Terii’s Cycling Babble


Charging Into The White!
November 29, 2012, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Yes, I am! And running face first into ‘disasters’ too I might add.

The first of which has been a return of back problems. I think it was lingering traces of my unwise tromping around Falmouth coupled with a day of doing up and down on the floor, wallowing around, sitting hunched over the trike to fit on the assorted accessories. At first I thought it was going to be my knees giving me difficulty, but it was my back. That’s the main reason I’ve not ridden the trike more. A few days of the past week or so, I could barely walk through the apartment without seeing stars. Carrying 30 lbs of metal, rubber and mesh was beyond me.

Dreary November Day – Gamla Uppsala Church

Another reason has been the weather. I’ve been fighting off a low grade cold for some time now. While winter has been dragging its feet as it did last year, it’s been near constant rain. Last winter was rather snow-free as this one was shaping up to be but I don’t remember if it was this soggy. It almost feels like I can count the number of rain-free days we’ve had the past 3 months on just my hands with fingers left over! In spite of that, I’ve been squeezing in between the raindrops when I can. Today was the third ride since my last post. Or is it the fourth?

3 or 4, I was settling into the trike. The lower gearing was starting to feel natural. My legs still ache the next day after a ride in ways they haven’t done in years with the Trice. Maybe there’s just enough of shift in the leg position or those 3 mm less of pedal length that it’s working muscles differently.

One ride earlier this week, while still technically the River Loop, ended up over 9 miles as I added in a zig-zag to pick up a new accessory. What might it be? Why, a handlebar mount for a GoPro camera. Loke waited outside with the trike as I ran in to grab the package. Thankfully it fit just fine into my pod bags. Getting home would have been complicated otherwise since I haven’t mounted the red pannier bags onto the Sprint.

Sunday, Jens left for Paris in a cab with his parents. He went for business, but decided to invite them and add an extra day so the three of them could do a little sightseeing. Fear not! I chose, vehemently, to stay home. Jens isn’t the sort of husband to thoughtlessly ditch his wife at home. I simply have no interest or stamina to ramble the streets of Paris on foot. He spent about 4 days asking me, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to come?’ several times an hour.

But Jens in Paris until Thursday meant Loke’s outings fell to me. Given the condition of my back, it’s been a bit of a challenge. Monday was the ride to pick up the GoPro mount. Tuesday, I had to rest, my back too bad to wrestle the trike out. Yesterday though, Loke turned into a complete bully, letting me know my measly attempts at walkies were completely inadequate.

So, out the door the trike went. It was raining as I carried the seat and sundries out. Nothing heavy, but just a constant drizzle which had lasted for 60 hours or more. It was cold too. Hovering around 33 F. I grumbled about how it should be snow at this time of the year. Seriously! Late November in Sweden. Come on! Not to mention, snow is much easier to deal with than near freezing rain when one lacks a rain suit.

Some higher power must have been listening because as I wrestled the trike body out, I saw a few flakes among the rain drops. By the time I had everything settled and Loke was yodeling for me to hurry up with the clips, it was snow. Tiny, dust like grains of ice, but technically still snow!

Grinning, I turned on the GoPro and off we went.

When I first started cutting down the 1 hr and 3 min into something more manageable, I couldn’t stop laughing at the video. The sight of my toes whizzing by in the corners of the screen just struck me as hilarious for some reason.

Yes, to clarify, there is no sound. I hesitated to put music in since because I’m uncertain about tedious things like copy-right laws. The sound the camera recorded is a loud, roaring sort of noise from the trike wheels on the road vibrating through the camera case. Not pleasant. Still, it means I’m finally using the GoPro! It only took me most of a year to find an acceptable mounting for it!

Since it was nearly 34 F when I got home from yesterday’s ride coupled with the fact that it’s been so warm and wet lately, I didn’t expect the snow to stick. When I went to bed last night though, the browning grass was gaining a cap of soft white.

This morning?

Much nicer than leafless sticks and dying grass!

Guess who was burrowing in the snow?

It was beautiful! Though the sky was just as gray as it was yesterday, I felt my spirits rise. I went out on a short walk with Loke with a smile on my lips and a bounce in my step. As for the fuzzy one, he was in a fine fettle. Kept charging to the end of the leash and giving me nasty looks when he nearly dislocated my shoulder. Refused to listen to vocal commands like ‘Vänta!’ (Wait).

Once he did his business, I hurried out on an urgent errand. I needed a studded tire for the trike.

