Terii’s Cycling Babble


And Done With April!
April 30, 2016, 5:23 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Made it!

Naturally, I rode again in the evening of the 28th to get the trike back to storage. The normal route I take for that to grab a bit more distance is a smidge over 2 two miles. Hubby coming home soon, the weather still bad, I did it in 1.4 miles. I only went that far to give Loke a bit of a chance to do his business.

That short distance kinda caught me by surprise. The 2+ mile jaunt in the morning had felt pretty good especially with it being the 3rd consecutive day turning pedals while dragging the water. The times before when I tried riding so frequent, by the 3rd day, the muscles in my legs were fatigued, weak and painful. Back then, a 4th day resulted in barely being able to push the pedals and taking over half an hour to do less than 3 miles.

Well, the legs were just waiting until the dash to storage to be weak and achey. That caught me by surprise. Still, I was stronger and quicker than the last time I’d tried riding 3 consecutive days. Little improvements are still improvements.

The 1.4 mile back to storage didn’t go fast, but that was as much for Loke as me. Give him time to do his business, but also, he’d been a sleepy all day. He’d also taken the stairs with less verve than usual even with breakfast waiting for him. Outside, he was brisk enough, but inside, there seemed to be the tiniest hint of stiffness in his walk. He is nearly 11 after all. So, that trip back to the garage was really just a rolling walk. Riding is easier on me than walking and Loke gets more than a couple hundred meters.

The month still needed a bit less than 5 miles to give me the goal. With April 30th being such a huge drunken celebration in Sweden, I’m reluctant to go out on the roads. After wild consumption of alcohol in the city, the countryside will be dotted with bonfires. I’m sure more than a handful of people, inhibitions lifted and coherent thought muddled, will get the bright idea to jump behind the wheel to find one of the fires. I’d really rather not be on roads with someone who started early.

So! With that in mind, 4 consecutive riding days it was! Out I went yesterday, April 29th. I wanted at least 6 miles to give me a bit of a buffer in case the math was off somewhere, so off I aimed for a downtown loop. I’d stop by the American food store for some goodies. I could have taken pity on my tired legs, but I was too stubborn and out the water-laden trailer came with me.

Loke, however, did not. We hid my riding from him as best we could. That meant Jens didn’t drop me off at storage to cycle the trike to apartment and then back to storage in evening. Jens took him for a long, slow walk and I went into gear to get dressed and dash out the door.

It was one of the warmest days we’d had in weeks. Upper 40’s. Still pretty overcast though, with lines of darker bellied clouds marching shoulder to shoulder across the sky. As I pulled everything out of storage and hitched up, it came like a shock. A warm blush of light streamed down from the heavens and the world turned bright. I actually made a joking post on FB about the end of the world. Here I was bringing the trike out and instead of rain or snow, sunshine had hit. Surely it was a sign of impending doom! The past couple weeks, every time I’d look out the window of the apartment, I’d see sun, but step out the door with my riding clothes on, and it would be gray and sprinkle at least.

Amazingly, the weather only continued to improve, flying in the face of every weather forecast I had. On the TV said it would be rain with chance of thunder in the afternoon. My phone insisted the same as did computers. Yet, there I was riding dry and snug with temps reaching almost 60 F and increasing amounts of sun and blue sky. Soooooo nice!

I cheered when my Garmin displayed 5.00 miles. According to my records, that tipped me over the distance in April 2015. By less than a half mile, but still. Over is over. 2 miles later, I cheered again though with less vigor. I was feeling every little climb not to mention the evil headwind of 15-20 mph and higher gusts. My legs were exhausted, but I stubbornly went on with that water. It was a hamster track ride and I was going to do my best to drag that weight.

Why did I cheer at 7 miles? Because with those 2 extra miles added, it could confidently say I’d done more MILES in April 2016 than the previous year. Nitpicky I know, but sometimes the little goals keep me going.

As I came down the median path lined with birches and purple and white flowers toward the hospital, I decided to have a little fun (and rest) when I crossed the road ahead. The intersection sits right at the pate of a hill and then it’s a long and pretty steep plunge down to the bandi court. How far could I make it without pedaling?

The light changed and I gave myself a boost while scooting across. As soon as my trailer was clear of the road, I stopped pedaling. The start of the descent is very slight so I went as far over to the right on the cycle lane as I could. With the head wind, I wasn’t sure I’d make to where gravity could pull me on without giving another boost. Slower, slower until I was barely doing 1 mph. People walking by gave me curious looks.

But it happened. I started getting quicker and once it started it went really fast. The Garmin said we hit over 15 mph… and then I had to brake. There were 3 girls walking together, giggling and ignoring the traffic jam of bikes behind him. 3 skinny little things hogging over 15′ wide stretch of pavement. Grrrr.

The Swedes, and me, at first just politely rang bike bells, which they didn’t seem to hear in spite of not having earbuds in. I, annoyed, finally yelled “URSÄKTA!” (EXCUSE ME!). One gave a startled look and they scurried to “bunch” up on the pedestrian half of the pathway. They gave the cyclists and me dirty looks. How dare they be ‘made’ to walk with less than 3 feet between them! The pack of bikes, and me, raced onward down the hill.

