Terii’s Cycling Babble


Out We Go Into The….
December 29, 2015, 12:09 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

SNOW!!

I’ve been quiet here, I know, but I have been riding and Loke has been running. We’ve not been burning up the roads and paths, but we have been moving. Most of the time we’re getting out every other day with a couple exceptions where we took two days in a row without a ride. The reason for that is to not over do it with the furball. I’ve been very wary and extremely careful with him, even to the edge of being paranoid. The not knowing exactly what it was and how it happened puts me on edge.

That said, our outings are back up over 11 miles now through gradual increases. Loke, of course, thinks he’s not getting enough fun and run.

Hoarfrost rather than snow, but I'll take it!

Hoarfrost rather than snow, but I’ll take it!

December 15th was a pretty day being mostly sunny. Cold though at around 23 F rolling with the trike. The earlier snow was gone after a couple warmer days, but out in the open, away from trees and buildings, the shriveled brown grass sported a white coat of hoarfrost one could almost imagine was snow. It relieved the tedium of murky brown and gray.

The first run a couple days previous with Loke was barely over 3 miles. Since I was still easing him back into his runs, the second wasn’t much longer, looping to and from the storage at just 3.79 miles. Not even enough to put a dent in the fuzzy’s energy, but better slow and steady than rushing to re-injury.

Taking it easy wasn’t as hard as it could have been. Jens had left for a work convention over in the states on the 14th or so. Loke, oddly, tends to be calmer when it’s just he and I. The infection on his foot didn’t seem to be improving much, but I determinedly kept at the scrubbing and washing and disinfecting. It wasn’t getting worse, he wasn’t limping so I was still hoping to avoid antibiotics.

There was one slight problem though. The lack of riding was killing my back. The ride on December 13th didn’t seem to help and even pedaling hurt. It was nigh impossible to find a position to sit, lay or stand that didn’t trigger a burning or stabbing sensation through the small of my back. I was a bit uncomfortable on December 15th’s ride too. It was the worst my back had been since 2006, which coincidentally is the same year recumbent trikes entered my life. The walks and the gym wasn’t cutting it. I needed longer and frequent rides on the trike. The hubby gone and a husky recovering from mystery injury didn’t help. I was on the verge of taking Loke and myself to the storage, putting the trike on the trainer and watching Netflix while pedaling with Loke bored. Thankfully, it never came to that.

Over December 16th and 17th, the temperature shot up into record highs. Clouds moved in and it rained. I remember both of those days being so dark and murky it felt more like we were above the Arctic circle where the sun never quite makes it above the horizon at this time of year. Especially depressing without snow to brighten the landscape. One or both of those days actually set record highs for the date since records began in the 1800’s.

During that time I also called the vet clinic to see if there was any news on the sample they took. About what was expected. It appeared the infection was caused by bacteria this time. A very common one that is impossible to avoid, but in Loke’s case, it is now resistant to standard antibiotics. We’d have to reach into the more specific and harsher types to beat it down. So, again, continuing with the scrubbing and antiseptic to avoid moving one step closer to a Loke superbug.

The insanely warm weather continued. December 18th was nearly 50 F as we went out for a ride. I began in my ‘early autumn’ weight clothing. Before we’d gone 2 miles out of the 4.31 total, I’d stripped down to summer weight. No cap under the helmet. No gloves or shoecovers. Ridiculous for December. I think it might have even gotten warmer than it had been on Midsummer day.

Loke did so well on his first runs since mysteriously getting hurt that we went out after just one day of rest. December 20th, I had meant to extend the ride by only a mile or so, but miscalculated and arrived back at the storage with 6.24 miles. It had been such a pretty day that it was hard to resist. Clear skies though a bit on the breezy side. And warm. Set a new record high by over 10 degrees when it hit 54 F. I didn’t even make a pretense at dressing in anything other than my summer weight riding clothes. Not a single extra layer, glove, cap or shoe cover in sight. I even made a point to take water though it was such a short jaunt. Loke didn’t want it, but better safe than sorry.

The extra 2 miles did no harm. Loke was bouncy and annoying with no sign of pain except when he stepped on a big rock or a stick that poked the infected skin between his paw pads. At least I could finally see positive progress. The little, shallow wound was closing up and the skin looked a bit less angry.

We rested on December 21st, one of my mostest favorite days of the year. Winter Solstice! No longer is the minutes of daylight diminishing, but expanding! From here until the Summer Solstice (least favorite day of the year), we will be gaining time!

Only decorations to hint it's almost Christmas.

Only decorations to hint it’s almost Christmas.

December 22nd we headed out on a more ambitious ride. I was going to do the full downtown Uppsala Loop. Stop by the American Food store for goodies and then swing by my in-laws to pick up some of the frozen reindeer meat stored there in my mother-in-laws upright freezer. Another silly warm day, though at least it was only 45 F instead of 55 F.

Loke more than a little apathetic about the outing most likely thanks to boredom. He also showed some indications of his old arthritis symptoms. An awkward hop here, a slight hitch in his stride there that didn’t quite cross into the realm of a full blown limp. It seems that like me, Loke hasn’t been getting as much motion as he should with the trike.

So, I took it slow which suited me. I was fighting a cold at the time so going nice and easy was best.

