Terii’s Cycling Babble

I Can’t Believe It!
September 3, 2016, 9:53 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Somehow, without killing myself or being anxious about it, I managed to make August a decent success. I really didn’t think I would after the first two weeks being in such a funk and the annoying tendency I had  about going 72+ hours without a single pedal turn several times. The fact that I actually blundered through the goal I’d set for August back in the last days of July was sheer happenstance.

Saturday, August 27th was the next day I went out for a ride after my last post.

Loke was out of car goodies that we used to bri… (Ahem) reward the fuzzy when he jumps in the car like a good boy. There was also the matter of the leash I use with the tether in the event said tether breaks. The one Loke chewed half way through. I’d really like to avoid chasing Loke across fields, or heaven forfend, through traffic if the running bar rope snaps.  I decided to make it the purpose of the ride. With the local hamster tracks, a definitive goal beyond ‘get miles’ helps push me out longer and offers focus.

It was a hard ride. At least for what I needed to buy the trailer was unnecessary. It removed the temptation to slap in 30 liters of water or something equally silly.

The main reason it was a hard ride was because of wind. It was insane. There were some crazy windy days in the last couple weeks of August and I seemed to be riding in most of them. Otherwise it was pretty, if on the warm side. As usual, the wind never really seemed to become a tail wind though I was doing a big circle. Fortunately, I never seemed to end up with it head on as it lashed trees and made grasses and grains wave like wind-tossed ocean waves.

Loke went along as if into a hurricane. His head was down, ears flattened, and eyes squinted. He ended up quite warm, but refused water every time I offered. Finally, he was warm enough that his stubbornness about drinking water concerned me.

Finally I called Jens to come get him at the bandy court. I waited in a stretch of nice dense shade and ruffled Loke’s fur so the wind could get to his skin and take some of the heat away.

The fuzzy stared mournfully at me through the car window, just over 5 miles for his bit of the trip.

So strange going this way...

So strange going this way…

From storage to bandy court, it had been standard hamster tracks. As I rolled out from there though, it was still hamster tracks, but for the first time, I was taking several miles of roads and paths in reverse.

Pushing across the parking lot for the bandy court, I joined up with the gravel riverside path that runs for miles between Flottsund to downtown Uppsala. I wasn’t going so far as Flottsund though. It felt a bit strange to be following the path downstream instead of up. I passed under the drawbridge and then took a turn to push sloooooowwwly up the ramp onto the bridge and over the river.

From there, the trees screened the wind a bit offering a bit of relief from it’s constant pressure and harder shoves. The path on that side of the river is called Skokloster Uppsala Road or something like that.

A nice view of castle and cathedral.

A nice view of castle and cathedral.

A frustrating name really. It implies a direct connection to the Skokloster estate. I’ve wanted to ride there for ages, but the roads in the area around it are very busy with no shoulders and lots of fiddling around with turns and directions. So, the hint that there might have once been a more straight-forward way is a bit of a cruel tease.

It was less than 2 miles to the working dog shop from the bandy court, but it went a bit faster without Loke. Not much, but a bit. I was working with something of a deadline too. The shop closes at 2 pm on Saturdays.

As I pedaled down the street going from the dismantled bridge to King’s Farm, the wind continued to astound. At least for that brief stretch, it was for once at my back. I practically flew. Cattails grow in the ditch to one side of the street, their dark green leaves as tall as I am. They whipped and nearly flattened at times, so abused by the wind.

The big trees just as I came to the side turn for the dog shop didn’t offer much shelter. Not to me any way, but to the 100 or more jackdaws, I guess it was paradise. They clamored and flapped through the branches. Such a ruckus, though over the wind sounds, not as loud as it would have otherwise been. The jackdaws are definitely starting to flock even though they don’t migrate.

It was nice to step into the shelter of the dog shop’s temporary location. I looked around only to discover that they didn’t have the brand of dog goodies. Freeze dried bison cubes.

What they did have though was a new staff member. A darling 8 week old, Border Collie puppy. His name was Kip. Soooooooooo darn cute and sweet. The young woman I’ve most often dealt with at the shop had only picked him up the previous day. He was already coming to his name, trying to play fetch and knew ‘sit’.

