Terii’s Cycling Babble


The End Upon Us
December 31, 2016, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

What a year this has been. In many ways, it has treated me well. Nothing drastic with Loke. Nothing drastic with me. Some annoyances with the trike, but nothing catastrophic.

And yet, this has felt like a rather awful year. I guess it’s mostly been down to things like the train-wreck of an election year and the passing of so many of those who helped to shape or define the culture in which I grew up in. I digress.

The ‘cold de jour’ put me down for a few days, I think. At least there were no rides between the one on the 16th and my next outing on the 19th.

Normally, I work on Mondays, but I had December 19th off and awoke with full intent to tackle that 21+ mile loop I’ve had planned for weeks. From the start, it was shaping up to be a good day. Forecasted to be clear, mile temps so no risk of getting frostbitten feet, and while I still had a bit of cough and sniffle, my cold wasn’t bad enough to even give me pause.

It was just to lull me into a false sense of security.

One of the recent ongoing list of disasters earlier in the month was the separation of my chain tube that lead to half of it getting jammed in my idler cage and wrenched the derailleur up above the wheel axle. Since then, there’d been little hiccups and jumps in the gears. Nothing horrendous and so infrequent that it wasn’t even annoying.

Yet, on that perfect morning of opportunity, it went from ‘not even annoying’ and made the plunge deep into ‘rage inspiring awful’. I couldn’t get more than 5-8 turns of the pedals without the chain jerking or jumping and each time, it sent a painful shock through my knees.

The trike barely qualified for rideable. I managed 1 mile and the only reason it ended up that far is because the first .3 mile is downhill and I often coast at whatever speed Loke wants to do. Then it was about another quarter mile where Loke got a wild hair and decided to pull. Scarcely a turn of the pedals for all of that, so I had no idea until about .6 mile when I finally had to work for rolling speed. Of course, upon discovering how bad it was, I still couldn’t bear the idea of walking the trike back, so I suffered for a bit less than a quarter mile.

Before heading home, I drove to the cycle shop to ask if they could fit me in. Lotten told me they had a huge custom order to fill and would take all day, but they could easily do it on the next day (Tuesday, December 20th). I was more than welcome to drop the trike off that day so Bobby would be able to get right to it the next morning.

I went home and unwound for a bit before heading back to sling the trike into the car and drop it off.

My next ride was on the 22nd of December. The 20th, I worked all day and the shop was closed when I got off work. So, I grabbed the trike nice and early on the 21st.

Bobby was minding the shop all alone that morning, but he rolled the trike out and put it in the back of the car for me as he chatted about it.

As I suspected, the hanger was bent, but not very much. Rather than use my spare, Bobby had just manhandled the old one back into working shape. He added that it was about time to replace my chain which was probably why the gearing was so rough with just that tiny little misalignment of the hanger.

That caught me by surprise. It was replaced July 2015. My Trice never needed its chain replaced that frequently. But then, it hit me. Except for 2008, I wasn’t putting this kind of distance on my Trice as I have been my Sprint. Most years on my Trice were in the 400-600 mile range. Pretty sad really.

So, since July 2015 (right before the credit card tour down south), I’d put over 2000 miles on the chain. It’s had a lot of work in that distance, given my extra weight and the fact I was towing around 50-100 lbs in the trailer for a lot of my local rides as well. I’ve read recommendations that chains should be changed every 1500 miles or so, which I’ve certainly done.

Bobby said it wasn’t too bad yet and he recommended getting through the winter with it before changing as long as the gears remain manageable. I agreed.

I did ask what he thought of upgrading the gears from 9 speed to 10 or maybe 11 when the swap is made. The current gear shift and derailleur don’t perfectly mesh as 9 speeds are being phased out here in Sweden. So it might improve the shifting if I make the change to a shifter/derailleur that do mesh properly.

He seemed to think it was a good idea, though recommended sticking to 10 speed since that would mean being able to keep the current rear wheel. Also, he didn’t really think the extra gear was worth the rather sizable jump in price between 10 and 11 speed shifters and derailleurs.

I do feel a touch guilty since my current shifter isn’t very old, but it was replaced out of necessity when the previous one broke. The only reason I didn’t make the upgrade from 9 to 10 speed then was because I’d spent over 1000 kr on the new chain just a couple weeks before. A new shifting system would have meant replacing the chain as well as the cassette, derailleur, and grip shift.

