Terii’s Cycling Babble

Drama Synopsis & A REAL Ride!!
May 19, 2012, 11:48 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Synopsis – 

Moody at the gorgeous weather I can’t tour in because of foot problems both for me and the dog. To add to it, Loke had a seizure of some kind on Tuesday, March 15. Was about to rush him to vet except he was fine in less than 5 min. Waited until his appointment for surgery the next day. Much to my relief, Niclas canceled the surgery and checked Loke thoroughly, but he found nothing wrong. Surgery to remove the eyelid polyp rescheduled and I’m to call Niclas immediately if the furball has another episode. Niclas is mostly satisfied with improvement in Loke’s feet so now we’ll wait for the infection to return and get a sample when it does.

The long gory version of the events are in the previous post if any are interested.

The Ride – 

By Friday morning, I think my husband was beginning to feel a little irked at my grouchy depression. Around 10 am, he decided I should go for a ride. Stubbornly in my deep funk, I grumbled I couldn’t be bothered to slog around the River Loop yet again. Cheerfully, Jens said he’d drive me anywhere I liked and promised he wouldn’t make a single complaint no matter how far. He stuck to that statement even when I suggested an area nearly an hour and a half away.

I took him at his word and plotted a convoluted ride from west of Sala to Sala itself as I did zig-zags to things I might want to photograph. Though I didn’t expect to do 25 miles, that’s what I mapped. It’s always better to have a little too much distance planned than not enough. Two hours later, trike, dog and we were in the car and driving west. During my planning and packing, the clouds had begun to thicken, but gave no sign of rain. Fortunately, the farther from Uppsala we went, the clouds became less dense and closely packed.

Västerfärnebo Kyrka

We arrived at Västerfärnebo church a bit before 1 pm. The village was a bit larger than I thought, but by no means a bustling metropolis. As I walked around the church to take my photos and look for runestones, Jens walked Loke around a park area not far away where he got to meet a female German Shepherd/New Foundland cross. Quite a pretty dog from what I could see in the distance.

Putting the trike together and loading it with pod-bags and camera was a bit of a challenge as Loke insisted on staying glued to my right hip in ‘ready to run’ mode. Jens had his hands full trying to keep me from getting tangled in a cat’s cradle of flexi-leash, but I think he enjoyed it since he could have retreated and kept Loke short to avoid it.

Wagtail, Flowers & Grave Stone

Soon I was settled and clipped in. Jens told me to have fun and reemphasized his promise to come get me as soon as I called without complaint.

Loke hopped and yodeled as we did a loop around the triangular meeting of streets by the church for the GPS to get directional bearings so I knew which way to go. In moments we were off like a shot. All of it was pretty much Loke as I didn’t want to put too much abuse on my ankle. This was going to be a leisurely outing as far as I was concerned. Putter around new places, enjoy the gorgeous spring greens and whatever scenery and landmarks that caught my attention. Loke, of course, had other plans.

One of the many nice things about small villages/towns, is that it takes no time at all before you’re out of residential territory and into the true country side. Cloud-shadows dappled the scenery around us, but for the first couple of miles, Loke and I ran under glorious sunlight! It was moderately windy, but not brutally so and the greens of the trees in the wooded stretches and where the fields had not yet been plowed were vivid and fresh with that touch of golden emerald you find only in the first blush of spring. The temperature was perfect. A tiny bit cool in the wind if you sat still, but once you started moving and warmed with exertion, it was just right.

Loke & Old Road Marker

Loke might disagree with my assessment of temperature. He seemed a little warm, but not dangerously so and was very determined to run no matter how I tried to moderate his speed. I finally gave in for a while rather than have him strangle himself on the harness.

I couldn’t stop the smile that turned up the corners of my mouth as the road hummed beneath the trike tires and the spring in Loke’s tether bar squeaked in time with his steps since I wasn’t pedaling furiously enough to keep him from pulling. Birds fluttered all around and of course, chief among them were the meadow-larks with their beautiful songs. Weeks of frustration and moodiness fell away. It was wonderful to be off the hamster wheel and roaming wide open spaces! The only way it could have been more sublime would have been the rattle of my trailer behind me and more new roads to discover on the ‘morrow. Even so, I was determined to enjoy what I had!

Dilapidated Farm Building

I wasn’t the only one who was out to enjoy the day with human powered wheels beneath them. I spotted the old barn tucked among the trees and took the opportunity to offer Loke water before taking the picture. Maybe it’s age, but the furball now needs a few minutes to let water settle before running on or he burps most of it back up. So, dog watered and while taking the camera out of the bag, I saw the distant shapes of two or three cyclists. Then it was many, many riders.

