Terii’s Cycling Babble


Not A Good Day…
January 29, 2013, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Misc

It started out normal enough except for Jens being in the southern part of Sweden on business. I woke around 5 am and yawned around the apartment, getting my breakfast glass of milk and topping off Loke’s water. I had to get the laundry together for the fun and joy of that particular chore.

7 am, Loke wandered out of the bedroom to watch me lug the wash out of the building. Everything fine.

Things churning away in the laundry room, I came back in and gave Loke some food. As he ate, I thought he was standing a little strange. A short time later, he really was limping around the apartment. Just a slight limp. It was worse by the time I took him out. By 9 pm, he wouldn’t put it to the floor even when he lost his balance trying to walk on 3 legs. Laying down was no improvement either.

I called Niclas’ clinic, but he wasn’t going to be in today though another vet was coming in for the evening walk-in times. Given how quickly the foot had gone from ‘nothing’ to crippling and making him whine I wasn’t going to wait and only end up seeing someone other than Niclas any way. I grabbed the laundry out of the wash room to rush Loke to the clinic that treated his ear.

I had all sorts of unpleasant thoughts dancing around my head. The worst was ‘Bone Cancer’.

I had to wait at the other clinic before they saw me since the vet had just begun surgery when I arrived. She quickly discovered it was just one toe, the same that had turned orange and cracked during one of the episodes with infection in his paws.

X-rays found some abnormality in the bone. Not breakage, but ‘extra’ stuff that shouldn’t be there. I’m not a doctor, but even I could see it wasn’t quite right. She told me it could be just inflammation. She wanted to give Loke a strong anti-inflammatory medication as well as something for pain. If it doesn’t respond, it could very well mean amputating the toe both as a quality of life issue as well as the possibility of it being cancer. She assured me that Loke would be fine without the toe. He wouldn’t even notice and it wouldn’t even slow him down.

I’ll admit it. I cried some. Just the possibility it could be cancer distressed me. Loke’s had enough difficulty. He doesn’t need this… and I don’t want to even consider losing my furry one before he turns 12… Better if he makes it past 15. Certainly not to something as horrible as cancer.

But the panic is gone now. I’m just in ‘resigned’ mode. Deal with it and see what happens over the next couple days. Best case, it responds just fine to the meds and Loke will be running again in a couple weeks since common sense and vet’s orders are ‘No running for a while’. Less best, but acceptable? Loke loses the toe either because the bone doesn’t return to normal or to remove what might be cancer and he lives on happily for another 4 to 7 years. Worst… well, I don’t need to talk on that.

So… here’s hoping for many more happy years with the floppy tongued grin of a white and gray furball at my side.



Staring Mournfully Out The Window
January 25, 2013, 10:07 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

That’s what I’ve been doing since I rode on the 21st which was a hellish ride, I might add.

And how on earth did I let my 150th post go by without at least mentioning it to celebrate it at least in passing?? Yep. 150. Well, 152 as soon as I hit the ‘Publish’ button on this one.

When the morning of the 21st came, gray but with a reasonable temp of 25-ish, I headed out the door fully planning to do the Läby/Shopping Center ride I’d aborted the day before. It would give me 12+ miles. Perhaps I could even extend it with a few out-n-backs like the one along the river or on the cycle path next to the 72 toward Vänge. Anything to creep a little closer to that 113 mile total dangling within reach.

Loke and I moved out with spits of snow pelting us from time to time. I felt upbeat and cheery in spite of the cloudy skies. After all, I was making for my 2nd goal of the month.

iPhone - Approach of Blue Skies

iPhone – Approach of Blue Skies

Once we made it to the cycle path and to the tree-less hill with the tall odd blue sculpture atop it, I could streaks of blue on the far northern horizon. That lifted my spirits even more. By the time we made it to the out-n-back along the river, I was smiling even broader as the edge of the clouds crept closer with clear skies beyond.

My smile didn’t last long. My feet had begun feeling a little chilled as we made the turn for the out-n-back. Maybe it was the wind, I don’t know. I’ve ridden in colder temps without too much problem. Maybe it was the wind, who knows, but by the time I made the turn around at the end of that bit of cycle path, my feet were uncomfortable. The wool socks might as well have been sheer stockings and the shoe-covers replaced with mesh for all the good they seemed to do.

I stopped from time to time to put my feet on the ground and furiously wiggle my toes. It seemed to help which is what makes me think it had something to do with the wind. I think it cuts right through the bottom of my shoes where there’s no cover to leave the clips bare for the pedals. Still, I didn’t think I should attempt the loop out through the countryside. With all those open fields with nothing to stop the wind, it would be much worse than the cycle paths and roads through town.

It was one of those moments where 5 minutes of toe-wiggling with grounded feet where they felt a little better that I decided to try adding a little distance at least. That was where the torment really began. I must have reached a tipping point where my core body temperature simply couldn’t counter the chill in my toes any more. Discomfort became pain and pain worsened into what I can only call agony. It hurt so badly I had tears streaming down my cheeks.

Stopping didn’t help. I had to get home and get my feet warmed, but it hurt even worse to move. Definitely one of those ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ scenarios. A few times I’ve described the foot chill as ‘having the tips of my toes twisted off with a pair of pliers’. This didn’t compare. It was so cold, it burned. I had images of taking off the shoes to find toes black with frostbite. Worry about blood clots began dancing through my mind.

I took the shortest way back from my attempted extension which took me by the animal clinic. Though home was less than half a mile away, I had to stop and at the clinic, at least I could bring Loke in with me. I pulled up near the door, snatched everything valuable off the trike and ran in with Loke. Just in side, I sobbed with relief as I kicked my shoes and socks off to wiggle my feet on the floor. It felt has warm as sand on a tropical beach at at 2 pm.

