Terii’s Cycling Babble

A Glorious Day
April 23, 2014, 9:13 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yes, yes. I’ve been far too quiet here. Fact is, I’ve not been getting out for rides much. Just 2 this month and before yesterday, every ride this year has been variations of the River Loop except for perhaps 2. One of those still involved a fair portion of the River Loop which is generally unavoidable. Yesterday was no River Loop at all thanks to the hubby.

I guess before I get to that, I need to catch up on a few things which have somewhat impacted my cycling. At least part of the reason I’m going from 980-ish miles of last year to 400-ish this year… if that much if I continue the way I’ve been.

My teeth. Thankfully all 4 wisdom teeth are gone as well as 2 molars that two of the wisdom teeth ruined. Back in late March, the first lower wisdom tooth was pulled (with some difficulty) and left me in misery. Quite a shock after the the top 4 teeth being all but pain free. Just a little achey on the first day, but not even enough for me to take anything for the pain. That bottom left tooth, for 10 days, I took pain tablets like clockwork, every 6 hours. Even being an hour late had me curling up on my side and clutching my face. I’d been told it would be more painful than the first ones, but after about 5 days and no improvement, I made an emergency appointment.

Dry socket. It had probably happened the very evening of the pulling. The wonderfully kind dentist treated it, but it didn’t really feel better until another 5 days when it was like having a switch flipped. Went to bed in considerable pain one night and woke the next morning fine.

The last one was pulled on the 17th and getting it out was as difficult as the previous one. Thankfully, recovery has been no where as painful. Taking pain meds fairly regularly, yes, but not desperately diving for them right at the 6 hour mark.

But all this tooth difficulty put brakes on cycling. When the side of your face is already throbbing even with pain relief in your system, the last thing you want to do is raise your heart rate. Makes it feel like the whole side of my face was going to blow off.

But I got a couple rides in this Easter weekend. Saturday, I risked going for a nice slow toodle for Loke’s sake. He’s been particularly difficult of late. Constantly in our faces even after long walks and being fed. In desperation, I took him for a jaunt in hopes he’d settle.

Loke was crazy and fired up. While waiting for the Garmin to find satellites, he yodeled and kangaroo hopped at the end of the tether like he’s not done in years! When I finally released the brake, he was off like a shot, trying to hit 15+ mph. That didn’t happen as I try to keep him below 12 mph, but it didn’t stop him from attempting it. The raging fire of speed didn’t last long. He settled quickly into a decently brisk pace.

It was a pretty day, a bit on the cool side. That temperature that’s hard to dress for. I had thin wool under cycle leggings and they were too warm, but my top, lacking an extra layer, was a touch too cool.

My jaw wasn’t particularly pleased, but since I kept my cadence down and let Loke do most of the work, it was tolerable. 4 miles. Or was it just 3.5? Well, either way we did some kind of a loop involving the river. It didn’t really do much to alleviate the reason I’d risked going for a ride in spite of the recent tooth extraction. Loke still had energy and harassment to spare.

Jens has been trying to get me to cycle in places other than the River Loop, but when I look at places to go, the constant litany of  ‘Been there several times,’ puts me off. It’s an hour and a half in any direction to find a place I haven’t already ridden so many times I’ve worn trike ruts into stone.

I started this blog to show my adopted country and beyond, to friends and family. To share my explorations on 3 wheels. Loke somewhat took it over by becoming such a big part of my cycling, but still in there was, ‘Look! A new runestone/castle/burial ground/church…’

Now, it’s ‘rode the River Loop again’ or ‘Rode to the city forest again’. Jens offers to drive me, even read a book in the car for an hour so he can pick up Loke after 6 miles or so. My conscience won’t let me do it to the hubby. He works long hours and has so little free time to himself between the job, exercising and walking Loke, the idea of taking up 3 or more hours of his time to play chauffeur makes me cringe. Hence, ‘I’ll just do the River Loop’ when I feel I absolutely must go ride. Most of the time of late, I think to myself, ‘I should go out for a ride.’ Then the thought of 3 trips up and down the stairs to get everything out and the same time and effort to get everything back amounting to more time than doing a River Loop, deflates me. Instead of wasting 30-40 minutes with the whole 3 ring circus, I spend 5 minutes to pull on my Five Finger shoes, put on the walking belt to hold Loke’s leash, grab my poles and we head out for a 2.5 mile walk.

