Terii’s Cycling Babble


Yet More Hamster-Track…
May 31, 2016, 6:30 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The rides continue. I’ve not done anything anywhere else because I simply don’t have the confidence to go for longer rides so haven’t attempted more of the Mälardalsleden, especially with Loke.

Jens is determined to go fishing up north in July, but I’ve been having a hard time motivating myself to plot rides up there. Culturally, not much to see in the area he’s chosen. No runestones to chase down. Burial grounds are lacking and even, very few churches that are older than say, the 1800’s.

Google Street View screen grab.

Google Street View screen grab.

Google Street View hasn’t helped inspire me either. Seems like every road I look at with it shows just stubby little trees, tightly packed, hiding the horizon. Leaves me wondering if the trees are really old, but stunted with the cold. After all, I stood in Nordkapp, Norway over looking a birchwood forest and had no clue at first because the trees were no taller than 3 inches or so, but older than the 30 foot ones outside our apartment. Or was everything along the roads clear-cut a 20 years ago or so and just starting to grow back?

Personally, I’m going with the clear-cut theory because I recall seeing taller trees that far and further north. Whole forests of them around Jokkmokk. Or am I misremembering?

Either way, not terribly inspired. Hours and hours of stubby trees hugging a boring road?

It doesn’t help that I now panic at the thought of something going wrong with the trike and completely ruining the vacation. Triggering a big melt down just like it did when I last rode around the northern end of the Stockholm area. That’s left me a bit ‘gun-shy’ as it were.

A prime example is the ride from May 22nd.

Loke’s feet have been a bit soft lately, no clue why. I had to dig around to find a set of socks and then set off to the ‘Long River Route’. The one where I make a dash for the southern end of the city, riding along the river and then cutting across it, then up over the big hill to take the gravel bike path back into the heart of Uppsala. The weather was fairly pleasant and the first half the ride was fine.

Coming out of downtown Uppsala along the train tracks, I darted across the old E4 and was about to cross another road to take the cycleways further south, when I saw the barricades at the crossing of the ‘vintage rail track’ had been turned in. All winter, with the old steam engine and it’s antique passenger cars put away, they’ve been turned out so crossing the track has been no problem. Just roll and bump across. Now, I’d have to get off the trike and try to wrestle it through the ‘S’ swerve to get around the bars. They must have started running the train already.

Muttering, I made my way to the McDonald’s entrance to cut over onto the cycle paths instead. As I rejoined the proper path, I heard a single ‘clang’ of the crossing bell at the old E4. I stopped. Loke sighed at me impatiently as I listened hard. After a minute, I heard it. A ‘chuff’. I grinned and snatched my phone to run to the crossing.

Yay! Steam Engine!!! :D

Yay! Steam Engine!!! 😀

There are actually 2 engines that run the line, pulling the old carriages. One is a steam engine. The other is a noisy brick of a diesel machine. I’ve seen the brick shaped engine 3 times. I’d never seen the steam engine, not in 12 summers in Sweden. I was sure that was about to change. The ‘chuff’ of a steam engine and ‘chug’ of a diesel are so dissimilar, I was sure the steam engine was coming.

It was so neat! Like me, it wasn’t fast. I felt a kinship with it as it just kinda toodled by, the engineer giving a wave. I couldn’t stop grinning.

When I was a kid, my dad got ‘me’ a train set. He pretty much took it over, but never said I couldn’t play with it. He converted a spare room we had into one huge, room-sized table with a rail complex, complete with a mountain tunnel, little houses and lots of intersections. Literally, there was only enough space to open the door, squeeze into the ‘control center’ and close the door behind you and perhaps have a friend or a parent in to join in the fun. If the train jumped track, it was a challenge to climb up on the table and avoid crushing anything. It was awesome.

My absolute favorite engine to run around those dozens and dozens of feet of interlaced tracks was the steam engine dad had gotten for me special. There was even a liquid you could drip into the smoke stack to make it puff as it ran.

Honestly though, I adored steam engines even before that train set we had when I was 8 years old until I was almost 12. So, getting to see this one was the highlight of the day. Things went a bit pear-shaped a bit further on.

First was the socks. They were older ones, without the hook-n-eyes and Loke lost them one by one until just a solitary one remained as I was coming up to the bridge. 1 sock, 4 feet. The math doesn’t support it very well. I was relieved that the gravel trail, kinder on Loke’s feet, was so close. Once I made it there, home would be near enough and Loke’s feet would be fine.

The bridge has been under construction for the better part of the year, but since it was Sunday, I wasn’t worried about that.