I had to go to two places to find one. The first place had 27″ studded tires all over the place, but hadn’t received any 26″ which are more common. Soon though I was hurrying back home to fit the tire.

It was hell! I thought the rear wheel on my Trice was difficult. I’m not taking this off until the snow and ice are gone.

Aggravatingly, I managed to mess up the adjustment on the parking brake. I fiddled with it and think it’s settled.

About 12:30, Loke and I headed out into the piles and slush of a barely freezing day with 3″ of snow being plowed away.

It was glorious!

Sleepy Ducks Riverside

The trike skittered from side to side since the front wheels still had normal tires and Loke was pulling like mad, but it would have been the same on the Trice. One difference. I didn’t spend the entire time fretting about the derailleur! I powered through slush and mounds of snow that looked like sand with what felt like a feral grin. Just knowing that last year, this snowfall would have put a screeching halt to my outdoor rides! The rear tire gave me enough traction though it was still like pushing along over boggy, damp sand. My tires slipped a little coming up from the first underpass, but we made it and continued on.

My glee at being able to ride in spite of snow didn’t last very long. About 2-3 miles to be precise. As I started out, I thought there was a tiny bit of sloppiness in the shifting. It got worse. Near as I can guess, though I was as careful as I knew how to be, I think I unwittingly rattled or pulled the rear derailleur out of alignment. All I know is the trike shifted flawlessly before I swapped tires and now it’s misbehaving.

River Panorama

It’s left me a little bummed though I’ve tried to hang on to the joy I had at the beginning of the ride.

I can tell you though, there will be no riding the trainer this winter. I refuse to face the nightmare of wheel swapping until I’m confident studs won’t be needed any more.

And to top it off, my GoPro had less battery life than I thought! Instead of roughly 2 hours, it only had one. My attempt to ride the same loop as yesterday and record the difference snow makes failed. Less than 5 min into the video, the little camera was dead. Just wasn’t my day.

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The End of the Trice-assic Era
November 21, 2012, 1:14 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Wiks Slott & Trice QNT Trike

I couldn’t resist the pun, but the title is more than a little unfair. I really shouldn’t allude that my beautiful little Trice QNT is a dinosaur. It’s not. It’s a wonderful recumbent and it still works beautifully. If I stuck to paved roads and rode when there’s no chance of ice and snow, I’d have had many more happy years with it.

Even with the issue between the derailleur and its conflict with sand, rocks, snow and the most dreaded ice ruts, these past 6.5 years have been happy. I even regard the challenges with some fondness. Riding through torrential downpours with giddy giggles and grins. White knuckled moments like the incident earlier this year when the wheel got caught on the mudguard as I made a turn and to be followed by nearly hit by a car because the stuck wheel left me precariously in the middle of the road just below the pate of a hill.

There has been so much more of the good and wonderful though. Views of wheat fields speckled with bright purple flowers. Sun-brightened horses racing along side Loke and I against the backdrop of dark approaching rain clouds. Peeling back layers of Swedish history in the research of the churches, runes and places I’ve seen. Cranes doing courtship dances. Hundreds of swans sitting like diamonds on the green velvet of newly sprouted wheat. Hares that tease Loke shamefully by running down the roads in front of us. Struggles against steady headwinds or agonizingly long climbs or slogging down muddy, unpaved roads.

But the low riding derailleur has become more of an issue to me these past 2 or 3 years. I’ve seen pictures of the Trice Q sitting against the backdrop of the Himalayas where people have taken on tours. Rocky terrain with roads probably worse than anything I’ve ridden on and it simply boggles me how they protect that delicate chain guide. I’m not sure why I’ve felt more frustrated by the derailleur these past couple years, but I have. It also seems it’s irritated my husband more if his response to ‘Sorry, I can’t take Loke for a run, the snow is too deep’ is any indication.

Upon my return from Falmouth, I remained quite taken by my experience with the Sprint 26. It was like my Trice but so much more! My husband was encouraging, but yet I agonized over taking the plunge. Part of me felt it was a betrayal to the solid service my Trice has given. But images of riding down a rocky road or a cycle path criss-crossed with deep set ruts in the white ice with no need of concern for the derailleur was a siren’s call. Not to mention Loke and I both coming through the winter in better condition for touring when the weather breaks.

November 1st, I finally took the plunge. Since I wanted my gearing a bit specialized, I called instead of risking confusion with the order form. Neil took down the details and I felt a little giddy when he asked me what color I wanted. The option to choose a color other than red wasn’t clearly apparent on the order form. I rather shyly asked for blue if it would be alright. Neil’s response was a cheery, ‘Of course!’

