Terii’s Cycling Babble

Spring! Oh, and Happy Easter!
March 27, 2016, 12:10 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

March is being mean to me. There were 3 days without rides after the little 2.3 mile jaunt from home to storage.

After 2 consecutive days of riding, Loke and I had the scheduled 2 day recovery, where I actually went to the gym once in hopes of beginning a regimen to build strength in  my legs for climbs. The evening of the second day, as I got ready for bed, some kind of stomach flu slammed into me with full force. I was too sick to leave the apartment all through the 23rd.

By the 24th, it had eased enough that I could poke my nose out again, apparently just one of those 24 hour bugs. Loke was practically vibrating with excess energy, so I risked going for a ride.

Not much happened on the ride. We went out. It was mostly sunny and about 43 F with not much wind. Like earlier in the month when I went out after having been sick, I didn’t have a lot of energy. What I did have was a surprising amount of strength. As we headed out on the usual River Loop hamster-track, the pedals felt so easy even on the climb up the overpass across the 55. It was nice to see some good out of the 830+ of climbing from the last bit of the Mälardalsleden.

The lack of energy really wanted me to make it a short ride, but I decided to push on. I made an errand of the outing in the middle of it, adding a few more bits to extend the way to the cycle shop. Besides, the gears were making me nuts again.

So, I popped in and scheduled a time to get the studded tires swapped to proper ones. There hardly a hint of anything resembling snow or ice in the area in spite of the inch or so of the white stuff we had on the 20th. No reason to keep the studs. I also went over the work shop to ask Bobby about my gears.

Since swapping to the new grip shifts, I’ve had issues with the shifting getting sloppy. When it happened the first time since the swap, it was understandable as the new cables probably had a bit of stretch to settle in. Then it started happening again even on the ride on the 20th after Neil (shop owner) had done an on-the-spot adjustment for me. Well, it started doing it again, so I told Bobby about it. He looked confused and said it shouldn’t be doing that. He came out to look and did a bit of tweaking. He also explained a bit how to adjust it if it happens again. That makes me nervous. Gears and I have always been a disaster, but if it gets bad in the middle of a ride, I should be able to make it work enough to at least get somewhere safe.

They're here! Yay for Crocus!

They’re here! Yay for Crocus!

Any-hoo, March 30th, I will once again be on summer tires! Yay! Bet it’s gonna feel like I’m flying. Time to start dragging a trike loaded with water around after me on the hamster-tracks at least.

As we left the cycle shop and came down the path under the rail tracks, I started watching the grassy bank on the right while we made the climb. My vigilance was well rewarded.

Pushed up through the winter sere grass and withered leaves were a few dozen clusters of pale crocus blossoms. Of course, I had to stop to hunt among them for the prettiest grouping for a photo. Not sure why, but these are my absolute favorite of the spring flowers. Maybe because they’re among the first to spread their petals. When daffodils and others are, at best, a few green shoots coming up, the crocus and snowdrops are the first to be properly greeting the sun.

The sight of the flowers gave me a smile that lasted the rest of the day. We arrived back at the storage with 6.95 miles. Not enough to even really take the edge off Loke’s energy, but better than nothing. It had also shown me how much stronger I got from the previous hard climbing ride.

Still feeling a bit wonky from the stomach flu, I took the next day as a rest.

Yesterday, March 26th, I took Jens up on a previous offer made not too long ago. That I jump on the trike and ride in whatever direction. When I had enough, he’d come get me.

Ho-hum. At least it's a pretty day!

Ho-hum. At least it’s a pretty day!

When it dawned so pretty and promised to be nearly 50 F, I took him up on the offer. I was nice enough to wait until he woke up on his own and had coffee enough to boost him into full consciousness. Once, he was more than a staggering, grunting zombie, he dropped us off at the storage and we set out.

Loke wasn’t exactly a bundle of enthusiasm, especially at first. Can’t blame him really. The first 6 miles or so were firmly in the realm of ‘hamster-track’ territory. I felt annoyingly slow and weak as we headed down Vattholma Road. I have to keep reminding myself that a fair stretch of it between Gamla Uppsala Road and the grave mounds is actually a steady, if subtle looking climb. A lot of the time, it doesn’t really help that much. At least our wheels haven’t rutted it as deeply as River Loop or the ways into Uppsala’s heart.

A bit less 'Hamster-Track'

A bit less ‘Hamster-Track’

The furball and I both perked up a bit once we passed the turn for the grave mounds and Gamla Uppsala church, pushing onward to the north.

It was interesting to see how the progress on the rail tunnel is coming. Most of it looks to be capped over with concrete. Some spots are even getting a covering of dirt. I still feel sad at the archaeology, the history, that was destroyed with the tunnel’s construction. At least archaeologists had a couple years to discover and record as much as they could.

I wasn’t the only one out to enjoy the day. People on comfort bikes toodled by us. A few guys clad in full spandex on more mountain-ish sport kinda bikes zipped by. Other people on high end racers fully kitted out blasted by on the road above the cycle way. Even one or two roller-skiers cuffed along.