Yeah… not worried. Little did I know.

As I was coming up to the bridge, I watched as cars were suddenly forced to turn around. There were people dressed in bright yellow work clothes and a large machine chugging around. One car came down the road I was on and the man stopped to warn me they were closing the bridge, no way to pass. Then he also said I need a flag to make myself more visible, but very polite about. Kindly concern rather than the snarky sort many American drivers would have where they don’t think people should bike on ‘their’ roads.

As we chatted briefly, I saw a guy on a bike go across the bridge. I said farewell and headed up the last bit of climb to take the right turn onto the bridge road…. and was 1 minute too late. The workers dropped a boom across and gathered in the middle of the bridge to stand around. I wasn’t allowed to cross.

A pedestrian was in the same predicament. He’d crossed earlier to walk in the nature reserve with his very enthusiastic dog, but now couldn’t get back home. They wouldn’t even let him hurry across though all they were doing was standing in the middle of the bridge talking. Poor man was waiting for his son to come get him and the dog to take them on the long round-about way back to the downtown Uppsala to come all way back to this end of the river.

As for me, well, there was no help for it but to go back the way I came. I checked Loke’s feet. They didn’t look too bad, so I decided to see how far we could go rather than bother Jens with this ‘gone wrong’ event.

Early warning of approaching riders.

Early warning of approaching riders.

Loke was quite happy at first. I can’t remember the last time we’ve gone north on that pretty little road beside the river. As we made the turn back onto the cycle way, I spotted a horse staring off down the trail. She was very intent, not even sparing a flick of her ear toward Loke and I. The path curved and with trees along it, I couldn’t see too far ahead, but the horse was warning enough. I unclipped my helmet and stood up.

Sure enough, a pair of women came along on beautiful horses. The one in the lead was a bit skittish at the sight of us, though calmed quick enough when I started talking with the riders. They thanked me for knowing just what to do to help keep their animals from freaking out over such an unusually shaped bike. Fortunately, neither horse was afraid of dogs. Swedish horses don’t bat a lash at a normal bike, but something as unusual as a recumbent that they’ve never seen before can panic some of them.

By this point, Loke had done about 5 miles without socks on some of his feet. They were starting to look a bit worrisome in  my opinion. Home was still over 7 miles away. There was no way he’d make it without bleeding.

I stopped and nearly had a complete melt-down. I was in an absolute panic about calling Jens to come get him and upsetting him about ‘something else going wrong with riding the trike’. For Loke’s sake though, I did it. His feet still were fine at that moment, but I wasn’t going to even risk going further. I was lectured about not having enough socks for the fuzzy. It didn’t improve my mood.

I hammered the pedals the rest of the way back to the storage. After that, still upset and depressed, I walked home rather than calling Jens to come get me. My body hated it, but I hated the idea of aggravating my husband more. Of course that just upset him anyway.

You know, it turned out he didn’t even remember the huge meltdown from the tire incident on the last ‘not local’ ride near his work? I haven’t been able to let go of how bad it felt that the comments made me feel like his life would be perfect if not for the trikes.

That’s probably another reason for my lack of enthusiasm about taking the trike up north for a fishing/cycling holiday. Heaven forbid if something goes wrong with the trike.

In spite of the drama (mostly me freaking out needlessly from that that one calamity weeks ago), Jens continues to show his support for my cycling in other ways. He bought me a road ID bracelet about a month ago. My name engraved on a metal plate with emergency contact numbers if anything happens. We went to look for a wind breaker for him at XXL sporting goods and he dragged me over to the cycle shoes where I tried on about 4 pairs.

Can you believe it?! I actually FOUND a pair that seems to fit! The first two, there was no way. My toes and instep felt crushed right away. The 3rd pair felt kinda okay. As I walked around my toes weren’t smashed though not a lot of room and it felt a little snug across the top of my instep, but not horrible. Jens actually insisted we get them as a back up. My current Shimano touring shoes are pushing 5 years old now and who knows how long they’ll last. Unfortunately, the model is out of production and the one the company released to replace it don’t fit the same way. No space for my high instep.

I wasn’t convinced it was a good idea to get the ‘mostly fit while walking around’ ones, as I seemed to remember one of previous pair of foot destroying shoes felt about the same before I started riding.

Yay! New cycle shoes!

Yay! New cycle shoes!

As I was putting on my normal shoes, another pair caught my eye. I almost didn’t try them because they were Northwaves which were the worst of the 4 pairs of cycle shoes I’ve had since 2006. But they looked kinda roomy and the color wasn’t an eye-bleeding shade of pink or purple either. Women’s cycling gear, ugh!