As we rolled on, I found it hard to relax and enjoy the ride on such a pretty, if unseasonably warm day. The full loop would be over 10 miles when said and done. While pretty sure that Loke was more than good for it in spite of apathy and lack of energy, there still lingered a nagging doubt. For both of our sanity, it had to be done. The fact that so much of our rides have been plodding on the same 3 loops is taking a mental toll.

A lovely warm day. I'd trade it for snow...

A lovely warm day. I’d trade it for snow…

Once we arrived at Jens’ parents, Loke went from bored apathy to completely unglued. He hopped on his hindlegs at the end of the leash just walking up to the door. Once in the apartment, he was a force of nature. Stampeding and skidding around so that all the rugs were racked up against the floorboards of the walls. Sticking his nose into everything and even trying to maul a pillow. When he wasn’t doing that, he was sitting at Å’s feet, staring up into his face in an attempt to husky mind trick him into giving him an entire bag full of goodies. He knows my hubby’s dad is the push over for treats.

Since Jens was tied up with work calls at home until about 2 pm, I visited with his parents for a while. I’m quite blessed with my in-laws and I know it. All of them are among the sweetest and most awesome people in the world.

After that, it was a quick dash for the storage. Once the sun was firmly behind the trees, the temp started to drop fairly quick. I was determined to beat the sunset home. Technically, I did, but only by about 3 minutes. 10.54 miles.

Once we were home, Loke promptly started harassing the hubby as if he’d not been exercised for a week. Incorrigible!

Christmas Day was the next time I went out. It was very hard to bully myself out the door. Loke was going to be by himself for a portion of the evening as we had plans to meet with the family of one of my sisters-in-law’s husband. Absolutely had to try and burn off some of his energy before we did that. The source of my reluctance was the sheer fury of the wind. It roared. It moaned. It howled. The poor birch trees flailed around like the tentacles of the monster in ‘The Thing’ when it is first revealed out of the bodies of the dogs. Sustained speeds were nearly 30 mph and I’m sure some of the gusts were pushing 40 mph.

A December daddy long-legs... in Sweden. *sigh*

A December daddy long-legs… in Sweden. *sigh*

Finally got myself out. As I was pulling the trike out of storage, something moving at the corner of my eye on the door frame made me jump. Once I saw what it was, I rolled my eyes. A daddy long-legs spider. It was crawling along quite briskly, as fast as it would be in height of summer. Butterflies, earthworms and now spiders.

Shouldn’t be surprised with how previous record high temps have been toppling like dominoes the past weeks.

Buffeted by the angry air, we rolled out.

Since my previous ride had been through downtown Uppsala, I had planned to take off through the countryside on something like the Ulva/Gamla Uppsala Loop. The wind changed my mind. As blustery as it was in the more sheltered areas near the apartment, it would have been much worse once reaching open ground where the nearest windbreak could be hundreds of yards away. No, much better to do the Uppsala loop again where buildings and trees would offer some protection for most of the distance.

The old heart of Uppsala

The old heart of Uppsala

The ride was amazingly… good. Even with the wind, I felt pretty awesome. Nothing hurt for once. Not my feet. Not my hips. I felt decently strong. It baffles me how radically different two rides can treat me even just a day or two apart. One kills me with burning feet, screaming knees and aching hip while struggling with hardly enough strength to turn the pedals. The very next, my body is happy, not the least twinge from any joint or or muscle and power enough to pedal for a month. No rhyme or reason.

Loke had started out sluggish from boredom, but once we were going he perked up. I think the wind ruffling his fur and shoving him around had something to do with it.

After taking a short detour downtown to get a good photo of some of the older portion of Uppsala, I headed toward the train station. As I came down the passage to go under the tracks, I slowed and then stopped. An accordion was playing and it sounded almost pretty. It wasn’t what had given me pause though. What might have made the instrument’s tones nearly lovely was the pure sweet voice that sang in harmony. It was a wordless song, just modulations of voice, but what a voice. I’ve never heard the woman sing before though I think she’s been there when I’ve rolled through many times.

I’ve wracked my brain, but I can say in all honesty I cannot remember ever hearing so utterly beautiful a voice with my own ears. Not from a physically present person I mean. Recordings and TV broadcasts perhaps, but nothing so real. Heartachingly lovely. It inspired me to hunt out every coin I had in my handlebar bag to drop in her cup.

Just minutes later, less than 200 yards further on, the wind gave me quite a start. Wedged between the rail tracks and the little park with bronze animals, a line of apartment buildings is under construction. Temporary fencing has been erected to keep people out of the danger zone. A few of the posts supporting the wire are set in holes in the asphalt while others are simply supported by heavy rubber footings.

Between two of the nearly completed buildings, the wind came raging as if through a wind tunnel with enough force to bang and sway about 10 yards of fence as if it were sail cloth instead of mesh large enough to put an arm through. Tumbled up against the base of it were heavy plastic refuse bins.

A few feet away from where the worst of it rattled and crashed, I saw one of the posts in the ground starting tilt, breaking up a chunk of pavement with it. Rather than risk rolling within a foot of that chaos, I chose to go onto the pedestrian path about 10 yards over. Wise choice. Just seconds later, I heard a clattering bang and looked over my shoulder. The section had crashed down across the cycle path.

The rest of the ride was uneventful until right about the very end. A particularly harsh gust came swirling at us less than 100 yards from the storage. It picked up leaves, twigs and even pebbles that came flying at us. One stick, about the size of a pencil was flung into my face end first. It stung enough that I actually felt for blood. I was glad to get back into shelter and we had 11.16 miles under wheel and paws.

