Terii’s Cycling Babble


Rambles & Rides
April 4, 2013, 7:16 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I really have enjoyed riding this winter, it’s been lovely. Experiencing the familiar landscape around home in a new way. The murky browns and grays, so dominate in early spring or late autumn, lay hidden beneath a gloss of bright white. Feeling unstoppable in spite of rutted ice and churned snow which in previous years were such an obstacle.

One of the impressive Uppsala University buildings.

One of the impressive Uppsala University buildings.

Yet, I am glad the temperatures have given us some days of gentle warmth. I don’t miss the frozen gear cable forcing me to manage with 3 speeds. I don’t miss the 20 minute ordeal wrestling on 3 layers or more or wondering where on earth I left my mittens this time or staring at the traitorous thermometer displaying temps of 9 F. I don’t miss using the mask which if I put it on properly fogged my glasses with each breath. While in December, the low angle of the sun even at noon was nice for photos, I’m glad the days are now 6 to 7 hours longer.

A mixed blessing winter was, but I enjoyed most of it when not struggling with Loke’s toe. Some of it hopefully won’t be a repeating problem when the cold white returns later this year. I have every intention of getting the cable oilers installed when I take the Sprint in for maintenance service so the gear’s won’t be an issue.

One of Uppsala's museums with the cathedral behind

One of Uppsala’s museums with the cathedral behind

Since April 2nd was shaping up into another beautiful and above-freezing day after Loke and I had rested April 1st, we were due for another outing. Given Loke’s persistent abundance of energy after our past few outings, I considered taking the Börje/Gamla Uppsala Loop.

Here in Sweden, spring hasn’t officially arrived. Though the equinox has been and gone more than 10 days no, ‘meteorological spring’ has yet to be confirmed. It has something to do with temperatures over a week’s time. Same for autumn.

The fact that we’re still technically in winter in late March/early April is very unusual. This is unseasonable. Since Sweden began making records of the highs-n-lows and other weather related phenomenon, has ice lingered this late in the year.

I haven’t minded though. It might be nice to go riding without layering up, but I’d rather use that extra layer than broil. The warm sun and calm winds with temps in the upper 30’s have been pleasant enough and enjoyable.

Stone with simple knot-work beast.

Stone with simple knot-work beast.

I hope spring sticks round for a while this year and summer is mild. A little more sun than last summer would be nice, but better wet chill than clear and so hot Loke and I hide indoors all season like we did in 2011.

With April 1st spent restfully for Loke and I, I intended we ride on the 2nd. And since Loke insisted on showing off his stamina by being persistently perky after rides over 15 miles, I was going to attempt the Börje/Gamla Uppsala Loop which could give us anything between 18 miles up to 23 if I added River Loop extensions.

Uppland Runestone #1011 - Double Sided

Uppland Runestone #1011 – Double Sided

I haven’t ridden Börje/Gamla Uppsala Loop since last my attempt in March 2012 when I fish-tailed on a patch of black ice, flipped the Trice and broke the seat clamps. At least Loke wasn’t hurt. Baffled, but uninjured. I had some bruises and was stiff for a few days. My helmet was the real casualty since it ricocheted off the road with my head in it. Its sacrifice was appreciated for the safety of my noggin.

Loke seemed moderately interested though he didn’t really perk up until I told him, ‘Move out!’. Then we were off at a brisk pace.

Plans became a uncertain before we’d gone after a half-mile. With the long runs and the frequency we’ve been going out, I decided Loke should wear socks. To make it easier to find them, I stood to dig in the pod-bags. Things were fine until Loke put his head down to sniff, took a firm step forward which pulled the trike forward in spite of the locked rear wheel. The running bar hitting my leg shifted my already uncertain balance backward and I felt myself tipping into a fall on Loke. To catch myself, I had to take a reverse step.

Uppland Runestone #489

Uppland Runestone #489

Loke yelped as my cycle shoe came down on his 3 toed foot.

A flash of horrified panic made me nauseous and I blurted a word inappropriate for public consumption as a guy on a bike went by. Just the thought of damaging that foot terrified me. I was furious at being so careless. I’m sure falling on the furball would have been worse, but still…

Poor fuzzy. Holding his tromped foot up, he hung his head and wiggled his tail as if in shame. He couldn’t know my anger was at my carelessness and domino effect of circumstances. All he could tell was that I was upset and it involved him somehow. So pitifully apologetic.

I gave him a quick reassuring hug and examined his foot. Initially, he tried to pull it away, but after a second didn’t mind me carefully wiggling his toes and flexing the various joints. When I released it, he stood on it with only a little hesitation.

I went back to dealing with the socks, adding tape and such before putting them on him. The idea of him pounding that foot for 18+ miles made me additionally queasy. He still needed a decent outing though.

