Terii’s Cycling Babble

All For Loke
May 18, 2014, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Woke up the morning after my wonderful ride on the Tortuna loop to sunny skies and warming temperatures. I was immersed in working on the May 16th post until roughly 9 am when it seemed prudent to wake Jens up. Groggy, he asked if I’d take Loke out to the hedge if he made his own coffee.

I stepped out and it was quite warm. I’d been so accustomed to the chilly nights and mornings all through the beginning of May, it came as a surprise. I didn’t want to rush Jens, but I fully intended to keep my promise to Jens (and Loke) to take the furball for an outing. Half of it at least would be on paths and roads he wasn’t very familiar with. Something to fire his brain with new or unfamiliar sights and scents.

There’s a cycle path that runs parallel to the 55 from the area of Flogsta out to the turn off from the 55 to Wiks’ Castle. I think it’s an old rail bed. Loke and I rode part of it last autumn, through a section that is a butterfly reserve. The surface was nicely packed and reasonably smooth. From years ago, maybe even before I started blogging, I rode another section of it. It had been rather soft dirt. Something I was still willing to dare. We’d go easy and slow and sand would be kind to Loke’s paws over gravel or asphalt. Jens could drop us off at the far end and I’d could cycle home. Worse case, Jens could fetch Loke if he seemed too painful at any time.

Not a bad start to the ride!

Not a bad start to the ride!

So, we’d do that path!

After Jens had enough time to wake up, He drove us out. In short order I was assembling the trike, pointed down the path back toward Uppsala. Loke was exuberant. Bouncing around with Jens as the brisk west wind ruffled his fur.

The sky was clearer than on the 16th though thankfully a touch cooler. Good for me and even better for the furball who’s continually trapped in his arctic parka.

As Jens drove off and I clipped in, Loke yodeled and hopped. I flipped the parking brake loose and Loke shot off in a determined charge. I swerved over so he was loping in the grass and allowing this small indiscretion of speed for a half mile at 10 mph.

This was a place we’d never gone and he was in his element and excited. Straight and high, his tail waved gleefully with each jogging step, his jaws gaped in that husky smile I love so much.

And No Shade...

And No Shade…

The shade from the trees along the verge didn’t last long. They fell away and left the path hammered by the strong May sun as it ran arrow straight between fields and pastures. I kept a close eye on Loke’s breathing and his tongue. That lolling pink thing is a fair gauge of how hot he is and when it’s time for water or rest. It got pretty long and floppy, but the furball wasn’t interested in slowing down under 8 mph.

The long shade-free stretch reinforced the reminder that I need to set up a way to carry his umbrella. Portable shade that can pop up when he needs shade to cool down and catch his breath with the nearest trees a mile or more away. Perhaps I’ll take a look at it when I’m done with this post.

A short break in a patch of shade

A short break in a patch of shade

Even when he started to get on the warm side, Loke ran beautifully. His motions were smooth and strong. No indication of arthritis that distresses me so.

As for me, the ride wasn’t as bad as I feared after the 16+ miles just the day before. Granted, Loke was cheerfully doing most of the work, helped by that lovely west wind at our backs. I spun the pedals gently, just enough to give us a little extra push so the furball wasn’t taking all the strain.

The real trees were far off, but every now and again, a scraggly thing resembling a jumped up bush pretending to be a tree stood by the path. Whether Loke thought he needed it or not, I’d stop in the sparse patches of coolness and offer Loke water. The first time he didn’t drink any. The next two, he wasn’t so picky and gulped a decent amount. When his tongue would shorten, his breathing slow and the water had time to settle, we’d move on.

Ramsta Church

Ramsta Church

By mile 3, Loke was content to go along at a slower 6 mph pace. It let me relax keeping an eye on him a tiny bit. Even going slow and not pulling, he clearly enjoyed being out away from the tedium of the river loop. He was more alert, ears twisting around and eyes scanning for small random movements that might hint at small quarry.

