Terii’s Cycling Babble

Where Did The Time Go??
September 22, 2014, 9:01 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

It seems just a few days ago, it was more than a month to the Bornholm trip. Now it’s this coming weekend?! Jens still has to get his fishing gear together before Saturday and I need to decide how I’m going to manage the maps for this trip.

I might try something new with them. Rather than have a pre-plotted route mapped in a dark line on my print outs, maybe just printouts with the things I want to see clearly marked. Then I wing it from place to place. It would let me be a little more flexible about how to deal with the island’s apparently crazy winds.

Oh! The two photos in this first bit of ramble are those I forgot about from my ride on the 14th. That’s the one with the nearly squished vole. They are rather nice, I wanted to share even if the blog post is now well past. Current photos are further down!

The 'Old Faithful' of Autumn Colors - Sept 14, 2014

The ‘Old Faithful’ of Autumn Colors – Sept 14, 2014

As you can tell, autumn is making its appearance. It started back in August as usual, though a little less strongly than it generally does. Just a couple yellow leaves here or there that kind of turned into small clusters. Things didn’t really start coloring up until well into the first week of September. Suddenly all the birch trees were sporting their yellow streaks like highlights in a woman’s hair. The occasional flash of stronger colors springing out on the limbs of other select trees.

Frisky Horse & Friend

Frisky Horse & Friend – Sept 14, 2014

In spite of the vibrant hues emerging here and there, it’s been unseasonably warm. Almost ‘Swedish Summer’ warm. The kind of Swedish summer I wish we’d had for the entire season rather than those weeks where temps were high enough to trigger heat warnings. We’ve also been graced with clear days or at least mostly sunny. That broke yesterday/last night, but I’ll get to that.

Jens worked from  home on the 19th, so I decided to tackle a longer ride. I headed out on the first half of the River Loop, but then crossed the 272 onto Gamla Börje Road. The plan was to make for Läby and then the shopping centers where I would strike out for the old rail-trail which is now a gravel cycle/pedestrian/bridle path. From there it would be toward the city forest and home.

I’d meant for an early start, but the drippy sounds from outside put it off. Not rain, but a dense fog that condensed on everything. While I do have decent lights, I still didn’t really want to head out into murky gray shrouds where I’d be on small, sometimes curvy, country roads.

About 9 am, Jens started with ‘Are you going for a ride? When are you leaving?’ every 10 minutes. A peek through the curtains showed the fog finally starting to break though it was still clumpy, dense in a few places. I decided to get moving and hope by the time we rolled out, it would be better.

The Fyris River in Sun & Fog

The Fyris River in Sun & Fog

Loke clipped along fairly quick when we left the storage, but most of the time, he starts out even the most sluggish rides with a brisk pace. Just ahead of us, the fog bank seemed to retreat with sun breaking though in the promise of a pretty day.

As we came down the long hill to the River, it suddenly occurred to me, this might be something new for my camera. I stopped in the center of the bridge and stood up. I’ve photographed our little Fyris River dark and smooth,  murky brown with spring melt, running with chunks of ice, frozen over, and everything in between. But never with fog. It was pretty as you can see.

In short order, we were crossing the 272 and making that first quite steep climb onto Gamla Börje Road. As I settled into the climb, the fact it was easier hit me. Usually, I creep up it in my granny gear. This time, I was crawling rather than creeping, in a higher gear and with a slightly higher cadence. Even better? No desperate gasping like a beached whale nor the impulse to stop before I passed out. I wasn’t a match for a hard core Tour de France rider, but it was good for a plump, gray-haired woman with a husky who wasn’t interested in helping. I was thrilled! A huge grin split my face.

A Gorgeous Foggy Morning

A Gorgeous Foggy Morning

So pretty...

So pretty…

My performance on that first hill just left me filled with a sense of joy and delight for the ride. Even when the grin left me as Loke and I chased the retreating fog, a happy smile still lingered. What was there not to smile about? It was a pretty day with lingering mists giving novelty to familiar surroundings, Loke, though slow, showed no sign of arthritis and clearly, my outings with the trailer were paying off even if they had been short.