Uppland Runestone #896

Uppland Runestone #896

Uppland Runestone #943

Uppland Runestone #943

Properly shod, we rolled out slowly. His limping quickly evaporated. It might have been the socks more than lingering pain that he limped at all. He’s had all of winter to become unaccustomed to the velcro, fabric and duck tape torture devices after all. After about a quarter mile, he started pulling and giving me sidelong looks.

Since I still hadn’t decided to scrap the Börje/Gamla Uppsala loop, we skipped the usual River Loop extensions. Yes, I was that worried about his foot.

By the time we reached the crossing at the 272 which would take us out toward Börje, Loke had covered a few miles without even a hint of the unfortunate foot stomping incident. I took a moment to ponder my options.

Uppland Runestone #938

Uppland Runestone #938

The furry one seemed fit enough to continue for another 13 miles. He waited, bright-eyed and wagging his tail in anticipation of moving again. My eyes strayed toward the spires of the cathedral rising from the center of Uppsala. I remembered reading about a number of runestones at a little museum right around the area of the cathedral. Some place a little different, even if more urban than I liked. Not to mention, one of my favorite things… runestones!

Off we went!

Loke’s pace wasn’t much quicker than it had been on the River Loop. Unsurprising since we’ve done the stretch to (or from) the old vicarage along the field loop a few times already this year. When I made an unexpected turn to go down a familiar section of cycle path opposite the direction we generally take it, his head and tail came up a bit more as he quickened his steps. Then when we went straight toward Uppsala Center instead of turning right to the vicarage, he definitely became interested.

Less than 100 yards down, the condition of the road quashed any considerations of swapping the studded tire for a smoother one. A stretch of ice about 50 yards long stretched across the path. It was that most difficult combination of hard frozen where the tire slipped and slush which bogged the wheels. I ended up stuck a moment until Loke understood he needed to help a little more.

Fortunately, there weren’t many spots like that and we made better time.

Uppland Runestone #937

Uppland Runestone #937

In short moments, we were in areas I’d never been. Glimpses of the cathedral steeples or even the coral colored towers of the castle served as beacons. Soon, we emerged on the edge of a very busy, but familiar road.

Ice mounds lined the path, making a bit of a tight squeeze in places. Throw in the fact I wanted to avoid puddles, of which there were many, the way was challenging. Duck tape is pretty amazing, but it tends to be a bit picky about sticking to soggy fabric. Imagine that.

We made it to a traffic light and safe crossing that went by one of the many scattered buildings of Uppsala University. Most of the departments are scattered in a semi-localized area of the city. The Biology based sciences here. Physics half a mile away. I can’t remember exactly which department it was on that corner. The building is quite modern though.

It was quite obvious that classes are in session though. The area was packed with people in their late teens to early 20’s burdened with backpacks. The pair of us collected quite a few stares while trundling through, stopping often to avoid bumping anyone.

Uppland Runestone #939

Uppland Runestone #939

It just about made me crazy. I’m actually quite shy as a person though I’ve adapted to speaking with random people well enough. The interactions with curious people I’ve encountered on my rides are enjoyable. I’ve not even minded the couple times I’ve gotten ‘mobbed’ by groups of children who want to lavish adoration on Loke.

Milling crowds? Those get under my skin. Being in the middle of a dense pack of people, all going in different directions when I’m sitting 3 feet off the ground and trying to roll through is apparently even worse. It definitely had me grinding my teeth and feeling anxious for open air.

The burden of pedestrian on the MUP away from the college building remained heavy and I really wanted to get away from it. Spotting an quiet, soggy little cycle path that led between the college building and an older structure, I went for it. Unpaved, turned to miring mud from the melt water and choked with slush and ice as the cherry on top, it made for hard going. The last 75 meters of so involved pedal mashing up a hill too. That was the beginning of the knee pain.

Uppland Runestone #940

Uppland Runestone #940

The cathedral spires peeked through the trees and over building tops as I pressed onward. Finally, the special green shade of tarnished copper made an appearance prompting a turn. The top of the museum I was looking for has an odd sort of dome in the center, all sheathed in copper. Perched on top of the dome is a special kind of sundial. You can see the dome/sundial just in front of the cathedral in the 2nd photo of this post.

The trike rolled down a lovely slope, carrying me past Helga Trefaldighet’s (Holy Trinity) Church as Loke loped along, socks flopping. We made the turn onto the courtyard like arrangement just before the main University Building (first photo of this post). Which had ‘University Royal Uppsala’ in Latin over the doors. At least I’m guessing that’s what it said. My Latin is…. non-existent. What tiny bit I know, I’ve learned from TV of all places. The rest, I inferred though sometimes, it’s quite obvious what the word is. Uppsalais? Not much of a stretch.

I coasted to a stop just in front of the university building. It was huge and older, though probably quite a bit younger than the founding of the University. I clicked overlapping photos. Turning toward the museum below a small park with a statue in the center, I scanned for runestones. Research on the runestones around the back of the cathedral had told me a few were near the museum.

