Terii’s Cycling Babble

Planning & Riding
August 22, 2013, 6:52 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc
A rare cuddly moment from Loke

A rare cuddly moment from Loke

And the plans advance! It doesn’t feel as if it’s happening fast enough though. We’ve little over 3 weeks before the trip and I’ve only managed to work out our path to the northern tip of France just below the Belgium border. I really need to advance that and quickly. After all, we fully intend to make it to the southern part of France and expect to go into northern Italy at the very least.

At least I’ve managed to plot a ride through part of the Champagne region from Reims to Epernay. Roughly 25 miles. Jens will drop me off at the Porte de Mars (Gate of Mars) where I’ll cycled through the town and onward to Epernay to rejoin my hubby who will have spent the day exploring champagne cellars.

Much like here in Sweden, it looks as if I’ll be steeple chasing as it were. Unlike Sweden, it seems most French country churches are snugly tucked into the heart of villages. If they’re old churches, then it will the old and hopefully interesting parts of the villages! Believe it or not, I have a method rather than an obsession with old religious buildings.

Google Street View has made me a little nervous about riding in France. Even in the small villages, the roads still have the medieval narrowness. Add that cars are parked on one side with barely enough space for a person to walk between buildings and vehicles… doesn’t leave much room for a bike let alone a recumbent trike.

We could make it deeper into France than just to Epernay on that day, but Jens wants to experience the sparkling wines that share their name with the region. There are a number of cellars of the most prominent champagne producers in Epernay and they’re open for tours to the public. So… barely 2 hours from Brugge, we’re stopping and spending remainder of the day and the night in the area. I have a feeling I’ll be driving that next morning as someone nurses a sore head. Besides, it will give me a chance to ride even if 80% of it will be past countless acres of grapes.

I also discovered yesterday that the city where the ferry disembarks, Rostock in Germany, has some absolutely stunning parts. We won’t be spending much time in Germany or the Netherlands though.

Just as well. Planning rides in Germany would be a complete nightmare. I’ve come to rely on Google Street View to help plan. It’s critical for figuring out the best roads. Which are unpaved and badly rutted, or too big with too much traffic without a wide shoulder, or … well, you get the idea.

Why can’t I use Google Street View? Because, it simply disappears anywhere inside the German borders. Jens believes the reason relates to the extremely strict German privacy laws. Oddly, there are still photos pinned to Google Maps throughout the area which were great for finding some points of interest on the way, but most people don’t photograph roads so not much help to plan the safest ways for a bike.

Any way, once done with this post, I need to do more work on further plans. Another main thing I need to do is plan my ride in the Brugge area. Silly of me to already have the Reims – Epernay ride planned with no clue of what I’m doing in Belgium.

Folded with handlebar bag as scale.

Folded with handlebar bag as scale.

And set up to my eye-level

And set up to my eye-level

Oh! While I mentioned using my tripod last Sunday (August 18th), I haven’t shared photos of it! So, here it is where I stopped to photograph Kulla Church.

Have I mentioned I really love this tripod??

Miles around home continue to accumulate.

The 19th was ride-free, but I still had a vigorous bout of exercise with a 2.2 mile pole-walk with Jens and Loke through the city forest again.

The 20th was officially a rest day though I did go out for a River Loop with Loke. Jens had to rush to work early and Loke had plenty of energy with 2 full days without a trike outing. So, out the door we went. I took it slow and very easy. My cadence stayed low and I applied as little resistance to the pedals as I possibly could. The utterly lazy ride seemed to do me good, helping to ease the stiffness out of my muscles and got the blood flowing without completely ruining recovery from the 2 previous hard rides. Finished with 5.25 miles.

Then yesterday was another outing. I did the River Loop with Loke again and we took it as slow as the day before. Less for my sake as I felt fairly fresh. Loke though, he had a few moments of walking oddly. As we walked back to where I locked the trike, he went along awkwardly with his hind legs splayed out to either side. It lasted no more than 10 steps or so, but I nearly turned back around.

