Terii’s Cycling Babble


Do I or Don’t I?
October 9, 2014, 11:18 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Write up a post for the 2 consecutive site-seeing days that is. To show off a 5000+ year old site that was once covered with woodhenges and Bronze Age earthworks? A second castle ruin that was little more than a few tumbled walls on top of a small, very steep hillock? At least I don’t have to throw in another round church into the mix as I did cycle to it, but I’ll get to that.

I woke on October 1st and there was no way I was going out for another ride in spite of having felt great the day before. Two days of hard climbs (Ystad and 1st ride on Bornholm) combined with nearly 20 miles with no rest days between had finally caught up with me. My legs were okay for flat ground, but as soon as it started to slope or I had to step up, it was a titanic effort. Climbing the hill of the other castle ruin was like surmounting Everest.

The Wind-Tossed Baltic

The Wind-Tossed Baltic

It didn’t help that the winds had kicked up. The sea outside our vacation apartment had started crashing and roaring the evening of October 2nd. The previous two days on Bornholm, I’d been very fortunate. Before the trip over, I spent about a month checking the forecast for the island every few days. Winds were consistently in the 20-30+ mph range. Not surprising being a small island with nothing to stop the wind across water. But a hill into the teeth of the wind and I would have stalled. I might have stalled on my first 4% or greater grade even without the wind.

So, I declared it a rest day. Jens and I drove around the island looking at some of the things I really wanted to see, but didn’t think I’d be able to reach by cycling in the time remaining.

The morning after that (October 2nd), I didn’t feel much in terms of recovery. Walking slopes and stairs remained a challenge. It frustrated me. Then it struck me that my diet hadn’t had much protein on the vacation. Some fruits and vegetables with a heavy side of starchy carbs, but very light on protein. I told Jens I wondered if that was stalling my recovery. Bless him. When he next wandered into a grocery in search of our evening dinner, he came out with a lovely T-bone steak for me. It was soooo good.

Then I crossed my fingers. Our ferry was for October 3rd and Jens really wanted me to go for a ride. Mostly he wanted it done because of Loke. It was 6-8 hours of long haul back to Uppsala once we stepped off the ferry around 4 pm and it might be more endurable for the fuzzy if he had a few miles under his paws. I agreed with the concept, but given how weak and achy my legs were, I was dreading the ride. The thought the day might be windy on top of it made me feel a bit queasy, as if my sea-sickness was getting a headstart.

On the morning of the 3rd, my awakening in the predawn was one of silence. Just Loke softly woofing in the midst of some dream from where he lay on his pillow bed at the foot of our bed. No whine of wind along the edges of the metal stair railings to the upper level apartments and no roaring thunder of waves dashing on rocks.

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

When the sun rose, it was beautiful. The Baltic was nearly flat with only a hint of wind to ruffle the waters and blur what would otherwise have been mirrored stillness. The rising sun turned banks and skeins of fog into amazing shades of pearl and gray with a hint of peach tones here and there.

Seeing such beautiful if foggy weather lifted my spirits though trepidation still made me edgy. Would I be able to make it up the first hills?

When I finally started getting ready, I felt even more hopeful. Though not a 100%, I felt vastly improved over the previous two days. Only a hint of ache and weakness lingered in my legs as I plodded up the hill to the car with the first load of packing to leave in my arms. Jens had kindly offered to bring Loke up once I had the trike ready, to spare whatever energy I had for the ride to come. It was also convenient for him to bring up another bag or two to put in the car.

Loke was raring to go once he was hitched to the trike. He fought my efforts to keep him from galloping like a maddened beast. It became even more difficult when he saw another dog trotting along with his master on a bike.

The man turned onto a rough dirt track between two of the roadside houses. I gave him a few moments to let him and the dog get ahead before following. It was a bit rutted with erosion, studded with rocks, some as big as my head, as well as climbing at about a 6% grade. Up I went. It didn’t feel too bad.

A cycle strip.

A cycle strip.

I followed the Garmin’s map along what plotted a cycle path. A little surprising to find that it was little more than a strip of packed dirt in the middle of a mowed strip.

