Terii’s Cycling Babble

Four Days, Four Rides
May 21, 2013, 9:11 am
Filed under: Day Rides
A perfect image of spring

A perfect image of spring

Ah, Spring! It’s in the air. The breezes (gentle or wild) carry the bird song and scents of blooming flowers and mowed grasses. Vibrant greens dotted with color, the vivid yellow of dandelions most predominate. Gentle rains and skies so blue it’s almost painful to look at with the hot sun bearing down.

In spite of my blog silence these past few days, I have been riding. Four rides over the 17th, 19th and 20th.

A Break In the Shade

A Break In the Shade

The 17th, I set out with the intention of doing the Läby/Shopping Center loop and stopping at a small reserve along the way. There’s a burial ground there with a number of standing stones.

Being a clear day, the sun was hot and entering into the latter part of May, the wind had lost the cool, almost chill feel it’s had since the thaw. It wasn’t quite warm enough to be miserable for me though it hovered on the bare edge of being uncomfortable.

For Loke, it was well into the discomfort range. He trotted along under the hammer blows of unrelenting sun, tongue dangling somewhere around his knees.

I kept our pace slow, stopped lots to give Loke water, rest in shade, and drench his ears, muzzle and legs. He doesn’t mind the ears so much, even leaned into me while I rubbed the wet into the fur. The muzzle was more of a bother for him, but wetting his legs seems to drive him completely crazy.

More Flowering Trees

More Flowering Trees

It made a lazy sort of outing.

By the time we turned toward Ströbylund, it had changed. Within a startling short time, clouds rolled in. Thick, dense clumps of leaden gray capped with white like snow peaked mountains floating in the heavens. From darker bellies, many of them trailed streamers of rain.

As we passed through Ströbylund proper, one of those clouds caught us. The rain was cool rather than cold, unusual for Sweden. It refreshed both of us as the air took on the metallic tang of rain on warm asphalt. Loke’s tongue didn’t hang out so far and he quickened the pace in spite of my efforts for moderation.

We passed in and out of sun and rain. By the time we reached the crossing toward the burial ground, I decided to spare Loke the dirt road’s stony surface and we simply turned toward home. The furball had spurts of energy from time to time, pulling into a lope. We finished the ride with 13.01 miles. It was enough to nudge us over 40 miles for the month. Not quite enough to beat last May’s 43.8 miles.

The 18th, Loke and I took a rest day. A chance for the skin on his paws and my legs to recover.

The 19th was a gray day, but warm with a heavy humidity that leaves one feeling rather sluggish and apathetic. Still, I pushed myself out the door for the miles and exercise. Though I didn’t plan on going far, I made certain to take plenty of water for Loke. Just because the sun wasn’t out didn’t mean it wouldn’t be warm for him.

The ride, a River Loop, would have been completely humdrum except for a chance meeting. We had just passed the school when a man came toodling along on a trike, the upright sort with a cargo box in the front. Three young children were piled within. He waved me down and admired my trike. His name was Lars and he’s on the board of directors for the ‘Uppsala Cyckelförening’ which was mentioned in comment on one of my previous posts by a reader.

‘UCF’ is by their words (translated) ‘a politically independent association of cyclists in Uppsala. They want to monitor traffic policy, write proposals and disseminate facts about cycling facilities, and arrange activities.’

Lars mentioned an activity, but was speaking so quickly, I’m not sure where though I think it’s June 15th. The web site hasn’t been updated yet if there is something happening then. I’ll keep an eye on it. He also let me know about the Tuesday and Thursday cycle workshops. We chatted for a bit until Loke started getting bored. Saying farewell, I let Loke go and he went off like his tail was on fire.

The only thing that I did different on the rest of the ride was to head toward the dog yard at the beginning of the Grave Mound trails. It was a bit of a time waste. A Samoyed was in the larger yard. I didn’t want to let Loke go since he seemed aggressive and if Loke extended his nose for a curious sniff, it could well get bitten. That wasn’t the waste of time as the Sammy’s owners came over to leash him, going out another gate. I freed Loke from the leash and he trotted off to sniff, following as I went to the connecting gate to pass into the bigger area.

Loke's brief foray off leash

Loke’s brief foray off leash

We went in and Loke trotted off a bit further, nose down. I sat down at the picnic table. 3 minutes and 39 seconds later (yes, I timed it), Loke was putting his head on my knee, wagging his tail and woofing. I threw a stick. He watched it fly before looking back to me with a foot tapping dance and ‘Woof!’ Sighing, I picked everything up to walk back to the gate. The furball capered, bounced and whirled just in front of my path, clearly delighted to be returning to the trike. Less than 4 minutes.

