Terii’s Cycling Babble

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!


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