Loke somewhat surprised me on one section of the ride. There’s a stretch where he’s typical tried to run because there’s what I call the ‘kitty house’ ahead. He generally starts moving more quickly about a mile or so before we reach it, eager for a glimpse of felines he’ll never be allowed to catch. This time he didn’t really do that. I guess because it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen cats there. Almost a year I think. Makes me kind of sad as it might be a sign that the charming, elderly couple who live there might now be too infirm to care for those animals they clearly loved. Every cat I ever saw (up to 8 of them) always looked, healthy and well fed.

I just love what the fog does to the scenery.

I just love what the fog does to the scenery.

There was another reason for me to grin and feel delighted on the stretch too. As we coasted down the hill from the once ‘kitty house’, an older Volvo with a brown metal-flake color came toward us. As it slowed I had to give a happy laugh and wave. The window rolled down and greetings called out. It was the lovely couple who had so very kindly rescued Loke and I from the snowy side of the road next to Börje church in February, 2012 when I’d flipped my Trice, breaking the seat, after hitting a patch of black ice. It was glorious to see them again even if only for a handful of seconds.

Obligatory Autumn Hayfield Shot

Obligatory Autumn Hayfield Shot

My increased fitness continued to prove itself as we made the turn toward Ströbylund. For about a mile or two, it’s an upward grade. From the turn off Gamla Börje Road, to the rail tracks, a steady 4-5% climb, with a brief down glide and then a steeper complex of hills before a wonderfully long plunge that can be quite fun when I don’t have Loke with me. Those climbs made me grinning again. Faster, smoother and steady even on the steeper sections. Easy breathing. I haven’t felt that good on slopes like that in ages! In truth, it increased my eagerness to drag the trailer more and with more weight!

Now THAT is a yellow tree!

Now THAT is a yellow tree!

It’s always been my plan to increase the weight of it on my ‘training runs’. Something more than the 13 lbs of the trailer itself along with my tent and a couple other items. It’s probably been just 20 lbs or so that I’ve been pulling. I need to have the weight of all my camping gear feel tolerable.

The distance along the 72 cycle path was a breeze, thanks to being mostly level and the fact that we’d had so many days with little to no wind, of which the 19th was one. Loke had been fairly sluggish for most of the way, but he began to pick up the pace as we made the turn toward the shopping center.

We followed the usual trails through the green strip winding between residential areas, but emerged sooner than usual to cross the 55. My Garmin showed a cycle path which I hoped would lead us to the rail trail.

My new GPS uses ‘MyStreetMap’ which is an open source on-line map. People like me can add roads, foot-paths, cycle paths and more to the map rather than depending on whatever other map sources put out. This time, someone got it wrong. Where a dashed blue line for a cycle path was marked was what was a very narrow and tight foot path at best. So narrow even a skinny person trying to walk it would have been getting slapped with branches from both sides. A recumbent trike with a dog attached to a running bar on one side wasn’t going on that.

Poor Loke got to weed hop...

Poor Loke got to weed hop…

There were other cycle trails displayed down a simple network of residential streets which went in the direction needed and I hoped would link with the trail I wanted. I toodled by the modern, wood sided houses and past a couple of construction sites for others. The pavement gave way to a slightly loose gravel of a road that’s very likely less than a year old. It ended in a gravelly patch next to a pair of fenced pastures. Between the two wood and wire fences ran a narrow trail. It was passable though Loke took the brunt of having to push and bound through the weeds even with my left wheel rolling through them on the opposite side. I thought for sure we would come out of it covered in ticks. Surprisingly not a single one!

This is more like it! Loke loved it too!

This is more like it! Loke loved it too!

Just a short stretch of less than a quarter mile and the terrain and trail changed for the better. I gave a happy sigh at the improvement and Loke’s tail raised, waving like a joyful flag. It was still a bit tight when a girl on a bike came toward us. I had to cram Loke tight in to the undergrowth with a few branches in my own face to let her pass.

The ground dropped giving us a bit of a brisk going where even Loke wanted to run. At the bottom of the decline everything opened back up into fields. It was much wider, but also rougher with chunky gravel that had quite a few good sized stones to jar me around. Clearly, it wasn’t going to join the rail trail, but I knew where I was.

We pushed on, following other trails including one with a very steep hill. I still needed my granny gear and my cadence was waaaaaay down to creep up by inches. In spite of that, I didn’t feel as bad as I would have back in August or something. It was hard, I was breathing heavy, but not gasping. Slow, but the hill in no way killed me. I count it a victory still.

