Terii’s Cycling Babble


And The Hell Continues…
June 29, 2017, 7:24 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The name says it all.

So, waaaay back last year, or even longer, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting my gears changed. Pretty much since hills have become so difficult and with me keeping my eyes firmly on the goal of touring, I’ve wanted a ‘softer’ granny gear. Really don’t want to spend half a tour pushing the trike with a loaded trailer up hills because my knees can’t handle mashing up a 12% slope the easiest gear.

As mentioned in the tag-end of winter, Bobby the mechanic had said my chain was getting pretty bad, but we agreed to wait until after the rest of the thaw was done. Less muck to start grinding in a new chain. Since Sweden seems to be phasing out 9 speed chains, derailleurs, and shifters, I also decided to just throw my hands up in surrender and get 10 speed. We settled on the best arrangement for what I wanted and he put in the order. Never mind it now appears that the cycling community in Sweden is now working on phasing out 10 speed in favor of 11 and 12. I was guided by Bobby’s wisdom though that, for now, it’s not really worth the huge cost bump between the 10 speed to the 11.

Naturally, while waiting for the parts and the thaw to finish, I physically fell apart with hip finally giving out, Lyme Disease symptoms becoming physically impossible to function with, antibiotics keeping me penned in on the sunniest, nicest weather we’d had in months, back issues, so forth. I mentioned most of this in previous posts. The parts came in about the time I’d started the antibiotics. Since I was penned up out of the sun for about 3 weeks, I didn’t feel any rush to make the appointment for the work. The shop (probably all of them in Uppsala) gets quite busy in the weeks leading up to mid-summer.

Then of course, my throwing my back out delayed getting the trike in by about another week.

Finally, I dropped the trike off on Tuesday afternoon, June 20th, as an early check in for the work to be done the following day.

Wednesday, June 21st and the summer solstice, Bobby called about noon. He sounded his normally cheerful self, but when I asked how his day was, he responded, with ‘It’s a rough day’.

Bobby is one of the most laid-back, happy people I know, so hearing that, I knew he was having a horrible day. I’ve always had the feeling that for him to say it was a ‘rough day’, it would have been apocalyptic scale to someone else. He asked if it would be alright if he pushed working on my trike to the next day. I answered it was no problem. He sounded so relieved. Since he was having such a bad day, I went to the shop with fresh baked lemon-raspberry muffins in hand. He was practically buried in stuff in the workshop, but brightened at the sight of the muffins. Lotten practically did a jig when she saw them and Neil brightened up too.

Thursday, June 22nd, Bobby called again to say he was working on my ride, but he had a question. There was an issue with chain length what with the 40 tooth ring on the back and the big front. He noticed it didn’t look as if I used the big front ring much, so what did I think of treating the front as a 2 ring instead? I admitted the chain hadn’t been on the big ring in years, not even by accident, so it was fine. Honestly, I’d anticipated just that problem. Heck, with 99.5% of my rides being with an aging husky, I barely use the middle ring let alone the big one. It’s surprising the small ring hasn’t been worn away to nothing.

Finally, the text came the trike was done. I let my over-worked hubby know and he came home early to drive me to the storage so I could to the seat. Once at the shop, I thanked them all (especially Bobby), put on the seat and hitched the husky. Then I remembered something and hurried inside to ask Bobby about it.

It looks as if I might have forgotten to mention it. On the ‘almost disaster day’ where I found the half broken chain link while riding with 10 lbs of fruit and later the wheel parted company with the empty trailer when I was just yards from the storage, I thought I had noticed something when I was just pulling the trailer up from the storage. Walking up directly behind the trike, something about it caught my eye. I stopped and tilted my head back and forth. It seemed, maybe, there was a tiny bit of a tilt to the right in the rear wheel. When I’d dropped the trike off at the shop, I had asked Bobby if he could check that since it would explain why, the gears maybe got a bit fussy after a while.

When paying for the work, I had forgotten to ask him about it. It turns out, Bobby did think I was right. It was an incredibly slight angle off true to the right. He was pretty sure he had it nice and straight now. I thanked him again and hurried back out.