Thankfully, my toes weren’t black. I didn’t expect them to be in spite of my imagination. They weren’t even white which would indicate that blood had stopped flowing to them. They were red. As bad as they’d been hurting, I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to be getting frost bite. I still felt anxiety about the potential for blood clots.

Niclas came from the back and asked if Loke was okay. I told him I wasn’t here for Loke, I’d desperately needed to warm up. He nodded to his waiting area and told me to go sit down and take as long as I needed. Bless him. I did just that. One of the comfy chairs was situated where I could still see trike.

I spent about 20 minutes there. It took that long for my feet to feel normal again. I put the shoes, socks and shoe-covers back on to head out the door. With that brief interlude, I felt up to adding a little more distance by taking the back way back to the apartment especially since the clear skies had caught up to us. I guess the sun made a bit of difference because my feet felt fine when I got back. I was surprised to find that we’d gone 10.13 miles.

Since the 22nd, Sweden’s been turning into a block of ice under the force of another arctic blast. Temps have been as low as -10 F (-22.5). Days have been creeping into the low single digits above 0 F. Definitely no way to ride in it for me.

As for the foot issue. When Jens saw my Facebook post about the toe torture, he told me he knows how much it scares since hypothermia in extremities can cause clots so I should research winter cycle shoes or whatever I need to help it. I had to hug him for that. Not the ‘get what you need’ but the ‘I know and accept your concerns’. Nice to not have my fears dismissed.

Research into the shoes didn’t give me much hope. Most of what I found had reviews where people had been riding with wool socks and shoe covers with the SPD shoes in temps warmer than I, for not as long and still reported their feet ‘only got a little chilled’. 10 degrees colder and an hour or two longer for something that still had other people chilled didn’t inspire much hope. Throw in fitting issues (cursed wide, but very short feet), my reluctance to spend time and money shipping ill-fitting and inadequately insulated shoes back and forth kicked into overdrive.

So, I started looking into electric socks. That got a little annoying. Mostly I found socks with pockets to hold a chemical heat pack. Those packs can get quite hot which would mean sweaty feet leading to disaster if I ended up out for longer than the pack lasted. They have only a 1 time use and a bit too expensive to be buying for every single ride.

A few true electric socks had a battery life of 2 hours. That’s been about the minimum length of my rides. Granted, I could extend it by turning them on at the first sign of chill and then off when my toes were warm enough.

Then I found something called Hotronic Footwarmers. It’s actually an oval heating disc meant to be inserted under the inner sole of a shoe. Rechargeable battery resistant to cold. 4 settings with a battery life rated at 16 or so hours on the lowest setting. The reviews I found were good. One even came from someone riding through the winter, as much as 10 hours on his bike with temps comparable, sometimes even colder than mine. He kept a log of temps and time out as well as the setting. No problem with the batteries and used only the first 2 of 4 settings. Better and better!

So, Jens told me to get it. It’s about the same cost as a new pair of cycle shoes, but no aggravation with trying to find something that fits both my needs and my feet! Unfortunately, it will be a couple weeks before they arrive as they were out of stock. Still, a solution.

Not that it would help with the current temps. Toasty feet, but the rest of me would be an ice block.

With this persistent arctic front sitting on us, even short rides are out of the question. After the last ride, I needed 27.4 miles to beat that goal of nudging past 1st Quarter 2012’s total mileage in January 2013. Two days ago, the forecast hinted at temps in the upper 20’s to just barely freezing for Saturday. Then it was pushed to Sunday. It’s been impossible know or even guess when it’s going to break or even how long a ‘warm’ spell might last. I have 6 days to get almost 30 miles. Pushing for a couple of 15 mile rides with the cold toes issue is unlikely. I’m stuck with short rides where I still need the temperature to cooperate. If it breaks this weekend, I might still have a chance. We’ll see.

Loke had an appointment with Niclas on Wednesday. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned the return of the polyp on his eye-lid the past couple weeks.

Anyway, Niclas was glad to hear Loke’s health has otherwise been great except for the ear infection back in December. That annoying growth on his eye lid being the current exception. It went from creeping back into sprouting like a weed, doubling in size in about 4 days. Loke’s eye was already irritated by it so he had eyedrops for a couple days. He’s getting it removed today. Just a quick little procedure and he’ll be back to himself by tomorrow. This will be the third removal, but Niclas said the first time that this is the kind of thing that keeps coming back. It seems to be doing so roughly every year to 18 months.

Another thing I’ll discuss with Niclas is if anything needs to be done as far as vaccinations and paper work for Loke to go with us across multiple European borders. This weekend, Jens and I will decided if we’re going to Italy this spring. If so, we’ll also plan it, so best to get Loke in order now rather than wait. Italy!

By driving from Sweden to Italy, I’ll nearly double the number of countries I’ve ever been in. England, Sweden and Norway are the ones I’ve lingered in for more than a few hours. I’ve been to Vancouver Canada… for 2 hours or so. I’ve been to Denmark twice… for just a few hours each time. Not sure if I should count those.

And the trike will be coming with us! If we go, Jens is going to relax, sight-see and visit vineyards, maybe with his parents, while I scramble furiously around the Tuscan landscape in search of medieval villages, Roman and Etruscan ruins, stunning scenery and maybe even see what might be the original ‘Sword in the Stone’ that became part of the Arthurian legends. Yes, in Italy!

I’m getting ahead of myself getting so giddy before I’m even sure we’re going.



Oops!
January 20, 2013, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

The weather finally improved enough to let me get out for another ride today.

It wasn’t really that the weather on the 18th and 19th was bad exactly. Just bitterly cold. Single digits on either side of 0 F. Other than that, it was gorgeous out. Sun shining from skies of flawless blue with winds light to calm. The deep chill made the air so incredibly dry and it felt rarefied as if high up in the thinner atmosphere of a mountain. So, I’d try to draw deeper breathes only to end up coughing. The ice forming in my nose didn’t help matters.