Most of the time, the 55, busy and often noisy was completely out of sight. Even on my GPS map, it looked like I was in the middle of nowhere. I could still hear faint traffic noises, but even the glint of sunlight on hoods and windshields couldn’t be seen. At one point, the trees between the busy road and fields on my left would disappear and I could make out tiny cars. Once it was the distinctive view of Ramsta Church.

Pretty country road

Pretty country road

I really should cycle there one day. I’ve ridden all through the area around, but never actually to the church itself. It just sits in the middle of a vacuum as it were. It reaching it would require about 5 miles of an out-n-back which I’ve often viewed as a waste of my precious stamina when attempting a 35+ mile loop. Or it would need riding on the shoulder of the 55. The road has a huge shoulder, as wide as a lane, but the whizzing traffic and cars, busses and trucks often use it as an extra lane to let faster traffic pass. So, Ramsta Church gone unvisited, forlorn and ignored. Maybe for Loke’s next outing, Jens can drop us off there and we’ll head north toward Vänge.

Horrid surface, but pretty scenery!

Horrid surface, but pretty scenery!

Enough rambling. Sometime after the distant view of Ramsta Church was behind us, the path changed. It went from manageable, even favorable track of good packed earth with an occasional divider of grass or dandelions to gravel. Not pea-sized well packed gravel. Larger stuff, about an inch in diameter and loose. My legs protested the abuse after the exertions the day before. Our speed dropped to 4 mph or less at times, becoming a true rolling walk. Loke took the opportunity to sniff through the growth along the verge with such an easy, even lackadaisical pace. At least going that slow, even Loke wasn’t likely to overheat, lack of shade or not.

In spite of that change of road fate, my mood remained upbeat, happy even. I can only attribute it to one thing – Loke. I had my fuzzy cycle partner by my side. He’d not limped at all and though hot at times, he was happy to do what he loves.

The gravel got even worse, but we pushed on. Very little choice in most places. Every now and again, the path intersected with little country dirt road, as some of the photos have shown, but other long stretches were well away from any road access. We wandered through a golf course, causing quite a stir with some of the players. We startled a hawk up from the grass in one place. I grinned as Loke hopefully watched it circle above us.

We scooted across the road we used to take to reach Hammarskog, but things didn’t really improve. I pushed along, legs doing a dull burn that I imagined as sulking. ‘Making us work this hard after we busted our butts for her yesterday’. The silliest things pop into my head at times.

Finally we hove into view of the butterfly section of the trail. My heart plummeted and I stopped to slump exhausted into the seat. That great rolling surface of well packed dirt dusted with fallen leaves I remembered had been GRATED. It was now all soft, sandy soil and sizeable stones churned up into a wheel bogging mess. Loke looked at me and wagged his tail when I sighed. At least it was still nice scenery and plenty of shade.

Somehow, digging deep, I found the muscle strength to continue. We were doing barely more than my walking pace at times. As for the ‘butterfly trail’? I think I saw two.

We nearly caused a disaster. The entire trail is a MUP (Multi-User Path) in the truest sense. Any non-motorize mode of transportation is welcome on it, with the exception of golf carts thanks to the course it cuts through. Horses aren’t motorize and the path generally has a bridle path sign below the pedestrian/bike.

I saw the horse approaching and crossed over to the far right of the path as far as I could. A gentleman in his 50’s rode the pretty chestnut mare. About 50 meters away, she started sidling and snorting nervously so the man stopped. We were at something of a standoff. There was no where for me to go and the horse wasn’t going to be much closer to this weird contraption of trike, husky and plump woman with bizarre headwear. The man called out he had a faint trail on his side that led a little into the trees. He’d move her off until we passed.

When he stopped about 10 meters into the trees off the path, I moved a little. The mare promptly spooked. The man fought to keep her from whirling into panicked bolt through the trees. She resisted, dropping her haunches in a half rear while skittering backwards toward a steep slope. Another yard and it would have rolled her right over her rump onto her back, crushing the rider. He was good, clearly knowing how to handle his animal with a deft calm. Once she nervously settled again, he patted her neck. He told me to wait a moment while he moved even further into the trees.

