Terii’s Cycling Babble

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


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.

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