Terii’s Cycling Babble


And The Results Are….
October 27, 2015, 8:54 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

… in of course or I’d not be writing this yet.

Loke’s recovery from the emergency surgery has gone smoothly. Just a bit of tiny little whines a couple times the first couple days. The sort that are so faint I’d stop, tilt my head and wonder if I heard it.

For a couple days, he was fairly calm. Happy to go out and glad when I or Jens decided we weren’t so distracted that he had to have the cone on so he wouldn’t sneakily try chewing the stitches out, yet content to be a rug otherwise.

I have to say, Loke’s finally gotten a high level of skill navigating our small apartment with the cone. He avoids most obstacles quite deftly. When he does scrap and bump it, it’s because he’s trying to determinedly wedge himself into a tight space. But door frames and furniture edges at the fringes of the more open spaces of our living space, no problem.

Some weeks, Jens works from home a lot. Last week (19th to 23rd of Oct), not so much. Being unable to leave Loke alone with or without the cone of shame meant, I couldn’t ride. The days are quite short now, so even once Jens got home, I didn’t feel I could go for a ride.

Friday he worked from home and I was poised to take advantage of it. Looking out the window around 8:15 am, the views were all blue skies and calm trees. It was even above freezing. I waited. I was going to ride, but it was going to be with purpose beyond ‘miles’. I was going to turn it into an errand day so I was going to wait until the time shops started to open.

Annoyingly, by 9:45 when I started getting dressed, the sun had disappeared behind a sheet of clouds. It was utterly gray when I rolled out.

I waffled about the route I wanted to take as I set out along the first leg of the River Loop. Part of me wanted to go through the countryside, but didn’t feel like taking the available ways between the shopping area out in Stenhagen to the City Forest. I settled initially for the more direct route along the rail tracks.

From there, I started tending to some of the errands. Conditioner which also let me tell the woman who does my hair about Loke’s most current health scare. She’s been friends with my husband’s sisters since they were all young girls, so she’s more than ‘my hairdresser’. She said she would ‘hold her thumbs’ (literal translation of the Swedish version of ‘cross my fingers’) for a good result.

Then it was onward to other things. I popped into another HemTex (Home Textiles) location to look for flannel sheets (no luck) and for bath towels. I found some I liked the feel of… and of course, they were white and only in white. I don’t want that lack of color, so the search continues. Also popped into the American food store. Neither Charles or his wife were there, but one of their ‘partners’ instead.

After the errands were done, I zipped through the train station area to connect with the cycle path between parkland and railtracks.

The ride had been going pretty brisk, though I was making an effort not to hammer the pedals too hard. Loke has always done a good job at that. He pushes me for frequency and, since the stroke, greater distance than I might otherwise, but tempers my speed and, therefore, how hard I go.

My body was doing his job for him that day though. My hips especially were uncomfortable no matter how I wriggled around in the seat for good position.

It’s quite annoying how random that is. Maybe it’s something to do with the neurological damage since the stroke. Some rides are fine. No pain in the feet or hips or anything. The ride on Sunday, October 18th on the 3rd leg of the Mälardalsleden was like that. A few knee twinges on some of the steeper climbs, but hips and feet felt great even by hour 7.

Friday, October 23rd, my right hip ached with each turn of the pedals with twinges in the left. My left foot felt like it was on fire and threatening to spasm into a charlie-horse level cramp. I pushed on through it.

As I crossed town and was nearing the area my husband’s parents used to live, the edge of the cloud cover was inching across the sky from the north. I sped along the cycle path there, under the limbs of the trees clad in gorgeous yellow as the sun began to emerge once more. My plan to go more directly past the mall at Granby to get home was diverted by a tangled mess of construction. Forced to turn back, I added a bit more distance by detouring up through parkland between residential areas and emerged out by Vaksala Church.

Vaksala Kyrka

Vaksala Kyrka – April 2010

Vaksala, one of the premier landmarks on my rides in the Uppsala area. I smile every time I see it’s spire rising above the trees whether rolling in the vicinity of it on the trike or car.

Of course, I do that with most every church in the area that I consider ‘an old friend’. Gamla Uppsala, Vaksala, Börje, Danmark and others. If it’s a church I’ve never ridden to, I feel wistful and ‘one day’ whispers in the back of my head.

Past the church, I rejoined the cycle path that ducks under the busy roads in that region. It was quite exciting to go speeding down one of the underpasses. It’s got a small series of tight curves and it felt as if my tires were just holding the pavement as I whipped around them at velocities I can’t do with Loke.

Sheep watched blankly as I rolled by the 4H grounds, trying to figure out of they shouild run with or away from me. I had another moment to laugh breathlessly at the sharp descent from there to the parkland that lays between the 4H area and a dense cluster of apartment blocks.

It's a Green AND Gold Way!

It’s a Green AND Gold Way!

By the time I was speeding through the greenway toward Vattholma Street, the skies were once again clear.

The sunlight shining through the yellow and gold autumn leaves was breathtaking. I slowed for more time to admire it.

This has been the most glorious autumn we’ve had in years. I can’t remember when we’ve had one with so much color that hung on for so long. The previous 4 or more autumns, it seemed like the moment the green took the slightest tinge of yellow in a few leaves, all of them would plummet from the trees at once. From green to yellow to bare limbs in 2.4 minutes.

Not this year. It’s been yellow and gold with splashes of orangey-gold that has clung on to the limbs with astounding endurance. I’ve reveled in it.

By this writing, we’ve had a windy day or two, so now some of the trees are heading to the bare side, but quite a few are still wonderfully colorful for a few days more.

For non-Swedish speakers - Walking and Cycle Tunnel close for repairs

For non-Swedish speakers – Walking and Cycle Tunnel close for repairs

On the opposite side of the school grounds on the way back to the storage, I stopped to scowl at something set to one side of the underpass beneath the 55. That section of cycle path and the underpass is a major throughway for me on about 90% of my rides. There are other ways through, but they are more complicated and somewhat less interesting. Well, except for the Grave Mound path. Only half of that is less interesting, the other is very interesting. Adds a couple miles too.

I arrived back at the storage with about 12 miles exactly. 12.03 if I were to be nitpicky.

I’d started out under gray skies, but had about half of the ride under sunshine and blue heavens. Going fast down some of the hills made me smile in spite of the ache in hips and foot.

I had missed Loke though. Several times when I made turns, I called out the direction. Others I found myself reaching out with a hand to ruffle fur. Those moments left me with a pang of sadness and worry.

I should have gone for rides on Saturday and Sunday what with Jens’ job and restrictions about Loke being unable to run or be left alone, but there was just too many other things to do. Not to mention watching if the All Blacks (New Zealand) was going to make it to the Rugby World Cup final. Which they did. Go All Blacks!!

We’re now 8 days since the bloody incident and surgery. Loke’s starting to get twitchy. He’s still fairly quiet for the most part. At least with me he is. But now, every time he hears something at the door, he’s lurching to his feet, clearly hoping for something to happen. Once Jens gets home, he’s a bit pushy with him. Poor hubby being bossed out the door by a bored husky.

Waiting for the results has been hard. One of our neighbors who has a darling little dog saw us walking recently, asked how we’ve been. I told her. She immediately hugged me and said she’d ‘hold her thumbs’ for good results. I asked if she’d like me to come tell her when I got them. Her answer was an emphatic yes. We’ve been talking for years when our paths cross several times a week and we know and adore each other’s ‘fur children’. Of course, she’d want to know if Loke was going to be enduring cancer.

A rare cuddle moment made sweeter by unknown biopsy results...

A rare cuddle moment made sweeter by unknown biopsy results…

Yesterday evening, while I sat on the couch, watching TV, Loke hopped up and flopped across my legs.

Those moments where Loke joins me on the couch without me asking are rare. Once a week if I’m lucky. He’ll walk by and lean against the side of the couch for some attention fairly often, but up on the couch to cuddle, not so much.

I enjoy each time, even when I sigh in exasperation because he’s trying to occupy the same space as my laptop. Still not knowing if it was a dangerous tumor made this time even sweeter. I took this photo and shared it on Facebook, saying as much.

A short time later, the house phone rang. I lurched to my feet to answer, disturbing a snoozing Loke when my legs were so rudely yanked out from under him. Only the fact that the animal hospital still has the landline as the primary number got me moving to reach it before they hung up. Really should get Jens to change that. He’s listed as Loke’s primary owner, so only he can do it especially since I still have my maiden name.

Yep, it was the animal hospital. A different vet than I’ve spoken to before. This woman had an Indian accent to her English. The biopsy results had just come in. It was a tumor and… BENIGN! My vision got all blurry with tears.

The exact term of the tumor type tripped blithely from her tongue. There were abnormal cells and some necrotic (dead/decaying) tissue which was why it ruptured, but absolutely NO trace of malignancy at all.

She asked how Loke was doing, happy to hear he was fine and the wound was healing cleanly. I explained that I’d try to call to book an appointment, once early in the day and again around lunch time, but no call back. Was it possible to book a time then to get the stitches out later in the week? Her computer wasn’t set up for it, but she would have reception call me. And they did. Friday, October 30th at 3:45 pm, Loke’s stitches will be out and I will take him for a run Saturday!

I gave a huge sigh of relief and went to hug Loke. When I looked on Facebook to share the good news, I saw someone had asked on the Loke photo when the biopsy results were coming. I answered, ‘About 41 minutes after I posted the photo’.

So, it looks as if there will be more Sundays with my furry. 100, maybe more, and I will make as many as I can as wonderful as the one on October 18th, 2015. Here’s hoping for at least 2 more years with my cycle partner!



Another Hundred Sundays
October 21, 2015, 11:39 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Friday, October 16, I rested up after dragging Loke’s food around. I felt good enough to ride on that day, but plans for the weekend were a bit up in the air. I knew I wanted to do a longer ride off my usual ground, but not if it was going to happen on Saturday or Sunday. I was determined to have at least 1 day’s rest to be sure I had plenty of strength and energy for the endeavor.

The plan was either to attempt a 30+ mile loop which would start and end from the storage, and so have about 5-7 miles of well rolled ground, or I was going to tackle the next stretch of the Mälardalsleden if the hubby was okay with an early start.

The days are already getting quite short, so I wanted as much daylight as I could wring out of the day for the ride.

It was Jens’ plans, announced on Friday evening, that decided me for Sunday. On Saturday, he had arranged to go to a friends house to watch a football game. Ironically, the friend lives in a town at the far western edge of, you guessed it, Lake Mälaren. Being an hour and a half a way and the game not starting until nearly sunset, it wasn’t workable to have him drop me off on the way.

That kind of timing meant Saturday became a rest day as I wasn’t going to wear myself out before a big ride for a local loop. I was going to wring as much as I could from somewhere else.

