Terii’s Cycling Babble

Inching Along
December 29, 2013, 2:19 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Got a few miles in today and I do mean ‘few’.

In the murky dark of a Swedish winter morning at 6 am, I went to the gym. Yesterday’s forecast had been for rain today. Though it was precipitation free at that time, it was impossible to see whether the sky was clear or cloudy. So, in anticipation of the rain, I bullied myself to the gym where I did a fairly vigorous workout.

At a bit after 8:15, I glanced out the window and saw what looked to be an honest to goodness sunrise. Quite a shock after so much gray. Most of our daybreaks this winter have been a gradual lightening of the dreary gloom. I opened a window to stick my head out to double check. Truly clear skies. I bounced over to the thermometer for the temp. 35 F.

Drat it all. Too cold to go without my bullet-proof thermals. I forced myself to again look through every nook and cranny in the apartment. The idea that perhaps my precious heavy cycle base-layer was lost in the depths of Belgium, France or Germany crossed my mind. Sometimes when packing, I stuff things like socks and thermals into one of my dry sacks. Perhaps it had gotten carried down to the basement in a cleaning frenzy a couple weeks ago? Off I went into the bowls of the building in a last ditch effort spurred by dying hope.

I opened the door down there and… wouldn’t you know it. There were the tights sitting right on top of an Ikea bag full of Jens’ fishing waders and such. Would have saved myself a week or more of aggravation if it had occurred to me earlier.

Sunshine - Rare as snow this winter. :P

Sunshine – Rare as snow this winter. 😛

Thrilled I wouldn’t freeze to death if I dared ride, I launched into gear. I was determined to go out and enjoy a clear day. So, I did my ‘dressing in winter cycle gear’ wiggle dance around the apartment.

Loke was completely disinterested in my antics. Jens on the other hand piped up with, ‘Take Loke for a short run?’ *sigh*

I cringe at the thought. Just seems as if I’m slowly crippling my dog. Often, I feel that Jens believes I’m paranoid or exaggerating. Still, I got his harness. Loke didn’t respond much. I had to tell him to get up so I could slip it on. At least he still picked up his right leg to help.

The furball was quiet as I pulled on gloves and turned on the GPS. Once I sat down, he pulled a little and gave a soft yodel. Once I released the brake, he lunged and off we went.

Loke wanted to run strong, but I kept us to about 12 mph at most. He pulled for more, but I wouldn’t budge, trying to keep down the impact on his joints.

The sunlight was glorious, even though the angles are so low at this time of year. Still that wonderful red-gold gleam would dapple and flicker at us between the buildings and the sky was a blue dome arching above. At my side, the husky was happy.

Happy or not, I was going to keep his outing under 5 miles. Good thing. Around mile 2.5, he started limping significantly. We slowed and I nursed him home for a total of 3.95 miles.

Bringing him, I watched as he drank a little and tried to settle down. He spun in a circle a few times and started to ease into a lay, but half-way down, pulled back up like the motion hurt. On the third try, he finally oozed to the floor with a groan. I promptly filled a needle-less syringe with a dose of his pain medication which he rarely needs.

That done, I bolted out the door for a few more miles. With the 3.95 miles added in, I still needed roughly 23 miles for a 1000 for the year. The miles I planned, to, around and from the city forest, didn’t happen.

My legs hurt! The muscles in my thighs were on fire and weak. The pre-dawn workout left its mark and the ride with Loke added to it. The few minutes I spent making Loke more comfortable somehow made the pain worse. It often works that way for me. I start walking or cycling and as long as I keep moving, stopping only for extremely brief moments for traffic needs, I do better. If I’d simply gone out for a single ride without Loke, I probably could have managed 10 miles or more.

As it was, I crawled the trike home with just 2.87 miles more. I wobbled up the stairs after managing to get it back in the car.

20 miles short of 1000. Unless the last 2 days of the year turn out to be as gorgeous as today and my legs significantly improve over night, I won’t be getting those last few miles. Even if the weather does hold, I’m not sure I can do it. I am hoping to get another ride in though. One with churches and rumored carvings!

Fingers crossed for that. Soon, it will be time for the year totals!


Christmas Ups and Downs
December 26, 2013, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This Christmas hasn’t been the worst, but it has been a bit of a roller coaster.

I woke all excited on the 20th. Loke going to see the dermatologist at 10 am so maybe we could begin work on healing his feet and perhaps he wouldn’t need the cortisone any longer. The landline phone rang at 8:30. The first thought as I reached for it was, ‘I hope it’s not the vet canceling’. When the woman asked for Jens, I breathed a sigh of relief while handing the phone over.

Jens hung up as I came out dressed for the day. Turned out it was the animal hospital calling to cancel. The vet had a bad cold and no voice. They offered another date on Jan 17th which Jens took.