Naturally, I loved on the puppy a bit as I hunted down a leash to replace the chewed one. As I went out with my purchase to sit on the trike, the two women came out to sit at a table just at the open barn-like door of the shop. As I sat down, little Kip came over to see what I was doing. Fairly brave little thing. He was ever-so-slightly wary of the big weird thing, but he still sniffed around and tried to go under. That I stopped as there’s greasy chain down there.

Then his new mommy got his attention and he trundled back to her for a cookie. It was so cute though, when I rolled. If he’d been a child, he’d have been staring with wide eyes and wider mouth. Instead, his ears went up and he cocked his head as his little butt flumped down into a sitting position to watch.

Within minutes of leaving the shop, I lost the tailwind when I made a left turn.

By this time, it was after 3 pm, breakfast had been long ago and I was exhausted fighting Mother Nature. There was also the worrying irritation of the batteries in not only my phone, but my Garmin as well. Usually, I have what I call my ‘battery brick’ so dead electronics are rarely an issue, but for some reason, I didn’t have it. Probably left it charging at home or something.

Desperate for food at the very least, I rolled into McDonald’s by the museum rail tracks. There’s very little there that’s cholesterol friendly, but unless they’re sneakily adding butter to their frozen strawberry lemonade, I could have that. I made the order. While loitering around to wait for it, I noticed a raised table with bar-stool like chairs all empty. What caught my attention about it were the charging ports. Well, then, I’d be sipping my lemonade in the restaurant rather than out on my trike seat!

That’s what I did. I sat there while my Garmin and phone got a bit of a boost, savoring the energy kick my sugar laden beverage afforded.

In about 20 minutes, both had gotten about 10-15% boost and out I went. As I moved back to the path, I noticed that some of the trees getting battered by the wind were a pair of the many apple trees all through Uppsala. I made a quick stop and found some nice looking apples miraculously still on the branches that seemed ripe. For the next mile, I devoured 3 apples as I worked against the wind coming over my right front fender. I chose my apples well. They were yummy and worm free! Between that and the lemonade, I had energy enough to push on.

So, for about 7 miles, I had ‘reverse hamster track’ to ride on and then I rejoined the the various loops and ways in the usual direction again. Rather than going directly to the storage, I swung by the apartment to get Loke, figuring he could do the usual 2.33 mile jaunt from there back to storage. I had over 9 miles solo and once the trike was parked, it meant about 8 miles or so with Loke. Not a bad day!

It felt good to get something more in my tummy than sugar and fruit sugar though!

After that ride, things got a bit complicated and I wound up with yet another 3 straight days off the wheels.

Sunday is the one consistent work day I had. It’s the one with the least hours so easiest for me to do with my issues. So, into work I went.

Monday, Charles would have liked for me to work, but I had something else critical to do to that had been scheduled before I began working at the American Food shop. Loke was going to see an orthopedic specialist.

It turned into such a three-ring circles with monkeys running rampant and causing chaos. Took Jens to the train station. Then I left to the university animal hospital a bit more than an hour before the appointment. The plan was to get there in plenty of time and walk Loke in the area rather than plod around the usual blocks around here.

The traffic! I mean, I expected traffic, but this exceeded all expectations and not in a good way. Nor was it helped by the torrential downpour blasted by those persistent winds. A drive that usually takes 20 minutes took me over an hour. It was crazy! I didn’t think there were that many people in Uppsala! I checked in at 8:47 for my 8:45 appointment.

Thankfully the specialist was late as well.

The appointment went well. The woman was very nice, though Loke’s opinion differs. She did her thing to test Loke’s joints. I was a bit worried about that in two ways. First, that she’d find something. Second, that she’d find nothing.

When I made the appointment, Loke was slow. ‘Laughed at by passing snails’ slow. He also limped a lot with what seemed to be  pain in his shoulders and hips. He tripped and stumbled often. He’d drag a paw for a step or two on occasion as well, which is probably just part of the tripping thing.

About 8 days before his appointment, he turned around. Suddenly, he was wanting to run, chase critters, cruise at 8 mph and all without stumble, trip, limp or drag.

That’s pretty much what he was at when we were at the specialist. He’d slowed a tiny bit again, but otherwise was bouncy fit.

