Terii’s Cycling Babble

Disheartening Update
April 26, 2012, 8:32 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

At least that’s how it feels.

My rides have been infrequent and local. 3 rides since my last post.

Primus ETA Power MF Camp Stove.

Before the rides though, Jens surprised me. He had ordered the camp stove I’ve had my eye on for a while. I’ve been reluctant to commit to it because while not hideously expensive, it’s not precisely cheap, but he had found a special on it for half price. He thinks it’s something we can use even when we just go to Singö for fishing and relaxing.

The 16th. Miraculously, it was a pretty day. Partly cloudy as usual, but I decided it was nice enough to go for a ride. I was determined to do more than a river loop and for once, do the ride I had in mind. The Vaksala/Granby Loop with a bit of an out and back along what I thought was a new section of cycle path.

Loke was excited by my cycle clothes and hysterical with glee when I put the harness on him. I was also quite eager to see what progress might have been made on the archaeological dig site. Sadly, it appeared they had stopped working on the site shortly after I’d left it last time. Except for two giant dump-truck like tractor things leaving 3 ft deep ruts along one edge of it as they moved back and forth, it was inactive.

The ride went great, though I was quite disappointed to discover what I thought was a new cycle path was in fact an access road built along another very busy road. They’re doing major construction along the big road and making it bigger and transforming it into ‘A non-meeting’ road. Meaning the opposing directions of traffic will be separated by a divider and access to and from via ramps. So, the people who live right along the road need their own new little access road. It ended after about a mile. Oh, and the improvements to the road will mean no bikes.

I also rode on the 20th. Just the river loop. The only reason I mention it is because it was an utterly miserable ride. It was just under 40 F (4c) when I woke and raining. Since snow had been in the forecast, I felt encouraged. With dinner at Jens’ family later that evening and their standard poodle in heat, Loke had to stay home and needed a decently long outing. I planned to take him around 2 pm.

Hard to see... but snow!

Bad move. Around 1 pm, the temp had dropped to just above freezing turning the rain to snow. Thick, wet flakes came down in furious flurries interspersed with periods of small flakes and all of it in stiff winds. I watched in dismay as the lawns and cars around our apartment went white under a quickly thickening blanket.

Still, Loke had to be taken care of. I pulled out my bullet proof thermals to put under my lycra cycle clothes since the spandex has always seemed to shed snow.

It was a nightmare. In the 5 min I left the trike body out to fetch the seat and furry one, I think 10 pounds of wet snow had covered the top of my red panniers. Those aren’t waterproof by the way. Got the seat attached, tossed on the sheepskin, clipped Loke and sat down in the snow that had collected on the wool in that brief time.

Things only proceeded to get more miserable. The snow kept hitting me in the eyes and the goggles were no use. They only collected those huge wet flakes until it was like trying to look through a snow ball. My face hurt from the impact of the ice shards as we ripped along at 10-15 mph with me peering through my fingers in a desperate attempt to protect my vision. My gloves were next to useless. Worse! For some reason my top was collecting snow which promptly melted. My wool shirt beneath it got wet. Thankfully, wool keeps a lot of warmth even when soggy or we’d have turned back before I finished the first mile. At least my legs were fine. The snow just bounced off my leggings.

At one point, the wind and snow were so bad, even Loke was forced to put his head down and close his eyes. I had to hold on to his harness to keep him from caroming off the trike. Made steering the trike and shielding my own eyes more of a challenge.

I’m pretty sure it’s not my most miserable ride, but for 4.5 miles, it ranked high.

After that, we had quite a bit of rain. One day was pretty, but I was so incredibly bored with my local loops and desperate for some place different, Loke and I went for a forest walk! I had the car, but it would have taken forever to wrestle the dog kennel out of it and the trike stuff into it. So, jumping into the car to drive to a local hiking trail it was!

