Terii’s Cycling Babble


Onward Plods December!
December 16, 2016, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

And the sniffles, coughing, and wheezing continue! The cold that caught me in the first week of November has lingered on and on. Now, another one jumped on its coattails.

The litany of petty little disasters I listed in the last post only grew as the days passed. Every little thing seemed to be a challenge. From walking across the apartment to putting something in the fridge or getting dressed.

It goes without saying that it has rather slowed me down. But on with the ‘reports’.

Such a cruel tease. I thought it might be a recumbent shop here in Uppsala....

Such a cruel tease. I thought it might be a recumbent shop here in Uppsala….

I rode on the 9th, but first I took a quick jaunt to the Starbucks at Granby mall for the hubby. I pulled into a parking spot and looked up, shocked to see part of a sign over the top of a car. ‘FEETFIRST’.

I brightened at the sight of it, thinking a recumbent shop had moved into the mall. Just think! A recumbent shop in my lil ol’ Uppsala.

Nope. Just a boring list of shoe stores. *sigh*

Coffee shopped, it was off to the storage with Loke. Not only was it time for a ride, but also to install the new Arkel handlebar bag that had arrived.

Settled in and started working with the hardware that allows the bag to clip onto the sidebar attached to the seat of the trike. What a fiasco! I’m not sure if the set up really has any engineering merit, but I felt like I needed 4 hands just to keep the pieces together to fit them around the sidebar.

Finally, I finagled a way to do so with electrical tape. By then, the muscles in my shoulders, arms, and hands were screaming with neurological pain so badly I couldn’t hold onto the allen wrench any longer. Just one part of the mounting hardware attached.

I still was determined to go out for a ride though. I hung my old handlebar bag by its carry strap from the Loke’s running bar.

I’d barely sat down and turned the pedals when the trike yanked to a stop causing Loke to give me a peeved look. I pulled myself up to check.

The duck tape that keeps my chain tube together had come loose, allowing part of the tube to travel back and force it’s way into part of the rear derailleur idler. The resulting mess had wrenched the entire derailleur mechanism up and over the wheel axel, a position it’s never meant to take.

Loke was so confused as I wrestled the trike back down the ramp to the storage so I could fix that hairy mess. Once everything was roughly back in place and retaped, I pushed us back up.

The first few shiftings on the first half-mile dash to the overpass, the gears were a bit sloppy. It seemed the brand new derailleur hanger might have gotten bent. Not drastically much to my relief, but just enough that some of the gears weren’t as smooth as they should be and it tried to jump gears at other annoying moments.

Some how, by what was probably a minor miracle, we did roughly 3 miles without the trike exploding into flame or a meteorite crashing down on my head. I was too exhausted and in so much pain to do more. Most of those 3 miles was more out of pity for Loke than anything.

Would you believe it, but out I went again the very next day?

The circumstances wound up a bit complicated though. My husband’s parents have their anniversary during the first week of December. On December 10th was the celebration. To get them out of the house while Jens’ sisters cooked up a lovely meal, Jens drove them to Sunnersta to walk along the river to our apartment. The very same trail I’ve ridden a few times and love actually.

The weather on December 9th had been fairly murky. Warm, but still murky. When I say warm, I mean it. It was over 50 F and after the frustrating ride, I took Loke out to the grave mounds for a walk. I did that walk in short sleeves, no jacket.

It looked much the same on the 10th, really, though a colder, at about 33 F. At least when I first woke up. About the time the sun rose behind a blanket of gray, it began to snow, a soft little dusting on the grass.

Any thought of riding was a bit delayed because of the timing for Jens to drop his parents off on the fringes of Uppsala by the river.

What a difference! By the time I headed out a bit before 10:30 am, it had gone from a light sprinkle of snow on grass and cars to a dense blanket of inches on every surface.

All that white stuff made me giddy. I was practically giggling as I drove to the storage.

Before I pushed the trike up and out though, I really wanted my new handlebar bag attached. I needed to know if it was going to work.

My experience with the first half of the mounting hardware at least made the other half go much better. Almost smoothly as a matter of fact. I got everything taped in place in much a matter of minutes and snugged it in place on the handlebar bag.

There was a bit of a complication as I went to adjust the slots on the bag itself though. One of the bolts there seemed stripped and I couldn’t loosen it to slide it in place. Thankfully, not the end of the world. The other side worked fine so any other needed adjustments were made by moving one of the mounting bars. Within about 15 minutes, it was done.

Yay! It's on! LOVE IT!

Yay! It’s on! LOVE IT!

Once it was on, I must say I was pretty much in love with the bag. It was gonna work just fine. The bottom of the bag was higher from the ground than the old one in spite of the fact that it’s almost big enough carry the old one with a bit of room to spare. It’s even large enough for my camera and a spare lens or two. There’s definitely a second one of these in my future. One for camera and lens and the other for everything else.

