Terii’s Cycling Babble

November – Out With a Whimper
November 30, 2016, 6:31 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Two rides. That’s it. That’s all I’ve managed since my last post on the 19th. I had such hopes for November when it started. Then the cold in the first week yanked that brutally short. Fact is, I’m still kinda fighting it. A bit of coughing fits, some inflamed sinuses. Annoying little things like that.

My next ride was on the 20th. All in all a miserable day. The forecast predicted that the skies would clear before midnight. Didn’t happen. It was still raining when I woke up around 5 am. With the cold still hanging on by tooth and nail, I didn’t want to go out in 34 F and rain.

Finally, a bit before 7 am, it slacked and then dwindled. I was dressed with the trike out of the storage and settling into the seat about 7:20 am, still about 40 minutes to sunrise. As the trike rolled the first 100 yards, I realized there was a clear patch of sky overhead that made a perfect window to the moon beyond. It was half full and beautiful to look at as trike and husky toodled along over wet pavement.

That patch of dusty pewter sky with the moon didn’t last long. More clouds scudded in through the predawn light. From the grass along the riverside path, a mist started to rise from the wet left there by the rain.

As we came along the 272, it was strange to see a lonely little patch of fog hanging over a field. As we crept along that stretch, it was actually kinda creepy. That patch of mist actually seemed to be oozing down the hill toward the road. Made me think of movies like ‘The Fog’ or ‘The Mist’.

The fuzzy one and I were both sluggish. Loke was barely doing 5 mph for much of the way and I was only too content to leave it that way. My cadence on the last ride had been comfortably into the 70’s.  This time, it was a challenge to keep it at 65. A 10-12 RPM drop just in a couple days. Oddly, I still felt okay strength wise while climbing hills, but on the flats, I might as well have been going through soft sand while in a 30 mph headwind.

With an appointment looming, it turned into a short ride. 3.8 miles. We were just too slow to make it any further.

The general feeling of malaise lingered so I didn’t ride again until the 23rd of November. It was hard. Even on the climbs, I felt weak. I couldn’t catch my breath. No energy. Still I pushed on determined to get a few miles while doing some Christmas shopping downtown. So very hard. I would have suffered less doing it with the car, but I was determined. At least Loke was feeling a bit perkier, so was some assistance.

I tried go out again the very next day. Loke and I managed a whopping… 30 yards. As we came across the lawn, the trike felt sluggish, as if there was a brake stuck and it wanted to pull left. I immediately knew what that meant. Flat.

Naturally, everything I needed to fix it was at the storage and dark was coming on. I just didn’t have it in me to deal with it or even just get the trike in the car to move it. Then Friday, I had to work some. Saturday, evening, I finally had the strength and energy to tackle the tire. I suppose I could have just taken to the cycle shop, but it felt a little silly doing so for a flat. I’ve changed plenty of flats. I hate it. It’s hard on me, especially since the stroke, so I broached it. Fortunately, I had a spare tube so patching the old one wasn’t absolutely necessary.

It took me almost 10 minutes just to work the tire off. I took it outside for the better light to check for anything that might have punctured through and caused the flat. I noticed there were little frayed marks on the interior surface right where there were studs on the outside of the tire. It made me suspicious.

I went back in to over-inflate the tire in search of the hole. I found it and stepped out to look at the tube. The leak was right in the center of an abraded spot on the rubber. All around the tire side surface of the tube were small abrasion marks at regular intervals in the identical pattern of the studs.

Replacing the tube in that circumstance wasn’t a good idea. I’d get a few rides in and be right back in the same pickle.

I left the trike as it was to return home to begin researching a solution. I suppose replacing the tire would have been one, but that meant ordering a new 20″ Marathon Winter tire as they’re not generally kept in stock here in Sweden.

I discovered that there is a tape-like tire liner, which I thought might be enough to get me through this winter and maybe next. No place in Sweden had it, but Jens ordered it for me from the States and recommended that I talk to the guys at the cycle shop. Also, someone on the recumbent FB group suggested electrical tape or even duck tape.

Unfortunately, they’re closed on Sundays. Open on Monday, but I worked all day. So it wasn’t until Tuesday, November 29th that I was able to get in touch with them. I actually went there a bit before 8 am. The owner Neil was in and I explained the problem. He’d never heard of tire tape. Rim tape, yes, tire, no. He agreed that either the electrical or duck tape might work.

Then he threw out a suggestion of his own, “Or you could use an old tube as a liner.” It was one of those moments when an answer so obvious hits you right between the eyes and you wonder why it didn’t do it sooner. Neil even pulled an old tube out of a discard pile for me to try it with. When he asked if it was just for the one tire or all of them, I grinned, “If the others need it done, I’ll bring it in. I’ve only got the strength for one tire at a time.” He said they’d be happy to.

I dashed back to the garage and set to work cutting the old rubber tube. That went quick as did getting it place between on the inside of the tire to protect the replacement tube from the studs.

From there it came to a standstill. I struggled for almost 20 minutes to get the tire on, but with that extra rubber taking up space on the inside, it was even harder. I broke a tire tool and finally my hands started to cramp so badly I couldn’t wrestle with it any more. I called the shop and Neil answered, telling me to bring it right on in.

Exactly what I did. Everyone was in, but Lotten was kept hopping with other customers while Neil and Bobby worked in the back. Neil called for me to bring the trike right on through and he’d attend to it right away. I watched while he tackled the tire. I felt a little less ridiculous when someone who does cycle work for a living had a bit of a struggle to get the tire back on with that rubber liner. Still, in less than 4 minutes, he finally settled it in. Then to be extra nice, he partially removed the right front tire to see if it was offering the same problem. Nope! The interior surface of that tire was perfect. Only the left one it seemed.

I asked what was the charge and Neil grinned with a ‘Merry Christmas!’. I thank him and said I’d have to bring in another batch of muffins as a thank you with extra for Christmas. Bobby’s face lit up, ‘Those were the best muffins I’ve had in like… EVER! Yes please!’

Always good to have one’s cooking appreciated. Hehe.

I didn’t get to ride with the fixed tire. Work was a few hours off. By the time I’d gotten dressed for the cold, got the trike back to the storage and reassembled, I’d have had to try going warp speed around the River Loop to get back home in time for getting ready for my half-shift. Given the way I’d felt on the previous 2 rides, it felt foolish.

So, today will be the first ride in a week.

Poor November. From such high hopes for the 11th month of the year at the end of October to a measly 8 rides (after I go ride today) for the entire 30 days. The best that can be said about this month between colds, work, weather, and work is 2016 did become the best year ever during it and I managed to get more than 50 miles at least.

I think Loke is feeling the lack of miles as well. He’s had a few stiff days as well as the return of his groaning when moving into a laying position or while stretching. Fingers crossed that December is better…

And There It Is…
November 19, 2016, 7:51 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

It finally happened.

The goal, that new and magical ‘best year ever’, dangled just out of reach as weather and a rather nasty cold had its hooks deep into me. Riding was put on hold along with most of everything else when there were days that the couch or bed had an iron grip I couldn’t fight. Like the last cold, I was coughing so much, long, and hard that every paroxysm once more felt like getting punched in the sides by a heavyweight boxer.

For 7 days, I languished. I managed to get into work on Sunday and Monday, but even the fact it was so slow, allowing me to just sit for most of the time, it was rough.

Infuriating too. Saturday, November 12th was an absolutely glorious 24 hours or so. The entire 7 hours of day light were utterly clear. It was a winter wonderland of loveliness with skies of an intense lapis blue above that 1 foot or so of snow we had. Even nearly turning myself inside out with the coughing, I toyed with the idea of going for at least a short little ride, but wisdom prevailed.

It was that evening which made it even harder. The skies stayed clear and the moon, while not at it’s official ‘super’ status, so very near full. I love snow and moonlight. I was about crazy with the desire to jump on the trike and head out for the countryside where the impact of the city’s lights is less. To go out where the world would have been etched in shades of deep blue and pewter, almost bright with the moon’s illumination reflecting back from the snow. I’ve wanted to do a moonlit snow ride since I first got my Trice Q in 2006 before I had to accept that winter rides were out of the question. Needless to say, getting the Sprint 26 which can handle the snow without risk of destroying the derailleur has only intensified that urge.

But no. Wisdom prevailed and I stayed in, nursing the cold. I hoped it would clear up enough I could go before the moon waned too much.

I should have been worried more about the snow disappearing. The very next day, Sunday, November 13th, that’s exactly what started happening. A warm wind came in as well as clouds with a misty drizzle. Over 2-3 days, that 1 foot of snow disappeared like an ice cube on a hot griddle. In barely 36 hours, the blanket had been reduced to less than a few inches. By 3 days, it was a few patchy clumps where it had piled or been piled. Just… gone.

Finally, on November 17th, I felt well enough to take a stab at paring down the last 11 miles at the very least. I didn’t want to overdo it so decided the full distance wasn’t a wise plan. Besides, Loke needed a bit of a stretch after a full week without a proper run and I had an appointment where he’d be left alone for several hours.

With the appointment looming, we left the apartment at about 6 am, which was more than an hour before sunrise. Much to my surprise, it was clear out after being cloudy for most of the week. There hadn’t been so much as the smallest glimpse of the super moon thanks to dense clouds determinedly hanging on.

So, a moon that was still nearly full as well as a sprinkling of stars winning against the city’s light pollution was unexpected. It put a spring in my step.

It was cold in those darkest moments before dawn. Colder than the 40 F my computer and the window’s thermometer declared it to be. For once, I’d managed to dress for what it really was rather than the much warmer report. As we rolled out, the gusting wind hardly touched me.

Loke had a bit of a spring in his step, but not as much as in end of October or even beginning of the month. Too much gobbling of stray pieces of discarded bread that I think is starting to trigger a bout of inflammation in his muscles and tendons of late even with his daily dose of medication against it. At least it seems to be holding to that rather than an outbreak of infection.

Not surprisingly, I felt a bit sluggish and weak. 7 full days without a single pedal turn as well as my lungs still holding some congestion. Even so, it felt good to be moving again. Rolling through a snowless landscape was a bit of a disappointment, but the moon still shone bright and strong even with the constant glare of the street lights along the paths as we headed out to do the River Loop with riverside extension. As the trike rolled along the windy tag-end of night, I kept smiling at that nearly full moon. Even with the lights, it was wonderfully bright across the fields. The gusts of wind got through the layers of wool a bit, the wind chill down to almost 29 F. At times, the roar of it through the trees was so intense it was like hearing the crash of storm waves on a beach from behind the protection of sand dunes.

