Terii’s Cycling Babble

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!

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