Terii’s Cycling Babble


Challenges of a Cursed Ride
June 19, 2013, 7:29 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Day rides are supposed to be simple things. Plot-n-print maps, collect the things I need and go. Easy.

Mariefred (Peace of Mary)

Mariefred (Mary’s Peace)

Not Mariefred (Mary’s Peace). Oh no. I’ve wanted to ride in that area for 2, maybe even 3 years now. This year, I decided I was going to do it. It finally happened after about a dozen planning events. One complication was the castle there. Jens’ lovely mother had given me a map of the castles located around Lake Mälaren. One day, Jens and I decided to take a day’s road trip chasing the castles down.

In Mariefred is a gorgeous one called Gripsholm. As soon as I saw it, I was desperate to do a ride in the area to add in the blog. I also wanted to look inside the castle before or after the ride so I’d have interior pictures as well. Of course, the problem with seeing the inside of the castle while doing a ride was Loke. I’m not sure they’d allow even small dogs to be carried through, let alone a giant furball leaving a blizzard of white hair in his wake. So, I made about 4 attempts to have my sister-in-law come with. The plan was she would walk around the castle’s environs with Loke while I explored within. When I was done, she could go into the castle and explore Mariefred while I did the ride. Of course, I’d cover the cost of the castle’s entrance fee and even a bit of money for her to lunch on.

Gripsholm From South

Gripsholm From South

The plans fell through. Something would come up with either one of us. Since I’d invited her and she seemed genuinely interested, I didn’t feel right going without her even when Loke’s foot started acting up and I was going to leave the fuzzy one with Jens.

Södermanland Runestone #178

Södermanland Runestone #178

Södermanland Runestone #179

Södermanland Runestone #179

Persistent would best describe this outbreak. The first treatment the vet offered only half worked since Loke has two different kinds of bacteria working on the skin there. One responds to 1 kind of antibiotic ointment, but is resistant to the one that the other is susceptible to. The skin dried, but the redness of infection has not cleared.

Gripsholm Castle - Outer Courtyard

Gripsholm Castle – Outer Courtyard

When I took Loke back, she offered an antiseptic treatment rather than oral antibiotics. It’s such a localized infection so it feels a bit overkill to treat the entire body to clear up the small area of the foot. Not to mention, Loke’s been dosed so many times with antibiotics. In his 8 years of life, he’s had more prescriptions for the stuff than I have in all my 40+ years.

I believe this is the original courtyard

I believe this is the original courtyard

Unfortunately, that treatment has only ‘maintained’ the current status of infection, so back we go on Monday, June 17th. That means oral antibiotics.

The problems this year with Loke’s feet meant I was determined to leave the furball at home with Jens. I wasn’t about to condemn my hubby to 4 hours of driving (two 2 hour round trips) for drop off and pick up. If I had the car, it would mean a huge headache for a rescue if Loke needed it. Too big a risk with 33+ miles on plan.

There was one day when I decided to set out for the ride. It was roughly 9 am when I started organizing. I was on my way with the car finally loaded and everything together around noonish. I turned around and came back after about 10 miles. 1 hour there, at least an hour to explore inside the castle and another half hour for the outside. After the 20 min or so it would have taken to me to change clothes, assemble and load the trike… say 3 pm to begin the ride. Even if I’d taken a shorter 16 mile ride, I’d have been hard pressed to see the things I wanted to. Runestones off across fields, church ruins, not-ruined churches not to mention just exploring Mariefred’s lovely buildings.

Love the wooden turret over the entrance.

Love the wooden turret over the entrance.

By this time, I started to feel the ride was cursed. So many attempts that failed at the half formed point and the day with the late start in spite of my best intentions. I continued to pedal circles near home with Loke, but nothing to be said about those rides. Other than the fact they were mind-numbing for both myself and the fuzzy one. Notta thing happened. We just did them in a semi-comatose state.

Pity Loke doesn’t do like I (or most people) do on tedious solo rides. I want to get them done with ASAP. Loke? When he gets bored with a loop, he drags and pokes, slowing to paces that I, with bad knees and ankles, could out walk! Turns a 30 minute yawn-fest into a torment that endures for an hour or more. I wheedle and encourage all I can, but I absolutely refuse to pull him. Getting accustomed to hauling him along would only lead to a greater possibility of injury or heat stroke.

Another weekend rolled around and I awoke on Saturday, June 8th, determined to do the Mariefred ride. The trike pretty much stays in the car unless it’s locked up outside on the days I plan to ride but Jens needs the car. The maps were all printed and marked with the area’s runestones. The odds-n-ends I want for a longer ride were still in the car. All I needed to do was pack my cycle clothes for changing after touring the castle, collect my camera and various electronics, fill a water bladder and go.

Small Scale Steam Train

Small Scale Steam Train

I paced around the apartment until about 8:30 am. Then after kissing the hubby bye and running out the door before Loke noticed, I was on my way. That’s the day all the above photos for this post were taken.

I arrived at Gripsholm in good time. The parking lot was just starting to fill as I attached the shoulder strap to my handlebar bag to stroll up to the castle. Walking under the lovely wooden turret to go in, I smiled. Even in the ‘lobby’ where fees are paid, the woodwork was gorgeous. Heavy dark beams supported the ceiling and every inch of wood over head was painted with countless animals in medieval style. Hares, deer, boar and more. The floor was worn old planks. I don’t remember the walls precisely.

Gripsholm Castle From West

Gripsholm Castle From West

Gripsholm Castle from South

Gripsholm Castle from South

The rest of the first floor didn’t disappoint. It seemed I was constantly sighing in soft wonder at magnificence of wood paneling, or elaborately crafted ceilings. One section of the paneling I thought was painted. Upon closer inspection, it was actually inlay. Woods of different types and grain, some stained green, blue or red, fitted flawlessly into spaces cut into the main surface. There was gilt in places which stood out stunningly among the dark earth and jewel tones. The fireplaces were surprisingly small, but lovely and some rooms had the gorgeous tiled stoves instead. Beams and walls had paintings if they weren’t paneled or carved. One room had vaulted plaster arches with some mural work and a beautiful wooden bed built into an alcove with heavy fabric hangings. Couldn’t have nobility being awaken at 3 am by a Swedish summer sun after all.

It was a rude surprise to discover photos were forbidden. In the second room of the self-guided tour, I was in the wake of a French couple. I was reaching for my camera as the man snapped a picture. A woman seemed to spring out of nowhere, dressed in a dark blue uniform like pant-suit. ‘No pictures!’ she said in Swedish.

Manor Across Inlet

Manor Across Inlet

The man gave her an odd look, ‘No photos?’ he asked in English, guessing what she had said. The woman repeated herself in English to confirm. Those ninja women were everywhere. All the castle employees I saw were women any way.

