Terii’s Cycling Babble


The Wonders of Duck Tape!
May 28, 2012, 11:31 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Since my last ride through the countryside, I decided I was going to go on a tour within the week. I began planning the very next day. Lists and routes made, plotted and printed. I was a bit limited on when I could leave since Loke had vet appointment on Wednesday (May 23) and my SIL was coming over for a movie night Friday. It gave me plenty of time to think my lists through and even get pre-packing done.

The vet visit on Wednesday had Niclas giving Loke another thorough going over before deciding to go through with the surgery. I also decided Loke should have his glands checked. Good thing. Apparently they were quite bad though he’d barely given any symptoms! He was quite miserable through Thursday, but back to hyper on Friday.

Shelters + Bedding + Stove = 2/3 of Trailer

As the packing progressed I felt a little guilty for my SIL having to step over and around piles of camping gear, but she was quite cheerful about it. Encouraging and curious about my outing more than anything.

I’d planned to leave on Saturday, but with all the running around I did on Friday to shop for touring stuff and fixings for my home-made orange chicken as well as helping cook it, I decided my ankle should have a day to recovery. So, Sunday it was.

I was a little peeved with Saturday though. It was the coolest day we’d had in days. It would have been perfect for us.

When I woke yesterday though, I was encouraged we’d have another day like Saturday when I woke to 40 F (5 c) about 20 degrees cooler than Monday through Friday mornings. Temperature is important when your cycle partner is still wearing half of his winter parka. Brushing that shedding coat out is an unending task.

After a bit of a frenzy, the car was packed and off we went toward Sala Silver Mine where I planned to start my ride. Sadly, the temperatures had climbed quickly since I’d awoken to the nippy morning. I to battle my nerves as we went. Though I’d gone over the lists countless times, I still felt convinced I’d forgotten something important. That feeling made my tummy do flip-flops.

Queen Christina’s Mine Shaft

Soon, we were at the old silver mine and not far from one of the shafts, Jens walked Loke around as I unloaded the gear from around the trike. As I began to organize everything, I started to feel a little calmer. Which was good. Working with a fluttery tummy is never fun. I was a little worried about the sharp climb in temperatures though. Barely 4 hours since I’d awoken to a brisk 40 F, it was already over 65 F. Throw in utter calm air and a sky of flawless blue except for the very warm sun… well, I was a bit concerned what noon or 2 pm would bring.

Ready to Roll

In what seemed a very short time, everything was ready to go. I said bye to Jens, settled into the seat and clipped in.

There was a bit of a conflict as Loke and I began our journey. It’s one that always springs up when I begin a ride in new territory and the starting point is something as sprawling as the environs of an old silver mine. My furry companion wants to rip across that first mile at 15 to 20 mph while I want to stop for pictures which includes signs. I forced a compromise which Loke fought with every bit of strength he had. The tether on his spring bar was pulled out a full 3 inches as he desperately tried to run, but I would not give up taking pictures of the buildings and scenery even if I skipped signs.

Ahh! A Shady Stretch!

Unlike the other times when I’ve gone out with the trailer, I noticed it’s presence this time. Before, the trailer has only made it’s weight felt when trying to drag it up a 20% grade while exhausted from battling 25-35 mph hour winds for 2 days. Right from the start, the trike felt a sluggish and heavy even with Loke pulling like mule with a carrot dangled at its nose. Looking back on the later events, I suppose that should have been a clue though I was absolutely certain it wasn’t overloaded.

Once we were moving, the last of my nerves fell away and I went on with a sense of anticipation and a big smile. When I actually let him go faster than 6 mph, Loke had that tongue flopping husky grin. Otherwise, he kept giving me nasty looks with his ears angled back as if to say, ‘MUST you?’ even when it was slowing for speed bumps. It didn’t help the trike still felt unresponsive and more work than usual, trailer or no. I kept checking to make sure neither brake had gotten stuck or something silly.

King Karl XI Mine Shaft

Someday, I think I should spend a day at the Sala mines. The shafts are unworked now though there is a search on for another vein they believe is close to the one which was dug out. Now, it’s a tourist attraction with tours of the mine and even diving in the flooded areas though I think I’d skip that. They even have hotel suites in at least one of the shafts which I think is neat. Probably a bit chilly down there. Would be nice to get a closer look at everything.

