Terii’s Cycling Babble


Out And About
May 18, 2014, 8:39 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Yesterday came about as a surprise. Jens had come home around 2 am from London due to a delayed flight. My feet were utter torment so I’d decided there’s no way to put it off any longer. I’d have to go to a foot clinic. If my feet need real medical help and the myriad of foot clinics are just jumped up nail salons for the feet, hopefully that will be enough to get a doctor’s appointment. “I went, foot clinic couldn’t do anything, FIX IT!” kind of issue.

So, I woke bright and early on Friday. Waiting for 8 am to roll around so I could call the clinic, I fiddled with my currently uncooperative 3D modeling. Made the call, but I guess they were still closed, so I left my name and number before continuing my work while waiting for a call back.

As I waited I kept glancing out the window at the glorious day. Amber sunlight tinting the tops of trees and buildings with a backdrop of lapis sky. The trees barely moved, hinting at a calm day. I almost hoped the clinic wouldn’t have a time slot so I could go for a ride. Admittedly, my feet had kept me awake for hours the night before, so I was torn.

Right at 9 am, the call back came. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending how one looks at it, they didn’t have slot for Friday. Monday was the soonest, so Monday it was.

I roused Jens from bed to do a little work from home before taking another glance out the windows. The decision clicked. I was going for a ride and it was going to be somewhere else.

Björka Church - December 2013

Björksta Church – December 2013

The loop I’d attempted back in December popped into my head. I’d driven out to Björksta Church, just east of Västerås, only to be thwarted by roads so icy even the car’s studded tires skidded at times. With last winter so utterly snowless and, for the most part without ice, I’d not bothered with installing the trike’s studded tires.

About a week later, Jens and I returned to the area and drove the loop, stopping at several spots with rock carvings. Most of them required walks through pastures or across fields so it was a nice way to get Loke his main daily walk. Not to mention quality time doing something together as a couple. It was a lovely day for our little family.

I didn’t blog it of course since it wasn’t related to any trike ride except for the failed attempt.

Carvings of a chariot, ships and cup marks

Carvings of a chariot, ships and cup marks

The pre-plotted December loop was just 7 miles. I wanted a more than that. Perhaps at least enough to become the new ‘longest ride of the year’ as well as making the nearly hour drive worth it. Not to mention, I wanted to spend a decent amount of time enjoying the pretty day. Peering at Google Maps and crosschecking with other websites containing information on runestones and such, I found one looping about 14.3 miles. It added another church as well as a stone ship setting and runestones. Perfect!

I felt a little guilty while readying to leave, having decided Loke would stay home for a myriad of reasons. First, the distance of the drive and problem of puppy pick-up. As mentioned, it was nearly an hour to Björksta Church. I was fairly certain Loke wasn’t up to 15 miles mostly because of his paws. Also, though it was just a short 4.5 mile River Loop on Thursday, I wanted him to have a rest day. Even so, it felt so cruel to deprive him of new territory which would have excited him to no end.

When Jens asked if Loke could come, I answered the 14 or more miles might be too much for the fuzzy. Jens offered to drive us so Loke could be ‘rescued’ if needed. I asked if he was sure and listed the various ways it could play out. The scenario with the least amount of car time for my hubby was close to 4 hours if you don’t count the hour or more sitting in the car in a parking lot, reading a book. The worst was a little less than 6. Give or take 20 minutes for traffic conditions. The darling man bravely said he’d do it (best scenario), but I’m sure he was relieved when I said Loke should have a rest day, for his paws at least. I promised that I’d take him for an outing the next day (today).

By the time I’d printed maps, collected everything I wanted to take with me (camera, water, tripod, etc) and sat down in the car, it was past noon. I barely made it 4 miles down the road, when I had to turn back. I’d realized there had been no check of the air pressure in the trike’s tires for over a month. While I didn’t think the pressure was low enough to worry about pinch flats, I prefer the ‘better safe than sorry’ scenario. Jens was surprised when I walked through the door. I grabbed the big pump as well as my small travel one and snatched up a tire repair kit as well. It would be just my luck to get a flat while 8 miles from the car and no way to fix it.