I wore a belt made to walk/run dogs or even have them drag a person on skis. A 3 meter tether hung off it. I was prepared for a fiasco. The last time we tried this, Loke nearly killed me by alternating between dragging hard or stopping to sniff, crossing behind me and tangling my poles. I wore a small backpack with his normal leash so that I could swap to it and walk without the poles if he proved to be a pain. Drawing a deep sigh for calm and patience, I started off across a field for a short test.

Immediately, Loke went to the front, trotting happily, sniffing and… that was it. No running in circles around me. No hard pulling or yanking with starts and stops. He kept only just enough tension in the tether to keep it off the ground. I was struck near senseless in surprise! Hopeful, but wary, I cut toward a path through the trees that would lead us to the main hiking trail.

Hiking! Loke Waits For Me To Move

Loke’s near perfect behavior continued. He wove back and forth across the path as he sniffed. Of course, he stopped a few times to mark trees and such, but when he went back to the front, still no dragging or yanking. It lifted my spirit and I had so much fun on that walk. It’s the most fun I’ve had with him that didn’t involve the trike in a long time.

On the way back, I even risked jogging a little. the results were hilarious. Instead of just increasing his pace at the front, Loke fell back to run next to me. He gave the tongue-lolling husky grin while staring intently up into my face and bouncing. It was as if he were laughing at me and asking, “Whatcha doing? You don’t do this!” Even when I had to go back to walking again, he stayed right by my side with that bouncy grin. It’s hard to run and laugh at the same time.

I get the car again tomorrow. Maybe we should go back there for another walk/run.

More gray and rain which began to get me quite down and then we finally had a perfect day on the 24th. Clear, no wind and while cool, by no stretch of the imagination could it be called cold. Mid to upper 50’s F. Other than that, it was only a river loop as I’d had a bad episode with my knee a couple days before and Loke had sores on his feet again that I found over the weekend. So, the ride was doubling as a ‘trike-walking the dog to the vet clinic while being careful of my recently recovered knee’.

Niklas was in surgery, so I made an appointment. At least it waited more than 2 weeks since I last finished treatment to come back… right?

Ugly, isn't it? Poor Fuzzy

So, Loke’s foot got the vet treatment again yesterday. Shaved foot and Niklas confirmed it’s the yeast infection back because of Loke’s suppressed immunity. He changed the treatment a bit. Surprisingly, I felt pretty much nothing about the whole affair this time. Resigned maybe. Worryingly though, it seems to have worked into the nail bed of one toe.

So, I now need to wash Loke’s feet with the iodine solution 4 times a day and use a new anti-fungal stuff twice a day for 3 weeks this time. Treatment began last night after I picked up his new medication from the druggist.

This morning though, my numb resignation turned into real worry. Two of Loke’s feet are actually affected though the one in the picture is by far the worst. Or so we thought. It might be his other foot which is more of a problem. As I carefully cleaned and dried his feet, paying special attention to the infected nail-bed, I took a closer look at the rest of his toes just to be sure.

One of his nails on the other front foot is ORANGE around the base and splitting. The cracks are running up under the nail bed. Obviously, something is actually in that nail which scares me to death. Can it get into bone? I made sure the ointment got into the area as much as possible, but this worries me too much to take a ‘wait and see if it works’ approach without Niklas’ opinion. I’ll be calling him today…

Unearthing The Past
April 13, 2012, 5:01 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Rain, rain, rain and more rain.

That’s what our days have been like. Not torrential downpours with thunder, but that steady fall which turns the earth beneath the grass roots to a gloopy mess that’s nearly as slick as ice and fills the streets. All I’ve done is sit at home and occasionally glance out the window to watch it fall.

Finally on the 11th it stopped long enough to let the streets drain so I could go on the roads and paths without needing a snorkel. It was a completely uneventful ride of about 4.25 miles. Just something to get us out for a bit beneath the heavy gray clouds. At least it wasn’t windy. The rain was making its renewed approach known during the last half mile or so, but I made it home with just a few minuscule droplets on my glasses and a dog that seemed  happy even for such a short run.

