Terii’s Cycling Babble

October Nose-Dives
October 14, 2016, 5:47 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Title says it all!

October 4th was my next day to ride. I started the morning by dropping Jens off at the train station. From there, things in the morning get a bit fuzzy. I did take Loke for a short jaunt. I recall he was moving stiffly and having problems with the toe both.

Such a pretty day though and, in the city and its edges at least, the colors of the leaves are spectacular. I decided I wanted to go see what the foliage look like out in the countryside. I thought the Ulva mill loop would be a good route to take. I’d do it without Loke since he was feeling uncomfortable and I really didn’t his toe to go from ‘angry’ to ‘bloody’.

I was moving pretty well. I didn’t take the trailer as I was loaded down with tripod, camera and lenses. The ride was nice, until I was coming up to the old E4 more commonly known as Gävle Road now. There’s a looooong hill that drops back down to the river from the climb up out of the mill race.

It’s a fun hill and I powered the pedals, almost hitting 20 mph as I plunged toward the bridge.

Just as I was crossing the bridge, a dark car came flying up behind me and whipped to the left to pass. As it came up beside me, another car made the turn off the old E4 toward us. Instead of falling back to get back behind me or even punch the gas to jump ahead, the passing car swerved wildly into the right side of the road. It all happened so fast, I didn’t really have a chance to try slowing before I saw the car coming off the E4 let alone to react more calmly to the sudden, violent jerking of the passing car.

I saw rear tire coming into broad side me. I about crushed the brake handles and yanked sharply sideways, throwing my weight hard to the right. I knew what it would do, but better that then eating a car. The front wheels stopped practically on a dime, the rear wheel fish-tailed to the left and my weight flipped the trike out of the way, letting the car miss me by mere inches. As the tipping began, I put my hand out to catch myself. The left pod bag also was flung up and over my body, coming down into the asphalt of the shoulder. I heard glass shatter.

I didn’t worry about that right away. My wrist hurt, the trike was laying on its side in the road, kept from flipping more than that by Loke’s running bar, and the pod bags tangled over me. Dazed, I was flailing around a bit, trying to cradle my wrist and free myself from the bags so I could wriggle out of the mess and check the damage.

Then there was a woman’s voice asking if I was okay. A bit muddled, I answered in English that my wrist hurt, but I thought everything else was in one piece. Then I asked her if she could get the bags off me.

The woman was the driver of the on-coming car. Bless her heart, she had stopped when spotting the tumbled mess that was me and the trike in her rear view mirrors. She told me she never even saw me, except for my flag, when the passing car was jumping around. That driver didn’t stop of course.

She asked if I was going to call the police as I got up. After a few questions, she didn’t know anything more about the car than I did. A black or very dark blue station wagon like thing. Volvo? Toyota? VW? Neither of us had seen that, only it driving dangerously for us both. No license plate either. I hadn’t noticed it in the rear view before the car started to pass and by the time the back bumper would have been by me to see the rear one, I was on my side and pointed back the way I’d come with bags on me. Even my GoPro would have been useless in identifying the car, catching the view of the fields and river tilting violently instead of license plate. We didn’t even know gender of the driver.

After asking for what info she might have had, I didn’t answer hers right away, taking the time to look things over for damage. By some miracle, there was very little of it. I had apparently stopped quickly enough that I had no road rash. Just a few wounds on my hand where rocks had dug into my palm. My wrist seemed no worse than sprained. No broken spokes or warped wheels. Derailleur was fine as were the discs of the brakes. More amazing, I’d not popped a single seat clamp in spite of the weight that had slammed through them when the running bar hit the pavement and twisted the trike around a bit more.

After checking the trike could roll fine, I told her that with as little info as we had, it seemed pretty useless to call the police and stand around waiting on them only to respond with ‘I don’t know’ to 90% of the pertinent, helpful questions.

With Jens in Stockholm without the car, getting home was down to me. Again, the trike was in one piece so at least there was no challenge there. The thing I did have a problem with was shifting the gears. Naturally, the ones that need changing the most are with the right hand. I couldn’t do it. I was pretty sure it was only a sprain, but it was a significant one. I couldn’t really grip the shifter and twist. So, I wrestled it into 3rd gear with my left hand and pushed on. From there and all the way home, I relied on my front chainring for when I needed more power. Fortunately, the hills aren’t too horrible along the that stretch.

I made it back to the storage with no further disasters. After putting the trike away, I opened the left pod bag and grabbed my telephoto lens. Removing the cover confirmed what I’d already known from the sound of breaking glass. The lens was shattered. The thin neoprene cover wasn’t enough to cushion its impact with the ground. The priciest thing on my trike was the one to break. I seem to remember that lens costing more than the camera did. Breaking the trike would have been more costly, but for single items I had with me it was the worst one to take damage.

The camera was fine. The bag cushioned it and between me trying to catch myself with my hand and the running bar, it had avoided being crushed by me or the trike.

