Terii’s Cycling Babble


A Reminder…
August 26, 2016, 9:10 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Let’s see. Where to begin? I’m so far behind it’s crazy. In a way, it’s not surprising given that it’s August, though I’m shocked to discover that this is my first post of the month and I’m starting to write on it on the 24th.

August is a rough month for me in general. Too many bad associations come with it, 90% of them linked to my birthday or thereabouts.

This hare don't care about a husky.

This hare don’t care about no husky.

But, I have been riding! Not burning up the trails daily or anything and everything strictly on the hamster tracks, but riding.

Loke’s issues continued on at the beginning of the month. Most of the rides in the rolling walk category. Because of that, I’ve had to leave him behind a few times when I did fruit runs to Vaksala Square at downtown.

The first week or so, the weather also took a wonderful turn! It dipped down into ‘Brrrr’ status. I loved it and so did the pokey husky. He stayed slow, but he still loved it.

To be honest, there were some days I wasn’t much faster even without him unless it was gravity pulling me down a hill.

Apathy added to the mix. Perhaps my physical issues were tied with my melancholy. I’ve also done a no-no twice this month. 3 full days sans riding.

One of those was kind of justified though. Loke issues of course. His abscess popped back up and the abrasion issue where the nail of one toe rubs the side of the other toe bloody meant that I had to give time for that to heal. Yet, it seemed every time I thought about going for a ride, Jens was pushing me to take Loke because he was so bored and restless… bloody toes or not. So, I’d put off riding to give Loke more time to heal.

The ride on August 4th was a gray and cold day. Temps were down in the mid-40’s and not a hint of blue sky or sun to be seen. Rain mostly.

I went out with Loke because his toes were okay and the most recent break out of the abscess hadn’t happened. Also, the melancholy hadn’t quite gotten it’s hooks in me yet so I still aspired to kick last August’s measly total of 60-ish miles out of the park by breaking 140 for August 2016.

I’d managed to head out between patches of rain so while everything on the ground was soaked, I stayed reasonably dry while Loke got all splattered along his legs and tummy.

We were toodling along at ‘pokey husky’ speed on the cycle path by the river under the heavy lead skies when a lose bit of gravel on the trail ahead moved. It actually gave a little hop.

Toadling! Soooooo tiny and cute!

Toadling! Soooooo tiny and cute!

A toadling! A tiny little toad that had probably just emerged out of the river and was making it’s way inland. So small it could have sat on the nail of my index finger with space to spare. It had trouble hopping too because it was too tiny to effectively break free of the surface-tension of the water on the path.

Forewarned, I squinted and looked ahead. I could just make out dozens of ‘not-pebbles’ on the path in front of me, some of them trying to hop, others not. In that moment I saw more frogs/toads than I’ve seen in 5 years or more!

Loke and I slowed down even more as I swerved around to avoid squishing the little darlings, or have them crushed by big, clumsy husky paws. They were everywhere!

Around August 10th, it was still chill (temps in mid to upper 40’s), but that was also joined with crazy winds. There didn’t seem to be any sustained breezes, just wild, unpredictable gusts rampaging around. Leaves and twigs were shredded from trees and going under apple trees was a matter of taking your life into your own hands. Just like the trees in the Wizard of Oz when mocked by the tin man, these were hurling fruit right and left.

August 11th, I rode again. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen because it rained all night. It wound up being a sluggish outing for Loke and I both, but Jens had practically chased us out the door.

The previous rides I’d been skipping the trailer, having come to the conclusion that there will be no tours this year so it feels less urgent. But, for that ride, I did hitch it up, but only had 12 liters of water along with it.

Ahhh! Rain and 45 F temps. The joy! (sarcasm)

Ahhh! Rain and 45 F temps. The joy! (sarcasm)

It was one of those riding days where it’s broken into parts. The first part of the day was off to the vet clinic to grab a fresh bag of Loke’s kibble. It was raining. Not heavy, but still not fun with 45 F temps. Also there were still toadlets to watch out for which is far more challenging with 5 wheels than 3.

It was our highest mileage day for the month so far. After about 4 miles with the dog food dawdle, we headed out on a fruit run. I also had to do a few other errands as well as drop something off with my MIL.

