Terii’s Cycling Babble

I Hadn’t Planned To Post, But…
July 24, 2012, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

First LIVE Wild Hedgehog

How could I not do so with such a CUTE face?

Loke’s recovered some what, but still not completely. So, I haven’t been cycling much because my interest in the trike drains away when I can’t take the fuzzy one with me.

Today, with a bit of pressure from Jens, I decided to take Loke for a rolling walk. His breathing still seemed a little off, but it’s hard to tell because for all I know I’m just becoming accustomed to the oddness.

I did let him go a tiny bit faster than 4.5 – 5 mph. He also ran a bit, but not as much or as fast as I would normally allow. I only wanted to push his breathing a bit to see how he responded. Hard to tell. All the same, he was quite happy getting out for something other than a walk.

The outing also christened his new doggie harness with white fur. It’s the same brand as his previous but with an addition. It removable bags! Even better! Both bags have pouches built in for water-bladders with tubes! They can be used to balance the load AND Loke can now carry his own water when Jens takes him out for the really long walks! Rather neat I think!

Since Loke’s rolling walk was barely over 3 miles (3.06) and quite leisurely for me, it seemed sensible I should go for a proper exercise ride. I thought about doing the reverse grave mound loop, but it seemed too short. The Ulva/G. Uppsala loop also crossed my mind, but that felt a tad too long since it looked as if rain was coming. Rain would have been welcome through. In spite of the lack of clouds, the temp and humidity made it uncomfortable.

Instead I set out to do the ‘Maxi Loop’. Maxi is the name of the large grocery I shop at the most. The first 4 miles is the same as the Ulva loop, but I turn left instead of right.

So, I started out and took the usual way around the barriers in the middle of the cycle path. As I toodled carefully through the residential area, keeping my speed to about 8 mph so I wouldn’t run over any random children darting into the street. About 30 meters ahead, I saw something scurrying from someone’s yard and into the street. My first thought was ‘A rat!’. It seemed something pale was caught around its neck and dragging. Abruptly, I realized it was a hedgehog! The white thing around it’s neck and dragging along it’s side was just the paler body coloring of the underside. I stopped as it meandered across the road as calmly as if it were dark and I wasn’t there.

I grabbed my iPhone and got up to see if I could get a good picture of it. It moved a little faster, quills coming up a bit as I approached. It still kept sniffing around for food. Finally it stopped with its back to me, quills bristling and hissing. Standing perfectly still and quiet, I waited. After about 10 seconds, the quills went down and the little animal turned to look up at me and I took the photo.  Happy, I retreated to leave it in peace. I did wonder if it was sick since hedgehogs tend to be nocturnal.

I was thrilled. My first ever wild hedgehog that was still alive. I’ve seen a few squished ones, identifiable only by the remains of quills, since I moved to Sweden. It was wonderful to see a living breathing one. I used to have an African pygmy hedgehog for a pet. A mean little critter. Quiet disappointing since all my friends’ hedgehogs were adorably sweet. For being a pygmy, she was about the same size as the one I saw today.

I flopped back into the trike and took off. My average speed was around 11 mph. Most of the hills, I managed to take at no less than 6 mph except the three really steep ones on the route. There were long stretches I hit and maintained 15 mph and if I had at least a -1% slope, the trike raced between 17-20 mph with a steady cadence of 85-90.

As I came down one long hill, wheat fields to either side, about 100 meters at the bottom of the hill, I saw something sleek come out of the grain and trot purposefully to the middle of the road. About the time it saw me, I recognized the ‘cat’ was actually a fox. After freezing in surprise for a few seconds, it bolted back into the wheat. Even if I hadn’t been streaking along at 17 mph, I wouldn’t have had time for a photo. Definitely a good time for the GoPro camera. I desperately need to find a way to mount it in a good position..

Seeing the fox made me smile. Soon I was cruising along the 72 back toward Uppsala. I headed for the cycle paths behind the pet store there. That was fun! The narrow little track through densely shady trees with surprise curves as I spun the pedals to maintain speeds of 15-17 mph. It felt like the trike nearly tipped at one point.

Soon I was steaming up the hill to the path leading to the ‘wooded hill’ of the field loop from the back way. Much to my surprise, it’s been paved! 5 years or so, I’ve known about that trail of gravel and dirt, riding it at least a few times every year and now it’s paved! That will be handy come the next thaw since snow and ice clear from paved surfaces much quicker than dirt/gravel.

The path through the woods on the high hill has always been paved though cracking and patched on the far side. I climbed upward and it didn’t seem as difficult as I remembered. My speed even stayed above 5 mph which might be a first! Cresting the crown, I went to swap to my middle chain ring for the roller coaster ride down only to discover I’d never swapped to the small ring. That felt good. Not only had that 8-9% grade felt easier, it had felt easier in a higher gearing! I guess the day of suffering with the trailer on the failed tour has a silver lining.

After that, it was a quick 15 min along the shady dirt path to the vicarage, along a busy road (via pedestrian/cycle path) before following a tributary to the river path and home.

When it was over, I’d been out for 1 hour 15 min for 12.47 miles which might be a record for me given what hills do to my average. The wind had been considerable and against me for much of the way. I’d spent nearly 5 min cooing over the hedgehog. Another 5 min stop was spent fighting with my helmet when I’d thought to take my cap off since it was so cloudy. Wind coming through the vents in my helmet would have felt sooooo glorious in my hair. I changed my mind since the cap was keeping my hair in a pony tail. The thought of all that hair sticking to and wrapping around my sweaty neck… *shudder*. It took me a bit of fiddling it get it settled again so the chin strap wasn’t strangling me.

Kinda irritating though. 12.47 miles in just a smidge over 1 hour. Last failed tour? 24.1 miles which took me 7 (yes, SEVEN) hours and left me broken for days. I could blame it on the trailer with 30 lbs of gear, water, clothing and food being dragged over wet, unpaved, slightly boggy road through a landscape that kept going UP. I also probably lost about 1.5 to 2 hours crouching under my umbrella during the pounding rains. Even so! The idea I could have covered 24 miles in just over 2 hours today made me fume over that failed tour all the more.

Ah well. Life goes on! I got to see a wild hedgehog very close up!!!

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