Terii’s Cycling Babble


Off Track
September 22, 2016, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

In more ways then one!

Hindsight

Hindsight

Looks like this month is going to be the bad month of the year. I’m too far behind to get caught up on any goal I might have made… which I made none. The obvious goal would be ‘better than last September’ That would be 150 miles. I’m at 60 with just a few days left in the month. The cold(s) derailed my progress from the start and then I just ended up ‘meh’. No melancholy associated with bad times, just ‘meh’. Add to that the problem I’ve started having in my right hip. It makes it painful at times to cycle and I absolutely refuse to kill myself to try catching up.

Any way, on to the other way it was off the track. Literally, off the hamster tracks.

So, I’d plotted my route the day before on my new go-to for mapping rides, PlotaRoute. I even went and loaded almost everything into the car, except for the seat. Why not the seat? Because, I was having one of those bad days from a neuromuscular point and arrived at the storage to have forgotten that the tool I needed to remove Loke’s running bar was back at the apartment. I didn’t have the oomph to drive back home, plod from our little parking lot into the apartment, grab the tool, plod back to the car, and then have the strength to load everything. Once home, I stuck a note written in huge letters, “GET THE SEAT!!” on the inner door so I’d see it before I left the next morning.

Jens did me one better. After I’d gone to bed, he went for the last outing of the day with Loke and took the note with him. He taped it to the steering wheel of the car. Bless the man.

So, 4 am on September 17th, I crawled out of bed and yawned my way around the apartment. I took a moment to stop at my computer and pull up the route I was going to be taking for Jens to be able to look at if anything went wrong. While doing that, I opened the weather app and blinked. 36 F. That gave me pause.

The past few weeks had been unseasonably warm really. Not broiling, but definitely significantly warmer in September than it should. 36 F at 4 am (rather than 55 F) was more in line with this time of the year, but it was so sudden and out of the blue. Usually the weather reports on TV warn of ‘cooler temps coming this weekend’ kind of thing, but they’ve said nothing other than ‘warm, almost summer like temperatures ahead.’ I was not ready for near freezing. My footwarmers weren’t charged and they generally need a good 24 hours for the charge after having been packed away for spring and summer. I had no idea where to find a crescent wrench to swap to the strapped pedals either. Wasn’t sure I wanted to waste precious time to go hunt around in the cellar for it either.

I decided to go for it any way. I flew around to dig out my shoe covers and decided to load my fairing as well, fingers crossed those would be enough. It was supposed to get into at least the 60’s according to the app.

Finally dressed, I stepped out the door around 4:30 am, right on schedule, to head to the storage for the seat. For once, it hadn’t slipped my mind even before I sat down in the car with the steering wheel note reminder. I’m sure it would have if we’d not bothered with the note, but that’s just the way my mind works sometimes.

It also turned out that the weather app was woefully wrong! It wasn’t 36 F! It was 46 F! That’s just fine to ride in without extra measures to keep my feet warm.

It only took a few minutes to strip off Loke’s running bar and put the seat in the car. Not having Loke also simplified the packing of the fairing. I could just stick it in the back seat where the fuzzy one would usually go.

And then I was off! Still on schedule. I was quite pleased with that really.

As I hit the E4 to buzz toward the far side of Stockholm, the sky was starting to lighten with a faint slash of brighter illumination sneaking under the edge of the clouds at the eastern horizon. As I glanced at it, it occurred to me, ‘Oops, I forgot my sunglasses.’ That was followed by, ‘Well, my contacts still make it easier to use the Canon even if I don’t have the sunglasses.’ The Canon… the Canon camera that was still sitting on the footstool under the desk back at the apartment. Sighing, I hurried on to the ramp that took me to the roundabout to head back home to get the camera. No way I was going somewhere new without my Canon.

That put me behind my original schedule by about 35 minutes. It had to be done though. I also remembered to grab my sunglasses.

The sun was officially up before I reached Stockholm and the skies cleared. As I emerged from the city on the southern end, little patches of fog appeared here and there, hovering close to the ground, no higher than a person’s waist. The sunset was one of the muted ones. The colors subtle and tended toward pastel shades except for a few moments where a few of the scattering clouds were snared in light the color of molten gold.