It was a rough day to be honest. I had no strength and no enthusiasm. By time I was at my husband’s parents, I just wanted to get home. So, I left Loke with the trike as my MIL came out to pick up what I*d brought. The fuzzy went completely nuts while I chatted briefly with ‘grandma’. He was desperate to get to that apartment door and go rampaging through their place to continue his quest to reduce a deerskin rug to microscopic bits and harass grandpa for goodies… he started chewing the leash.

Throw pillow on floor to straight couch cover, and husky finds use for it.

Throw pillow on floor to straighten couch cover, and husky finds use for it.

I managed to reach him before he got more than halfway through, but it was still annoying. Infuriating really

It felt so good to get home, but I was more frustrated than anything. It had felt like the entire day had been spent on the trike with less than 20 miles to show for it.

My next ride wasn’t until August 15th. A combination of apathy brought on by birthday blues and frustration of not being able to celebrate by going out to eat without paranoia of winding up in the  hospital like last year and… starting a new job.

Yep! A job! I am now employed for the first time since my last day of work about a week before I stepped on a plane to leave the States and officially move to Sweden!

“A job where?” one might wonder. The American Food store here in Uppsala no less. I’ve become friends with the family who owns it as I’ve been a customer since the beginning. When I visited their newest location in Täby just outside of Stockholm, I’d asked Charles if any progress had been made to get the webshop back up and running. He lamented that every time he thought he’d found someone to start getting it together, they disappeared.

I sympathized and said that if I thought my body would hold up or if I had the skills in web design, I’d have been willing to help.

He actually brightened at that.

Well, after vacations and weddings I’d planned to get in touch with Charles. He beat me to it. He called me early (for some people) on Monday and asked if I’d be interested in working at his Uppsala shop. The idea was that it would be just one day a week, Sunday, because it’s a slow day with a short 5 hour shift.

I kind of liked that idea and thought my problem plagued body could deal with it. He assured me that I could sit as much as I needed to, no silly rule about that I must be standing every moment behind the register unless I was walking around to restock. It would give me a little bit of income and also let Charles and his wife have one day of the weekend off together so they could have family time with the kids.

Another reason he offered me the job was because one of the people who worked for him had also been diagnosed with cancer. It meant she had to quit suddenly to understandably focus on getting through such a dire circumstance.

So, August 14th was my first day at work, with Charles there to train me. He seemed thrilled to have me there and displayed every confidence in my abilities. He even went to have coffee with a friend who turned up, leaving me solo with the shop for almost an hour. Admittedly, he did call once to be sure I was okay, but still.

Jens was a bit disappointed when at the end of the day, I only wanted to come home and collapse on the couch. He thought it was a boring way to finish a birthday.

I was glad it was only 1 day a week, because my body hated me.

August 15th was the next ride, but I don’t remember anything about it. I was very ‘meh’ and melancholy, just going out for Loke’s sake again. Part of it was the frustration that poor Jens wanted to go celebrate my birthday, but I was too wrapped up in what happened last year with eating something naughty and winding up in the hospital. I hated that my body was ruining what should be a celebratory week for us with birthday and one of the absolutely happiest days of my life when I married a wonderful man.

August 17th was the next ride after that. It was one of those ‘broken up into pieces’ days. We started kinda early with Jens dropping us off at the garage and set off a few moments later without the trailer.

A hint of autumn already

A hint of autumn already

It was another of those crazy windy days. The kind without sustained breezes, but just near constant, random violent gusts. The cycle paths were again littered with bits of twigs and leaves. Every time I passed under or even near apple trees, I’d hunch my shoulders, expecting impact. I stopped to video the way the trees and weeds lashed in the gales though it seemed every time I lifted the phone, the wind diminished a bit. Still looked fairly impressive.

The chill temps had also triggered more of a shift in the leaves. Along the first half mile from the garage, there’s a chain link fence supporting ivy. A lot of the leaves have already gone to their impressive shade of autumnal red.

We headed out on the usual hamster track of the River Loop between garage and apartment without any flourishes. It turned out to be quite a bad day for Loke toe wise. Just a bit over 2 miles and the toe was bloody. A new record. The worst it’s ever been and with the shortest amount of time.