Glad I took the chance. They were far roomier than the ones Jens was walking off with. Enough so that I even tried the next size down which didn’t quite work. They were too short so my big toes were rubbing the ends and a bit too much pressure over the top of my foot. I grabbed a box of the original size and caught up with Jens to swap out the ones he was standing in the checkout line with.

I’ve not cycled with them yet. They’re tucked away for now though I wore them around the apartment for a couple hours to see if any issues cropped up. Nope! Seemed pretty comfy. The real test will be riding with them, but once I mount the cleats, I can’t return them because it requires cutting the soles to expose the slots. Better or worse, they’re my next shoes. So, here’s hoping they’ll work fine once I do need them.

Jens also found a sale on some things at one of the online sites for sporting goods. He recommended we buy me some tights. They didn’t have the size I’ve been wearing, but I’ve lost quite a few inches in the past months, so he suggested we try the next size down. Unfortunately, the only non-black tights in the size we were willing to try are in a color called ‘plum’, which is a very intense mauve shade really. A blue or a green would have been nicer. A nice medium shade of gray best of all. But, no! Women can only exercise in pinks and purples! Or black… the eternal, roast-your-way-into-a-heatstroke black.

The tights arrived and I’ve been for a ride in one set of them and they fit fine! But I must have been a sight to see. Recumbent trike, fuzzy husky who’s leaving clouds of fur with every step, and vivid pink-purple tights and top with clashing blue men’s running shorts. All it would have needed to be perfect was the new blue cycle shoes!

Hideous color or not, the tights fit so well we even ordered another pair in a darker blue which they got in recently. I’ll use those on cooler days.

Let’s see… anything else?

The new brakes continue to be awesome! I love how sensitive they are. Not worrying about dust getting into the cable housing because there are no cables is nice too! Hydraulics are so far great.

Oh! Trailer dragging. It’s been feeling a bit mixed of late. Mostly, I think it’s more because of stroke symptoms making my body feel weak when it’s actually stronger. One ride I did a couple weeks ago, I felt very sluggish and lacking in strength at the start of the ride. As I headed toward downtown, we hit one of the long slow climbs that I generally creep along. Dragging the trailer, I expected to be going along at like 1 mph and take for ever. Feeling weak or not, I went up that incline faster and it almost felt as if it had gone from 4% to 2% or less of a grade.

Oh! The ride where I couldn’t cross the bridge, I did with the trailer. I simply lightened the load for the 20-ish mile ride. I had a bit of a shock as I did that. I thought at best, I was dragging around 9 liters of water. As I started pulling out the bottles, they kept coming, hiding under a spare jacket I have in there too for cold snaps. Not 9, but 15 liters of water I’d been dragging around for at least the last 3 rides. That means every ride already had several liters more than I thought it did, hiding under my yellow windbreaker! For that disastrous day, I pulled 8 liters. Would have been nice to see if I could have made that very steep climb with it.

The last 3 rides have been with 17 liters of water. Today’s ride which I’m about to get ready for, I’ll be doing with 20 liters. That’s 44 lbs of water in my trailer. I’ll also be going to the produce stand. If I get watermelon though, I think I’ll empty a 2 or 3 of the bottles rather than risk my knees exploding with an sudden jump of an extra 5 lbs added to my first 20 liter ride.

I’ll admit, I feel kinda giddy about that. I would like to be dragging at least double the weight of my full camping gear. That way, when I try to go up hills with half the weight, it won’t completely kill me. That’s what happened the last time I tried doing a loaded tour. Thought I was in pretty good shape, but got into a hilly region with my camping stuff and 5 miles later, I was waving the flag of defeat, hardly able to move.

Also, I beat May with miles to spare. I needed 90 miles to officially beat May 2015. With today’s ride, I will have over 120 miles for the month. It would have had more, but I’ve been sick for quite a few days. It didn’t completely stop me though. One day last week, even being so sick I didn’t want to move, I still dragged myself out the door, in the rain, for a short ride. I’d gone 2 days without riding, I was not about to let it stretch into 3 days.

So! On to break 120 miles for the month before it gets too warm! A lovely day so far. Blue skies, sunshine and might get up to 80 F. Want to be done before it gets too warm for a husky to want to run!



Upgrades!
May 20, 2016, 9:31 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

My riding has continued in spite of my infrequent posts on here. It’s just been running the Hamster Track and not much happening on the outings.

Loke’s been doing well. He’s not started the crazy sneezing though we’re using the muzzle again on local walks where people might be throwing bits of hotdog bun or the like around. No fresh outbreaks of infection.

