Terii’s Cycling Babble

Whatta Day!
April 30, 2013, 4:11 am
Filed under: Day Rides

I had plans for the weekend of April 27-28 which involved riding. The previous Thursday or maybe Friday, I’d mapped out a ride which would have taken me past the southern reaches of Stockholm to a lovely little town called Mariefred (Peace of Mary) named for a Carthusian monastery which once existed there. Not only had I planned to chase down whatever runestones I could find, but my sister-in-law was coming along. Admittedly, I’d invited her with some ulterior motives. I planned to have her keep Loke company while I ran into Gripsholm Castle for a look before beginning my ride. Then I would have paid her fee to explore the castle as well while I started out with the furball. She was quite happy with the idea, having a relaxing day wandering through the shops and streets of a small harbor town with older wooden buildings. I planned to do a few loops through the town not just for the church and a runestone, but for those pretty streets too.

Not only would there have been the castle, the town, runestones and at least 2 churches, but ruins too! Church ruins with runestones in the walls.

Odensala Kyrka

Odensala Kyrka

Alas, it didn’t happen. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that a sort of arts and crafts event was occurring in the area of a church between Uppsala and Stockholm. The church in the center of it, Odensala, was going to be open as a sort of rest-stop for the people puttering around the countryside from location to location. The entire event was essentially planned as a sort of bike ride though obviously, people could also drive.

The temptation was too much. Gripsholm Castle is open for viewing year round. Odensala isn’t frequently open. I thought maybe I could do a short runestone hunt around there and perhaps the Gripsholm ride on Sunday as Tina and I had planned.

Drawing of Odensala - 1682

Drawing of Odensala – 1682

Door between porch and church

Door between porch and church

I plotted the ride as a loop, thinking to take the car thereby sparing Jens the chore of driving. The hubby had other ideas, wanting the car to do some shopping.

By the time I had everything printed, marked and packed, it was around 11 am. Once we’d had lunch, stowed things in the car and made the drive, it was a bit after noon. I’d planned to just drag everything out of the car, lock the trike up with Loke tethered to it so Jens could leave. Loke would have waited with the trike while I ducked inside. Instead, Jens opted to wander around with Loke leaving me with a calmer conscience while I walked in for my interior photos.

The interior of the porch was covered with a thick layer of plaster, left smooth and white. Just inside the door was a drawing mounted on a board which showed Odensala’s outward appearance in 1682. A couple of grave slabs were inset among the lovely brick floor. Just through the door with its beautiful brick arch were hints of dark wood and some repetitive mural decoration.

On the right side of the porch was a long bench of polished wood with a sign tacked to the end near the brick arch where a chunk of stone leaned.

It was an extra runestone! This one had been discovered last year in the churchyard wall during restoration work. The stone was carved by a runemaster named Åsmund who worked during the first half of 1000 AD. What remains of the text is ‘God’s Mother’, ‘These runes’ and ‘Åsmund’. The stone doesn’t seem to even have a number yet. It’s quite weathered. I could only barely make out part of the band of runes when I looked very closely. They didn’t come out in the closeup photo though.

Speaking of newly found runestones, another one made the news earlier in the week. I didn’t catch where it was unfortunately. It’s one of the rarer sort of stones. Rather than having been made from a slab of rock moved from someplace else and erected, it had been cut into the very bones of the earth. A flat face had been cut into the side of a hump of bedrock offering a smooth(ish) surface for the runes and decorative carvings. Fascinating!

Uppland Runestones 440 & 442

Uppland Runestones 440 & 442

Back to the ride!

The simple interior of the porch gave me no real hint of what was inside. I was stunned.

A group of older women were sitting near a table which had coffee, cookies and other little treats. They gave me smiles and nods without interrupting the flow of their conversation or the soft click of knitting needles that two of them were using. Though the vivid colors of the walls in the nave pulled, I turned to peek through the glass panes of the door leading into the foot of the tower. Runestones!

Little did I know the headache I would get from the sign from one of the stones, but I get ahead of myself.

The inside of the archway into the tower

The inside of the archway into the tower

Stepping out of the tower room and from beneath the organ loft, I had to stop and stare. I’ll admit it, I was open-mouthed with awe.

