Terii’s Cycling Babble

Not the Mälardalsleden, But Not Hamster-Track!
March 6, 2016, 3:00 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

First, let me lead with the good news! My dad reported the little growth was not cancer! Yay!! Stubborn old cuss will be around for years more, I’m sure.

And it’s even fitting to mention him on my cycle blog as my first trike, the Trice QNT from back in 2006, was thanks to him. It might have been years more before I’d have been able to convince my husband. In that, my father is as much a part of my cycling experience as Loke.

And it just occurred to me, that it would be even more fitting if he did take me up on the offer of coming over and exploring Sweden or parts of Europe via trikes with me. He’d be riding the very trike he paid for as my birthday gift. Would be awesome if he actually got some use of it too! It gave me 6 years of joy, smiles, laughs and adventure.

Also, before I forget, review of the See.Sense Icon lights.

See.Sense lights unpackaged.

See.Sense lights out of package.

The other reviews I’ve read about them have been good, but I was a little wary once they were in my hands. They feel decently solid, except for the rubber bumper on the back which also serves as a kind of ‘plug’ to protected the micro-USB port for charging. It didn’t seem to be a very weather-proof arrangement.

I’m probably wrong as the bands used to hold the lights on to whatever they’re mounted on probably tightens the seal.

My second item of concern was the way both the body of the light and the rubber pad are angled. It is almost as if the lights were designed solely for vertical mounting, a seat post for the back and steering post for the front. Yet on their web site, the photos of the front are all horizontally mounted on handlebars. It feels as if the light would just be aiming off to the left or right in that position. It’s left me a bit confused honestly.

When I first turned them on, they didn’t seem nearly as bright as my old, much cheaper CatEye light. The test was a bit unfair though as I’ve used the old light in the dark and it was a bright, sunny day for the See.Senses first test.

The phone app was nice and easy to use. It found the lights right off and connecting to them opened the options in an use-friendly format. Tapping app buttons turned them on and off as well as changing the flash pattern or steady shine. Seeing how much battery remains in a glance very nice indeed. I’ve not had a chance to test the ‘crash alert’ or the alarm. I love the idea of the alarm, but since Loke is often left tethered to the trike when I run in somewhere for a quick errand, I’m not sure how much use out of it I’ll get.

The lights were flashing for about 4 hours and used a bit less than 25% of charge. So decent.

On the ride where I tested them, the cold shut down the battery in my phone. It seems to be getting more and more sensitive to anything remotely ‘chilly’. Once I was home, I found the rubber button on the front of both lights that allowed them to be turned off even with a dead phone.

Also, once dressed in normal clothes and with a cup of hot tea in me, I found my old light and compared it side-by-side with the See.Sense. Don’t worry. I aimed it at the top of the coffee table. Yes, the See.Sense is much brighter and they aren’t even the brightest of Icon’s products. Might even be the ‘dimmest’. So, pretty impressive.

When he first gave me the lights, Jens told me he’d read about plans for new mounting options coming sometime this year. If that happens, then most of my concerns about the lights will be settled. All in all, I’m pleased with them.

Review done so now on to cycling!

Sometime over the night between the 1st and 2nd of March, I started to feel very bad. As if I’d been hurtled back in time by a bit more than a year, my body turned into a wreck. I was enduring the first few weeks after the stroke all over again. Walking to do more than cross the apartment was painful.

Sometime during the 2nd though, I managed to talk myself out the door for a ride. The gorgeous weather had broken and the sky was mostly gray. Only a few bits of blue peeked out between heavy looking clouds. It took me a while to manage the clothes and shoes for the ride. “I feel better riding,” kept chanting through my head.

Not this time. It was bad. My foot cramped up, forcing me to stop so I could unclip and put it on the ground. Every muscle from the tips of my toes to the crown of my head was on fire. It took me almost an hour to do creep through 4.36 miles when I’d planned for us to perhaps head out on the Ulva Mill Loop of 12-14 miles, or dare I say, the Börje church loop which is between 16 – 18 miles. I would have only been too happy to turn right around for less than 2 miles, but out of kindness to Loke, I pushed on for the smallest of my loops.

The weather on the 3rd and 4th of March suited my condition. It rained, sometimes mixed with snow and just looked altogether dismal with the snow quickly disappearing under the leaden gray sky. I could hardly function. A walk around the block with Loke took silly amounts of time and left me shaking with the pain. A ‘quick’ trip to the grocery took almost 2 hours.

Later on the 4th, it started to ease somewhat, but remained unpleasant. I just wanted to stay flat on the couch and not move. The only time I didn’t hurt. Boring by the way. I can only binge watch so much on Netflix before getting twitchy.

In spite of my body’s betrayal, I had made the determination to return to the ‘I’m a cyclist’ mentality which served me so well before November 11, 2014. Part of that is to avoid more than 2 consecutive days without a ride. That meant, I absolutely had to ride on the 5th.