While getting the handlebar bag settled and Garmin on, a woman came up to gush over Loke. I invited her to meet him and she was thrilled. Oddly, Loke, (aka Mr. Aloof and Stand-offish) was incredibly sweet with her. Wriggling around, hopping up to ‘kiss’ her (smoosh nose into random part of face). Quite surprising. As she hugged on him, she said it was clear I was a loving owner because Loke was so very trusting and kind to strangers.

As she reluctantly tore herself away from the fuzzy one,  I plopped in the seat and off we went. Loke, perhaps perked up by getting so hyper with the woman, threw hard into the harness and we zipped around the parking lot before I decided to aim for the grave mounds to play with my new gearing. I’m familiar with how that stretch feels and there are a couple steep, if short hills to test the shiny new granny gear. Right from the start, I was heartened by the first few shifts as we did a loop around to get onto the cycle path to Gamla Uppsala. Smooth as butter.

In moments, we sped past the mosque and squeezed by some of the road construction onto the gravel path. The unpaved trail hard up against the soccer field’s fencing was reserved for pedestrians. As they are tearing up the roadside cycle way though, all foot and bike traffic has to share that little strip of gravel. Along there, it seemed usually bright as I pedaled. It took me a few seconds to realize, it was because I’d forgotten my helmet and there-fore my Da Brim. Definitely a ‘D’oh’ moment.

After our brisk start out of the parking lot, we wound up a bit slower than usual (even for me), because one of my knees was complaining from time to time. That discomfort kept me to the lower gears with a higher cadence. For significant stretches, I was pushing 80 RPM (amazing for me) though barely hitting 5 mph, less on climbs.

A veritable cycle highway!

A lot of the road work chaos along the first stretch of Vattholma Road seems to be focused mostly on the cycle path. One section, they’ve mostly finished with already and it’s very much wider than it used to be. Before, it was perhaps 4-5 feet wide, enough for a single bike to pass another or dodge pedestrians. Now, it’s wide enough for a car to use. I’m pretty sure I’ve been on narrower country roads. It turns out they are converting the paths there into Uppsala’s third ‘Fast Cycle Path’. The first, I think is from Flogsta. Or at least the first one I noticed a sign for when they were done making wider than it used to be. The next one, I noticed was the one where part of it comes down along the hospital grounds toward downtown. Now, soon the third will be done which will offer better bike traffic flow between Uppsala and Old Uppsala.

I was falling in love with the new gears as we rolled on to the mounds. The mounds, were lovely as always. The trip through there was pleasant, but nothing much happened. I did stop a few times, just to sit in the seat with closed eyes to savor the sounds of larks. Oh, and Loke’s impatient sighing. He may not be the speediest cycle partner in his later years, but he’s still not happy with just standing around either.

Other than me being giddy and gleeful about the new gearing, it was an uneventful ride. Birds were singing, flowers blooming. The little park-land just before the garage was practically carpeted in clover which lent a heavenly touch to the soft breeze. I think clover is one of my favorite scents right up there with honey suckle, wisteria, and magnolia. Yep, I’m a southern girl.

We made it to the garage with a grin on my face and a husky disappointed with only 4.98 miles. I was quite pleased with the gears though. Even if slow as frozen honey on the steeper little climbs, I wasn’t forcing the pedals or ‘mashing’ to use a proper cycling term. It felt more like ‘gliding’. I like that sensation quite a bit more than ‘chewing’ my way up. Yes, I was quite pleased.

Friday, June 23rd was Sweden official ‘Midsommar’ celebration. Midsummer, the saddest day of the year for me. That tipping point where the year swings away from long days, short nights toward the grim and colorless time of short days and long nights. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter when we have snow. Snow that STAYS for more than 3 days before everything turns to muddy, murky shades with 5 hours of watery, weak daylight. Snow for the past few years though has been the exception rather than the rule. At least now, I can still try to ride through the winters, thwarted only by threat of frost bite rather than shattering derailleurs. Still love my 26″ rear wheel in spite of bouts of nostalgia for my old Trice.

Jens had I were going to have an early dinner with his parents. Originally, the plan had been for me to finally try out my early birthday kayak in the morning. I decided it was just too much of a rush. Dashing around to get to where ever I wanted to float it, get it inflated, paddle, deflate, struggle to cram it back into the bag, and hurry home for shower to arrive at my hubby’s parents for a 2 pm meal. Just felt simpler to put it off another day.