The most significant thing with him right now is the sheer amount of shedding. Normally, after a visit to the groomer, he barely sheds until it’s time for a coat change. This last trip there, I think we slightly jumped the gun from that perspective. The furball desperately needed it though. He was grungy and starting to mat though I brushed him. All that road salt gunked in his fur from the thaw. But the weather hadn’t really broken into spring yet. So, a lot of fur came off, but with the chill temps, his coat held on to a lot of the undercoat. Less than 2 weeks later, we had that hot snap where it was almost summery and suddenly there were shed clumps of husky fur the size of whales turning up in the apartment. When Loke shakes, a cloud of white bursts into the air around him.

I brush him, huge amounts of fur come off…. and keep coming off. I could probably spend an hour brushing a spot the size of a hand on his shoulder and an endless parade of fur will just keep appearing.

The weather has been fairly mixed though mostly on the cool side. Not much rain except for one or two days. Any precipitation is good right now though. The last couple weeks of April, it rained and iced any time I so much as stuck my nose out the door in my cycle clothes. Sunny while I dressed, rain, ice or snow when I walked to the car and rode the trike.

Apparently, it was just torturing me and not really doing enough to dampen the area. Just 2 days after April 30th, when we had a bout of clear and quite warm days, we had fire warnings for all of Uppland. I thought for sure we’d had enough rain to avoid that, but seemingly not. It was just enough rain to torment me.

Round and round. Still accumulating the miles.

Yesterday was one of the longer mileage days for the month. Actually, the longest ride this May. Pretty sad really at just 12.93 miles. The rest have been under 10 miles. Just no inspiration. And it was no except for the last ride. I had absolutely no motivation to go out the door for a ride. The last few, I’ve felt rather weak and slow. No increase in strength and/or stamina even with rest days.

It was Loke that finally motivated me. After as long a walk as I could manage, breakfast, petting and even tossing a toy around, he still was a bully. So, I dragged on the clothes and pushed myself out the door. Given how I’ve felt on my rides, the water-laden trailer stayed in the garage.

The weather wasn’t too bad yesterday. Quite breezy, mostly cloudy and temperatures that bounced between 62 F to 72 F depending on whether the sun peeked out or not. The wind had a bit of a chill to it that balanced the heat of the sun.

Once we were on the way, Loke was… unenthusiastic. He wasn’t sluggish, he just wasn’t brisk. He didn’t even try to run for the first quarter mile like he usually does. Made me doubt we’d get more than 6 miles done.

My plan to head north on the extension of the cycle way beside the river was discarded when it sounded like a small war as happening at the garrison. Pops and cracks of rifles and guns of various caliber. All that was lacking to sound like a movie’s combat scene was the shriek of artillery and blast of jets. Loke doesn’t care for those kind of noises if they sound too close, so it seemed best not to get too close.

I decided to try and make up the miles by going further back into Uppsala. Perhaps go to the American food store.

It astounds every year how quickly things become green here… once it actually begins. The first part of spring is so dull and dismal. Bare limbs, dead grass, and naked fields of plowed mud. Flowers appear, but they’re kinda like diamonds in the muck for a while. Then finally, the leaves peek out of their buds on the trees after weeks and overnight, everything becomes bright greens and lush. Dense tall grass and trees crowned in verdant glory.

That’s where it is now. It brightened my mood of frustrated apathy.

Better was to come. One of the cycle ways toward downtown has a half mile or more with a 4% grade or so. It’s one that I’ve never been fond of. It slows me down and makes me work for it. Oddly, in spite of the sluggish weakness of the past rides, I cruised the trike up fairly easily. Faster as well. I felt almost buoyant finding that my strength was still improving. Also a little guilty that I’d left the trailer behind.

Loke perked up at least. We rolled along on our round-about way to downtown. As we came down the big hill past the hospital, a splash of color caught my eye. There’s a park at the riverside, in theory banned to bikes. It’s full of flower beds and fruit trees all in full bloom.

I went in, rolling slowly along and admiring the scent and sight of the flowers. Was so lovely.

From there, it was off toward the mosque. Loke was still moving well and I felt unexpectedly strong and fresh when we got there. Spontaneously, I steered north instead of taking a left through the intersection. Gamla Uppsala beckoned.

It was a nice roll through there and finished up at the storage with just shy of 13 miles. Certainly more than I’d expected when I reluctantly went out. Over 70 miles for the month and still 11 days left in the month. Pretty sure I’ll beat last May’s total of just shy of 90 miles.