The GPS had the arrival at Björksta around 1:15 pm. That gave me no real concern. I’d packed a couple of hard bread ‘sandwiches’ for a little snack and the sun doesn’t set until almost 8:30. Even if I creeped along, there was plenty of time for the ride.

A few clouds clumped up in the sky as I headed west, but the sun still ruled the day. It remained so even when I pulled into the church. Before unloading the trike, I ran around, looking for the second set of stone carvings mentioned, but they remained elusive.

Giddiness bubbled in my chest, coming out as little chuckles, almost giggles along with a huge grin tugging at the corners of my mouth. A ride, a real ride fit for a blog post!

Drawing a deep breath that exhaled as a laugh, I pushed off.

The first quarter mile or so was a long glide downward. The trike flew, though not as fast as it would have on a calmer day. It turned out to be a bit windier than it had appeared in Uppsala or even around the church. The need to ride would not be denied for anything short of 25 mph gales. I whipped through a turn and churned the pedals over a flat before everything slowed for my first climb. I geared way down and toodled my way up. Nice and easy. I was not going to wear out my legs in the first 4 miles and have the other 10+ be a living nightmare of screaming muscles.

Pasture Entrance for Stone Carving Path

Pasture Entrance for Stone Carving Path

Odd marking type I've not seen before

Odd marking type I’ve not seen before

Another unfamiliar symbol!

Another unfamiliar symbol!

I pulled into a the tiny parking space outside the pasture where the first stone carving walk waited. I took a panoramic series showing the parking lot, the ship sign indicating the location of Bronze Age carvings and the lower farm fields beyond. Then I stood up. I wiggled my feet, wondering if I dared walk the path to see if I could find more carvings than on the day Jens, Loke and I strolled it. As if in answer, the spot on the ball of my right foot gave a slight twinge of pain. Regretfully, I decided I’d have to make due with photos from the walk. I want my feet to heal, not continue setting back the possibility of healing.

I took a few moments to adjust my Da Brim, snugging it down properly before refastening the flap to the back of my cap to keep the sun off my ears and neck. That’s a problem with pony tails. They leave more exposed skin for burning. I also hurriedly applied sun screen to the backs of the my hands and tops of my fingers. Things I should have done before leaving the church, but I was too excited to remember.

BIG Ship Carving - at least 4 feet long

BIG Ship Carving – at least 4 feet long

Lovely old building in a spring time setting

Lovely old building in a spring time setting

A pair of horses watched me from the field across the road. They trotted off skittishly when I started rolling. Since I was doubling back a short distance, I had a long fast charge down the hill I’d climbed. My speed encouraged the horses to loop around and run with me as long as the pasture fence allowed. I love that.

The zip back to the intersection that led back to the church, again, wasn’t as fast as it could be. Somehow the wind still was blowing in my face, at the intersection, I shot through straight to set out on the loop proper.

After about 10 minutes, I was glad of that wind though it made the going a little more difficult without any lovely downgrades to boost my speed. The first new miles were utterly treeless and the May sun is quite strong in Sweden. It meant Terii was rather like a chicken in a roasting pan under an oven’s heating element. So much surface area, stretched out to broil in the sun. It’s especially hard on the legs which inevitably are clad in black lycra. Yes, that sun with my slow speed up slopes made me quite happy to have some wind to keep me from boiling over.

Loving the scenery

Loving the scenery

I was a little excited about the next carving sight. When Jens and I had been there, the rock had been covered over with a tarp to protect them. The stones weighing the cover down were rather large and neither of us were up to trying to shift them for a peek, only to have to wrestle them back. So, being almost 6 months later, I was expecting to find them ‘open to the public’ again as it were.

Love the colors!

Love the colors!