As for the distance of the ride? Around 14 miles I think. Apparently, though my Garmin didn’t hit anything, it didn’t like the jolt that might have jarred through it with the various impacts. The ride didn’t save. Just gave me an error message when I tried to load into Garmin Connect before vanishing into non-existence. It’s done it before without being jolted, so it could just be coincidence.

The next day was Wednesday, the 5th. I’d made an appointment to drop the trike off at the cycle shop. It was time to get the pedals swapped as well as replace the rear derailleur hanger in hopes of getting rid of that annoying little hiccup I’d been having with the gearing.

I was both excited and nervous about the pedal swap. I had hopes that the Restraps would work and let me ride with snuggly warm, frostnip free feet.

I have discovered that, as with burns, there are 4 degrees of frostburn. 1st degree is essentially nothing. 2nd degree is actually called ‘Frost Nip’. It’s when the skin starts to feel cold and even hurt like hell while turning various shades of red. 3rd degree is when the skin has gone white and no longer feels cold. At that time, when one starts to warm it up, chilblains will appear which are liquid filled blisters. 4th degree is full on Frostbite. Skin has gone blue or even black, dead and nothing to be done but cut it away.

I’ve had the later stage of ‘Frostnip’ once. There were hints of pale spots in the dark red color of my toes, but not enough that I developed chilblains. I’ve managed to avoid getting it that bad since, but only by narrow margins. I’ve probably had early and mid-stages of it several times. Hence, my desperation to find a way to protect my feet.

My wrist felt much better than it had immediately after my brush with near-death, but getting the trike in the car was a challenge. Once at the shop, I actually asked Lotten if she could come help me get it out.

Once I had the trike back, I was kinda excited and nervous to try the straps. Thursday, I worked so Friday morning (Oct 7th), I hurried to the storage with Loke and a grocery bag with my boots to see how the new arrangement would work.

The results were initially disappointing. Nervous about just jumping out and doing it, I put the trike up on the trainer and put on my non-studded hiking boots. First I had trouble getting things adjusted, but that didn’t bother me too much as I figured I’d still only have to adjust each time I used a different shoe. Pretty much what was expected.

What I didn’t expect was that my feet actually tried to slip off the pedals even with the straps and spikes. That made me very nervous. I was extremely glad I’d tried it on the trainer rather than  rolling around where foot-suck could happen. I was also shocked when just the little bit of pedaling I did resulted in a surprising amount of cramping all through my smaller toes, but I thought that might have been mostly the result of me trying to fight against the outward turn of the straps to snug my feet down onto the spikes.

I spent quite a while just sitting on the trike and regarding the pedals and straps, wracking my brain for a solution. At one point, I picked up a bungee cord and fiddled with it around the pedals to work out if a heel strap of some kind would work. I also realized that the Restraps weren’t quite on correctly, so while I pondered, I undid them and redid them in the right way. It didn’t really make a different to the solidity of my feet though.

It took me a bit to solidify what I thought might work in my mind as well as get the supplies and make it. It was a kind of heel loop where one end would thread through the pedals and the other, with some Velcro strapping, could join to the Restrap. Made with elastic banding instead of round, rolly bungee cord, it could be pulled behind the heel.

After 8 days (without a single ride), I finally had something I thought would work and off Loke and I went to try on October 12th.

It took me a bit to get it on. It wasn’t very cold, so I didn’t bother with the boots, but went with my tacky pink and purple sneakers instead. They perfectly matched my hideous plum purple and pink cycle outfit.

It turned into a huge struggle. Getting my feet under the Restraps was no problem, getting the back strap up over my heels was another story. Part of it was my hip. The other part of it was, bluntly put, my weight. I got one foot completely secured, but with it restricting my movement as well as trying to reach around my well-padded leg with handlebars and front wheels restricting space, I couldn’t get the other strap out from under my sneaker and around my heel. It was like wrapping one’s thigh and stomach in pillows and trying pull one’s knees up to the chest.

Finally I gave up. I thought about not riding because of the risk of my feet coming off the pedals, but I had to go. For my sake and Loke’s.

October’s goals were already ruined thanks to the fiasco, but I don’t want the year goal to slip away either. The buffer for the accomplishment of making this the best year for distance ever is shrinking. It would be stupid to have it wrecked when I’m sooooo close.

So, up the ramp the trike went and off we rolled. My right foot with the bad hip was secure. Honestly, my right foot oddly felt much more secure than it had on the trainer though it was just under the Restrap with no heel.

Loke was a power house of enthusiasm. He pulled us into a run and I let him. Knowing his joints are healthy has led to me relaxing his speed restrictions a bit. If he wants to do a 12 mph run, he does a 12 mph run. He wanted to. Even when he wasn’t running, we zipped along at around 8 mph. It’s the fastest we’ve been in ages. We’d have done the 7+ mile loop in under an hour… if not for me fighting with my feet.