Woke up on Saturday, June 24th, bouncy and excited.  My back had been feeling pretty good for days with not so much as a twinge. Admittedly, I was being very careful with it and avoiding some things, but still a vast improvement from spikes of agony through the spine when washing my hands, reaching for something or just standing up from a sitting position.

That changed rather dramatically within minutes of arriving at Wiks Castle. Before I even started on the kayak, there was a tiny, prick of warning in my lower spine as I wrestled on some neoprene ‘water sock’ like things to keep my feet from getting too cold while out on the water. Then a worse twinge when I was just unzipping the kayak’s bag. I gave a tug on the bag to flip it so gravity would help get the boat out, and a worse one hit. Nope. It wasn’t going to happen.

Jens asked if I’d at least walk with him and Loke before we headed home and I agreed. That lasted for about 100 yards before I was clutching a fence post and seeing stars. Getting back to the car was a bit of a blur broken up with yet more fireworks of agony.

I thought about going for a ride once we got back home, but I wasn’t sure I could get in and out of the seat without a spasm leaving me in an awkward crumple over the trike. The pain this time was even less predictable than last, but fortunately, the afternoon and evening spent mostly flat, continuing my PT combined with muscle relaxers helped immensely. Today, I was sure I could at least manage getting in and out of the trike without seeing stars and jerking around as if being electrocuted.

The weather was much better on June 24th than the day of the failed kayak attempt. The 23rd had been murky gray with a fine spitting mist driven on high winds. It was still windy, but partly sunny. About 11 am, hubby drove us to the garage and, playing it safe, he offered to push the trike up the ramp. I accepted his help.

I reveled in my new gears. I tossed aside concerns about speed and just… moved. The apparent return of the Lyme symptoms slowed my cadence down, but staying in the lower gearing was better on my knees and back anyway. Even though it was only another roll on a hamster track, I enjoyed the cool wind roaring through the trees and making waving ripples in the tall summer grass, the play of shadow and light racing across the open landscape around the grave mounds as the clouds sped across the sky. At times, the odd swirl of wind would bring the scent of flowers. Roses, some kind of strange and very sharp peppery smell, and of course clover. 6.35 miles which took us about an hour and a half.

I’m frustrated by the feeling of being trapped in a small box by my body. The nostalgic pang of the days when the trike meant adventure and freedom is bitter sweet. It’s been reduced to little more than a treadmill. Without those three wheels though, the box  in which I currently exist would be hardly bigger than our apartment. I try to hang on to the idea that half a loaf of stale, plain white bread is better than no loaf at all. I do so hate white bread and always have. I was the only kid for miles who would refuse to eat a PJ sandwich if it was on white bread. It had to be whole wheat or I’d go hungry. But I stray.

I would love to get off the hamster tracks, but at the moment, my back can’t deal with disassembling, loading into the car, reassembling and repeat right now, even if my hip could deal with a 10-15 mph ride.

It’s getting to the point of desperation. Life is feeling a bit rough at the moment. The pain of my body from even the simplest tasks, though at least, again, my back is back on the mend and hasn’t made me see stars in days now. There’s a huge issue with the tax authority which could leave me charged with tax fraud. Yay (sarcasm if you couldn’t tell). Jens is slammed with work, stuck with crazy long days and high stress while trying to help me deal with digging out from the tax issue. I feel desperate for escape and sense of freedom. The best I could do yesterday was totter down to little park a quarter mile away. The walk there took almost half an hour. I left my phone. Just me and Loke. Once there, I just sat on a bench with my eyes closed to listen to wind and birds over the sounds of traffic. A day out in the countryside with wheels beneath me and husky beside me as we explore fresh places would have been so much more healing, but it’s beyond me right now.

So, as I wrap up this post, I am actually about to totter down to the health ward and brace the beasts of medicine in their dens in a struggle to take me seriously… and help me get something of a life back.



Murphy Is Toying With Me…
June 16, 2017, 7:09 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I wound up not going for a ride on June 12th. The weather was just too unstable. We’d get a bit of sunshine and then black clouds would sweep in from out of nowhere with torrents of rain. Pea sized hail even came pelting down a few times. That would have stung if I didn’t drown in it.