It was a huge group of men and women between the ages of 45 to probably as old as 70’s. Wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few older still in the mix. They were all smiling as they passed me on their touring bikes with friendly ‘Hej’s and a few calls of ‘Nice dog!’. I must have said ‘Hej’ back some 30 times. It would have felt rude to do it less when someone who added their greeting hadn’t been close enough to hear my previous. I didn’t count, but I’d guess there were nearly 40 riders.

Spring Flowers

While enjoying the ride immensely, particularly when I came to the western shore of a lake, I also kept a very close watch on my cycling partner. Was his pace normal and smooth? Breathing okay? I stopped to check his feet frequently since they don’t seem to be toughening up as well as they did in previous years. A few times, I even checked his gum color just to be sure.

There were a couple annoyances to the ride, but they didn’t dampen my humor in any way. The first was the unreliability of my iPhone. The coverage of the provider is sketchy at best in any area that is remotely rural or wilderness. My old, very basic Nokia has wonderful coverage, but with the short notice of the ride, I hadn’t a chance to charge it. So, I was a bit concerned something might happen to Loke and I’d be unable to reach Jens.

The other was lack of socks for Loke. The skin on his pads was beginning to look a little thin even just after 5 miles. I had his boots, but Loke despises them and has figured out how to shake them off while running. Gets annoying to stop and run back to reclaim a doggie boot every half mile.

Fläckebo Church Across The Lake

When out with the fuzzy one, I also keep a careful eye to the ground well ahead of where he’ll be treading. It saves him from many a cut foot or punctures. Probably spares my tires as well. Good thing I do, though this time the damage wouldn’t have been to Loke or myself. It was also an example of how the subconscious brain can recognize things before the conscious part does.

I noticed a stick on the edge of the road. From 100 feet away, it looked like every other stick. I’m sure I see plenty of sticks but my brain dismisses them before I actually notice them. This one I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Abruptly, I realized it was a snake. I had time enough to swerve to keep my tire from crushing it’s head and neck, but not enough to be sure Loke didn’t step on it. I hope his paws missed it. It was such a pretty little thing, not much longer than 8-10 inches or so and in appearance was identical to the ringneck snake in the US. Might even be the same snake just as Sweden has identical dandelions that are the bane of US lawn owners.

I like snakes and have no fear of them so the idea Loke might have stepped on it worried me. I stopped to hurry back for look. It was nowhere to be seen so hopefully, it escaped injury.

First Real Threat Of Rain

Gorgeous Contrast Between Sun & Clouds

Shortly after the group of bike riders and the snake, the clouds began to thicken. While many of them had been very gray bellied for quite a while, I’d seen no rain veils. Once those appeared I began to watch the skies more closely. Around mile 7, significant clusters of rain made their appearance. At those first few wet drops, I stopped to wrestle the rain-cover onto the camera bag.

The clumpy nature of the clouds made for some gorgeous scenery. The dark, ominous undersides serving as a backdrop for the sun-dazzled green of new leaves and fresh grass. Occasionally, there were the beautiful streaks of god-rays spearing across the sky.

Common Canada Geese, But What a Setting!

For once, the weather seemed to take pity on me. All around were heavy masses of steel gray with gossamer curtains of falling rain. Yet somehow, they missed me. Occasionally I felt a few touches of wet on my cheeks brought by the rising wind, but nothing more as I was treated to the dazzling displays provided by the places where the sun found gaps.

I was even lucky with the wind. I wish I could say it was planning, but I admit I didn’t check the wind direction before deciding to go west to east via north/south. If I’d tried riding from Sala on the plotted route, it would have killed me once the rains began moving through. The air speed had gone from mildly brisk to impressive as I finished rounding the southern edge of the lake to turn north. Tree limbs whipped in the gale that filled the countryside with it’s low, distinctive roar. At times Loke squinted and flattened his ears.

Lake View From East Bank

A few miles from Fläckebo church I decided it might be time to call Jens. While Loke still jogged along fine and wanted to run with every downhill, his feet were looking too worn  and I’d already applied  Musher’s Secret several times. It really seems to help, but it has its limits even with multiple applications. Short of duck taping Loke’s boots to his legs, they wouldn’t stay on. Not to mention, my legs were feeling a bit achy. Maybe there had been a bit of a fight with wind. Or perhaps it was hills.

I pulled into a bus stop to call and tell my wonderful hubby where he’d be able to find me.