Sunday, December 27th, the temperature finally started to drop. At last! A day that didn’t break a record temperature! It had started off clear, but as the day went on, clouds moved in to hide the blue sky. As they thickened, the temperature continued to drop. That evening, a bit after sunset, I took Loke out for a walk to discover it had begun snowing. A faint dusting of fairy dust began to obscure the pavement by the time we finished the block.

The snow fall came down harder and by 10 pm we had over an inch of snow. I couldn’t stop gigging as I glanced out the window just as I was headed to bed.

Alas, the snow appears to have ceased just minutes after I’d last looked. Hare tracks in the back yard looked as crisp and fresh as they had the last time. Still it is more snow than we had during the last batch!

I was giddy as I started getting ready for a ride. There was no question about going. I was going to have a snow ride. 1 inch or not, it was going to count more than the thin dust of last time.

It took much longer than I anticipated to get ready. Had to hunt down where my heavy thermals had gone as it was 19 F. Then my footwarmer batteries decided to hide from me. Then the insoles joined the game. About an hour later, I was pushing the trike up the snowy ramp from the storage. No spiders that day!

The snowy sleeve of winter!

The snowy sleeve of winter!

Loke yodeled and hopped. Can’t blame him. It was such a glorious day! Utterly clear blue sky and utterly still air. He wanted to run so bad, but I’ve been keeping his speed down and didn’t relent this time either. I decided I was doing to do Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Loop which takes me out through the countryside.

Snow flew up from under the mud guard, covering my right sleeve. It only made me grin. Cold brisk air on the cheeks, a snowy sleeve and a happy husky adding to a icy soul patch on his chin with each steamy breath. THIS was how winter riding should be!

Alas, my enthusiasm was short lived. Chest congestion, which I’d been completely unaware of before, made itself known. It was hard to catch my breath at even 65 RPM and I felt weak which combined to make us even slower than usual. It felt hard. Almost an hour into the ride and I’d hardly done 4 miles. The tedium of a landscape I’ve seen dozens of times wasn’t broken enough by the inch of fluffy white. I began to toy with the idea of turning back. Perhaps force myself to go back via the grave mound trail though it would probably mean pushing the trike up at least 2 of the steeper slopes. At least the snow, thin as it was, oddly made the rolling resistance a little better.

While I wrestled with my choices, I rolled by the bike shop to order a new set of grip shifters. My right one has developed a slight issue when shifting to the lowest gear. It gives a short of crunchy click as it slips a bit and then clicks properly to move the gear. It’s like one of the parts is worn or broken in a spot. I’d like to get it corrected before it becomes a big issue. But the shop was closed for holiday vacation. Good for them! I can wait… I hope. Hehe.

iPhone injustice. I forgot my proper camera.

iPhone injustice. I forgot my proper camera.

Just as I was approaching the turn into the grave mound grounds, I caught a glimpse of the open landscape just beyond the trees and buildings around the parking lot. It changed everything.

That unbroken expanse of blue above fields dusted with that inch of soft, fluffy snow made me forget how slow I was, how breathless I felt. There was a slight haze, a glimmer almost, that the iPhone failed to capture that made it seem as if there was a magical sparkle around everything. Anything else I might do with the day suddenly paled to insignificance. There were worse ways to spend the day than rolling through lovely scenery beneath a flawless sky, however slowly.

We passed that parking lot and magically emerged from the ‘urban’ environment into the ‘natural’. I was almost giddy.

I was smiling and Loke had that husky grin as he slowly jogged along, pulling a bit. Clearly he was happy to be on ground we’ve done only a few times this year instead of dozens.

We crossed the tracks and turned off the cycle road to cross Vattholma Road onto the smaller country lane.

That’s when it happened. We’d just cleared the busy road when Loke gave a little limp with this right front. His next step exaggerated it. Within 5 steps, it was extreme. As I braked, the trike skidded a bit in the snow and Loke pulled forward for another dozen or so steps, also favoring his left hind. When I finally got the trike to stop, he stood there, looking at me in bafflement as he held the hindleg up.

Praying no traffic came whipping around the turn, I looked Loke’s feet over and prodded him. No reaction except to woof at me to get rolling again. I turned the trike around to cross back onto the safety of the cycle path. Loke moved fine. From fine to extreme limping on 2 legs back to fine in less than 2 minutes.

The mundane made magical

The mundane made magical

I wasn’t having any of it. No way was I going to risk him without knowing why he did it. I called Jens to come get him.

As I paced around on the path, waiting where the hubby could reach us easily, Loke was fine. He bounced around, sniffing, even rolling in the thin snow. When I stopped walking, he’d bound over to me and sit at my feet, looking up at me adorably as if to ask when we were rolling again. I wanted to pull my hair out with frustration. 4.28 miles.

Jens took the fuzzy one, who stared mournfully out the window as they left.

I plopped back down in the trike to head back home. The joyful magic of the day had been shattered and I couldn’t seem to get over the aggravation of my slow pace, the chest congestion and fretting over the abruptly limping husky. I really didn’t feel like dealing with another 2 hours of creeping along like that. It felt like the right choice as I oozed along at barely 3 mph back across the tracks toward town.

Blissfully free of sledders!

Blissfully free of sledders!

I did let the snow sway me in one way though. I almost took the cycle path beside the roads back, but instead, I turned for the grave mound path even if it would mean pushing the trike.