Definitely not something I want to deal with while trying to meet higher oxygen requirements of vigorous exercise.

Last night, the temps climbed. It was 6 F at 9 pm and 23 F when I woke around 5:30 am. It dipped a little colder before warming again, but around 10 am, I decided it was good enough.

Overdue too! Loke was being weird last night. A bit pesty and bugging Jens a bit when he wasn’t giving me the Husky Jedi Mind Trick stare and tail-wag. Generally, he gets that way when he’s desperate for more than walkies. One disadvantage of cycling so much. His stamina and energy levels go up and require more and more to satisfy him.

He made his increased fitness even more obvious by being the loudest I’ve ever heard while I got settled. Not only yodeling and woofing, but barking like a normal dog while bouncing on the end of his tether.

Glorious Day!

Glorious Day!

Though it had warmed up, the clouds held back so Loke and I rolled out under blue skies and golden sun. Clouds drifted here and there, but most of them were off at the fringes of the horizon. Though cold at 25 F or 26 F, I didn’t feel the need for my face mask though I did use my gloves. I was hoping that extra thick wool socks with my shoe-covers would be enough to keep my toes from hurting.

I worked to find a ‘happy-ish’ medium with my gears before they froze. Something that would offer a bit of speed on the flats and downs but allow me to climb the few hills without wrecking my knees. For once, I think I did pretty well.

The next few days are supposed to have North Pole temps again, so I planned to do the big loop that goes out toward the shopping center. Roughly 12 miles by itself, but adding the extensions I use to make the River Loop longer than 3.5 miles would give me a bit more toward the 113 miles I’d like to see before the end of the month.

Almost Frozen Across

Almost Frozen Across

The surface of the paths and roads was fairly cooperative. The two frigid days without new snow had let the roads pack down into a surprisingly smooth surface. The snow had also dried out so it didn’t pack into the mudguards which was nice. Loke pulled the trike along at a sharp clip, legs a blur as I tried to keep a balance between keeping up for exercise and not straining my knees. A bit of a challenge with only 3 speeds.

I still took the time to enjoy the day. We stopped for Loke answer nature’s call and I admired the sight of a magpie taking a snow bath against the gleaming smoothness of a little hummock blanketed in white.

Another moment that made me smile was when it began to snow. Huge, feathery flakes like fluffed down drifting from a dome of clear blue. The nearest clouds were far off on the edges of the horizon and the sun made the crystals give occasional gem-like sparkles. I think it’s only the 3rd time I’ve seen it snowing when the sky looks mostly clear. It’s beautiful, almost magical when it happens.

Interesting Sideways Icicles

Interesting Sideways Icicles

The thick wool socks with my cycle shoes didn’t make my feel feel like they were in a vice like I expected. Always good. But they didn’t completely take care of the freezing toe problem either. When I would stop, they warmed up faster at least. I really need to find a way to keep my feet warm even while moving or when it’s very windy.

My plans for a 12 – 15 mile ride was annoyingly cut short. Jens asked me to call every hour or so to make sure I’d not turned into a block of ice. I pulled out the Garmin to see how long I’d been and stared in dismay at 00.00 miles on the display. Oops! I’d turned the unit on but didn’t hit ‘Start’.

I wrestled the dilemma. I want to have as accurate as possible measurements for my rides rather than rough guessing. While I’ve done the loop that goes out toward Läby Church and then to the shopping center, I’ve never done the major River Loop extensions with it. So, I could only guess how much over the 12 miles it might be. The only way I could be sure of my distance was to do a route I was absolutely certain of. The full River Loop which is 7.88 miles.

Snow, Sun & Shadow

Snow, Sun & Shadow

Muttering about my inattention, I pedaled onward toward home instead of crossing the 272 for the longer route.

Loke still was a bundle of energy and not thrilled to be coming home so soon. He’s been bouncing around with his squeaky toy and staring at me wistfully. It’s almost as if he didn’t run almost 8 miles at all.

While I’ve been typing this, the clouds have moved in an the snow which had light is now coming down in a dense, swirling flurry. If it keeps up we’ll have quite a few inches in very short order. The forecast has changed, predicting temps in the 20’s for tomorrow. Dare I hope it might even get close enough to the magical 24 F that will allow my toes to endure another ride? I suppose it won’t hurt. It’s a small enough disappointment if it stays too chill that I can’t go so I’m certain I can bear it.

I’m feeling very uncertain about the possibility of breaking 113 miles though. I’m lacking roughly 38 miles and if that arctic blast we were expecting comes and hangs around, it could be tricky. I guess I’ll just keep watching the thermometer!

 



One Goal Beaten!
January 17, 2013, 2:06 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Hard to believe.

I knew I was going to beat my main goal for this month though. I mean, I only needed something like 1.2 miles to pass the combined mileage of January and February of 2012. I was even fairly determined I was going to do it today. That tiny bit of distance was nothing!

It almost didn’t happen today though. Migraine made me nauseous, a bit light sensitive and sluggish though thankfully not much pain. Yet, the end being so close and Loke being a pain in the rump, out the door I went.

Loke's 'PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME!!' Look

Loke’s ‘PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME!!’ Look

It’s kind of cute how Loke is when I’m getting ready for a ride. He follows me around. If I sit down, he’ll give these deep disappointed sighs and lay down only to lurch back up if I so much as scratch my nose.

Then there’s his anxiety when I start moving things outside. Even wearing his harness, he’s still worried he’s going to be left. That’s when he pours on all his cute charm and gives me the look that reminds me of his first days as part of our little family.

There was quite a bit of pain in my back as I worked to get the trike together. One day I’ll learn that I shouldn’t sit hunched on the floor (trying to oil the gear cables) and then carry weighty things in and out of the apartment. One or the other… not both with less than an hour between.