My toes cramped. Sometimes the cramps shot right up through the arches of my feet and a couple times, even my calves threatened to join the fun. I wriggled my right foot around as much as I could with the restrains, struggling to find a position that didn’t trigger pain. After about 5 miles, I finally found one. My left foot seemed impossible though. Finally, I pulled it out from under the strap and managed to get the heel strap in place. I kept enough tension on it that it stayed where it should and still had a bit of play forward and back to search for a good position. I also had more flexibility for side to side and angles. Finally, I had to give up even on the heel strap. Only during the last half mile, was I able to find a ‘sweet spot’ and the pain disappeared.

Still, I was glad I’d managed a few miles. Was annoyed by the foot issues though because in spite of 8 days without riding, I felt strong and raring to go. I would have loved another countryside ride.

Yep, another countryside ride. Damned if I’m going to let one incident put me off.

I’ve been thinking about the issue still. Giving up and going back to the SPD pedals is a thought, but I really don’t want to fight with the threat of frostbite to my toes. My brain has been chewing stubbornly on the problem.

And October 13th, out we went again.

It was a bit colder than it had been the previous day. 36 F as opposed to 40 F. Still gray skies and no wind. The recent lack of wind on the rides has been so nice.

Being colder, I decided to try my hiking boots with the straps. I went to pull them on and… they were too tight. Apparently, my feet were a bit swollen. Given how uncomfortable my first ride with the straps had been, I really didn’t want to add to it with overly snug boots. My Icebugs are a bit more roomy than my hiking boots, but I refuse to abuse the studs and shorten the life of my favorite winter boots and best fitting shoes out of any I’ve had in Sweden, by walking around on surfaces lacking snow or ice. Back to the sneakers it was.

As before, I wrestled my right foot secure and headed out with the left foot free of the heel strap. I did try it with the Restrap though.

The pain from cramping toes was, if anything worse. Stubbornly, it was in my right foot this time. My left foot had absolutely no issue as I struggled along, trying to wriggle and shift the other one into a more forgiving position. After less than a mile, I had to stop and wrestle the foot of the pedal, gasping with relief as I stomped it on the ground several times to relax the cramps. After that, I went on without the straps. It took almost half an hour of fidgeting around with my right one to finally get a position I could tolerate. Without any straps at all, I might mention. We went along quite slowly, 5 mph or less, in case my foot slipped. Poor Loke was annoyed.

For my part, I was less so. I didn’t feel nearly as strong and energetic as I had the day before.

Even with 36 F and the fact my sneakers are summer shoes with an almost mesh-like upper and I had only thin cotton socks, my feet were still warmer than they would have been in my cycle shoes with shoe-covers and wool liners. The rest of me was quite chilled though.

As for the shoe issue, I think I’m going to stop worrying about the Restraps so much and go for just heel loops. The main reason I wanted the Restraps to work so badly was because I didn’t want to lose the ability to pull on the pedals as well as push. Heel loops have worried me though because of the risk of them coming loose if it gets too slack from a foot shifting too far forward on the pedal. I’d been pondering that, thinking about some complicated thing with Velcro fastened to the heel loop and on the shoe.

Then a simpler idea occurred to me as I tested the fit of my Icebugs yesterday to be sure my feet weren’t too swollen for them. As I pulled the boot on with a finger through the loop stitched to the back, I thought of a ‘D’ ring clip. Slip it through the loop on the boot and then secure the heel sling to the boot with it. Quick and simple.

I’m debating going shopping for another pair of winter shoes that have a bit more room than my hiking boots. Ones I would use when it’s bitterly cold, but without snow and ice. I could get something a size or 2 too big to fit wool socks and as long as it has the loop on the back for a D-ring, I’m good.


As for October, the goals have been shot down like so much targets in a shooting gallery. Let’s just hope it hasn’t taken my 1300+ miles goal for 2016 with it…



October 2, 2016, 7:31 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

*rolls up her sleeves*

Okay! Last October had a smidge over 118 miles, so I’d like an absolute minimum of 120. Well, actually 121 so that I can definitively say I had more miles than October 2015 rather than distance of less than 2 miles. To make things simpler, I’ll break that down to a minimum of 31 miles a week average. If I hold to that, I’ll have a minimum of 124 miles for the month. If I fall a little short on one or two weeks, I will have 3 ‘left over’ days that fall outside of the 4 blocks of seven days arrangement to make it up.

It’s doable, though I’ll have to toss in a few rides longer than the extended River Loop or even jaunts through downtown. Those tend to be in the 8 miles range. I’d need around 4 of those which could be a bit difficult if any complications with work or the like arise. Ideally, getting one ride ‘elsewhere’ a week would be about perfect even if it turns into a trail by fire like the last one. It at least netted me almost 17 miles which would have been over half of what I’d need for a week this month, all in one go.

There! Mileage Goals, major and minor, settled for October 2016.

I actually went out for another ride on the 30th of September. Since I didn’t have to work and it turned into a gorgeous looking day, I felt the pull and went out with Loke again. There was a bit of pressure from the hubby to do it as well. Rather than plod around on the River Loop again, I took off on a longer hamster track toward the working dog shop. The order of freeze dried bison cubes for Loke’s ‘Jump In The Car’ bribes had arrived. Fetching it with the trike just felt right.