Originally, I’d arranged with Jens to do another portion of the Mälardalsleden (Mälar Valley’s Route). When the plan had been made, I’d felt fine and the weather had been so gorgeous for almost 2 weeks. When I was faced with gray, wet surroundings and being a physical wreck, I took pity on the hubby. Loading the trike, driving for over an hour and reassembling only to discover it was going to be as bad as on the 2nd was too big a risk. Almost 2 hours of effort for what could potentially be a 20 minute ride?

Jens knows how much the ‘Hamster-Track’ has been getting to me though. So, he offered that I load the trike and we drive, say, 20 minutes or half an hour. If I couldn’t ride far, no huge hassle.

Desperate for somewhere other than around here, I agreed.

Björklinge Kyrka - 2011

Björklinge Kyrka – 2011

It was hard. Getting dressed and even just walking to the car was a struggle. Yet somehow, the trike got loaded and we drove off toward Björklinge church. We’d not gone around there in years. Given how I felt, the plan to perhaps cycle all the way back home didn’t seem realistic.

Loke was bouncy and excited as he walked with Jens through a dusting of new snow falling while I slowly put everything back together. Once hitched to the trike, he woofed impatiently until I had the helmet on and clipped in. Then we were off like shot.

Much more snow than 10 miles south!

Much more snow than 10 miles south!

Uppland Runestone #1113 - Fragment

2011 – Uppland Runestone #1113 Fragment

The first half mile is on a descent and Loke made the best of it. He even got to run faster than I usually allow. I was having a problem with my mitten and looked away from the Garmin. Mitten fixed, I was shocked to find we were nudging up on 15 mph. Loke flying joyfully along, wide husky grin and tongue flopping. I felt guilty for feathering the brakes until 11 mph or so. He shot me irritated looks.

The roar of water thundered through the air as we came down a steeper slope that crossed what appears to be a mill pond. Murky brown water churned over a man-made drop. Loke watched in fascination as we climbed back up to pass by the runestone that sits right at the curve beside a fence around the pond.

On the other side of the road, sits an old root cellar. Time has not treated it very well since I rode through there last. Part of the roof has collapsed and bits of the facing were coming off. Much longer and it will be a collapsed tumble of stones and rotting wood. Sad really.

'No, I will not look at the camera. Can we just go?!'

‘No, I will not look at the camera. Can we just go?!’

We made the turn, following the sign for Skuttunge. As the landscape flattened and even began to rise a bit, our speed surprised me. The first mile had hardly been a test of how good or bad the ride was going to be since all I had to do was hang on to the brake.

The next mile pleased me though. Some climbing which didn’t feel especially slow… or painful. Loke barely pulled, but we still clipped along on the flats, trike rolling completely under my power. I felt… fine. My feet didn’t hurt. The muscle pain that had cut March 2nd’s ride so short or made getting ready just an hour ago so difficult, was no where to be found.

A gray day made lovely with snow on the fields!

A gray day made lovely with snow on the fields!

Uppland's Runestones 1118 & 1121

March 2013 – Uppland’s Runestones 1118 & 1121

Skuttunge Church distant

Skuttunge Church distant

Upon the realization, I mentally and physically relaxed into the seat to really enjoy the outing. Pain free for the first time in days though my right knee did give a couple of twinges. Swapping to lower gears took care of that problem. I felt strong and we moved at a pace that was really quite brisk for me. I was surrounded by a snowy landscape in an area I’d not ridden through in years. What was not to enjoy?

It seemed we’d hardly started the ride when we came upon a pair of runestones. I hadn’t realized it was close to Björklinge church. A glance across fields found Skuttunge church very easily.

It turns out to be less than 3 miles between Björklinge and Skuttunge churches. 2.64 miles according to my Garmin. I always forget how close they are to each other.

Love snow! Love, love, love...

Love snow! Love, love, love…

I love a snowy winter landscape! Did I mention that?

I love a snowy winter landscape! Did I mention that?

The view of Skuttunge disappeared as fields gave way to pasture and yards with trees. Loke plodded along as I cranked us up a gentle series of climbs. He seemed bored. I was happy. Every few minutes, the curve of the road would part through the trees and give a glimpse of Skuttunge church ahead.

I always have a fond smile for that church. It reminds me of a warm summer day when I stopped to eat some fruit for a quick lunch. Loke was at home, too hot for huskies. A trio of men on bikes stopped to chat and gulp water, before clipping in and speeding off. A year later, I met one of them again while waiting for the light near the mosque.

I stopped briefly to see if the church was open, but no luck.

From there it was a quick zip down a hill and over a mostly dry gully. At the top of the other side is vicarage for Skuttunge church. I met the caretakers once. Very nice couple. If anyone is riding through Skuttunge and it’s the same couple taking care of the site, I recommend stopping in if you need a spot to pitch a tent. Lovely lawn (flat, cushy grass in warm weather), gorgeous old wooden buildings, and very nice people. The nice gentleman told me of a few of the cycle tourers he’d let camp there.