Nope. The tarp was still there and no way I was going to argue with those stones by myself. I was so disgusted I didn’t even take pictures of the rock dome with it’s ugly covering of green plastic, rocks and tree branches.

As I went back to spinning the pedals under a hot sun, I realized a growing irritation was hanging about like some black, swelling storm cloud. It wasn’t triggered by the covered carvings. Once noticed, thinking over it brought the realization it had crept in, tiny and insignificant before finishing the first mile and a half. So, shortly after I’d left the first carving walk parking lot across from the horses.

Longest Man Carving In Region

Longest Man Carving In Region

That irritation was the unexpected wind and broiling in the sun. It was the bugs. It seemed I was getting smacked in the face every 5 seconds, stopping every minute to blow some annoying little beetle thing off my glasses. Flinching as yet another something whapped between my eyes. An entire body exposed to impact, but nooo, the only thing getting hit was the face. It was also the fact I felt so sluggish, the trike dragging along. Was it because of the wind coupled with weak legs from so little riding? A low grade slope I couldn’t quite perceive along with the wind? It just felt like I was crawling.

I pulled over to the side of the road to sip water and wipe away yet another bug. Drawing deep breaths with eyes closed, I savoured the music of the birds and caress of the wind which had been part of the growing temper. I told myself I love riding. I always have and part of that is dealing with the environment. I’ve laughed through freezing (literally) rains, my legs covered in nothing but lycra and ice. After that what kind of annoyance were bugs, seriously? They weren’t the biting or stinging sort.

Concentric Circles Around A Crossed Circle

Concentric Circles Around A Crossed Circle

As for the wind? Pppft, barely even 10 miles an hour. What about my last successful overnight camping tour? I pedalled all day in winds of 25+ mph with gusts pushing 30 or more. Then I camped in it, in an exposed spot since I didn’t want to be clobbered by falling branches, wondering if the tent was going to rip away. Turns out those winds were the remains of a hurricane that had hammered New York City. Irene probably

The sun? Well, okay. It’s always been a bane of my recumbent cycling existence when the temperatures get to 70 F or warmer. But it makes the scenery so beautiful! It brought out the colors of new grass and leaves, made flowers pop. The beautiful skies and brightness the sunlight had given the spring growth was a huge part of what had kicked me in the butt to do this ride. I wanted to be outside, in the sun, and enjoy the gorgeous weather.

Shade! Glorious, Blessed Shade!!

Shade! Glorious, Blessed Shade!!

I opened my eyes and looked at where I sat. Lush grass, singing birds and out where I could discover more of this wonderful country I’ve called home for over 9 years now. In a car, you can watch scenery, but on the trike, I live it. I can see the small details and have the time to take unusual turns to explore. I love that. I thrive on it. Wasn’t that worth a few bugs or being a little overheated? The wind simply meant I was exercising harder which is always a good thing – yeah, I didn’t quite buy that one either. Hehe.

I sighed with something akin to relief and pushed onward, smiling. I felt much better after that mental readjustment. There were still flares of irritation with every bug that smacked my face, but it didn’t linger and build as it had been. My improved perspective didn’t stop me from gasping in relief at the sight of the first shade for miles even if I did have to climb a hill for it. At least it was a shady hill.

That deliciously cooler climb marked the next phase of ride being a north-ish turn at an intersection for the loop. The wind still managed to be somewhat in my face, just a little off to my left. It helped.

The next mile passed with plenty of sun, but also a nice smattering of light dappled shade from trees lining the edge of the road. Mile 7 brought a stunning and completely unexpected surprise.

Trike is inside the ship of stones

Trike is inside the ship of stones

I was passing between the ranges of the Tortuna golf course. Roughly in the middle of the course, past the the club house and parking, I spotted a stone whose position was obviously due to the hand of man. I brightened at the site of it, wondering if it was a runestone. As I continued to near the end of the path of trees on my right, another two stones appeared, then more. It was a stone ship setting! I actually giggled. Finding things like this is one of the reasons I cycle!

