Terii’s Cycling Babble


End of the 2015!
January 1, 2016, 8:02 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

This has been a crazy year. From struggling to recover from the stroke at the very beginning of it right up attempting to make this the best year ever for my mileage on a recumbent trike. It shows how far I’ve come, recovering those first months that I’ve trounced the mileage in years when I was younger, thinner and nothing so disastrous as a stroke had hit. My best tour ever even if it was a credit card tour. Breaking 1000 miles for the first time since 2008. I’ve pushed limits and comfort zones and come through.

Not bad at all. I don’t even feel the least little twinge of regret over having thrown in the towel pushing for best mileage year on a trike ever.

After so many of my rides being runs on the hamster wheel, I decided to see the year out with a bang. Short daylight hours or not, I was going to tackle another portion of the Mälardalsleden (Mälar Valley’s Route). Jens was fine with driving and had promised to do it for at least a few rides during his holiday vacation. I’d been hesitant with the cold, but it was supposed to be a bit above freezing so, I decided to do it.

I ended up a bit behind schedule as I’d planned to be on the road by 7:30 am to arrive at Bromma Church and have the trike assembled to roll right around sunrise. I wound up loading the trike about that time while Jens finished waking up for the drive. My back gave only one small twinge which wasn’t too bad, thankfully.

According to Jens, Loke stayed by the door, tilting his head at any little sound coming through it and whined after me. Been ages since he’s done that.

Here Comes the Sun!

Here Comes the Sun!

The furball was a bit restless on the drive over. Another indication he was looking forward to the day. I had no qualms about him coming for a while even after the limping incident on the previous ride. He’d been bouncing around fine since and the skin between his paw pads looked pretty much recovered from the infection.

As for me, I was caught between excitement and a bit of nervousness at what lay ahead. While outside the city of Stockholm, I knew I’d be fine. Easy to find a place for pick up and such. In the city, well, that’s a whole new ballgame. Parking is difficult, traffic everywhere and, in spite of cycle lanes everywhere, not very kind place to ride. It’s an old city and like a lot of those, cycle lanes are just kinda squeezed in any which way. I thought I’d mapped a way that stayed mostly to greener parts of the city, but one never knows.

Bromma Church in winter!

Bromma Church in winter!

As we neared Bromma, I was delighted to see more snow than Uppsala had. Once we were at the church and I began pulling the trike out of the car, clearly it was true. I walked through some of it to get a good angle of Bromma Church in a white landscape.

One difficulty about it being warmer than on the previous ride was the snow had turned damp and wanted to pack around the cleats in my cycle shoes. Made for tricky walking a few times.

Heading out into new territory!

Heading out into new territory!

Loke was thrilled to be there. He didn’t yodel or hop, but his eyes were bright and he had the whole husky grin going on as I settled in. His tail was swinging non-stop too. Said bye to the hubby and off we went like a shot in spite of my attempts to keep him from going completely nuts.

I completely understood his frenzy. Though it was only zipping down a little residential street coated in churned snow, I couldn’t stop grinning. It was NOT Uppsala and it felt glorious.

Don’t get me wrong, Uppsala is a beautiful city as cities go, but 100 or more of the 149 rides this year have been the same 3 or 4 loops in and around the city I’ve been doing since first getting a trike in 2006.

Loke became even more fired up when we came to the little park surrounding the puddle they call ‘Kyrksjön’ (The Church Lake).

On the earlier ride to Bromma, we’d come around the west side of lake. This time we cut east, aiming for the first manor house of the day less than 2 miles away. The snow was fairly packed from people walking it, clearly a popular place to stroll particularly with dogs. We sped along at about 9 mph, Loke attempting to pull us even faster. Snow flew up from the right wheel, scattering over my arm and face. Though it wasn’t bright enough to need them, I stopped to put on my sunglasses to keep it out of my eyes.

I stopped to consult the map a couple of times to find the way. It got a little confusing for a moment around the train station. Less than 15 minutes after leaving the church, I rolled to a stop at the drive to Åkeshovs (Åke’s Court) Manor.

Åkehovs Manor

Åkehovs Manor

I’ve noticed that around Stockholm, many of the manors and palaces/castles have free standing wings. Åkeshovs was the same.