The silver mine was soon left behind and I faced a prospect of a busier street. It didn’t look too bad, but I was more than happy with the discovery of a cycle path that ran in the same direction with it even if out of sight. The path took me to a quiet residential loop and I had to do a little back tracking to a small dirt road to come back to the road I needed. I didn’t have to spend long on the higher trafficked road and I probably could have avoided it all together if I’d looked a little harder for a connection to the cycle path that joined it later on.

By mile 2, I already put socks on Loke just as a precaution. Gotta save those feet as much as we can! Even if he hates the blue cloth bags reinforced with duck tape.

A bit blurry. Maybe I need a mono-pod for using the telephoto lens at max range?

HOT!

Once we were out of that residential area, we felt it. The SUN. By then, it was almost certainly over 70 F and without even the partial shade of the first mile and a half or so, Loke started to get quite warm. It was perfectly clear from horizon to zenith so not even the faint chance of cloud shadow. I’d hoped it would be a little better once we made the turn to more secluded country roads, but sadly not. The road turned out to be a dirt lane, but smoothly packed except for the loose rocks in the center and occasional scuffed areas. It ran right through huge stretches of fields. The closest trees were 100 yards away at the least. Fortunately, I’d brought the umbrella this time. I made sure to go slower and offer Loke water every half mile or so. Then we’d sit and listen to the bird song in the still air until he wasn’t panting so much and I felt certain his drink had settled. It made for slow going, but I was out and loving it. That’s the whole point of riding and touring for me. Not how fast I can cover x-number of miles, but how much I enjoy myself regardless of speed.

During this stretch, while sitting in one of the incredibly rare and unexpected patches of shade to let Loke’s most recent drink of water settle, a realization came to me. I wasn’t suffering.

Just an Old Building

The day wasn’t as hot as most of last summer, most of which stayed between 85-95 that kept us from going out with the trike. It was as hot as some days in 2010 where I simply couldn’t put my nose out the door without feeling nauseous from the ‘heat’. Temps I would have gloried in as being ‘perfect’ back on the Gulf Coast made me sick, particularly if I was out of the shade. But it was different on this ride. I felt warm, yes. The sun felt hot on on my face and clothes and underneath the cap, my hair was damp with sweat. Other than that… nothing. I wasn’t obsessing about how overheated I felt or how I absolutely had to get out of the sun. I didn’t feel dizzy or nauseous. My usual complaint about why do cycle tights come in no other color but sun absorbing BLACK never crossed my mind when it’s been a mantra through the last 2 summers at least. Something had definitely changed though I haven’t the foggiest notion what could have such a profound effect on my heat tolerance. I was glad of it, but baffled.

I count it a good thing I didn’t let how I felt affect my attention to Loke. It might have been quite easy for me to think, ‘Well, I feel fine, so he must be fine too. Let’s go faster and longer between his water breaks.’

The dirt road ran for almost 2 miles with only that one tiny patch of shade which had been right up against a red picket fence outside a house. Then it was on to a small, no less shade-less stretch of the busy 56. The road was fresh paved, not even marked yet. It appears they are turning in it into a non-meeting road which are forbidden to bikes. Good thing I caught it before it’s been declared officially bike-banned. Parts of it still lacked what appears to be a cycle path they are kindly adding.

Kila Church

I made the turn toward the church I’d seen in the distance in the middle of the dirt road stretch as soon as I could. Parts of the access road were a little rough and Loke decided he was determined to run a little. Since I could see big, fully leafed trees ahead, I let him. We hit a pot hole I didn’t see until too late. We hit it and something went BANG and it sounded like my trailer dragged on the pavement. I stopped to look back at it, but it seemed fine and moved along smooth enough when I went forward again.

The grounds of Kila Church were quite busy. First impressions of the church left me feeling indifferent to it. I find it difficult to get intrigued by the very common neoclassical appearance, particularly when it amounts to little more than a big pinkish rectangular box with a tower. Still there were runestones to search for. With so many people around and the fact I wanted Loke out of the sun for a while, I tethered him to a very shady tree. Setting his filled water dish near the trailer’s tongue where he wouldn’t step it in, I saw what had made the big bang.

Broken Trailer

It was a wonder I hadn’t lost the trailer. The picture was taken after I’d done a little fiddling. Both of the plastic clamps to either side of the bar which goes through the tongue had severely warped. The only reason the Burly had stayed with me, was because of the bar and some serious luck that the front clamp still had a tenuous grip around tongue tube.

