Terii’s Cycling Babble

Must Keep Riding!
January 22, 2016, 7:20 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

After our last outing on January 12th, the temperatures took another plunge into the single digits. Even around or below 0 F for one day, I think. Annoying really as it also became some of the most beautiful looking weather we’d had in weeks or even more than a month. Skies of flawless blue and sun shining brilliantly on all that fluffy white. Too cold for me to ride in though. Not until I figure out new ways to endure it.

The one pretty day that was warm enough for me to have ridden in turned into too much of a fiasco. Too much stuff to do with bad timing that wasted the daylight hours. Most of it involving Loke.

A husky in an Ikea bag.

A husky in an Ikea bag.

Monday, January 18th, it was back to the vet to get a follow up on Loke’s foot and to get his face checked. The last time he had issue with infections and the like, when we were seeing the doggie dermatologist, he’d gotten an outbreak around his mouth on the left side. Well, that’s back. So the nice Scottish accented vet shaved it.

With fur, it hadn’t looked so bad. An slightly reddened and swollen looking area about the size of a dime beneath the white hair. As the razor worked, it found more and more angry, puffy skin that stretched for inches around his lips. I was dismayed. The vet took a scraping, found no trace of yeast or bacteria so no idea why. It might be a reaction to the antibiotics themselves or, joy of joy, maybe he’s now allergic to reindeer or rabbit. If that’s the case, just a few more allergies and Loke will be nominated for ‘bubble dog’.

While his foot is looking much better, it was decided he should take the antibiotics for another week to be sure we’ve beaten the problem.

Oddly, Loke was pretty calm over the 6 days without running beside the trike.

Naturally, the clouds had returned by time temperature and circumstances came together in such a fashion that a ride was possible just the very next day, January 19th.

Hell. That is the only way to describe the ride. Pure and complete hell.

The first thing to do was to shovel what bit of snow had fallen since the last time I’d chucked it aside. The texture was strange, like slippery granulated sugar. At the bottom of the ramp. Loke woofed and sighed at me. As I worked, I didn’t like the ache that appeared in my shoulders and arms. It was very much like ‘post stroke muscular neurological’ pain.

Finally the ramp was clear enough, so I went to put my shoes on. Weirdly, my left shoe felt very tight, as if my foot has swollen or the laces had shrunk. I tried taking it off and on, loosening the laces several times, but it just wouldn’t fit more like it always used to. With Loke so wound up, I couldn’t just go back to the apartment. I had to take him for a few miles at least.

Off we went. The roll resistance wasn’t bad as the snow on pavement had time to be packed down or moved aside. Loke pulled furiously. Before we’d even finished the first mile, I was in agony. Pain had bloomed in my left foot, coming in sharp bursts through the ball of it and spiking up the back of my leg. By then we were at the bottom of the hill with the bridge across the river, Jens in Stockholm without the car so no rescue. It would have felt silly, needing him to come get me less than 2 miles from home even if he’d had the car. There was no help for it but to push on, hoping it would pass.

It didn’t. My foot felt as if it were squeezed in a vice while wrapped in a bag full of nettles or pot of scalding water. Just a weird combination of crushing and burning sensation. It was enough to bring tears to my eyes and I finally had to unclip and straighten my leg. The pain slowly eased slightly and I just held my foot up as inertia and Loke’s efforts rolled the trike onward for another 150 yards or so. I reclipped and the pain came surging back. It was strange. Even just being clipped to the pedals, without pedaling was agony.

The ride was less than 4 miles, limping along in that fashion. I’d pedal as long as I could endure it, then unclip while Loke, my hero of the hour, kept the wheels rolling as best as he could.

No photos. All my attention was taken up with ‘..uch.. ouch… ouch.. Ouch… OUCH.. EFFIN OUCH!! LET IT STOP!!

I just wanted it over with. So, as I said, less than 4 miles. It still took us almost an hour and a half. If Loke hadn’t been such a champion, pulling with more strength and determination than he’s displayed in years, it would have taken us more than 2 hours. Once I was off the trike and walking back to the car, it started to fade, but I was drenched in sweat and drained from the experience.

The burning feel was very much like what I experienced the first weeks and months after the stroke. Clearly, I wasn’t riding enough. Too many days between my infrequent rides. Walking with Loke and trips to the gym just don’t seem to hold it at bay. Something about cycling puts the neuromuscular pain to rest as long as I keep at it.

The indignity!

The indignity!

January 20th, I was feeling too sick to go for a ride. Chills and fever mostly. Couldn’t get warm for anything.

