Terii’s Cycling Babble

The Good, The Bad, and Epiphany
February 12, 2016, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The hamster track rides continue.

The first week of the month was ride-less though.

On Friday, January 29th, I’d gotten a text from the cycle shop to let me know that they’d received the new grip shifts. The timing was perfect as I’d intended to take take the trike in the next week ASAP to get them swapped. Then of course, it became even more perfect when the brake got stuck during the 5th leg of the Mälar Valley’s Route on January 31st.

The trike hadn’t even been unpacked from the car when I popped into the shop on Monday, February 1st to schedule an appointment for the trike. It was slated for the next day, but Lotten came out and helped me unload the trike for them to keep overnight. Wasn’t like it was going to be ridden with a jammed brake anyway.

The next day, I got the text that it was ready. Jens came home early enough that I was able to run to pick it up.

I was surprised upon discovering not only the new grip shifts, but a new rear derailleur as well. Turned out that the twist grips, even though they had the same part number as the originals, had a different ratio, 2:1 instead of 1:1 which couldn’t work with my old derailleur. It was a bit battered, so personally, I wasn’t unhappy with the change.

I also talked with them some more about swapping to hydraulic brakes. I think I’m going to bite the bullet on them as the problem I’d had with the brakes on that last leg of the Valley route was because grit and grime had worked its way into the cable and choked it tight. Bobby thinks it’s because the brake is so close to the ground and facing in a perfect direction that dirt and such gets blown right into the cable and the housing. Hydraulics would be a closed system. No way for grit to get in.

I should have gotten out for a ride the next day to test, but it didn’t happen. Too much going on with Loke and the weather was uncooperative for a few days.

Monday, February 1st, Loke finished his month of antibiotics. The vet was satisfied with the state of his foot. As for the itch, now we’d get to see if it improved, having been caused by the antibiotics.

By Tuesday, when I picked up the trike, it was promising. He already was scratching much less. Wednesday was pretty good too.

February 4th, my grungy,  dirty white husky was whisked off to the groomer. As always, she did a wonderful job and I had a gleaming white puff of fur to bring home after 2 hours. He’s so pretty and impressively shiny when she’s done with him.

That whole day on the 4th, Loke didn’t scratch at all. We still put the cone on him overnight though I had decided if he didn’t scratch in the night then I’d declare him cone free.

About 4 am, he scratched. All through the 5th, it got really bad though on the right side of his face instead of the left. Bright and early on the 6th, I called for time with the vet. My husband’s awesome dad had to drive us as Jens had the car that day.

The vet still thought it could be the antibiotics still lingering in his system, but we needed to do something about the desperate itch. So, she prescribed cortisone to give the fuzzy some relief.

It’s been a rather mixed bag. He’s itching quite a bit less, but we still have to watch him and the cone goes on if we have to run an errand or at night for bed.

Loke’s energy has been undiminished though. When we finally got out for a ride on February 7th, he was all bouncy eagerness.

It had rained all through the morning, but the clouds were breaking apart and showing glimpses of blue when Jens dropped us off at the storage. By the time I pushed the trike up the ramp, it was sunny and the skies almost clear. It was freakishly warm too, 45 F. Surprisingly, the ice was still mostly hanging onto the river, though the crack had widened and water ran over the top of it in places.

I can’t quite remember how I felt physically, but I do recall boredom and almost wanting to just 4 miles or so.

Instead, I gave the ride a purpose. Off to the American Food store we went. It gave me the chance to continue to support the store by picking up a few drinks and some wintergreen mints for when my tummy is upset. It also forced me to add miles. We wound up back at the storage with just bit under 9.5 miles. With all the rain puddles and muck from melt water, it completely ruined Loke’s trip to the groomer. He loved it though. Happy to be out and running, muck or not!

The trike with it’s new gears, derailleur, and brake cables worked great!

