Terii’s Cycling Babble


Free! Free! Muahahaha!
May 5, 2015, 4:29 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Yep! Still riding!

April 20th was another loop through the northeastern part of Uppsala with a cut over to Granby/Vaksala and a little extra to round out the distance to roughly 10 miles.

It was actually a pretty miserable ride. My legs tired quickly. They felt strong from a pedaling standpoint, but just ran out of juice fast during the stretches I had to crank the most. The sun struggled to get enough light through the clouds to cast hints of shadows, but no more than that. The wind whipped out of the north with the bite that north winds always have in this part of the world. Loke was sluggish which worried me, but since his appetite had been great and he was his normal, crazy self away from the trike.

Random springtime photo

Random springtime photo

Got home, shivering and exhausted. Annoyingly, less than 2 hours later, the skies cleared, wind died. It had become a perfect day to ride. All I had needed to do was wait until after lunch.

I settled in for my 2 days rest after that ride. It didn’t quite happen that way. Wednesday, April 22, Jens wheedled me into going to our favorite restaurant. It’s been soooo long since we were there last and they’ll be closing for the summer soon. It didn’t take too much effort on his part. As I said, our fav restaurant and I’m so incredibly bored with my low cholesterol diet. My attempts to find yummy (to me) things that fit the bill has been failing miserable. The responses to trying new low cholesterol recipes have ranged from ‘Meh’ to ‘I’ll never eat this again’.

Part of that wheedling from Jens was also that I take Loke out for a run in the hopes he’d be more settled to be left alone for a couple hours. It skewed my planned ride schedule, but for such a worthy cause, out the door we went. My legs continued with the ‘tired by strong’ sensation as we went out for an extended River Loop. I felt a bit frustrated with Mr. Drag-Butt, aka Loke. At least the weather was pretty. Sunny, on the edge of the warm side and barely any wind.

The dinner was wonderful and the staff spoiled us. Our absence was apparently noticed.

Later that evening, Jens and I found some strange little growth on Loke face. Only about the size of a pea, it had the appearance of a flesh colored bit of cauliflower and was mushy.

So, I made an appointment to get it checked for the very next day. The vet aspirated it and sent the samples off to the lab. It came back with so few cells they couldn’t positively identify it, but even that result was enough for the vet to say it’s some kind of benign growth. If it doesn’t change and isn’t causing him any issues, when we’ll just leave it be.

Successfully held out for 2 days of rest. They were not spent idle. Loke and I went for a walk in the woods where he began his tick collection. I also had a sewing frenzy to make a padded bag to cover the back wheel area of the trike. Other bags will come. One for the pedal boom, one for the upper part of the trike seat because the ends of the hose clamps holding Loke’s running bar can be quite abrasive, and eventually even for the front wheels to be used during the winter studded tire season.

Had to sew that first big bag by hand and will likely do so for the rest. The fabric was just too thick for my little sewing machine, yet I wanted it done for Saturday, April 25th. Determination to ride other than local filled my fingers with speed and dexterity.

Once the last stitch was knotted, I set about plotting a route. First, the idea was to start at Steninge Castle, a bit north and west of Stockholm and then follow various small roads and cycle paths to Sigtuna and onward to Skokloster Castle. Time ticked by and the effort to find a safe route made me want to pull my hair.

Mostly, it came to a 2 mile stretch, gradual climb. Though it was marked as a regional cycle route, I did not want to be on that section of road. Speed limit about 50 mph, but drivers zip through there at 70+, absolutely no shoulder and metal barricade almost right up to the edge of the narrow, 2 lane road with less than a foot between white line and metal. Busy, narrow 2 lane road. A recipe for disaster for a standard bike, let alone a recumbent trike requiring an extra 2+ feet of husky and running bar. Short of an extra 100 miles or so, no way to avoid it. A bit much for a day ride, I thought.

Miffed, I changed my sights to starting from Sigtuna and just going south and east chasing runestones and all the other things I like to discover.

By the time I had general plan mapped, I was feeling stressed. It was coming up on midday and left me feeling pressed for time. I kept reminding myself that it barely gets dark enough for lights even at 8 pm. It looked mostly murky gray as I dressed, so I pulled on a light wool thermal under my top.

Getting the trike ready took a bit of juggling. The new car is apparently a bit tighter in the cargo area than the Ford Mondeo was. Couldn’t get the seat in with the running bar. Fortunately, we picked up a little ratchet set not too long ago. Loosening the bar from the seat took less than 10 minutes. It would have been less than 5 minutes except I had left the old hose clamps on.

