Terii’s Cycling Babble

Testing The New Toy
July 8, 2012, 8:50 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yep. A new toy! First! Back-story!

Three years ago, Jens purchased a fishing kayak. A very nice one I might add. We found storage for it and hoped to have many years of fun with it. Sadly, it was not meant to be. The storage solution was difficult at best, being remote and awkward to move it in and out of. The weight of the craft worsened the already difficult situation. Too heavy for Jens to manage loading on the car alone which certainly meant I would be unable to deal with.

Between the two of us, we used it no more than 6 times, maybe as few as 5. I paddled around near Vik’s Castle one glorious day. A complete blast I might add. Then a couple hours in the Baltic near Singö. Jens used it once on our trip up to Storblåsjön, in the Baltic at least once and maybe a couple other times I can’t remember. We both loved it, but the fact it took us both just to load and unload it from the car proved too much a hassle. So, he asked if I’d be upset if we sold it.

I assured him not and he set about finding a buyer. Well, someone indicated interest and after a bit of haggling, a price was settled with the exchange to made this last Thursday. Jens planned to wash it before the buyer came for it and his dad was going to help him wrestle it around. Jens’ mother and sister also were coming by for dinner that evening. So, our dinner guests arrived, dropped off by Jens’ father who felt too unwell to eat, but no red-headed hubby in sight. I was baffled, but happily chattered with my in-laws.

Finally Jens did turn up. Holding out a bag for me to take as he came through the door, he announced, “I invested a bit of the money from the kayak sale. Hope you’re not upset.”

GoPro Hero 2 Camera – It came in a box of course.

A curious glance within revealed a camera! A GoPro Hero 2 more specifically. A very small camera with a water tight case with many mounting options. It can do HD video or timed stills.

We’ve been eyeing the GoPro cameras since Jens suggested it about a year ago when I’d mentioned how funny it would be to get videos of Loke doing the grass wiggle or when a herd of cows run along a fence with us. I’d been reluctant to go through with the purchase since there’s other things I’m also pining for. A new and much more comfy sleeping pad to fit into the pad pocket of my new Big Agnes sleeping bag for one. Just recently bought the camping stove. Throw in pricey 3D software I’m drooling over, the camera was well down a list dominated by things I deemed more useful and a bit less frivolous.

Jens assured me he wanted it too since he saw a video made by a guy who strapped one to his leg while fishing. You catch a glimpse of his catch flashing by as he reels it in.

I wanted to take a closer look at the new toy, but set it aside to be sociable with my in-laws.

As he came to bed, Jens woke me long enough to say he wanted to go fishing at Gysinge the next day. I should plot a route near there to try the camera out. I thought it was a great idea when I came awake enough the next morning for conscious thought.

I came up with two possibilities for rides and Jens naturally picked the one which would have me leaving from the immediate area he planned to fish.

We made no rush to leave. We were on the road to Gysinge around 10:30 with a drive of roughly 1.5 hours.

Old Mill Foundation & River Rapids

I love Gysinge. An island in a river surrounded with rapids with an old ironworks dating from 1668 to 1926 on one shore. The between the natural surroundings and the old buildings, it’s a beautiful location I enjoy. I’ve posted quite a few photos of the locale on the blog even though I’d never cycled around it, most from the winter as I did a filler post between cycle seasons. I was looking forward to riding the area finally!

River View With Old Bridge Pylon

And if you can’t tell from the photo of the mill ruin and rapids, I’ve completely flipped for Photoshop’s ability to stitch multiple images into gorgeous panoramas.

That leads me to a quick little side blurb about my use of Photoshop. I don’t use it for much. The only things done to my photos with it is cropping, panoramic stitching (new), sometimes rotate a couple degrees if I happened to be sloppy with aligning the camera to the subject and lastly – exposure adjustment. I cringe when I do the last. The ‘photo purist wanna-be’ in me feels I should buckle down and learn to use my Canon’s non-automated features. I guess that part reluctant to do digital retouching hearkens to the past age when film was the only option so you better know how to set white balance, apertures, select the proper ISO film and so forth. I know even professionals don’t blink an eye when it comes to adjusting their images now days. It’s just hard for me to embrace it. Photoshop and I have an uneasy truce.