The whole way between Uppsala and Sweden’s capital city, the car’s ambient temperature display hardly budged off of 46 F. Well, not until I was about 3 miles from the manor estate turned golf course any way. I’d come off the highway onto the smaller road and suddenly the car dinged and I looked down. It was a warning that it was cold enough for ice on the roadway to be a threat. 39 F. By the time I rolled into the parking lot, it was 36 F.

Stunning

Stunning

The first frost of Autumn 2016.

The first frost of Autumn 2016.

Cold! So cold! There was more fog too. Some of it was quite stunning as it hovered above the fields in tightly isolated clouds that left much of the surrounding air crystal clear.

As I stepped out of the car, watching golfers stream into the parking area and heading out across the course, I was very glad I’d not assumed it was going to be ‘warm’ (if one can call 46 F warm) when I arrived. I’d packed 2 additional wool tops, my gloves, my knitted cap, shoe covers, and of course, my fairing. I wasn’t going to need it for long, but even an hour in nearly freezing temps would have been unpleasant.

Cold, but what a morning!

Cold, but what a morning!

Loving the morning!

Loving the morning!

I pulled on another wool layer and hunted for my lightweight gloves in preparation to unload the trike. The metal was going to get cold fast on naked fingers. As I did that, I kept looking at the grass. It looked pale with what I thought at first was dew caught by the early sunlight, but it looked too pale. Before pulling the second glove, I walked over to run my fingers through the blades to confirm what I suspected. Yep. It was frost. It had actually gotten cold enough to give the grass and glaze of ice.

A few people dragging around their clubs stared as I began to wrestle things out. Dressed as I was, clearly golf was not in the schedule for the day. As I pulled out the body of the trike and unfolded it, there were a few double takes. As the light and veils of fog shifted around, I’d stop to take another photo or 4.

Onward!

Onward!

I felt almost dizzy once I had everything settled and the trike ready to roll. It had been so long to be somewhere else for a ride.

Södermanland's Runestone #262 - Broken, but enduring.

Södermanland’s Runestone #262 – Broken, but enduring.

My enthusiasm was tempered when I plopped down in the seat and pushed off. I felt slow and sluggish. The trike felt so very heavy. Admittedly, I haven’t been dragging the trailer lately and was carrying a bit of food for lunch, water (of course) as well as my camera gear which probably comes close to 8 lbs by itself. There was no way I was going to turn back before I’d even gone a mile though.

Just beyond the parking lots, there was a split in the path. One way was a gravel lane that led up and the other was a cycle path and went down. Right at the split, stood an unexpected rune stone. The web site I use to track such things down had shown absolutely nothing in the area.

People there to golf in what was turning into a gorgeous autumn day either stared or nodded their greetings as I chewed my way up the gravel lane toward what I hoped would give a good view of the manor house. One or two people even called out that I had a cool bike. 3 or 4 golf carts zipped by as I struggled to make the climb at about 1 mph. Such an anticlimactic and somewhat hard start to the ride did not inspire confidence.

Årsta Manor

Årsta Manor

The gravel ‘courtyard’ was clear and in full sun, letting the light fall on the front of the simple looking manor house. The two free-standing wings were quite far back from the main house. One of them was being used as a cafe and rental point for the carts.

I parked the trike in front of the manor and moved back.. and back… and back, to get everything in one shot. I really should have learned by now that the trike needs to be much closer to me for such shots than where I tend to leave it. One day, perhaps I’ll get one where the trike is more clearly visible.

Frost, early sun, and spider web make for beauty.

Frost, early sun, and spider web make for beauty.

The way down from the manor went quickly and I whipped around the sharp right onto the cycle path. I slowed down a bit as there were a few people walking the path were it ran along the base of the hill with the manor at its crown. The cycle path, which I remember being paved, came to a kind of end at an unpaved lane lined by what appeared to be dead trees. No hint of leaves and too early for most trees to be bare-branched already. Nor were there piles of fallen leaves to be seen which should have been there if these trees had carried them over the summer.

