Terii’s Cycling Babble


Weirdness, Panic and New Toy
June 8, 2014, 6:02 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Goodness, but the miles are piling up fast.

Loke and I went out again on the 6. After just 1 day of rest from our ‘epic’ 28.8 mile Borås to Ulricehamn ride, Loke was already back to normal energy and bounce. Not that he’d been sluggish on Thursday, just acted a bit less twitchy. No lurching hopefully to his feet every time Jens and I so much as blinked. He waited until Friday morning to resume that behavior.

So, out we went.

After doing the research on the various things for the last blog post for the Borås-Ulricehamn ride, I was intrigued by the whole 1593 Uppsala Synod thing. I’d used Google maps to try and pin-point the location of the building where it took place, but all showed was a grassy sward. So, I decided I’d go look. The older buildings often have names. It would be easy enough to look at the 4 or so buildings in the area to see which one had the name ‘Academia Carolina’ or Swedish equivalent.

Loke was quite happy to see his harness once I picked it up. He walked right over and raised his head to have it slipped on. He wanted to run like the wind once I loosed the parking brake.

I didn’t head directly to the Cathedral area, but took a slightly indirect route to add a tiny bit of distance. I wanted more than 3 miles for the ride, but less than 10.

It was quite warm and very humid. Not much sun though as the sky was mostly covered with clumpy clouds. Not the sort to threaten rain, though that might have been welcome for Loke’s sake.

For the first mile, he wanted to run, but I kept him back and finally, he settled. Even at 7 mph or less, he got quite warm so I made a point to stop frequently in shade to offer water. Annoyingly, I forgot to fasten it closed properly after the first water stop. It drained out of the bladder and soaked down everything in my right pod bag. Nothing that could be damaged or ruined by a little wet luckily. Those were in my left bag.

It took me about 10 minutes to dry off everything as best I could which included turning the bag inside out and shaking it off. The pod bags are pretty water resistant. Not quite wet proof, but enough to hold a good hard rain out… or let water puddle in the bottom since there’s no seam there for it to leak through.

The loss of most of the water was a problem. Loke needed it. I decided I’d have to buy him some if I couldn’t find a place to refill. I almost stopped a newly opened grocery between here and the field loop section. I still had another drink or two for him so passed on, reluctant to leave the trike there for some reason.

I stuck to shady areas where I could and twisted my way through the streets of the older parts of Uppsala. It meant rattling over cobbles which is never pleasant. Soon we were in the Cathedral area. I couldn’t find the building. It annoyed Loke to be creeping along at barely walking speed (2.5 mph) while I peered at building walls for name signs. I found the Oxenstiernska Huset (House), but not the one I sought.

It looked as if it was gone, but the initial research I did never mentioned the Academia Carolina’s demolition. I persisted for about half an hour before giving Loke the last of the water.

No problem. I had a plan to keep the fuzzy hydrated. We rolled down the hill away from the Cathedral toward the river where I went to one of the ice cream kiosks. It was soooo tempting to get a double or even triple cone as I shuffled my way through the line. About 8 people were ahead of me. I resisted and walked away with only a bottle of cold water.

We rested in the shade by the river near the awnings and seating provided at the ice cream kiosk. Then something weird happened. I heard this odd call. Looking up from the water, I saw a jackdaw perched on the iron fence about 8 feet away. It was staring directly at me with its silvery gray eyes. Dozens of other people munching on ice cream with crunchy cones and yet its attention was riveted on me. Then it sort of bowed forward, half spread its wings and made the same peculiar vocalization that had gotten my attention in the first place.

After 3 or 4 times of that, it fluttered off. Shaking my head, I relaxed again as Loke suddenly got all lovey, pestering me for attention. Perhaps he was trying to say he was rested enough. I got up to re-hitch him to the trike and put the cable away. I heard that call again from overhead. On a tree branch about 3 feet above me sat a pair of jackdaws displaying the same behavior as the first one. It started to feel a bit creepy, like I was at the beginning of some bizarre ‘Birds’ knock-off. As I pedalled off, they actually followed me for about 30-40 feet.

I headed for the pedestrian street, hoping to find a fruit stall in spite of the fact it was Sweden’s National Day (equivalent of 4th of July). There was one more episode of the disturbing jackdaw episode as I crossed the river. One of them landed on a planter in the middle of the bridge and watched me approach, doing that bowing, spread winged, odd vocalization. Not sure if it was 4 different birds or just 1 who had a friend for the tree-branch display. Maybe my unusual appearance singled me out to the birds out of the hundreds of people wandering around.

Clearly, that was the weirdness of the day.

I found a fruit stall quickly. A nice guy was working there and complimented Loke as I picked out a pair of cherry baskets. After paying, I thought I’d put my wallet away where I usually do and went to roll out.

It might have been as I was putting it away that poor Loke had a sudden freak out. I think it was a combination of the sight and odd movement of a mylar balloon combined with the sharp ‘WHAP, WHAP’ of a startled pigeon. But he suddenly crouched down with ears flat and tail tucked with rolling eyes, not wanting to move.

Took a moment to get him moving again and then he was so desperate to avoid the air (not helium) filled balloons, he almost jumped into my lap.

Once he calmed down and we were going normally again, I headed for the American Food store, expecting it to be closed. Much to my surprise, they were open. I went in with Loke to pick up a few little things to support the store. Charle’s wife was working the register. It occurs to me that I really should learn her name. I went to pay… and no wallet anywhere in my handlebar bag. I panicked, dragging Loke out with me to dig through my pod bags. Still no luck.

Charles called out a greeting then, walking toward the shop from his cafe with daughter Amanda. He gave me a hug, asking how I was. I told him, ‘A bit panicked at the moment,” then explained why. He offered to have Amanda watch Loke if I needed to backtrack. I took the offer. Loke looked a bit uneasy at being left with people he didn’t really know, but it was easier to do a very slow roll for ground scanning and lots of starting and stopping to ask street vendors if someone had turned in a wallet.

No happiness. I’d been hoping someone might have found it and turned in to an honest vendor just for the driver’s license if nothing else. I would hate to need taking the tests again!

Bless him. Charles then offered to let me take the items I’d picked and pay later. Even offered to foot me a bit of cash if I needed it for something on the way home. Clearing space at his checkout counter, he told me to take a few deep breaths while I took everything out of my handlebar bag to be absolutely sure. As I did that, he left the shop. Just as I was putting everything back in the bag, he returned with a huge grin. ‘How much do you love me?’

My answer was, ‘You found it? Please tell me you found it!’

He held it up. It had been in my pod bags. Charles had guessed that by the time I was looking there, I was in a heightened state of agitation and had missed it while desperately digging around. So, he went back to look there again for me.

I about hugged the stuffing out of him for that. I told him he’d saved the day. It had been a really good one right up to losing the wallet. He turned it back around into a good day. Then he went to get Loke and Amanda.

Loke was pretty indifferent to my return. Either he decided he really like Amanda or he was secure that I wasn’t going to abandon him. Maybe a bit of both? I packed the purchases up and had a bit of a chat with them.

Turns out his cafe a couple doors down is closed! Another man used to own the cafe and ‘sold’ the business to Charles, but not the location. That Charles had to rent from him. Well, the lease was up, the guy didn’t want to renew, but he wanted much more for the place than Charles wanted to pay. Apparently though, some association has agreed to step in, buy the place and rent that back to Charles. He said he’s taking the opportunity to catch his breathe with just one business to run for the moment. They’ll be renovating the cafe some too.

Then I stuck my foot in it. I asked Amanda how her guinea pigs were. Charles winced and as Amanda silently focused on petting Loke, I could tell it wasn’t good. I apologized for bringing up something painful and offered condolences. Once I said bye and went out to rehitch Loke, Charles followed me out to explain about the guinea pigs. One had died just 2 days previous. I won’t go into the details.

It had hit Amanda quite hard. I can relate. I remember losing a parakeet at her age. Floyd, a green and yellow bird. He’d even learned how to talk! The only one of many parakeets we’d had over the years who did. He was such a little weirdo and greatly loved. Well, by everyone except for the dog. He used to torment Lodi. He got sick and it took him very quickly.

From the shop, it was a quick jaunt home. We rolled to the final stop with 7.75 miles. Loke still had plenty of energy for the rest of the evening to be a bit of a pest.

I settled in to solve the mystery of Academia Carolina. It took a little digging, but it turns out that the building was demolished in 1778 to make way for a new library.

The religious meeting that took place there in between February 25th to March 20th in 1593 was pivotal to Swedish history. The years leading up to it had been tumultuous for Sweden as it was torn in several directions. There was its struggle for independence from Denmark combined with the conflict of religion with Lutheran and Catholic.

Mostly, the country leaned toward Lutheran followings, but no official religion had been established. In 1592, things came to a head when King Johan III of Sweden died. His son and heir had not only been elected as king of Poland, but also had sworn to follow the Roman Catholic dictates. Because of this, he had lost his claim to the Swedish throne, unless he followed the Evangelical belief prevalent in the country

In anticipation of Sigismund’s arrival in Sweden, Johan’s brother Duke Karl took the lead. He wanted to convene a synod (religious meeting) to achieve religious unity for Sweden, but was prevented from doing so by the Council. According to a letter from Sigismund, Duke Karl had no right to summon either Council or Parliament.

But calls for the meeting grew wildly, largely reconciling Duke Karl and the Council. They decided to act outside the law, jointly maintain the National Board and defend each one in the right religion: Gods pure Word as interpreted in the Augsburg confession.