I wanted to join the city forest in a particular spot, so followed paths, roads and trails both familiar and unfamiliar. The familiar ones were ones I’d not been on in some years, so it was still good.

I was pedalling past a school where the students were outside, getting fresh air and exercise, something American school children are becoming unfamiliar with. Suddenly, one boy broke away from the others kicking a soccer ball around. I stopped as he ran up, eyes wide was saucers and a wondering smile on his face. “What a cool bike!” he said, not even giving Loke a glance. “You like it?” I asked. He nodded vigorously. I was about to offer letting him sit on it, but then his friends called and he went back to them with wistful glances over his shoulder.

Just Lovely!

Just Lovely!

I gave him a wave and headed on toward another wooded patch with trails running through it. It was another steepish climb, but pleasant for the surroundings.

I made a wrong turn in that tangle. While I was scooching the trike forward and back with my feet to make a multi-point turn, a young woman came jogging along the trail. She gave me a worried look as I again pushed the trike backward with my feet, dragging Loke along in reverse, “Are you okay?”

I laughed and assured her I was fine, just the trike didn’t turn as easily as a bike. I thought it very nice of her ask as if willing to help if I needed it.

The trail ended in another somewhat familiar area. I was tempted to take a left turn toward a lovely lane and trail that passed through horse pastures and then a wooded nature reserve. It’s an area Jens and I walk sometimes, I’ve cycled perhaps a handful of times and Loke absolutely adores. By this time, we’d already ridden some 10-11 miles with more to go. I wanted a new ‘long’ ride for the Garmin 1000, but that didn’t mean I wanted to flatten Loke. I’m being as careful about building him up as I am about myself with dragging the trailer. 20+ miles just felt like too much too soon, particularly with the Bornholm trip fast approaching.

So, I contented myself with looking for one of the trails that would connect to the city forest. I found one, but it turned out not to be manageable. It was open enough, but sooooo choked with roots and rocks. It needed a lot of very slow careful maneuvering even with my 26″ rear wheel. After about 50 yards or so, I decided I didn’t want to continue on at 1 mph for even just a quarter mile more. I wriggled my way back to kinder ground.

Instead, I followed small roads until I came to a crossing right at a much better portion of the Linne Path through the city forest.

My plan to ride south through the forest and then back north along the eastern edge of it before coming out somewhere at the northern end was abandoned. I was starting to feel tired and we had about another 4 miles or home. Still, we went with good speed through the forest. The trails of packed earth and leaf litter through foresty areas are Loke absolute favorite and he really likes to get moving on them above all others.

We emerged at the parking where Jens and leave the car for our walks there. Loke was still happy to move briskly for the long downglide toward the city center.

Before we made it too far from the parking lot, a call out slowed me down. A man waved from the other side of the road and said something. I asked, ‘What?’ and he hurried across the road, dodging a couple cars. Enter Azadi. An Armenian who’s parents had immigrated with him to Sweden when he was 12 or so. Very, very chatty. He was fascinated with the trike, interested in Loke. He loves to run and cycle and has a dream of riding a bike from Sweden to the town of his birth in Armenia. He was very interested in the fact that I loved cycling so much, and kept saying that he wished some of his friends shared his interest in exercise, running and riding, but alas. He asked if my husband or any of my friends share my interest in riding. I answered that Loke was the only one.

He asked me for my phone number, which I declined. He asked if he could leave his number with me and maybe we could go exercise together. Since I ride so slow, he said, he’d run while I pedalled. I made no promises, but let him type the number into my phone. I even let him try sitting on the trike. Predictably, with his height, most of it seeming to be long legs, he could barely put foot to the pedals without folding himself completely in half because the boom has to be so short for my runty stature.

I don’t know. I felt a little uncomfortable with hope of us running/cycling around together. It could be just my solitary nature making me feel that way as I’ve been very ‘lone wolf’ for quite a long time now. Excepting Jens of course.

I finally managed to say good-bye (over half an hour later) and continued the easy coast down to the river area. There were no stops at the American Food Store this time or even for ice cream.

We made it home under sunny skies with no trace of fog and 16.5 miles. I slept like a log that night.

Saturday was a rest day for me and Loke. My muscles felt like they’d done something, which is a nice feeling.