In spite of that little hiccup, I made it all the way from the intersection to the near edge of the cycle/pedestrian drawbridge without a single turn of the pedals. .52 of a mile. I think without the girl incident, I would have made it across and whipped through the left turn and maybe all the way past the cafe too, foot traffic willing.

Not my best coasting distance, but certainly up in the top 5. Best is coming down from the heights on my birthday ride at Storblåsjön. Can’t remember how far it was before I had to turn the pedals for a couple yards before heading down again. 2nd best was probably last year on a stretch of the tour. There was a coast of about a mile and a half where I just went limp in the seat and rolled through the scenery on a delicate balance of gravity and inertia that sped me down with enough zip to get me up the next hill. Kinda like roller coasters after that first boost.

I popped into the American food store and chatted with the guy who was manning it. Not Charles. He spends most of his time in the much larger Stockholm shop.

As I flopped wearily back into the trike, my eyes fell on the cadence sensor as I clipped in. The dead cadence sensor. It’s been dead for months now. I rolled out, avoiding the crazy amount of people and cars that clogged the street. You’d think it was already Valborg from press of humanity. At the first left, I cut over to the street that cars are banned from. Right there at the corner is a little electronics shop. I pulled off the cadence sensor, locked up and went in. Came out 5 minutes later with the sensor fitted out with a fresh battery. I didn’t hurry to turn it on though. Seemed silly to start it with less than 3 miles left in the ride.

Another oblivious person nearly fell on me as I wound my way through the crowds toward home. I stopped and he kept coming, ignoring even my shouts of Swedish ‘EXCUSE ME!’. He bumped my fairing, which finally made him look from his phone because he was windmilling his arms in a struggle for balance to avoid toppling on me and the trike. He snarled about ‘Get a real bike’ in Swedish as he went to step around me. I replied in English, ‘Nice thing to say to someone who lost their ability to balance a bike because of a stroke.’ The look on his face was priceless.

Admittedly, I could probably balance a bike okay. After all, I walk fine when my muscles don’t scream at me, but the possibility of pain involved and wondering if maybe there is some slight loss of dexterity and reflex makes me wary. Not to mention that after so long on my comfy trikes, a bike just seems so very high and so very precarious. I just wanted to make him think and maybe avoid flattening some elderly soul shuffling along with a walker because he’s so absorbed in his phone.

The rest of the way back to the storage was uneventful. I was gritting my teeth to make the last few miles with the full load of water. I did it. 9.3 miles giving me 134.66 miles for April 2016. A whopping 4.76 miles more than last April with it’s 129.90 miles. I have 147 miles more as of today than I did on April 30th, 2015. More miles than I did this month. That’s less impressive than it sounds because the first 3 months of last year were so hard after the stroke.

My one disappointment with the month is that every single ride has been local. Not a single one done off the Hamster Track. Part of the ‘Long River Loop’ might not count as Hamster Track territory, but more than half of it does. Oh well. I’m getting stronger by pulling the water and need to add a couple liters.

Next month should be easier, barring unexpected obstacles. 90 miles will beat the 80 something of last year’s May.

Today though, is a rest day. No triking and an afternoon spent with Jens’ lovely family for a cookout before his parents take a trip to the US to visit the oldest of my husband’s 3 sisters. I’m looking forward to it.

 

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The Hamsters Scurry On!
April 28, 2016, 11:46 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yes we do. Not quite as often as we should, but Loke and I have still been going out at least on every 3rd day.

As a matter of fact, I went out with the fuzzy the very day I wrote the last post. The window thermometer said 44 F when Jens drove us to the storage which is what I dressed for. It had been sunny all morning, but as soon as we were in the car, it started to rain. The last 100 yards to the storage, it began to snow. Jens asked if he should just take me back home, but I said no. Since it had been a few rides where I’ve dragged the trailer around with over 12 lbs of water, I decided to leave the trailer.

Instead of heading out on even a proper River Loop, we made a dash for home because I was under dressed. It wasn’t raining hard, but it felt much colder than 44 F and even the snowflakes had a lot of water in them so I didn’t want to stay out too long.

Oh, wow. That’s all I could think as we rolled out. I felt strong! Pain-free! Loke was eager too as we cruised along. We hit the overpass across the 55 and I took the trike up and over with startling ease. Over 1 mph faster than I can usually manage. Flabbergasted, I still grinned the whole way back to the apartment.

Once there, I hunted around for another layer to pull on and waited for it to warm up a bit more while deciding what I wanted to do with the day.

This April has been quite a bit different than the last 3 or 4 previous. Most of them have been semi-warm. This one started off that way, but now has gone quite chilly. For more than a week, temperatures have been well below freezing upon my awaking. 27 F and sometimes a bit colder. It’s more like the first 4 or so April’s when I moved to Sweden. It’s made me a bit stubborn though as I’ve been resisting the need to unearth my cold weather stuff now put away since the snows disappeared. I especially want to avoid the footwarmers. My feet are so much happier without them.

These are new!

These are new!