I couldn’t stop smiling as I followed a slightly packed down trail in the grass to park the trike inside the outline of the stones. Though there was a hint of a trail cutting through the ship, the grass was still dense and springy so I didn’t go very far. Still had another 9 miles to go. The drive to Björksta had shown me that parts of it were quite hilly. Wanted to save my legs for that.

Satellite View - Thank you MapMyRide!

Satellite View – Thank you MapMyRide!

From the ground, the ships I’ve seen look kind of sloppy. Doing the minor research for the blog, I found that in this case at least, it’s just the awkward perspective of something so big on the ground. Curious, I looked at the satellite view on MapMyRide.

This one is amazing in its careful balance. Each stone is almost perfectly aligned with its mate on the other side of the ship. An artist hand-drawing that shape on paper couldn’t be faulted for such solid symmetry, but this stretches for 30 or more meters on the ground! Admittedly, I’m guessing the length, but it is not a small setting, I assure you. Many of the stones stood a little taller than my head. Others were about chest high. The skill and sheer amount of work it took to craft this with no heavy equipment astounds me. Okay, so it’s no Great Pyramid or even the passage burial mounds in Denmark, but still a grand accomplishment of human determination and faith.

I loved that stone ship. After walking around it for a good camera angle, I decided to sit for a short rest, sipping water as I munched a hard bread snack (cream cheese and French herb) I’d brought with me. I kept my helmet on in case, like the bugs, stray golf balls might be drawn to my head/face. I got a few curious looks from random golfers, but it was easy enough to ignore them and pretend I was all by myself.

Refreshed, I moved out.

Tortuna Church

Tortuna Church

It was a bit of a northward curve from there toward Tortuna. I made a slow grind up an over-pass across rail tracks for a grand glide down to fly across yet more rail tracks. The traffic into Tortuna was a little heavier, but once across the tracks, there was a convenient cycle/pedestrian path that led me right to the turn for the small village’s church.

I parked in the delightfully dense shade of a tree just outside the churchyard gate to check for a phone signal. I had 3 bars, so pulled up the web browser and Googled for info on potential runestones associated with the church. Yep, one. It didn’t say if it was inside or outside though, so I went to look with camera in hand.

As I strolled around the rather vanilla box looking structure, one thing jumped out at me. Every wall of the church, except for the tower, had at least one significant crack going from eaves to the ground. One wall had no less than 5. None of them are gaping canyons, but they’ve cleanly split the plaster. This church was obviously built on less than solid foundations. But the uneven settling causing the cracks must be slow enough to keep up with or it would have been left to ruins long ago.

Västmanland Runestone #16

Västmanland Runestone #16

I found the runestone imbedded in the church wall toward the back. Västermanland Runestone #16. No sign for it of course. It was only because of the internet I have a translation for it or even know which one it was.

Canola Yellow

Canola Yellow

I headed on, facing another long, shadeless stretch. The sun wasn’t quite so bad though, being at my back as it was. Also a thin veil of clouds had tempered some of Sol’s impact.

Västmanland Runestone #17

Västmanland Runestone #17

I was feeling happy in myself. Between leaving the church around mile 8 and toward the southward turn around mile 11.5, the ground was mostly flat. Though when I stopped, the wind felt as if it was still coming at me, pedaling felt easier. The trike cruised along at 10 – 11 mph. The tires added their nearly musical hum to the thrill of larks and other birds. For those 3.5 miles, I finally felt free.

In the middle of that happy, spinning run, I stumbled on a runestone at the side of the road. No sign of course. Again, thank you internet that I know it’s Västmanland Runestone #17 and have a translation. No other information sadly. I love knowing little details about the stones. Of course, most of those with the interesting tidbits are at churches. Those have been used as alter stones, or thresholds and such.

