Terii’s Cycling Babble

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…

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