Any way, after experiencing the unexpected strength I had, thanks to the multiple rides dragging the water-laden trailer, I decided to tackle something longer. Once I decided it had warmed enough and there was a break in the rain, we headed out.

The first portion of the ride was the humdrum hamster-track I use for dog-food runs. Off toward the train station for starters. Loke ticked along at a brisk pace and I pedaled on strongly. The short climbs continued to be almost easy. I wasn’t blazing up them, but at least I wasn’t quite at a snail’s pace. In spite of my strength, I made myself take it easy and relax. I admired flowers where they had popped out of the grass. I searched for more hints of leaves on trees. I spotted brand new purple birdhouses in the bronze animal park a stone’s throw from the train station. I went with a smile on my lips even though I expected to get rained on again.

Threatening skies.

Threatening skies.

We left the downtown area for the busier southern fringe of the city. It’s more open there, mostly busy roads and big box stores spaced wide apart with grassy spaces crossed by cycle ways. It gave a clear view of the skies around us.

No matter which way I cast my gaze, my eyes found dark bellied clouds trailing streamers of rain. In the midst of all that, came the buzz of a stunt plane’s engine. Too many clouds hung low for me to see it, but the sound of it was unmistakable. The pitch of the motor’s drone changing so distinctly, it gave me mental pictures of barrel rolls or loops.

I really was in a good mood as I pushed on, surrounded by the roar of traffic though removed from it thanks to the cycle way. Hard to believe I used to think it was nearly impossible to get from the northern to southern end of the city without tackling nerve-wracking streets. If you know where to find them, it’s practically cycle paths the entire way.

Ignore the store flags and railings. Nothing but flowers and trees...

Ignore the store flags and railings. Nothing but flowers and trees…

Soooo glad I missed the clouds that left this ice!

Soooo glad I missed the clouds that left this ice!

I scanned the slowly greening grass for flowers and found some at the underpass of the old E4 that leads to a cluster of stores. They were pretty and with the pale, smooth white trunks of young birches, still lacking leaves, it made a lovely image in spite of the surroundings.

Though faster, it still seemed to take forever to work our way out of that tedious stretch. By some miracle, the rain seemed to miss us. While passing the Ikea, Coop and Intersport, the sun found a break in the clouds. For a short time we were bathed in its warmth.

Also through there, I found how lucky I was. The grass was cluttered with crunchy patches of slushy ice. Clearly, I’d missed getting caught in it by a few minutes, half an hour at best. That would have been unpleasant to say the least!

The weather was crazy with random showers, snow and ice all around, but the road bikers were out in force. I’m not sure if there’s just a day where they all decided that it was officially the riding season (weather be damned!) or something else luring them in packs, but it’s the most I’d seen all year. Even a couple of cycle tourers! They looked to be the credit card types rather than campers. Many smiles, cheery waves, and nods all around.

Barn and clouds

Barn and clouds

We crossed a few busy roads and went under another. As we emerged from the tunnel, Loke tugged right, giving me a surprised look when I went left. His confusion continued when he tugged right again to follow along the footpath on the riverside we rode down during a detour on the last dogfood run. Once he realized we were heading on in a south-ish direction beside the 255, he was more than happy to trot along, his tail waving like a banner.

Sun and dramatic skies

Sun and dramatic skies

Not the most exciting place to ride, but it’s been a while since we’ve gone that way. Last autumn as a matter of fact, so it isn’t quite so firmly entrenched into ‘Hamster Track’ status as most every other road within a 15 mile radius of our apartment. Beyond it lies one of my favorite stretches of little country roads. It runs parallel to the river offering pretty little glimpses across pasture ground to the slow waters and reed-lined banks.

Loke likes the area. Once we reached the cycle ways that strayed off away from the roads, he perked up. The paths mostly wind through a kind of parkland that is common in many areas of Sweden’s residential areas. A wide grassy swathe behind some houses with a path. A place for kids to ride bikes well away from traffic. Some where quiet for people to walk, with or without dogs.

Scenery

Scenery

The little road rejoins the 255 and crosses the river. The bridge there is in the midst of being replaced. It’s caused quite a mess. Right now, there’s only one lane across so it’s set up to allow alternating directions to take turns. I was dreading it because it’s actually a climb to get across. The idea of pokey me getting caught in the middle of it when the directions changed made me cringe.

There was a solution. There’s no pedestrian way across. So, they had a special button that stops traffic altogether with time enough for a person to walk across. Perfect! I may be slow, but I’m generally faster than someone on foot unless it’s a very steep grade.

And of course, I was feeling faster on this ride. Admittedly, I was tiring by time we reached the bridge. Clearly my stamina needs improving. The longer ride without the trailer probably helps with that.

I breathed a sigh of relief upon making it over and immediately turning right onto the narrow, shady lane. I was curious to see how I’d do on the steepest climb of the ride.

It went well. It wasn’t a blaze of speed, but it felt much easier than I remembered it being and much shorter. From there, the gravel trail ran right along the river edge to downtown Uppsala. How I missed it. I avoided it over the winter because of the hill. Better to have waited for spring then to find out the hard way that snow and ice made it impassible. Images of skidding backwards into a tree or something.

