Terii’s Cycling Babble


Cold, Cruel Lies
August 26, 2014, 10:08 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Jens asked me this morning what I intended to do with my day. I gave him my general answer. Cleaning, 3D modeling practice, maybe some novel writing and of course, walking Loke. Silly of me to have completely spaced one of the more obvious activities of the day! Blogging! I actually went for a ride worth posting about. Something other than the usual hamster tracks.

On Friday, I’d planned to reattempt the ride between Enköping to Ramsta Church or maybe even home on Saturday. Jens would be home meaning Loke could stay home with him so I wouldn’t have to worry about breaking him.

The weather proved too foul when I woke on Saturday (August 23rd). Gray and forecast for rain off and on throughout the day. A bit frustrated, I looked at the forecast for Sunday and it was much better. Mild temps with fog in the morning, but clearing to mostly sunny later in the day. Sunday it was!

I also shifted my plans to ride from Ramsta Church (or home) to Enköping. My reasoning was that I could hopefully at least make it to the spot where I’d ended the failed attempt from Enköping.

Sunday was leaded gray when I woke. A quick peek at the forecast showed no change, so I passed the grim hue of the sky down to fog. I expected that it might be a bit misty as well. Jens asked me to take Loke with me for a little while. Swore he’d come get him right away when I called. I agreed. In a short time, off we went for Ramsta Church.

Ramsta Church

Ramsta Church

Ramsta Church has been mentioned multiple times on my blog. Generally photographed from a distance as I’ve not been willing to brace the traffic of the 55 to get to it. There’s a safer way to reach it, but it always required a double back of a few miles which I’ve also been unwilling to do. So, there it’s sat for almost 10 years as I’ve whizzed past the in the car on the way to other places or viewed from a distance on the trike.

Today was its time to shine! We pulled into the parking lot where I set to work assembling the trike. Jens walked around with Loke as I did that as well as walked around the church yard in search of runestones. None lept out at me, though on large stone in the churchyard wall was large and flat enough to be suspicious. If runes were on it, they were badly weathered, lacked any trace of paint to be seen and my eyes are too untrained to have spotted them without that help.

As I settled the last few things into place, Jens fretted over my lack of any kind of jacket or extra layer. It felt quite on the cool side, hovering around 54 F and if it rained…. Still I was determined and didn’t want to waste more time going back home for something else to pull on just in case. Jens offered his knit, zippered hoodie, but being one of his good ones and his favorite, I didn’t want to risk it getting ruined by who knows what.

As I said goodbye to Jens, a large droplet of water plopped onto one of the mudguards of my trike. I glowered suspiciously at the gray sky.

Ramsta sits on a small service road that runs parallel to a small section of the 55. I followed Jens down it to where it met a nice country road heading northwest.

Loke was a crazed beast. He had thrown all his weight into the harness until it made his breath rasp in his chest as he fought to pull up the hill at warp speed. Less than a half mile into the ride, I began to stop for a photo of a lovely collection of older farm buildings tucked near a horse pasture that was, alas empty of horses. I changed my mind about the photo as I abruptly heard barking and a small sized dog came running from tangle of barns and outbuildings. It looked like a kind of Scandinavian Elkhound, but squished down into the body shape of a Welsh Corgi. A woman’s voice called after it, as it stopped and continued barking furiously at us from the fence line. When the woman came around to see what was going on, he came closer, the wood rails no hindrance for him. He didn’t even have to duck his head to go beneath the lowest.

He quieted for a moment as he came close enough to touch noses with Loke. His stance was quite stiff at an attempt to impress his dominance on Loke, as if my fuzz ball would heed that. About then, the woman grabbed the trailing leash and pulled him back.

Forgotten buildings not far from the yapping dog

Forgotten buildings not far from the yapping dog

We actually talked for about 10 minutes. Chatting about our dogs. She was surprised at a husky with brown eyes. Seems to be a common misconception. Brown eyes are most common in huskies, at least in Sweden. Then it’s probably an even split between which lesser common. Two blue eyes or one of each.

With her there, I was a little embarrassed to take a picture of the buildings, so I left it at a chat. As I went to pedal on, she warned me to watch out for the young men in the area who drive like they’re the only cars on the road, cutting to the inside of curves and such. Then she waved and pulled the still yapping dog with her.