When we were done, he said it would be about a week to get everything together. Thursday, November 8th, I got an e-mail with a FedEx tracking number. It was on its way! Estimated delivery date was Wednesday, November 14th. I watched the trike arrive in Paris on Friday and then spent the weekend in a fit of anticipation for it to move again. That following Monday, early, it arrived at Arlanda Airport, made it quickly through customs and… stalled. Once 1 pm rolled by, I was fairly sure it wasn’t going to be delivered that day. I fervently hoped they wouldn’t decide to just let it sit all day Tuesday.

It’s a good thing I don’t have a habit of chewing my nails or I’d have had none left as on Tuesday, I kept checking for updates. It just wouldn’t budge!

Then around 10:30 am, the doorbell rang. Baffled, I went to answer, shooing back a hysterical husky. The man from FedEx looked surprised when I opened the door. ‘Oh! Someone is home!’ he said. ‘I have a very large package for you.’

I grinned and clapped my hands, ‘I know!’

He laughed and went to get it. I followed him down the half-flight to stairs to hold the door down there open for him. Sneaky people. They hadn’t updated the tracking web-site.

It Arrived!

Yes, I promise it turns into a full sized trike.

I was in a fever-pitch of excitement as I signed for it. I took a moment to just stare at the box and then ran for the camera. After taking its ‘baby’ photo, I ripped into it like a sugar fueled child on Christmas morning. Loke watched in bafflement as I strewed plastic wrapped accessory parts, bits of plastic bags and cardboard everywhere. In moments I was carefully pulling out the main body of the trike itself. It looked so tiny, folded in half as it was with the front boom and wheels off. It was still beautiful.

Wistfully, I began assembly. Why wistful? I knew I wouldn’t be riding it that day or the next. The dreaded ‘gearing’. I think I’m actually starting to develop a phobia for trying to work on a bike’s gears. It would have to go to the cycle shop on the far side of Stockholm. Still, I was determined to do what I could. I unfolded it and put the wheels on, fastened on the seat and then stuck the pedal boom on. Then I waited for Jens to come home to get it sized before tightening the boom bolts.

The first person I spoke with at the shop had said that if I got the trike in Wednesday morning, they might be able to have it done Thursday or maybe even that same evening. So, on Wednesday, November 14th, Jens held off going to work until near time for a meeting around 10 am. The timing was rather nice. Dropped him off on the north side of Stockholm and then headed through the city to the far south east side.

I was a little disappointed when I dropped off the trike and another man informed me they wouldn’t be able to have it done until Tuesday. One of their mechanics had a family emergency leaving just one to do all the work. I made myself smile and shrug, telling him, ‘Well, if it takes that long, it takes that long. I can’t ride it like this.” He wheeled it off and returned to say it would be done on Monday.

Well, it didn’t quite get done on Monday either. Someone did call me to tell me so though. He also said I needed to come in to get it sized. He was quite surprised when I told him it already was. He told me they’d have it done shortly after opening hours the next day.

Crappy iPhone picture of a gorgeous sunrise.

Yesterday was a LONG day. To save my husband hassle and mileage on the car, we try to combine Jens’ commute and bike-shop business together. He had to be at work by 8 am, but the shop didn’t open until 11 am. Even during rush-hour traffic, it wouldn’t take me 3 hours. We began our journey in the pre-dawn of 7:00 am and had the treat of a gorgeous sunrise on the way.

Dropping the hubby off at the office, I continued on. The traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, the lanes were packed with cars like sardines in a can, but they kept moving. Maybe only creeping along at 10-15 mph, but I only had to come to a complete stop twice. Soon, I was on the other side of Stockholm’s center and traffic eased. I arrived in the Tyresö area a bit before 9 am. I wasn’t overly concerned at the wait though. I’d seen a parking area for a trail a few miles before the shop’s exit. I thought it would be a good place to take a walk with Loke.

It was a pretty area. Once the sunrise had gone, the sky had turned gray and murky. It felt a bit cool by the car as we got out, but not bad. Loke was in a delirium of excitement as we set off.

Trying to Find Beauty In The Snow-Less November

The trail turned out to be more developed than I expected. A wide gravel path, well packed and flattened. Going up the first hill there were a few little washouts where the constant rain had shifted the gravel, but not too badly. Once I crested the little ridge, it was as perfectly smooth and firm as one could possibly make gravel. It was a popular place for walkers as well. 30 or more people must have passed us going one way or another. Walking may not be my favorite activity, but I was actually having a pleasant time of it.