Yesterday, Sunday, Sept 21, Loke and I went out around noonish for a River Loop. It was mildly warm… or cool depending how one looks at it. Overcast. Not a gleam of sun to be seen which was quite a change from the past week or more. At least we still had wonderfully calm air. I took the car, parking it close to the storage as I didn’t want to lug camera bag, handlebar bag and my black pod bags with 3 liters of water and various other small items for half a mile.

As I worked to hitch the trailer and get everything in order, a pair of kids came walking across the parking lot. A boy of about 7 and a girl perhaps 5. As golden haired as cherubs and cute as buttons both of them. The girl stopped a short distance away as the boy went on, swinging a grocery bag full of trash and juggling the keys to the garbage shed. After a moment, she quietly asked if she could pet Loke. I smiled and said of course!

Loke was on his best behavior in spite of getting ready for a run. The girl smiled adorably, saying how soft Loke’s fur was. Finally the boy came over, holding out his hand for Loke to sniff. “What breed is he?”, he asked, sounding older than his years.

He looked a little confused when I said, ‘Siberian Husky’. I’m sure my very American accent didn’t help. I added it was a breed of sled dog and he brightened. We chatted a little longer, while Loke covered them in fur and even deigned to give him his version of kisses, which involves smooshing nose into whatever available face part is in reach. Finally the boy gave Loke one last pat, reluctantly saying they had to go or their dad would worry. I understood and sent them off with waves.

On all the trailer rides, I’ve been avoiding the cycle path which runs through a frisbee golf course. We take it regularly without the trailer, but there’s one steep hill I didn’t want to try with the extra weight. The same can be said of all the steeper hills I know about. This time, I tested myself. The trailer weighs about 13 lbs empty and I’ve been dragging along a few bits of camping gear of about 5 lbs or a little more.

I made it! Dragging the trailer up it now actually felt no more difficult than say… climbing the hill without it back before I started trailer-training. Maybe even a smidge easier. That solidified my decision that when I go next it will be with a large soda bottle of water added to the rest. I probably should replace everything with soda bottles. That way when I stop to run in to the American Food Store, a nosey, opportunistic thief peeking under the cover will find nothing of value. Unless they’re desperate enough for the 1 kr return on the bottles.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I did a brief workout at the log exercise park which is becoming a habit. By the time I was getting everything back into storage, the gray skies were looking distinctly more threatening with thickening clouds.

I was right! Jens took Loke for a walk around 4 pm and it was a soggy husband and husky that returned to the apartment. It’s appeared to have rained all night and well into this morning. As for the calm air we’ve had for a week or more? It seems to be making up for its stillness with a vengeance. Leaves hissing and fluttering as limbs get lashed around by roaring gusts.

My streak of riding every other day, with the exception of twice this month, will be broken yet again this week. I hope to get in another 2 rides by Wednesday, but after that, I will be getting focused for Bornholm. Definitely a ride on Wednesday, perhaps one today if the rain stops or tomorrow. It will mean two days-two rides, but I’m fine with those as a sort of testing/training for the tours I hope to do next year as well as the rides on the island.

Thursday and Friday will be given over to laundry and packing which is still recovery from cycling. Most of Saturday will be spent in the car for the long haul south to Ystad. I want to be good and recovered for Bornholm. That said, our ferry on Sunday is sometime in the early afternoon. Depending on how things are packed, I might go for a toodle around Ystad in the morning. Obviously I’ll skip it if we can’t get the trike out without dragging everything out of the car. It’s a small town, but it looks to have a lovely old center around its church. Should be good for a couple miles, some photos and a chance for Loke to stretch his legs before we get on the ferry.

In spite of the fact that winds on Bornholm most often seem to rage between 22-30+ mph, I’m looking forward to the trip. Just need to finish planning!

Of Voles and Lenses
September 18, 2014, 5:10 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Things are rolling on.

I broke my ‘every other day’ streak thanks to a bit of a cold. Jens still really wanted me to go ride, but I was congested enough that a short walk with the dog left me breathless. The idea of cranking up a hill like that… (shudder).

I went for a ride on the 14th. Loke’s been full of energy after most rides of late, so I decided to take him for something a little further. Given how long since we’d done the Ulva/Gamla Uppsala loop, I decided to do that one. Not hugely longer than the 10-12 miles we’ve gotten from time to time, but at least some miles in the middle that we’ve not seen in a while.