Around mile 10, a glint of white showed above the trees, resolving into the tower of a church that looked a lot like Tortuna’s. This ride was just full of surprises! I pulled over to scan through places on my GPS in search of the surprise church. I remembered a little village called Bred that I’d driven through. Though the place had a few road signs, it might as well have not existed as far as the maps are concerned.

Lovely River

Lovely River

I decided to see if I could find the church. It was right there in sight, so couldn’t be that far away. Continuing east instead of taking the south turn gave me a wild ride. A steep roller-coaster like hill that dropped away toward a river with a sharp turn just before a stone bridge who’s foundations looked a century old or more. The downside (haha) of that was an equally steep climb up on the other side of the river. I milked that speed as much as I could for the upward grind.

Bred Kyrka

Bred Kyrka

I took a left thinking it was roughly toward the church, which I couldn’t see thanks to trees. Finally emerged between some fields to find it was the wrong way. So, I doubled back and continued the creep up more hill. I saw the church, but it still seemed the direction was wrong. Tired after almost 14 miles (longest distance of the year) with still more hills to look forward to, I was about to give up. Then I noticed double line of young birch trees which had to be along a road. Happy day! They led right to the steeple just visible over some trees!

My legs were a little shaky as I pulled out of the trike to do the church walk.

Uppland Runestone #795

Uppland Runestone #795

The churchyard had an unusual feature to balance it’s rather plain exterior. From the inside, the yard wall had been piled with dirt up to the top, making a smooth green rise. Barely a hint of the stone wall that encircled it visible except from outside the lichyard. I thought it rather charming. I found a nice camera angle and continued around, scanning for runestones.

I found one. It stood right between the church door and the lichyard gate. How I missed it coming in is baffling.

With the stone collected into the camera, I stepped up to the placard, the first of the ride. It gave me a double take. Uppland Runsten #795? Turned out the river I’d crossed was the border between Uppland and Västmanland.

Mystery church found and another runestone in my collection, I headed back the way I came. Except for the crazy dash down hills, I took it easy. Gentle on my knees and tired legs. I even stopped at a picnic table next to the river to savor the view and a granny smith apple.

Nearly Full Circle

Nearly Full Circle

The next mile was slow being mostly low grade climbing. Toodling through a couple of tiny villages, waving at the kids who called out in surprise at the sight of the trike. The last mile was much easier, being a gentle series of drops back toward Björksta. I was exhausted, but still smiling in the midst of thinned sunshine, green fields and singing birds. My first true ride of the year. It felt glorious.

I didn’t even mind the wobbly legs as I packed everything away.

Other than chirping birds, wild life had been scarce. Cranes had been calling somewhere in the middle of big fields. Try as I might, they were not to be found even with the camera’s long lens. I tried. Naturally less than 100 yards from the church parking lot, one flew across the road too quick for me to reach the camera.

About two miles into the drive home an even better treat went across the road in a hurried trot. Coming out of the weeds, I thought it a cat at first though something odd about it. As it stepped on the pavement to cross the road, I stopped to watch the healthy, sleek fox with a big hare in its jaws. It’s catch was nearly as big as it was. It was a fox with a mission, going in a straight line through the woods on the other side, dead hare bumping along. My guess, the hare was dinner for a litter of impossibly cute kits! I ‘awwwwed’ just at the thought of it.

One last photo of December Carving Walks

One last photo of December Carving Walks

There was only one other thing of note on the way back home. Just on one side of a curve obscured with trees, a trucker had parked a trailer, right in the middle of the left hand side of the road. Not the little sort that cars use to drag a sofa, but a huge flat-bed secondary trailer. The metal dark with no gleam and no lights or reflectives. Speed limits are 70 kph, but most go faster even at night. Once the sun went down, that trailer would be on the wrong side of a blind curve and blending well into the dark. I hope no one died because of that stupidity.

The rest of the drive home was uneventful. I staggered in to the apartment, ate some boiled shrimp and collapsed onto the couch in a state of semi-consciousness. It was a good day.

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