Today’s ride didn’t go as smoothly as most of yesterday’s outing. I felt more like I did through most of last week’s rides. Ah well.

But I pushed on. Loke was happy to be out in the snow, as always. 26.6 F with moderate winds and a light snow suited him just fine.

Though I only needed a mile, Loke’s enthusiasm made me reluctant to cut anything short so I was willing to give the full River Loop and as many extensions as I could.

Some of the smaller back roads were quite snow choked with 2 inches of fresh fluff that hadn’t yet seen a plow. I did my best to avoid those, not feeling up to the extra work if I could avoid it.

I’d started off wearing just a wool top since it had been barely freezing (31.2 F) when I locked the apartment door, but the wind proved to be quite persuasive in its arguments about adding another layer or two on my upper torso. I didn’t want to stop on the roads, so I gritted my teeth and went on until we reached the beginning of the cycle paths by the school. As I pulled another layer of wool on and my windproof top, a pair of boy’s about 9 years old or so, came walking over and stared. It wasn’t the trike that held their attention, it was Loke.

Getting the tops tucked in, I gave the boys a smile and greeted them. They shyly answered back before one of them asked if Loke was a ‘drag hund’ (sled dog). I answered he was a Siberian Husky which is a kind of sled dog and then asked if they had dogs. The first one said they were dog hunting (I think), but they had cats. Telling him I liked cats, I put my helmet back on before telling them bye.

The cycle paths had been recently plowed and decently graveled, so they were much easier to navigate than the first roads.

The straight stretch toward the military base (I think that’s what it is), we got some decent speed going. It was there Loke did something he’s not done in quite a while. In mid-step, not so much as changing his stride, Loke managed to snatch up a stick. About 18 inches long and a little thicker than my thumb.

I expected him to drop it after a short distance, particularly when we slowed to do the U-Turn for the run back down the road to the next bit of cycle path. Nope. We hit 10 mph and Loke galloped along with that stick tight in his teeth. Even when came to a near stop to make the right turn onto the path. As we hit about 11 mph on that short stretch of path between fields, I decided to fumble for my iPhone in an attempt to photograph the sight of my furball running with a piece of tree branch in his jaws.

Loke & His Stick

Loke & His Stick

I’m quite proud of the picture. It’s a display of physical dexterity really. Ratting over ice and snow while trying to keep from skidding around, juggling an iPhone with mittens on and still getting Loke in frame. All at 10 mph. I’m sure I’d have felt differently if I’d dropped the phone. I knew if I stopped, Loke would drop the stick to chew on it.

For more than 2 miles he carried it. The furthest he’s ever kept hold of something while running with the trike. It’s not the biggest though. The record for that hearkens back to Loke’s first year with his wheeled toy. It was shortly after a wind storm. As we swerved around to avoid downed branches, Loke caught the broken end of one in his jaws. A pine bough of some sort, nearly 5 feet long with smaller branches and all their needles still intact. Almost big enough for him to hide behind. Head down and neck braced, he pulled that big bushy mass for almost 1.5 miles. How it made me laugh. He looked so incredibly proud of himself.

We passed a few people as we worked our way through the residential area back to the cycle path. All of them laughed at the sight of a white and gray husky trotting along like a dog seized with a purpose… and a stick in his mouth. I’m pretty sure that’s what they were laughing at. People might stare when we go past without sticks, but very rarely do I hear laughter in our wake.

I was a little saddened when he dropped it.

The out-n-back along side the river got cut a little short. The last half mile of it or so had almost 4 inches of unplowed snow. I tried it, but I just didn’t have the strength and energy to chew through it so turned back before reaching the unpaved road at it’s end.

The last mile was uncomfortable. It felt like the top of my big toe on the right foot was being pinched off with pliers. That was with shoe-covers. I’m glad I didn’t forget them if that’s how cold my feet got with them.

We finished the ride with 7.29 miles. I was a little disappointed with that since yesterday we’d ridden 7.3 miles without the addition of the military base approach.

Still, the warm glow of accomplishment made me smile as I took everything back into the apartment. The combined total mileage of January and February of 2012 had been 61.31 miles. With this ride under my belt, January 2013 stood at 67.6 miles. I’d done it by 6.3 miles!

The question now is, ‘Can I beat First Quarter 2012’s mileage (112.77 mi) by January 31st, 2013?’

I don’t know. I’d like to! I think that would be a big boost of confidence and something to aim for. Looking at the weather forecast for the next 5 days, I’m not so sure. It’s supposed to get colder again. With my rides averaging 7 miles each, that comes to roughly 7 more rides to get the 45+ miles to tip me over 113 miles. I might be hard pressed to get in the next 14 days if we get a week of 20 F highs.

Loke wasn’t terribly happy to be back in the apartment after just 7 miles. He kept hovering near the door as I went in and out. When I went to take his harness off, he scurried away from me. Standing just out of reach, he woofed and pranced his front feet. Rather than chase him or leave his harness on, I got tricksey. I gave him a scoop of food in his dish. As he gobbled it down, I ambushed him and had him out of it before he knew what happened.

At least one of us could have done a 30 mile run today.

 



Drowning in Snow
January 16, 2013, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

And not precisely in the figurative sense like ‘I’m drowning in bills’. I’ll get to that.

Shortly after the last ride, the temperature took a downward plunge. A few days were 19 F for the high. Definitely too cold for a ride. Another cold decided to pile on top of that. I think Jens brought it back from London. I think London. He’s been traveling so much I have trouble keeping it straight.

I took the opportunity to try working the oil into the cable tube.

The last 2 days were playing with me. They’d edge up into the ‘doable’ range for a ride, but be dark. Enough light finally arrives and the temperature takes a dive.

