Terii’s Cycling Babble

Yay for Winter!
January 13, 2016, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Once it came, winter has been pretty nice. The rides are more challenging on several levels, but the radical change in the scenery lifts my spirits and makes it seem like a whole new place.

As mentioned in the last post, we had a few days of temps between 0 F to -1 F where I just couldn’t summon the courage to ride. I’m still learning the limits of my current trike set up against cold. I’m confident of temps in the low 20’s, even upper teens, but going from testing my rides in that to attempting rides in sub-zero with nothing in between? I value my toes too much for that.

So, when I checked the temperature at 10 am on January 8th and discovered 23 F, I flew into action. After 5 days of idleness I was not going to let a chance to ride in proven temperatures slide by.

Thankfully, Jens was home so leaving Loke, sad faced and disappointed, wasn’t a huge issue. I felt guilty, but at least with the hubby there he wouldn’t be howling the walls down.

There was a lot of snow. It made getting the trike out of storage challenging. The long ramp had a blanket of more than 2 inches. The walk between the car and storage and then back up the ramp pushing the trike meant I had chunks of ice around the cleats making my footing wobbly as well as slick. Somehow, I managed to not kill myself.

Yay! Proper snow!!!

Yay! Proper snow!!!

It’s a lot more work to ride in snow, but still, I love it.

Within a couple minutes of starting out, I had a bit of an adventure. I made the turn after coming down the first road from the storage. As I came by the school, there was a perfect storm of activity. Two cars came toward me from opposite directions and three people were walking their dogs along a 50 meter stretch.

Right at that moment, a bell rang at the school and a hare leaped out of a snowy hedge in complete panic. The dogs, of course went nuts, and the cars slowed to work out how to politely get by me. I guess me, being smaller than a car, lacking a dog and not standing at my full height seemed less of a threat to the critter. It came part way out into the road, boxed by dogs and cars, and flung itself at me. It smacked right into the fairing. Then it bounced almost 3 feet in the air and tried to take off. One of the dogs lunged, snarling and it whirled, ricocheting off my fairing again.

By then, the cars were past and the poor thing bolted toward the fenced area with the garden plots, squeezing through the gate in the chain link.

All I could do was stare in amazement as the people with dogs laughed at the comical situation. I’d never seen a hare so close. 9 or 10 feet away was the nearest I’d ever been to previously. Honestly, I was glad that the fairing had prevented an even closer look. A panicked wild animal the size of a cat running up my belly, chest and face doesn’t sound like a good time.

Bemused, I went on.

About halfway through the River Loop, I decided to do an errand while I was out. My right twist grip shifter gives a crunchy sort of slipping click when going into gear 2 instead of a crisp snap. My guess is one of the teeth in the workings is worn down or chipped. I want to get it replaced before it becomes an issue.

Under-pavement heating. No other explanation!

Under-pavement heating. No other explanation!

As I took the cycle way along side the 272, I’ve come to a conclusion about the stretch that runs from the light industrial area and beyond the on-ramp of the 55. It’s heated. That’s the only conclusion I can come up with for why it is always so clear of snow when every other path in the area is buried under about an inch of ice and snow even after having been plowed. I was even curious enough to test that theory by pulling my glove off and putting my hand on it.

It didn’t feel warm, but certainly not bone-chilling sub-freezing either. Salt wouldn’t explain it as it was too cold for it to work. That leaves heated. I’m a bit baffled as to why when no other path I know of has been outfitted thusly. Makes for easier riding for that quarter mile section which means I get through the tedium of it faster.

Bobby, the mechanic, at the cycle shop was just setting out a bike when I rolled up. He greeted me and asked what I needed as I got up. I explained and he took a look at what I have. While looking at the computer to pick a replacement, I mentioned that we probably had to swap my gear cables back to normal alignment. I described how on sharp left turns the cable going from right lever to left brake comes unseated at the brake, locking it up

He nodded. Then he said, ‘I was thinking though, maybe it would help if you could stop both brakes with one hand? I could set up a ‘Y’  split on hydraulic lines.’

Lotten (I hope I’m spelling her name right) was walking by at the moment. ‘Yeah! You were talking about that a few days ago! How it would still leave her with the right hand to grab the husky’s harness if needed.’

You know, hearing that they actually keep me, Loke and my trike in mind when it’s not in need of immediate service gave me a warm glow. Solving potential future difficulties. To me that’s just a sign of an awesome local shop.

I told Bobby I’d think about it while waiting for the new grip shifters to arrive. More on that later.

I arrived back at the storage with a whopping 5.03 miles. Still fairly significant though. It also left me with less than 1 mile remaining to beat the total mileage in January 2015.

Saturday and Sunday (9th and 10th), I didn’t ride. I don’t think it was particularly cold. It did snow. That I do remember. It seemed every time I looked out the window or went out with Loke, it was snowing. Bits small as sand grains that hardly swirled at all and times with it was big feathery clumps that swirled in the faintest movement of air.