Of course, Jens woke with a sore throat and a bit of a cough, so decided not to go to his friend’s where he’d expose people to a cold. Especially since there were kids around. He offered to drive me to the area outside of Stockholm then, but after flying around to print maps, get stuff together, load the trike, etc… it would have meant clipping into the pedals and beginning around lunch time. Much too late.

But we did get the trike loaded and most everything together Saturday night.

I woke about 5:30, mostly dressed and packed the odds-n-ends that do best with being packed just before leaving. Then I became a bit distracted with tinkering with the maps and accidentally let Jens oversleep a bit. We left the apartment about 7:20, so 20 minutes later than I’d intended.

Not bad for an iPhone

Not bad for an iPhone

Makes an interstate drive interesting...

Makes an interstate drive interesting…

It was a beautiful morning. Mostly clear and the sunrise glowing on the eastern horizon. Out along the E4 were veils and streamers of mist across the fields and among the trees. Combined with the dawn light, it was stunning, especially with thin wisps of clouds reflecting back intense colors against the backdrop of muted blue sky.

Even sleepy Jens had to admit it was a beautiful morning.

Loke didn’t seem particularly impressed with it. He settled a bit now and then, but otherwise stood with his head on Jens’ shoulder as the scenery zipped by.

I hate to admit it, but for early morning, highway speed drives, my iPhone seems to trump my Canon for the moving shots like this. The shutter speeds in such low light is just unmanageable with a ‘real’ camera. At least for my minimal skills.

A country church beyond trees and mist

A country church beyond trees and mist

The last bit of the Mälardalsleden, Jens picked me up at the start of a tree-lined lane of a manor house where it came down a steep drop at the beginning of a bridge. Rather than start from such an uninteresting spot, because the manor’s drive was marked as private in spite of it being a venue for conferences and such, I chose for an equally uninteresting spot. It was on the other side of the bridge, less than a quarter mile away and would save Loke and I the harsh climb up from the gravel drive and then over the bridge. Admittedly, the early morning view from the bridge might have been beautiful, but I wanted a prompt and somewhat speedy start.

The spot I’d picked was an empty gravel lot. A couple cars were parked there when we pulled in, but I’m sure I was the only one who unpacked a recumbent trike with a husky to be hitched with me.

Foggy fairing and a pretty morning

Foggy fairing and a pretty morning

Loke trotted around happily as I assembled everything. Our breath clouded in the air and I pulled on an extra layer on the top. It was about 38 F, so I expected it to be a good test for the fairing without being too harsh without the footwarmers. My new, snuggly shoe covers were tucked safely in a cycle bag.

The furball seemed quite excited as Jens clipped him to the bar while I put on gloves and helm. He gave Jens a long look, wagging his tail as if hoping the hubby might join us on the day’s adventure.

The fickle husky completely forgot about him as soon as he heard the click of the cleats into the pedals. He threw his weight into the harness and did his best to pull us across the gravel at warp speed. Poor fuzzy was so disappointed when less than 100 yards on, I stopped to photo the sight of the cycle path on the other side of my fogged fairing.

Play of light and dark

Play of light and dark

Loved it!

Loved it!

I loved that the path was so close to the water. The autumn colors in the orange-gold light extra vibrant thanks to the nature of the sun’s angle in at this time of year.

The cycle road was a pleasant surprise that was just gravy on the meat of the ride. The first few 15-20 minutes (because I kept stopping for photos) were a tree-lined dream of smooth pavement. Couldn’t see the road for the most part and to the right side was still water reflecting sky and trees. A perfect beginning as far as I was concerned.

It was so pretty, I also decided to start using the GoPro almost immediately. As I worked to get it mounted and secure enough to not flop with every bump, he woofed and stomped his paws at me. Have I mentioned my husky can, on occasion, put hard core personal trainers to shame?

The GoPro didn’t last long. It kept turning off the recording. All I can guess is that the memory card was full because I forgot to remove that last few recordings.

By mile 2.5 or so, we’d turned away from the lake. The cycle road ran along the backs of some light industrial complexes, somewhat hidden by a screen of trees. Then we came to one of the first significant climbs of the morning. It was out in the open, along side a sizable road. To the right was the processing complex for one of Sweden’s biggest milk, cheese, and yogurt producers, Arla. On a Sunday morning though, it was all but abandoned.

Beautiful and NOT the River Loop!

Beautiful and NOT the River Loop!

I didn’t really need to look at my maps through that little area thanks to the little red Mälardalsleden signs. One guided down a smaller industrial road followed almost immediately by another which pointed down the steep slope of a gravel path into a green area among trees and beside a pasture fence.

It was a bit bumpy and rattling, but Loke was thrilled with it. All it lacked for him was a smoother, soft dirt surface with a scatter of pine needles and lots of small critters to sniff.

That was only about a mile before we were back to more developed areas. Most of it must have struck me as so incredibly boring that it was blocked from my memory. Even looking at street view brings no recall. No real loss I suppose. I do remember rolling along one of the bigger roads and taking a slightly different way than I mapped because it was slightly less hilly and with less turns.

The manor house of Jacobsberg's Estate

The manor house of Jacobsberg’s Estate

Oh! Also I took off on a search for a runestone or two. Annoyingly, I couldn’t find them, but I did happen upon a manor house. A small one and modernized entrance as it had been converted into a ‘folk school’ which is kind of like a place where adults can go for random ‘hobby’ classes or perhaps to pick-up skills for specific jobs like software learning and the like. Such places are dotted all over Sweden. There’s one at Wik’s slott, which used to be one of our favorite places to walk with Loke.

The free standing ‘wing’ buildings to either side of the ‘courtyard’ were cute, but they were so cluttered with cars it felt like a waste of time to photograph.

I looked again for the stones on the way back to the route, but if they were in the area, they were hiding very well in deed.

Scenery along the big road

Scenery along the big road

Not far from there, the Mälardalsleden was on part of a rather large road. There were nice, wide cycle lanes to either side. I do mean ‘wide’, almost 10 feet from grassy verge to the white line marking the car portion of the road. Still being Sunday morning, the traffic was practically non-existent.

Nice Trail

Nice Trail

The next destination on my ride was another manor house that was in use as a hotel. It meant a bit of climbing, as manors are usually on high ground. Maps and signs guided me along a shady lane and around a curve past a very modern chapel that overlooked a small pond, fields and trees beyond, all clad in lovely autumn colors.

Much to my surprise, just a few yards past the chapel, the signs pointed to a narrow dirt track that cut off through the open ground to run along a drainage ditch between fields. It made Loke very happy and I was satisfied that the surface was solid enough to roll nicely and not so bumpy that I was at risk of losing teeth.

Rejoining the road, it was another steep climb up to the manor house proper. The entire area was a beehive of activity. People strolling around, quite a few with dogs, and quite a few cars coming and going.

Görväln's Manor

Görväln’s Manor

Görväln’s Manor had much in common with Jacobsberg’s. Mostly blocky and not much to make me go ooooh. Quite a history to this brick though.

Once I pulled into the drive/courtyard, I did go ‘Ooooh!’ though it had nothing to do with the manor. Parked prettily just in front of the stairs was a stunning, little white car. It was a two seater with pristine red leather interior. It had ‘Triumph’ across the front of the hood.

1965 Triumph and Loke with trike.

1965 Triumph and Loke with trike.

It was clearly the pride and joy of the owner. I’m pretty sure he travels with a bucket, cleaning cloths and probably even specialized detergent to take care of his treasure no matter where he may be. I say this because a man was lovingly wiping every possible speck of dust from the mint condition surface. I had to grin at the sight of him, wearing an old leather flight helmet, WW I style. Perfect for chill autumn driving in such a beautiful vehicle.

I overcame my usual shyness to ask what year it was and how long he’d owned it. It was a 1965, he answered, and he’d only had it for a year. I asked if I could take a picture. He hesitated with, ‘Do you want me in it?’

I answered with a laugh, ‘Only if you want to be.’ He shook his head. I pulled out the Canon to take the picture though it was a bit tricky to get it in frame with the lens size I have. I really need to get a small one for moments like that. Hey! At least it did allow me to get a good shot of one of the freestanding wings of the manor house! Also Loke waiting with the trike.

Done with picture taking, I had to take some time to puzzle out which way to go according to my maps especially since there were no little red signs to clearly indicate which way. I found the path I’d marked, but it looked very narrow and more suited to mountain bikes. I decided to turn back and find another way.

By that time, I really needed to go to the bathroom. One reason I’d not tried to find one in the manor was because it was just too busy and I felt too out of place with the interior decor and how everyone else was dressed. Me in my odd clothes and clunky cycle shoes…

Lovely Path

Lovely Path

At the bottom of the hill, I came on a large parking lot for the nature reserve that was once the manor’s estate. I hoped that maybe there was a bathroom or outhouse at the back. No luck, but I could see the path I’d avoided at the top of the hill had become wide and beautifully surfaced with well packed gravel.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

I headed off on it. Was a bit nervous at first. There was a barricade we had to squeeze by and I worried it might become more ‘mountain bike’ friendly as it followed the shore. Those concerns eased when I saw a few bikes riding in the other direction that were of a general sort rather than those with heavy duty shocks and big chunky tires for rough terrain. That was encouraging so I went on with more confidence.

Loved these gems of paths!

Loved these gems of paths!

The path led away from the shoreline and joined a few small roads that meandered through trees and across hills. Occasionally it would jump back onto random, dirt foot/cycle paths through the trees. We were loving it. Loke enjoyed it so much, he was actually pulling some. It’s been a while since he’s done much of that, but he was in fine form. My little ‘HAD’ (Husky Assisting Drive).

Most of it was a nature reserve with foot paths taking off across ancient pasture lands. Thankfully, an outhouse appeared. It was chilly inside, but no smell and was clean with a full hand sanitizer dispenser.

Coming up on 12 miles, Loke was still running well and helpfully. I, on the other hand, was feeling the miles a surprising amount. Looking at my Garmin’s alternative screens offered an explanation. Over that 12 miles, I’d climbed something like 500 feet. The most climbing I’ve gone on any single ride was about 650 and generally stretched over 20-ish miles. I’d done almost that much on just a little over half that distance. It also explained why we were so slow, though the frequent stops for my photo-crazed clicking wasn’t much help.

Along one stretch through a tiny little place called Kyrkhamn (Church Harbor), I was shocked to find it so busy. People walking all around, cars trying to zip through the sheer number of pedestrians. Not so many bikes though. Loke and I turned many heads and people called out greetings, mostly about what a beautiful dog Loke was. It looked like there was a glassworks in the area, but the call of the road was stronger than my curiosity to watch someone blowing molten sand.

The signs and maps led me onward toward another manor house, Riddarsvik. The surface of the lane was a little rough through there, so giving Loke a smooth surface to trot along was difficult. Lots of people.

