Terii’s Cycling Babble

Consolation Ride
July 26, 2016, 3:56 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

At least that’s what my ride on July 18th was in my husband’s mind. As we drove back from Umeå on July 16th, he was already talking about driving me to where I ended the last portion of the Mälardalsleden (Mälar Valley’s Route) so I could do the next leg. Maybe even the next morning, spoken while he was in the middle of an 8 hour dash to get us back home after a half day of driving around to fishing locations and picking up me, Loke and the trike.

I honestly didn’t need any consoling about cutting the trip short. I had been stressed about Loke. It had been unpleasantly warm. While the scenery was nice, particularly around the little lake’s trail, it wasn’t breathtaking. To complicate things even more, in my mind at least, there were no points of interest to chase down. No manor houses or castles, no ruins or runestones. No burial grounds, churches, or lovely 400+ year old cottages dotting the countryside.

There was a collection of Neolithic or Bronze Age (I forget which) rock carvings in one place, but I would never have been able to get to it on the trike. Who am I kidding? In my current state, I couldn’t even get to it on foot. It was down a silly steep eroding trail for about half a mile. I suppose I could have slid on my rump down, but getting back up would have taken me an hour. An agonized hour.

Most of my route planning for the trip had felt… aimless. The only goal was making sure I stayed off busy roads and trying to chase down reasonably attractive looking landscapes. I suppose it will be a consistent difficulty every time Jens wants to go into the (relative) wilds of the north for fishing.

He even spoke of either teaching me to fly fish (don’t see it happening) or changing nature of our vacations. Spend a few days with me keeping  him company (from a distance) with Loke as he trolls the streams and then a few days where he plays support vehicle and follows me around as I ride. He admitted when trying to fish while I’m cycling, he can’t relax and focus very well. Always worried about getting the call that the trike or Loke broke and he’ll have to drop everything to come get me.

The 17th, he kept asking if I was planning a ride on the Mälardalsleden. One walk we took together with Loke, he even announced that he’d like for us to get up at 5:30 am for an early start. I stared at this stranger who was clearly not my husband. He needed me to show him the area on a map so he could look for a decent spot to practice a new casting technique. So, that’s what I did.

As for the fuzzy, the sores on his feet were well on their way to healed even in just a day. I wasn’t going to risk it though and called for a vet appointment. The soonest they could work me in was Tuesday. Okay. Tuesday it was.

Överenhörna Church

Överenhörna Church – March, 2016

I ended the last leg of the Mälardalsleden at a little church called Överenhörna. It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere on the northern end of a 3 mile wide peninsula reaching into Lake Mälar. Getting to it was a 4 mile detour off the Mälardalsleden, one way. I had no particular urge to start at the church and redo those 4 miles in reverse. After a bit of hunting, I found a parking lot for a nature reserve about half a mile past the turn toward Överenhörna.

Getting ready for the ride on the 18th was simple enough. I got dressed and made sure I had plenty of water. Everything else, and then some, was already in the car.

Jens walked around with the fuzzy, heading up the trail cresting a hill as I pulled everything out. What I could see of the nature reserve was fairly ‘meh’. Clear cut growing back with scrubby, sickly looking trees right up the hill.

I was still putting things together when the hubby wandered back. Suddenly, Loke was crunching something, hurrying in an attempt to swallow it before we could intervene. We both rushed at him. I made it first, prying his jaws open and scooping my fingers right down his throat. Shards of bone came out. Ick.

Heading out.

Heading out.

Then back to working on getting ready and Jens had to leap on Loke again. This time, he pulled out a piece of vertebrae. That actually made me relax a bit. It meant Loke wasn’t chowing down on pork or beef rib from someone’s BBQ. More likely it was from one of the little roe deer that are thick around Sweden. He’s not allergic to them, but I’d rather not have him munching on random deer bits found in the countryside either.

In spite of the early awakening, it was after 8 am when I finally clipped in and headed for the road.

I love mornings, especially in the summers. The quality of early light, the quiet of the hours before most people awake and start the rushing of the day. Only wind, birdsong and other sounds of nature to disturb the quiet.

I would have preferred to roll out a bit earlier than I was as this bit of road can be busier than is comfortable. Fortunately, with it being right in the heart of ‘vacation season’, the traffic takes a bit longer to get rolling. Most people are hanging out in summer cabins up north, or in the archipelago off the Baltic coast, or even out of the country. So, the narrow, shoulder-less road with its hills and curves was mostly quiet.

Sundsvik Mill

Sundsvik Mill

Loke was absolutely thrilled with the new ground. He was happier and more energetic and determined than at any moment during the ride from Umeå. He tried his best to run though I wouldn’t let him and pulled like a freight engine. Maybe it was cooler temps. He even gave me a sigh and annoyed angle of ears when I stopped to photograph a pretty mill building made of brick.

Turns out this mill, from the late 1800’s, now houses a hydropower unit and there’s been a mill here since medieval times.

WHAT a morning!