We finished up back at the storage with a modest 5.31 miles, leaving roughly 6 miles to reach the 1,225 miles I had in mind for a goal to have ‘officially’ beaten 2008’s total. I intended to break it the very next day.

It almost looked as if it wasn’t going to happen when I stepped out the door to drive the hubby to the train station the morning of the 18th. The mostly clear skies had vanished over the course of the day on the 17th. Sometime during the night, it appeared they decided to bring rain with them. Sadly, not the fine misting drizzle that has been so common of late. This was rain. Perhaps one could call it a heavy sprinkle. The point was, it was that kind of rain that would soak right through my layers and keep running water through them in about 15 minutes. Combine that with me still being kinda sick… No, riding in it didn’t feel right.

It just occurred to me how silly it sounds that I was disappointed about it not being a fine misting drizzle. But then when the most common weather choices of late seem to be ‘fine misting drizzle I will ride in’ and ‘rain barely above freezing I won’t ride in’, it makes sense.

Those last 6 miles of the goal itched at me. I even paced around a bit, unable to settle into any other activity. It kept me looking out the window every 15 or 20 minutes. Turns out that was a good thing, because I spotted when it stopped raining shortly before noon. When it still wasn’t raining at noon, I flew into action.

Before 12:30 pm, Loke and I were in the car and hunting for parking near the storage. Found it easy and we rolled out even before it hit the half way mark between 12 and 1 pm.

I’d layered up pretty well, but for once my Garmin agreed with the weather apps and thermometers. It was between 40 and 42 F. Not so much as a breath of wind except for what the trike made while the wheels hissed on wet pavement. I didn’t even bother pulling out gloves.

The plan was to head out along the river side extension, then follow the various paths back toward the city. I’d take a little detour to stop at the groomer to schedule an appointment for Loke, then come back to the hamster-track paths to toodle along back by the hospital and through the heart of downtown and then back home. That route would comfortably put me over the minimum 6 miles I wanted.

Didn’t really turn out that way. Before we’d been out for 15 minutes, my fairing started getting speckles of water. I swapped out my knit cap for a water proof one and debated what I wanted to do about the shift in weather. I decided to sort of wait it out. As long as I was close enough to the storage to dart back if the rain came back more than sprinkles that dampened only my outer most layer, I’d keep on. So, across the bridge and we made the turn to follow the river north.

The mile that gave me 1,220 miles for the year. That matches 2008.

The mile that gave me 1,220 miles for the year. That matches 2008.

Even though my official goal to beat 2008 was 1,225 miles, I still smiled when the Garmin ticked onto the first full mile of the ride. That single mile put me at roughly the 1,220 mark which roughly matched 2008’s distance.

Smiling to myself, even humming, we rolled on through the heavy drizzle.

A little further down the river, I spotted a police car parked on one of paths that intersected the one I was on. It made me edgy. Not because I have any particular fear of police officers, but because the few times I’ve crossed paths with cops along there, they’ve been canine forces. I really didn’t want to catch a loose police dog by surprise.

About 100 yards further down, I found them. The police woman was apparently working with her four legged partner, a Belgian Malinois. He was sitting on a picnic table, sphinx-like. His attention, fortunately was almost exclusively focused on her where she stood about 30-40 feet away. He only gave us a couple passing glances and then ignored us.

We made it to where the path ends at a dirt road and turned back. The police pair were walking back to the car by then.

The rain still hadn’t intensified during the time of the out-in-back by the river. I decided to push on a bit more toward the groomer. Though the fairing was well speckled by that point, my outer layers were barely damp.

We weren’t making great time. Except for feeling a bit stronger on climbs, I felt pretty weak. It felt strange pushing up climbs better than I’ve done in the past 5 rides or more, but struggling for decent speed on flats. Loke was rather lackluster too. I think he was feeling stiff and uncomfortable in his muscles, more so than on the previous day. He didn’t limp or anything, but just didn’t seem to be as free in his movements.

Made it to the groomer without a soaking and I went in to make the appointment. The woman is a very cheery soul. One could even say ‘sunny’ which was a nice boost to interact with after riding through such a gray day. Honestly, it didn’t even feel like the sun had made it over the horizon with the density of the clouds leaving everything in a murk bordering on twilight.

As I finished with that task, the phone rang. It was Jens letting me know he was going to be on the 2:11 train. I told him I wasn’t sure how on time I’d be coming to get him as I was out riding. He said it was no problem. He could do work e-mails in a coffee shop or something.

It was still holding to the same drizzle as I rolled out. A quick look at the distance and considering how far it was back to storage led me to the conclusion it would give me the distance I needed without leaving Jens at the train station longer than necessary. So, I could just head right back.

Mile 6! 1,225 miles for 2016! The new best year ever!

Mile 6! 1,225 miles for 2016! The new best year ever!

Loke sighed at me when I stopped near the intersection at the police station. I think he was a little tired of the damp getting on his fur so the delay for me to photograph the magical 6th mile was an annoyance.

From there it was just another mile back to the storage and Loke even stretched himself for it a bit. Probably the fastest mile of the whole ride.

Admittedly, my glow of accomplishment wound up a tarnished when I discovered something very wrong with my Garmin’s maps. It looked like the lovely OpenCycleMap format had been replaced with something else. For the whole of Uppsala, it was showing just 2 roads (the largest) and two rail lines. It was almost Google Map like only worse.

Since there’d been a recent update to the Garmin, I was seriously worried. I loved the OCM maps with all the detail and how they show the cycle paths and even foot paths as well as the streets. If it’s been replaced with something inferior, I’d be upset. If I was stuck with something as completely useless as what it was displaying, it would make the Edge 1000 as so much junk. Mapping that pathetic, I might as well go back to the mapless Garmin Forerunner watch I had first.

After a bit of research, done right on the cycle path by the police station, seemed to indicate it’s a bug, the polish brightened a bit on my accomplishment again.

We finished up with 7.03 miles on the ride. 1,226 miles for 2016 with still the rest of November and all of December to go. Miles to add that will need to be beaten next year, in hopes of making 2017 the new ‘Best Year Ever’ for riding.

On a Roll!! Kinda…
November 11, 2016, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

At least as far as the posts are going. Amazing what a little snow has done for my motivation.

After the ride on November 2nd, my husband did his level best to badger me out the door again as the snow turned into ice, particularly on the cycle paths. I resisted his wiles, saying if he wanted to be rid of me and the dog there were easier ways than pushing us out in hopes ice would cause a disastrous slide into traffic or the like.

I think it was on Friday, but I went to the cycle shop to schedule a tire swap. With my hip misbehaving, it was my best bet to get it done. They had time on Monday, but since I was expecting to work, I asked for Tuesday instead. I’ve pretty much given up on guilt for not doing it myself. Save my strength and less painful times for things other than sitting hunched on a cold cement floor, fighting with rubber and aluminum for an hour or more. A few Swedish Crowns and some time get it done with much less unpleasantness.

By Saturday, the ice was nearly gone, along with the snow. Of course, that day, I was asked to come into work which threw a wrench in any hope of riding on mostly safe surfaces with my summer tires. That was followed by two full days of work on Sunday and Monday.

Monday evening, it started snowing again. Just a sort of light little drift I could make out in the streetlights outside the shop windows, but snow.

Tuesday morning turned into a bit of a fiasco that delayed the trike’s 7 am drop off until about 9 am. Still, it got done. It was barely after 11 am when the text arrived that it was done. I was out walking at the mounds with Loke by the time, so it was after 12:00 when I finally picked it up. I dropped it off at storage to put the seat on, locked it up and dashed home to change.

For once, I remembered the grab the dead bike lights for recharging at home. Fortunately, I have a couple of dinky lights for when my good ones are dead. Not particularly bright, but enough to keep the cops from writing a ticket.

Once home, I threw myself into my heavy wool cycle outfit and bolted back out the door with Loke. I even had decisive plan where I was going to ride. My old Vaksala church loop.

A fair exchange for autumn colors since they were all on the ground anyway.

A fair exchange for autumn colors since they were all on the ground anyway.

The blanket of snow was thicker than it had been on the 2nd. As we first started rolling out, it wasn’t snowing nor particularly windy. The fluffy stuff gave the fuzzy a boost of energy. He became all enthusiastic husky, the years falling away from him. He pulled the trike into a brisk 15 mph dash for the first quarter mile on a gentle down slope. Then he slowed to about 10 mph for the next quarter mile until the climb up the bridge of the overpass at the 55 brought us to about 3 mph.

Even with the studs, the rear tire slipped a bit, but we made it up with few problems.

Across the bridge, we took a left. I suppose I could have taken the path north along the riverside, but given the time and the fact I was going to be heading out on my Vaksala loop, I decided time consideration was more important than adding an extra mile or two.

Loke displaying the source of his 'Mudball' nickname.

Loke displaying the source of his ‘Mudball’ nickname.

The snow on the paths wasn’t much trouble and I felt fairly strong as we passed through our little edge of Uppsala, heading for Vattholma Road as if going to the grave mound loop. Somewhere between the bridge over the river and the bakery at the corner of Old Uppsala Road, it started to snow. Not the usual big fluffy flakes, but tiny sand-like grains of grit.

The paths and much of the roads were mostly clear of snow or left with a muddy slush that splattered from under the wheels and Loke’s feet. It left a half frozen muck on his legs and belly. I found it a bit odd given that my Garmin was displaying temps around 27 F. I suppose it could have been salted.

The snow was mostly falling straight down, right up until the moment I hit the sharp little climb where the cycle path along the Vattenholma Road separates from the pedestrian. It’s not much of a climb, perhaps a 3 feet over about a 20-30 foot stretch. It was like that little distance from high to low had been enough to block the wind for the entirety of my ride. As soon as I hit the top, the dusty snow was blown into our faces with a 10 mph wind. At least with the size of the grains, it wasn’t as annoying as when the big, feathery bits of snow go snorting up one’s nose. That kind of snow often leaves me feeling like I’m drowning. Sand-like grains didn’t even cross into the ‘annoying’ category.

Distant views made hazy by the snow fall.

Distant views made hazy by the snow fall.

Loke perked up even more when we went straight by the grave mound turn. The path there used to run lower down than the road, about 10 yards away. Now, it’s right up along side it for a bit before dropping down and rejoining it’s old path. The wind had even more of a bite as we left anything remotely like a windbreak. Flat open ground for hundreds of yards from the wind’s direction.

Love it!

Love it!

Snowy path = extra exercise!

Snowy path = extra exercise!