Yesterday (12th) the rain ceased fairly early and the sun made an appearance letting the roads actually get DRY. After so long, it looked funny. I gave Loke’s feet a thorough check, which I do daily, but I did it again for peace of mind. I thought maybe to redo the Vaksala loop I’d done a few days ago, but turn north along a new section of cycle path next to a busy road section to see how far it went. There was no sign of infection in Loke’s feet, but I noticed it doesn’t seem the skin on his pads is toughening up. Still, I decided to give it a try.

Though the sun felt quite warm, the air was chilly and only going to be more so once I was rolling, so I put an extra layer on my legs and made certain my jacket was packed. It took a while for us to get out the door. Loke was calm until I undid the brake and off he went. His moment of confusion didn’t last quite so long this time when I told him ‘Höger’ and we flew along G. Uppsala Road until turning on the cycle path winding through a wooded area.

We passed a elderly woman with a walker and moments later, Loke needed to stop to do his businesses. While I cleaned it up like a good Swedish dog owner, the woman caught up to us. She loved my trike. We chatted about it for a few moments before parting ways.

The warm sun faded behind thin layers of clouds and I started to feel cold. Even a jacket and extra thermal shirt didn’t help much. My ears were cold and my neck. Not to mention my hands. That was unexpected as I’ve been riding around in low 40’s and upper 30’s with no gloves just fine and now they were bothering me at mid 50’s?? More than that, Loke seemed a little tender-footed as well. That REALLY bugged me. But he still had high energy and I wanted at least a mile or two more distance that I’d get on a River Loop with extension. So, I decided I’d just ride the cycle-path along the road that runs past the turn to the Gamla Uppsala museum.

No, not construction!

Barely past the turn, I found this. I was delighted!

Delighted by a construction site? Actually no and I’d noticed people on this site back on the 4th when I last did the 10 mile Vaksala Loop. Being uncertain what it was, I didn’t stop and didn’t mention it because if was a construction site, it’s rather boring. Still, I had noticed a handful of men and women sweeping the ground of this plowed field between the cycle path and rail tracks back on the 3rd.

What I saw there this time confirmed it though! It’s archaeology! Apparently, this is the large dig ever in Uppland and stretches in several directions, even crossing roads. Admittedly, they aren’t tearing those roads up, but working in patches. This particular patch was over 100-150 feet long and 30 – 40 feet wide while I was there, but the stakes outlining the area to be dug stretched for almost a quarter mile.

Fascinated, I stopped and watched. In the photo you can see the dark line of what must have been a wall or the like and the little stakes peppered around are finds that another group at the other end of the field were photographing and collecting.

I loved the idea that I was watching Sweden’s past being unearthed. Actually, I spent about 45 minutes there.

Loke got impatient so, reluctantly, I moved on. We didn’t go far though. I’d gone to the gym early in the morning and my legs began to feel the wind we rode against. Between the cold, my legs and stressing about Loke’s soft feet I decided to just go home after less than a mile passed the dig site. I resisted the urge to stop again when we went back by. It was then, just over the top of the grassy verge between cycle path and the road 4 feet over my head, I saw glimpses of another dig site on the other side of the traffic.

All this was discovered because of plans to move the rail tracks, so the railroad company funded an archaeological search of the area they plan to shift the tracks to. I wonder if they would have done it if they’d known it would have led to such an extensive find which could delay their plans. Loke still had a bit of energy, but all I wanted to do was get home and get WARM. I was starting to shiver and felt like I was coming down with something.

Yep. Even after a long soak in a hot bath, I felt cold and shivered under blankets the rest of the afternoon and evening with a fever. In spite of that, I was pleased with the ride of 7 miles though I hadn’t gone as far as I’d planned.