2 story barn with the stone ramp

2 story barn with the stone ramp

As I rattled along, approaching a large barn, a man came from a little side lane with a pair of miniature poodles. The dogs barked and bounced, but the chocolate colored one seemed like it either wanted to jump in my lap or bounce along with us. Thought it was cute.

Coming up to the barn, I stopped to take pictures. It was one of those that has the doors on the 2nd level above those of the first. A stone ramp leads up with a wooden bridge crossing the gap between the piled stones and the barn. These are common in Sweden in just about every side. I always smile when I find one. My favorite was one converted into a house. This particular one is used as one of the buildings for a riding school.

I spent enough time that the guy with the poodles passed by. The little dogs were all excited again when I rolled by once more.

Riddersvik Manor

Riddersvik Manor

View from top of the hill

View from top of the hill

I was a little surprised when I reached the end of the lane and the Mälardalsleden sign pointed toward the Riddarsvik Manor of all things. Like the other manors during the day’s ride, I found the symmetrical ‘wing buildings’ more appealing than the main house. These were made from timber rather than brick or stone which added extra interest.

Turning left past the front of the manor, I was uncertain where to go next as it was a parking lot. Then I saw path leading down from one end of it, but no sign. The hill was quite steep and I was uncertain as my maps didn’t indicate such. I really didn’t want to be wrong and have to slog back up that loose gravel.

After a minute, I decided to risk it. It’s only time and effort I’d be expending if I had to come back. Not like it’s blood and tears.

One of the few stretches of the boardwalk without people

One of the few stretches of the boardwalk without people

Though Loke pulled, I took it easy coming down the slope, keeping firmly in mind how stiff he was moving down some of the hills around home. It earned me a few side-long glances with angled husky ears that seemed to imply that my caution was unnecessary.

The path was nice, good surface and right along the water. Then I rounded a bit of a curve with a slight climb and within sight of something that left me rolling my eyes.

Pretty, but a bit nervewracking

Pretty, but a bit nervewracking

The Mälardalsleden had done it again, thrown something very ‘un-cycle route’ like before me. A narrow board walk that hugged the edge of an extremely steep, stone-faced shore. It’s width was uneven thanks to the irregular nature of the rocks. Even better, it busy with people enjoying the day, which by this point had become fairly cloudy.

I took a moment to talk myself into taking the plunge. People gave me startled looks as the wheels thumped along the boards. Sometimes the planks made noises like they were loose. I slowly eased the trike around some of the curves because they were narrow with a gap between the rock and boards where my left wheel could have easily slipped. At time, water surged and gurgled beneath us where waves lapped at the rock.

It was unending! Or so it felt...

It was unending! Or so it felt…

Though parts of the walk were narrow, there were places where it widened a bit, sometimes helped by man’s work, often with a bench placed in the nook for people to sit and enjoy the view across the rippled lake’s surface to Färingsö (Farings Island), where I rode once years ago. Those nooks were helpful as it gave people a place to step aside so I could pass or where I could stop to let those walking faster than us go by. I was taking it nice and slow.

It felt like it went on for ages. I used MapMyRide to estimate the distance and it told me .27 mile. Over a quarter mile! I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was intended as a foot bridge. Perhaps the parking lot, indicated by the Mälardalsleden sign, was one of the random starting points with a short leg to join the main loop else where.

If so, at least I wasn’t the only person to make the mistake. I pulled to one side to let a couple on bikes squeeze by once.

Back on solid earth!

Back on solid earth!

Reaching solid earth once more came as a relief. I moved forward a bit where people coming from behind could step off the boardwalk and pass before I stopped to take a picture of sweet Terra Firma. During the pause, a couple walked by with their two young boys on pedal-less training bikes. They stopped beside me to stare all goggle eyed at the trike and Loke. The older boy, about 5 years old I think, asked, ‘Does your dog help you?’

I smiled and said sometimes, but not as much as he once did because he’s an old dog now.

The dad told him they had to move and both boys said they really like my bike and dog before they rolled on.

Further on, the feeling that this portion of the ride wasn’t part of the Mälardalsleden. The wooded path at water’s edge became a paved path, barely wide enough for my trike, sort of wedged between an iron railing and the balconies of a fairly upscale looking apartment building. It came to an awkward end at a ‘T’ junction with a slightly larger paved surface, too narrow for a road, but at least wider than what I was coming off of.

Look! A proper cycling surface!

Look! A proper cycling surface!

I had to get up and wrestle the trike around a bit of handrail with manual labor. Then the climb up was so steep, I had to put my shoulder to the luggage rack and push. Loke was a good boy and pulled which helped for that 75 yard stretch. Finally, it leveled enough I could move us by pedaling again and in moments we were rolling easily along on a real cycle road again.

From there, I had a bit of distance on paved cycle ways, either free standing through wooded areas or added onto road edges through primarily residential territory.

I knew from my maps that I was coming up on another nature reserve area called Grimsta. Since the time I wound up on mountain bike trails while riding through a reserve area, I regarded it with a bit of nervousness.

It started out well enough. Trees and unpaved path across unfamiliar ground to make Loke happy. I loved the scenery. I did notice one thing though. Aside from distant traffic noises of the urban environment fairly close and the murmur of a person here and there enjoying the park, it was practically silent. Already the voices of birds, the sounds of spring and summer, are lacking in the green and gold of the woods. I rather miss them.

We rolled into a more open area near the water and found birds aplenty. Geese, the Canadian sort. Easily 100 or more of them, honking and waddling in a grassy stretch within a stones throw of the wave-ruffled waters of the Mälaren. Fortunately we didn’t need to get too close before curving toward a little cafe, already closed for the winter.

I paused to look at my maps and then we pushed on inland. Up and up and up. Apparently, most of the reserve occupies a small ridge and we were going right up the side of it. The path was gravel, quite a bit of very loose, or worse, left in shallow washes where rain had carried away the stabilizing influence of packed dirt. My drive wheel spun and make the ascent up grades in excess of 10% particularly difficult.

At one point, as I struggled, a couple came up from behind me. On foot, they easily overtook me, especially as I had to stop to let my knees rest with some frequency. They slowed and smiled, the man saying that he really liked my bike. ‘It doesn’t seem to be doing well on the gravel though,’ the woman added.

I laughed and shook my head. ‘No, it’s not very good on gravel at all.’

They started ahead again and gestured upward. ‘Not much further!’ the guy called out, ‘Another 75 meters and then it’s all down hill.’

I called out my thanks and stopped again.

My memory kept nagging at me that I really should have been going north on a road when leaving the water around the nature reserve. A quick double check of my maps confirmed it. I should have gone a little further east from the cafe right onto a road which would have taken me north right along the edge of the reserve. The steep, graveled climb I was tackling was right through the middle.

Old Snuff Mill

Old Snuff Mill

I could have pushed on up the ridge and rejoined my mapped route a bit further on, but decided against it. Loke was confused as we turned around and began the semi-rapid descent. He really wanted to run, but I kept him to a brisk 9 mph jog. Then we were zipping right by the cafe again and rolling with some relief onto a paved road.

I’m glad I turned back, because there was an item of interest along that road. It looked to be an old mill or perhaps a large smithy of some kind.

It is a mill, it turns out. A snuff mill actually. Yes, snuff – the tobacco product that people used to keep in little boxes and snort. I suppose it’s possible that by 1882 dry ‘sniffing snuff’ might have given way to the moist stuff we’re more familiar with today that is put in a pinch between cheek and gum.

We still had to climb the ridge we’d started up in the middle of the park. At least on the road it wasn’t nearly as steep and firm asphalt better for my trike’s tires than loose gravel washes.

It was pushing 3:30 pm by the time we left the mill behind. With the clouds obscuring the sky, sunset was going to hit hard and fast, getting dark even before 5:30, not to mention colder again.

About half a mile from the mill, I headed onto detour off what I’d originally mapped. The distraction which had let Jens sleep in 20 minutes or so was that I’d found a few things of interest on my websites in an area bit north of my chosen roads. I’d taken a green ink pen to hand-draw a bit of a looping detour to take in an Iron Age burial ground, a runestone that I could hopefully find for once, and a round church.

The route took me through one of the more intensely residential areas I’d been through on the ride. Narrow streets past tightly packed houses. Where there were ‘cycle paths’ on the sides, they were often very narrow.

Ängby Manor

Ängby Manor

I took a short out-n-back for another manor house. Like the others during the day, it was ‘ho-hum’ in appearance. A block with windows and doors and not much else in architectural grace to recommend it.

I didn’t linger long at Ängby manor. The Iron Age burial ground and runestone was calling. I wanted to be sure I had decent light at both for photos. Loke helped hurry us along back the way’d we’d come to the narrow cycle path along Bällstavägen (Bällsta Road). The furball was a bit annoyed when I slowed in the area I thought the burial ground should be. It took a moment for me to finally spotted, hidden as much of it was by trees. With the trike parked as far off the cycle way as I could squeeze, I left Loke to wait with it while I went to look.

Iron Age Burial Ground

Iron Age Burial Ground

It was much more subtle than what remains at Gamla Uppsala near home. The mounds were small and almost shy where they stood in the clearing. The tallest of them barely stood over a meter high. I liked though. The sign also showed it was much more extensive than I thought.

Uppland Runestone #60

Uppland Runestone #60

From there, it was a short hop of just a few minutes to find the runestone. It felt good to actually be able to see one. The past couple rides on the Mälardalsleden, I’d passed by areas where there were supposedly stones around, but either moved without my knowing, perhaps to a museum, or so well hidden I could locate them without taking too long, or simply in an area I was not allowed to go.

Yet this one had a little place reserved for it. It was tucked onto a tiny, quiet little street on the residential fringes of Stockholm. Small houses with postage stamp sized yards all around. In a tiny green space with little trees and a neatly clipped lawn, Uppland Runestone #60 had pride of place at the back of the area near the hedge.

I really should stop being in such a rush at times. Reading the photograph of the sign, I now know I should have photographed the sides of the stone because apparently there were carvings on the right one. You’d think I’d have learned after all these years of riding around and photographing POI’s and missing stuff because I don’t bother to read the information placards until I’m home.

I doubled back to Bällsta Road once more, keeping an eye out for likely places convenient for loading the trike. Once I found the church, I was going to call Jens with a location to pick me up. Just as I was about to turn off Bällsta, I passed a sport field area which was perfect.

Then we entered the shadows of trees that surrounded what was supposed to be a tiny lake by the name of Kyrksjön (Church Lake). What I could see of it through the trees implied it that calling it a lake was glorifying a patch of bog. Nothing to be seen but marsh grass and reeds. Finally, just as I was turning north off the park path to join a bit of road, I caught a glimpse of open water. A lake after all.

Bromma Church

Bromma Church

From first glance, I adored Bromma Church. It was beautiful. The field stone walls of the round portion and other bits made me smile. The copper roof with it’s green patina and dome over the round section of the building, spire rising above it. Quite a distinctive church not to be confused with so many others.

