Terii’s Cycling Babble

The Other Things That Broke
July 15, 2014, 8:06 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I forgot to mention quite a bit in the last post. So, now I need to try remembering and getting everything caught up!

June 15th’s ride. Whatta nightmare. I think I’m recovered from the horror of it enough to share. Let’s see what I can remember. Not sure why I thought it was a good idea to do the ride, but as I saw the pale blue line on OpenCycleMap.com running between Enköping to Uppsala it seemed like a brilliant concept to ride between the two. Admittedly, 90% of the places along the route I’ve already seen, photographed and written about in various posts. Most of what I’d never seen was actually in the heart of Enköping.

Vårfru Kyrka

Vårfru Kyrka

We didn’t get an early start, so arrived in Enköping around 10 am. It was noisy and reeking of poorly burned gasoline as it turned out there was some kind of motocross rally in the area. The constant drone and thunder of dirt bikes buzzing up and down the roads. I swear, every single one of them spewed half their fuel out as unutilized fumes. Seemed like a single random spark in the environment should have sent the entire town up in a mushroom cloud.

Inside Vårfru Kyrka

Inside Vårfru Kyrka

I coughed a few times as I assembled the trike in a roadside parking lot not far from Enköping’s downtown. I was getting the last few things settled, map case and GPS turned on, when I heard the church bells of my first destination.

Loke was excited to be on new ground. Poor thing. He wanted to run like the wind, but even if I didn’t hold him to an 8 mph speed limit, he would have been disappointed. Within 75 yards or less I was creeping up a hill, bumping over cobble stones. The climb was at least an 18% grade. Just brutal. One of my knees popped and I saw stars. Not a good way to start a 30+ mile ride.

One of the gorgeously painted star vaults

One of the gorgeously painted star vaults

I parked near the church yard gate and left Loke with the trike to search for a good angle to photograph the church. Walking back to the furry and the wheel-y, a taxi pulled up and an elderly woman got out to walk up to the doors. I couldn’t help myself. I grinned as she went in and followed.

Another lovely vault with geometric patterns

Another lovely vault with geometric patterns

I love it when I walk into a church (or any place for that matter) and my jaw drops. The walls inside the church were covered in bright hued murals not matter where I looked. A few nooks and crannies were bare plaster, but not much and those only served to highlight the paintings. The underside of the arches, edges of windows, ribs of the vaults and columns. I hardly knew where to point my camera.

As always, I was a bit self-conscious as I entered, wearing my goofy cycle outfit with a camera bag slung over my shoulder. At least my helmet with the huge brim was back with the trike. There were people, volunteers I think, doing the 100 little tasks needed to ready for a service in a church this size. Lighting candles, putting the names of the psalms and items to be covered in the sermon on the boards, making sure the books were in place and so forth.

Couldn't stop snapping photos!

Couldn’t stop snapping photos!

Pretty Stained Glass

Pretty Stained Glass

No one paid me any mind as I wandered through, snapping photos right and left, admiring the work the work of some long dead painter.

Gubben (Old Man) Vault

Gubben (Old Man) Vault

Finally some one of the volunteers approached. “Do you have any questions about the church?” he asked politely. He seemed so eager to share his knowledge, so I asked a few questions.

Just before our conversation ended, I pointed up to one of the star vaults where one of my favorite features had been painted. “I love those little men!” I told him.

Right along the raised ribs of some vaults, little men had been painted, their arms stretching up and out along other ribs that met his body.

He smiled and said he liked them too. “They’re called ‘Gubben vaults’.

I laughed, “Old man vaults?” He laughed with me and nodded.

Random bit of trivia. Strawberry in Swedish is ‘jordgubbe’ which translates roughly as ‘earth old man’ or ‘ground old man’.

Not wanting to intrude on the service soon to start, I retreated after talking with the young man. When Loke saw me, he tapped his front feet with an impatient ‘woof’. He wanted to go!

I think it's a cloister ruin.

I think it’s a cloister ruin.

It still wasn’t time for the wide open road when I sat back in the trike. Just back down the hill with it’s cobblestone street was a park that had the foundations of an old ruin and a couple of runestones.

Getting down the hill was an adventure. That crazy drop combined with a crazed, desperate to run husky meant clutching the brakes in an iron grip. They were in serious need of adjustment. The levers were squeezed almost against the handlebars and yet the trike kept rolling. Still, we made it down safely to stop beside the ruined foundations for photos. Loke sighed and woofed at me as I paced back and forth for the best combination of light and angle.