As for driving myself and leaving Loke at home? Well, that leaves a husky who’s harassing us thanks to excess energy and boredom. Also, if I want places with new things to see and blog about, the drive time still exists. Since I’ve been cycling so little, it seems silly to do a 3 hour round trip drive for a single hour of cycling as I had no confidence that I could do more than 10 miles without my legs falling off.

Monday after Easter, Jens decided to wash the car. So, he pulled out a map, pointed to the area of Granby mall where the car wash sits and told me to find something. Then he started lugging the trike out to the car. Grudgingly, I did as I was bullied. I remembered a couple of runestone on part of a loop I’d tried once. The ride early last year when snow still covered fields and I ended up getting electrocuted by a fence thanks to a spooked horse. She had charged the fence (toward the trike oddly) and broken it before turning back to run to the far end of the pasture with the others. My attempts at repair failed miserably and the horses escaped. The annoying thing was, I wasn’t even the one who made her bolt. It was the dominate mare who snorted and pushed her over the edge. Was a very bad day.

But it was something of a loop and one I’d not ridden in over a year. There were 7 other runestones in the area I hadn’t found. One being down the road where my appearance had terrified the horse. I was not willing to risk that again and wasn’t in the mood for a long walk down the dirt road and back to hunt for the stone. Another would have required an equally long walk over fields while skirting a big farm yard. The other five were possible though. There are 8 or so stones around Vaksala church. 5 or 6 outside the churchyard wall, 1 inside the church and 2 more in the church’s outer wall. Those outside the churchyard I’ve collected. Two others stand in an area less than a half mile from the church.

I plotted out a shortened loop from the carwash back to the carwash for those 5 stones. It came to about 7.5 miles. Loke’s done a 7.3 mile run this year so I figured it should be in his ability.

Jens was a bit nervous about my crossing the road between the car-wash and the new McDonalds as I readied the trike. A lot of cars come whipping the curve from the round-a-bout without thought to potential pedestrians (or low the ground cyclists).

My husband laughed as Loke started his crazy yodeling and hopping before calling out for us to be safe. We made it through the intersection fine.

It was a gorgeous day. For the first time this year (out of what? 8 rides?), I had skipped any kind of extra layer and was perfectly comfortable. The sun shone warm from a clear sky, my face shaded by the Da Brim I’d put back on my helmet. Loke pulled strong, again trying to exceed the 12 mph limit as we rolled past the mall toward the 288.

The on the first 100 yard stretch of the 288, the cycle path gets a bit confusing and dealing with it always made my skin crawl. The 288 runs sort of east-west with a separate cycle path for almost 3 miles. For most of that distance, it’s on the southern side of the road, but for about 100 yards it cuts over to the north side. Quite hair-raising in my opinion since it’s not like a cross-walk crossing over the busy road, but a sudden diagonal lane painted across the two lanes of traffic. After about 50 meters, it ended at an intersection where you can cross back to the south side or turn onto another that I’d be coming from. Generally I come from the east, but this time I was going that way.

Keeping the silly cycle path arrangement in mind, I readied myself to do what needed to be done. I spotted the weather faded marking at the end of the road/path made my left turn… and stopped in less than 10 yards. The cycle lane was gone and there I was on the trike, at the edge of the road facing oncoming traffic.

I managed not to panic. My first course of action was to unhitch Loke from the bar and pulled him across me so at least I was between him and the cars. After that, it was a matter of getting up while making sure I wasn’t going to be hit and pulling the trike as far down the side of the ditch (no shoulder) as I could without all of us tumbling down another 6 feet to the bottom. Somehow, on that steep slope, I managed to get the trike turned. A break in the traffic appeared offering a moment to push back onto the road and scurry back to the safety of the true cycle path.

I sat for a minute, catching my breath and surveying the situation. They’d finally done the sensible thing and continued the cycle path between the bus-stop to the crossing on the south side. No more silly diagonal crossing from one side to have to cross back. It had only taken them 3 years. Not sure why they just hadn’t done it that way when they first laid the path. Seriously!

The mile and a half stretch along the 288 is pretty tedious and absolutely shadeless. Good thing I brought water for the fuzzy one. He took a few gulps though we’d barely gone a mile.

