Terii’s Cycling Babble

The White Charging Into Me!!
December 5, 2012, 2:06 pm
Filed under: Misc

Winter has arrived with a vengeance!

I’ve been holding off on making this post, hoping to get another snowy ride under the wheels along with a video of the same ride as the last to show the breath-taking difference between murky gray without snow and gleaming white with it.

The morning after the misalignment of my gears, it was snowing impressively. Jens was working from home, so I called the cycle shop to ask if it would be okay for me to bring the trike by. I was told if I got it in quickly, it would likely be finished today. When I said I lived in Uppsala and had to drive through not just the normal Stockholm traffic, but snow-choked Stockholm traffic, they said it would be probably be done on Monday. Well, if the chain isn’t able to stay on one gear cog or another to push the wheel, I’m not likely riding the trike. So, it would take however long it would take.

Jens was dubious as I got ready, staring out at the snow storm. He tried to talk me out of it, but it was supposed to snow for a couple more days. Stubbornly, off I went.

It wasn’t too bad really. There were a few unpleasant patches between Uppsala and Märsta (one of Stockholm’s suburbs). Once on the other side of Märsta though, there was barely a flake of snow to be seen on the roads. Just wet. The scenery was breathtaking though. The snow wasn’t able to get too much of a grip on the conifers, so they stood in dark, strong contrast against the white of fields and misty gray of snow-veiled skies. Between the conifers, groves of deciduous trees, their limbs bare of leaf, had gathered a vivid frosting of white as if they were budding with snow. When the sun strained to reach through thin spots in the clouds and brightened things, those snow clad trees seemed to glow with a light of their own.

Yes, the scenery definitely helped temper the stress mingled tedium of the drive.

Stockholm was… Stockholm. Like any major city of any country in the world, it was traffic choked and I saw quite a few accident response vehicles zipping to and fro.

Once off the E-4, the snow was winning the battle in its claim on the roads. The 73 was choked with it and the entire area around Tyresö was thick under a weight of snow at least double what blanketed Uppsala.

Standing up to my ankles in snow, I wrestled the trike out of the car and then dragged it into the shop. When I first entered, there seemed to be only one guy on duty and he was talking cycle parts with a very fit guy, choosing race style handlebars from the look of it. I wandered around a bit, looking at various things.

Then the gentleman who had signed my trike in for assembly came in. He stepped around the folded Sprint with a curious look and then asked, ‘What do you need?’

I gestured to the trike. ‘It needs work.’

His eyes widened. ‘Already? What did you do to it?’

Rather embarrassed, I explained about knocking the gears out of alignment while swapping to a studded tire.

‘And that’s all?’

‘As far as I know,’ I replied.

He considered the trike for a moment before saying, ‘Let me go talk to the mechanics. One of them might be able to get this done right away.’

As I unfolded the trike, the man who had been shopping for new handlebars wandered over, his eyes running over the the blue frame and wheels with interest. ‘That is a beautiful machine,’ he said. ‘I love the color!’

I beamed and said I was fond of it too. It’s not often that someone who is clearly a more serious sort of cyclist gives more than a passing glance to a recumbent trike, let alone expresses admiration. Another man came over and the questions flew. I answered as best I could about speed and such. I told them I wasn’t very quick even on a standard bike, but this particular machine had low gears for touring with a heavy trailer. I told them on my old machine I could maintain about 17 on the flats as long as I didn’t have much of a headwind and it was heavier than the Sprint. I also mentioned that ICE makes a light, low to the ground little speed machine too.

The mechanic who finished up the Sprint last time came out with a stand. In less than 3 minutes, he had it shifting flawlessly again. I would have double checked it by pedaling around the parking lot, but I’d forgotten the seat in my rush out the door. As I folded it up, he offered to carry it out. Then, with a smile, he said I didn’t have to pay anything since it had taken so little time and effort.

Have I mentioned I love that cycle shop in spite of the 70 mile (one way) drive?

Though I had the gears fixed, I still haven’t been able to ride! Saturday was spent at my in-laws prepping our Thanksgiving dinner. About 3 or 4 years ago, my husband had a sudden inspiration to cook a turkey. Not only that, he wanted to do the whole American Thanksgiving dinner thing. I’ve never really been fond of most of the traditional Thanksgiving feast foods, so we tailored it a bit. Jens’ family has embraced this new tradition. Meal times are very much a bonding experience among his parents and siblings and good food is enthusiastically embraced. Rather nice in my opinion.

Sunday, I caught the cold that my husband has been fighting off for some time now. Then we had a couple days of bitter, and I do mean bitter, cold. 1 F (-18 C). That kind of cold where every inhaled breath feels like it’s freezing in your sinuses. I might call my thermals bullet-proof, but they aren’t good enough to stop an anti-tank round. Mid 20’s F, fine. I’ll pull on my thick wool and light wool and go for a ride. 1 F? I’m staying in and admiring the snowy winter scenery through a window, thank you. My cold tolerance is good, but not that good.

This morning, I woke to 25 F. With Loke being as wild as he’s been, I smiled at the idea of going for a ride. The chance to double check the gears and enjoy that higher derailleur. Didn’t happen. Yes, it’s warmer, but it had been snowing and the plows hadn’t reached most of the paths I ride yet. The blanket of white was deep enough to threaten the chain on my new Sprint!

I speak in past tense of it because I have no idea what the snow is doing now. Shortly after I saw how deep the snow was, the wind began to play with it. While taking a short walk with Loke, it came in gusts. I’d be shuffling along in calm air one moment, then you’d hear it. A deep, low roar with a hissing undertone. You could watch the blasts come too. They whipped up skeins and veils of white, ripped from roof tops or even the ground as they rushed forward. Then it would hit you like a wall, the small flakes driving like needles into any unprotected flesh. At least you had that warning they were coming. Those gusts were strong enough to slide me through the snow, my feet leaving trails in the white. They might have knocked me over if I hadn’t had time to brace myself.

Cycling seemed less of a good idea in that. It would have been shoving the trike all over the road and had Loke flying along at the end of his tether like a furry kite.

It’s gotten to be even less of a good idea since. We’ve come into a full blown blizzard it seems. While enjoying lunch at Jens’ parents for their anniversary (45 years!), I watched the snow scream past the windows in horizontal sheets, the naked tree limbs whipping around like angry cats’ tails. By the time we were on our way home, the visibility was negligible and the radio full of announcements about the airport closing, bus service out of town halted and even warnings that the trains may not be able to continue much longer.

The wind seems to have slacked slightly since our short, but surreal drive home, but the snow is coming down thickly. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow looks like. I think my trike might be snow-bound for another day or two. Hopefully the temps won’t take another plunge into the single digits (or negative teens to negative 20’s in Celsius.)


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