Oh, Yeah! The Sneezing…
May 11, 2016, 4:40 am
Filed under: Misc

I completely forgot to give a proper Loke update. Not sure why.

I know I’ve explained about the muzzle. Well, we ended up taking a little break from it. Within a few days when we started to use it, he began sneezing… a LOT. Not just a sneeze here and then hours later, a sneeze there. He’d have these fits where it was ‘sneeze-sneeze-sneeze’, draw a breath, ‘sneeze-sneeze-sneeze-‘… you get the idea. It was happening a dozen or more times a day with frequent single sneezes in between. I cringed every time because Loke has a disturbing tendency to slam his face into the floor when he sneezes. It’s a wonder he’s not knocked himself out yet at least once in the past 10+ years.

Through it all, he was fine otherwise. Bouncy, eager to go run even when he’d sneeze on the fly, eating like a horse. Loke, just with lots of sneezing. I was starting to think about taking him to a vet the following Monday if it didn’t settle on the weekend. Not good and can’t be fun to be sneezing so much.

Then slap in the middle of the weekend in the evening, I almost took him to the animal hospital. He turned sluggish and looked ‘depressed’. He just wanted to lay around with this eyes close in between sneezing fits. Later that evening, I felt his nose to find it warm and dry. He still perked up quite a bit of bunny ear treats and his supper. So I decided just to keep an eye on him and decide in the morning. By morning, he was mostly back to himself with nose feeling like a proper dog’s nose.

In the beginning, since the inside of his nose looked swollen, we thought perhaps it was the muzzle that had caused it, since part of it is supposed to rest right around the nose with an additional grid in front of the mouth on the inside. I’ve left it there since it was a bit more protection to keep Loke from getting bread. Otherwise, if the piece is big enough, he might just squeeze it between ground and muzzle with sufficient force to get pieces of it through the front of the muzzle like Playdough through one of those little machines that squeezed it into pretend spaghetti. Unlikely it would go through the second different sized grid as well though.

So, we took a break from the muzzle, which had already saved him from 3 or 4 pieces of bread. It makes me nervous knowing what’s at stake. It took quite a few days, almost a week, but he’s stopped sneezing.

Personally though, I’ve wondered if this is just a new phase of Loke’s delightful play with allergies. Hay fever. Sneezing, swollen sinuses, fever, lethargy. You know, the more traditional kind of allergic reaction. In humans at any rate, but he did pretty much have all the symptoms and the birches were in bloom which according to the prick test, he’s reactive to.

The fact that the last few days of the problem, when he was inside and everything was closed up, he hardly sneezed at all. As soon as we opened the balcony or a window, or went outside, ‘sneeze-sneeze-sneeze’ went the husky.

It’s been tapering off. Yesterday, he didn’t sneeze at all. Not even once. Monday, he only sneezed twice while the run with the trike. The birches, coincidentally, have finished blooming.

So, I’ll start using the muzzle again and see what the results are. I really don’t want my fuzzy one to get a superbug. I’m already convinced that bread and other things he shouldn’t have will be the death of him via infection. I’d like for him to be around at least until his 12th birthday. Huskies average lifespan after all is 12-14 years. It would gut me to euthanize an otherwise incredibly fit, healthy, happy and energetic furry old man because an antibiotic-resistant bacteria is eating his feet with nothing to done to stop it…

And, just because I wrote all this and my decision to use the muzzle once more… Loke has sneezed 3 times as I’ve written the previous paragraph. *sigh*



Thwarted
May 9, 2016, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The riding continues! 9 days into the month and today will be the 5th day with rides. Not quite as intensive as I had originally planned, but not horrible. Only 90 miles are needed to beat last May, but I’ll push through that. Barring disasters of course. *knocks wood*. I’ll push over 30 miles for the month on today’s rolling. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

After resting on the crazy day of Valborg, my intentions of riding on May Day crashed and burned. I woke lethargic and achy. Absolutely no motivation to go out the door and turn pedals. Pity, because it was the prettiest day we’d had in weeks. The unstable weather of parading rain clouds alternating with sun broke the evening of April 30th actually. Just in time for all the revelers to stagger out into the countryside or any green space big enough to support a bonfire.

There was something missing on May Day when I woke though, other than my ‘oomph’ to ride. Usually, the scent of dampened fires hangs so heavy in the air that it smells as if all of Uppland had gone up in flames. This year, I didn’t catch a whiff of expired bonfires. Strange. Perhaps the rains had kept many of the piles to damp to burn?

