Terii’s Cycling Babble

Playing Catch-Up
July 11, 2015, 4:18 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

An attempt at least.

Let’s see… Right! My foot!

Random Apple Blossoms on Random Ride

Random Apple Blossoms on Random Ride

That’s been one of the big sticking points with rides lately. The Plantar Fasciitis has been coming and going. It seems to be tied to my cycling though it might be more to do with walking since I adjusted the pedal boom. Did I mention I’d adjusted it? If not, well, I did it a couple months ago at least. The first ride after the adjustment was very short because I hadn’t clamped the boom back in place tight enough and it twisted when I pedaled with any appreciable force.

I did go to a physical therapist. She gave me some stretches which helped and I was off the trike for a few days. Rode and the pain kinda returned again. I’ve been playing tag with it since. It’s been pretty absent the last few days, of course, today was the first day on the trike in over 4 days. We had a little heatwave roll through, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The fruits of my cycling labors. ;)

The fruits of my cycling labors. 😉

Most of my rides have been local. The River Loop (naturally) and a lot of rolling through downtown Uppsala. With the warm months comes the big produce stand at Vaksala Torg near the train station in Uppsala. Parking a car even for a few minutes anywhere close to the square is a huge PTA, so when I crave fresh, awesome fruit (often), I take the trike. It helps when the tedious rides have purpose beyond ‘Get miles and exercise’.

I’ve arrived there frequently enough that the guys who run it now greet me as I roll up. Admittedly, I’m hard to miss. Recumbent trike with a husky attached, pulling a Burly Cargo trailer with a bright yellow cover. Of course, that can’t match me. A plump woman dressed in eye-bleeding combinations of blue, gray, pink and/or purple. Oh how I wish sport clothing manufactures would produce lower key colors for women… but NOT black.

Street performer. She was playing something celtic sounding.

Street performer. She was playing something Celtic sounding.

Black is great for winter, spring and autumn when the air gets nippy. When it’s anywhere near warm, it’s just torment on sunny days. Even though our summer was pretty chill until recently, I’ve been on some rides with the sun feeling hot enough that gratitude at having my legs clad in a medium gray rather than the old-standby of black has made me smile. Feels about 20 degrees cooler.

Men’s sport clothes often have colors kinder to the eyes. Nice greens, clean blues, but locally I’ve not found any men’s SPF 50 clothing as I have for women. I guess men should just be able to shrug off melanoma?

Mid-June, Jens decided to get in on the cycling thing. He’d had a birthday recently and felt the big 40 creeping up. He decided he wanted to get in better shape before it catches him. Much to my surprise, he announced he wanted a bike for his birthday, though uncertain whether a mountain or road bike. He waffled about it a bit and decided on a mountain, which I heartily agreed. I think it suits his temperament better.

His search took him to the local bike shop which he had heard was under new ownership of a guy who was really into mountain biking. He came back from his initial meeting there and told me they were really nice and maybe I should ask if they’d work on my trike. I did. He’s a British guy and, as Jens said, really nice. He said if it fits through the door they’ll work on it. So much better than the thunderously scowling, traditional bike grouch who owned it before.

With the thought of having the trike worked on locally in a shop with enough space to have it inside, I looked hard at it. It really needed a good cleaning. The chain rings and rear cassette especially needed attention, so I went to the shop and asked about a good cleaning agent for just that. The next day after buying it, I took Loke for a short River Loop and then set off solo to the old style car wash. You know, the roofed over bays with hoses hanging from the ceiling attached to wands for high pressure spraying a car with soap, water or wax?

Ahhh, clean!

Ahhh, clean!

I sprayed the chain rings and cassette with the biodegradable, water soluble degreaser. The stuff worked wonderfully! I hardly needed the toothbrush for scrubbing the hard to reach places though I did it just to be sure. I also soaped the rest of the trike and gave it a quick rub down before standing well back to gently rinse everything clean. The guys at ICE had warned about pressure washing getting water in to places it shouldn’t. Places that don’t need the grease washed around to expose bearings to rust. Just a soft misting as from a light rain. It was all shiny and pretty when I was done.