As we approached the rail crossing, an older man coming from the north had dismounted his bike to take a photo of the church in the distance across the recently plowed fields. Loke and I were about 10 yards away from the tracks when the bells began to ring. It gave a boost to all three of us. The man hurriedly fumbled to put his camera away to run his bike across and Loke and I sped up.

Cuteness Overload!!

Cuteness Overload!!

I noticed a pair of gloves laying on the pavement once we were over and called to the man. Yep, they were his. He rushed back to snatch them, thanking me, and still had time to get across before the booms came down. No danger though unless one is particularly stupid. Swedish rail crossings give plenty of warning. So, unless he stopped in the middle of the tracks to tie shoe laces and read ‘War and Peace’, he was fine.

Once the turn to Vittulsberg was behind us, Loke and I both perked up even more. We were technically off the hamster-track as far as I was concerned. The stretch between that turn and Storvreta has been ridden less than a dozen times. Less than 5 times since the stroke, I think. Not fresh, but not overdone either.

It had been barely 40 F when I started the ride. I’d gotten brave when dressing, picking to go with just thin wool under the tights and top. No footwarmers either! From the start, I hadn’t even needed gloves or more than my thin, blue knitted cap under the helmet. It was nippy in the shade, but in the sun was just about perfect.

I found myself smiling a lot as I craned my head around. The blue sky, striated with wisps of clouds was lovely. There wasn’t much wind. The only thing missing was the flood of lark song I should have been treated to. It’s absence is worrying. I’ve heard the tiny little birds singing their hearts out in February on lead gray days with a foot of snow still on fields. The snow had been mostly gone for weeks, the weather mild and yet not a single peep from the larks. They should be everywhere!

A holdout on winter!

A holdout on winter!

It feels like the distance to Storvreta gets shorter each time. I’ve ridden to the town 3 (4?) times now and the turn off the main road feels sooner and sooner. Maybe a sign that I’m getting faster?

As we made the harder climbs right outside of the town, there were a lot of people jogging and walking to enjoy the day. Some of the joggers called out a cheery hello. I stopped at the top of one of the hills to look at my maps and a couple came along, the woman with trekking poles. They stopped so she could ask what breed Loke was. Upon finding out he was a husky, she said her son just adored huskies and asked if she could greet him.

Loke was his usual indifferent self, but she was delighted all the same. They were both surprised that he was over 10 years old.

I left them behind briefly, until I came up to an intersecting cycle path that headed off into a wooded area. I wound up looking at maps on both my Garmin and new phone. The lovely cycle way and potential promise of wooded paths was a powerful lure. I do so miss riding in the city forest though not enough to risk getting caught there by the guy who triggers my instinctive alarm bells. I waffled for almost 5 minutes before I concluded that the trails wouldn’t help me on my way and I wanted to stand a chance of reaching Funbo church.

My trikes have never rolled here!

My trikes have never rolled here!

Still, maybe make it a ride for another day to go explore those trails.

I was practically giddy as I passed the intersection where we’ve made the turn toward the little grocery. Just on the other side of the crosswalk, it was official! New ground! The thought of a few miles of unexplored roads was heady. Not much to see along them, other than scenery. No runestones, churches or the like, but still wonderful fresh!

Once we got out of Storvreta anyway. That little town turned out to be unexpectedly extensive. Staying on the cycle ways through most of it turned into a little bit of a juggle in a few areas, but there is a surprising network of the paths through it.

The people there were friendly. Everyone I passed had a smile and a nod for us. One jogger who went by in one direction gave us a cheery, ‘Hej igen!’ (Hi again!) when she went back in the opposite way.

Loke never quite got as excited as I did. He wasn’t sluggish, but he wasn’t a furious powerhouse of pulling determination either. The tether pretty much stayed slack as he jogged along, ears swiveling.

Ruined farm buildings

Ruined farm buildings

A sign for 'Tame Animals, Wild Children' in the area

A sign for ‘Tame Animals, Wild Children’ in the area

Once we were back out into the countryside on smaller country roads, I wondered if I was going to have the omph to make it to Funbo. The hills were making it difficult. Not as harsh as those on the Mälardalsleden, but enough that my knees started to ache. Once again, I was wishing for lower gear inches.

I made myself slow down. What was the rush really? A pretty day even if it got a bit chilly when the clouds lessened the sun’s warmth from time to time. Fresh ground. If I wasn’t out enjoying the almost 60 F temps (at times), what would I be doing otherwise? Watching TV? Okay, probably something more productive like writing or, heaven forbid, chores. Going slower and slightly aching knees seemed not so bad. Fresh air, sun, new roads and mild temperatures can’t compete with that especially after 3 days without pedaling. I do love my trike.

I just love old, wooden buildings

I just love old, wooden buildings

Slowing helped and Loke didn’t care how pokey we were for a change. Or if he did, he gave no indication or attempt to correct it. I couldn’t stop smiling as I swiveled my head around to take in every bit of scenery that I could. Even in muted shades of brown and gray, it was pretty.