A council convened in Uppsala in the Academia Carolina building (by a different name at the time, I believe). It was for the clergy (306 priests) to clearly and firmly express its rejection of the Roman Church’s doctrine and practices. By March 5th, the synod decided to declare the Holy Scripture as the sole guideline for religion. The three creeds – Apostles, Nicene and the Athanasian – were officially recognized and the Lutheran Augsburg Confession (1530) adopted in original form.

After the unanimous acceptance of the unaltered Augsburg Confession, Nicolaus Olai Bothniensis, who was presiding, exclaimed ‘Now Sweden is one man and we all have one Lord and God.’

Another important decision was that only the Lutheran doctrine was to be allowed. Calvinism, Catholicism and Zwinglianism were all officially banned. The Catholic-inclined liturgy of King Johan III was also rejected.

To know that such a pivotal decision in the history of an entire country took place in one building I might have been so close to where it once stood is awe inspiring. Only being able to stand before it or even inside the very room where the meeting was held could have topped it. Rather like standing in room where the founding fathers put pen to the Constitution of the United States.

If anyone is wondering why on earth I put this long historical babble on my cycle blog, well… the blog became about Sweden and Loke as much as cycling. Those three things are closely woven. I wanted to remember this historical fact since it was discovered because of my riding from place to place. It’s only fitting.

Any-hoo! Onward!

Yesterday, sometime afternoon, Jens gave me a pitiful look and pleaded with me to take Loke out with the trike again to spare him the need to walk with the fuzzy for an hour or more. I agreed. Admittedly, I grumbled about it some. Mostly wishing that he’d given me a heads up on the decision much earlier. Though cooler and less humid than the 6th, it was still quite warm and no clouds. If I had known earlier, Loke would have been out and trotting with the trike by 6 am, not 1 pm.

To continue the break up of the River Loop, I decided to take a round-about way to Gamla Uppsala and reconnect with the River Loop from the direction of the grave mounds. It’s nice to roll by the mounds, woods and fields on the gravel path there from time to time.

Within 15 minutes of starting the ride, the clouds thickened. It went from mostly sunny to mostly cloudy. A blessing for Loke. At least this time I had plenty of water so I could dampen his ears which always seems to help.

The Pit

The Pit

Approaching the turn for the parking lots at the site, it was a bit of a shock. Where the cycle path and portion of the road used to be is now a huge pit. Over 50 yards long and I’m guessing 30 or so feet deep.

Two or three years ago, there was a little playground at the far end of the now pit where preschoolers played at the daycare. That was removed for the archeological dig. Now, playground, dig and even part of the building with the daycare are gone, all wiped away clean down to the bedrock which looks like they were prepping for blasting. I believe it’s meant to be an underpass.

It was crazy in that area what with a busy road diverted into an area designed for only a fraction of the traffic load. It’s kinda like a bucket of ball bearings being poured through a funnel.

Profound relief flooded through me when I made it through the madness onto the cycle/pedestrian path.

I went past the mounds, gritting my teeth as I always do now. For the first years I was here in Sweden, there was a wooden rail fence between the path and the mounds. The fence was more of a mental barrier to people really. I mean anyone could slip through or over the rails if they really wanted to climb the mounds. Sometimes I would see someone up there.

A few years ago, a large section of the fence was removed and the stampede of destruction began. Hundreds of people tromping to the top daily. The mounds are used for kids on mountain bikes and sledding when (if) there’s winter snows. It’s amazing how quickly paths have eroded into them. Paths that will only get deeper as people wear into them and rain and winter thaws wash away dirt.

I have no clue why they took the fence away. Maybe they simply decided there’s no archeolgical value to the mounds any more. Now it’s just hurrying along their erosion and ruining the beauty. Instead of lush grass speckled with wild flowers. It’s lush grass speckled with wild flowers, cut about with bands of dirt and people crawling around on the slopes like ants on a kicked nest. *sigh*

The rest of the way is as it’s always been for the most part. The sand they laid down a couple years ago has worked down through the hard packed gravel and dirt so it’s better rolling now. With the pleasant if mostly cloudy weather, it was pretty busy, but we were in no hurry. Near the end of the path where over the past 4 years or so, they’ve built a dog yard and an outdoor workout station, they’ve added a sort of exercise/playground to one side. Little log structures to climb, jump and balance-walk on. They left trees up around and through it to offer shade, which they failed to do for the adult workout machines.

From there, we just hurried on to the paths that run by the football (American) field to the swim hall and then home. 7.1 miles or so.

And you guessed it. Loke still energy enough to be a pest all that evening!

Oh! The new toy! I almost forgot to mention it!

With the whole tooth thing and the fact I took it pretty calmly for someone who used to be absolutely terrified of dentists, Jens told me to figure out some big-ish ticket item I wanted for when it was done. Well, it’s been done for a couple months, but I was having trouble settling on something. I kept waffling about maybe getting a couple hundred dollars worth of 3D models to play with or….

A Wisp turbine from a group called ‘Windpax’. I discovered them from Yahoo News of all things. They had a Kickstarter project going on. There are two sizes of the vertical little windmills. The Wisp, which can charge 6 iPhone at once from the turbine or 3 charges on an iPhone from the fully charged battery stick. It weighs a bit less than 4 lbs. There’s another one called the Breeze which produces enough power to charge 3 iPads from it’s turbine, but it weighs about 9 lbs. 4 additional lbs, I think I can manage. 9? I don’t even want to try.

Well, on the evening of 6th, I bit the bullet. Now I’ll be able to keep my Garmin, phone and more charged if I stay out for more than an overnight tour. The battery stick can also double as a flash light and there’s a USB led light I can use for say, prepping breakfast at 3 am if I’m under the shade of trees. And no worries if it’s a calm day! My moving trike generates its own wind!

I guess this means I’ll have to do a proper tour next year! The Wisp won’t be delivered until around September, which is pretty much the closing of the touring window.

Kinda excited by it really.

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Rail-To-Trail Fun!
June 6, 2014, 10:02 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Ever since the vacation in June of 2012 where Jens and I took one of our cycle/fishing trips and I got to ride the Klarälvsbana, I’ve been more than a little intrigued by ‘rail-to-trail’ paths. My ride on June 4, 2014 sealed it firm. June seems to be the magic month for these kind of rides.

Now I pine for trails like these to be laid down on every possible abandoned rail track in the country. Pity they don’t seem as in a hurry to do it as in the States. Then again, there are scads of cycle paths webbing most any place with a population of over 100. I shouldn’t complain.

I was feeling pretty battered on Tuesday. I woke up, lurching around in a desperate attempt to finish packing before Jens took the car for work. When he got up and saw me limping around, he offered to let me have the car for the day if I didn’t mind driving him to Stockholm.

He would have taken the train except some kind of a freak accident has all but stalled rail travel between Uppsala and the airport, which means to Stockholm. Something to do with a broken power line falling on the tracks, blowing some big electrical thing. Huge fire, area looks like a miniature war zone, more than a month to repair.

While some trains can go through, they creep along at like quarter speed and are packed to the roof. The others stop at the airport to disgorge their passengers on busses to get to Uppsala. We passed one of those packed to the roof with even the aisle jammed with standing people. Not something I’d want to wedge myself into.

I thankfully agreed to drive him. Jens suggested for picking him up, I arrive at 4:30, but bring a book in case his afternoon meeting ran long.

Packing left me a bit stressed. No matter how often I went through the list, double and triple checking, I felt as if I was leaving about a million things behind. Finally, I just made sure of the necessities (trike, shoes, helmet, cycle clothes and 1 extra layer, harness, Loke and whatever Jens packed) and hoped for the best. Jens’ meeting ran until almost 6 pm. He looked a bit harried when he came out to me. I let him have the wheel, persistent in my efforts to avoid driving through Stockholm. Jens’ office is fortunately on the fringe of the city on the Uppsala side. For the first 40 minutes, we went no where fast. The joys of Stockholm traffic near rush hour.

Blurry iPhone Shot of Bored Loke

Blurry iPhone Shot of Bored Loke

As soon as we won free of the traffic and sped onward southwest, Loke settled down. I guess after all these years, he’s finally figured out if things are packed like they were and we’re not going home, it’s a long trip. It doesn’t always stop him from leaping to his feet at every reduction of speed, but this time, he just chilled. For one hour of the 4 hour trip, he even curled up with his back to us and snoozed without moving. For the entire day, it had been murky gray. Even when heading off to drop Jens at work, there had been tiny water speckles appearing on the windshield from time to time. Every now and again on the day’s short walks with Loke, I’d occasionally feel a miniscule kiss of water on my cheek.

Well, isn't this fun? :P

Well, isn’t this fun? 😛

It only worsened between Stockholm and the area with the ruins of Brahe manor on the shores of Lake Vättern. About 45 minutes before reaching that ruin, the rain had started coming down in earnest. Enough to drench the roads and make those slight, but annoying ruts fill with water, increasing the risk of hydroplaning.

Along Lake Vättern, the road rises, reaching a kind of peak along the section next to Brahe manor. The clouds were so low, we drove into them. Visibility at times was less than 75 yards. Brahe ruin generally dominates the roadside, less than 100 yards from the edge. This time, I had to squint to make out the faintest ghost of it in the dense murk. Beyond the ruin, the descent began and we finally broke out of the clouds shrouding the steep slopes along the lake. It was still raining, but at least we could see past our noses.

None of it was inspiring confidence in the weather for ride the next day. We were back to misty sprinkles upon our arrival in Borås. I went in first while Jens parked the car. It looked nice enough.