It wasn’t perfect. My back and knees wouldn’t let me do perfect, but still a nice improvement.

A couple days after the wash, I decided to go for a longer local ride. It was June 20th, easy to remember as it was Saturday which also happened to be the day Sweden was celebrating Midsummer. It was just going to be a local pedal though.

I really didn’t want to go rolling through Uppsala again. I guessed the American food store would be closed as well as the produce stand. Going through Uppsala just to go didn’t appear as I’ve been rolling along those streets so much of late. So, I pointed us out through the countryside.

Interesting sky and it wasn't raining! Win-win!

Interesting sky and it wasn’t raining! Win-win!

It was a day of mild temperatures. Some of the clouds in the sky formed dense clumps that looked semi-threatening. I’m sure many Swedes were quite unhappy with the cooler temps and plentiful rain forecasted for the holiday. Me, I like the cooler weather even with threats of rain. It’s kinder on me and Loke.

The furball was quite happy as we scooted across the 272 onto Gamla Börje Road. His pace was good as we passed by the familiar fields. Admittedly, I was more than a little bored. The 3 miles between the 272 and crossroads has been done a fair bit recently enough that thoughts wandered and impatience made itself known, but on we went.

Arriving at the crossroads, my tentative plan to do the simple Ulva/Gamla Uppsala Loop, changed. Nor did I turn to do the loop into Uppsala. Loke was strong and moving very well and, beyond the boredom, I felt pretty good too. We went straight, heading for Börje church.

I can’t remember exactly when I last did the Börje Loop. More than a year certainly. Perhaps even more than two. It was amazing the switch that flipped with both me and Loke. He’d been jogging along pretty well, but when we went straight instead of turning at the crossroads, he suddenly wanted to run. He went with his head higher and rail raised as he scanned the surroundings for prey.

Börje Kyrka Over The Snow

Börje Kyrka Over The Snow

Instead of impatience, I found myself smiling and looking at the passing scenery. That simple decision to go straight and extend the ride somehow made it something almost magical. I suppose it was ‘jumping out of the rut’ in a way though, in the past, I’d ridden there countless times.

About 6 miles from home, Börje Church is the first I ever rode by with my first trike. It still holds a special place in my heart. The beginning of my adventures as it were. It’s even participated in some fond and not so fond memories. Picking a bunch of apples from the trees along the edge of the parking lot. Enjoying the pie my husband’s mom made from those apples. Flipping my trike as I rounded the curve at the corner of the churchyard when I hit a patch of black ice. The photo here of the church might even be from that very day. Broke the seat clamps clean off and had no duck tape. Was rescued from a long wait in the snow by a very dear woman and her husband which is good out of the bad.

Liked the fence surrounded by green and hints of purple flowers.

Liked the fence surrounded by green and hints of purple flowers.

I smiled broadly as we rolled by the church though felt a bit wistful about never having seen the inside. It’s always been closed.

With Börje behind us, we started to climb. Of course, that’s when the sun decided to come out and any breeze died. It turned a bit uncomfortable and I wished it would just go back behind the clouds. As did Loke, I’m sure.

On the other side of the hill, things leveled for a bit before leading to the looong plunge down the other side. The times I’ve ridden that stretch without Loke have been quite exciting. This time wasn’t so much. Loke’s older and slower so I had to ride the brakes the whole way. It’s worth it. Having the fuzzy with me makes the tedious stretches endurable.

I’ve never thought out it, but the route on the other side of Börje Church has quite a succession of hills. So after the first long plunge, it was a slow crank up the next. At least the sun had vanished for that one. Loke pulled like a champion, apparently eager for another chance to stretch his legs. The downside was less spectacular than the previous, but respectable.

