Terii’s Cycling Babble

Pushed It
February 23, 2015, 8:18 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I was actually looking forward to yesterday’s ride. With eyes on the goal of riding every other day, not only for Loke, but myself as well, I considered what route I might take.

Toyed with the idea of jumping on the trike and heading out in some direction to be picked up by Jens later. Nixed it at the idea of putting a wet, muddy trike with studded tires into the new car. I really didn’t want to the do the River Loop again in spite of the fact we didn’t really do it last time either. Well, we skipped parts of it at least.

At last I decided I’d head over to the store where I purchased the hose clamps that hold Loke’s running bar to the back of the Sprint. The bar has taken to wobbling in most alarming fashion as if the clamps have stretched though they’ve been tightened as much as the screws allow. Grabbing a couple more in a slightly smaller size was a good idea. Not to mention just across the street from the little shopping center is a cycle path that disappears through some trees. I’ve been curious about it for years so as good a time as any to finally satisfy that curiosity.

Snow had actually fallen over night. Not much, barely half an inch quickly turning to slush as the temperature hovered around 33-34 F. The sky was overcast with clumpy clouds bunched tightly.

The ramp at the storage was mostly slushy with snow waterlogged enough I could only tell it was there once I started walking down.

Loke was a complete pest as I worked to get ready. A little hard to get shoes on with a husky standing across my lap. At least he still smells nice from his trip at the groomers.

I’ve taken to letting Loke run a little when rolling along. Nothing ground pounding, just a nice slow lope of about 10-11 mph. He appreciates it I think. Part of me misses that ‘wild mile’ at the start of every ride, mostly because it’s a sign my cycle buddy is slowing down. When we took a left to head away from the River Loop, he perked up even more and pulled vigorously toward the swim hall. A clear sign of approval if ever there was one.

I rolled us past the mosque and then surprised Loke by going straight when he’s used to us taking a left at the cycle path through the green corridor. His interest was tweaked and he continued his enthusiastic drag with the wobbling running bar. To me, it wasn’t the most exciting or interesting place to pass through, but most of the time all Loke needs is ‘unfamiliar’ to be ecstatic.

We got many startled looks going through the parking lot of the shopping center. Stopped outside the car supply store I needed, grabbed a spare clamp for size comparison and nearly crashed into the door. Turns out, they are closed on Sundays. Oops.

Well, the bar has held on for quite a few weeks in it’s wobbly state, so I just shrugged and dropped back into the trike. There was still the mystery path just on the other side of the round-a-about.

This sight made a husky very happy!

This sight made a husky very happy!

We zipped across and hit the churned snow covering the unpaved path. Clearly there was more snow in that area then around our apartment. 2 inches or more instead of less than half an inch. Loke was delirious with delight at the sight of the white covered path curving off into a wall of trees. He did his best impersonation of a husky at a doggie-pull. Think ‘tractor pull’ but for dogs. A sledge with increasing amounts of weight that moves to the front of the platform as the dog/tractor tries to drag it as far as possible.

I can’t recall the last time I’d seen so much of his tether pulled out of the spring bar. I hardly felt any resistance from that snow as we hit almost 8 mph on the way to the tree line. The assistance was appreciated though I prefer Loke not pull so hard he sounds like he’s strangling himself. It definitely shows he was very curious and enthusiastic.

The gravel path stopped at a T-junction. Perhaps it’s some sense of the masochistic, but I turned left in the direction of snow and twiggy undergrowth instead of snow-free trail with a soft bed of old pine needles.

The first few yards went slow, but okay. Beneath the snow was the crack and pop of ice which had likely formed over puddles of melt before being covered over with the new fluff.

We didn’t make it far though Loke was throwing all his weight into the harness and then some. At times, he was standing on his hind legs and straining to move us as the tire slipped, studs and treads unable to find purchase. I got up and floundered around, looking for enough space to turn the trike around. Winter bare twigs crowded the path. In summer it’s probably just wide enough for someone to walk.

Pushing it back to shallower snow.

Pushing it back to shallower snow.

Pushing the trike back was more of a challenge than anticipated. Loke pulled so hard it kept yanking sharply to the left, helped along by unpacked snow hindering the tire on that side. When he wasn’t pulling, he was throwing himself down to rub his face in the white and use it as a plow.

Loke was rather disappointed when the melt and freezing began with the 1 ft of snow we had earlier this month. He takes great delight in diving face first into any unbroken stretch of it and plowing along, sometimes flopping onto one side then the other as he pushes through it. After the melt began, the snow got hard. His attempts to faceplant into it were… disappointing to say the least. Well, disappointing to him. Hilarious from my perspective.

As I struggled back to the last point where the tire had good purchase, I kept thinking, ‘I need a fat trike’.

Last year, a woman rode a recumbent trike across a portion of the Antarctic landmass to the south pole. It was a sort of race with 2 men on bike/ski combination. She skunked them in terms of mileage in the shortest time. The trike she used was actually a specially engineered machine designed and built by the awesome guys at Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE). Yep! The same as those who I purchased my Trice and Sprint from. Well, there was quite a bit of interest in the polar trike, so they’ve actually developed a commercial version for sale called a Full Fat 26FS.

I rarely end up in places where I’d need the Full Fat Trike, but this was one of them. I think Loke was disappointed at turning back so soon and he was purposely making it difficult.

The easier path

The easier path

I pedalled the last little bit back to the intersection and took the easier path.

Though perhaps disappointed at the lack of snow, it barely dampened this enthusiasm. The conifers with their dense, snow-denying canopy soon gave way to a more open landscape. There was once again plenty of snow for Loke to bound joyfully through. At least he wasn’t doing his best impression of a snow plow in it.

Slender, young birch trees surrounded a tiny little pond with a no-fishing sign on one side of the path. On the other, the trees would shade a pair of picnic tables in the spring and summer when clothed in leaves. Perhaps I’ll come back here in warmer, drier weather and have a little picnic, feeding mosquitoes from the pond while I’m at it. Hehe.

A short distance on, the trail came to an intersection. Left, the trees gave way to a road and cycle path. Straight ahead, it looked nearly as difficult as the section I’d had to turn back. Left it was.

After the trail, the cycle path felt like riding on air. We zipped back to the shopping center area and rode over a portion of the earlier cycle path on the way to the mall area. I hoped that there would be a way to cross over to Pizza Hut area to link with the cycle path along the road there to Granby Mall. Not to be.

The cycle path goes through 4H grounds. Right near the pig pen, there’s one hill. It’s very short, but brutally steep. When I climb it, I often wonder if hills are always going to be something I can’t ‘spin’ up. I have silly low gears as it is, yet I could barely keep the pedals turning and that was with Loke’s help. I can’t imagine I’ll ever be able to climb anything resembling a mountain road with my trike, let along doing so with camping gear. Hills like that just bum me out.

Pretty inspite of the distant apartment buildings

Pretty inspite of the distant apartment buildings

Even as we’d first crossed over to the mystery cycle path, the clouds had been loosening up. Little glimpses of blue peeking out here and there though the sun stayed hidden. The sky continued to open up as we toodled on. By the time we came down hill from the 4H sheep pastures to the large parkland beyond, the sun finally made brief appearances in an increasingly blue sky.