I also liked that there was a nice, convenient parking lot where I could wait for Jens too. Far more pleasant than a boring plot of football (soccer) fields.

Loke wishing we'd keep going.

Loke wishing we’d keep going.

I used Google Maps to drop a pin and text Jens my location. After seeing Loke freed from his harness, tethered as comfortably as I could with water bowl near by, I went to see if the church was open. Sadly, no.

Then it was back to the trike, where Loke harassed me while I removed all the bags, Loke’s running bar, and the fairing to make things go faster when the hubby arrived. At first, the bossy furball was trying to bully me into riding on. Once I sat down in the seat and he still wasn’t back in his harness, he realized it was over. Then he turned all lovey.

I love those moments during or after a long run when Loke becomes a cuddle-bug. He tries to wedge himself tight against me, even attempting to wriggle in my lap, being all cute and adorable. I don’t know why it happens. Maybe it’s all the endorphin and dopamine swirling around in his system after so much running. Or maybe it’s just his way of thanking me for such a fun day.

And it had been a fun day. At first, I was a little disappointed with our distance, just 21.5 miles since I’d left the gravel lot about 8 hours earlier. The fact that I had set a new climbing record of 1225 feet was some consolation. That was almost double my previous best recorded with the Garmin Edge 1000 of something like 635 feet. Our average speed, after accounting for all the photo stops, water brakes and calls of nature, was 4.4 mph.

While I waited for Jens, Loke did something. It was innocuous and I gave little thought to it. He did a couple of butt scooches. You know, the dog is in a sitting position and suddenly just scoots along to scratch his bottom. Generally it can be an indicator of worms or impacted anal glands. Well, I look at Loke’s (ahem) leavings when I pick them up every day and would have seen worms. He’s had his glands removed so I would have noticed that.

Sometimes though, when his allergies flare up a bit, he does get itchy there. I thought it was just that. To be sure, I made him lay down to look at his tummy which was a bit red and inflamed looking. So, I chalked up the scooting to an itchy allergy rump. It did remind to check his feet to be sure that it hadn’t caused the beginnings of infected wounds between his toes. Nope, feet were all good.

The hubby arrived and Loke bounced around gleefully with him while I put the trike away. He was restless for about 20 minutes on the way home and then settled in for a nap. He ate a huge supper with astounding speed and appetite and then charged out the door with Jens for the last, short walk of the evening. Absolutely normal.

Monday, October 19th, Jens woke at 6 am with the plan to have his first cup of coffee with the news before walking Loke before work.

As he went through the first stage of that wake up routine, I had settled at the computer to transfer Sunday’s photos from phone and camera to the harddrive in preparation for this blog post.

Then Jens was moving around to dress for frosty morning walk, Loke close behind him in anticipation.

“Teresa, Loke’s bleeding.”

Puzzled, I looked away from the computer toward Loke who stood in the entry way between livingroom and kitchen. A quick glance at the livingroom floor revealed a couple drops of blood. Loke moved into the kitchen to bully Jens into getting ready for his walk faster. I sighed, thinking the furball had finally scratched at the little skin tab on his face, perhaps tearing it off. More drops, closer together in the entryway. Then Jens said, ‘There’s a lot of blood.’

I stepped into the kitchen where the droplets had fallen so thickly they made little pools. Loke stood up from where he sat, leaving a thick smear as big across as a dinner plate.

I’ve often prided myself on not panicking in emergency situations. When my brother had injuries with shocking amounts of blood that froze my mom in place, I had always gone into motion to do what needed to be done. Checking to see how bad it really was, reassuring everyone and taking care of the owie. Generally I’ve been the same way my pets.

I don’t know what it was this time, but my brain just shut down and I stared. Jens told me to check Loke’s groin, but it looked clean. He was the one who lifted Loke’s tail to discover he was bleeding from his anus to put it bluntly. My thoughts went into a scramble, babbling over things that didn’t really matter. How were we going to get Loke out of the apartment without blood getting on the rugs? How would we get to the animal hospital without blood all over the inside of the car? It was like my mind was firmly avoiding the real issue. How much blood was this really, why, and would Loke survive long enough to even reach the animal hospital.

So. Much. Blood.

Loke seemed to feel fine. He was confused by all the fuss and didn’t exhibit any pain at all. He walked around to sniff the crimson puddles while more blood pattered down from the fur on his haunches. I flew around the apartment to dress in whatever clothes came to hand while Jens caught hold of Loke. He used a towel to attempt stemming stream of blood.

It was a fast drive through town at 6:30 am. He called ahead to the animal hospital. The one vet on call was in emergency surgery, but what else were we supposed to do? There aren’t any other emergency clinics open at that hour in Uppsala. Fortunately, the cover we use when Loke rides in on the seat when the trike is in the back is water proof. I rode in the back to keep him from moving around too much and spreading it around.

I started crying when Loke abruptly laid down with his head in my lap. He’s never that calm so quick into a car ride, especially with someone in the back seat with him. All I could think was that he was already feeling weak, perhaps dying from the blood loss.

Finally we were at the clinic and I went in alone. Jens headed back home to try and clean up the car and apartment so they looked less like a movie horror filming location. It took a few minutes for me to get in the building because it was locked and there was no one at reception. She was tending to something somewhere in the back. Finally, I was buzzed in.

I had a moment of calm to feel bad for the janitor who was just finishing up with mopping the floor. She was going to have to do it all over again.

The nurse took a look at Loke’s gums and tongue, said they looked normal so it wasn’t critical yet.

That helped. The panic lifted and the flow of tears stopped. I could breathe.

The nurse went to prep an exam room for us to wait on the vet and I realized the bleeding was already slowing. The drips to the floor were coming less frequent and when Loke sat down, the smudges were smaller and not as thick when he’d stand.

By the time the vet arrived in our exam room, there were no fresh drips. It helped me communicate coherently. I told her about the butt scooting the day before but explained everything else had been perfectly normal for days. No issues at all. Finally we got him up on the table. Since the bleeding was all but stopped, she took the time to give him a general looking over. Mucus membranes, breathing and heart, all good. Apparently, it had only looked liked gallons of blood.

She told me he was a very fit dog. In a scary place where he was clearly unhappy to be, but his heart rate was slow, steady and strong at just 72 BPM. I managed a smile and said, ‘Pretty good for a 10 year old then?’

’10 years? Really?’ She looked at his chart. ‘2005. Yes, very impressive for a dog his age.’

Once sure he was otherwise healthy, she took a look at the problem end. The issue was clear right away. There was a small growth that had ruptured. She said it looked like a cyst or maybe a fistula. I remembered one vet mentioned fistulas back when Loke still had his anal glands because frequent impactions could cause them. I told her about the problems Loke’d had before the glands were removed.

She recommended that they keep Loke there, at least through the day and let surgeons have a look to decide what the growth was and if it needed to be removed. I agreed. Better for Loke to be close to medical care if it went all pear-shaped again. I gave permission for surgery if it was decided best and had Jens come take me home.

The rest of the day was a long wait. The hubby had to go to work to help a new employee on his first day with the company. Finally, around 3 pm, another vet called to tell me that Loke was in surgery to explore the growth. Was it alright if they removed it to send the whole thing in for biopsy? It seemed a silly and unnecessary question to me after all the drama it had caused.

About 5 pm, I went to the storage where I put the trike away. Then I headed off to my in-laws to drop something off. On the way there, the surgeon who had worked on Loke called. The growth was removed and Loke was recovering from the anesthesia brilliantly. She wanted to keep him for a few more hours to be sure they had his pain under control and nothing else would go wrong.

I asked how big had it been. About 1 cm (1/3rd an inch). Had there been indications of others hiding further in? Not that they had found just from palpating the area. Could it be cancerous? Once it was off Loke, she had cut it open and in her exact words, she ‘did not like the look of it’, but she needed the lab results to be sure. All we could do was wait for the lab which should have some answers back in 10-14 days.

She said if it was cancer, they might have to operate again to be sure they get everything back to healthy tissue.

We went to pick him up around 8 pm. We were quite careful about doing so. Jens asked if we could see him to be sure he wasn’t in unbearable pain or in any risk or bleeding again. We did not want a repeat of the fiasco from his anal gland surgery. Better he should stay at the hospital than go through a replay of that particular nightmare. He was delirious with joy to see us and seemed to be in very little pain.

Unfortunately, while Loke was able to start running with the trike 3 days after anal gland surgery, I was told no running until the stitches come out in 10 days for this one. We also have to make sure he doesn’t chew them out so he’s been wearing the cone of shame a lot.

I hope it all comes back as benign though it seems impossible to think of it as such after the panic and chaos it caused. Loke’s not a young dog, but the average husky life span is 12-14 years, not 10 years. I know he’s had his various issues over the decade, but I want those last 2 years at the very least.

If it turns out to be the worst, cancer and metastasized to other areas, we’ll give him the best of the time we can. Spoil him rotten, run him lots. Then when it comes that he doesn’t want food and won’t or can’t run beside his mostest favoritest toy in the world, the trike, then we’ll let him go.

Part of me is preparing for that so maybe it won’t come as quite a kick in the gut if that is what it is.

Yet, I hope. I hope for at least 2 more years and a few thousand miles more with my cycle buddy. I want another hundred Sundays like the last one…



1000 Miles Approaches
October 16, 2015, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

I’m feeling almost giddy!

Monday, Oct 12th, I used as a rest day, still trying to shake off the cold that keeps coming and going. Of course, it was a pretty day, but I was determined to take it easy.

Tuesday though, I was determined to get out and do so with a purpose. Dog food! After the success of fetching Loke’s expensive, specialized food from the vet clinic with trike and trailer, I decided I’d do it again. I even had a few other little errands in mind along the way. Pick up some studded tires for the trike’s front wheels and see about getting some flannel sheets for snuggle-niceness later this winter, both of which were supposed to be coming in to their respective stores.

And it had been so pretty the previous day...

And it had been so pretty the previous day…

Naturally, with those plans, October 13th arrived with gray and cheerless skies.

Jens worked from home that day, but I took the car to the storage rather than have him dropping me off. Loke calmly waited for me to get the trike ready with the trailer. He was eager to go once I settled into the seat though.

We set off in the usual direction to begin the ‘dog food’ loop which is the start of what I’ve taken to calling the Nåntuna/River Loop. I wasn’t going to be doing that full 18-20 mile loop though, not with a 17 lb bag of dog food. Doing that harsh climb with the trailer was one thing, but not with it weighed down with more than it’s own weight.

I followed along the river out of the area where the storage is toward my main route through downtown Uppsala, the one along the rail tracks and past the bronze animals.