Runestone Uppland #960

Runestone Uppland #960

Then it was on to the runestones. Poor fuzzy. These sort of beginnings to a ride probably drive him crazy. He’s a good boy though and doesn’t do something silly like make me go running after him as he pulls the trike down the road.

The first stone, closest to the ruin was U-#760. It’s had some hard wear over the years. Looks like both of the vertical sides have been weathered and chipped away so only fragments of the runes remain along the top and down one side. Rather sad.

Uppland Runestone #959

Uppland Runestone #759

Loke actually got to trot a few meters more before we stopped for the next stone, Uppland #759. The trike stopped and I got up, he just sat down with deepest and most beleaguered sounding sigh.

After I took pictures, I took the time to read #595’s placard. From the translation of the runes, I thought it had been erected for someone somewhat naughty. After all, I’ve found at least one stone raised after someone who was definitely ‘not nice’. The runes apparently said just that quite bluntly. It seemed not the case with this one. Further down on the placard though, it mentions that it’s not that the dead man was bad, but that the phrasing was to present a humble face to God. A show of humility.

Old Building in the Park

Old Building in the Park

I think there was a 3rd stone in the area, but my limited search revealed nothing. With 30+ miles before us and it already coming up on 11 am, I spent no more time on it. Loke finally got his wish! Moving continuously at 8 mph for more than 50 yards before stopping. Actually, it was more likely, ‘Run like the wind for a mile or so!’ He still tries it from time to time. I rarely budge.

Once outside of the park, we were in the boring areas of Enköping. Some residential at first and then on to commercial districts with car dealerships and the like. Busy roads, though thankfully all flanked by good cycle paths especially since there were still dirt bikes buzzing up and down the road like oversized, smelly hornets.

I don’t know if it was because of how warm it was or the fact I was pedalling funny because of the pain in my knee, but it didn’t feel very good to be riding. I felt rather weak and sluggish. Yet, I pushed on.

Ah! Shade and ravenous mosquitoes!

Ah! Shade and ravenous mosquitoes!

Outside of Enköping, I finally had to take to roads. Some of them were a little busier than I liked, but I found little foot paths or just gravel car tracks along the worst sections. The paths and tracks were welcome for more than just relief from the traffic. Shade! On the open road, the sun was hot and uncomfortable. Among the trees, it was cooler. I thought it a good tradeoff even if there were mosquitos the size of eagles hungering for blood among the foliage.

Apparently the whole motocross competition was stretched out over a few courses which was one reason that the bikes were zipping around so frantically. We passed one or two of looping trails of torn earth through a shady woodland.

I love randomly finding these old style buildings.

I love randomly finding these old style buildings.

It was a relief once we were free of those bikes. The near constant buzz and gasoline fumes left me with a headache.

Härkeberga Church

Härkeberga Church – Dec 31st 2012

As I neared the familiar medieval church, Härkeberga, I couldn’t help but be surprised how close it really was to Enköping. Driving back and forth from Uppsala to Enköping for various rides has always felt like quite a slog. There’s a particular medieval in between that I’ve been to three times now. It has always felt the place was 20-25 miles from either the city or the town, but soon enough I was recognizing the road and realizing I was coming up to it. I was only 6-7 miles out of the heart of Enköping.



The final stretch toward the church, I noticed something moving in the sky. Other than clouds I mean. It was a paraglider. Then I spotted another one. At last, I spotted a whole group of people in the field across from the church standing amongst swathes of vibrant colored fabrics.

I watched the last two glide around before finally coming to rest with surprising accuracy right near the those on the ground. By this time, Loke was content to sit in the shady spot I’d found to watch the landings from. It had been quite warm.

Building at Härkeberga Church's Vicarage

Building at Härkeberga Church’s Vicarage

Once it appeared that everyone was on the ground and no more gliders visible in the sky, I pushed on past some old traditional Swedish wood fencing and a collection of old farm buildings. It’s always looked like an outdoor museum, but I’d never bothered to stop. It was decided that this time I would… once I made it up the climb to the parking lot next to the belfry so I could use the bathroom. If it was open any way.

Outer Yard of the Farmstead

Outer Yard of the Farmstead

Feed Are of Cow Shed

Feed Area of Cow Shed

It was, but there was a long line for it. A tour bus was parked right next to the churchyard wall. I found a shady spot to wait it out since the bus had to be moving on at some time. I thought about going into the church, but decided it felt nicer to sit in the shade. I should have gone anyway. The church there is beautifully painted with murals. I only have photos of the porch’s ceiling and not a very good one. Would be nice to get better photos and more of them.