After about 10 am, I headed out again, solo, thanks to Loke’s toe. One of my first stops was at a drug store. I entered to search for the stretchy kind of bandaging only found in the pet section or at vet clinics to secure IVs. There was none.

One of the staff approached and asked if they could help. I explained the problem about the toe nail abrading the toe next to it. He gave me a confused look. “Why not just remove the nail or the offending toe?”

I couldn’t help myself. I stared at the guy in horror. Clearly not an animal person. Perhaps the lack of a pet section was an oversight of disinterest in our fellow creatures to be so blase about hacking off inconvenient body parts however small. Of course even people who claim to love animals will butcher off parts of ears and 90% of tail length to make their puppy look ‘pretty’ if it’s a Doberman Pincer or other such breed.

I hurried out of there.

It was only a short cruise through downtown on the hamster tracks, less than 6 miles once I was done hunting down the stretchy bandage and the like.

I didn’t have a chance to try wrapping the toe. Almost as soon as I arrived home with the bandage, Jens called to say he was on his way home. I went out with Loke in tow. He needed more than a quarter mile walk to do his business, so toe or not, out I took him. Just kept it slow and easy.

Oh, well. I tried.

Oh, well. I tried.

Went out again the very next day. I had the car so once I dropped Jens off at the train station, I came home and started experimenting with toe wrapping. I got it wrapped fairly easily, but was pretty sure it was going to be a waste of time. I fought back the little twinges of hope as it stayed on while Loke paced around the apartment while I dressed for the ride. It also seemed to stay on fine was we walked from apartment to the car.

It was from the car to storage that my original expectations were realized. Just 100 yards or so and it was barely hanging on. Ah well. It would have been nice if it could have at least stayed on for a couple miles, lessening the damage for the short runs. Alas, not to be. Even so, the toe didn’t look too horrible after the 5+ mile jaunt of the River Loop for the day.

Saturday, August 20th was the next ride. Over 8 miles as we rolled downtown. I think that was actually the day I ordered bike pedals from my favorite bike shop which also happens to be very local.

Neil was there by himself (sorta) for the day. I say sorta because Lotten and Bobby clearly had the day off, but Neil had his two boys with him. Cute kids, in the range of 4 years old. One was hiding out in the darkened office, watching or playing something on the computer. The other, was zooming around on a little kick bike with an over-sized helmet on his head, the kind used for motocross.

Neil was happy to help with the order of what I needed. As I was about to go, the little speed demon came up to his daddy and whispered something. It seemed, he wanted to meet Loke but was too shy to ask me. I told Neil that he was more than welcome to meet him. Loke was his usual indifferent self, but the boy was clearly enchanted as he very gently patted Loke’s head.

At some point on Saturday as I was rolling around, Charles called and asked if I could please work Monday as well as my scheduled Sunday shift. His sister was coming over from the states, the first time they’d have seen each other in years. Maybe I could even work a couple extra days more during the week so he’d have time to visit with her? Without thinking, I agreed to Monday and said that if I felt strong enough we could talk about an extra day or two.

As I hung up and we rolled on, something nagged at me. Something I was forgetting. I abruptly looked over at Loke. Jens was going to be in Copenhagen for most of a week and on weekdays, working a weekday shift means being gone for 9 hours or more. Loke. Alone for 9 hours. I’m not sure he’s EVER been alone for 9 hours. After some juggling, we managed to arrange for my husband’s wonderful parents to agree to come walk Loke around 2 pm on Monday.

Then it was Sunday, my 2nd shift at work and I was completely flying solo for the day.

Monday, I actually went out for a ride. My plan had been to leave the apartment at about 5 am and get a few miles in to settle Loke to wait for ‘grandma and grandpa’ later in the day. I got up about 4:30 and began getting ready… only to realize that I might not be back in time to take Jens to the station around 6 am. So, I waited until Jens was up and we went to the station. As a result, Loke and I weren’t moving out on the trike until around 7 am.

So, there I was with a rather tight time limit and Loke decided to make this a slow ride. I suppose I could have cut it short. Just dragged him along on a 2.3 mile jaunt, but since he was going to be all by himself for 4-5 hours before grandma came over to walk him to her house, he needed more.