While I waited, Loke got many smiles and gushes of ‘What a lovely dog!’. When the three of us went up to the desk for check in, the woman there exclaimed happily in Swedish, ‘A husky! Oh, he’s gorgeous!’ Then as she did the paper work, sorting the keycards and such, she chattered happily that she used to have huskies, but now had a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Jens and I both chuckled at that and he even told her that we were considering a Ridgeback if we ever got another dog.

The Grand Hotel in Borås

The Grand Hotel in Borås

Our room was pretty nice I thought. Jens was a little irked that the promised dog bed wasn’t there and called to reception while I got ready for sleep. It was nearly 11 pm by that time.

He might have been a slug in the car, but once in the hotel room, Loke was quite perky and bright-eyed. He’s learned that trips like this mean something fun for him and he doesn’t like waiting until the morning.

The same clerk who’d checked us in arrived with the dog items and Loke unleashed a bit of his excitement on her. She laughed as he bounced up and pulled a sheepskin like pad out of her arms to ravage. She explained that the hotel had only just begun to set up ‘dog friendly’ rooms in the past month or so. The bed, pad and dishes were all unused. We were the first guests to have brought something other than a toy breed.

When I didn’t let him ‘play’ (read destroy) the pad, he finally said hello to the woman as only a husky can. A bounce, a kiss and about a ton of white hair on her dark uniform suit. After she left, I promptly crashed into sleep.

The next morning, woke confusingly stiff and my left shoulder was killing me. I guess the comfortable bed had been a little too soft for my body’s liking. While Jens staggered around in zombie-without-coffee mode to get ready for the day, I headed down to breakfast.

Impressive! They had ecological choices which is near non-existent at most hotel breakfast buffets. Boiled eggs, a kind of cheese, 2 kinds of yoghurt and a couple other things. They also had scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh (not canned!!!) fruit, 4 kinds of rolls, 2 kinds of fresh baked bread, more yoghurts and cheese. Salami, ham, turkey slices, roast beef and just about everything you could want to add to crunchy rolled oats for a musli breakfast. Jens admitted later it was the best breakfast buffet he’s seen outside of a luxury hotel.

Once I ate, I went to relieve Jens of Loke duty so he could come eat. The fuzzy one and I went out to the little park behind the hotel. The clerk who had checked us in that evening was just coming in for a morning shift. My sympathies for her. I’ve worked in a hotel that often did that to me. She said hello to both of us.

Azaleas!

Azaleas!

While crossing the bridge spanning the river by the hotel, a spot of color on the bridge’s decking caught my attention and I stopped to give a puzzled frown. A single detached flower, which would normally only warrant a cursory glance, but this one was a blast from the past. It brought smiling memories of spring time through most of my childhood.

An azalea blossom. I haven’t seen one since the spring of 2004. The last spring I was in the U.S. and living and working in the Gulf Coast area during spring is an azalea treat. I looked up to search for its origin and saw a wall of vibrant pink just a bit away. With a nostalgic giggle, we set off toward the colorful display to double check this was indeed the source of the flower.

Azaleas, how I have missed thee

Azaleas, how I have missed thee

I’m not sure why my iPhone made those pinks almost dayglow.

Loke’s morning business done, we returned to the hotel. The wonderfully cheerful and nice clerk was behind the desk by that time. We chatted about dogs mostly. Her pair of huskies had actually gone to live in Alaska for a time. She asked how old Loke was and the usual, ‘9 years? No! He’s so energetic!’ came up.

Of course I pointed to all the running with the trike he’s done over the years as the source of his continued general health. I told her we were going to take the cycle path on the old rain route up to Ulricehamn. She assured me it was a lovely ride. How far would we go? I answered, ‘It’s all up to Loke.’ I explained that a couple years ago, the 40 km (25 miles) would have been easy for him, but though he doesn’t act like he’s nearly 9, his joints argue otherwise from time to time. ‘We’ll just take it slow and see.’

Back in the room, I started doing the little things to get ready. Dressing in cycle clothes, filling water bags and such. Loke paced around nudging us with lots of sighing as we made no rush out the door.

When we finally did leave the hotel and drive off toward the start point I’d decided on, I was surprised at how many more azaleas I saw. Small bunches and huge. One was the largest cluster of Azalea bushes I have ever seen in my life. Dwarfed anything on the coast, occupying more space than some 2 story houses. 20+ feet high and I have no clue how big around.

In a parking lot about 100 yards down from the start point I’d picked, I got the trike ready. Loke paced around with Jens as I worked. Every now and again, he’d stray over to me, staring with that intensity we jokingly call ‘The Husky Mind Trick’. Yes, an obvious play on the ‘Jedi Mind Trick’. Things like, ‘You will drop that hotdog, bun and all’ or ‘You will take me out for a 5 hour walk’.

As I settled into the trike with Loke hitched, my loving hubby began the, ‘Do you have…’ list. Yes, yes and yes. I realized then though, I had left something at home. My house keys. I’d grabbed Jens’ rather than chase mine down. Why is that bad? Because my key ring has the keys to lock my trike. I guess it’s a good thing the trike wasn’t locked before I left home. I have a bad habit of leaving the cable through the back wheel even when putting the trike away in the car. It meant I wouldn’t be leaving the trike alone but for brief moments. Nothing to do for it but go on.

Loke wanted to set a blazing pace. This was fresh territory! New things to smell and mark! He was crazed with excitement. He even turned to try mouthing at the tether for holding him back while running.

The Day Begins!

The Day Begins!

We zipped down the path beside the road at about 8.5 mph to the sharp right turn onto the proper rail-trail cycle path. I was giddy with anticipation as the wheels hummed on smooth pavement and green surrounded us. Just a short distance away, I could see the short tunnel of an underpass. A couple walking the opposite way exclaimed over the trike and Loke before calling out cheery ‘Good morning’. While sharing an iPhone photo of the tunnel on FB, a man came along with a dog. Some kind of big terrier looking breed. Kinda like a West Highland Terrier only Husky sized.

The path was pretty narrow and he passed on Loke’s side. The dog immediately lunged and Loke got a taste of his own medicine as the dog tried to mount him. No ‘hello’ or curiosity sniff, just right to the business of dominance mounting. Loke will at least sniff and sometimes offer a bit of play time before he tries things like. Also, Loke completely lacks the aggression to back it up. He’s completely baffled and runs like crazy when the other dog he tries to dominate gets angry and snappy. This one, I think would be the type to get snappy back if another dog objected to his dominance display.

Slugus Humungus

Slugus Humungus

The first section of trail was quite busy with people out for morning walks, with or without dogs. The occasional cyclist zipped by. There was something else sharing the path. Snails and slugs. Lots and lots of slugs especially. Huge things. Some 6 inches long or more. The first few really big ones I saw, had me muttering angrily about people not  picking up after their dogs before realizing it wasn’t poop. Those oozy little critters turned the path into something of a slalom course. Just couldn’t stand the idea of running them over if I could help it.

Everyone I passed was nothing but smiles and friendly calls of good morning or comments about the Sprint or Loke. One older woman called out something different, so I stopped to say, ‘Excuse me?’ with a big smile. ‘You’re out to the ride the trail? So nice and very easy, this old train track,’ she repeated. When I said yes, she asked how far, looking quite surprised when I said I hoped to reach Ulricehamn.

Up and Up and Up and....

Up and Up and Up and….

For almost the first 2 miles of the trail, we did only about 4 mph, sometimes peaking into 5 mph. The reason was the unrelenting slope. It wasn’t more than 3% grade as I understand that’s the general ‘acceptable limit’ of slope for a rail line and has been for standard type trains almost since the beginning of rail transport. But it was unbroken and as I need to gear down and pedal faster for my knees, it was tiring even with Loke helping.

It was pretty along the trail. Everything lush and green. The misty downfall did shift to a slightly heavier drizzle. At one point, it even pushed right into a light rain. Since the temperature was in the 50’s, I pulled out the umbrella. Getting slightly damp at those temps, particularly when working up a long climb is tolerable, but fully wet is another matter. Since there was no wind and our pace quite slow, I actually continued chewing my way ever upward.

Oh, and it appears my Garmin is completely clueless when it comes to altitude. Shortly after I took this photo, I passed a sign for the ‘highest point of this trail section’. 206 meters above sea level which comes to roughly 675 feet. That’s a discrepancy of almost 400 feet.

It was so nice when we finally crested the slope. I actually paused to shake off the burn in my legs and breathe a sigh of relief.

Then it was off on a long down hill. It made Loke happy to move a bit faster than 5 mph. So was I, but I would have prefered something I had to pedal for. 7.8 mph got little nippy with damp clothes and exertion to warm me. My knees seem to think that no resistance on the pedals is as bad or sometimes worse than too much. I was already riding the brakes to keep our speed down to Loke acceptable levels. Wearing my brakes out even faster just so I can have pedal resistance feels wasteful. Not to mention it would be very annoying to need that stopping power only to have scattered it is as a fine metal or ceramic dust along the trail.

Little Lake & Lupins

Little Lake & Lupins

We passed a lot of dogs on the first 5 miles of the ride. I guess because most of it is close to residential areas and it’s not until further into the country side and away from intersecting roads things become more solitary. Makes sense.

One of those many dogs was a huge English Mastiff. Pretty sure the tiny woman walking him would have been dragged like a rag doll if he’d decided to follow us. Fortunately, he only watched us pass lazily.

As I was putting the camera away after taking the Lupins and Lake photo, a man stepped onto the path from one connecting to residential streets. He had five medium sized black poodles. Two of them went completely nuts upon seeing us. Loke and I sat quietly as I motioned for the man to pass us rather than us trying to go by him and his leashed Tasmanian Devil wanna-bes.

