Terii’s Cycling Babble

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.


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.

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