Loke waiting impatiently

Loke waiting impatiently

The manor has quite a history in its later years. It has been a house for the wealthy, a place abandoned and plundered, a home for mentally handicapped and even for refugees of the Baltic states during the great wars. Now, it has a more stable existence being used for conferences, weddings and other such gatherings.

I’d planned the route around the grounds, but rather than add to the confusion, I settled for turning the trike around to head back to the street directly. With 3 inches or so of snow, gravel paths and such are quite hard to make out. I didn’t feel like guessing if I was on a path or bouncing my way over lawn that might put me in a spot I would have to turn back anyway.

Loke was still a furry powerhouse as we turned onto the street and began a gentle climb. It was great to see him so happy and enthusiastic. I felt the same way.

Windmill! I know where I am!

Windmill! I know where I am!

I actually felt really good physically. Nothing hurt, my chest felt clear so breathing was no issue. My muscles felt decently strong and lots of stamina. It was as if everything was coming together for a perfect ride.

Looking at my printed maps, I took a turn off the plotted line to aim for a runestone. The change brought me out on a busy 4 lane road above a small park around a small lake named Lill. I was surprised by an unexpected landmark. A windmill.

The site of it helped ground me in knowing more precisely where I was, allowing it to fit into a greater scheme of the surroundings. I associate it with the area around Drottningholms Palace which is a world heritage site and where I ended a ride several years ago. A rather fun ride actually that involved a couple of islands and lots of churches, a few manors and even a ruin.

Still smiling at the mill, I made the turn and began a long slow climb toward where I had a runestone marked. Loke pulled on, trying to hurry me up that hill. I could have gone faster, but my attention was on the right, peering through tangles of thicket, trees and weeds so I wouldn’t miss the stone.

Bromma Burial Ground

Bromma Burial Ground

Uppland Runestone #56

Uppland Runestone #56

Uppland Runestone #56 stood above the cycle path and road. It turns out its position is no accident. There was a sign beside the path of packed down snow leading to the stone. I stopped to read it, discovering that the area was actually an Iron Age burial ground with a few houses thrown in for good measure.

The houses are actually from a village known as ‘Linta’. During prehistoric times, the buildings were located more north of the burial ground. In the medieval times, it seems to have shifted to the south with the foundations of a house just behind the runestone. With the dense mat of grass and snow it wasn’t possible for me to spot any indication of it. Details of the village and burial ground available with the click of the thumbnail. Same of the runestone.

Loke looked a bit confused as I turned the trike around. It happened a lot on this ride. The glide down from the burial ground was fun, though I kept us to about 9 mph max. I wanted to cross the road to the cycle path through the park at the lake side. It turned into quite a hassle. The nearest place to cross was blocked on the far side with about 8 inches of piled slushy ice from plowed snow. I gritted my teeth and bashed through. Perhaps not the wisest course.

Lill Lake 11:30 am. Winter days in Sweden.

Lill Lake 11:30 am. Winter days in Sweden.

Then the first path leading to the one by the lake was blocked by some kind of repairs to something beneath. So was the next. It also appeared that the one after that had the same. Annoyed, I just took off across the featureless white of random bit of snow-buried grass. It wasn’t bad going and Loke absolutely loved it. Grabbing mouthfuls of snow as we went.

The effort was almost for naught. I followed the path around and discovered a tiny bridge. I stopped to evaluated it for several minutes before deciding to try it. My handlebar bag scraped one side and Loke barely had space between the other side and the end of his running bar. A very tight fit and we had to make several turns on it.

Emerged with a sigh of relief which didn’t last long. I made a sharp left turn and my left brake hung up. It’s actually been happening a lot. The cable on the brake jumps out of the seating, clamping the caliper down on the disk with just about every sharp left I take. I have to stop and wrestle it back into the proper seating. I think it has something to do with the cross wiring I had done. When I get the new gear shifts installed, I’ll ask Bobby to put them back. Was a good idea, but not worth the frustration for that tiny bit of extra control over Loke’s pulling in slippery conditions.

From where it was a quick dash across another busy road to climb another hill to the next manor on my map.

Ulfsunda Manor

Ulfsunda Manor

Loke better suck in his gut!

Loke better suck in his gut!

Ulfsunda (once Ulvsunda) sat high on a raised terrace from where I stopped the trike. Loke watched as I walked across a bit of snowy lawn to climb the stairs to the courtyard for the photo. Like many manor houses in the area, it had the free standing wings flanking the main building. Fairly typical of the type with a general sort of history behind it. I came, I saw and dutifully clicked the camera.