Dead trees? And what's that sound?

Dead trees? And what’s that sound?

The dead-tree lined lane cut right through the golf course, with a few points where carts could move from one green to the other. It was up a slight incline and I felt every bit of it. Combined with the gravel and how silly heavy the trike felt, it made for slow going. After a few moments, a sound wormed its way into my consciousness. A rubbery sort of rattle.

I knew that sound and it triggered a scowl. It meant the duck tape that I use to ‘repair’ my chain tube had given way so that part of it had slid back to interfere with my derailleur.

I stopped the trike, removed everything from the left side that could get damaged and flipped it on that side.

*grumble-grumble-grumble*

*grumble-grumble-grumble*

Sure enough. It was easy enough to fix, especially since I had something to help me cut away the duck tape rather than trying to convince it to unwrap. Mostly, I was annoyed about it because it’s been so recent that I had to redo it anyway. Back in July when I did that leg of Mälardalsleden where Jens did some fishing as I pedaled along past old mills and down busy roads. The first time I did the fix, it lasted for more than a year.

I think I did it a little more effectively this time. Hopefully it will last for more than 2 months. Yet in less than 10 minutes the trike was back on all 3 wheels, with everything loaded back and me on the way again.

Not bad as gravel roads go...

Not bad as gravel roads go…

Though I still had to climb, it was a bit of a relief to reach the paved road as the lane had turned into one of those tracks with the big grassy center. After about a mile of that, I made a turn onto a small gravel road that headed off in a north-west direction.

Österhaninge Church

Österhaninge Church

It wasn’t bad as gravel roads go. It was semi-flat compared to what I expected other portions of the route to do. So, I relaxed and enjoyed it. After about half a mile, I grinned to see the steeple of the first church of the day rising above the trees as I rolled along.

Just as I was coming to the end of the unpaved road, there was a sudden drop that I took at rattling, high speed. As I bounced over the rocks and shallow pot holes in the packed dirt, all I could think was, ‘I’m going to hate climbing this back up.’.

From there it was a quick dash on a larger two-lane country road. So early on a Saturday morning it was fairly quiet, except for the next person hurrying off to play golf.

Österhaninge Church in full

Österhaninge Church in full

A pair of horses watched me curiously as I made the turn onto the smaller country road that would take me by the church. One went back to munching grass when when I stopped for photos.

Österhaninge church was quite interesting in my opinion. The chapel on the back, clearly one of the newest portions of the structure. Sadly, being that it was not even yet 9 am, it was firmly closed. Admittedly, I had no idea if it was one of those churches that does open for viewings and uses, or if it spends most days of the year buttoned tight like Jumkil church, closer to home. Many churches open only for weddings, baptisms or funerals.

Loved it!

Loved it!

Interesting, but strange to find it in such a remote place.

Interesting, but strange to find it in such a remote place.

It was a bit of a climb and soon I was back on gravel and dirt instead of asphalt. It wasn’t too bad though the little country lane was littered with ‘horse apples’. A lot of of them. I couldn’t avoid them all, so I mostly tried to avoid those that were fresher and hadn’t yet been flatten down by the rare, random car that might have passed through.

I entered a screen of trees after rolling down a brief little dip. As I climbed up again through the dappled shade, I spotted an unexpected and very peculiar sort of sculpture to the side of the road. I kind of liked it in an odd way, but it felt almost surreal to find a roadside piece of art in what felt like a rather hidden location. I can’t imagine more than a dozen cars passing by it in any given day and 90% of those are likely locals who’ve seen it hundreds of times.

This just does't speak to me...

This just does’t speak to me…

Just a little further on was another one though it was comprised of 3 free standing objects. It appealed to me much less than the first one though I can’t even begin to guess why. Maybe it was the colors? The bumpy texture as if it was hastily slapped together and left unfinished? Perhaps it just felt like pieces of things, human body shapes mostly, gathered up with no clear form or aesthetic.

