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!

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