Terii’s Cycling Babble

Hamster Tracks & Itchy Husky
January 27, 2016, 8:22 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

That’s what the past days since my last post amount to.

By the time I started getting ready to ride on January 23rd, the window thermometer displayed 25.5 F which was about 8 degrees warmer than during the ride on January 21st. The skies were a heavy gray, but the snow brightened things. Rather whimsically, I decided to do a loop through Uppsala with a specific purpose in mind.

I share photos and ride reports on a Facebook group for ‘bent trikes. One of the other members had commented on a previous post about how many of my photos reminded him of the movie, ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ with Daniel Craig. I had to laugh about that and shared the fact that part of the movie had been shot right in downtown Uppsala. I decided I’d go take photos of it to share with the sharp-eyed member.

The ride was an opportunity for Loke to have some time away from the cone of shame, something we both desperately needed.

It was nice, not needing to shovel the ramp, but we’d had no fresh snow.

Northern end of Uppsala Castle

Northern end of Uppsala Castle

Loke pulled like a champ, almost an inch of extra tether pulled out from the spring. I felt good too. Painfree, except for the bite of bitter winter winds on my cheeks. My Garmin’s display showed 22 F after windchill, but my cheeks were convinced it was much colder. For the first time on a ride this winter, I actually wished for my fleece face mask.

Aside from my face, the rest of me felt over dressed. I kept folding my mittens open to dissipate some heat. I also had no pain and my body had strength and stamina that we set a decent pace for us.

Instead of taking my new ‘normal’ route to downtown Uppsala which would have us approaching Drottninggatan from the east, I took the old, longer route that was once used to take us to the City Forest. I wanted that extra distance and it would also give the best view of the street in question because I’d be looking down it from uphill.

Drottninggatan (Queen Street) from 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'

Drottninggatan (Queen Street) from ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’

That took us close to the castle in its winter guise as well as some of the other older buildings in Uppsala. I was also spared creeping along up the street to climb the hill for the photo. It’s not particularly bike friendly so 3 mph or less would have been an unnecessary stress. 8-9 mph to get through it and over with was much preferable.

There was a bit of chaos as I miscalculated my way across one street to the the other near the castle. I wound up trying to bounce the Sprint up a curb. Unable to make it in one bounce, I had to get up and wrestle the trike up onto the walk. Thankfully, there was a lull in traffic. Photo of the street taken, I sat down and unlocked the parking break. As we rolled, there was this weird rubbing noise. I stopped to look for the source.

Good thing I had stopped. The clip of Loke’s flex-leash had bounced out of my side pod bag where I’d not completely closed the zipper. I’d not noticed while pulling the trike up the curb and the clip had gotten caught in a crack between 2 of the curb stones. The noise had been the leash line pulling out and rubbing against the zipper. I’d probably just about reached the limit of the leash when I stopped. Talk about timing.

Northern end of Uppsala Castle

Loke and Trike over the frozen Fyris River

Before having time to run over and free it, a very nice young woman noticed the predicament and pulled the clip loose. She even held on to it as she continued toward us rather than letting it go to wildly flail around as it retracted. I thanked her.

Then it was a quick dash down the crowded little street, dodging a bus. I gave a sigh of relief when I reached a nice, safe cycle lane.

From there it was quick jaunt to the bike shop to be sure they had my number. Having been a week since ordering new twist grip shifters and hearing nothing, I just wanted to double check. Yes, they had the number, no, sorry the shifters hadn’t arrived from the supplier yet. At least my current ones are still working.

We finished the ride with a smidge over 9 miles.

January 24th, out we went again. No particular purpose except to burn a bit of energy off Loke before we all went to my husband’s parents for dinner. I was soooooo incredibly bored. I didn’t want to be out doing the local area again. It was my 10th ride of the year and all of them had been local loops. 7 of them the River Loop. I would have been happier staying in and doing dishes.

Okay, probably not true, but it certainly felt like it. I did try to put a good spin in it. The coming week was forecasted to be silly warm for this time of year. Mid-40’s in January. December was crazy enough when it was hitting the 50’s. So, the 24th was likely to be the last winter ride for a while.

Reminding myself of that didn’t really help much. Even Loke, who’d been a powerhouse of determined pulling, performed in lackluster fashion. We both need somewhere fresh to recharge our tolerance for running the hamster track of local rides.

I tried to push myself for some distance, but I felt too impatient, had to bake muffins to take to the dinner and get ready. We managed 4.5 miles. The snow had a heavier ‘wet sand’ like quality thanks to temperatures barely below freezing.

At my in-laws, poor Loke was completely crazy, but it wasn’t lack of distance that triggered it. He hated wearing the cone visiting ‘grandma and grandpa’. He felt like he couldn’t get close to anyone. Their apartment is smaller than ours so getting around the furniture was more difficult. He freaked out a few times and tried to get it off. His scratching had increased so much that we couldn’t risk it. As we left to come back home, it started snowing. Just the thing to freshen the tired, packed down stuff we had.

Monday, January 25th was a vet visit for follow up. That made it easy to take it as a rest day.

As I waited for our appointment, a woman came in with a pair of adorably energetic border collies. Too hyper to contain themselves, every time she chastised them and told them to come back and lay down, they were so cutely apologetic for disappointing her. Then they’d forget themselves and scramble off again to stick their noses into something. It turns out they were actual working dogs too, used to herd sheep! Too neat.

After a bit she asked why was Loke in. When I mentioned he was allergic, she asked to what. After I told her ‘pretty much everything’, she asked, ‘Is he allergic even to the animals and plants on his own skin?’