For a time after we left her, I don’t remember much about the ride, except a lot of it seemed uphill and we weren’t making particularly good time. Loke tried, goodness knows. He was pulling a bit up each and every hill. He was moving well too, which always brightens my heart. No limping, either from hurting feet or arthritic hips and knees.

The llama pair have a new friend!

The alpaca pair have a new friend!

As we pushed on to the northwest, I stopped and had a laugh at a pair of semi-familiar faces. I think I’ve posted about them before, but with over 200 posts, I can’t be sure.

It was years ago when I first saw the black alpaca with his gray and white friend. The time has treated them well. They still look good though the gray and white one appears to be as grouchy now as he/she looked way back then. I must say, their ‘new’ tan companion is quite fetching and looked downright friendly.

Excuse the lousy photo. I used my iPhone to share the trio on FB. Why it didn’t occur to me to take a better photo with the Canon for the blog, I have no clue.

After I took the picture and started rolling again, I kicked myself for not having the iPhone (lousy photos or not) ready in video mode. The three of them started moving along the fence line with us, which the original two had not done when we first passed them years ago. That got Loke excited and he pulled us into a run. I was so thrilled with the moment, three adorable alpacas racing along with us, that I let Loke have his fun unhindered for once. Would have been a cute video though!

Just 10 minutes later, I slowed the trike again as I came up to a pasture where a pair of horses grazed. I called out until they looked our way, giving them opportunity to see us and decide if they wanted to move away or were going to be curious.

A Contrasting Pair

A Contrasting Pair

They were intrigued. The mare was a little timid. She came up to the fence, blowing softly to test our scent and then would skitter off a bit snorting before her curiosity brought her back to the fence. Her field mate, some breed of draft who I found stunningly beautiful, was merely curious with that unflappable nature most cold bloods display.

I have no clue what breed he was. He might be some kind of Swedish draft type. He was very sweet though, gently taking some of the grass I offered and leaning into my hand when I rubbed his forehead.

Thar Be Hagby Church

Thar Be Hagby Church

Opposite the horses, I could see a landmark in the distance I would soon be riding by. Hagby Church. I’ve passed it a few times. Once was when I attempt to do a 50+ mile loop which would have taken me from the apartment, to Wik’s Castle and back home. Jens dropped me off there once for a ride back home back in the early years of my triking craze.

We had to go a bit further north before turning south-west at the next intersection. On the flats, Loke was still running pretty well. Admittedly we’d done less than 5 miles at this point. It stubbornly remained gray. If anything the clouds had thickened as they clumped. Definitely not the weather the forecast had promised less than 2 hours previously. It remained quite chilly, but the exertions warmed me enough that it felt comfortable.

We made the southward turn and Loke pulled us faster again. I think he was still a little hyped from the alpaca incident. I let him go a bit quicker than usual. I hate depriving him of things he loves. 90% of foods he’s most fascinated with, he can’t have. I let at least let him have some jogging along at 9 mph from time to time.

We didn’t make a stop at Hagby Church. I see now I should have as there are a pair of runestones there. I was just so focused on making rolling time in hopes of actually finishing the ride. I wanted to reach the end of a goal. My ride back in June along the rail-trail in Borås gave me a craving for that when I made it all the way from Borås to Ulricehamn.

I was surprised when the road turned unpaved. Fortunately, not one of those horrible dirt and gravel roads. It was dirt yes, and even gravel, but the decent sort. Well packed strips two either side of a scattering of gravel in the center line. As typical, I vibrated along on the shallow gathering of stones to give Loke the smooth, packed earth.

Soon we rolled up to Focksta Mill. I edged off the road as much I could, holding my breath and waiting as a huge tractor squeezed by. I had to wonder how it managed with cars as the wheels very nearly hogged the entire road from weedy verge to weedy verge. The men in the cockpit waved cheerfully as they passed me.