Done with the photos, we headed toward the bridge over the tiny little gurgle of water between Lill Lake and an inlet of the Baltic. I’m not sure what is up with the pedestrian/cycle bridges in this area, but woe to anyone who has to walk a bike across one. It was another tight fit for trike and Loke. The furball was happy to pull for hurrying us through.

Across the bridge and onward to the east, it started to feel more urbanized. Fewer houses, more apartment buildings and bigger. Greater mounts of  traffic in smaller spaces. That sort of thing.

If someone is going to illegally paint on a wall, this is the way to go!

If someone is going to illegally paint on a wall, this is the way to go!

A short distance over the bridge, things took an industrial sort of turn. As if to bring home the urban feel, a large wall was covered with a stunning amount of paint. I stopped to admire it. Technically, it’s graffiti, but somehow more. It’s crossed the threshold into urban art. Not something I’d want in my apartment, but I liked it. The sheer amount of detail and little surprises hidden in the apparent chaos of color and shapes. It wasn’t small either. The wall was taller than I could reach and just went on and on for dozens of yards.

It also reminds me of the graffiti art that used to grace one of the pedestrian tunnels. It had that same bold, startling use of color and shape, though perhaps less refined than this. It was there for years until one day, it just wasn’t. Was rather sad to see it go. It brightened up a murky, cement and asphalt hole.

Across the Bay

Across the Bay

Loke, of course, didn’t see the appeal and huffed at me, trying to pull us along.

Beyond there, things got a bit frustrating and confusing. It returned to a path along the water’s edge which was nice, offering views across to the heart of Stockholm. There was no ice as there had been at the first of the ride where it was almost frozen completely across. I even saw a 4 man rowing team stroking rapidly along the rippled surface of the Baltic. A woman stopped to make cooing noises over Loke and admired him. It was slow going being most of the way uphill.

ARRRGHHH!!!!

ARRRGHHH!!!!

The spot I’d marked to make a turn turned out to be a no go. It was a steep stairway up a rock face. There were a little pair of ramps for someone to walk a bike or baby stroller down, but no way for me to get the trike up. The ramps weren’t conveniently spaced for my front tires. I pushed on and hoped for the best.

The best didn’t pan out. Instead it was more of stairs and ramps. I tried it but the trike’s width was not compatible. There was a path going around the side where people rode down rather than bothering with the steps, skirting a street lamp. I eyed it contemplatively, but when I stood up to evaluate the one after that, there was no way I could squeeze the trike through the 2nd… or the third. No help for it, I had to go back.

At least it was downhill. It went quickly which made Loke happy even if not quite quick enough to be perfect in his furry mind.

I zig-zagged around until finding a combination of roads that connected me to the bigger road with the bridge I needed to make it across the inlet.

Sometimes the climb is worth it!

Sometimes the climb is worth it!

There was a good cycle way next to the road right over the bridge and separated from the traffic by a sturdy metal railing with concrete pillars. It was a slow climb as I wasn’t going to push my knees. I wanted them good till the end. It was quite breezy at the top. I had to steady the camera on the railing when I stood up to get a photo.

Too neat!

Too neat!

Of course, Loke (aka furry freight engine) tried his best to lead the way down the bridge at a full charge. Kept giving me dirty looks. I feel bad not letting him run, but better that then mysteriously yelping. I didn’t like that at all.

It took me studying the maps between Garmin and print out to figure where I needed to go next. Finally, I found the connecting cycle way and was happily pedaling along the water side again. Right off though was a hideously steep climb, likely the worst of the ride. If it was less than 18% I’d be surprised and it just wouldn’t end! I don’t see how people spin up hills because there simply was no spinning. It was pure force on the pedals that moved me forward.

I stopped at one point to catch my breath. A couple, about in their 50’s, came walking down the hill. The woman stopped and looked at the trike. ‘That looks heavy,’ she said. I answered that it was a bit. Then she asked if the dog helped. I replied he did sometimes, but being almost 11 years old, he wasn’t as strong as he used to be. Then she surprised me with, ‘Would you like me to help?’. I laughed and assured her I was fine and would make it up one way or another. She looked dubious, asking if I was certain, before walking on.

