Terii’s Cycling Babble

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!


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