We were almost back into Uppsala proper when I thought I noticed something a tiny bit off with Loke’s stride. Not limping exactly, but perhaps a faint hint of stiffness. We slowed to almost walking pace while I watched him. I didn’t see it again, but called the hubby any way to ask he come get Loke at the parking lot for the bandi court. It was less than half a mile away and right beside the river so no going out of the way required. We toodled along at 4 mph or less which mostly irritated the fuzzy.

The furball seemed to realize what was happening when I rolled to a stop near one of the buildings there for some shelter from the wind. As we waited for Jens, he harassed me. He woofed at me, stomped his feet, tried to climb into my lap or bully me onward. Clearly he thought he should go on with me. He’d done 16 miles, I saw no reason to push it. He was even reluctant to jump into the car with the promise of a goodie in Jens’ hand. That must be a first. He’s such a food monster.

Loke safely in the car on his way home with the hubby, I rolled out. I’ll admit it, I hammered the pedals. Just couldn’t help myself, but to see how fast I could make it back to the storage.

It was about 30 minutes to do 4 miles. It was probably a little faster than that once one accounts for traffic stops at lights of which there were 4. Not bad for me considering I’d done 16 miles with Loke.

My mood was good when I rolled to a stop at the storage. The ride had been such a surprise from the moment I’d rolled out after Jens dropped us off. I had been hoping/expecting that dragging the trailer would help with my strength, but not that it would have paid off so quickly spectacularly. Such a major improvement after just a few outings. It completely rearranged my mental state about the Hamster Track runs… provided I’m dragging the trailer full of water.

By some miracle, we’d completely avoided the rain for the entire long ride. Just a couple patters that ended almost as soon as they started. Missed the ice too which is also good.

The alternating parade of rain/snow and sun has continued through the days. Yes, snow.

Before the groomer....

Before the groomer….

There’ve been other rides, less exciting. One was a quick jaunt past the groomer’s to see how much time I needed to ride there with Loke. Roughly an hour if Loke’s being a slug.

The furball really needed that bath. He was looking more gray than white and rather whiffy. Washing him myself wasn’t really an option. Without a professional groomer’s industrial blower, he’s wet for days and the weather has been quite a bit colder. Low 40’s at best, 30’s mostly. Actually turned into an ‘old school’ April, like the first 4 or 5 when I moved to Sweden.

Finally the 25th arrived and riding to the groomer didn’t happen. It was just too cold and wet. I drove there and as parked, it started to snow. Not a light scattering of a few flakes here and there. A full on snowstorm, especially when I got back home. A dense fall of flakes as big as my thumb. The cathedral spires were completely obscured. I started to wonder if they were going to have to put down gravel, undoing the work of the ‘Great Sweeping’.

By the time I had to get the fuzzy, it had stopped.

And after! My husky's so bright, I gotta wear shades!

And after! My husky’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!

The very nice woman who owns the dog salon said it was just about the most fur she’s ever seen come off a husky. The pile had been bigger than he was. That surprised me given that he hadn’t been shedding a huge amount.

I also told her about the muzzle. She gave me a bit of a sheepish look and said that she had thought about suggesting such when I first told her about Loke’s allergies. Just muzzles can be such a sensitive subject so she didn’t say anything. But a friend of hers owns a food crazed black lab who has the same allergy issues Loke does.

With the pavement wet (but snow free) and puddles everywhere, it felt like such a crime to take Loke out into it. I definitely didn’t want to go riding with my fresh scrubbed furry. That’s worse than walking! To solve the problem of him getting to do his business, I actually drove us out to Fullerö to walk through the grassy pastures of the burial ground there. No puddles and no mud, just wet, winter-brown grass with a few flowers peeking here and there. All I had to do was hope he found no cow patties. He didn’t.

Since the 25th, I’ve ridden every single day. The trailer has rattled right along behind us for each of them. The weather has continued to be crazy as we’ve run around on the hamster track. Every time, it has rained on me. More annoying, it has been absolutely dry… until I go out the door to ride. Then the sprinkles start. Even if the day’s riding was broken into sections. Ride from storage to apartment in the morning, another ride in the middle of the day, and a quick dash back to storage in evening, it’s mostly been dry when I’m inside and starts raining minutes after I’ve rolled out. A few times, I’d look out the window at almost clear blue skies. Yet, rain on the ride just minutes later.

Today has been a little different. Was dry when Jens dropped us off, standard of late. Started to rain before we did a mile, again, standard of late. The difference was when I got home, damp and shivering, it kept raining and harder. Several hours on and still raining.

Still out I go even if it’s just short miles. The 26th was just short of 5 miles, roundabout ways to and from between storage and apartment. The 27th was better with over 12 miles. Today, I’ve done about 2.4 miles with the mad dash from storage to apartment before the rain at 36 F turned me into a block of ice. If the rain doesn’t stop, the half mile back to storage will the the last of it for the day.

I’ll go out again tomorrow, but hopefully for a few more miles. I need at least 6 miles to match last April’s total. The good news is I’m more than 136 miles ahead of where I was on April 28th, 2015. That’s a pretty good start on making 2016 my best for miles in a year on a trike.