Sadly, I called Jens to tell him. He suggested I at least try a temporary repair maybe with duck tape. As soon as he said it, I realized he was right. What if this had been a tour during one of his business trips? I had to try.

As I began wrestling with the trailer, I noticed two things which in all probability contributed to the clamps’ failure. One, it felt incredibly front heavy. Second, there was a pin meant to go through the underside of the front clamp which I’d forgotten to fasten. Suddenly the odd sluggish and heavy handling of the trike made sense.

I was well below the 100 lb limit of the trailer but I’d packed all the light stuff in the back, with heavier food (canned stuff for heating on the stove) and water at the front. Then, without the pin to help support the front clamp making it the weakest point with all the pressure on it, the back one couldn’t hold on it’s own, particularly when I hit that pot hole.

Temporarily Fixed I Hoped

With a few choice words about my carelessness, I pulled the food and water out of the front and shuffled the smaller, lighter things that would fit in the front section. I hated putting the things that could leak in with my sleeping mat and tent, but there was nothing for it. Then I got to wriggling around on the ground with a roll of duck tape. I actually managed to get the front clamp back into shape and pinned before I buried it under layers of sliver plastic, fabric and stickiness. While fighting with the back one, I realized a cheap nut and bolt would work to help strengthen it the way the pin did the front one. So, my Burly wasn’t completely ruined by inattention! What a relief!

I still held doubts as I looked at the tongue and clamps wrapped within an inch of their lives in silver tape, but there was only one way to find out.

That chore done, I took a few minutes to rapidly chew my way through an apple and went for a quick peek at a small building about 20 feet from Loke’s tree. To my relief it was an outhouse! A nice clean one even. No smell and no bugs. I was a little irked by the nice big windows without curtains or even frosting, but it was better than trying to find a hidden spot along a road. A lot less traffic.

By the time I got back from my quick loop around the humdrum church without a single runestone, Loke was standing impatiently as close as he could get to the trike and wagging his tail. I always interpret that as ‘We go now?’ After a quick double check, I hitched him and we moved out. I wanted to take it easy, but Loke of course, had another agenda particularly since the road leading away from the church had a 10% or more grade for a quarter mile stretch. He kangaroo hopped down most of it because of my reluctance to tax my duck tape work.

The path along side the newly paved 56 was only loosely packed gravel which took a little work to get the trike and trailer through. Loke helped a lot, with almost 2 inches pulled out of the spring bar. Very quickly, we crossed the 56 to head toward Satrabrunn (Satra Well).

Satrabrunn Church

The place is only 2 or 3 miles from Fläckebo Church that I ended at last ride, hiding in the barns from the storm blowing in across the small lake. It’s mentioned in my Sverigeleden map books mostly because of an old apothecary building and a brunnkyrka (well church). I was curious enough to incorporate the place into my ride. It was about 3 miles from the 56 (hot for Loke). I stopped about 4 times to give Loke water and soak down his ears along the way. One of the water breaks, I found the very simple looking well church.

In spite of my attempts, I’ve been unable to find out what exactly IS a well church. Does it house a well? I can’t find the answer any where.

Loke Resting & Old Building Behind

Though it meant going past our turn toward the next church a few miles away, I decided to go look at Satrabrunn proper. We could always double back the quarter mile (if that).

The place surprised me. It was quite a popular tourist spot in spite of its small size and relatively remote. I couldn’t really imagine people saying, ‘Hey! Let’s go to Satrabrunn for the day!’ Maybe it catches people who are on their way to Sala for the afternoon or on the way home. Or perhaps it’s the 300 year old spa history of the place which draws people. The place was first established as a rehabilitation spa 300 years ago and there is a well in the well house. A collective of like minded people turned this place around to keep it from being sold piecemeal which could have ruined the place.

I made the turn into the village proper, passing a couple old wooden building set up as shops for handicrafts mostly. The parking area was pretty close to full and I went onward following the signs to the cafe.

Satrabrunn Old Apothecary

Beneath the dense shade of 5 or so old trees enclosed by a number of older buildings like a kind of court yard or town square, a dining area had been set up. The cafe took one building, with an old closed apothecary, another into handicrafts shop and I’m uncertain what the remainder were. Near what appeared to be stage I stopped since it seemed far enough away from the tables I didn’t think anyone would object to Loke’s presence. We did cause a bit of a sensation, most of it directed at the furry one rather than my trike.

