Terii’s Cycling Babble


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.

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