I expected to see the mounds covered in a swarm of people with sleds like ants on a kicked mound. I was delightfully wrong. Most of the sleds I saw were pulled by children going back to cars. I guess the snow, while thick enough to transform the mounds and the rest of the landscape, wasn’t deep enough to sled well. For the preservation of the mounds, I was relieved. They’re getting scarred up and eroded enough. Survived 1000+ years and will be worn to nothing in the next 100 from people using them for sledding, mountain biking and such.

A kind of peace enfolded me out among the fields and wooded clusters there. I admired the white mantled mounds and blue sky. More snow was getting kicked up over my arm and cheeks felt delightfully tingly from the brisk air.

Pressure in my bladder hurried me a long a little. Much to my joy, I didn’t need to push the trike up those two little, but steep hills at all. The rear tire squeaked and slipped a bit, but upward I crept all under pedal power. I started feeling a bit chill in the shady stretches where the temp display on my Garmin showed 15 F. It might be a new low. I’m not sure.

I made it back to the garage with 2.68 solo miles. Just a smidge under 7 miles for the day. Well, that was more than half of what I’d set out to do which is a good thing.

As for Loke? Not a hint of a limp since I stopped and turned back to the cycle path from where it started. He’s bounced through walks with Jens no problem. He was also an utter pest when I was back home. In my face, woofing at me for some reason though he’d been ‘walked’ for 4+ miles, had food and water, as well as a few rabbit ear goodies from Jens. Clearly, he wanted to go out and run again.

Jens tried to urge me out the door again today as tomorrow is laundry day. I decided I want to rest up for Thursday.

And what is Thursday? I think I’m actually going to take a stab at another leg of Mälardalsleden. Perhaps have Jens drop me off at Bromma Church where I ended the last leg of it and see how far I can make it. Not sure if Loke will be coming with me or not. I don’t want to tackle that with weary muscles. Better to be well rested in hopes of having a strong, pain-free ride.

I’m going to end the year on a ride and then January 1st, I’ll be going out again though probably just for a local toodle. Triking will be the ending of 2015 and beginning of 2016.



Rolling With The Punches…
December 14, 2015, 10:02 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

All of them are aimed at Loke which admittedly affects me.

So, back in October it was the ruptured tumor and waiting for the stitches to heal. Then the mystery injury last month (November). Last week (first week of December), I noticed a pungent yeasty smell surrounding Loke and checked him over, his paws especially. His right front was angry red with suppurating wound on the underside in between the paw pads. Off to the vet we went again.

Naturally, Loke still suffered under the yoke of ‘enforced rest’. For about week he’d only had short walks, 15 minutes at most and at my pokey pace. Knowing my wonderful hubby was too kindhearted and impatient to keep Loke on a short leash, I took the burden of all the walks.

I booked us a time and it was a new vet. A very nice woman with one of the thickest Irish accents I’d ever heard. I asked what part of Ireland she was from. She answered with a laugh, saying she was Swedish, but all her roommates when she was in veterinary school in Hungary had been Irish. After a few years with them, it had infiltrated her English.

As she gave Loke a quick once over and then looked at his foot, I emphasized I’d really like to try avoiding antibiotics if at all possible. Loke’s had so much of them over the years. I explained that many times, this infection was caused by yeast rather than bacteria and there had been indications from previous samples that things were beginning to build a resistance. She understood, shaved his foot which Loke despised, but endured with his usual stoicism. After giving me a shampoo to wash the foot and told me what to look for at the apothecary to clean it with after every walk, we were on our way. She said she’d call as soon as the results were back from the lab.

I made a point to ask if it would be okay if Loke went out with the trike in a few days. I told her the runs for the first week or so will be short and slow because after 2 weeks restrictive rest I’d be easing him back into normal activity. She agreed, as long as the foot was protected.

Poor Loke. A foot shaved and the return of the socks.

Loke’s last day of restrictive rest was Friday, December 11th. In theory I could have taken him for a run on Saturday, but he still had one more dose of the anti-inflammation  medication. It seemed better if he didn’t try running with that in his system. I’d like a chance to spot something wrong before he really injured himself. So, he had to content himself with longer walks. During the day, I took him to the grave mounds to walk the full 1 mile loop. Later that evening, we walked to the storage and back because I’d left my Garmin on the trike. I wanted to be sure it was fully charged since Jens had my battery box with him in Vegas. There and back is about a mile.

Actually, I was more impressed with how well I did with two walks of a mile or more each than Loke.

So, Sunday, medication free, Loke got very excited as I started getting dressed for a ride. It was one of the coldest days we’d had in almost 2 weeks. A bit below freezing actually. As I wrestled on the layers, fought with the batteries of the footwarmers and settled the shoe covers, the fuzzy was in the way. I don’t think he understands how much of a hindrance he is and how much longer it takes to go when he’s trying to climb into my lap.

When we went out the car, he cheerfully jumped into the back. He’s never cheerful about riding in the car except for the goodie. He’s not scared of it, just doesn’t like it. Normally, he won’t get in until prompted to do so. This time, he was in and wagging his tail before I even had set down the handlebar bag.

The husky hilarity continued when we arrived at the storage. He bounced around on the tether as I aired the tires and rolled it out. As I went to hitch Loke up, I had a ‘D’oh!’ moment. The running bar wasn’t on the trike. I went back into the storage to chase it down. As I came walking out, Loke was abruptly in the way more than usual. I’d step left, he’d whirl and move left with me, stopping right in front of my feet. I’d dodge right and there he was, bouncing and then sitting right at the tips of my shoes.