Upset and disappointed approaches how bad I felt at the cancel. I hate this feeling that we’re just struggling to maintain keeping the skin in one piece rather than being able to completely clear it up. It feels like dancing on the edge of a razor between keeping Loke from limping or his feet dissolving into goo.

Another thing they recommended was making an appointment at the clinic in Stockholm where the dermatologist is based. That’s part of the difficulty of getting a time with one in Uppsala. They only visit from Stockholm to Uppsala once a week. So, after 2 days of trying to do that with the whole Christmas craziness, we finally got a call back.

I explained to the receptionist the issue. With the appointment on the 17th, she recommended a compromise. There’s a vet at the clinic who is interning to be a dermatologist. Loke can see her on the 2nd and she can consult with the experts which is an improvement on the general vets we’ve been seeing can do. She can contact them more quickly and get more detailed answers as it’s part of her education.

Desperate, I took that appointment and kept the one one 17th as a follow up with the ‘premier animal dermatologist’ in the country.

So, on the foot front, that’s how things stand with Loke. A bit of a bummer and dragging out.

Have I mentioned that I’m also spending the first 3 months of next year recovering from a succession of dental extractions? That’s a dark cloud over my head as well. Ah well.

The weather here continues to be freakish. While we might not have set any record high’s for this month, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this is the warmest December on average. Most days (and nights) have stayed above freezing. One day a week or so ago, we were in the 50’s. It would be great for grinding out mileage without worry of studs and freezing gears, but for the near constant rain.

So, around 8:30 when I looked out the window and saw what appeared to be clear skies, I launched into hyperdrive to plan a route somewhere new and photo-worthy.

Sadly, it didn’t happen. While beginning the motions of getting dressed, I couldn’t find my bullet proof thermal tights. I ended up tearing the apartment to bits and putting it back in a desperate search. By the time it was over, still no heavy wool protection and too much time had passed. So, I decided to just do a river loop and see how Loke did. Since the cancelation and rescheduling with the vet stuff, Loke’s feet have improved.

4.67 miles. Loke did pretty good. A little stiff in the hind, but his front feet were fine. Even if it was the river loop for the countless time this year, it felt good to go out. 41 F and chill, but no real wind and the sun had disappeared behind clouds.

Still leaves me with 27 miles to reach 1000 for the year, but I don’t think it will happen. Monday is supposed to be clear though and if Jens works for home, I’ll take the planned ride. Provided I have enough wool to not freeze to death without my 400 g wool.


I Tried!
December 16, 2013, 9:55 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

To go for a ride that is. The plan was to take Loke for a short run and then sneak out for a longer one on my own. The bad front feet threw a wrench into my careful plotting.

I put the socks on to protect the raw flesh of the front feet, but they came right off… twice in less than 100 yards. Short of maybe wrapping the entire socks and legs in tape, it didn’t look they would stay on he was pulling so hard. So, tried going without them and he limped pretty badly. So, less than a quarter mile and we were back at the apartment.

I parked the trike in back, locked to the picnic table rather than putting it under our balcony. It’s dry and out of sight under the floor of the little outdoor space, but it can be noisy to pull out which would alert Loke to certain goings-on. Secured, I took the fuzzy one for as long a walk as I could manage in my cycle shoes.

Done with the walk, I gave him his green ball full of kibble, said ‘I’ll be back’ and felt almost giddy at the thought of a ride after so long. Before I reached the bottom door to leave the building, it rang through the stair-well, nice and loud even with the inner door closed. Loke howling. He was even scratching at the door. No fooling him this time it seemed.

So, I gave up on the idea of a ride. Went back in to get the furball so he could stand beside the car as I put everything away.

Since that failed attempt, there’s been no real improvement in Loke’s feet and no chance to escape without him. Jens left for his yearly convention in Las Vegas and won’t be back until later this week. My knees are quite unhappy with the sheer amount of walking I’ve had to do. I miss being able to cycle with the fuzzy one.

The weather has been a crazy roller coaster. We had another good, hard cold snap with a forecast of a severe winter storm on the way. We had a couple days warning. It hit an area Jens and I vacationed at. An old copper mine located in the highest area of the region had little weather station. The wind gauge was ripped clean off by record winds. Hurricane force at the very least.

It arrived… but a day late and not nearly as bad as we’d been warned. Yes, it was windy but not the hurricane force gusts and we got quite a bit of snow. Admittedly, it was a little difficult to figure out exactly how much snow as the winds had left some places scoured clear while piling it into 2 foot drifts in others. The wind died by the next morning, but it snowed on the following day.

3 days after that, it was all gone. The temperature jumped from the mid-20’s to upper 30’s or low 40’s. Just a few lingering drifts in shady places and a couple of plow-piles here or there.

2 days ago, we had another temperature drop to all of 32 F and a pretty good snow fall blew down. In about 4 hours, we had about 2 inches of fluffy white. It didn’t even make it to the evening. By 5 pm it was in the 40’s and drizzling. Not a trace of the snow left.

Except for the rain, it would be great for mileage. If Loke would let me escape.

