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.

Possibilities….

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…

 

 

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