Admittedly, I tried for photos a few times, but given the circumstances none of them came out good enough to be used. The dark colors didn’t respond well to pictures taken without a flash or a tripod at the very least. Then of course, the Canon felt as noisy as a cannon (haha) in the relative silence of the castle. My iPhone images were no better though at least it was quiet if I covered the speakers with my fingers before taking a picture. Each attempt was nervous business. Some of the blue-suited women were easy to spot, strolling around with polite, even friendly smiles. Others? They seemed to pop into existence out of thin air. I’d step into a room, taking a moment to admire the details, turn for a sweeping glance to be sure and there one would be, smiling and nodding a greeting from the center of the room. Not a sound of foot step as a warning, but there. Ninjas I tell you!

Steam Engine in Rail House

Steam Engine in Rail House

I’m not sure why they don’t allow photos. Maybe they don’t want several thousand flashes a day fading the paintings and fabrics. Maybe they want to sell their booklet with a scant handful of pictures in it and not even the most visually interesting rooms, I might add! Could be both.

At least the temptation to take pictures lessened as I climbed upward. Each floor contained the appearance of a successively later period in the castle’s existence. First floor I think was 1500’s. Second floor perhaps 1600’s and the third later still.

I found it odd that the magnificence lessened each time. The second floor had some lovely rooms, but in a simpler and less grandly worked fashion than any on the first. I liked the wooden corridor with a long series of leaded glass windows down the side and the theater was pretty impressive.

Old Train Station Building

Old Train Station Building

The third floor looked rather tatty in most places. The tower prison cell was very interesting though. It was a round room set almost in the center of a guard room with barred openings set in the wall every few paces. I guess it was for those prisoners you don’t dare take your eyes from.

After looking at the 65 or so rooms open to the public I headed back to the car to fetch my cycle clothes and change in a nearby bathroom.

Serious doubts about the wisdom of the ride intruded into my thoughts while I fought with the costume change. My legs and ankles ached, my heels felt like they’d been pounded with mallets and my back had two spasms while pulling on my tights. If just getting dressed hurt this much, I could end up flat in the gravel trying to unload and assemble the trike. I swallowed some pain relievers and sat with a scoop of strawberry ice cream to think.

Interesting

Interesting

The tipping point on the decision was my dying iPhone. Though the charge had been full when I’d left the apartment and I’d barely used it, it was below half. Half! Just from 2 calls less than 3 minutes each time and posting a photo of Gripsholm to FB in less than 4 hours? It spoke ill of the likelihood that it would hold out for the duration of the ride. Disappointed, I went back to the car for the drive home.

I tell you the ride was cursed!

So then came the weekend of the 15th and 16th! I was determined to get Mariefred done!

Jens had originally wanted me to do it on Sunday and Saturday we’d do an exercise walk. Well, I’d walk, he’d do sprints on the trail back and forth with Loke. I opted to reverse the order since the weather forecasts showed Saturday as sunny, cool with little wind and Sunday gray and wet. I find it much less unpleasant to walk in the rain than ride, truth be told.

I waited until about 6 am to start getting ready, not wanting to wake Jens too early nor just vanish from the apartment without letting him know. After double checking the weather predictions (still perfect), out the door I went.

Gripsholm From Mariefred

Gripsholm From Mariefred

I really should start riding in the early mornings again. Some part of me had forgotten that I love an early morning during Swedish summer. The silence broken only by bird song as the shadows lay long cast by a red-gold sun. No cars. No people. I love that light and the peaceful quiet.

Street Toward Mariefred Church

Street Toward Mariefred Church

Though leaving Mariefred without riding the previous weekend had been disappointing, it certainly simplified the next attempt. I didn’t have to work around castle opening hours and could save the time needed to explore the inside of it. I still wanted to explore around the outside of it which I’d lacked the energy to do the previous weekend.

I arrived about 7:45 am. Though the castle didn’t open until 10 am, there were already quite a few people. Some were locals out to enjoy the gorgeous morning jogging around the castle park or walk their dogs. Others were clearly visitors. I heard someone speaking German. Of course, the day I explored the castle, I heard German, Russian, French, Danish and some Middle Eastern dialect.

A few minutes of quick work and I had the trike assembled. There was an addition to my usual day trip outfitting. I had my Solio solar charger slotted onto my flag pole. It had about a 20-25% charge already in case my iPhone’s battery decided to empty in record time, but a little extra never hurt. Car locked, I zipped off toward the castle to do a quick loop around it for more exterior photos.

To think, this building is probably 300 years old & still used.

To think, this building is probably 300 years old & still used.

Sadly, there was a sign forbidding bikes in the area past the little drawbridge. Not a problem really, but it would have shaved off about 15 minutes from the time I took me to do the loop around the mini-island.

I went slowly through Mariefred proper. Quite a few people were moving around even at 8:30 am on a Saturday morning. Mariefred Church was locked tight as expected so no runestone. I stopped for photos of the charming buildings when I found streets that weren’t crammed with parked cars. A wall of metal, rubber and glass on one side of a pretty, narrow street detracts so much from the grace of older buildings. Inevitably, it’s always on the interesting side and obscuring lovely details of the stoops or bottom edges of windows. I know people live there and need to park somewhere, but it still means unappealing clutter.

I didn’t spend too much time tootling around Mariefred, saving some of the other sections to explore when I came back through after the out-n-back toward a runestone north east of the city.

Once beyond the wooden cottages and sheds, it became clear the weather forecasters had lied. Yes, it was sunny with just a few clouds, but the wind! Supposedly the Mariefred area was to have 6-8 mph winds with gusts in the 12-15 mph range. Well, unless the definition of ‘gust’ has changed radically, they widely missed the mark there. Sustained winds were whipping the tall weeds and lashing tree limbs while making leaves hiss. When a true gust hit, the trike felt like it had rolled onto fly paper. If it kept up, the ride was going to be brutal.

First slug of 2013. Wonder if it's an infectious escapee? :P

First slug of 2013. Wonder if it’s an infectious escapee? 😛

Though pretty in parts, the out-n-back had its drawbacks. First was riding past a correctional facility which took up a fair chunk of landscape. Then as I sped down a hill, I passed a gravel drive with a large gate of steel bars. I went so fast, I may have misread the sign, but I could have sworn it read, ‘Infectious Organisms’. I might be wrong on the ‘organism’ part, but I’m pretty sure I read ‘infectious’ correctly. Comforting.

Soon, I was coasting to a stop in the area of the day’s second runestone. In theory it would have been the 4th, but I wasn’t counting the two outside Gripsholm castle since I’d photographed them the previous weekend.

