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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