We finished that day with 8.37 miles. It pushed us comfortably over the 43 miles of last May.

The 20th, Jens was catching an early train and wouldn’t be back home until quite late. That left all of Loke’s bathroom and exercise needs to me. Two consecutive days riding wouldn’t kill me. Especially not having done just a River Loop the day before.

On the way to the station, Jens mentioned the weatherperson had said the day could either be cooler (low 60’s) and cloudy with chance of rain and thunder or sunny and warm (70+ F). It was mostly cloudy when he said it. Softly cool with fluffs of cloud all in shades of silver, pewter and white hanging in the morning sky. I would have headed out for a ride right away, but a headache started building by the time I returned from the station. It was the sort that could cascade into a full-blown migraine if I didn’t work to cut it short. I took pain meds and laid down with a pillow over my head.

Bright, Sunny & Warming

Bright, Sunny & Warming

When I woke about an hour and a half later, I was headache free. The clouds were gone. The sun was dazzling bright in a crystalline blue sky and the temperature was rising quick.

I didn’t really want to do the River Loop again. While putting the trike together, I pondered my options. I settled on the River Loop, but with the Grave Mound stretch at the beginning as it should be dry enough in spite of the rain the night before.

I think Loke was profoundly bored as we set out, heading in the usual direction for the start of the River Loop. He didn’t want to run, but only trot briskly as we set out. After about three quarters of a mile, where we would usually go left, we went right. Furry pointed ears came forward and Loke’s head came up as his jaws gaped in a doggy smile as he leapt forward.

It lasted for the better part of a half mile. We zipped along an unpaved gravel path until following a sharp curve up to the cycle path adjoining Vattholma Road. Then Loke’s enthusiasm faded and he just went along sluggishly, utterly disinterested.

The mounds were thick with people. Children of all ages running around in what must have been field-trip day for most Uppsala schools. Joggers all over the place. People walking and biking over every inch of space. It wasn’t any better on the paved paths of the River Loop. It looked more like a weekend than a Monday. I think most of Uppsala must have played hooky.

It warmed up quick during the first 40 minutes of the slow ride. By the time we reached the grave mound paths, I was offering water frequently and wetting ears. Loke was more willing to run there, but the heat slowed him too. Since we were passing by the dog yard, I stopped there again, but it held Loke’s interest even less. I tried playing with him, having brought his squeaky monkey toy.

That offered mixed results. While it was in my hand, he was tense and ready to chase. Off it would sail with Loke in its shadow. It would squeak with the impact and… Loke would run right over it, some scent having caught his attention. That left me to hike after the monkey. We were in the yard for about 6 minutes before going back to the trike.

Rejoining the standard River Loop, in the temps which had pushed to the mid-70’s in such a short time and with the relentless sun, Loke slowed to a crawl. At times, he went at a walk, about 3 mph. I walk slow what with bad knees, ankles and back, but I think even my ambling pace is faster than that. I didn’t bother adding of the out-n-backs of the River Loop for extra distance. I didn’t feel like poking along for 3 hours.

When we reached home, I was still feeling strong. Though hot for Loke, it didn’t feel too bad to me. Beautiful blue skies and an itch to add mileage. Impulsively, I decided to do the Läby/Shopping Center loop and, if I felt up to it, go collect the runestone and burial ground along the way.

I felt guilty leaving Loke. He didn’t seem to care. After gulping some of the cold, fresh water I refilled his dish with, he flopped down on the floor and panted. I pampered him a little. Dampening a bath towel with cold water in the shower, I coaxed Loke to his feet to give him a rub down. He loves it. You have to start with his face and briskly go down his body. It makes him so happy and when he’s hot, the cold towel revives him. I then spread it on the floor under the ceiling fan on high. With a half scoop of kibble in his food dish, I told him I’d be back and slipped out the door.

I love riding with Loke. He’s great company, offering moments of laughter and smiles while acting as my personal trainer. Yet, there are times when I delight in a fast paced solo ride, particularly on old ground. This was definitely one of them. I grinned as I whipped through turns at speeds and angles which would have either flung Loke off his feet or run over him, sped over the flats at 16 mph longer than the furball would have been able to maintain in the heat. It was thrilling to fly down the hills at speeds in excess of 20 mph.

There were sections where I crept along on the extended up grades. There I missed Loke. Going slow was boring and he might have helped speed things. I felt uncomfortably hot at times. Without any significant wind, the creeping pace left me baking like a buffet roast under hot lamps. It wasn’t making me sick, but a few times I did pull into shady spots just for the feeling of delicious relative coolness.

