Terii’s Cycling Babble

She’s a Tricksy Cruel Tease
January 8, 2014, 3:44 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Mother nature that is. Granted, that’s generally been true. How many times have I started readying the trike under sunshine and yet 5 minutes into a ride, clouds have moved in with nary a light ray to be seen? Quite often.

Today was one of those days, but more cruel for the fact it was the first day there’s been sun and blue skies since December 30th. I went out with Loke at 8-ish, expecting the usual dreary gray. Imagine my surprise when I realized the sky above was actually blue for the most part. A few clouds streaked here and there, but mostly blue. The sun was out too. The gorgeous red-gold hued light painted the tops of the buildings and trees.

The wonder of it made me giddy. It also made me determined to ride in spite of my initial plan to head out to Granby Mall to fetch Loke’s medicated shampoo and do grocery shopping. Loke limped a bit, though less than in the past 2 days. Limping is limping for better or worse, so he wasn’t going on the ride with me.

I hustled him through a mile walk before charging wildly around the apartment to find and then dress in my cycle clothes. 15 minutes after getting back to the apartment, I dropped a kibble filled ball on the floor to distract Loke and was gone.

Disappointment rolled over me like the clouds that had returned to cover the sky during the short, quarter hour it had taken me to dress. Not the least little scrap of blue to be seen nor a hint of of the red-gold light. But the temperature was still mild at about 42 F, not much wind and most importantly, no RAIN. I decided to seize the opportunity.

It was a bit before 10:30 by the time I clipped in, turned on the GPS and rolled out.

It was immediately obvious that the past 2 months with barely any cycling had taken their toll. I’m sure all the bad food during Jens’ holiday vacation running from a few days before Christmas until 12th Night didn’t help either. And yes, Sweden acknowledges 12th Night. It’s not as big a holiday as Midsummer or May Day, but many businesses do close so many have the day off.

Also, I ride harder and faster on a solo ride which makes me feel weaker than when toodling along with the fuzzy one. I’m still not fast though. At times like this, I do miss riding the Trice with its higher gear inches and, therefore, higher speeds. Of course, that’s harder on my knees. A trade off and I if I get to tour, I’ll be even more grateful for those smaller gear inches.

Feeling rather weak and sluggish, I quickly changed my mind about doing a 12 mile route and set my sights on the River Loop with an extension or two. So, I spun along, trying to keep my cadence up rather than mashing. By mile 3, the muscles along the tops of my thighs were burning. It turned out I was also over-dressed, particularly my head. I had to fold up the ears of my winter cap for a little relief. I wasn’t going to wimp out though. Not with so few windows of opportunity to ride of late. I gritted my teeth and spun on. I even added the out-n-back along the river which I’ve not done since last summer.

They’ve made a few changes there. Improved the park-like feel of it on one side as a buffer between the cycle path and the industrial section. it will take a few years for the trees to be more than leafy twigs, but it’s a start. They also added a short gravel ramp down to the river amongst a thicket of trees. That surprised me. Maybe they did it in hopes of dissuading homeless people from camping there, which I’ve seen happen a couple times.

It felt a little odd, cycling in January with not a hint of frost, ice or snow. Not to mention, wearing light wool top and feeling hot while being without gloves. My foot-warmers weren’t needed either. I think most disturbing was the sight of drown worms on the pavement. Seriously? Worms out at this time of the year? I think that was even worse than the sight of a snail which may or may not have been dead. If dead, it hadn’t been so very long, so must ¬†have been crawling around in the last day or two. This is almost late April/early May type weather.

I coasted back to the parking lot with 6.7 miles and legs that felt like burning noodles. While disappointed that the sun had vanished before I got to ride under the blue skies, I felt grateful for the respite from the rain though 42 F is… somewhat doable if it had rained as long as it was a light one. Not pleasant though.

Loke hardly looked up when I came back in. A good indication that he hardly noticed I was gone. So, the first ride of the year with a scant 6.7 miles and searing muscles. Better than nothing, though it still leaves 103 miles to tip over last year’s January total. Will it happen? I wish I could say, but with the weather being what it is this winter, it’s nearly impossible to tell. There’s forecast for clearly, but below freezing temps by this coming weekend. That’s no promise I’ll be able to ride if all the wet on the roads freezes into a slick skin of ice as it had on December 30th which prevented me from riding in spite of gorgeous sunshine.

We’ll see. Fingers crossed!

Dreary, Freakish Winter
January 7, 2014, 8:47 pm
Filed under: Misc

So far, 2014 is off to a slow start cycle wise. Actually, it still hasn’t started.

Since December 30th, the sun remains unseen. We’ve had RAIN daily. Rain! In January! Even the year where snows didn’t arrive until February, it we were mostly below freezing, a number of sunny days and beautiful hoarfrosts! The States are getting hammered by record breaking low temps and mounds and mounds of snow. Here in Sweden, the winter has been more like those I grew up with on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Snow free and all days and most nights above freezing with quite a lot of rain.