Loke seemed a bit excited as we headed out, pacing around in the back seat and staring out at the scenery. When we arrived in Sigtuna, using the parking lot of a middle school for me to ready the trike, he was completely bonkers. Running around with Jens at the end of his leash. The direction he was most determined to go while I worked as down a cycle path that headed through some trees. It also surprised me to feel a bit overdressed with that extra layer of thin wool.

Soon I was settled and we rolled out in front of Jens. I steered us away from the cycle path as Jens warned me someone had smashed a vodka bottle there. Didn’t want to end the outing even before it started with punctured tires and shredded husky feet. Loke hopped at the end of the tether, straining to drag me up the hill from the parking to the road, ears back and tongue flopping in determination.

St. Pers Church Ruin

St. Pers Church Ruin

In less than 200 yards, I annoyed him by steering us up a hill toward the first POI of the day. St. Pers Church ruin. I ended up bumping us through grass and roots while zigging around huge stones. I’d forgotten that the path up to the ruins proper was on the other side, but I got us there. Then in another cruel twist, I left Loke with the trike as I walked up the rest of the way to look inside.

Kinda glad I left Loke waiting or I wouldn’t have gotten to meet one of the tiniest, cutest chihuahua pups I’ve ever seen. The little sweetheart was almost small enough to sit on the palm of my hand with a long silky coat. Loke might have inhaled him without even noticing. He was a little timid, but once he gave my fingers a little sniff, he was all love. He even jumped to give my face a lick as I stooped to greet him.

Interior of the ruin back to entrance

Interior of the ruin back to entrance

Uppland Runestone #394

Uppland Runestone #394

I’ve peeked into the ruin once before, maybe twice though I can’t remember for certain. The first time I was in Sigtuna was my first year here in Sweden. Jens brought me here to hobble around in an effort to distract me from the pain of a blood clot in my leg.

The second time was with my father, though perhaps we didn’t actually go into the ruin. Still we took him to Sigtuna to enjoy the scenery of the lake over lunch and wander around the small medieval heart of the village.

Loke woofed at me to get a move on when I returned to the trike. He still got to wait as I put the camera and handlebar bags back in their places.

A small group of Japanese tourists came walking up the path and stopped to stare at the trike and Loke. The 5 young men and one young woman seemed enchanted by Loke in particular. The girl lifted her phone and asked, ‘Picture?’ in accented English. I smiled and said, ‘Of course!’ She clucked at Loke, trying to get him to look at her before his highness finally graced her with his gaze. Then she thanked me and they walked on.

Uppland Runestone #393

Uppland Runestone #393

Loke was raring to go as I sat back down. He didn’t get to run like he wanted though. We took a left from the ruin to climb back the way we’d come for me to take a narrow little lane that would take us past another 2 stones. I only found one of them though, Uppland Rune Inscription #393.

Fascinating to think this stone has remained standing in the very place it was first erected over 9 centuries ago. Buildings came and went, gone to ruin and used to construct newer buildings, but the stone had endured. Have to admire that really.

I had to wonder as well if either the flattened ground of the path leading up and around the hill or the small street I’d rolled down were the remains of the ancient viking road it once stood beside. Also, what a very nice brother to do a memorial to his two sisters. Very uncommon for stones to be erected for women back then though they commissioned them for husbands, fathers and brothers all the time.

Loke was laying down next to the trike, his eyes reproachful as I settled back down. Clearly, he didn’t believe he’d get a proper run at this rate. Which, he was right for as long as we were in Sigtuna. So much to see!

Part of old Sigtuna

Part of old Sigtuna

Uppland Runestone #389 - I believe

Uppland Runestone #389 – I believe

He did get to stretch his legs a little as we closed the runestone loop and shot off to the south and east. We did almost a 200 meter dash before I stopped for another photo. Poor fuzzy.

A bit of doubling around as I searched for another stone, but it eluded me. Though it would mean yet more looping and doubling, I brought us out on the cycle path that runs along the lake. It’s just too pretty to resist.

Beautiful, but BRRRRRR!

Beautiful, but BRRRRRR!

Suddenly, I was very glad for that thin layer of extra wool though it wasn’t up to the task of keeping me warm. The wind shrieked across the water and had a bitter chill with it. Even with my soft windbreaker I was cold. A few times, it almost felt as if I could have gone parasailing with that wind and my helmet with the Da Brim. Loke hunched his head down as he loped or jogged along, hugging against the side of the trike in an effort to avoid the occasional splash of spray from larger wind-driven waves tossing on the rocks.