House at Gamla GĂ„rden

House at Gamla GĂ„rden – 2011

The next climb was one of the steeper. I took it as easy as I could in deference to my knees. I looked forward to what was at the top of the hill though. The little plot of land is almost a sort of impromptu open-air museum called Gamla GĂ„rd (Old Farm) by the people who look after it.

There’s the old parstuga (pair cottage) farm house, an old gate building and 2 or 4 old outbuildings rescued from decay at other locations. It’s always been one of my favorite places to stop. Pretty, especially in the spring with slender young birches, bright flowers and lush grass. I’d often stop to nibble a bit of granola and listen to the birds sing.

Gamla GĂ„rd in Spring - 2011

Gamla GĂ„rd in Spring – 2011

Once, I stopped in and 3 men showed up, sitting with me at the picnic table to eat lunch before starting work on the grounds. They were people who lived in the houses and farms in the immediate area. They were quite proud of little collection and even opened up the cottage for me to take a peek. One half of it stores chairs and tables for gatherings who reserve the site. There’s also a very simple kitchen in the center. The other half is furnished just as it would have been when it was built. The attic is crammed with old things, mostly farm related. Butter churns, scythes, harnesses for animals, spinning wheels and more. Pity I seem to have lost those photos.

I’d planned to stop there, but there were cars parked everywhere across the dirt lane from the place. I’d completely forgotten that there is a large gathering there every Midsummer. I probably would have been cheerfully welcomed, but I went on.

I really should make a point of riding there next spring to get updated photos. I’d love to have some taken with a proper camera rather than my old point-n-click which tended to skew colors. It often turned the sky a sickly shade of green.

Past the old farm house is the scary-without-Loke hill. It has a fairly gentle drop to start with and then levels briefly which makes a chance to build speed before hitting the truly steep decent. The times I’ve done it without Loke, I tend to hit about 27 mph before chickening out. At the bottom is a sharp curve across a bridge. When screaming down that hill, I imagine a car plunging down the hill on the other side, cutting to the inside of the curve and smearing me all over the bridge. Makes me cautious. With Loke though, it was no issue. The climb up from that bridge is one of the steepest on the ride.

Happy Husky

Happy Husky

From there we crossed the 272 and pushed on. There was another steep down-up to cross the same stream again. I paused on the other side to make a choice. One way was more direct to Ulva Mill. The other was an unpaved lane past pastures and fields to emerge north of BĂ€linge. With Loke still excited and wanting to go and me feeling good, I headed down the dirt lane.

Loke loved it. He tried to rattle the trike to pieces and shake my teeth loose by pulling us into a run. I accommodated as I could, taking the stony center of the road to spare the fuzzy’s feet. We slowed down near the horses as I do everything I can to avoid spooking them. I’d hate for any to come to injury because of me. Bad enough that one time a horse panicked so badly, she ran at me and broke through the electric fence. That was a pretty lousy day.

Some of them were a bit wary at first, but then curiosity overcame fear. Loke was pointedly bored with the entire thing.

BĂ€linge Church - 2007

BĂ€linge Church – 2007

We emerged from the dirt lane about a mile later and turned onto pavement once more.

We soon approached BĂ€linge. As the church steeple made appearances above the tree-tops, it crossed my mind that in all the dozens of times I’ve rolled by it, I’d never really stopped to look around. My spontaneous streak continued and we made the turn.

Loke was unimpressed with the parking lot and even more so when I left him with a bowl of water to guard the trike.

I didn’t take a photo of the church as I walked up. It simply doesn’t inspire me in spite of the fact it’s been around since the 1100’s. Perhaps that’s why I never bothered to do a ‘runestone walk’ around it.

Uppland Runestone #1077

Uppland Runestone #1077

And there was one to the left of the entrance. Uppland Runestone #1077 has seen some abuse in its time. More than the usual weathering. In spite of its size, only 3 words remain, the rest have been lost from the edges. It was one of those ‘scholars knew about it earlier but then it was lost for a few centuries’ kind of stones.