Slush slowed us down a little, but we still managed a respectable 9 mph cruise along the paths there. We dodged pedestrians who were emerging with the sun.

The muscles in my legs and hips felt a bit tired, but nothing of the excruciating post-stroke burn. I watched the mileage tick along as we came to the path in the green corridor. My thighs pleaded with me to take a left at the road to double back the way I’d started the ride.

Where the trees assaulted Loke with slushy snow

Where the trees assaulted Loke with slushy snow

While I pondered our upcoming route, the emerging sun and a bit of a wind began to shake loose slushy snow from the canopy of pine trees. Some bits were no larger than snow flakes, others approaching softball size. Loke’s smooth trot was interrupted by a startled leap and he gave me a look that was both affronted and accusatory. I glanced back and laughed. Bits of slushy snow still clung to Loke’s butt just above his tail. The clump must have been one of those softball size that splatted him from the trees.

Fortunately, they were all soft and most only about the size of ping-pong balls. I was glad of the DaBrim keeping them out of my face. My legs and arms were hit a few times.

Approaching the home stretch of the ride, I took the old River Loop sections from back when the trike was stored at the apartment. As we made the turn right near the school to rejoin cycle paths, the way was suddenly crowded with people walking dogs. The 100 yard stretch between the school, past the frisbee golf course and under the 55, I counted over 14 dogs.

I kept looking at my Garmin, calculating the distance we’d finish with as I approached the last couple turns back to the storage. 8.2(ish) miles.

If I’d been a car, I’d have been spluttering along on the last fumes in the gas tank, but I was annoyed. Since the stroke my longest ride has been 8.5 miles. Suddenly, it just felt like 8 miles was some kind of wall or barrier. I want to be able to go further, longer. Faster would also be nice, but I would settle for longer/farther without feeling like I’d done a century for a pitiful distance.

A sign of coming spring. He's there, I promise! :)

A sign of coming spring. He’s there, I promise! 🙂

I stopped to put my feet down out of the wind so the warmers could catch up. I watched a magpie fiddling with twigs in his nest as I evaluated how much further I could push. I decided to push on and come back to the storage along the ‘back way’ which I’d departed.

It was hard, but Loke helped. It’s heartening that he’s taken up pulling again, especially after the GI problems.

My legs were quivering when we finally stopped at the top of the ramp. 9.4 miles. I’d done it! A new furthest distance since the stroke and for 2015. It feels like a pitiful accomplishment compared to when I could toodle through 12, 15, 20 miles pre-stroke, but I’m trying to be positive about it.

My weight continues to edge down. I’m noticing significant changes in my shape. Things like my cycle tights feeling slightly loose even with my thick wool base layer. Another 5-7 lbs off and I may have to shorten my pedal boom because I’ll be ‘taking up’ less space in the seat. Or part of me any way.

I was home just a few minutes, time enough to give Loke his lunch and grab my own, when Jens said he wanted us to go to Ikea. I winced. Going into that place for just ‘one thing’ can mean a 5 mile hike and I was wiped. Still, I agreed, but said I wanted to stop somewhere that would have hose clamps too.

Ikea was a complete bust for what Jens was looking for. We came out of there with nothing. We picked up plenty at Biltema. Hose clamps, a little tool kit with ratchet wrench and screwdriver with many interchangeable sizes, restraints to keep Loke’s cage from vibrating around in the back of the car, and a new pannier bag for my trike. Glad to have gotten the bag. My seat podbags have been near to overflowing since my big panniers got a hole in one side.

Mini-Fairing - Photo from Terracycle Web Shop

Mini-Fairing – Photo from Terracycle Web Shop

Speaking of stuff for the trike, I have a new ‘toy’ in mind come next winter. An XT Mini Fairing. It’s pretty pricey for it’s size, but anything larger could make getting in and out of my trike difficult. I’m not the most nimble of creatures and often lever forward right over the chainring to rock out of the seat. I just can’t see maneuvering around a front fairing that comes up around my knees. This should protect the feet from wind which has been the biggest problem. The reviews seem to indicate it will do just what I need. Some people have said even their legs feel warmer. One person even reported it seemed to deflect wind from his hands a bit.

I’ve been muddling with the footwarmers, but they can only do so much. Once the wind comes howling through the cleat holes, it’s a tug of war. Parts of my toes roasting while others freezing. They almost feel like they’re in a very bad microwave. You know, one of those that leaves part of the food overcooked and the rest rock-hard frozen?

It also needed to be something quick on and off which this can do. Just 5-10 seconds either way.

So, this checks all the boxes. Help keep the wind out of the bottoms of my shoes – check. Can still get in and out of trike unhindered – check. Quick on and off – check.

At over 300 USD for the whole thing, I’ve decided it will be a Birthday/Christmas 2015 combo for next winter. I can muddle along for the rest of this one as I’ve made it this long. For the next week or two it appears to be forecasted for mostly above freezing. By then we’ll be in March, which admittedly can get cold and the first few years here in Sweden, it was the snowiest month.

At least this winter has actually been a winter! Snow and even a few weeks of consistently below freezing temps for night and day!

Briefly Shining!
February 21, 2015, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

After riding on Sunday and Tuesday, I had hopes of making this week the first since the stroke to do rides every other day for the full 7 days. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I had an appointment at the health ward in the morning, but that alone wouldn’t have stopped the trend. What did throw a wrench in the works was Jens announcing on Tuesday evening that he’d made an appointment at a dog grooming salon for Loke at 11 am Thursday.

I toyed with the idea of doing a solo ride, but after dropping the furry off with the incredibly nice American born woman and warning her about his allergies and that it was his first time ever with a groomer, she told me it would be just a couple hours. There went any thought of riding what with the timing once we got home, dressed, shoed and got the trike out. The days are quite a bit longer now, but I feel stressed if it seems dark is rushing in and push too hard. That leads to aching knees.

So, I ran around on some errands instead.

About 1:30, I arrived back to reclaim my furball. The woman gave me a big smile as she clipped a bischon frise. Loke had apparently been an absolutely ‘lovely boy’ and asked she asked if I wanted to see him. When I said, ‘Of course!’, she called his name. Nothing. She told the little dog to stay to go stick her head into a back room and told Loke to come on.

The apartment lighting and iPhone didn't do justice..

The apartment lighting and iPhone didn’t do justice..

My jaw dropped as he came out. I think it’s the best he’s looked in years. The results were far beyond anything Jens and I have managed with baths and brushes. The white parts of my furry practically glowed and he looked smoothly plush. Not a single hint of a stubborn clump that resisted brushing. He’s always been a beautiful dog, but he was stunning at that moment.

That wasn’t the only reason I gaped though. He didn’t see me and went trotting around the styling room, sniffing. He pretty much ignored the woman as she tried to get his attention on me. More shocking was the fact he completely ignored the 4 or 5 other dogs too. I said his name and Loke’s head snapped up and he ran over to put his paws at the top of the half door, ears back as he wiggled his incredibly fluffy tail adorably. He was sooooo soft. Almost (but not quite) as soft as when he was a puppy.

