Terii’s Cycling Babble


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…

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Love your site, pictures and descriptions of your rides!
I hope all turns out well with Loke!

Comment by Uncle Chunk

I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it and thank you for the well-wishes. I will, of course, report the results of Loke’s biopsy when I get it.

Comment by Terii




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