I do really like the idea of getting an even lower ‘granny gear’. A cassette with something like an 11-38 or 12-40. *drools* Maybe then I could keep a cadence faster than 40 RPM when going up a 10% grade hill. Spin rather than shove up climbs. My knees would be so much happier if I can swing it. And who knows, maybe I’d start using my 2nd chain ring more. Dare I say it?! Even use my 3rd chain ring?!

A girl can dream. According to various media, most seem to dream of purses, diamonds, and shoes. Me? I dream of climbing up hills with uncomplaining knees even if doing 1 mph at 70 RPM.

I didn’t get out on the trike that day though. I was feeling pretty sick as well as having some neuromuscular issues that sucked my will to live.

In spite of that, I was cheerful! After all, it was December 21st, the happiest

I felt better the next morning, December 22nd. I lacked’oomph’ though. Not a bit of motivation. I woke with the idle thought of tackling that 21 mile ride as a ‘Solstice’ ride. Then proceeded to just veg through the morning until daylight constraints made it into ‘maybe do the 10 mile Vaksala Loop’. Finally it was, ‘Just get out the damn door to test the trike and exercise Loke’.

The lack of motivation was probably a combination of being so sick and painful the previous day and the sheer dreariness of the landscape. All the lovely snow in the photos of the previous post was completely gone. Just a few stray scraps of it along the edges of the paths or hiding in shadowed areas of grass. With a murky gray sky… yeah, not the most motivating scenery. The freakish warm temps had some trees swelling with buds. That’s gonna end badly when the next hard freeze comes along.

Loke was fairly eager though. He woofed and yodeled at me as I plodded around to get everything settled to roll. The ambient temperature out of the wind was 41 F, but once I was moving, the Garmin showed 36.2 F.

Unexpectedly, I felt quite a bit stronger than before. After the first mile, I gained something that resembled energy. I was perfectly dressed so not too hot or cold. The gears did some jumping over the first mile or so, but I guess they just needed some pedalling to get them sorted, because the last 3+ miles of the 4.78 mile loop, they worked fine.

Loke was a black mud ball from the belly down once we were done. Wet from a thaw is so very different on his fur than even the most wet, soggy week of rain. Rain wet just seems to to make him wet, not muddy, unless we go off road. Snow melt wet is just this black muck that sticks on the guard hairs of his fur.

It was good to get out in spite of my lack of energy at the start.

The next day (December 23rd), Jens and I were going to go see ‘Rogue One’. The hubby had booked the tickets before he was due to leave for his yearly convention in Vegas. That trip didn’t happen. Jens wound up too sick to fly, but the movie was still booked.

Since he was going to be left alone for about 3 hours, I wanted to run off some of Loke’s energy before the movie. When I laid down to sleep that previous evening, I planned to wake up early enough that I’d be rolling along on the trike before 8 am to do something like the 10 mile Vaksala Loop for a change. That would leave me enough time to ready for the movie after the ride.

It wound up being the River Loop again. I woke peacefully and lazily stretched before opening my eyes… to see a pewter gray sky and the silhouettes of the birch trees though the window. A bit after 8 am.

I flung myself out of the bed. I couldn’t believe I’d slept so late. Usually for me, sleeping in is 6 am. 8 am is just plain weird. That would mean I’d rolling out around 9 am and not done until potentially after 11 am and it was an early showing. If it took longer to do the Vaksala Loop than that, I’d be darting around like a squirrel on hyper drive. So, yeah. River Loop.

As it was, I moved fast. Gulped my meds with a few swallows of a smoothie, a handful of almonds for some energy while pulling on the layers I needed.

Though it appeared there were clouds off to the south, blocking the sun again, it was delightfully clear above. The clouds apparently scurried off in a hurry as I pushed the trike out of the storage and settled in. Suddenly sunlight was splashed across the crowns of the trees and tops of the surrounding apartment buildings.

Loke was fairly ‘meh’ about being out. He didn’t even care to break into a lope as we headed off down the slight slope of the first half mile of the ride. It was cool, probably about 41 F and my Garmin showing 37 F with the moving windchill.