It took a moment to realize what was going on. Loke was determinedly positioning himself to run in relation to the tether on the bar in my hands instead of beside the trike. I had to laugh and leaned over to give the silly furball a hug. Clearly, Loke’s understanding of how running with the trike works much more profoundly than previously thought. ‘I never run with the trike without the bar, therefore, the bar is more important than the trike. I must be with the bar to run.’

The bar mounted, we were ready to roll. We set out together for the first time in 16 days. My first ride in 7 days. Loke was crazed. He yodeled, he kangaroo hopped. He wanted to run at full charge.

I didn’t let him. 8 mph was the top speed I permitted. He gave me dirty looks.

Loke pulled with such power I couldn’t tell if I felt stronger or weaker after riding so little the past few weeks. It hardly seemed necessary to pedal up over the bridge across the 55.

The hardest part of the ride was keeping that foot socked. His pulling put so much friction on the foot that the sock would just come off after a short distance. I lost 2 of them just over the 3 miles.

I spent the rest of the day watching him like a hawk. I’m pleased to say though that were was no limping and no yelping.

Today is a rest day for the fuzzy to be sure he doesn’t relapse his injury, whatever it was. He’s not bored at the moment though. He’s at the groomer. When he comes back he’ll be all soft and fluffy white. Hopefully without that yeasty smell as I asked the very nice woman to wash him with the medicated shampoo. Maybe that will even help his foot since he’s allergic to what makes that yeasty smell.



I Waved The White Flag…
December 6, 2015, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

What had started out as a soft goal, somehow turned into a wade-into-battle, hard slog. A fair helping of stubbornness on my part with a leavening of determined and persistent encouragement from my husband. He’s worried that if I don’t make it, I will end the year with a burden of regret and disappointment.

A fair bit has happened since my last post.

After the last rough ride on the 19th, I took a rest. Saturday, November 21st, I set out and hoped to escape from the penned in feeling that doing the same loops over and over and over has inflicted. I had a loop of 30+ miles plotted where I’d head out toward Storvreta, looping south in the direction of Funbo before coming back to Vaksala for the normal leg through there back home. I was doing it because of Jens’ assurances that he’d drop everything and come get Loke when he tired and would go out again to get me if it turned out I decided I couldn’t make it. No complaints.

Here comes the sun!

Here comes the sun!

Just love the light. Missing snow though

Yes, that is frost on the fence.

He’s very good about keeping those promises so, out the door I went. I didn’t get to leave quite as early as I had hoped. I’d planned for about 7:30, half an hour or so before sunrise. Instead, it was a bit after 8 am just as the sun was coming up.

Loke was thrilled. He hopped and yodeled. Of course, the moment I picked up my iPhone it all stopped. He just stood looking at me hopefully. Not sure if he’s camera shy or just knows that if something resembling me taking a photo means we’re not going to move at that moment.

It promised to be a pretty day, though cold. The thermometer at the window said it was about 28 F. That’s deceptive as it’s always warmer in the city and registers warmer still with heat seeping from the walls of the building. I was going to be heading out into the mostly wide-open countryside. Nothing to stop the wind and, even without windchill, about 3-5 degrees colder in winter.

As we headed through our end of Uppsala, past the mosque, and onward north on Vattholma Road, I watched the temperature readout on my Garmin drop. 22 F, 20 F.

I couldn’t stop grinning. With just the fairing and shoe-covers, my feet were snug and toasty. Too toasty it turned out. They got sweaty. At first it wasn’t much of a problem as we continued.

Might be my coldest ride ever.

Might be my coldest ride ever.

The temperature finally bottomed out at 16 F. Even with damp socks, it didn’t impact my feet right away. I felt pretty good. Not too cold and, except for the feet, not too warm. Loke was a furry powerhouse. He jogged along brisk and strong, helping the trike along quite a bit which I appreciated since I was working with those chunky studs.

Pretty even if it should be snowy

Pretty even if it should be snowy

Then something tipped the balance between comfortable and not. Maybe the wind shifted and my speed wasn’t enough to compensate for it coming behind the fairing, so my feet chilled. I’d hoped the footwarmers would be unnecessary. At first it had appeared so, but clearly not. A couple miles outside of Storvreta, it went from uncomfortable to painful. I gritted my teeth, determined to push on to the village at the very least.

Less than 8.5 miles, I had to call it quits. So much for the grand design of 30+ miles for the day which would have been a huge triumph toward the best year ever.

I parked outside the little grocery store in Storvreta where Jens had picked me up last year after a wonderfully, if very windy and harsh, snowy ride.

Loke was so disappointed. So was I for that matter, even as I stood in the heated entry way of the grocery where I stomped my feet and wiggled toes in hopes of easing the ‘twisted off with pliers’ feeling.

The weather continued to be cold, but gorgeously clear. I could have gone out again on Sunday, November 22nd though after how things had gone pear-shaped the previous day, I hesitated to tackle it with 23 F temps. Another task called. I went out in search of wool socks. The ones I’d worn the day before had been standard cotton/poly blend. Not known for moisture wicking or holding warmth when damp.

The problem being it’s hard to find ones that aren’t so thick it’s like wrapping one’s feet in a duvet. The fitting tolerance in my shoes is so small that big, puffy socks constrict the flow of blood. Warm blood bringing heat to my toes and they chill, wool or not. If my feet had enough room to not feel squeezed, the shoes would be too long and put the pressure of the pedals at my tip-toes which causes all sorts of unpleasantness. I have enough of that.