The snow free streets would mean being able to rack up the miles more quickly than winter of 2012-2013, except for the the rain coupled with temps in the low 40’s. Rain and in the 60’s or warmer, I could manage, but wool can only do so much against that kind of chill and rain. So, the days pass with no miles. I’ll not be breaking through the mileage cap of January 2013 if this continues. It either needs to warm up, or dry out (preferably both!) or on the other end of the scale, get cold enough for snow and have it stick around. Snows in cold as low as 26 F, I’ll wrap up in snuggly, dry wool and ride on. Rain with 42 F, I’ll stay snug, dry and non-hypothermic.

So, the days pass as I wait for the weather to break.

We did get some things moving with the new year though. January 2nd, Jens worked the morning from home. Noon, we took off for Stockholm. Jens drove as we rushed to the appointment with the vet in Stockholm who is beginning her studies to specialize in animal dermatology. He did the drive as the clinic sits in a rather tangled section of the city which is a difficult place to drive in the best of conditions.

As we zipped along the highway south, my cell phone rang. I wriggled it out of the pocket from beneath the seat belt, muttering that it had better not be the clinic. It was, but this time with happy news. Someone had canceled their 2 pm appointment with one of the fully trained specialists. ¬†Would I like to change my appointment to that slot? “Yes! That would be lovely!” I exclaimed cheerfully.

Jens dropped me off and went in search of his favorite hotdog place. Since we were there so early, I walked Loke around the block. We were still waiting room by 1:30. By 1:40, one of the vet techs already showed us into the exam room.

The vet was a lovely Finnish woman. She looked Loke over, took the time to add whatever info I had to the records from the vet. She confirmed what Niclas had said all those years ago and the other vets had been saying since. It turns out that Loke has likely been in a constant state of allergic reaction for years. His belly is pink and the vet assured me that the skin should be white. Yet, it’s always been pink as far as I can remember. I figured it was because the skin is thin and the capillaries turned it pink.

Not so. It’s always been pink because the skin has been in a perpetual state of inflammation. Poor Loke. I never knew and none of the other vets caught it.

The woman listed 4 possibilities for allergic causes. Two she crossed off because the triggers for those aren’t present. I can’t remember the 3rd, but she was certain it was food related because of how I described it. Her recommendation was putting Loke on a very strict diet for 8 weeks, just specialized dog food. That made me cringe. Not for myself or for Loke. Jens has been difficult at times when it comes to ‘depriving Loke of goodies’.

When I mentioned how difficult it might be for my husband, he said Loke could have small treats of things not found in dog food. So, no pork, beef, lamb or fish as well as the carbs. She did say he could have things like reindeer, moose and rabbit. She even knew a place that sold reindeer scraps sold in frozen kilo blocks as dog food. So, it’s not all as bad as that. When he would normally get a lovely bit of steak from our dinners, he now gets a nice chunk of reindeer. Of course, Lord Fuzzy still thinks he should get reindeer AND the steak.

She also gave a long list of things to treat the current fungal infection. Prescription shampoo, a disinfectant spray, and a cream.

So, that’s how things stand now. Loke’s been suffering with itchies and inflamed skin for years as well as the flare-ups of various bacterial and fungal infections. He’s been eating naught but his special dog food with bits of reindeer of goodies. Hopefully, we can improve things for Loke. Get his feet cleared up so he can continue to limp along on the short outings with the trike at the very least.

I would like to have his company for a while longer on those at the very least.


Ringing It In!
January 1, 2014, 6:39 am
Filed under: Misc

More than I tend to do any way. I was actually awake last night when all the hoopla went off rather than being awoken by it. I’m not one to worry over much about the midnight hour. I’m just as happy wishing hubby a new year the next morning with a kiss.

Generally I do my ‘end of year stats’ at… well the end of the year. 2013, I let it slide until now, but here they are.

Miles – 980.68.

That’s the most miles covered in a year since 2008, beating last year’s total by 177 or so miles, in spite of no miles at all in February while taking care of Loke’s amputated toe and very few miles since we returned from our road trip through Europe.

Churches – 24 in Sweden. 4 in Denmark. 2 in Bruges.

I saw more churches, photographed and even showed them in the blog, but unless I saw them with a trike under me, I’m not adding those to the count.

Castles/Manors – 9. One of those 9 was in Copenhagen.

Monuments – 5. Those are pretty much in Copenhagen. Little Mermaid, spectacular fountain, more modest ones…

Ruins – 6.

Denmark Passage Mounds – 5. Three of those I crawled into.

Denmark Dolmen – 1.

Denmark Long Barrow – 1. Definitely lives up to it’s name. Roughly 100 meters/yards long and over 5000 years old.

Runestones – 63. All of those are in Sweden. Pretty good ‘haul’ for those. Of course, I went out on quite a few ‘Runestone Hunt’ rides.

Total Rides – 109.

That’s 13 more rides than last year. Not sure how much distance Loke covered thanks to my Garmin Training Center software deciding to wipe 2012 and 2013. I’m pretty sure he came close to last year’s total, but didn’t tip it.

Most of the rides were on the river loop. 3 were in other countries.

It was an awesome year once I shook off the disappointments of not touring or breaking the 1000 mile mark. It’s a little harder to feel positive about it with so many problems with my fuzzy cycle partner facing retirement from rides over 5 miles.

But in spite of that, here’s to 2014. Let’s see what I can accomplish with it!