Terii’s Cycling Babble

2013 Begins!
January 4, 2013, 9:24 am
Filed under: Day Rides

The official beginning of a new cycling season, in a sense any way! Truly, there’s really no ending to it now, just the changing of the year. My rides may get shorter thanks to snow and limited daylight. There may be days that are just too bitterly cold for me to ride in, but I can keep grinding through the miles and maintaining a better level of fitness every moment the temp stays in the 20+ F range. Yes, I had the trainer but even when I spent hours pedaling my legs off on it, the first 10 rides or so outside after the thaw made my legs cramp. Riding 5 to 8 miles through the snow several times a week will keep me fitter than 3 days doing 4 hours on the trainer. It will certainly push my stamina and strength more though maybe the longer time spent on spinning the trainer burned more calories.

After pushing myself so hard the last 4 days of 2012 to reach the 800 mile goal, I settled in for a few days rest. I needed it. My legs had that aching weakness from being overworked to the point the muscles needed time repair and build up. Admittedly, it was hard to not go for a ride on New Year’s Day. The snow and ice were thawing like mad and, well, it WAS the first day of 2013 after all. But, no. I was going to rest.

Loke didn’t agree with the necessity that his toy sit idle. Walking with Jens just gave him the urge to run and he’s been fairly bouncy.

2 days, I took things easy. Just a bit of stretching and short, slow walks with the fuzzy one and hubby.

Another reason I was antsy was because the unseasonably warm spell could break any moment. The melt was continuing at a rapid pace. The backyard of our apartment building, just 1 week or so ago, had over 2 feet of snow. Yesterday, half of it was bare grass and the other lay hidden under just a few inches of the white stuff. Insanely quick melting. Last year’s spring thaw took weeks to reach this stage for half the amount of snow! The concern that by the time I went out again, we’d have 3 feet of snow choking ground again.

So, yesterday, I spent my early morning hours peering out the window impatiently for the light to brighten. Having lights for the trike is all fine and good, but I enjoy scenery even if it’s something I’ve ridden over more times than I care to think. Not to mention, I want to know if there’s a patch of ice coming up when I still have time to stop rather than skid into it and flip.

Loke was charging around the apartment in delight as I got dressed. As I put on my shoes, my husband said, ‘It’s snowing!’ Taking a peek out the window next to his computer, I saw it was coming down pretty good. The thermometer read +0.2 F. As soon as I saw that, I decided I was going to do more than the River Loop. The flash melting of our winter landscape had cleared most of the roads which meant we could go a little faster and easier. Provided I could beat the build up of what was currently coming down.

In minutes we were skimming along. The first road was wet from melt and falling snow, but very little ice. That allowed Loke to do his usual wild charge. He was thrilled! I enjoyed the speed, but getting slapped in the face with big, barely frozen clumps of snow didn’t feel very good, but I didn’t want to ruin Loke’s fun right away.

The stretch through the back residential roads were still fairly ice choked. What was solid was very bumpy and threatened to reawaken the vicious headache I had on December 31st. I think it’s been cause by over-tight muscles in my neck. We rattled over the hard stuff and chewed through the loose to reach the cycle paths. As we reached the trees just past the school, I stopped to pull out my face mask. I thought about digging out my goggles too, but decided they would be more of hindrance then help with snow plastering on the lenses.

Though the cycle paths were completely hidden by packed snow, it was roughened by the new dusting as well as a good scattering of gravel. It allowed us to keep a brisk pace. Probably the fastest since the first snow in November.

Loke was a little confused when I skipped a few sections of additions to the River Loop.

Just before the big hill sloping down to the river, Loke needed a short stop for a call of nature. As I curbed him, a young man came down the path with a darling puff of fur at his side. He stopped for a moment to let the Finnish Laphund puppy briefly touch noses with Loke across the trike seat. She was so CUTE! Black with a few tan markings on her adorable little face. The fur was so fuzzy and soft. Just 11 weeks old and not much bigger than Loke was when we first brought him home over 7 years ago. When she’s fully grown, she’ll be only a little smaller than my furball. Her owner held her back from Loke other than the quick nose to nose greeting because she’d not had her vaccinations. Loke was curious, but remarkably sedate about her presence. Usually, he get quite excited about meeting fellow canines.

Chunks of Ice & Reeds Rushing Downstream

Chunks of Ice & Reeds Rushing Downstream

Heading down the hill, I kept our speed to about 9 mph. Until it’s clear of snow and ice, I’m not risking that stretch at a 17 to 20 mph charge. Though I’d prefer it never happen, I’d like to wait a few years at the very least before flipping the Sprint. I stopped in the middle of the bridge to look at the river. It was much as I expected. The quick melt has poured a huge volume of water into it. It’s running at least 2 or 3 feet higher than when it froze. The pressure from beneath has shattered the ice into pieces and set them floating downstream faster than a walk.