Though the pavement didn’t have any hint of white to it, there was a diamond dust like glitter of frost once the full sunlight crept across the scenery.

It was soooooo wonderful to ride in actual sunlight. The mud colors of bare trees, dead grass, and plowed dirt were painting in vibrant shades with the deep red-gold light of the low sun. It perfectly complimented the bright blue of the heavens.

The further out we went on the River Loop hamster track, the colder my Garmin said it was. 35 F. 33 F. 32 F. Frost began to highlight the grass in places where the shadows stretched long. So lovely, I didn’t even care that I felt a bit on the weak and sluggish side. Just felt good to be out.

By the time we were doing the final stretch back to the garage, there seemed to be frost everywhere. Even the cycle path looked white with it in places. It took over an hour, but we rolled back for me to park the trike with 5.7 miles. With all the frost and frozen puddles locking up most of the wet, Loke wasn’t quite the inky black sponge I’d wound up with the day before.

Believe it or not, out Loke and I went the next day, Christmas Eve no less. Any thought of that 21 mile loop vanished right as I came awake. 42 F with insane winds and rain. I’ve been feeling weak and sluggish aggravated by the struggle with the chunky studded tires over gravel coated pavement. Throwing in a 25-30 mph headwind with that sounded more like torture than accomplishment.

The sky was amazing though. It was as if someone had hand drawn the clouds in perfectly aligned bands of gray scale. The ones closest were a dark, slate gray while the ones near the horizon were pale as a dove’s breast.

Around 9 am, the wind finally started to shred the clouds. That was amazing too. The gray skies with patches of pale robin’s egg blue and the edges of the clouds turned to glowing peach.

By the time Loke and I were at the storage, not a cloud was to be seen. Ambient temp was still in the mid 40’s, but those crazy gales dropped by 10 degrees. My Garmin displayed between 35 and 33 F. Brr.

It felt slow and hard… again. I keep asking myself how much of the struggle is the gravel and studded tires. My cadence isn’t down, but just so slow. Hopefully this will mean when they sweep up the gravel and the trike is back on the summer tires, I’ll be flying… relatively speaking.

It was pretty, but I didn’t have the oomph to do more than the basic River Loop. I didn’t even go along the water-side path.

The ice was disappearing on the river. There were already entire stretches completely open from bank to bank.

Though only 4.83 miles, it was a significant ride. Ride 200 for 2017 and 1300.1 miles.

It came as a complete surprise really. I’d stopped counting the mile for a time once I’d broken 2008’s distance so it amused me that it was such round numbers at that goal when I stopped to catch up on my tally.

After 3 consecutive days of the River Loop, I took a break. I think it might have been because of a brand new cold. One Jens brought home. It was only enough to make me too miserable to ride for a day or so, then I had work.

December 27th was my next ride. River Loop again.

According to the various forecasts, it was supposed to be clear. Yet I woke to water pattering outside the window, sometimes flung against the windows by another spate of crazy winds.

The dripping sound finally stopped and I dressed. Imagine my surprise when I stepped out the door, not to a murky gray day of mud-brown colors, but a thick flurry of wind driven snow. Almost an inch of it lay on the ground. A damp, heavy, clumpy inch.

At 35 F, I was surprised to see it and having it stick so well. As I drove to the storage, the snow gave way to a light rain. Not enough to wash the snow away, but to add moisture to it.

By the time I had the trike settled and out of the storage, the clouds had all blown away. The temp dropped to below freezing and all that wet snow turned into a crunchy crust over the pavement.

The last few rides had felt hard. Muscles all sluggish, weak and just exhausting to push the pedals around even for a few miles.

On the 27th, I felt stronger and not as lethargic. In spite of that, our going was still slow with the crunchy covering of frozen, wet snow. Very slow. 6.88 miles took almost 2 hours.

In spite of that, it still felt easier to keep the wheels turning than say on the 24th without that extra challenge. Maybe it was just the weather was so nice, in spite of being colder. It was sunny again and I was perfectly dressed. Loke was enthusiastic.