At least his fuzziness wasn’t being slow for the usual reasons, arthritis or foot problems. No, it was apparently a parade of delightful smelling girl doggies parading around in pizza boots. 5+ miles and I don’t think Loke lifted his head for more than a half-mile of it all told. And the drool! So. Much. Drool.

As we were coming along on the last half mile or so, me feeling very stressed as it was coming up on 8 am and I still had to shower and get ready for work, I caught a distinctive scent in the early morning air. Asphalt. Fresh, hot asphalt. Then I even spotted a small dump truck and another truck towing one of the little paving machines they use on the trail.

Right at the edge of an underpass, a 10 foot long chunk of the trail has been laying open down to the dirt for months. They had chosen that very morning, before 8 am, to pave it. Stressed and frustrated, desperate to get home ASAP, I rolled up to the edge and could still feel the heat coming off of it. No way a husky was getting over it. I thought maybe though, I could roll very slowly, hard against the edge of the surface while walking Mr. Sniffer in the dirt. I edged forward. My right wheel sunk down into the asphalt as the edge crumbled. My attempt at passage immortalized for ever… or until the next time they repave the path. Still too warm so the paving hadn’t set yet. I’d have been able to roll straight through the middle just fine. Dust tracks from other bikes showed no other impact on it, but I couldn’t pass with a husky.

Yet more time wasted as I doubled back and took another way.

So, got back home around 8:05 and wound up flying around the apartment like a mad woman. Feeding the dog, washing his feet, tending the abrasion wound on the toe, showering, getting things together to take to the job and dashing out the door to be waiting where Loke wouldn’t hear the phone ring for the arrival of my FIL to drive me.

Jens was pretty insistent about me avoiding downtown parking for work. He doesn’t like the idea of me spending 1/3 of my pay for a short shift to park. In theory, I agree. In practice, the convenience of driving myself and not bothering anyone else with my job more than absolutely necessary is nice. Buses are an idea, I suppose, but walking to the stop and if I can’t sit down to wait, it’s just going to make doing my shift at work that much harder.

Honestly, though, I didn’t feel as rough as I expected after the shift.

I woke Tuesday morning, August 23rd and felt fairly normal. I had planned to call Charles at about 10 am to tell him Thursday would be good. It would give me a bit more time to be sure I was okay as well as to do much needed laundry scheduled on Wednesday. Charles again beat me to it. There’d been some confusion about his sister’s arrival, so could I work Wednesday and Thursday.

I’ll admit, two long shifts made me wary, but he sounded stressed, so I told him I had Thursday set up for getting Loke taken care of, but I’d have to see if I could work something out for him on Wednesday. After a few calls, it turned out everyone was busy. When I reported that I just didn’t have anyone who could come walk Loke in the middle of the day, he asked if I could at least work part of the day. I agreed to that.

I later came to regret agreeing to that as Tuesday turned into a very, bad day. I could hardly walk for most of the day thanks to neurological issues. Also, Loke managed to rip up one of my toenails from the nail bed in a very bad incident for all involved. It made for an extremely depressing day.

The next morning, I woke at 4 am. The plan was to be out the door to take Loke for a run by 5:15. Getting up so early meant I didn’t have to hurt myself rushing around. Slow shower, rest a few minutes. Pull on my clothes. Rest a few minutes. Find my Garmin. Rest a few minutes.

I’ll admit though, with my toe screaming at me every time I had to take a step or turn a pedal as well as wondering what on EARTH was I going to wear since laundry day had been nixed, I was in a fairly sour mood as we rolled out with the trike about 5:25. At least I didn’t need to go flying around like a kite in a hurricane with such an early start even if Loke decided to attempt sniffing every inch of ground. I still skipped the trailer and water though, feeling still a little too stressed to take the extra 15 minutes to load it up with the jugs and hitch it. Not to mention unloading it when we got back.

The official sunrise time was just approaching as we headed down the first bit of road. Loke was a power house. He even tried to pull into a lope. It’s been months since he’s done that even at the start of a ride! The sky was a dusty, denim blue with peach colors at the eastern horizon. It was almost cold, about 40 F. Though the air near the storage was clear, trees in the distance were turned ghostly by mists. It’s a wonder I noticed as my brain just wouldn’t quit hammering at the bad day previous and various frustrations of trying to juggle my new job with needed chores. Pretty sure this was my earliest ride of the year and going out so early because of said job. And then of course, my toe. Even wrapped as well as I could manage, the shoe made the binding shift against that raw nail bed.