The murals I saw earlier this month in Helga Trefaldighets Church in downtown Uppsala were breathtaking. Among the finest I’ve found in the few churches I’ve had the fortune to step into, but the ones in Odensala out-striped them. The colors were vivid and strong on most of the paintings, but most notable was that very nearly every inch of the walls, arches, and ceilings had some paint on it. Even if it was just an eye pleasing design on the inner width of a doorway or along the ribs of a column that became the supports of a ceiling arch.

Helga Trefaldighets Church has some blank panels. Granted, in size, its interior is much grander than Odensala’s not to mention the gorgeous brick columns. Even with that in account, it couldn’t match the murals. Stunned is the best word I can think of for how I felt at the first real look. I suddenly wished I had a tripod or at least a mono-pod for my camera. Admittedly, I’ve wished for such every time I’ve stepped into any of Sweden’s medieval churches.

Another man was also there with his camera. I sat down on one of the pews for extra stability to photograph the ceiling, hoping that by the time I was ready to start overlapping photos for merging he’d be finished. No such luck.



So, I started clicking and hoped for the best even though he was moving around enough that I expected his differing positions in each image would cause problems. As you can see, I was completely wrong! Yes, the left hand pews and a few other little spots are a little wonky, but that’s hardly the fault of the man. I did the best I could to straighten things out and it still shows the magnitude of the murals.

The Ship Mural

The Ship Mural

Door to the sacristy... I think

Door to the sacristy… I think

Most of the images, particularly those nearer to the alter were from the New Testament with images of Jesus. Closer to the entrance, the imagery was a bit more obscure to me. Like women and armed men with one man in a crown standing near the bow of a ship as it approaches an island where a pair of demons stand? Asking Jens, he thinks it might not be anything biblical, but showing a Swedish king meeting natives, most likely somewhere to the east.

The man was still lingering over photos when I left.

Jens was looking a bit restless by the trike when I emerged. I tethered Loke to a sign post, kissed the hubby bye and began assembling the trike. It was quite warm, particularly in the sun so Loke laid down in the shade under the bus stop bench while I worked. Once I had everything together, I locked the trike near the furball and set out in search of a pair of runestones in the yard behind the vicar’s house.

There were about half a dozen cars parked near the building there so I first though it wasn’t a private residence. It’s often a guessing game when it comes to vicarages. Some are clearly someone’s home, others used for other purposes. Walking around to the back though, there were a pair of boys kicking around a soccer ball and a few other people standing at the back of the house. It looked somewhat like a family reunion.

Either Uppland Runestone #443 _or_ #441

Either Uppland Runestone #443 _or_ #441

Hoping no one would notice, I skirted the edge of the property, following the fence as I did my search. I found a runestone… I think, leaning against the trunk of a tree. More of a fragment then a stone really. Though the fact it was a thin slab of stone hinted I’d found at least one of the pair I was looking for, if it had runes they’ve weathered away. Though now, looking at the photo, I think I see a hint of runes at the bottom edge.

I tromped over the brittle stalks of last year’s weeds, flattened and dried after the snows, looking for the other one. I only half expected to find anything since the web site had listed only one stone in the church where I’d discovered two in the tower room.

More people had joined the teen boys, ranging from a 10 year old girl to a silver-haired spry woman. It seemed they were organizing for a game of soccer.



I walked back up the hill along the fence line to rejoin Loke with the trike. As I began to swap my battered sneakers for the cycle shoes, I pulled off the wind-proof layer I’d put on over my cycle tights. It was too warm it. After bundling up so much over the winter, it felt strange to have only the single layer.

Kicking off the sneakers, I twisted on the wooden bench for a better angle to wrestle the Shimano on and promptly yelped. Splinters. I managed to get a lot of them in my posterior and back of the thighs. Loke watched me curiously as I hopped around like a demented frog, pulling at my tights in hopes it would free the splinters from my skin. It seemed to work. I took more care when I shifted around to get the other shoe on.

