Terii’s Cycling Babble


Kattegattleden, Leg 5 – Sea Side Challenges
August 24, 2015, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Tours
Norreport (North Gate) in Halmstad taken from my hotel window

Norreport (North Gate) in Halmstad taken from my hotel window

I woke to blissful quiet on the morning of July 23 in my hotel room in Halmstad. The faint drift of music from various sources had died and the crowds faded away to their places of slumber.

Then several seagulls started squawking and I pulled a pillow over my head. In Bruge, Belgium, it was a duck. Here it was seagulls.

I padded over to the window and leaned out a little bit to get a quick photo of the gate before the city started to awake and clutter the streets with humanity again. Showered and most everything packed, I relaxed with a book until time for breakfast.

I had the usual breakfast of roll cut in half to make a sandwich of ham and cheese and a bit of watermelon. I even added a few slices of kiwi. I skipped the bacon this time as it looked far too underdone for my taste.

I felt a little sad once I got changed and headed down to the lobby. The last ride of the trip felt bitter sweet. I missed Jens of course, and Loke, but this had been a fun experience in spite of pushing beyond comfort zones. For the first time since the stroke, I felt free, fairly strong and capable.

People were starting to come and go through the lobby as I readied the trike right there in an out-of-the-way spot. Felt a little strange to do the whole unfold, secure the seat and bags inside with carpet to cushion the knees. Checkout finished, I walked it out the front door a bit after 9:00 am. A leisurely start to the day.

From the hotel, I rolled south, following the river a bit though on the opposite side as I’d come the day before. I’d hoped to cut over and follow along the water’s edge as much as possible though it would mean riding off the Kattegattleden. In spite of how obvious it looked on the maps, finding it proved a bit more challenging in reality.

The wind wasn’t as kind as it had been over the previous days. Instead of being behind me or from over my right shoulder, it mostly came into my face. Densely clustered clumps of clouds hid every bit of sun and most of sky. Some of the clusters looked a little dark and threatening, but there were no obvious rain veils.

Traffic began to buzz along the road where the cycle path ran through a landscape of gas stations, groceries and other assorted shopping places. My Garmin finally seemed to show a road that took me away from all that and to an area of paths near the water. I made a break for freedom from the tedium of that portion of the route.

I followed a small, tree shaded road toward the water, looking for the path the Garmin displayed. At last I discovered it. There was an information board proudly declaring ‘Prins Bertils Stig’ (Prince Bertil’s Path). It cut off through the trees, unpaved but with well packed dirt.

So serene

So serene

Under the trees, one could hardly feel the wind though the occasional gusted rustled the pine needles and make limbs creak. The path cut sharply south and soon, the water spanned out before me in a pretty view.

Less certain about the sand

Less certain about the sand

Sheltered by the patch of woods, there were almost no waves. I sat for a few minutes to enjoy the peace and take photos. As I made ready to move on, I had a bit of doubt as I regarded the state of the path. The firm packed dirt with a light cover of pine needles turned into sand. Portions of it looked fairly solid, but others less so. A quick glance at my printed maps and my Garmin’s showed several little foot paths running between Prins Bertil’s path and residential streets a bit further inland.

The flower I'd have missed on the Kattegattleden

The flowers I’d have missed on the Kattegattleden

Once sure there wouldn’t be a need to backtrack for a mile or more if it turned into a morass of loose sand, I decided to push on. I gave my rear tire pride of place on the firmer portion where it would be less likely to slip and offer more power to push the front ones through the softer stuff. It wasn’t fast, but it wasn’t hard on me either which I count more important.

Across the bay

Across the bay

With a smile and relaxed in the seat, I spun along in leisurely fashion while enjoying the pretty little trail through the trees and along quietly lapping waters. Yes, I would have made better time sticking to the Kattegattleden where it’s paved surface ran along next to a busy road through commercial and residential districts. The enjoyment of it would have been narrowed down to, ‘How fast can I get through this. Can I push my average mph without killing myself to get more distance?’. It would have quickly gotten old.

Approaching the tip of the point

Approaching the tip of the point

A rocky shore

A rocky shore

The only difficult with that southward portion of the trail was the narrowness of it combined with pedestrians strolling around. A few times, I had to push over into weeds to let them squeeze by. Once, a trio of girls walked in front of me, but they strode along briskly and I refused to be in a rush. I toodled along at their pace until they turned off onto one of the narrower trails toward some houses. Even then my speed probably didn’t increase much.

The trail surface alternated between semi-soft sand and a more packed surface where it wound through the denser portions of trees a few yards from the water. The adjoining foot trails continued to turn up at fairly regular intervals, bolstering my confidence to continue onward.

Sea and Sun!

Sea and Sun!

Coming to the tip of the point that jutted southward, the trail cut a few more yards away from the shore and offered a bit of a climb. As I came over, around and down that little ridge to the westward side, the force of the wind made itself known. It gusted through the thin fringe of limbs and branches, carrying the sounds of waves washing against sand and rocks.

The clouds had been thinning over the course of an hour or so and they seemed to almost fly apart once I was around the point to roll northward for a distance. There was blue sky in between the innocent puffs of white and silver as well as a warm sun reflecting off the random waves of water.

Rolling on pavement!

Rolling on pavement!

The prince’s path took me to a paved road after a time. At first it seemed to be a cycle path, but with the sight of harbor as well as a few vehicles passing me, it definitely was a road. It was narrow enough to be a uncomfortable when a car did come along, but everyone was polite and slowed down enough that it wasn’t dangerous.

Along that beach side lane were a pair of quarry pits full of water since the watertable was so near. One had an opening cut the 50 or so meters to the sea to be converted into a peaceful little marina for non-sail boats since it wasn’t a drawbridge across the channel.

Just beyond it, the much larger pit was landlocked. There were a few metal towers and here and there along with a wire strung along the length of it. A tiny, crude shack sat near the sharp edge overlooking quarry, something about boogie boards painted on the side. There were some bikes, a car and about 6 or 7 people gathered around the top. I stood up and leaned over the little chainlink fence to see a guy in a wet suit with a boogie board. After about a minute, things got settled and he was suddenly zipping across the water, hanging on to a ski rope pulled by the motorized zipline strung across the quarry. Quite clever I thought. There were even a few ramps down there for the more accomplished boarders to do jumps. The guy I saw seemed to be a beginner.

Thar be surfers down thar!

Thar be surfers down thar!

See! Swedish surfers!

See! Swedish surfers!

Less than a mile beyond the quarries, the road took a sharp turn inland, but a sign for the Prins Bertil’s path pointed down toward the beach with a sharp drop. I stopped the trike at the top of the hill where a few cars were parked, one of them an old VW van kitted out into a crude sort of camper and painted with peace symbols and such. In the little bay below, I could just make out a few shapes, surfers no less, bobbing on the waves.

Wary by how close the path seemed to go down to the beach and how loose the sand on the first drop down there looked, I walked it a bit to decide which direction to take. Down by the bottom of the hill, the sand became loose enough that the trike would have bogged. Further along, it looked no better. I was not going to push the trike through 200 yards or so of soft sand. Resigned to following the road for a bit, I walked back up to the trike.

It was probably less than a quarter mile when I saw another sign for the prince’s path. I followed the turn onto a smaller road which deadened in a sort of round-about/parking area. In this obscure little nook of Sweden, stood a fish shack. No more than 10-12 feet long and 6 feet deep, made of 2×4’s and plywood with a sturdy plank to serve as awning and nightly barricade, a man stood behind a chilled deli case full of fresh fish. Presumably those fish were fresh caught out of the Atlantic/North Sea. Hidden as it was away from any significant sized roads and sitting at a dead end (for cars), he had 3 or 4 people to wait on.

The path for bikes and pedestrians continued on between some trees. The way became a bit rougher and it almost looked as if I should turn back. Then a down slope appeared with just enough space between the trees and rocks for the trike. Some of the bigger rocks had been marked with bright pink spray pain for unwary cyclists. Beyond those, open land beckoned so I risked it.

I rolled out into a beach area. There were some people around. Near a large-ish building a man and woman sat in chairs wearing some kind of uniform. They gave me a friendly greeting as I rolled by. There were signs for a bathroom which was welcome. I found one of the few places that didn’t forbid bike parking, which I found odd. The first half of the building was a room devoted to the storage of various walkers and wheelchairs. The bathroom was a single occupant room, large with both the toilet and a shower kitted out for handicap use.

As I walked back past the wheelchairs, I saw they had been marked exclusively for water use in the handicap beach. Curious, I walked back down and ambled a little closer to the water. There were a series of ramps that gently led into the water. Suddenly the pair in uniforms made sense. They weren’t dressed like lifeguards, but they would have been there to serve that purpose as well as help people with physical difficultes into and out of the water. Perhaps even swim with them to keep them safe. What a lovely idea!

At least forbidding bikes parking too close around the buildings and such made sense. Don’t need a bunch of bikes making it difficult for wheelchairs and walkers to get around.

Beyond that, the path became an interesting challenge. It led me onward through some trees, down another drop in the terrain and emerged back out into the open again. The ground seemed to fall away sharply as the path led across a big slab of rock that tilted toward the tumbled beach. I gave a bit of a squeak and hit my brakes. Standing to get a higher view of the terrain, it wasn’t as sudden an edge as it had first appeared, but not what I would want to attempt at over 10 mph either.

It was another one of those moments where I weighed my choices. Go back, pushing the trike through the trees to the handicapped beach to find the road or risk it. The little dip up and down with the path running through it didn’t look too bad. Against my better judgement, I decided to risk it.

View back the way I came

View back the way I came

Going was very slow, more suited to mountain bike or a fat trike than my recumbent, but I was able to pedal along without the need to push it up on foot.

The trail continued on in that fashion. Decently solid gravel path, a bit too narrow at times as it wound between rocks and plants, up and down the folds of the terrain along the water. I kept thinking that Jens would have liked that stretch. Not too bad for an intermediate mountain biker, though I could be wrong. What I know about mountain biking wouldn’t fill a sheet of paper even with large print.

Beautiful as the scenery was and though I hadn’t needed to walk the trike up any hills, I started to feel nervous. The downhills tended to be steeper than the ups, so going back would have been harder, probably requiring quite a bit of pushing. I kept looking at my maps to see what the trail would do, where it would come out and how far I still needed to win free. The distance went quite slow.

Whew! Steeper than it looks!

Whew! Steeper than it looks!

Suddenly, the path cut sharply away from the water, straight up the side of a long, steep climb. Uneasy, I pedaled as carefully as I could but the surface was loose gravel and dried dirt for much of it. The rocks were thin slivers like shale and finally the rear wheel started losing purchase too often. I finally had to start walking with the trike pushed in front of me.

Some shade would have been welcome, but at least the brisk wind kept me from feeling too overheated under the sun. Like the previous rides where I had to walk up hills, it went by with me taking a few steps, brace the wheel with my foot to straight up and rest. Push on. It wasn’t particularly hard. Easier than the two hills I’d had to climb the same way with paved roads. While I’d like to think it’s because I had gotten stronger, I’m sure the grade wasn’t as extreme the previous ones.

I took the way back down at a cautious speed. After that, the ride becomes a bit vague in my memory. About all I recall is rejoining the Kattegattleden consisting of a paved cycle road set a few yards off the roadway. Trees and a golfcourse, houses of course and fields.

Jens had called at some point during the rocky shore jaunt. He was arriving in the area much earlier than anticipated, 2 pm instead of the 4 or 5 pm he’d previously stated. When he called to say he was about 20 minutes out, I quickly picked a place not too far from either of us. A camp ground in a little place called Villshärad. Some place easy for him to find and plenty of parking area to load the trike.

I arrived first, but waited less than 10 minutes. When he pulled up, I greeted him enthusiastically. Loke jumped out, barely gave me a glance before going to sniff at the trike and then moved on to other things. So nice to feel missed.

The day’s distance was right at 14 miles.

4 rides over 5 days for a total of 77-ish miles. I’d challenged myself, tried something new and came out ahead. It gave me a huge boost of confidence that was greatly needed after the stroke. Part of me was sad for to end, but another was just too glad to go home and have a chance to sprawl on the couch and watch TV with the hubby with an indifferent husky waiting for me to feed him dinner.

 

Advertisements


Kattegattleden Leg 3 & 4 – Up, Over and Beyond
August 20, 2015, 7:22 am
Filed under: Tours

I slept wonderfully for the 2nd night of the tour. The bed was comfy and with the window open, it wasn’t too noisy and cool enough to snuggle down under a light blanket.

Sunrise from my room

Sunrise from my room

I was still a bundle of nerves when I woke to get ready for the day on July 22nd.

After eating what had become my usual breakfast (cheese roll with ham and a bit of fruit), I talked with the hotel staff a bit more. One of them was a woman who used to take the train with her bike between Båstad and Ängelholm. She heartily recommended that. Everyone familiar with the area had said the same thing about that ridge. Heartened with the information from the various people familiar with the train in question, I called Jens and decided that I’d walk down to the train station where I’d look at the Båstad one with the cycle car and see if it was doable.