More flowers! I love snow, but I adore this too!

More flowers! I love snow, but I adore this too!

Near a bus stop, I spotted a burst of color. Loke gave me an annoyed look as I hit the brakes hard and jumped up with the camera. Mostly, the little corner between the main road and a driveway was thickly dotted with some yellow flower I don’t know the name of. A few splashes of white and one, shy little patch of purple in the form of snowdrops and crocus were also basking in the sun.

As we crept up the climbs and coasted down on the other sides, I also tried to be aware of where I’d be rejoining roads I’ve ridden before. After all, I’ve cycled to Funbo at least once before though along a slightly different route.

The sky really couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to do. At least rain never really seemed to be an option. At times it was almost clear. Other moments, the striations of clouds would thicken to turn the sky a flat, glaring white and dim the sun. It made the temperature swing erratically between 52 F to 60 F.

Imagine if we couldn't see blue...

Imagine if we couldn’t see blue…

During the ride, the image of the bare-limbed birch, gleaming white against one of the clearer patches of sky reminded me of something I saw recently. A little video about the color blue. Apparently, it was one of the last colors that humans developed the ability to see and rather recently even. Only within the last few thousand years at best. In the time of Homer (ancient greek poet, not cartoon), there was no word for the color blue in any culture. Even now, there are indigenous, small tribes who have no word for it and can’t really distinguish it from gray or green. It’s as if their brains can’t perceive it because it’s undefined.

What would that even look like? Would the sky or the sea just look kinda green? Or a flat gray? In ‘The Odyssey’, Homer describes the sea as ‘wine-dark’, black, white, green, yellow and even red. I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense that blue would be the last hue to be defined. It has no true survival value as do most of the other colors. Black and white for light and dark. Red for potentially poisonous plants. Yellow and green for possible edibles, but is the color of the clear sky or its reflection/refraction in the water going to help you survive or kill you? Not likely. Why even notice?

I honestly can’t imagine a world without blue. Certainly the picture of the birch tree wouldn’t be nearly as pretty. I’m glad to have the word for it and, therefore, the perception of it. It seems we have the Egyptians to thank because they developed a blue fabric dye and had to name it. Very ‘chicken and egg’.

Okay, enough of the color side ramble.

Funbo Church

Funbo Church

The ride was uneventful. Pleasant, but nothing exciting. I felt a little baffled though as we rolled up to Funbo church. I’d not come onto any recognizable roads. I had clear memory of the last couple miles or so being on unpaved lanes. While the roads had become very narrow, barely enough room for 2 cars to pass and no center line, they had been paved the entire way.

Looking at maps, I think I came to the church on a slightly more western route the first time. That was awesome! I’d been on new roads for about 14 miles. Something so simple, yet made me happy. I probably would have passed out from sheer delight if I’d found a runestone or church along the way.

Lovely old stone bridge

Lovely old stone bridge

It was only about 2 or 3 pm, but I felt every bit of the 23.63 miles. That is the longest ride of the year. Longest ride since my credit card tour in the southern part of Sweden last summer actually.

And except for the slight ache in the knees from time to time, it had felt pretty good. At least until I got up to walk around the church and see if it was open. As soon as my feet were on the ground and I took a few steps, it was instant stiffness, particularly in my right hip.

I walked it off, hobbling around the church and then rolling down a little further to take photos of the old stone bridge. I would have loved to get a better angle, but it was hard enough to push through the tangle of winter bare shrubs at the stream side. Easier than it will be in a month or so when everything has produced screening leaves.

Uppland Runestone #987 - Funbo, January , 2013

Uppland Runestone #987 – Funbo, January , 2013

I pedaled back up to the church to wait for Jens. The area around the church and its museum were quite busy. People walking around, many of them bringing potted, blooming daffodils be planted on graves or simply left in their pots. Others seemed to be just enjoying the day, lounging in the patches of sun on the grass near the museum or wandering around.

I was only just starting to dismantle the trike when Jens arrived. Loke had plenty of energy left over to caper and bounce with joy at seeing the third member of our little pack. With a bounce in his step, he trotted off ahead of my husband who took him for a walk around the belfry on the hill.

I feel very good about the day. It was nice to spend most of it outside on a ride once I was in unfamiliar territory where boredom was less of a factor. I have a lot of respect for people who can ride the same spots over and over and over, being happy about it. Was I ever like that? I can’t remember.

It was significant in other ways too. Those 23+ miles gave me over 100 miles for March so far! Pretty good for all the sick days that left me with several gaps of 3 or 4 days in the month. I’m quite pleased with it and will add a few more miles still before the month of the lion gives way to the month of the lamb.

Today is nearly as pretty as yesterday. There were more clouds, but they’ve cleared for the moment. It’s warmer too. Still, I’m glad I rode yesterday and so can feel mostly okay about not doing so today. It’s very windy today. The kind of wind that whips flags around and threatens to tear flags off the poles. Not toppling trees, but still would be unpleasant for riding if going in the wrong direction.

I’m making good progress for the year. Makes me almost as giddy as a school girl.


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