Along here, Loke started to go completely nuts. We saw our first rabbit of the day. Then another and another. Fuzzy bunnies bolting around everywhere with flashes of white from their cottony tails.

Ahhh, yes. The rabbits. I’d completely forgotten to mention them. We saw our first one early in the horror ride of September 29th. As we climbed our way up a silly steep hill to reach Allinge’s rail-trail, I spotted a small, inky black bunny. A couple miles later in that outing, yet another, also dark as pitch. I’d almost started to believe the island was populated with tiny black rabbits the way Skansen Zoo/Museum has black squirrels running all over the place.

That turned out to be a fluke. The third rabbit we saw was the usual gray brown and lived in the area of the apartments’ parking lot. Loke nearly got fangs in that one. If Jens had been a second slower spotting where it crouched, blending nearly perfectly with the gravel in the dim night lit only by a street light some yards off. Loke had bolted and Jens yanked him short, teeth less than a foot from the rabbit’s head. It sprinted off only after Loke had been brought to a sharp stop. I really would have hated trying to pry a dying rabbit out of my husky’s mouth. *shudder*

That rabbit or one, perhaps more, of it’s friends spent the rest of the vacation playing hide-n-seek with Loke.

So, there we were, me pedalling along with Loke in a heightened state of prey drive being taunted by rabbits running everywhere. By the time we reached that same insanely steep hill leading up to the rail trail, we’d seen over a dozen. Not one of them black.

Those rabbits actually helped quite a bit getting up the hill. Loke was so desperate to find the next he nearly strangled himself on the harness. We made it, though I did it with gritted teeth and blowing like a bellows. My cadence was probably less than 30 RPM as I tried to spare my knees. As the strain eased upon cresting the climb, I gave an ‘ARRRAAGHH!!’ cry like weight-lifters sometimes give as they push for those final reps. Then I turned onto the rail tail before flopping back in the seat to gulp air. Loke endured that for about 10 seconds before stomping his front paws and whining at me. The bully.

From there, I had a bit of flat and tiny bit of downhill.

We came back out on the main northern road into and out of Allinge. It saved me from trying to wind through the narrow streets of the village, struggling to climb smooth cobbles slick with condensation from the fog. I called Jens to tell him I was aiming for Olsker which was about 3 miles away.

I made the turn past the village fire station and we were off in earnest…. up hill. From roughly a half mile all we did was climb for 2.25 mile, except for about a 75 yard section where there might have been a -1% grade. Maybe.

Misty Morning

Misty Morning

It wasn’t as hard as I expected, but it wasn’t exactly fun. Another portion of the climbing, my brain started playing tricks on me. We crested a steeper section and in my eyes it looked for all the world as if I was being blessed with a -2% or even -3% down slope. Loke and I sped up, ticking along at about 6 mph. But my GPS and the fact I had to pedal the entire way told the truth of a 2% or 3% climb.

Ols Church

Ols Church

Just as I finally saw the first hint we were entering Olsker, there was a lovely downhill glide. I reveled in it and Loke stretched his legs into his ‘sulky-horse trot’ of about 9 mph, tongue flopping in a husky grin. Through the little village/town it was delightfully flat as we cruised through toward the church, who’s conical roof covered in wood shakes showed above the trees.

Jens and I had gone to Ols Church, a round one, during one of the site seeing days. There was a nominal fee to get in which I always favor for the upkeep of cultural heritage sites. I cheerfully paid to get a look inside and was not disappointed. Since it was just a little way off the main road I planned to continue down, I crossed over and went the 100 or so yards to the parking lot for a loop around. That way, I can say I rode to the church and can show it off in my cycling blog with a clear conscience. It’s silly to worry about little details like that, particularly as I posted photos of France and Germany like a mad woman when the trike never so much as touched tires to those foreign soils. But then, I can be a silly sort of person… as my cycling outfit proves.

These aren't stairs! It's a mountain goat playground!

These aren’t stairs! It’s a mountain goat playground!

Not for the clausterphobic

Not for the clausterphobic

 

St. Ols Interior - Really could have used the tripod.

St. Ols Interior – Really could have used the tripod.