Stone labyrinth at the lake side

Stone labyrinth at the lake side

Just as I was about to cut away from the lake path in search of the next ruin, I found a stone labyrinth that I don’t remember having seen before. Just must have missed it somehow as it doesn’t appear to be less than centuries old by the state of the stones. Couldn’t find any information on it. What also confused me was heraldry symbol painted on the stone, a yellow (gold) crown on a blue field with three white dots. The crown looks a bit like the ones on the modern coat of arms for Swedish royalty. I guess I should have gone to look if it was just painted on or if there was some hint of a carving that defined that paint work. If so, it would be the first heraldry I’ve seen on any kind of possibly ancient stone work. Made me wonder if this is actually a mock up of some kind. Can’t find any information on it clarify.

Building that caught my eye while tourist dodging

Building that caught my eye while tourist dodging

Cutting over to the next ruins turned into a bit of a frustration. The little alley ways that went in the direction I wanted were banned to all but pedestrians. I decided not to play the rebel at that point and simply doubled back a way before giving up and looping back along the lake again. I followed the lake path a little further down before cutting up onto a bigger road.

What a headache. The street was crowded with tour buses and cars zipping around in desperate search for parking while dodging the hoards of tourists who were apparently staying off the lake shore out the worst of the winds.

Uppland Runestone Nf 56

Uppland Runestone Nf 56

Still, the detour took me to another ruin I’d almost forgotten about.

I could make out the remains of the tower through the trees, which is all that is left of St. Lars Church as I made a turn onto the path toward it. Right at the edge of the path was Uppland Runestone Nf 56.

This stone was a recent discovery. Many stones have been studied and cataloged by runic scholars centuries ago, mentioned in papers dating back to the 1600’s or earlier. All that remains of some stones are those writings with rubbings and sketches by earlier scholars, which is rather sad. This one was found in the ruins of St. Lars church in 1956. It delights me that they’re still finding stones even to this day. I remember one found in the area of Stockholm last year or maybe the year before.

I always have to laugh when finding stones that someone’s erected to themselves. Such blatant displays of ego… says the blogger. Yes, the irony is not missed.

U Nf-56 was probably carved by our old friend, Runemaster Fot. I think I’ve found about a dozen stones believed to have been carved by him. Good ole, busy Fot.

St. Lars Church Ruin

St. Lars Church Ruin

Loke pulled to hurry us up the path toward the tower ruin. He needn’t have rushed. After all, I had to stop to photograph the ruin once clear of the trees and again for another stone by the path.

Uppland Runestone #390

Uppland Runestone #390

I got up to photograph battered looking Uppland Runestone #390. It was apparently scattered through parts of Sigtuna, the largest piece spent time as a front step for one of the houses on Storgatan (Big Street, or perhaps Main Street).

Unexpected circles...

Unexpected circles…

As I grabbed the camera and rose, I noticed some pretty purple flowers growing out of the grass to my left, but nothing special jumped out at me about them. It wasn’t until I turned and had a clear look from my more elevated standing position that they gave me pause. The pretty, vivid purple blooms outlined 5 or 6 perfect circles.

I know mushrooms can grow this way, forming fairy circles, but I’ve never heard of flowers doing it. Also, the circles were all of identical size which wouldn’t happen naturally. Some underlying man-made influence was clearly causing it. I thought perhaps they were growing around the foundations of church columns, but they don’t quite line up for that. Regardless of why, it was still an intriguing phenomenon.

Poor Loke was still raring to pull when I settled in the seat again. The curve of the path took us up a small hill and then down to the road again while I followed it down to the next ruin.

St. Olof's Church Ruin

St. Olof’s Church Ruin

Cars and buses still zipped around as I dodged pedestrians. I pulled over to the edge of the street for the photo of St. Olaf’s church ruin.

The clock was ticking on my already late start, so I was feeling a bit rushed to get finished with Sigtuna and push on. Because of that, I didn’t stop to go look in one of the best preserved of the ruined churches in the town. Not to mention the sheer amount of traffic was starting to get to me. I wanted to be away from it a little, get some speed down and enjoy more of the new territory.

I know Loke felt the same. He’d been pulling like a furry, little freight train for every 100 yard stretch we did, trying to get us faster and faster only to have me lurching to a stop for photos.