Wind or not, I enjoyed the views and had to smile. The snow wasn’t yet deep enough to cover the stubble of the autumn grain harvest, but it added texture and interest. A landscape transformed and brightened. With the gray sky, the reflection of the muted light off the white was welcome and made the whole world seem cheerier.

Where the wind blew hardest, it carried additional snow from off the fields. As the cycle path sat lower than the road, the bank between the two made a sort of wind break so much of that extra snow wound up on said cycle path. With the chunky tread and studs of the tires, it made for slow going, but Loke did his best to help.

We zipped along side the road briskly, Loke happily loping along, tongue flopping in a husky smile. Not unexpectedly, we had to stop for the rail crossing. Soon the tunnel will be open. Hard to imagine that in a way. Seems just a short time ago, I was riding past an archaeological site as they prepped to dig the 50 foot deep pit for the tunnel. I’m glad they documented the history there before obliterating in the name of progress.

The start of one of my favorite sections of roads to ride in winter.

The start of one of my favorite sections of roads to ride in winter.

Finally the train rattled by and the booms went back up allowing us to scoot across. Just a short climb up as I approached the turn to Vittulsberg. Right about then, another train came along so traffic was less of a concern as we crossed the road. That’s one thing I will kinda miss when the tunnel comes in to use. There won’t be anything to stem the flow of traffic on those busier days.

It’s an immediate sharp decent after making the turn, the road dropping down to go under the tracks. Loke pulled us into a lope about the time I heard the diesel chug of a heavy duty engine. Glancing in my rear view showed a very large tractor with a very large plow on it. It looked like it was coming fast. I was so focused on how much space it was going to leave us as it tried to pass, I wasn’t paying much attention to our speed. As the tractor slowed a bit and we sped under the tracks, I finally looked at my Garmin and goggled. Loke was pulling the trike at 17 mph. Not just keeping up, not being pulled by it (which I avoid except in extreme circumstances), but actually trying to get it to go faster. Truly, I can’t recall exactly when he went that fast last.

Snowy country roads. Gotta love 'em!

Snowy country roads. Gotta love ’em!

Admittedly, most of it could be that I’ve been working to keep his speed down over the years, concerned that his limping and stiffness was to arthritis. Now that I know his joints are perfectly healthy, I’m more relaxed about it and willing to let him go faster than 10-11 mph. Still 17+ mph caught me by surprise. He looked so happy doing it.

Twists and turns.

Twists and turns.

Then we were out from the underpass and past the overpass across the E4 onto the official beginning of my ‘favorite bit of winter road’. Don’t get me wrong. It’s pretty nice in the other seasons too, but something about the snow just brings out a whole new level of beauty to it. Perhaps it’s because much of it is closely lined with trees and keyhole like glimpses of fields beyond that just respond well to a mantle of white

It was quite peaceful through there. Only a couple cars passed me and the trees blocked the wind. I pulled off into a spot off the road at one point just to listen to the silence and watch the snow fall coming straight down against the backdrop of darker trees. The quiet broken only by the occasional huffing sigh of impatient husky.

Just love what snow does to a lanscape. Both on the ground and in the air!

Just love what snow does to a landscape. Both on the ground and in the air!

Loke was enthusiastic through there and, given the snow and tires, I felt surprisingly strong as we did the up and down along the little hills through there.

Gray skies would be so much drearier without snow!

Gray skies would be so much drearier without snow!

There was a little shadow to the ride though I was determined to not let it dampen my delight. Even before I stuck my Icebug boots under the Restraps on the pedals, I could feel it. That indicative little scratch in the throat and perhaps a slight touch of lethargy that wasn’t quite slowing me down… yet. A cold was sneakily hooking barbed claws into me. It hadn’t stopped me from going out though. I wanted that ride and the miles closer to the year’s goal too much. Not to mention, I’m not the least bit convinced that staying in and turning to pudding on the couch would have changed the outcome even a smidge.

Lightning struck tree and traditional fencing in snow.

Lightning struck tree and traditional fencing in snow.

Too soon the lovely section of road was exchanged for a cycle path beside a much busier 288. The mushy slush of mucky brown plowed snow thrown onto the path by the road plows. The stink of exhaust from countless motors pricking my already sensitive throat into coughing fits and most of the way up a hill so it can’t be gotten over with quickly. That 1+ mile stretch is a distinctive drawback to that loop.

I did a quick stop at Vaksala church to use the restroom there before pushing on the last 2-3 miles for home. By then it was getting quite dim out as sunset came and went behind the dense blanket of clouds. My feet became a bit uncomfortable even with wool, fairing and my Icebug boots when the display on my Garmin dipped to a nippy 19 F. I turned on those blinky little lights as we rolled the last bit back to the storage.

We finished the ride with 14+ miles. Loke still had plenty of energy to harass the hubby with later that evneing.

As for me, the cold came into it’s first flush. My throat and sinuses felt increasingly worse.

The snow kept coming all through the night. By the next morning (November 9th), we had double what had been on the ground the day before. If anything, it only intesified through the day.

Circumstances worked out with Jens’ work needs that he couldn’t really walk Loke. He tried to drive to Stockholm first, only to discover the roads so choked that he turned back as soon as he could. Not even halfway to Stockholm and it had taken almost 3 hours to do an out and back. Once he came back home, he had me take him to the train station to make his meeting.

With Loke’s needs left to me, I didn’t really feel up to staggering around for a mile or two in attempt to placate him. If I was going to suffer, it was going to be with 3 wheels rather than 2 feet. I wasn’t running a fever and didn’t feel too bad. Just a bit of coughing and sniffling combined with lethargy.

Deeper and deeper.

Deeper and deeper.

Once I had Jens settled and on his way to Stockholm, I went out to give Loke a bit of a run. All the extra snow made me itch to do the same ride as on the 8th, to see how much the look of that patch of countryside changed with so many more inches of white. I restrained myself. I was sick after all. So, we were going to settle with the usual River Loop Hamster track.

Snow was still flying thick and fast as we set out. It couldn’t make up its mind which kind it wanted to be. Sometimes big, fat flakes that make me feeling like drowning when the gust of wind carries them right up the nose. Other times, it was the dusty little granules like salt or white sugar. Either one, it was piling fast.

It was a lot of hard work. I kept my gears low and pedalled slow and easy. At times my tires still slipped. The problem was the depth of the snow more than anything. If the studs couldn’t reach the pavement or ice because so much snow was packed under the tire, it slipped. Not impossible, but very noticeable.

Lots and lots of snow

Lots and lots of snow

Loke did his best to compensate, but even for him, pulling the trike through 3 inches or more of wet snow was a slog.

I looked at the river as we crossed the bridge and saw signs that the sheer amount of snow was starting work on a build up of ice. We followed along the river side path until the first intersection. I stared longing further down the river where fields and drifts of white beckoned.

Reluctantly, I made the turn to start closing the loop. I was sick after all and the snow was a lot of work. It had caught the city by surprise with streets choked with it. Even the ones that are first plowed lay untouched, never mind many of the cycle paths.

Husky in its natural environment.

Husky in its natural environment.

I did the short jaunt along the 272 which looked like it had been plowed earlier that morning before another 2 inches or so of snow had piled on it. The sight of the path stretching between the 272 and the southern river path gave me pause. It was completely untouched. No foot print or tire rut disturbed the virgin white blanket that was a good 6 inches or so deep. The only thing that showed it was there was the light posts on the right side of the path and my memory.

Still, it’s not a very long bit, so I pushed in. Loke loved it. Snow practically knee deep on him. He stuck his face down into it and went along like some kind of snow plow.

Snow and birch. Perfect combination.

Snow and birch. Perfect combination.

I saw the lights reflected in the industrial building on the right of the path before hearing the chug and scrap of a real plow coming down the path. I immediately swerved off beyond the light posts. Honestly, it felt no different riding on the snow covered grass than it did the snow covered pavement. The plow went by, leaving the path mostly scraped clear except for perhaps a half-inch of packed down snow well scattered with gravel. It made going a bit easier.

It's trying to freeze!

It’s trying to freeze!

I gave hard thought to pushing on for the extra 2.33 mile loop I generally use to get from apartment to storage, by then though, my energy was flagging. It hadn’t been particularly high in the first place what with my cold and crazy deep snow. I decided against it.

It was a good thing. I was feeling very drained and tired, as well as sick when I staggered back to the apartment.

The snow continued to fall. Streets between Uppsala and Stockholm as well as all through the Swedish capital itself wound up completely locked down. Here, it wasn’t so bad. A bit slippery in places, but buses and cars were still moving. Jens very nearly wound up trapped in Stockholm when trains kept getting canceled. He finally made it back to Uppsala on a train around 8 pm, packed in with so many other people they were like sardines in a tin.

It turned out it was the most November snow that Stockholm had seen in over 111 years. Coming all at once, it caught the entire city completely off guard.

Moon and snowy trees

Moon and snowy trees

Since the 9th, I’ve been languishing with the cold. I’d thought I was going to get away fairly easy with it, but it finally came down on me like a ton of bricks. The 10th was particularly bad. I’d cough and the entire world would gray out. Trying to go walk with Loke for the two times I had no choice felt like I was trying to breathe with an elephant on my chest. Still, one of those walks was pleasant in spite of that. I went with Jens to the grocery near the 4H club. While he dashed in to shop, I wandered over to the pastures to walk with Loke. So much snow and reflected ambient light, it wasn’t dark at all. I could make out details and the moon coming up above the trees was beautiful. I couldn’t stay and wandered for long, it was still a blissful, beautiful moment all the same.

As for mileage? Well, I need 6 and some miles to match 2008. To feel confident about proclaiming 2016 as my new best ever year for distance, I’d like 11+ miles to tip over 1,225 miles. I’d have it already, cheerfully done in a snowy white world, but the for the cold. Right now, every time I cough (about 1000 times an hour), it feels like I’m getting punched in the ribs. I am feeling better today than yesterday though, so it’s at least going in the right direction.

Today is also an anniversary. 2 years ago on November 11th, I had the stroke. Hard to believe that the 2 years since that terrible event have been the 2nd best distances covered with the trike. This year soon to be the best ever.

Just boggles the mind.

Out we went!
November 3, 2016, 7:15 am
Filed under: Day Rides

I know, I know. Weeks with not a peep and suddenly I’m throwing posts out like a playing cards flying from a Vegas card shark’s hands.

But my ride on November 2nd (Wednesday) was completely unexpected. Or rather the circumstances of it were.