Things got a little worst still. I hitched the furball to the bar and settled the handlebar bag in its place. I started to lower myself into the seat and the ride nearly ended right there. Bursts of white flowered through my vision as I clutched my left knee and yelled, lurching away from the trike. I half fell, half sat on the ground, rocking over my knee as I struggled to straighten it through the pain. I can’t remember the last time I felt that kind of white-hot stabbing agony in either of my knees. Seriously. I’m pretty sure it was before I got married. Maybe even before I’d moved back to Mississippi from Indiana. There was once a few years ago when both my knees decided to act up just as Jens, his mother and I were starting hike, but even it hadn’t made my vision gray out.

Da Brim on the helmet and ready to go!

Da Brim on the helmet and ready to go!

Panting, I finally got the leg straight and relaxed it on the asphalt. The heat my black tights drank from the sun seemed to help a little. My vision was just starting to clear when someone, a man in his late 40’s, from the group at the vicarage walked up hurriedly asking if I was okay. He’d heard me yell. I hadn’t realized I’d vocalized my pain until they said it. I answered I’d just twisted my ankle and was fine. With a nod, he wished me a good ride and returned to the vicarage.

I flexed the knee slightly, preparing to rock to my feet. I bit my lip and stayed down. It was one of those times for the knee. The slightest bend, even without bearing weight, hurt like a knife blade just pulled out of a forage going right through it. Loke watched me for a moment, tail wagging and then he woofed impatiently.

Somehow, I managed to get up, intending to call Jens. Loke was so excited though I decided I’d see if I could get into the trike. I didn’t want to completely disappoint the furball. I made it happen, awkwardly and with much muttering of impolite words under my breath. Getting the foot clipped into the pedal was another level of hell. I undid the break and told Loke to move out. Off we were down the parking lot slope like a shot.

I’m not sure why I push on when stuck by such pain, but I generally do try. Maybe it’s because if I stopped at every twinge, little or large, I’d never do anything at all.

This was one of the times it paid off. I had to build up slowly to moving the leg. First, just rocking the pedals a tiny bit as Loke and a mild grades did all the work. After about a half mile, I was able to do full turns with my right leg producing all the effort while the left went along for the ride. Things went a bit smoother and quicker after that.

And the Da Brim? LOVE IT! The day was fairly warm, in the upper 50’s and the sun very warm. The sheer amount of shade the brim produces is great. Obviously, it’s dependent on sun angles as well, but compared to a ball cap or the pitiful excuse of a sun brim cycle helmets have, it’s wonderful. Surprisingly stable too. Loke and I went zipping down some hills at 15-17 mph and it tugged a little obviously, but never tried to flip up or slide the helmet back once I snugged it down a little. It made me nearly giddy.

Burial Ground & Uppland Runestone #448

Burial Ground & Uppland Runestone #448

Uppland Runestone #448 - Close Up

Uppland Runestone #448 – Close Up

The knee still twinged as I ramped up my pedaling though I kept it about 2 gears lower than I would normally do. We went a little slower than usual, though not for lack of Loke’s efforts, but soon enough, I saw the runestone I was looking for. It sat at the edge of a pasture at the corner where the paved road and a dirt track leading into a farm yard.

I stopped to photo the stone and took a closer look at the landscape beyond it. Something about it made me think of a viking burial ground. To be on the safe side, I did a panoramic series as well as a separate close-up of the stone. In doing the research for the stone, I discovered I was correct. Finding out that the man on the horse might be Odin also makes me rethink what I thought was a dragon above to the left of the man, could actually be a stylized raven which is often associated with that god.

Two more stones supposedly lurked in the area of the trees and hillock beyond U-448. I wasn’t sure I could reach them though as the fencing was electrified and had an almost ‘aggressive’ appearance with thicker wire, as if it was meant to hold back something more stubborn than horses. Cows? Maybe even a bull? That could be exciting.

The dreaded cattle trap from the other side.

The dreaded cattle trap from the other side.

Resigned to the possibility that the other two stones were out of reach, I still pedaled down the dirt lane in hopes I could see them from fence line. I didn’t go far when I was confronted by one of the banes of Loke’s cycling existence. The dreaded cattle trap. It can trap a dog, especially one tethered to a trike, as easily as a horse, sheep or cow.

A closer look showed this particular cattle trap needed a bit of maintenance. A strip of dirt had tightly packed beneath and between the rails. A lovely path for Loke to cross.