He perked up quite a bit once we made the first turn away from the big road. As the traffic noise receded, it was replaced by lark song. Those trilling, seemingly joyful birds are everywhere. Their simple melodies soar and dip to the same heights their fluttering wings carry their dainty forms. Warm sun, very little wind and lovely birdsong made for a lovely day.

Soothed by nature’s music, the vivid colors of spring flowers (blue stars, white flowers, and the first dandelions) broke the expanses of lush, emerald green and muted earth tones of the fields. Butterflies flitted back and forth across the roads in search of the treasure of nectar hidden in the heart of the blossoms.

I slowed a bit as I passed the little dirt road where a runestone lurked in the distance. I felt wistful, but had no desire to be electrocuted or chasing after horses again. There were a few horses in paddocks along the paved road, so I took it slow and called out. A few spooked to the far reaches of their paddocks, but not enough to go crashing through wires. Curiosity overcame their wariness of some and they came slowly walking up, blowing softly.

Once past that stretch, I was relieved at the lack of disaster.

Loke panted quite a bit, but not enough to worrisome. Just offered water for him to gulp every mile and a half or so and he was good to jog on.

We came another horse farm. These animals were far more curious than fearful. One exception was a stunningly dark, almost black animal made very distinctive by a neat outline of white down the center of his face all the way to his upper lip. It was nearly neat enough to have been hand-painted, hardly spilling down the sides of his head at all. I stopped to chat and call out to him and he finally came up to investigate. When I moved off, he trotted along the fence.

We were coming up toward the last 3rd of the loop when I had another mini-adventure. I wasn’t going much more than 6 mph when a wasp zipped up out of no-where and smacked me in the face. I panicked more than I did with the cycle path incident when I heard more buzzing after being hit.  Turning my head, I saw it hovering from the corner of my eye. With a yelp, I mashed on the pedals and cranked the gears. Loke gave me a startled look as he lept into a lope. Honestly, how I escaped getting stung, I have no clue.

Loke had a little excitement just a minute after that. There was a ditch running with a surprising amount of water given how little rain we’ve had the past few days. In a spot with a few reeds and grass where the water calmed, were a pair of ducks. Loke wanted to leap in after them. As I pulled him past, I hoped the female wouldn’t be so dense as to lay and hatch a brood along the ditch side. The ducklings would end up with no water unless the weather gets wet, and also would have to worry about being squished by cars or plowed over by tractors working the fields.

The first two runestones I wasn’t able to find this time. The little roads I needed weren’t on my Garmin though they were on Google Maps. I just had no way to match the two to figure out if I was where I needed to be for the turns. I do have a way to figure it out for next time though.

Runestone Uppland 960 pieces

Runestone Uppland 960 pieces

I pulled into Vaksala church. Leaving Loke with plenty of water in a small patch of shade, I went in search of the runestones there. Unfortunately (but not surprising) the church was locked, but I did find what I thought was the other two. One was about 10 feet up, imbedded in the church wall. The other was on the ground near the foundation. Turns out they’re actually pieces of a single stone. The one on the ground was ‘recently discovered’ according to the web site. That might be 2 years or more past.

This means, there’s a reason for me to stop at the church again. Though I carefully searched the walls as I walked around it, a stone is missing. One in the south wall of the church. Unless of course its imbedded on the interior south wall of the church.

That done, I called Jens to see if he could come get Loke at the mall. Turned out he was already there.

I pulled up to the car in the parking lot with about 8.5 miles. I think Loke might have had the energy to go all the way home, but I’m trying to take it fairly slow with him. An extra mile over his year’s best when we’ve been cycling so little felt like plenty.

Me? I was going home under my own power. I still felt good and it was less than 3 miles to home, so no problem.

I moved out behind Jens and hit the pace between 10-11 mph which is pretty good for the Sprint with it’s low gearing and given I’d already put in over 8 miles which was the longest distance for the year. I covered something like 2.8 miles in less than 12 minutes. Most cyclists might laugh at that speed, but it was great for me. I finished up with just a tad under 12 miles.

Best of all was I felt pretty good. My legs felt like I’d done a little bit of something, but I still thought I could have pedaled out another 10 or more miles before feeling noodle-kneed. It definitely boosted my confidence for longer rides if I decide to drive the trike somewhere.