If it gets much warmer on clear days like this, replacing the riding umbrella for shade breaks when no trees are available might be as good for me as Loke.

Old Stone Bridge & Trees

Old Stone Bridge & Trees

In a short time, I was sitting across from the Shell gas station, waiting for the pedestrian/cycle lights to make the cross over the 55.

Scurrying across the 55, I aimed the trike down the dirt road thick with good sized stones. Unexpectedly, it turned into a wild ride. The downgrade was apparently steeper than it looked. At 17-18 mph, it wasn’t just wild, but rough. One unexpected bump nearly pitched me clean out of the seat. It felt like the my feet clipped into the pedals would have acted like a pivot to cast me face first over the boom if not for a death grip on the steering. That’s a first in 7 years of riding trikes with SPD pedals and shoes. A woman just getting out of a car with a black lab turned to watch my arrival, probably wondering what the laughing screams were all about.

I was actually feeling quite tired by this time. Catching my breath under the wonderful shade of the parking lot, I evaluated if I had enough oomph for a half kilometer or longer stroll. A little sign said .2 km to the stones, but accounting for zig-zagging to look for the runestone or walking to the far end of the burial ground, a conservative estimation of .25 km one way was reasonable.

Tree Surrounded By Standing Stones

Tree Surrounded By Standing Stones

Tired or not, I decided to go. I’ve been putting this spot off for ages. There was a faintly packed trail which was easier going than I anticipated. Some distance ahead, the woman let the lab off leash and the dog bound through the growing grass with the springing enthusiasm only Labradors can express. He leapt through the green like a demented gazelle.

Second Group of Stones with Runestone

Second Group of Stones with Runestone

Uppland Runestone #902

Uppland Runestone #902

It actually felt cooler walking in the sun than riding, which helped raise my energy a little. I didn’t hurry, taking it easy on my weary legs.

I’ve been to the grave field once before. Jens and I drove here to explore and walk with the dog. There wasn’t much to see back then, thanks to chest high grass everywhere and I twisted my ankle before we even reached the tree so hobbled back to the car. Early spring was definitely a better time to come. Best might have been when it was still snowy, but given the amount of snow we had this year, I wouldn’t have come without snow-shoes.

I spotted one triangular shaped stone with a flat face which looked much like a runestone. It wasn’t I found a few moments later.

The tree clothed in spring garb and standing alone in the field except for the stones around it was lovely. I admired it as I strolled, taking photos for merging and as standalone.

I found the runestone tucked along the second cluster of stones just east and a bit south of the tree so I took photos of both the stones as a group and  close-up of the runestone.

A path ran on from the stones into a green hollow of small trees. I thought about following it a little further, but it seemed wiser to use my energy to get home.

Stones & Tree

Stones & Tree

Somehow, the woman and dog were ahead of me as I returned to the trike. I’m not sure how they passed me without being seen. I took a bit of water and dampened my neck before unlocking the trike and getting under way.

Climbing back to the 55 from the parking lot was a lot of work on tired legs thanks to the rocks all over the road.

Back on pavement and heading toward the shopping center, things felt much easier. It allowed me to reclaim the feeling of speed in spite of the wind which had kicked up. It meant harder pedaling, but the breeze was too glorious for me to think about complaining. I relaxed into a light spin for a few minutes as I fluffed sweaty hair off my neck.

A man on roller skis blasted passed with a cheery hello and I responded in kind.

Beyond the shopping center, I cut onto the cycle paths curving through a path of woodland standing like a fortress in a sea of residential complexes. In the cool depths, hidden from the sun by entwined limbs of conifers, I tried to pick up speed and tempo again. The surface of the path hindered me. There were unexpected lumps and dips. They were small enough to be hard to see at speed, but hitting a bump 5 inches high and only 10 inches wide at 15+ mph makes the trike buck like an angry rodeo bull.

The residential area on the other side made up for it and gave me fun, quick turns to whiz through, startling people on foot or bike.

Before I knew it, I was on the lanes and paths of the Field Loop, dodging the sea of humanity determined to be out to enjoy the day. Beside the river beyond the swim hall, the grassy sward was covered with people grilling and sunbathing. The dark water rippled with the canoes and kayaks gliding over it.

I really didn’t enjoy loading the trike back into the car. Better than trying to carry it into the apartment, I knew.

I came in and flopped onto the couch. Loke came over for a bit of a cuddle so he didn’t seem to hold the solo ride against me. Always good.

The 14.5+ miles pushed me over 400 miles for the year. Less than 400 miles to push past 2013’s total. 70 miles for the month so another 14 miles or so will double last May’s. Not bad and easily managed in 10 days. Oh, this post is 175! Not many more to break 200! Awesome.

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