As we waited for the end of a line, sipping water and trying to cool off, some people actually came over to admire Loke. The driver was one of them. He had the most wistful smile, as if remembering a beloved dog now gone, while stroking Loke’s head. Loke was his usual self. A study of near-feline indifference to the attention. I’m never really sure if I’d prefer to have Loke being the sort of the dog who laps up attention from other people, but sometimes, I feel a little bad for those who want to say ‘hi’ to the fuzzy and refuses to acknowledge them. Kinda like how I’d imagine royalty might do with someone they deem ‘beneath’ them. Hehe. There’s a reason I call him ‘Lord Fuzzy’ sometimes.

Saddles & Tools in Stable

Saddles & Tools in Stable

Stalls & tack in the stables

Stalls & tack in the stables

It was here, while waiting my turn for the facilities, sipping water and cooling down in the shade that I remember first noticing THEM. The flies. Most of the time they don’t seem to bite though there have been occurrences that make me wonder otherwise.

Not very big, the horrid little beasts are barely the size of my pinky nail. They buzz around which is annoying, but they don’t really bother me until they start going for the face. One or two, I can endure… with gritted teeth admittedly, but there almost never seems to be just a few of them. So, I sat and waited, fluttering my hands at the cursed things from time to time.

Just love these old buildings!

Just love these old buildings!

Nature’s call was answered at last and I went back down the hill to park in shade and grass near the entrance of the farmstead. I love places like this. Seeing the old buildings or something as uncommon as a surviving well-dipper as stood in the outer farm yard.

Loke was quite pleased to be off the leash as we wandered through the farmstead. A little frustrated though as I wouldn’t let him mark all the buildings. I have too much respect for the cultural significance and age of these structures and places to let him ‘annoint’ them as it were. The same thing that has me keeping him on a short leash in churchyards or tells him ‘Nej!’ when he wants to mark a runestone. I’m sure it baffles him, but such is life.

Couldn't stop taking pictures! I love the digital age!

Couldn’t stop taking pictures! I love the digital age!

Neat Old Carriage

Neat Old Carriage

Where I was able, I looked into the buildings. Little structures specific for pigs and sheep, cows, horses, carriages and more. It was interesting to see the arrangement for the cows to put their heads through wooden slats to eat, the iron collars still waiting to hold the animals for milking. The saddles, harness and bridles hanging in various places on the walls and around the stalls in the horse stable. Loom and spinning wheel in another building that I think originally served as sleeping quarters for farmhands. Seeing the old carriage was fascinating as well.

Hjälsta Cottage

Hjälsta Cottage

The Out-Buildings

The Out-Buildings

One beautiful old cottage just outside the main farmyards had even been used as a hostel for a time. It and two other outbuildings that share its ‘yard’ beside the rest of the farm stead were moved here from other places in the 1930’s. All were used as a youth hostel between the late 1930’s until sometime in the 1960’s. I think it would be incredible to sleep in such old buildings, especially if they were outfitted the same as they were when they were first built. Probably wouldn’t be a very comfortable night given how pampered modern man is now-days, but still an interesting experience to ponder. Minus whatever creepy-crawlies there might have been of course.

The slow, lazy stroll around the farmstead was a nice break from the painful, hot pedalling of the rest of the ride. I returned to the trike with what can only be called reluctance. Couldn’t call much of outing ‘fun’ except for seeing the inside of Vårfru Church and the vicarage. Okay, and the runestones and ruin foundations. But everything in between had been uncomfortable at best.

Surprisingly, the paragliders were still in the field when I rolled back toward the main road. Two were even going up. How they were getting the lift, I’m not certain. I didn’t see or hear anything that could have been giving them a boost, but one was circling around above and another just leaving the ground. I paused long enough to watch him/her climb to about 200-300 feet.

Gloomy Horizon

Gloomy Horizon – December 31, 2012

Same View Sorta - June 15, 2014

Same View Sorta – June 15, 2014

Had a bit of a downward glide that carried me past the backside of the church and toward a scene I remembered from the New Year’s Eve Day ride. Quite a difference between the two days and also, I took the opposite turn.

Things went downhill fast after leaving the church and not in a good way. It felt hotter, my knee hurt worse and I felt even weaker and slower. None of this helped by the fact that my gears, which had been far from perfect, but manageable had apparently decided to worsen. The flies, the nightmare of the flies! Every time we came to a smallest cluster of trees, they swarmed out of the growth and clustered around us. Even Loke looked irritated, his head down, ears back with squinty eyes. He snapped at the clouds of them every now and again.

I felt like screaming every time they ping off my face, came close to going up my nose with each intake of breath. What drove me most crazy was when they’d get behind my glasses and go bouncing off my eyelids and lashes, or worse… the eye itself.