May 2nd, I felt better and pushed out the door with Loke in tow. I even had a plan for the ride. I was going to head out to Gamla Uppsala to ride by the location of the biggest Valborg bonfire in the area.

All that remains of the riverside pile.

All that remains of the riverside pile.

Leaves! Blue skies!

Leaves! Blue skies!

It was fairly breezy as Loke and I rolled out from the storage. As we neared the garden colony, the capricious wind finally brought the smell of smoke, but not very strongly. When we rolled down the big hill and over the river to double back on the opposite bank on the way to Gamla Uppsala Road, it intensified a bit. The source was the high, long, but narrow pile right next to the river where the people who love gardening had deposited their trimmings and burned them during the celebration. Wisps of smoke still rose, but it was otherwise a big pile of ash in shades of white, gray and black.

It was a beautiful day. Not cold at all. Just a slight briskness to the air that the warmth of the sun balanced perfectly. No shoe covers. No wool under the Lycra. The trees were finally beginning to unfurl their spring garments of pale yellow green. Bliss under blue skies as the trike rolled smoothly along and the trailer with its load of water (8 liters = 17 lbs) rattling behind us. I hardly felt that extra weight.

Still lots of smoke almost 48 hours later.

Still lots of smoke almost 48 hours later.

Beyond the tedium of the residential area and finally making the turn into the grounds of Gamal Uppsala burial ground, the smell of smoke finally came thick and heavy, but smelled quite fresh. Once we rounded the little museum and cleared the trees, I could see the big ash pile and smoke roiled off of it, blown to and fro by indecisive winds. It really couldn’t make up its mind which way it wanted to go. The times when it blew the smoke right at us, I started coughing and Loke sneezed. Of course, the fuzzy one has been sneezing… a lot.

Something else that will require an update as well, but later in the post.

Still burning in spots even.

Still burning in spots even.

I was only too happy to pedal on around to one of the few directions the wind wasn’t shifting. The path curves and rolls quite close to the patch of bare earth where they build the fire every year. From over 100 feet away, I could still feel the heat shimmering off the mound of ash. There seemed to be a surprising amount of unburnt material and, here or there, flames still licked at the base.

As I left the still impressive remains of the bonfire behind, I felt a little nervous. It was because of the terrain ahead and the trailer-weight of water. There are a couple quite steep hills on the Mound path. They’re not very tall and the climbs are short, but I still worried I’d have to get up to try and push on foot. A real test to see if I continue to improve.

As I came down the first very big hill and zipped through the pretty patch of woods at the base of the large descent and start of the first steep climb, I passed a pair of people walking. One of them was a woman in Lycra, going with a brisk stride. A month or more ago, someone walking at her pace would have caught me up and passed while I crept up the climb even without the extra load. Not this time. I made it up at double the speed I generally did, smoothly and easier than the last time I rode it without water.

With that success behind us, I was grinning from ear to ear as I let Loke stretch his legs a little on the long, gentle descent to the start of the next abrupt climb. Cruised right up that one just as easily as the first though it’s probably a little steeper. I was practically giddy.

The rest of the way as tedious Hamster Track. We arrived back at the storage with 6.93 miles. Not a dazzling start to the month, but better than nothing.

Tuesday, May 3rd, I didn’t ride. Instead, I planned. Jens only had a half-day’s work on Wednesday, he agreed to my suggestion that I go with him to Stockholm and assemble the trike at his office. There were quite a few runestones in the area there. I’d get a ride off the Hamster Track and he wouldn’t have to do any special driving. The plotted route had about 20 miles on it.

So, that’s what we attempted to do on Wednesday, May 4th. The day turned into a bit of a fiasco almost from the beginning. I took the car to the storage to load everything up while Jens readied for work. While tending that task, I managed to bash my head on the car. Not once. Not even twice, but THREE times. A record even for disaster prone me. The center of my forehead is still tender to the touch though at least it didn’t leave a visible bruise. Small favors.

Finally loaded, I took my nearly concussed self back home.

Third time was not the charm at Edsberg Manor.

Third time was not the charm at Edsberg Manor.

Off we went… right into the teeth of a major accident that slowed us down for over 40 minutes. In the midst of this, Jens insisted on dropping me off somewhere more convenient for me than his office. Finally, I agreed to start at Edsberg Manor. It would be the third time I’d been there. I ended a ride there once and, with the May 4th ride, started twice.

The annoying incidents continued. This time, as I started to refasten Loke’s running bar to the seat, one of the hose clamps snapped clean through. The joy of metal fatigue. Disgusted I actually threw the broke metal strap across the parking lot. Jens suggested duck tape.