Since we’d gone through more than half a gallon since leaving Sala, the place offered the perfect chance to refill. I made sure Loke drank his fill and then topped off his little dish for good measure. At the little window next to the cafe’s main entrance, I asked the girl if there was a place I could refill my bottles. With a big smile, she offered to do it for me. I thought about buying an ice cream while she did me the favor, but it seemed cruel since Loke couldn’t share. So, I settled for a cold soda.

A man came up on one of those scooters people use when their ability to walk is compromised. He was smiling at Loke as I walked back and asked me a little about Loke and, for a wonder, even about the trike. Loke seemed content to rest in the shade as I sat at an empty table to sip my orange Fanta, look at maps and take a few pictures of the buildings around us.

We rested in that charming place until Loke stood up to pace with an expectant look.

The road we took south was another unpaved one. It wasn’t a bad road, though not nearly as smooth and hard packed as the previous. Even after more than 5 miles, the trailer still held together fine so we went on.

I forgot to mention, the trike handled much better after shifting the weight in the Burly. Imagine that!

I worked hard to keep Loke to the smoothest part of the road. Anything that might save his feet. We did manage to go a little quicker down the road as it had a decent amount of shade. Amazing how even a little shade as you move in and out of it helps.

Smaller Than The First Big One

During one of the water stops, we sat next to a rather extensive stretch of recently plowed fields. Once Loke had his fill and I’d packed bowl away, I settled back to listen to bird song and look around. Only then did I notice the huge numbers of dust devils! There were 8 or more of them I could see any given time. Most were small things, barely a meter in diameter and thin. One was much bigger, 3 meters or more across and sucking dust higher than tree canopies less than 50 meters from it. That monster crossed the road. It dissipated before I could dig my camera out. Another nearly as large soon replaced it. Starting in the big field on the other side of the road and winding along the same path of the previous onto the smaller field on our side. I’m sorry I missed catching it when it had split into two distinct, strong but smaller vortexes that orbited a common center before rejoining into one. That would have been a neat picture.

Watching the dancing spirals of loose earth reminded me of the time Loke and I were caught in a dust devil on one of the short loops around home. The fuzzy one really hated that, trying to run with his tail tucked while getting pelted with dirt and grass.

The devils were eerie to watch with the wind so calm around us. It made an interesting show while resting.

A Pretty Place

As we reached the trees on the far side of the fields. I passed a house with a few dog pens. About 100 yards further along, I noticed a new structure being added to the side of an older building. At first I thought it might be a dog kennel, but perhaps a chicken pen. Loke and I both jumped at the sound that suddenly came out of the meshed in area. Loke actually left the ground with a startled yipe.

What was it? A peacock’s call! Not something you expect to hear while pedaling along a dirt lane in the countryside. I didn’t see the bird, but it gave a another of those distinctive calls and Loke poured on the speed to get away.

Loke’s fear of peacocks didn’t last long. Less than a quarter mile on, I was admiring a big healthy rooster lording it over his hens in a large secure pen in the lee of an old barn as we passed. The trike gave a sudden lurch of acceleration from about 6 mph to 12 mph as the furball gave an desperate whine. With a wailing cry of alarm and flash of feathers, I saw a full grown peacock erupt out of the ditch where I think it had been attempting to hide until realizing it had been spotted by a prey-crazy husky. Once he’d seen one, he wanted it! Never mind the noises it made!

Clenching the brake with one hand and clinging to Loke’s harness with the other, I started laughing sympathetically for the bird. He ran (very fast) as Loke continued to strain against the brake to reach him. The poor thing kept trying to get through the property fence. Run a few yards and waffle back and forth in desperate search for an opening, then run a little more to repeat. He was a huge beautiful specimen of pea fowl. Long tail that looked flawless though hard to say since he wasn’t displaying it, but his colors were bright with that iridescent gloss over the blue of his body feathers. Finally he made a weird honking sound rather like I’d imagine a squashed goose might make and with a heavy ‘whap, whap, whap’ of wings, took to the air. While not as fast or graceful as a swallow, it got him over the fence and from there he did pretty good getting high enough to clear the tall trees (40 – 50 feet) and vanish.