I chatted with the woman for a bit. I also showed her Loke’s tricks. She’s worked on quite a few huskies apparently, but the sight of one that did tricks floored her. She laughingly told Loke, ‘Didn’t anyone tell you that huskies don’t do that?’. I thanked her profusely for the wonderful job. She said fur flew everywhere with the high powered drier. It apparently is strong enough to get down to the skin to blow away every bit of loose hair that can hang on in the undercoat no matter what the brushing and washing. She said the swept pile of fur was nearly as big as Loke. I felt guilty for not having him groomed years ago. I told her we’d probably be back once the weather gets warm to shake loose the last of his winter coat in hopes of giving him a cooler summer.

I mentioned it would be a pity to take Loke outside to splash around in the muddy melt and a greater one still to take him for a run the next day. She laughed in agreement.

Jens was pleased with the results when he got to see Loke upon arriving home from work.

Friday, Jens’ sister came to do a deeper cleaning on the apartment. It’s something she’s been doing roughly every 10 – 14 days since the stroke. I work to maintain in general, staying on the dishes, putting things we use away and such, but she does the complete sweeping, mopping, dusting and vacuuming. It’s been a huge help to me and it puts a extra cash in her pocket.

To get out of her hair, I got ready for the delayed trike ride. I’m sure it makes mopping and the like easier if one doesn’t have a husky prancing around one’s feet as he attempts to bully one out the door for walkies.

Loke was thrilled to be going. Jens dropped us off and we made it out the door in a reasonable amount of time. I had the foot warmers inserted, but at 41 F, I decided to wait on attaching the batteries.

As we rolled out into the blustery mid-morning, the sun which had emerged on the drive over began to disappear. 10 minutes into the ride, it was gone and gray clouds hit us with a misty, wind-blown drizzle. That wind was whipping out of the west and I changed my mind about doing the Läby loop. The wind was hard enough with trees and hedges hindering it. Out in the open expanses of the country side would be even worse. I wanted something more than the River Loop, but prefered to avoid killing myself before making it back to the storage.

So… off I went in the general direction of the city forest and the American Food store.

I winced as we splashed through little rivers and lakes of melt water, Loke’s legs and belly steadily turning to a muddy gray. Not that he cared. He was happy, especially when I kept him out of the puddles. The cycle paths and roads were 80-90% clear of any trace of slush or ice. Just little bits clinging gamely on to the curb edges. Even mounds that 3 days earlier had been high as my head were barely knee high and most of it gravel rather than ice or snow.

We found one little residential road that had more ice than the rest. Loke went on high alert, seeing the little dog walking with a man before I did. We caught up and the cutie whined and pulled toward us. Might have been a x-breed of some kind or could have been a scottish terrier puppy. He was 12 weeks old. I offered to let them meet and he gave the puppy some slack. He was as fearless as that little chihuahua Loke met at our apartment door a few weeks back. He stood on his hindlegs, stretching up to Loke’s head as his little paws boxed at my furball’s nose. Too cute! Loke was amazingly calm and downright polite. I started to wonder if the obnoxious in him had gone down the drain with his shed hair and grime.

Leaving them, I skipped going into the city forest proper. From the road at the edge of it, there was an unpaved path leading in and it was slick with ice and melt which I completely expected. Unpaved surfaces hold on to the cold and ice better than paved, so surely all the paths looping through the forest were going to be slippery. It didn’t seem worth the challenge as we were going to have comfortably over 7 miles by the time we got home any way.

We zigged along the various roads, heading for the ice rink near the river. When we stopped to cross through the intersection near the hospital, I unclipped to push the trike back a little so Loke would have more room to pass by the crossing light post. My left foot came loose just fine. The right shoe on the other hand, hung on tight. I muttered under my breath as I almost had to roll in the seat to wrench loose. There was really no need for me to look at the bottom of the shoe to know that one of the screws had fallen out of the cleat. It still seemed wise to check that the remaining one wouldn’t be bailing out on me in the next few minutes.

I debated just riding straight for home, skipping the American Food store since each time I clipped in or out could wrench the last screw loose. Still, the missing one needed replaced.

Just a couple doors down from the Charles’ shop there’s a cycle shop. I’ve tended to avoid it except when absolutely necessary. One of the older guys in the shop had been a bit rude when I went in there to find 20″ tires that were thick dirt bike tires with chunky tread. When I explained I wanted something road slicks for a recumbent trike, he’d grumped at me to ‘get a real bike’ and tried to show me some of his. No interest in helping me if it didn’t involve me walking out there with something on two wheels.

Bracing myself, I rolled past the American shop to the cycle shop. It was a shock just looking through the window as I parked Loke and the trike on the walk outside. The interior had been dark and murky (which maybe made the staff grumpy?), but now the walls were all clean white and the cashier counter moved.

I told Loke wait. I walked in and three staff people gave me bright, cheery smiles. A woman with a lean, athletic build that just screamed, ‘avid cyclist’ asked if she could help. Given my limited Swedish vocabulary with cycle terms, I asked if English was okay. It was. I showed the bottom of my shoe and said I either needed a screw for my cleat or a new set of cleats. With a gesture for me to follow, we went back into their tiny little work area where she dug through a drawer of odds-n-ends. She found one used screw, had me sit to take the shoe off and put everything back on where it should be.

We chatted as she worked to make sure it was adjusted correctly. It turns out the shop had actually changed hands about a year ago. It’s gone from selling cycle stuff and skis to just cycling. We also talked about cycling shoes and winter riding, that brought on when she asked about the wire ribbons from my footwarmer when I took the shoe off. We both rolled our eyes at the ‘joy’ of having a freezing wind blasting through cleat holes no matter now good the shoecovers were.

She didn’t charge me for the screw, even before I asked about multi-tools. I had to replace mine as it had apparently fallen through an unnoticed hole in my pannier bags. I think it’s quietly rusting away somewhere between Uppsala and Storvreta. Still need to replace my pannier bags because of now-noticed hole in said bag.

I have to say, I heartily approve of the change. Sullen, unhelpful staff replaced with friendly, chatty and helpful people? What’s not to approve? Unfortunately, I don’t think they can work on my trike. Their ‘workshop’ area had just enough space for a standard bike on a work frame and a single person to move around it. Of course, it now seems I have to make far fewer trips to the south of Stockholm. In spite of 2 tire swaps, my gears remain unruffled. It must have been the sloppy shifting!

About a week back, I came very close to potentially fouling the gears. Wasn’t paying attention and clicked briefly into the 3rd chainring while on the 34 back sprocket. I gave an ‘ack!’ of alarm and snapped it back down before the chain completely climbed onto the big ring. No damage done!

Loke was eager to move on, confused as we looped back to the American Food store. It was Charles’ wife there. We chatted briefly as I picked up nothing more than a couple of Welch’s sodas. Until my cholesterol gets back down, I’m avoiding anything heavy in the fat category.

That’s another reason I’m trying to increase my riding frequency. Odd my cholesterol was lower before the stroke than after when my diet has been lower in fat. The only guess I have is I was riding roughly every other day rather than having stretches going into weeks of no pedaling.