Arriving at an intersection after climbing a long, but relatively gentle slope of about 3%, I saw a sign for Örsundsbro 5 miles away. Turned onto a road running right up a slope of at least 6% or more. That was when the gears abruptly went very, very bad. They popped and slipped crazily as the flies bounced off my face and eyes with a screaming knee.

Långtora Kyrka

Långtora Kyrka – 2009

I stopped and felt near to tears. I was close to screaming furiously at the heavens too. That was just too exhausting. I twisted in the seat and looked the opposite way. Långtora Church was less than 2 miles away. I knew there was bit of shade and quiet to wait for Jens, a good place to load the trike. Better still, it was wide open fields which meant few to no flies and downhill at first with near flatness the rest of the way. The wind, which wasn’t too bad, would also be at my back. Every little bit would help. It was the swatting at the flies that finally decided me.

I called Jens on the way. Without the extra force on them for steeper hills, the gears slipped less. Still enough to be aggravating on top of the sense of failure and such, but at least it was more possible to move the trike forward.

It was one of the best moments of the ride, to sit in the shade of an apple tree, munching strawberries and cherries while waiting for Jens. I was still angry at the failure though, disgusted with irritations and the misaligned gears most of all. Gears have been the bane of my existence of late.

So. Broken gears were the first.

I called and made an appointment at the cycle shop south of Stockholm. I had to wait a few days thanks to an influx of racing bikes needing tune-ups for some kind of race. The day came. I dropped Jens off at work, drove to shop to leave the trike before heading to a nearby park to walk Loke and hangout until the work was done. I told them to not only adjust the gears, but replace the cables and everything. Part of the problem I had when the gears would mess up with days or even hours after getting adjusted at the shop was the fact the cables were never checked. They were filled with a black, ash like grit that choked the tube and kept the wire from sliding.

The guys the shop used to have the last time I was there have apparently moved on. Unfamiliar faces all around. The one who was apparently to do the work was actually American from Baltimore, Maryland! Really nice guy and fairly interested in the trike. When the work was done, I came to pick it up, he asked about the trike some. He helped me get it out to the car and was very impressed when I folded it up. He even took the time to repeat some of the method behind gear adjustment. Something about the way he said it might have clicked something. We’ll see…. if I ever get brave enough to try it on my own.

Oh, he also told me that he completely dismantled the gearing’s wires and tubes, but they were clean and in good condition. So, he oiled them up before putting them back on. Saved me about 300 kr. I told him that was fine as long as were good. And the gears have been pretty good thankfully.

The next things overlap a bit. First was something odd with my Garmin Edge 705. Over the passing weeks with rides around Uppsala and the River Loop, it seemed I was needing to charge with a puzzling frequency. It was hard for me to be sure. It’s not like I keep count of rides between charges or mark it on a calendar, but it felt frequent. It was finally confirmed when I gave it a 2 hour charge and 20 minutes into a ride, it went off thanks to a dead battery.

We tried a couple things, but the Edge responded oddly. Like we let the battery go completely dead again (2-3 hours) and recharged. Then, at Jens’ suggestion, I was going to let it drain completely again for another recharge to see if that would revive the battery to more normal behavior. I left it on for 12 hours, the ride timer running with not the least dint in the battery gauge. It was just refusing to be sucked dry. The next day, after leaving it on charge to be sure it was topped up, I went for 2 rides. One River Loop with Loke and then I decided to go out again for myself on the spin ride on July 11th or the like. The Garmin went from full to less than half charge in just those two hours.

Jens almost thought that might mean some kind of software glitch. Like the battery only got drained if the GPS was collecting moving data points.

So, that was the next thing to break.

All this meant I was researching for a replacement. I was nervous replacing it. My old Edge 705 was like a pair of nicely broken in shoes, a comfortable tool to simplify my riding in strange places.

At first I was thrilled to see a Garmin Edge Touring. A cycle GPS focused for casual or touring riders, tweaked to find cycle POI’s and routes. For maps it used OpenStreetMap, of which OpenCycleMap is an off-shoot. Supposedly, when it plots directions on the nav function, it seeks trails and cycle paths, smaller roads. Unfortunately, it seemed to have a lot of bugs. Like constantly warning of being off course when clearly a person was on it. Another guy showed photos of his recorded ride and the red line of where he’d supposedly been was waaaaaay off the road which he’d never left. Sometimes by as much as a quarter mile or more.

So, I looked at the Garmin Edge 810 and 1000. Those seemed to be more geared for racers or at least the hard-core types. I almost leaned toward the 810, but yet the 1000 kept tugging too.