Just a short distance across the yellow bridge over the river, a pair of older women were talking, their small dogs waiting on them. One, a white terrier type, was loose and rushed at Loke while completely ignoring his panicked owner’s cries to come back. About 1 ft away, Loke abruptly turned toward it and the little dog screamed in terror like it had been kicked. Finally it scurried back to his mistress, though evaded her attempts to be leashed.

The other woman came over, her little chihuahua still leashed. That little girl yapped and growled at Loke, but finally got close enough to touch noses. Then she deigned to jump into my lap for petting, giving an occasional snap at Loke’s nose when he rudely shoved it at her.

During the chat, the woman told me that there was another husky who lived in one of the apartment buildings across from hers. A pretty little female one who ran with her owner, a very nice Greek man, on his bike and without a leash. I told her I’d seen them and was very impressed as huskies tend to be very independent and stubborn about that kind of training.

Finally, I put the little chihuahua out of my lap and said my farewells, both dogs yapping like mad as we rolled away.

The rest of the trip was uneventful until we arrived at the vet clinic. First I ran into the working dog shop under the vet clinic to look for more rabbit ear chewies for Loke. They had none. I asked if they knew of any way to get hold of larger rawhide like chews made from moose or deer skin. They did actually, but warned they were quite expensive and they’d have to special order since there’s so little demand for them with cowhide ones being so cheap.

3 was the fewest they could order and they really didn’t want the extra taking up space. So, I offered to take all 3. If Loke likes them as much as he does the old cowhide ones, then it’s a win. He misses his rawhide chews, so maybe this will be a good investment. They’re supposed to text me when they arrive which could take 2 weeks.

Then it was a bit of a double-back to get to the shopping center with the big cycle shop and home textiles. The bike shop still hadn’t gotten in the shipment with the 20″ studded tires. The textile shop also didn’t have flannel sheets, but disappointingly, the woman working this time told me that she didn’t think they’d be getting any this year.

Ordering flannel sheets from anywhere outside of Sweden is a problem because of the fitted sheets. The design of Swedish beds don’t use fitted sheets, just flat, so it’s a waste to pay for a set with them in it.

I was a bit disappointed that I’d only been able to accomplish 1 of the 3 errands, but the food for Loke was the most important. This is especially true as he’s been eating quite a bit extra with all the running.

Lovely Barn

Lovely Barn

From there it was out across the the countryside along the busy roads. On that stretch of mostly flat cycle roads, Loke turned into a furry machine. He stretched his legs and for 2.6 miles, he ticked along at 8.5+ miles. It’s been ages since he’s done so well for such a stretch. It makes me smile to see he still has moments of such perfection still within his grasp.

That speedy pace he set carried us all the way from the Ikea area, right down through a few turns and even on the old road to the abandoned bridge. I was glad he was quick right through there too because there was the thick smell of manure through there. I was baffled until I realized there was a small biogas production facility there. Definitely explains it.

Autumn by the River

Autumn by the River

I don’t know how long Loke would have kept that pace because at the old bridge, we turned onto the gravel path along the east bank of the river. With the 30 lbs of extra weight and softer gravel surface, I couldn’t keep that pace.

But it tends to be pretty along the river, so having the time to enjoy the scenery isn’t a bad thing.

The name of the trail along there drives me a bit crazy though. ‘Uppsala-Skokloster Road’. That implies that at some time in the past that trail was part of a road that ran between the city to what is now the Skokloster castle. Perhaps a more direct way than exists now. Pity, because I would love to ride there one day, though preferably without speeding traffic zipping by less than 3 feet away. Swedish drivers are generally careful, but once speeds get over 70 kph with such little space for maneuvering it still gets a bit hair-raising.

Just beyond the boat storage, the area beside the river is a little park. As I rolled slowly along the foot path, close to the water, a spec of color caught my eye because it was something other than an autumnal gold or orange. A pale purple of all things. It looked like a single crocus flower.

I had to stop and look. Crocus are my favorite spring flowers. It seemed unlikely that’s what it was.

It’s exactly what it was. More than a little ratty and sickly looking, no leaves poking up from the grass, but definitely a crocus. I knew we’d been quite warm for so late in the year, but enough to trick a crocus? On the 13th, Uppland was still considered to be experiencing summer as the weather had yet to meet the criteria for ‘meteorological autumn’. The average daily temperature had to be below ‘x-degrees for x-number-of-days’ and we’d had not yet obtained that benchmark.

Saddest looking crocuses I've ever seen...

Saddest looking crocuses I’ve ever seen…

At the time of my writing this (October 16th), it’s finally happened and we are officially have entered autumn a few weeks late.

I took a photo of the poor, sad looking flower and moved on. About 100 yards further, I came up on a whole cluster of crocus that looked as ragged and sick as the first one. I tugged at one to make sure it wasn’t a bouquet someone had tossed down, though where they would have gotten them at this time of year, I’ve no clue. It was firmly rooted in the ground.

As we rolled on along the river, I was starting to feel a bit tired in the legs. That extra weight was a drag, but still worth the sense of accomplishment in getting Loke’s food without use of the car. I regard it as the beginning of training me up for self-supported touring for next year.

Hey, a girl can hope!

An old sailing vessel

An old sailing vessel

Not far from downtown, I spotted something I’ve not seen before at the river side. An old sailing boat/ship. There used to be one a few years ago, but it was mostly covered with a tarp, looked neglected and appeared to be used for floating storage than for any ‘boat’ like purpose. I only realized this year that it had been some time since I’d seen it.

As I keep an eye out for interesting things, this new one caught my eye. I was intrigued and rolled to a stop. A pair of men stood on the deck, the older one doing random tasks. The younger guy, ruggedly good looking with tousled, shoulder length brown hair and thick beard, stood chatting with a giggling pair of women. Given that they were older than 20, with babies, the giggles that kept bubbling out of them I’ve only heard out of girls between the ages of 11-16. Apparently they really liked that rugged adventurer look.

With the men intent on their tasks (one working, the other flirting), I wasn’t able to get their attention to ask about the boat… ship? Not sure if it’s big enough to count as a ship. I would have loved to know her name that I couldn’t spot on bow or stern. Her age would have been good too as well as any history I might have been able to find out. Even what kind of ship… boat, she was.

I finally gave up trying to wait out the flirting women, so rolled on. I did take a moment to cross the bridge to the other side of the river to get a decent photo of it.

M21, once served in the Swedish Navy

M21, once served in the Swedish Navy

Not far on, I stopped again for another boat. I took the photo out of curiosity and dutifully photographed the little sign posted on the side of the wheel house. Now that I’ve translated it, she seems quite a bit more interesting. She was one of the last wooden ships to be serving in the world with a hull made out of Honduran mahogany and, at the time of her retirement, she was the world’s oldest serving warship. She originally was used as a minesweeper before becoming a ‘teaching’ ship to support student divers (I think I translated that right).

Quite a history in that little 27 meter long vessel.

I was quite tired by the time I was near our apartment. I called Jens to ask if he’d step out to get the dog food if I swung by. He said of course. He came down and grabbed it as well as took Loke in with him for an extra scoop of kibble while I rolled the trike to the storage.

Exhausted legs or not, it still felt like flying as I rolled onward. I pushed for a little extra distance and rolled to a stop at the storage with just smidge over 16 miles for the day. Not bad.

And, in spite of gray skies, not a drop of rain!

What 2:30 pm looks like in October in this part of Sweden

What 2:30 pm looks like in October in this part of Sweden

Wednesday, I didn’t ride, feeling a bit of a relapse with that cold. Thursday, October 15th, I spent most of it feeling queasy in the tummy. About 2 pm, it finally settled, and I decided to ride in spite of how late it was getting. Sunset is around 5 pm so it gets pretty dim fairly quick.

That said, I love the light at this time of year. The original plan of roughly 5 miles gradually changed as I reached the section of the local River Loop that would have led me back to the storage. My belly felt calm enough, the sky was gorgeous with the golden orange light giving a gorgeous cast to everything around and making the yellows and oranges of the trees breathtakingly vivid. Admittedly, the same light can almost be had at 3:30 am in summer, but I’ve been having a hard time waking so early the past couple years.

I decided I wanted to add the Grave Mound stretch, maybe see if they’d started doing whatever it was they roped off the little mound for.

It was all old ground, but with such a pretty afternoon, I didn’t care.

Even with the shorter ride I’d planned, I was going to be left with less than 100 miles to make the 1000 mile year-end goal. This was just going to nip off a few more of those miles.

The little mound was unchanged. Still roped off, but nothing dug and no sign of shovels or anything else. Looked rather lonely.

Light and shadows on the mounds

Light and shadows on the mounds

The rest of the mounds were gorgeous in the late autumn light and the bumpier sections of it were especially lovely with the play of light and shadow.

Loke had been pretty ‘meh’ about most of the ride, but places like the grave mounds always perks him up. I still noticed as we came down the big hill that he wasn’t entirely comfortable dealing with the extra impact of the slope. He moved a bit stiffly on other downhills too.

Given how fine he was on the flats and climbs, I think it’s just his old joints complaining a bit about the extra work at times. So, if it continues, I’ll just go slower on descents. If it keeps him fit and happy to the end of his days, I’ll go at a walking pace. He’s given me so many smiles and laughter over the years and miles, it’s a small price to go a little easier in his golden years.

We arrived back at the storage with 9.3 miles and 95.35 miles left to break 1000.

Once we were back home, Loke immediately started pestering Jens. When he finally broke Jens’ will and the hubby took him out, Loke was reportedly bouncy and energetic with no sign of stiffness no matter which end of the flexi-leash he was lunging too. Jens naturally ‘accused’ me of simply sitting in the garage for the hour and a half we were gone.

All in good fun of course.



Chipping Away At The Miles…
October 15, 2015, 5:16 am
Filed under: Day Rides

The rides continue. October was just 13 days old, but I’d squeezed in 7 days of riding which is pretty good for me. It’s good to see that I’ve built up enough that I can throw in a few consecutive days here and there.

October 5th Late Evening

October 5th Late Evening

October 3rd, 4th, and 5th I went out in spite of feeling pretty sick. Mostly it was was for Jens’ and Loke’s sakes. The hubby was sick too, but Loke still needed more than the sluggish mini-walks around the block we were capable of. It’s easier for sick me to roll along like a sick snail than it is for the hubby to stumble zombie like. The rides are still faster and longer than either of us walking when we felt that bad. It was only River Loops in the 5 mile range.

The weather was fairly variable. The first two days of the month where I was too sick to ride, were beautiful. Clear, or mostly clear skies with brisk temperatures. The three consecutive days I rode, they took turns between gray and clear. At the starts of the rides, temps were in the mid-40’s usually and were in the 50’s when I finished. Riding even under heavy skies wasn’t too bad really. Any rain that came with the clouds seemed to drop only during the nights so I never got wet.

Took a rest/sick day on the 6th where Jens was feeling well enough to deal with Loke’s needs.

