Terii’s Cycling Babble

Mad Dash
May 16, 2013, 3:48 am
Filed under: Day Rides

30 miles. That’s what I needed to make April’s goal. That felt like a lot when I woke up on April 28th. It didn’t help I was wary of my knee, but the yearning to succeed pulled and tugged. Whatever I did, Loke was going to stay home. His paw pads were looking a worn from Saturday’s ride and no new socks to replace the ones he’d managed to shake off.

When I’d planned the ride around Odensala, I’d considered doing Gripsholm Castle on Sunday any way. I mean, I should be able to do 15-16 mile rides for two consecutive days. When finishing Odensala, I wasn’t quite so sure, but after a night’s sleep (note, I don’t say it was good) it felt feasible. I even went so far as to call my sister-in-law to see if she wanted to go as we’d planned and, since I wouldn’t be taking Loke, we could explore the interior of the castle together. Then I’d ride while she enjoyed Marifred. She begged off having had a late Saturday night and she planned to nap the day away. Fair enough.

I didn’t feel right going without her after having made the invitation and didn’t have the enthusiasm at the moment to figure out another place. It would just have to be one of my old routes. Börje, I decided.

Jens and I planned our deception carefully. A few minutes after he left to take Loke on a long walk, I dressed in my cycle clothes and bolted out to the car to assemble the trike. Success! Out for a ride and the furball none the wiser!

Warmer than it had been the day before, I wore just my single summer layer. Only my podbags weighed me down rather than the panniers as well. More wasn’t needed as Loke wasn’t along to need more water, I was planning on going somewhat faster and at most, I was going to stop at 1 church to properly collect a pair of runestones I’ve been riding past all these years.

As I zipped past the school at speeds slower than Loke would have been dragging me for the crazy first mile, I was thrilled to find the path under the trees had been swept. Most of the first half of the River Loop paths had been swept. My knee felt okay so I pushed on a bit faster, tearing along the narrow paths at over 12 mph. The Trice could have gone faster with the larger gear inches, but the Sprint was fast enough to make me smile.

Admittedly, when I noticed I had the wind at my back, I wondered about the wisdom of the Börje Loop. It seemed more than a little blustery.

Ugh! Gravel & Wind!

Ugh! Gravel & Wind!

Even so, I added the out-n-back along the river. That was less pleasant. That section of pavement had gravel aplenty and coming back toward the main paths meant being somewhat against the wind which proved to be very strong and gusty. The gusts make it worse. A steady wind, you can somewhat get used to, but when a random harder gust slams into you, it’s rather like hitting clay. On impulse, I took the turn which would lead past the recycling center to the 272, which would return me to the turn toward Börje.

That part almost hurt. The gravel was inches deep in spots on the track beside the 272 and I seemed to be dead into the wind. Still, for some reason, I didn’t change my mind. When I get stubborn like that I wonder where it comes from. Glutton for punishment? Or just addicted to overcoming challenges, regardless how small?

Traffic was surprisingly thick for a Sunday before noon. Finally a man in his late 20’s or early 30’s in a black car took pity on me. He stopped to let me cross the off-ramp and then pulled out across part of the 272 before stopping again to let me cross to Gamla Börje Road. We exchanged laughing smiles and waves as I made my way over. That little kindness and friendly exchange warmed the cockles of my heart.

I did my usual creep up that steep hill crouched at the start of Gamla Börje Road. At least it was sheltered from the frolicsome wind. The race down the other side was worth it though. A wide smile pulled at my lips as gravity and pedal power pushed my speed over 20 mph, wind pulling tendrils of hair out of the pony tail while I held on to the brim with one hand.

Out on that road where fields often stretched to one side or both, the wind truly came into its own. Mostly it was to the side, but just enough to the front that it made me work. It turns out the Da Brim’s greatest weakness is side winds. When it wasn’t yanking the helmet up so I felt like I was going to strangle on the chin strap, I worried it was going to peel right off and go tumbling across the plowed dirt.

I’m not sure I’ve ever said it, but I honestly hate cycle helmets. I wear mine religiously and was glad of it when I fish-tailed and rolled the trike last year. But there are times when I just feel like it’s strangling me. Maybe part of it is my weight coupled with the fact that I’m on a recumbent. Strap under the plump chin slightly lowered to the chest because of the reclining position. If I don’t get the helmet seated just right at the precise angle, I feel it when I start breathing faster. It can be even more difficult in cold weather when I wear a thermal with a high neck. Just adds to the feeling of suffocation. So, having the helmet pulling around on me wasn’t helpful.

To be clear, I don’t attribute the difficulties to the Da Brim. I took it off, but it was so windy even my usual ball cap caused the same problem a few times. I blame the insane winds, not the product. Since I had no easy way to carry the Da Brim and wanted to keep my face shaded, I wrestled it back on and continued hanging onto it with one hand or the other.

No gravel... on the road at least!

No gravel… on the road at least!