So, we went to a store that had at least the Edge 1000. It meant driving to Täby, a little place north of Stockholm. I walked in and spotted not only the 1000, but the 810 as well behind the counter. When someone was available to help, I asked if it was okay to speak English in hopes of making things go quicker. He grinned and said, ‘Of course’.

Bad Photo of Garmin Edge 1000

Bad Photo of Garmin Edge 1000

I explained I was replacing my Edge 705 and would like to see the two Edges. He cheerfully unboxed them to let me look them over by actually getting my hands on them. Showed me demo models so I could look at the fields and screens. After the first couple minutes, my focus was pretty tight on the 1000. The screen is bigger which wasn’t necessary, but nice. I loved the clarity of it too and the map! No more yellow with dark brown lines and street names hiding most of the roads! Seeing the neat blue dashes for cycle paths nearly made me swoon with glee. It displays local temp which I’ve often been curious about.

Though I was still uneasy about committing to it, I made the leap and bought it.

The next morning, at first glance, I felt buyer’s remorse, as if I’d made a big mistake. I should have gotten the Edge 810 or perhaps just sent off my Edge 705 for a month to get the battery replaced and hoped that fixed it. It just seemed that the Edge 1000 was so focused on performance for racer types to be almost useless to me.

I didn’t give up though. I started fiddling. The brilliance of the map wooed me back. I found I could easily set up a new mode I called ‘casual’ with data fields and the like better suited to my riding. There are various settings for navigation choices. Road cycling, mountain biking, touring, etc… I was re-won and by 8 am, eager to get out the door for a test ride after mounting it.

Mounting it proved a little difficult. I thought it had it settled, but once I sat in the trike, it was in the way of my pedalling. So, it spent the first ride either in my hand or bouncing around in a pocket of my handlebar bag. In spite of a fairly dense cloud cover and mostly peeking out of a pocket, it tracked my path to near perfection. I was impressed. It also came with a cadence sensor and those results were a surprise, showing me almost 10 RP higher than I expected on a ride with Loke. There’s also a heart rate monitor, but since I was just loafing with Loke, I didn’t put much stock in those stats.

Got back home and Jens came out to help me figure out a new place to mount it. Turned out to be on the mirror mount where my 705 has faithfully crouched all these years, but using an ‘out front bar mount’ instead of the usual twist clip held in place with zip-ties.

I went back out for another test ride, sans Loke. Of course, I forgot to put the heart rate monitor back on. The new Edge still worked great and it’s new position was awesome!

Since the 2nd test ride, I’ve not ridden again yet. I’m desperate for a recovery day. For 7 days straight I’d been exercising like a mad woman. When not out on the trike with or without Loke for 2+ hours at a time, I was speeding around with my hiking poles in the city forest along with Jens and Loke for an hour minimum. On the test rides, it was clear my body, legs in particular need a rest day to rebuild the fibers. I felt so weak and lacking in stamina. Nothing like how awesome I felt on the spinning ride earlier in the week. That’s what today is going to be… a rest day.

The last thing, cycle related at least, to show signs of breaking was the primary lens for my camera. During the week while slowly learning that ‘yes, my Edge 705’s battery life is dying’, I stopped to photo a flower as a reference image for my 3D modeling. Pulled the camera out of the bag and… the lens was jammed. Couldn’t zoom and couldn’t focus. That is the 2nd time it’s happened. The first time was back last September while in Belgium. That time it had just been the focus part which stuck. Fortunately, I was able to pop it loose.

This time was a bit more serious. I could even see the parts were crooked. It’s just the cheapie lens that came with the camera when we bought it 9 years ago. I was again able to work it loose, but it doesn’t bode well for the lens. It would be very aggravating to have it give up completely while on a tour or taking a trip to Scotland or Italy. Taking photos, recording the things I see and places I’ve been for my cycle diary blog are a huge part of the joy of my rides. Admittedly, Jens’ P-n-C camera takes pretty good pictures. Could use it for closer ones and fall back on the Canon when I want the longer zoom since that lens still works just fine. Seems silly to need two separate cameras though.

It’s just a bad time that things seem to be falling apart all at once. Not only did we just shell out for a new GPS for my riding, but the dishwasher died yesterday too. Had to get a new one of those. Now a camera lens on top of those? We’re looking at a minimum of 200 USD. Jens is actually wondering if it might be time to just upgrade the camera. There have certainly been improvements in sensors over 9 years. That might leave the expensive longer lens useless. Jens thinks there’s a decent resell value for them if they’re in good condition, which it is. I can’t imagine not having my zoom lens. I would pine for it mightily until a replacement was in my hand.

Ballroom where the ghostly woman walks? Maybe!