I found a few options that had possibilities. One pair were even very cheap.

Monday, November 23rd, out we went on a river loop to test the socks. The inexpensive ones, which had felt fairly thin, seemed to puff up as soon as they went on. At least they were still thinner than most and I decided to try it.

It was a bit cloudier than it had been on ‘Sock Hunting Day’, but still reported to be about 23 F. Loke was an enthusiastic power assist once more. The Garmin temperature display only dipped to 20 F.

Frozen!

Frozen!

We came down the big hill to the river where I stopped to stare in astonishment. The dark surface of water was frozen clear across! The weather had been cold for several days, but that’s a lot of water. Even if it wasn’t flowing fast at this time of year, it does flow. It had never crossed my mind that all that moving liquid could have chilled enough to let a skin of ice form across it.

Cathedral in the dying light.

Cathedral in the dying light.

Frustratingly, the socks weren’t perfect. Even with fairing and shoe-covers combined to wool, the chill crept in toward the end of the hour. Still an accomplishment in my book that it took that long. In year’s past I would have been good making it 15 minutes even if I’d had foot warmers.

I conceded defeat and promised myself that the footwarmer batteries would be plugged in.

As I came by the Fyris swimhall, sitting right by the river, I spotted three boy frolicking on the ice. Looking about 10 years old, they should have known better. The fact the thin frozen skin held up under their weight was surprising. They stayed close to the bank, about a yard, but from hard experience, I know that would be at least chest deep on them as they plunged not just through ice and water, but a lattice of decaying tree branches as well.

I called out a warning, but they just yelled rude things back and kept on. I wondered if I was going to be hearing about tragedy on the next morning’s news.

Me, Loke and chilly toes arrived back at the storage with 8.09 miles.

Imagining it as snow...

Imagining it as snow…

Masochist that I am, out we went the very next day. The weather had undergone a radical change overnight. The clouds which had been building up through the evening of November 23rd, had thickened further and started sending down a spitting, misty drizzle with temperatures in the low 30’s. It was just cold enough to keep the frost on the overpasses from freezing even with the moisture blowing from the leaden clouds.

From freeze to slush

From freeze to slush

The river wasn’t able to withstand the assault though. The thin skin of ice which had locked the water away just the day before had turned into little flotillas of slush drifting with the current.

It was a miserable ride. Tired legs, my right knee and hip were painful with every pedal turn, it was a bit breezy and, of course, the soft rain that intensified enough to leave me damp. I was well layered in wool which kept me from chilling, but still not a pleasant experience. The good news for that temperature though was that I didn’t need the footwarmers. The fairing did a surprisingly good job of keeping my feet dry too.

My determination to make the miles pushed me out on a longer ride. We headed south to come back up into Uppsala hard along the river on the 12-14 mile loop. 14.48 miles this time.

Loke came home and slept for about an hour. He harassed Jens as soon as the hubby got home from work. Just unstoppable.

November 25th was a rest day. Absolutely necessary.

Pre-dawn. First of the year actually.

Pre-dawn. First of the year actually.

The 26th, I girded for battle early. Loke was out of kibble. Though I had the front studded tires, the lack of snow made me brave. As I’d done the previous two times, Loke’s next bag of kibble was coming home via trike-pulled trailer.

Jens needed the car so he dropped us off at the storage. As it was not even 7:30 am, the sun was only a faint promise of the night sky changing from inky black to deep twilight blue.

The early start seemed to give Loke a particular boost of enthusiasm. Maybe it was the novelty of dark clad scenery. He was all for running as fast as he could if had let him. I think that would be about 15 mph nowadays.

We set out on a standard River Loop, me aiming to finish up at the apartment where we’d wait until about 9:30 or so to give other shops to open. I didn’t think I’d do shopping, but never hurts to have the option.

Grainy iPhone image of foggy field

Grainy iPhone image of foggy field

Light strewn bridge

Light strewn bridge

By the time we emerged from the industrial area and had views across the field, a fog had rolled in. The clouds hung low, hiding the steeple tops of the Uppsala Cathedral. Along the river, the bridge across the water between the swimhall and parking lot had been strewn with lights for the coming Christmas season.

With 4.6 miles right at the start of the day, we stopped at the apartment for about an hour. It gave us both a chance to have breakfast and let it settle before rolling out again.

Cat and Ram

Cat and Ram

Cat and rabbits

Cat and rabbits

On the previous ride through Uppsala, I had discovered a little surprise about one of parks along the railway. I’d already known about the bronze statues of the ram and Shetland pony, but I’d spotted a couple others.

Though it was marked as pedestrian only, I took the little gravel path about 10 yards over. Much to Loke’s annoyance, we went slowly out of respect for any foot traffic that might come along. Also I stopped for photos of each clusters of statues.

It was a veritable petting zoo of bronze. A number of cats, some rabbits and the bronze ram of course. I had to laugh at 3 bronze rats perched on the granite verge between lawn and path.

Finding those animals made me explore the continuation of the park on the other side of the big road, where the pony stands. Alas, there were no more. The pony is all by itself.