Did everything go smoothly from there? Nope, though it was a minor annoyance. Admittedly, none of the countless things that had been going wrong had been major disasters, just one after another after another aft…. you get the idea.

Hard work! Especially without Loke!

Hard work! Especially without Loke!

I guess the bag going on easily except for the stripped bolt had to be made up for by having an additional annoyance. I didn’t even get the trike up to the top of the ramp when the rear mudguard shoved forward to get jammed between part of the fore and the tire, sticking the wheel.

The snow was so thick and so wet and dense, that it packed tight into the tread of the tire, which in turn packed into the mudguard where friction pushed it forward.

Sometimes that rear guard is more trouble than it’s worth. This was nearly one of those times. But I didn’t really relish getting mud or soggy snow slung through the mesh seat or up the back of my head and neck.

Duck tape to the rescue. I tore strips of it off and wrapped it around the wire supports of the mudguard and fastened it to the luggage rack. To pull it forward, it was going to have to break layers of duck tape.

It held and just before 11 am, I was finally rolling out unhindered except for the extra effort of pushing through almost 3 inches of snow and more was coming down.

THIS is why I have a 26" rear wheel now. Love it!

THIS is why I have a 26″ rear wheel now. Love it!

The crazy snowfall had slacked some, so as I did the usual half mile to start out on the hamster track of the river loop, it was just a soft drift from the gray sky and hardly a breath of wind. It was barely even freezing. My gloves stayed in the bags from there.

I could hardly decide where I wanted to ride. It was just so lovely. All that fresh snow.

There was also the added complication of time. I had to be back around 3 pm to shower for the anniversary dinner, but any of my set loops, other than the River Loop, would take too long, especially with the snow slowing things down. It had come so sudden and thick that it had caught the plow teams by surprise. I heard not a hint of a plow yet even on the bigger streets and the cycle paths would be fairly low priority at first.

That, combined with my desire to do more than the river loop made me think long and hard. The countryside called, but would take too long. The cycle paths were deep in snow, not too mention pedalling along with buildings and roads with snow churned to mud didn’t appeal.

I was so torn about it, I even called Jens to discuss it. What I really wanted to do was head out into the countryside. The tires from cars would melt and churn the snow into something a bit easier to get though. All that lovely scenery covered with fresh snow called as well. Scenery I’ve not already seen multiple times on snowy days in the past couple months.

Much as I despise out-n-backs, I decided that’s what I’d do. I’d head out as if doing the Läby or Ulva loop and when it came to about 1:30 pm, I’d decide if I could make it to the end or if I needed to turn back.

Up the hill into the countryside!

Up the hill into the countryside!

As soon as it was decided and I scooted across the 272 onto Old Börje Road, I practically giggled with glee. That long slow climb up that first hill built the anticipation.

And there it is! A snowy countryside!

And there it is! A snowy countryside!

It started to level off so there were little glimpses of green-black conifer tops flocked with white. Then, there it was. The landscape spread out below with the dark line of the curving road of churned snow winding through the white blanketed fields.

So pretty...

So pretty…

Easier than the paths, it was still hard work. Even the usually flying descent down that hill was more of a brisk roll. There was a surprising amount of traffic zipping around on the little road too which brought its own little unpleasantness. At speeds of about 50 mph, even when the cars gave me the full lane, their tires splattered that slush amazing distances. Needless to say, I got well doused.

And still the snow falls.

And still the snow falls.

You know what? I still counted it as worth it. I’ve wanted another snowy countryside ride for ages. With the unpredictability of the weather, I couldn’t count on it sticking around. For all I knew it would be gone by the next day. Carpe Diem.

The trees are amazing!

The trees are amazing!

Not to mention, this was inches of snow on the open landscape. More than a faint dusting over mud and dead grass. I couldn’t get enough of it. How everything was so bright, even with the sun behind the clouds. How it changed the nearly black shape of the trees into something so lovely and interesting with the way the snow clung to branches.

Couldn't get enough.

Couldn’t get enough.

It was slow going, so I fully expected that I would be turning back rather than making a full Ulva loop of the ride. The Läby loop was completely out of the question as the mile or more of cycle path along side the 72 would have made for even slower going with the increasing depth of snow.

It's coming a little thicker.

It’s coming a little thicker.

It didn’t help either that I kept stopping for photos or that some bit of the transformed scenery would grab my attention and I found myself just sitting quietly on the side of the road, admiring it as snow flew around me. It ate up time I could have been rolling, but I was out there to enjoy the scenery. To live in the moment.

A world of contrasts.

A world of contrasts.

I wasn’t too far from the ‘kitty cottage’ where an elderly couple used to have about dozen cats, when the snow fall thickened. The wind kicked up too which had me digging out my gloves. It was stunning how quickly the snow began to build up on the road. It went from mostly slush to a mostly churned muck with the consistency of sand in most places.