Just Hamster-ing About
April 23, 2016, 6:57 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The title says it all. All my recent rides have been on the hamster-tracks in the local area. Round and round and round an….

You get the idea.

Nothing notable most of them. The sun was shining at times. It rained on us during others. Sometimes the splats of rain left little bits of slushy ice on us. Sometimes all of those on a single outing as most days have been in the low 40’s with a parade of scattered showers. There were flowers. Leaves have shyly creeping out on hedges for a couple weeks now. Some even have proper leaves. A few trees here and there are coyly allowing the faintest blush of green to tip their branches.

The most important things that have happened involving Loke and trike was our most recent trip to the brukhund (work dog) shop which sits just under our vet clinic.

On our way there, we’d crossed the old E4. Just beyond the intersection, I saw something small and reddish brown scurrying across the road right toward us. One of the busiest parts of Uppsala, as cars screeched to a stop and Loke went nuts, I was sure I’d witness someone’s pet cat getting creamed.

Not a cat. A hare. It was in a panic and swerving to and fro. Finally it bolted onward to our side of the road and past our back wheel about 10 yards behind us. Silly critter. Doesn’t he know wild animals avoid such developed areas especially during high noon? Of course, hares around here are more the equivalent of squirrels in the southern parts of the US. They’re everywhere. Squirrels here on the other hand, I see a handful or less in a year here.

The rest of the way to the shop went without incident.

I had a very specific purpose to go to the shop. If Loke had known, he would have dreaded it. The nice woman there helped me pick out what was needed, recommending one that was actually the cheapest of the selection, but that fit the furball properly.

A basket muzzle. That’s the kind that fits over a dog’s nose and mouth like… well, a basket. They can still bark, open their mouth to pant and even drink. They just can’t get their mouths around things. Evil things like the ends of hotdog buns that someone tosses to the ground.

It surprised me when Jens was the one who said I should get him one. There’s been a lot of cast off food bits scattered around of late and Loke’s like a heat seeking missile on a forest fire. When he’s made to walk like a show dog in a ring for an entire walk, he’s miserable and we’re miserable. So, to keep him from foods he’s allergic to and the subsequent infections, a muzzle it is. He can still sniff around, but just can’t eat anything he might find.

When I explained why he needed it, the woman nodded and said a lot of people do the same thing, though generally with smaller dogs because it’s so easy for them to get fat if they’re scoffing every bit of food people drop on sidewalks. Perhaps she was just trying to make me feel better, but she said in her experience, the food issue was more common a reason for such a muzzle than for biting.

Loke hates it. The first couple walks, he really tried hard to paw it off. I’ve convinced him not to do that. My tricksy boy has tried to be sneaky though. The last walk I did with him, he started shoving his face deep  into the hedges and then thrashing his head around, trying to snag the muzzle on the branches to pull it off. I’m working on convincing him not to do that too. Most of the time, he doesn’t seem to exert his brain too much. When he does, he surprises me with how clever he is about whatever he’s trying.

I feel bad about it. I do. Especially when he spotted a stick and tried to pick it up. He’s so cute when he’s trotting along with a stick, eyeing me as if in challenge for me to take it. I’d feel even worse about needing to put an otherwise perfectly healthy husky down because he burned through antibiotics and has a superbug eating his feet off all because he kept sneaking foods he’s allergic to.

At least he won’t need it while running with the trike.

Jens is already planning for summer vacation. He wants to go fishing up north and has asked I look for places I might want to ride in the region he’s pointed out. Not a lot to see up there in terms of runestones, castles and the like, but still NOT the hamster track. So, we’ll see.

That’s about all there is to say on that for now. Hopefully something more with interesting photos soon.



Pedaling On
April 6, 2016, 7:00 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

No photos for this post. Just been plodding around in circles though one circle was significant.

Since Neil, the bike shop owner, poked at my gears, they’ve been doing pretty well. Baffling to say the least.

Loke’s face – it’s healing nicely now. It had a bit of chaos when we had a cookout dinner at my in-laws. Jens left before I did to walk Loke to his parents. When I got there, he told me the scab from the surgery wound had mostly come off. I looked and it was hanging by the smallest little bit, swinging around as Loke caromed around their little apartment. We got him pinned and I took a small pair of scissors to klip it loose.

The wound looked a bit angry, but the circumference was smaller at least. Later, he got sneaky and scratched it. It bled, but it’s not supposed to be wiped or even patted with something that can disturb the edges of it. Didn’t have any saline to flush it either. The whole thing left me feeling frustrated. Tina’s husband took a quick look and said it looked good. Healing well and no infection. He was an ICU nurse before he decided to branch into another career, so he’s easy to believe.

The chaos might have actually helped though. It’s been healing faster it seems. Of course, it might just be that the fact it’s smaller means it doesn’t have as far to go to close so it just looks faster.

I went for a ride on April 3rd though lacked absolutely any enthusiasm for it. The weather was leaden gray, though at least warm enough to not need more than an extra layer of wool on my top. I didn’t even bother with shoe-covers let alone footwarmers.

