Terii’s Cycling Babble

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.


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.

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