A bit after the sculptures, the little road turned more into a rough track. At the bottom of a slight decline where it looked like a shallow wash had formed, it had been filled in with loose, chunky rocks. I slowed waaaaaaayyyyy down to bump my way through those and back up the other side. The trees fell back again and I emerged into a more farm like area with lots of horses who watched me curiously. A bunch of girls on more horses appeared and I pulled over far to the side and sat motionless while the coaxed and urged the the nervous one by. A few of them only looked at me curiously and two didn’t even cock an ear my way so indifferent as they were. Horses that chill always make my smile. They remind me of a horse a friend of mine was stuck with at a riding stable once. His name was ‘Mayonnaise’ and he was so laid back, he honestly seemed to fall asleep while walking.

Wouldn't mind more of this!

Wouldn’t mind more of this!

For about 200 yards, I had pavement again. Then I made a right turn past a paddock and modern stable block where a gravel and weed cycle track went under the 73. It was a bit wet there, but easier going than on rough gravel and certainly the rocky stretch. Only a little soft, it made for smooth going as I came up on another paddock.

There were a pair of horses there, standing at a bathtub being used as a water trough. They looked up in spooked alarm as I rolled out from behind a few scrubby bushes where they could see me. I stopped and talked to them for a couple minutes as they snorted and blew. When they relaxed a bit, I rolled slooowwwly on as they decided I was curiosity rather than a threat and didn’t bolt off.

Not a great photo, but I loved this hill for some reason.

Not a great photo, but I loved this hill for some reason.

So pretty.

So pretty.

Look! A critter highway! Wonder what? Hares? Hedgehogs?

Look! A critter highway! Wonder what? Hares? Hedgehogs?

That stretch actually went on for almost 2 miles. The damp surface turned into a nice gravel cycle path that finally emerged onto a lovely little country road with an awesome surface for rolling along.

More of this please!

More of this please!

Even better, I was feeling a bit stronger and more optimistic about the rest fo the ride.

Just a few yards on that bit of road and my luck seemed to continue with a turn onto what the maps showed as a road, but was so narrow it looked more like a cycle path. Lovely flat with a fine grain, nicely packed gravel surface. There was a slight incline to it, but I was beaming happily as I pedaled along at a respectable (for me) speed.

Or even more of this!

Or even more of this!

There were lots of other people out enjoying the warming day along the little trail. It had gone from 36 F to about 48 F, with a soft breeze. It was warm enough I’d stripped off my shoe covers and gloves, but kept one of the extra wool layers on my top. The wooded terrain gave way to something a little more open and I spotted what appeared to be a picnic table and a firepit, as if I’d come into a park area. Puzzled, I slowed and that was when I spotted an information sign. as well as a other paths to the right, splitting out into a webwork through the trees, tall grass and ferns turning brown with the changing season.

Trench Road and Burial Mound

Trench Road and Burial Mound

Curious, I stopped by the sign and got up. What hadn’t been obvious from my low position the trike was the sheer number of stones thrusting up from the brown ferns and yellowing grass. Most of them were narrow things with smoothly rounded top like the fat end of an egg and no taller than my hip or, in a few instances, my waist.

Clearly a burial ground and one that none of my web sites had indicated to be here. Odd, because it turned out to be the largest of it’s kind in Scandinavia!

I glanced at the sign and it pointed out a tiny burial mound over by the picnic table and firepit, barely more than a meter high and less than 3 meters across. More interesting, it also pointed out a ‘hålväg’ which translates literally as ‘Hole Road/Street’. Probably more clearly, it would be called a ‘trench road’ in English. Essentially a road or path so worn down by centuries of passing humans and/or livestock that it’s become a trench in the landscape. It’s just visible under the ferns at the bottom center of the photo and curving off to the right. The small burial mound is just visible in the background just behind the small green tree.

Rocks so probably several burials.

Rocks so probably several burials.

Hard to see from this angle, but it's a 'ship setting'!

Hard to see from this angle, but it’s a ‘ship setting’!