Ballroom of Ängsö Castle

Oh! One additional occurrence which I can’t stop grinning about. Some days ago, I got an e-mail alerting me to a comment. I logged on the blog to take a look. It was linked to the image of Ängsö’s Castle’s Ballroom. A request by a music artist to use the photo as the backdrop for the green screen of a music video he was making.

I was stunned, but tentatively agreed, provided he’d list me in the credits. If you want to see the full conversation as well as a link to the video on YouTube, just click the ballroom photo and scroll down to the comments.

Me? Involved in a music video?! A very tiny, minor part, but still makes me grin and giggle like a girl. I rather like it too. Fitting that the song’s title is ‘Ghost’ and the ballroom is reported to be haunted.

So! I think that’s everything caught up! Now to do a little light house cleaning and continue on my rest day so I can get back to great cycle days like the spin ride last week!

It Broke!
July 13, 2014, 7:45 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Begun July 11th

Mostly, this refers to the weather. For 4 or more days it was quite warm. Even Jens, who can happily snooze under a duvet when it’s nearly 80 F was beginning to make noises about it being too warm. For me? It was misery.

For a southern girl who grew up along the Mississippi Gulf Coast where it’s not uncommon for temps to break 100 F (38 C) during the summer months with 100% humidity, I’ve been having the worst trouble when it gets up around 80 F (27 C). Maybe the humidity has been a bit higher or perhaps I’ve just been spoiled by the cooler climate of Sweden’s ‘warmer’ seasons. Which ever it is, I spent those days of mid to high 80’s covered in a sheen of sweat with hair perpetually damp near the scalp. I went for a few rides… at 4 or 5 am to beat the heat. Even then, it wasn’t comfortable. I still felt too sweaty and too warm, though at least I didn’t feel sick.

Yes, sick. After taking Loke out for one outing around 6 am. I went out again to do the River Loop to get myself some proper exercise. I spent the rest of the day feeling downright ill. Couldn’t cool down except for cold showers, but as soon as I stepped out of it, it was as if I’d never bothered to take one.

Yesterday, Jens and I went for a walk in the city forest at about 7 am. I thought it would be okay. Still fairly early and the forest is nice and shady. Nope. I had to stop a few times and retch. I was just too overheated. The sweat wasn’t helping to cool me down. It just lay on my skin and in my hair like I’d been doused in warm oil. It took setting a small fan on the coffee table, pointed right at me as I sat on the couch to watch TV to get me feel remotely normal.

During the night, the weather broke. I’m sure most Swedes are heartbroken over the change. Most of them seem to thrive and thrill at 90 F in a country with little-to-no air conditioning. Personally, I reveled in waking up under the covers and comfortable there instead of them being tossed and kicked to the end of the bed. I don’t sleep well without a blanket, or a sheet at the very least, over me.

A few things distracted when after waking, but I finally got moving around 8 am. When I stepped out the door to get the trike out of the car it was utterly, wonderfully glorious. After the first few steps beyond the building’s door, I stopped to throw wide my arms and turn face to the unflawed lapis colored sky in sheer delight. There was a soft coolness to the air that would be a perfect balance against the warmth generated by pedalling. There was a definite bounce to my step as I went on.

Loke move reasonably well as we set out. There was no yodeling or jumping, but he wasn’t entirely laggardly either. I found as I toodled along with the furry one, that the 68 F temps prodded at me. I wanted to move! I wanted to spin those pedals until the muscles started to build up that exercise ache and feel my heartbeat rise to the challenge. I decided once we’d finished the loop, I was going out again. Perhaps I’d go attempt to hunt down that elusive runestone at the 4H Club grounds.

That’s just what I did! I dropped a panting husky off at the apartment, gulped a few swallows of water and rushed out again.

Within moments, I was speeding along the cycle path aside Svartbäcks Street at 12 mph. I lucked out on the light at the intersection with Gamla Uppsala Road, but had to come to an almost complete stop to squeeze through the left turn. That’s one drawback to the trike. It can’t turn as sharply as a diamond frame bike at slow (or fast) speeds. I spun back up to speed as I shot toward the underpass, gliding up to almost 20 mph beneath the rail tracks. As I climbed back up, I was careful to spin rather than mash and as fast as I could manage to see what cadence would my knees permit.

The sharp hairpin turn near the next intersection took me back along a path to run parallel with the tracks toward the heart of city. The daylight still had that deeper golden glow to it, the orange of hue of dawn lingering on for the moment before the sun climbed higher. Being a week day, some people were already moving around, so I contented myself with 10 mph to the music of the chain whispering in the tubes and wheels humming tunelessly on the asphalt. I drew breath in through my nose and exhaled through the mouth in an odd counter-rhythm to the flex and extend of my legs. Spinning, spinning, spinning.