A  hanging, iron alms box.

A hanging, iron alms box.

There was something else of interest here too. An old iron alms box hanging from a pretty iron fixture. I’ve seen other alms boxes. Most have been wooden ones inside churches. One was black iron, set in a little alcove next to a church door, but this is the first one I’ve found hanging. Unless I’ve forgotten it.

As is so common, the church was locked.

Loke woofed at me impatiently as I came back to the trike. In moments we were rolling onward.

From there, the road toward Ulva Mill is flanked by a cycle/pedestrian road. It’s only a few years old and I’ve ridden on it less than 4 times.

Loke was running well, but something made me stop and check his feet. They’ve been holding up very well over the rides this year. Even the longer ones in the area north of Stockholm I’ve not needed socks for him. I was glad I looked because they were worn very thin. Thin enough that getting him home barefooted might be disastrous. Remembering I’d seen socks in the bags recently, I looked. Yes, but only 1 pair. That doesn’t generally work well for 4 feet.

There was no help for it. Ulva mill was close by. I took it a bit slower, to Loke’s annoyance, and we rolled to a stop in the shade at the little complex of old buildings on the hill above the mill. There we waited for Jens to come get the fuzzy.

Waving bye to the forlorn husky face in the car window, I reset the Garmin for the solo stretch and set off. I didn’t exactly set a blazing pace for the first mile or so. Right from the mill is a steep hill to climb out of the erosion channel of the stream that used to power the mill. I picked up speed a bit from there, but it’s still mostly a positive grade for a bit. Finally came the first significant drop toward the river and the old E4. I was giggling manically as I crossed the 20 mph mark before braking to make the turn.

There was lightning in those clouds

There was lightning in those clouds

As I pushed on for the turn to Gamla Uppsala, darkness reared over the spires of cathedral in the heart of town. Lightning even cracked across the slate gray clouds. I’d been lucky with no rain for the duration of the ride, but it looked as it was going to run out before getting back home. Certainly appeared that Uppsala was getting well and truly drenched.

I had a bit of fun on the road to the old church and burial mounds. It always goes quick there until I hit the short hill. Then its another speedy glide past Disa GĂ„rden (The Disa Farm).

It appeared Disa GĂ„rden was the place to be for Midsummer. Cars crammed the sizable parking lot as well as the sides of the road. The area inside the traditional wooden fencing and between the buildings of the open air museum was packed with people. I doubt one could scratch their nose without elbowing a person or 3. The sound of a fiddle and other instruments rose above the din of human voices in traditional Swedish folk music.

I pushed it a bit while making the climb past Gamla Uppsala church. I wanted a roof over my head before I got too drenched. Given how crowded the Disa GĂ„rden was just a few hundred yards away, the burial mound area was mostly empty. Probably because it lacked music and whatever might have been going on amongst the crowds. It made speeding along the gravel paths that much easier. I had another giggle fit during the fast, shaky descent from the mounds. Not sure how fast it was. I didn’t look, preferring to keep my eyes on trail and stay in control. The roughness of the path and its narrowness always made it seem faster than it probably is.

It seemed just moments later when I rolled to a stop at the garage. While part of me missed Loke for those 6 or so miles I did solo, it had its fun, high speed moments.

As daunting as the sky had looked, it appeared that the rain and lightning had been on the far south side of the city. Everything was dry and only a few drops splattered down once I was in the car with Jens. For the day, I’d covered over 22 miles. 14.75 with Loke and 7.5 solo.

There were a couple rides after that, just local. One day during the week following, Jens actually suggested that we pack the trike in the car and I ride with him toward Stockholm. He’d drop me off somewhere, go to work for a while and then pick me up when he was done. I chose to start at Edsberg Castle where I’d ended the last ‘toward Stockholm’ ride.

