Terii’s Cycling Babble

*Cough, Cough, Wheeze*
March 24, 2015, 10:49 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, I managed to be a good girl and take those two consecutive days of rest. Friday wasn’t that difficult as a fair chunk of the day was spent at the local health ward for a follow up on my blood pressure and cholesterol levels. What a nightmare that turned out to be.

My big plan to swap tires was jinxed because of it. Being stabbed with needles with considerable pain as the nurses dug around in search of blood with no results brought a resurgence of my phobia of needles. I’d managed to beat it back somewhat, though having blood taken always left me dry mouthed and light-headed. Injections used to completely freak me out, but that’s improved slightly. Until recently any way. Now blood tests are turning into a big issue.

It’s never been particularly easy to get blood from me. Most times taking two or three attempts. From the moment of the stroke it’s turned into a fiasco. This last time was 3 different nurses, two attempts each. I nearly fainted the first couple jabs and wasn’t much better for the latter 4. They let me go being none the wiser about my cholesterol levels. I would have liked to find out if my dietary misery has been worth it and we’d planned to go to our favorite restaurant that evening. All of it canceled.

After dealing with the heightened ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline rush, I was too shaky and wiped the rest of the day to drag myself to the storage for combat with tires. I wasn’t willing to risk jinxing myself out of a ride by trying the swap before riding on Saturday the 14th either. It was just going to have to wait until the 16th.

Saturday, Jens encouraged me to go ride somewhere else. Offering to have me pick a direction and go where he’d pick me up later. I didn’t really feel up to aiming for Sigtuna. My longest distance since the stroke was barely past the last place I’d stopped on an attempt for that ride. Then it occurred to me, there was something I could do and not a brutal distance either.

Vallsgärde Grave Mounds/Field

Vallsgärde Grave Mounds/Field – Jan 24th, 2015

January 24th, Loke and I went from Uppsala to a little village a short distance north called Storvreta. Not much to see in Storvreta, but on the way there, I’d found a sign pointing to a burial ground down an unpaved section of road. I didn’t go exploring as it wasn’t plowed and quite deep in snow. I told myself I’d have to go when the snow had melted and things dried out. As of March 14th, there was hardly a bit of snow to be found, most of it gone long enough that the ground was drying out from the melt with no additional rain to keep the ground saturated.

Twin Ship Setting From Mound Top

Double ship setting – Oct 2012

Back in January, I mentioned that there ‘ship settings’ found at this burial ground as well as wealth of some of the most impressive finds of helmets in near perfect preservation, weapons, beads and more. Well, that was a mistranslation on my part, facilitated by my expectations. The helmets and other artifacts was correct, but it wasn’t ‘ship settings’ (an outline of standing stones in the shape of a ship hull), but full on, wooden SHIPS. People of social importance buried with full honors in ships and not token row boats either. The smallest was 28 feet long (8.5 m) and the largest 42 feet (12.7 m).

I have to admit, when I realized my mistranslation and understood that actual Viking like ships had been buried there I was over the moon. Seeing the place up close took on a new priority even if there would be very little to see. Not like there was going to be a 1000+ year old carved dragon’s head at the front of a ship sticking out of the ground. But just to know that there had been such things in the earth there.

Jens dropped us off and I set about getting ready. The temperatures were in the 40’s and sunny, but a surprisingly brisk wind with a chilly bite. I’d pulled on a thin layer of wool under my cycle clothes, but it wasn’t enough. Thankfully, I keep a spare heavy, plaid shirt at the storage. As a precaution, I also wrestled the shoe covers on though skipped the foot warmers.

I set out in a cheery mood. Loke was crazed to run, it was beautiful weather even if a little chilly, and I was on my trike. My bright mood dimmed a little by about a half mile. I didn’t feel stronger than the previous ride. Actually, I felt weaker than I had on the 11th in spite of 2 days rest. I thought maybe it could be from the crazy amount of stress thanks to the phobia wracked hours on the 13th.

It's hiding in the shadows...

It’s hiding in the shadows. Tricksy snow!

I set my jaw determinedly and pedalled on. Loke needed a run and the exercise wouldn’t hurt me for that matter. If I added the distance out and back to the burial ground, the ride to Storvreta would be 10 miles more or less.

The furball might have been a little frustrated with the tempo of the ride, but I wasn’t going to kill myself and wanted to enjoy the pretty day. From Uppsala to Storvreta seems to be a general upward grade. Nothing drastic, but enough for me to notice. Loke pulled on the worst of the hills and loped along at about 10 mph on the few downhills we were graced with.