Loke criss-crossed the path, nose down. I’m surprised he didn’t crash into a tree or tumble down into the ditch that ran down one side of the path.

And The Wind Hit Us

Brrrr…

Not only the path changed (for the better) when we reached the crown of the hill, but so did the wind and for the worse. It came howling, blustering hard across the waters of a small lake ahead of us. It had teeth. I described it as ‘walking into a refrigerated windtunnel’ on Facebook when I posted a picture to share. I regretted leaving my gloves in the car. My cheeks started feeling chapped and raw as we walked on past the now abandoned sandy beaches, groomed for summer frolic in the lake.

I actually managed to walk for over an hour. Even better, I didn’t feel beaten afterwards. My legs felt it a little and my feet a bit tired, but that’s a nice change over my heels feeling as if they’d been pounded with sledgehammers. I was glad to get back to the car . I ran it for a few minutes to blast the heater in an attempt to shake off the deep chill that wind had given me.

I read a book for half an hour or so before going in search of someplace for lunch. I had a McD’s small cheeseburger and gave Loke the meat patty from another one.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the bike shop around 11:10 am, I saw one of the guys rolling my trike back into the shop. Loke was heartbroken as I left him in the car to hurry after the Sprint.

About to test it!

It still needed a little tweaking which I watched while they worked. I also helped by fastening the seat down so one guy could more easily hold the rear wheel up while the other tested the gears. Then the mechanic said he was done and suggested I take it for a short little ride before we settled the bill. I only did a quarter mile little sprint up and down the road and then circled the small parking lot a few times while clicking the gears up and down. Everything seemed to be in working order.

LOVE the folding!!!

I bounced back in to pay before loading it into the car. I tethered Loke to a nearby tree as I wrestled it in. Loke watched curiously from 10 feet away where I’d tethered him to a tree. I’ll admit, it was a bit of a struggle to get it in. Not because it’s heavy, but because I couldn’t find a good way to grip it.  If I had longer arms to reach around the larger wheel it wouldn’t be a problem. One I managed to get it lifted so a front wheel was in the car, twisting and rolling it around was a snap.

I have an idea about how to solve the lifting problem, but I’ll talk about that another day.

From there, it was back to Jens’ office. I parked in a mostly empty parking lot close by. Poor furry one. He had quite a boring time of it. I mostly sat and read for the 2 hours. I did take Loke out for short little strolls, but not enough to make him happy.

Today has been moderately hellish. I still had accessories to put onto the Sprint. Mudguards, handlebar bag bar and the clip for the new handlebar bag I purchased. Luggage rack and neck rest. Most important of all, Loke’s running bar! What a nightmare! It took me over an hour and a half to make the swap. I succeeded in spite of my back and knees giving out on me. Getting up and down off the floor or crawling around on it just kills me.

I wasn’t sure I could get the trike out, but I was determined to try. I managed it!

My evaluation?

The Sprint 26 is VERY hard to carry in and out if it’s folded. It’s easier to unfold it to lug in or out of the building. Bringing it in, I stopped to fold on the landing just outside our door and rolled into the living room which worked fairly well. Though it doesn’t make it any easier to get in and out, I still love, LOVE the folding. The fact it takes up 1/3 less space than the Trice folded is a joy. Being able to leave the rear wheel on when folding, makes me swoon with delight.

The handlebars don’t come up as high as the Trice’s but that hardly matters in terms of steering and doesn’t affect comfort.

The seat is a dream. In spite of continuing problems with my tailbone, I don’t need a doughnut pillow at all. I adore the built in little pocket which is perfect for cell phone and keys with room for quite a few other small items.

The brakes make me giddy. The grips are a little smaller than the Trice’s, fitting much nicer in my little hands. The brakes are highly responsive too. I think I could stop on a dime instead of 2 or 3 car-lengths. The parking brake is amazing. Twist a knob and the Sprint won’t budge an inch, all hands free. It makes getting up out of it a snap.

The gears are lower than the Trice. I’ll actually be using the big ring regularly. The middle ring will be used to climb most hills around Uppsala I think, saving the little ring for climbing the really steep ones while loaded with trailer full of a camping gear.

I noticed on this first ride that it’s going to take me some time to lose my ‘derailleur paranoia’. I found myself swerving around big chunks of mud cast off from the wheels of tractors doing the winter plowing.

I’m looking forward to riding through the winter and beginning the spring season with both Loke and I in better condition than years past. Bring it on!