Focksta Mill

Focksta Mill

I only considered two of the buildings at the mill as part of the ‘old’ mill set up. One, in the above photo, looked to be a mill (saw most likely). The other, a larger building across the lane right next to the sleepy flow of water, had the look of either a residence or maybe a larger mill. Turns out most of the buildings clustered here, many of which I passed off as probably recent residences, are listed as protected. Perhaps an entire tiny village preserved like the row village, Ekeby, just outside of Vänge. Apparently, this place as been settled since the 1300’s. A web site claimed both mills (saw and flour) have all their parts and with a lot of oil could function again. Wood was cut last in 1997, flour ground in 2000 as a sort of tourist display.

The other mill perhaps?

The other mill perhaps?

Sadly, I think those days are past without a lot of hard work and extensive renovation. The last update to the blog was in October, 2011. I think the people who bought the place in 2010 gave up their dreams of restoration. There was a little deck that stretched out over the growth choked spillway. I trod carefully on it. The wood didn’t look trustworthy, particularly with wood ants building their mound of splinters on one side of it. The plants were so thick and high that they hid any trace of water though I could hear it gurgling. I saw rotted and fallen timbers on the outside fo the mill, no sign of a wheel though I guess it might be one of those horizontal sorts under the building. I think it’s working days are done. So sad.

Loke was still good to go as we moved out again. Granted, we’d not gone much more than 5 miles at this time.

Scenery With Uppland Runestone #875

Scenery With Uppland Runestone #875

Just a few minutes past the mill, I found my first runestone. It was clearly visible from the road, crouched near the fence line of a pasture. A lovely stretch of scenery complete with a dilapidated barn and curious horse in the distance. I couldn’t quite puzzle out the text of the placard at the site, only the translation portion of it and the fact that this is the stone’s original location since it was erected.

Turns out it’s a bit unusual compared to many other runestones I’ve collected over the years. This one has cup marks on top and down the left side. A cup mark is a small divot or ‘cup’ chiseled into the face of the rocks, often present with other bronze/stone age carvings of foot-prints, ships, circles and ‘x’s. They can be quite small, barely over an inch but rarely more than 2 inches across. The rune lines go right over the top of some of them, so this stone was chiseled by men from an earlier age than the runestone period. Apparently, in the 1700’s, a researcher found evidence of fat in the pits, concluding it had still been used for offerings. I thought that worth mentioning outside the thumbnail.

I must say, this stretch of landscape was lovely. Gently rolling with the greens still vibrant. In other places, the fields have gone yellow gold dotted with round bales of straw or hay. Some such fields have even received their winter plowing so show their dark faces of muddy brown in place of spring or summer green or harvest-time amber.

Uppland Runestone #876

Uppland Runestone #876

Not even 100 yards further on stood the second runestone of the day, Uppland Runestone #876. It perched atop a little hillock right next to the fence line, starkly silhouetted against the gray sky.

This stone was apparently once part of a memorial arrangement, which I’ve come across before though not very commonly. Sadly, the uncarved standing stone (or stones), appear to be long gone. Probably dragged off for someone’s building materials.

There was another unusual twist I’ve never come across in a runestone. It was erected by four siblings in honor of their father. Apparently, the father’s name couldn’t be translated! Why? Because the arrangement of runes gave no indication of a Viking Age name. Maybe his name was Robert and he was from Scotland!

An Old Road Marker

An Old Road Marker

That is a bad (since I have to explain it) in-my-blog joke referring to the time I found a gravestone in a small medieval church yard with my brother’s name on it. Turns out the man buried there in the 1700’s was the son of Scottish immigrants. Quite a womanizer who became a favorite party buddy of the king at the time. Silly man got himself exiled from Sweden for getting involved in a plot against said king, though he snuck back when the king died.

Tsk, tsk, naughty man. His descents still live in Sweden. There’s a…. baron or count, I forget which, by the same name. It’s said on formal occasions, he’ll sometimes wear a kilt. According to my dad, our ancestors are also out of Scotland. There’s a small chance there’s a very distant kinship with the Swedish noble. I still laugh to think about it.

Lovely scenery in spite of gloomy skies and light.

Lovely scenery in spite of gloomy skies and light.

Back to the ride.