A brief mention of something not cycle related, or maybe it is. I’ve lost 7 pounds since New Years, which thrills me, though I’m baffled why weight is suddenly falling off me with little/no effort. Last week 3.5 pounds mysteriously vanished. This week’s loss was a more modest 1 pound. That means when I’m touring this year (fingers crossed), I’ll be dragging that much less weight up hills! That’s the equivalent of my tent and Loke’s so far! If this keeps up, there won’t be any more mention of ‘a plump woman on a trike’ in my post unless it’s past tense. 😀

It Arrived!!
April 4, 2012, 10:18 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. I had laundry planned, but Jens worked from home. When he returned from a short walk with Loke, he announced he would do the laundry if I went for a ride. That was an absolute no-brainer. Out in the sunshine with mild breezes even if it was a bit nippy at 38 F or, slogging back and forth between buildings to tend washing machines and driers.

Loke was moderately excited as I began to get ready. Jens had just enough time to carry the main body of the trike out before a conference call. I had to take the seat and such out on my own, but that was no problem. As I set the seat down, I saw the mail package delivery truck park a little down. The woman walked up with a white box. Smiling I asked if it was from the US. She said yes and I said it likely was for me. She said it was for Jens and asked my name. When I said Montgomery, she smiled and said it was from another Montgomery and was happy to let me sign for it. Giggling, I ran back in with it.

Big Agnes Sleeping Bag!

It was my sleeping bag! Since everything was already outside for a ride, I set the box down and went out.

A quick flash forward to today! I finally had time to open it. I LOVE IT! I can deal with the teal and gray color. It’s nice and fluffy. The best thing is, it’s not a constricting mummy. There’s room in the shoulders and hips for my arms. I can move them around a bit and even put them at my sides. In the bag I used last year I almost had to dislocate a shoulder to get my arms settled after zipping it and then the only place for them were tightly pinned against my body with hands flat on my tummy. Barely enough space to twitch my feet, couldn’t flex my knees. Bunches of cold spots because knees and arms were so tightly pressed against the fill.

I was giggling and wiggling all over the place when I zipped it up to try it out. FREEDOM!!

So, Loke and I went back out the trike after putting the box in the apartment. It threw the furry one for a bit of loop when I told him right instead of just streaking across the road. Then it was another right before taking a left. The new direction lit a fire under Loke’s feet and he flew. Soon we zipped a left past the mosque. The breeze was down right cold at times, but I wisely had thin wool under my cycle clothes. The sun shone warm between the big fluffy clouds that drifted across the sky.

I decided to ride the shortened Vaksala Loop. It’s right at 10 miles. It used to be 13, but those 3 miles I didn’t ride, 2 of them are incredibly boring. Mind-numbing even. I think even Loke wants to fall asleep when we cross it. As we made the turn after passing Gamla Uppsala church, it wasn’t long before I came to a colder spot. Significant patches of snow lingered in the trees and a 100-150 yard section of the road still had ice. We made it with no difficulties and thankfully the ‘roller coaster’ section of the ride was clear. That part is pretty fun with the little hills up and down and Loke particularly loves it.

On a longer slope, Loke’s speed kicked in and I saw something small in the middle of the road. Finally close enough to see it, I was shocked to see a squirrel. Sweden’s little red squirrels are just so cute and this guy sat on his haunches in the sun right in the center of the road. The closest tree was over 50 yards away. It wasn’t until we were less than 30 feet from him that he at last bolted with a little flick of his tail. By that time, our speed was nearly 20 mph.

As the squirrel vanished into the branches, I saw horses in a pasture ahead. As usual, I began calling out, hoping they’d be the indifferent sort or, even better, curious. I started to slow down in case they were the frightened kind. Nope. Their heads swung round as Loke put all his weight into fighting the brakes, so we still had about 15 mph. They came running, heads up and tails raised like banners. Blowing and making little half-whinny sounds they ran along the fence with us. I had a huge grin on my face. I love it when horses or even cows run with us. Too quickly, we all reached the end of the pasture.

I Haven't A Clue...

From there to the mall, the ride was rather boring. Just riding along a major road on a cycle path. We went through the mall parking lot to paths behind the 4H pastures where there’s a park area between the 4H and an apartment block. Passing one section of pasture, I had to stop for a double take. As many times as I’ve ridden past the spot, I’d never noticed this peculiar sculpture sitting in the middle of the field. It’s covered in mosaic tiles and I suppose it could be birds of some sort. It was just the oddest thing and I wonder how long its been there.

