Terii’s Cycling Babble

2014 Year End Totals
December 26, 2014, 10:03 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I know I’ve been quiet again. My rides have been few and far between. The physical impact of my hypertension medication has just worn me down. Everything hurts. Wash a few dishes by hand and my shoulders, arms, neck and back feel like I’ve been at it for hours. Walking a quarter mile is like a 50 mile forced march over rough terrain. I went to the gym and 5 reps on any of the machines had me nearly in tears with the muscle pain. Quite embarrassing as I went at 9:30 am instead of 5 am. Humiliating even.

Turns out it’s a not-uncommon side effect of one of the three medications for my blood pressure. Nothing for me to do but suffer. It’s left my mood quite low.

While before I was sucking it up to grit my teeth for 5 – 7 mile river loops, there’s been another complication in the cycling issue. The weather turned.

In early December, it was still looking as if this winter was going to be as warm, wet and dreary as any on the Mississippi Gulf Coast 1000 or more miles further south. Then we started getting colder. Little icy snaps that turned the wet on the pavement into treacherous ice. Even a couple snows.

Just enough that I couldn’t ride without studded tires, but it didn’t really stick around long enough for me to bother with swapping the tires to the studs. Swapping the rear tire on my trikes has always been a trial and a torment. Doing it now with this medication would make it 1000x harder and more painful.

It wasn’t like the ice and snow was going to be sticking around very long either, which would mean that cycling would have been even harder with the knobby, studded tires raising the roll resistance. I thought my legs and hips hurt before, I’m sure the winter tires would snow me new levels of torture.

Now though, it looks like the cold weather is here to stay. We even had a couple inches of snow fall before the real cold hit. Yesterday was the coldest we’ve had in almost 2 years. 14 F around noon when Jens and I took Loke for a walk at the grave mounds to enjoy a beautiful clear sky and sun. Today is even colder. To be amusing, it’s even too cold for me to ride even if I had the studded tires on. Murphy is laughing at me.

So, here are the year’s totals!

Miles – 692

Runestones – 28 (8 of them in Denmark)

Churches – 18 (6 in Denmark)

Church Interiors – 8 (5 in Denmark)

Rock Carvings – 6 (3 locations in Denmark)

Standing Stones/Ship Settings – 4

Burial Grounds – 2

Ruins – 7 (2 in Denmark)

Castles/Manor Houses – 3

Cultural Locations – 4

Passage Grave – 1 in Denmark

Not TOO bad, I guess. Certainly could have been worse.

I say this every year, but here’s to hoping that the coming year will be better than the last! Fingers crossed for a great 2015!

Oh! Almost forgot to mention! Sometime last week, my blog finally tipped over 20k views! It only took me 5 or more years!

Working My Way Back
December 2, 2014, 12:37 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Given how uncomfortable the last ride was, I wasn’t looking forward to riding again in colder temperatures. Still, the knowledge that it’s not going to get any better with me becoming a shut in, I have been working on getting out and moving.

Yesterday was going out for an hour and a half walk with Loke. The clouds had thinned with bits of blue peeking here and there overhead. I didn’t have a car, but felt like getting out into the dry and moderately brighter daylight. My speed was way down. Before the whole double hospital fiasco last month, I could have walked the distance in under an hour.

It didn’t matter to me how slow my feet were going. I was out and meandering along while Loke sniffed around when the sun came out. First it was as if it came through heavily frosted glass and then broke free of misty clouds to shine unhindered and casting shadows. Still not very strong or bright. This time of year, the angle is so low.

Jens worked from home today, so off I went to do my 2nd ride since leaving the hospital the second time.

It was a little warmer this time, but still too cold to not go thermal-less. I pulled everything on in stages and got Loke harnessed before heading into the car.

In the storage, I couldn’t help but think how good a foot stool might be. With temperatures almost seasonal for once (at or below freezing), it means shoe covers and footwarmers to wrestle with along with my cycle shoes. Sitting on the floor is uncomfortable and annoying to get everything settled.

Loke helped me get the trike up the slope. A little dog of unknown breed was yapping at us, clearly uneasy at the strange big dog next to the weird wheeled thing. His owner coaxed him along rather than dragged him, taking a moment to say what a fine dog Loke was.

Then off we went. The resistance of the thermals didn’t feel quite as strong as the last right which I hoped would mean less muscle burn a few miles in.