Other than the wind, being on the road was nice. Recently paved, Gamla Börje Road is still quite smooth and it made for great pedaling even with a studded tire. My pace was pretty brisk, all things considered and I loved those down-grades.

As I approached the crossroads and came racing down that hill at 22 mph, getting shoved around a bit from gusts, I debated my ride. With the River Loop extension I’d added, left would net me about 17 miles, leaving 13 more miles for April’s goal. Right roughly the same. Straight would likely put me around 21. I’d made up my mind as hit the bottom of the slope and streaked through the intersection straight for Börje.

As I pushed through the mile or so between the intersection and Börje Church, it came to me that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually succeeded in riding this loop. Maybe even as much as 2 years. I’m not sure I actually tried it again after taking the tumble at the curve around the church. Realizing that just seemed to stiffen my resolve.

Once I was on the last half-mile to the church the scenery closed in, slacking the wind. As I was making a small climb, a group of road-bikes shot past me, calling out hellos. The first I’d seen that day. I was beginning to wonder if all of them were hiding from the wind.

There’s a bit of a hill leading up to and past the front of Börje Church, so I was doing only about 6 mph. As I crested the climb, three men with touring style bikes stood near the gate to the churchyard. They stared as I picked up speed with the help of gravity and waved vigorously as I shot past. I managed a wave back as I slung around the curve that hugs the stone wall before taking the next sharp turn almost immediately afterwards.

And I was passed the site of the icy accident.

Things flattened for a bit and the wind was once again at my back. I hit almost 15 mph, tires humming softly. The front, smoother ones have a higher almost feminine pitch them them. My larger back tire with the knobs and studs of winter, a deeper throatier sound. If I’d had breath, I probably would have been humming tunelessly along with them.

Another steep climb and then another fun section. The ground again flattens out and then takes a soft hill downward, another very short flat and then a significantly steep hill that I’ve hit speeds of more than 25 mph in the past when I went solo on the loop. This was going to be the first time down it on the Sprint. I was curious to see what I could do with it.

I gently cranked up on the flat and pushed for more on the first negative grade. The 2nd flat was more a matter of maintenance and then came the longer, sharper drop. I pedaled like mad until there was no resistance to pedal against and coasted, laughing in the wind. 26.4 mph. I wonder what I might have gotten with a smoother back tire?

A couple more climbs and fast stretches brought me to the top of the hill where Gamla Gård sits. That’s a collection of old farm buildings the local homeowners restored and maintain. A few of the buildings have been rescued from collapse in other locations, but I think the 1600’s farm house might be original. I decided not to stop there and pushed on.

Beautiful, but I really liked the one without the blanket.

Beautiful, but I really liked the one without the blanket.

Just past the old farm house, I did stop. A pair of horses and one of them was an unusual color, I had to get a picture. I think maybe she would be called a ‘red roan’ or maybe even a ‘strawberry roan’. While I tried to get the pair to cooperate, someone said ‘Hej’ and I looked from the horses just in time to see the three men coast past, waving as they began the long descent.

The roan didn’t seem to like me much though the bay was friendly enough. Every time I tried to get a good position, he kept blocking the frame and trying to slobber on the camera lens. Finally, he got bored and let me get on with the job.

Photo taking, I settled in and mentally ‘strapped in’ for the biggest decent of the ride.

The Hill

The Hill

Don’t let the picture fool you. It starts innocently enough, but after that left hand curve, it takes a turn to the right and drops.

I wondered when I’d chicken out. 27 mph is my best speed on it. I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to go faster.

I pushed off, pedaling with as much force and speed as I cared to risk with my knee. I was doing 20 mph when reached the end of the left turn. My helmet jumped around with the flapping brim, but I didn’t dare take my hands off the handles as I plunged past 25 mph. I couldn’t help it, I started fluttering the brakes. Gritting my teeth I watched the very sharp right turn at the bottom of the hill rush at me just as I edged over 26 mph. I whipped around the turn and bumped over the bridge, hoping there was no oncoming traffic.

I’d just hit 27 mph again. It’s that turn at the bottom which gets me every time. It’s tight and sitting at the bottom of the narrow dip the stream has cut in the hills, very blind. I’m always worried about cars coming the other way so don’t want to swing out too wide to compensate for centrifugal force.

Ah well. It’s still fun! I was laughing and breathless as I climbed out of the cut.

The rest of the way home was fairly humdrum, but I still enjoyed the ride. I returned home with just 8 miles short of April’s goal.

Sadly, I didn’t make it. I got out for a ride on the 29th, but it was lackluster. The plan to push it over 8 miles didn’t happen. I was so sick and riding didn’t make me feel better. Insane winds made the going even harder and my legs were quite tired from the day before so I managed only 5.89 miles.

Honestly, by that point I was too sick to care if I fell 1.5 miles short of April.

But, I’m feeling a bit better now so I’ll have to get to work on the next post for yesterday’s ride (May 14th).


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