So, Jens dropped us off at the storage and I pulled the trike up the ramp. Then, being a good girl and sticking to my resolutions, I went back down and tossed 8 liters of water into the trailer. Loke was a bit bouncy and ready to go.

The temp was a bit on the chill side, low 50’s. The sun was shining with barely a cloud in the sky and those were only bits of fluff off on the far horizons. But the wind!

It had kicked up fairly impressively on the 29th, blasting the fine mist of rain around. No rain on Friday, but even more wind. The trees thrashed around like they were doing a hula dance on quadruple time. It occurred to me that the last time I went to the working dog shop was also on a silly windy day.

And like last time, I was fortunate to only rarely have it blasting directly in my face. We made decent time, when we were rolling. I seem to remember stopping quite a bit for this or that reason. A few times just for random photos. Given that they’re in an area I’ve photographed so many times and didn’t come out too well, I’m not going to bother with posting.

The insane winds were another reason I decided on the working dog shop rather than out into the countryside. Most of the way through and close around Uppsala are sheltered by trees and/or buildings. Once pushing out beyond the urban/residential boundaries of Uppsala, it’s mostly fields stretching long and far with nary a windblock to be found. Even on a recumbent, it can be brutal to work against.

So, downtown it was.

As we came down the streets toward the long descent past the hospital, I spotted one of the other recumbent trikes that rolls around the city. A nice woman I once had a conversation with over ice cream who owns a HP Scorpion FX. I actually saw her trike a couple weeks ago, parked somewhere though she was no where to be seen. This time, we passed each other, crossing a street in opposite directions and waved.

Loke was still jogging good and strong as we approached the bandy court. Actually, he was even running a bit as we came down past the hospital and whipped around the turn. I stopped in the parking lot of the court to check his toe. Even though it had gotten abraided raw and a bit bloody just one day earlier, it was fine. Good granulation of a day’s worth of healing, undisturbed by the current outing. He’d get to come on with me!

As we started down the riverside path, following the flow of water, Loke was intrigued. He’s never gone that way on the path except when Jens and I have walked it. It was also one of the few stretches of the ride that was almost absolutely still. I could hear the wind blowing in the distance, but it never touched us as we rolled along the river. Well, not until we pedaled up the steep ramp, me struggling a bit thanks to the weight of the water in the trailer. As we crossed the bridge, it became very gusty. Loke didn’t much appreciate it and kept his head down and ears back.

Then we were on the other side and rolling down the path along the opposite bank of the river.

Loke pulled us into a brisk 10 mph rattle on the unpaved surface there. He was definitely thrilled with the different feel of going the opposite way of our usual loop there.

Then we were on the bit of the old road that leads off between pastures and by the biofuel production plant. A small herd of cows watched us with baffled curiosity as we rolled along.

As we came away from the river, the wind picked up, but it was gusting from somewhere behind my left shoulder. A little further along that road leading up to the dismantled bridge, we disturbed a mixed flock of jackdaws and hooded crows. They scolded us as they launched into the furious winds.

Also along there, I started itching. A sharp, stinging kind of itch as if I’d come into contact with fiberglass insulation. Mostly on my left arm and leg though it was a bit on the cheek, neck and torso on that side. I didn’t think much of it at first as it was really that bad and I was distracted by the antics of the birds.

Kip and his owner weren’t there at the shop this time. So, I simply grabbed the goodies I’d ordered and we went to leave. Just then a woman arrived with a very interesting looking dog. It was taller than Loke by almost a hand and had distinctive eyes, one blue and one brown. There was something about it that just tugged at me to ask what breed. I was unsurprised when the answer was ‘Half husky’. It was in the eyes of course, and the general shape of the face and ears. From there, it was completely different. It had a short, sleek coat for one. No plush double layered fur for this one. The build was more like of a gray hound with long slim legs and a thin, trim racer’s body. The paws weren’t the almost dainty things like Loke has, but larger and ones that splayed out more like what you’d find on a Rhodesian Ridgeback. It did have the husky’s almost hysterical energy though. I asked what the other half was and the girl just shrugged and said, ‘Mixed’. Quite an impressive looking dog.

Outside the shop and back on the the trike, I pondered for a few minutes as I sipped some water and Loke lapped his portion out of his bowl. My eyes traced the route I’d normally have taken doing this section of the reverse hamster track from the dog shop, aiming off toward Vaksala Church and Granby mall. Several miles of wide open ground and somewhat into the wind.

I decided not to do it as my legs were feeling the miles with the trailer. That meant doubling back along the river path to head through downtown again. At least we wouldn’t need to tackle the ramp up to cross the drawbridge again.

It still meant we had about a mile to push almost full on into the wind. As we went, I started itching worse, but this time on my right side. I stopped once to scratch furiously at my right shin when a fluff of white drifted by, looking very much like a loose clump of fiberglass. My eyes strayed in the direction from which it came.

The dreaded 'fiberglass weed'

The dreaded ‘fiberglass weed’

Only then did I notice the dreaded weeds that lined the edge of the roadway.