We had over a foot of snow yesterday. It just kept coming thick and furious. Jens has been insanely busy with work so hasn’t been able to walk Loke the past couple days. Not unless he dragged himself outta the bed at 4 am. So yesterday’s walk fell to me. I toyed with the idea of taking the trike out though it was borderline on temperature, but decided it was just too much trouble. I still felt a little sluggish with the last of the cough and congestion. Wrestling on all the clothes, shoe covers, making 3 trips in and out with trike body, seat, pod bags, and Loke felt like too much trouble. Throw in trying to put the seat on while kneeling in 5 inches of frozen white… definitely not. Instead, I stuffed my feet in shoes, pulled on my gloves and took Loke for a 2.5 mile walk. Odd that felt like less trouble than messing with the trike.

Today, Jens again had to leave for work early. The snow had quit and the temperature couldn’t make up its mind as it bounced up and down. Around 1 pm, I looked and it was around 30 F. I felt healthy and Loke has been bugging me for the past 2 days. Out the door we went.

I expected it to be a hard ride after all that snow and not riding for 4 days. It was a bit of work, but not nearly as bad as I expected. Except for 1 stretch of snow choked road I don’t think had yet been plowed, Loke and I went fairly quickly.

The gears? They kept shifting!

Then about the time I said to myself, ‘Yay! The oil fixed it!’, the cable froze. It lasted twice as long as the last 2 rides, but that just might have been because it was warmer. I wasn’t going to let it cut the ride short though. Loke and I both needed it.

In spite of the snow bogging the paths and roads, I felt so much stronger and fitter than on the rides last week, even those on the roads cleared by the flash thaw. I guess my muscles really needed that 4 days of recovery.

Loke ran like a dog with a mission. He was as thrilled to be running the River Loop and extensions as he would be running in a place he’s never seen before.

Around mile 4, I saw a single snow flake. A few minutes later, another. Less than 5 minutes after seeing that first flake, the sky opened up. The dense snowfall we’d had so much of yesterday had returned. It got very unpleasant.

The thickness and size of the flakes coupled by the angle of the light wind and my forward movement drove the snow right into my face. Every time I inhaled, a handful or three of flakes went right up my nose. I stopped to search my bags for my mask, but it seems I left it at home. Nothing for it but to go onward. All that cold wet going into my sinuses made me breathe in short little gasps though it didn’t really help keep the snow out. I felt like I was inhaling water… drowning.

It did throw my whole system into a sort of uncomfortable tightness. I felt breathless and lightheaded as if I’d never been on the trike before and was trying to win the Tour de France. That sense of fitness had evaporated. Amazing what happens when you force your system out of rhythm.

We made it home, just in time for the snow to stop.

Loke was still full of energy. The 7.3 miles we covered was obviously too little in his mind. He’s been pacing around since with occasional stops to stare at me, wagging his tail hopefully. Much like Loke, I’m not feeling the ride either in spite of pushing through snow! I think we could go for a 25 miler or more.

Makes me giddy!



Onward Into Snow & Frustration!
January 12, 2013, 8:51 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Just a brief update on what’s been going on.

On the 8th, I again was forced out the door by clear skies and sun. The very weather itself is turning into a harsh taskmaster with the sudden frequency of sunny days I’m loathe to let pass without riding. My knee wasn’t bother me, the winds weren’t excessive and the temperature was above freezing though we’d had a soggy wet snow with giant flakes. I decided we’d do the Vaksala route.

Loke was as happy as a husky could be to go for a run. He worked his legs off trying to move us faster and faster. The new snow layer wasn’t too bad and we made decent time in spite of my legs feeling a little achy and weak from the 14+ miles the day before. The first half the ride was humdrum in spite a gloriously blue sky devoid of clouds. Now that I’m getting used to being out on my wheels in snow and ice, the local rides are gaining ‘hamster wheel’ status. I couldn’t find the oomph to dig out the camera.

That is until we reached part of the road that’s included in my ‘Winter Wonderland’ GoPro video. We cruised around a slow turn with a very mild down slope and I stopped.

Pretty!

The air had been utterly clear for the first 5 miles, but just past a barn and house, a mist was rising from the shadowed snow. It went no higher than 6 or 7 feet from the ground. It was pretty… and unusual so I stopped to take a picture of it.

It continued on through the trees and ended just before we reached the 282 road that would take us past Vaksala Church to Granby Mall. It wasn’t thick enough to feel ominous, not with blue skies overhead and beams of light from the low angled sun lancing over and through the trees here and there. It felt enchanting.

There were some icy spots, but the new snow had put down a gritty texture over it so climbing those ‘roller coaster’ hills wasn’t too bad even if I did irritate Loke by keeping  our speed to about 8 mph on the down hills.

I remember these two!

I remember these two!

The only other time I stopped was to say hello to the same horses who appear in the Winter Wonderland ride. They were very cheerful about coming to greet us though my brakes startled them with a high pitched squeal.

The earlier snowfall which had given the ice some grip proved to be a nightmare once we turned onto the 282. There’s a fairly new cycle path (a little over a year old?) that runs along that very busy road. The inch and a half of new snow had actually frozen into a tough, if crunchy layer instead of melting into a semi-slush like everywhere else. Most of the way from the turn onto it until reaching a spot between Vaksala Church and the mall is climbing. One hill is about a 4% grade I guess, the other might be as much as 6%.

The porous ice layers made that stretch hell. I had to work for every inch we covered as Loke chose then to be happy with my creeping speed. Lactic acid made my already aching legs burn as I also fought wind to climb those usually not too difficult hills. A 1.5 mile stretch must have taken us almost 45 minutes. It didn’t help I had to stop from time to time to pound on my thighs in an attempt to get them cooperative again.

I was thrilled when we reached the mall. From there back to the apartment is the homestretch as far as I’m concerned and the terrain is a little easier. The ride held one last surprise for both Loke and I though. As we came out of the mall parking lot, crossing the road to reach more cycle paths, a woman pulled an excited German Wire Haired Pointer back. The dog was hopping on his hind legs against the leash and barking excited. We picked up speed to about 10 mph and passed them. The dog’s yapping grew to a fever pitch.