River View

That said, I goggle with amazement at the spectacular results people can get with just a few tweaks of saturation and various balances. I’m even a jealous. I am a creature of complexity and contradiction it seems.

Back to the ride!

My enthusiasm for the day’s plans suffered the first blows as I began to unload the trike in the handy parking lot a bit less than 2 miles from the grounds of the ironworks. Within seconds of stepping out of the car and opening the back hatch, they came. At first, I thought they were the hornets so common in Sweden. They certainly had the buzz and the coloring for it. It was little comfort to realize the heavy drone of wings supported blood suckers, each nearly an inch long and with a bite that hurt almost as much as a hornet sting even if the pain didn’t endure as long.

One of Many Buildings

Gnats annoy me. Mosquitoes I have a strong dislike of. The biting flies? Now those can freak me out. The parts of Mississippi where I grew up had small black and yellow biters we call deer files. They’re not very big, but they could get quite a rise out of me by sheer numbers. Horseflies, being larger, tended to make me jump and squawk just by buzzing by my ears, but panic didn’t tend to come until there were 4 or more of them.

Sweden doesn’t seem to have the swarming equivalent of the deer fly, but they do have horseflies and some of them get very large. There I was, trying to unload my trike while flailing and jumping with not just a few inch long horseflies circling, but dozens. They hurt! I used a bit of repellent, but it didn’t seem to help much. Jens ended up watching my back as I got everything ready. I planned to keep moving as much as I could to avoid the swarms.

Another Gysinge Building

In a rush, I dropped into the trike seat, turned on the GoPro mounted at the front of my helmet and went to take off. Immediately, Jens yelled, ‘Rear tire is flat!’ The second blow of the day. Turning the camera off and letting Jens take the hyper-excited Loke, I took a look. Fortunately, it was a minor malfunction of the valve which I corrected in moments. As an extra bonus, my big tire pump was in the car. Otherwise, I would have lost an hour to re-inflate with my little emergency pump.

Back into the seat, Loke tethered to the trike once again and off we went, the GoPro taking video as we went like a loosed arrow. Loke ran flat out. I think he was as desperate to escape the blood suckers as I. Alarmingly, some of them kept up for a while. At 17 mph the 1.75 mile to the first of the bridges went in a blink.

I stopped on each of the bridges to take photos of the river. My husband caught up and even stopped to walk out to us, voicing surprise at finding us so far along so quickly. The day was gray, but it was a blessing. I’ll refrain from saying it was hot, but it was unpleasantly warm particularly with the humidity. 75% – 80% at least. Uncommonly humid when it’s been two days without rain. Without the clouds masking the sun, I would have left Loke with Jens. As it was, I planned to stop frequently to water the furry one and soak his ears.

Loke & Trike

The bridges were blissfully clear of the flies. So were the grounds of the Gysinge Bruk! As we rolled past and between buildings, I kept Loke’s pace more moderate. I also swept my head from side to side to let the camera on my helm capture images of the environs. People gave us startled looks, though one couple waved enthusiastically. I took a pause in between the buildings to offer Loke water. Then a little further on when I stopped for pictures, I discovered I’d left his dish on the ground. I hurried back to retrieve it before heading to the main road.

The surface of the main road was pretty bad. Not much in the way of potholes, but that sort of surface where the bitumen has disappeared to leave the knobbly stones standing out which make for a rough ride and abuses Loke’s feet. After less than a half mile of leaving Gysinge, I stopped to sock the fuzzy one. Not fun. The huge horseflies were back with a vengeance. I tried using repellent, but they ignored my puny efforts to dissuade them and kept coming. Even when I blasted one directly. Every gnat and mosquito in view disappeared, but I’d have taken them all back to be rid of those files.

Socks on Loke, we took off again. Both of us pushed hard in an attempt to escape. Loke snapped at a few of the flies as he loped. Quiet an impressive feat. I kept turning record on and off with the camera. The area outside of Gysinge seemed to be recovering clear cut with saplings between 4 and 12 feet tall. It still makes for boring scenery and I wasn’t that interested in getting video of my cursing and flailing at the flies. Our speed wasn’t even enough to elude them. 14+ mph and one mockingly buzzed in my face, keeping up with our pace for almost a quarter mile. It still had enough speed left over to dodge the hand I kept swinging at it.