I felt quite a bit better by the 7th where I bullied myself out the door for a longer River Loop. A whopping 7.35 miles. Go me. It was one of those gray ‘meh’ days, but I stayed dry so still a win!

Loke was still being a bit of a PITA. Some of the rides, he dragged along, slug-like, but then he’d come home where he’d bounce around and harass us, though mostly Jens. Jens teased me that he didn’t think I was really riding for Loke to behave that way.

Out again on the 8th of October which was one of the pretty days, though at one point, a clump of clouds looked all mean and scowling, as if it meant to drench us. It never did thankfully.

Bored with the usual 5-7 mile plod around the River Loop, I added the grave mound stretch to the outing.

Cordoned off and there were shoves!

Cordoned off and there were shoves!

It was as I came up the climb from the rail tracks and passed the museum and the first very small mound that the threatening cloud was looming. There was something going on at the little mound as well it seemed. So, I stopped.

That first mound after the tracks is one of the smallest. It is also the one most ‘abused’. It’s probably been open to the wear and tear of human traffic climbing up for decades and it shows with some portions of the slope well grooved by feet, bike tires, and sleds. The top also looks a bit truncated, but that might be from botched digs by early Victorian or earlier age ‘archaeologists’ looking for plunder. Errr, I mean artifacts.

Still, I was curious about why it was roped off and the presence of shovels. I got up and walked around it, but there was no one to ask unfortunately. After a few moments, I rolled on.

Coming along, I think

Coming along, I think

Further down the path toward where it rejoins the River Loop, we passed through the region where work is ongoing to return the ground back to it’s original make up of clay beneath the top soil. The area still looks a mess, but seems a little more flattened out and perhaps the piles of clay are a bit smaller. Progress, I suppose.

Once done with that stretch of the mounds and fields, it was back to the River Loop and we were back at the storage area with 9.35 miles. Not too shabby for just coming out of a bad cold and days of feeling unwell.

Except of course, it seemed to set me back and I wound up feeling completely under the weather. By then, Jens was feeling fine, so it was possible for me to just pamper myself into recovery over Friday.

By Friday evening, I was feeling much better and started looking at attempting a much longer ride on the weekend. Saturday ended up kind of jinxed though. I found a web site for a sort of gallery showing of a series of images called ‘The Madness of Sweden’ inspired by the recent Mad Max movie. It showed an artist’s rendering of a several ruined places in Sweden, a desert world with familiar landmarks in ruins. The exhibit was free and one day only. I whimsically decided I wanted to go see it. I even looked to see if I could have incorporated it into the next stretch of the Mälardalsleden, but it was too far from where I last stopped to the exhibit location.

So, train it was. Then Jens decided it would be good for us to get out as a family. He kindly drove and Loke came along.

Along the way, we stopped at one of the larger cycle shops in Stockholm to see about getting new shoe covers for those times when the wind blows from the sides of  my direction of travel. The fairing appears to work great for wind coming from the front, but if I’m not moving fast enough create enough forward air flow to buffer the sides, then my feet can still get a bit chilled.

I found one pair that looked as if they’d go over my chunky shoes as Jens walked around with Loke outside the shop. I also took a moment to try on a pair of shoes that looked much like my current pair. Alas, they were a bit too snug. The nice guy who helped me recommended I try a man’s shoe. It almost worked. I would have tried the same shoe in a smaller size, but didn’t want to leave Jens waiting too long. Still felt nice to walk out with what seemed to be a good set of shoe covers.

Then it was onward to downtown Stockholm to put the car in an  underground lot and walk to the park.

I was a bit peeved with the exhibit. I’d though it was outside, but no, it was in one of the little interior areas around the park so one of us had to stay out with the dog. Jens insisted it was no problem. He’d walk Loke around the park and take a turn inside to look if I thought it was worth it.

It was so not worth it. There were 5 or 6 prints on the wall. Exactly the number that were shown on the web site actually. Not a single new image in the tiny space. I was in and out in less than 3 minutes. Jens was fine with it though. I’d gotten shoe covers, tried on some new shoes and we’d at least had a bit of an outing together.

Sunday, October 11th, I woke up, still uncertain of what I wanted to do. Part of me really wanted to tackle the next portion of the Mälarsdalsleden before the days get much shorter and snows arrive. IF snows arrive. I’d also plotted out a random 32 mile loop which would offer a bit of unfamiliar countryside combined with a few places I’ve only ridden a couple times.

By the time I actually got moving, I settled on the idea of doing the Nåntuna/River Path again. It was simply too late to head out on the 30+ mile loop. Ideally, that should be tackled about an hour before sunrise so I’d be done with the ‘ho-hum’ stretch in the murky pre-dawn and have the sun just appearing for the newer terrain. The Nåntuna Loop was decent distance, but still doable with the amount of daylight remaining.

Life sized shetland pony statue

Life sized shetland pony statue

Loke seemed fairly perky as we set out though it was ground we’ve covered 40 or more times this year. Most parts of it at least. I have found a few new ways through parts of the city which feel a bit more pleasant than some of the ways, I was navigating before. The most recent portion is taking a little foot/cycle bridge over a busy section of road to follow more park along the tracks. That stretch of park, broken by a busy road crossed by the bridge, has a few random bits of sculpture. Some of it is modern in nature. Twisted loops of chrome pipes and such. There’s also a bronze statue of a ram though. This time I spotted another one of a pony, like a life-sized shetland. Quite cute really.

The rest of the roll out of town was fairly anti-climatic. We sped by the various little parks. Loke kept a pretty good pace really, even wanted to pull into a lope at times. The miles rolled by and soon we were closing in on Nåntuna.

While I pedaled along, a man caught up with us and started asking about the trike. We had a chat about it for a few minutes before he cruised ahead. It was along that stretch of cycle way that I took a moment to call Jens and let him know Loke was holding up okay. During the call, a little dormouse scurried across the pavement into the tall grass. Too cute!!

Yay! Cycle Road! And part of the Sverigeleden!

Yay! Cycle Road! And part of the Sverigeleden!

I opted for a slightly different route through one area, but a fair stretch of it was fairly ‘meh’. Uphill mostly, through a residential area, but soon the streets gave way to a devoted cycle path between fields and park.

It was also part of the Sverigeleden. I’d actually been looking for this bit of path, remembering it from a previous outing years ago.

Oh, and as you can see in the photo, I was also testing my new shoe covers. They’re awesome! My feet were toasty warm! Too toasty actually. Needed to be about 10 degrees colder I think. I shouldn’t complain. Between them and the fairing, it could mean I can cycle through all but the most bitter arctic blasts! One can hope at least.

Memory told me the cycle road emerged/ended near pastures and stables. Before we reached the road, however, a pair of horses and their riders appeared with a woman beside them on a bike. They were about 75 yards away when they rounded the curve into view. Immediately, I pulled over as far to the side as I could, took my helm off and stood up. It seems to freak horses out less if they see a person standing with a weird bike and dog than this bizarre bike/woman/dog thing with a misshapen head.

It worked. The thoroughbred balked a bit, sidled, and then walked nervously past, but those tend to be high strung. The sturdy black horse, looked like a Welsh Cob mix, didn’t seem phased by us at all. Soon, they were out of sight.

Horses watching from afar

Horses watching from afar

We emerged onto the ‘pretty’ road where I expected. Across the fields separated into pasture blocks, curious horses looked up and watched as I turned right to begin the journey back to Uppsala.

Love this road

Love this road

I have to admit, I really love that 2 mile stretch. Loke seems to like it too. He looks around a lot, nose working overtime to catch the scents of animals in pasture, woods, and river.

As I write this, it occurred to me, I’ve only ever ridden here during the autumn. All my memories of it are of autumn golds, hurrying to beat the coming twilight. One of the last ones before this ‘rediscovery’ was stopping at the now torn up nature reserve parking by the little bridge as twilight came, my hands cold and a magpie scolding us from the trees above.

Buzzing over the river

Buzzing over the river

Perhaps I should take a break from the area so as to not become sick of it and experience it in winter and spring? The drawback of winter is that I doubt I could make it onto the river path without a hard struggle of pushing the trike up slippery ice in cycle shoes to get over that evil hill. Might be worth it so see the river, woods and marshes in ice and snow. For one time at least.

Where the trees gave way to pasture running the length beside the river, the buzz of a small engine echoed across the open landscape. With the ‘giant bumblebee’ like noise a colorful little shape rose in the distance and angled to follow the course of the water’s dark surface. I had to grin at the paraglider, wondering if he’s the same one who was out at Gamla Uppsala years ago. I’ve also seen para-skiers out there too. That looked like fun, speeding across the snow blanketed fields, pulled along by wind and a span of nylon.

I’m not sure, but it felt those 2 miles went by quite a bit quicker than last time. Possible, I suppose. One would hope that all my pedaling and Loke’s jogging would strengthen us, increasing our pace at least a little bit.

Feeling I've been here before...

Feeling I’ve been here before…

Getting across the river was a bit of a pain. Construction makes the narrow bridge even tighter and cars were backed up to either side because it had been opened to let a boat through. I merged into the traffic between a pair of cars and then hogged the bridge all to myself as I rolled across when our turn came. Yes, it’s so narrow that even other cars don’t want to share with lil’ ol’ me.

It was a relief to get out of the traffic by turning onto that familiar gravel path. Loke heartily agreed. He threw his weight into his harness to hurry us along toward the steeper slope. That’s not something he does often now. He’s content enough to just jog along at 6-7.5 mph with an occasional stretch into 10 or 12 mph.

I've made it before, I'll make it again!

I’ve made it before, I’ll make it again!

Once we reached that climb was when he decided to slack off, of course. He wanted to sniff and mark, left me to do all the work. But hey, he’s coming up on 10 and a half years now, he’s entitled.

Maybe it was a little easier, but it didn’t really feel much like it. I didn’t have the trailer, but I was carrying a liter canteen of water, the Canon camera which is probably a couple pounds, my tripod which is almost 4 lbs and the telephoto lens is about another pound. That all probably approaches the weight of my empty trailer and something I didn’t have with me last time.

When it comes to harsh hills or otherwise difficult terrain, I do miss the wild enthusiasm of Loke’s youth. I probably get more exercise nowadays, which is a good thing provided my knees don’t explode.

Once again, I crested that hill without the need to push the trike up. I paused at top for more than gasping for breath and shake the ache out of my knees.

Loke sat down with a sigh to wait as I mounted the GoPro camera. I twisted everything down as tight as I could. I tried to record one of the first rides with the fairing with it, but it wouldn’t stay upright. It caught most images either crooked or kept slouching forward to record asphalt. Though I’d wrapped the fairing bar with electrical tape to give the mount something less slippery to grip, I didn’t have much hope for it this time either. Gravel trail is a lot more bumpy than paved road.