On the other side, the fence just ended leaving the treed hillock accessible. I scanned carefully for any hint of cattle. I didn’t think they’d be any threat to me alone. I had Loke to think about and a cow thinking she’s protecting a calf from a wolf might be problematical. Given the condition of the trap, I probably needn’t have worried. All looked clear so off we went.

Uppland Runestone #449 - I think

Uppland Runestone #449 – I think

Loke was thrilled! First he threw himself down right at my feet to wallow and flail in the winter-matted grass. Then he went bounding through the grass hummocks with a floppy tongued glee. There were lots of rocks hiding under the dense coat of grass too. It made for an interesting walk as I went up where the first of the two runestones were clearly visible.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen one perched on the top of a mound of bared bedrock. Of course, being a just a fragment, it might have originally been set somewhere else. Collecting it, I started a zig-zag across the hill to look for the next. Back in the trees were tumbles of rock, most moss and lichen covered any of which might have been the fragment of U-450 I was looking for. Thickets didn’t help either. After finishing up on level ground at the back of the hill, I concluded I wasn’t going to find it.

Going back over the trap was interesting. There wasn’t enough room for me to put the trike far enough to the left where Loke could walk on the packed dirt. No where to tether him if I walked him across first either. Certainly wasn’t going to trust him near the electric fence. One attempt to wiggle under the wire to sniff something and ZAP! A traumatized puppy. So, I sat down in the trike, holding the green leash tightly with the furball on the left and rolled forward.

Snow Drops?

Snow Drops?

Loke was so terribly confused and maybe even worried he was going to be left. He looked a little frantic and kept trying to rush ahead to cut over to the right side. Once, even tried to jump over me. I think he was glad when I stopped after the barrier and made his world familiar and right again.

The way back toward Odensala was a bit slower. I didn’t dare push too hard with the knee and it was mostly uphill. Soon though, we were passing around the side of the church toward our next turn. In a parking lot across the road from the church, a pair of women were washing a carriage of all things, wiping down the gleaming, black lacquered surface and cleaning the harness straps. I greeted them and paused to watch, but not for long. Snorting and banging came out of the large horse trailer next to them. I guess their horses could see and/or smell us. Taking pity on the animals, I pushed on.

I have no clue which stone this is!

I have no clue which stone this is!

The next runestone was within easy view of Odensala Church’s parking lot. Being a bit back from the road, I stood to see if there was a way across the steep sided 4′ deep ditch. No tractor access was near to hand. So, I sat down to swap lenses. When I took the photo, I didn’t even notice the bird, a wag-tail, sitting on top of it. Nice little surprise to find when I got home. The first wag-tail I’ve seen this year.

Researching to do this post, I ran into a tangle. The on-line database has this stone marked as U-442. What’s wrong with that? In the church tower, is a stone with a placard labeling that one as U-442. I’m slightly more inclined to trust the placard then the web site, so the one in the church remains as U-442.

Looking through the various other numbers in the same upper 40’s of the 400’s, I just don’t feel confident enough to make a guess which one this could be, particularly since the others are mostly accounted for. I think. The whole thing gives me a headache.

Still, here’s Uppland Runestone ‘Most likely 400-something’. No info what-so-ever.

Liked the building with its little birdhouse.

Liked the building with its little birdhouse.

We continued and I was still loving the Da Brim. The sun was verging on being hot, but the air had a soft coolness lending a perfect balance. Loke seemed a little warm so I made a point of stopping frequently to offer him water and he drank every time.

We were passed by quite a few couples on bikes, clearly out to enjoy the day and follow the arts and crafts signs. I think all of them had smiles, nods and waves for us. There was surprisingly little car traffic, which I found quite nice.

The scenery was lovely in most places as well. It would have been even nicer if the plowed fields had already sprouted with crops though, even if just a few inches. I’m heartily weary of dirt tones stretching as far as the eye can see in many places. Soon enough I guess.