Where Linne stayed when he visited the region in 1749 (I think)

Where Linne stayed when he visited the region in 1749 (I think)

Ängelholm Church

Ängelholm Church

The station was about a half-mile away. Fortunately, it seemed to be a good day for me, lacking any post stroke pain so I managed the walk easily. The early hour also gave me a chance to enjoy the town a little more. I took photos of the church and the pretty little timber and plaster building near the cafe where I’d eaten the night before. Made for much nicer images than with people scurrying around and bikes zipping to-and-fro.

Turned out the building (probably oldest remaining in Ängelholm) might have been where Carl von Linne stayed during a visit to the area. The sign next to it described how Ängelholm was during his visit at least as well as the problem the town used to have with rolling sand dunes being blown in from the shoreline and how it was solved with the planting of beach grass and finally trees.

The 8 am-ish train arrived and I looked. Decided it was worth the risk so went inside and bought the ticket which, for myself and the trike, came to 63 Kr. Dirt cheap.

From there, I rushed back to the hotel, got my clothes back nice and clean from their little laundry service, flung everything on the trike and pedaled down.

Awaiting the verdict

Awaiting the verdict

The wait was still nerve-wracking for me. I was most worried about whether I’d be able to get the trike on and settled in 2 minutes or less that the train stops for. Then of course, was the concern that I’d be told it couldn’t be there for whatever reason.

On the train and onward!

On the train and onward!

I’d miscalculated a bit where the ‘bike car’ was going to stop, but rushed down to the right door as quick as I could. Once I had the pedal boom in, I took a breath. It was surprisingly easy to get the rest of it in. There was almost no gap between the platform and car with space enough inside to maneuver it out of the aisle. There was another bike leaning on the other side of the car, a woman with a bright bubbly little boy of about 8 months old.

It started sprinkling as the train rolled out. My time was spent staring out the rain splattered windows across the rolling, beautiful landscape and looking at my maps. Though the day’s tour had been reduced from about 25 miles of pedaling to a 20 minute train ride, I was okay with that. The rest of the day would be well spent relaxing to recover a bit and maybe short little toodles around Båstad.

Then the train stopped and a voice announced there was a technical problem with the signals. So, the trip turned into about an hour.

Getting off the train was a little trickier at the Båstad stop. The gap between platform and train was wide enough to catch my wheels and I couldn’t reach the front to pull up. While the conductor looked irritated and disinclined to assist, the woman with the bike leaped to my rescue.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I’d done it. I was in Båstad in one piece. The trip could go on.

It started raining again, so I scurried under the shelter near the platform. The hotel was a stone’s throw from the station, it was only just coming up on noon and check-in wasn’t until something like 2 pm or so. Dry for the moment, I relaxed in the trike seat to read a book on my Kindle.

Making it to Båstad was a relief. Of all the hotels I’d found for the trip, it was the only one who didn’t allow cancellations without charging for the night.

I finally rolled down the sharp drop toward the hotel. Annoyingly, the turn into the hotel proper was near the bottom and cut back up the slope. My knees hated me for that short little climb. Above the hotel, ridge I’d taken the train to avoid rose like a wave about to come crashing down. It had definitely been a wise decision to not kill myself trying to ride it.

Though I was a little early, my room was ready. I had a very nice room in a little building perched at the crest of a hill. Though the door was on the ‘ground’ level, the windows opposite were above another room built into the hill itself. My trike was parked snug and mostly safe in the building and just outside my door, locked to a radiator. I didn’t want to climb that hill again if I didn’t have to, not after the way my knees protested so I walked down into the town proper.

It was crazy in Båstad when I headed down to look for a late lunch. I’d been a bit forewarned to expect some madness in the town as the Swedish Open for tennis was in full swing, but I was dismayed all the same. Cars packed the single ‘main’ street of the town, zipping around. Crosswalks were few and far between making it a bit difficult to navigate when I found myself on the wrong side of the road.

My first stop was at a cafe. It was one of those places with a limited menu. I ordered a beef wok dish. If not for the spicy heat of chilies, it would have been utterly tasteless and served with clumps of rice like congealed wallpaper paste. At least the salad was good with a tasty dressing.

With that disappointing meal sitting heavy, I pushed onward to the grocery. Mistake. The pain kicked in and it was a harsh walk for over a mile back to the hotel with some fruit and yogurt to serve as a light, if boring dinner. Still tastier than that pitiful beef dish.

My room didn’t have a balcony. Instead, two french windows opened inward, practically turning the whole room into an outdoor space like the livingroom of our vacation apartment on Bornholm last October. The wind kicked up, blowing the curtains and refreshing the room. I relaxed in one of the comfy chairs with my book and took time to just stare across the tree tops to the glint of ocean beyond.

Being 10 feet or more off the ground, I actually slept with the windows open as the wind made rushing noises through the trees. Once the traffic calmed, I could just hear the crash of waves. Very comfortable night.

Can just make out the sea

Can just make out the sea

I was eager to get going when I woke on the morning of July 23th. The sky was fairly gray and wind still brisk, but looked to be in my favor as it had been for the whole trip. In spite of walking the most I’d done since the stroke and how bad I felt afterward, I felt strong after relaxing for the evenings and sleeping very well. I devoured an extra cheese roll with ham to make up for my pitiful dinner and hurried back to get ready.

As I pulled the trike out of it’s spot in the building, a Danish man held the doors open for me and asked a few questions about the trike. He didn’t know English so our conversation muddled along between Danish and Swedish. They’re kinda close enough that one can generally get the gist of the other with some careful listening. I have to admit that Bornholm Danish was easier for me to puzzle out than Mainland Danish.

The tennis frenzy of Båstad hadn’t yet started so only a few cars rolled sedately through the town as I took a detour once at the base of the hill. To the northwest was the older part of Båstad with its church. It would add perhaps has much as 3 miles to the day’s total, but since I’d been doing so well and MapMyRide hinted that this would be the leg with the least amount of climbing, I felt confident it wouldn’t hinder reaching Halmstad.

Some of the older part of the town

Some of the older part of the town

I’m glad I did it. It let me see the old part of Båstad. My painful walk around the area between the grocery and hotel had given me only glimpses of boring structures which were likely no older than say 1940’s-1950’s at best.

My favorite building found in Båstad

My favorite building found in Båstad

I especially liked the old building where they housed the tourist center. The grace, attractive details and beauty that older places have, completely stripped away with the ‘get it up quick’ lackluster of the 20th and 21st century.

I’d say I was born in the wrong time, but knowing what I do about history, there’s really no time that I feel I belong in. Maybe in another universe? 😛

St. Mary's Church in Båstad (and trike)

St. Mary’s Church in Båstad (and trike)

The church was right next to my favorite building. I slipped and wobbled across the cobble stones in my cycle shoes to get the trike in the shot with it.

No players or spectators yet!

No players or spectators yet!

While quicker to go back the way I’d come, I wanted to take a different way so headed to the little residential roads closer to the water. That actually took me right through the area with the tennis courts. It seems there are two ‘stadium’ style courts, surrounded on all sides with rows of seating and 4 smaller, simpler courts. The smaller ones, I rolled by.

Cycle path and the ridge

Cycle path and the ridge

The smaller courts sat seaside with nice views of the ocean beyond. It was a nice cycle path too. The water lapped at the rocks just a few yards away and green parkland on the other side. There was a collection of tall posts with bungee cords and harness over trampolines like those perhaps used to train gymnasts or circus acts. The ridge rose in the distance, as if corralling Båstad close to the sea. I was glad I’d avoided riding over it and even happier that I’d be going around the rest of it.

Cormorant drying its wings

Cormorant drying its wings

The cycle path continued along the water, but the paving disappeared. Soon even the gravel surface threatened to abandon me in favor of sand. Pushing along, I passed an older man with an old Leonberger dog. Huge as the dog was, he was frightened of me and the trike which triggered a few twinges of guilt.

Finally the gravel vanished entirely and left me on sand. It wasn’t too bad at first, until reaching a spot where there was no more grass to give it any solidity and my wheels bogged. I pulled out my maps to look for nearby streets, the man with the Leonberger showed up with friends. Between them they had the Leon, an Irish Setter, a couple other small dogs (I don’t recall the breeds) and the West Highland Terrier I remember well. They were all nervous of me, bordering on aggressive.

I got up from the trike, intending to explore a near-by foot path, and they rushed me. Most of them stopped about 4 or 5 feet away, except for the bump I felt against my right calf. I slowly tilted my head to look down from the corner of my eye and there was the Westie, muzzle against my leg growling with threat. His mouth was closed, but the warning was quite clear. His elderly owner tried to call him off, but honestly, it was only fact I stood there perfectly still and without any fear that teeth didn’t sink in.

As I waited for the white puffball to give up, the Leonberger gathered some courage to approach the trike for a sniff. After that, he wagged his tail at me in friendly fashion as if to say, ‘Oh, just a weird bike. You’re okay then.’

In a squeaky, little Gandalf voice, 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!'

In a squeaky, little Gandalf voice, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!’

While I was pinned by the Westie, the men gave up and started walk away. Irritating. What if the little monster had actually bitten me? The dog finally ran about 40 feet away to block the path and bark. I moved to turn the trike around and pushed it a couple yards to grass-pinned sand. He rushed back in to about 10 feet away. His owner called a few more times and finally disappeared in the distance. Carefully, I sat down and just fiddled with my phone, waiting for him to realize his master was safely away. It took 5 minutes or so before he abruptly bolted off after his human and never looked back.

Shaking my head, I pedaled on until I found a foot path I could navigate connecting with a small residential street.

Most of that stretch was off the marked Kattegattleden route. At some point, I rejoined it. It was so boring! It wound on and on through mostly residential area, away from shore. A two lane, busy road flanked by a busy cycle lane on one side. A measly 4 feet of space for both directions of cycle and foot traffic. Bikes often had to swerve out into traffic, sometimes oncoming for their direction of travel, to get by. I was no exception, especially when it came to getting by someone with a baby stroller or young children on bikes.

After a bit of that, I was fed up. One of the many driveways made a handy spot to swerve out of the way and look at my Garmin and maps to see if there were roads closer to the water that connected enough to get along.

Sea, sun and flower covered dunes!

Sea, sun and flower covered dunes!

There were and I gleefully left that unpleasantness behind for views of sand, sea and sun (since it had emerged) or little beach houses lining the roads and hardly a moving car to be found. It was so nice and the brisk wind was a nice counter to the hot sun. Oddly though, I noticed that even during the moments when no haze or thin cloud weakened it, it didn’t seem has harsh as it before in the previous months. It felt warm and pleasant. A lovely change.

What a view!

What a view!

One tiny side jaunt I made to reach the beach, I found a restroom, perfectly timed. Then I stepped out and wandered a few yards closer to the water. The wind was brisk, whipping waves into whitecaps. Back to the west, the ridge was still clearly visible and made for an impressive view. Photos for a nice panoramic taken, I walked by a sign which proudly announced that I was standing on Sweden’s longest stretch of sandy beach. I didn’t take a photo of the text and I’ve forgotten how long it was. A few miles at least.

Lovely little stream

Lovely little stream

I pedaled along those beach roads until they ended where a cycle path picked up. It was paved and well tended. At one point, a wooden bridge spanned a quiet flowing stream. Up current, the trees hugged the shore, branches shading the banks completely out of site. Down current, the trees gave way to the coarse coastal grass and sands of the beach where the water met the ocean in a spot quiet of wind driven whitecaps.

The bridge where stream meets sea

The bridge where stream meets sea

The bridge was interesting because it had apparently been built with donations from various people and businesses. Most of the vertical slats of the railing had name placards attached. Rather nice I thought.

The path went to gravel not far across the bridge and headed into a wooded area so thick with trails that when I stood up to stretch a moment, I could see three of them meandering around from just about any location. A few other bikers passed me, their cycles loaded with pannier bags as they called out friendly greetings. One of those meetings was an older couple, perhaps in their 60’s. They passed me with smiles and waves and disappeared.

Slice of Florida in Sweden

Slice of Florida in Sweden

The Kattegattleden took me further into the park. At a information sign, I passed the couple where they stood sipping water and reading.

About a mile after passing them, I abruptly found myself riding the trike through what felt like Florida. The path was more sand than gravel. The trees stunted, twisted like pine things. Though the growth was low, it was dense and blocked all the wind at ground level which offered greater impact of the sun giving it an almost tropical sensation. As I pushed on, admiring the sometimes amazing twists of trunks and branches, the sound of windblown waves gradually transformed into the more steady noise of traffic.

Somewhere along the ‘Florida’ stretch, the couple zipped passed me again with more friendly greetings. Their bikes had plumper tires than my trike giving them better speed and traction than I had.