Suddenly, I heard a woman yell and guessed it had to be the one with the dog. As I turned my head, I found myself nose to muzzle with the Pointer. He had a happy puppy grin, tongue flopping as he loped on the right side of the trike. Then he even tried to lick me. He looked incredibly pleased with himself. I don’t know who was more startled. Me or Loke.

The Pointer was very disappointed when I stopped and grabbed his leash to wait for his owner to catch up. She was caught between relief that I’d stopped and restrained her dog and aggravation that he’d yanked loose to come run with my tiny little ‘pack’. I politely waited to laugh until we’d parted company and I was well out of earshot. I was just glad he’d been a joyful, wanna-run dog instead of wanting to catch us and tear us to shreds.

Loke and I had a day’s rest on the 9th. The 10th dawned gray and colder than the 8th had been. Still, I went out with the furball  for more miles and more exercise. My plan had been to do the full River Loop and most extensions which would have meant 7.8+ miles. I had to settle for 3.00 miles.

Things started well enough, but before we’d gone more than half a mile, my gears started acting up. Sluggish and not wanting to go into the higher gears. I could click the twist grip shifter just fine, but it only resulted in a slack cable. I was upset. Furiously actually. The idea that I might need to take the trike to the cycle shop in Stockholm when I’d had it less than 3 months filled me with indigination. I hadn’t hit the derailleur on anything or dragged it through snow. I’d gotten the Sprint in hopes I wouldn’t need to take it to the shop every 2 or 3 months to get the gears readjusted.

Loke was crushed when I took the first turn for the absolute shortest loop back to the apartment. He lagged. Not quite balking like a stubborn mule, but not helping either. I had to pull him into the apartment when I brought him in with the seat. Generally after I have the seat in, Loke will stand in the livingroom and watch me go back out and bring the trike body in. Not this time! He tried to weasel out the door! The first I can remember him ever being so determined. He desperately wanted a longer outing than 27 minutes for 3 miles.

If I hadn’t been paranoid about the gears crashing out on me entirely and leaving me with free spinning pedals with no forward movement, I’d have accommodated him. I didn’t want to end up stranded 3 miles from home on ice with cycle shoes with no studs, while trying to drag a trike and crazy husky back.

Once I had the trike back in, I needed to let my temper cool down so I did some needlework (cross-stitch). I kept pondering the problem though. I came to the conclusion that it seemed like the gear cable had frozen in its casing. The shifting failure hadn’t been instant. It worked flawlessly for the first few minutes. Then it lagged a little when I’d swap to a harder gear before it just left the cable slack. I had no problems shifting to a lower gear which pulls the cable rather than slacks it. So, I put it on the stand. Yep. In the cozy warmth of the apartment, it shifted problem-free. Obviously moisture had gotten into the cable tube and with the plunge into below freezing temps and windchill, it did the predictable thing. It froze.

A few hours research on the internet seemed to indicate there wasn’t anything I could do except let the cable tube dry out for a week or so and then leave the trike out in cold weather so condensation wouldn’t leave wet in them. Umm. No. Not leaving a very expensive piece of machinery outside even with locks. All a lock does is delay a thief, if you’re lucky. No, definitely not leaving my trike outside overnight. Not risking my pride and joy which also happens to be my biggest sense of freedom.

Neil at ICE suggested something called ‘cable oilers’. A little bit of machined metal that is installed in the middle of a cable tube. There’s an opening in it that fits the straw nozzle of a spray can of bike oil or WD40 so you can blast oil in or wet out. All the reviews I’ve seen sing their praises for general cable maintenance and especially for winter riders. I guess if I’d had something like this on my right brake cable on the Trice, it would have saved me much trouble.

I’m intrigued, but it would still mean a trip to the cycle shop to get them installed since the cable needs disconnecting from the derailleur which means readjusting when connecting it back.

Though it was again below freezing yesterday, I took the trike out. I figured it would be a good test and Loke would be glad of a little longer run.

Off on the River Loop we went. It was hard work. We’ve had a little more snow and then the cable froze in the tube again. I still had 3 gears at least since I could still change the front chainrings. The inner and middle rings were a little too ‘easy’ on the flats, but the outer ring was just a little too ‘hard’. I had to settle for slower speed as I spun as much as I could on the middle. Makes me wonder how on earth I survived my childhood on single and 3 speed bikes! Whew!

Loke was thrilled with the run though he had to work a little harder to get near the speeds he wanted. I didn’t do all the extensions, just a couple minor ones. So we finished with 4.89 miles. At least he didn’t seem as frustrated as the day before.

With it confirmed it was freezing cables, I called the shop. The guy I talked with suggested I try working car lock antifreeze oil into the tubes since the workshop has a very heavy work load at the moment. It could be weeks before I’d get my trike back if I took it in. I guess the rush for getting bikes tuned up and ready for spring has begun.

He was quite happy to carefully explain the easiest way for me to work the stuff into the tubes without disconnecting it from the derailleur. It took a bit between a slight language barrier and me trying to visualize what he was describing without being able to point at things. I really appreciated his patience and willingness to take the time to do so.

When I take the trike back to the shop for adjustments, I’ll have them install the cable oilers though they’ll be unnecessary for spring and summer. Unless the current moisture levels rust the wires of course. I imagine that will happen when I change the rear studded tire out for a smoother one once the ice is gone. If I knocked the derailleur out of alignment the first time, odds are pretty good I’ll do it again. *eye roll*

That’s the update on the past few days.



January Beaten!
January 8, 2013, 8:57 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Yesterday marked the end of the first week for January 2013 and I saw it out with the 3rd ride of the year as well as the month!