More paths ran off to the right of my mapped route and curiosity pulled me that way. Every time I stood up there were more and more stones to see along with half a dozen information signs. After about 100 yards, the paths became less trike friendly. Narrower and bumping up and down over large rocks which probably meant ancient graves passing under my wheels. Finally I just parked the trike to one side of the paths, shouldered the packs with my electronics, and against my better judgement, started walking.

Lingon Berry or Poison Impostor?

Lingon Berry or Poison Impostor?

So many burials. One sign I found said there were over 800 burials in the area with more hidden beneath. One of them was the smallest ship setting I’d ever seen. A ship setting is an arrangement of stones that form the rough outline of a ship’s hull. It was barely 3 – 4 meters from bow to stern. Other stone groups were nearly impossible to tell if they were supposed to be some specific arrangement. Maybe they were circles? Spokes? There was one apparently ‘wheel’, a large circle of low stones with ‘spokes’ running from center to edge, but it was too far away for me to walk to. It was challenging enough for me to stagger around with burning muscles and screaming nerves, but I had to. I just had to.

The Rose Cairn

The Rose Cairn

Apparently, quite a few of the burials were for women which, supposedly, wasn’t terribly common back in the day. I guess it had to happen though and where else but in Scandinavia’s largest Bronze/Iron Age burial ground?

Rocks, rocks and more rocks

Rocks, rocks and more rocks

Burials weren’t the only think lurking in the wooded growth of skinny pines or weedy grass. Blue berries were abundant and people were wandering through the ankle high shrubs picking them. One couple had an entire plastic grocery bag full of them. I even spotted a few bright red berries that may or may not have been lingon berries. I left them alone though since my husband warned me years ago that there’s a poisonous berry that has leaves very much like the lingon plant as well as bright red berries. I love lingon preserves with my reindeer and mashed potatoes, but not fond enough of the berry to risk poisoning myself by picking them on my own.

Path runs right over what I'm sure is a burial

Path runs right over what I’m sure is a burial

Reluctantly, I went back to the trike with only the smallest bit of the burial ground explored. I was feeling a bit of time pressure. I had moments where I was doing a bit faster, but overall, I was moving at a slow crawl and 40 minutes meandering from cluster of rocks to another wasn’t helping. It was coming up on noon and I’d not even done 5 miles. Barely 1.5 miles an hour. Admittedly, I stopped bunches for photos and the bigger chunk of an hour at the burial ground, but still! I had to get moving. The entire loop was 27 miles.

I headed back to the main path and had a bit of a respite in the form of a 3% decline over a not too rough surface. The trike fairly flew through the dappled light, flanked to either side by browning ferns, scrawny pines, and countless, short standing stones with rounded tops all in a blur. For about a half mile, I made good time.

In spite of being silly slow, I was in a good mood as I left the countryside behind for a small town. The gravel trail gave way to a paved cycle path that climbed up past a modern church. I had a desperate need to respond to a call of nature. The best place for such would be a McDonald’s or at least a cafe. Thanks to my Garmin’s map, I was able to follow it to just such a cafe.

It was a little place, with a few out door seats. Mostly it was a bakery though it sold sandwiches as well as the usual pastries, cakes, and other sweets. I dashed into the restroom and then came out to see if something called. I settled for a sort of bun like thing flavored with cardamon and sugar as well as a small orange juice. It was nice to sit and rest while, nibbling on the treat.

It turned out to be the last truly peaceful moment for several hours.

Waiting for it to go

Waiting for it to go

I followed several cycle paths through the town. I came to an intersection and stopped to wait for traffic. As I waited, there was a buzz triggering an uneasy tension. Something yellow and black alighted on my knee. I relaxed, a tiny bit, when I saw it was a honey bee. I still wasn’t thrilled about it being there, but at least my nerves let me breathe where I would have been holding my breath with a yellow-jacket. They’ve got a foul temper, especially at this time of year when the chill days and morning frosts begin.

Uneasy, I waited as it crawled around and seemed to be tasting my knee. Minutes passed. Cars occasionally stopped to see if I wanted to cross, but I waved them on. A pack of about 20 road cyclists whipped through the roundabout.