They were long gone by the time the path took me sharply east and across another bridge spanning a larger stream or small river.

Water makes beautiful landscapes!

Water makes beautiful landscapes!

It made a pretty bit of scenery. The reflecting water appearing blue beneath a sky only slightly darker than a robin’s egg off set by the strong greens of summer’s bounty and a hint of the ocean beyond.

Not the most exciting part of the trip when the path ran close against the roar of a highway. There was an ‘on-off’ gas station. That’s one of those that is kinda built onto the highway itself. No smaller roads join the highway with their own ramps, just one leading into the station and one leading out. These are almost always matched with an identical twin on the other side for opposite direction of traffic.

Random Roadside Flowers

Random Roadside Flowers

I was a little tempted to stop. Tepid water sucked out of a platypus bladder through a bite valve becomes tedious and some nuts might have been good too. I decided against it though, preferring something more interesting than what I could glean from a gas station.

At least I was avoiding the edge of dehydration like I tend to end up with on longer rides. Often it’s because I hate trying to find some place sheltered enough I’m not going to be mooning the world when I need to answer nature’s call. Often times, I have trouble just finding somewhere I can get the trike far enough off the road where it feels like it’s not going to get hit. Logically, I know it’s not a greater chance of it getting hit without me in it, but it still feels that way.

But with this being an official ‘tourist cycle route’ places to go were plentiful and I made sure I took advantage of it by reminding myself to drink little sips often. That hydration might have been one reason why the tour didn’t feel so hard on me physically. Well, the rides on day 2 and 4 any way. I won’t lie about feeling all noodle-legged on the first day.

Pretty and fun landscape

Pretty and fun landscape

Once the route led me under and away from the E6/E20, I found myself making a gentle, but steady climb inland for a mile or so. With the glint of sun on cars zipping down the highway behind me, I crested a small ridge and began a thrilling downward plunge. I relaxed, relatively speaking, and enjoyed the ride. Without pedaling, I covered almost a mile and a half racing down a long, gentle slope at speeds approaching 30 mph. The road surface was good so it was a fairly smooth roll. Another hill appeared, but I had the speed to glide right up and topped it at 11 mph before racing downward again. I was giggling gleefully most of the way.

That ‘wheeeeee!!’ was followed by more climbing, but like the first it was an easy grade. I just relaxed and didn’t rush it. Instead, I craned my head around trying to admire every inch of the scenery.

Surprise! Random Grave Mounds

Surprise! Random Grave Mounds

One thing I missed though were the pretty cottages from the 1600’s that had been scattered all through the landscape between Helsingborg and Ängelholm. I’d not seen a single one since leaving Ängelholm.

Toodling happily along between rolling fields of ripening wheat, I spotted something unexpected high above the road to my right. A trio of grave mounds sat high above the wheat fields and trees that fell away to toward the sea. None of the various web sites I use to find interesting things had indicated anything of the sort.

Moving on after taking pictures, I came upon the friendly couple reading the roadside information board about the area around the mounds. Since it wasn’t specific to the mounds, I photographed it for future reference and left as they rested a moment. They overtook me again on the next soft climb and said, “See you in Halmstad!”

That made me smile.

Some of the cairns

Some of the cairns

Scenery across the burial ground

Scenery across the burial ground

Not much further along, I took a detour off the route again, heading for one of those interesting spots I’d found with all my cross-referencing. My goal lay back near the water so I scooted under the E6/E20 again and with a fun, short race down, fetched up onto a road parallel to the sea. On the right were houses and the occasional pasture or empty plot of trees. The left was a reserve area, most of which was an old burial ground.

A half mile long stretch of shoreline crammed with old grave cairns, 250 or more, 2000 years old. Archaeological digs found little more than pottery, many of the cairns were damaged by people taking the rocks to build with. Looking at a satellite view of the area you can see how crowded it is with the graves. There is also a well in the area, though it didn’t specify how old that might be.

This is only the 2nd or 3rd sea side burial ground like this I’ve found.

Trönninge Church

Trönninge Church

It took a bit of effort to climb out of that little area to cross under the highway back onto the Kattegattleden. As soon as was back on the marked route, a church steeple appeared above the trees in the distance, the pale green of copper’s patina against the blue and white smudge of the sky.

Trönninge Church was quite charming, I thought. The copper roof accents of the steeple a nice contrast with the gray slate look of the main roof. The arched windows, the turrets and all that just gave it such a Gothic feel. It’s a ‘new’ church though, built at the end of the 1800’s. No deeper history behind it apparently. I still liked it. I didn’t get a peek inside as it was closed tight.

A ravenous hunger was making things unpleasant by that time, coming up on 1 pm. It’s not often I feel so starved on a ride. Most times, even if pedaling through 10 or more hours in a day, I have no appetite at all until an hour or so after stopping. Not so this time.

I came into the light industrial fringes of Halmstad with my tummy throttling my spine insistently. Almost I stopped at pizza/kebab restaurant (term used loosely), but the food in such places never really appeals to me. I pushed on hoping for a McDonald’s or a Burger King. Yes, even those are preferable to me over most pizza places.

Lunch!

Lunch!

Sooooooo glad I waited, because moments later I spotted a sign proclaiming ‘British style fish and chips’. You could even get it with mushy peas. The name of the place escapes me, but I swerved right in, locked up and charged inside. I ordered a combo plate. Fish, chips, shrimp and calamari with a little side salad. Mmmmmm….

Weariness was settling into my legs as I made the last push toward the ride’s end. It was, after all, my longest ride since the stroke.

I must have missed a sign for the route and even with my maps, I made a few wrong turns. I didn’t get right back on it, but knowing the general direction I needed to go I didn’t worry too much about straying that little bit.

It did mean dodging big trucks a bit, but not too bad. I rolled past a large lot of nothing but dirt. An RV was parked there with a man and woman in their 60’s or so sitting in arm chairs. They called out a cheery hello and the man yelled something along the lines of, ‘What a cool bike!’ They waved again when I had to double back upon discovering it was the wrong way and a dead end. When I passed a go-cart track, there was nearly a multi-cart pile up when one guy goggled at me rather than paying attention to the curves.

On the 'old' side of the river

On the ‘old’ side of the river

Soon, I fetched up against the river that runs through Halmstad which gave me a more precise orientation than ‘that way’ as my night’s lodging was near the strip of water that rippled gently through the town. I traveled north on the ‘new’ side of the river for a ways. It was more commercial or light industrial than anything else, but it offered good views to the older buildings on the opposite side.

Halmstad Castle

Halmstad Castle

One of those buildings was Halmstad Castle. The distance across the water gave an awesome view from far enough away so I didn’t have to take overlapping photos to be stitched together and fixed from whatever wonkiness ensues. I loved the sloop looking sailing ship docked beside it.

Loved the lower windows and the balconys' iron work

Loved the lower windows and the balconys’ iron work

Just beyond the castle, a bridge let me cross to the other side into another slice of madness. The pretty streets with older buildings were packed with people wandering to and fro. Definitely something was going on.

I rolled to a relieved stop outside the hotel. The first ‘chain’ hotel of the tour though according to photos inside, there’s been a hotel there for a century or more. Just a few yards away, people and bikes streamed through Halmstad’s only remaining medieval gate. The only portion left of the ancient defensive walls perhaps.

I glanced at it a few times as I gathered the important stuff off the trike, temporarily locked it to an iron ring in a flower ‘pot’ made from half of a large barrel and went in.

The line at reception was long. When I reached the front, I was told my room hadn’t been cleaned yet though it was almost 5 pm. I was a bit of a pest though when I asked for a secure location to park the trike. The desk clerk first suggested a parking garage, but I pointed out my trike was hard to replace and quite expensive so unless they had a garage secure and private for guests, I’d prefer something better. The luggage room would have worked except there was too many bags in it even folded.

Finally, the woman let me roll it into the offices behind the check-in desk. Inconvenient for them, but still very accommodating. The seat I put in the luggage room.

The trike settled, I just sat down in a comfy lobby chair and read for a while until someone came to tell me my room was ready. I asked about the craziness as she typed in the computer. Turned out the entire city was crammed with a music festival with the main concert that evening. That would explain why hotel rooms had been so scarce when I had been booking for the tour.

My room was on the second floor and if I leaned out the window a bit, I had a good view of the old gate. Literally, it was within a stone’s throw. I thought about taking a photo, but the constant stream of humanity cluttering it put me off. Being such an early riser and the sunrise still fairly early in July, it would make a lovelier image at 5 am.

I cleaned up and changed before heading out to look for dinner. I strolled around looking for a cafe or casual restaurant, but all such places were packed. Finally, with a sigh, I settled for McDonald’s. I spent the rest of the evening in my comfortable room. The chatter of people and squawking of sea gulls streamed through the window I kept open for fresh air.

During the end of day call, Jens offered me another day, but my searches for another hotel along the Kattegattleden within 25-30 miles of Halmstad found no vacancies. The entire region seemed well and truly filled to the brim. I felt a bit of a sad twinge, knowing tomorrow would be the last ride of the trip, and snuggled down to sleep.



Kattegattleden, Day 2 – Onward!
August 15, 2015, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Tours

The first night of my tour did not go comfortably.

Don’t get me wrong, the bed was great, but then my back decided it was too soft for me or something and started to hurt no matter how I laid. Then I started feeling so hot. With the door open a little and a fan blowing, it wasn’t really too hot, but I felt like I was roasting. It made for a fitful night.

I finally gave up trying to sleep once enough light came through the little dormer window and read some more instead. I think that was about 5:30 am. I also checked the weather forecast.

Unpleasantness on the horizon.

Unpleasantness on the horizon.

A few days before the trip, I kept checking and it looked promising. Then of course, the rain came during the evening of July 19th. The forecast said it shouldn’t rain on the 20th. Yet it was pattering a bit when I got moving for my shower. Out the door window, it appeared worse was to come. It was nearly enough to make me want to just snuggle down for half the day.

Instead, I cleaned up and packed in unhurried fashion. The original plan had been to dress in normal clothes for breakfast then come back to the room to change. Instead, on went the cycle clothes except for the Five Fingers on my feet. After triple checking the room, I locked up and went down the stairs with all my bags like an overloaded camel.

I went into the reception area where breakfast would be served, dumped bags in a corner and sat down to read until they brought breakfast out.

Breakfast was simple. Another bread roll with cheese baked in turned into a sandwich with ham. Also a bit of watermelon and a couple pieces of bacon for naughtiness sake.

As the very nice woman carried around her sleepy, shy 2 year old, she unlocked the wine cellar and told me about the buildings. The vineyard had been open for only 3 years. 10 years before that, she and her husband had worked hard to save the buildings from their nearly ruined state. They’d all largely been rebuilt, but used reclaimed timbers and bricks as well as old techniques. I thanked them for their work to preserve the very charm of the place. The only places that were new built was the public restroom, the wine ‘cellar’ and the restaurant area, but they’d worked very hard to make them look as if they’d been there as long as those constructed in the 1600’s.

The cottage with my little dormer window.

The cottage with my little dormer window.

In short order, I had the trike out of the cellar, loaded up and changed to the cycle shoes.

By the time the trike rolled off the gravel of the driveway onto the pavement, the sun was coming out. The clouds, which had been so dark out the window, had been turned to tatters and racing off across the horizon.

Once I was moving, I was surprised how good and unexpectedly strong I felt after how harsh the last few miles had been the day before.

There was nothing but anticipation for the day laying before me. I’d pulled up the MapMyRide route on my iPad before leaving the room. There was only one harsh climb to tackle right at the beginning of the ride. From there, it was nearly pancake flat for the next 20 miles. A short day and mostly flat.

The landscape for most of the first mile was level, rolling through a peculiar combination of rural and residential. Then it was a wild downhill plunge. The sun shone bright as I braced myself in the trike, death grip on the steering and exhilarated to speeds approaching 30 mph. I started giggling with the adrenaline rush.

The light’s glare turned the rain soaked asphalt into a blinding surface. Nearing the bottom of the hill, the mound of a speed bump appeared. The trike was streaking along at 27 mph by that point. With a strangled squawk of alarm, I gripped the brakes, but didn’t dare clamp down for a ‘stop on a dime’. At that speed, it would likely have flipped the trike over the pedal boom. My speed was still 22 mph when I hit it. All three wheels left the ground. Me, trike and all my bags sailed through the air for 4 yards or more before slamming back down.

Heart hammering in my chest, I expected to feel shuddering and wobbling from bent wheels as the trike still charged along at about 19 mph. Nothing. Smooth as silk as the work began to make the first and only major climb of the day.

The ascent hurt. I won’t gloss it over. My knees hated me, then I couldn’t pedal any more as half of the day’s climbing was going to be done before rolling 2.5 miles. The last 100 yards required pushing the trike. My post-stroke neurological pain chose that moment to jump into the fun. Every muscle through my arms, chest back and legs burned like fire as I pushed 5 or 10 steps, wedged my foot under the back wheel to straighten up and wait for the pain to ebb somewhat. Then I’d push again.