Traffic lights predictably stopped me. Slopes slowed me, though I made an attempt to at least keep the same pace to the turn of the pedals. I came within about 100 yards of my in-laws’ apartment building at about 16 minutes. Less than half the time it took for Loke and I on July 4th.

Not that Loke slacked on the July 4th run. He did his best for a good pace, but it was unexpectedly warmer than I thought so we made fairly frequent stops for water and I held our speed to about 6.5 mph.

It was strange when I found myself actually passing other bike riders. None were hard core, lycra clad types on high end racers, but most often Loke and I are left eating dust with pretty much everyone else on two wheels older than 4 years.

Not long after leaving the neighborhood where my in-laws live, the wind kicked up as abruptly as the flip of a fan’s power switch. Not a brutal wind, but enough to slow me from my 12-13 mph to about 9 mph with my determination to maintain cadence without applying too much force.

The cycle path between my in-law’s neighborhood and the turn off to the 4H Club grounds heads east-north-east, straight in the wind. For a fair stretch of it, I actually let my speed drop to about 6 mph to rest a moment and just enjoy the beauty of the day. I took another turn a bit before the usual one in hopes of avoiding an unnecessary hill and was rewarded by coming out right at the top of it with the road stretching off nice and flat to my left. Maybe there was even a slight downgrade.

I zipped onward, grinning again at how great I felt. I felt a little warm from the exertion of spinning the pedals, but the cool air wicked it and any sweat away. My breathing, while quickened, wasn’t gasping or even really panting. Nothing hurt. Not my knees or muscles. Nothing. Such a rare moment to be savored.

I came to the entrance of the 4H Club grounds and started into the turn, clenching the brakes hard as I gave a nervous little gasp.

Ambling along from one of the unpaved lanes to the barn next to the entrance was a roly-poly little black pony pulling a buggy. The guy driving pulled him short for a second as a woman rushed to take his bridle in case he spooked at the sight of me. He didn’t seem flustered by my weirdness. Still, I decided to slowly back away rather than risk freaking him into doing something injurious. The runestone isn’t going anywhere and will be just as likely, or unlikely, to be found on another day as that one.

Onward toward the mall, I sped!

I skipped going directly by Vaksala church, sticking to the cyclepath toward another road. I hit a new high speed of nearly 17 mph. I might have tried to push for even more, but I had to take care that I didn’t zip out in front of a car appearing from an intersecting street and whipping out into a turn. Good thing I was paying attention, because I had to stop once for just that very reason.

From there, it was a slower 10 mph as I wound along a minor maze of connecting paths to get under the busy road next to the mall and then make my way safely through the parking lot. As I crossed the street away from the mall, a bunch of cows were gathered curiously at the fence of one of the pastures of the other 4H Club areas. 3 adult cows with their calves. It wasn’t until I came closer I saw what had their attention. In the sun, on the grass opposite the path from curious cows, was a woman doing yoga. Why right there, I don’t know. Just down the path a bit was the big parkland of wide swathes of clipped grass in the sun where she would have been a bit away from a constant stream of cyclists and pedestrians. Unless she wanted to show off. Anyway, there she was, going through the forms, as the baffled livestock looked on.

That stretch of paths between there and the next underpass can go fast. I’ve been known to rip through that half to .75 mile stretch at 16-18 mph if the conditions are right. They weren’t this time. Too many cyclists and pedestrians cluttering the way. Still, I kept a good 13 mph spin going as I dodged back and forth.

I made one poor guy nervous as I came along. I’ve seen him before. Frail looking with a snowy puff of white hair round an otherwise bald pate and a matching beard. I first saw him a month or so ago when I was passing through the mall area 4H grounds. He’d been moving at all of 1 mph as he scuffed along with tiny steps and moving his arms like it was a full on jog. Not fast, but he was out and moving with determination.

So, there he was again, out on another walk in that little shuffling stride and working arms. He saw me and stopped, about to scuttle off the path as fast as he could manage. When I smiled and waved at him, he stopped, confident I actually saw him and wouldn’t be running him over. He gave me the biggest smile and waved back as I zipped by.

From there, it was a quick cruise along at about 10 mph as I started to wind down from the ride. I made it home with about 8.8 miles with 1 hr and 10 minutes. Accounting for traffic lights and pausing a couple times to look at the Garmin map as well as the sloooowwwly back up incident with the pony, my moving time was probably closer to 55 minutes. Not bad for me, particularly since there’s not been much fast cycling this year and the fact that my gear inches on the Sprint are pretty low.