The results surprised me. The camera stayed in place fairly well, only requiring one on the fly correction. I found a simple to use movie editor to compress the video and threw in some free music to replace the hollow rattle of vibration.

My only annoyance with it is the strange jumping and twitching. It didn’t show up while editing, that flowed smoothly. It was only after I’d converted it into an MP4 format that it appears. I tried redoing it several times, but the results always come out with the hiccups.

Loved this image

Loved this image

GoPro on, I settled in to enjoy the beautiful autumn day and the trail. Loke had a husky grin as he trotted along. Several thousand miles of a combination of trails like those through the city forest and the ones by the river would be pure heaven for me. I’ll take these little slices of paradise where I can though.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in the city forest though. I go when Jens wants us to walk there, but avoid it otherwise as I’d rather not run into my stalker there. I know he lives in that area, too many secluded places and his behavior set my defensive instincts on edge.

There were a lot of people out on the trail that day. One guy was walking around with a camera set up that put mine to shame. I didn’t get a close enough look to see what camera he had, but his telephoto lens was a good 2 feet long with the end bigger than my spread hand. Not something I’d want hanging from my neck. With the addition of camouflage, I guessed he was a bird watcher.

Probably a correct guess. A bit further on, the river opens up into a tiny lake. The trees are cut back between the river and parallel road. One stretch of it was crammed with a few dozen people armed with cameras to watch and photograph a sizable flock of Canadian geese.

Geese!

Geese!

I was surprised to see so many. Bird watchers that is, not the geese.

The geese were there last time I rode the trail, but my iPhone wasn’t up to the task of picking out the dark birds on dark water from such a distance. It went much better with my Canon.

Though the geese had been there before, I’d not seen a single bird watcher then. Yet, here they were in force. A veritable army of them.

From there, the ride was the usual toodle through the more developed sections of the river and right through downtown. Arrived back at the storage with just over 18 miles, which was a bit baffling. Last time, the loop had been 20 miles almost on the dot, but apparently the alternative way to/through Nåntuna nicked off about 1.5 miles.

Still, 18 miles was a good chunk toward the 1000 miles for the year goal. At that time, I only needed something like 14 miles a week to reach it. After that ride, I only needed 11 miles for the next 11 weeks break it.

Though there’s another ride or more since redoing the Nåntuna/River Loop, I’ll close the post here as it’s already quite long. The rides continue and the miles mount!

 



Unexpected Miles
October 1, 2015, 9:42 am
Filed under: Day Rides

So yesterday, I was dressed in my riding clothes before Jens even awoke. When he headed out to work, I went with so he could drop Loke and I off at the storage. The plan was to get a short loop for Loke, wait at home until about 9:30 upon which I would head out solo to the edge of Uppsala to hit the largest cycle shop and sporting goods in the city.

The trailer hitched in case I picked up something that wouldn’t fit in my pannier bags, we rolled out.

Gorgeous Morning!

Gorgeous Morning!

I must say, the weather the past few days, maybe even a whole week has been gorgeous. The mornings especially as proven by the photos in my previous post. And yesterday morning was no exception.

It was about 42 F. I had light wool under my leggings and top. While at the garage to get ready, I also pulled on my heavier wool shirt. Wool glove liners went on as well as the thin knit cap under the helmet. Still wary about the efficiency of the fairing, I also debated using my old shoe covers, cracks and all. I decided not. It was just a short loop to the apartment to start with.

Loke was raring to go in the brisk autumn air and I was in a mood to let him stretch his legs a bit.

For some time now, the old, well-worn path of the River Loop has had some complications. Along one road where the path goes, work has been on going to install a couple of round-abouts at intersections. Where I usually scoot across the off-ramp of the 55 has been closed for the past few weeks. That’s meant heading back to the bridge to hug the river.

Yesterday, the whole section was closed off so I couldn’t even do the mini-loop there. That snicked off about a mile and a half of what I’d planned for Loke.

I figured it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’d ride to do the errands and then come back to give him an extra run.

Let's Gooooooooooo!!!!

Let’s Gooooooooooo!!!!

So, the first part of my plan went flawlessly with the tiniest bit short of 3 miles as we rolled to a stop. As for the second part of it, Loke had other very determined ideas. I tried to relax for about 45 minutes. The furball was a coiled spring of tension. Every time I so much as blinked, he’d lurch wildly to his feet and scramble for the door. About half an hour in, he started giving those bossy little woofs and stomping his feet. Finally, he even came over and pawed at me as if to drag me to the door.

Clearly, leaving him was out of the question. He probably would have brought the apartment down if I tried. No help for it. He would simply have to come along and languish with the trike as I ran into whatever shops we stopped at.

That necessity added about a mile as it meant looping back to the storage for me to grab the cable. I really didn’t want to risk Loke chewing himself free and running rampant through traffic while I was in a store. I don’t think he would. He’s mellowed enough that most of the time he seems content to wait or maybe he just doesn’t want to leave the trike behind.

So off we went through the heart of Uppsala. The route through the city has adapted a bit. I discovered connections that let me following along the rail line through the city to the underpass beneath the station and onward. It’s a bit more direct and a lot less confusing.

The rest of the way went smoothly. Loke ran well, I felt fairly strong and the fairing had been keeping my feet from feeling chilled quite satisfactorily. We rolled by the pretty, long skinny park and I warmed up enough to pull off the heavy wool top, pitching it in the otherwise empty trailer. I noticed then that the trees were showing a bit more color, which was delightful.

We continued to the edges of the city staying mainly on the little cycle roads that meandered on their own little ways away from the main roads. Finally, we were rolling under the old E4 to come up on the shopping complex with the cycle shop. Loke signed at me as I secured him and the trike.

First I went into the HemTex (home textiles). I wanted to find a very cheap fleece throw to convert into a cover for my fairing. The ones they had were unsuitable and a bit too pricey. I also asked about flannel sheets. They hadn’t arrived yet, but within a couple weeks.

I spent about 5 minutes, maybe as much as 10, chatting with the young woman. She was working alone, it was quiet and so, I think she was bored. We talked about the weather differences between where I was from and here, both of us laughing at how she thought Mississippi sounded dreamy and I was thrilled with the seasons of Sweden, cold and all. A couple other potential customers came in so I bid her goodbye.

Loke stood up hopefully as I walked toward him and the trike and plopped his tail back down when I went on past into the cycle shop.

Studded tires immediately to the left of the entrance caught my eye, reminding me that I needed new ones for the front. The tread is fine on my old ones, but the studs are worn quite smooth and low. I want ones that will bite into whatever ice I come across, especially if Loke’s determined to run. He can pull the trike around and drag it sideways if I lose traction.

One of the guys came over to help. They had one 20 inch studded tire. Like at HemTex, they’ll be getting their full winter stock in a couple weeks. That also meant their selection of shoe covers was limited. The one that interested me was not, ever, going to fit over my chunky Shimano touring shoe. Even the ones that didn’t interest me would never have accommodated what I wore.

That’s the problem with most shoe covers. They’re made, almost exclusively, for skinny little road shoes. Even the ones I’ve been using the past few years are like a size 45 to go over a 38 shoe and it’s a tight fit. I may just have to slap duck tape over the cracks and see how many more years I can get out of them until I can find another identical pair.

Loke was impatient and raring to go as I emerged. Between the little morning loop and riding to the shop, we had probably almost 10 miles under wheels and paws, but he still had energy to burn.

We had one more stop to make though. I wanted to take a peek at the big sporting goods store a couple roads over. I also stopped at a smaller one in the same complex where the bigger one is. They had a small bike section, but absolutely no shoe covers.

At XXL, I darted in, doing a quick sweep through the clothing section to see if there were any non-black tights to grab. Gotta stay on top of that. Then I rushed to the bike area to glance at the tires and shoe covers. They had very few tires, only large studded ones and no shoe covers. Their cycle section is being overtaken by ski gear for winter actually.

As I emerged from the store to start hitching Loke back to the trike, a woman with a toddler filled stroller and small infant in a chest carrier drifted closer, obviously waiting for someone. She said Loke was such a pretty dog. I thanked her and when she heard my accent, she started talking in English.

We actually had a long chat. I was more than happy to talk about Loke and dogs in general. She was impressed that he seemed so focused on me. Her meetings with previous huskies had given her the impression that they’re not really a people-centric breed, more interested in their surroundings and what they can do to amuse themselves than people. I assured her Loke was often like that, but he also knows the trike won’t move without me and he wanted it to move. Hence, he was focused on me.

With us on good terms, I stepped close enough to pull back the edge of the knitted carrier and take a peek at the little cherub’s face as she slept, snuggled against her mom. She was a cutie. 9 months old. Then she woke up. Her mom asked if it was okay to meet Loke.

Much to my chagrin, Loke was a bit rude. Generally with people, little ones too, he might give them a quick sniff, grace them with a lick and then ignore them. He was utterly fascinated with that baby. Then he started kissing her. Loke’s kisses aren’t licks with a soft tongue. No, he just rams his nose right in. Huge, honking husky nose smooshing into that little face. He didn’t hurt her, but it did startle her into a bit of a fuss. Not that I blame her.

I was stunned. He’s never done that to anyone else. The only people he’s ever done ‘kiss’ with are Jens and I. The only thing I can figure is she maybe smelled of milk and he hoped that if he did his ‘kiss’, she’d give him a treat. The mother quickly checked she was okay, then saw she was fine and laughed. In seconds that little angel was all smiles and gurgles, giving me adorable grins.

Then the person the woman was waiting on emerged and we parted ways.

I’ve done rides out to that area 3 times previously and the route I established for a loop gives Loke and I about 12 miles. We meandered down the cycle way set back off the big, busy road until coming to the under pass. Immediately out of the tunnel beneath the roadway, my loop goes right. I stopped at the juncture.

It was a lovely day. The weather had warmed without getting too warm. The sky was mostly blue except for a few thin misty patches of clouds. Hardly any wind at all. It was too pretty to go back to the apartment so early. Not to mention, it had seemed the trees were more colorful and I knew a lovely stretch of road that I’ve not ridden down in years.

I completely surprised Loke by going left.

Rolling along side the road, I thought of something that almost turned me back. This addition might as much as double the originally intended distance and I had packed no water for the fuzzy, or myself for that matter. Fortunately, along the way to the ‘magic country lane’, there was a small grocery. I stopped and ran in to shop some water and something for Loke to drink from. He only took a few licks, but I was glad for the water even if he had been fairly indifferent.

A bit blurry, but it's autumn colors!

A bit blurry, but it’s autumn colors!

As I left the store, there was a bit of confusion. I knew there was a series of cycle ways that would take me through quieter areas to the road I wanted, but the tangle turned into such a confused muddle, I gave up and followed along the main road again.

Soon I was rolling by the familiar pastures and dog pens that told me I was close. I took a moment to give Loke a hug in a fit of nostalgia while rolling by the agility training pen. From the first days since we brought him home at 8 weeks old, we often went there to play and train with him off leash. Several times a week actually, until he started running with the trike.