Well, that’s changing! Especially now that the muscle pain issue has all but disappeared! *happy dance*

From there, we just pushed on back to the storage. Rolled to a stop at the top of the ramp with 8.16 miles and a very wet, muddy Loke from the tummy down.

Loke’s been a bit of a pest to Jens at night. Nudging at him and staring though he’s been fed and walked. A few times I’ve slept on the couch with the fuzzy in the living room so Jens isn’t reduced to a zombie during work hours. I’d hoped the extra 3 miles or so would help settle him last night.

Nope, not really. It’s just so strange that he’s changed after a life time of going to bed when we do and not disturbing us.

So, should be another ride tomorrow and hopefully next week will be the first with every other day worth of rides to be stretched into a month… two…

Somewhat Back to Normal!
February 18, 2015, 6:25 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Loke that is, but I’ll get to that.

After my last post, the one rest day wasn’t really. Loke still seemed to be having GI issues which meant I tried my best to walk him in hopes of working things out and monitoring the progress of his condition. Lots and lots of walking.

Before this ‘outbreak’, I’d walk with Loke roughly an hour a day. Since his intestinal problems began it’s been more like an 1 hour and 45 minutes to over two hours. After the ride on the 10th, Jens was so slammed with work and traveling for the job that he was gone in the early mornings and not back until late. Perhaps the time would have been better spent at least attempting to ride, but my body hurt. The muscles felt so over used and needing a recovery period for the tiny little fibers to repair and strengthen. It just wasn’t happening with me staggering around with Loke for 2+ hours every day.

Valentine’s day rolled around and Jens made a gift of his time and effort. For the entire day, he took care of all of Loke’s walks. I was so very grateful for it and definitely needed it. Jens also surprised me with a pretty bouquet of flowers. He went shopping for his lunch and ran across the street from the grocery to pick out something from the florist.

That one day of rest did wonders. Sunday, out we went!

It was a stunning day. Valentine’s day had been flawless. Blue sky completely clear of clouds, no wind and temps in the upper 30’s. The 15th was nearly as beautiful. Thin clouds marred the perfection of the heavens, but the sun still shone with a tangible warmth. It was colder, hovering at or a little below freezing. Some wind, but nothing brutal.

Jens dropped us off. I ran around in the storage space, getting ready. It wasn’t until had my shoes on that I discovered the batteries for the footwarmers had escaped the confines of my handlebar bag. I tore through every bag, nook, and cranny to be sure they weren’t hiding there to no avail.

Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound

I’d tentatively planned, once again, to attempt the Läby loop. Not without footwarmers. Pushing the trike out of the storage and locking up, Loke was completely confused when we scooted across the street into the park instead of hanging a left-left. He didn’t mind though. He does love running along narrow paths crowded with trees even when the path is covered with 3″ of rock-hard, polished ice.

From the storage to apartment, it’s pretty much down a gentle grade. I let Loke stretch his legs a little into an easy lope of about 10 mph.

Jens was shocked when I came rampaging into the apartment, flying around in search of the batteries. He didn’t help. Loke was waiting outside with the trike, which is a bit stressing enough. His barrage of questions didn’t help. ‘Did you lock the trike?’ ‘Should Loke really be out there by himself, tethered to the trike?’ ‘You did at least set the parking brake, right?’. I could feel my blood pressure rising through the roof.

Stressed, I told Jens it was going to be a short ride since I couldn’t find the batteries and bolted out the door.

From there we headed off onto the River Loop from the old, ‘pre-storage’ beginning.

What a beautiful day!

What a beautiful day!

We hadn’t gone far when there was an incident that got my heart racing. The path was pretty crowded, what with the gorgeous weather and being a weekend. We rolled up behind where a woman walked along with a large Golden Retriever. After waiting for some people to pass, I rang my bell to let her know I was there. She ignored it, but not the Golden. Growling, he leaped at us with more speed and determination than one would expect from a fat old Golden Retreiver. I screamed at her. He’d pulled out over 3 yards of leash when she clicked the button and nearly got yanked off her feet.

If it had been me he wanted, that dog would have bitten my face off. I was in easy range of his teeth. I didn’t move as he snarled and snapped across me, straining to reach Loke less than a foot away from his nose. I didn’t want to distract him and get bit as he blindly chewed air in an attempt to get a piece of Loke. The woman struggled to drag her dog back, saying ‘sorry’ over and over.  I had some of his saliva on my face when she finally pulled him away and tried to get control.

Loke was remarkably indifferent to the dog. Generally, he’s fascinated by other dogs and yanking around to meet them for a chance to display his much vaunted dominance. In his fuzzy little brain, anyway. He just stood there and looked at him with a glance or two at me. It seems to be something rather common with Loke though. When a dog responds to us with such furious aggression, he just… stands there. No fear, but not interested in interacting either.

I have been thankful quite a few times for that quirk.

There was little problem with my toes for most of the ride. I stopped a couple times in the sun to put my feet on the ground where the wind wouldn’t whistle through the holes. They’d warm up and onward we’d go. It wasn’t until we turned south along the 272 that my big toes started feeling the cold burn. It eased off again when we turned toward the river.

We were making the turn on to the path right by the river side when I saw a man with a beautiful Siberian Husky. He was bigger than Loke and looked pudgy in that way only castrated dogs can. Sure enough, that pretty boy had been neutered. We let them meet. Loke didn’t want to play nice. He wanted to do the whole dominance mounting things while the other wanted to sniff his butt. Loke’s short tether complicated things in one way, but it couldn’t really get out of control.

It turns out that pretty boy was actually a pretty ‘old man’. He was almost 10 years old. His markings were the more traditional symmetrical pattern on the face and body, a deep chocolate brown and cream on white rather than black on white. His eyes were amazing. They were a light brown. Not golden like a wolf’s, but like dark amber. Stunning. He was very sweet too. He made sure to give me a few Husky kisses which seemed to make Loke a little jealous. Not like Loke ever gives husky kisses… unless he’s been penned in a hospital kennel for 5 days.

Made it home with right on the button 7 miles and uncomfortably painful toes.

As for the batteries, I found them less than a minute after getting home. I might have done so sooner if not been stressed right out of the apartment. Just felt like Jens was about to grab and throw me out because he was worried Loke had run off with the trike or something. Loke has always been great about waiting with the trike though. Even when he was a energy crazed young dog.

I’ll always remember the first time I left him alone with the Trice. It was in the beautiful historic walking center of Sala, outside the tourist office. I could see him through the window as I talked with the staff. I expected him to try to jump on people who reminded him of ‘Grandma’ or ‘Grandpa’, leap after another dog to to say, ‘Hi! I’m the boss!’. Nope. He just sat there, looking around and waiting. I came out and hugged him to bits for being such a good boy. That was also the day of our longest outing. 40+ miles. The post of that ride is on here somewhere. I think.

Over the weekend, Loke’s GI issue had actually been steadily improving. Monday he was almost normal. Yesterday (Tuesday), he was absolutely normal. There would have been much rejoicing and there was, in spirit. But no food goodies. Just kept him strictly on his kibble and reindeer. I will not tempt fate if I can help it.