It wasn’t to be. From the satellite view, the stone had appeared to be at the edge of a working farm yard. What I found instead was neat, well kept yard around a snug house. Skirting the yard would have been hard with what looked like nettles in the tall weeds where the clipped lawn ended. To say I was uncomfortable with the idea of traipsing past someone’s flower beds and children’s toys to the rear of the yard in search of the runestone would be quite an understatement. I turned back.

I will say for the wind, it was a help on the return to Mariefred. Much of the road heading south was uphill and getting the push from behind was nice. Unless it did a magical about face, the 8 or so miles back north were going to be unpleasant.

Pretty to look at, but not ride on.

Pretty to look at, but not ride on.

The buildings back in the city blocked most of the wind except for stray gusts. I swung by back the church, but alas it was still closed.  I again avoided riding on the cobblestone street, preferring the boggy gravel. It would have been hazardous for me to ride the Trice on cobbles, but just because the Sprint can do it safely doesn’t mean it’s pleasant or desirable.

Just Gorgeous!

Just Gorgeous!

I went by through what I might call the main square of the city and found a fruit stand. I nearly passed it without buying anything, but the fruit looked so gorgeous and then the heavenly scent of fresh, local grown strawberries enveloped me. The cherries were flawless globes of gleaming garnet reds.

As I settled into the seat, one small problem crossed my mind. Did I really want to use my drinking water to rinse the fruit when I had no idea how long the ride would take? Not a huge deal as I could always just eat the berries at home, but slightly irritating all the same.

My fruity snack packed so as not to get crushed and I was on my way.

I pushed north as briskly as I could for the first 3 miles or so, but then had to slow down. It was hillier in the area than anticipated which made the winds even worse. I had miles and miles yet to go. No sense in killing myself before I’d even really started. Climbing the grades may have been torment, but coming down them without the need to moderate my speed for Loke was a blast. I’m not sure what speeds I reached as I’ve still not mounted my GPS bracket, but it was fun! Would have been even more so if not for the headwinds.

Dirt Track

Dirt Track

Reaching the next turn for the next runestone, I almost didn’t take it. Unpaved dirt track, not even a road really, tightly boxed with hedges straight up a of a steep climb. My tendency for self-abuse made me go anyway. It was brutal. I don’t know how long it took me to creep over the distance, stopping slap the ache out of my muscles occasionally. Finally, it curved and the hedge gave way to more open terrain with hints of country homes. I pushed past those into hilly field areas, bumping along barely faster than a walk.

Following the curve around an old building, I came to stop. The track took a steep drop I cringed to see even if it hadn’t been covered with a fresh layer of rock chunks. Couldn’t even call it gravel as it was over 1 inch, closer to 2 inches in size. My rear wheel had slipped on the first climb to the area. That stony surface would have had me struggling on foot to drag the trike up and the Sprint doesn’t drag easy. The front wheels twist sharply right where they don’t roll. Pushing the trike works better, but is still very awkward. Shading  my eyes, I looked down the slope in hopes of spotting the stone and perhaps getting some kind of photo of it even if from a distance. I had my long lens this time at least.

I've always loved contrasts of sun & shadow on landscapes

I’ve always loved contrasts of sun & shadow on landscapes

Thwarted, I turned back. Reaching the main road again was matter of hanging on to the brakes and avoiding potholes than pedaling. Hoping a car wouldn’t come rushing up between those hedges.

A little further up was a right turn for the next runestone on my map. I pulled into it, stopping to consider as I rinsed a strawberry. It was fruity perfection as while glancing over the information I’d printed out. Getting to the stone was going to be almost a half mile walk one way. It was a fragment, tucked in a wooded area. All that comes to ‘nearly impossible to find’. So far off the beaten track, the odds were extremely high it wouldn’t have been maintained. So, no easy to spot painted runes or a handy placard. Energy, stamina and time better spent combating the wind.

Södermanland Runestone #187

Södermanland Runestone #187

Though it was supposed to be on the road side not far from the third runestone I’d let pass for the day, it took a bit of searching to find Södermanland Runestone #187. The database complicated matters by marking it on the wrong side of the road mainly. It left me stomping around through the trees near a bus stop before moving out. After I’d pedaled less than 50 yards, I found it on the opposite embankment.

The traffic was fairly constant and the climb down and up the ditch quite steep. Instead of risking life and limb, I swapped the lenses on my camera to take the shot from across the street. It meant not having the placard’s information, but better that then twisting an ankle or getting hit by a car.

By that time, I’d covered 10 miles and will freely admit my legs were killing me. Thighs and calves burned. I made a check in call to Jens and he suggested I turn around. The idea galled. The cursed ride was beating me even while doing it. Missed runestones, insane winds the forecast had gotten wrong, and not even 1/3 of the way through it felt like I’d hammered out 50 miles!

Returning to Mariefred would mean having the wind at my back which would be helpful on the hills I’d raced down, but I’d still have ridden a bit over 21 miles. Only 11-12 miles less than the full loop. Stubbornly, I pushed on.

Toresunds Church

Toresunds Church

A little further along, I coasted to a stop in the parking lot of the second church of the day. A woman waved me a cheery greeting as I walked toward the church with the camera.

Toresunds Church  as certainly… pink. Well, perhaps more of a coral shade really. Vivid either way. I tried the doors, but it was locked tight. Still, I made a slow circuit of the buildings and churchyard in hopes of spotting the runestone that’s supposed to be here.

It’s probably in the porch or worse case, since it is just a fragment big enough only for the words ‘his son’, hidden in the outer wall among the other stones.

Gravklot - Grave Sphere

Gravklot – Grave Sphere

There was something even more interesting in the church’s pink wall though. A gravklot which translates simply as ‘grave sphere’. I’ve supposedly been close to one other around Salem Church west of Stockholm, though I didn’t actually lay eyes on it. So, this was my first proper look at one of these. Beautiful. It dates from the Iron Age and is roughly 50 cm in diameter and stuck in the wall about 8 to 10 feet from the ground. It’s slightly damaged, but fairly intact given the centuries it’s endured. It utterly charmed me.

As I finished church wander, I swerved toward the bathroom. It was open and I hurried to the trike for the fruit. I used the handsoap to thoroughly scrub every inch of the sink before rinsing the cherries and strawberries, which I never allowed to touch the porcelain. I happily munched on a couple of cherries on the walk back to the Sprint. They were the best I’ve had this year and will be hard to beat I think.

