Terii’s Cycling Babble

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.

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