On June 13th, Jens had to dash to work early. Worryingly, when I did laundry the day before, I found myself having problems. My body ached, I was short of breath. The symptoms I’d been suffering from for months before I took 3 weeks of antibiotics. That was disheartening.

With that going on, I really didn’t feel like suffering through walks. My hip had done fine so there was no reason for me to avoid cycling. So, Loke was getting to go out with me on the trike.

It was gray and a bit cool, though at least it didn’t look as if it had rained recently. I dressed in my summer weight clothes without underlayers. My only concession to the chill was my eye-bleeding yellow, soft-shell windbreaker. Everything gathered up, I stepped out of the building into… a windy, misting drizzle. Loke stood there, wide-eyed and wagging his tail at me as I evaluated the rain. It wasn’t much and would have taken forever to make me even damp, so I decided to go.

Got the trike ready only to discover that I’d left my Garmin hooked up to the computer in the apartment. Rather than pull Loke along with me, I left him with the trike in the grass and hurried back for the GPS. When I walked back, rounding the corner of the apartment, I was met with a surprise.

Loke, was laying sphinx like in the grass. 10 feet away, in the same pose and with long ears raised was a hare. The two of them just sat there, staring at each other. I tried to sloooowwwly lift my phone up for a photo, but the hare spooked. Oddly, Loke just watched it bolt for the hedge. He didn’t get up until I walked up to the trike.

Naturally, as soon as I settled in and we rolled out, the mist intensified into a drizzle that left splatters on the tights. It didn’t last long so I headed off for the cycle shop. I dropped in long enough to say hi to everyone and make an appointment for getting the gears upgraded and chain swapped next week.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. The wind blasted alternating mist and sprinkling around while the Garmin displayed temps that hovered around 50 F. I pushed on through the deserted paths. Being a weekday and in weather most people deem to miserable to be out in if they don’t have to, it was a nice, peaceful kind of ride. I extended a bit and would have done so even more, except the temp took an unexpected dip to 45 F. I was just damp enough that the chill started to dig in, so I headed back. Finished the ride with 5.03 miles.  My longest since Feb 12th. Roughly 18 rides.

Originally, June 14th was going to be a rest day as the original plan before my back blew out had been to ride every other day as I eased back into things. Still a bit wary for my hip after all. The plan changed when it was just too darn pretty out to spend with short little walks. I quickly came up with the idea to go to the cycle shop again.

This time, I wanted to buy some cleats for cycle shoes. My current Shimanos have been hanging on and on and on, but of late, they felt a bit tight. Perhaps that’s why the aches in my feet when pedaling has gotten quite uncomfortable at times. So, I needed more cleats to put on my extra shoes.

I’m not sure where my blue ones are that I purchased last year, but I did find another pair of black ones purchased 3-4 years ago. They’ve just been hanging out in the closet for when the Shimanos were done. They’re a tad bit over-sized which gives me a bit of concern the cleats might sit too far forward on my foot. Still, wouldn’t hurt to try.

We rolled out about 9 am. The temp had gone from 38 F when I woke up to about 65 F by 9 am. The only thing that kept the intense sun beating down from a flawless blue sky from being uncomfortable was the light breeze and low humidity.

I dashed into the cycle shop for the cleats. They only had one package on the wall, but Bobby went hunting in the back and found a pair of slightly used ones. Seriously, the only thing that hints they were ever on a shoe and cycled with was a bit of dried mud. The used ones, I wasn’t even charged for.

As I stepped back out  into the absolutely prettiest day we’ve had since before my last dose of Lyme disease treatment antibiotics, I decided to add a bit of distance to the ride. I was going to go back home via Gamla Uppsala.

It was warm enough that even I was glad for the patchy bits of shade offered by the trees along Vattholma Road’s cycle path. I made a stop about half a mile after the cycle shop to offer Loke some water. Annoyingly, it seems I didn’t close the canteen tightly enough. We were almost to the grave mounds when I reached in for the canteen and Loke’s collapsible bowl, I discovered the bottom of my pod bag was wet and the canteen empty. The idea of Loke pushing on and getting warmer without water until we got home was not a comforting one.

