Terii’s Cycling Babble


Winding Up May
May 31, 2013, 3:07 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Given its poor beginnings, this month hasn’t turned out as badly as expected. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I only had 3 rides to show for May as of the 15th. As of right now, it’s 11 and I might add a 12th. But, on to the ride descriptions I do have thus far.

Långsjön (Long Lake)

Långsjön (Long Lake) – March 2013

After 2 days of recovery for Loke’s feet, we went out for 8.6 miles on May 23rd. Not much, just roughly the River Loop, but since Jens had taken the train, I decided to go someplace else. When we still had snow on the fields, Loke and I did a loop around the lake near Björklinge. The name of the lake is Långsjön (Long Lake). That was the ride where we discovered washer fluid had spilled in the back of the car and I actually rode home, the latter half without Loke. Some place different from the River Loop and a chance to update a few of my photos now that there aren’t 10 foot mounds of plowed snow all over the place.

Björklinge Kyrka - 2011

Björklinge Kyrka – 2011

Loke was in a fever pitch of excitement as I made the drive north. I don’t think he even sat down the entire time. Just shifted from window to window or vulture-d over my shoulder like Snoopy in the Peanuts comics.

The Björklinge’s parking lot was empty and the environs calm. I tethered Loke to a picnic table where he watched anxiously while I assembled everything. In short order we were off.

Loke didn’t get to fly like the husky he is thanks to some fairly steep hills at the start of the ride. It wasn’t until we crossed the old E4 and shot down a long slope of road running parallel with the lake shore.

By Långsjön - May

By Långsjön – May 2013

It was a fairly cool start to the day, so most of Loke’s tongue flopping was husky grinning rather than panting to cool down. The sky was thick with puffs of drifting clouds which helped additionally temper the heat of the sun.

The scenery practically glowed in the strong light of the May morning. The vivid greens of grass and trees highlighted by the even brighter hues of huge swathes of dandelions taking over fields. Such a change from the snowy white and grays of March. It was one of those days and times of the year where I can’t help but smile as we race along at the beginning of a ride.

Just Random Scenery

Just Random Scenery

Trike and dog powered along, as we reveled in the freedom of being out and doing what we both love to do. I felt good. Pain free and strong as I pushed the pedals to propel us forward until I heard the tether jingle against Loke’s harness meaning he was no longer dragging me.

Sätuna Manor

Sätuna Manor

Around mile 2, we were already passing under the shade of the old trees that line the lane leading up to Sätuna Manor, lush and green. Best of all, it was free of the eye-sores created by mounds of dirty mounds of snow. The trees and clipped grass around the house made a lush frame and backdrop.

I didn’t go up into the main courtyard area of the house with the flanking wings as it looked more like a private residence than a tourist locale. Besides, where I shot the photo from, the trees to the right of the little drive leading up to the door hid a car. Unless its an antique car, a Rolls Royce or something equally spectacular, I’d rather leave it out if I can.

A half mile past the manor came the turn which took us onto a 2.5 mile stretch of dirt road. So far this year, that area hasn’t yet been grated, so the surface which was flat packed in March remained hard and nearly smooth. The exception was a few stones which were small and thinly scattered enough they didn’t slow the trike nor bothered Loke’s soft feet.

Plowed earth hidden beneath shoots.

Plowed earth hidden beneath shoots.

Just Love It!

Just Love It!

It was also lovely to see what was likely freshly raked dirt just a week before was now softly blushing with shoots of pale green crops. Wheat if I had to guess. It’s still thin enough that the dingy gray ground is clearly visible from close up, but once you’re a few yards away it’s just green.

Though it had started cool, it warmed quick. Before the first half hour of the ride passed, my yellow windbreaker had been stuffed into the pod bags. Within 45 minutes, I was wetting Loke’s ears as his tongue seemed to grow longer from a doggie smile to a pant to cool off. It never became so hot that I felt the desperate need to stop in the shade for him. I did it any way, particularly in areas that he seemed curious to sniff.

Blooming Apple Trees

Blooming Apple Trees

Though warm, Loke was an unstoppable machine as he ticked along between 7.5 and 8.5 mph. He pulled hard up the slopes that slowed me, loped cheerfully down the negative grades and powered on the flats. Seeing him so fit, strong and healthy makes me smile.