When we reached the 272, Loke stared at me in astonishment when I told him ‘Höger’ for the crossing to the Gamla Böjrevägen. We’ve not gone this way since last October. The vigor with which he pulled me across the road and then up that first steep hill made his initial charge from home seem apathetic.

The snow continued to fall as we rode past the fields and houses at Loke’s normal travel speed – between 7.5 and 9 mph. I was glad of the mask that protected most of my face. At times, it was just a soft, thin dusting of snow. Other times, it came dense and heavy, veiling the trees and fields while hitting us with clumps of flakes as big around as my thumbnail in wet splats.

A Near Perfect Winter Road

A Near Perfect Winter Road

Though the roads were covered with snow, old and new, the surface offered perfect traction. It felt good to be able to ride the trike at speed, learning its abilities and limits. A few times, I even pushed into the large chainring as Loke stretched into a gallop on the long flat stretches where I felt certain of the surface. I grinned at him every time he gave me one of those tongue lolling doggie smiles. It showed me the Sprint won’t be quite as speedy as the Trice, but for touring and riding with Loke, it’s perfect. I only went faster on the Trice when on solo rides without the trailer. I count it a fair trade.

A Gray Winter Day

A Gray Winter Day

I made the turn toward Läby at the crossroads as the snow came down the heaviest during the ride. I found myself wishing for longer, thicker eyelashes. Not only because they are more attractive, but because they’d have helped keep the snow from hitting my eyes. As I made the long climb in the center of the distance between Gamla Börjevägen and the 72, my mind replayed memories of other times I’ve ridden it. Just this year when my derailleur failed near the woodshop and I nearly fell on the ice pulling my trike out of the middle of the road. Or another time during warmer weather when a deer frightened me half to death because I thought it was a very large, loose dog charging us.

Then as we went down the other side at 10 mph, I remembered the fox which had crossed the road when the fields had been golden with ripening wheat instead of white and black of snow and tilled earth. Another time when I passed a man on a recumbent low racer bike.

I do that a lot of with places I ride through more than once. Even places I’ve only been twice with several years in between, I can pass by a field or building and ‘Oh yeah! I remember when… ‘

By the time we reached the 72 and sped along the cycle path beside it, I was surprised to find we’d come almost 6 miles. For some reason, I keep thinking this particular loop which I think I’ll call the ‘Läby/Maxi’ Loop, is only 10-ish miles, is actually 12+. I wasn’t going to complain though. Loke was still running well even as we went under the trees of the path on the other side of the shopping center. The nice, smooth surface with solid traction continued, so Loke go to run through that patch of woods like a wild dog.

From there, it was a short jaunt to the wooded hill of the Field Loop section. I had to be a bit careful there. The ice/snow wasn’t so accommodating as we climbed the hill. My tires slipped a few times, so the steep downgrade on the other side felt too dangerous to take at faster than than 4 mph or so.

The next turn proved to be a mistake. The path I usually take at the base of a big cluster of hills with a huge field at the base, turned out to be a thick slab of ice. Loke is so accustomed to running at a a flat 15 mph charge, so he kept yanking the trike around, threatening to spin us. Add in the weak spots where melt water from the hill had eroded the ice from beneath. The wheels would break through at random moments, rudely stopping us. The only way out was for me to get up, trying to keep my footing on the slickness, and pull. Other places, the water had completely melted through the 4 to 5 inches, leaving 1 foot wide, steep sided trench. Again, I had to pull the trike. The path had never been plowed, but smoothed only by people walking on it which left it very bumpy. It took me almost an hour (45 minutes-ish) to go 3/4 of a mile!

The Good Section of Path

The Good Section of Path

The last 100 to 150 yards were smooth and blissfully free of the ruts and traps of the first half.

The rest of the ride was quick and uneventful. Going past the old industrial building showed me that the huge icicles had fallen from the eaves along with huge slabs from the roof. Unsurprising given the ferocity of the melt. I finished up with 12.36 miles and a muddy dog. The run seemed to do Loke some good. That wasn’t the end of excitement for us though.

For Loke, he got a 2.5 mile walk. We went to my husband’s parents for dinner and Jens walked home with the furball. Needless to say Loke slept very well last night.

My excitement came when I tried to upload the trip info from my GPS into the Garmin Training Center software. It kept giving me a message that my GPS needed reformatting. What little info I found seemed to indicate that the little hard-drive in it was corrupt which would mean the end of it. Jens took the news surprisingly well. He said it’s been used a lot since he bought it and in all sorts of weather,  probably thumped around some. If it needed replaced, so be it. Unfortunately, they don’t make the Edge 705 any more and I’m not sure I want the ‘improved’ Edge 800.

Yet, my tech savvy mate actually found better information than I’d dug up and with a bit of work got it working again though I lost the data of my first ride of the new year. I’m not going to complain… unless this becomes a regular occurrence! It was only one ride after all. If I loose 3 days of touring, I’ll be very unhappy

You know, I think I’ll go test it right now. I only need another 13 miles or so to beat the mileage from January 2012!