As for Loke, his mouth started itching worse. He would start scratching with such determination, the only way to get him to stop was by throwing myself across the room to grab his furiously scratching foot. Even with me doing that, he started drawing blood and there was no  help for it. Out came the ‘cone of shame’.

He keeps giving me dirty looks via side glances through the plastic.

Yesterday, January 21st, I started to get ready for a ride, as much for his sake as mine. I dreaded it, afraid it would be as painful as the previous.

Loke was excited. He tried to bounce around, but wound up blundering into everything thanks to the radar dish around his head. When I took it off to put his harness on and us go right out the door, he still tried to scratch, lifting that hind leg and staring at me apologetically as it came up toward his tilted head.

Amazingly, as I worked to brush away more snow from the ramp, he didn’t try to scratch where he waited for me. That waited until I was putting the shoes on. The left shoe didn’t feel as weirdly tight this time.

As I sat down in the trike, I discovered that my Garmin was still mounted to the handlebar. Completely and utterly dead. Fortunately, I had my ‘battery brick’ and the charge cable. It came on and I’d not stopped it recording after the nightmare ride. Oddly, it insisted that my less than 4 mile crawl was over 9 miles with an average speed of 0.8 mph during 11 hours and 40-ish minutes. Weird. I reset it for the new ride.

When I clipped in and loosed the brake, Loke tried to pull us off like a shot.

When hoarfrost and winter-bare tree come together

When hoarfrost and winter-bare tree come together

I must admit, Loke’s recent enthusiasm is nice and makes me smile though I find it quite strange. When he was a young fireball, he pulled quite a bit, or at least kept enough tension in the tether so it didn’t jingle. From about age 5 until recent, he was content to just keep up, the harness clip chiming like a bell against the ‘D’ ring of his harness with the slack. His pulling saved for getting me up hills quicker or the odd emergency or appearance of small animal triggering his prey drive.

Since late December though, he’s been pulling constant and at least an extra inch of tether drawn out of the spring bar. It’s like he’s 3 again, even if slower than when he really was 3 years old.

Hoarfrost and voila! A dead weed is beautiful!

Hoarfrost and voila! A dead weed is beautiful!

As on the last ride, the nature of the ride revealed itself before we’d finished the first mile. Unlike the last, it was a complete one 180. Pain free, except for the cold wind biting harshly into my cheeks. I felt strong as I rolled briskly along with a happy husky bounding beside me. I was smiling as much as Loke was.

From the start, the hoarfrost feathering the trees in the garden colony surprised me. As I made the turn to follow the river upstream for a bit, the amount of it only increased. It made the naked limbs of the trees appear to be leafed in white. The winter-dead stalks of weeds stubbornly remaining upright and tall were covered with it as well, mundane made magical. Such a pretty day, even when the sun’s pitiful attempts to come out failed.

01-21 c Gray Skies White Ground 2 alt

Colorless, but pretty!

Clouds hung gray overhead and there was almost no color around us as we cruised along. Yet, thanks to snow hiding mud-black fields and hoarfrost casting an illusion of leaves and white flowers on trees and stalks, it was a stunningly beautiful day. I smiled to be a part of it. Its spell had made the boring tedium of doing the River Loop for what must be the 10,000th time, as magical as riding somewhere new.

A little husky beard of ice

A little husky beard of ice

I thought about riding further than the 5-7 miles of the River Loop, but that wind! Without the mask, my cheeks hurt and there were still things that needed done at home. I must remember to find my face mask. Not sure where it got stored. It’s been a while since I’ve needed it.

We had about 7.6 miles beneath tires and paws when we came back to the storage.

Arriving home, I did a good deed. One of the neighbors who shares our little 8 car parking lot had his hood up. He’s in his 50’s, small wiry looking man who has always had a cheerful wave when our paths cross. As I got out of the car, he came over and asked if I had time to help. He’d been away for 3 months, visiting his son in Greece and his car battery had died. He was very anxious about not being a bother even as he asked for my help.

Of course I’d help if he had jumper cables. He did and we got things connected. I joked with him about how he’d missed the -23 C temps we’d had, which is probably what killed his battery. It turned into chaos when the key broke off in the ignition and the back of car wouldn’t open with it turned into the ‘on’ position so he could fetch pliers to get it out. We solved it. Unfortunately, his battery was too far gone to be revived.

Still, he was very grateful and even hugged me for being so nice. I only did what neighbors should do.

Loke only tried to scratch once while waiting in the car during all this.

I realized something later last night while trimming an inch off the cone of shame to make Loke’s life a bit easier. With yesterday’s ride of 7.6 -ish miles, I’d accrued more than double the the distance covered in January 2015 and still more than a week to go. Not bad for so few rides thanks to record low temps!


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