Loke was quite disappointed when we coasted to a stop back where we’d started. He sat mournfully in the grass under a shady tree, watching as I put everything back in the car. Once we were on our way back home, he settled down quickly enough with eyes closed in enjoyment of the gusts of wind blasting through the open windows.

The next 2 days, I was feeling a bit under the weather so we rested and I worked on some socks, hoping for a long ride over the weekend. I also plotted a balloon loop in the area west of Örsundsbro beginning at the same parking lot I started the last time I rode in the area. 26+ miles with a number of runestones to be collected and all of them were at roadside or in churches or their yards. No field stomping.

On Sunday morning, May 26th, I posted to my FB wall about getting ready for a ride. One of my Swedish friends commented that it was incredibly windy around where she lived a bit south and west of Uppsala. I replied it was windy in Uppsala too, but if I tried to wait for a calm day, I might be waiting the rest of the year.

The start was a bit later than I’d planned for various reasons, but we were at the familiar parking lot around noonish. The day had started clear and cool, but clouds were scuttling in as I readied the trike. By the time I turned on the Garmin, some were heavy enough that Jens mentioned some looked like rain though there was still quite a bit of sun.

Pretty!

Pretty!

Loke had stood quietly until I sat down and clipped in. Then he gave a few soft yodels until he heard the ratcheting sound of the parking break releasing. We were off with that brisk wind at our backs. We whipped through turns as we went the opposite way as we’d done last time, heading for Nysätra Road. Even as we made the turn not the road which would take us out of Orsundsbro toward Nysätra Church where we’d stopped last time, I saw my first 3 road cyclists. I felt for them, fighting the wind as they were. I knew my turn would be coming for it too.

By the time I reached the first runestone of the day less than 2 miles from where we’d started, more than 50 had passed me, all powering toward Orsundsbro or beyond. Clearly, some kind of ride or race was happening though none of the Lycra clad cyclists wore numbers.

Uppland Runestone #873

Uppland Runestone #873

Uppland Runestone #373 stood at roadside just across the dry ditch and tucked among scrubby trees. Another 5 or 6 cyclists whizzed passed as I hurried across the road to climb the ditch for a close photo.

Riding on, the stream of cyclists was almost constant. The first group of 20-30, all dressed in like colors and helms which came through surprised me. Many smiles, thumbs up and cheery waves. Just a few minutes after them, came yet another mass of riders, dressed in different colors with more friendly greetings. That was followed by still another big group, again, identically dressed in yet different colors than the previous two.

Definitely not a typical day for that area I’m sure.

Though everyone was dressed like a road cyclist, not all of them were hardcore powerhouses. Some were clearly just riding to enjoy the ride, pedaling along almost leisurely.

Panorama Crazy

Panorama Crazy

Weary Old Barn Slumping With Age

Weary Old Barn Slumping With Age

The first three runestones were within the first three miles. The search for Uppland Runestone #837 proved fruitless. Coordinates and maps placed it in a small field or perhaps tucked back into trees and among natural rocks. I turned off the paved road to park and take a look. My first hope was that the runes had been chiseled into a small, slightly rounded pate of stone sitting among the dandelions. If that was so, the carvings were so weathered they were invisible to the untrained eye. The stroll along the trees offered nothing that leaped out.

Loving The Spring Weather

Loving The Spring Weather

Uppland Runestone #836

Uppland Runestone #836

A weather-beaten, hand painted sign pointed down the little dirt road naming a mill. At the intersection I turned left, away from the next runestone in search of said mill. I didn’t go far though since there were no further signs for it. There was a gorgeous, dandelion strewn view of the small lake and an old bar leaning at precarious angles. After capturing those beautiful images, I turned back toward the farm yard where the next runestone waited.

As always, I felt a bit odd as I pulled to a stop in the farm yard. The paint on the house was much faded and peeling, the porch cluttered with odds-n-bits. There were a few surprise goodies for pictures.