Going... going... GONE!

Going… going… GONE!

Well, she said he was painful in his left elbow and right shoulder, with a sort of ‘clicking’ when she manipulated him. As for his hips, he seemed completely fine there.

When I’d made the appointment, they’d scheduled him with X-ray times and that’s what was going to happen. He’d be sedated and X-rayed. She also said she wanted to get a colleague in to give his feet a quick look because his feet were stiff and uncomfortable. A actual doggie podiatrist. Oh, sure. Sweden has doggie podiatrists, but not human ones. *eye roll*

So, she went out and nurses came in to give the sedative. We moved to a quiet waiting area where they gave Loke a fuzzy blanket to lay on. It took me an minute or so to get him settled and then he soon got woozy before he was out like a light.

Poor fuzzy. Hopefully will get some answers!

Poor fuzzy. Hopefully will get some answers!

A few minutes later, an X-ray tech came out and we lifted Loke onto a gurney, blanket and all. Then I helped to shift him onto the X-ray table. From there, the tech wrestled him around, using sandbags to hold him in positions for the shots. After about 6 of them, she went to check with the radiologist who’d be reading them if they were what was needed.

Yep! Then it was back into the exam room with Loke still on the gurney.

The orthopedist came back with the podiatrist. As the podiatrist looked at Loke’s feet, the first vet told me that Loke’s X-rays came back just fine. His joints, in fact, look great. This means whatever is making him act arthritic is soft tissue issues, very likely related to his allergies inflaming muscle or even ligaments and/or tendons.

I’d wondered at times if that could happen. Even asked our usual cadre of vets if it was possible. They didn’t think so. Well, the specialist did, which is why she’s a specialist.

As for his feet, the podiatrist said the hind feet look pretty good. A little stiff, but nothing that should hinder him overmuch at his age. The front feet were a bit worse. The spot where the abscess has erupted twice, she asked if the vet had taken samples to test from the last time. I told her the results and she nodded, expecting the answer. No significant amount of bacteria. So, the abscess wasn’t from infection, but from some kind of inflammation response in the soft tissues right there.

In short, Loke’s allergies are making his immune system attack _him_. It’s not just the system shutting down so common skin flora and fauna go out of control and start making goo out of his skin, but it’s actually going after parts of his body instead.

They wanted to take some blood for tests, but for now, just continue with the anti-inflammatory medications to suppress the worst of the responses.

A prescription and said they’d call when the tests came back. The nurses would be in to wake the fuzzy.

An accusatory stare if ever there was one.

An accusatory stare if ever there was one.

Someone was very displeased with me as he came around. As soon as he could lift his head, he stared at me with an irritate cock to one ear. Clearly, I wasn’t doing my job of protecting him from evil people.

I headed out to the reception to pay, but it turned into a bit of chaos. I was stuck there for another 30 minutes or so. At one point, while waiting for the insurance to respond, I told the receptionist that I was taking Loke to the bathroom. He was steady enough on his feet that I took him to the little fenced yard they have just for that purpose. I even let him off leash as there were no other dogs there.

A few minutes after getting back in, I just paid myself rather than wait longer.

There’d been a narrow window of no rain, but naturally that window had occurred during the wait on insurance and Loke coming back to consciousness. As soon as we walked back to the car, it slammed shut on my chance to ride dry. I decided I didn’t want to ride that desperately in a windy deluge.

I was just exhausted after such a frustrating morning that even the temptation of making some progress on whittling down those last 17 miles to break over 300 miles from last year’s 8 month total couldn’t push me out into such awful weather.

Yep! August 31st, 2015, I had amassed 680.82 miles. As of August 27th, 2016, I had around 964 miles. When I discovered that, I’d planned to crank that up over 981 miles. Work, appointments and weather weren’t being terribly accommodating though.

Tuesday morning (August 30th), I thought I could at least get a few miles in while Loke was at the groomer. Poor fuzzy. Just not a great couple of days for him. About 8 am, Charles’ wife called and in the background, I could hear poor Charles coughing so hard it sounded like he was going to turn himself inside out. Could I cover the shop?