Even in winter, dead trees are even sadder.

Even in winter, dead trees are even sadder.

Just before the kitty cottage, I was passing by the farm just before it, when an older man came walking down the drive with a wire-coated dachshund. The dog was a bit wary of me at first, but gave me a quick sniff before moving on to mark one of the plow poles.

I was going pretty slowly, as it’s a bit of a hill there combined with the now rather stiff wind and thickening snow, so he actually started talking to me, so I stopped to chat.

He was a very nice guy. Asked about the trike and other things. He also made a point in telling me that in just a few months, they would be celebrating that the farm there had been in his family for a full century. He seemed very proud of that fact. I think it’s probably the first time I’ve ever met someone who’s had a multi-generational bit of property.

I asked if it was going to be staying in his family. Yep. He had 3 daughters. One was going to get the big house and a portion of the land. Another girl was getting another little house on the property with more of the land and the 3rd was getting a little cottage, but only wanted the yard around it rather than more of the land.

After a short time, his dog insisted they move on, so I pushed onward.

There's the crossroads down there, I promise!

There’s the crossroads down there, I promise!

It was after 1:30 when I crested the slight hill that overlooks the crossroads below. Snow was flying furiously, driven into stinging needles by the wind. Visibility dropped so distant trees were little more than ghosts through veils of white. With the snow piling ever thicker on the road that even passing cars weren’t melting it, it became more and more like riding through damp beach sand.

Into the wind and flying snow.

Into the wind and flying snow.

It seemed silly to roll down the hill to the crossroads only to turn right back around to slog back up. I’d gone roughly 4 miles by that point, with another 9-10 miles to do the full Ulva loop. No way to get it done and home in time to not be late for the anniversary dinner.

Post card perfect...

Post card perfect…

Turning back, of course, meant going full on into the driving wind and snow. Even though it was barely freezing and I was wearing my heavy wool, the chill began to creep in. I tucked myself down and just kept the pedals turning. No speed records, unless one aims for ‘pokey’, but I was moving and in the right direction.

Hard work, but worth the views.

Hard work, but worth the views.

The friendly old man was no where to be found as I plodded back by his lovely farm. If he had been there, I’m not sure he’d have recognized me at that point. I was more snowman on a recumbent trike than plump woman on a trike.

There is a paved path under there... I think.

There is a paved path under there… I think.

Lovely as it was, I was so glad when I made it to the top of that first hill to roll back down and over the 272. From there, it was back to the snow-strangled cycle paths. While that wrecked my rolling resistance, it was out of the wind. A relief from the sting of gale flung snowflakes into my cheeks as well as the seeping chill that had been growing.

The anniversary dinner probably saved me a lot of discomfort. Turning back when I did, it was still coming up on sunset when I flopped down into the car to drive back home. I’d have been riding over half of the Ulva loop in pitch black, except for my fairly good lights.

The dinner was great. The wonderful company of Jens’ parents, sisters and their spouses made a pleasant evening. I wasn’t my most social self though. Honestly, I was so utterly and completely wiped from the ride that I felt like on the verge of dozing off at any moment.

Loke on the other hand was bouncing around hysterically. One would never have known that he’d gotten to walk almost 5 miles with grandma and grandpa.

Exhausted as I was, guess what?

Still snowing, but a freshly plowed cycle path.

Still snowing, but a freshly plowed cycle path.

Yep! December 11th, the very next day, I went back out for a ride before work. And it was still snowing!

Loke was a bundle of exuberance as I pushed the trike up the ramp through the pre-dawn. He woofed and yodeled impatiently as I settled everything. Then we pushed off through the 3 extra inches gained over night. Those little residential streets didn’t seem to have been plowed at all since the first of the snow came.

I was feeling a bit wary about the cycle paths given how worn my legs felt. Not to mention just getting up the overpass. I forgot to mention how much trouble I’d had the previous day. The snow just packed into the tread of the tires and the spikes couldn’t reach through it all to find something solid to bite. I’d had to walk the trike to the top.

We were about 100 yards from the overpass when I heard the diesel chug and scrape of a plow. It came right over the crest of the bridge and then backed up to continue on in another direction down the path.

Up and over we went in a snap.

It was a smooth charge down the hill, Loke stretching into a run through the softly drifting snowfall.

Oddly, at the bridge over the river, the cleared snow ended. All three of the directions at the intersection were inches deep in unmarked white.

Dawn and city lights reflected from snowing skies.

Dawn and city lights reflected from snowing skies.

Still, it was pretty, so I actually turned to follow the river north. The reflected glow of the coming dawn and lights of the city gave character to the sky and brightened things.

Back over my tracks.

Back over my tracks.