Can't have sunshine, but at least there's flowers!

Can’t have sunshine, but at least there’s flowers!

A bit before Mile 4, I turned off the cycle path where it crossed a rather busy road. The road had a dedicated cycle-pedestrian path beside it, so no need to risk traffic. However, it did mean climbing a couple of hills with grades exceeding 3%. We took it slow as we had most of the day. Jens warned me his meeting might run as late as 5 or 6 pm so I wasn’t to stress myself since I had so much time to kill.

Toarp Church

Toarp Church

Cranking along, I finally began to catch glimpses of my short term goal above the tops of the trees. When I finally rolled up to the church, a heavier gray mass of cloud was creeping up. Fitting I suppose as people began pulling into the parking lot. Their expressions as they greeted each other were somber. Clearly a funeral service was about to begin. Though it meant the church was open, I didn’t make the walk up the slope for a peek inside. The service hadn’t yet started, but it felt incredibly disrespectful to duck in for photos when people were already waiting inside. I settled for the exterior.

As I put the camera away, I saw the priest. He wasn’t dressed in the way most priests on TV are with the plain black slacks and a black shirt with the white collar. He was in black and he did have a black collar, but instead of a simple black shirt, he sported something almost like a ‘coat’ with a long split hem that swung as he walked. It put in my mind the image of a priest from the 1600’s or the like. Quite distinctive and very different from any I’ve seen.

Random Gray Day Scenery

Random Gray Day Scenery

Dark as the cloud was, I expected to get drenched, but as Loke and I moved out, all that touched us was a light misting of droplets like a dash of salt.

Lovely Old Stone Bridge

Lovely Old Stone Bridge

Rather than return to the busy road in search of a place where it would cut back to the path, I took a tiny fork of a gravel road right by the church. My maps seemed to indicate it should rejoin the rail trail almost directly. It did and soon we were happily on our way again.

We ticked over 6 miles and Loke still ran strong. He’d had a few episodes of limping, both in his hip and right knee. Nothing horrifyingly drastic. The furball seemed determined to not slow down and looked impatient when I slowed us. He thought it even worse when I’d stop, offer him a drink of water and let him sit for 15 minutes. That didn’t appear to make any difference to the limp. It was almost like he had to walk the kink out.

See the slightly back tilted ears? We're wasting time.

See the slightly back tilted ears? We’re wasting time.

I wasn’t going to let him go rushing off with the limp though. We’d go from ticking along at 7 to 8 mph to creeping at 5 mph or sometimes even 4 mph.

I was in love with most of the scenery we passed. If the trail wasn’t a quiet passage through twin walls of deep green conifers thrusting up through moss furred rocks and boulders, it was still lakes or pastures with a carpet of lush green studded with bright yellow and white flowers. It was a landscape that loved its water. More than the lakes proved that. Water gurgled and chuckled along most of the trail. Most often it was hidden, other times it would give me a peak of a tiny, fast flowing rill or larger cascade over an old spill way.

Ruined walls just visible

Ruined walls just visible

A few yards downstream of the broken wall

A few yards downstream of the broken wall

The first clear gurgle of water I saw, I stopped to take a picture. It was a lovely little stream that burbled through a choke point of rocks. I snapped a first quick photo and the arrangement of stones suddenly jumped out at me. It was part of an old ruin! A ruined what, I haven’t a clue, but clearly something had been done here. You can see the wall run from the left to the right of photo with a broken bit in the middle of the stream. To the right it takes a sharp turn where it continues back past where another wall meets it at a 90 degree angle. An old mill race with foundations of a water mill perhaps?

Just a few minutes ago, another possibility occurred to me. The wall goes straight across the stream. What if the stream wasn’t there when the wall/possible building was constructed? What if it was built, fell to ruin and then the stream came along a few centuries ago to erode it’s little channel and break the wall in two? Goes to show what a vivid imagination I have.

My dreamy contemplation of the walls was disturbed by a jingle of harness and a sharp, demanding ‘Woof!’ from my furry companion. Bully. Just because he can’t appreciate archeology. Once I settled in the seat, he jumped into gear. He might has well have not had 7 miles under his paws already. He sighed at me when he settled into the brisk trot he’s allowed. 8 mph.

Beauty at the overpass

Beauty at the overpass

Birdsong was replaced with the distant rush of traffic. It grew to a roar as the cycle trail swerved closer to the Highway 40. Louder still when the 40 went up and over some small country roads and an even tinier cycle path. It’s not often I find something to photograph in such places. It’s a wonder the little hut wasn’t destroyed when the overpass was built, but there it stood beside the pretty little stream as if in defiance of the unattractive pillars of concrete.

Rångedala Church

Rångedala Church

Immediately on the other side of the 40, I left the cycle way for small country roads. After just a short hop and a hill, we stopped at Rångedala Church. Yet another white box with tower on one end. I guess this one also might be considered Gustavian style of architecture. Very little info on this church except that it was built on top of a demolished stone church which likely dated to the middle ages. I checked for runestones thought didn’t expect to find any and tried the doors. They were locked, but my research just revealed the interior is pink. Pink?! Oh, and the beautifully carved pulpit is white with baby blue accents. I’m surprised people haven’t broken into out into riots forced to sit surrounded by that color combination.

The joke photo

The joke photo

It was a short hop to return to the trail. About a mile further on, I stopped the trike to make a joking post on FB about the horror of the neglected trail with a photo of a few little cracks with weeds pushing up through them. Not even enough to shave a millisecond off the most hard-core cyclist’s time, which was why it was funny and being the first cracks I’d seen.

About a 100 yards past those first little breaks, the trail got a little interesting. Of course, it was a stretch Loke really wanted to blast through for some reason. He gets moments like that. Happy with a slow pace and then the next second he wants to race like the wind. Well, the trail went kinda… wash-board for lack of a better description.

Anyone who’s ever bounced down an unpaved country lane, particularly in the southern U.S. knows precisely what I’m talking about. The ridges were a little broader and differently spaced given that it was asphalt doing the shape shift. But 8 mph, it was like being in a row boat on rough seas. I pity any fast cyclists who hit that. Would be kinda like riding a bucking bronc on hyper-speed.

Bouncing or not, can't regret the scenery!

Bouncing or not, can’t regret the scenery!

I don’t really count that as neglect. It can happen in a silly short amount of time, especially with such a light weight paving as used for a cycle path. I’ve seen it happen around here in barely more than a year of freshly laid asphalt. With over 100 miles of rail-trail in the ‘county’ as well as 100’s, maybe thousands of miles of standard cycle paths, they can’t stay on top of one section every moment. Honestly, for the fun of the trail and pretty views, I can forgive a little ‘rough seas’ riding. The bouncing makes it adventurous! Or something at least.

A little further on, the trail gave me a surprise with just a hint of frustration. The woodland had opened up into what was fields on one side and construction like mess on the other. The ground on the right has been flattened by big machines though they were gone now. All that was left was chewed up ground and neat stacks of what had once been living trees. At the beginning edge of it, a couple were working hard on their lovely yard. They stared in something akin to amazement as we passed, finally calling out friendly hellos when I waved. About 50 yards past the neat little house perched on the edge of the mess left by the machines, I spotted a stone that didn’t look naturally placed. Then another.

What appears to be a double stone circle monument.

What appears to be a double stone circle monument.

Several stones were together on a weed choked elongated mound. I could make out at least 8. It looked like some kind of low burial mound or cairn. The photo doesn’t show the stones very clearly. I wanted to get to it, but between the trail and the wheat field was a very deep and very wet ditch.  Finally, I found the tractor access further down.

Flowers other than Lupins

Flowers other than Lupins

I parked and started walking through the wheat. Loke came with me. A source of laughter as always. He didn’t walk or trot through the field, but bounded gleefully through the wheat stalks, all taller than he was. Every now and again, he’d leap high up for a quick look around. Bounce, bounce, BOING! Bounce, bounce, BOING! I couldn’t stop laughing.

Sadly, getting closer to the monument offered no insights. Like a painting or drawing done with stippling, the monument was harder to see closer up than from afar. Frustrated I turned back. There was absolutely no mention of this on any site I use to research such things in prep for a ride. So, I know nothing about it except it’s here. I’m reasonably certain it’s Iron Age at least. Maybe back to Stone Age, but that is a wild guess. The only reason I know it’s a double circle of stones is from Google Map satellite view. A very poor, grainy image of what look like tiny shadows making a pair of side by side circles. I think I prefer mystery runestones!

Pretty little fall

Pretty little fall

About 20 minutes further on from the mystery monument, another gurgle of water stopped me. A beautiful, tiny waterfall just off the path. The stream continued on under the paving to feed yet another little lake on the other side. Beside the waterfall was an arrow sign pointing the way to ‘The Haga Fall’ The trail was tiny as it twisted through thick tangled growth. No way for the trike to navigate. Even shorty little me could hardly stand up straight in some spots of it. I only walked a few yards down, unwilling to leave the trike unlocked right on the path edge. I also didn’t know how long the walk was. There was the lake lawn, but with a big sign proclaiming dogs were forbidden I wasn’t going to roll even on the edges of it. I didn’t want to ruin my nice day by getting fussed at.

I gave up the quest for the waterfall though I did take a moment to eat a few cashews to the music of cascading water. I even let Loke splash around in it a little. Mostly he just stood at the fall trying to catch the water.

Water, hills and plants make for beautiful views

Water, hills and plants make for beautiful views

Loke was raring to go when I called him back over to the trike. Kindle and rest of the nuts packed, we rolled on.

Just loved this image.

Just loved this image.

