Terii’s Cycling Babble

It Was B-b-um-mp-py!
December 28, 2012, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

The snow in the wide open places of lawns and fields was a little over knee deep. That after it had a few days to compact down a little. Then came a rather freakish streak of ‘warm’ weather. 3 days and nights of above freezing. Unsurprisingly, slush filled the streets, the snow went all crunchy and packed down even more. Water puddled on every paved surface and ran gurgling through downspouts and off eaves. Oh, it also rained! Just plain ol’ water from the sky completely lacking ice or snow. Needless to say, that certainly sped the melt along.

Then last night, the temperature plunged. This morning, the snow was brittle. Ruts and ridges where the plowed soggy snow had refrozen ran down every street. A scene I would have regarded with frustration if I’d only had my Trice. Of course, the sheer volume of snow would have already brought my riding to a halt.

The sun also peeked above the horizon in a crystal clear sky. The first time we’ve had actual sunlight since the day of the freezing fog. 17 days of clouds.

Sick Puppy With His Squeaky Monkey

Sick Puppy With His Squeaky Monkey

Loke was also feeling better. The antibiotics for his ear infection apparently upset his tummy so for about 10 days, he was eating 200 calories a day if we could get him to eat at all. Poor puppy was even turning away from steak. Rare, juicy steak! The lack of calories made him lethargic.

His last dose was Wednesday and yesterday the bouncy, active cute fuzzy one I’ve been missing reemerged. He was very reluctant to eat his kibble though. I guess he was hoping for all the goodies he’d been turning his nose up at for almost 2 weeks. Looks like we’ll have to be a little strict with him until he starts eating his dog food again.

So, with a frolicsome husky and azure skies over glittering, ice studded snow, we rushed out the door to take advantage of the clear if cold weather. 27 F (-2.5 C)!

It’s nice the days are lengthening now. It is astounding how little shifts in the latitude can make a difference here. Stockholm, which is just 50 miles south of Uppsala, had 13 minutes more daylight. Of course, as we get closer to Midsummer, it will change and we’ll have more light then Stockholm.

Another random bit of trivia. The sun’s zenith is already 1 degree higher than it was 5 days ago. *happy sigh*

Just a bit after 11 am, Loke and I were on our way. Much of what was sand-like snow is now crunchy ice where it’s not a solid, rock hard slab. None of it smooth. For the first 200 meters, Loke tried to drag us at warp speed, but the bumpy surface kept us at a tooth-rattling 6 mph. Well, it rattled my teeth any way.

Long Shadows At Noon

Long Shadows At Noon

It was harder going through the small back streets. The hard snow was broken into smallish chunks in a deep layer over the pavement. Here and there were those once-dreaded hard frozen ruts. I only grinned at them as we passed over them.

Once we reached the cycle path again, the going became easier. Except for one very bad section of chunky, crunchy ice it wasn’t nearly as hard as the last ride with gritty snow. Tractor tracks from the last plowing were deeply imprinted and hard frozen added to the rattling.

Loke did get to run a little. The road leading to the military base was half bare asphalt. We pushed up to 10 mph against the raw breeze. I was glad for my face mask. When I turned to double back to the cycle path across to another residential area, the slight downhill and the wind at our backs gave us a boost. We zipped along at 12 mph for that brief stretch. Loke galloped along with that tongue floppy husky grin.

About midway, my knee started bothering me. Reluctantly, I decided to skip the out-and-back extension of the river loop though that extra 2 miles called. I’ve already surrendered the idea of reaching 800 miles for the year. That cold ate too much of the time and the short days with the snow keep me from taking the longer rides like Ulva/Gamla Uppsala loop or Vaksala.

Glossy Skin of Ice

Glossy Skin of Ice

I’m not going to start the year by aggravating my knees to the point I can’t ride. So, following the river back home we went. It was frozen over, but instead of soft, fluffy white over the ice, it was a shiny, glossy skin.

Giant Snowman!

Giant Snowman!

While shaking my way past the ducks, I discovered someone had been very ambitious.

This winter will be the 8th I’ve spent here in Sweden. In all that time I’ve seen perhaps a dozen snowmen. They’re surprisingly rare for a climate often associated with snow. Yet, here was a huge one. I had no way to give proper scale, except to say the smaller ball to the right of the photo is about 3′ in diameter. The arms of the snowman are moderately sized Christmas trees I believe. The top of the faceless head was several feet over the top of mine.

The sheer size of it reminded me of a snowman I helped my Grandpa (on mom’s side) and a teenage aunt build once during the brief time my mother and I lived in Massachusetts. I remember watching that mammoth stack of tightly packed snow, slowly sag and slump through the warming spring. I cried when it finally fell over.

Well, what do you expect from a 5 year old who watches her pride and joy fall apart?

I was glad to get home. If not for my knee, I could have gone miles more. Loke was still in a fine fettle. He probably could have trotted and loped for another 15-20 miles and still been raring to go further.

I’m just pleased I made it out the door! Tomorrow we’re supposed to return to the slushy melt with above freezing temps and rain. I’m not fond of the idea of rain at 34 F temps, but at least I can now shrug off 5 inch deep slush and ruts! So very nice!


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