We stayed in on February 8th. I thought about not riding on the 9th as I had an appointment downtown which kept me tied up all morning until about 1 pm. I ended up going out any way, mostly out of pity for Loke.

It continued to be crazy warm, about 40 F. It was a bit breezy which flung around a miserable misty drizzle. The landscape was all in shades of gray and mud. At least the ramp outside the storage was clear so I could get the trike out.

Even with the rain and stubborn warm temps, most of the river was still icy. Further downstream toward town, it was clear, but from about the swim hall up, ice ruled though water was winning by inches.

Loke wasn’t terribly enthusiastic on the ride as we wound around an extended River Loop. I think he’s just too bored of the same ol’-same ol’.

I was equally bored, but at least physically I felt pretty good. Strong, good stamina and pain-free. Made it more bearable.

On the 10th, I found some very nice lemons at the grocery and decided to bake lemon-raspberry muffins for in-laws. My husband’s parents of course, for taking the time to drive Loke and I to the vet, one of his sisters and her husband just moved to a new apartment, so some for them as a little housewarming. The other sister and her husband have had some career changes, so still more for them as a congratulations.

February 11th, I apathetically dragged myself out the door for a ride. I really didn’t feel up to it, but purpose pushed me onward. The muffins were neatly packed in a bag to be dropped off at my husband’s parents via trike.

I felt pretty sluggish which made me even more reluctant to go out. We’d had about an inch of snow over night and I was dreading the struggle to get the trike up the ramp without falling. Dratted cycle shoes and snow are the worst combination. I just couldn’t get organized and ended up making the hazardous trip up and down several times. Finally, the trike was up, the storage was locked, Loke tethered and waiting. I picked up the red cap I wear under my helmet when it’s below 35 F. I dropped it in surprise. It was soaked. I picked it up again with my fingertip and watched in confusion as water dripped from it. The trike seat was wet too.

Sighing, I pulled out a hoodie from a bag only to discover the ends of its sleeves were wet too. I pulled it on anyway, flipped the hood up and crammed the helmet down over it.

Loke finally looked a bit interested. I loosed the brake and off we rolled… 10 whole feet before trike slammed to a stop so quick it skidded on the gravel. I tried rocking it back and forth, but the rear wheel was locked tight.

It took me a minute to figure out the problem. A bolt that holds the rear mudguard in place had worked loose and let the guard slip forward to get caught between part of the rear fork and wheel. Wedged so tight the wheel wouldn’t budge. I worked it loose and dug in my side bags for an allen wrench. Of course the tool I needed was in one of  my pannier bags back in the storage.

Down I went to fetch it. While there, I looked for a leak and found a small puddle on the storage floor and several small drips about to add to it dangling from a pipe across the ceiling. I swear it was like Murphy (as in Murphy’s Laws) and a gremlin had joined forces to have a laugh at my expense. I tromped back up to the trike, managed to get the mudguard back in place and tightened. As I went to loose the parking brake, it suddenly came loose when it had felt tight when I used it just minutes before.

Loke was sighing at me as I fought with all the things going loose at once.

At last we set off. It didn’t go well. After all the aggravation just to get the trike rolling out of the parking area, my body rebelled. My right knee hurt, my hip was bothering me. I felt weak and painful as I pushed the trike through the slush. It felt harder than it had been riding through frozen mud with jammed brakes on January 31st!

Before we’d done 2 miles, my left foot became a fiery cramp. It was the final straw. It was hell and I couldn’t endure it any longer. I cut the ride short, looping back to the storage with a total of 3 miles. At least Loke had a bit of a dash. I would just have to deliver the muffins via car.

When I staggered back into the apartment, aching and frustrated, Jens asked how the ride went. ‘It was a nightmare’, I answered. How so he wanted to know? I stubbornly answered that it just had been bad. He was determined asked again.

So, I rattled off the list of things that had gone wrong. He was quiet a moment and then told me that when I complain about trike stuff, it frustrates him. The trikes have been a lot of time and money and inconvenience so when I complain, it’s like they haven’t been worth it.