I’m not even sure where I found the oomph to get the riding clothes and shoes on, let alone actually out the door. But I did. The vague idea of heading out into the countryside for Loke’s sake rattled briefly through my head. The furball quickly changed my mind. He was a giant slug only wearing a husky costume. There was no part of me that had the patience to toodle along on a hamster track at 4 mph for 3 hours or more. Spring isn’t far enough along to make the scenery green or with colorful carpets of flowers. Clouds added to the murk. A whopping 4.5-ish miles.

It might have been the day of the slug ride, but I goggled at something on FB. I’ve been friends with the woman who owned Loke’s parents and bred him. Through her, some people in Norway who own a couple of Loke’s siblings from the same litter and race them friended me. They posted about one of their runs with Loke’s brother Eric in the forefront of the accompanying photo. It pretty much translated to something about the awesomeness of older dogs. Eric, nearly 11 years old and he did 28 km in an hour. 17.4-ish miles… in an hour.

I can’t remember Loke’s best. Probably not more than 9 miles in an hour. I mentioned that and the man who had posted replied that Loke’s brother had all the other dogs to egg him on. Admittedly, Loke’s all by himself and stuck at my best pace. Of course, I don’t let him charge headlong any more. Just some gentle loping because of arthritis.

Very impressed with Loke’s siblings setting that pace.

The next ride was the very next day after the previous slow, bored one.

The weather is what I might call a ‘flat’ day. When I stepped out, it wasn’t warm or cold. The sky looked like a sheet of lead and the light was so neutral there wasn’t a shadow to be seen which made things look almost two dimensional. Flat.

My mood was better about going out than on the previous day. Though still on the hamster track, it yet had purpose beyond ‘run Loke, get exercise and add miles’. Jens dropped us off at the storage since parking in the area has gotten more difficult and, as they are squeezing in another apartment building, will only get worse. I immediately set to work to check the air in the trailer’s tires, get everything up the slope and hitched up. Off we went with the Burley Cargo trailer rattling behind.

I think I’m going to start pulling it around on all the hamster tracks. I just found we had some 1.5 and 2 liter soda bottles hiding in return sacks for extra ballast. Someone asked why I don’t just drag my camping gear around. Well, water I can pour out if my knees start bothering me to make it easier to get back home. If I’m shopping or such, again, it can be poured out to change the weight for something I’ve bought instead of doubling up. Also, if I leave the trailer to run in somewhere, I don’t have to worry about coming back out to find someone’s pilfered my tent and sleeping bag.

I headed off for downtown though had to make a quick detour by the apartment. Since changing from an iPhone to a Samsung, my wallet and phone cover are two separate items again. I’m always forgetting one or the other. This time, it was my wallet. They really need to hurry up and ship the new wallet cases for the new Galaxy Edges. It wasn’t a total loss though, it added about a mile.

The first errand was to stop in at the groomer. My route passed within 100 yards so it was almost quicker to go there than call. She looked so baffled when I walked in. Clearly, not many people show up in her shop to make an appointment. The earliest time she had was the 25th. That’s fine as it will give Loke’s face plenty of time to be healed for it. He needs it. Oh, how he needs it.

Then we headed off deeper into the city, coming out near the hospital and poking down the big hill there to join up with the riverside path through downtown. We turned away from it to make for the walking street.

I made another quick stop to run into the little kitchen shop I’d spotted the last time I pedaled there. They have some nice stuff. There was one brand of cookware I liked the look of. I think I’ll buy a new pie form the next time I’m there since or last one developed a leaking crack and had to be discarded. Perhaps I’ll buy it today.

Then I rolled by the American food store. I would have kept going except I saw Charles’ wife running the shop. I popped in to buy a couple things and say hi. It was brief, she got a call so couldn’t chat right then and the place was busy.

Finally, we headed toward the main errand of the ride. The produce stand.

I was grinning as I rolled to a stop where I generally park at the edge of the tent. I didn’t really expect much as it’s too early for their really tasty watermelons or cherries. I bought one of the smaller, less flavorful watermelons found in Sweden year round though, some grapes and a bit of asparagus for dinner. As I walked up to the register, the man gave me a big smile and asked how I was. Clearly I’m remembered. A plump woman dressed in garish tights and spandex top on a recumbent trike with a white husky and yellow wagon. Yeah, not something one forgets if they see more than once or twice.

Paid for my haul and got it for a steal. Great looking fruit and vegetables for cheaper than anywhere else.

Errands done, the trike pointed back toward our end of Uppsala. I was coming up to the intersection with the cycle shop and mosque when my phone jangled. Stopping for the light, I took a moment to check. It was a text from the cycle shop to let me know my new tire had arrived. I laughed and made the crossings to roll right up to the shop.

Lotten looked a bit harried as she juggled a phone and waved a hello. When she had a moment to breathe, she apologized that they were so fully booked that Thursday (April 7th) was the soonest they could fit me in for the tire change. I assured her it was fine. The studded rear tire was hardly noticeable and as it’s the last time it will be used, a little more wear doesn’t matter.

Leaving the cycle shop, I tried to call Jens, but got a refusal followed by a text to say he was on a work call. That told me he wouldn’t be able to fetch us from the storage in timely fashion, so I rolled back to the apartment. 11.5 miles and lots done.