I’ve crossed paths before with this particularly evil plant. Fortunately, its true cruelty is revealed only when it goes to seed as far as I know so it’s kind of the opposite of the equally dreaded stinging nettle which is a plague all through the warm weather.

The first time I discovered it, I had gone down a narrow path on the trike. Within 50 meters, I felt like I’d gone frolicking in a sea filled with jelly fish. The edges of the path to either side was crowded with this drying plant that brushed my sides as I rolled. The white ‘fluff’ that was anything but ‘fluffy’. It was like threads of fiberglass that got jabbed and tangled into my clothes, digging through to torment the skin. Needless to say, I practically crawled over the trike to drag it hurriedly back off the path.

So, there I was on this wide, paved surface almost 10 feet away from the edges with those plants and yet I itched. I watched as another particularly strong gust tore some of the white stuff off and sent it capering in the air. Mystery solved.

I hunched down and proceeded onward, trying to avoid the more obvious flying bits as I could.

From there, it was the usual toodle through the heart of Uppsala. We made it back to the storage with a tiny bit over 14 miles. It gave me 92.73 miles for the whole of September 2016.

Loke and I both slept well that night.

The next morning (Oct 1st), with legs feeling the miles and the water weight, I had a dilemma. I had work on Sunday, Oct 2nd and a strong possibility of another shift on the 3rd. If that was the case and I didn’t ride on Saturday, I’d wind up going 3 consecutive days without a ride. No choice for it. I had to ride.

Talk about a reversal of September’s trend. I’d gone from frequent blocks of 3 or more days without riding to 3 consecutive days with rides.

I didn’t rush though. It was nearly 1 pm when Jens dropped us off at the storage. The way my legs felt, I wasn’t giving good odds on doing much more than 4 miles.

It was a beautiful day though. Clear with only thin, cobweb like wisps of clouds to give variation to the shades of blue. A tiny bit colder than the previous day. I pulled a zippered hoodie on and thought I’d end up being a bit too chilled without wool on my legs.

At least the wind was much kinder. It was merely breezy instead of ‘shredding the trees’.

I pushed the trike up and locked the storage with the trailer and water still inside. No way I was going to torture myself as weary as my legs felt.

Loke was a bit less energetic, but still had interest in being out. He was content to start out at a jog of about 7 mph rather than running. Along that first stretch, I could see more of the effects of the earlier wind. The edges of the street there had been ankle deep in golden and brown leaves. Those were completely gone as if a street sweeper had passed through. Some of the trees that had been proudly displaying autumn hues had been completely stripped of their foliage, limbs as dark and bare as if in the heart of winter.

By the time we reached the bridge over the river, something had happened. I felt pretty darn good.

My legs had loosened and I felt oddly strong.

Spontaneously, I decided to add a few miles and rolled onward to the fringes of downtown Uppsala.

Something was definitely going on in town. Only in the cycle-friendly atmosphere of Europe can one see hundreds of young men pedaling around a city in elegant tux and tails. All they were missing were the white gloves, top hats and canes.

I might be stretching the numbers a bit, but it was at least more than a 100 of them that I personally saw, often riding around in clumps of 5 or 10 with a few singles here or there. Once, it was more than 20 all riding together as well. Oddly, I didn’t see an equally formally dressed group of women, not even on foot.

As I came by the Helga Tefaldighets (Holy Trinity’s) Church, I passed by 5 EMTs standing at the edge of the parking between the church and the cathedral. As I came down the little street between church and cathedral and whipped under the arch toward the river, I passed by another 6 walking up from the river area. I wondered what had been doing on that they had so many on standby in the downtown.

As I was coming back toward our home ground, I saw the woman on the Scorpion trike again. Naturally we smiled and waved in passing.

I took a bit of an alternative to the way I now, normally, would take back home. The road leading from downtown to the mosque near home is lined with chestnut trees. They’re starting to ripen and fall, helped along by Friday’s winds. There were already a lot of them on the ground with their split husks over the cycle path like natural caltrops, just waiting for Loke’s feet. Best to avoid such places until after the first snows.

Then Loke and I were back home with 8.18 miles to start October with. About double what I’d anticipated.

But after that first mile, I felt fairly strong and fresh. Loke, again, was moving well even if a bit slower. It had also been a gorgeous autumn day. The sun still has a lot of power to it to counter the chill air. There was the scent of wood smoke from people using fireplaces and the scent of fermenting apples. It was natural to decide to stay out a little longer.

Some of the climbs that I’ve been creeping up at under 3 mph while struggling to stay above 60 RPM cadence, I’d ‘zipped’ up at over 4 mph with 80 RPM. An unexpected improvement.

It almost makes me wonder if the longer rides and dragging the trailer around might have reversed what was happening to me. I’ve felt stronger and less pained while walking… I think.

It could also be the change in my medication.

Well, either way. I feel better in spirit for the increased riding both frequency and distance.

Oh! I also discovered something I find very cool. There’s a website for Sweden’s National Archaeology department that has an interactive map.

So much archaeology in so little area!

So much archaeology in so little area!