How well I’d felt on the ride left me with a big green and quite happy for the day!

Happy July 4th! And Yes, I’m Still Alive
July 4, 2014, 12:24 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Too all my friends and family back in the U.S., I wish you all a happy July 4th full of whatever you deem as fun and celebratory for this American Holiday.

Though the blog has been quiet, I’ve been reasonably active. Not burning up the roads or anything, but not a dormant slug either. One weekend a few back, I actually made an attempt to ride from Enköping back to Uppsala. What actually convinced me to attempt it was seeing a cycle route doing just that. Not dedicated cycle paths, but on back roads, but still.

I found the way thanks to a wonderful site. It started with ‘OpenSteetMap’, but there’s a secondary ‘OpenCycleMap’. It has Local, Regional and National routes mapped. Dotted blue lines for dedicated cycle/foot paths. Bathrooms, food and even shelter from rain. And there was a pale blue line (Regional) between Enköping and Uppsala. Not that far either! Less than 35 miles. Oddly, when driving to that area, it has always seemed sooooo far, but it’s not.

It was a disaster. First, right at the beginning of the ride, we had to go up this crazy hill to a church. A very nice church crammed with murals and other details, but getting it to it wrecked my knee before we’d even really started. From there it just was annoying. Loke ran well at least, but my knee hurt making me pedal bad which left me feeling weak. There were those annoying flies.

It’s been a couple years since I’ve complained about the flies. They just haven’t been that bad since whenever the last cycle season I was screaming over them. So, I felt hot, weak and slow, then the flies came along, dozens of them buzzling around me. Then they started bouncing off my face. Up the nose, around the mouth, getting behind my glasses to bounce off my eyes.

The final straw was my gears. They’d been acting up for a while, but I could still manage. Well, the shifting abruptly became completely unreasonable while I was flapping my hands at the flies with a screaming knee and facing a looooong climb. I looked to the west where open farm land stretched and Långtora church waited in the distance…. down the nasty hill I was facing and mostly flat beyond. Oh, and the wind (though not too bad) would also be at my back.

Loke and turned and made for Långtora where I called Jens to get us so we could wait in the shade while I ate cherries. The best part of the ride was sitting in the soft wind beneath the shade of an apple tree to wait for Jens.

I was completely disgusted with the fiasco. Though I have pictures, they’ll just have to wait until I make another (hopefully more successful) attempt at the ride.

The rest of the rides have been around Uppsala naturally. One day Loke and I went toward the city forest to do a quick toodle through there before gliding through the city back home. Several River Loops (naturally).

Most recent was the loop which takes me along the rail tracks to the heart of the Uppsala, then out toward my in-laws apartment, cutting over to Vaksala church, the mall and back home. This time, where I would generally make the turn off a cycle path toward the 4H area with the runestones, I curiously went straight. A bit on, the cycle path cut through a high earthen bank where a park sign sat. I stopped for a look.

It’s a national park area with paths that lead to two tiny villages as well as looping through woodland and fields. I was a bit curious, but by this point, we’d done 6 miles and I didn’t want to break Loke since one day earlier in the week, he had a really bad time with lots of limping. Though he hadn’t limped at all on this outing, there’s no reason to push him to it. I did take a little peek for about a half mile though. The pavement gave way to a gravel path which wasn’t bad for rolling. If that’s how it is all through the park, the trike will have no problems. Ideally though, we’d (yes, Loke too) would adore it if it became the hard-packed earth covered in leaves and pine needles like many of the city forest trails.

I took a turn to cut back toward the residential area again, resolved to come back another day and explore the park’s trails.

July 1st was Loke’s birthday. 9 years old. I did take him for a ride. The exciting (haha) River Loop. But he was still so excited and full of fire that he wanted to run. I took pity on him and in celebration of his birth bumped his speed limit from 8 mph to 9. Of course, he wanted more.

Now, I’m about to take him out to head down the path along the rail tracks to the heart of town and onward to my in-laws apartment. We’re having dinner there this evening. Kiki’s home-made lasagna (drool). The 2-3 miles there isn’t really enough to dent Loke’s energy, but I still think it will be good for both of us.

Oh, and Jens is pushing for me to take a tour. I’m actually thinking of having him drop me off in Gävle (about an hour north of Uppsala) and cycle on the national coastal route. Over a 100 miles, especially if I chase down churches and the like. How long will I stay out? Dunno. If I can just make it an overnight trip for ONCE, I’ll be happy. Not sure if Loke’s coming or not. At least it’s still kinda close enough for the fuzzy to be rescued by Jens if need be.