The attempt to ride along that portion of the river didn’t last long. My legs were aching and exhausted from the day before. Waving the white flag of surrender, I reached the wooden outdoor ‘gym’ and used that space to do a looping turn to head back.

The opalescent glow of a snowy pre-dawn.

The opalescent glow of a snowy pre-dawn.

Not even cold enough to keep the river frozen.

Not even cold enough to keep the river frozen.

And it was an deep ache. The muscles through the front of my thighs and all through my gluts. If not for my determination to hold to the ‘less than 3 days between rides’ thing, I would have stayed in.

Turning back to follow the river south didn’t seem to win me much. The path was still under inches of new, wet, and dense snow.

Not far beyond the underpass, I wound up having to squeeze waaaaay over into the deeper snow beside the path to let a plow pass. It was relief to finally have almost clear pavement to roll on as I pushed to get back to the storage.

After that morning’s ride, so began my stint at work. Sunday wasn’t too bad. Actually nor was Monday, December 12th. The 9 hour shift of late has just been dragging on and on and on and … you get the gist.

But it actually went fairly quick for once. It felt like 9 hours instead of 30.

Tuesday, was laundry day in prep for Jens’ trip to Vegas. Then also, a co-worker called to ask if I’d cover the last 2 hours of the day so he could go to an anniversary dinner with his wife. 2 hours is no problem, so I agreed. It made for a very busy day though, so no ride.

Jens had been fighting a cold through the weekend. Wednesday, December 14th, it hit him hard. It pounced on me too. My throat was raw and going out into the cold felt like gargling slivers of glass. Not conducive to an activity that leads to heavy breathing in said cold air.

Quite a shame really. Frustrating even. It turned into the prettiest day we’ve had in a while. The 72+ hours of snow had finally stopped and the skies turned utterly clear. That evening about pushed me to the edge of distraction. It remained clear, with almost a foot of snow covering everything… and a full moon!

I couldn’t quite convince myself to go though. Not just because I was sick, but also because just before the snow had stopped, it had turned to rain which had promptly frozen hard when the temp plummeted to 8 F. It left everything slick. I had images of going for a ride out toward Börje and a car skidding into me because of the ice.

Jens, dear man, offered to drive behind me with blinkers to help keep me safe. I pointed out that riding along in the glare of headlights would have wrecked the whole reason for the moonlit ride, obscuring the silver reflection of it from the snow and hiding the stars. Sick as a dog and still willing to do things like that.

Thursday, December 15th, was my next ride. Yes, by count, that made 4 full days between rides. It’s been chaotic with the sick hubby, my being sick, and so forth.

I still felt pretty rough. Riding in the snow had been brutal, but it had been an incredible ride.

Long shadows of December in Sweden

Long shadows of December in Sweden

Thursday dawned almost as gorgeous as Wednesday, and a bit warmer. I finally dragged myself and Loke out around noon. The utter lack of clouds let the low angled sun shine down, casting long shadows across the snow.

It wasn’t a long ride. I wasn’t feeling exactly froggy with the cold and all. Mostly it had been better than walking Loke. He got to move a bit faster and certainly much further (3.78 miles) than I can walk in general.

I had no strength and no energy though. Every turn of the pedals was hard. I’d planned to ride to the cycle shop and drop off freshly baked lemon/raspberry muffins as a ‘Thank you for keeping me rolling’ and ‘Merry Christmas’ to them. I cut it short, deciding to drive the muffins to them rather than ride.

Still, it was nice to get out in sunshine and even better that there was still snow over the dead grass and weeds.

Admittedly, I still had the same conflict that evening. A full moon, snow, and wanting to go ride in it. I resisted.

As for today (December 16th), out again. I toyed with the idea of taking a 20 mile ride through the countryside. It was on the warm side, for this time of year, and while cloudy, it wasn’t raining at least.

I dragged around though and didn’t get rolling until a bit shy of 10 am. 20 miles would have meant riding in the dark. While not the end of the world, I prefer daylight if I’m riding under clouds.

Instead, I aimed the trike for home. A short little 2.05 mile ride. The trike parked at home, I relaxed for a while. Just before sunset, I went back out to roll the trike back to the storage. Not an exciting day, but it still felt good to get out. Around 4.5 miles for the day.

As for Loke? He’s hardly noticed the outing. He’s been pacing around. I’ve also noticed too though that he’s been groaning like he used to before he started getting a daily dose of anti-inflammatory medication. He’s had a few episodes of limping as well. Not that it’s made him act any calmer.

December won’t be terribly impressive, but so far better than November. I’ve also rolled more than 1280 miles for the year. Each mile is one I’ll have to work on beating next year. Still, I keep rolling as much as I can.

Soon, I’ll be writing up the fully tally. It won’t be one for the record books from the standpoint of churches and other cultural sites, since as much as 90% of my rides have been hamster track runs around home. Still, I got the miles which is something I guess.

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