Not sure this view was worth the slog

Not sure this view was worth the slog

Every inch of my body trembled when I finally approached the crest of the hill. The grade lessened enough where I could pedal the rest of the way. I stood there for a few minutes, waiting for the blaze through my nerves to dampen down. I also fumbled out the camera to take a shot back the way I’d come. It was a pretty view, but what a hardship to obtain.

The pain became only a memory once I settled back down in the trike seat and started pedaling.

It’s odd, but once the first few months post stroke had passed, riding my trike became easier. Even on days when just walking through the apartment leaves every muscle fiber from base of the skull to my ankles screaming, I can still ride almost pain free as long as my knees behave. It does seem to impact my endurance, but no neuro-agony.

View from on high

View from on high across to another portion of Sweden

It’s because of that and the fact this was the worst hill of the day that none of the muttering doubts of the day before raised their voice. The rest of the mileage between the top of that hill to the hotel in Ängelholm had only tiny little climbs, mole hills, compared to the monster I’d just ascended.

There was another descent, not quite as extreme as the first one with the launch pad at the bottom. I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I would have liked though because of more speed mounds. Unlike the first one, these had the blue and white striped reflective markers to either side, so even when the sun glared on wet pavement, I knew they were there. No more flights for the trike. Maybe with shocks to absorb some of the harsh impact of landing I’d have gone for it, but while in midair I had images of my wheels turning into taco shapes.

Beautiful! Or it will be again.

Beautiful! Or it will be again.

I reached the flat ground and pedaled along beneath the cloud mottled sky. Not far on, I heard the distinctive whine of a table saw. The sound came from a gorgeous old house that emerged from behind trees. The white paint was mottled and flaking, but you could still see what it might have been during its heyday. Admittedly, the grounds of the estate have been long divided and any outbuildings that might have been around gone, but the house had endured. Now, someone was working to restore it. Saved from crumbling into forgotten obscurity. I only hope they preserve the sense of its past rather than sterilizing it into some odd combination of old and modern that happens sometimes.

First unpaved of the day

First unpaved of the day

A bit past the old house, a boy, about 10 years old came pedaling by on a mountain bike loaded down with a pair of large rear panniers. A quick glance in my rear view found a woman and a girl a bit older than than the boy. I smiled and waved at them. In my distraction, I missed the turn and had to double back about 100 yards.

Heading north, it was a gentle coast to the coast. Following signs for a few turns onto obscure little roads and finally the start of the first unpaved portion of the day’s ride, there was a sign for a POI.

A fossilized seabed studded with sea urchins

A fossilized seabed studded with sea urchins

Feeling recovered from the hell hill, I hopped up to look. Fossils! According to the sign, down the little foot path was a section of ancient sea bed studded with fossilized sea urchins.

The path was too narrow for the trike. Not thrilled with the idea of leaving it, I wrestled it into the tall grass beside the path and did it anyway. I carried all my electronics of course and locked it. If anyone grabbed a bag or riffled through, all they’d find were clothes, shoes, water bottle and tire repair stuff.

The beach was pretty, but fossil wise, visually underwhelming. No obvious sand ripples turned to stone and most of the sea urchins were just pock marks in the sandstone or a slightly darker blob here or there. A sense of awe still shivered down my back when I looked out across it and walked down to the water’s edge. To imagine walking on the bottom of a shallow sea from a whole different world from millions of years ago.

I didn’t stay long. The trike was lonely without me.

Jonstorp Church

Jonstorp Church

The wooded path was short and in less than 5 minutes, I was headed south through a little village away from the coastline. Right along the route was Jonstorp Church. I clicked a photo of it from the road, figure it would be easier than overlapping photos to be stitched later. Unfortunately, the church was locked. Not sure if it’s normally so or I was just too early. Impossible to say.

The route still followed the coast, but about half a mile inland rather than within view of the water. The change from sea to inland and back made for nice variety.

More old timber and brick houses

More old timber and brick houses

At the sea side was the beautiful expanse of the water and clouds playing against the blue of the sky. The peace of lapping water. Inland were views across a landscape of old farmsteads, churches, fields of grain and gently rolling terrain.

My luck continued with the weather as well. It was a bit warm, but not hot. The wind wasn’t in my face though I was heading mostly east after toodling mostly north-west the first day. Best of all, the morning rain kept missing me. Rolling along where things were mostly dry and then abruptly the road and trees would be drenched as if a downpour had stopped just minutes before. By lunch time the heavy-bellied dark rain clouds were gone.

 

Farhult Church

Farhult Church

It wasn’t even quite noon when I rolled to a stop outside the graveyard around Farhult church. I adored the little stone building outside the church as well as the timber and plaster building. The timber and plaster structure dates from the 1700’s. Luck was with me or the church is usually open on Mondays after 10 am, but I was able to go inside.

Farhult's Interior

Farhult’s Interior

Close up of the pulpit

Close up of the pulpit

It was fairly simple inside though there’s mention of murals in the history, mostly in the apse. The pulpit was prettily carved, painted and covered in gilt. As I worked to crop the photo to size for the post, I noticed that the gold lettering around the bottom is the names of the Apostle in that panel. At least I’m pretty sure. The two I can read are Petrus (Latin Peter?) and Paulus (Latin Paul?)

Once done inside the church, I pedaled around to the timber building to admire it as I relaxed by the little well. I completely forgot to peek inside and see if it was a real well or just a mock up.

I should have gotten a photo of it, but back at Arild’s Vineyard, the little courtyard area had a lovely stone well too. It was a real one. At least it was a hole into a larger open space deeper than the level of the ground on which I stood. Whether there was water in it, I’m not sure.

After sipping some water and wishing I had a few nuts or something to nibble, I moved on.

Crappy iPhone image of nice buildings

Crappy iPhone image of nice buildings

Not far past the church was a lovely cottage right next to a windmill. I should have dug out my Canon for a photo, but there were too many trees to get far enough back or find a good angle without multiple images. So I settled with my iPhone, which came out crappy dark. Ah, well.

Ponds and sea with sea side villages beyond

Ponds and sea with sea side villages beyond

I wasn’t making bad time. The flat terrain helped as did the accommodating wind. I was going to make it to the next hotel with plenty of time to spare given it was only 21-ish miles planned.

One of the swans

One of the swans

When the route strayed back to the sea’s edge, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d not seen any swans this year. Not a one bobbing around on any of the lakes or in the Baltic where they are so common. About 10 minutes after that thought, I had to laugh. In a length of shore sheltered from the bigger waves, a handful or so of the big, graceful birds glided across the water’s surface.

My energy started to flag about the time I saw the swans. Two consecutive days with long rides meant winding down quick during the second one, but at least there weren’t any tall or steep hills. Though it wasn’t even 2 pm, I was glad when I started coming toward Ängelholm. The last couple miles were rather boring though. A wide, fairly busy road though at least there was a nice cycle lane built to one side, separated from the occasional traffic by a thick curb.

Into Ängelholm

Into Ängelholm

The bike lane is a new addition. Google Street view dated from 2011 shows just the road and no nice wide shoulder.

There was a castle in the area. Riding to it and back would add about 3 miles, but since I had so much time left in the day and I’d planned it, I started looking for the turn off. Annoyingly, I couldn’t find it. Now while looking into it for this post, I see where I missed it. The ‘road’ I’d mapped was an unpaved track so rarely used that it was overgrowing with grass. Makes me wonder if there’s another way to the place or if it’s some kind of ruin.

One castle I tried to chase down in Denmark turned out to be demolished a couple years before I rode in the area. Toxic mold had grown so bad in it that it wasn’t safe for humans to enter. So sad to lose such a gorgeous structure with history to such, but if it couldn’t be saved, it couldn’t be saved.

Across the River

Across the River

My hotel was called, ‘River Side’ so when I rolled across a bridge spanning a pretty little river I knew I was close. The old portion of Ängelholm was crazy busy. Cars zipping around and no cycle path to get me off the narrow street. There was a small old building of some kind as well as a church, but I was tired and, with the smell of food in the air from a pair of cafes in the square awakening my appetite, ravenously hungry.

The traffic, wheeled and foot, was putting my teeth on edge and exhaustion made the trike feel even heavier. Before eating, I was going to see if there was somewhere to dump my luggage and lighten the load at the very least.

I rolled to a stop and walked in. I was greeted by a very nice young woman. She checked and though it was barely after 2 pm, my room was ready. She also showed me the hotels private garage which staff had to open so no one was going to nip in and roll the trike out. Bags dumped in the room, trike feeling much lighter, I rolled out to dodge traffic back to the square and cafes.

The two cafes were nearly carbon copies of each other. Less than 100 yards apart on opposite sides of the square and identical menus. One was larger, the chairs and awnings were different. I chose the one where I could park, lock the trike and still see it from one of the available tables.

I had schnitzel. Though I wasn’t expecting excellence from a random street cafe, it was a let down. Perhaps I felt that disappointment in ‘bleah’ food more keenly after my good fortune at Arild’s Vineyard. I ate enough that I didn’t feel starved and left the rest.

I then rolled down a street that didn’t allow cars except for delivery trucks for the shops. The sheer press of people surprised me. It didn’t seem there was really that much to draw so many people to Ängelholm. Almost made me wonder what I was missing.

After the ‘eeehhh’ late lunch, I decided to buy a sandwich from Subway for dinner. I grabbed a cookie and soda to make it a bit naughty.

I made an effort to explore around the area beyond that, but I was just tired. So, I went back to the hotel, parked the trike in the garage and went up to my room to read.

It wasn’t the end of my day. I started feeling restless and decided to go to the theater. Less than 100 yards from the hotel and I was curious to see Minions, in spite of the fact that with such a small theater they only had it showing in Swedish for kids. While my Swedish is improving, I was too tired to focus on another language.

Then it was back to the hotel. I started looking at my ride tomorrow and from there I started feeling stressed. The first day’s climbing had been about 700 feet. Most of it had been at the beginning and the end with mostly flat in the middle and had been harsh. The 2nd day had about 500 feet, 200+ feet in the first 2 miles and then little up and down the rest of the 15 or so miles.

The altitude profile for the miles between Ängelholm and Båstad on the other hand, showed over 1000 feet for the ride. 750-800 feet of that was in just 5 miles, climbing the tall ridge that stretches across a fair chunk of the southern part of Sweden. There was a big hoopla about getting a tunnel built through it because trucks have trouble crossing it, especially in the winter.

I about folded up right then. My knees simply would not be able to deal with the grades that made what I’d already fought my way up seem flat. I called Jens and discussed him possibly picking me up the next morning. I could ride on while he drove across Sweden and stop when the ridge began to occupy most of the day. I made a post on Facebook. I’m on a recumbent trike group and it turned out that one of the members lives in the area.

He kindly offered to come keep me company if I wanted to attempt the ridge. I told him while company would be nice, I didn’t think it would help get me up that monster of a hill.

Then he suggested I try a train. The local trains in the area have a car for bikes. I spoke with some of the hotel staff and they all recommended that I don’t try the ride if I’d had trouble the first day and take the train. Still nervous, I talked with Jens and we decided that I’d look into the train and decide in the morning which way the wind was going to blow.

So, I snuggled down into my cozy, comfy bed in a snug, clean and pleasant room for my second night’s sleep.



Kattegattleden, Day 1 – Nervous Beginnings
August 14, 2015, 9:04 am
Filed under: Tours

I woke quite early and peeked out the window. The sun was coming up and showed the flag quite clearly. It still waved, but not with the frenetic pop and snap of the night before. After that it was simply fidgeting around, splashing through a hurried shower, and then rushing down to breakfast after waking Jens.

It wasn’t a bad breakfast buffet. I had a cheese bun made into a sandwich with some Swedish cheese and ham along with a bit of watermelon. Fuel for the day. I’m also glad I had a reminder programmed into my phone to take my blood pressure meds, because I would have completely forgotten about them.

Loke had been quite excited and reluctant to settle the night before. It was sad that he wasn’t going to get what he anticipated. Not even a run of a few miles with me before going back home with the hubby. He still had a week to go of enforced rest. While Jens went down for breakfast, I kept Loke company and wound him up by getting dressed in my cycle clothes.

Then it was time to walk the 200 or so yards to the little park where the car was parked with my loaded trike. The fuzzy swerved back and forth at the end of his leash, eager and ready for what he wouldn’t get. It didn’t help to settle my nerves. I was quite on edge about the tour. This was the most ambitious thing I’d done with a trike. A little voice in the back of my head kept whispering that I wasn’t recovered enough from the stroke. It insisted on reminding me how exhausted I felt after just 2 consecutive days with shorter rides than what was planned. My husband gave me pep talks, promising that he’d come if he had to, no complaints or blame. This was supposed to be fun. I had the credit card. Just enjoy myself.

Loaded and ready...