I was careful not to eat too many in spite of the temptation to stuff myself on every last one of them. Bad things happen if I drink or eat too much even close a duration of vigorous exercise. I didn’t want to add more suffering to what the wind inflicted and no way was I going to twiddle around for 2 hours waiting for my body to settle the food. I wasn’t making very good time and had no idea how much longer the remaining 20+ miles while seeking runestones and church ruins was going to take.

Feeling the burn!

Feeling the burn!

Half a mile or so past the church, the route turn from north to west-south-west. I’d hoped for a little relief from the violent press of wind, but perversely, it just seemed to shift so it still came full into my teeth. After passing through the tiny village/town of Stallarholmen, the size and traffic load of the road increased though the shoulder remained minuscule. At first it was good to see the cycle path on the opposite of the ditch next to the road. That perspective didn’t last long.

While some unpaved cycle paths are fine with a well packed gravel surface, this was not one of them. It was loose and shifty. Add in the 15+ mph headwind? Ugh!

See it? A bit to the right

See it? A bit to the right

I suffered along for about a mile, which took me almost 15 minutes in those unpleasant conditions. Then I made a turn north for a short out-n-back for another stone. It was an unpaved road which somehow was worse than the cycle path, though at least the gale hit from the side instead of full on.

I found the area easily enough thanks to a small clump of trees set a bit from others in a field. Across the plowed earth, green with growing wheat not much more than 10 inches high, I could just make out what I thought was the runestone. It sat on the flank of an unplowed hill cluttered with scrubby little trees. The long lens allowed me to confirm it before setting out.

Södermanland Runestone #189

Södermanland Runestone #189

Except for a burden of guilt, the walk was easy. Why guilt? I cringed at every stalk of wheat flattened under my shoes. I was stomping through someone’s livelihood. I was glad the wheat was so low as just pushing through the chest high weeds at the edge made me cringe. Ticks *shudder*

Between the field edge and the stone was a wire fence with no clear way through/over though it looked rather park-like. Might have even been a burial ground though I haven’t found reference to such. I settled for taking a photo of Södermanland Runestone #189 from across the fence.

Even if the nightmarish cycle path hadn’t ended right in that area, I wouldn’t have gone back to it upon my return to the main road. The smooth, recently paved surface made faster going for much less effort, wind or no. I cruised on the flats at 12 mph and flew on downgrades at speeds close to 25 mph. If the day had been calmer, I probably could have hit 30+ mph on a few of those hills. The climbs as always were very slow and there seemed to be so many of them.

Now _THAT_ is a strawberry.

Now _THAT_ is a strawberry.

I took another break around mile 20. Clawing my way, tooth and nail up a bridge to go over rail tracks and a busy road, my legs demanded it. Sitting in the hot sun on an unappealing bridge wasn’t my first choice for a rest, but sometimes you have to take what you can get. At least it was cycle/pedestrian pathway with a nice solid barricade between my flesh and flying traffic. I slumped back in the seat to sip water and nibble perfectly ripe strawberries with that glorious balance of tart and sweet.

Pulling down the brim as much as I could, I semi-dozed in the sun. I looked up when I heard bikes coming. Many strange looks.

15 minutes later, I felt much better and pushed on.

Across the bridge was my turn south. I could have taken the larger and more direct road which had good shoulders, but I opted to follow the signs for a cycle trail. I can’t remember which one, there were about 4 of them. The only name I do remember from the many cycle signs I saw was ‘Water Lily Trail’ which may or may not be the one of the same name in the Trösa area. It took me down smaller streets though a semi-residential area. Trees offered a bit of shade over the unrelenting sun the larger road had.

Very sweet and purry

Very sweet and purry

I’m glad I went that way or I’d have never met an adorable cat. Since Loke was at home with the hubby, I was able to greet the furry sweetheart properly. I passed about 10 minutes loving on the cutie while he covered me in orange and white fur, face rubbing me and the trike furiously as he rumbled like a engine. I love cats.

Okay, I love most animals, but that’s beside the point.

Swedish Summer

Swedish Summer

I enjoy smaller country roads. They offer better scenery (photo ops) and shade more often than the larger thoroughfares. A better chance of seeing animals as well.

Åkers Church

Åkers Church

Once stopped at Åker Church, it felt good to get off the trike for a slow walk. The runestone there was not to be found on the outside and the church was locked. While researching for the blog, I discovered the stone is apparently in the church’s floor in front of the alter. A slightly unusual place. Granted, many runestones spent part of their long existence as thresholds for church doorways whether at the entrance or between the porch and nave.

There was a bit of confusion about my next destination. Just a bit south of the church lay a pair of boulder runestones, or so research told me. The problem was my Garmin wasn’t showing the road I needed and the area was a tangle of a semi-recent suburbia cluster. Cookie cutter type houses with just differing little details of color or whether or not the garage doors had glass. Glass? Really? I wouldn’t want to be displaying to the world the usual clutter in a garage or things to be taken.

Come out, come out where ever you are!

Come out, come out where ever you are!

Getting surprised stares from people working in their postage stamp sized, tree-less lawns, I finally came to cul-de-sac. A field flanked by clusters of trees stretched north to a road and Åkers Church a little beyond. Somewhere in the hip to waist high grass lurked a pair of rocks with runes chiseled into them. I know the grass doesn’t look that tall, but it was. The ground was a springy sod-like texture which was kinda like walking on a mattress. Muddy patches lurked under that in places too.

I was about half an hour criss-crossing that field, but the ride’s curse and the tall grass seemed determined to hide them. Maybe they were further back in the trees than my search took me. Either way, I returned to the trike without the stones and sweaty. After another 10 minutes searching for ticks on my clothes, I moved out.

In spite of the failure to find the rune boulders, I was excited as I powered north. My legs were tired as I pedaled on. While crossing the overpass across the E20, my flagging energy levels were bolstered. A horn honk made me look up to find a man grinning at me in a friendly fashion with a double thumbs up. I smile back and waved. Odd how little things like that can give a boost.

The race down the overpass was fun and a moment of rest together. I whipped around the sharp left hand curve and under the overpass to follow a small road running parallel to the E20 and rail tracks. For a short time, I fairly flew along at 12 mph with the wind somewhat to my back with Mariefred to the east. Even if not an ideal tailwind to shove me along, at least I wasn’t fighting the blustery air for a change.

The things I do to chase history

The things I do to chase history

My excitement at what lay ahead and relief to be somewhat with the wind, lasted until I made the next turn where a sign with the words ‘Kyrkoruin 0.2 km’. I was faced with track that was barely more than a cut through trees and flattened grass. With burning muscles that twitched and felt weak, that would have been bad enough, but a steep ascent made it worse.