I told her I’d be happy to especially with Charles so sick, but admitted I wasn’t sure if I was up to 2 days of long shifts back to back. They agreed (in between Charles hacking and gasping for air) that they’d do their best to give me Wednesday off instead.

With that chaos, Jens checked his schedule and shuffled a meeting around so he could stay home to take Loke to the groomer and walk him.

Then it was Wednesday, August 31st and I had the day off. 17 miles nagged at me, but I’d felt pretty weak on most of the previous rides. I wasn’t convinced I had 17+ miles in me. Not to mention, I also had to go to the health ward with no idea how long it would take.

Still, I dashed with Jens to the train station in my cycle clothes so I could hurry straight to the storage and ride.

Naturally, since I had a bit of a time limit and had been fairly fit and strong for the visit with the specialist, Loke was slow and draggy with his old limping, stiff issues. *sigh* The 6 miles I’d planned to do with him was rudely chopped to about 4 miles. The weather looked pretty threatening. 55 F with a lead gray sky. For once though it was merely ‘breezy’ as opposed to ‘hurricane’.

Thankfully, my time at the medical ward didn’t take forever and a day. I hurried home, walked Loke around the block, got dressed back in my cycles clothes and scurried off to the trike.

The weather had turned by that point. The dense lead colored overcast had given way to cobwebs across blue with the sun shining down. The temp had taken a 14 degree jump and the wind had become a bit more brisk.

In spite of it feeling hot, muggy and miserable with what felt like a warm wind, I struck out across the countryside. I was feeling pretty weak, but figured I’d take a stab at the needed miles anyway.

Nothing says autumn like straw bales.

Nothing says autumn like straw bales.

It would have been nice if it had felt as autumnal as it looked. The harvesting has begun and some of the fields with grain stalks have been cut and rolled into straw bales for animal bedding. Felt like July, looked like September. Yet onward I pushed, in mortal combat with the wind. So very weary of the wind.

As I turned past Läby church and headed back toward Uppsala, I decided to go downtown to the shop. Last week, I began organizing a new price list. One where the items are in their proper categories and, therefore, easier to locate if a price label is missing. I’d left a few handwritten sheets that I needed to be added to my electronic list at the store. I’d swing by and pick them up.

There it is! The last 13 miles I needed for 981 miles!

There it is! The last 13 miles I needed for 981 miles!

Somewhere between Läby and the shop, it actually happened! I crossed 13 miles on my solo ride and officially made over 981 miles for the first 8 months of 2016. 300 miles than at the end of 8 months last year.

It turned out it was Charles at the shop. He still sounded a bit raspy, but at least he could take a breath without coughing it out. He was happy to see me and gave a hug. Then he introduced me to his sister who was also there. ‘This is my friend, Teresa. She works here too.’

His sister is a charming woman. A little thing, shorter than I am, which is saying quite a bit. A very chatty, person and extremely kind and generous from first impression. I liked her.

I chatted with her and even minded the register so Charles could go grab something to eat. It felt strange to be sitting there in my eye-bleeding color combinations of Lycra and running shorts, minding the till.

Charles also scribbled down the prices on my list while I was there.

On the way back, I stopped by the apartment to get Loke to do the 2.33 mile dash to the storage for trike parking and fetching the car.

What a change! Loke had exchange lethargy for exuberance, weakness for power. He ran strong and brisk with not a single hint of limp or stumble. Maybe his meds hadn’t completely kicked in on the morning dash, but he was practically a whole different dog.

Roughly 21 miles for the day. The original 17 miles I’d needed for the goal I’d given up on and then some!

Later in the afternoon, I realized I’d unknowingly accomplished the goal for August I’d set back in July, to double the distance I did in August 2015. Just, but still did it. August 2015, I had 65.9 miles. August 2015 ended with 134.67. I was flabbergasted. I’d felt lucky to just break 100 what with apathy, weather, health, and a new job in the mix!

It felt pretty good! There was something I overlooked though and it wasn’t until after I’d properly tallied the distances that I saw it. I was sitting at 985 miles and a few hundred yards.

Just a smidge less than 15 miles and I would break 1000 for the year! It was too late to do it in August, but a snap to do in September. Still quite an accomplishment for me. Loke’s about 150 miles less than I am. Sadly, I think this year is the most solo miles I’ve done in 5-7 years easily. There were a few years where I did less than 10 miles alone. 2008, I think, was a year for a lot more solo miles than husky ones because it was a hot summer and with the Trice, I couldn’t ride in winter.