After taking the picture with just my iPhone, we hurried on. As we came to the cluster of trees which generally has the murder of nesting crows, a woman caught up to us on the bike. She was utterly entranced with Loke. Told me he was a beautiful dog and wanted to know how far we’d gone. She took a different direction at the next turn. Then we were zipping past another school. A group of 4 boys spotted us coming and moved to one side of the path. I called out my thanks and received the Swedish equivalent of ‘You’re welcome’ followed by ‘Nice dog!’ Loke gets far more attention and interest than my trike.

Crocus! Not the first of the year, but the year's first photo!

We were almost home when I spotted the crocus and happily paused to take a picture of them. Favorite spring-time flower. It felt nice to get home and know the laundry was already mostly done thanks to my amazing hubby.

Agony of Indecision!
April 1, 2012, 6:50 am
Filed under: Misc

Well, the days have marched on since the big shocker Jens threw me and he still seems moderately enthusiastic about upgrading my trike. He’s VERY enthusiastic and determined I go to England even if I decide I shouldn’t get the new ICE Sprint.

I’m rather ambivalent about the idea of a trip.

First, I dread London. My first taste of the city 15 years ago left a bad taste in my mouth for it. It was insanely busy and crowded, traffic everywhere. All that just seemed to crush any other enjoyment I might have had at the idea of the architecture and history of my surroundings. The blissful peace of Hyde Park is the only thing I remember fondly and first time I ever saw a magpie. I like magpies. They’ve kinda filled the spot in my heart once occupied by the blue jays of the southern US.

The idea of navigating trains, subways and buses is a bit daunting as well. Small town girl that I am, I’ve never had to use them. At least not alone and my experiences riding such with other people during a brief visit to Chicago did not inspire confidence.

But Jens has continued to be very encouraging. Kept telling me to call his sister and see if she wanted to come. I finally did. I rather expected that she wouldn’t be able to get away from work, but her response was an over-joyed, “I’d love to! Count me there!”

So, I’ve started looking at the trip. Jens reminded me I’d talked about seeing the Lion King play. Yep, we can do that. There’s also the British Museum which I’ve wanted to see since I was a young girl. So, maybe a day in London won’t be so bad.

Looking into Falmouth, I’m a bit more encouraged. The place is a small sea-side resort village/town with a good, but simple bus system. Two castles nearby, nice B&Bs everywhere. Beaches of course. Then there’s the Eden Project just a few miles away! Even looking at a map, there’s a bus stop right next to the ICE location! For a test ride, I also found what appears to be a lovely medieval church not far away. So, now I’m far more excited about Falmouth than I ever could be about London.

Admittedly, I barely noticed Falmouth in 2006. We stopped at the Eden Project, zipped to ICE to test ride the Trice and scurried on to Tintagel. Anything more about Falmouth was an unnoticed blur.

So, it seems I am planning a trip. Still not sure when we’ll be going since that needs to be settled between Martina and Jens. I really don’t want him being dragged off on a business trip and leaving other people stuck wrestling Loke down twice a day for feet slatherings.

And yes, the slathering continues. Loke actually went back to the clinic on the 30th. This time the fungus is back. I didn’t need any new prescriptions though. I still had the alcohol/iodine mix to wash his feet with and plenty of the ointment. It’s starting to look as if the furball might be stuck eating antibiotics and ointment applications for the rest of his life. Just makes me want to cry. The good news is I caught it very early, so no need to stop cycling. Granted, I’ve not been cycling much. Just feel so drained from dealing with Loke’s feet.

We’ve had a cold snap, though not cold enough to actually stop me if I did go out cycling. Just the low 30’s. The 3 inches of snow that briefly buried us yesterday was a bit of a shock though most of it vanished very quickly. The city workers didn’t even have a chance to put gravel down for it. All that’s left now is a few small piles in the shady parts of lawns and some ice in a couple patches on our parking lot.

So, that’s all in a nut shell. A rather short post for me, isn’t it?