Terii’s Cycling Babble


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.

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