My first attention, as usual, was for the runestone. Uppland Runestone #836. It sat in a grassy spot, shaded by a lovely old tree. Loke sat sighing by the trike, ignoring his water as I walked over for pictures and then moved on to look at the old buggy, an old plow and the barn with half a dozen or so wagon wheels leaning against the stones of the lower part of the wall..

I’d only taken a few steps past the stone when I heard, ‘Woof!’

Loved the stone work on this barn.

Loved the stone work on this barn.

I stopped, the hairs at the nape of my neck prickling as it had been a deep throated bark. A large dog. A country dog, which tend to be more defensive against strange dogs than urban animals. It took a moment for me to spot it since after that one single woof, it had gone silent.

It was either a Swedish Elk Hound or a Norwegian one. The gray and black coat blended with the weathered wood of the house porch to near perfection. It just laid there, watching me back. Then it gave that single bark again. It didn’t seem inclined to get up from the porch. I wondered if it had missed seeing Loke or if it was just so old, all it had the energy for was to give those widely spaced woofs.

I took my pictures from where I stood and then casually turned back to the trike. I sat down, sipped water and waited. Finally the dog put its head back down for sleep and I crept away. Whether he really didn’t care about Loke and me and was just letting his people know someone was about or was too old to make an issue of it, I’m grateful the dog did no more than watch and bark.

Thickening Clouds Across The Lake

Thickening Clouds Across The Lake

It felt like minutes after I left the farm to return to the main road when the fluffy clouds banded together to consume every bit of blue sky. The wind, which had been hard enough to sail us along, rose to impressive intensity. Loke appreciated the break from the sun as I’d been stopping every mile or so to give him water and wetting his ears every other pause.

Momma helping with the flies

Momma helping with the flies

Lunch!

Having Lunch!

 

The first spits of rain hit, but were barely felt thanks to an adorable distraction. In a dandelion studded field, a pair of mares grazed with brown foals flattened in the grass. I coasted softly to a stop, not wanting to alarm the little darlings, but they still scrambled to their feet.

Well, one of them scrambled. The other lurched and swayed. Clearly the colt with the brown mare was a few weeks old at least.

The little filly might have been a few days at best though I’m tempted to say less than two. She was still shaky on her feet and had that skinny, gawkiness that new-born horses have. Too cute, the both of them.

They were only briefly wary before the filly decided it was time for lunch while the colt let his mom’s tail flicks chase away flies.

Långtora Church Under Threatening Skies

Långtora Church Under Threatening Skies

Just passed the foals, I started seeing familiar scenery. Beneath the growing clouds, I could see Långtora Church in the distance. Nysätra Church and our next turn was not far.

I chuckled when I rolled into the back parking lot of Nysätra Church. The wind’s intensity climbed until the tree limbs lashed and hedge shook violently. It was every bit as strong as the last time I’d been there, waiting for Jens to find me. Blessfully, it was much warmer. I had no need of wool, windbreaker or gloves.

I settled Loke comfortably with water before pushing through a break in the shrubbery to look at the dense gray sky in the east. With a sigh, I went back to the trike, expecting that any minute now the downpour would hit. Maybe even a growls of thunder or lightning flashes.

While I made another attempt to find the runestone in Nysätra’s grave yard, I thought I felt a few more spits of rain yet nothing more. I considered calling Jens, but Loke and I had barely covered six miles. Besides, even if the bottom did fall out, it wasn’t that cold and I had an umbrella if I got too chilled and needed to wait on Jens. Wool was packed too!

Thought for sure I'd be drenched

Thought for sure I’d be drenched

The runestone there still eluded me so we pressed on, taking a small road north. It was unpaved, but with a good surface. I wasn’t worried about the density of the stones since I’d put the socks on Loke

Uppland Runestone #835

Uppland Runestone #835

A mile up from the turn, I stopped for the next stone. Uppland Runestone #835. This stone is unusual in that it apparently dates from the Medieval Period instead of Viking age. Beautifully inscribed with a beast and interesting cross, the runes are nonsense. I suppose, it could almost be considered a fake even if it is 700-800 years old. I think I’ve come across a bare handful of ‘false’ stones. This one was the nicest of those few.