At just 5 miles, we made the turn onto a pebble-strewn unpaved lane with the burial ground in the distance. Loke went completely bonkers. We rolled at a rattling 9+ mph with the ground slanting gently toward the river hidden behind trees. Next to the river, a pair of houses were tucked among the trunks and branches. A man and woman were just getting out of a car at the first one. It was a lovely little place in the traditional Swedish red painted wood cladding with white trimmed windows. Must be at least a couple centuries old. Completely charming.

The road curved there, right at the base of a rather steep and unexpectedly wet climb. If not for the chunky, studded tires, I might have needed to push the trike up. Without Loke’s determined pulling, I might have still needed to. But with a slow pedal grind and my fuzzy partner’s efforts, we crested the hill.

Lovely River View

Lovely River View

The higher ground gave a lovely view of the Fyris River below. A section of the river I’d never seen before. Loke gave me an annoyed sigh as I tromped through the old weeds to an unobstructed view for a photo. I clicked a few when a rustling noise made me turn in surprise just in time to see a hare breaking from cover less than 15 feet away. Loke yodeled and yanked on the tether at the sight of it bolting across the fields.

The road proper ended a few yards on at a parking area for the burial ground. Signs indicated the site was half a kilometer further on down a track banned to cars. It was one of those lanes with twin lines of dirt packed by car tires divided by a grassy strip between. I found myself grinning at the fact that I didn’t have to park and walk. I could just blythely cycle on.

Vallsgärde Grave Mounds/Field

Vallsgärde Grave Mounds/Field

Something about that narrow little lane really drove Loke wild. He pulled us up the slight rise, breath ragged against the straps of his harness as I pedalled as furiously as I could to take some of the strain. We rolled to a stop, parking near the signs at the base of the mounds.

View from the top

View from the top

Loke’s delight continued when I leashed him and headed up the mounds. He charged ahead, stopping just short of yanking at the end of the leash before flinging himself down into the short clipped grass. Jaws wide in a husky smile of pure bliss, he rolled onto his back and wiggled down the slope like a furry, inverted snake.

As predicted, there was very little to see. The breeze, brisk at lower elevations was a full blown furious wind that buffeted us around at the top. I walked around the various ripples and folds of ground on the mound, finding some shelter from wind amongst the tall bushes. A few of the smaller hollows, I imaged were dig sites from the archeological work between 1926 through to the 1950’s.

It was after 3 pm when we made it back to the cycle path along Vattholma Road to continue north. The sun was getting a bit low and the cold in the air getting a bit sharper. I decided to not bother pushing on to Storvreta. I didn’t relish dealing with a stressful retrieval in a too busy, too small parking lot of the local grocery there.

About a mile before Storvreta, there is a garden shop Jens and I have been to a couple times. Almost across the street from it is a little nature reserve, which might be another burial ground. I decided that would be a nice place to stop. Fairly quiet and a good place to walk around with Loke while waiting for Jens.

My timing was pretty good actually. After we’d walked about 20 minutes, I went back to the trike to rest my weary legs. With the sun disappearing behind the tree line and the fact I wasn’t generating extra body heat, it got cold fast. My hands were very unhappy by the time Jens arrived. We managed to get the trike in the new car without any disasters and zipped back home.

I’d enjoyed the day, getting to see the burial ground, but there was a layer of frustration and disappointment. The fact I’d not only not felt improved over the last ride, but even did worse from a performance standpoint.

I was still determined to hold to my schedule though. 2 days of rest were to be followed by 2 consecutive days ride, a day of rest, another ride before starting the cycle again.

I felt a little achy in the legs as I pushed the trike up the ramp on Sunday, March 15th. The feeling didn’t improve as I set out with the intention of a river loop at minimum. It felt like the end of an Ironman competition. My legs had no strength and ached like mad. My left hip was killing me. The ride went from River Loop to being cut as short as I could that didn’t feel like I was completely cheating Loke. 3.77 miles with a cadence of 65 RPM (down from 70+).

More unexpected was during the first five minutes, my throat developed a raw, itchy soreness. By 10 minutes into the outing, I felt like I’d gargled battery acid. It was a cold. A bad one. The worst I’ve had in some years and so my one day of rest has stretched into 9 days as of now. Coughing so bad that it left me retching in between convulsions, groggy to the point of being unable to form coherent thought at times. The past 2 days have been better, but it’s seems to be slow going.

It’s left me so very angry and frustrated. I felt like I was starting to make progress (before Saturday the 14th) and it seemed my new schedule of rides was helping with consistency as well as stamina. Only now, I’m going to have to start all over again. I read that muscle tone starts diminishing after 72 hours. Well, it’s been 3 times that now.

Yeah, I want to rip my hair out and scream… if I didn’t think it would trigger a coughing fit.

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