Still laughing, I stopped and Loke did a tap-dance with his front feet, muffled by the socks and whined again. He really wanted that peacock.

I obviously didn’t get a picture because of the lunatic harness to the trike. It was definitely one of those times when having a helmet mounted video camera would have been great.

The unpaved road got a little rockier after that. I had a very hard time trying to find smooth spots for Loke to walk/trot. Then it began to happen. He’d be going along and abruptly, I’d be watching him with narrowed eyes wondering if he had just limped a step. That went on for the rest of the dirt road. Not quite clearly seeing him obviously limp a step, but something making me wonder. I’m either getting more paranoid when it comes to him or learning to trust my instincts. We weren’t too far away from the 2nd church of the day. Once we were on pavement, if I had been half seeing limping strides from Loke, he didn’t do them any more.  I didn’t dismiss it so quickly though.

Harakers Church

Soon we reached Haraker’s church. Like Kila, there were quite a few visitors to the church, so I decided to leave Loke parked in the shade of the bathroom building outside the churchyard wall while I did my walk around. Haraker’s had more in common with Kila than number of people around. The color was a little more orange than pink. The windows slightly different as was the top of the steeple. Beyond that, both were identical neoclassical, rectangular boxes with no runestones.

Back at the trike, I tried the bathroom door only to find it locked. I think that’s a first. I certainly can’t remember a locked bathroom door at any church with toilet facilities on its grounds. Defeated on the potty break, I turned my attention to Loke. I pulled his socks off and made him walk on the gravel drive. There it was. That slightly limping, tender-footed walk I despise more than ever. I almost believe Loke was trying to hide it. In spite of the warmth, he really seemed to have enjoyed the outing.

Loke Rattled By Church Bells

I spent a little time weighing my options. In theory, I could have pressed on to find a camp spot as quickly as possible to see what the morrow would bring. A quick look at the map made me think quickly accessible places would have houses too close or be crop fields. I possibly could camp at the church once evening services had finished. There was a nice stretch of lovely, smooth and recently cut lawn that would have added its lush softness to my sleeping pad. The problem was, what if Loke’s feet were still tender the next morning? What if they seemed fine for 5 miles and then got sore again? Jens had a busy day the next morning and it might have meant sitting on the side of the road for a long while. If it had been just me to worry about, I would have pushed on to find some place to sleep and see how I felt the next day. I find myself less inclined to take such risks with my furball.

I called Jens. He didn’t push for me to stay out. I think his attitude matched mine in regard to my tours. If it had been me uncomfortable, he would have encouraged me to wait until tomorrow. Loke limping even a little, better to call it. I removed the harness and settled Loke where he had a nice patch of grass and shade to lay in with a full water dish. Then I removed the trike seat to fix a problem with my steering boom. The center clamp had come loose letting an irritating forward/back/side to side wobble in the handles which made steering a bit weird and even difficult at times. It was quickly fixed. Took me longer to remove the seat than tighten the bolts.

By then, the wind had kicked up and it actually felt a bit on the cool side in the shade. I took Loke to the edge of a field which was downwind and attacked him with his brush. Most of it, as planned, blew away across the freshly plowed dirt. I didn’t want to litter that pretty lawn with a carpet of white fluffy fur. Though we’ve had him for nearly 7 years now, it still boggles my mind how much he sheds when he’s blowing his coat. 30 swipes with the brush on one spot will give you nearly as much fur on the last swipe as the last. It just keeps coming. Still, I did what I could and nice to not strangle the vacuum with it.

All in all though, I felt very disappointed at cutting it short. I desperately wanted this to be a tour. My wonderful husband is being as encouraging as he can be about it. Saying at least I did the planning and packing which can be the hardest part and I overcame the broken trailer. It held up fine and needed the duck tape cut loose to dismantle the trailer. I didn’t suffer in the heat for a change. Every positive about the ride he could think of he named.

With the slow pace and frequent stops we’d covered a bit over 18 miles for the day. That’s the Börje/G. Uppsala loop around home. I think Loke and I both enjoyed it a lot more than the close to home rides.

What now? I’m not sure. Loke’s tender footed ending to this not very long ride has left me with a lot of doubts since I took every care I possibly could. Socked him very early, tried to give him the least rocky surfaces, took it slow. Short of him leaving him at home every time I go for a ride longer than 5 miles… I don’t know.

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