*nudge, nudge, nudge*

*nudge, nudge, nudge*

As for Loke, he was a complete pest. Jens took him for walks with socks on his foot. Long walks even. Still was not enough for the furry one. Every little movement on our part had him lunging violently to his feet, his expression hopeful. When my husband would get ready to take him for a walk, he’d go tearing around the apartment, spinning in circles and bunching rugs up against walls as he skidded to and fro.

Sunday, January 10th, he was driving me completely batty.

Jens left for a business trip to Denmark on Sunday, which made Loke’s harassment of me more surprising. Usually, he becomes calmer if Jens isn’t home. I was intending to wait until Monday, January 11th before taking him for a run, giving the antibiotics at least a week to work and see how much the foot healed.

If not for a 24 hour tummy flu, he would have gotten a run on Sunday. He woofed at me… loudly and repeatedly. He stomped his feet. He did the trick where he magically made his head weigh 100 lbs as it rested on my arm while attempting to type. A pretty interesting skill for a 50 lb dog. He pawed at me, trying to knock things out of my hands. Kisses, lots of kisses, which with Loke means smashing his wet, cold nose into one’s face, usually landing in an eye. Once, even he jumped on the couch to sit on my chest as I laid, curled miserably under a blanket while watching TV. I chased him away to one of his beds for that stunt. He left me alone for a whole 10 minutes.

He was making it absolutely clear that walkies were not enough. Not even the 4 mile ones Jens had done with him in the days before. If not for being sick, I would have relented just to get some peace!

'Can we go?! Can we go?! Can we....'

‘Can we go?! Can we go?! Can we….’

Thankfully, I was feeling quite a bit better when I woke up on Monday, January 11th. For a wonder, Loke let me yawn and have breakfast in peace before starting his ‘I’m going insane if you don’t run me!’ antics. It wasn’t until about 6 am that the weight of his head came down on my arm and the nudging began to escalate into other annoyances.

To be fair, I don’t get angry at him for stuff like this. He’s nailed his food puzzles to under a minute so they’re not enough to work his mind now. I try to play with him, but he ignores tossed balls or tug-ropes in preference of hopeful stares with a wagging tail and glances at his harness and door. It had been a week since he last got to run. He’s a husky and has energy galore even at his age. So, as long as it doesn’t cause me pain or break things, I laugh.

As for his foot? It looked better. Not 100%, but enough that he would be fine if I kept a sock on him and out of road salt as much as possible. We were gonna go.

Since the snatch and grab theft of my rear cycle light last month, I’ve not replaced it. Because of that, I was determined to wait for daylight enouth that police officers wouldn’t decide to cite me for its lack. The thick clouds meant I had to wait a bit after sunrise.

About the time I decided it was time to get ready, I noticed the patter of melt water from the window sills outside. A quick check showed temps of 33 F and a rain/snow mix. Oh joy. Yet, Loke was not to be denied.

He went completely berserk as I started getting ready. He stopped short of bouncing off the walls, but not by much. When he wasn’t streaking around hysterically, he was determinedly staying in my line of sight and trying to keep eye contact. It’s hard to collect clothing and otherwise get dressed with a husky stubbornly moving around to stay sitting at one’s feet and staring into one’s face. When I escaped to the bathroom to dress faster with him out of the way, he whined and even pawed at the door.

With the snow being so wet, I decided to go to the storage in my Icebug (studded) boots rather than attempting messy suicide by walking in shoes with SPD cleats. Two inches or more of snow was on the ramp, so I annoyed Loke by grabbing the snow shovel and got to work clearing the path. Less snow to collect in the cleats and less to push the trike through to the top. Hard work, but warmed me up.

It also gave the rain/snow time to stop. At the very least we’d be able to start the ride dry.

The first half mile of the ride was… interesting. Firstly, Loke pulled like an entire team of Iditarod running huskies. Secondly, the 2+ inches of wet snow was very like damp sand, but with an extra slip factor. Loke’s yanking added to the skittering of the wheels so the trike fish-tailed to and fro unpredictably like a drunken salmon going up stream even though our speed barely hit 4 mph in spite of Loke’s crazed efforts.

Seriously? Someone tried skiing on it?!

Seriously? Someone tried skiing on it?!

It was easier once we left the road for the cycle path across the 55. The snow had less of that packed yet churned quality so it acted less like damp sand. Traction was better and less slippy. We still weren’t very fast even coming down the big hill toward the river. Hit only about 6 mph there.

Crossing the Fyris River, I was surprised to find it thawing. After the days of deep cold, I would have thought it would take more than a few hours above freezing, but clearly I was wrong. More disturbing were the apparent tracks of cross-country skis and what looked like a spot where they’d broken through the ice. It’s hard to see in the photo, but it was plain as day as I looked at it.

Happy Husky!

Happy Husky!

I took a right to follow the river upstream. The spot by the bridge wasn’t the only one with a melt patch where something had fallen through the rotted ice. Given that there were almost always tracks of hares or foxes around them, I felt sorry for the poor creatures and hoped they’d managed to escape the cold grip that could have pulled them under.

Loke was unstoppable. His last run which was the most recent leg of the Mälardalsleden, taking us into the heart of Stockholm, he’d pulled the entire way. It felt like there wasn’t a single moment on that ride when he allowed slack in the tether, even when he started limping.