It didn’t happen. I’d packed the car and we made the drive. As Jens walked around the parking lot with Loke, I began pulling things out. The bags, Loke’s running bar and then I reached in to pull out the seat to attach the bar. No seat. I ended up dropping Jens off at work and driving home. We did a local ride and later, I picked up the hubby from the train station.

The seat, how on earth did I forget that?

The back of Edsberg Castle

The back of Edsberg Castle – June 14, 2015

View across Edsvik (Ed's Inlet)

View across Edsvik (Ed’s Inlet)

The next major ride was the one from Edsberg Castle. This time, I double checked I packed the seat and I’m sure Jens checked too. The ride was on June 27th. I was looking forward to it and Loke was pretty excited as well. Little did I know…

Loke’s initial run of delight was short lived. Almost right away the road went right up a hill. Quite a steep one. Loke kept giving me dirty looks as the trike crept along. I passed a driveway on the steepest part of that first mile. A man was out with his two young children. Steep as the road was, the slope of their driveway down to the road was steeper still and the kids on bikes. The younger boy (about 3) was on a training bike with a handle attached to the back, firmly in grip. The girl (about age 5) was solo.

She started fine, but then saw me and Loke as well as heard a car coming up behind us and slightly panicked. Daddy was there to save her, catching the bike’s handlebars to stop and stabilize her and the boy hardly wobbled. I let them go ahead of me.

Lulling me into a false sense of security...

Lulling me into a false sense of security…

The little road hardly had any traffic, but still had a separate cycle/pedestrian path built to one side. It was new and, given the peaceful nature of the street, baffled me as to why they’d bothered. Maybe with the hills and blind curves they decided it was safer to have people where a car wouldn’t surprise me.

Right from the start, it was a bit of a hard slog, but at least the hills I expected. Shortly after starting, Loke and I rushed down the slope to join up with the cycle path following the water’s edge. The sun was bright, the grass was green. The trail appeared fairly flat with nice views across the bit of Baltic. Such an innocent beginning. I was practically humming with joy and Loke had a spring in his step as he jogged along with a busy nose taking in the scents.

A tight squeeze

A tight squeeze

The path headed off into some trees and welcoming shade. A bit further along and the path was hard up against a cut rock face and the softly rippling Baltic. A jogger came along right then. It was a bit of a challenge to scoot over to give her enough room to pass while not crushing Loke against the guard rails.

Not much further after that, it got worse. There was no room for Loke and the trike both. I regarded the narrow passage for a time and took the photo. I decided to try to go forward. I leashed Loke, unhitched him from the trike and urged him ahead.

Pretty, little old building along the choke point

Pretty, little old building along the choke point

He was terribly confused for the first minute or so. Then he adapted and was quite happy with this peculiar turn of events. I didn’t go fast as it would have meant bad things for the trike if it narrow further. As it was, the running bar scraped the rails a couple times. My handbar bag ended up riding awkwardly on my lap as there wasn’t even room for it beside the seat. So, that meant Loke could run ahead 8 meters or so and sniff around a bit, move on and repeat. He loved it.

Beyond the choke point

Beyond the choke point

Luckily, no else came along while I squeezed through the choke point. That would have been quite an ugly tangle. No one would have been able to clamber over the trike and no way I would have dragged it all the way back to start again.

It was so nice when the path resumed it’s unbound, through the woods, shady nature. It joined up with a road where I followed along a few turns. I stopped to give Loke some water and have a drink myself, when a guy came up behind me. He pushed a stroller carefully shrouded with a pink blanket and a bouncy happy dog with a black, curly coat. He stopped to ask if Loke was a husky and I asked if his dog was a Portuguese Water Dog. Turned out she was a 1 year old Bouvier des Flanders. Very sweet. His little girl in the stroller was just 3 weeks old, ‘But I have 6 more older ones at home’ he said. I laughed and said he was an old hand then.

Yeah... this is not going to work.

Yeah… this is not going to work.