As we rounded the curve beside the garden colony, there was an explosion of movement. For the 200 yards or so in front of us, 5 hares waited, the nearest ones spooking into a run. Instead of heading for hedges or the like, they ran right down the middle of the road, triggering the next one to run the same direction. Who needs running of the bulls? I had running of the hares and not nearly as dangerous!

Loke actually tried to chase them. Just like trying to run at the start of the ride, it’s been ages since he’s tried to chase hares. He’s generally just been staring at them with moderate interest for the past months. Like in the first photo of this post where he was just standing calmly with a hare less than 20 feet away. This was full blown prey-drive, ‘I gotta catch’em!’.

1000th river photo or not, it was worth it. Gorgeous.

1000th river photo or not, it was worth it. Gorgeous.

Finally the herd of hares peeled off. Some going into hedges and lawns beside the street, others scrambling through a gape in the garden colony’s fence. Loke gave a frustrated ‘huff’ as we pushed on.

Then we were down the big hill to cross the river. I stopped there to take a photo.

Yes, yes, I know. ‘Another picture of that river?! Really?!’ I think it too, but it was pretty.

The water was utterly still and reflective as dark glass. With the cold snap (Garmin said 40.3 F), the water was a bit warmer so mist ghosted from the flawless surface. As I took the photo and just took a moment to gaze down the channel, all the stress, frustration and, yes even miserable melancholy, fell away. So peaceful and so beautiful.

Ghostly rider on a ghostly path.

Ghostly riders on a ghostly path.

Finally out of my own head, I started to notice the lovely details of my surrounding as the day made its silent, but glorious appearance. Dew was thick on the grass, and like the river, it was adding to the fog. I was smiling at the sight of thin, ghostly tendrils and veils of mist floating up from something as modest as dew drops. The air was so still, the ephemeral streamers hardly moved. One had to look away for a few moments and look back to even know there was movement.

Trees, the heralds of sunrise.

Trees, the heralds of sunrise.

As I made the turn to follow the river north, a bunch of people on bikes zipped by me, swirling the fog a bit before becoming ghostly in the distance. It was really the only disturbance for that entire stretch.

Trees, or buildings, offer the first hints that the sun has officially risen. That red-gold light I love so much brightened the leafy canopies first, giving the impression that trees are the brushes, dipped in paint, as an artist readies to paint a sunrise.

The sight of it made me smile and I realized I felt… good. A peaceful morning made so beautiful by the early light combined with mists. I felt strong and unhurried. Loke was a powerhouse for the first time in ages. No limping, moving briskly instead of slow. It’s been weeks since a ride made me feel so much better than when I started. Too often, it’s felt like a chore. An obligation to be done either for Loke’s sake or my mileage goals. Even though the foggy, dawn ride had started as such, it had become a pleasure, a joy and a moment of peace. Even my toe couldn’t ruin it.

A reminder of why I really do ride. I’ll probably forget in the next week or so. That awareness of what I used to know in my bones often seems as ephemeral as mist rising from dew-dazzled grass. At least I’ve written about it here where I can look back and go, ‘Oh yeah!’

The sun’s inexorable climb continued, so quickly changing the nature of my surroundings. I annoyed Loke with frequent stops for photos. It’s amazing how fast it can happen. It’s almost like an avalanche of light. Subtle at first. A faint brightening of night’s inky-blue black to the east. Then comes the dark denim with a hint of pinks that brightens to muted, faded denim and peach shades. Then there’s the actual sunlight at the tops of the tallest trees as the heavens start to become pale robins’ egg blue and the peach colors disappear.

Just a few seconds made such a difference.

Just a few seconds made such a difference.

One spot I stopped because a distant hill blocked the sun, but the rays came off to either side to make the low lying fog become opalescent. Just in the brief 10-12 seconds it took for me to pull the phone out of the handlebar bag and turn it on, the corona had cleared the hilltop and sunlight spilled across me. So fleeting.

The play of light and shadow across a field of wheat.

The play of light and shadow across a field of wheat.