Finally, I decided to at least edge through the intersection rather than continually waving kind drivers through who wanted to let me pass. I held my breath as my bobbed the bee up and down pedaling through and then I had an easy coast down a small hill. I had to stop pedaling then because the bee, starting to look clumsy, crawled to the back of my knee. I stopped again, unable to pedal without squeezing it.

It was dying. It struggled to climb back up to the top of my leg again, but then lost its grip and fell to the pavement, moving no more. Feeling a little sad, I packed up and shifted the trike around so I wouldn’t roll over it and went on.

Shortly after where the bee came to its sad end, the official cycle route went through an industrial area that looked quite unappealing. Just to the west of it though, there seemed to be an series of trails with electric lighting through a wooded area. That looked much better to roll through.

HUGE. MISTAKE.

Ummmm.... NO!

Ummmm…. NO!

It started out not too bad, following a tiny road to a parking area. Beyond that, the asphalt ended for a path of packed dirt and pine needles. Then I came to a split in the path. The way I’d mapped was to the left, through a stretch of deep, dry, churned sand. It didn’t look very convincing that the path improved somewhere down the hill and around the curve. I wasn’t even sure the trike would roll through that. Worse if I had to come back up because the path ended or sand continued.

Better to add a mile or so for firmer ground I could roll over. As if to prove it was a good choice, I found a spot of softer sand. The rear wheel bogged, digging deeper as I tried to pedal. I had to get up and push it a few yards.

Much steeper than it looks.

Much steeper than it looks.

It went okay for the better part of a mile, though I wasn’t exactly tearing up the trail. Too many roots and rocks for me to go slamming over at speed. Then I came to a stop at a silly steep descent. I do mean silly steep. My map showed a short side path to the official route through the industrial area, I made the turn, but it turned out to be more miring sand and no clear shot at getting to pavement.

Going back would have been the smartest thing, but noooooo. My stubborn streak was in full gear and down the crazy drop I went, creeping to desperately avoid the roots.

I made it to the bottom without breaking anything and pushed on. Hoping the worst was behind me. After 12 pm and barely 7 miles under the wheels. So slow, Loke even on a bad day would have been impatient with me.

No tree roots or sand!

No tree roots or sand!

The landscape dropped down again and opened up onto an area of manicured lawn with a few benches here and there. All green with the sun struggling out of clouds that had started creeping back in. The trail turned into a very narrow track just wide enough for my rear tire. Fortunately, the grass was so well clipped and dense that my front wheels rolled over it no problem.

It turned out that the grassy sward was the lawn for a Frisbee golf course. There’s a lot of those around though no one was tossing discs on this one.

Please. Stop. The. Hills.

Please. Stop. The. Hills.

The reprieve wasn’t very long. The track curved a bit until it re-entered the trees. The trail widened again, but was covered with gravel and worse, the hills. They wouldn’t stop. The climbs weren’t horribly long, 100 meters or so, but the gravel was so loose and the gradient so steep that my rear wheel couldn’t grip. I’d bump and slam down one slop, start immediately up the next, having to lock the brake when the wheels couldn’t grab and wrestle my way out of the seat. Then it was a struggling push up, muscles screaming and gasping for breath.

I was about to collapse into a boneless, whimpering puddle of meat by the 5th hill. I kept hoping it would stop, believing it would be harder, and farther, to turn back.

I couldn’t make it. I was so wiped. It was after 1 pm, just over 7 miles of the 27 miles I had mapped. There was no way I could make it before sundown.

A little bit country

A little bit country

I took a while to look at the maps to find the shortest way to a paved road so I could start back toward the manor house. My first choice was more soft, sandy roadway my tires had no purchase in, but fortunately, there was another little path that took me to firmer graveled area. Within 100 yards of that, I made it back to pavement.

Better still! It was downhill! I barely had to pedal as I rolled by little country cottages, stables, and paddocks with horses. It would have been perfect except for the rubber speed bumps the property owners had installed every 75 meters or so. They were bad enough, I had to come to a near complete stop to ease over them without breaking something. It was still better than the trails I came off of.