I was completely floored when I started looking at it. I mean, I’ve always known that Sweden (and most of Europe) is place rich with history and culture spanning back ages. Crowded with it even.

It turns out that even my fertile imagination hadn’t scratched the surface as far as Sweden is concerned. You couldn’t spit a watermelon seed without hitting something. Rock carvings, ancient housing foundations, runestones, burial grounds, ‘trench’ roads, and more. The screen shot of the map is of an area (roughly 2 miles x 1.5 miles) just northeast of Gamla Uppsala. The gray circles mark things like standing stones, carvings, and ancient house foundations. The blue patches are villages, burial grounds as well as the trench roads I mentioned. Even in that little patch there are over 100 marks.

There have been times, even along my ‘hamster track’ rides through the nearer countryside when I’d look at a cluster of hills or even an entire ridge and something would tug at me to wonder if it was a burial ground. Most of the time, I’ve shaken that feeling off, reminding myself that Sweden has had a very glacial past in the last ice age. Sheets of ice, hundreds of feet thick, grinding and gouging the landscape before leaving piles of rocks and dirt when it melted.

Apparently, as often as not, my first wondering instincts were correct. I looked along part of the route along my ‘Ulva Mill’ loop and my jaw dropped. There are about 6 burial mounds I’ve been passing that I thought were just farmer’s piling stones from plowing. Just out of sight in one spot, a huge burial ground as well. Completely flabbergasted me.

Well, for a while at least, I think I’ll be rolling through my stomping grounds with a less jaded eye.

Now off to work!


September’s Short Comings
October 1, 2016, 8:09 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, September fell quite short of any goals I might have made. About all I can say in positive fashion about it is that firstly, I managed to get out for a ride elsewhere even if it turned into a nightmare. Secondly, I did get more than half of the miles for the minimum goal I would have set if I’d ever gotten around to it. That actually cheered me.

I’ve jumped into gear with attempting to get some of my physical issues addressed. Did I mention that? After scanning posts, it doesn’t seem I have.

I do know I’ve talked (moaned, whined and whinged) about how bad the muscle pain has become and seems to be getting worse. More bad days and those are worse than they were say, 6 months ago. A few times, it’s even impacted me while cycling which hasn’t happened since the first months after the stroke.

So, sometime during the month, I dragged myself down to the health ward for a walk in with a nurse. I got one of the very nice ones and explained what was going on. She scheduled me for a Dr. visit for a few days later.

So, in I went and met Emma. Very nice doctor, not too long out of medical school so not yet jaded. She actually listened as I described the pain and how hard it is to function at times. I did use the fact I have a job now that I want to keep and implied it had made that difficult.

She threw herself into some books as this isn’t a common problem she sees every day or even every week or month. A few questions and she even asked if I had pained responses to touch at times and we tested it. Yep. She found a few spots that when applied gentle pressure felt almost like a branding iron, the searing sensation lingering for minutes. We considered that it might be my cholesterol medication. To test that, she prescribed me doses half of what I’ve been taking to see how I respond. Then, she also wanted blood tests. I knew it was coming, but I still dreaded it. I asked her to refer the tests to the hospital.


As for rides, there haven’t been many since my post on the 22nd. It’s actually become quite frustrating.

The 24th was the first day with a ride since the previous post. Mostly, I dragged out to take pity on Jens rather than the fact it had been 6 entire days without so much as looking at my trike. The first ride since the hard off-the-hamster-track slog. It was a gray day with threats of rain and 49 F. I wouldn’t have minded some sun at those temps, but I’ll take cool and cloudy over warm/hot and sunny any day.

Loke had energy enough, but he was moving with a hint of stiffness. At one point, I stopped and ran my hands over his shoulders and watched as the corners of his mouth pulled back in the doggie equivalent of a human’s pained grimace. It mostly seemed to be localized in the tops of his shoulders.

It was just a short 5.45 miles. After riding, I took a few moments to try swapping the pedals. My SPDs were not letting go for anything. Even bracing the trike as much as I could, the rear wheel popped up a few times. So, I tried it sitting on the seat and still couldn’t get either pedal to budge. It appeared it was a job for Super Bobby.

Yes, another river shot, but it's so PRETTY with the colors!

Yes, another river shot, but it’s so PRETTY with the colors!

The next ride was unexpectedly on the 26th. Originally, I was supposed to work, but got a call the evening before saying that one of my co-workers needed that Monday to get another day clear, so could we swap days. ‘Of course’, I said. So, I made a point of going out for a ride to keep from too many days passing between rides as the next chance wouldn’t have come until Wednesday since my next shift was Tuesday.

It wasn’t a leisurely outing though. I wound up scrambling around to do a few things as well as squeeze in the ride before I had to rush through doing laundry. I felt like pulling my hair out in frustration, but I had to ride. Loke needed more than the 100 yard hobbles I could manage without wanting to whimper, Jens had long hours at work, so off we went for just 2.6 miles to get the trike and trailer back to the apartment after Jens dropped us off. I kept it to just 6 liters of water in the Burley as I’ve become woefully out of practice. I probably had time to add another couple miles before the laundry time, but Loke’s toe has started getting the wound again, so I tried to balance it between what he needed from energy and ‘business’ standpoint and protecting the toe as much as I could.