Pretty. I think the clouds add character even if difficult photo conditions

Pretty. I think the clouds add character even if difficult photo conditions

In spite of all the recent rain, the road was only a tiny bit mushy, so barring the hills, we made decent time. Loke had me chuckling at one point. Pedalling along, we both spotted a cat that wandered out onto the lane. It was about halfway across when it spotted us and scooched hurriedly over to vanish in a road-side thicket. Of course, Loke tried to pull is in high gear and then wanted to stop in order to search the tangle of bush and weeds. The chuckling occurred over the next mile or so. In spite of the cat being long gone and behind us, Loke went along, ducking his head and peering intently through the weeds still looking for that kitty, “It’s gotta be here somewhere!” Silly fuzzy.

Sometime after the kitty, the clouds began to break and the temps edged up into the 60’s. That made Loke pant a little more, but he still had little interest in water as he jogged happily along. Soon, we were crossing the 55 on an overpass to begin the last stretch into Örsundsbro.

Örsundsbro is a familiar little town/village as I’ve started and ended a number of rides from here. It was a bit of a busy stretch with about a 2 foot shoulder which is too small for Loke and I both. Still the drivers were patient and courteous. I pulled over when I could to let any cars waiting behind me squeeze past.

Restless Loke ready to leap up

Restless Loke ready to leap up

Joining up with a cycle path to make the turn toward Örsundsbro center, I decided I’d end Loke’s portion of the ride there. Coasting to a stop just across the bridge over the tiny little river winding along the village’s north end, I settled at a picnic table to call my wonderful hubby to get the fuzzy.

Loke had energy enough to pace, getting himself tangled in various things. I told him several times to lay down. He would, but then be up again a minute later.

That display of energy and eagerness to be on our way made me feel guilty for ending his run there. But this only his 3rd run since his last 3-legged hobbling session. I would rather bear a little guilt for stopping when he’s still ready to go than do too much too soon and have him re-injured. He might not appreciate it, but that’s just how it’s gonna be.

'Moooommmm! Let's GO!'

‘Mmoooommmm! Let’s GO!’

The sun came out strong and bright as we waited. I enjoyed the warmth of it, sipping water. Loke switched tactics from pacing to encourage me to move out to cuteness. He walked over, put his head on my leg to look up at me adorably while wagging his tail. Naturally he looked away when I held up my iPhone to capture the image, still cute.

Jens arrived less than 20 minutes after the call. He asked if I was going home with them or pushing on. The answer, ‘Pushing on’ caught him a little by surprise I think. But we’d gone only about 9.7 miles. It had taken about 2 hours, but that was with the stops to coo at the alpacas, the horses, looking around at the mill, runestones and the 10 minute chat with the woman and her yappy dog.

Happy as he was to see Jens and jump in the car, Loke still made pitiful eyes through the windows as Jens drove away. I settled back into the trike seat and told the Garmin Edge 1000 to save Loke’s portion of the ride and start a new one.

Winding through Örsundsbro, it got warmer. It was another stretch without a cycle path and on a semi-busy road. Soon, I joined up with a short jaunt of paved path which let me scoot across the 55 again, this time without the luxury of an overpass. I hate crossings like that, particularly where cars are traveling 110 kph or, more often, faster. Can see a fair distance either way, but still not far enough for my liking to be dodging those kinds of speeds.

A stone’s throw from crossing the 55, I saw a sign with the cultural twisty cornered square pointing down a dirt road. Kvekgården (Kvek Farm or Yard.. or Farmyard). I’ve passed the turn by quite a few times, this time I decided to go look. I bumped and rattled along, dodging potholes. Next to a small building with a lovely chimney cap, two men were talking with a third on a running ATV. I really wanted a photo of the structure, but not with the socializing men and a machine. So, I pushed on, hoping they might be gone on the way back out.

A few of the Kvekgården buildings.

A few of the Kvekgården buildings.

I was starting to lose interest when I pushed up a graveled hill and saw Kvekgården proper. It was worth the climb and passing modern houses and barns. The buildings were mostly or all thatch roofed, the wood they were made from dark and weathered, lacking any trace of the common red paint.

I absolutely loved the buildings. The main entrance was through a gate ‘house’ kind of building where an old buggy lurked in the shadows. There a sign announced an entry fee of 30 Kr. It wasn’t obvious where to pay and I probably could have wandered around with no one the wiser. Fact is, I support the preservation of places like this and have no problem paying to look at them in the spirit of seeing them endure. It breaks my heart to find buildings like this left to collapse on the roadsides or far off across fields.