After leaving the nice man, his dog and 7th child, the road did a curve to follow along the edge of a pond. It was more a mini-marsh or bog than a pond. High grasses and cattail leaves obscured any view of it. I’d mapped the route to follow the curve of the pond, but when I went to follow, I discovered that about 100 yards of it, perhaps a little more was a boardwalk.

I stared in frustration at it for a moment. My trike’s wheels had maybe an inch’s clearance. Loke would have been either hanging from the tether bar, trying to bound through the grasses or maybe swimming at times. I could have put him back on the flexi-leash to go ahead, but what if someone came along? No, it simply wasn’t going to work. Fortunately, it wasn’t a huge detour. It wasn’t as pretty as rolling through a world of rustling grass, lapping water and blue skies would have been, but safer and easier.

Just after that little hiccup, I was searching for the first runestone of the day. According to my mapping, it sat slap in the middle of a construction site. I peered through the fence while rolling slowly by, hoping for at least a glimpse, but no dice. I rode along the barrier a couple times just to be sure.

Uppland Runestone #131

Uppland Runestone #131

Not much further past the not-found runestone, I hunted for the next one. That proved more fruitful though I had my doubts at first. It too was in another construction area. I was about to give up and move on when I spotted it on a hill at the end of the fenced off build area. A little gravel drive followed the wire barricade to a reasonably close location.

Loke waited with surprising patience as I got up to put the Canon’s lens through the wire to get an uncluttered photo of Uppland Runetone #131. A bit frustratingly, I couldn’t get close enough to the placard to record it. I even tried the long lens to zoom in on it. So, all I have is translation from the internet.

As I put the camera away, there were a couple men, probably about age 50, sitting in the yard of the little house next to the construction site. They saw me and one of them called out something. His Swedish was densely packed with the Danish tones of southern Sweden which made it very hard for me to hear. I told him my Swedish wasn’t very good. ‘English then?’ he asked. ‘Where are you from?’

When I told him, he laughed and slapped his leg. Then nodded to his friend. ‘You need a photo of him. He’s a Swedish McDonald.’ I didn’t quite get the joke but grinned all the same and wished them a good day.

From there the ride turned into a short tangle of cycle paths and barriers. Fortunately, the barriers were sensible. Close and awkward enough to keep out cars and probably stop bikes from screaming through at 30 mph to collide with other bikers or pedestrians at deadly speed, but not a complete nightmare for me to get the trike through either. Even with Loke off to the side. Just needed a bit of creative swerving.

Danderyd's Church

Danderyd’s Church

Beyond was the first church of the day. Danderyd’s. I’d driven by this church a few times, but this was clearly the first time via cycle. As usual, Loke was left in a shady spot with water and trike. He watched after me a bit wistfully as I trudged across the lawn.

Uppland Runestone #127

Uppland Runestone #127

Right next to the church door, Uppland Runestone #127 stood. This is another of Jarlabanke’s stones. This man wanted to be sure someone was tripping over his name and who he was back between 1000 AD and 1100 AD (the runestone era) and after. He had at least 4 stones carved, probably more, announcing his name, that he also built a bridge and owned ‘the whole of TĂ€by’.

Danderyd's Church interior

Danderyd’s Church interior

Much to my delight, the church’s doors stood open. Grinning, I stepped into the shadows of my first church interior of 2015.

Much of it was simple in its ancient elegance, almost uninspiring if one gave it just a passing glance. The clean lines of the vaults rose above the stocky, plain columns and the ceiling presented a blank face of smooth plaster which I’m sure hid or obliterated murals from the past. In some places, it was obvious any murals were lost completely with the plaster worn so thin one could clearly see the outlines of the huge stones in the wall.

The pulpit and it's carved entrance

The pulpit and it’s carved entrance

There were things that grabbed the eye. The pulpit was the first to catch my attention. Over 400 years old and it was still stunning. The detail of ornament and carving were beautiful and highlighted the wood in all its glory without the paint and gilt of most pulpits so elaborately worked. Clearly the little door on the other side of the column which hid the stairs hasn’t received the same attention. It’s wood looked faded and grayed from neglect. Still lovely though.