May not rival Vermont, but still lovely autumn hues!

May not rival Vermont, but still lovely autumn hues!

It wasn’t as tedious as I expected. Autumn colors made for some scenic interest in the over-done landscape. The clouds were thin, so the light was fairly bright though without direct sunlight and temps mild in the mid-50’s.

I did get a few more miles after I’d snatched the laundry out of the drying room and back to the apartment though. After all, I wanted to get the trike back to storage. Finished the day with just a smidge under 5 miels and yep, Loke went with me for that.

There was more pressure behind the ride on the 26th than miles or Loke. Simply put, I have to get control. Not control of miles or the like, but control of my needs and my health. Work keeps me reeling wildly from moment to moment even when I have times when I’m not struggling against apathy to get out the door and roll. My schedule can get shuffled on the fly (as shown on the 26th). Combined with the fact that 3 days of work a week bites so very deep into the number of rides I can squeeze in or keeps them very short if I try to do them at 4:30 am on days I do work, being sick of late and other such things, I’ve gained weight. 5 lbs. I wonder how much my muscular pain issues stem from not only reduction in frequency of my rides, but also in the duration of the rides I do manage to squeeze in.

In defense of my job, the pain has been increasing even before I started the job which could be linked to the shortening of my rides.

So, after stepping on the scale on the 26th and discovering the weight gain, I got a bit furious and irritated with the struggles. Mentally, I drew a hard line in the sand. I will NOT allow 3 consecutive days to pass without a ride. I will also start pulling with the trailer with me more frequently. Not every single ride, but at least 2 out of every 3.

Part of my previous apathy about taking the trailer was because with the muscle issues, I’ve simply cringed at the idea of hurting while I load and unload it ever time I want to use it. My husband is kinda right that maybe it shouldn’t sit around with the weight in it all the time, but taking 30+ liters of water back and forth is a lesson in pain. But if it has to be done, it has to be done. I must take control for the sake of my health.

So, Tuesday (27th), I had to work, but Jens woke a bit early to walk Loke so I could sleep until some time after 4 am.

Wednesday (28th) turned into a huge fiasco. Running Jens to the train, I needed to walk Loke as well as shower, and run madly around Uppsala to get various errands done. Very little happened. I darted about like a squirrel on speed, accomplishing very little. None of the errands downtown and with heavy rains, I didn’t drag myself out for a ride either. 45 F, very wet weather and me still fighting a persistent cough. Just didn’t sound like a good idea.

But I still was going to have less than 3 consecutive ride free days as my next day at work wasn’t until Friday (Sept 30th).

So, Thursday, even with dinner out with the in-laws for the evening, I finally had a chance to get down to the hospital for the blood tests. Right at a week after having seen the doctor, mind you.

Just seemed that things were conspiring to keep it from happening sooner. Didn’t have the car to get to the hospital. Too much pain to even think about taking a bus. Work interfering. Didn’t dare take the trike there and leave it parked outside the hospital, etc…

So, finally I managed to get to it yesterday. Dreading getting jabbed repeatedly though I had fingers crossed maybe they’d get lucky (or extremely skilled) to hit me the first time like when I had to go before.

While I waited for my number to come up, circumstances tried to throw a monkey wrench to break that mental ‘line in the sand’ I’d made. My boss/friend texted to see if I could come in on short notice for the day. With the battery on the phone dying, I simply texted back, ‘At hospital for tests. Will answer when I can’, and started agonizing over sticking to my guns about getting my rides to help my health and weight or crumple and toss my convictions aside.

About then, my number dinged. The woman who called me back was one of the younger nurses. As we talked and she prodded for my hard-to-locate veins, she decided to see if the tests could work with the blood from finger pricks. As she went to look on the computer, the supervising nurse asked what she was doing. The older woman told her the tests would work with pricks, but she had to try for the veins at least twice.

So, the one taking my blood went to fetch heating packs to try bringing the veins to the surface. After a few minutes, she prodded with her fingers, but had no better luck finding something definitive. So, she craned her neck to look over the curtain, then pulled the packs off my arms, stuck them in my hands and whispered, “We’ll just do the finger pricks.” She tugged down my sleeves so it wouldn’t be obvious she’d not jabbed me in the arms. I slumped in the chair with relief and she patted my arm with a sympathetic chuckle.

Bless her.

We had a nice chat as she jabbed a couple of my fingers and squeezed out the blood she needed into tubes. Mostly about animals. Then she bandaged my fingers and said, ‘Our little secret’ as I waltzed out, not looking like a leopard after blood tests for once.

I called Jens to tell him about the work call. To my surprise, his response was, ‘If you need to, tell her no. You’ve accommodated every sudden shift change and call in so far. Don’t feel you have to especially if you feel it’s going to damage your health. If you have things that can’t be changed on short notice, tell them such. If they decide they have to let you go because of it, so be it.’

Love that man.