Loaded and ready…

It seemed just moments later, I gave him a good-bye smooch and clipped in. Loke looked stricken as I rolled off without him. Then he and hubby were in the car and on their way back across the width of Sweden.

I stopped almost as I started to memorialize the start of the grand adventure with a photo at a little fountain in the park.

I didn’t realize it at the time, rather I didn’t worry about it, but I didn’t start the ride from where I’d marked the beginning. Only now, have I discovered that it meant missing a couple gorgeous photo opportunities, one of them a lovely old church. Ah well. Maybe next time.

I headed west through the park, aiming for the shoreline to escape the press of early morning traffic of the small city of Helsingborg. Though only 7:30 on a Sunday morning, it was quite busy. I rolled through the morning shadows of the taller buildings, feeling a bit claustrophobic on the cycle path, squeezed by cars on one side and the pedestrian lane on the other mingled with small trees thrusting up through openings in pavement.

Helsingborg City Hall

Helsingborg City Hall

I took a brief stop to photo the lovely city hall with it’s bronze statue under a green patina and pushed to do a quick loop through the park with the tower which is where I somehow missed the beautiful shot through an arch and short drum towers up to the medieval fortress tower as well as the church.

Getting up to the tower was a bit of a climb. Coming back down wasn’t as fun as I hoped as I needed to curb my speed to not hit pedestrians or zoom into traffic.

Kronborg across the water

Kronborg across the water

For a short bit, the streets became a little confusing and I didn’t see any Kattegattleden signs. I took a cue from a couple on road bikes loaded with little pannier bags though they disappeared quick. It was enough to set me straight on the path with the first of the route signs. In short order, I was rolling on a cycle/pedestrian park strip right at the water’s edge. Across the narrow strip of water, lay Denmark with Kronborg castle (of Shakespear’s ‘Hamlet’ fame) visible. My telephoto lens helped make the castle a tiny bit clearer than a pale smear at the water’s edge.

The wind blustered, though with less intensity than the day before. Best of all, it came from the south and east, actually helping instead of hindering. I rolled by the closed food kiosks, the brightly colored giant pillows and modern looking houses.

And yes, giant pillows. I think they’re air filled and well tethered to the ground to keep from flying off. About 1 yard deep and 3 or so yards across, there’s plenty of room for an entire, good sized family to sprawl.

If not for the view across the water, I would have been quite bored with that bit of the ride.

Right about mile 2, I cut away from the route to scoot across the busy road to a small paved lane that turned into a harsh climb. If it was less than a 7% grade, I’d be surprised. With that as my first major climb, I realized how heavy the trike felt. I’d asked the mechanic if my old cassette had been a 12-36, but he said it had actually been a 12-34, but struggling as I was, I wondered if he was mistaken. The tiny road was closely lined with the big trees casting everything in shade, which was a blessing though the limbs and trunks also sheltered it from the cooling wind. It took more than 15 or 20 minutes for me to creep up a half mile, my knees complaining all the while.

Gorgeous little cottage named 'Little Pålsjö'

Gorgeous little cottage named ‘Little Pålsjö’ at top of hill

The little whispers of doubt about the wisdom of this trip became pangs as strong as the twinges of pain through my knees. One little voice kept muttering, “Jens is less than an hour away. Better soon than later to change your mind.” I shut it out and focused on getting up the climb. I stopped when  necessary and otherwise turned the pedals as slowly as my knees seemed to need. At times I did less than 20 rpm, but up I went even if in molasses slow spurts.

Pålsjö Manor

Pålsjö Manor

I practically melted into my seat with relief when I reached the top of the hill, parking on the beginning of a gravel drive to wait and see what would happen with my knees. As the pain ebbed, I dug out my camera to photograph a lovely cottage opposite the drive.

After a couple of minutes, I felt good enough to bump along the drive to the first castle of the day. Pålsjö was a modest manor house rather than a full on castle, though still pretty. It serves as a cluster of offices for modern businesses today which means that the interior has been stripped of history. Ah well. At least the building itself endures.

And with the offices in there, Sunday was the best time to be there! No cars parked around it like little chicks around a hen.

I could have continued on around the road to the north-west to rejoin the Kattegattleden a little further one, but opted instead to double back, thereby avoiding any further climbs right away. Steep as the climb had been, it made the descent hair-raising. Or it would have been hair-raising if not for the wind of my speed blowing it back. 27 or 28 mph at one point, then I slowed to round the curve, wary of cars that might decide to come up fast and cut to the inside as if on a racetrack. I still stayed over 20 mph all the way down! Fun!

Sofiero Castle

Sofiero Castle

Less than 2 miles from rejoining the route, I was coming up on the second castle/manor house of the day. Sofiero Castle. Much to my disappointment, I didn’t get to roll through the grounds. The main part of the estate around the castle were closed off except to paying visitors. I would have had to park and lock the trike, hoping my bags wouldn’t be ransacked by the time I got back. Such a shame.

I did get sneaky and walked to the exit turnstiles. I squeezed the lens through some of the bars to take several photos of the castle across the lush lawn. Not as good as rolling through the grounds and finding better angles/lighting, but better than nothing.

A lovely contrast

A lovely contrast

Beyond the pay-to-visit royal estate, the path crossed through the countryside far enough away from the coastline that not a glimmer of water was to be seen. It was coming gently down from some higher ground so I rolled along at a good pace with little effort, stopping every now and again to pull out camera or iPhone for something that caught my eye.

What a lovely windmill!

What a lovely windmill!

In spite of the easy rolling, my nerves didn’t want to settle. I kept thinking of Jens getting further and further away along with my feeling of being physically unprepared for this undertaking. I even called Jens a couple times, asking for pep talks which he cheerfully supplied.

Burial Mound

Burial Mound

Every now and again, I’d roll by an information sign announcing the once presence of burial mounds and settlements harking back to the Early Iron, Bronze or Stone Ages. Near one of these signs was what remained of an actual mound.

Hello Denmark!

Hello Denmark!

Not much further on and my path meandered back toward the coastline. First just a glimpse of water through trees or across fields and then finally back beside the shoreline where I could hear even the most gentle laps of water against the rocky shore.

Viken

Viken

Sea birds and sail boats

Sea birds and sail boats

Another windmill appeared ahead, this one surrounded by a cluster of modest houses of the shoreline village of Viken. The gusty wind helped me along as I rolled toward the village, following the curve of the shore where various sea birds, cormorants mostly, used the rocks to come out of the water to dry their wings.

It was a bit after noon by this point and I started to feel hungry. Fortunately, I passed through a little harbor area and what should I find? A little food shack. They had various kinds of sea food available and I chose fried scallops with fries. Not often I eat lunch on longer rides. This was one of the best of the few I have done so.

Before pushing on, the food was allowed to settle.

I took a short detour into Viken, a bit away from the coast to chase down the church there. It took me a a bit to spot it as I didn’t expect it to be hidden in scaffolding covered in a white mesh like net. Honestly, from a distance, it looked more like tent-caterpillars had mistaken it for a tree and gone nuts. Closer up, it was just ugly so I couldn’t be bothered to dig out my camera and fiddle with layering photos to stitch into a whole later.

There was something heartbreaking as I rolled to a grassy patch to go into the church. The building sat surrounded by a complete loop of quiet little streets, almost as if in its personal little round-about. In the middle of the street was a ring-necked pigeon. It’s head was twisted at a completely unnatural and horrifying angle. Still alive. With it was another pigeon, probably its mate. That other poor bird was distraught and kept running around.

Model ship in Viken Church.

Model ship in Viken Church.

I’m not generally fond of these pigeons. They’re slow, poop on everything, and more than a little stupid. Over the years, Loke’s grabbed 3 of them out of bushes before I or Jens were even aware of them. Nothing like trying to pry a dying bird out of your dog’s jaws when he really doesn’t want to let go. Still, I hate to see such suffering. I didn’t feel there was much I could do, except move it to a quiet bush. Wildlife clinics here in Sweden wouldn’t do anything for one of these.

As I moved toward it, two things happened. First, the injured bird flew. Not well and not far, tilted almost 90% of horizontal for about 10 yards before it bumped down. That surprised me, but what startled me more was getting attacked by the other one. It came flapping at my feet, pecking at them and then leapt into the air. Wings thumped at my body all the way up to my head. I’ll admit it. My respect and estimation of these birds went up a few notches for that. Courage I did not expect.

Pews, pulpit and portion of the gorgeous barrel vaulted ceiling

Pews, pulpit and portion of the gorgeous barrel vaulted ceiling

Since the injured one had actually landed where I intended to put, I retreated, giving the field of battle to the feathered warrior who promptly went to its mate’s side.

Shaking my head in wonder, I headed into the church. There were a few people lingering around inside as I believe services had recently finished. Hanging from the ceiling near the door and under the organ loft were 3 model ships. These are very common in areas with a strong Danish influence, which covers almost all of the southern most portions of Sweden. I think they’re of real ships (though perhaps long lost to time now) that the congregations prayed for or hoped for God to protect.

I would have asked the woman who was the pastor, but she was having a long conversation with an older couple and hadn’t finished by the time I’d looked around. It didn’t seem they’d be done any time soon, so I moved on.

As I went back to my trike. I was surprised to see the injured bird looking a little improved. It’s head was not quite so much out of alignment and it was standing more steady as it peeked out from the bush. It’s mate puffed up and strutted aggressively back and forth. I really don’t think it survived, but it would be nice if it did somehow recover, for the sake of its companion’s steadfast courage if naught else.

Höganäs Church

Höganäs Church

Feeling guilty I couldn’t do more for the birds, I dropped back into the trike’s seat and pushed on. I don’t remember much of the way between Viken and Höganäs. It was along the water so I probably enjoyed the scenery which very likely involved sea birds perched on rocks thrusting from the water and distant views of Denmark across the strait.

Arriving in Höganäs, I turned off the trail once more to chase down the town’s church. Though it lacked white plaster and the stepped edges on tower’s roof, it was still quite Danish in appearance. If for no other reason, the width of the tower was as wide as the rest of the church. Churches further north either lack towers or the towers are half the width or less of the ‘long house’ portion of the structure.

Upon discovering this church was built between 1932-1934, I could feel my eyes glaze over with disinterest. Me and my obsession with older history. The older the better.

Loved these old cottages

Loved these old cottages

From there, it was a quick zip back the way I came to return to the Kattegattleden.

Rail Trail!!

Rail Trail!!

In a tiny place called Strandbaden (The Beach Bath) just north west of Höganäs, the trail again jigged a short distance from the shore line. It also became an unpaved, but well packed and maintained track. Arrow straight and quite flat. It was an old rail-trail. When I looked at my map, I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed it before. It appeared that it would have led me straight to Mölle.

The sun was pretty much gone by this time, hidden by a curtain of cloud. The wind remained brisk, but still coming from somewhere over my right shoulder so it was more help than hindrance.

Though not even 3 pm, I was feeling the journey by this point. It wasn’t harsh, but my legs were letting me know they didn’t want to keep turning pedals until sundown. Sundown being a bit after 9 pm. Still, given the fact that the ground had been pretty flat since mile 9 and I’d passed mile 20 with a quartered tail wind the whole way, I was feeling pretty good.

Mölle in the distance and the point beyond

Mölle in the distance and the point beyond

I actually toyed with the idea of following the rail trail to Mölle and double back to rejoin my mapped route. When I came up to the turn which would take me toward Krapperup Castle, I spent a little time staring wistfully down the rail-trail, now flanked with trees and turned to a green shaded tunnel. Feeling a bit anxious about reaching the first lodging for the day, I followed the route.

At least the scenery over my shoulder was pretty...

At least the scenery over my shoulder was pretty…

Another windmill at top of the evil hill

Another windmill at top of the evil hill

In less than 5 minutes, I was glad of the choice. While the trail to Mölle would have been easy, being an old rail bed, it still would have taken up some of the day’s strength and stamina. Turned out I needed it it. Almost immediately, the little road leading from the rail-trail canted up. It was harder than the climb that I’d made to the first castle of the day. Part of it might have been the 20+ miles I had under me or the slope might really have been steeper, but I crept up at a pace snails would have laughed at.

I finally had to get up and push the trike. That hill was completely battering me down as I plodded along for a couple steps, stop to let my muscles stop screaming and push a few more. With more than another 100 yards to the top, I was at my lowest point and called Jens for another pep talk, even considered telling him I couldn’t do it.

It was something silly that gave me the boost I needed, made me feel that it wasn’t just me being a broken down wreck. A couple walked past me, pushing their bikes. They were younger, less than 30 years old, looking very strong and fit as well. Yet, there they were pushing bikes without a single bag between them. They were sweaty and a bit breathless too. Not my level of breathless, but still if they were huffing while pushing unloaded bikes that weighed less than my trike rather than spinning up, maybe I wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was just the kick in the butt I needed.