Only a few minutes further down, I confused Loke by giving a cheer. He started looking around for Jens or something, but I was cheering for him. 13 miles! Loke had officially ticked over for a new 2014 longest trip record. The previous was 12 something when we did the Läby loop and Jens picked him up at the grocery. I couldn’t remember exactly how much over 12 miles he did, so I rounded up to 13 to make the new record firm. And he was still moving strong. He’d occasionally try to run. I was hoping he’d make 15 miles at the least.

His feet were getting a lot of attention from me. I’d made some socks. I tried to use them nearly right away since Loke’d actually gotten quite a few runs recently. The skin on is paw pads seems to recover so slowly. Sadly, but not unexpected, the wet made the tape peel away. The bare fabric can’t handle more than a couple miles of pounding and friction. So, by Mile 5 of the trip, the shoes were just tatters of cloth. But thankfully at 13 miles, they still looked okay. I kept him on natural ground as much as I could. Easy enough for a lot of the way. Next to the paved path was a line of beaten earth. A bridle path in fact. It didn’t run the entire way to Ulricehamn, but for more than 15 miles at least. If offered nicer footing for the fuzzy than blacktop.

South Ving's Church

South Ving’s Church

Mile 17 or so, it was time to leave the path yet again. This time it was to collect two things. A church and a runestone. At the correct intersection, I took the turn south for the church first.

Enter South Ving’s Church. This church looked a little different than the previous ones on this ride. I suppose it was the lack of the Gustavian style for once. Turns out this was the first church of the day that hadn’t been built on top of a demolished medieval stone church during the 1700’s or 1800’s. 1130 A.D construction date for this one. The tower was odd though. Instead of being a true tower with a tall stone construction added to the end, generally the western, of the church, it was a wooden square plopped on the roof, capped with a copper lantern style construction. More of a steeple than a tower perhaps.

Maybe one of these is Runestone Vg #167.

Maybe one of these is Runestone Vg #167.

The arrangement of the parking was a little off compared to the main entrance of the church. It was closed, but checking it was on the way in the circular meander for runestones. I found the one that’s supposed to be here… I think. There were three. One was so weathered and lichen covered it was impossible to tell if it had ever been carved. The other two bore simple crosses often found on runestones carved in the 1000’s to 1100’s. Runestone Vg #167 dates from the middle ages. It could be that both (or all three) of the stones are counted among Västergötland. I’m not sure which is Vg #167 or if the other two are on any of the on-line lists.

Then I climbed my way back north to go back by the cycle trail. As I crossed the little stream in search of another runestone, I spotted a street called ‘Slottväggen’ or (Castle Street). I paused there a moment to look at my Garmin and maps to decide it was worth looking at on the way back.

Runestone Vg #168

Runestone Vg #168

The stone was easy to find. The grass around it was neatly clipped into a sleek lawn. We rolled briskly down the hill to stop at the intersection of Castle Street. I looked on my touring map for a castle, but no mark indicated such. Still the pull of the street name pulled me on though it would add distance to the ride. I think it was  somewhat downward glide. There was more clipped lawn to the right and a wooden, graceful curve of a bridge over the stream leading to football (soccer) fields. The pavement took a sharp left curve leading a grass and dirt lane running through twin rows of mature trees.

Looks more like a French chateau

Looks more like a French chateau

I felt a little nervous about going down that lane. If it was just a private home, I dislike intruding though thanks to the ‘right to use’ law in Sweden, people with cultural sites may have people coming to look for runestones, rock carvings and ruins. As long as respect is shown and no peeping, it’s probably okay. There were no signs declaring it private. So, I drew a deep breath and went for it.

Mystery Standing Stone

Mystery Standing Stone

Loke loved it. The natural ground and shade draws him. I swerved over to the left so Loke was trotting on the thick grass at the center. His jaw opened in a happy husky grin. Unpaved lanes like this aren’t as exciting to him as a lovely packed earth trail covered with leaves and pine needles winding through the dim, cool shade of woods. Still miles over a paved road. The house is impressive, but hard to tell how old it really is. I’m guessing not very. Still I took a photo.

As I turned to leave, something under some trees, a few yards off the manicured lawn, caught my attention. A stone that looked very unnatural in its position. A standing stone or perhaps a rune stone. I skirted the edge of the yard to get a good look, but no carvings visible. Still interesting enough I took a picture. No one came out to ask what I was doing or the like, but it was still a relief to retreat back to the roads. There were signs for a burial ground, without further guidance at an intersection I turned back for the trail.

Lakes, lakes and lakes!

Lakes, lakes and lakes!

Though the skies were lead gray and the threat of rain hovered, it still a great day. A bit on the cool side, perfect for Loke. The rain continued to miss us. Cruising along on dry pavement, we’d suddenly find a drenched stretch as if a giant full bucket had been over turned to soak everything for a quarter mile. Then dry again. We stopped often, letting Loke drink some water and test his patience by making him rest for 15 min or so. If he was lucky, I found places next to a lake where he could wade timidly in the shallows.

I thought Loke was going to catapult me off this.

I thought Loke was going to catapult me off this.

My touring map showed a ruin in the area of one lake the trail ran past. I didn’t think I could reach it that way, but couldn’t tell which little roads I needed for it. No need to worry. It turns out the pasture with the ruin in it was right next to the path. There was a very steep gravel path down to a bridge over the stream to enter the pasture. No way to get the trike down that. I decided to risk leaving it. A solid looking little wood bridge with a gate across it lay over the water running down to the lake. Loke flounced ahead of me. A happy 50 lb husky made the structure bounce alarmingly. It reminded me of the Mythbuster’s episode where they tested the marching army shaking a bridge apart. A faint path ran off across the rolling hills. Loke frolicked happily through the grass before casting himself down for a good wallow. He paused, still on his back to give me a goofy upside down husky grin and tail wag.

Site of an ancient fortress

Site of an ancient fortress

The flow of land had a short steep drop between two hills, as if the hollow between them had been deepened for a defensive work. As if to lend credence to my perception of that, a tumbling wall of stones looked like reinforcement. A batch of signs stood on the crest of the next hill, but other than the almost stone-wall, nothing yelled ‘ruin’. It turned out that only a central tower had a stone base in the fort. Buildings had stood on the three main hills. When the fortification was built, the lake was higher so the hills made a small island. So little evidence of any of that to be seen. I cast many nervous glances over my shoulder while walking to the signs. I hated the fact that my trike was unlocked and just sitting on the path edge. One of those moments for kicking myself over leaving the keys at home. In spite of another small sign in the distance beckoning me, I cut the exploration short to give Loke another opportunity to bounce me off the little bridge.

Before and After

Before and After

The pedals and paws took us past the 20 mile mark when I was met with an unpleasant site. One moment we moved through a world of lush green and firm paths. Then, as if an giant knife had come down, carving the woodland and pasture away like half a loaf of bread, everything became an orange scene of destruction. The path gone, not so much as a blade of grass. Large machines churned along the top of a mountainous pile of earth meant to be a multi-lane highway in the future.

I regarded the unpaved dirt track dubiously. Loke stared suspiciously at the noisy machines. He’s not usually afraid of big machines, provided they don’t get too close. He likes at least a meter’s clearance if we pass them on his side. These weren’t like any he’s seen before. The big backhoe with the crazy long arm especially irked him for some reason.

Turning back wasn’t an option in my mind, so I pushed us out. Loke pulled hard, trying to get through the area quickly as possible. He would have flown if he could. He squeezed over close to the trike while nervously keeping an ear kocked at the digger. I put a hand out to push him away from the front wheels a little. He’s already lost one toe due to a tumor. It would be no good for him to lose another because it tangled in the spokes of a moving trike wheel. Not sure the foot would still be weight bearing if it only had two toes. It was noisy and the rolling surface mushy, but I followed it, knowing the proper trail had to reappear. A bit less than half a mile and an underpass through the raised earth, we found it. I could swear my sigh of relief was echoed by one from the furball.

Old Pasture/Field Walls

Old Pasture/Field Walls

As the wheels hit pavement again, Loke still tried to pull us into a run. I guess he wanted that horrible noise far behind him. Or maybe it was just joy at being surrounded by green again! The shock of that abrupt change of view, made me forget to celebrate a mile stone as we crossed the torn earth. Mile 20 meant it was not only the continuing longest ride of the year for Loke, but also a new record for the most miles in a single day for me!

Lupin Lane!

Lupin Lane!

After mile 20, the checks of Loke’s feet came more frequently, but they were holding up great! It was a bit of a tussle from time to time to keep him on the bridle path, but clearly worth the effort. I’ll admit I did relent a few times to let him run on pavement when the weeds or distance between bridle path and cycle track became too much. He’d only had 3 limping episodes over the entire distance with a couple random ‘hip-hops’ (as I’ve come to call them) thrown in. The worst stretch of limping had occurred after his bounding and jumping through the wheat field when I tried for a closer look at the mystery monument.

Around mile 22, I did another ‘rest break’. Watered Loke up and relaxed in the trike with a good book on my Kindle while I nibbled some grapes for 15 minutes. He paced around a bit. After about 10 minutes, he laid down, head on paws and eyes never leaving my face. Every time I so much as shifted in the seat, he was on his feet in a flash, tail swinging eagerly. “22 miles? What 22 miles? More like 2 miles!” he almost seemed to be saying. When I finally put the Kindle away and released the parking brake, Loke flung himself against the tether and kangaroo hopped like it was first few yards of the day. Color me impressed.