WHAT a morning!

Loke was only too happy to throw his weight into the harness when I released the brake. A fresh attempt to run full out.

I’ll admit to a bit of cheating. Knowing he was going to be running through the morning at least, I had given him a full tablet of his meds. I’d already been considering putting him back on whole pills for a few days. On the days he’d been getting only half, he had times where he’d move slow and painful even on simple walkies. When I got him checked before the trip up north, the vet had said I could do it if he didn’t seem to be responding well to half. I was just resisting giving him the higher dose as much as I could. I don’t want him suffering for it though.

The open road on new ground. Gorgeous view.

The open road on new ground. Gorgeous view and first clouds of the day.

Green fields and trees beyond a crop of ripe canola.

Green fields and trees beyond a crop of ripe canola.

We continued on at about 7 mph which, for us of late, is a brisk pace. The hills wrecked the average of course, though Loke did his best to correct that.

It started to warm up a bit as it was coming up on 10 am, but nothing as bad as it had been in Umeå. It certainly didn’t slow Loke down. Just made him pant a bit harder. He kept refusing every offer of water though.

I was a bit uneasy as the road came to an end, intersecting with another, larger one. Still no shoulder to speak of and more traffic of course. This was the official path of the cycle route though. Traffic and all.

I’d mapped an out-n-back for a church a mile in the opposite direction though. A modest church with a runestone inside the porch. It just seems silly to skip things when I’m so close. It was up a gentle grade so our speed dropped to about 4-5 mph.

Turinge Church

Turinge Church

The traffic wasn’t a steady stream, but frequent enough. The worst of it were the trucks. The semi sort often hauling a double trailer set-up. Most of the time they’d give me space, but if there was on-coming traffic there wasn’t much they could do. A few times, I’d hear them hit their brakes, lurching to avoid rear ending me. Every truck made me think of ‘Pet Cemetary’ and the character Pascow in particular. You know, the young man the doctor meets on his first day of work at the school, horribly mutilated from being hit by a truck. Just the image one wants while riding a recumbent trike as a multi-ton vehicle blasts by less than 3 feet away.

Better appeal from the side/back - Turinge Church

Better appeal from the side/back – Turinge Church

From the front, the church was rather uninspiring. Still, I got up to try the door. Predictably it was locked so no runestone for the day. It was much nicer from other angles toward the rear where one could see the lovely chapel added onto the back.

Photos taken, it was time to head back west to rejoin the Mälardalsleden.

The day became warmer still. That combined with the roaring trucks, I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the ride. Loke didn’t seem to care either way, still pulling like a champion. A small side street appeared on the right and right along side it was a rather nice looking dedicated cycle path. Hard packed gravel rather than pavement, but quite nice.

The unexpected path

The unexpected path

I pulled out of the way of traffic to look at the map on my Garmin and on the OpenCycleMap app on my phone. It showed the path continuing north for a bit and then cutting sharply west to join up with another road.

The temptation to get into less traffic area was too strong a pull.

Loke seemed pleased with the change. I think the traffic was even getting to him by that time.

The location of the path was baffling, I admit. It ran parallel to a very small road with hardly a bit of traffic to be seen on it. The whole way north on the path, not a single car passed us. Loke decided he didn’t like it so much when over 150 meters of it was just crawling with wood ants. They nipped his feet a few times as he jogged along.

The path ended right where the little road branched into a simple network of streets lined by suburban style houses. Really? Why on earth live in what is otherwise the middle of nowhere just so you can sit cheek to cheek with neighbors? Baffles me.

I followed the road to where the map showed the sharp curve of the path to the east. What I found was not what I wanted. It was a narrow, weedy track. A corridor through young trees with tall grass and weeds. Lots of ticks too, I’m sure. Nope. Wasn’t doing it. Annoyed, I turned back.



Thank you, Duck Tape!

Thank you, Duck Tape!

I was approaching the cycle path again when I heard an annoying sound from my chain. I knew what it was right away and stopped to correct the problem. The duck tape repair of my chain tube from last year had given way. I put Loke on his leash, pushed the trike over on its side and proceeded to remove the old duck tape to replace with new. A pair of kids came walking by and stared at Loke for a few seconds before moving on.

It only took a few moments and then the trike was righted, in all ways, Loke hitched and on we went.

Instead of taking the path back to the main road, I used the street instead. The grade of its hills weren’t as extreme, no ants, and the added luxury of shade which Loke probably appreciated more than he did the lack of ants.

It wasn’t much farther in the busy road to reach the turn I had mapped. On said maps, it displayed as a dedicated cycle path. Not quite it turned out. It was actually a service road. The weedy sort of car track that has the twin stripes of packed dirt/gravel and lump running down the center with grass and such. A road boom kept out cars.