I struggled up determinedly yet I’m sure I saw a few snails streak by… laughing. The trees blocked the wind, leaving it roaring through the upper branches and making the trunks creak. The one time I would have welcomed it. It felt muggy in that corridor of green and there were so many mosquitoes.

Just a few meters to the right, the land opened where it was divided into pastures and paddocks with horses. The paddocks were quite impressive, the sort you might expect to hold feisty stallions. The horses in them were anything but. They placidly watched where the lattice of undergrowth thinned, but nothing more. Simply curious.

Love the door's handle

Love the door’s handle

Except for the occasional glances at the horses (I couldn’t help myself), my eyes stayed mostly to the left. The ground rose even more sharply, thick with second stage growth trees and dense undergrowth. .15 from the main road and still nothing to be seen through thickets and limbs. No hint of broken stone walls. No sign tacked to a tree with an arrow pointing up a narrow, limb choked footpath. Not even a hint of a trail. The only man-made thing I found on the left was what might have been an old root cellar.

At roughly a quarter mile(or 0.4 km), a heavy wooden gate blocked the road with a solid lock and a sign declaring a private area. I wrestled to turn the Sprint and started back with no better luck than I’d had before.

The truly frustrating thing is the ruins show up so clearly on Google Maps satellite view and photos of one of the stones there shows a smoothly clipped grass surface. It isn’t some forgotten and abandoned ruin left for the scrubby trees and bracken to smother.

Södermanland Runestone #184

Södermanland Runestone #184

At least the way back was easier. The grass and such didn’t allow coasting for most of the distance, but it made pedaling much less effort

The following mile to the next runestone went quickly, being mostly downhill and feeling like I’d finally caught my 2nd wind. The gusts to my right rear quarter felt wonderful after the muggy, mosquito infested church ruin search. I actually felt better at mile 30 then I had at mile 12. The area for Södermanland Runestone #184 was easy to find, but briefly hard work. It was close to the main road with a smaller loop drive which was just as bad as the ruin trail. At least it wasn’t as long or as buggy. I was just glad to have actually found it after failing to locate the 4 after my stomp through young wheat.

Before I knew it, I made the north-eastern turn and truly had the wind at my back. A proper paved cycle path ran parallel to the busy road over ground pancake flat. Noodle legs or not, I flew into Mariefred, closing the circle. I shot past the turn to Gripsholm castle and slowed to a weary crawl toward the last point-of-interest on the ride.

Kärnbo Church Ruin - Mariefred

Kärnbo Church Ruin – Mariefred

Kärnbo Church ruin stood high on a hill behind what was once the castle’s stable, now converted into a graphics house. The driveway behind the stable was unpaved with a lot of loose gravel and very steep. I had to get off the Sprint and push it 50 yards to a flat spot of ground where it could be locked.

Södermanland Runestone #177

Södermanland Runestone #177

The doorway of the porch had an iron gate, but it stood open so I was able to go inside. On one of the inner porch walls was Södermanland Runestone #177. Sö #176 also used to be here, but was moved to a The State’s Historical Museum.

Kärnbo Ruin's Apse

Kärnbo Ruin’s Apse

Though I have no picture of Sö #176, I will mention it appears to have had an exciting existence. A veritable gypsy runestone. Originally it was at Ärja Church. When that church was abandoned and plundered for building material, it moved to Kärnbo Church where it was laid as a threshold. When Kärnbo was abandoned, the stone moved again to be used as house’s threshold in Mariefred sometime during the 1700’s. In 1854, it was moved again to stand beside Sö #178 outside Gripsholm castle before finally being moved to the State’s Historical Museum in the summer of 1896 where it has remained since. *hums the Beach Boy’s ‘I Get Around’*

I staggered down the hill back to the trike. The good thing about having climbed the hill was being to just roll from the ruin almost to the castle’s parking lot. The momentum didn’t quite take me to the car.

As I dragged myself out of the seat for the last time, it was 5:30 pm. That just gutted me. 34.3 miles took 10 hours? Less than a 4 mph average? Okay, yes, there were the stops to look around churches, wash the berries, chase runestones that I did or did not find, search for the hidden ruin and of course the wind.

Yet if I look beyond the disappointment of the undiscovered stones and ruin and the silly long time it took, it was a good day. The weather had been pretty and I had exercised an insane amount. The best tasting berries of the year had given me energy and, cursed or not, I’d done the ride.

I’ll be going back in July though without the Sprint. There’s a medieval festival then. Jousting tournaments and more. A fun thing to do with my sister-in-law, Tina. Jens may or may not come. I might also drive to Ärja ruin area and see if I can’t find it on foot!



Chance Meetings
June 7, 2013, 5:43 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Yep, I’m going to break my current pattern of posting! Instead of waiting until I have 2, 3 or more rides to try recalling interesting details, I’m writing this one all by itself on the morning after.

The day started out gloriously. Cool and clear with little winds. Even before I got moving with reading for Loke’s short, slow outing, I knew a solo ride would follow. Studied some maps to memorize the way to the city forest. You’d think I’d already know the way, but not so. There are quite a few green patches in Uppsala and the roads are a confusing tangle, so I wasn’t entirely sure how to get to that particular green area.

First though, Loke needed taken care of. He was bouncy and happy to be going out with the trike for the third day in a row. He wasn’t caroming of the walls, but he was spinning from time to time and play mauling the toy stuffed wild boar. When we first bought it, it would oink when squeezed instead of squeak. Loke broke the oinker before the 3rd day. Not from any malice. He just loved it so much he did a years worth wear on it in those first few days. He still loves the toy though.

He tried carrying it out the door with him when we were ready to leave the apartment. The easiest way to get him to leave it is to leash him then toss it out of reach when he lets go. Otherwise, he just picks it up again when made to put it down. Goof.

Again we had the little conflict of wills about whether he was going to trot or fly. Only so much he can do against me and the trike’s brakes though. He settled quick enough.

To think, less than a month ago, no leaves or flowers

To think, less than a month ago, no leaves or flowers

The sun was very warm though the air less so as we cruised along on what was going to be a basic River Loop for the furball.

At the point where the path crosses a road, but is blocked by traffic barricades, I made the usual right hand turn to zig around the obstacle. Just a few dozen yards beyond that, a man on a bike spotted me and stuck out a hand to wave us to a stop. I did so and his gaze swept over the trike. I don’t remember what our first verbal exchange was, only that it was in Swedish. When I’d answered, he smiled and said, ‘I think we can speak English.’ It turned out he was American.

He’s been in Sweden for the past 25 years or so. Helicopter pilot who had flown in from where he lives. The copter was at the garrison, but he was riding into central Uppsala to enjoy the sites and sounds of Sweden’s National Day. He’s been looking at recumbents, trikes in particular and was curious about mine. The costs and specs. We had a nice chat on many different subjects before he asked if I was on FB and if it would be okay to add me. ‘Sure!’ I replied. Then he was off.