Loke really enjoyed the last mile. It had gotten colder, down to 29 F, mostly because the sun was so low that it couldn’t even peek over single story houses 100 yards away. That last bit down a residential street where little houses with postage stamp sized yards sitting cheek to cheek was surprisingly quick. It’s on part of a bus route and the wheels of the buses doing their circuit had flattened the snow into ice with a bit of a gloss. Not so slippery that my tires spun so we had a surface that was nearly as good as brand new pavement. We sped up to almost 9 mph, the wind at our back. A nice way to finish the ride, really.

December 28th, I didn’t go ride. Don’t remember why in all truth. December 29th, I didn’t ride either, but that was because I worked.

During those two days, the weather warmed back up and that crusty, crunchy snow disappeared. Back to murky brown hues and gray skies.

December 30th, we were going to take Jens’ parents out to dinner, so Loke needed a bit of exercise before being left alone for 3 hours or so.

The forecast seemed pleasant enough. Very little wind, high of 46 F, and partly sunny. Well, 2 out of 3 isn’t bad I guess. The wind was about what was predicted, though a bit colder with ambient temp of 42 F and my rolling windchill about 37 F. Partly sunny? Didn’t happen. Not even a glimpse of blue to be seen which is a prerequisite for at least SOME sunshine.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped out to head for the garage with Loke to discover we’d had a dusting of snow over night! Had no clue it even got cold enough for that. Most of it was already gone and the rest vanishing fast. Probably not much more than 1/8th of an inch before it started melting.

So, out into the murky gray we went. This time with purpose. 90% of my local ‘hamster track’ rides involve the same 1-2 miles at the start which is the original loop, I first began on in the first days of triking. The River Loop. That’s most of what I’ve been doing this year. The past few weeks, it’s pretty much all I’ve done, just with a few little extensions tacked on.

Well, after those initial 2 miles it felt sooooo good to get off the River Loop. Seriously. Where I usually turn down a path back toward the river past an old, unattractive industrial building, I went straight to do my downtown Uppsala loop. A little voice in my head cackled insanely, ‘Free! FREE! I’m FREE!’. Well, not really, but that’s almost how I felt.

Loke was moving more stiffly than usual. I took us slower, but didn’t stop or call Jens to get him. Stiff or not, he’s still a font of endless energy and drives us bonkers. Just makes all of us miserable if I try to coddle him. It’s probable that it’s just like when he was between the ages of 7-9 and he actually needed more exercise to loosen him up. So.. take it easy, but keep moving.

Stiff or not, that long decent past the hospital down to the pedestrian/cycle drawbridge, he pulled into a slow lope, casting me irritated looks when I tried to slow him down.

As we approached the bridge, I wondered if there’d been more people crossing it in 2016 than in 2015. Yep! 2000 or so more people with another day left. It won’t break 1,000,000, but I think it did push over 940,000 crossings. I’ve probably contributed no more than a dozen this year.

River loop, river loop… Erk. Sorry. Stuck in a rut.

Past there I aimed for the walking street with the shops to pop into Naturkomaniet in search of a cute little wool hat in a tartan plaid to go with my cute little wool cape in same tartan. Sadly, the shop didn’t have it. They did have some nice matching scarves though which almost tempted me.

After that, it was a brief pause at the American Food Store where I work to wish Tove a happy New Year and asked she pass that wish on to Charles and the rest of her family.

From there, it was a fairly direct jaunt home. I had to get ready for dinner after all. Finished up the day with 8.28 miles. One of the longer rides for the month. Also had a couple pounds of that inky black mud in Loke’s fur. It’s special to the conditions of gravel and snow melt. Soggy weather in summer doesn’t get him looking this way.

Though it was our longest outing in a while, Loke still immediately started harassing my husband to go for walkies.

Anyhoo, here I sit on the day of New Year’s eve. I’ve been trying to convince myself to do something to finish out the year. I thought about doing the next leg of the Mälardalsleden, Jens has been willing, even almost pushy about it. Just don’t know. Not sure why, I’m finding no motivation. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to stress about trying to get somewhere on the ride and yet back to Uppsala to have dinner with Jens’ family around 5 pm. No matter. At nearly 8:30 am now, it’s really too late to go for that.

Thinking about another River Loop today though.

Gaw. Am I really that stuck in a rut?!

I will get some miles in though. It might not be ending the year on a high note, as I’d been hoping over the last few weeks, but I will ride. And I will have a tally of my rather sad year totals. The miles were about the only success this year as far as numbers go.

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