Hard work to ride the hidden paths

Hard work to ride the hidden paths

That was nothing compared to the sheer power he was putting through the running bar on January 11th. He hasn’t run with that much determination, especially on the local loops, in years. It was as if the clock had turned back 5 years or more!

In spite of his powerhouse pulling and me spinning the pedals like a mad woman, our speed remained quite low. The rear tire slipped quite a bit even on flat ground and it was hard to push through 2 inches or more of wet snow. For the entire 5.3 miles, we barely averaged a 4 mph pace according to my Garmin. Pretty sure if Loke had been his usual not-pulling self the average would have been 3 mph or less.

I tried though. Even at those low speeds, it was one of my best rides in terms of average cadence.

And the temp continued to climb. I actually stripped off one of the underlayers on my torso and put away cap and gloves. Never needed to turn on my footwarmers either. Even with windchill it was above freezing.

Looks like rain.

Looks like rain.

The last mile and a half, the sky darkened further off to the west. The ride started to feel like a slow motion race as I was pretty sure the deep slate gray clouds would be more likely to dump rain on us than snow.

We made it back to storage dry.

Back at the apartment, I expected Loke to continue his antics. We’d only managed 5.3 miles after all. True, he had pulled like a champion for every foot of it. It must have been enough because the evening passed remarkably quiet, Loke laying like a content rug in the middle of the living room floor.

As the evening went on, it got even warmer and the rain came with only a few flakes of snow. It turned into a flash thaw of paved surfaces. Grassy areas kept snow fine, but the side walks and roads turned to slush and by the time it was 9 pm, even most of the slush was gone.

It didn’t last. The high temp for January 12th was shortly after midnight. By the time I woke, it was about 28 F and we had almost 2 inches of fresh snow laying over what had been slush and water.

The short run on the 11th apparently won me a 22 hour reprieve. It was about that long since finishing the ride that Loke started pestering me again. He wasn’t as intense as before about it, but still quite insistent. I started dragging on the layers and we headed off for the storage about 12:45 pm.

It was snowing right up to the moment I started shoveling the ramp again. Just the grainy, sand like type rather than swirling fluffy feathers. Loke yodeled and yapped at me impatiently as I worked.

There was a woman with a pair of dogs at the top of the ramp when I got everything up. Loke almost dragged the trike right over to them. As I sat down, I discovered my Garmin wasn’t with me. Annoyed, I considered either putting stuff back in the storage to go get it, but I really didn’t want to wrestle with the cycle shoes again or deal with ice chunks on the cleats.

My solution, while not elegant did solve the problem of calculating distance for my tracking. I would do the exact route I’d done the day before. 5.3 miles. Loke, still wound up from the other dogs, yanked us off like a shot when I loosed the parking break.

In spite of the melt, refreeze, and fresh inches of snow, the first half mile went vastly better than the day before. We sped along and the trike hardly skittered at all. I can’t say exactly how much faster it was, but it was definitely faster. Loke’s tongue flopped in a joyful husky grin even though it was the same ground. He also pulled like a furry freight engine. I found a smile on my face that stayed with me the whole way.

1:30 pm in Sweden in January.

1:30 pm in Sweden in January.

As we rolled along by the refrozen river, the wind kicked up stronger, coming from the east and carried dust like snow, but to the south west, the sun found a break in the clouds. Weak in spite of it being about 1:15 pm, shining through the snow swirling around us, it was welcome. It’s been a while since it has shown itself though at least all the white on the ground and draping the trees makes gray skies less dismal. I can’t remember the last time we had clear, or even mostly clear skies.

With the increased wind, I stopped to turn on my footwarmers as it became unpleasant for my tootsies.

Snowing and sun shine. Love it!

Snowing and sun shine. Love it!

It was a good thing I’d not planned on a longer ride. Less than a minute after turning them on, they were dead. No warmth for the feet. The wind angle was bad and my feet got colder. Then uncomfortable. Finally even painful as I rushed us home. Loke was happy to accommodate. The tip of my right big toe was extremely unhappy by the time we rolled back to the storage.

Not a bad ride though I was annoyed that I’d forgotten my Garmin and that the warmer batteries had run out.

As for Loke? About half an hour later he was bugging me again. It seems he’d decided that 5 miles was no longer going to cut it.

I wasn’t budging though. No way was I going to go out again as the sun was setting with no heat for the feet. Instead I dragged Loke into the bathroom to wash any possible road salt off his feet as I’d done the day before.

After that indiginity he left me be so I could enjoy a nice pot of strawberry/lime Rooibos tea. Outside, the last of the sun struggled through the swirling snow and turned the entire world into a gorgeous shade of rosy red. It was as if I looked through pink tinted windows. Nature is amazing.

Resting today. It’s about 26 F, stiff winds and a lot of snow. About 4 inches over what we had already. It’s still coming down. It should be interesting if I ride tomorrow. Hopefully won’t forget my Garmin.

Oh! As of the ride on the 11th, I have already gone further in January 2016 than I did in January 2015 and still 2 more weeks left in the month!

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