The rest of the River Loop was uneventful. Pity Loke couldn’t come with me for longer with that foot. The sun would have been hot on him, but lots of water and wet ears would have kept him cool enough on the gorgeous day. Goodness knows he had the energy for it. That foot needs to heal up already.

Checking he had plenty of fresh water and turning on the ceiling fan for him, I went back out. My first stop was just a short distance away.

Pink & Yellow

Pink & Yellow

When walking Loke the evening before, I came across what appeared to be an orange lupin. I had to do a double take when I first saw it. Orange?? Various shades of purple are most common, occasionally white and quite rare occasions pink. Some of the purple lupins might have white accents and purple accents on the white. Maybe even once or twice I’ve come across yellow lupin. But never orange.

I went for a closer look to find the individual flowers had both pink and yellow petals which from a distance looked orange. Still the first time I’ve discovered that color combo on that type of flower. I didn’t have a camera on me at the time, so planned to come back the next day for pictures.

So, that’s what I did. I was still as bemused by the sight of it the next morning as I had the previous evening. I think the only time I’ve been surprised by the color of something this much was when I was in my mid-teens on a road trip with the family. Driving through… Kentucky I think it was and I begged my dad to stop. Camera in hand I ran to a fence to take a picture of a lilac colored horse. Yes, LILAC. Curiosity overcame me and I even went through the fence to get a closer look.

Thankfully, the horse was curious rather than wary so it didn’t trot off the far end of the field and I was able to get close. It turned out its coloring was the result of a roan pattern combining a smokey blue-gray and red-chestnut brown which from a distant, blue and red make a shade of purple.

This stud is an example of how it can happen.

http://www.eq-western.com/stallions_and_farms/profile_Mr_Purple_Valentine.html

He’s a gorgeous boy, isn’t he?

Sadly, the photo of my lilac colored horse is long lost. Still, I hold that memory close. It’s one of many that serves a stunning example of the wonders to be found in the world. And there are so many, even in something as small and brief as the unexpected colors of what I thought was a familiar flower.

The flower photographed, I went back to the trike and set out. I didn’t bother with any of the extra distances along the first half of the River Loop. I wanted to get to the city forest as quick as I could.

The weather was about perfect. The sun hot, but the air had just the tiniest hint of coolness. Blue skies and mostly calm winds except for the occasional soft puff of breeze that barely moved the graceful birch limbs. I zipped along the paths until coming to the first major road where I stopped to consult maps in search of the easiest way.

Into the forest!

Into the forest!

As I sat tucked to one side of the intersection, a passing man stopped to look the trike over. He laughed goodheartedly and said it was a lovely bike car. Then he pulled out his iPhone and asked if he could take a picture. I generally despise having my photo taken, but there are a wealth of images of me on the trike floating around I’m sure. Why fight against one more and at least the gentleman was asking. So, I cheerfully responded, ‘Of course!’ and put a smile on my face with a jaunty tilt of my head which emphasized the Da Brim on my helmet as he snapped a couple. He thanked me and wished me a good ride.

Bemused, I chose my route and pushed on.

The rest of the way to Uppsala’s City Forest was uneventful. Plenty of stares as I zipped down the smooth paved paths, careful to stay on the cycle side and watch out for pedestrians who are oblivious to what might be rushing up behind them as they amble in a ragged line across both lanes.

The first path I found heading into the shade of the trees, I took. The gravel slowed me a bit naturally, but the shade felt wonderful. A short climb and then I raced through the trees on a delightful downgrade, whipping passed a few intersections which were narrower and inevitably up hard climbs. Some were so steep I wasn’t sure the Sprint could have ascended them. The tire probably wouldn’t have had enough grip.

Abruptly, I found myself streaking down a paved lane beside a road at the edge of the forest.

That happened a couple times. Steep hills the Sprint slipped on or even fences blocked me as I went back into the trees 2 or 3 times, but found myself back beside roads and developed areas.

Wish I had a few thousand miles of trails like this to ride.

Wish I had a few thousand miles of trails like this to ride.

Finally I won through to the proper paths.

Jens and I have walked here a few times in the past month. The last couple times have been a challenge with the sheer number of mosquitoes. The last walk we joked about having lost a liter or more of blood to the little suckers. I was braced for that though hoped I could keep moving quickly enough to hold them at bay.

It was glorious. Especially as I tried to stay off the paths with gravel. The dirt and pine-needle trails were so much more pleasant to ride though I had to dodge the occasional tree root or rock. With the beautiful surroundings and cool shade I didn’t mind poking up the gentle hills. Actually I took them slower than necessary simply to enjoy where I was. The tall conifers and deciduous trees standing so close to the trail edges made it feel as if I flew along at 100 mph when I went racing down slopes. In many places, not even the least whisper of traffic reached me. The hour or more I spent looping and zig-zagging through there I saw no more than 5 people, 2 couples on the graveled main trails and a lone girl on one of the dirt.

I enjoyed the soft bird song as much as any favorite song. While pedaling up one hill, a woodpecker startled me. It had been crouched in the bracken at trail side and burst from cover like a pheasant less than 3 feet away. The flurry of black and white with just a flash of red startled me at first, but I smiled as it perched on a tree less than 20 feet away and scolded. Before I could get the camera out, it hopped out of sight around the trunk. When I moved out, it rapped an alarm on the bark and a little further down, I saw another one fly for cover.

I saw no deer though. Since it was so close to lunch time, I didn’t really expect to. Maybe if it had been 7 am or earlier, before people start wandering all through there. Jens and I have actually seen a deer in this park though it was a couple years ago. Apparently there’s even badger which means a set must be somewhere close.

After following one trail to see where it came out at a semi-familiar spot, I decided I’d seen enough of the forest for the day and headed for the river which would lead me home.

I had utterly forgotten what the American I’d met earlier had said about ‘Sweden’s National Day’. It was a madhouse as soon as I reached the gravel river path. People packed the trail and sprawled all through the grass field next to it. The small carnival near the bandy field didn’t help nor the concert further down. Every sunny spot either on the river boardwalks or grassy swards had people sprawled out to roast. Anyone not packing the carnival or concert or lolling in the sun idly strolled the path eating ice cream or hot dogs. It took me nearly an hour to get through it all.

I kept wishing I had a quick way to detach Loke’s running bar. It sticks out just far enough that even if someone steps aside of my right wheel, they still could bang a leg on bar.