When I did, I was still begged to come in for a few hours, but decided to pass on even that. I needed to ride. Loke needed to run, especially since he was going to be left alone for 3 or 4 hours while we went to dinner with my hubby’s parents. If my relief just didn’t show up and I’d have been stuck until after our dinner reservation. I stuck to my guns.

I can’t say that I didn’t feel guilty about it. I did though I was doing it as much for my health (need to ride for weight loss and hopeful reduction of muscle pain) and Loke’s mental health as well. Relief was stronger than the guilt. I wasn’t going to be tossing aside my resolve almost as soon as I’d made it.

It had been gray and low 50’s on my way to the hospital. As I came out (on the phone with Jens about the work call), I felt a couple sprinkles on the walk back to the parking garage. A few drops of water dotted the windshield as I drove home, but with such low frequency it never would have even made my clothes damp.

Cold, drizzling wet, but out we go!

Cold, drizzling wet, but out we go!

However, by the time I stepped out in my cycle clothes, Loke leashed beside me, puddles were forming on the water sheened pavement. It wasn’t the heavier rain of the previous day though. It was more of a misting drizzle that would take time to dampen my clothes.

I took a moment to work that into my expectations and stepped out from under the awning to go to the car.

It was colder than I expected, but fortunately, I found another wool top hiding in my bags from my ride south of Stockholm.

The downfall had strengthened almost enough to count as a sprinkle when we rolled out from the storage. I didn’t take the trailer with me, not wanting to take the time to hitch it up while my seat got wet.

Loke was a bit of a fireball as we made the first turn. I gave him the freedom to run. It’s occurred to me that there’s really no need for me to keep him so restricted as the X-rays showed perfectly healthy joints. He kept giving me little sideways glances, as if wondering when I was going to slow him down as he pulled us into an 11 mph dash.

River beginning to ripple in the wind.

River beginning to ripple in the wind.

I’d decided on doing the Grave Mound loop as it’s been a while. The first mile though had me thinking of a detour though. A wind kicked up that pushed the light mist even further under my DaBrim to speckle my glasses. I wound up rolling along with my hand blocking a fair bit of my face to try and keep them clear. Sight is kinda important when riding a bike or trike.

The wet also got through my tights quicker than I thought. Wind, 46 F, and wet combined to make the skin of my thighs start stinging from the cold. Detour in deed. I was going to get my contacts in and find a wool baselayer for my legs. Of course, since I was pulling nice, dry wool tights, I couldn’t just pull wet Lycra back on. So on went a pair of dry tights. I felt sooo much better.

Gateway to the mounds as it were

Gateway to the mounds as it were

Loke was all eager and excited to go back out. We rolled on toward the mosque. On the way, I stopped at the cycle shop to schedule a time for Bobby to swap the pedals for me, replace the derailleur hanger, and adjust the gears. We settled on Wednesday. Fingers crossed that scheduling doesn’t bounce around and get in the way.

Loke and tree-shrouded Gamla Uppsala Church

Loke and tree-shrouded Gamla Uppsala Church

Pushing on toward Gamal Uppsala, I felt pretty good. The steady uphill climb didn’t have too much too much of an impact on my legs. The misting rain had slacked so I stayed pretty dry. At one point, I even felt too warm.

That didn’t last too long though. Only until I reached the grave mound path. Out away from the trees with nothing between me and wind but hundreds of yards, or even close to a mile in some places, but fields. Oh, yes. I was very glad of the wool. Wool is our friend.

Brrr... No windbreaks here!

Brrr… No windbreaks here!

It was along there, I got a surprise. As I passed the biggest of the mounds, my DaBrim abruptly went flying off my helmet. I stopped the trike and wound up chasing it across the path all the way to the small mound that stands next to the parking lot. There, the weeds at the fence line caught it long enough to be reclaimed from the wind. Something like 4 years I’ve had the DaBrim and this is the first time the wind has ever pulled it off my helmet. And I’ve ridden with it in some crazy weather, including into a 20 mph headwind while doing over 20 mph down a hill with nary a hint that it wanted to part ways with my head gear.

Loke kept sighing at me as I wrestled it back on.

View back up the hill below the mounds

View back up the hill below the mounds

At the bottom of the hill past the mounds, the wind roared through the canopy of the trees with a sound much like water rampaging through the rapids in a river. Many of the trees are conifers, but some are birch and other deciduous. The abuse the wind inflicted on the trees caused autumn gold leaves to shake loose and cascade down through the shadows of the path. It was very pretty. Of course, as soon as I pulled my phone out to video it, the wind fell to a hush.

I’ve since come to the conclusion that wind is camera shy.

The rest of the way back to the storage was uneventful and mostly dry. For me any way. Loke’s legs and belly got quite soaked thanks to the wet pavement and puddles. Over 8 miles.

Not a bad jaunt and it felt good to have held to my determination and decisions rather than let circumstance cause me to toss them aside.

Only 13 rides for the month and less than 100 miles. Yep. September has become the bad month of the year… so far. Now to calculate what’s needed for October to hopefully prevent it from following September’s bad example.