I pulled off the pavement at the top of the hill to catch my breath for almost 5 minutes while watching the windmill spin. It was surprising to see one with sail cloth on the blades and turning. There was one on… Öland, I think, that would actually grind grain to sell. Or maybe it was in Denmark. Can’t remember. But still, out of all the old windmills I’ve seen over the years, less than 4 of them have had turning blades.

Krapperup Castle

Krapperup Castle

Once my breath was caught, I looked at maps. Originally, I’d planned to ride to Krapperup Castle and then scoot down the road across from it though the Kattegattleden continued straight across from where I sat. My mapped way would rejoin the route a little further so it wasn’t a huge issue though following the signs would shave about a mile off.

I decided to stick with the signs. I was wiped from the hill and sure there were more to come. I’d taken photos of the castle the day before. I didn’t really feel like covering an extra mile on the unlikely chance I’d feel okay sneaking on the private marked portions of the castle grounds to get a better photo of it.

One of many old 'farm stead' collection of buildings

One of many old ‘farm stead’ collection of buildings

The landscape didn’t do me much favors. It was still up hill for a bit, though not as brutally as the hill that very nearly broke me into calling off the rest of the tour.

Brunnby Church

Brunnby Church

It was mostly climbing from there, but much kinder grades than before. Every now and again, I had a bit of a downward zip for a few seconds that let me catch my breath. I wasn’t sure what kind of food options I’d have at the vineyard, so I hurried toward a grocery I knew lay along the way, not far from the last church of the day.

I needn’t have hurried. Being such a rural area, the tiny little shop wasn’t even open on Sundays. Grumbling, I scooted toward the church just a few yards away.

It might be hell getting up, but scenery is pretty from on high!

It might be hell getting up, but scenery is pretty from on high!

Not surprisingly, the church was closed and so I pressed on toward the end of the day’s miles.

Looked like burial mound to me!

Looked like burial mound to me!

That last half-mile was spent climbing again. The hills weren’t more than 4%-5%, but I was tired and had set a new ‘longest ride since stroke’ record. Because of that, I kept glancing at my Garmin’s map in the ‘Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet?’ mind set.

Arild’s Vineyard was surprisingly busy. Cars everywhere and people wandering around. The place looked pretty though. Wood and brick buildings that looked centuries old with thatched roofs, tables set out to one side for people to eat and sample the wines. I grabbed my electronics and such to wander into the reception area. It took a few minutes before a very nice woman came in.

When I asked about a secure place to overnight my trike, we stepped out so she could look at it. After a moment, she asked me to wait and came back with her husband. They recommended putting it in the wine ‘cellar’. A dense stone building to one side where they crushed the grapes and began the wine process.

Home for the night

Home for the night

Helping with my bags, she showed me to my room which was across the semi-enclosed courtyard of the farm buildings, up a narrow set of modern wood stairs and through an equally modern door in the gable of the cottage’s end. The room was very narrow as the area was divided between two rooms, but quite deep. The ceiling went from about 8-9 feet on one side to about 3 feet from the floor on the other. Above the bed,  tiny little dormer window looked out. Not bad.

As soon as she left, I hurriedly washed, changed and scampered down to the restaurant area.

I was a bit nervous about my choices upon looking at the menu. Only about 4 dishes to choose from. I decided to take a risk on the pork. I have to say, it felt wrong to be at a vineyard and not order wine, but I never acquired the taste for it nor wanted to.

Through the day, the sun had disappeared and clouds gradually thickened. The wind became a bit more chill as I waited for my food.

To celebrate a successful day!

To celebrate a successful day!

I remained a bit dubious at the first glance of my meal, though half the fries looked tasty. I’m not a big sauce or gravy fan, never have been, and there was a thick slathering of Bearnaise sauce over the three large roundels of pork, which on the surface not covered with the sauce looked a little dry. Then of course half the fries were of sweet potatoes which have always repulsed me. Still I had to eat and if the pork was dry, the sauce would help.

So, I stabbed the pork to cut off a bite and… it practically flaked off like perfectly cooked fish, gorgeously moist in the center. I seriously rolled my eyes in bliss with that first bite. Then I tried it with a bit of the sauce and it was pure heaven. Finally I braced myself for one of the sweet potato fries. I had a new favorite food on the plate. They were crisp on the outside and a fluffy cloud of sweetness inside. Maybe my sense of taste has shifted, but the sweet/salty taste with the french fry texture was great this time. I devoured it all, leaving only a few smears, leaves and grains of salt, the only hints remaining that the plate had been used.

The timing was perfect. I’d barely had time to sit back with a satisfied sigh when the first spits of rain came as a warning. I paid and hurried to my room just before it started coming down in earnest. It was warm in the room, especially since the tiny window didn’t open. So I left the door cracked a bit and turned on the nice big table fan. Full tummy, comfy bed, I read a book for a while and then rolled over to sleep, ending the first day of my first credit card tour.



Adventure!
August 8, 2015, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Misc, Tours

As I mentioned and marked in the last post, it ended up neglected for a couple weeks before I got back around to finishing the write-up of the July 11th ride. It was for a good reason. I went on tour.

Monday, July 13th, I dropped the hubby off at the train station for him to go to work so I could use the car. I’d been back home for 20 minutes or so when he called. He’d heard on the radio that Sweden’s first official tourist cycle route, called the Kattegattleden, was celebrating it’s opening day. He’d heard it was supposed to be well marked with hotels at good locations and even luggage service so one didn’t have to lug everything with them. Jens wanted to tell me about it before he forgot.

I told him I’d look and bookmark it, but he was being a cruel tease.  Kattegattleden

Helsingborg City Hall and Street from Slotthagen Park

Helsingborg City Hall and Street from Slotthagen Park

I did look and it was intriguing as it alternated between hugging the coastline and straying slightly inland on Sweden’s western side between Helsingborg and Gothenburg for 370 km or 230 miles.

A few hours later, Jens called again. He suggested that since Loke was effectively ‘laid up’ for two weeks and there were no plans for the hubby’s vacation, I should plot the routes and make arrangements to do as much of it as I could over a few days. My wonderful hubby said he’d drive me there and pick me up. He requested that I try to stay out for at least 3 days barring disaster. That way he’d have 1 car free day before making the 6-8 hour drive to fetch me.

Kärnan Fortress Tower - Helsingborg

Kärnan Fortress Tower – Helsingborg

The man knows how frustrated I’ve been since the stroke derailed my plans for touring this year which involves dragging a trailer loaded with camping gear. My distance still isn’t what it was pre-stroke and I have no where near the strength needed to pull everything. With no plans for his 3 weeks of vacation, he was offering this to give me a tour without the camping gear and something more interesting than things closer to home.

Looking into such a tour made me a bit nervous. It would be something completely outside of my touring experience. Admittedly, that experience doesn’t come to much. Just 2 very short overnight tours and 4 or 5 failed attempts for various reasons. All of those involved my Burly Cargo trailer loaded with a tent, sleeping bag and assundry, dragged around behind me for an undetermined number of miles for a day. If I only managed 20 miles, no problem. Just find a quiet patch of trees away from houses and pitch the tent. 40 miles? Just find a quiet patch of trees to pitch the tent. No stress to make a predetermined distance in a limited amount of time.

This was going to be, ‘leave one hotel and hope I can make exactly this many miles before nightfall’. My longest rides since the stroke were barely over 20 miles. It made me uneasy. It wasn’t helped by the fact that it is also the busy vacation season and that part of Sweden is popular with tourists which is why Sweden’s first official tourist cycle route is located there. Would be silly to have such in the far back of beyond lacking the infrastructure for easy cycling the whole family can do. Busy meant places to overnight would be at a premium.

Beyond trying to plot daily routes and find lodging roughly in the locations I thought to end my days, there was also the matter of the trike. The guy at the local cycle shop had done a great job tweaking the trike’s chain and gears, but even after just a few rides, it was starting to misbehave a little bit. Even if it hadn’t been doing so, I would have wanted it in prime form before heading out for lands unknown.

There was a bit of a back-log for such orders it seemed causing a bit of difficulty in getting them in before we were due to leave. I asked if I found the parts, could I bring them to the shop for him to install. He answered with a cheerful ‘Of course!’. So began the search. I spent essentially an entire day scrambling around to every cycle shop I knew. I needed a new rear gear cassette and 3 bike lengths of chain.

The problem was that the most common 9 gear cassette is a small ring with 11 teeth and the large ring with 32. I was pretty sure mine was 11 (or 12) for small and 36 for the large. The combination existed. The nice staff at the cycle shop near the American Food store had looked it up and offered to order it, but it would take a week. I finally settled on on an 11-34. I still ended up buying from 2 different shops as the one that had 3 identical chains didn’t have the cassette and vice-versa.

I dropped trike, chain and cassette off at the shop on Wednesday, July 15th. He promised he’d have it for me by Friday at the absolute latest. He actually texted me about 6 hours later to say it was done, but I was caught up in some minor emergency and couldn’t get there before they closed.

Everything was coming together. I plotted daily distances of about 20-25 miles. It would be better to arrive early and have time relax or perhaps add a few extra miles exploring the area around my hotels than plan too much and end up sleeping on the trike, in the open, paying for a hotel I didn’t get to use. I found a hotel in Helsingborg that allowed dogs where Jens, Loke and I would stay for Saturday night of the 18th.

I was a bundle of nerves by the time everything seemed in order. Finding hotels for Sunday and Monday night proved no problem, but Tuesday was harder, Wednesday even more difficult. After I figured out roughly where I would want to stop on Thursday, there were no hotels or B&Bs with vacancies in a 30 mile radius. The same for Friday. That more than anything determined that Thursday, July 23rd would be the last day of riding with Jens picking me up somewhere along the route that evening.

I packed as little as I thought I could get away with, but it still felt like a lot as I was slinging it in the car. Oddly, one of the heaviest bags was simply my clothes. It was no more than an extra change of cycle clothes, a pair of black capri pants for walking around towns with a long sleeved shirt if it got chill and a short sleeved shirt, yet felt like I was carrying pure gold.

We left bright and early Saturday morning (for Jens any way) with the plan to arrive in Helsingborg and spend a little time sight seeing together. It was a bit cloudy as we started out, but by the time we reached the last 50 miles or so to the coast, the gray rolled back to leave blue skies.

A bit worrying, with the azure dome of the heavens came winds. Crazy winds. Sometimes the car twitched and bucked with them and trailers of the semi-trucks swayed. They were coming from an unfavorable direction for my rides. I could only hope they would either cease or, at the very least, shift to come from the south and west.

We arrived in Helsingborg around 2:30 pm, settled into our hotel with the very friendly staff and headed out. to poke around.

We took our time heading north up the coast, even stopping along a section of beach to walk with Loke. Poor fuzzy was in a frenzy. Past trips of this sort, good things came in the form of lots of running with the trike. He expected it to come and it left him with insane amounts of energy. It was hard to keep him from lunging around even on a short leash. He wanted to be everywhere at once and hit the ground at a dead run.

Krapperup Castle

Krapperup Castle

After the beach, the goal was Krapperup Castle. Our arrival was well timed. There were people walking around the grounds between the timber and brick outbuildings and as we walked away from the parking lot toward the castle, someone set up signs for paying to park. If we’d been a minute later, we’d have had to fork over cash.

Grounds of Krapperup Castle

Grounds of Krapperup Castle

There was a little cafe and gorgeous, huge roses in the garden. The moat was mostly empty making an icky appearance which was a pity. With rippling water from the moat, the green lawn, the flowers and the castle, it would have been a much lovelier image. The best angle for the castle was frustratingly roped off and marked clearly as private so I settled for a side view, which at least displayed the ornamental stars to best advantage.

The area became busy quick as there the production of an opera was on offer in one of the outbuildings. We stayed only briefly before hopping in the car to push on north.

A member of an online recumbent trike group I’m part of lives in the region and he heartily recommended that I cycle up to a little harbor village called Mölle and perhaps onward to the lighthouse on the point above. To explore the possibility, Jens and I drove that way.

Mölle Chapel

Mölle Chapel

The route didn’t look too bad. We stopped briefly at Mölle Chapel for photos and headed on into the village proper.

Entering the tangle of narrow streets entered a whole new level of hilliness for the region. The twisty little thoroughfares tilted up steep slopes. Before we even left the fringes of the village toward the nature reserve around the lighthouse, I knew there was no way I’d be cycling there. It would kill my knees in short order and make it doubtful I’d reach my first night’s lodging. It was pretty though.

We drove the pretty, narrow road through the reserve. It was packed with people both on bikes and foot. Some were on foot pushing bikes. Parking at the end of the road at a sort of trailhead toward the lighthouse, Jens asked if I wanted to walk to the scenic point. After a peek at a sign and discovering it would be over a mile for an out-n-back, I told him I’d pass. It would be silly to break myself down for a walk after driving so far and spending a fair bit of cash for rooms too late to refund.