It was a perfect day. Flawless blue skies lacking even jet trails to marr the azure dome above. The temperature was ideal for a ride with the fuzzy and I could actually walk faster than the wind it was so calm. I wasn’t the only one out to enjoy the amazing day. There were road cyclists speeding along in their spandex everywhere on the roads.

Then there was an incident that took the shine from the day and the smile from my lips. We were making the approach to Disa Gården when Loke suddenly perked up and tried to pull us into a wild charge. Just 30 yards or so in front of us a small furry creature was skittering across the road. A vole!

Delight became horror as a car suddenly swerved around me to pass from behind. I watched it bearing down on the helpless little critter, sick in the knowledge that if the car had been able to stay on its side of the road it would have been fine.

Somehow, the tire missed by fractions of an inch. If something as big as a car hits something as tiny as a vole, it’s going to be obvious. Still the vole tumbled and laid still.

Sick in the stomach, I rolled to a stop by it and got up. It was kind of curled on its back. I gave it a nudge. It slowly rolled to its feet and sat there. Another nudge. It wobbled in circles. Not a good sign though perhaps it was only stunned rather than truly injured.

Feeling completely helpless and guilty besides, I looked around as cars arrived, backing up in both directions. I didn’t really care. Finally I picked the poor thing up with as great a care as I could, both to avoid getting bitten and hurting it. I went down into the weeds at the ditch to gently tuck it in a sheltered hollow made of the plants there. Still feeling quite bad about the whole thing, I returned to the trike and went on, having done what I could for the creature.

Still, it bothered me for most of the evening. Not knowing if it had survived and gone on its luck blessed day or if it had expired from shock or some internal injuries. Only the second time I’ve seen a vole and I might have been a contributor to its death.

Not a happy thought.

I arrived back at the storage with 13.6 miles and a heavy heart.

Monday was a rest day for Loke and I. It was also a day Jens and I finally broke down to get a replacement camera lens. We’ve been waffling over our choices since the last time the old lens acted out. We wanted it settled since our trip to Bornholm is fast approaching. I would have been an unhappy camper if we arrived at Bornholm with so much for me to see and have the close range lens die.

We went with a slightly higher end lens, one that will be perfectly useable on an camera upgrade once we decide to replace the current Canon. It has a bit longer range on the close end, meaning photos of buildings with little distance will be more difficult, requiring stitching overlapping photos more often.

It wasn’t until we got it home that I realized what a monster it is compared to the old lens. Over twice the size and weight of the original. No way it can fit into my handlebar bag if it’s connected to the camera. No how am I going to ride around with lens and camera in different areas. I would at least like a chance to photograph something like deer or such as I ride around. If I had to fumble around with assembling the lens to the camera, that can’t happen. The critters would be long gone… except for snails.

I pulled out my old camera bag and camera with lens just fits. Snug as a tailor made glove for it to lay in the bottom. That’s a bit disappointing as it’s not as convenient to pull it out from the bag slug over my seat as it is from the handlebar bag, but such is life.

Monday, I was also feeling the first effects of the cold. Sore throat with ear aches. That night I slept poorly, waking up with gritty eyes combined with the previous days discomforts. Needless to say, I didn’t go for a ride though it meant breaking my ‘every other day’ streak. I’ve broken it a couple times before, but by going for rides for two days in a row rather than two rideless days in a row.

Yesterday (another stunning one though with puffy clouds), I decided to go to the American Food store, dragging the trailer along. I added distance to that though, by heading for the City Forest. Loke was pretty sluggish for most of the time. He perked up a bit once we reached the forest. Jens called while we were there, which gave Loke a real boost. I think he believed Jens was somewhere in the woods and he had to find him! He was pulling so hard against his harness in collar, his breath rasped.

Thankfully, he settled down by the time we emerged and started rolling down toward the city center and the river.

We arrived back at the storage with 13.5 miles.

Both of those rides, Loke’s barely given any indication of arthritis. Always great!

I took a few photos with the new lens yesterday as well. Not sure I’m thrilled with it. It could be I just need to get used to the settings.

Lens Test

Lens Test

This is a photo I took of Loke while playing with the lens. There’s a method of taking portraits which blurs the background to make the subject stand out better. This is what I came out with. Loke looks nice and the scenery blurs, but the trees on the upper left have a peculiar look. It’s as if they were badly cropped out of another photo and pasted in. Not pleasing at all.