I was a little annoyed by that, I’ll admit. On one hand, I do see his point. In my defense though, he had insisted on knowing the details of how the ride was bad. As far as I’m concerned if someone does that, then whatever comes out of my mouth is not a complaint, it’s simply answering their question. Complaining would have been staggering through the door and whining about the bolts, the wet hat, the leak and the pain without having it pulled out of me and carrying on about it for a time afterwards.

Through much of the evening and again when I woke this morning, it niggled at me. Doubt. Maybe I should just give up the trikes if it aggravates Jens so much.

Then clarity came to me. An epiphany of what my trikes have meant over the years. Even what they are to me now.

From the moment I first clipped into the pedals of my Trice Q back in 2006, the world opened up to me in ways I couldn’t have understood at that moment. I have seen and done things that never would have happened if not for those pedals and three wheels. I’ve explored the landscape around Uppsala and come to understand it more thoroughly than my husband who was born and raised here. I have discovered hundreds of churches and runstones. Dozens of burial grounds, manors, castles and ruins. Things I never would have seen if not for the trikes, except perhaps by accident and far less than I would have. Those trike wheels have carried me to obscure little nooks of the countryside I never would have thought to go while zipping around in a car.

I’ve covered thousands of miles under my own power with the help of a enthusiastic partner who happens to have 4 legs and fur. I’ve camped in the wind next to a 1000 year old runestone and brushed my teeth the next morning while watching the sun rise. I’ve crawled on my hands and knees into the heart of a 5000 year old passage burial after going to Denmark just to ride my trike through such an amazing landscape. Would I ever have seen or done that without a trike? Probably not.

Loke and I have raced cows, horses, and even a pair of swans once. I’ve ridden through snowstorms bordering on blizzards, rain storms and even thunder a few times and laughed in the face of it. Challenges met and I’ve come through whether it was just those final miles to the end of a ride, my own body, or weather. People I’ve met who have greeted Loke and I with smiles and kindness, even cold, fresh water for us. People who have stopped to help when something went wrong with the trike. I will always remember the 80 year old woman who sat down in dirt to help me get my chain loose when became jammed. I’ve even been rescued from sitting in the snow at the side of the road when the seat broke off the trike when it rolled by the concern and generosity of a woman and her husband.

The trikes have been exercise. I’ve moved more with them than I ever would have without them. I can’t walk for 5-6 or more hours a day, but I damn well can ride it and have done hundreds of times. Stroke or not, my health must be vastly better than it would be without trikes. It’s kept my husky healthy, fit, and happy in spite of his myriad of allergies. He’s been able to be not just a house pet, but also doing what he was born to do. Run for miles and gladly.

That doubt I had after my husband’s words? Gone. In those moments, I was seeing only the short moment, like when you’re trying to thread a needle, eyes tightly focused. You see the thread and the needle, but everything else blurs indistinctly. I’d forgotten for moment the long view. Regaining that understanding was like stepping back into the sun. Trikes have made my world vastly larger and brightly colored. They’ve been my freedom as surely as wings are for birds. So much I would have missed without them. So much more I could miss if I gave them up.

Because of the stroke, yes, I will have bad days, but I think I’ve always had them. Maybe not as frequently as I do now, but they’ve been there. There will also be good days as I’ve already had. I don’t want my world to become so small. Little more than an apartment and skittering around in the car on errands in town and a job. Without the trikes, that’s what the past 10 years would have been.

So much grandeur I would have missed, past, present, and future. Yes, I’m frustrated by the limitations the stroke inflicted. I miss being able to call 14 miles a short ride and 30 miles was nearly effortless, but I’ve done a lot the past year. Not as fast and in smaller bits, but accomplished so much all the same. I just need to look at what I can do and what I want to see. So onward. I will make what I can of the trikes and the coming days, those good and bad.

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