Danderyd's Church -Madonna and Child carving

Danderyd’s Church -Madonna and Child carving

Tucked modestly in a shallow niche hollowed out of one of the columns was a medieval carving of Madonna and Child. It’s a bit dinged and faded, but still lovely and has endured its 700+ years gracefully.

Behind the column sheltering the Madonna stood a double sepulcher holding the remains of a husband and wife of a family once generous in their patronage to the church. As a matter of fact, the wife buried there was the one who had commissioned the pulpit in memory of her husband.

Sepulcher of  Svante Gustafsson Baner and wife Ebba Grip

Sepulcher of Svante Gustafsson Baner and wife Ebba Grip

A beautiful piece of work crafted of dark, reddish marble and pale stone. Ignore the glass half-full of water on the corner. I would have loved to photo it from the other side where the light from the window would have brought out the colors and details beautiful, but the whole corner there was being used for storage. Mostly out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

Some of the remaining murals

Some of the remaining murals

I also got to peek into the sacristy beyond an open medieval door of iron and wood so old it looked almost fossilized. It was set up as a little play area for kiddies during services. A narrow pair of stairs led downward, but it looked more like storage than some place for hidden burials.

Not a bad ‘first of the year’ church interior. I’ve certainly seen ones that were more bland.

Loke looked like he’d hardly moved from where I’d let him wait. He was still sitting and watching toward the church with an air of impatience.

The route became a bit boring shortly after leaving the church. The cycle path I followed merged onto the pavement of a wide street that was hard up against the E4. The roar of traffic obliterated all other sounds, though the fact the way was cut through hills and the angle of the sun at least gave us some shade.

Had to wrestle the trike over this mess by hand.

Had to wrestle the trike over this mess by hand.

At some point, the way changed to something, that at first appearances, was pleasant. We cut back over toward the water’s edge where the trail was shady and green once more, unpaved. When I came upon the first obstacle, it should have been a warning to turn back, but the close trees and cool breeze coming across the rippled water was too enchanting.

Then it was a wild ride down a path bumping around rocks and roots. Loke absolutely loved it. He adores those unpaved places through wooded lands and densely shaded. Then we slowed for an inevitable climb up the next hill. I almost made it, needing to get up to push the trike only for the last 10 yards or so at the crown of the hill.

Loke ‘helped’. He pulled a bit and then would swerve off to the side and stop to sniff something before I’d tug his tail to remind him that I wanted to keep moving.

Ulriksdal Castle across the way

Ulriksdal Castle across the way

Steeper than it looks and pushed the trike about 100 yards up it.

Steeper than it looks and pushed the trike about 100 yards up it.

The ride down from that height was again fun. At the bottom I was treated to a lovely view across the water to a small palace. The sun danced on the wavelets as one of the archipelago tour ships chugged along. There was no stopping the smile at the scenic image, but I should have turned back there.

Almost immediately after seeing the palace, it was another climb. It was steep and long enough I couldn’t really see the end of it for the trees. I managed to pedal up about half of it before my rear tire lost traction and it was back to walking behind and shoving it up. This time was longer, about 100 yards or more before the relief at making the top.

There wasn’t much fun going down again this time. I had to be careful of the rocks and roots. They were scattered about the path just so I had to do creative steering to avoid slamming the trike’s ‘under carriage’ on something. A couple passed me on bikes.



I seem to remember thinking, ‘Maybe I should turn back and find a paved way’. It should have been an obvious choice when I caught up with the couple walking their bikes up the next climb. I stubbornly pushed on, literally. One reason for my reluctance was I was tiring fast, less than 10 miles into the ride, and I really didn’t want to push my way back up those hills I’d coasted down. There was a turn I almost took, but it went up so I passed it.