And to think… the Middle East got snow and this part of Sweden can’t even hold on to it.

Good news, rather than wait (and hope they remembered) for the people at the animal hospital to call me when they had the January schedule for appointments with the skin specialists, I rang them. It appears there was a cancellation and we took the December 20th slot. Here’s hoping a doggie dermatologist can help clear this up and figure out the triggers so Loke will have no more (or fewer) outbreaks.

The vet clinic across town has been great in trying to nurse us along until Loke gets in to the specialists. Needing more food for the furry one, one of the vet techs asked me to wait a moment and discussed new products that she thinks might help as well. Some, I already use, but a couple others might work with what I already have to improve Loke’s condition. Bless her, she really seems to have put a lot of research into the problem, even asking the vets there about it. It means getting a little bit of help for free and products that don’t require a prescription.

I’m already anticipating the solstice. My usual giddy glee at the lengthening days. It’s a bit tempered what with Loke’s problems which restrict my cycling. Any attempted tours I can do only if Jens is home to keep him company. Still, it means a new year and fresh possibilities. Maybe this time I can get out and do at least ONE tour.

It’s a bit odd how I feel 2013 was ‘a complete bust’. Okay, so I didn’t get out on even a single overnight tour. But what I did accomplish! 970 miles! That makes it the 2nd best mileage year since 2008, leaving last year’s mileage in the dust by 160+ miles! How is that a bust?

Nyhavn - The prettier side

Nyhavn  in Copenhagen!

Grønsalen Long Barrow

Grønsalen Long Barrow in Denmark

I cycled in Denmark! Not just the countryside, but in Copenhagen where Loke and I were a tourist sensation! Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but I’m sure a few hundred photos of us were taken that day. Maybe even more than when our little family visited Nordkapp in Norway a few years ago! I crawled into ancient burial mounds with impressive passages and chambers built right in as I pedaled from one to the next. I climbed onto a 100 yard long, flat topped barrow over 5,000 years old.

Can you tell I love this view?

Bruges – A canal and the Belfrey

So, I didn’t get to cycle around France or Germany, but I did roll through Bruges as well as the countryside between there and the little village of Damme!

I need to clear the negativity from my head and appreciate what I did accomplish this year rather than dwell on what I didn’t. Maybe a philosophy I should adopt for more than what involves 3 wheels and pedals.

December 10, 2013, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Misc

Yes, I’ve been quiet over here. Honestly, I’ve not been riding at all. The trike has been languish in the car as I’ve focused my energies on dealing with the stresses that have flown my way.

I have to admit, it’s been a bit of a waste. The weather has been insanely mild. There was one cold snap hard enough to put a thin skin of ice completely over the river, but it broke with a return of rain and even some sunny mild days. It was so unseasonable, every time I mentioned the date, I kept saying ‘September’ all through November and even the first few days of December in spite of how short the days are. I could have really spun out the miles, but…

My heart just wasn’t in it. Loke’s had another episode of the foot thing and this one is annoying persistent. It didn’t respond to antibiotics. He’s on cortisone now, but it’s barely keeping whatever it is at bay. A scraping taken from the problem area showed no worrying levels of bacteria or fungus, yet the skin persists in being angry red and a little raw looking. Trying to make an appointment with a dermatologist has turned into a huge headache. I’ll have to try calling again tomorrow, keeping my fingers crossed that I can get the furball in to see one before March or something silly like that. Trying to keep Loke’s feet from turning to goo in the mean time.

The infection or whatever it is makes me reluctant to take him out with the trike where he’s pounding hard at made charge while pulling with all his might. I’m not sure what it could do to the fragile skin. And of course, the cortisone means he needs to go out quit often, so no disappearing for 2 – 4 hours for a good ride.

All this has driven home the fact that I truly need to disentangle Loke’s connection with the trike in my mind. He’s been so much a part of it for these years. He’s been wonderful company. Sometimes frustrating, but most often he’s the difference between just covering miles or smiling and laughing over them. But I think the years of constant infections and treatments, the surgery and now the creeping arthritis has taken its toll. It’s time for him to take it easy. No more runs of 20-30 or 40 miles. It breaks my heart.

I need to accept that the rides off the River Loop will be solo for now on. It’s hard and feels like a betrayal to Loke somehow.

Throw in the stress an anxiety that the first three months of next year will be spent having 6 teeth removed. I’m still moderately phobic of dentists and just hate the thought of losing the teeth. Well, 2 of them any way. 4 are going to be wisdom teeth. The other 2 are ones that my wisdom teeth have damaged.

So, all my energy is poured into worrying about Loke and the dental surgeries. Trying to keep from stressing over that takes a lot out of me. It makes the idea of wrestling on layers of wool and Lycra and then assembling the trike for a 5 mile ride feel exhausting. So, the days slide by with 30 miles to break 1000 for the year. I just don’t have the heart for it.

So, that’s how things stand