On the northward trek, we had an encounter that was both a bit scary and yet I had to laugh as well. While passing a house, I saw it had a few pieces of wire mesh tied across the drive between two sides of a red picket fence. ‘Oh, they have small dogs. I’ll go carefully past up this hill.’

As we edged passed the first fence post, a huge German Shepherd came snarling, full tilt across the yard. My heart went straight into my mouth and I tried to hurry up the hill. If that monster really wanted to get to us, I knew he’d go through that flimsy excuse of a gate like tissue paper… if he didn’t just sail right over it.

All I saw was flashing teeth as he snapped and barked across the yard. Less than 5 yards from the wire, a woman yelled from the house, ‘Loke! Nej!’

The shepherd stopped instantly and, still growling, slunk back toward the house. My Loke gave me a confused look, head down and tail wagging slightly as if asking, ‘What did I do??’

Only once the shepherd was safely away, did I give a nervous giggle at the coincidence.

Österunda Church

Österunda Church

We rattled our way to the next western turn and from there to Österunda Church. I’ve been here before though I only took a photo of the church from the distance. This time, I went up to it, hoping it was unlocked so I could collect the runestone hiding in the porch. Alas, just like Nysätra, it was closed.

Loke and I rested there briefly. He lolled in the grass after drinking his fill while I munched on an apple.

That was when the rain finally began. The few drops landing on me earlier had been just that, a few drops. One here. Three there. This was a light rain, enough to make me fret about pulling the camera out for photos, but hardly enough to keep me damp.

The fuzzy one helped up the hill passed the church’s belfry where a runestone sat. I didn’t stop for it since I’ve already collected and posted it.

As we crested that hill, the landscape took a definite downward tilt. I started to feel guilty. Sitting comfortably while I kept hold of the brakes, coasting and coasting and coasting. Loke had to keep his legs moving. Granted, he was energetic enough to go at a lope, but I still felt bad. Admittedly, there’d been plenty of hills for me to work my legs.

Rain and still beautiful

Rain and still beautiful

Before I was completely overwhelmed by the bad feelings we made the turn for an out-n-back for a runestone. It was up and up. The grade wasn’t too horrible, but enough to slow us to about 4-5 mph as I spun as briskly as I could.

Uppland Runestone #1167

Uppland Runestone #1167

The rain increased as I coasted to a stop next to the Uppland Runestone #1167. It rested on a grassy patch under a small tree. It was a challenge to juggle the umbrella and camera in high winds. Not something I would recommend. The easiest way around the problem would be to take Jens’ point-n-click camera with me. I prefer the Canon, but given a choice between ruining it with rain or using my hubby’s water-proof, shock-resistant one. It takes pretty good photos for what it is.

Of course, the hill I’d pushed my way up was a free-wheeling ride down while Loke trotted and galloped. He seemed to be enjoying it though. With high winds, damp fur and no sun he had plenty of enthusiasm and energy. The negative grade continued as we made the turn south. I think all told it was about 3 miles of coasting with .75 mile of a climb to the previous stone.

Torstuna Church

Torstuna Church

The rain slacked some when I made the turn to Torstuna Church. Sitting next to the church yard gate, I filled Loke’s water dish. A car came from behind with a trailer and parked in front of us. An older couple with a girl of about 12 got out. Smiling and waving, they asked about the trike a bit. They were most interested in Loke though. I invited them to come give him a pat as we talked. When they moved off to tend the grave they came to visit, I got up to take photos.

It was coming up on 6 pm by this time and I was beyond hungry. I thought about calling Jens, but something in me wouldn’t let it happen. Part of it might have been the fact that the heavenly aroma of grilling meat kept swirling around on the frisky wind. Sitting there for 45 minutes or more would have been torture.

I regretted the decision almost immediately when the rain came back, heavier than ever. It was finally enough to make me more than damp. I bordered on soggy. Loke was a huge help there, shaking his coat every few yards to drench my right side.

About a mile on, I nearly went into a coma from pure cuteness. I wasn’t able to get any photos though. The wind was too much for the umbrella and the rain too heavy to risk the camera. Pity, I would have loved photos of a pasture full of a dozen mares, each with a little one in her shadow. Most of them looked quite young though at least a few weeks to a month older than the new baby I’d seen earlier.