I was close, but not quite sure which turn I needed as I came to another intersection. A boy had been rolling back and forth along the sidewalk/cycle way on a scooter. He abruptly approached as I fiddled with the Garmin to figure out which way I needed.

Can _just_ make out the cathedral steeples

Can _just_ make out the cathedral steeples

In heavily accented and broken Swedish, he said Loke was a pretty dog. When I asked if he had a dog, he said more clearly that he didn’t speak Swedish very well. Like me, that phrase is probably the most used. He said maybe English, which was also heavily accented and broken, but a little better than his Swedish. I asked where he was from. Afghanistan and he had been in Sweden only for 3 weeks. He had had to leave his dog when he and his parents came to Sweden. He asked Loke’s name of course and I told him. Then I worked to explain that Loke was named after the Norse god, Loki and that Loke was how the Swedes say it. He didn’t quite understand until I said, ‘Odin, Thor and Loki.’

The road is tilted, not the fairing, I promise

The road is tilted, not the fairing, I promise

It was the ‘Thor and Loki’ that did it. His entire face lit up. “Loki! Like from the Avengers movie!” I had to laugh. Thank you, Hollywood for bringing the comic book version of an ancient pagan god to mainstream world awareness.

He was also completely amazed that Loke was 10 years old, as old as he was.

The river with a hint of autumn's gold!

The river with a hint of autumn’s gold!

He was a nice kid. A bit lonely, I think, being so far from the place he’d been born and so recently. The language barrier certainly complicates  making  friends in his age group, but his Swedish does seem to be coming along a pace if he’s been here for less than a month. I said it had been nice to meet him and rolled on.

Loke and the trike

Loke and the trike

I’ve not often ridden the road I sought, perhaps this was the 4th time, but every trip has been a treat. Soft rolling hills as it follows the edge of a pasture land beside the river. Makes for beautiful scenery with the shimmering water and wall of trees on the opposite side. Some of them were indeed cladding themselves in autumn hues!

As I rolled along, I realized I was in a good mood. Almost giddy as a matter of fact. The golden light, the colors of autumn, mostly shy, but with a bold splash here or there. Perfect temperature and just out in the middle of it all. How could I have been otherwise?

The only grumble I had about the whole thing is that because the whole thing had happened so spontaneously, I’d not brought my proper camera. The iPhone wasn’t doing too bad a job with most of the photos, but I still itched to see what my Canon would have done.

The road is barely over 2 miles, but what beautiful 2 miles!

Too soon it was over and I was making the turn onto a busier stretch. Right near the little, single lane drawbridge across the river, a digger was tearing a up a lot of ground, making a mess of what used to be parking for the nature reserve. I’m not sure what they’re doing, but it looked fairly large. Maybe replacing the bridge with one wide enough to accommodate 2 lanes of traffic?

The busy-ness of the roadside cycle way and closeness of the cars almost made me long to turn back and go back and forth a few times on the ‘magic road’. I resisted.

A small gravel road opened up in the trees to the right and I rolled to a stop to stare down the shady tunnel of green and gold. I knew exactly where it led. I’ve taken that way once. I remembered with fond longing. It was back in 2006 during one of the first few rides with my then-brand-new Trice QNT. The reason it had only been one time was because deeper in, hidden by the trees and curve of the dirt lane was a very steep and fairly long climb. I’d been unable to pedal up, needing to get up and push the trike for several hundred yards. It had been difficult and unpleasant. The other side of that climb had been wonderful though. It was the southern portion of the same river side path I take every time I pass through the hospital area. That path would take me almost to my front door, all along the river through wood land, fields and parks before fetching up along the channeled banks through downtown Uppsala itself.

That climb had stopped me from going that way again the other few times I’d been in the area. I was always too tired after having pedaled there to face pushing the trike up that evil hill standing like a guardian to paradise beyond. Again, I almost didn’t do because of that harsh climb. Admittedly, I’m stronger than I was way back in 2006 and my Sprint has lower gear inches than my Trice, but I was pretty tired and dragging a trailer. Mostly empty or not that 14 lbs with the addition of a half liter of water and wool thermal top had an impact on my legs over the miles and would be felt going up.

Made it!

Made it!

I winced as I turned away, but then stopped again as I faced the traffic choked road, both sides crowded with houses and businesses. Not terribly inspiring even with a safe cycle way beside it. Muttering that I was going to regret it, I turned to tackle that hill.

It was as steep as I remembered, but miraculously, I actually made it up. Not easily and the tire slipped quite a bit. Loke was no help. Yet, I crept to the crown and paused to catch my breath in triumph, without needing to get up and push.

Naturally with an older husky beside me, I didn’t get to plunge wildly down the other side like the first time I’d ridden here, but I didn’t care. I was happy. Loke loved it too and it was the first time he’d been down the path having been too young back in 2006 to run beside the trike. He adores woodland lanes and unpaved ones are even better. We came down the ridge to where the path fetched up against the river side and headed north.

Was riding over there about half an hour earlier!

Was riding over there about half an hour earlier!

Okay, so maybe it got knocked a little crooked.

Okay, so maybe it got knocked a little crooked.

It was as wonderful as I remembered from 9 years previous. It was also fun to look across the gently rippling water to see where I’d been rolling through just a short time before. It was beautiful scenery too. I was snapping photos with my iPhone like a mad woman even if I did continue to mutter about not having my Canon. The addition to the ride was so spur of the moment.

I wasn’t the only one out to enjoy the day and the river path. Many people were out walking, many with dogs. Also quite a lot of cyclists, most of them were on mountain bikes.

It turns out the reason there were so many mountain bikes is that there was a fair sized ridge to the right side of the path that was crisscrossed with mountain bike paths. Not foot paths that just happened to be used by mountain bikers, but honest-to-goodness trails marked specifically for those people who thrill with every jolt and leap over rock and root as they plummet down steep slopes.

Pretty!

Pretty!

I even texted Jens about it so I wouldn’t forget to tell him.

I spotted a sign at one point right at the river’s edge and got up to read it. It was something about an old windbreak there, but couldn’t quite puzzle it out exactly. It was also a spot where a couple of guys were fishing with cane poles. One of them made a catch right then. Such a might fish emerged fighting the hook and struggling as it was lifted from the water. It was a whole… 3 inches long! I’m being generous with that estimate. A minnow really.

A short distance from the guys feeding minnows, I realized that I’d strayed away from the river and was actually rolling in the opposite direction of the city. That I definitely didn’t remember. I pulled over to the edge where Loke could amuse himself by sniffing, dragging us along by inches while I puzzled out what was going on using the Garmin’s map.

I love the water, can you tell?

I love the water, can you tell?

There apparently was a road that followed along the river, but I’d somehow lost it. The path I was on had cut west toward a small lake to curve around the south edge of it before following back up north where it would rejoin the river’s edge again. About a mile more distance. Unsure of how I missed what I thought would be the ‘main’ road, it didn’t really matter. The scenery was pretty, Loke and I still had energy and water. Onward we’d go.

The land around the lake, particularly between it and the river was quite marshy. Not surprising given that at some point in the past it was very likely part of the river itself. Here and there, a break in the trees was the start/end of a plank walk through the open sunshine across the wetland grasses.

Loved it!

Loved it!

The northern end of the lake and beyond cleared into an open wetland area. The path was on the edge of the marsh at the bottom of a gentle slope. I’d forgotten that path went through so many different landscapes just over a 4 mile stretch.

Soon enough we were back along the river proper, the path lined with old trees like those that flank the little lanes leading to manor houses out in the country. There were fields and a generous helping of unexpected autumn colors. Actually, it was the most colorful portion of the ride and I couldn’t stop smiling… or clicking.

Very familiar ground

Very familiar ground

Much as I had loved the extra miles I’d added to what was supposed to be an errand run of 12-ish miles, I was only too glad when the trike crossed the threshold between the ‘only rode it once’ portion of the trail onto ‘been here hundreds of times’ part. It meant I knew there was just 4 more miles before I’d reach home and be able to flop down into a seat that didn’t move.

I was wiped from dragging that extra 14 pounds of trailer. Even Loke was starting to get a bit draggy and I don’t mean in the ‘husky pulling a sled’ way.

I slowed way down to let Loke stop often to sniff around in the grass or meander step by step as he explored what was probably the scent of a recently passing dog. It was coming up on 4 pm, but that was no reason to suddenly turn things into a big rush. Additional offers of water received only a brief glance before he waited for me to move on.

The old pump house and spires of Uppsala Cathedral

The old pump house and spires of Uppsala Cathedral

When we were past the bandy court and rolling across our old friend, the pedestrian/bike drawbridge over the river, I counted it as the home stretch. I think Loke did too, because he stepped up his pace.

We clipped along the riverside through downtown. As we rode next to outdoor seating for one of the cafes, a man called out in delight at the sight of Loke and put his hand over the low barricade to let his fingers brush his fur as we passed.

Then we were home. Loke flung himself down and wallowed in the grass as I locked the trike up. Once in the apartment, he gulped water and then flopped down in the floor for a nap.

I watched the clock, waiting for Jens to get home. I was ravenous. All I’d had to eat was a slice of toast smeared with cashew nut butter and a glass of juice. That had been around 9 am. It was after 5 pm and there wasn’t anything in the house. I also still had to get the trike back to the storage.

The hubby was home about 40 minutes later. The content husky playing the part of a rug, jumped up and had all the energy in the world. It was as if we’d not covered over 23 miles, finishing the last 20 of that less than an hour before.

I staggered out the door, Loke beside as Jens insisted, to get the trike put away. It was getting dark by that time, so I took a few minutes to put on my lights. Thankfully, it’s only a half-mile to where we keep the trike now.

Loke was ready to go. He tried to run. Only the fact that it’s a 2% grade and I was too tired to help kept him from going faster than 8 mph. Shocking. 10 year old husky acting like that. By the time we hit the park to roll through to where Jens was already waiting, he actually started to flag. Naughty me wanted his help for that last 200 yards. ‘Loke, where’s Jens?’ I said.

Suddenly we were in warp drive, Loke pounding pine-needles and packed earth like he was crazed 3 year old furball.

After that, I still had to shop dinner. At least Jens drove me there. I rewarded myself with a nice cut of high quality steak. I avoid red meat most days of the week, so it’s become a treat. I had steak and potatoes in the form of a Swedish version of hashbrown patties that is eaten with lingon berries. I love them almost as much as mashed potatoes and it’s heart healthy as it lacks sour cream and butter. I was soooo hungry though that I also made myself a starter while the oven heated for the potatoes. Sugar snap peas sauteed in sesame oil and drizzled with a bit of soy sauce.

Quite satisfactory a supper, I must say. A good end to an unexpectedly great day.