I made the turn to the mounds and spotted an icecream flag on the tree by the museum’s entrance. Fingers crossed, I stuck Loke in a nice shady spot and hurried up to the door. Closed and 20 minutes to opening. I turned back while trying to decide on waiting or not, when a young woman came walking up. In her hand was a set of keys.

Immediately, I asked if they sold bottled water in the museum. Yes, they did. When I asked if I could buy one for my dog, she didn’t even hesitate, holding the door open for me to come in. With profuse thanks, I grabbed one of the unrefrigerated bottles and paid up. She was quite interested in Loke, asking if he was a husky, were his eyes blue, and how old he was.

I was barely out the door when someone called out ‘Ursäkta!’ (Excuse me!). I stopped and smiled as two older women and a man hurried up. They wanted to know where the bathroom was. As I fumbled through directions in Swedish, one of them asked if I spoke English. I brightened with a ‘yes’ and was able to give them clearer directions.

Loke was glad of the water as I poured about half of it into his bowl. As he gulped it down, the man politely approached and asked if I was American in very thickly accented English. When I said yes, he was happy to chat about that. He had family in the States, San Francisco, mostly. I asked if he was Swedish and he laughed. No, his parents were actually Americans from Iowa who immigrated to Denmark when he was a young boy about 70 years ago. As he said that, I said, ‘Ahh! That’s the accent I’m hearing.’ He was also tickled to hear that my husband has a sister in San Francisco.

Such a glorious day!

Loke in the sun

I wished him a nice visit and pedaled on since Loke was watered up and starting to act impatient. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the mounds with the trike, and even longer on such a gorgeous and dazzling day. The colors were so vivid in shades of blue and the deep, intense green of summer leaves.

I admit that I’ve missed seeing the year grow into those colors. Pedaling day by day as the landscape shifts from muddy brown and gray shades into the bright, hopeful hues in a riot of spring flowers and new leaves blushing in soft yellow-greens, before maturing into the deep, clear shades of dark emerald and forest. Was nice to be out in it though. The birds seemed to agree. There was the music of nature all around, especially the larks, singing their little hearts out as they fluttered above the mounds and fields. I so adore larks.

I finished up with 6.97 miles. We’d left home about 9:05 am and ended at about 11:30. There was no reason to rush through it and I can think of worse ways to spend a couple hours. While on the warm side, it hadn’t been miserable. It might have been a different story if I’d been in black tights, but since I’ve torn the world apart to find alternatives to broiling black on the largest portions of my body, it wasn’t so bad. So what if I make eyes bleed when people see me in clashing shades of pink and purple.

The best part about that distance is that I felt great and if I don’t go by a round-about way, it meant the Vaksala Square produce market is in reach. I much prefer to fetch my fruit by trike than hubby driven car. Parking in that area is just such a pain.

Once in the apartment, I rubbed Loke down with a damp towel before putting it on the floor under the ceiling fan. He slept for 20 minutes and turned into a pest again. As for me, I felt great. It’s been 8-10 months or more that I can recall feeling that good after a ride. Also, it’s the first time since February I’ve ridden for 2 consecutive days.

June 15th. What a near fiasco that was and where this post’s title originates. Murphy (as in Murphy’s laws) was toying with me. Things went wrong, but never as bad as they might have. It was almost as if Murphy was being a heavy handed flirt.

The forecast had promised to be cooler than the 14th, which would have been nice. The forecast lied. It turned out to be warmer even at 8 am with loads more humidity. Just a sticky, unpleasant kind of day. At least we had clouds for part of the ride and I was determined to go to the produce stand.

The old and the new.

While I waited for time to go, I attached the new cleats to the other shoes. Then I dressed. My feet seemed to have plenty of room in the new shoes as I dashed out the door at about 8 am. I really wanted to get to the fruit stand and back before the full heat of the day pressed down us.

Loke was fairly perky as we walked to the trike. Immediately, I had a bit of trouble with the new shoes. Or at least the cleats. It was a bit of a wrestle to get clipped and even more of a challenge to twist loose. With the day warming fast and the fact I have a husky, I didn’t want to waste precious slightly-cooler time fiddling with the pedals. I dashed back in to swap back to my tried and mostly true shoes. Then we scurried off to the storage for the trailer.

Getting the Burly up the slope and hitched went smoothly. In moments, Loke was jogging briskly as we rolled off to follow one of the main-line cycle paths to the train station.