The climb eased a bit, so I sat down to slooooowly crank my way up. It was short lived. I was working so hard that I had a bit of tunnel vision so it was pretty close when I finally registered that the way up was via a stairway. I could only stare in consternation before looking to either side for some other way. It looked a bit worn to the left, but I concluded it was too tangled and way too steep even for pushing. No help for it, I had to go back.

The paths were beating me, I’ll admit it freely. If there had been any way for Jens to get the car back there to pick us up, I would have called him in a heartbeat, but it was all on me. I got myself in the pickle, I had to get myself out. At least I had a bit of a rest on the way back to contemplate my folly.

I stopped at the turn off I’d passed earlier, looking at it through an exhausted haze. My brain kept whispering, ‘Can’t be worse than climbing those 3 or 4 other hills.’

At least one of us was having a good time. :P

At least one of us was having a good time. 😛

Even in hindsight, I can’t be sure of that. It might not have been the steepest climb I had to shove the trike up, but it was the longest.

Loke loved it. He had plenty of time to sniff. He’d pull some and then swerve off to the side, yanking our progress to a dead stop to examine a scent more closely. A few times even a tug on his tail wouldn’t remind him what we were trying to do. Those times, I simply had to put my shoulder to the luggage rack and drag him forward with the trike. Roots and rocks made some sections difficult. At least twice, I had to come forward to life the trike’s front wheels over things.

Cycle path my… ahem. This was a mountain bike path, a whole different beast than ‘cycle path’.

The hill just wouldn’t end. I started to feel like I was living through one of Sisyphus’ days. Trying to get that cursed trike up that hill like the boulder in the myth. It felt precariously close to rattling back down again with Loke in tow.

We're free! Free I tell you!!

We’re free! Free I tell you!!

The top came suddenly and I looked at my Garmin and my maps to determine exactly where I was. There was a split in the path and both blissfully downhill. One way lingered through the woods, another was a direct and rather steep plunge where I could directly make out paved surfaces. I didn’t even look back. We bumped and rattled down where I stopped to give Loke some water and resist the urge to kiss the asphalt.

Things were a bit of a blur for a while after emerging from the wilds around Stockholm. I do remember it felt like we were flying, even up hills, thanks to pavement. We crossed Edviken (The Ed’s Inlet). There’s a photo of it which is why I recall that much.

Cross on to the other side

Cross on to the other side

From there it was a slight northward turn to follow back up the other side of the waterway. I was pretty sure I was heading for the palace I’d seen at the beginning of the nightmarish foray into the darkest jungles. I also remember some confusion getting through an area, being unable to find the paths I needed. Once, I did find the path, but when the firm, wide gravel surface changed to something that gave me flash-backs of earlier in the ride, I promptly turned around and found a roadway in the direction I needed.

The grounds of Ulriksdal castle was a beehive of activity. It was crowded right and left by people out simply to enjoy the sun, using the gardens and lawns to relax, tourists of course, and what appeared to be a sizable wedding party.

Ulriksdal Castle

Ulriksdal Castle

The estate was fairly extensive. Gardens, a free standing theater in a lovely building. A beautiful little chapel. While I pedaled around, I admit, I was just too drained and wrung out to wrap my head around taking photos. I did have conversations with people though. One was a very nice 16 year old Iranian girl who was schooling in Romania and here on vacation with family. She was just astounded by how green and cool Sweden was. Some of the wedding guests asked about Loke and the trike.

A man trying to herd a gaggle of wet toddlers out of the fountain told me he loved my ‘elegant machine’.

I found a quiet place to look over my maps. In spite of legs like noodles and hardly able to keep my eyes open, I considered going on. We’d barely done 12 miles and it had taken an embarrassing 6 hours. That has to be a new ‘slow’ record for me. HĂ„ga castle was just 3 miles away or so, but then I remembered the hills that surrounded it and admitted defeat.

I went back to the main parking of Ulriksdal to wait for Jens. For the first time since the ride started, I actually got cold. It felt so nice to flop into the car, turn on the seat heat and pass out.