I doubled back to return to the river path where we’d left it last. The wind buffeted us as I let Loke pull us along at an easy 11 mph lope. His jaws gaped in pure husky delight complete with flopping tongue as he did what he loves most in the world, other than eating that is. In mere moments, we were crossing the narrow little channel that separates Sigtuna from the Märsta

Spring lends beauty even to housing blocks

Spring lends beauty even to housing blocks

The area there is pretty well developed. It’s close enough to Stockholm to be easily commuted, but outside the city so better property values and, well, OUT of the city with all its noise and other associated problems.

Something poignant about a dead tree in spring

Something poignant about a dead tree in spring

Between Sigtuna and Märsta proper was an area without seemingly without housing on the maps, but showed a cycle path. I expected some kind of gravel path once we broke free of the residential zones. Instead, I found a paved cycle road in decent condition running between fields and along tree lines. Loke was thrilled to bits because I wasn’t stopping every 5-10 minutes. He jogged along at a brisk 8 mph when he wasn’t pulling into a 10+ mph lope. He gave me irritated little side glances when I’d feather the brakes to keep him below 12 mph.

It was a combination of the hillier terrain and Loke’s enthusiasm that made me realize the trike’s brakes need replacing. We were heading down a hill when I wanted to offer Loke water. I squeezed the brakes and slowed, but the combination of gravity and Loke’s efforts kept us moving. Though tightly gripping the disc, the pads lacked the friction to stop us. I finally had to crank the parking brake, which thankfully is still awesome. That little realization made me more careful on the downhills.

Old farmhouse and buildings

Old farmhouse and buildings

Speaking of Loke’s efforts, those were a huge relief to me and not just because of the help on hills. The past 5-10 posts, I’ve been fretting about his lack of speed and ‘oomph’. It left me wondering if he was sick in some way or age had finally hit him like a pile of bricks. Saturday, April 25th’s little jaunt through some of the northern suburbs of Stockholm and bits of country side with a high powered, raring-to-go husky proved that, for now, it’s all been boredom. While frustrating, it’s certainly better than something physically wrong with my furball.

Norrsunda Kyrka

Norrsunda Kyrka-May 2010

I really have ridden far and wide in the years since getting my first trike. Nowadays it takes a significant drive for me to go any distance without ending up on some road or trail I’ve not rolled before.

This ride was no exception when I turned up at Norrsunda Church, which according to legend is haunted by a chatty ghost. This is one of my favorite churches as the additions have been left so distinctive. The exterior is almost a road map for the centuries it has endured. I find it lends greater charm than those churches with medieval roots that have been ‘whitewashed’ as it were into 1700-1800’s versions of themselves.

Cycle paths were left behind once we left the area of Norrsunda church. But the roads were small and only lightly trafficked. There was also the delightful, green signs of the Sverigeleden. I’ve pretty much given up on any hope of riding huge portions of that path criss-crossing Sweden with spurs into Norway and Finland, yet seeing those signs makes me smile.

Old Smithy

Old Smithy

I cranked up an overpass that led across the E4 and the main rail lines between Uppsala and Stockholm. As we coasted down toward our next turn, a cluster of buildings off to the right caught my eye. Like runestones, certain buildings leap out at me. Almost always, they’re centuries old, harkening back to an earlier time and earlier ways. A closer look was in order.

As I searched for the turn, we passed an old gas station. A tiny wooden box with a big window to the front, showing off a counter with an older cash register and chair. Nothing else. About 10 feet away from that meager shelter from the elements was an old pump the faded banana yellow. It wasn’t one of the really old kind with the glass jar and hand pump, but 1950, perhaps 40’s at earliest. Still neat to see, but I was trying to save the brakes.

A 'Fattigstuga' (poor cottage) at Norrsunda

A ‘Fattigstuga’ (poor cottage) at Norrsunda

Tied with Smithy as my fav building at site

Tied with Smithy as my fav building at site

Found the turn, a small dead end little street. 5 or 6 buildings sat at the end on the right. An old smithy, several little buildings designated as ‘fattigstuga’ and a mystery building with no windows but a little bell frame on one end, all clustered together. ‘Fattig’ in Swedish means poor so perhaps this was a Swedish countryside version of poor houses. Honestly, they looked no different than any other farm houses of the time. I would say they weren’t even smaller.

I left Loke with the trike and was woofed at for such cruelty. Dealing with him and the camera just takes time and I still felt a bit rushed thanks to the late start and slow beginning in Sigtuna.

A 'double' cabin

A ‘double’ cabin

A car crept by, little faces smooshed against the windows with wide eyes staring in amazement at Loke or the trike. Perhaps both.