Just before we crossed the river, Loke managed to snatch up a stick. He didn’t want to let go of it for anything. The sight of me on the trike with a stick toting husky elicited laughter from the few people we passed.

I kept expecting him to drop it, but he still had a determined grip as we passed a mile since he grabbed it. Finally I took the risk of digging my phone out while rolling to take some video. I even managed to get Loke to glance at me. He finally dropped it about a half mile after I took the video.

After about 3 miles, the same muscles around the upper leg and hip on the left were quite uncomfortable, but not nearly as bad as the last ride. I was surprised at how cold my fingers got, even worse than the last ride. Painfully so. I kept opening the mittens to slide my fingers through my hair and against my scalp for warmth. Those mittens have served me so well through other much colder rides, but today they felt as if they might as well have been made of silk. I had to wonder if my lower blood pressure is somehow to blame.

It wasn’t a bad ride as rides go, I guess. Not pleasant, but got some exercise for both Loke and I. Need to keep it up and recover from the Nightmare November. I want my fitness back and then some!

Scary Days With Silver Linings
December 1, 2014, 7:14 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

And another trip to the hospital where I again stayed for about 3 days.

Last Tuesday (November 25th), it was supposed to clear into a pretty day. The first since the Tuesday 2 weeks previous where I’d rushed to the hospital because I lost motor function and sensation in my right side. Jens had to be at work early, but was going to leave the car with me as he had a business dinner that evening. To let him sleep later than 5:30 am, we decided he’d drive us to his office and I’d bring the car back from Stockholm.

On the way, my left leg fell asleep. Annoying and uncomfortable, but it’s happened before though admittedly on longer drives. Then my arm got that annoying tingling feeling, but again, it’s happened in the past on longer drives. I chalked it up to lower blood pressure allowing such things to happen more quickly/easily.

About half way into the drive back, the left side of my face got that tingling, prickly ‘asleep’ sensation. I slipped into a kind of panic. There I was, driving down the E4 and Loke in the back. Poor Loke who hadn’t had any breakfast or even a morning walk before jumping into his car crate. I had images of him being trapped in the car for long hours if I pulled over to call an ambulance.

I pushed on to Uppsala, stopping at my husband’s parents since they were closer by more than 10 minutes. I didn’t know what address to give the emergency responders so I called my mother-in-law. I was panicked, which panicked her, bless her heart. I might have been better calling my father-in-law rather than worrying her half to death. My father-in-law seems completely unflappable.

In minutes, I was on my way to the hospital with a very kind ambulance crew. As they did quick tests, I started to calm down because they were so calm. As I described the harrowing drive back to Stockholm, the woman EMT patted my hand with a smile. “I would have done the same thing if I’d had my dog in the car too,” she told me.

Things weren’t so urgent the second time. A hoard of nurses and a tiny woman doctor with a very tall, soft-spoken intern at her back descended on me for blood, motor skills tests and blood pressure. One of the nurses was the very kind one who had stuck with me through the last event.

Clearly, this time, my case wasn’t so perilous. About the time Jens arrived I was wheeled into the ER section of the hospital and the waiting began. Thankfully, they didn’t stab me quite as much. 3 times to get dribbles of blood for their tests before an anesthetic nurse came along and got a line into the back of my hand. Painfully, I might add though at least it was on her first try.

It was a long boring day, stuck in a very busy ER ward where I got to watch the sun through slivers of windows. The symptoms that had sent me fleeing to the hospital passed in a few hours. Still the doctors decided to keep me overnight for observation after finding a bedspace for me in the plastic surgery ward.

Two sunny days and two times in the hospital. I just might develop an aversion to sunlight.

The doctor taking over my case was a very nice guy who introduced himself as Oskar. He reported that my CT had found nothing and he was awaiting the results of the MRI I’d been crammed into. I’m not typically claustrophobic, but that almost made me so. I felt like the filling in a professionally wrapped enchilada. He told me what he (and the other doctors he discussed the case with) thought had happened was a tiny blood clot had formed and then quickly dissolved in my brain. They could only assume that scenario as it was long gone by the time I’d gotten the CT.

The next day, he had the results from the MRI, which again found no sign of any changes since my CT scans two weeks previous. There did seem to be an anomaly in the vessels of my neck, but far from certain. So he had ordered an ultrasound to confirm or clear that.

Thursday, without any absolutely clear answers, Oskar arrived to tell me all tests had come back normal. He still believed I had had a small, rapidly gone clot. Normally, I would have been given a shot of blood-thinner just in case, but that could raise the likelihood of a hemorrhage which was too risky at that time.