Loke & Sprint Photo Op

Loke & Sprint Photo Op

The next turn was onto an unpaved road. One of the yellow signs pointed that way, but I hadn’t really considered exploring any of the arts and craft places. With all the water stops for Loke and the plans to be wandering across fields for the stones, I felt a bit of a time pressure. We weren’t exactly burning up the miles. That’s not to say that we weren’t finally moving at a very good place once the pain in my knee had mostly eased. It’s just that I stopped us a lot.

Just past the barns and houses at the intersection, the ground was open in half unplowed wheat stalks and half plowed dirt. Off in the distance was a tightly packed collection of growth and small trees where the database had placed a pair of runestones. Coasting down the hill to a mostly flat, dry looking spot off the road, I swerved and parked.

The half of the field which was harvested wheat stalks looked like a convenient path to where I expected (hoped) to find the stones. Follow the edge of it to the thicket and then walk along the that to the west. I could have walked on the plowed earth though. It was surprisingly dry, but the other looked like better footing.

I filled Loke’s water dish half way so he could completely drink his fill while I swapped to my sneakers. Glancing up while I did so, I thought I could just make out the shape of a stone at the very edge of the thicket. Encouraging to say the least.

From half way there

From half way there

Armed with my camera and walking shoes, Loke well hydrated, off we went.

We’d barely begun when I heard the clop of hooves and a woman’s murmuring voice. From one of the barns not far away, a couple were walking behind a beautiful, light-draft type horse. The horse, a black mare, had a bridle on with long reins which the woman had in her hands. Clearly they were teaching the horse to be driven while pulling a wagon or carriage.

Worriedly, I cast a glance back at the trike maybe 200 feet away wondering if she’d spook at such an unfamiliar shape even if it did lack a dog. Suddenly, the mare’s relaxed walk tensed as her head came up. Slowing with an excited prancing step, she whinnied. The woman chided her and gave a light slap on her haunches with the reins to move her out again.

I warned them that maybe she was afraid of my ‘bike’. The woman didn’t have a chance to answer at first. The horse sidled and then turned toward us, jumping the tiny ditch into the field. Hauling on the reins, the woman pulled her short and then hurried to grab the chin-strap of the bridle. Laughing breathlessly, she replied that the horse wasn’t afraid, she was curious. She adores dogs and wanted to come see mine.

I blinked at the unexpected answer and then laughed, calling out, ‘That is so cool!’ I’ve never seen a horse that likes dogs, all dogs, so much they’ll get so excited and want to rush up for a meeting. I stayed still, Loke sitting beside me, until they got her settled and walking on again.

The only other thing that happened during the walk was seeing a woman looking at my trike when I’d reached the last 100 yards to the first stone. Clearly, she was very curious about it. I waved and she answered in kind before walking on after a few more minutes.

Uppland Runestone #444 (Left) & 445 (Right)

Uppland Runestone #444 (Left) & 445 (Right)

Uppland Runestone #445 was mostly in plane sight and definitely had been the one I saw back at the trike. I hoped the next would be as easy to find as I marched north along the thicket edge. It was. Tucked back in a hollow space at the edge of the tangled growth it lurked. Had a bit of an argument with one of plants. There was’t much open space if I stepped past the few branches across the entrance. Finally I managed to get a decent shot without too much clutter in the way.

Not far after we’d passed the field, I ran into confusion between what I saw of the ‘roads’ and what my maps seemed to indicate. The direction I seemed to need was more of a muddy track, can’t even call it a dirt or unpaved road. Barely any rocks showed through the muddy ground where grass had been somewhat flattened by occasional traffic up the side of a short, but nasty-steep hill. The sign announcing the presence of a road boom didn’t inspire me either.

I tried going the straight in case something was wrong with my maps and GPS, but no, it was a dead end. I pedaled back to the wet slope. I so didn’t want to struggle up that. I wasn’t even sure my tire would have enough grip in the mucky ground to make it. While I sat staring at my maps, I saw the couple with the black mare coming down from wooded section to the left of the ‘road’. We smiled all around and the mare made a less showy attempt to come see Loke. I asked what breed she was. She’s part of some kind of northern Swedish draft which is was all I could make out. She was very lovely and seemed incredibly sweet.

They went on and I waited for a while at the muddy track, trying to decide what I wanted to do. The only reason that road had been marked for riding was because it would have made a half loop to the next set of stones instead of an out-n-back. I decided the challenge of a mucky road with that sort of hills wasn’t worth new scenery.