Brunn (Well) Church Distant

Brunn (Well) Church Distant

Mile 24, it was time to cross the 40 again, over it this time. Before reaching the bridge spanning the busy 4 lane highway, I stopped to photo the next goal of the ride. Brunn Church stood on its tree covered hill in the distance. I couldn’t help but grin as I set up the tripod to steady the camera with the long lens. The gray day meant it needed that extra support. The slight reduction of shutter speed would have meant a blurry photo. Loke woofed at me to say it was taking too much time. Just off the overpass, it was time to turn onto roads again. After all, I had to collect the church properly. Ticking along briskly, Loke had his nose up in hopes of sniffing out some small (edible) critter. We made a right turn for a gentle down glide, when I stopped stopped.

Well, I'll be! A church ruin!

Well, I’ll be! A church ruin!

Ignoring Loke’s peeved look, I grinned giddily. A ruin! It was tucked in some trees across a hay field, but clearly visible. An old church by the look of it. Glancing at Brunn Church high on its hill, I decided I’d seek out the ruin first. Turned out it wasn’t hard. Even before the left turn to climb Brunn Church’s hill, was a gravel path and a sign pointing the way.

Old Brunn Church Ruins

Old Brunn Church Ruins

Unblocked view of ruin as Loke hears something in the grass

Unblocked view of ruin as Loke hears something in the grass

Loke was thrilled for another off tether adventure as I approached the ruin. The old churchyard wall was still intact. There was a gate. The wood was old, mostly dry rotted and covered with moss and lichen, but still strong enough it didn’t crumble when I tugged it open. The furball charged around in a big circle through the high grass once we were in the old church yard, doing his best to tangle me up. Then it was on his back for a good wallow and probably add to his yearly tick collection. A small scurry in the grass caught his focus and I pulled him short before he pounced on heaven knows what. My luck it would have been one of Sweden’s two snakes… the poisonous one. It’s not very poisonous, no more than a wasp or yellowjacket, but if I’m right about one having bitten Loke on his paw a few years ago, it was enough to have him limping very badly for a couple days.

View looking out from the porch

View looking out from the porch

This old ruin had clearly seen better days. It has a bit of a drunken lean in different directions and reinforcing bands of metal straps and cables held the walls at the back as if to keep them from taking off on their own paths. It was still thrilling to see. Nice to find ruins for a change instead of hearing about a medieval church flattened to put in a new Gustavian style box right on top, erasing history as it were. It makes me sad when the past is wiped away for progress. I know it happens and even part of me understands it needs to happen or there’d be no where to do anything. Man has left imprints pretty much everywhere. Take places like Greece for example. You can’t scuff a foot on any inch of land without stirring up some old building site or relic. Building in Athens, from what I understand, requires a team of archeologists to go onto the site first. It still saddens me just like the thought of the things they found on the digs around Gamla Uppsala being wrecked or buried under the expansion of the rails.

Burial Ground turned pasture?

Burial Ground turned pasture?

The climb up the new church’s parking lot was quite an effort. A slope of 12% or more not to mention all the extra weight I was carrying on the trike that I might leave at home for local rides. I’d started off with 5 liters of water to be sure I had plenty for the fuzzy, but was probably down to just under 4 liters by this time. The cool temps and lack of sun added to the times Loke got to play in lakes and streams meant he didn’t need as much of what I carried. Then there was the bit of food for Loke and I both. Extra clothing which was probably less than a pound, but it adds up. Camera with the extra long lens and tripod which is probably 7-8 lbs all together. Pump and tool kit. Wire cable for the times I tether Loke and need something he won’t chew through. More I can’t think of off the top of my head. I probably should start carrying it to get used to the weight. I used to do that on my Trice except for the extra 3 liters of water. There was a fenced area with what looked like a few burial cairns. I couldn’t see a way in so settled for taking a picture over the top of the fence of a cluster of stones, one standing upright as if it had been moved there ages ago.

New Brunn (Well) Church

New Brunn (Well) Church

I tethered Loke to a fence post next to the trike, left some water and finished the climb up to the church yard. The church was beautiful. The contrast the previous churches of the day heightened the impact of the square cut stone walls and slightly gothic appearance. I’ve seen plenty of churches of brick and many of stone, but the stones are generally natural shaped. If I’ve come across other cut granite churches it must be less than a handful. Certainly can’t remember others. This church also led me to a new tidbit of Swedish history. I’m going to chase down greater details later. I love when I can connect history to the landscape!

View from New Brunn Church graveyard

View from New Brunn Church graveyard

I walked around it, admiring the lines of the windows and beauty of the stone brick walls. My churchyard stroll also treated me to some gorgeous views across the countryside. The landscape I’d been riding through is actually quite hilly. The rich greens of the late spring/early summer with a backdrop of densely clumped gray clouds can only be admired. While sunshine would have made the greens pop more, the rain-threatening skies gave the scenery more drama. In my humble opinion any way.

New Brunn Church Interior

New Brunn Church Interior

I tried the door upon finishing the churchyard loop. Amazingly, it moved with my tug. As always, my face had a huge grin as I stepped quietly in. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I admit to some disappointment when I found such a low key interior. White walls with no real accents. Amazing really how the older churches have such color and decor with carvings and murals and guilt. The newer are so understated, dare I say bland? Maybe it has something to do with the rise of literacy?

My understanding is the murals were a sort of ‘poor man’s bible’. The illiterate commoners could see and know the bible stories on the walls of the church though they were unable to read. In 1686, a church law was passed in the ‘Kingdom of Sweden’ (Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia) enforced literacy on all the people though most, women especially, did not know how to write. So, perhaps that explains why churches built in the 1700’s and later lacked murals. People knew the stories from their bibles so no need of paintings.

As I left the church, there was a little internal debate as to should we go back the way we came to reconnect with the cycle trail or follow the signs for a cycle route along the roads. I decided to double back. Not knowing how busy the other roads between Brunn and Ulricehamn might become was the deciding factor. We’d barely done a half mile along the cycle track toward Ulricehamn when Jens called. It was roughly 5:15 pm. He was surprised when the answer to ‘Where are you’ was ‘Less than 3 km outside of Ulricehamn’. He asked where I wanted a pickup. Ulricehamn of course. I was pretty sure we could do less than 2 miles in the half-hour or so it would take Jens just to reach Ulricehamn.

It got quite noisy as we pedaled down the thin strip of land between the Highway 40 and bank of Lake Åsunden beside which Ulricehamn sits. Hamn means port so it’s no surprise the town sits on the edge of a sizeable lake.

View across the lake from Ulricehamn

View across the lake from Ulricehamn

Fortunately, I was soon able to get away from the highway by following a cycle/pedestrian path right along the northwestern shore of the lake. We caused a ripple of open mouthed stares by rolling through the parkland and enjoying the view of the less settled landscape across the open water.

Clicking on the lake view will give a brief history of Ulricehamn.

By the time we were passing a playground full of happy, yelling children and even young teens, I started looking for a spot convenient to meet up with Jens. I must say though, I had serious ‘Playground Envy’ at some of the park’s fixtures. You know, that kind of envy where you tell yourself, ‘Why couldn’t we have had things like that when I was a kid?!’

Oooh! Wish there'd been playgrounds with these when I was a kid!

Oooh! Wish there’d been playgrounds with these when I was a kid!

My favorite was a very different sort of merry-go-round. It was park merry-go-round meets swings. A mini, human powered version of the carnival ride. There was even a mini zip-line though it stayed close to the ground to avoid injuring kids who played on it.

Just a few hundred yards past the delightful playground, I found a grassy sward with several scattered picnic tables. It was right next to a parking lot and a boat ramp with a view of the lake. I fumbled for my iPhone to try for a picture of a herd of quacking ducks making a mad dash from the parking lot toward the water. A full grown female with about 8 half-grown ducklings in tow. Sadly, it came out so badly you can’t even tell their ducks.

View as I waited for Jens

View as I waited for Jens

We relaxed and enjoyed the view while waiting for Jens to arrive. Well, I relaxed and enjoyed the view. Loke sighed and paced and woofed at me in between nosing his water dish.

When my hubby arrived, Loke was bouncy thrilled to see him. You’d never guess he’d covered 28.8 miles. If I’m not mistaken, that might be the longest distance he’s covered in one go in more than 2 years. Last year was somewhere between 19 miles to 25 miles longest, run either in Denmark or outside Örsundsbro.

Must... resist.... sleep

Must… resist…. sleep

I packed everything up and soon we were on our way back home. The weather was better than it had been on our way to Borås. Jens kept asking worriedly if I’d really enjoyed myself. I had. In my books, the day had been a great one. I loved the trail and Loke showed me what he’s still capable of. He still had energy enough to be restless, more than he had been on the way out from Uppsala. He resisted sleep.

Part of it might have been he was hungry. I’d given him an extra scoop with breakfast, but he’d probably burned that off before we’d done 12 miles. We stopped for gas and I put 4 scoops in his portable dish. That’s double his usual evening portion. He’d also been getting chicken jerky tidbits through the day.

With a full belly, he finally succumbed.

It really had been an incredible day. I loved the rail to bike trail though the one running north from Karlstad has one major bonus over this one. It had nice clean outhouses every 5 km. Very nice to not have to worry about where you can answer calls of nature in potentially busy areas.

I definitely want to come back here and explore more.



Surprises on a Common Loop
June 2, 2014, 8:26 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, the planning for the June 3rd – 4th trip has somewhat stalled. Naughty me. Just having trouble convincing myself to get down on the floor to deal with all that needs to be dealt with. It’s never a good thing and generally results in my back feeling painful and fragile for days after. Thought I was going to try and fiddle with the gearing, but decided this morning (when Jens asked about them), it might not be too wise. While not ideal and quite annoying if I’m not careful, the shifting problems are manageable. If I get my hands on them for some tweaking, they could end up completely useless with no time to find a bike shop to correct it. Not good.