Really makes me nervous about keeping it.

Supposed to be another nice day. I might go out for another ride because I hope to do laundry tomorrow. Riding so much, I have to do lots of laundry to keep my limited cycle clothes clean! Of course, if I do laundry, I don’t have time to go for rides so if I want to keep riding at least every other day, I need to do a two-day-in-a-row cluster.

Blog Slacking…
September 9, 2014, 12:13 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I have been riding. Honestly. Since the 29th of August, I’ve managed to get out the door every other day! All of them have been around Uppsala with very few photos which lessens the impulse to post.

Of course, that means I get to play a sort of catch up.

Loke’s fine now. Whatever made him limp on three legs passed quickly and hasn’t reared its head again, leaving my fuzzy with all his toes. He did end up going back to the vet shortly after getting treated for the mystery foot injury though. He had eye surgery to remove odd little growths on his eye-lid back before the foot incident. On his left lid, he’s had it removed 4 times. Just keeps coming back. This time, he had one on his right lower eyelid as well which is a new development. The vet biopsied them this time, but it’s just something to do with capillaries. What causes them and why it keeps coming back, no clue, but at least it’s not something malignant.

Well, the surgery site on both eyes had appeared to heal just fine, but then the one on the left started swelling. Subtly at first, then within two days it just seemed to balloon. Turned out it had developed an infection. The vet cleaned it out and gave me antibiotic cream to use for 7 days. He’s fine now. It didn’t even slow him down to be honest. I didn’t bother to stop cycling him.

Most of the rides have been on the River Loop. One was through the north-eastern portion of Uppsala to drop something off with my MIL. A few others were along the western edge of Uppsala and then through the downtown.

One of the River Loop rides, something very annoying happened. I’d been in a bad mood that morning, peevish and almost sullen about the ride, actually. My mood took an even darker turn when passing the school to head for the first underpass, there was a ‘pop’. Suddenly the helmet was wobbling around on my head. Frowning, I took it off and discovered the plastic, adjustable headband had snapped right in two near where the knob tightens it down.

At first I was outraged it had broken ‘so soon’ after purchase. Then I had to laugh. So soon? It was over 2 years old! Still, the Jens’ helmet, which he’d given me, had lasted over 6 years! However long he used it, then however long it just sat around the apartment before I started cycling with it, ending its career by bouncing it off the road with my head inside it when the Trice flipped. That had been a cheap thing and was only retired after it sustained an impact. My Scott had been quite pricey and taken no blows, yet it broke in a measly 2.5 years?!

Okay, so it still irritates me.

It had broken on a Sunday. The next morning, Jens purposely left the car with me and charged me with replacing the helmet. The man even went so far as to say, “Even if you do nothing else with the day, get a new helmet!” Clearly, he was determined that I miss no opportunities to ride due to lack of a working helmet.

Replacing the last helmet had been an ordeal. Took almost 2 weeks and searching various shops to find something I didn’t hate and that seemed to fit well over a cap to keep the sun out of my eyes. The tiny plastic brims on cycle helmets are less than useless for really keeping the sun out of the eyes let alone off at least a portion of the face. Unless one is riding at the equator during high noon, the sun is on your face or in your eyes… or it’s at your back. Clearly this was before I had the Da Brim.

After getting the Da Brim, I still had to ride with a cap under the helmet because it was too big other wise. So, the break at least gave me the opportunity to get a helmet that could fit without a hat beneath it!

Unexpectedly, I found a replacement very quickly. I’d expected to run all over town and end up ‘settling’ for one I wasn’t quite satisfied with. Nope. I went into one of the larger cycle shop chains first off and made a direct line for the helmet section. I was out of there in less than 15 minutes. Most of that time was actually spent trying on cycle shoes that were on sale for half price.

The helmet I bought was the second one I picked up. I like it much better than the Scott. I love the way the straps are situated so they don’t rub around on my ears like every other helmet I’ve ever tried on. It settles snug in place just with the chin strap fastened, which does not feel like it’s strangling me. Comfortable to ride with even lacking a hat, but it will adjust to fit my winter cycling cap with the ear flaps just fine. Silly as it sounds, I’m completely giddy over my new helmet. Who ever would have thought I’d be excited and happy with a helmet rather than regarding it as nothing more than an uncomfortable nuisance at best?