I have the feeling that she thought I was handicapped actually. Still was a kind thing she offered.

The downhill, as always was nice. I enjoyed the weak winter sun that found its way through the clouds and enjoyed the views.

Hufvudsat Manor on high

Hufvudsat Manor on high

Then the cycle path ended. Barricades blocked the way along the water’s edge, reserved for pedestrians. I looked where the cycle sign pointed and frowned at the climb. Rebel that I am, I decided to go down the pedestrian way as there was enough room to squeeze the trike through. I went slowly, actually picking a pair of women who had a brisk walking pace to match speed with.

Glad I went that way because I was able to photograph my third manor house of the day. Admittedly not the most flattering angle for it. It is probably the smallest of the manor houses of the day.

Well, I'll be!

Well, I’ll be!

A bit further on, it was time to squeeze through another set of barriers into a park area. The cycle path was set back from the water. People were all out walking and enjoying the day. I came to an intersection of paths and did a double take. Ponies. One does not expect to see ponies happily munching hay in a fenced area a stone’s throw from the heart of Sweden’s largest city.

The photo is the largest of the bunch, the others were round little Shetlands all facing away so the only thing to see was horsey rumps.

Just short distance after the ponies, things got complicated, stressful and confusing. We left behind any semblance of bucolic bliss. There were still trees around, but more and more concrete and roads and looming buildings or overpasses. At one point, I started up a ramp that doubled around and took me firmly away from any view of water. Pretty impressive for a city made of islands.

It was startled when I realized it was a semi-familiar place. I’d ridden down the road below with Jens many times and it used to be the site of a rabbit colony.

A miscalculation...

A miscalculation…

Yes, rabbit colony. It was a grassy spot wedged between two busy roads where people had dumped pet rabbits. The predictable thing happened when one has a rabbit population of mixed genders. The tiny wedge of dirt was riddled with rabbit burrows and one could often see a dozen or more hopping around. There were even people who would come to leave vegetable leftovers and armfuls of hay to keep them from starving. Then some work was done on the roads there and the colony was removed. No more grassy spot, no more bunnies.

I was nervous as the ramp took us down into a tunnel underpass. This was into the beating heart of Stockholm.

It didn’t start out too bad once I came out of the tunnel. I found myself on some city streets, but made a turn toward the water where a cycle path led on beside a road and under an even larger one raised up high. The city planners for central Stockholm took lessons from M.C. Escher I swear. You go up, over, under, around, and through to get where you need to go.

The ride which had been so awesome suddenly became more of a struggle. Loke limped. With the traffic roaring along beside, I stopped to look. The sight of angry, oozy looking flesh had me glancing around desperately for a spot Jens could pick him up at the very least. Nothing. The foot had looked fine before the ride. The only thing I could think of was perhaps road salt had been too much for skin not yet completely recovered from the infection. I rinsed it from my water bottle and we went on very slowly.

He didn’t limp again, but I was still fretful.

Then my body decided to join in the fun! My right ankle seized up like it sometimes does. It’s like the tendons in the front and top of the foot pull tight and don’t want to let my foot flex. Attempting to do so makes me see stars and putting weight on it is nearly impossible. It doesn’t do it as much as it used to. This is the first time in months it’s happened. This was the first time it had ever happened on the trike.

Oh, yes. The ride became harsh. No where for Jens to get Loke though at least the fuzzy wasn’t limping any more, but pedaling made me want to scream. Then of course, I had to stop frequently to get up and rinse Loke’s paw which is hard when one has only one working foot.

Karlbergs Palace

Karlbergs Palace

I had a moment’s respite when I came to the last ‘slott’ of the day. Slott means ‘castle’ in Swedish kinda. It applies to palaces and manor houses mostly. A castle used in the sense of a defensive fortress is generally called a ‘borg’. Karlberg is huge. Mostly it’s because the central manor building is dwarfed by a pair of long wings to either side. It turns out these are a later addition from the 1700’s because it had been  used as military academy and needed more space for the cadets. It still serves that purpose today.

There was a runestone on the grounds of the palace too, but when I saw the gravel/snowy climb I had to make to look for it, there was no way. My ankle was far too painful to put that kind of pressure on it.