Not a bad spot to rest

Not a bad spot to rest

It’s just as well I doubled back, I suppose. It gave me a chance to answer a call of nature even if it was in a sketchy sort of outhouse. It didn’t smell, but it was little more than a tiny 2.5′ x 2.5′ tin box with a bit of cement pipe with a bucket in the bottom of it. Personally, if I’d had toilet paper, I think I would have rather gone in the thicket near the runestones. Out of sight of casual passersby, certainly more room and probably more comfortable. Still, I sat at the nearby picnic table to munch on a little hard bread sandwich and let Loke cool off in the shade, so not all bad.

After a 10 minute break, we were zipping along at speed. Loke loped joyfully along beside me, his tongue flopping in the cool air. When I tried to slow him down in case of the heat, he’d just shoot me irritated looks and pull. Unless I was reaching for the water bottle, then he was more than happy to stop for a few lusty gulps.

Uppland Runestones #453 & 454

Uppland Runestones #453 & 454

The hills weren’t too bad and quite a bit of it was down grades or flats. It seemed no time at all that I was stopping for another pair of stones. I knew exactly where these were, sitting as close to the road as they did. They’re clearly visible in Google Street-View. Yet more water to the puppy and I put on his socks.

A mile later, I looked down and 2 socks were gone. One front and one back. Muttering, I checked his feet to see which I thought might need protection most and shuffled them around rather than trying to find them. It could have meant searching more than a mile of searching.

The next location turned out to be something of a bust. The stone was just a fragment, which I already knew, and it lay across another field. That didn’t bother me so much. The fact I couldn’t make out even a hint of where it might be despite the fact it was a small field compared to the last one I’d marched across, was a bother. I didn’t relish the idea of wandering in circles for a chunk of stone that might be no bigger than my head. I did a thorough photo search though. Telephoto lens and lots of pictures. Not a hint of what I can say for certain was part of a runestone. Discouraged, I didn’t go field stomping.

I also changed my plans for the next stone. Originally, I’d mapped going down a dirt lane through a bunch of farm buildings to field walk for it. Turns out the lane was being dug up by noisy machines. Just as I considered perhaps coming at it from another direction on foot, I saw sheep. Sheep would mean an electric fence and likely with no way over or through it. Drat it.

The next leg of the ride took us over the 255 onto an unpaved road. There was solid packed dirt, but it had plenty of pointy cornered stones scattered over it. I was glad Loke at least had socks on his front paws for it. Those seem to take the brunt of abuse on our outings.

About 100 or more yards from where I’d marked the map, I began my intense search along the road and down the slope to the edge of the fields. There were large stones and small boulders scattered about and I wondered if it was another fragment. If so, it could well be a lost cause rather like the second stone at the spot with the cattle trap. Just as I was about to turn back I saw it.

The music from the opening scene in 2001 played through my head. I stopped and turned the trike around before leaving water with Loke to go to the stone.

Uppland Runestone #455

Uppland Runestone #455

Uppland Runestone #455 is huge. Certainly the tallest I’ve ever seen. Magnificent. 9 feet tall at the very least. The top of the bit sticking out on the left was higher than my helmet. Adding the extra height of my shoes and the helm, I’d guess I’d be about 5’5″ tall, so, 5’7″ with a minimum of another 4 feet for the thinner section. I couldn’t help but grin at the sheer size of it. I’m glad I didn’t turn back sooner!

Returning to the 255, I took it slow, scanning through the sheep for signs of a stone since I didn’t know if it’s a fragment or something as unmistakable as #455. There was a wooded hill close to the road and I thought I saw what could have been a runestone at the far edge. Unfortunately, the hill was more securely fenced than the sheep field would have been with a wire mesh I wouldn’t have been able to climb.

The rest of the way down the 255 wasn’t too bad. Though it was one of the more heavily trafficked sections and lacked a cycle path, but the drivers were courteous as ever. Somewhere along there, Loke managed to lose his third sock. I sometimes wonder if he does it on purpose. Actually, it might simply have been the fact that they were old, ill-fitting socks made before I perfected the pattern.