Yesterday was also another ride. I didn’t decide to do the Läby loop. That plan seems to be cursed at the moment. Also it was colder than it had been on Sunday and I was a bit under the weather. Mostly, I went out to get Loke a bit of exercise that didn’t involve me walking. Jens worked from home, but he was fighting a cold. In those circumstances, dog walkie duty falls heavy on me. The way, I felt, taking a nice slow pedal with maybe two very short walks was preferable over 3 or 4 moderate walks.

Then fate decided to make things more unpleasant. As I sat on the floor in the storage room to settle my complex shoe arrangement, my back gave me a little twinge that pulled me upright. I went back to the task, and another. Then, as I struggled to push the trike up the slope without slipping onto my face, the grand-daddy twinge came that had me seeing stars.

I guess all the walking has aggravated it, combined with the lack of walking or the gym. Perhaps the fact I’d gone to the gym that morning put the icing on the cake. It’s been years since I’ve felt that kind of back pain.

I didn’t let it stop me. Somehow I pushed the trike up and sat down. Triking helps and it always has. The reason I looked into trikes was because my back interfered with my love of cycling and three wheels under a fully supporting seat was a way around that. That first time I test rode the Trice in England, I had back pain before I sat down in the seat. After 15 minutes of looping around the industrial neighborhood, it felt so much better. Even if I hadn’t had a blast on that tiny little ride, the improvement in the back would have had me hooked. The sheer fun value was the line and sinker.

It’s that fun that kept me from going back to a normal bike. Within a year of the Trice’s arrival, I was pretty much free from back pain. I just loved it too much. Seeing the scenery without cricking my neck or spending rides staring at the road before the front wheel. No numb hands, hurting wrists. Riding not walking up hills in spite of my wrecked knees. I loved that the most. Plus, Loke couldn’t pull me over!

But I ramble.

If it's gonna look this gray, the least it could do is _snow_ :P

If it’s gonna look this gray, the least it could do is _snow_ 😛

Counter to the past 3 or 4 days of glorious weather we’d had, yesterday was cold and gray. The wind blustered at times, but not constantly so it wasn’t all bad. My Garmin reported temperatures as low as 25 F, but it nudged up to 29 a few times.

We plodded around what’s become the new River Loop since moving the Trike to the storage. Loke was happy to be out, but I’ve noticed on the last few rides that since his hospital stay, he’s lost a bit of his… luster. He’s not as energetic. That’s worried me some. As I’ve been saying, he’s getting older and there’s going to be a point where he just can’t quite bounce back fully from setbacks. This might be one of those. But he was happy enough and not in pain which are the important things. He felt well enough to be helping me most of the way which is something.

We arrived back at the storage with 4.3-ish miles and my back felt a bit better.

It didn’t stay that way. I’d closed up and was coming up the slope when my ankle seized up for the second time in 2 weeks. That made me lurch and a stab of pain in my back drove me to my knees. The combination hurt so bad, all I could see was gray with starbursts for a few seconds. Jens came down to take Loke and lend his arm.

I have to say, I’m quite peeved with all these old ailments I’ve not endured for years rearing their ugly heads. The ankles first, then the back and then ganging up. I find the ankle thing ironic in particular since my weight is down a whopping 15 lbs since the stroke. Of course, the worst times I’ve had with ankles and knees was when I was a tiny little thing of 125 lbs.

As for the back, if I can get Jens to help get the trike out, it won’t stop me riding. It didn’t the first few years with the Trice and it won’t now. The PT may try to convince me that walking is the best thing for it, but that’s never felt true. The worst time have been when I’ve walked most. It always responded best to riding.

The trike has always been my freedom and I’m determined it will continue to be so.

Slush, Slush, and More Slush
February 11, 2015, 6:04 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Yesterday was a bit of a busy day.

Though we’d gone out on Monday, I planned to ride again yesterday (Tuesday the 10th). Jens had to catch an early flight and it was dawning into another beautiful day. The various forecasts predicted a cold day than the one before though it still looked warm enough for melting. Still, I was determined.

First I had to get some wild game meat for Loke. Last week, the reindeer shop said they were out of meat and wouldn’t be getting in until Wednesday. Ran out of the reindeer we had for Loke’s lunch, so needed something to hold him over through Wednesday until Jens can grab more. Hopefully they’ll have it in because feeding Loke grocery bought wild meat could break the bank.

*nudge, nudge, nudge*

*nudge, nudge, nudge*

As I was getting ready to go shop, I heard a loud BANG. There’s been so much road work just outside our apartment I thought nothing of it. While waiting for the car heater to do it’s magic before going, I’d sat down to work on yesterday’s post. In moments, this happened…

I’ll admit it. The only reason I’m sharing the whole shopping thing is because I wanted to put this photo here. That way when I flip through my on-line cycle diary, there it will be to make me laugh or grin.

Loke’s always done things like this when he wants something or thinks he’s being ‘forgotten’. With Jens, he’ll put his front paws on his chair and paw at him. Me, he’s more likely to put his head on my hand or arm and stare soulfully. While he’s doing that, he’ll keep moving his head so he’s jostling me. It’s almost like a kid standing near and saying, ‘Mom… mom.. mom’ over and over.

The first few years of life, he would actually slap at keyboards or the computer mouse, but he’s given that up for his current tactics. There’s also the tap-dancing woofing, but yesterday morning he opted for nudging.

Admittedly, I had planned on him staying home while I went shopping. That pitiful look and making me laugh with the nudging, I decided to take him with. A very short walk after I came out of the grocery wouldn’t hurt either of us.

Ohhhh. That's what it was!

Ohhhh. That’s what it was!

Exiting the building to go to the car, I found out the loud bang had been the street light next to our building crashing down. Looks like a high vehicle like a garbage truck or perhaps a moving truck had clipped it. The pole had snapped off right at the ground.

I love snow!

I love snow!

Shopping done, Loke and I took a brief little stroll around part of the 4H grounds. It was a gorgeous day. Cold and clear, no melt going on.

I was definitely looking forward to taking the trike out. There was even a plan for the ride. We’d go to Jens’ parents to look at some shelves in their garage as they’re moving and will no longer have a garage. It would give Loke and I a few more extra miles than the simple River Loop. It was needed to make sure I burned off all of the early Valentine’s Day dinner Jens and I had at Jay Fu’s the night before.

It was nearly 10 am when I got home. Almost 11:30 (ate a little something and gave it half an hour to settle before dressing) when we left the apartment. By the time I clipped in and we rolled out, it was after 12:00.

Maybe Loke was feeling the 5+ miles from Monday, but he didn’t seem as determined to run. As we rolled down the gentle grade in the direction of the river, the change in the day was astounding. Puddles stood everywhere and little streams ran furiously toward every storm drain. What had been ice such a short time before was now puddles and worse… slush.

It dominated the entire ride. Where I could, I steered the trike over the the few spots where pavement showed or places that hadn’t had a chance to begin liquefying. Loke helped. I don’t think he let his tether slacken one bit. At times people could outwalk me as I pedaled through the mire. It’s no reflection on my cadence either. My average came out to 68 RPM. Not Tour de France worthy, but fairly respectable for me as I could feel the previous day’s ride.