The Garmin temp display showed about 32 F. Still one of the warmer days I’d ridden through recently. I still used the footwarmers at one point because my feet got chilly. On the first setting, my feet felt perfectly fine when they would have needed 3 before. Rather, one foot felt perfect, the other began to feel cold after about 5 minutes. A quick glance showed it had turned off. I turned it back on.

2 minutes later, there was no change and I checked it again. Off. Aggravating to say the least. It probably indicated that the rechargeable battery was now dead.

The clouds retreat!

The clouds retreat!

The chill in the foot never made it to the uncomfortable levels. Once at the vet clinic, I bought the dog food and told them about the scare Loke had given us with the tumor. Then I also popped into the working dog shop under the vet’s to hunt for some treats to bribe Loke into the car. They had one bag left of buffalo cubes.

As I left the clinic to go join the river back into the heart of Uppsala, the clouds started to show little gaps of blue here and there. After about 3 miles more, an edge of the cloud mass had rolled back, retreating to the south.

Though the sky became utterly cloudless over head, the lack of sun remained. The angle of it at this time of year is so low that if there are any clouds on the southern horizon, it remains hidden.

Hello? Sun, are you there?

Hello? Sun, are you there?

Kind of frustrating to look up and see clear blue and yet it still feels murky because there’s no sunlight.

As I rolled along the river, Jens called to let me know he was on his way home early. Did I want to just meet up at the storage if our timing was right? At first I told him no because I thought I’d make it home about 40 minutes before he did.

As I reached Uppsala downtown, the last of the clouds cleared away and the sun finally spilled from the heavens. I was only graced with snippets of it because of the buildings clustered around the streets. Frustrating really. I was tiring and the mood boost of sunlight would have done me a world of good.

11-26 f Finally Sun altI failed to account for how those last few miles with 17 lbs of dog food would take their toll and slow me so significantly. When I realized Jens and I would be getting home within 15 minutes of each other, I called back to tell him to just get us from the storage.

The last 2 miles were slow, even with Loke trying to help. My knee ached and my hip hurt most of all. At least I finally did get a little of the sunshine as the last of the distance passed beneath wheels and paws.

After tucking the trike away, the wait for Jens was less than 5 minutes. Fairly perfect timing as far as I was concerned.

19.43 miles for the day’s total. 17 miles of that was more than I’d needed for the week. It knocked off a sizable amount of required miles for the following weeks. I was going to need less than 30 miles over the next 5 weeks.

Friday, November 27th, had to be a rest day. The 19+ miles, 9 of it with the dog food loaded trailer, had left me utterly drained and limping around. I was about to settle in for a blog post, but it was derailed. We were sitting quietly in our sleepy weekend wake-up. Suddenly Loke yelped. I looked over at him, but he was simply standing there. I called him to me and there was no limp. Checked his feet and moved his legs around. No reaction.

Shrugging figuratively, I turned back to start something else. About an hour later, he yelped again.

The rest of the day was spent dealing with vets. First went to our normal vet, but they were so busy they couldn’t fit us in. So, off we went to the animal hospital. When Loke went to jump in the car for the 2nd time, he gave a very pained howl and finally favored his right hind leg.

Without an appointment, I sat and waited for 3 hours. The benches just killed me as I waited for a vet to come along. My hip in particular turned into fire. When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I withdrew our check in and left.

A dreary miserable day.

A dreary miserable day.

Saturday morning started out silent. With the deadline looming for the new week, I pushed myself out the door… solo. It was a miserable day. Gray and spitting rain, above freezing, but not by much. My legs were weak and knees and aching.

Pure stubbornness pushed me on and for some bizarre reason, I decided to do the Ulva/Gamla Uppsala loop which is about 12-14 miles depending on what I add. There was no fun in it. No joy. I was simply turning the pedals to get the miles.

It was also a test of the footwarmer battery. It had sat plugged in for 24 hours all by itself to see if it would take a charge. It worked just fine much to my relief.

14.62 miles when I put the trike back in the storage. Once home, I called the vet clinic to make an appointment for Monday as Loke had yelped a few times during the day.

It was about 3:30 pm. The receptionist said if I could get there by 4, they could see him right away. Off we flew.

Poor Loke. The nice vet pulled, poked and contorted him to check the range of motion. He absolutely did not react. We even wrestled him onto his back on the X-ray table to get images of his hips in a couple positions. All of it inconclusive. She could only guess what might be making him yelp and all of them had the same treatment. A course of anti-inflammatory medications and 2 weeks of strict rest. Very short, slow walks, no running and no jumping.

Snow! Well, slush at least

Snow! Well, slush at least

Not the easiest thing to inflict on a fit husky who thinks he’s still 4 years old. The meds helped. That very evening he went into a frenzy of whirling and spinning that made me want to pull my hair.

The night of the 29th or early hours of the 30th, the unexpected happened. Things had been quite warm for a few days, so it was completely unexpected to find a bit of snow on the grass when I woke up.

My trike only had studded tires on the front, but with everything apparently melting so rapidly I expected that it would be gone before noon.

How wrong I was. Just hours later it started to solidify when the temp started to drop. Before noon I had to dig my studded Icebug boots out of the closet to be able to walk Loke without falling on my rump.

That slush turned to ice complicated things. I needed my rear tire changed to something that could grab ice to propel me. I was feeling much to battered to struggle with the swap. My hip especially was painful. Sitting sprawl-legged on floor would not have been a good thing.