But he needed to be out and moving long enough to do his ‘business’. Given the alternative to walking him or bullying him to go slowly with the trike, we went on back to the Sprint. He did fine; didn’t try to pull at all or seem interested in running which I found a little worrying in spite of it being the boring River Loop. 2 or 3 times, he gave strange little hops with his hindquarters.

I’d planned to make the loop as short as possible due to Loke’s oddness. Frustratingly, he wouldn’t cooperate! He absolutely refused to go potty!

Finally, around mile 4, he relented. While I waited, I saw a tiny movement near an icky knitted glove tossed in the leaf-litter. A minuscule frog (most likely a toad actually), new morphed from a tadpole! It was barely the size of my thumbnail, perhaps half an inch from rump to nose.

Yes, I think even 'baby' frogs are cute!

Yes, I think even ‘baby’ frogs are cute!

It was the first one I’ve seen all year. I got up with my iPhone to see if I could get a picture of it. As I stepped off the path, about 5 more hopped away, blending perfectly with the decaying leaves. Hopefully I didn’t step on any. One of the tiny little things landed on a pale leaf and amazingly stayed there long enough to catch an image of.

Seeing them made me smile. The first frogs/toads of the year and for once they weren’t on the cycle path where I had to swerve and pray I missed them all.

By then, Loke had concluded his business and I curbed it like a good urban dog owner. From there it was about a mile home, still nice and slow. I coasted to a stop outside the apartment building with 5.22 miles on the Garmin.

After making sure Loke had plenty of fresh water, I hurriedly downloaded the outing so I could more easily separate the one with Loke from a second, solo ride I’d spontaneously decided to do.

I powered on toward the city forest. I’m not sure what my current obsession with the forest is lately. The loop I do for it is roughly 14 miles. Only 2.5 miles, 3 at the most, is actually the forest, meaning 10 to 11 are sections of the River Loop or through Uppsala. I could be riding through the countryside to do Börje or Ulva or Vaksala. Yet, off I went through Uppsala.

Paved road through wheat fields can't beat this!

Paved road through wheat fields can’t beat this!

Most likely, it’s because the Forest Loop is relatively new. I’ve only done it 2 or 3 times, not dozens like every other loop starting from the apartment. Besides, those few miles in the woods are beautiful and quiet while being utterly devoid of vehicular traffic.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I have to say it again. Heaven would be having a few thousand more miles of trails like those in the city forest. It’s a little more work than paved roads/paths, but the soft green shadows and rustlings of wildlife here or there. Deer, woodpeckers. I’ve even seen a dormouse scampering over a log on one of the walks. It’s so worth the extra effort.

Then of course, there’s the easy, almost wild ride down toward the city center. This time, when I made the turn toward and past the bandy court, I pushed on a little further, following the tree-shadowed road a bit beyond where it goes under the drawbridge. Then, I went toward the river. It gave me about another mile or so of river path before emerging near the old pump house.

Temptation was strong as I went leisurely down the river-side street with its cafes and restaurants, all with seating on the sidewalk. Ice cream. I wanted strawberry and chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone soooooo badly. I was a good girl though. I did stop and buy something from a kiosk, but just a bottle of cold water. It tasted almost as good as the ice cream I craved. Certainly better than the tepid stuff in my cycle bag.

As I sat sipping water, people watching, it was easy to see that Uppsala is returning to normalcy. The crowds are back from vacation and waves of students returning to the university. Makes cycling downtown a bit more of a challenge.

I made it home with 13.94 miles. For the day, I’d accumulated 19.16 miles. A significant bite out of the remaining miles I needed to break 803 of last year by the end of August as well as tip over 5,000 total recorded miles since getting my first Garmin.

Jens cheerfully suggested that I could break through the total mileage of 2008 and make 2013 my best year ever for distance. I had to chuckle at his optimism. I’d need at least 500 more miles and once the cold and short days close in, combined with my short rides because of Loke…. 500 is unlikely.

Maybe 2014 though! Hopefully there won’t be a completely ride-less month like last February.


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