Instead of making the turn to cut through the light industrial area that I usually take, I pushed on to follow the river a little further. Adding a little more distance. Good for Loke who would be alone until about 2:30 pm and good for me and my spirit with such a gorgeous morning.

What a morning!

What a morning!

I think another thing I forget is that I do have a bit of an artistic nature. One way it expresses itself is in my love of the play of early morning light dispelling the night’s shadows and I notice little details.

I reached the end of the cycle path where it meets a gravel road and turned back.

The sun was up though the low angle threw long shadows of trees across most of the path. The subtle apricot orange hues were gone and the sky was that pale robin egg color. Hardly a cloud to be seen unless one counts the streamers of mist and fog. I could hardly stop smiling even though all I wanted to do was keep riding rather than go into work. Just such an absolutely lovely day. The prettiest we’d had in ages.

So pretty.

So pretty.

When we reached the turn to go through the industrial area again, Loke yanked to the right anticipating our direction, but I went straight. I might hate ‘out and back’ routes most of the time, but it was just too lovely by the river to go rolling by chain link fences and metal faced, prefab buildings. Besides, the 15 minute difference had changed the light so much that it was almost like a whole new place.

We arrived back at the storage with 7.23 miles and, for me at least, a much brighter spirit. We were home again right about 7 am so I didn’t need to dash around insanely to get ready.

Unexpectedly, Loke’s toe looked fine. The only abrasion there was what had happened on the previous ride, which was healing well under my care. Nothing fresh. Good, but rather surprising.

Since it was just going to be a short 4 hour shift, I decided to not bother my husband’s parents with driving me. It was a quiet morning at the shop. I don’t think I had much more than 12 sales before Charles’ wife came to relieve me. As for the parking? Ouch! That cost hurt!

I thought about taking the trike out again with Loke, but wound up not doing so.

Thursday, August 25th, I was scheduled to work a full shift and already had arranged drop off and pick up with my lovely in-laws as well as a repeat of how my MIL would come to the apartment and walk Loke back to their place. Then they’d bring the furball with them when they fetched me from the mall.

Okay for a sunrise, I suppose.

Okay for a sunrise, I suppose.

With that scheduled, I decided it had worked so well on Wednesday, getting out for an early ride, I did it again. Up at 4 am to leisurely get dressed to ride. We were at the storage a bit earlier though and rolled out at about 5:10 instead of a bit short of 5:30. The main reason I went earlier was because I was hoping to arrive at the grave mounds about the time the sun came up the horizon.

Alas, it wasn’t quite as pretty a morning as the one before. For one thing, it was warmer. Sitting still in shadows, my Garmin said it was 60 F, though once I started moving it dipped down to 56 F. It was muggy too. Quite a bit of clouds which effectively masked any of the magic of the sun cresting the horizon and they didn’t even have the grace to blaze with color. Pretty ‘meh’ for a sunrise really.

Not much of a hill, but still near constant up for 2 miles.

Not much of a hill, but still near constant up for 2 miles.

Still, I trundled the 2 mile climb between my apartment and the turn to Gamla Uppsala. So often I forget it’s almost entirely up hill. Sneaky hill even. Except for the fact that one has to work to go along, it’s hard to tell there’s a hill there. It wasn’t so bad though. I felt surprisingly strong and just cruised steadily along. Loke, once again was a powerhouse. Tried to run at the start of the ride, no limping, no occasional rasp of toenails on the pavement when he randomly drags a foot. Frequent checks also revealed no abrasions once again.

Moving fast, no limping, tripping, foot dragging, or toe rubbing another toe bloody. If this keeps up, there may not be much for the canine orthopedic specialist to see. I just know that if I canceled, Loke would be back to his pokey, tripping, limping sore-footed self. Admittedly, it may still happen the day after he’s seen the specialist. He just adores doing that.

Lovely on a cloudy morn.

Lovely on a cloudy morn.

And then we were swerving past the continuing work going on for finishing up the train tunnel. Loke perked up as we made the turn and hurried across the tracks that will soon be unneeded. Even with the cloudy dawn, the mounds are still lovely.