When he saw it, Jens almost winced as he asked how much I’d paid for it. Apparently, the brand is one of the more popular higher end. ‘Specialized’ if I remember correctly. He blinked when I gave a figure about 1/3 the cost of the last one. Oh, and the adjustable head band is vastly more robust in appearance. The plastic strap that moves through the knob when it’s turned is almost an inch wide compared to the 1/4 inch of the Scott’s. I made a point of checking that.

But riding with it has been really nice. Cooler since I don’t need the hat under it. I still carry it with me, because having a water resistant hat over my hair will be nicer during rain. Can’t stand to have rain creeping over my scalp and then down the face. Even in mild to moderate wind gusts, the helmet with the Da Brim sits rather securely. I haven’t yet had the helmet flapping around at the back of my head and strangling me. Now that I think about it, I’ve not had to hang on to the brim. There’s not been much high speed or high winds to test it fully, but enough that I can tell it’s an improvement.

A ride I did a few days after replacing helmets, turned into something of a torturous adventure. For some reason, I took it into my head to ride to Hågadalen, onward to the City Forest before taking the usual way to downtown Uppsala and then home. Things went fine until we reached Hågadalen. It was a touch on the warmer side. Swedish summer kinda warm. Upper 70’s are about the limit for taking Loke out without worrying over much.

From Hågadalen, maps showed a cycle path across the little dale where it would have emerged in an area not far from the southern area of the City Forest. Only, I took the wrong path because I didn’t notice the correct one. It was much too narrow for my trike. The slightly wider path was barely navigatable. Just enough room for my front wheels with a smidge for Loke to squeeze through from time to time. Most of it, he had to push and bound through the weeds that leaned over. Thistle burrs got stuck on my shirt, the handlebar bag, in Loke’s fur.

I didn’t really notice at first when I started itching. I was more focused on trying to figure out if I was on the correct path. The itch got worse. It was on my cheeks, neck, arms, chest, stomach, thighs and shoulders. It was a burning kind of sting. I started squirming and scratching. “This feels just like nettles!” I thought to myself. I took a closer look at the dried plants along the trail edge. Some of them had leaf shapes suspiciously like nettles, though being brown and dead made it hard to be certain. Those desiccated plants, often had these white, hair like puffs on them. I raised my itchy arm up nearly to my nose to peer closely at the sleeve. Worked right into the fabric and down into the skin beneath were short, white strands like tiny needles. I’d found the cause. Nature’s own version of fiberglass. I’d rolled past them, the trike or my shoulder smacking into them to turn those white puffs into nearly microscopic needles that had worked into cloth and skin. Every movement was like twisting the individual shards like daggers in flesh. Even the light little wind gusts made it itch and burn worse.

In the midst of this merry hell, I discovered I was on the wrong path. To go on meant miles more of nettle lined nightmare. Going back was perhaps a half mile. I turned back.

Jens called to say he was home early though still had work to do. I didn’t ask him to come get me, miserable as I was. I under no circumstances did I want those bits of nettles working into the car seat. It was an agonizing ride home. I wouldn’t recommend the experience. I didn’t fluff around with the city forest and such either. Just took the most direct way home I could think of while planning how to deal with my clothing. It’s sitting wrapped in two layers of plastic grocery bags waiting for laundry day where I will wash it at least 2 times, without any other clothing, in hopes of getting those needles all out.

I’m just glad Loke was unaffected. The worst of it he seemed to suffer was me pulling the big, honking thistle burrs out of his fur.

That was really the only ‘exciting’ ride of all those since the one to Enköping.

That’s not to say there’s not been another development that impacts cycling. I think it was last Thursday, which happened to be after the Nightmare Nettle Ride, Jens asked if we could go look at a storage space. He’d gotten an offer for us to rent it in the mail. His idea was that if it was close enough, we could actually store the trike in it, fully assembled. If the walk wasn’t too far, it might be easier than wrestling it in and out of the car, fastening the seat and bags on. Certainly easier than getting it in and out of the apartment.

Knowing how much having the trikes clutter car and apartment drives him crazy, I agreed. He doesn’t often speak out about it, but I know it’s there. We found it easily enough, a bit past the local grocery. The first ‘rent’ would be for 3 months and then we’d be able to cancel any time after that. The more he talked about it, the more eager he became at the idea. I told him I was willing to try.