Not sure what this building is, but love it!

Not sure what this building is, but love it!

But, I was feeling too stressed to chase down where to pay and even just the idea of walking around felt like it might leave me short of time to reach Enköping. Regretfully, I took one picture over the lovely sapling rail fence before going back toward the paved road. I guess I’ll have to go back some time. After all, there are a few runestones to chase down when I’m not feeling hurried.

I was thrilled when I came past the red building with the chimney and no one was near it!

It continued to get warmer as I pushed on, but never became unpleasant as it almost reached 70 F. I had expected my pace to pick up with Loke gone, but quite the opposite. According to the stats from my Garmin, my average speed dropped. The entire run with Loke (9.7 miles) total distance spent climbing was 118 feet. Not much really and Loke helped on most of the ascents. Not a lot, but help is help.

The climbing might have had something to do with that because on the other side of Örsundsbro, things got a lot hillier and very little of it seemed to be down. Before I’d gone even half the distance of Loke’s run with me, I’d nearly doubled the climbing. That meant being very slow. I started to feel frustrated by it, but not so much I was going to stop before I reached Enköping or something happened to break me or the trike.

The sunlit field and trees with that dark sky seems almost surreal.

The sunlit field and trees contrasted by that dark sky seemed almost surreal.

Kvekgården was barely out of my rear view, when cold gusts of wind from the west cut the temperature significantly. The sky in that direction went from patches of blue between puffs of gray and white to a growing mound of slate gray bordering on deep blue shades. It occurred to me that maybe I should have gone home with Jens and Loke. It was going to get chilly again added with that brisk wind and what was sure to be a cold rain with no extra layers or even a jacket. I put the camera away, snugged the weather cover over the handlebar bag and pedaled on.

Oh yeah. I was gonna get wet...

Another photo 5 min later. Oh yeah. I was gonna get wet…

Did you know ripe wheat makes clicking sounds when the wind rustles it? I think I’ve mentioned it before. It really does. Mingled with the hiss of the stalks rubbing together is a sound almost like tiny beads bouncing off one another. The strangely out of place sound made me smile as I rolled to brace the approaching tempest.

So dramatic looking yet not a flicker of lightning!

So dramatic looking yet not a flicker of lightning!

Maybe tempest is a strong word for what came, but the clouds certainly made it look furious. I half expected to see bolts of lightning split the heavens and hear the crash and growl of thunder shudder the fractious winds. A bit much? Sorry, but the memory of those clouds and the photos make me wax poetic. Or at least what passes for poetic to me. Admittedly, I’m about as poetic as a brick most times. Descriptive and wordy, yes. Poetic? Not so much.

Before the first gust of wind carrying the chilly warning, my Garmin displayed 69.8 F. In less than 10 minutes, it dropped to 61.4. I pushed down the road against the wind.

On the other side of the trees in the photo above, fields opened back up into a clear view almost all the way to Långtora Church over a mile away. Or it would have been a clear view except for the curtain of rain marching across expanses of wheat and plowed earth. You could see it coming and fast. I kicked myself for not bringing Jens’ point-n-click camera which is weather proof. I wasn’t willing to pull off the cover protecting my handlebar bag to pull out my Canon. It could have gotten everything electronic drenched if I had to fight it back on. Seeing it come filled me with a sort of dread oddly mingled with excited anticipation.

I drew a breath and headed down the long decent which whipped around curve next to a familiar runestone. Before I reached the stone, the torrent hit. No soft patter of warning drops that strengthened as me and the rain front met. It was like having a bucket dumped, one that didn’t empty in an instant. The cold was a shock. I had expected cold, but not the so much that some of the dime sized drops had slushy pellets of ice hiding in them. The droplets of pure water stung as I sped along at 15 mph, but those with ice hurt.

Gasping, I looked at the Garmin. 50.0 F. This was not what the forecast had listed for the day. Fog in the morning, mostly sunny with temps around 60-63 F. Not mostly 55 F with a plummet to 50 F, very little sun and buckets of water from the sky. That was the cold, cruel lie.

I made my next turn which required another climb. Shivering, I stopped under the meager shelter of some trees. My body was definitely cold, but my hands were the worst. They ached and became stiff, much colder than the rest of me. I dug around in my pannier bags and found my winter Gor-tex mittens hiding there. Simple mittens and yet once I pulled them on, I felt sooooo much better.