When I posted about breaking last year’s mileage on the FB recumbent group I joined, I also mentioned that in the first seven days of November, I was going to try to get the last 30+ miles needed to break my best year ever record. I also mentioned, that Goals and I rarely get along. We stand and glare at each other from 10 paces off and then get into a girl-slap/hair-pull fight with me often the loser.

I fully expected that weather or some other circumstance would interfere with said goal.

November 1st, that very thing happened. The weather went from merely dreary to profoundly dreadful. The temperature hovered just above freezing and from dense, heavy clouds that left everything in a twilight gloom streamed a steady rain. Not the misty drizzle sort that one can go out in for a while, getting barely damp. A rain that would have water running through layers of clothing in 15 minutes or so.

My heavy wool can beat the drizzle type. Even if it gets damp or kinda wet, it holds warmth pretty well. It’s the magic of wool. However, if there’s a steady stream of water dripping through it and running over one’s skin, well… not even wool can stand to that. I don’t have any rain gear either. It’s just about impossible to find any to fit me here in Sweden and the few times I’ve tried, it’s not gone well. I wound up feeling like I was wrapped in a squishy, wet sauna bag. Was pretty much as wet in the suit from sweat as I would have been in the rain. Cold sweat I might add. Not spending good money for that.

So, I simply stared mournfully and frustrated out the window.

The forecast for November 2nd was for snow, but upon waking, it looked to be a lie. The clouds weren’t as thick so things looked a little brighter, but it was still raining. It too was a lighter precipitation though. It was also a bit warmer.

Still the fact it wasn’t coming down as hard was cause for hope even with needing to start laundry around 2 pm. While Jens was getting the car tires swapped to the winter ones, I went out with Loke to see if the rain was light enough to ride in.

We stepped out the door and I almost swore I saw a snowflake among the raindrops. A few steps on and I was sure I’d seen another. Within 5 minutes, it was half and half rain/snow. By time we finished the block and came back to the apartment, it was full on snow.

It didn’t look as if it would stick on anything other than cold cars though. Everything was just too wet, the ground too warm, but it was swirling through the air. No way I was going to miss riding in the first snow of Winter 2016-17! I would just have to be back in time for laundry.

I was giddy with glee. As soon as the hubby got back, I flew into my cold weather gear and bolted out the door.

The snow is trying to stick!!

The snow is trying to stick!!

As I zipped to the storage, I was surprised to see it gathering on grass in some places, piles of leaves in others. Loke was fairly indifferent to the whole affair. I pulled the trike out and up, not bothering with the trailer. I was too worried that it would go back to rain in the time it took to hitch it.

Gloved, hatted and gasket fitted to my special sunglasses, off we went. Loke moved at a fairly brisk trot, but seemed disinclined to run. The snow flew through the air and I had a huge grin, even with flakes trying to go up my nose. As we came to the overpass and I climbed, there wasn’t any ice on the surface which could have been a problem without studded tires.

I couldn't stop smiling and even giggling.

I couldn’t stop smiling and even giggling.

As the white swirled around us, clinging to the grass though disappearing on the rain drenched asphalt, my brain worked furiously. Where could I ride for best effect and yet make it back in time for laundry? Part of me really wanted to see if might be changing the views along the river. After glancing at the meager build up around us, that idea was discarded. There was only one obvious answer. The Grave Mounds.

The Grave Mounds at Gamla Uppsala are always lovely in their way. Dreary gray and rain. Still pretty. Sunny bright day and covered in wild flowers? Lovely. Possibly taking on a covering of white snow? You guessed it, beautiful. Mounds it was.

For a moment, I toyed with the thought of both River extension and the mounds, but a glance at the time told me I’d better not.

Tucked among the trees that line the cycle path following the river back toward the heart of Uppsala, the snow still swirled a little and tried to stick to fallen leaves on the grass, but little else. There was a hint of something more though and not snow. One section of the river wasn’t smooth. I wondered for a moment if it was snow trying to help a skin of ice form. As we came up to it, I realized, no, it was all rippled with wind that the screen of trees was protecting me from.

Loke not impressed with going face first into driving snow

Loke not impressed with going face first into driving snow

As we crossed the river to follow Gamla Uppsala Road toward the mosque, I felt that wind a bit more. Once we made the turn past the mosque to push for Gamla Uppsala itself, it came at us full force.

Though I was wearing 4 layers on my chest and arms, it still took my breath and left me a bit chilled. A stiff wind of 15+ mph flinging snow hard enough to sting my cheeks. It wasn’t bad enough to worry about though. My legs and feet were still snug and once I had to put effort into making the mile long, subtle climb against that hard breeze, I warmed more than enough.

Loke might be a husky, but he was not impressed with heading face first into such a driven snow. Some of the gusts, he’d put his head down and squint with ears flattened against his head. It peppered his face, sticking to his fur. Every now and again, he’d shake, splattering me with an extra portion of the wet snow.

And it was wet snow. In spite of my Garmin’s display of 27 F or so, that was mostly wind chill. Straight ambient air temperature was probably barely freezing. Maybe even a degree or two above. So, while it clung to my fairing, cars, bits of grass, and leaves, it melted straight away on everything else. My clothes were slowly getting damp. I wasn’t worried. I wanted to see if the mounds were catching it!

As we came up to the round about just before the turn into the mounds, the soccer fields beside the rail track offered a view of the smaller burials and I felt like a kid at Christmas. Through the misty looking haze of swirling snow, what I could see already had a thick dusting of white. At that distance there was hardly a hint of anything but snow on them. That gave me a boost to make crest that hill and start the faster roll to the turn.

Loke had been sedate through the whole ride so far. A few times, he even seemed to have a slight hitch in his step. I think his indiscretions with discarded bread have finally caught up to him. But as we came closer to entering the Mounds path proper, he perked up a bit.

We zipped through the turn and… had to stop and wait on a train. At least as we sat there, we had some trees to block some of the wind and it was coming from over my right shoulder instead of full into the face.

Finally the train rattled by and the booms went up. My sunglasses/goggle things had fogged while we sat and the trike slammed into a pothole I couldn’t see. One I don’t recall being there the last time we rode the mounds. Still, I scooted half blind out of the way of traffic without incident and stopped to pull the glasses off.

Squee of glee!

Squee of glee!

There they were! The little paved road generally closed to traffic that goes by the museum and then curves around a small mound toward the old church prettily framed the biggest of the mounds and its mantle of white.

A flash of gold in a white and gray world.

A flash of gold in a white and gray world.

Snow on the fairing. Snow on the grass. Snow on the grass.

Snow on the fairing. Snow on the grass. Snow on the grass.

As I pushed by the museum and surrounding buildings, a birch tree that still had much of its autumn golden leaves caught my attention. It combined with the whitened landscape and snowy clad tree beside it begged for a photo.

There were a few people out at the mounds. Some out biking with their kids who are on fall break and quite a few joggers. It seemed I wasn’t the only one out to make the most of the first snow of the approaching winter. The sheer amount of snow blasting around at Gamla Uppsala was impressive. What I’d ridden through to reach the mounds had been only a small fraction.

Snow plastered trees and snowy path.

Snow plastered trees and snowy path.

The blasting wind remained at our back which apparently improved Loke’s mood. He went along with his head up, though kept his tail tucked down. I guess there are places he didn’t want snow plastered. Here and there, snow was starting to pile on the path as we cruised by the mounds. It was cooling things quickly as well. Or perhaps it was just colder there, but the snow actually started to accumulate in the puddles on the path instead of melting. They were steadily turning into slush puddles.

The going wasn’t ideal. Beneath the gravel, the earth had been turned to mud with the over-abundance of rain, but it was worth the work. It was just so beautiful. At the top of the hill with the earth falling away before us, I stopped to admire the weather. The wind carried the snow in rippling veils and clouds clearly seen against the back drop of dark green crowns of the conifer trees. Loke sighed impatiently, but I wasn’t going to be rushed. I wanted to savor it.

A man came walking up with his bike as I paused there and thanked me. I turned a smile at him, but it took me a moment to figure out what he was thanking me for. Puffing his way up the hill and against the wind, pushing his own little bike was a well bundled 5 year old boy. He looked up from his climb to stare at us with round eyes for a moment before putting his head back down to take the last few steps up. As the tot passed him, the man thanked me again and they both walked on.

After a couple more minutes, I felt the pinch of the time limit again and tipped the trike down the path. Loke threw himself into a run, pulling as fast as I’d let him. Admittedly, I went cautiously. There was quite a bit of snow on the wet gravel and I still had my summer slicks.

Past the mounds, things weren’t quite as white, though the air was still thick with snow. As we came up to the dog park where the mounds path rejoins the early stage of my River Loop, it was impressively thick and the billows and ripples showed up very well with the dark backdrop of the close woods. No blizzard, but given it had been raining just a couple hours before, remarkable to me. I absolutely had video it. So, I did.

From there it was back to the River Loop and the ‘home stretch’ as it were. We’d have about 6 miles or so. I itched for more! The first snow and I didn’t want to rush back home for laundry. It needed to be done, but… SNOW!!

I decided to take the out-n-back at the garrison to add a little more distance and see what things looked like out there.

Though the white stuff was flying thick, it didn’t seem to be building up as much as it had at Gamla Uppsala.

Such pretty hues distract from the muddy brown of a plowed field.

From this on October 16th


To this on Nov 2nd

To this on Nov 2nd

The autumn colors so rich in the trees flanking the garrison road were stripped bare and true for the countryside just beyond as well.

Snow! Lovin' the snow!

Snow! Lovin’ the snow!

The sun is making an attempt at coming out!

The sun is making an attempt at coming out!

We rode to the bus stop loop and made the turn back. It’s a slight down slope there and Loke once again pulled into a run. I think he wanted to get out of the wind by that point. Though at least it was coming from the sides on that stretch of road rather than the front.

As we turned onto the little bit of cycle path that connects the garrison road to the residential streets forming the last bit of our loop back to the storage, the wind was again at our back. The sun found a break in the clouds for a couple minutes. I wondered if it was going to come out and spell death to every flake of snow that had dropped.

The clouds won. But as we rolled to the storage, it was obvious that the above freezing ambient temp was making short work of any flakes that dropped in the residential/urban area of Uppsala.

By the time I was parking the trike in the storage, it was a welcome break. The wet flakes had melted and wet down my knitted cap and fingers of my gloves so the the wind made them uncomfortably cold. Otherwise, I was snug enough. Loke seemed to be glad to get out of the wind.

The snow continued to fall off and on through the rest of the day, but it wasn’t even sticking to the grass around our apartment building. Still, walking to and from the laundry room, I smiled as it swirled around me.