So, he put down the first 3 months rent and got the keys on Friday evening. To see how bad the walk might be, we went down there on foot to get a look at the inside. Turns out to be right around a half mile. Not too bad if my feet and back are in one piece. Jens was probably as close to bouncing with excitement as I’ve ever seen him, stoic Swedish male that he is.

Jens doesn’t just want my old Trice to join the Sprint there in pieces. He wants me to reassemble it, get the gears working and have it fully rideable. He believes it would be a great idea for me to use it for solo rides where I know I won’t be on gravel roads or near big rocks. I think he knows I sometimes feel nostalgic for the greater speeds of the Trice. Pity I can’t just adapt the Trice to him and get him to ride with me.

He said any time he’s home, he’ll pick me up and drop me off at the garage if I want, no complaints. Would could store the trailer and camping gear there too. Maybe I should ride it all over that evening! He really wants this work.

I managed to put him off for a couple days on that. Actually, I went for a River Loop ride on Saturday, ending it at the garage. It really confused Loke, us passing the final turn to our apartment.

The next day, Jens dropped me off at the place. I discovered I can’t (yet) pedal up the slope to street level. I’ll have to push or drag the trike that far at least. Loke and I left from there to the nearest connection to the River Loop. I followed that around to our apartment. Then I had Jens carry out the trailer full of the camping gear. Then I headed out like I normally would to start the River Loop, turning off to go the storage with the trailer rattling behind me. Jens came to get me when I called.

Monday was a rest day from the cycling. Today, was the true test of how well this new arrangement will work.

Lessons learned so far. I will need to use a backpack to get my cycle shoes and handlebar bag to the trikes. Carrying them in a bag is just not going to cut it. Also, I really hate walking along the roads in my cycle clothes. I look silly, even downright goofy in brightly colored lycra. I can deal with it on my trike, because then there’s clearly a purpose to it. Randomly wandering down the streets? I was almost squirming with self-consciousness and embarrassment. Still, I’d feel a lot weirder changing in the storage space, so I’ll just have to suck that up.

Beyond that, the walk wasn’t too bad. My feet are much improved of late which helped. I still possessed enough stamina in my back to drag, first the trailer, then the trike up the ramp and get things hitched. I’m going to try riding with the trailer and some weight in it on a regular basis to train myself up for a tour. I think I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of a tour this year because I just feel the trailer would kill me for extended distances over multiple days. We’ll see.

So, we rattled down to the grocery where Loke waited outside while I shopped some milk and such to pitch in the trailer. Then we clattered back the way we came to hook up with what is (for now) the new beginning of the River Loop. 3.9-ish miles later, I parked the trike in it’s usual place under the balcony. Jens didn’t have a chance to walk Loke today, so I’ll take him for another outing with the trike. I’ll carry a few more trike related things to the storage with the trailer.

I don’t feel too bad about the experiment so far. I really would like to make this work. It would make Jens happy. Besides, the extra half mile walk there and back can’t hurt exercise wise, I hope.

One last piece of news. In early October, Jens and I have booked a trip to Bornholm, a Danish island just off the southern Swedish coast. We’ll drive to Ystad on Saturday where we’ll stay over night before catching a ferry Sunday morning. Then 4 full days on the island before starting back home.

It’s a small island. Not even 25 miles long as the crow flies and around 15 miles wide. We’re staying at the northern end in an apartment overlooking the Baltic… or is it the North Sea? Not sure where the transition between those two rests. It will be much nicer for Jens than say on Öland, where we were staying at the north and it was over 85 miles to the southern tip.

I’m quite excited about going! There’s a bunch of churches. 4 of them are gorgeous round churches. There’s also runestones, menhirs (standing stones), dolmens (stacked stones), stone/bronze age rock carvings, a couple castle ruins, a ruined Viking age fort, a cave near the sea which legend says was the home of a hermit who came to the island to preach Christianity to the non-Christian inhabitants, a long barrow which I hope to find and of course, burial grounds and the like. One spot I’m most eager to visit, has earthworks dating back some 2000 years. It also has a neolithic ‘sun ring’ and a number of woodhenges (think Stonehenge, but wood beams instead of stone slabs) dated to be over 5000 years old. Really old archeology makes me giddy! Still can’t beat 15000+ year old cave paintings, but still!

Okay! I think that’s me caught up over the past couple weeks. Now to finish plotting and planning for Bornholm!