When he arrived to release me, I’d been working on cleaning some fresh cracks in the soles of my feet with some alcohol and moisturizer. I can’t remember the last time I’ve taken a step that didn’t hurt. I’ve just been learning to live with it since multiple trips to the health ward have been so useless. Oskar asked about them and offered to take a look after wincing at my description of the problem, with the assurance that he also works as a General Practitioner at one of the other health wards in the city.

He frowned at them as he looked closely and asked some questions like, ‘Have you seen your doctor about this?’ (Yes, 3 times). What treatment had they given? (None, except for me to go to a foot clinic and some antihistamine medication. Foot clinics told me to go to a doctor. Round and round.)

‘You must not have a very good doctor,’ Oskar told me. He said there was something definitely wrong with the skin. It wasn’t just callouses and dryness (which I’ve been trying to tell the local GPs). He enthusiastically recommended I make an appointment with a specialized nurse at ‘his’ health ward. He said she was their foot specialist, to the point that the doctors often go to her for questions pertaining to feet. He also prescribed a cream he thought would help until I can get in to see the nurse.

And has it helped! By the time I’d used the lotion twice, I noticed an improvement. By the 2nd day, it was clear that my feet were a bit happier. No new splits had opened. The skin looked so much better. Still a bit uncomfortable to walk, but I’m no longer lurching around like a zombie with no feet. I will definitely be calling the other health ward today to arrange an appointment.

So, that’s the silver lining. I went in for mystery, potentially stroke-like symptoms and might have walked out with some relief for my feet for the first time all year! Pity it took a stroke scare putting me back in the hospital to find a doctor who would actually listen to me, confirming what I’d suspected for many a long, painful month.

Since the second release from the hospital, I have gone for a ride on Saturday. We finally had a small break in the weather. Meaning there was no rain in spite of a lead colored sky. It was also a little colder than it’s been in a long time. Most of my temperature sources said about 35-36 F.

I wrestled on my bullet proof thermals and had Jens drive me to the storage. I also made him get the trike out for me, which he did uncomplainingly. Then as I wrestled with getting my cycle shoes with footwarmers and shoe covers on, I let him go back home. Loke was wound up and raring to go. Even did a bit of hopping and yodeling.

It was sooo cold on my face as we zipped along at about 9-10 mph, Loke doing his best to run and giving me frustrated looks each time I pulled him short. It takes a bit of time for my Garmin to cool to ambient air temps after coming out of my handlebar bag. It went from 12 C to 6 C in the first quarter mile and kept dropping. We joined the River Loop cycle path at the top of the long hill overlooking the bridge and zipped down. Just before crossing the river, I stopped to look at a puddle.

Well, I'll be! A frozen puddle!

Well, I’ll be! A frozen puddle!

Ice. You know, I don’t remember seeing icy puddles even moments before the very few snow falls we had last year. Not even the one that dropped almost a foot of snow that disappeared within 2 days. Yet, there was an ice skinned bit of water right there. Could it be winter finally arriving to tropical Sweden?

On the other side of the river along the path upstream, all the puddles had ice. Some of them were frozen through and hard enough that bike tires hadn’t crunched them. The temperature on my Garmin finally bottomed out at -2.8 C which is roughly 27 F.

Crappy lighting, but it shows the blue sky

Crappy lighting, but it shows the blue sky

As I rolled by the log exercise park, the clouds which had been getting clumpy and showing slivers of blue overhead, started clearing away to the south and east, extending overhead. It was glorious to see the azure heavens again. The sun seemed to be running from the edge of widening blue though. It stayed firmly behind the gray as if being chased to the horizon.

With the disappearance of the clouds, a slight wind kicked up making me glad of the warmth from my thermals.

I wasn’t happy with how hard they made the ride though. It felt like I was fighting resistance bands with every turn of the pedals. All that thick wool made it difficult to flex my limbs. It wasn’t this hard during the last cold rides I’ve done with the bullet proof thermals. Makes me wonder if I’ve lost so much muscle strength to make it feel so.

By the last mile, the muscles around my hips, the left especially and through my lower back, protested violently. I debated having Jens pick us up at the swim hall which is less than half a mile to go. It felt too silly, so I sucked it up and we crept along at a pace snails would have laughed at.

Still, I made it. It felt good to get out and ride in spite of my worries that the effort would make my head explode or something. The recent events have rattled my confidence on so many levels.