Uppland Runestone #932 - Triple sided!

Uppland Runestone #932 – Triple sided!

Finally I spotted one. Sitting down and rolling around a sharp hairpin to take to the paths round the statue, I spotted another. Then another. Yet another. They were mostly at the edge of the park area, close to the street. Taking a moment to count them all, I figured out the best, quickest way to loop for photos.

This part of the outing bored Loke. It required him to move a few yards and then stop while I got up from the trike for pictures of stone and sign only to repeat again. Lots of sighing.

Quite a bit of yelping from me. After about the 3rd stone, pain shot through my right knee as I lowered myself to the trike seat. When it did the same for the 4th stone, I almost broke into a sweat as I walked back to the trike after the 5th, knowing the pain waited. After a bit of juggling, I figured out how to balance myself so my left knee took most of the burden, but it gave me warnings that it wouldn’t put up with much more of that. The last 3 stones, I parked and walked. It made me jumpy being that far from my unlocked trike with a husky staring longingly after me, but I didn’t want to aggravate the knees more than I had to. After all, I still had to get us home, preferably without calling Jens.

Inside Helga Trefaldighet's Church - Porch

Inside Helga Trefaldighet’s Church – Porch

Done with the last stone, I flopped back into seat with a sigh of relief.

Inside Helga Trefaldighet's Church - Interior

Inside Helga Trefaldighet’s Church – Interior

I’m not sure why, but instead of heading directly down the hill, past the cathedral and homeward, I climbed my way back up to Helga Trefaldighet’s church. It’s a beautiful church and I love the detail in the old brick work. Maybe I just wanted to admire it again. I forget.

As I cruised past, I noticed the door to the tower entrance was open. I wrestled myself up from the trike to peek in. No lights were on. The walls and arched ceiling were whitewashed and without murals so I sat back down to slowly roll around to the other side. The second entrance, through a brick porch, was also open. There, the beige plaster walls had faded murals that covered the walls and outlined the brick arches. I parked Loke and the trike out of the way and quietly walked in for photos.

Helga Trefaldighets Church - Interior

Helga Trefaldighets Church – Interior

While I was taking overlapping pictures for photomerging, the church door opened and a woman came in. Both of us were quite startled. She offered to turn on a light so I could see the paintings better which I happily accepted. Then I asked if I could take pictures inside the church proper. With a brilliant smile, she cheerfully made me welcome to do so.

When I checked on Loke first she followed out of curiosity. ‘Oooh! He looks like a wolf!’ she breathed in an awed voice at the sight of the furball sitting pretty next to the trike.

I’d seen photos of the inside of the church and they showed a beautifully impressive interior of brick, plaster and murals. Still, the scope and detail of that interior space took my breath as I moved quietly and respectfully through the place, trying to do it justice with my meager photography skills. Thinking of the centuries of history that the murals had seen since their creator/s first laid the first brush stroke of color to pale plaster.

One of Helge Trefaldighet's Stained Glass Windows

One of Helge Trefaldighet’s Stained Glass Windows

I called out softly in thanks to the woman as I collected my things and went back out to Loke. A hum buzzed behind my teeth as we splashed through lots of melt, down a gentle hill to turn down the cobbled road that goes behind the church. We slowed before going through the arch in a building so not to run over pedestrians.

In moments, we were cruising along the cycle lane of the road along the river and on our way home. I was back at our door with 8.67 miles. Barely more than the River Loop with all extensions, but with a wealth of photos that had me grinning.

I counted it a nice boost to the year’s totals!

Oh! A random bit of news! After several years with no puppies, the kennel where Loke was born is expecting a litter in May!

When we visited a couple years ago, the couple told us they were no longer breeding their dogs. The man’s health has been poor (heart, if I don’t misremember) so they had to take things a little easier and raising and training a bunch of hyper though adorable husky pups is a lot of work.

I don’t know what changed their mind, but they’ve announced a coming litter on their website. Maybe they just missed having little ones. They love all their dogs so much, even those who leave them for other homes. I can imagine that after so long, with their dogs getting older, they wanted a new generation.

Yesterday, Jens suggested a visit later this spring so the couple can see Loke and we can get a peek at the puppies. I asked if we could wait until they were 2.5 or 3 weeks old. Open eyes and bumbling about as they learn to play. Just the thought of it makes me go ‘Awwwww!!!!’

Before anyone asks – No, we will not be getting a new husky puppy. Sometimes I feel like I barely survived Loke’s puppy-hood. Not to mention, a puppy would put a serious crimp on the cycling… unless I drag the cutie around in the trailer except for short little runs. Puppies need exercise, yes. Running around in play. Not charging along for miles next to my trike. I wouldn’t subject a young dog to a vigorous outing until he was at least 1.5 years old when I’d be sure all his joints and muscle attachments were matured.

So, no puppy!

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