Above Mölle

Above Mölle

On the way back down, we stopped at an overlook high above the Mölle with a gorgeous view of the village and over the strait toward Denmark. The opposite country was just a faint dark smear between the sea and sky at the line of horizon. As I walked away from the car to get a better angle of the view, I noticed a little family sitting on the wall. The man was holding a little point-n-click camera, attempting to get a good photo of him, wife and daughter. They were frowning at his most recent blind shot attempt. Smiling, I offered to take the photo for them.

They looked startled by the offer, but gratefully handed the camera over. I guess in this day and age full of cell-phone selfies, often with selfie sticks, such courtesies are rare. Almost as rare as point-n-click or video cameras are becoming. They thanked me in English heavily accented with Danish.

As we passed through Mölle again, Jens headed for the harbor just to get a look at the boats and the sea. I guess the Viking blood in his heritage was stirring.

Across the harbor at Mölle

Across the harbor at Mölle

It was a lovely harbor. The piers were mostly stone and looked quite old, perhaps even harking back a couple centuries at least. The winds whipping through the rigging of the sail boats made strange whistling moans or even the occasional wailing sort of keen. Sounds that would have been spooky in the dark. Across the sheltered water, sat the rest of the village with the Victorian Era looking hotel high up like a crown jewel and the high ridge of the peninsula as a dark backdrop.

By then, Jens and I were quite hungry. We scooted back to Helsingborg to hunt for a street cafe that wouldn’t mind having a husky lurking in a corner. Fortunately, we found a pub like place just yards from the door to our hotel. We sat in the blustery wind outside while people gushed over Loke. One was a little girl, just over 1 year old who wanted to hug and pet and kiss him. Loke wasn’t entirely thrilled with it, but he was very gentle and patient with her. After that, we wandered around where I took the photos at the start of this post with the view down across the city and of the medieval tower. Getting the photos of the tower would save me some time in the next morning. I could roll by, but not stress about stopping and spending time getting photos.

The beds were fairly comfortable, though the room was warm even with the windows cracked a bit. Right outside our window, a flag cracked and popped in the fierce winds. Live music drifted up from the pub where we’d had dinner. Those two sounds followed me into sleep as I hoped to start the next day and my first credit-card tour feeling refreshed.



End of an Era?
August 7, 2015, 8:19 am
Filed under: Day Rides

A few things I forgot to mention in my last post and in order of occurrence.

First, after the hell ride between Edsberg Castle and Ulriksdal Castle on June 27th, Loke started displaying pain in his left front leg. It began pretty much right after we got home from the ride. He’d seemed fine all through the outing and had been running around with Jens on the palace grounds like a mad dog. It was hard to tell if his paw hurt, but he didn’t seem to mind me messing with it any more than he usually does. That’s to say, he would generally prefer I leave it alone, but will let me have it if I insist. It is after all the one with the amputated toe.

I thought he gave a bit of a whine when I was feeling the leg though. It might have been the shoulder. When I mentioned that, Jens said, ‘Oh, Loke fell while I walk walking him while you put the trike in the car. He went to hurry down a slope, stumbled and went down on his shoulder. Might have been that one.’

I kept an eye on him and he improved through Sunday and by Monday morning was fine again, so we didn’t go to the vet. He showed no problems on the successive rides, so I gave no more thought to it.

Loke & siblings on their birthday.

Loke & siblings on their birthday.

July 1st, Loke turned 10 years old. It doesn’t seem that long. It feels more like a couple months ago, we brought home an adorable, fearless ball of fluff to be a part of our family. A few weeks ago, he was a gawky, half grown husky bouncing at the end of his leash with Jens as I rode away on the trike. Just days ago, he was a young, fit fireball pulling hard at the end of his tether as we raced down hills, sometimes over 20 mph.

But no, he’s 10.

Also on the hell ride, the brakes started to go. Not surprising given how much I used them to not smash the trike to bits on what turned out to be mountain bike trails rather than cycle paths. Probably half that ride was squeezing the brakes for all I was worth. So, I made an appointment to bring the trike to the nearby shop. The earliest they could fit me in was the week of July 6. I dropped it off on Monday as they opened and picked it up on Thursday morning.

The mechanic was awesomely nice. He said the brakes just needed a little adjustment, but should be good for a while longer. He even seemed agreeable to teach me a bit about them so I can deal with them if out on a tour. He had also checked over the rest of the trike as I asked. The chain is a little stretched and some of my gears a little worn. The chain will definitely need replacing soon, but he didn’t have enough to do it right then. He’d adjusted it so it seems to work okay and should be good for a bit longer though he couldn’t test it under pressure because he’s too tall to sit in the trike with his feet on the pedals. He was also happy to mention that the trike actually fit on his bike stand. That surprised me though I was glad to hear it.

I have to say, he did an awesome job. Even with a slightly stretched chain, the trike makes hardly a whisper when I pedal it. It also shifted beautifully and can stop on a dime.

I know what that means. I find something awesome in Sweden and it disappears. I avoided the cycle shop for years because of the ill-tempered man who owned it before, so missed out on 3 years or so of excellent local service. When the English guy bought it, he didn’t change the outward appearance or the name, so it never occurred to me it had changed owners, until Jens’ mountain bike search led him there. The headaches I could have avoided. I mean, the shop is close enough to ride to and walk home! The mechanic is a very much a ‘free-spirit’ kind of guy. Life is transitory, always changing and one should embrace it. He’s lived in random places around the world. He’s been working there with the British owner for 3 years now. I have a feeling that now, after I’ve discovered the quality work he does, he’ll be charging off into the unknown for more adventures. Ah, well.

Jens’ vacation is coming up. He couldn’t really think of anything he wanted to do so we’ve no plans for it. In place of that, knowing how much I crave rides away from the humdrum, every day loops, Jens was inspired to suggest that while he’s on vacation, we set aside some days for him to play chauffeur to drop me off and pick me up while I do the Mälardalsleden (Mälar Valley’s Route). He knows that my recovery from the stroke isn’t far enough along that I can do tours, so this is his sweet compromise even if it inconveniences him.

The inspiration for the hubby’s suggestion came from a co-worker who, with a few friends, did a major portion of the route in a day. The men were on road bikes and it took them 18-ish hours to do 311 km (193 miles). That wasn’t even the full route. There’s probably an extra 75-100 km if they’d gone fully around the lake. Not convinced that Jens was completely aware of the scope of his offer, I pointed out it would take me, at my current level of stroke recovery and fitness, 10 or more consecutive days just to do what the guys on road bikes did in 1. No way I could do more than 2 consecutive days at a time either. My body just wears down too much and I need two days of recovery to bounce back at times. It gave Jens a graceful way to say, ‘Okay, so 5 days of my vacation we can do this in any order you want’. He works hard, he shouldn’t have to work even harder for my hobby. I love him for the offers though.

Though his vacation hadn’t started yet, I did part of the Mälardalsleden Saturday, July 11th.

I set the beginning of this venture at Örsundsbro about half an hour away between Uppsala and Enköping. The little village has been used frequently on a number of rides over the years. I’ve passed through it at least twice, used it as a launching point perhaps 3 times and an ending at least once. In the village itself, there’s not much to see. Honestly, it doesn’t seem to be a very old place as such things go in Sweden. If it is an older settlement, then every evidence of it has been wiped away. There are several churches and a little manor house within a couple miles of it though.

Loke ran around excitedly with Jens as I assembled the trike near the river-side marina. The hubby dragged me away for a moment to see the type of boat he absolutely would love to have.

Salnecke Manor in the distance

Salnecke Manor in the distance

Once all was together, we rode off. Jens laughed at Loke bouncing kangaroo like at the end of his tether as we climbed up to the road from the marina. The fuzzy did his best to pull into a flat out run, but I held him down to around 11 mph or so. The village fell quickly behind us and soon we took a turn into the true countryside.

Against the backdrop of trees clad in deep summer greens, Salnecke Manor shone bright. Quite pretty from the distance and that angle. Up close it’s visually uninteresting really though the history is somewhat intriguing. I also discovered that it was for sale in 2013, might even still be on the market. Asking price was 17,000,000 kr or a bit over 2,000,000 USD.

*************************************************************************************************************

Random small manor house

Random small manor house

And this post became neglected for a while! Oops!

There’s a very good reason, but explanation will just have to wait as I attempt to dredge details from memory about the July 11th ride before moving on to the reason this happened.

Loke was setting a good pace, clipping along happily with a bit of a husky grin going on. I know we’ve ridden this stretch before, but can’t place when exactly. It had been a good long while, so it was almost like fresh new ground which was good enough for me and completely awesome in Loke’s eyes. It was a bit on the warm side with no obvious threat of rain on the horizon. I actually wouldn’t have minded a bit more cloud even if it would have meant getting a bit damp. I’ve been feeling the sun something fierce of late. If the air isn’t moving or chill enough, it feels like my skin is crisping under a fastfood heat lamp. It doesn’t seem to make the rest of me feel hot even over time, just the skin. Weird and annoying.

Nooo! Wait!!

Nooo! Wait!!

Not far after we’d rolled by a tiny (compared to Salnecke), old manor house, I heard a distinctive sound in the distance. Cranes. Sounded like more than 2 which is unusual. Climbed a slight rise and there they were, 6 or more, standing in a fallow field of grass. The first cranes I’d seen in this year and so many! I stopped quickly (thanks to the awesome mechanic’s work!) and fumbled the camera out. As I’d stopped and Loke took an interest, the birds took flight. By the time I got the camera turned on and rushed through the zooming to get a good view, they were well on the wing. Talk about frustration.

I snapped what I could and put the camera away with a sigh as the birds vanished over the trees. I remember a bit of climbing, but nothing brutal as we rolled to the first church of the day. Giresta.

Giresta Church

Giresta Church – 2013

As I said, I’ve been there before. There’s a runestone in the church, which I wasn’t able to get last time because it was closed. I wasn’t lucky this time either.

As I rolled to a stop near the churchyard wall and left Loke with his water dish, I kept hoping to see someone. I knew it was a long shot, but I still had a hope. When I was here the first time (in 2013 apparently), a man was walking across the parking lot as I rolled up. Older, perhaps even more than 75, he was fascinated with the trike and more importantly with Loke. It was the end of the ride and quite a warm day. When I went to give Loke water, he said not to bother with ‘that bagged stuff’, but come down the path to his house, meet the wife and he’d give us clear, cold water straight from his tapped spring. ‘Not processed and piped across the countryside’.

They were a dear couple. A lovely orchard yard with apples and currants all over the place. The woman, with excruciating arthritis, kept apologizing for the state of the garden as it was impossible for her husband to maintain alone. I told her it was lovely and I liked it, which I did. The man sent me home with a huge bag of apples from their trees that meant another wonderful apple pie from Jens’ mom a few days later.

They were just those kind of people you can’t help but like. So, I kinda had hoped I’d spy the man walking again and take a brief moment to say hello. It was a long shot and sadly did not pan out. And no, I didn’t do it for more apples. They aren’t in season yet, so there. 😉

Hjälsta Church

Hjälsta Church – 2013

I seem to remember a few hills as we left the church. It left me exposed to the evil sun though the slow creep upward probably helped Loke cool down a bit. It was still a relief when I rolled into the shade of the parking lot across from Hjälsta church, about 2.5 miles from Giresta. I actually rode past it on the same ride that I met the wonderful couple at Giresta.

Though we weren’t far into the ride, Loke gulped water and flopped down on the cool ground, still slightly damp from a recent rain. It didn’t stop him from jumping up hopefully as I walked off to ‘collect’ a pair of runestones a bit outside the churchyard wall. I’d missed them the first time I was here. In August they were probably even obscured by the weeds and tangles of other growth than they were this time. Clearly, I hadn’t known they were there or they would have been in that 2013 post.

Uppland Runestones #811 & #812 at Hjälsta Church

Uppland Runestones #811 & #812 at Hjälsta Church

I viewed the ground between the road and to the stones with distaste. Weedy with some coming up as high as the waist, no clear trail as such, uneven with piles and tangles of cut branches here and there, simply left where they’d been hacked off. As I threaded my way through the snarl, I kept checking my legs and hips for ticks.

After I took the photo of U #812, about 15 feet away from #811, I started to take a more direct route back to the road. I’m glad I was paying attention or I would have blundered into a dense patch of nettles almost 3 feet high. Do you know how much protection Lycra affords against nettles? Squat. Nada. Might even be worse than bare skin, trapping the stinging bits in the fabric to prolong the torment.

Fortunately, I noticed before taking that last half step into agony. It only takes one run in with nettles to make one perfectly aware of what they look like.

When he saw me coming back, Loke stood to take a few more gulps of water and was waiting impatiently for me to get back on the trike.

Uppland Runestone #746

Uppland Runestone #746

We continued to follow the same path as we had in 2013. With 2 years between the rides down these roads, they weren’t glaringly familiar. It was more like I’d see something and it would remind me. Things like Uppland Runestone #746 which sat on the side of the road next to a track used to train horses for sulky racing.