Oh, and I was hot. My Weather Channel app insisted it was 37 F. There is no way. My Garmin showed temps between 47-53 F which is far more believable. In the first mile, the hat under my helmet was packed in the bags. By mile 2, I wore nothing but my base layer on my upper body and wished (again) that I’d worn thin wool for my legs. I had even turned off my footwarmers and considered taking off my shoe covers. They stayed on. It’s harder to get feet warm than the rest of the body.

It was bad enough at times that in areas where we were away from traffic, I took my helmet off to let my head cool off. Our pace was so slow and the air so utterly calm, that yes, the vented helmet felt like a heavy hood of dense fur.

It was a relief to reach Jen’s parents. I saw the shelves and socialized a bit. My darling MIL made sure I had something to drink and didn’t let me go until she was certain my helmet was securely on. She also asked that I stick to the cycle paths as much as I could because the slush could make cars skid.

Getting back home was hard, the last mile especially. Felt like I was barely moving by that point. At least the last quarter mile or so was on clear pavement. Uphill, but slush free.

I was sooo wiped. It was all I could do to put the trike away, come home, towel the mudball off and collapse. 8.44 miles in 2 hours and 9 minutes of moving time. Here I thought my average was barely 3 mph. I decided that today would be a rest day. Otherwise, my legs just might have fallen off…

February 10, 2015, 9:24 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Saturday, February 7th, I started getting ready for a ride. The sky was a dull gray, but the snow brightens everything and it was almost on the warm side, barely below freezing. Loke got a bit excited after Jens put him in his harness. I was looking forward to the ride, the first since Loke was freed from his torture of boredom from the Veterinarian Hospital. We piled into the car for the short jaunt to the storage.

As I started checking the air in the tires, Jens shoveled a path through the 10 or so inches of snow on the ramp to make getting the trike out less of an obstacle.

Glad it didn't pop on the ride to Storvreta!

Glad it didn’t pop on the ride to Storvreta!

Connecting the pump to the valve of the rear tire, I found something annoying. The sidewall of the tire was tearing away from the metal bead. I thought the ride felt a little off on the way to Storvreta, but had passed it off as being lumpy snow. I don’t think it was so glaringly noticeable when I’d aired up for that ride. Or maybe I’d done it from the other side. Either way, I didn’t want to end up with a blow out in the middle of the River Loop. It would have been… you guessed it, annoying!

I put down the pump and told Jens I couldn’t ride. He was irritated (synonym for annoyed 😉 ) at the announcement and asked if I had a spare tire. He was a bit more peeved when I told him just the summer tire which wouldn’t work in these conditions.

Other than not being able to give him a respite from taking Loke for a long walk, what upset him most was he thought I’d barely used the tire, guessing 5 rides. It settled him a bit when I assured him the tire had over 50 rides for hundreds of kilometers on it. Not nearly enough for this kind of damage, admittedly, but it had been used for an entire snowy winter. I bought the tire less than a week after the Sprint was delivered to my door. While last winter had been practically snow free except maybe for 4 days, the 2012-2013 had been very snowy and very fun with lots of beautiful miles.

We settled for going to the city forest with Loke and walked about a mile and a half through the snow-blanketed woods for as long as I could manage. After that, we zipped off to one of the larger cycle shops to get a new 26 inch studded tire. I looked for a more ‘aggressively’ studded tire than the old one, since it had trouble getting traction at times. Sadly, they only had heavier studded tires in 27 and 28 inch.

After the walk in the woods, I didn’t have the reserves to deal with a rear tire swap. I decided to wait until the next day (Sunday) even if it meant I might not ride until Monday.

Sunday was stunning. Clear blue skies leaving the sun unhindered, though it was chill enough that very little melting took place. It was probably the prettiest winter day we’ve had since the 2012-2013 winter. When Jens took Loke for a long walk (1.5 hours), I headed out to tend to the trike.

It didn’t go nearly as badly as I expected. Even better than when I did it the first time this winter. A bit frustrating, but no so bad that I felt like cursing and throwing things. There have been times when it’s given me that much trouble. All told, I was there for about 45 minutes. Handling the back wheel itself (getting it off the trike, tire swap, and back on) was less than 30 minutes. Might be a record. The rest of the time was removing the seat, unhooking the parking brake, putting those back once the wheel was back on followed by a little cleaning.

A quick test seemed to indicate the gears hadn’t been knocked askew, though that’s only proven for certain after a ride.

It really seems I’ve nailed down the gear problems I used to have. Since coming to the hesitant conclusion it was sloppy shifting into big ring-big cog and avoiding that, the gears have been perfect. The bike mechanic was puzzled when I mentioned that what seemed to mess them up. He admitted, it’s ‘bad shifting’, but it should have affected it that way. Clearly it does since the gears have worked flawlessly after the last adjustment and that’s all that changed. To think I could have saved myself years of frustration if I’d made the connection sooner. It might have been the root of my gearing problems on the Trice, except for those times the rear idler was smacked on rocks or dragged through gravel, mud or ice.

I had quite a few body aches after the tire swap though. In spite of the breathtakingly beautiful day, I didn’t have the stamina left to pull on multiple layers of clothes and foot wear for a ride. Monday it was to be! That night, it clouded over and we had a wonderfully dense snowfall.

Monday dawned nearly as pretty though with a sudden jump in the temperature. It was hovering around 38 F when I got up. It must have been that warm sometime around midnight because the snow we’d been getting earlier was gone and quite a bit more with it. Water gurgled down the gutters and storm drains like mad.

Jens worked from home, deciding he wanted the car incase he wanted something for lunch. So, he dropped us off and sped away.

I decided to see if winter studs I bought could stretch over my cycle shoes with the covers on. I bought them in a much larger size in the hopes they would. They did! No more sitting in snow and slush to do the cycle shoes. I can prep my feet in the relative comfort of the storage room and walk up without busting my knees or worse. Yay!

I was settling the last few things at the top of the tiny parking lot when an older man stopped to look at us. He called out a greeting and walked over to say hi to Loke. We had a nice little chat about the furball and where I was from. He wished me a good ride and wandered on.

It was after 10 am when I clipped in and we rolled out. With it over 40 F and the warm sun, the street was surprisingly clear of the worst snow and slush. I took pity on Loke and let him stretch his legs a bit into a 10 mph lope. He kept giving me nervous little glances perhaps expecting me to squeeze the brakes and say, ‘Easy’.

Mushy, wet snow = Hard work!

Mushy, wet snow = Hard work!

The cycle paths weren’t nearly as clear as the road had been, except for a few stretches, totalling less than a mile of the 5.23 we did.

I had planned to do 12+ miles of the Läby loop, but given the chunky tires, difficult conditions of melting snow, and my reduced fitness level, such a plan was over ambitious. I settled for chewing my way through the River Loop, adding an extra mile. Thin clouds came in and reduced the sun’s intensity a little, but the day was still beautiful. Monday it might have been, but the cycle path was packed with people, walking mostly.

I felt every bit of the distance when I arrived back at the parking lot. It had felt a lot harder for that 5+ miles than the 8+ mile ride from Uppsala to Storvreta. Just goes to show how much having well packed, frozen snow is better than mush. That and the 15-20 mph tail wind.