On the 4th, I’d planned to take a little rest, staggering my rides to roughly every other day or so until I’ve built up a little more before trying for consecutive days in preparation for tours. The weather had other plans for me.

Between 8 am and 8:30 am, it was finally light enough for me to make out that the seemingly gray skies were actually that deep pewter shade of pre-dawn clarity. A sunny day? Truly!? I knew if my eyes did not deceive me, then I’d be out the door and pedaling more miles.

It was true and clouds didn’t maliciously roll in to spoil my anticipation as I waited for more sun. I knew I was going to do more than the River Loop.

The sun finally crept high enough to kiss the tops of trees and buildings with that beautiful orange-y light of a new day. For a Swedish January, it was quite warm, hovering around 39 F (3.8 C) with a bit of a breeze.

Loke had his usual yodeling enthusiasm as I pulled on my mittens and started the GPS. Off we went as if blasted from a cannon, Loke pulling for all he was worth until we whipped around the first left turn to go through the ‘back’ residential area. Though many streets are clear, those tiny little lanes with barely enough room for 1 car to pass by the ones parked at the edge still had a dense covering of packed snow and ice. It slowed us down, jarring my teeth as I struggled to keep us from dropping into a crawl. By the time we turned by the school and reached the cycle paths, Loke had settled. His pace was good, but he didn’t seem interested in going faster than I pedaled. No pulling. He was going to make me work for it.

*Singing* Good, Day, Sunshine!

*Singing* Good, Day, Sunshine!

I couldn’t blame him if his lack of enthusiasm was from boredom. The first 4 miles or so were going to be the same as we’d ridden the day before. I supposed I could have tried telling him we weren’t going to be doing the Ströbylund/Läby/Maxi Loop, but I’m not sure he’d have believed me. The Ulva/Gamla Uppsala route is about 2 miles longer than the one heading through Ströbylund at around 14 miles if I went through the residential neighborhoods off the main road there which I find a little more enjoyable. I wasn’t in a hurry with a pretty day. Indeed, I wanted as much time under those blue skies as our collective six legs would allow.

We climbed the steep little hill right at the junction of Gamla Börjevägen and the 272 where I closed my eyes briefly to sigh at the sun falling gently upon us. For nearly 2 miles, the southern side of the road was flanked by fields. No shadows to block that glorious light we’ve seen so little of in the past 9 months except for thin slivers of power poles. But for the jingling of the tether’s clip against Loke’s harness ring because he wasn’t pulling, the day was near silent. The occasional throaty croak of crows was the nearest thing to bird song. It made me long for the meadow larks that will be here in a couple months.

I just love the light at this time of year. Near perfect for photos all day!

I just love the light at this time of year. Near perfect for photos all day!

We finally reached the crossroads. Left was the 12-ish mile of the Ströbylund Loop. Straight would take us on the Börje/Gamla Uppsala 18-ish mile meandering. Right was of course, the roughly 14 mile Ulva/Gamla Uppsala route. As we made the right turn, Loke perked up some. Our speed wasn’t much more than 4 or 5 mph with that long, but not terribly steep hill to climb, but he raised his head and took more interest in the surroundings.

I stopped once to take a picture of a winter-bare tree growing from a pile of rocks at the edge of the field. The red-gold tint of the low sun against the limbs and rocks was just too much to resist. That was when I discovered, I’d forgotten the camera’s memory card. I’d left it in my computer from when I’d taken photos off it for the previous post.

My carelessness irritated me, but I grudgingly pulled out my iPhone. Better than nothing… I suppose.

We crested the slope and Loke turned into a machine. He didn’t pull enough to do more than silence the jingle, but he  moved quicker. The little road linking Gamla Börjevägen to the 272 through Broby has a slight downgrade and the 5-8 mph winds were at our back allowed me to push the trike faster. I probably could have hit maximum speed, but Loke seemed content with a rapid 9.2 mph clip. It’s a speed that hovers on the edge of becoming a lope, but he didn’t seem to want to leave the leg-blurring trot. It’s rather like watching racing sulky horses when he runs like that.

Really Bad Even For iPhone. :P

Really Bad Even For iPhone. 😛

The last stretch to the curve past a pasture and barns through Broby itself is more of a downhill and Loke finally broke 10 mph, stretching himself a bit. A pair of horses watched us as we rounded the turn. Neither of them were frightened, but not curious enough to come see us. One of them was an adorable draft type horse of a smaller type. I stopped to snap a photo with the iPhone and watched them for a minute or two.

The next few miles of the ride went by fairly brisk. Loke had a content doggie smile as he ticked along. The sun was lovely and the winds not too cruel. I’d even removed my mittens to return them to pod-bags. The quarter to half mile along the old E4 was unpleasant. Granted, it’s never a fun stretch, but with a 2 foot high wall of dirty, almost black snow crowding the shoulder and passing cars tossing up gray water, it was more irritating than in the spring and summer.

The last mile or so slowed down though. I think Loke’s feet were a bit bruised from jogging along on gravel. Even where the roads had melted clear, the gravel remains of course. On the paths, there’s plenty of it to give grip on the ice. I probably should have brought booties for the furry one, but my few attempts to sock him during the December outings offered more problems then they solved. Every stretch of ice, unless it was rotten or very heavily sanded, the socks made him slip more. The reinforcing tape gave little purchase and without his claws to dig in like cleats, his paws wanted to go every which way. The roads and paths on the 4th were probably clear or graveled enough he’d have been fine. Hindsight.

The last quarter mile or so, he started to walk carefully.

Naturally, his paws received a careful examination when we reached home. He didn’t mind me handling them and, on smooth surfaces, he was bouncy with plenty energy even after covering 14.32 miles.

Once I’d seen the trike back inside and Loke watered, fed and out of his harness, I nervously plugged my Garmin into the computer. I made sure to make note of the distance before doing so. I was nearly giddy with relief when it worked just fine. No message to declare it needed reformatting and wiping the trip’s mileage before it uploaded to the software. Jens had fixed it! I don’t intend to let down my guard with it.