Loke was happy and thrilled to be out and moving. It was on the warm side, but not so much as to be a torment for either of us though I wasn’t fond of the crisping sensation the sun gave me. Loke definitely wasn’t too warm as he disliked me wetting his ears down like I do. I know he’s hot when he actually seems to enjoy me soaking the fur on his ears. He never fights it and rarely shakes it off, but gives me reproachful looks when he feels it’s unnecessary.

Pretty!

Pretty!

As we headed south, the shimmer of water caught my eye far across the stretches of green wheat fields. I wasn’t sure if it was the Mälardalsleden or just a random small lake. It still made for pretty scenery as we rolled toward Ekolsund Castle, the next POI in the area.

Uppland Runestone #642

Uppland Runestone #642 – Ekolsund Castle

As the little country road intersected with the 263, I pulled off to the side to dig out my maps. A road to the castle was just across the busier road, but I wanted to be sure I didn’t miss anything. Good I looked.

It turns out the ‘main entrance’ to the castle was a bit down the 263 and there were a couple of runestones along it. The first time I was here, I came in from the back as it were and had no idea there were runestones so close. The shoulder of the bigger road was nice and wide, so I made the turn without any real worry.

Uppland Runestone #643

Uppland Runestone #643

Then a sign turned up. ‘Skokloster Slott’ (Shoe Cloister (Monastery) Castle). I brightened as I stopped to poke around with my Garmin. I’ve always wanted to cycle around Skokloster. It’s a beautiful castle that I’ve actually taken a tour of and visited medieval fairs on it’s grounds. I was very tempted to take a detour off the planned route if it was close enough. I winced when my cycle GPS gave me the distance. 22 miles. That felt like a bit much. It didn’t help that sections of the road are crazy busy with absolutely no shoulder. It would have felt more possible if I hadn’t had Loke with me, reducing the amount of road space I need.

Down the shady lane

Down the shady lane

Though he’d been fairly spritely even on the busy road, Loke perked up and tried to run when we made the turn onto the rough gravel lane. It turned almost immediately onto a smoother lane, straight as an arrow and flanked by old trees. That kind of lane that just screams, ‘I go to a manor or castle!’

Loke was absolutely gung-ho for it, pulling as hard as he could in spite of the grip I had on the brakes. Only a trail of pine needles and a meandering path would have made him happier. Oh, and a huge pile of reindeer meat. Food is his first love, followed by running, then Jens’ family and then us.

The view of the castle from the ‘front’ was uninspiring to be clear. All one can see is a few blocky buildngs sitting up on a hill with a long stretch of grass lawn that was probably a more elaborate garden in the past.

Panoramic View North to South in Courtyard

Panoramic View North to South in Courtyard – 2013

I didn’t spend much time here. The estate doesn’t exactly feel open to the public as is, say, Hammarskog with a cafe and designated parking, though there are no signs declaring it private at every turn either. Since I had photos from 2013, I just rolled through rather than poking around intrusively.

First view of the manor's four buildings

View of the manor’s four buildings from the ‘back road’ – 2013

I left the castle on the back road, again making Loke deliriously happy. It had little hills that we climbed easily and would have zipped down if I’d let him, trees close to either side and wonderfully shaded from the sun. From there, it was a left turn and onward.

Random farm building caught my eye

Random farm building caught my eye

I continued to follow my mapped route and the little red ‘Mälardalsleden’ signs southward. After about 2 miles, the long established trail became… ‘interesting’ in a hellish fashion. I use the word interesting in place of other, harsher expletives.

Oh joy.

Oh joy.

It started innocently enough. The signs (and map) rolling me through a residential area near the water where an inlet or lake met the fringes of the Baltic. It came to something of a deadend. At first I was baffled until a couple came walking through a tiny little opening in a short chainlink fence.

Admittedly there was a Mälardalsleden sign right next to the narrow gap, but I simply couldn’t convince myself that a major, long established cycle route was actually, purposely, run through it.

It was a pain in the butt (and back and knees…). I had mere millimeters to spare for the front wheels, no way the running bar could fit horizontally and the handlebar bag had to sit on the ground until I managed to tilt the trike sorta sideways wrestle it through. I kind of fumbled it and scraped part of the frame of the concrete block that reinforced the 1 foot drop down to the narrow path between the hedges. All this while Loke kept yanking on the flexi-leash I didn’t want to tie off as he’s been known to chew through them in seconds if he doesn’t want to sit where he’s tethered.

It wasn’t over, though not quite as bad as the gate (at first). The path was too narrow for Loke to go beside me, so he roamed a head at the end of the leash still. I ended up going slowly and swerving back and forth between the two rows of hedges which had the occasional stunted little birch tree. The swerving was necessary to keep the running bar from hanging up on the trees.

After a few yards, the path opened up and I saw some men fishing on a bridge. Relief was short lived. It was an old rail bridge made of widely spaced sleepers leaving wide gaps straight down to the water. The only safe place to cross were on two stretches of boards to either side. These were just wide enough for the trike. Going down the left side would have been much easier as the longer section of the running bar (Loke’s side) would have been in the open. Sadly, that was the side with the fishermen. There was less than an inch of clearance of the boards on the right side to avoid scraping the running bar along the barrier. Just getting the trike up on the bridge was hard as well. 1.5 foot step up with all sorts of protrusions to catch on it. I’m so glad Loke behaved himself and didn’t do something silly like stepping off the walk way and plunging through the sleepers.

The hell continued. Getting the trike down on the other side was worse with a longer drop down and more things for it to get dinged and caught on. Trying to balance on nothing a pile of loose rocks the size of baseballs with cycle shoes did not help in the least. It was an old rail bed causeway across the rest of the little inlet between lake and Baltic sea. For over 300 yards those loose rocks stretched. I tried walking on them and about killed myself. There was simply no where stable to put a foot that rocks didn’t roll away as soon as weight was applied. Even Loke with his four feet had difficulties with it.

I rode the trike across. It was slow, hard going. I was so thankful I had purchased the Sprint because my beautiful little Trice never would have made it. Its derailleur would have been smashed before it rolled through the first foot. Actually, there wasn’t much clearance with the idler even on the Sprint with it’s 26″ rear wheel. The big stones twisted and rolled out from under the wheels as easily as they had my feet. I crept along, but with 3 of them at least I wasn’t going to fall over.

At least I had a pretty view once past the causeway.

At least I had a pretty view once past the causeway.

I couldn’t believe this was part of the route. I don’t think anyone can ride across on anything with two wheels and walking it would be brutal especially while trying to push a bike. Harsh as it was for the almost 45 minutes it took, I was thankful for my 3 wheels sparing me the walk. Loke didn’t mind. He trotted back and forth at the end of the 8 meter leash, giving me annoyed looks when I’d tell him, ‘Nej!’ every time he looked too interested in the water. He’d have tumbled right down the steep sides.

Random Scenery

Random Scenery

Finally, we reached the end of the nightmare onto a better gravel path. Just to tweak my nose, the end of it was blocked by boulders set across it. The space between them was narrow enough that even a normal bike would need lifting through because of the width of pedals. Loke was so eager to sniff bushes and explore, he made it even more fun yanking on his leash as I struggled to lift the front wheels up and over so as to roll the back through.

In spite of the fact that the whole causeway affair had left me feeling hot, sweaty, exhausted and frustrated, the following miles went by fairly quick though in a blur. Nothing that happened that sticks in my memory. Just a narrow country road with trees, fields and a scattering of houses.

Uppsala Runestone #646

Uppsala Runestone #646

It was around 4 pm when I spotted the steeple of a church in the distance, one I’d not marked on my maps. I stopped to glance at my map book in an attempt to figure out which one it was. Yttergran’s Church. It was about a mile or so off the Mälardalsleden which put it off my printed maps. A little further on, it disappeared, hidden by the gentle rise and falls of the landscape and the trees.

It was closing in on 5 pm when I decided it was time to stop. I was tired and though Loke still had energy to burn, I wasn’t going to push things for either of us. There was still plenty more Mälardalsleden to be pedaled over the duration of Jens’ 3 weeks of vacation. I gave Loke water as I examined my maps for somewhere to wait for Jens. At the tangled intersection with the E-18, a sign for a 7-11 gas station was clearly visible. Generally plenty of room for loading the trike in such places, not to mention access to goodies, but otherwise, noisy, exhaust choked and unpleasant. The church on the other hand…

I checked with the Garmin and found was roughly a mile away and with a cycle path along the fairly busy road. A church to ‘collect’ with plenty of parking for dealing with the trike and all but guaranteed pleasant surroundings to wait? The 7-11 crouched at the on-ramp of a busy highway quickly disappeared in my rear view mirror.

The reward for the choice was sweetened further by the surprise of a runestone along the way. U #646. Though tired and ravenous, I was practically humming as I rolled the last few hundred yards.

There was a bit concern when I couldn’t see the church. Odd how that works sometimes. Can see something from 5 miles or more away, but the last mile or two and it remains hidden until the last second.

Yttergran's Church

Yttergran’s Church

Yttergran’s Church is a pretty one. I rather liked the cap on the tower and the coral pink-ish plaster added to its charm. Now that I’ve researched its history, I find it even more enchanting as it was very nearly consigned to the dust of history after a devastating fire in the 1700’s. Fortunately, the people who worshiped here in that time, rejected the proposal have it demolished, rolled up their sleeves and preserved it.

Loke chilling in the shade

Loke chilling in the shade

I was pleased with my choice to go the mile out of the way to the church. The parking lot was big, the lawn around and in the churchyard was as plush as new shag carpet. There were also huge old trees that cast generous amounts of shade across the cushy grass, offering Loke and I most welcome relief from the sun.

I rolled onto the grass in the densest bit of shade, stripped off Loke’s harness and set him up all comfy with his water dish full to the brim. After a quick call to Jens to tell him where I was, I strolled off to circle the church for photos and hunting runestones. There’s supposed to be a runestone in the proximity of the church, but now that I know it was only a fragment with just a few letters on it, I don’t feel so bad that it didn’t leap out at me. Of course, it might be inside the church itself which was locked tight.

After finishing the walk and settling in the trike seat to await Jens, something made me nervous. It was the furious hum of many, many bees or wasps. It gave the impression of a huge, angry swarm clustered near-by. After a few minutes, it became more obvious that it was simply one of the huge old trees had bloomed with discreet, but plentiful little flowers that bees were raiding in their hundreds. Once I knew that, I relaxed.

Here comes the rain again....

Here comes the rain again….

Jens arrived in the nick of time. Between the time I called and his arrival, the clouds began to thicken and off to the north and east, a thunderhead reared up from the horizon. Lightning flickered there and thunder growled a couple times. While I was packing the trike, a chill wind kicked up and the sky got darker. Fortune smiled on me though and the first patters of rain came down only once trike and Loke were secure in the car and I clipped the seatbelt.

Definitely a good thing that I ended the ride there. About 10 minutes later, the rain came down in torrents, lashed by heavy winds. A few times, visibility dropped to less than 100 yards.

It didn’t last long. About the time we were passing the turn off for Orsundbro where I’d begun the ride it had started to slacken. In an amusing side note, 5 minutes after we passed that intersection, there was a traffic alert warning that a wild boar was creating a traffic hazard right in that area.

We made it home, safe and dry. The evening passed quietly, except when I went to feed Loke of course. He did his usual whirl of glee as I walked to his food dish.

The next morning, Sunday, July 12th, the furball was all but crippled, not wanting to use his left front leg just as he had after the run that ended at Ulriksdal when he tumbled down a slope while walking with Jens. Though it costs more to go on a weekend, I took Loke to the vet as soon as they opened at 11 am. Jens tried to talk me out of it because Monday would be cheaper and maybe he’d get over it as quickly as he did the first time.

I wanted to know exactly what it was though. Jens and I couldn’t even agree if it was something wrong with his foot like a thorn or such or further up the shoulder.

The vet was fine with fitting us in and soon after our arrival, he poked and prodded and flexed poor unhappy Loke. It turned out Loke was in pain all through the muscles and tendons in his left shoulder as well as the ‘wrist’ of that leg. Unexpectedly, he also had pain in the wrist of his right front leg, but to a lesser degree. Franz was uncertain if was injury or the soft tissue strained from arthritis.

He prescribed an anti-inflammatory to make the fuzzy more comfortable. He also recommended 2 weeks with as much rest and restriction of Loke’s activity as we could manage. Just short, slow walks to do his business for 2 weeks. He said he’d have said ‘cage rest’ except he knows how huskies can be, especially ones used to running around.

If the problem rears its head again, Loke will undergo X-rays to see if it’s arthritis causing the problem. If it is, we’ll probably be starting some kind of treatment to keep it’s progression down. That would mean keeping his rides shorter and definitely slower. A sad thought, but nothing confirmed yet.

I could say more about how Loke is now, but that’s jumping right over one of the big reasons this blog was postponed for a while.