Uppland Runestone #838

Uppland Runestone #838

Uppland Runestone #839

Uppland Runestone #839

Making the turn east, into the full force of the wind, I settled in to power through the last 8 miles or so since I thought I was done with runestones. The next church along the way was Nysätra again. At least there was nothing marked on my map.

So, I was quite stunned by a huge stone, almost 8 feet high, appearing at the side of the road. I double checked my maps, but they showed nothing on that stretch. Clearly, I’d been remiss about marking all the stones. There was no placard so no knowing which it was until returning home and checking the database.

Less than 100 yards further on, another stone waited to be found and this one did have a placard. Uppland Runestone #839.

With the daylight fading and the hard blowing air beginning to cool added to being damp, I finally had to pull on my yellow windbreaker. Örsundsbro was still some 6 miles away. Loke still wanted to run and his weight in the harness was a welcome help against the crazy winds.

This time, I didn’t even stop at Nysätra Church, though I did briefly consider making it the pick up point. On the other hand, I wanted to finish a full ‘long’ ride. I pushed on into the beginnings of twilight.

For some time, I’d been hearing the call of nature, but hadn’t been able to answer it. So, when I approached signs indicating a swimming place, I made the turn. There, next to a car barricade to keep vehicles in the parking lot, was a tiny bathroom building. I ran up to it and… locked.

Nice Place to Wait

Nice Place to Wait

Coming to terms with that, I walked down to the lake with Loke. Only when he walked into the water and began lapping at it, did I see the fur monster had managed to lose 2 of his socks which had been there half a mile earlier. Walking back toward the trike, I decided that I was going to end the ride there. It was a much nicer place to wait for the hubby than in the parking lot of a youth center.

'I don't wanna stop!' he says

‘I don’t wanna stop!’ he says

After calling Jens, I walked around the little nature reserve/swim park a bit before sitting down to wait. Loke wasn’t entirely thrilled to be stopping. He paced around. He woofed at me. He sighed gustily. He’d lay down and the get back up to pace again a few seconds later. 25 miles and he still wanted to go. Whatta dog!

If I’d known what a headache it would have turned into for Jens to find us, I would have just pushed on the last 1.5 miles to where I began. The coordinates for the GPS have never really failed us, but then I guess the inexactness of inherent in standard car models never had to deal with a small lake when we used them. My poor hubby sounded like he was about to pull his hair out.

Finally, I managed to dig an address for the park out of my Garmin’s functions. That brought Jens right to me. The coordinates had caused the car’s GPS to send him to the south side of the lake while I waited on the north.

It was a cold wait with that wind and it getting darker by the moment. I huddled under the umbrella, not because of rain, but because I held one edge down against the table top to form a wind break.

Just as Jens found me, the heaviest rain of the trip started. It felt so good to get everything back in the car, jump in with the seat heat on high and thaw out. We got back home around 9 pm.

Another 2 days of rest, which I definitely needed even if Loke didn’t, and we went out for a quick River Loop on the 28th. Not much else to say about that one being just 4.77 miles. The absolute basic.

The next day, May 29th, we did the River Loop again. A full one with a little extra this time for a total of 9.03 miles. The only thing that I have to mention about that ride was my Garmin decided to turn itself off sometime during the first few minutes of the ride. Upon seeing a blank screen, I thought I must have simply forgot to turn it on. When I did so, it showed 0.68 miles, so clearly it had been working. It’s not that easy to turn off. Not like a bump to a button can do it. It has to be depressed and held down for several seconds and it takes considerable pressure.

That worried me. In spite of that moment of oddness, it worked perfectly for the rest of the ride. Near as I can tell, I lost about .3 mile.

So, there’s the last of May with the exception of what I ride today (31st). Jens has a plane to catch early this morning, so no walkies for the furry from the hubby. That means a River Loop at least. Though since I have the car, maybe I should find a 10 mile or so loop else where?

I’ll be finishing the month with 120+ miles. More than double last May, though most likely a few miles short of tripling it. I think I’d need 136 miles or so to do that. If not for being sick one week and the trike at the shop for another, I’d have done it. Ah well. Maybe next year!

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