4 miles of nightmare went under our wheels. I was miserable and hating the ride. I was hot from pushing so hard, highly stressed from the flies and concerned for Loke in the humidity and warmth. I was coming to the breaking point. That one where you stop what you’re doing and stomp around while yelling out your frustration. Not terribly productive, but sometimes it makes one feel a little better even if only briefly.

As we came to the fringes of Österfarnebo, I spotted a sign for a cafe and cultural site. Knowing I was unlikely to come even remotely close to making the full mapped distance, I turned in search of the cafe.

Parstuga (Pair Cottage) at Koversta

Koversta Härbre (Grain Store)

Thanks to a very mild wind blowing our way, it felt a little cooler once we made the turn. The direction change seemed to give Loke a new burst of energy and I let him run. While flies could keep up with us, the faster we went, the fewer there were.

The cafe was located at an old farming village site which are so common. As we coasted down a hill and I parked near the fence. I took off my helmet and began to collect the things I won’t leave on the trike when exploring.

Then I realized there were no flies. It was glorious! My lips wore a smile instead of a grimace as I gave Loke water, shook out my sweat-damp hair and strolled through the gate of the farm village open air museum.

Koversta Snickarbod (Carpentry/Woodworking Shop)

Work Bench in Wood Shop

The place was well maintained with clipped lawn and all the buildings in good repair. I could hear voices from the direction of the cafe situated in one of the parstuga of which there were at least 3, maybe 4. The midsummer pole still stood near two of the cottages, the greenery which had once covered it now brown and withered. If you look to the right of the photo of the parstuga you can see it.

Most of the buildings were locked, including the cottages, but a few were open. The snickarbod for one. I really enjoyed seeing the old workbench as well as an hand operated lathe.

Koversta Animal Shed

I wonder if they lay wood eggs?

As much as I love seeing old buildings, especially the simple, everyday sort, I enjoy seeing the furniture and tools of bygone ages even more. The time I was invited to take a look at the old farmhouse in Gammla Gård about 8 miles from the apartment still makes me smile. The old attic full of everything from butter churns and spinning wheels to animal yokes, bits of harness, axes, planes (the woodworking sort) and more. I could spend ages looking such collections.

The second open building I came to I’d call an animal shed I suppose. I would feel a little hard pressed to call it barn as it was so small and more like a windowless cottage without interior walls. Within I found a few wooden animals! The caretakers certainly had gone the extra mile to add to the charm of the place.


The wooden chickens were immediately left of the entrance. A life-size wooden cow posed eating at a manger and waiting to be milked, complete with stool and pail, was right in front of the door.

Look at the detail!

Most of the interior was cluttered with yokes (leather and wood), harness and quite a few other bits and pieces I couldn’t identify the function of. Seeing paint and carving on what appeared to be small yokes surprised me. Given the size of them, I’m not entirely certain they were yokes though they had roughly the correct shape. I guess the long winters with the snow and very short days left plenty of time to decorate mundane objects.

Koversta Portlider

Loke did try to touch noses with the horse first

Just left of the animal shed was something called the portliden. Port means ‘gate’ but I’m not entirely certain what liden means specifically. Some sort of building obviously. This one had a passage in the center with a gate. I loved the life-sized horse, complete with saddle and bridle, standing in the gateway!

Walking over for a closer look at the horse’s tack, Loke rushed ahead. I missed capturing the cute moment when he stretched up to touch noses with it. While I fumbled with turning the camera on, he wagged his tail with his head cocked as if wondering why it didn’t return his greeting. He was trying to be friendly after all. Only then did he stick his nose in the bucket to see what it had. I couldn’t help but laugh. See now why I love cycling with my husky so much? Many more smiles and laughs.

Koversta Smithy

The Forge

The last of the open buildings was the smithy! Quite a large one actually. The one at Gysinge which had been closed is much bigger, but most village/country smithies are smaller than our kitchen.