Definitely seemed best to manage with them as they are and wait until we get back.

A new on-line game came out just a couple days ago. My husband wanted to get some major play time in on it this weekend since he’s going to be so crazy busy with work all next week. He asked on Saturday night if I minded taking Loke out with the trike in the morning. I’d already planned as much and said so.

So, around 8 am (June 1st), Jens carried the trike out for us. For the ride, I’d chosen the same loop as on May 20th. I was going to see if I could hunt down any more of those runestones around the 4-H Club area and around Vaksala Church.

It was dull gray and on the cool side, so I added a thin wool layer with my cycle clothes. The clouds were clumpy though allowed no view of blue sky. The forecast for later in the morning promised sun though. At least it was dry. The first day in quite a while where things had a chance to dry out. Even better, the wind was calm for once! A lovely change over days and day of trees whipping around and dropping twigs and small branches all over the place. Flags popping in the wind as they strained furiously against their tethers.

Large Snail On Mossy Rock

Large Snail On Mossy Rock

Within the first mile, Loke already moved a little odd. Anyone not familiar with him probably wouldn’t notice. I watched it very closely for a bit until satisfied it was only a little stiffness in the knee and not that weird wobble.

It was lovely quiet. No trains passed as we went along the rail tracks. No noise of traffic. Only a couple people on bikes came along. By memory alone, I zig-zagged through the early morning cycle paths and streets of Uppsala. At the grassy sward where people had been trying out for baseball, there were only a couple joggers looping around on the hard packed trail circling the edges. The lack of sun and cooler temps helped Loke. He refused water for the first 3 miles.

Burial mound with both U #970 & 969

Burial mound with both U #970 & 969

Wallowing Goof Ball of Fur

Wallowing Goof Ball of Fur

I had a little trouble remembering exactly where to turn off the cycle path in the parkland to reach the 4-H club, but I managed. Loke picked up speed a bit, running smooth and strong, as we neared the turn off. His ears perked up and he raised his head when we made the turn onto the gravel track. He even woofed at me when I stopped at the low mound with Uppland Runestones #969 and #970. One would almost think he was looking forward to walking around there, however  briefly.

Yep, he was anticipating it. As soon as we were about 10 feet from the trike, the bee-line I tried to make for Uppsala Runestone #970 was interrupted. Loke flung himself down into the lush growth at the base of the mound and flipped over on his back for a frenic wallow session. Legs, head and tail flinging around in random directions as he writhed along almost like an upside down snake. After about 2 minutes, he got up with a huge husky grin to shake off. After a brief tail-wag at me, he flopped down for a repeat performance.

Uppland Runestone #970

Uppland Runestone #970

I couldn’t help it. I laughed which only seemed to drive him to greater efforts. I’m surprised he wasn’t green from squishing around in the grass for so long. Finally, he went all business like, trotting around to sniff things and mark trees and the non-runestone rocks.

Without the paint that U #969 has in its rune marks, the carvings on U #970 are quite faint from weathering and lichen, but knowing they were there made them more visible to me. You can just make them out on the left hand side and sort of follow them up to the broken edge at the top.

Just over the crest of the mound, a barn was visible. Since Loke was enjoying the grassy walk where he could sniff, I followed the small beaten path up and over.

Old sheep shed still in use

Old sheep shed still in use

The barn was fairly common looking. It might have been a century or more old, but the tin roof kinda ruined it and otherwise it was just a box. Over to the left, against a section of pasture that had been hidden by tall grass, trees and a thicket of undergrowth was an older looking and much more interesting building. The door wasn’t locked, so I tried to open but the wood was so warped it wasn’t going to happen. I did get a crack open enough to see that part of the building’s end was open to the pasture. It lacked a door as a matter of fact. The little building was a sheep shed; someplace for grazing sheep to get out of the weather.

Dead Tree on Mounds For the Dead

Dead Tree on Mounds For the Dead

The pasture behind the sheep shed was a rocky hillock, likely a low burial mound or remnants of a cairn. There was the trunk of a dead tree at the crown of the slope. With the gray skies as a back drop, I thought the dessicated, weathered skeleton of wood rather poignant as it stood fast in the midst of a iron age grave yard. Unlikely the tree’s remains are anywhere near 1500+ years old, but still something fitting about the image. Echos of a long gone age touched by a memory of living shade.

Loke seemed eager to get back to the trike. He flung himself down for one last fling in the grass. Once he was hitched and I clicked into the pedals, he lept. I winced as he pulled hard, imagining what he might be doing to his joints. We rattled over the gravel road in search of Uppsala #968.

Once I got Loke to settle back down, we slowly circled through the area. We passed behind a barn to emerge in a farm yard area with many small paddocks and a densely shaded pasture. In the pens were quite a mix of animals. Mini goats, horses which might be the Swedish native horses called Russ, sheep of course and various pigs.

salaTower of Vaksala Church

salaTower of Vaksala Church

I left Loke with the trike near a picnic table to circle the pens, peering at every stone I could see. In one pen was a black pot-belly pig. As I leaned against his low fence to look into the horse pasture beyond, he wandered up and grunted at me. When he turned to lean against the fence, I reached down to lightly scratch his back. He melted, eyes closing and wiggled a little against my fingers.

Still no Uppsala Runestone #968.

I gave up and we rolled back out. Loke pulling like a crazed animal all over again. It was great to see that energy even if I couldn’t let him run.

It was late enough when I rolled up to Vaksala church that I wasn’t going to bring Loke with me as I walked through the graveyard. There were signs forbidding dogs and enough people starting to move around. I settled him next to the gate with plenty of water. Just then the church bells clanged out. Loke was less than impress with the audio display.

I found the pieces of Uppsala Runestone #966 with a bit of effort. Much of Vaksala’s lower walls are made of mortared chunks of stone in an amazing variety of color and type. Dark, almost black slates, granites of gray, red and nearly white, sandstone, limestone. Quite easy for gray granite stone chunks of similar size to get loss in the chaos.

Uppsala Runestone #966 - Parts 1 & 2

Uppsala Runestone #966 – Parts 1 & 2

Never would have spotted the pieces without the red paint in the etchings. Fairly anti-climatic. Just a simple broken cross, no runes.

Uppland Runestone #959

Uppland Runestone #959

Uppland Runestone #967

Uppland Runestone #967

Turning back to the gate where Loke waited, I gave the tower doors a long glance. The main entrance of many old churches in Sweden have doubled doors. Heavy things that are just blank metal slabs except for a very odd keyhole and a single handle on one. Vaksala is one of those. Generally if the metal ones are closed, the church is locked. On impulse, I went to check. The ponderous weight responded to my tug, swinging with amazing ease in spite of its size and density. I peeked through the glass inset into the wood of the inner door and could see right through to the alter. I gave it a little push and it too opened easily.

Sadly faded murals

Sadly faded murals

I expected one runestone in the church as the web sites had mentioned only one, but two stones sat flanking the archway to the nave. It took a little digging to find out which was Uppland Runestone 967 and which was the mystery stone and what number it was. Turns out it’s U #959.

It’s amazing how tunnel visioned I can be when runestones catch my attention. Not until I’d snapped photos of the stones, did I even glance at the rest of the porch. A narrow arch led to a dark tunnel of plastered stone and brick steps curving up into the dark likely to the belfry.

Detail of the star arch above the baptismal nook.

Detail of the star arch above the baptismal nook.

I had oddly expected ‘more’ of the church’s interior given the descriptions I’d read while researching it. It’s probably because those had mentioned the wealth of murals but failed to impress just how faded they were. Certainly if the original colors remained it would have been an awe inspiring site. Rather sad to see the loss of such work to the ravages of time.

Baptismal Font

Baptismal Font

Beauty remained though! I found it in the elegant curve of the plastered arches and columns. The detail molded into the ceiling of a star arch above the area set aside for baptism made me go ‘Ooooh’. The base of the baptismal font was elaborate, but apparently the font wasn’t worth mentioning in any church information I could find.

Just loved these columns!

Just loved these columns!

The pews reminded me of those in Gamla Uppsala Church. The pulpit was modest compared to some I’ve seen. Painted a blue gray to compliment the color of the closed pews with low key, unassuming decorative accents. The ghost of the murals and simple, heavy columns which I still found elegant held my attention most. The rough slate floors were nice as well.

On the wall behind the alter area is an ‘alter piece’. A picture or relief depicting a religious subject often hung in a frame and suspended behind the alter. This is supposedly the largest of its type and was carved in Antwerp in the 1500’s and heavily gilded. The panels to the left, right and bottom of a central collection seemed to have saints, while the middle ones were images of the Passion of Christ perhaps?

Vaksala's Alter Piece

Vaksala’s Alter Piece

Clearly I’m not referring to Mel Gibson directed movie, but to the events it was supposed to portray and done so in one of the most intricate ways I’ve ever seen. Christ being seized (I think). Christ carrying the cross through the streets. His crucifixion of course and in another panel, him being taken down from the cross and surrounded by those who mourned him. One or two others, I couldn’t quite puzzle out. I know the Crucifixion account to some detail, but not to the smallest occurrence. I had a smattering of religion in my upbringing, but no more than that.

Organ Loft Over Entrance

Organ Loft Over Entrance

I was smiling as I emerged back into the church yard. It had been a lovely surprise, getting to finally see the inside of Vaksala Church. It’s been a fixture in the landscape even beyond cycling. It’s peeking above the trees every time I go grocery shopping at the mall or visit Jens’ parents. I’ve been riding by it for some 6 years or more, yet this was the first time I’d gotten a peek beyond those metal doors.