The timing was good too. It was getting cold! When I started it was almost 50 F. By the time I parked the trike at the apartment, it was a brisk 42 F. My feet were feeling it. There were also a few spits of rain. Not even enough to dampen me, but a warning.

A couple hours later, the hubby’s work day was done, so out Loke and I went again. It was still more than hour before sunset so I had no need of the nifty lights Jens bought me a few months ago.

On the longer run, Loke had been a bit lackluster. Not as pokey as the previous ride, but not a machine either. Oddly, as we set out for the storage, aiming to add a couple miles to the distance between here and there, he was suddenly a blaze of enthusiasm. His legs were a blur and his tongue flopped in a husky grin. I have no idea why. Maybe he sensed the coming rain and wanted to be snug and dry before it arrived.

We got speckled on the 2.3 mile roll and arrived at storage less than a minute before Jens. As we sat down in the car, a proper sprinkle began. How’s that for timing? Not a bad day’s work. Several errands taken care of and more than 13.8 miles under wheel and paws.

I’ll be riding more of course, but no telling when it will be off the hamster tracks. The trike will go to the shop today to get the tire swapped bright and early. Friday, Jens is going on fishing for the day with a couple friends. Not sure about anything else yet.

Loke and I are itching for some place fresher though…



Spring Marches On!
April 2, 2016, 7:03 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Things have been a fiasco.

Did I mention Loke had surgery? I must have. On March 21st, Loke went to our usual vet clinic in the morning. The surgery went fine and the growth on his face was removed. When it stayed small and hidden in the fur of his face, not giving any trouble, I was content to leave it. Once it started growing fast and getting scratched, I was a bit worried. So off it had to go.

Unfortunately, it was right where Loke could lick it. So it’s been a bit of a challenge.

Finally it started healing. Keeping Loke from cramming his face into hedges on walks has been a challenge. The entire neighborhood is practically one big hedge and the furball insists on sticking his face in them to find the perfect spot to ‘leave his calling card’.

Still, we managed. He licked at it a lot, but didn’t seem inclined to scratch. So, he was only wearing the cone at night. After a week, we forgot to put the cone on the furball. Awoke Monday morning to discover he’d pulled the stitches open somehow.

Being the Monday after Easter, the clinic was closed so off I raced to the animal hospital. Naturally, Loke was being cuddly. He wanted to rest his head on my shoulder on the drive. Quite creepy, I might add. Big huge (so it looked) pit of raw meat on his face so close to my ear or cheek. It was a perfect circle about the size of a dime.

The visit to the animal hospital didn’t take too long. The vet decided to leave the wound open. It was infection free and showing all signs of healing well. Restitching it would have meant sedating Loke again and cutting the edges back to fresh skin before sewing it back up. It was still creepy, but it is healing.

Jumping forward to Wednesday, March 30th, I dropped the Sprint off at the awesome cycle shop for the tire change and yet another tweak on the gears. Lotten was already leaping around as the spring rush on cycle shops continue. Silly people waiting until the last moment. If they’re like me and swapping tires once they’re sure the snow is gone, it makes sense. If their bikes have been sitting around in storage over winter, it makes less sense.

Once she had a moment to breathe, she put a lock on my trike and took the tires. The brand new 20″ for the front and the older 26″ for the rear. As we went to do the check in paper work, I said it was probably the last season for the big tire. Lotten took a closer look and nope. Last season was the last.

Though the tread and rubber looked good at a glance, there were all sorts of little cuts right down to the kevlar when the tire was flexed. We were both surprised. She asked how many flats had I gotten, looking amazed when I said none. Clearly the kevlar was doing its job.

Of course, it meant I needed a new tire right away. Wouldn’t you know it? It seems that 26″ wheels are on the way out and tires right along with them. They didn’t have the one I needed, but I offered to look at other cycle shops and bring one. Lotten told me she didn’t think I’d find one, but if I did, awesome!

She was right! I hurried off to the two biggest shops with bikes I could think of. Neither had 26″ tires of any kind. One shop, I even asked and got a baffled look as if I’d asked for one made of pink rubber that leaves the scent of rose petals in the air while rolling.

I called them at the shop and Neil, the owner answered. I told them I hadn’t been able to find one, but instead of putting the old tire on and hoping it would hold out, just to leave the current studded tire on the rear. It was the last season for it any way so it wouldn’t hurt to roll along on it.

Then things got really confusing. Neil thought the ordered tire was coming the next day so maybe I could leave the trike overnight? I agreed.

Just before the shop closed, Bobby called too, but can’t remember exactly what we talked about because Lotten called just a bit later.. or was it the next morning? I also asked Bobby to again to tweak the gears.

Well, the gist was that the tire wasn’t coming for a week or more because it was from the other who supplier who didn’t have a 24 hour shipping policy. So, I just repeated to leave the current 26″ studded on it for now.

The next morning, I got the text to pick it up.

The weather was a bit unstable and I ended up putting off going for a ride.

New tires!

New tires!

I started getting dressed with the sun out. It was about 58 F which I dressed for. No shoe covers, no wool. Just my summer weight top and tights.