Apple falling like rain

Apples falling like rain

As I coasted in to the area, I realized I’d timed something badly. When I get up, I take a few swallows of a fruit smoothie to get my blood pressure medication down my throat. It keeps the tablets from sticking to my tongue and triggering a gagging reflex thanks to the horrid taste. Being particularly hungry just before heading out on the ride. I drank the whole bottle of the smoothie. Not normally a problem, except well… I needed to answer a call of nature.

Being so close to Gamla Uppsala church with 1 maybe 2 bathrooms available, I dashed off in that direction to see if the one I knew for sure was a bathroom was unlocked. Nope! Buttoned tight. So, I scurried to the little building right next to the churchyard wall with a bench and drinking fountain. There are a pair of doors tucked to one end. I’ve often thought maybe it was a restroom, but wasn’t sure. Honestly, I’m still not sure as both doors were locked.

No help for it. I had to wait.

Loke always perks up when we get to the grave mound area. I think part of it is because a lot of people walk dogs there and there’s lots of nature where hares and deer move about.

Sun on the trail

Sun on the trail

We rode by the face of the mounds with their healing scars from people wearing them down and then were zipping down the big hill toward the wooded area. Loke did his best to run down it, but I’m still mindful of his arthritis, so he had to settle with 5 mph down the hill. I take him slower down hills than on flats to lessen the impact.

As we came into the shadow of the trees, the sun found a way through the clouds. It broke through the thin screen of trees along the field edge to throw that gorgeous early light onto the path. Something about the image made me stop for a photo. Loke huffed impatiently. How dare I interrupt his rhythm for such things?

I hated it that I felt a little nervous as I passed through there. My past 2 interactions with my occasional stalker have left me wary even of Gamla Uppsala now. Probably because those unwanted interactions with the guy have been at or very near Gamla Uppsala. Normally, I’d think nothing of it, but there wasn’t a soul to be seen at the early hour. Hopefully, he’s not an early bird and there’s no real chance we’d cross paths before noon, but still. He’s already robbed me of the city forest as I won’t go there without another person with me.

We sped quickly along after I climbed that first sharp little hill and then again after I climbed the 2nd one. Since the declines there are gentle, I let Loke have a little more speed and kept him in the clipped grass beside the path.

When we approached the outdoor gym, I noticed a little building on the rise between the workout area and the dog pens. I stopped, hoping it was what it looked like. An outhouse.

It was. Oh happy day. It also meant I could add a mile or two more to the ride to help Loke settle better until Jens’ parents came to walk him.

Feeling so much better, I set out again and we rejoined the paved paths of the River Loop. The fresh asphalt was cold by this time, thankfully.

Cranes!

Cranes!

Before we reached the first underpass, I heard honking and looked up to see a ‘herd’ of cranes in a loose line formation. I want to call it a skein of cranes, but apparently that term only applies to geese or swans on the wing. Skein doesn’t apply to the formation of a line or ‘V’ in flight that I thought, but to geese/swans specific.

We arrived back at the storage with 7.41 miles. Loke was content to drowse on the floor as I puttered around to get ready for work. I’m not sure he even knew when I left.

The day got a bit wet after a while. I was actually quite content to be snug and out of it at work.

So, that’s the rides caught up. On to a few other topics briefly.

I can’t recall if I mentioned it, but when Jens and I took our very brief trip up north, I discovered one of my seat clamps had stripped threads. I know I’ve also mentioned in a previous post about how Bobby (bike mechanic) discovered the hanger for my rear derailleur had a slight bend which is probably what’s causing the not-serious-but-still-annoying issue with my gearing. The mesh on my seat also has a few spots that are fraying into long rips. I figured out that it’s because the mesh was rubbing against the fastening straps across the back. So, I placed a request for a price list to replace the seat clamp and hanger, with spares for future oopsies, as well as a new seat mesh. Today, I place the order since Jens is home to help settle payment if ICE wants to talk with him to confirm that yes, it really is him and yes, to use his credit card.

While at work yesterday, I received a text to say that the pedals I ordered arrived. Not sure I explained about those. Probably not as I think this direction of pedals to combat winter problems came between posts.

