Terii’s Cycling Babble


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.

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