I’m glad I got to go ride in it. It reminded me of my first years here in Sweden, when the first snowfall of winter would blow in on the 1st or 2nd of November. Every single time. Until about my 5th year here or so. Then it became unpredictable about when the snows would come. A few winters have passed with hardly any at all. One winter we didn’t even get frost let alone snow. Just rain. Rain in December, January and February in Sweden. UGH.

Give me snow…

Fading of Glorious Autumn – 2
November 2, 2016, 8:55 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

So, to pick up where I left off –

The 23rd and 24th of October (Sunday and Monday), I didn’t ride.

On Sunday, there was very little guilt about not doing so because out of 7 days, I’d rolled on 6 of them. Combined with that, 35 F and rain, just quashed any potential for motivation to pedal through the drizzle and sprinkle and a helping of wind.

Monday, October 24th was more complicated. The weather was foul, but not quite as bad as the previous day. It was a tiny bit warmer, but with work starting at 10 am and Jens to shuttle to the train station at an inconvenient hour combined with the need to get ready… yeah, wasn’t happening. No way I was going to get up at 3 am to juggle it all. If I wake naturally at 4 am, I’ll go ride, but no way I’m setting an alarm for earlier than that.

The weather didn’t really improve on the 25th, but avoiding ‘3 full days without rolling’ was high on my list. At least it being a day off meant I could curl up under warm blankets with hot tea after a hot shower. So, out Loke and I went into the murk.

Jens dropped us off at the storage. It was murky, gray and wet. With temps in the 30’s and the rain, I took the time to put the fairing on while Loke sighed at me.

Murk, murk, and more murk...

Murk, murk, and more murk…

The sponge-ball pulled us into a brisk cruise of 13 mph as drizzle splattered the screen and gave the tires on pavement that distinctive sound as only water-logged asphalt can. I sort of hunched down as we rolled along the starting streets, the piles of fallen leaves mounded at the curb edges making a squishy sound as Loke’s paws pounded down in them. 33.2 F according to my Garmin, but at least I wasn’t going to be sitting at work chilled after the ride.

Looking a bit threadbare.

Looking a bit threadbare.

Sadly, the trees were starting to look a bit tattered. The weight of the water clinging to the leaves helps gravity tug them off the limbs. Combined with a touch of wind and down they go. Some the trees were defying it all and keeping a good cover of their autumn glory.

I stuck to the River Loop again. The rain and chill would have been much worse out in the countryside where the wind holds greater sway. 5 degrees colder and snow, there would have been no stopping me since snow is easier to keep warm in than rain. Another layer or two and off down the roads across the fields Loke and I would have gone.

The rain and dense gray filter of clouds blocking the sun washed the world out into dreary hues. Without the bright colors of leaves, it’s one of the times of year I like least. Everything turns into colors of mud and gray.

Still, we did about 5 miles, feet snuggly warm and cramp free. We rushed home to dry off and chow down on breakfast after the exercise whet our appetites. Fortunately, though the rain was enough to get me damp, it didn’t get past the top layer as I had to go out again to get the trike back to the garage.

Wednesday, October 26th, out the door for a ride again. The original plan had been I have the car, but at the last minute, Jens decided to take it since he had to leave fairly early.

As a matter of fact, it was a bit before sunrise (around 6:30 am) when he dropped us off at the storage. The sky and inky black above us as I started down the ramp, the car pulling away. I happened to look up and blinked in surprise.

The moon? Not clouds, but the moon!

The moon? Not clouds, but the moon!

There in the sky beyond the faces of the surrounding apartment buildings was the thin sliver of the moon. It seemed for the first time since the one beautiful morning of sun, the sky had somewhat cleared.

I was a little disappointed that my phone made the crescent look a bit fat and weird, but there it was. The moon.

Loke was fairly ‘meh’ about things it seemed. He waited patiently while I readied everything. I appreciated at that, preferring not to have people awaken so early by a yodeling husky. Still, once all was ready, he moved out at a brisk but still sedate jog as I made the turns onto the streets to head for the overpass to take us onto the cycle paths.

Down by the river side.

Down by the river side.

The Grave Mound loop crossed my mind, but the still wet grass and pavement made a convincing argument against it. The paths out there are gravel in some places which can get mushy after a lot of rain or snow-melt. In other stretches it’s a kind of packed dirt/clay mix that can get just as mushy as the gravel with an extra helping of slippery on the steep little climbs involved. I may be wearing sturdy boots instead of clunky cycle shoes for riding at this time, but that doesn’t mean I particularly want to get up and push the trike over hills.

Moon at zenith above a sunrise.

Moon at zenith above a sunrise.

It was the coldest morning we’ve had in a while. Almost downright seasonable if you can believe it, rather than ‘unseasonably warm’. I kept expecting to see frost and find icy patches on the pavement. Instead, it was just wet. Lots and lots of wet.

Frost and frozen rain/dew drops.

Frost and frozen rain/dew drops.

By the time I reached the river, my Garmin’s temp display showed 32.4 F. The faint hints of coming daylight were strengthening, creating silhouettes of clouds on the horizons, but hints of clear skies above. The path along the river bank finally showed me the frost I was looking for. It gave the grass and weeds a faint, ghostly look where the the pools of light fell. The wet leaves had a distinctive crunch where they’d frozen. The shallowest puddles on the path had the spiky looking skins of hair thin ice on their surface where the path lights reflected.

Rising mist

Rising mist

The temperature dropped below 30 F for a time and a mist started to rise from the grass, coming no higher than my head on the trike.

I made it to the end of the path and turned back to rejoin the loop to the apartment. The coming sun brightened the mist a little more and it came up a little higher. Across the river, it was starting to look like proper patches of fog.

When we arrived back at the apartment, I was remarkably free of anything that felt like a chill or a foot cramp. It almost appeared that my feet really were adjusting to SPD-less riding and I’d managed to get perfectly dressed for the temperatures we had. Of course, the fact that there was nary a breath of wind helped immensely.

Jens didn’t get home until fairly late and during the day, I started to feel pretty sick really. So, the trike stayed here rather than going back to the storage.

Thursday, October 27th, I didn’t feel any better. Actually, it became worse. Bad enough I considered going to the hospital for a significant part of the day. The only reason I didn’t go was that the last 2 times I’ve gone, they kept me for 3 days and ignored me for 2.5 of those days. Just left me completely alone except to bring food while the beds crippled me. I came out of there feeling worse than when I went in. I could have keeled over and no one would have known until a nurse came to make sure I’d taken my medication the next morning. If I’m going to be left that much alone, then SEND ME HOME to languish in comfort at least. Took me a week each time to get my back back to a point I could walk without pain.

So, I just waited it out. When Jens came back home that evening, I did take the time to get the trike back to the storage though. He asked about it and I miserably pulled myself off the couch. Without changing out of the comfy, sloppy clothes I’d been laying around in, I shoved my feet in my crappy pink sneakers, put the harness on Loke and grabbed my handlebar bag. It was warm enough, almost Swedish summer

It wasn’t anything fancy. I flopped into the trike, struggled my feet under the Restraps and pushed. A whopping 0.54 mile. Or was it 0.51 mile? Well, either way, a silly short distance that couldn’t truly be counted as a ride. Even that short distance reminded me why I don’t wear normal clothes for rides though. A couple spots started to chafe and would have done so if I’d gone any further.

But the trike was secure and out of our way.

Friday, October 28th, I felt better and bounced out of bed in anticipation of the lovely day the forecast had promised.

Within moments, I discovered it was a lie. It was chill and the traffic on the street outside had the wet pavement sound. Looking out the window showed gray skies and rain. That left me in quite a funk. Then someone from work called, desperate to have me come in for the day. I refused at first, but I wound up going on for the last half of the day because it was a family emergency for them.

Naturally, the sky cleared and spent the last few hours of daylight staring at small slivers of blue sky between the buildings outside the shop’s windows.

Saturday, October 29th turned out glorious! Everything that had been promised for Friday. Frustratingly, I had errands that needed done or I’d have flung the trike in the car and taken off for fresher ground for an all day ride.

Still, I was determined to make something of the day. About noon, after the errands were done, I dressed for a ride and out the door with Loke. It was important he get a run because the hubby and I were to see a movie that evening.

I decided that the Vaksala loop was calling. It’s been months since I last rolled that way. Between the storage and the Grave Mounds, it’s the paths and such as if I’m doing just the Grave Mound Loop. Just instead of turning left, I continue straight on the cycle path beside the road where the train tunnel has been built.

I wasn’t feeling the most frisky physically. Hardly surprising since I’d been so unwell the day before. Still with the sunshine and pretty day, my mood was bright and Loke was helping me along with his own brand of enthusiasm.

My plans for a 10 or so mile outing ended up derailed when my chain suddenly jumped off the rear cogs as I climbed a very steep, but brief slope. I was caught in the middle of it, no way to pedal up and not daring to let the trike roll back down. That’s where a good parking brake is worth it’s weight in gold.

It clamped the rear wheel good and tight so I could wrestle myself up. The angle of the trike on the slope and the fairing made it a bit of a challenge. Just as I rocked to my feet, a guy who had passed me stopped to ask if I needed help. I was touched, but told him I was fine, but thank you.

It took a few minutes for me to get the chain back on the cogs from where it had wedged itself against the spokes.

Since I wasn’t sure why it did the jump, I was wary about going on out to Vaksala. Since the trike has shifted flawlessly since, I think it’s just a case of bad timing on the shifting that made the chain jerk and wobble right off the gear teeth. Rather than risking getting caught out in the country, I made the turn to just make the ride into a Grave Mound loop. It netted us 6.14 miles.

Sunday, October 30th, the day was as even prettier as the one before, and a tiny bit warmer. I decided to ride, but rather than bolting out the door at 6 am to avoid feeling the least bit rushed before readying for work, I lingered.

What a morning!

What a morning!

8 am, out we went. I’m so glad I did it then and not earlier even if I felt a bit rushed.

If I’d gone out at 6 am, I might have had more time to get more miles, but I doubt I would have ridden further than the 6.5-ish miles I did. Going out that early though would have meant missing the opportunity to ride in the sunshine as I’d probably have finished the ride before the sun really had a chance to get up.

I felt pretty good and Loke moved like a well tune machine. Given how much bread he’s managed to find that people have been scattering around in random places of late, that is good to see. I keep waiting for it to catch up with him and set his body off into a bad flare up of inflammation and skin infections. So far, so good though.

Pretty skies and sun make up for the vanishing autumn leaves

Pretty skies and sun make up for the vanishing autumn leaves

Some gold remains!