As anyone who’s read any of my winter posts knows, I’ve been combating the threat of frostbitten toes during the winter for some years now. Footwarmers, wool socks, shoe-covers and even a mini-fairing in a struggle to keep, or minimize, the wind from howling through the cleat slots in the bottom of my shoes have had only limited success. Admittedly, the fairing has helped most of all. I’ve gone from rushing home after 15 minutes at 24-25 F to thaw my toes before they turned black to staying out an hour or more at 16 F before making a dash for somewhere warm to reheat my tootsies before they fall off. Quite an improvement, but not enough.

I’ve chatted about it on the recumbent trike FB group and watched as other people talk about ways to fasten feet to pedals without the need for special shoes. After tuning out some annoying, hard-headed idiots who kept saying ‘Shoe covers!’ or ‘Wool socks!’ without paying attention that I’ve already tried those things and more, I was able to consider more helpful idea. Some use simple heel slings. I could, but I don’t like the idea of not being able to pull up on the pedals if my knees start hurting. One person suggested huge handicap platform pedals that fasten down around the toe of the shoe and strap across the ankle as well. I’m smaller now and probably could reach my feet while sitting in the trike seat to wrestle with the Velcro straps every single time I wanted in or out of my pedals but… wrestling with Velcro straps Every. Single. Time. Ugh.

Then someone mentioned PowerGrip straps. Simple, but supposedly they cinch down fairly snug after you’ve put your foot in at an angle and then straighten it. I was still a bit wary though as there’s just the strap tension to keep the foot on the platform pedal. Then it occurred to me I could use it with a studded mountain bike platform pedal. The studs bite into the sole of the shoe and held down on them by the strap. Pretty sure the foot isn’t going to go slipping backwards.

I hesitated though because what if we had a warm snap and I wanted to wear less bulky shoes than my IceBug boots? Altering the length of the strap requires the use of an allen wrench on several bolts and adjustment was only by set increments.

Then another person said that they loved their Restrap diagonal pedal straps.

Curious, I Googled what they were talking about. Basically, the Restraps use the same diagonal cinching method to secure the foot, but made from wider straps. Actually they’re made from recycled seat belts. Hence, ‘Re-strap’. They’re also adjusted with Velcro instead of allen wrenches, but with an extra Velcro layer so no way the straps are going peel away. A small business started by a guy who made a pair for himself from an old seat belt. Then another for a friend… and became a full on business. I kinda like the idea of purchasing from that kind of ‘out of a garage’ company.

After much research and unable to find anyone even mentioning foot slipping with the straps, I’ve decided to try it, adding the studded pedals for extra security. It’s not expensive. The pedals weren’t hideously expensive (40 USD?) and the straps aren’t so bad either at about the same price. Given how much a pair of cycle shoes cost? Chump change.

So, I now have a chance to do as I’ve wistfully wished for a couple winters now. Put on my IceBug boots, walk my trike up from the storage on a snowy morning, sit down and pedal away. If it works? No sitting in the snow in the parking lot to swap from boots to cycle shoes. No more windtunnel through the bottom of my shoes turning my toes into chunks of ice. Being able to wear my IceBugs and not worry about slipping anywhere I want to get off my trike. The very thought makes me almost giddy. If I changed to different shoes, I’d only need to adjust the straps once and ride happily along the rest of the outing.

I’ve also been searching new handlebar bags. I think I’m going to try Arkel next. They are pricier than my current bag, but apparently have a metal skeleton which should hold up better than crappy Coroplast ‘boards’ that are used for stiffness in cheaper ones. Coroplast might be okay if you carry feathers and avoid hitting it on anything when it’s on the bike/trike (like a rock wall while squeezing down a narrow cycle trail with a husky beside you). My current handlebar bag started sagging after just a few months because the Coroplast started cracking despite not exceeding the weight limit of the bag. I’ve managed to make it last for almost 4 years though. Just getting tired of it being floppy and difficult to close.

If the Arkel works well, I’ll get another as well as an additional side-mount bar for the trike. One to either side so I can split the weight of my electronics and the like between the two. Dare I say it? Maybe even carry my spare camera lens in one instead of in the pod bags for those times I take my Canon.

What else… I think that’s it for now! Quite a long post, but a lot to catch up on in spite of the fact I’ve not been off the Hamster Tracks for weeks. I am hoping to get a ride in around somewhere else before the month is out. Hopefully my new job will cooperate with such! *fingers crossed*