The next turn I made, Stationsgatan (Station’s Street) was going to take me straight into the heart of Märsta. Ah Märsta. I still shudder with dread when I think of the last time I cycled through there. I wanted to throw a hissy fit and rip at my hair before I was done. That road was fairly busy too, as should be expected for going into one of Stockholm’s suburbs, but it had a nice cycle path on one side, so was no problem at all.

Just before entering Märsta

Just before entering Märsta

Actually the trip through Märsta, this time, was quite straight forward and no hassle at all. It still was my least favorite part of the ride. I find the place rather … charmless. Bland, boring buildings, mostly modern. A fair bit of traffic. Ho-hum. The possible only saving grace for the town is a wonderful pizza place Jens and I used to order from at times. I was quite glad when we made the turn over the rail tracks and left the tedium behind us.

The cycle path carried us onward. It was along there I noticed Loke was now completely without socks. That time I did go back as far as the bridge back over the tracks. If it was missing in Märsta proper, no way was I going back in there.

By this time, the weather had changed for the worse. The clouds had gotten bigger and clumped together. The undersides of them had turned that slate gray color while some of them sported streamers of rain from their bellies. Occasional drops pattered down on my brim and legs. That gentle coolness in the air offsetting the heat of the sun grew teeth, forcing me to pull on my wool top and wish I’d packed my gloves. Loke loved it at least. He’d been going briskly before, but once the chill arrived he really wanted to move.

As we pushed on to the next turn, a man on roller ski’s passed us 3 times, giving us a nod for each. Given that Loke was clipping along at almost 9 mph, the guy was really making some speed. He was slurping down an energy pack near a waste bin on a light pole when we went by him for the last time. A bit of dirt track connected two parallel roads separated by maybe 300-400 yards of field. We scooted right across that onto a lovely little country road.

Could be a ruin of some sort

Could be a ruin of some sort

Just as I spotted what looked to be the ruined foundations of a building, I heard one of the oddest animal noises I’d ever heard in my life. Perhaps a sick half grown calf? It sounded like if someone took a set of bag pipes, rigged it so only the deeper notes would play and stomped on it… repeatedly.

I was a bit wary as I turned down the grassy path along a the fence that surrounded the possible ruin, but if I wanted to find a better angle, I had to go. I didn’t see the source right away because it had gone momentarily quiet. Then that ungodly noise burst forth again and I stared.



THIS made that noise??’ I blurted to no one but Loke.

The single sheep in the pasture turned toward us and made that racket I never would have believed a sheep could produce. It ran up to the fence and pranced around. Shaking my head, I did a loop to point the trike back the way we came and the animal followed us.

It seemed particularly intense about Loke, but completely fearless. Then I noticed it was a he and in another nearby pasture were other sheep, most likely ewes and it’s spring. So, I guess not only was it a ram (without horns), but it was a… frisky one and it hoped Loke was a playmate as it were.

I loosed my grip on the leash a little so Loke could stretch his nose toward the fence. The ram did the same and for a moment, they touched. Then the ram lowered his head. I pulled Loke back before he got his nose busted. I took my pictures and left the critter to belch (as good a word as any) out his frustrations.

The next runestone on my maps, I didn’t locate. I wasn’t entirely certain where it was, except behind some building. There was a house at the location, but the yard was so tiny, wedged in between road and flooded drainage canal. I didn’t want to go traipsing within 10 feet of their doors and windows. It’s one thing to go around the edge of a large yard of what might be a public building, but another to go strolling past someone’s house close enough to touch the walls.

Almost jealous of the horses

Almost jealous of the horses

It was a short jaunt to the next church and runestones. Before I reached it though, I saw a paved lane that stretched toward what appeared to be a manor house. The little road was quite busy with people jogging, walking or pedaling. Curious, I followed it. A red building caught my eye most. I thought it was a house at first, but it didn’t look quite right. The layout of the windows and doors were more like that of a stable.

A paddock on the other side of the drive was as high end as the stable. Rather than an arrangement of wood fence posts or metal rods pounded into the dirt with electric wire keeping the horses back, It was a proper fence of dark stained planks. Within were a pair of horses who were a little spooked. They were torn between being afraid and being curious so they would run away, turn in a big loop, slowing as they got close and then charge off again.