Pulled the trike out of the car and assembled it all. I was grinning at the sight of dust on the fresh new tires. The smile didn’t last long.

It was a bad ride almost from the start. Loke was completely crazed, which isn’t a negative. He’d been bouncing insanely while I put the seat on. A hare with a bee up its nose would probably have jumped around less.

This ride just kept getting better...

This ride just kept getting better…

The problem was the gears were being difficult even before we’d gone the first mile and worse than before. To add to the fun, the chain was jerking and yanking around as if it was skipping teeth on the rear cogs. That’s very hard on the knees. The fact that it wasn’t shifting very well didn’t help either. I clicked 5 times and the derailleur didn’t budge. Then it jumped 6 on the next turn.

Loke was too excited for me to turn back so I pushed on, determined to do the best I could. Clouds scudded in at high speed. What had been a mostly clear blue sky became ominous to the north and east. By mile two, the temperature had plummeted from almost 60 F to just above 40 F. Dressed for much warmer temps, I started shivering.

On we went, the trike lurching along when I had to pedal. The moments where it worked, it was great. It practically flew with the new tires and their much lower rolling resistance over the studded. A few times I wondered if it only felt like the gears weren’t changing because it was so much easier rolling. All I had to do was listen to hear that it was off though.

As we came along the river, the sun was completely gone and the wind, bitterly cold I might add, kicked up. Passing the back of the swim hall, spits of rain came down. Then we made the turn onto Gamla Uppsala Road and the cherry on the hellish ride appeared. A mentally ill woman, railing and screaming at the world. She saw us and vented her fury on us, shrieks raising to new heights. As we came close to passing her, she started spitting.

I was already upset, stressed and miserable. If any of that had hit me, I would have completely lost it. I was glad of that wind, cold or not, because it was blowing toward her and away from me as she kept trying to splatter me with saliva.

About 15 yards on, Loke decided he wanted to make a deposit on the path which I had to clean up. Fortunately, the woman stayed where she was rather than running as us while stopped.

Less than 4 miles. Loke was disappointed, but I was just glad to get the hell over. Snuggled up under the electric blanket and went into a deeper, frustrated funk.

Jens was in Denmark for a few days, but saw my posts on FB about the aggravation. He encouraged me to call ICE. I figured he was right, but needed to know exactly what parts I had. So, April 1st (yesterday), I drove to the cycle shop to ask about it.

Bobby was out sick, but Neil and Lotten were there. When I explained what was happening, he asked if I had the trike with me. Backed up as they were, he was still happy to look. Bless him.

He slapped it right up on the stand and I turned pedals while he looked. He couldn’t see a single issue. Everything lined up fine and, predictably, worked flawlessly. Shifted promptly and no jerking chain.

We were both baffled. He poked around at it a bit, trying to find anything wrong, but it stubbornly performed as it should. He recommended I try riding it again and let him know.

We also had a bit of a chat about what to do if the problem insisted on cropping up again. He had a theory that part of the problem might be that the gear shifter and the derailleur don’t have perfect compatibility. It seems that 9 speeds are on the way out. 10 and more speed rear cassettes are now the ‘thing’. Because of that, the selection of the grip shifts available to replace the old were limited and not entirely perfect. It had been something he and Bobby had beat their heads on before finding something they had hoped would work.

Kind of aggravating to have the original grip shift break shortly after I’d replaced the chain and cassette and then find out 9 speeds are being phased into oblivion.

So, I headed home to try the gears again. While doing so, I also looked on ICE’s web site to find the Sprint 26 model now comes with 10 speed, rather than 9, as standard. So, if the problems continue, perhaps biting the bullet and making the upgrade will help. I must admit, I swooned a bit seeing that the 10 speed cassette on the new Sprints was an 11-36. That would give me an even lower granny gear to help with hills!

Paying for new lengths of chain for the swap stings a bit. That’s about 1000 kr or more right there.

A better outing all around!

A better outing all around!

Warily, I plodded out to assemble the trike, which has been in the car since the Saturday where I rode to Funbo Church.

The weather looked more promising at least. It was a tad warmer and the clouds were innocent, harmless puffballs floating in blue skies. Loke was happy to be out again. Not quite as crazed as on March 31st, but still moving like a machine. As for the trike? Flawless. Not the least little hiccup or hitch in the shifting or chain. With the summer tires, we sped along and did one of our best times for the River Loop in a while.

Oh! And not a single soul who screamed and spit at us!

Before heading back home, I swung by the cycle shop to let Neil know it worked fine. He was baffled. I was baffled.

I’m pretty sure I see some upgrades coming in the trike’s future though. I’ve got to keep her rolling. My trikes are my wings, my freedom!

Oh, one more thing! When I was running and errand yesterday through downtown Uppsala, I took a slightly roundabout way home to pass by Vaksala Square not far from the train station. The produce stand is already here! I foresee the start of twice weekly rides to fetch fruit with trike and trailer starting next week!

Pity it’s yet too early for watermelon and cherries. *wistful sigh*

P.S. The test results on the growth from Loke’s face came back benign. Just a little cyst of the sebaceous gland often found on older animals.