But I felt pretty good after the ride. Keeping an average cadence of 69 RPM (up from 67!) left me a little wobbly in the knees, but ‘workout’ ache in my muscles was in reasonable bounds. It’s starting to look like whatever was going on with the extreme muscle burn and fatigue the first month or more on hypertension medication has lightened up. Still notice it quite a bit when walking, but still not nearly as bad. That’s a bit of stress off the mind!

Now, I’m going to get ready to go for another ride on another stunningly pretty day!

He’s Home!
February 6, 2015, 7:46 am
Filed under: Misc

And fingers crossed it’s for a long while.

5 days. That’s how long poor fuzzy was at the hospital.

The staff was very nice about calling me every day, generally between 1 and 2 pm to give me an update. I dropped off batches of boiled reindeer a couple times since they didn’t want to shock his already distressed system by a sudden food change. I decided it was best to not visit him. If I did that, he’d only have wound himself up, thinking he was getting to come home only to have his hopes dashed.

By Tuesday evening, I was starting to worry that maybe he wouldn’t be coming home at all. Thankfully the vets managed to get some kind of control. They put him through a battery of tests. The ultrasound found nothing abnormal (Loke looks quite odd with a shaved belly). They did some kind of test for inflammation values. Normal is 7, Loke’s were 51. His folic acid levels were off. Something slightly off with his liver values, but they determined that it’s working as it should. He had the specialists scratching their collective heads.

So, they kept him hooked to an IV so he’d stay hydrated and something for nausea. Wednesday, I finally got the call they would like to discharge him as they’ve gotten him stable and he’s acting like there’s not a thing wrong in the world with him. I gave them some time to process paper work and rushed off to get him.

I didn’t have much of a wait before I was admitted into something like an exam room. The vet there was a very nice man who had finished his basic degree and was sort of interning around to decide if he wanted to specialize. I joked about Loke being a good oddity to show students. He laughed, saying the specialists had hogged him to themselves. Then he gave me a rundown of everything. He warned me that Loke had a bit of a raw spot on the top of his nose.

Apparently, bored out of his mind, Loke amused himself with the only thing available to him. Blankets. So, he’d shred the blanket in the bottom of his cage and then push the pieces around and around with his nose. They’d clean it up and were too kind to leave Loke without something soft to lay on and he’d start over with the new blanket. So, all the nosing around left a shallow wound. He went through something like 6 blankets.

The vet then went to get Loke.

He blasted in like a force of nature. My fuzzy buddy was insane with joy to see me. He was even jumping up to lick my face. Loke is not, nor ever has been, a face licker. I hugged him and petted him. The vet smiled. He told me that Loke was one of the best behaved dogs he’d ever seen (except for blanket destruction). No matter what they wanted to do to him, he’d just let them. No struggling, no aggression, just unhappy resignation and quick to forgive when they were done.

Loke's first walk after the hospital

Loke’s first walk after the hospital

Then Loke got a bit bossy. His ears took that devilish angle and he started hooking his claws into my sleeve to pull at me. Even left a scratch on my arm. I was shocked. The vet grinned as I pushed Loke away and made him lay down. Then he started woofing, but that was better than clawing at me.

I felt pretty happy as we drove away, me heading directly to the city forest. Loke was still highly wound up. 5 days of cage rest did not agree with his mental state. He let loose a few soul-rending howls.

He was so happy to bound through the snow as we set out along some of the paths through the woods. I felt even better when he went potty and it was fairly normal. It might have been part of the reason he was so rude during check-out as we’d barely gone 50 yards.

Of course, I couldn’t walk very long.  It would have been easier if I’d stuck to the major paths which had been plowed, graveled and well traveled into icey, flat surfaces. I preferred to be away from the milling masses and many, many other dogwalkers. So, for us it was smaller trails and bridle paths.

My relief didn’t last very long. Shortly after the first time, he went again and it was loose. I stopped and considered taking him right back to the hospital. He stood there, waiting for me to move again. Ears up and eyes bright as he wagged his tail in his cutest, ‘We walk more! Please?’ expression. That look combined with the orange bandage, shaved tummy and sore nose, I just couldn’t do it. I had medication for him.

If he wasn’t suffering and it didn’t get any worse, I’d simply keep him as happy as I could while he medicated. At least until his nose got better. Taking him back to cage rest after so short a walk was just too cruel.

The deer were in the open on other side of the snow draped fence.

The deer were in the open on other side of the snow draped fence.

We started the turn back toward the parking lot, me wading through about 6 inches of churned snow. We were approaching an open area, bordered by Swedish traditional rail fencing and trees. Loke found something to sniff and I stopped to let him have his fill. Beyond the fences and in the open. Something moved. A deer.

It seemed to see us, freezing and looking in our direction through the trees. Loke was oblivious. Then the deer flashed it’s tail and trotted off toward the trees around the old quarry pits as I fumbled in my coat pocket for my iPhone. Another bounded in its wake, and still one more. 5 deer pranced and jumped through the snowy clearing while I struggled to get my phone out for a picture. I was too slow and the deer too fast. Still it was so neat! Loke didn’t look up from whatever smell had his attention until it was too late.

He was a little disappointed when the walk was over so soon, but he was only slightly a pest once we got home. By the evening, he was back to his happy self as I went out for frequent little walks around the block.

He’s still on medication and I still worry at the gurgling of his tummy, but just trying to take one day at a time. At least he’s home and happy for now. Fingers crossed it lasts!

January Wrap Up
February 1, 2015, 7:12 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

After the awesome ride on 24th, the weather stubbornly remained uncooperative. Jens had to travel so all of Loke’s walks fell to me. Cycling him on Monday and Tuesday (26th & 27th) was a no go. Too many errands. Appointment with the doctor on Monday, the need to drive to Stockholm area for more reindeer for Loke, vet appointments and such. By the time everything was done, there wasn’t enough light to go ride.

At least the vet and I settled on a treatment for Loke’s foot which didn’t involve antibiotics. She took a careful scraping to look at it. Instead of finding the expected yeast, she found bacteria. It would seem that the anti-fungal shampoo was doing it’s job, but germs had moved in to keep it from healing up. So, she gave me a tube of antiseptic cream.

Jens was back on Wednesday. By then I was desperate to ride. In spite of eating better, my cholesterol levels were up. In a ‘healthy’ non-stroke prone person, they wouldn’t even bother to treat it, but in me they want it down. Since my diet has improved, the only other reason I can think for it to happen is I’ve been riding so much less. I’m guessing walking for more than 1 to 1.5 hours a day isn’t enough to counter pedaling for 3-6 hours a week.

So, on Wednesday, with no major errands to attend, out the door I went for a ride. Loke was thrilled with it. Me less so. It was above freezing and raining pretty good. Of course, the weather being what it’s been if I keep letting it stop me…

So out I went. Miserable from the get go. The 6-8 inches of snow covering the slope up from the storage was an obstacle. Holding as much water as soaked sponge, it was hard to push the trike through to the top of the ramp. Even my awesome Icebug boots slipped. Gave me images of Sisyphus and his boulder.