Lake Fysinge

Lake Fysingen

From there we had a bit of a coast out from the trees and onto a lovely country road. It roughly followed the north and eastern shore of a lake, wending through fields. The wind was brisk, but not as crazy as it had been in Sigtuna. At times, the rise of the road would give us glimpses of Lake Fysingen a bit distant.

Skånela Church

Skånela Church

The clouds thickened and every now and again, I’d feel the chill touch of a random water droplet. It was cold enough that the prospect of getting damp was not a bright one. It was all the convincing needed to designate the end of the ride at the church who’s tower peeked above the distant trees.

It was nearing 5 pm as we closed the last mile to the church and I was looking forward to finishing the ride in spite of the fact, it looked like it was to fall just short of being the new longest ride since my stroke.

That was when I spotted a sign for Skånelaholm Manor. I had completely forgotten about the castle. I’d marked it on the map, but hadn’t looked at any of the printouts in miles and miles. I stopped at the turn to take a look at how far it was. Right at half a mile, which for an out and back would give me enough of a boost to comfortably have my new longest, post-stroke ride.

Bump, bump....

Bump, bump….

I have to say, the road did not inspire. It was scattered with big chunks of rock, some over an inch across, and completely lacked any smooth portions to spare Loke’s feet. It also started to rain. At first, that nearly deterred me, but then I came to my senses. What would I be doing if not pedaling toward the castle? Sitting in the rain at the church parking lot, short of my needed distance for a new record.

I set my jaw, hunched down and pressed on.

Stones or not, Loke was still a determined ball of energy. He wanted to try and run on that awful surface. I kept him from doing so as much for the sake of the trike and to keep my teeth from rattling loose as to spare him from folly. It didn’t stop him from giving me annoyed glances when I’d hit my weak brakes to slow him down.

Skånelaholms Castle & 1 of 4 outbuildings

Skånelaholms Castle & 1 of 4 outbuildings

The road smoothed a bit as we made a climb up a hill to get a glimpse of the castle proper. The sight of it surprised me. I’d been there before. No way I could forget the vivid coral hued plaster and distinctive ‘free standing’ wings at the four corners of the courtyard. Jens and I had gotten bored one weekend and did a one day road trip to explore a number of castles in the area. What I mostly associated with this place was flies. Hoards and hoards of biting flies that had chased me back to the car almost as soon as I’d stepped out of it. Thankfully, the little bloodsuckers were no where to be seen this time.

Before we left the castle, I took a picture of the information sign and sent it to Jens via text with ‘Stopping at the church near here’.

Open Air Museum at Skånela with blade-less windmill

Open Air Museum at Skånela with blade-less windmill

Uppland Runestone #297 at Skånela Church

Uppland Runestone #297 at Skånela Church

Loke had plenty of zip as we headed back down the rocky path, pulling hard the entire way. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was trying to shake me loose. Happily, the rain had stopped through the clouds lingers and wind still blustered. As the church neared, I spotted a cluster of old wooden buildings across the street. I rolled down to them in spite of there being almost no space for me to get the trike off the road in front of the gate. Seeing these buildings clinched my certainty that I’d been here, to the castle, church and museum, before. There was no mistaking these buildings and the little windmill to the right lacking it’s blades.

Photos taken, I scooted back to the gander space of the church parking lot just outside the stone wall encircling the grave yard. I took the time to settle Loke, free of harness, in a patch of comfy grass and moss with a full water bowl. Then it was up to the church to see if it was open and hunt for runestones.

Uppland Runestone #297 was standing on the grass hillock right by the path leading to the church door. Sadly the church was closed. Another runestone, a mystery one, sat right against the outer church wall next to the door. Though I photographed the fragment, I decided to save space and skip showing it here.

Uppland Runestone #295

Uppland Runestone #295

As I circled the church, the sun at last made a weak appearance, brightening just enough to highlight the last runestone of the day waiting behind the church.

I’d planned to dismantle the trike once done with photos so as to be ready when Jens arrived. He pulled up just as I was coming back down the path from the church on its low hill. The man made much better time than anticipated.

Loke was thrilled to see Jens and bounced around with him as my hubby wandered in circles around the parking and along the wall for Loke to sniff. The last of the clouds blew away as I stripped the trike down. The story of most of my rides of late. Windy, chill and drizzling while the wheels are rolling only to become glorious once they stop. Tricksy Mother Nature.

Still, it had been wonderful beyond words to be free of the tedium of the local loops. I got to see that Loke is still a healthy strong husky. We had rolled and ran through a fresher landscape while crossing paths with a favorite church as well as visiting a place I’d once explored, briefly, with Jens in the car.

It was freedom and I loved it!

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