Some gold remains!

Time being short as it was, I stuck to the River Loop, but enjoyed the gorgeous weather. The recent winds and abundance of rain had hurried the leaf fall along. Many of the trees are splaying their bare branches against the sky with a few here and there still keeping their showy cladding. The golden quality of the light at this time of year is breathtaking, when it manages to emerge from behind clouds.

More miles would have been nice as I lacked just 10 miles to break last year’s distance by a little bit. Riding the entire time in the sun was a more than fair trade though.

I went to work with a cheery smile.

There had been part of me that had longed to break last year’s distance before the end of October, but with a full day of work awaiting me on Monday, I had to give up that plan.

Jens had just picked me up from work and made a quick stop to run into a shop for food when my phone rang. It was someone from work who called to ask if I could work Thursday instead of Monday. Suddenly the goal of breaking last years distance by October 31st plopped right back into the realm of possibility.

As additional motivation, I even had an errand to run downtown!

Another pretty day!

Another pretty day!

So, Jens dropped me off at the storage before running to work. Loke waited patiently as I hitched the trailer to the trike before we rolled out.

Loke’s indiscretions appeared to have caught up with him and inflamed his muscles and ligaments. He was moving a bit slower than he’s done in the past week or two. Even a few times there was a bit of a limp and obvious stiffness in his stride.

Actually, I wasn’t much better. My hip has been giving me complete fits off and on. No clue what’s up with it. Generally, I’ve been okay once I manage to get the foot on the pedal, but on Monday, October 31st, it made it uncomfortable to turn the cranks. It definitely felt the additional weight of trailer and 10 liters of water.  Determined, stubborn, or both, I pushed on.

Such a pair we were.

The rinks have been open for weeks now! Never mind above freezing temps and rain.

The rinks have been open for weeks now! Never mind above freezing temps and rain.

I wanted to be at the camping/outdoor shop right at opening, so kept a close eye on our speed in regard to distance remaining as well as the distance I wanted to make. I added occasional little extra zigs and zags to the route.

One of those was to go by the outdoor rinks of the bandy court and public skating. In spite of the rain and day where we had almost summer temps, the rinks are in use, ice and piles of plow debris from conditioning the surfaces.

When we came up to the pedestrian/cycle drawbridge, I took off through the lovely little riverside park instead of crossing it right away. Rolling at walking speed since the paths are designated for pedestrians, I enjoyed the lingering autumn leaves and occasional pop of color from autumn blooms.

That took another roughly 10 minutes and we arrived at the shop with only 5 minutes to wait. I dashed in and grabbed the new coat I wanted which happened to be the only other one in my size and we pushed on. I also stopped at the shop to pick up a few items I’d left there the day before when I thought I’d be working the next day.

Uppsala Castle

Uppsala Castle

Autumn colors and sunshine. What a combination.

Autumn colors and sunshine. What a combination.

Original expectations of the day had been to head out toward Vaksala church and Granby Mall once finishing downtown. The body had other plans. I was ravenously hungry, which doesn’t usually happen during rides, and my hip was increasingly uncomfortable. All I could think about was getting home and putting a hot pack on the pain and something to eat. The order of which was in contention.

It appeared the morning’s outing was going to have more than 9.5 miles when I got back home. Fingers were crossed that it would be enough to officially make 2016 my second best year ever.

I wasn’t confident though and decided to add the short distance between the grocery store and apartment before I parked the trike until my husband came back from work.

I’m glad I did, or I’d not have crossed paths with the couple who owned a gorgeous husky girl. She had one blue and one brown eye. Unlike so many huskies with dark black body markings and masks, she was like Loke. All gray and white, though her body marks were softer edged, like carefully blended chalk pastels as well as being symmetrical. Her owners commented about how much they loved Loke’s random splotches.

Honestly, she looked like she could have been one of Loke’s sisters. Or at least a 1st cousin. Enough so that I asked where she’d been born. Further north than Loke, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t related.

She was 6 years old and just as fit looking and hyper as Loke was at that age. It made me happy to see that given the last time I met a 6 year old husky, he was practically crippled with arthritis, overweight, and far too old for his age.

When we moved out, she so badly wanted to come with us.

My Garmin displayed 9.83 miles when I got home.

After taking some pain meds, inhaling a chicken salad, and heating the buckwheat bag to put on my hip, I sat down to add everything up.

2015 miles – 1,185.42

2016 miles? 1,185.40

I couldn’t believe it. Even after trying to add the little wiggles as well as the short dash past the apartment to the grocery store, I was 0.02 mile short. Seriously. What are the odds of winding up with so little between distances under such random circumstances?

I laughed and laughed. I wasn’t heart broken by it since I was still going to be getting trike back to the storage. Even if I took the most direct half mile dash, it would be enough that 2016 would be the new second best. 2.33 miles of my usual route back would give me 2.31 miles over that distance.

And that’s just what happened. In the gathering gloom of sunset, Loke and I set off for the storage when Jens called to say he was coming home. It always amazes me how quickly the days get short at this time of the year. 4 pm and I needed lights.

The end of October 31st saw me with 1,187.73 miles in 2016.

You know what that means, right? That means for November and December, it’s all toward the goal of breaking the mileage of 2008. Finally, the chance to make another year into the best ever since I first bought my trike in 2006. I need just a bit over 35 miles to match it. 37 miles will let me declare that I have more miles than I did in 2008.

It feels surreal, but it’s gonna happen.

Fading of Glorious Autumn
November 1, 2016, 12:11 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

October has become … a mixed month. A strange conglomeration of successes and lack there of.

The goals I’d set on the first of the month have flopped, that didn’t change. Then, from the 16th to the 31st (16 days), I’ve ridden on 12 of them. That might be some kind of record for me. Sadly not enough to save the month and make the goals as it’s largely been shorter River Loop rides. 10 of the 12 having less than 9 miles. Most are in the 7 mile or less range. It doesn’t make for a rapid accumulation of distance. Apparently, it has had its impact. I’ll get to that.

Such pretty colors make up for constant gray...

Such pretty colors make up for constant gray…

So, in spite of having said I was going to wave the white flag of surrender to my attempts to use the Restraps, I tried to persist.

I don’t remember much about my ride on the 13th. If I had to guess, it was probably full of toe cramps and me tap-dancing on the pedals as I stubbornly chewed my way around yet another River Loop hamster track.

Restrap with hideous pink and purple sneakers with hideous plum tights.

Restrap with hideous pink and purple sneakers with hideous plum tights.

I threw myself into new pedal thoughts over the 14th and 15th rather than riding. On the 14th, shoe shopping actually happened. I drove downtown and hit the two outdoor hiking/camping and such shops to look at their selection of Gore Tex hiking boots or shoes.

The first place had something kind of promising, but it was just a little too snug. A vast improvement over 90% of shoes which, at best, are very snug if they aren’t ‘No way in hell THAT foot is going in THAT shoe’. Most shoes here I don’t stand a chance of getting my feet in unless they’re so oversized with 5 extra inches flopping around past the toes like some kind of clown shoes.

I was still kinda tempted though. The light boots were rather nice and I thought they wouldn’t be too bad. I hesitated though because I liked the slate gray or the brown much better than the bright red. Yes, the bright red would have matched my Restraps rather nicely, but I didn’t want to add yet another screaming color to my already eye-bleeding cycle outfits.

At the next shop, one of the staff was happy to help and went searching for things he thought were a little wider. A woman had tried on a shoe type and then walked off. It was the same brand that had almost worked in the previous shop, but in the gray I liked and the size they hadn’t had. I grabbed it and tried it on. Still a touch snug. I asked if they had the next one up. Yes.

It fit pretty well. Just a tiny bit of extra length at the toe, but acceptable. It felt warm, but not too snug so there’d be room for a plush wool sock. I put both of them on and wandered around the shop to look for anything more that caught my eye. After about 20 minutes, my feet still felt great. I bought them.

The colors of sunrises and sunsets in the trees helps with the constant clouds.

The colors of sunrises and sunsets in the trees helps with the constant clouds.

Sunday (October 16th), before work, I went for another ride. I didn’t wear the boots though. I wanted to be absolutely sure of them before I abused them too much to return. So, I went out with my thin summer shoes.

Leaves are dropping fast, but leaving a pretty carpet.

Leaves are dropping, but leaving a pretty carpet.

It was another gray day, though the clouds had broken up a tiny bit, giving the sky some texture as well as fleeting hints of blue here and there. Temperatures were mild, in the 40’s and not much wind. The lack of wind made me smile, not just because it’s easier to dress for and one less thing to fight on a ride. It meant the gorgeous autumn colors weren’t going to disappear so quickly. Wind and rain can strip autumn leaves from trees in record time. I really wanted what we had to stick around.

Honestly, this has been the most beautiful autumn we’ve had in years. The past 5 or so, it’s been as if the leaves fling themselves from the trees as soon as they took on a hue of anything other than pure green. A hint of yellow? Time to plummet to the ground. Perhaps a faint blush of orange? Down to the ground and change to brown!

Such pretty hues distract from the muddy brown of a plowed field.

Such pretty hues distract from the muddy brown of a plowed field.

Can you imagine how they would blaze in sunlight?!

Can you imagine how they would blaze in sunlight?!

Not this year. Gorgeous shades of not only the golds of birches, but vibrant oranges and splashes of vivid reds here and there on other trees. Not for just 3 or 4 days either. They’ve been clinging on for weeks, coming off a few at a time. It’s left me almost as giddy as a new snowfall!

Though I’d gotten a later start than I intended, what with work starting at 12:00 pm, I randomly decided to add the out-n-back bit toward the Uppsala Garrison. It’s been years since I’ve done it and there are some pretty trees along the street there not to mention views across the fields. It would take a few more minutes, but even the cramps in my feet couldn’t take away the smile and delight I had at the autumn colors.

One of the reasons I felt confident enough in time to add the extra mile or more to go toward the garrison’s gates was that Loke was a speed machine. He had actually hopped around and yodeled while I was getting ready outside the storage. I’m sure the people who live in the apartments there just adored that on a Sunday morning. Then for the entire 5.8 miles, he determinedly kept us to over 7 mph for most of the way… when he wasn’t dragging the trike along at 8 or 9 mph on the flats and 11-13 mph on downhills. Except for my cramping feet, I felt pretty good and strong too. Even with all my stops for photos we did the distance in under an hour. Been a while since we accomplished that.

At work, I wore the promising new boots for the full shift. My feet got a bit overheated, but otherwise felt wonderful. Even if it turned out they didn’t work with the new pedals, I was gonna keep them. Best fitting shoes I’ve found here in Sweden since I bought my Icebugs!