Since Loke isn’t the crazed fireball he used to be, I went with the idea. There was a bit of wiggle in the bar, but I thought it would be good enough provided we didn’t cross paths with hares or deer.

View across the bay.

View across the bay.

The swan on the shore

The swan on the shore

The main purpose for the ride was to chase runestones. For the first mile or so, that thought went completely out of my head. It was such a pretty day, bordering on warm, very little wind and not a cloud in the sky. One could almost forget the petty annoyances that had occurred in the previous two hours. I rolled by the front of the manor where as sign showed it was open, but I wasn’t about to leave Loke at that moment. The views near the water beckoned and the plan to collect a runestone on the western edge of the grounds, went completely out of my head. The scenery called.

The last time I rode along the bay shore, it was down the eastern side. This time would be the west. Spring was in the air. Water birds were thick along the bank. Countless ducks and gulls, a pair of swans even. The larger one was on the shore, the smaller paddled around amongst the ducks.

Barnacle geese!

Barnacle geese!

But there was something even better than swans! An adorable pair of barnacle geese! I’m nuts for these cute little geese! Not as hostile as Canadian and just so cute with the little white faces and snub beaks. I think the only geese I like better than the barnacles are Egyptian.

They watched Loke and I warily as I sat and admired them for a while. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any around Uppsala. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any outside of Stockholm. The most I’ve seen together is several dozen of them grazing on the lawns of Skånsen, a zoo/open-air museum/amusement park, in Stockholm.

As much as I carry on about birds at times, it’s a wonder I’m not one of those hardcore birdwatchers. I’m not, but they make me smile and take pictures all the same.

A few hundred yards further on, there was even a bigger treat. On the water, I noticed movement different from the other flapping and floating feathered critters. A pair of shapes in synchronized movement. Curious, I pulled out my Canon to take a peek and I gave a huge grin, flying into action to swap to my long lens to be sure.

Great Crested Grebes courting.

Great Crested Grebes courting.

I was right. Grebes. I’d never seen grebes outside of a TV screen. Yet, here were a pair, bobbing on the tiny wavelets that broke up the reflection of the manor into golden ripples. They’d dip their beaks and turn their heads, mirroring each other’s actions and then dive. A few seconds later, they’d resurface and repeat. I was completely enchanted and watched them for almost 10 minutes. I was very glad I’d brought my long lens. Reluctantly, I rolled on and left them to their courting.

Ah, spring!

Ah, spring!

A little further on, I spotted another grebe. This one looked rather forlorn and all alone. Perhaps a rejected suitor?

The trike rolled on, following the path as it curved about 100 yards or so away from the water’s edge. On the grassy lawn of the parkland, a few more barnacle geese nibbled at the grass or sat in the sun. I was a little sad when the path ended on the road heading directly away from the water and up hill.

Hill or not, the going was easier than previous rides in the greater Stockholm area. With 5 liters of water to be sure Loke had plenty, my camera with extras lenses and tripod, as well as a sandwich for me and some rabbit ear chews for Loke, I had nearly the same weight as the water I’d been dragging around. Admittedly, there was 14 lbs less because the trailer stayed home. Some of the hills were steep enough that I felt slower, but still with more strength and probably a bit faster.

Silly me forgot to get the name of the place...

Silly me forgot to get the name of the place…

I pushed on through some small residential streets lined with small houses with cute little yards. We emerged onto a larger street where I pushed on up a gentle hill. I was a bit bored with that bit until we approached a lovely old building, white plaster over stone with a thatched roof, sitting next to a traditional style Swedish pole fence. On the other side of the fence, I could see other old, wooden farm buildings. It was one of the many open-air museums all over Sweden. Of course, I rolled in to the parking for a quick peek for photos.

Photos clicked, I stopped by the information board. It didn’t have much info about the buildings around me. Instead it had a crude map of the streets in the surrounding area and marks for various burial grounds and mounds. Over a dozen!

The first mound I found.

The first mound I found.

I chewed my lip as I studied the map. I even used my phone to get a photo of it. Spontaneously, I decided I’d see how many of the mounds/grounds I could chase down before leaving the area for the first runestones. As I decided that, I remembered the runestone at Edsberg manor and thumped my forehead with the palm of the hand. Instantly regretted it as it proved how bruised my poor head was from being banged repeatedly on various parts of the car.

The first of the mounds was a snap to find. I did a loop out of the parking lot and cruised right back down the hill I’d just climbed up. It was right at the bottom. Poor Loke was soooo confused. Fortunately, such confusions don’t last long for him. Confused as we turn, roll for 100 feet and all in the world makes sense again. Bless dogs.