When I found a quiet shady spot by the river, I took a pause to sip water and watch the shimmering dark surface of the river. I don’t know what it is about wagtails of late, but when I’d stopped for the photo of the old tree mentioned in a previous post, a fledgling blunderingly landed on my knee. I don’t know which of us was more startled.

This time, while I sat and relaxed before the final push home, another wagtail fluttered up. This one was an adult. At first it perched on the mudguard of my right front wheel. Then it began snatching at a few insects around me, mosquitoes mostly. It even perched on my pedal locked shoes a few times and twice on my highest knee. I was very careful to remain utterly still, only smiling as it collected a beak full of bugs before flitting off. I really like wagtails. Darling birds and insect eaters!

Except for the craziness of the downtown, I enjoyed the ride and returned home with 14.5 miles. That’s roughly 1.25 miles further than the last solo ride. I didn’t feel nearly as bad either. My legs felt a little tired, but not like over-boiled noodles. A very slight work-out ache, but not the fiery lactic burn. I’m not sure if I’ve gained so much strength and stamina over the single day between the two solo outings or if it was the other factors. Lack of winds, maybe I didn’t push as hard since I wasn’t racing along to keep a high pace for a video. I certainly didn’t tackle any hills as high or steep as the castle’s. Or maybe I magically became a calorie burning, pedal spinning machine in less than 48 hours? What a joy that would be!

With that solo trip, I’ve done 5 rides for the month for a total of roughly 44 miles and edged over 500 by 13 miles. Not a bad start.

I started looking at mileage totals for years further back and 2008 just boggles me! I have to wonder what on earth happened to me between 2008 and 2009/present? I remember some difficulties with knees and then there was a broken crank which was hard to replace being a specialized short crank road chainset. A bolt snapped off my pedal another time. Of course, health issues with Loke slows me quite a bit too.

The reason I mention any of this is because I talk about how uncertain I am that I can squeeze out 200 miles this month. Yet in one week during June 2008, I hammered out 95 miles! More mind-boggling to me is the fact I did it just 3 of the 7 days. I remembered that I was able to ride a lot further than I do now, but I had no memory that it was that impressive! Admittedly, a lot of it was done without Loke. In 2008, I accumulated roughly nearly 1300 miles. Loke managed maybe 300 of them.

I guess it’s really a moot point. I’ll do what I can when I can, hope for the best. Maybe, just maybe, I can at least beat the 1285 miles of 2008. If I do so, I think it will be because I can add miles even through the snow and ice of winter thanks to the Sprint’s 26″ back wheel. No matter the reason, I’ll take all the miles I can get.



June’s Bumpy Start
June 6, 2013, 6:48 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

And it has been. Still managing to get some miles though. All thanks to the push of necessity.

I finished up May with another ride of 9.39. Just the River Loop and nothing special about it. My Garmin even behaved.

Things got rough right on the morning of June 1st. Jens came blinking blearily out of the bedroom, announcing that Loke had been licking his foot. Worried, I got up to look but saw nothing untoward. A short time later, Jens came back from a short walk with Loke to say that the furball had limped a few times. I dug out the paw scissors and sure enough, the thick hair had hidden a raw, red spot. Immediately, I went to dig out what I needed to treat it. The only problem was discovering the ointment bottle was empty.

After finding a left over prescription with a refill on it, I rushed off to the apothecary. I’m glad Loke doesn’t make much of an issue about getting the various treatments. On Sunday however, the foot looked even more uncomfortable and red. All the skin between the paw pads looked like wet raw meat. It was edging up between two of his toes as well. On Monday even after the two days of treatment, the progression continued in the wrong direction. By then, it should have been drying out with reduction of the swelling and affected area.

So, bright and early Monday morning, off to the vet we went. I went to the one across town since they open at 8 am. It was yet another vet who treated Loke this time. The poor puppy had to get his foot shaved which I think he hates more than getting the kennel cough squirt up the nose. The infection was far more extensive than I’d known. It goes up the side of his foot, the space where it had been edging up between the toe was actually quite an angry pink. At least we caught those spots before it looked moist and near bloody. The vet took a sample to be sent to the lab and prescribed a different kind of ointment.

Monday morning, Jens also had to leave on a business trip to Copenhagen for the week. So, Loke’s bathroom needs fell to me. Since he limped so badly after the shaver torture, I settled for walking in the area around the vet. A short stroll away and across a road is a nice forested area leading to a open green park and residential stretch. Another very short walk around lunch and the last just before I went to bed, all done close to home.

Loke spent most of the day letting me know he thought we should be doing more.

The First Lupins!

The First Lupins!

Tuesday, he really was a pain in the rump. The foot looked better after just two applications of the new ointment. Dry with the flesh looking less swollen.

The short little walks weren’t going to be enough for him though I wasn’t up to longer ones. That left… rolling walks. Loke did his best impression of ‘demented rock wallaby’ bouncing off the walls as I got dressed. Once he was hitched to the trike and we went out the door, so came the predictable conflict of wills. I wanted him to go along at about 5 mph. He wanted to charge at full throttle. I managed to wrestle him into a compromise. He could go as fast as he wanted, but only at a trotting pace. Amazing how much speed he cranked out of that just like a sulky horse.

Naturally, he tested my resolve from time to time when the downgrades and even the flats beckoned with the cool, chill air of the day and playful winds.

Gorgeous in white too!

Gorgeous in white too!

And yes, it really was chill. The temperature was hovering around between 50 F and 52 F. Dense gray clouds hid the sun adding to the lack of warmth in the day. Definitely one of those rides where I was glad of my yellow windbreaker, though it wasn’t bad enough to require wool and gloves… quite. In all honesty? I loved it! Rather layer up then be roasting in the bare minimum!

The ride wasn’t much of a work out for me. Just a few tiny hills to climb as we did the absolute shortest River Loop of about 3.5 miles. The cool day had energized Loke amazingly so he did most of the work, making even the hills easy on my legs. With a sock firmly on his right paw, the furball didn’t limp even once. His legs were a blur with a metronome like precision as he ticked along at my prescribed pace. The disappointment that filled him was palpable as we rolled back to the apartment with just a short distance.

At least it was short for Loke. I decided to take advantage of the cool, if gray, day. I saw him settled in the apartment with fresh water and charged out the door for a solo ride. I wasn’t sure exactly where, I was feeling whimsical.

And whim first took me zipping along to the mosque where I made a left turn on Vattholma Road. From where, I powered on toward the grave mounds of Gamla Uppsala. Since I didn’t have Loke with me, another flight of fancy seized me. At the start of the gravel trail just past the museum, I stopped to mount my GoPro and hit record.

And there it is. The bumpy ride at my full speed beneath cloudy skies past the grave mounds to rejoin the River Loop paths.