Dull and murky. Wasn't there some kind of yellow ball of light somewhere?

Dull and murky. Wasn’t there some kind of yellow ball of light somewhere?

I was so pleased with the boots that Loke and I were out with the trike the very next day (Monday, October 17th). As before, it was another leaden day with temps in the 40’s. If anything the cloud cover was thicker and almost made even the sunshine colors in the trees look despondent. Hardly any of the photos I took with the phone came out. The two I did salvage still don’t look so great even after I tweaked the exposure.

There was also a threat of rain. Somehow, in the course of a week or more of dreary clouds, we’d managed to stay dry, but on the 17th there were hints and speckles of rain. I was sad to see it come. Rain would hurry the fall of leaves.

Murky and dim, but still pretty.

Murky and dim, but still pretty.

The boots worked pretty well. I managed to get them clipped with heel straps and even use the Restraps as well. The results were mixed. I was still tapdancing on the pedals in desperate search for a painless position to spin. Or at least bearable. The heel straps would have worked okay I think except I had trouble reaching them between my weight and the stiff, painful hip.

It was just a short 4-ish mile dash around the River Loop hamster track, but hey! Miles are miles! Feet might have been cramping, but they were warm which is more than I would have been able to say in my old SPDs. There were a few minutes at least where I seemed to find an elusive sweet spot and was able to pedal along for almost 10 entire minutes before I had to rip my feet off the cranks to stomp the cramps out.

Unbelievable, I know.

And to push the limit of any reader’s credulity, Loke and I went out again on the 18th. Astounding I know, as it’s been what feels like ages since we’d done 3 consecutive days of rides.

Instead of a morning ride, we headed out well after lunch. Though we’d be doing the River Loop again, there was at least something of a purpose to it. Dog food. It was that time again.

Loke was practically hysterical as I dressed and we went out to the car. I was more dubious. The persistent, light-swallowing clouds were threatening with rain. There were tiny sand-grain sized droplets on the windshield as I hunted for parking near the storage.

In spite of that, I still hitched up the trailer and pushed us out. Loke led us down the first streets at a headlong charge of almost 13 mph, tongue flopping in a husky grin. Almost from the first turn of the pedals, the clouds made good on their threat and sent down a drizzling kind of mist. It wasn’t enough to make my clothes obviously damp, but it did speckle my glasses and give the pavement a semi-gloss of moisture.

As we rolled through the first mile. I kept waiting for it. The dreaded foot cramps. Much to my amazement, they failed to materialize.

An unexpected bit of summer struggling for a foothold.

An unexpected bit of summer struggling for a foothold.

The autumn colors still hung on, but between the wind and the steady, if soft drizzle weighing them down, the leaves were starting to fall. Some trees here and there began to take on a threadbare appearance.

I popped into the vet clinic to get the food and also ask about medication Loke had been prescribed. He had an issue that seemed to have cleared up on it’s own which I asked the receptionist to mention to the vet. The meds had turned out to be quite scarce. As in, ‘None of it in Sweden until sometime in November’ scarce. As I loaded the dog food into the trailer, the vet came rushing out for a quick chat. When I told her how things had improved, she decided to cancel the order for me since Loke had been doing so much better.

The nearest thing to sunshine in ages.

The nearest thing to sunshine in ages.

Gray skies and drizzle, but what colors!

Gray skies and drizzle, but what colors!

The rain slacked as we pushed on back toward the apartment where I dropped off the kibble. Scurrying along the back roads on the 2.33 mile horseshoe route between apartment and storage, the sun made an attempt to come out the most it’s done in days or weeks. A pitiful, brief attempt, but still.

Such delight to have made a decent loop on my River route of 6.81 with nary a cramp or ache in the feet. I was thrilled to bits. Perhaps my feet were becoming accustomed to SPD-less pedaling. I’m sure it’s quite a shock as I’ve only been riding with SPD shoes and pedals for 10 years now.

From the 19th, the weather took a bit of a nosedive. Rain came, heavier than before and the air colder with some gust to it.

Thursday, October 20th, I pushed out for a ride though. I was slated to work, but only for the latter half of the evening. That left me plenty of time to go out the door for a roll. What a lovely choice it was too. I went at right about sunrise.

Contrary to the forecast, it wasn’t raining and the temperature held mild in the low to mid 40’s F. It was still a few minutes before true sunrise as I pushed the trike up the ramp so I couldn’t tell what the weather was going to do as I did the River Loop hamster track yet AGAIN.

Bits of blue sky and just peeking over the tops of shadowed trees, others touched with sunlight!

Bits of blue sky and just peeking over the tops of shadowed trees, others touched with sunlight!

It was a surprise. Just in the few minutes it took for me to get the Garmin turned on, Loke settled and myself in the seat with boots under the Restraps, sunlight started to paint the clouds in soft colors of peach, silver and apricot. Real sunlight. It only strengthened in the 2 minutes or so it took for Loke and I to roll down the first streets toward the cycle paths out to the river. We rolled in the shadows of trees and buildings, but further off I could see the tops of other trees painted into brilliant colors by the early light.

I couldn’t help myself. I giggled gleefully. Suddenly the morning became magical. The first hint of true sunlight in what felt like forever. I may not suffer from SADS like some people do when the days get short and weather dreary and gray, but it doesn’t mean I don’t get weary of it and then delighted when the sun emerges.

Ignore the chainlink and gravel lot. Just look at the COLORS!

Ignore the chainlink and gravel lot. Just look at the COLORS!

And what it did to the colors! I’d only been able to imagine, but there they were now, given the blaze of incredible hues and shades my mind’s eye had painted them. My cheeks started to ache with the huge smile that pulled up the corners of my mouth as we rolled on for the overpass.

The clouds continued to scatter, more blue appearing and the sun climbed higher, reaching more and more of the trees until it seemed the light of every sunrise and sunset had been gently snared in their branches.

I was a bit torn between speeding up to see the most of the autumn leaves in the perfect light or to slow down and savor what was in my immediate view.

Loke not impressed with all this starting and stopping in the first half mile.

Loke not impressed with all this starting and stopping in the first half mile.

Yes, the river again, but LOOK at the colors!

Yes, the river again, but LOOK at the colors!

In spite of my insistence to stop every time a new angle or view opened up, Loke did his level best to hurry us a long. I let him in some areas, like when we came down the big hill toward the river. Tongue flopping in a husky grin, Loke loped down the slope (look a rhyme!).

Can't. Stop. Taking. Pictures.

Can’t. Stop. Taking. Pictures.

The sun was still quite low as we hit the bridge over the river. The water and banks in soft, dim shadows while the tops of trees were wild with color. Definitely almost as good as snow early on a sunny morning.

I’ve noticed recently that I’ve had a bit of a mind shift when it comes to the local rides of late. Particularly with the River Loop.

Can't believe I'm sharing so many photos of the River Loop.

Can’t believe I’m sharing so many photos of the River Loop.

Haven't seen these two in ages.

Haven’t seen these two in ages.

Earlier in the year, and year before, I couldn’t stand to do the full out-n-back on the river side cycle path, but had to take off through the less-than-lovely industrial area beside it once I started the double-back portion of it.

Yet of late, I’ve been sticking more to the river side. The main driving force seems to be the autumn colors as there are few trees in the light industrial complex. Also the early morning rides where I can watch the sun rise across the river and garrison lands. It’s also been mentally easier for me to get out and ride which is a nice change. It’s enough of a challenge to get out sometimes with work and health issues with me and Loke both. When I have to argue with my own brain and mood on top of that, well. It’s not fun.

Light is magical when it came make even a field of mud look lovely...

Light is magical when it came make even a field of mud look lovely…

Softer colors in stronger light, but still lovely.

Softer colors in stronger light, but still lovely.

All in all, it was a nice start to the day. Quite glad I was out to greet the sun for it’s first full appearance in weeks.

Later at work there was a somewhat cycle related incident. A customer came in and was staring hard at me while I rang up his purchase. Suddenly, he asked, “Do you ride a laid back kind of bike with a white dog?”

I was quite surprised. I’m quite a sight when I’m riding with all the loud colors of my cycle clothes, my Da Brim, recumbent trike and husky, but to be recognized when I was dressed as a human being caught me off guard. I answered, yes. The man grinned. “I thought so. We met 6 or 7 years ago when I worked as a carpenter out at Ulva.”

Sadly, I have no recollection of the meeting, but it was still kinda neat to be recognized in completely different circumstances. Clearly, I’d stood out in his memory for him to make the connection after so long.

October 21st (Friday) was the next day I scurried out. Honestly, the whole day turned into a kind of fiasco. Started out mostly okay. Then as we were walking out to the car for Jens to drop us off at the storage, Loke got into a bit of something that someone had dropped in our parking lot. I had to jump on him and pry his jaws open to ram my fingers down his throat. I scooped out as much as I could. I tried not to be sick with soggy bread and dog saliva all over my fingers.

It soured my mood quite a bit since I’m convinced that Loke’s allergies will be the death of him rather than old age. Not even getting to meet an absolutely adorable, scruffy puppy completely cheered me up. His name is Atlas and he was 14 weeks old at the time of our initial meeting. At first, he kind of hid behind his new human mommy and woofed at Loke. A bit intimidated, but still wanted to play

As for Loke, he actually woofed and barked back. What on earth is going on with my traditionally mute husky? Getting all randomly noisy well into his 11th year.

Finally the pup came wide around Loke to the front of my trike to sniff along the opposite side. While I held onto my furball, Atlas suddenly jumped on the seat to bounce up and lick my face in greeting. Turns out he’s very people focused rather than on dogs. He was so cute and going to be a good sized dog when he grows into those paws.

After we finally said bye to Atlas and his owner, we moved out. Things rapidly became annoying Loke kept pausing to pee… a lot. Seriously. Without exaggeration, he was yanking the trike to a stop every 50 meters/yards or so. Yes,  he’s a male dog and by nature goes pee more than females, but this was beyond extreme even for him. A few times, he even stopped to do it like a girl dog in the middle of the street. He’s never done that. Generally, he’ll stop about 5-6 times in the first half mile and then by the time the first mile is done, he’s good for a mile or two at a time before wanting to stop again.

This is new. The path from the backside of the grocery was gravel last time I was here.

This is new. The path from the backside of the grocery was gravel last time I was here.

