Terii’s Cycling Babble


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.

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