As I pushed on, I started to feel a little tired, but otherwise good. It didn’t feel like too much further to Balinge and we were making good time. It began to look as if riding all the way back to the storage was actually in the realm of possibility!

My memory of the landscape was pretty accurate. Soon we were cranking up a hill just outside of Bälinge and more memories of previous rides flooded in. The little burger kiosk beside a soccer field where Loke and I stopped to rest. I had an apple while he got his very own cup of vanilla ice cream. Back when the fuzzy was allowed such treats. That was on the ride that was supposed to be only about 22 miles and turned into 35. Back in younger days when Loke and I could take such distances almost on a whim.

Disappearing snow and... a game trail?

Disappearing snow and… a game trail?

Between Björklinge and Bälinge, the snow had been lush and deep. Only the occasional patch of grass or rare mostly clear field to be seen. Between Bälinge and Gamla Uppsala, it was as if the melt had accelerated. Grass and mud showed through more and more the closer I came home.

Oddly, it was also much colder on the other side of Bälinge. The first half of the ride, the Garmin had been unwavering at 35 F. South of the little town, it was like a switch had been flipped. In moments the display dipped to a chilly 29 F. Part of that may have been the wind which came up unpleasantly. Suddenly, my GorTex mittens weren’t enough and even with the footwarmers my toes became uncomfortable.

The further I go, the less of snow!

The further I go, the less of snow!

The chill forced me to stop a few times so I could put my feet on the ground in an attempt to warm them. It might have been they got damp while I walked around.

I took those moments to try coaxing Loke to drink some water. He was having none of it. Any time we strayed close to some black and gray pile of nasty looking snow, he’d try to snatch a mouthful. The fouler looking, the better it seemed, but water? Surely you jest! I went from enjoying the scenery to watching the verge of the cycle path between Bälinge and Ulva Mill, pulling up on the leash every time I had to pass close to a snow pile so Loke couldn’t duck his head and gobble some toxins left over from cars. Or leftover road salt. Just what a husky needs.

Hmmm. Maybe that’s why he was so determined for the ickiest snow? Salt?

Loke’s enthusiasm had been waning as we came ever closer to Ulva. I checked him several times for pain, but he just seemed bored. Bored! Even though we hadn’t yet reached the mill which would officially be the return to ‘Hamster Track’ territory. He didn’t even want to run down the hill to the mill race like he usually does.

As we crossed the Fyris river at the sight of the highest falls on its length, I noticed a sign that explained all the recent construction fencing and equipment in the area the past months. They’re installing a fish ladder! Awesome! It will be the 4th that I know of. The other three are right in the middle of downtown.

Snow? What snow?

Snow? What snow?

The snow made a brief reappearance on the strawberry fields around the mill. Again it disappeared as we came down the hill to cross another river and meet up with the old E4. At the bottom of the slope across the stream/river there was hardly a patch of snow to be seen that wasn’t mounded up from plows.

Back on the frequent roads and trails, my attention strayed from the mostly snow-free surroundings. Residential and no flowers, leaves or green grass under heavy skies. Just shades of mud and gray clouds. Yeah, not the most appealing landscape.

But the mileage was intriguing. It appeared I was going to end at the storage with about 16 miles and some. I was tired, my knee had started to ache even in the lower gears, but if I just added that extra little bit of cycle path between the school and road back to the storage. It was about a mile extra. Enough to tip me over the 16.whatever miles of my longest ride in 2016. That’s last ride on the Mälar Valley Route with the brakes stuck.

I just needed the Garmin to tick over to 17 miles to be sure. One measly little mile extra. Chump change compared to the 15 or so I’d already done.

I pushed for it.

And I made it. 17.81 miles when I rolled to a final stop outside the storage. Pretty sure that’s right about 1 mile further than the previous 2016 longest. What flabbergasted me most about the ride was we did that distance in a smidge less than 3 hours. Definitely less than 3 hours of moving time if one subtracts the stops for photos or Loke’s business.

I can’t remember the last time our average speed was that good. Some parts of my credit card tour last year might have had nearly as good a pace. The flat parts that is. But recently and with Loke? Very good for me.

Trike put away in its proper place and Jens was shocked when I called to say I was at the storage. Neither he nor I expected I’d make it all the way home. I’d felt so lousy right up until I plopped in the seat. It made not doing the Mälar Valley’s route feel like a waste, but better safe than sorry.

My nice hubby said he’ll cheerfully do the driving for the Valley route next weekend though. It required a bit of shuffling my ride schedule around so I’d be doing it after one of my 2 day rests. I want the best chance for Loke and I both to be fresh and strong for it. Otherwise, it feels kinda like running a marathon the day before running the New York Marathon.

Now, let’s just hope the weather and my body cooperate!


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