It really was a stable. I could see the stalls through the windows. There was an additional wing on the back. An open door on the side let me see that everything was all wood. The floor was pale lumber, sanded and swept. I bet if I’d stepped in, all I would have smelled was hay, saddle soap and that warm clean horsey scent.

I took pictures of the stable, which new or old, was impressive. As for the house to the side. It was big and yellow, but otherwise appeared to date from modern times so I didn’t bother taking pictures of it.

Leaving the estate was a little more work than arriving since it had all been down hill, but soon enough I was weaving through the last turns and coasting to a stop next to a light post. I left Loke there with plenty of water and went in search of runestones.

Husby-Arlinghundra Church

Husby-Arlinghundra Church

It surprised me to discover that I’ve never been to this church. I’ve ridden in the area at least once before, heading from Odensala and this church was less than 5 miles away from that church. Just seemed odd I’d missed it.

With three stones to find, I didn’t expect to find all of them. My luck with multiple stones at a single location had seemed rather hit and miss.

Husby-Arlinghundra Church is a very simple looking church. I gave it just a passing glance at first. My goal was the runestone which was supposed to be at the western wall of the church yard.

Uppland Runestone #434

Uppland Runestone #434

The 10 minutes or so squinting at the wall in search of a rune carved stone tucked among the rest didn’t happen. Not far from one of the gates into the church, the object of my search sat in pieces on the ground.

Patters of rain came and went as I walked up to the church itself. Above the western door, were carved stone slabs with the date of one of the renovations. I tried the door, but found it locked so proceeded around to the back of the church.

Uppland Runestone #435 (I think)

Uppland Runestone #435 (I think)

Uppland Runestone #433 was as easy to locate as #434, embedded in the church wall as it was. It’s a fairly large stone as well. Maybe not on the scale of #455, but nearly 4 feet long and 3 feet wide. One of the largest I’ve seen mounted in a wall like that.

Uppland Runestone #433 (I think)

Uppland Runestone #433 (I think)

Uppland Runestone #435 was also in the outer church wall.

Do I seem a little uncertain about these pair in spite of the handy little placard? I am. Between the websites for research and that sign is a contradiction. Pieces of the stone and the inscription in the one next to the window are missing, but the sign gave a complete translation. While the one next to red stone offered a broken one, but the rune-snake is clearly intact. It’s not the only thing that made me uncertain though.

The result is, though the sign you can see by the stone mounted adjacent to the window says that one is U-433, I believe it’s really U-435 and vice-versa for the other.

Who thought my runestone hunts would turn into such a informational headache as well as a physical one. Well, it gives my rides greater interest and works my mind when I do the blogs. Never a bad thing.

I returned to Loke and gave him a treat of duck jerky (which he loves). Then I pulled out the maps. No other stones were marked and it appeared to be a bit less than 3 miles between Husby-Arlinghundra and Odensala. Cold and tired, I considered calling for pick up where I was. Loke was restless though and I was chilled, getting colder by the minute thanks to sitting still. I called Jens and said I’d be ready for pick up at Odensala.

Off we went. Loke was a furball of speed and power even after 14 miles and wanted to run. There didn’t seem to be any serious hills along the way to slow us much. With no stones to search for and given how cold I felt, I was reluctant to stop for scenery photos. Actually, I don’t recall passing any landscape that called for a camera. Maybe it was just hunger and cold blocking my sense of aesthetics. I did stop us twice to give Loke water. He only lapped at it a couple times and then gave me the bright-eyed, tail-wagging look which begs, ‘We go now?’.

The distance seemed to go very quick. It felt like mere moments when I coasted into the parking lot, tethered Loke near-by with his water bowl filled to the brim, and stripped things off the trike.

The timing wasn’t bad. Jens arrived less than 10 minutes later to find a frisky husky and a tired wife.

It wasn’t a fast ride, thanks to all the stops and walking, but I really enjoyed it. Admittedly, I felt a little deflated when I entered the mileage and saw I still needed 30 miles to break April’s goal. At least it had been enough to tip me over 300 miles for the year.

Will I make it? Perhaps. I’ll find out soon enough!


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