Before going back to Loke, I made a direct line toward a sign for a much needed facility. The bathroom has been built into a building that sits right at the gate. A lovely brick construction that dates to the 1400’s. According to on-line sources, it might have been used for storage or perhaps house ‘the local guild’. Guild for what? I haven’t a clue and found nothing to answer that question during my research attempts.

I really should have used the tripod on the church photos. It was in the pod bags, but my feet were already bothering me just from the short walk to the walls on the southern side of the church for the runestone. When I found the church open, I just didn’t bother limping back to the trike for the tripod before going in. Still, even without it the photos didn’t come out too badly. Just a tiny bit of blurring on the one of the organ loft… which is about 8 overlapping photos stitched together. Wasn’t about to go mucking around behind the alter for a couple pixels of focal length. It still wouldn’t have let me get the whole thing in one shot with the lens I have.

My feet really need to hurry up with the healing.

Nature’s call answered, I finally returned to Loke and trike. While putting everything away, I heard dogs starting to bark furiously behind me. Not aggressive, but more like someone desperately wanted to come say ‘hi’ and play. A woman was walking toward the church gate with three dogs. One was a spaniel of some kind. Springer I think. I gave it only a passing glance. The other two were so unusual they had all my attention.

The woman made an attempt to get the large white dogs with longish, slightly kinked coats to quiet and settle. I called out to ask what breed were they. Spinone Italiano, a type of Italian (clearly) bird dog. There’s a photo of the white one like the woman had on this link – http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/spinone.htm

They also come in roan, brown and roan, white and brown, white and roan, and pure white. The woman told me they’re quite rare in Sweden. Less than 200 in all the country. Her two beauties (mother and daughter) were 1% of them in the entirety of Sweden. Did she breed them? ‘Just one litter,’ she answered, explaining she had gone to Norway to find a dog for stud. She didn’t think much of other Spinone bloodlines in Sweden or they were too closely related. She planned to breed the daughter, but not for another 2 years. An attempt to breed the mother again at the end of last year hadn’t taken.

Clearly the woman was working for the love of the breed and careful about whatever pups would come into the world. Certainly not in it for the money if she was spacing litters 2 years apart and waiting until her youngest dog was 4 years. They were obviously very cared for.

She also asked about Loke. What breed and how old. She exclaimed in surprise at his age. ‘He’s really 9?! But he looks so young! I thought no more than 4 or 5 years old!’ I’m getting used to that reaction. It’s becoming almost universal when his age comes up. I said maybe it was the fact that he pretty fit from the years of running with the trike, though he’d had to slow down quite a bit in the past couple of years because of the start of arthritis.

Everything packed, I said goodbye and the girls started barking again as the trike rolled out. I think this time it was jealousy that Loke got to go with the funny wheeled thing.

We cruised to the mall and through the parking lot to join the cycle paths through the 4-H club grounds there. Before we hit the down slope to the park land on the other side, I saw a man just cresting the hill. His thinning hair was a little long, more than a little wild and pure white, as was the thick beard. I had to admire him for determination. He was clearly frail. He scuffed along with strides less than a quarter of the length of an average person, his arms cocked and moving back and forth with each little step like a jogger. If he went faster than 1 mph, I’d be surprised. Yet, there he was, climbing a pretty good slope and nearly half a mile away from any kind of residential building. At the sight of us, he gave a most charming and infectious smile, calling out that he liked my bike.

He reminded me of another older man, 70+ if he was a day. Wiry, with thin wisps of gray hair and a beard. I’d see him along the paths of the River Loop. Almost always dressed as if he were tackling a marathon in tank top, runner’s shorts and good quality jogging shoes, sweat bands on wrists and brow with a water bottle. In all weather. In the winter, he’d change the shorts for track pants and a light jacket over the tank top. He wasn’t fast, shuffling along with an uneven step I recognized as the leftover of a stroke. For years, he was an almost permanent fixture on the loop. I realized a few months ago I’d not seen him in 2 or 3 years. That made me sad, but for 4 or 5 years I’d see him several times a week. Again, I just have to admire that determination against physical difficulties. Gives me a bit of a kick in the butt about the times I let my body stop me.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We arrived home with 8.53 miles. Loke came up the stairs fine, gulped some water and paced around a bit before realizing nothing much was going to happen. So, he went in the kitchen to stare at Jens playing on his computer. Finally he curled up on the blanket we put near Jens’ computer desk.

Since the morning loop with Loke had been slow and fairly easy, I decided to ride to the American Food Store around 1 pm. Yep. I went twice with about 4 hour break in between. Something I’ve rarely if ever done before. I’d planned to go out again though. Even left the trike parked under the balcony for it.

Loke started pacing hopefully as I put the cycle shoes on. He looked disappointed when I went out the door without him.

I started out with the River Loop. Rather than go directly to the shop and back for a measly 3 miles at best, I was going to go through the fringes of Uppsala’s downtown before going straight to the heart of the city. I zipped along at a good pace, nearly 10 mph average for the first 2 miles. Surprising since I’d already gone over 8 miles earlier.

On the cycle path shortly passed the seemingly church-less vicarage, I came upon another older man out for a slow walk. He gamely ticked along with a pair of nordic poles. Beside him walked a young woman, blond and wearing a uniform like many of the professional care-givers in Sweden wear. She looked downright bored, her nose firmly in her iPhone. The only thing to connect the two of them was that she kept her pace to his. No other attempt to connect with him.

She didn’t even look up when the man called out to me, ‘Is it going well?’. Smiling I stopped to say it was going very well. He gave me the biggest, most heartwarming smile. We had a nice little chat as I answered his questions as best I could in Swedish since most in his generation have little to no English. He had seemed kinda cheerful before he called to me, but but lit up and chattered as brightly as a happy parakeet when I stopped to talk.

The woman had given me only the barest glance from whatever held her attention on that tiny screen. So sad that the guy had to be stuck with someone as engaging as the asphalt under his feet. If she found the job so insufferable, clearly she should be in another field of work. She might be doing her job, but only in the most bare bones way. To me, providing a little human connection should be a part of it, perhaps the most important. A part she was neglecting. I hope she was just having a bad day and isn’t always so.

There’s a thought. Jens has suggested at times that I volunteer at a sort of second hand store to get me out of the house and more exposure to ‘live’ Swedish. It’s about as appealing to me as getting my teeth drilled. I can say that now that I’m over that particular phobia. It’s still quite unpleasant, but at least I don’t throw punches and bite now.

I would love to work with wildlife. In spite of the general love of nature most Swedes have, wildlife rescue isn’t very prevalent. Maybe volunteering to visit people like that charming man? If I could trust Loke not to be crazed for the first 20 minutes in a new place, he and I both could. Loke’s occasionally showed surprising empathy to older people. One example is an elderly man we met outside the museum at Nordkapp. He was sitting there, alone in his wheel chair, blank-eyed and slumped. Loke, who had been uncomfortable with all the attention from the healthy, happy strangers wanting to hug him, tugged on the leash to go to him. The man smiled when the fuzzy one put his head his knee very carefully and wagged his tail.

And seeing how less than 5 minutes of my time yesterday brightened the man’s face makes me smile, it could be something to do once or twice a week. It would also be good for Swedish lessons. Okay, enough of random, non-cycle related rambling!

I continued on toward the road past the hospital to make the turn toward the bandi court. I love that hill! I streaked down it, hitting over 22 mph before I had to hard brake to whip around the right turn as fast as I dared. Spinning fast as I could in the highest gear short of needing to mash the pedals, I zipped along at 12 mph. I’m amazed I managed to maintain that up the 2-3% grade. Shooting under the overpass leading to the drawbridge, I skidded into the left turn onto the gravel path between two lines of trees. My left wheel almost came off the ground.

On the path along the river toward the heart of Uppsala, my speed dropped to about 9 mph. Further on, I had to slow even more because of the sheer amount of pedestrians. Shortly before Loke and I arrived home from the first ride, the day had cleared beautifully. By the time I left the apartment on the trike a second time, it had warmed quite a bit. Definitely didn’t need the extra layer. Never got hot enough to be uncomfortable though.

I reached downtown proper and whimsically decided to have an ice cream. The first kiosk wasn’t terribly busy for once. I pulled the trike to shady spot overlooking the canal corralled river to enjoy it.

Charles gave me a huge smile and a hug when I stepped into his little store. He was feeling a little under the weather thanks to a sore hip. I can definitely sympathize having had problems with mine on occasion. He had to go back to the cafe so I chatted with his wife a little as she rang up the items. She’s very kind. She even gave me a couple of cold drinks free of charge, ‘One for you and another for your husband.’ Since it was a little heavy and she worried about the paper bag falling apart, she carried it out for me to put in trike’s bags.

Seeing the pannier bags, she smiled. ‘Reminds of riding in Denmark.’ Of course, I had to ask if she’d done cycle touring. ‘Yes, but very along ago. When I was a child, my parents took me riding in Denmark.’ She’d gone to the flat places unlike me. Not that I would trade my time on Møn for anything. Would have been nice if the gears hadn’t crapped out on me and ruined the last day’s ride though.

From there, it was a quick sprint for home, spinning as fast as I could. The Garmin showed 10.27 miles when I stopped it in front of the apartment. Not bad. Just shy of 20 miles for the day! I think that’s a new record for a day’s distance for 2014!

And at least, that ride, I felt!

Now I need to do some scrambling to get ready for our trip to Borås tomorrow evening and the ride on Wednesday! Busy, busy!