In spite of the beating I took from 21 miles in windy conditions, I went out again the next day. I was slated to work on Friday and doing my best to ride often enough to combat the evil ‘3 or more days without pedaling’ issue I’ve been having.

I’d decided it wasn’t going to be a long ride though. Just a River Loop with an extra half mile or so to loop around to the vet clinic at its new location for Loke’s expensive kibble. Another windy day and silly me, I added to to it with not just the trailer, but 12 liters of water too.

That was probably unwise given the weary state of my muscles, the blustering air, and the fact I’ve not taken the trailer out in a week or two. Still I did it. It was a hard slog even before I dropped another 8 kilos in the trailer for more than a total of 40 lbs. My knees didn’t like me very much by time I got home.

A bit over 9 miles to be over 1000 miles for the year.

Friday morning, September 2nd, Jens was going to take the car as his parents were happy to again drive me to the shop. I dragged out of bed at about 3:45 am though, whispering at Loke to come with me out of the bedroom. He just blinked at me from his fox-curl position in his bedroom bed. I had to walk over and tug on his ear to get him up and into the living room.

"Noooo! Too early! Go back to bed, Mom!!"

“Noooo! Too early! Go back to bed, Mom!!”

As I staggered around, zombie-like and yawning, Loke flopped down into his livingroom pillow and rolled onto his back. During my leisurely approach to getting dressed (pull on tights, sit a moment to look at Facebook. Pull on shirt, sit a moment to yawn), he’d occasionally open an eye to look at me, then wriggle a bit and groan. If he’d been a kid, he’d have been rolling over and pulling a blanket over his head.

About 4:10 am, we left the apartment. In his harness and out in the crisp air of an inky black pre-dawn, he had more interest. I drove to the storage area, wondering if I’d be able to find somewhere to park. Cars that are usually gone with their owners to jobs or errands were firmly occupying parking space along the street as said owners were sensibly still in bed. Or at least their apartments. By some miracle though, I found one less than 100 yards from the garage.

You know it’s early when the early birds, yes, the ones with feathers, complain about you disturbing them. They scolded us from the hedges as we made our way from car to storage.

I pushed the trike up and clipped in. I felt some consolation that I could just make out where the sky was beginning to brighten. The trees were an inky black silhouette against a slightly less dark, inky blue sky.

We rolled away around 4:17 am. My earliest ride of the year. The first workout my lights have gotten since sometime before June.

Down to the river.

Down to the river.

Loke was happy to speed us along the first half mile to the overpass. There was a certain kind of peace to being out so early and before the sun. During the summer, it’s light at that time of morning and birds singing, beams of sunlight if it’s a mostly clear day. The first days of September and 4:30 am is still dark and nothing but the occasional grouchy bird or rare car to disturb the quiet. Or a woman on a trike puffing her way up a climb with the jingle of her husky’s harness beside her.

The descent down looked oddly pretty with the blue black sky just discernible from the trees and the small pools of shadows between the flood of lights. For once, it wasn’t windy. The Garmin’s temp display showed 53 F. I had my knit beanie on as well as thin gloves.

The fuzzy one seemed excited to see that lit path disappearing into the distant dark. He tried to run and kept giving me annoyed glances as I kept him firmly in the 6 mph range. I’m such a cruel woman, keeping him from running like the wind until he falls over.

Oh, look! It's cloudy!

Oh, look! It’s cloudy!

Between the storage and the path heading north beside the river, trees and buildings obscure most horizons. Combined with the light pollution which makes it impossible to see the stars, I didn’t know if it was cloudy or clear. Only when we made the turn and it was river and open fields of the Uppsala Garrison grounds could I see the first hints of the coming sunrise sneaking in under a chink through the clouds. So, cloudy then.

Though it was little more than a sliver of light and no real color to the clouds, I decided to follow the river path to the end as I did on the foggy morning. There was beauty to the play of light on the clouds. They had a subtle striated effect like wavelets lapping to a shore line.

Same spot, 6 minutes later.