Once in the parking area, the rain increased. Such a delight to sit on a plastic bag over slush while wrestling with all the things necessary to save my feet from frost bite. It kept my rump out of the icy mire, but not my legs. Damping and shivering from 35 F rain, I was finally ready to go.

Miserable, miserable, miserable

Miserable, miserable, miserable

It was a hard slog. All the ice and snow packed down on the streets and paths had turned into a thick slush. In most places, it felt more like pedaling through damp, churned sand. I had to work hard for every foot we covered, my studded rear wheel slipping several inches for each turn. The rain pattered against my helmets brim and wind pushed droplets onto my glasses.

Bless his furry cuteness, Loke did his best to help. The rain was enough to aggravate me, but for once, he didn’t seem to mind it. He was just too happy to be out and moving with the trike. No sign of limping from the little wound the infection had made on his foot. With less than 24 hours of treatment, it was hard to see if was working, but at least he hadn’t worsened.

Free and clear!!

Free and clear!!

The bad surface conditions just sucked the strength and will to pedal out of me. I cut it shorter than I’d intended and made the turn back toward the storage. It was going to leave us with less than 3 miles. At least the last half mile along Svartbäck’s Road was blissfully clear of ice and snow. Rather the cycle path on the western side of the road was, the other had the same layer of sand-like mush the rest of the ride had been plagued with.

Arrived back at the storage and put everything away. After locking up, I started digging for my car keys as I walked. No key. Panicked, I went back into the storage and looked through every bag in and around the trike, looked over the floor. After carefully emptying the handlebar bag where I knew I’d put the key, the sinking realization it must have somehow fallen out.

During this panicked frenzy, Jens called for me to pick him up from the trainstation. I had to admit the loss of the key. Given I’d already had lost my house keys earlier in the day, he was peeved. Me? I was in full blown panic.

Panic gave way to resignation. I locked back up and started to plod through the rain, my eyes scanning along the areas I’d ridden. Jens called back and asked where I was. He was surprised when I answered, ‘Walking the route to look for the key’. Of course, he wondered why I didn’t just ride it again. I couldn’t handle the struggle getting the trike back out. It would have taken me 20 minutes or more and meant sitting in slush to do the shoes again and… I just couldn’t do it. Besides, walking was slower which meant less chance that I’d miss spotting it.

I found it about .75 mile from the storage. It was laying on the side of the cycle path in the soggy snow. I picked it up and started trudging back. The walk back was when my body really started to complain. At least Loke was happy. Running back and forth on the flexi-leash with plenty of time to sniff for other dogs and small critters. To say, Jens was shocked I found it is an understatement.

To add to the aggravation of the loss was that I had very carefully tucked the key in the same pocket with my phone and wallet. The area it had fallen out was no where near where I’d taken the first iPhone photo of the ride. Generally, I just chuck the key in a random pocket on my handlebar bag, often forgetting to zip it shut. It often seems that when I try to be careful of something, disaster happens. Be neglectful and careless, all is good. *eye roll*

After that difficult slog with a laughably short ride followed by hellish walk, I decided to take a couple days rest. I was going to aim for another ride on Saturday for Loke and I. Maybe even see if we could talk Jens into driving us for some where fresh to roll around.

Fate had other ideas. Friday had been a nice quiet day. A few walks with Loke as Jens had flown to Denmark (or was it Finland?) for meetings over the day. The fuzzy was as bouncy as ever and still thrilled to death to be chomping on boiled reindeer for each and every meal. Jens came home about 6 pm and we walked to the local grocery for us to get something for dinner. Loke still was fine and got into nothing during the walk.

About 10 pm, we began to get ready for bed. In the kitchen, I was scooping more reindeer in Loke’s bowl, when Jens commented from the livingroom, ‘Loke’s not in there watching you.’ I turned to look and sure enough, empty kitchen.

I took the bowl into the living room where Loke sat, looking rather miserable. I held out the bowl, ‘You want this?’. He turned away, with a sort of swallowing motion. If he’d been a person, he’d have been saying, ‘Oh, GOD no! Please! Take it away before I hurl!’

I set it down in case he felt better later and wanted it. 50 minutes later, he threw up. His dinner was still untouched in the bowl. I got up to clean it and went back to bed. About 1:30 am, he threw up again. Jens got up and cleaned it. Most of the night, I could hear him doing the swallowing thing, trying not to be sick again. His stomach made the loudest noises. He had trouble settling, which I think was because his stomach or intestines hurt.

I woke around 5 am because it was so very quiet. Getting up, I found Loke utterly flat on his side and he didn’t so much as blink as I came up to him. I’ll admit to a bit of fright as I gently shook him and finally blinked while swiveling an ear. Took him out for a walk and he seemed to perk up a bit. Oddly, he’d kinda swerve in front of me and stop to look into my eyes. I think he was trying to tell me, ‘Something’s wrong. Make it all better.’ He’s always been the sort of dog who comes to me or Jens when he has problems. Gets tangled in his leash? He stands quietly and looks at us until we fix it. When we would give him a Kong, he would nose at it for a few minutes and then drop it in our laps to get the goodies out for him. Chewing a raw hide? He’ll bring it over to us to hold when he couldn’t get a good grip on it to chew.

We walked to the end of the median but when I turned back, he wanted to cross over to the little park. So, we did. On the walk back home, he suddenly had it from both ends. Even after it was over, he stopped a few times and would try to sit or lay in the snow which is unusual for me. It was clearly uncomfortable, even painful.

Back home, woke Jens up. As we talked, Loke still would try to sit or lay, but just couldn’t settle. Poor furbaby was groaning and sighing. It was only 8 am and the clinic didn’t open until 11. I was too worried to wait.

So, Jens called the Uppsala University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. They could see him right away, even recommended it as Loke was lethargic as well as nauseous. So, Jens dropped me off at their new building. No reason for both of us to be there. The vet nurse asked if it was okay that a student would see Loke first. I didn’t mind. Loke wasn’t in severe distress, just uncomfortable. Taking a little time to let the next generation of vets get experience was no problem.

The student made friendly overtures to Loke, which he warily ignored. After that, she took copious notes as she asked about the progression of his current difficulties and also showed she’d looked at his files by asking about his allergies. She gave him a look over and then went to report to the vet.

The vet came in. A very nice woman. She also examined Loke, asking questions which I let the student answer from her notes. I hardly had to add anything. The vet wanted to admit Loke. IV hydration and 24 hours without food along with some meds (anti-nausea and pain) to make him more comfortable. She wanted to run tests, though that would have to wait until Monday as all their labs were closed over the weekend. Most important of those was a very detailed ultrasound to check his intestines. She asked if they could have some of Loke’s reindeer for later Sunday to feed him rather than risk an abrupt change to his diet. I also had Jens bring Loke’s foot medication.

So, that’s how things stand now. I hope the vet calls today. I may have Jens call them to see if they need yet more reindeer for the fuzzy. Part of me feels a bit better about him being in the hospital. They have more direct access to specialists than our vet clinic. Steena has been trying to get a response from specialists via phone or e-mail for over a week. Maybe we can figure out what has been plaguing my fuzzy for over a month now. Get it fixed. He’s not a young dog any more. It’s harder for him to bounce back from illness than it was 5 or more years ago.