The mile between where I’d called and the church, I passed a pretty little house with a cafe sign. The temptation to stop in hopes they were open was strong, particularly when a man sitting outside gave me a cheerful wave. It wasn’t so much that I was hungry or thirsty, but I desperately needed a bathroom. I’m not squeamish about answering a call of nature in actual nature, but finding places to do so out of sight of passing cars yet able to keep an eye on the trike is the challenge. I’d found no such places. Of course, my sense of polite and rude wouldn’t let me go there without at least buying something to drink. Since I had no cash on me, I gritted my teeth and hoped maybe there’d be a place at the church.

Fläckebo Church

Fläckebo church, like the previous church, had no runestones lurking around it. I’ll admit to a certain amount of disappointment. A ride just doesn’t feel complete if I can’t find at least one runestone.

After circling the church, I noticed a dirt track running along the out side of the church yard hedge. A sign pointed down it with the symbol used for sights of cultural heritage. It was within easy view of the church. Jens would be more than an hour driving from home, so I decided to go look. I hoped for something interesting and for some kind of shelter in equal parts. The wind was by severe enough to strip young leaves from branches and made white peaks on the choppy lake.

Odendisa Runestone

There, I found a collection of old farm buildings much like those at the Gamla Gården (Old Farm) near Uppsala. It lacked a house from the 1700’s, but had a wealth of other buildings. Best of all? A runestone! I wasn’t even disappointed that it didn’t have the small informational metal plaque or official number most stones are given. There was a sign for it though. It is simply known as the Odendisa stone.

Loke was just as happy to romp around at the end of his leash, sniffing and marking everything as running with the trike. He did his typical flop down and thrash in the grass more than a few times. As it was the end of the ride, I made use of a bench placed in front of the stone to change from cycling shoes to my black and white Five Fingers. They don’t aggravate the persistent problem in my ankle and I hoped I could at least take a brief look at the buildings. I planned to wait for Jens there since it had a better parking area to load the trike than the spot near the church.

Some Old Farm Buildings

Five buildings sat in the shade of the tree, overlooking the lake and the threatening storm clouds. Understandably, they were securely locked and the only one that offered any sliver of shelter stood so far from the parking area, I could’t see Jens arrive. After taking the pictures, I returned to the bench at the runestone. The trees and the low hollow where the stone stood offered some protection from the wind. I kept my fingers crossed the worst of the weather would continue to miss me. A futile hope, but one I entertained all the same.

A Common Farm Smithy

I saw the rain before it actually reached me. It came sweeping from the south and west as a faint gray blurring of the southern lake shore and field. I took a moment to consider my options. The cafe? It looked more like an outdoor establishment than a place you could sit inside and watch the rain and wind rage through a window.

There had been some buildings behind the church. I decided to make a figurative run for it. I quickly discovered Five Finger shoes are not good with the pedal clips. The small surfaces were slick as glass under foot. I took it very slow so to avoid injury if a foot slipped and hit the ground. I bumped down the dirt road as the nearly horizontal rain arrived. Of course, Loke kept giving me the predictable side glances as if to hint he thought I was crazy to be out in such bad weather. I agree. The combination of the wind and rain was cold!

Most of the buildings behind the church turned out to be old stables! It seems the church provided a stables for its parishioners from specific places in the area. This stable for the horses for people from here. That stable for horses from that place. Amazingly they weren’t locked! I picked one, moving the rock holding the door shut and went in. I didn’t close the door completely since I didn’t want to sit in pitch black. A little rain blew in, but I stayed mostly dry.

The iPhone had no signal, leaving me with little to amuse myself. A man puttered around in a large tractor through the parking lot the stables surrounded. I expected to be asked to leave, but all he did was wave as I peered out through 10 inches of open stable door.

The size of the stables surprised me. The doors were fairly small and narrow. Hard to imagine anything larger than a medium sized pony getting through it. Three stalls divided the space within which seemed a very tight fit for even three medium sized ponies let alone horses. Couldn’t see a bulky plow horse wedging itself in at all.

By the time Jens came, the rain had gone and the raging wind had stilled. I had to laugh at that.

Though Loke and I had gone barely 11 miles and had taken 3 hours to do it, I was happy. We’d taken our time. Lots of stops to give Loke water and then wait for it to settle. Lots of pictures and beautiful surroundings. I didn’t care about the distance. Only about the time well spent.

Though Jens had been home for barely an hour before I called, he remained true to his word. Not a single complaint spoken. Only how glad he was that I had enjoyed myself.


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