He was almost out of sight, just tiny bits of movement between the leaves, limbs and trunks. It was enough that I could see when he stopped and I slowly moved again. I came up to the small path. The man and horse were about 50 yards from the main trail. The mare only watched us go by, snorting uneasily and then we were in the clear. It definitely could have ended very badly for horse and man. I would have felt terrible.

Soon we were back out into the sun. About another mile of that and we came to the Flogsta area I’ve ridden half a dozen times or so. There’s a cycle path that runs off toward the heart of the city I’ve never pedaled, so that was the one I took. It has been a long time since I’ve been so happy to see pavement.

It was about 8 miles by that time. Loke was still doing good. He wasn’t limping from arthritis or sore feet. I was expecting him to be tenderfooted after tromping on 5 miles or so of those hideous rocks. Granted, I tried to keep him on the grassy verge as much as I could. Within half a mile, I had to slow down in spite of the easy of pedaling on asphalt. The pavement absorbed and then threw back the sun’s heat more than the gravel surfaces. Loke became quite warm.

We finally reached the more familiar streets and paths that led us toward the city forest. I didn’t loop us through that cool, green, dim bliss, but instead turned toward downtown. My legs were flagging and each push of the pedals took a real effort. I needed to head roughly homeward.

Perky Puppy

Perky Puppy

Loke’s energy was still good when I parked in the dense shade of an oak next to the parking at the ice rinks. I removed his harness and called Jens to get him. 11.02 miles. His new longest ride of the year. He had enough perk to pace around and not want to lay down. He was thrilled to death to see Jens, but watched forlornly through the window as the car drove away.

I was satisfied with the outing. Loke had enjoyed himself and made a new distance for 2014. I was going for a slow, gentle increase of muscle and stamina. I felt this was a step toward that. The fact he hadn’t limped thrilled me to no end. I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I’d pushed on with him the 3 or so miles to home only have him hobbling around.

My pace picked up without the furry one. I wasn’t blazing through any speed records, but clipping along about 9 mph. Pretty good for my overworked legs. The speed slowed when I hit the gravel of the riverside path, but it was still faster going than most of the first 8 miles of the ride.

The river was beautiful. A dark, gently rippling mirror that reflected dancing images of the surroundings and the blue sky overhead. The closer I came to the heart of downtown, the more crowded it became. Everyone had turned out to enjoy the weather.

Ta Da! It's Up!

Ta Da! It’s Up!

Part of the reason the river rippled so much was a tourist boat chugging its way against the current. I kept pace with it, but knew I wouldn’t beat it to the cycle path drawbridge. I thought it might be kind of fun to actually see it go up for once.

I rolled to a stop just as it was rising. After taking a picture of it at full height and the boat passing, I sat back in the trike. Waiting for it come down, I happened to notice an electrical sign to left. Printed on the top was ‘cycle drawbridge’. The little light panel listed statistics. X-cyclists had crossed today. 4,000+ had crossed yesterday. X – total cyclists for 2014 to date. 600,000+ for 2013. I thought that was so neat!

I was quite peckish by the time I entered the downtown proper, passing some kind of festival near the parkland by the pumphouse. Breakfast was a distant memory, long burned away by the ride. I decided some great strawberry ice cream was just what I needed.

The first ice cream kiosk had almost 20 people standing in line. Ummmm. No. I wanted ice cream, but not enough to stand in a queue for 30 minutes. The next one I knew of by the cathedral was only a little better. About a dozen people, but they didn’t even have strawberry! The nerve!

Finally there’s a tiny little kiosk by the river. Just a woman and her daughter getting scoops as I rolled up. Perfect! The woman had strawberry, though she had to find a fresh tub of it. Took about 5 minutes. Poor dear was all flustered and apologetic by how long it took. I went for 3 scoops. Strawberry, chocolate and cherry dream. Mmmmm. I sat peacefully in the shade by the river and nibbled away. It was sooooo good.

From there  it was a quick jaunt home. I felt wobbly kneed as I put the trike away, but not quite as bad as I had on the 16th. I finished up with 14.3 miles. That makes 30 miles in just 2 days. Not bad though I can remember when I could crank out 150 miles in a week. *sigh* Someday again maybe.


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