Portable Forge, Anvils and Grinding Wheel

The smithy had been moved from another place in the 1950’s and it looks like they brought everything! Ashes and bits of charcoal were in the forge, countless hammers, chisels and tongs. Maybe it’s used to keep the ironwork of the buildings repaired.

I enjoyed exploring the village. Knowing that flies awaited our return to the road, I felt no hurry to move on. The sun began to make an off and on appearance driving up the temperature which added to my reluctance.

Tables and benches with small floral centerpieces sat outside the cafe parstuga. Benches ringed the area in the shade. I sat on a bench and began making a post to FB.

Now that’s gratitude!

A couple sat in the sun, chatting and reading. Loke rolled in the grass at my feet briefly before relaxing. Just as I hit send, the man disappeared into the cafe cottage and came out with a green dog dish full of water. Loke saw it and jumped to his feet in hopes of food as the man greeted him. Once he realized it was only water, Loke lost all interest. I was more appreciative of the random kindness. Moments like that warm the spirit.

At least it showed I had given Loke plenty of water.

After a while, I went back to the trike, but only to roll it into the dense shade of a tree to use it as a comfy recliner. Jens called around 2:30 pm. I told him I was hanging out at the village because of the miserable riding conditions. I was perfectly happy to relax for a while so fish as long he liked. I had my iPhone with a strong WiFi connection so I could amuse myself in between listening to birds and admiring the scenery.

People came and went with surprising frequency for such a small, tucked away place. Vastly more pleasant a time than pedaling through hell. Clouds thickened again and wind kicked up. I even felt a bit cool which was luxurious.

Loke relaxed for a while. He’d get up to move to a new spot every now and again. That ended around 4 pm. He abruptly stood and woofed at me. Ears pricked, eyes bright he wagged his tail. When he didn’t get a response, he woofed again and pawed at my arm. I knew he wasn’t going to stop. Resigned, I prepped to move out again in hopes the higher wind would put the flies down… most of them at least.

As just thinking of riding on summoned them, flies did appear. Fortunately, they were smaller ones that don’t bite. At least I didn’t feel any. Still annoying to have small buzzing things bouncing off the face.

Loke was insane with glee as we began moving out. He also managed to lose two of his socks. I had to stop and go back for them. He made getting them back on quite a challenge. As I wrestled with him and them, Jens called to say he was done. I asked if it was okay if I cycled to the church a little down the road, it couldn’t be more than 10 minutes away. He’d meet me there.

Socks settled, appointment to rendezvous with my hubby made, we took off with Loke pulling as if hundreds of hares fled before us. I let him go and helped to give him slack. We hit 20 mph. The church couldn’t be more than a mile and a half away.

Österfärnebo Kyrka

I coasted into the parking lot across from Österfarnebo Kyrka. We beat Jens there by quite a few minutes. Giving Loke water, I waited for Jens to catch up so he could walk around with the fuzzy one during my exploration around the church.

The church had a certain appeal and after loading the trike, I was off to do a quick walk around the grave yard to look for runestones. Sadly, none to be found.

After all was said and done, Loke and I had covered just 7 miles of the 28 I’d mapped. Oddly, I felt not a bit of disappointment in that fact. Other than the times when I was surrounded by flying blood tankers, it had been a pleasant even if I spent most of it lounging around.

As for the camera.

The video was neat to see, but there are problems. Sound is essentially none existent since the mic is on the camera which is sealed in a very durable watertight case. We expected that so no worries except for the thwack, thwack sound for most of the footage clips which I think were the flapping straps hitting the case. Mounting  is an issue. I had the camera a little too far forward on my helm and, though tilted upward as far as it would go, too much of me was in frame. I love to see scenery, not me from hips to toes clad in spandex and running shorts. Loke loping and trotting to the far right of frame was fun to watch.

There is a serious drawback to it being helmet mounted. I want the camera to ‘see’ what I see. If I look to the left or right to see horses, deer, or even a flapping peacock, I want it recorded. When I pedal, my head bobs from side to side. That does nauseating things to the camera view. So, I have some serious thinking to do.

Battery life is also quite short, but that’s to be expected. Tiny camera doing a lot of work to record with small battery.

I’m not going to share any of the video I took this time, but hopefully I can get the framing problem settled and will have something to share soon!

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