I admit, I stared at her in surprise for a few seconds. When I answered yes, she told me she’d known another husky with the identical problem. Allergic to most foods, including meats, some plants and even to some of the endemic flora and fauna of his own body. She said it had been years ago and she didn’t know what ultimately became of him.

The Scottish accented vet was glad to see Loke’s foot looking better, but still not 100%. Still some discoloration in the fur and the skin looked a tiny bit too pink. Much better than the raw meat appearance we started with, but she was still concerned there might be some of the bacteria remaining and if we stop antibiotics too soon then we risk creating a more resistant strain. So, after we talked it out, we both agreed to go yet another week.

I also begged her to consider Loke’s face and desperate itching. Since it first began roughly when he started the antibiotics, we’re hoping that is the source of the problem rather than reindeer meat. So, all we can really do is treat the symptoms and hope the problem clears once the antibiotics leave his system. Neither she nor I want to give him cortisone though. It’s just harsh on kidneys as Loke starts trying to funnel the volume of water rivaling Niagara Falls. She found a topical ointment she’d heard good things about, over the counter even.

Since it was after 5 pm when we left the vet, I had to wait until the next day for the prescription to go through the system. Good thing, Loke still had enough for a couple days.

All through the 25th, the temp had hovered just below freezing. It was amazingly foggy at times too which wouldn’t have been good for a ride. By 8 pm, the temperature had jumped well above freezing and a misty drizzle had helped to turn all the snow on the roads and walks into slush and water. By 9 pm, there was hardly any slush remaining at all.

Hard work to ride the hidden paths

From this….

Yesterday, January 26th, out Loke and I went. The one day of rest seemed to do me a little good. I didn’t dread the ride as much as the last one though it was going to be another hamster track run. It was about 42 F as we stepped out. I wore only my thinnest layer of wool under my summer weight cycle clothes and a zipper hoodie. Even that felt like too much.

Getting the trike out was a bit of a challenge. Loke’s itch was so bad now that he can’t be trusted without the cone if he’s going to be standing still for more than a few minutes. The only time he’s free of it is long enough to gulp down his meals and on walks or runs.

That meant to get the trike out of the storage and get my shoes on, I had to do a bit of running back and forth to accommodate the funnel of plastic that is too awkward to carry on the trike.

... to this!

… to this! Just 14 hours.

When I finally thought I had everything settled, the cone locked in the storage and sat on the trike, I realized my helmet was still down there. It would have meant, unhitching the furball, telling him ‘Nej!’ as we walked back to the storage, unlocked, hunted for the helmet and came back up to hitch him. Accounting for however longer it would take if I had to grab his face to protect it from his scratching foot. I decided to go without the helmet. After all, I still had to go hunt down Loke’s antibiotics.

That meant the River Loop again so as to stay on cycle paths and out of traffic.

1 foot or more of snow gone in just hours.

1 foot or more of snow gone in just hours.

The difference 14 hours with temps approaching 40 and a light drizzle made! The roads, walks and cycle ways were all but utterly clear of snow. Just a few soggy piles, more water than ice, here and there. I was sad to see winter, so brief, disappearing so fast. The ridges along the sides of roads and the like had been almost 2 feet high, were down to mere inches. Fields that had just the day before been blanketed under a foot or more of white were vast, muddy morasses with only a few streaks of snow hanging on.

The ice is putting up a good fight!

The ice is putting up a good fight!

Amazingly, the river was still frozen, the ice struggling to maintain a grip beneath a thin veneer of melt water trickling down from the fields and paths.

We rolled along for 4.8 miles with a light drizzle spattering down on us. Never enough to really make me even damp, but still speckled my sunglasses. I needed no gloves, wore my lightest knit cap under the helmet which was more to keep my hair dry than for warmth. Felt a bit too warm honestly, almost like I could have skipped thermal layers completely.

And we practically flew! There was still a lot of gravel on the paths, but it hardly seemed to slow me. I felt strong, powerful even. Most of the distance, we clipped along at over 8 mph, which is pretty good for us since my stroke and Loke’s age and issues even if there’d been no gravel and on smooth summer tires. Hitting that kind of pace on studs over pebbles while feeling good was amazing to me. It ameliorated the profound boredom I’ve been feeling on the local loops of late. I actually smiled the whole way.

If not for the need to chase down Loke’s antibiotics and stay off roads, I would have gone further.

As for the hunt for said meds, it was frustrating, but could have been much worse.

The first drug store, simply told me that they didn’t have it. She could order it and odds were pretty good it would arrive the next day. I decided I’d do a bit more hunting before ordering. The second place I went into, the woman there informed me again that they didn’t have it either. Then she said to just give her a moment. She did more tapping around and told me that there were no drug stores in Uppsala with medication. This actually happens quite a bit with Loke’s needs.

If it wouldn’t have been a cultural faux pas and I’d had cash on me, I would have given that woman a generous tip out of gratitude. She saved me from running all over Uppsala. At least it meant I could place the order without wondering if what I needed as just a couple miles away. She was all but 100% certain the medication would come in by the next day (January 27th). Loke had enough for that entire day which is good.

In a few more hours, I’ll go and see if it has arrive.

I’m still tempted to take the poor fuzzy back to the vet and bite the bullet with cortisone pills. The ointment seems to have made the skin around his lips less angry and raw, but he’s more itchy than ever. He tries to scratch so furiously through the plastic. A few times I’ve caught my poor old man rubbing against a door frame or even with floor, cone and all. The slightest touch and his foot comes up and starts flailing. When he’s not out for a walk or run, he’s just miserable.

I feel guilty, but I’m trying to keep his kidneys and feet in one piece. It’s very much one of those ‘Damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situations. Hopefully it will be over soon….

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