke also got a cortezone shot in the butt, a relief I think over the foot shaving or nose squirting he was expecting. Barely notices shots, but come at him with clippers or a needless syringe and he’s trying to cringe and climb in my lap all at once.

So, I left the clinic heavy hearted and feeling a bit gutted as well as needing to fill a prescription for more doggie meds which would bring the visit’s total to 1400 Kr.

At least Loke seems to be responding quickly. Though he’s limping and standing a bit lopsided to keep weight off his front right foot, it’s no where near as bad as it was last night when we did the first slathering and pill doses. It’s not as red and oozy. We caught it early enough that the tiny little wound had barely broken the first layer of skin and the rest was mostly intact. A couple days and I expect Loke will stop limping. It’s still a heart-breaking setback.