From there, whimsy carried me on toward central Uppsala. I was going to explore the castle.

After the grave mound stretch and following the paths to Uppsala’s castle, I was actually feeling it quite strongly in my legs. I guess it goes to show much harder I hit the pedals when I don’t have the fuzzy one to regulate my speed. It made the climb up the castle’s hill quite slow and I was glad of the flat top.

Uppsala Castle's Sheriff's House

Uppsala Castle’s Sheriff’s House

Just past the tiny parking lot on the east side, I stopped to examine a sign and then look over a patch of short clipped lawn. It is the remains of the sheriff’s house.

After collecting the site, I pushed on down the path behind the castle which goes along the hedge hiding the governor’s garden. From there, another nasty climb which I crept up onto the castle’s paved courtyard.

Uppsala Castle

Uppsala Castle

I didn’t remember cars and such being allowed up there. Disappointing to reach the top only to discover a glorified parking lot around the fountain. There was also a bus with a load of high school students out for a field day.

I took my pictures and scooted away, to make the descent from the high hill carefully. I would have hated to get splatted by a car coming up or run over a dozen people meandering along.

My impulsive mood continued and I headed for the salon where a friend of my husband’s family works. She grew up with Jens’ sisters. The gray in my hair is now quite prominent and I thought it would be a nice surprise for the hubby if he came home to a wife with rich chocolate brown hair instead of faded chocolate with a couple inches of silver roots.

Rather than dealing with the narrow streets packed with car traffic, I headed for the walking street. Granted, it has its own challenges. Being so low to the ground while riding through a sea of people means going slowly and paying close attention. Nearing the central square, I heard the sounds of flutes and drums with a distinctive Native American flavor. There were hints of guitar as well. I loved it and went a bit quicker toward the music.

I stopped to listen and watch when I found them. The man shaking the rattles wasn’t playing at that moment. He smiled when he saw me and approached to crouch down to talk. In Swedish, he explained this was was Ecuadorian Native music and showed me one of the CDs in his hand. I looked at curiously and regretted leaving my wallet at home. I adored the flutes and rhythms and certainly would have bought at least one disc. When I apologetically told him I didn’t have any money on me, he just nodded with a smile and told me to have a nice day.

As he went back to the group, it occurred to me I could take a video of them with my iPhone and that’s what I did.

Leaving my wallet at home might have prevented me from purchasing music, but it also stopped me from getting ice cream, which is a good thing. If it had been a Saturday or Sunday and I’d had my wallet, I’d have gotten a few scoops of strawberry to enjoy. One of the hazards of downtown during the summer and the wonderful strawberry ice cream that Sweden has. A little tart and very strawberry tasting. Not like the stuff I remember from the States where all I ever tasted was sugar sweet and very little berry. Might as well have been vanilla… gah!

I made my stop by the salon, but she had all the rest of this week booked. Since I don’t know if I’ll be able to winkle the car out of Jens next week, I didn’t make any appointments. Ah well.

My legs were more than tired as I trundled by the river, going along slowly so I didn’t run anyone down. The muscles all through my thighs had the fiery lactic acid burn.

The Resiliency of Life

The Resiliency of Life

In spite of the discomfort and how much harder it is to get going again after stopping when the legs ache like that, I made a stop to photograph an old tree.

I’ve cycled past that stretch of river more then a dozen times and I’ve never noticed this stubborn old tree. Of course, for all I know, it was a whole tree last year, but even so how could I not see something with such a thick, twisted and hollowed trunk? It’s at least a yard in diameter. What made me smile most was the fact that despite the center of it is gone and the top chopped off, there it is putting out the beginnings of new limbs and fresh leaves of bright green. I admire that tree.

Obviously, so does the city. Otherwise why would they have bothered to keep the stump let alone put a neat section of decking around it?

Once back onto paved and wide paths, neatly divided into pedestrian and cycle halves, I found some scrap of stamina and managed to push up to over 10 mph for the last mile or so home. I had to grit my teeth to maintain it, but it happened.

I finished up with around 14 miles when I coasted to a stop behind our car in the parking lot. The burn! I was so glad I didn’t have to fight the trike up the apartment stairs for 2 or 3 trips. I just wobblingly slung everything through the hatchback and staggered inside.

The ride really showed me how hard I push myself when Loke’s absent. The 25 miles he and I did a couple weeks ago had left me feeling a bit noodled limbed and slightly achy, but no worse. 14 miles alone and I was feeling the same aches and muscle fire as when I hammered out 41+ solo miles in less than 5 hours against headwinds, through pounding rains from Munkfors to Karlstad (June 2012).

I know a lot of riders would make a contemptuous sound and think, ‘Pppft? It took you more than 2 hours to do 40 miles?’, but for me that was hauling butt especially with the wind. I also stop to explore things or admire scenery while taking photos. That consumes time. Let them think what they will, but I remain quite proud of that day.

Then yesterday was another River Loop in lieu of walking Loke. We went a tiny bit further though his paw didn’t improve much between Tuesday and Wednesday. I just kept it protected by the sock and kept his speed down to a trot. He fought me a bit more about it, but I remained steadfast. I didn’t follow up with a solo ride, deciding the slow, short distance was a recovery outing for me.

Today? Loke and I will be going out for another short loop since it’s better for both of us than me walking him. He gets to go a little further and my back, which is bothering me this morning, won’t end up flattening me. Probably no more than 4 to 4.5 miles at trotting speed for the furball. I may or may not go solo somewhere. It would certainly help my mileage for the month and the year.

My Garmin software is showing Loke’s mileage at 391, but adding in the ride that was lost when the GPS crashed, he’s over 400 miles. That’s comfortably more than half of his 2012 distance at 700.3. My mileage is around 494 which is over half of last year as well. So, maybe I should do a solo ride to tip it over 500?

I’m still vacillating about my goals for June. Last June was my highest mileage month of 2012 with 166.3 miles followed by September with 113.2. This year with 4 months of riding (0 miles in February), all have been over 100 miles. A first I think. Saying ‘Break 167 miles’ sounds lazy even if it would be my highest mileage month of the year so far. 350 miles sounds extremely ambitious given what I’ve been managing thus far. Maybe over 200 miles? It pushes the month into another bracket while exceeding last June. Sounds fair. 200 miles it is! If I crush that in good time, I’ll toy with adding an extra 150 miles – yeah… right. 150 miles is more than I’ve managed any month this year.

And to wrap up, Loke’s foot made modest improvement over night. If there’s still lingering redness and such by Sunday, I’ll at least call the vet to see if she wants to change the medication or add another week with the same treatment since it was prescribed for just 7 days. Poor Loke.