Same spot, 6 minutes later.

Without the trailer, it was easy to turn around at the end of the path and come back. As ever, the change of just a few minutes made me smile. I’d thought it was going to be a fairly colorless sunrise like the one at the mounds, but it had surprised me. There was color and nary a pastel hue to be seen. These were vibrant, glowing shades of molten gold and dark, lush reds, magenta, and orange fading to deepest violet and indigo.

I decided not to go through the industrial area, but doubled back to the main path by the river. It was just too pretty to leave. I did leave it briefly, to go along the 272 for a about another half mile of distance. Loke was going to have a 5 hour stint all by himself until Grandma and Grandpa came to walk him.

Just wow...

Just wow…

It didn’t matter. That sunrise made even an on-ramp intersection look lovely.

It had truly turned into a nice morning. I might have been a bit irritated at dragging around when all I’d first wanted to do was roll back into bed, but the crisp air, Loke feeling strong and such a glorious dawning had cheered me. I smiled as I rolled by the ugly industrial building back toward the river.

The building is truly ugly. Some windows patched with boards, graffiti splattered over the harsh bricks. In its self, there is absolutely no aesthetic worth to the structure. It’s made to protect whatever industry happens within from the weather and keep out those who don’t belong. Period.

The ugliness reflecting nature's splendor.

The ugliness reflecting nature’s splendor.

But then nature comes along and enhances it at times. In spring, it might be the bright whites and yellows of ‘weed’ flowers growing at the edge of the wall. In winter, I’ve found incredible icicles growing to amazing lengths and shapes from the eaves. And that morning, the glass eyes of those windows not covered with boards, usually soulless, looked out with reflected sunrise.

More reflections

More reflections

Then we rejoined the river to begin the tail end of the loop back to the storage.

The city was waking up as we came to the intersection by the bakery. Cars were filling the streets and the cycleways beside them cluttered with a briskly moving cyclist heading to work. The birds were no longer grumbling at being disturbed before they were ready to wake, but beginning to start their day as well.

With a smile on my lips and spring my step as I walked from storage to car, I’d begun the day with 7.19 miles. Work waited.

Or so I thought. Apparently, there was a lapse of communication somewhere. When my husband’s lovely parents dropped me off, I walked into the mall and was baffled to find the shop’s door agape. I squeezed in and one of my coworkers popped his head out of the back room.

No, he was working today to get things labeled, didn’t anyone tell me? Nope.

I hurriedly called my mother-in-law and asked if they could come back for me.

I was a bit annoyed at having my in-laws make the unnecessary trip, but other than that, I was fine with it. Such a lovely early ride, how could I have regretted that?

Besides, it meant they didn’t have to deal with Loke and I had the time to finally boil the poor, deprived fuzzy some reindeer. It’s been a couple weeks since I felt like I had a solid 4 hour block to properly do that. Made the furry one very happy.

It was just as well work didn’t happen. I was worried I’d not be able to see it through because about 8 am, I was hit by one of ‘those days’. I’m dreading actually getting one of those while at work. Where every muscle screams with each move I make. Just pulling on a sweater or brushing my hair was agony.

I was very relieved to be relieved of my shift even if discovered only by going into work.

If I’d felt felt so completely incapacitated, I probably would have walked to the garage to do another river loop and parked at the apartment until Jens got home. After the 7.19 sunrise ride, I only needed 1.98 mile more to have the magical 1000 miles.

Today (September 3rd) is a day off from work and I would have gone out for that last little distance, except I woke feeling as if I’d gargled battery acid and my ears hurt. The first cold like this I’ve had in a long while. So, no riding today. Just laundry.

Tomorrow (September 3rd) is a work day and I think I’ll try to sleep in again. I don’t want this cold worse as I push through a 5 hour shift at the shop.

Monday… well, Monday I’ll go for an early-ish ride. Not 4 am early, but early. It will give me those last 1.98 miles to cross the magical 1000. Something to buoy me as I go in later for an ultra sound on my heart.

I’m a bit worried about that. Wondering if I’m going to discover that my rough, agonized days where I can barely move are due to congestive heart failure rather than post stroke symptoms.

I guess Monday I may have the answer, for good or for ill.

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