Parliament Building in Stockholm

Parliament Building in Stockholm

Onward! Right into the busiest, most confusing for a bike, part of Stockholm. Street side parking was packed, no space to wedge the trike in let alone the car for me to load the trike. I rolled down cycle lanes that were squeezed in between high curbs and traffic. The paths disappeared at random moments, generally associated with bus stops. Other times they were marked right between two lanes of traffic. I had to stop to ease the trike down or up curbs. Stop to drag it around in another direction when my foot could hardly bear my weight. Sometimes a stab of pain about toppled me.

I became frustrated and exhausted trying to figure out which way I couldn’t or could go and find a place where Jens could find us. I was in too much pain and frustration to enjoy finally riding in Stockholm and take photos. It didn’t help that I was on the north side of everything interesting which put the sun behind thing. Not good for photos.

Stockholm's City Hall

Stockholm’s City Hall

Finally, I aimed for Stockholm’s city hall.

The city hall in Stockholm is probably one of the most famous of it’s buildings. Every year it hosts the lavish dinner for the ceremony of handing out Nobel prizes. All the prizes, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, are handed out in Sweden. The peace one is given to it’s recipient in Norway.

Tucked at one end of the city hall, I found a tiny parking lot, mostly empty oddly. I called Jens and waited.

He made it there fairly quick, having stayed around the city for the day. He explored the new Mall of Scandinavia which he found intriguing. Lots of unfamiliar stores and the higher end restaurants really intrigued him.

Thankfully (and annoyingly), my ankle had finally loosened up so I was able to dismantle the trike and load it. I snugged down into a heated car seat and we made the drive home.

Once back at the apartment, Loke was a crazed bundled of energy. 13+ miles and a paw that looked like raw meat, yet he harassed Jens for walkies. He bugged me to play. He tossed around his moose-hide rawhide. He play-bowed at me. Loke does not play-bow! When he wasn’t doing that, he was putting his head on my leg or arm and staring at me woefully. If I tried to ignore him, he’d nudge.

Jens and I both went to bed early, weary from the day. So, the new year just had to come in without us. I even slept like the dead through the midnight crescendo of fireworks. It was loud enough to wake Jens who can generally sleep through anything. Me, who can wake up just from the sound of Loke licking his foot, slumbered blissfully through it. Loke apparently paced around, a bit nervous from it, but not afraid as he’s been in past years.

I’d resolved to begin the year on a ride too.

It was gray today, but a bit warmer than yesterday at 36 F. Around noon I started pulling on the layers I needed. Then I marched out to the car to unload and assemble the trike. The plan was to take Loke for a very short jaunt between apartment and storage where I’d decide if I wanted to go home or ride a bit more.

Bar attached to the seat, seat on the trike, bags settled on the seat to go back to storage. Then I grabbed the fairing to mount it. I slid it in place and went to tighten the bolt on the collar clamp… which was not there. No collar clamp.

I immediately looked through every corner of the back part of the car, shaking everything out that could be moved. Nothing. That meant the only place the clamp could possibly be is laying somewhere in the parking lot at the Stockholm city hall.

I was furious. This was not how I wanted to start 2016. I stomped back inside to get a cap and of course my ankle decided to seize up again briefly. Oh, yes. Lovely start to the new year.

I still went out. My feet got a bit chilled, but not too badly. As for Loke? He wanted to go as if he were 4 years old. He put his head down and pulled determinedly at a 9 mph jog, giving me sidelong glances as if wondering if he dared attempt to go into lope. His foot had looked pretty bad before the first cleaning of the morning, but he gave no sign it bothers him.

Because of that, I gave him a bit more distance than the mile and a half I’d originally planned. We rolled to a stop at the storage with 2.63 miles for the first of 2016. Not a lot, but it’s a start.

Now, here’s hoping that tomorrow when the shops open, I can find a replacement collar clamp. If that doesn’t happen, I’d prefer winter went into hiding like it was for much of December or freezing toes will jinx many a ride in the coming weeks.

With the passing of New Year’s Eve, here are the stats for 2015:

Miles in 2015 – 1,185

Tours – 1

Runestones – 39

Ruins – 5

Burial Grounds – 4

Castle/Manor Houses – 19

Churches – 20

Church Interiors – 3

Old Town Centers/Farmsteads – 6

I had no idea I’d found so many runestones.

Now, let’s see what I can do with 2016!

 

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