I also decided to see how many miles I needed to beat last January’s total. To my delight, I already had! With all the problems with Loke’s impacted glands and infections on his feet in January 2012, we did very few miles indeed. Just 24.5 miles roughly in only 3 rides. Upon finishing the sunny day’s ride on the 4th, we’d ticked over 26.68 miles and with time left in the first week of the month! Not to mention we’d done it in only 2 rides.

January 5th was also a sunny day. Despite my initial resolve  to take advantage of every clear moment, my legs felt weak. Add in the fact I wouldn’t have taken Loke with me even if I had pushed out the door, I ended up resting. I think it did both of us good. Loke didn’t even bug me about it though he was cheerful and energetic while on his morning walk with my husband.

The gray was back on the 6th. I spend the day feeling too sleepy, almost zombie-like, to summon the ‘oomph’ to go ride. I did drag my groggy self to the gym though! The first time since before December 28th and the ‘break 800 for 2012’ riding frenzy. I mostly worked my arms since the only exercise they see with the trike is lugging it out the door. My legs have had plenty of workout the past couple weeks.

The same constant-yawning, barely-conscious state continued yesterday as well. Yet a nagging little voice in the back of my head wouldn’t just let me doze through the day in between small house-hold chores. I really don’t want to turn around and wonder where the rest of January disappeared to and left me with a measly 26.68 miles.

Around 1 pm, that little voice was joined by Loke’s not so subtle announcement that the time for another ride was past due. He stood at my chair side, staring at me with wide-eyed intensity and slowly swinging his tail from side to side as if to hypnotize me. I could feel the husky equivalent of the Jedi Mind Trick working into my brain. ‘You will take my toy outside’ it said over and over again. My own conscience hadn’t been enough to move me, but Loke’s ‘nagging’ was extra impetus.  My jaws gaping widely in yet another huge yawn, I started staggering around for wool thermals and GPS.

It was gray and technically above freezing. 32.4 F. I began to have doubts about the ride, not because of the weather, but the annoying sharp pain that jolted through my right knee as I took the trike down the stairs. I’d considered riding the Vaksala/Granby loop for 10 miles, or 13 if I could stand the idea of the 2 mile stretch of field tedium, but with Loke not pulling, I guessed it would be a short ride. 3 miles, tops. I wasn’t going to be so cruel as to not go though. My furry personal-trainer would likely have dragged me out the door by my leg if I’d tried.

Loke the Bully, yodeled and stamped his feet in an impatient prance as I did my usual routine of getting settled. The we were off.

He pulled during the first wild stretch. He almost always does. I avoided going through the back residential way with its bumpy, harder-to-pedal, surface to spare my knee somewhat. I spun along lightly as Loke charged forward, ears back with a husky smile. I expected him to settle once we passed the school, but he continued his wild sprint through the corridor of trees and the underpass. The short climb out of the underpass slowed us (me) naturally, but the furry one threw his weight into the harness so we ascended a little more quickly. Even once we reached level ground again, he continued to drag against the weight of the trike.

With his determined assistance, I went by the turn for the shortest possible loop (2.5-ish miles). If he was going to be so helpful, I’d add what distance I could since I could go a little easier.

From 2' of snow to this! So quick!

From 2′ of snow to this! So quick!

The skies darkened with thickening clouds and I felt a feather’s touch of droplets on my face. It wasn’t snow, but a semi-freezing fog. Branches of shrubs and trees looked slightly furry with frost though not nearly as breath-taking as the truly freezing fog in December. The miles continued with the subtle haze become more definitive. By the time we reached the out-n-back beside the river, the mist was thicker still, almost hiding the passing traffic on the 272 far across the nearly snowless fields.

On the final stretch home, Loke briefly got to meet a wire haired fox terrier. The woman was walking the little fellow toward us as as I stopped not far from the yellow bridge to take a picture of the cathedral in the distance. The top half of the tallest double spires were lost in a line of low cloud . The terrier wasn’t aggressive at all, but desperate to come to us, his little paws running in place on the ice as his owner tried to get him to turn around. I snapped the shot (the photo came out very blurry thanks to low light conditions) and went slowly forward. Once I got closer, the woman asked if it was okay for the two dogs to meet.

The terrier was still young enough at barely 1 year old to have the puppy spirit. He bounced around and tried to box with Loke. Loke responded with the same energy, but not too bossy for once. The little guy was absolutely fearless, as a terrier should be, and seemed equally people and dog focused though Loke seemed determined that all the attention should be his. He bounced in between me and the cutie every time he tried to come greet me. One could almost think Loke was being a tiny bit possessive of me and/or the trike. After about 3 minutes, we went on.

With Loke’s boost, we actually did the full River Loop with all the extensions except for the Field Loop. I didn’t really feel like tackling two treacherously icy, unpaved stretches even if my knee had been painfree.

The ride gave us another 7.88 miles. Despite my aversion to goals, I’m tempted to push for my January 2013 distance to be greater than the total of January and February 2012 (61.72 miles). I should be able to get another 27+ miles in 3 weeks. After all, look what I did this first week!

Loke snuggling with part of his one true love.

Loke snuggling with part of his one true love.

Loke made me smile and go ‘Awwww’ while I was getting the trike back into the apartment. Like always, I brought in Loke, various bags and seat in one go. Dropping it all on the livingroom floor after taking Loke off the leash, I rushed out for the main body of the trike. Upon staggering through the door, I found Loke cuddled up with the seat.

I just had to put the trike down to dash for a camera. Loke accommodated me by not moving as I found it and got into a good position to capture the sugary cuteness.

The ride turned out better than I planned and Loke was content with sleep and making me toss his squeaky toy for the rest of the day.