Normally, I have no problem with such. They’re a bit more work admittedly, but after my weeks and months of dragging water, I don’t shy away from such as much unless exhausted. I hesitated because with the road boom, Jens wouldn’t be able to reach us if Loke started limping. It was about 2 miles long which with the unpaved terrain complicated with grass, hills and me still being slow as a cold turtle could take us about an hour. I decided to stick with paved surfaces or at least car accessible gravel roads.

Whew! No more trucks!

Whew! No more trucks!

Thankfully, it was maybe half a mile to the next turn toward Taxinge Manor. The signposts caused some minor confusion. According to maps, the service road should have been the Mälardalsleden, but there was the sign for it pointing right along the adjusted path I was taking. A recent change perhaps?

All I knew was that there were no more trucks roaring by me. Loke perked up a bit with the change as well.

Shady lane toward Taxinge.

Shady lane toward Taxinge.

I’d just started on the road when Jens called to ask if it would be okay if we called it a day (or at least a morning) soon. He was hungry. I decided it wouldn’t be a bad thing given Loke’s recent difficulties and that it was becoming so warm. I gave him the name of the manor, saying I’d be there in about 40 minutes.

About 15 minutes later, my hubby called with a suggestion. He could go get lunch in Marifred or Sodertälje to give me more time to ride. While the thought had merit, my mind had already settled into ‘homestretch’ mode, it was getting warm and didn’t want to push Loke. Besides, the manor was bound to have a decent parking area which would make for better trike loading than say, a bus stop. I told him to come get us.

Not the manor, but pretty

Not the manor, but pretty

While the traffic wasn’t as bad as on the big road, there still seemed to be a lot of it. Turns out there was quite a bit to do around Taxinge. The shady grounds for walking on such a hot day for one. A rather large swimming beach for another. The manor had a cafe (I think) as well as being open for tours. One of the bigger draws was a flea market in the old stables.

Taxinge Church

Taxinge Church

Taxinge-Näsby Manor

Taxinge-Näsby Manor

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Loke and I both enjoyed the shade and the scenery with fields, lanes lined with old trees. Finally the church. It’s a baby as far as Sweden’s country churches go, 1863 though there was originally a chapel and another church on the site. Still the ‘new one’ is quite pretty though with all the gothic touches.

As we came up the slope to the manor proper, threading through a stream of people, it happened. Loke limped. I looked and he had the abrasion wounds again. Not horrible, but clearly uncomfortable. These are so frustrating because I can’t stop them. Socks would only make them worse. I’m not even sure what’s changed with Loke feet to make them happen.

First bird 'manor' I've ever found in Sweden.

First bird ‘manor’ I’ve ever found in Sweden.

There was a lull in the flow of people to the manor giving me a chance to get a ‘clean’ photo. I could have ridden up, but wanted to get back down to the parking lot for Loke’s sake.

It appeared to be a good thing that I had decided to end the ride there, other than Loke’s foot. The clouds had been right on schedule. Completely clear early in the morning, increasing clouds until about noonish, they started to look heavy with rain. As seen in the manor house photo, they were starting to take quite a threatening appearance.

I considered for a moment to roll back to the parking lot on the garden paths, but the landscaping wasn’t accommodating for bikes, or trikes for that matter. Instead of the gravel paths just continuing down the slopes, there were steps. The grades weren’t really steep enough for it, but there they were. At least the road still had shade. It was more for Loke’s feet and prettier surroundings that I would have liked to take the paths.

I parked in a patch of lush grass to wait for Jens at the beach lot. The wait was less than 10 minutes.

Not a bad morning, I thought. Lovely new scenery, the mill, a pair of churches, and a manor house over a span of 13.37 miles. It was right about noon as we headed back home so I could clean the refreshed wounds on Loke’s feet.

At least we had an appointment with the vet the next day so she could see the problem while it was obvious.

It turned out I wasn’t that lucky. Whatever causes these, they heal very quickly. So, the next morning as I waited for 1 pm, the phone rang. It was the clinic. One of their vets was out sick and they were swamped with appointments and no way to meet them all. Since Loke’s problem wasn’t dangerous at the moment, would it be okay if they moved it to the next day? I consented.

While I had one of the vets on the phone though, I asked if it was okay if I continued to give Loke the full pills. After the explanation that he still limped and moved stiff with just half and that the vet currently on the issue had said it should be okay if I did it, this one gave the green light.

Unfortunately, the delay of an additional day gave the wounds a chance to close up under my careful administration. When we made the appointment, all there was to see were few tiny, hairless patches of skin on his toes. From that meager evidence and my description, the vet was baffled. So was the one she consulted.

She did however check his joints again. Then given how stubborn the condition is being and that whatever is going on with his feet getting the sores could be related, she gave a referral to a doggie orthopedist. The woman works out of Ultuna (the university animal hospital) and is apparently premier in her field in Sweden. She even has specialization in joint inflammation that is related to allergies.

This will make the 2nd such ‘leading specialist in the country’ that Loke will have.

I haven’t gotten the notice for the appointment date yet, but it should be coming. Loke and I both have referrals we’re waiting on.

Whee (sarcasm).




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