From there, we zigged through the small residential streets I’d partially explored before climbing the hill on the bigger road. A mound supposedly lurked in the midst of that, but the area where it was marked seemed to be occupied with a few houses.

The mound on Sleipnir Street.

The mound on Sleipnir Street.

I jumped onto another street, bigger than the little residential lanes, but smaller than the one with the farm buildings. I seem to recall a bit of climbing around there, but nothing major. I looked back and forth between the map photo on my phone and my Garmin to try and match the roads. It was working surprisingly well! I made a turn onto another set of small residential lanes to chase down another mound. I had to grin as I turned onto a looping street. Sleipnir Street. Every time I see that name, I smile. I’m already crazy about horses, but the fact that Loki was the mother of Odin’s 8 legged horse makes it one of my favorite myths.

I was in such a good mood as I pedaled back to the main road. The birds had been awesome to see, especially the grebes. The sun was shining, it wasn’t cold or hot, but perfect. Loke was running well. I felt strong. I was surrounded by grave mounds and runestones yet to find. Best of all? Off the Hamster Track!

It didn’t last. As we rolled down the cycle lane toward the next mounds, the trike started wobbling. Immediately, my heart dropped to my stomach and I looked at the left wheel without stopping which let me see the disturbing bulge in the tire. The new-with-less-than-200-miles tire. No reason for it. I’d checked the air when I was loading the trike, but none needed to be added so it wasn’t over-inflated. I’d not hit any nasty bumps or dropped off curbs. We’d gone less than 4 miles.

I found a little cafe to get out of the way of foot/cycle traffic to look at maps to work out how best to roll toward Jens’ office. I’d take it slow and it would be a lot less fuss to load up.

Loke was irritated with the slow pace as I wobbled the trike along at 4 mph or less, zigging around to avoid jolts and bumps on the bad tire. Better that than risking a premature blow-out. My mood remained quite high after the initial disappointment. The badly bulging bit of rubber couldn’t take away the wonderful morning. The birds, the weather, the scenery, the mounds.

When I was less than half a mile away from the office, I found a tiny little park with a series of fountains. It seemed to be a perfect place to stop in a shady spot where I could eat the sandwich I’d brought.

Loke drooled hopefully for a while before giving up and laying down. Once I’d eaten, I called Jens and told him I’d had to end the ride early, but it was no rush.

He made it a rush. He dropped everything he was doing and dashed off to come get me.

Then the day was ruined. Jens lamented at how the trike had ruined his day. Then Loke got excited when he saw another dog and scraped the inside of the door with part of his harness as he spun in the back, which made my husband grumble that if not for the trike, Loke would have been in his cage and no scratch.

I felt utterly gutted. It was like dark clouds had rolled over the sun and turned the brightness to dismal, muted disappointment. Many of my most cherished memories of the past 10 years have been because of the trikes. The things I’ve seen. The places I’ve been. The things I’ve done. All that which never would have been if not for the trikes. My health is better for riding. Loke’s incredibly fit even at nearly 11 years old. All the times I’ve had that sense of freedom or accomplishment. It was like being told those things were so much trash. So much garbage compared to a scuff here or there on the interior of a car.

I told him I would have been fine to sit at the park. Pretty day, people to watch, phone and husky to amuse me.

Lesson learned. Next time, keep my mouth shut and enjoy the time how I can until hubby is done with whatever he’s doing. Better that then go through all the fuss again.

The past 2 ride days, I’ve gone out 3 times. Morning from storage to home with Loke. Mid-day solo as I hunted for somewhere to wash the trike. Then back to storage with the dog in the evening.

The first attempt on Sunday to was the trike was a bust. It was such a pretty day, but everywhere to wash a car was jam packed. Between the doggie runs and the solo jaunt, I had almost 12 miles for the day. Pretty good.

Today was better from a cleaning perspective. I sat hunched over the trike, wiping it down as much as I could manage before my body rebelled. Then I pushed myself further and scoured each inch of the chain with a cleaner and rinsed with the water in my trailer. I didn’t use the pressure hoses because I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the soap. So, 250 kr to sit and scrub the trike with my own water.

Next time, I’ll just go to the outdoor one where all I pay for is the water when I need it to run.

So, the trike may not be pristine, but it’s much better and the chain is freshly lubricated. I did all I could and feel good about it at least.

So, even though my rides were short today. Less than 6 miles total. It’s still more than 30 miles for the month so far which is more than 1/3 for what I need to beat the month. That’s a decent start.