Bears mentioning, the stairs in the above photos were wedge shaped (as you can see) and alternated the wider ends on the left or right. Meaning if you went up in the wrong order, you could be clinging on to a tiny platform with your toes instead of a good solid support with your entire foot. Fun! As for the passage through the wall? Perhaps 30 inches across… maybe a couple less. Not for claustrophobics!

Before I left the parking lot, I called Jens to ask if I should call an end to the ride. It had been only about 3 miles, took about an hour or little more with an elevation gain of 269 feet. He encouraged me to go further as we still had plenty of time before the ferry. So off we went!

The distance between Allinge and Olsker was the worst of the climbing though we did mostly go up in a general sort of way for the next 2 miles by some 92 feet. But it was in a series of gentler grades and with some moments of enjoying the relaxation of downhill. Coast softly down a short distance, then another climb of perhaps 4%-5%, coast, climb, etc…

Icelandic Cuteness!

Icelandic Cuteness!

The clouds which had thickened a little since getting started, began to break up again. The scenery awoke some, though the fog remained.

A gentle landscape of mists

A gentle landscape of mists

After about mile 6, the landscape took pity on me, becoming almost flat. Loke? He needed no pity from the land. My husky was a machine, well honed to a task and determined to do it speedily and well. He trotted along as fast as he was allowed, either by me or the hills, refused more than a couple laps of water when it was offered and always impatient to move on. This was no 9 and a half year old animal. He was strong and vibrant, in his glorious prime. Not the least little hint of arthritis either. I wanted to laugh with pure joy of it.

It was roughly 11 am when I came rolling into Klemensker. It occurred to me I’d not heard from Jens since Olsker roughly 5 miles previous. I had a slight start when I looked at my phone and it showed 5 missed calls and a text from the hubby. I’d never heard a peep from it.

Jens was starting to feel antsy about the ferry. I was admittedly a little disappointed when he asked if I could end the ride. My feeling about it had gone from dread to delight and I was now sad to call it done. Actually kicked myself for not having started sooner. Most of the remaining distance between Klemsker and Rønne is gently down with a few soft climbs. If I’d had a couple more hours, I might have been able to ride all the way from Allinge to Rønne. Still, I really didn’t want to stress the hubby. So, I told him to pick me up at the church.

Jens walked Loke around while I repacked the car, Tetris-ing everything in place. When it came time to go, Loke leaped in behind the front seats where we’d put his huge pillow bed. He flopped over onto his back, paws tucked close to his body as he gave us an adorable tail wag. Too funny.

The ferry ride back was on nice and calm seas. Crowded though. Several busloads of kids in their early to mid-teens roamed around and many others. It seems like the entire population of Bornholm runs for mainland Sweden come week’s end, I swear. Our seats were less than ideal, being a kind of bench in a through way between the two sides of the catamaran. I kept Loke laying down with my legs over him so people wouldn’t step on him. Some kids came to say hi to him and ask questions. There was no sea-sickness. The ferry’s incidental movements felt more like being on a train than boat.

The drive back was long. I managed as much of it as I could before Jens took over around 8 pm. We made it back home around midnight.

The next day, Saturday, October 4th, Jens actually wheedled me into yet another ride though I was feeling the effects of a collective elevation gain of just under 500 feet over the 8.68 mile ride, 300 of it during the first 3 miles. There was at least a purpose to it. Get the trike back to the storage. Tired and achy as I felt, it didn’t stop me from whimsically deciding to extend the ride to the American Food Store in downtown. I haven’t added the ride to any of my tracking software, but I think it came to roughly 5 miles. Jens came to get me from the storage place rather than make me walk home, loaded with shopping.

Since then, the weather has turned mostly miserable. One day of a steady, moderately heavy rain which turned some streets into a lakes. Yesterday started off pretty miserable, though cleared gloriously later when I had errands which took into Stockholm so no riding. I’ve been fighting an annoying low grade cold which increases my reluctant to risk getting chilled in such wet conditions. It all serves to frustrate my attempts at riding every other day (minimum).

It’s supposed to turn around this weekend. Fingers crossed!

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