Sun and snow

Sun and snow

Tuesday, December 1st, I started feeling the push to get those miles done before the week ran out yet the ice remained. Jens, flew into action to help. He was going to the train station at around 10:00 am. He encouraged me to call the cycle shop to see if they fit me in for the tire swap. Only 100 kr and saves me a lot of discomfort. Of course they could!

Half an hour after dropping the trike off, they texted me it was ready. I hurriedly dressed for the mid-30 F temps before going to get the trike. Getting ready to ride without looking like I was doing so was a bit of a trick. Loke was already fitful and occasionally nuts even after just a few days of his enforced rest.

Bobby was nice enough to help me lift it into the car.

When I got back to the garage and everything reassembled, plenty of day light remained to get a river loop in. The trike skidded and slipped a bit, but it went forward.

So much nicer than bare, plowed mud!

So much nicer than bare, plowed mud!

It was so very hard. The third studded tire tackling the chunky ice was harsh on legs that already felt weak and painful. Still I pushed on for roughly 8 miles on the River Loop.

This is more like it! More would be better, but still happy!

This is more like it! More would be better, but still happy!

At least it was pretty. Though there was less than an inch of snow, it was enough to have somewhat transformed the landscape and gave a brighter aspect to the weak winter sun.

I still feel like I’d been beaten when I was done. Walking just between the storage and where I parked the car was like staggering the last miles of a marathon. The rides, even with rest days between, were just killing me what with the studded tires, paths choked with gravel and rough ice. I hated it. I hated how much pedaling hurt; my knee, my hip, my feet. Even pretty scenery failed to make the rides enjoyable.

Thursday, December 3rd rushed up and I was still a fair bit short of the miles I needed for the week. I did not want to ride. The muscles in my legs were leaden with fatigue and so much hurt. So many of the rides over the weeks had been struggles in pain.

Snow all gone

Snow all gone

My dissatisfaction reached new heights on the 3rd. I felt angry at the necessity, sullen and downright resentful. The emotions were very much identical to those I experienced when I had a crappy job that tore away bits of my soul with every shift I had to crawl into. A bit less intense perhaps, but otherwise the same.

I needed miles to end the week, so out I went, miserable or no.

Like the previous 4 or more rides, it was hard. Every yard gained was a fight. My cadence and speed both were way down. Originally, the plan was to ride through Uppsala, perhaps stopping at the American food store. Before a mile had passed beneath the wheels, I’d changed my mind. It was going to be the Ulva/Gamla Uppsala loop again.

The reason for the change was simple. Gravel. I would have chose the same if the snow and ice hadn’t practically evaporated overnight during the 2nd and the 3rd. On the 3rd, it was in the upper 30’s to low 40’s. The cycle roads/paths through the city were choked with all the gravel thrown down to offer traction on the ice. The roads and lanes through the countryside, on the other hand, were practically gravel free. Perhaps a pebble here or there, but mostly flat if wet asphalt for most of the way.

Countryside won.

Nothing says Swedish winter like budding leaves

Nothing says Swedish winter like budding leaves

The warmness of the day was disconcerting for December. Out by Ulva mill, I was in for a shock. As I pushed up the hill from the mill stream, a butterfly fluttered by. A BUTTERFLY in DECEMBER. Seriously! I started looking for flowers pushing up, but found none. I felt sorry for the pretty little insect. By the end of the ride, I saw another one and a few may flies besides.

Fluttering warm season insects weren’t the only surprises. As I came the final stretch by some hedges, I noticed buds on many of them and even a few leaves.

The 15.67 miles gave me about 2 miles more than I needed. I finished the week and had knocked down the requirement for the next weeks to below 27.

In spite of the accomplishment, I felt no joy of it. No sense of accomplishment. It had been slow, barely walking speed at times, and everything from my hips down was a fiery pain. I had maybe time for one day of rest before slogging it out again. It just wasn’t enough and I was starting to hate the trike.

Through that evening, I wrestled with my emotions. It wasn’t working. The goal of 1225 was supposed to have been a soft goal. Yet here it felt like I was killing myself by inches for it. Teaching myself to hate what I was supposed to love.

I abruptly announced to Jens, ‘I give up. I’m throwing in the towel or waving the white flag and letting the goal go.’

No sooner than the words were out of my mouth than a deep breath of relief filled my lungs. A heavy weight had been lifted and stress and anxiety evaporated.

December 4th and 5th, I relaxed. I focused on Loke’s short walks and working on this post among other things. Everything except for the trike.

Today, still relaxing, I decided to go for a short ride. No minimum mileage or ticking down distance for the week toward the ultimate goal. Just go out, get moving enough to stave off the neuromuscular pain that appears to rear its ugly head if I go too long without riding.

It was wonderful! My legs felt strong even pushing with all three studded tires and over gravel. No pain. My hip felt great, my knees fluid and free of discomfort. The winds were wild, 25-30 mph with even higher gusts and they drove a fine moisture like the mist from a spray bottle. It didn’t matter. It was crazy warm, perhaps even a new record high for December 6th at about 56 F when I started. I didn’t even have my thin wool on. Just my summer weight cycle clothes. The joy crept back without the pain to chase it away. Even when the mist became a driving rain, stinging like needles where the wind flung it into my face, it was bliss.

I made good time and since it felt so great over the first 3 miles, I headed for downtown Uppsala and popped into the American food store. I arrived back at the storage with 11.8 miles.

Giving up that goal was the best thing I could have done. This is still my 2nd best year ever. Impressive when one considers I had a stroke just a year ago.