After 3 to 5 minutes, the downpour began to slacken. As dense and big as it had appeared, it was technically a passing shower. It still spit and dripped as I moved on, trying to generate some warmth by pedaling furiously. About 20 minutes later, the sun emerged and I felt good enough to stip off the mittens.

Härkeberga Church

Härkeberga Church – Dec 30, 2012

By that time, I’d overlapped where I’d ended the attempted ride from Enköping to Uppsala. The sun was flirting with me again before I reached Härkeberga Church and the beautiful vicarage farm next to it. It was nearing 3 pm by this time and I wanted to push on. Some day, I need to stop in to retake photos of the interior and use my tripod for a change.

Somewhere between Härkeberga Church and the final turn to Enkoping, I remember finally getting a few pleasant descents to coast down. I didn’t pay attention to my speed, preferring to slump back and enjoy the brief rest for my whimpering muscles and complaining knees. One I know lasted for almost a mile and I broke 25 mph somewhere along it. That was enough speed I even didn’t need to pedal over a couple small rises, but just let myself roll to the crests before starting to zip down the other sides.

No traffic OR mosquitos!

No traffic OR mosquitos!

I came to the big road leading into and out of Enköping. It’s marked as part of a cycle route, but unpleasantly crowded with traffic racing in both directions. I scooted across to an unpaved path through trees instead. Just earth packed by feet and the occasional hooves of horses to disturb the leaf litter. There were a few muddy spots, but that was still more pleasant than dealing with 20 cars whizzing by every minute or less with little to no shoulder. This time there weren’t even mosquitos!

That led to an dirt and gravel road lined with houses and pastures beyond them. A few people stared from their porches as I passed.

By the time I scooted across the busy road to a small service road, I was ravenous. I used my Garmin to search for a likely place to eat while waiting for the hubby to get me. Chop-Chop Asian Express was about .3 mile away. Just the thing! After all, the only thing I had all day was a glass of milk for breakfast at 5 am and tepid water sipped from a bladder.

Not as good as mine, but hit the spot after 12 hours of nothing but water.

Not as good as mine, but hit the spot after 12 hours of nothing but water.

I called Jens to ask if he minded that I’d be eating before him. He didn’t. So I rolled through the busy collection of intersections at the edge of Enköping to lock the trike at one of the tables outside of the place. I was so starved I didn’t even care that I looked funny. A plump woman with wind-scoured cheeks, wild tendrils of hair escaping from a pony tail and wearing blue and purple lycra. I ordered a medium with nothing but orange chicken and stir-fried rice.

I went out to sit with my trike. Huge mistake! I had three gulps of my wonderfully cold and flavorful soda and tucked into the chicken. Then they came. Those flying hypodermics a.k.a wasps or yellow jackets. At this time of year they are particularly easy to tick off. Two of them buzzed around my soda, others were curious about my handlebar bag. Why I have no clue. A few were frighteningly interested in me. I spent quite a lot of time, frozen in place, even holding my breath. I’m so incredibly proud of myself that when one landed on my ear, all I did was sit unmoving, waiting for it to go away. It did, leaving me unstung.

Finally I had a chance to move away from my drink and handlebar bag a bit. I watched mournfully as one wasp wriggled determinedly into the soda straw. Then I could hear it buzzing furiously as it got stuck. No, wasn’t going near the drink again. The food tasted great and hit the spot, but it was a pretty miserable experience… and thirsty, so very very thirsty.

When Jens arrived, I managed to sneak my handlebar bag away, but left the soda sitting right where it was. No way I’d risk that angry monster in the straw getting loose while I threw it away.

Jens asked if I’d enjoyed it. I answered with an honest, ‘Not particularly.’ It had been slow and difficult the entire way. For several miles of it, I felt especially miserable, weak and even unwell. Turned out there was a reason for it, which once corrected things went quite a bit better.

Though I hadn’t ‘enjoyed’ it, there was a sense of accomplishment. I’d gone about 23 miles for the day and made it from Ramsta Kyrka to Enköping as planned. Reaching a goal always feels good. There was that at least.

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