My temper was quite short after the bread incident, but I simply ground my teeth rather than lashing out. My poor teeth. Needless to say our speed suffered as we lurched and stuttered along. We managed the loop though and I pushed on to the grocery. While in the shop, I had a bit of time to cool and think while I bought what I needed. It occurred to me, Loke’s aggravating issue might have had to do with the prostate problem the vet had found earlier. That made it easier to stay calm as we did our start/stop down the hill toward home.

As I came up to the where I would normally turn for home, the realization that I couldn’t take the usual entrance to where I park the trike thanks to road work on our little street. The only way in was through the narrow break in the hedge flanked on one side by a metal pole set in the ground.

Usually, that entrance is no problem… without the trailer, but I had the trailer with me. Very nearly did damage to the trike and trailer trying to get it through. The trailer got hung up on the pole even after I tried to swing wide. Getting up to untangle everything had me seeing spots from pain in my hip, especially when I had to struggle my right foot back on the pedal.

After putting the groceries away, I’d thought to go for a grave mound loop or even maybe out through the countryside for a Vaksala loop. I only rolled about another 200 yards and Loke stopped for about the 1000th time to pee in less than an hour. Nope. I wasn’t going to do it. No way, no how was I going to take 4 hours or more to do a 10 mile loop under those circumstances. I cut it short right back for home, almost breaking my trailer again because of the only way in.

I called the vet and explained Loke’s issue. They were fully booked for the day, but the vet told me to keep an eye on him and if it was still a problem, she’d fit him in the next day.

It wasn’t. It cleared up sometime during the day. With my plans for longer rides seemingly nixed for the day, I turned my attention to the kitchen. Using the fixings I’d bought, I whipped up a vegetarian version of a slow-cooker creamy potato soup recipe I’d made with turkey bacon the week before. It had turned out so well, Jens wanted me to make another batch without the turkey bacon to share with his family. More than vegetarian, the 2nd batch was even vegan friendly. Not that any of my in-laws are vegan, only vegetarian. The only reason it was vegan soup was to adhere to my strict cholesterol limits and leaving out the turkey bacon for the vegetarians.

It finished cooking much faster than anticipated (around 2 pm), so I called my MIL to let her know what I’d done. She offered to come get some the next day. When I spontaneously made counter-offer to bring some to her via the trike, she was thrilled. She’d had a busy day at their garden plot, prepping it for winter, so the idea of not needing to cook dinner was a welcome one.

The leaves may be falling, but leaving lovely carpets on the browning grass.

The leaves may be falling, but leaving lovely carpets on the browning grass.

I loaded up enough of the soup in a soft sided cooler to stay warm for all the vegetarians and off we went.

The change in Loke from the morning was amazing. He was excited to get rolling and not at all interested in making another few hundred bathroom stops. We sped along at a brisk pace between 7.5 and 8.8 mph hour. As long as we were on the flats or downhills, his legs were a blur. I could almost suspect he’d figured out we were going to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s from the phone conversation.

Construction in Uppsala is insane at the moment. Not only unattractive apartment buildings springing up like mushrooms in damp weather, devouring every green spot while throwing effective cycle paths into disarray, but it feels like half to 3/4th of the city streets are undergoing some kind of work. It made a bit of a challenge in one spot where the detour had me bumping down a curb, the trailer banging unpleasantly.

The last half mile or so before turning into the complex where my in-laws live, Loke wanted to run at a dead charge. He knows that stretch. He knows when we go that way, 9 times out of 10, there’s Grandpa waiting with lots of goodies.

Golden birches along the path

Golden birches along the path

There was an interruption in his rush. My husband called to say he was on his way home and I could meet him at the storage. I told him I might be a bit late as I was about 10 minutes from dropping the soup off and wasn’t sure how long it would take for me to get back. He was surprised, but asked me to tell his mom he was bringing fresh baked bread from his favorite bakery in Stockholm. He’d meet me at the storage and then we’d go back to his parents.

That’s what happened. My lovely MIL was thrilled to bits to have not only the soup (which passed her approval with flying colors), but bread coming to make a tasty and solid evening meal.

The day may have started unpleasantly, but at least it ended on a high note. Family fed, Loke improved from whatever was bothering him earlier in the day. It definitely helped to clear my mood and made the whole day so much nicer. A rose garden from a train wreck as it were.

As for Saturday, October 22nd? Yep, out the door again.

Weary of the River Loop hamster track, I decided to combine an errand downtown with a short dash through the countryside. Given that it was to be my 3rd consecutive day riding and coincidentally the longest ride of the month by almost double (sad to say), a touch ambitious perhaps. Also the first time out of the city since tipping my trike to avoid being turned into road kill at the beginning of the October.

As for the weather, well the clouds had returned with a vengence. Dense and murky, the gray cover over the sky gave the day a heavy, dark twilight feeling to the day. One would almost think it was mid-December already. It felt like it could rain any moment and the temp hovered around freezing.

There was a bright spot though! Atlas! I’d just gotten the trike to the top of the ramp when he came around the corner with his owner. Straight away, he pulled the woman right to us to jump into the trike seat and wiggle and lick his greeting to me. Did I mention he’s just so CUTE? He even batted Loke’s nose when my fuzzy stuck his face at him.

In spite of the wind, cold, and lack of sun, I was wearing my new boots with nothing more than thin socks. Certainly a good test to see if I was on the right track for the (hopefully) coming winter.

As we rolled out, I thought perhaps the challenge of the longer ride on the 3rd consecutive day of rides wasn’t going to be as big as I thought. Loke was a fireball of enthusiasm and power and I felt pretty strong and pain-free. Except for my hip complaining when putting my foot on the pedal, I felt remarkably good. No foot cramps.

Crest of the hill

Crest of the hill

Before we reached Old Börje road, there was another treat waiting for us on top of a light post. A bird hunch on the hood of the light cover. With the dim lighting and the puffed feathers, I couldn’t quite make out what kind of bird. About 50 yards away, it was apparently unhappy with our approach and took wing, revealing itself to be a hawk. It did a short circle over us and drifted off to the north.

Perky as he was, Loke became even more excited as we made a right turn to scoot over the 272 instead of following the cycle path toward the heart of town. He even deigned to throw his weight into the harness to help get us up that first climb faster.

Out among the fields, the wind made it’s presence very well known. Hundreds of yards, if not a mile or more in places, without anything to break the wind.

Trying to make the best of bad lighting with a phone camera.

Trying to make the best of bad lighting with a phone camera.

I started to feel a bit chilled. Not surprising in those conditions. No fairing. No electric foot warmers. No plush wool socks or shoe covers. In my new boots, my feet began to feel a bit cool, but nothing like they would have with my cycle shoes even with every other layer and item against the cold. That gave me some hope for my winter riding this year!

Some of the fields were a bit green and 4 times, we spooked hares into making wild dashes for cover. That of course made Loke completely nuts.

I was smiling when we ticked over 5 miles right at an hour. Given how much I’d stopped for photos and to let Loke answer calls of nature, that’s very good for us. Rare since I had the stroke in 2014 actually.

We made the turn toward Ströbylund and I took the climb up toward the rail track nice and easy. That short little .25 mile stretch was populated by more hawks. 4 of them no less. In such a small area, I’d guess it was a mated pair and this year’s offspring.

Doe! A deer! A female deer!

Doe! A deer! A female deer!

Crossing the tracks, there was the vast expanse of a field on our left. Three shapes moved across the flat ground, stubbled with the pale stalks of harvested wheat. It took me a moment to realize it was a trio of roe deer rather than another cluster of hares.

Yes, I had trouble telling deer from hares. One, they were quite a way out and both share a bounding motion unless deer walk. Secondly, being in the middle of the field, there wasn’t much to give a sense of scale. And third, roe deer aren’t the hefty brutes that white tails or mule deer are. They’re dainty. Not much bigger than Loke actually. Many of the does are actually smaller than my furball though perhaps stand about as tall.

Rather than risk spooking them in another direction I stopped to pull out my phone, hoping they wouldn’t be too far away to be seen when I took the photo.

It wasn’t ideal, but still neat to watch them trot across the road. Poor Loke went completely bonkers. He really wanted those deer! Was definitely kicking myself for not bringing my Canon.

As for the autumn colors? They’re not as present out in the countryside around the city. Nearer to the urban and residential areas, there’s an abundance of deciduous trees that have a chance of taking on all the brilliant shades of red, gold, and orange. Further out, conifers rule the woody patches which are evergreens. Still was nice to get out of the city.

The coming fate of all autumn's colors...

The coming fate of all autumn’s colors…

The longer we stayed out among the fields, the colder I became. My feet did finally become uncomfortable, especially in the toe area, but I hadn’t started feeling that way until my legs got very cold. Honestly, I think I just ran out of enough warm blood to keep the temperature up in my toes rather than anything else. I’d dressed for temps in the 38-40 F range. Not 32-34 F.

Except for the sting of the cold bordering on frostnip. My feet were fine. No cramping at all. It seems they’re slowly adjusting to a non-SPD reality. As for the threat of frostnip, it didn’t feel bad enough I was worried especially since I was close to re-entering the city area where the wind would be mostly blocked. My feet would have a chance to warm up again. So I hoped.

Pretty even in the gray!

Pretty even in the gray!

There were a few spits of rain as I made the turn onto one of the mini bike-highways toward the heart of town. Much to my relief, a full on rain never materialized.

The return of autumn hues were welcome as well as I made the turns onto our usually inner city hamster-tracks. Gotta enjoy them while they’re around!

I love the blanket of leaves to the sides of the path too!

I love the blanket of leaves to the sides of the path too!

Back on the same ol’ ground, Loke remained a bundle of energy. Primed by the many hares and deer out in the countryside, he remained vigilant for the next sign of critters. The flash of bird wings here or there disappointed him once he realized they weren’t something furry, four-legged and potentially tasty.

Loke waiting for me to emerge.

Loke waiting for me to emerge.

And being among the trees and buildings did give my feet a chance to warm up, though it was slow. Had to get the blood in my legs a chance to regain some heat first.

Once I reached the kitchen shops I wanted to check for a pastry blender, my feet were all snuggly and almost too warm in minutes. They didn’t have what I wanted. *sulk*

From there, it was a quick dash back to the storage with 14.4 miles under wheels and paws.

I’d hoped that those miles would give me the distance I needed to declare 2016 my new second best year ever. Alas, not to be. It seemed I had more miles last year than I remembered. Quite a few actually.

Here, I think I’ll make a break in catching up on the rides as the post is getting quite long at 5500+ words and only up to the 22nd. That does at least cover the week where I rode six of the seven days. Pretty impressive for me actually. Might even be a record.

More to come in the next few days as I finish up with writing the last bit of October!