Didn't like this bit

Didn’t like this bit

My only alternative from there was to cross back through that industrial area I’d tried so hard to avoid. Bad enough that it was ugly buildings and weed fringed chain-link fence which is never appealing. I found the stripped down, burned out cars more disturbing. Being the weekend and daylight hours, I didn’t see a living soul most of the way, except at one corner where someone started yelling for my attention. I looked ahead and moved a little quicker. It might have been a visual eyesore, but being on pavement and mostly flat, it was almost like flying.

Soon I was in a nicer area. My pace picked up, not just because of pavement that my tires could grip, but it also seemed to be mostly downhill. 7 miles had taken me 5 hours. I did the next 5 in less than an hour, practically flying at times.

I came back around to rejoin the original trail at the burial ground no less. The quick pace continued. I hit the cycle path that took me back under the 73 and sped onward. I hit a patch of trees and didn’t recognize it as the rock filled wash until I flew at it doing more than 15 miles an hour. I literally yelled, ‘Shhhhhh******tttttt!!! Forgot the rocks!!!!’ as I slammed into them. I didn’t dare hit the brakes, so braced myself as I jolted over, my yell vibrating as if I rode a jackhammer rather than a trike. Everything stayed in one piece and I sped onward to flash by the sculptures.

The star vaults in Österhaninge church

The star vaults in Österhaninge church

After that, my pace became more off and on. Horses, so many horses, being ridden. Some 20 over a couple miles. Every time one or a group came along, I had to stop and sit quiet until they made it by. One was coming in the same direction I was going. The mare was skittish at first. Then she was unconcerned. We moved along together as I worked my way back up another hill. At one intersection, the mare gave a bit of start, her hooves almost slipping as she jumped when a car whipped around the turn. She recovered quick though.

As I came back up to the church again, the woman on the mare said goodbye and urged the horse off the road and onto a narrow little path up the side of an embankment. With a flick of a glossy tail, they disappeared.

Rolling by the churchyard wall, I noticed that the lights shone through the windows. Hopeful, I parked and grabbed my camera to see if it was open. And yes, it was.

The pulpit and pews.

The pulpit and pews.

There were no complex murals on the walls, but it was lovely. The brick, star-vaults had gorgeous detail with red and white bricks and little flowers accents where the lines merged. There were more little flowers painted along the lines of the half-columns against the walls. The pulpit wasn’t as extravagant as some, but still had touches of guilt and carving. It made for a very pretty interior.

From the church, it was another quick dash down to the busier road toward the gravel road I had emerged from hours previous.

I was still exhausted, so as I came to the turn, I pulled off the main road and eyed that hill. It was easily as steep as some of those I’d struggled with on the forest paths. Like those, it had far too much loose gravel as well. My tire would have slipped and forced me to push the trike once more.

I couldn’t do it. I’d barely made the walk up the last gravel hill before I headed for the industrial area. Another one was out of the question. A quick glance at my showed an alternative. I would add a mile or more, with what would be a very steep and much longer climb to make, but it was all paved. No gravel. I’d be able to ride the entire way. That made it possible. My best chance.

I clipped back in and gave a weak push. It tipped me over the crest of a little hill and started on an unexpected long descent. I was glad for the wool. The sun was spotty and the wind at speeds of 17 mph for almost a mile was chilly. At the bottom of the hill, I made a right turn and began the hard climb I expected. It took me almost 20 minutes to make it.

On the other side was wild ride down. From the top of the hill, the road to the golf course was almost arrow straight and a good surface without much in the way of patching or pot holes. The trike flew, my DaBrim flapping slightly, as I hit speeds of over 30 mph for the mile dash. I didn’t need to turn the pedals until after I made the turn to approach the parking lot.

It was after 3 pm when I stopped by the car. I had to sit for almost 20 minutes before I dug up the energy to start stripping things down. 16.4 miles for the day and exhaustion.

Part of me was bitterly disappointed, but the other felt glad I’d gotten to ride somewhere other than Hamster Tracks.

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