Traffic on the paths increased the further into the center of Uppsala we went. The one that runs along the rail tracks all the way to the station was thick with people on foot and bikes. Some of those on wheels probably got a bit irritated with the fuzzy and I as we puttered along at 6 mph. There wasn’t much space to get out of the way though.

There was a touch of disappointment as I rolled down and up through the underpass beneath the track. There was the distinctive sound of an accordion, but it was a man sitting on a folding stool who coaxed the melody out of it instead of the woman with the voice that could soar through arias like swallows through air. Her singing was stunning. I hope that her absence there means her circumstances have improved. I’ll certainly miss those clarion notes.

As I started the slow creep up from that underpass, there was a woman walking along with a pug of all things. That little smoosh-faced little dog got excited at the sight of us, bouncing at the end of his leash and snorting in that way only pugs can. It was nice to see one excited and friendly instead of trying to lunge for Loke. Or cowering. Was kinda cute.

From there it was just a few yards to Vaksala square and the produce market. My timing was perfect. There was only one other woman there shopping, the produce I like most was already out. Better still, no line to pay! Loaded with half of a huge Greek watermelon and about 3 lbs of cherries, I headed us for home.

Well, that’s a nasty surprise.

The sun started coming out, but thankfully we had quite a bit of shade. As I was pedalling along, about 2 miles from home still, I happened to be kinda staring at my front rings and noticed a wobble in the chain. I slowed waaaaaaayyy down and watched for it to come around again. When I saw the straight line deviate again, I stopped and leaned in for a closer look. A broken link.

I stared at it in shock for a few seconds, wondering how long it had been like that and amazed that it hadn’t just snapped clean through as soon as that one side had given way.

I was about a mile from the cycle shop with no choice but to nurse the trike along, fingers crossed it would continue to hold. I kept to the lowest gears and away from any climbs up overpasses to avoid extra stress that might have finished the break.

As I crept down a mostly shady and flat cycle path, a voice called out to me as I was passing a bus stop. Smiling as I stopped, I met the gaze of an older woman. I asked her to repeat herself. She wanted to know about Loke. My aloof furball was his usual stand-offish self as she gushed over and petted him, chatting about huskies she used to have in her younger days. I had the feeling she was lonely and I’m always happy to stop and chat. She gave Loke a kiss on the head when the bus arrived and shuffled on board.

Amazingly, the chain held. Of course, for all I know, it’s been holding on for the last dozen rides, but still I rolled to a stop outside the shop with a sigh of relief. The gang there were great and Bobby grabbed one of those inserts to use as a patch since I’ll be getting a new chain next week. I told them I’d be bringing my lemon-raspberry muffins soon and Bobby grinned, saying, “And that’s why you get the prompt emergency fixes.”.

Made it home fine and dashed into the apartment to drop off the fruit and husky, deciding 5.3 miles was enough for Loke. It would be good for him to be able to rehydrate and lay under the ceiling fans. As I bent to left the melon out, something about the trailer’s wheels caught my attention. They looked as if they were a bit too far out from the body of the trailer. Once I had Loke and fruit snug in the apartment, I took a moment to fiddle with the wheels. I was right. The axles had somehow wriggled out of the slot though the locking levers were good and tight.

Wheels secured, I rolled toward the storage to put the trailer away though I’d be riding the trike back to the apartment. My strength and stamina still can’t handle the walk yet.

*sigh* Seriously?

Between the apartment and storage, it’s just a touch over a half mile. I was within a stone’s toss of the storage when there was this strange bang and then something scraping through the gravel of the path between the park’s trees. I stopped and sighed, not even needing to turn for a look to know what happened. A wheel had fallen off.

There was apparently no reason for it. The lever was still in the clamped position, but there the wheel lay  in the dirt. The other one looked like it was on its way out too. Those levers are tight. I put the wheel back on and rolled the last few yards to put the trailer away.

Getting back to the apartment was quick and easy since it’s mostly downhill. I finished up the day with something like 7 miles. Once I was safely back home I could chuckle about it. The chain had kinda snapped, but not enough to leave me stranded miles from home with 10 lbs of fruit. The wheel had come off the trailer… but not when it was loaded with 10 lbs of fruit. So, Murphy was flirting with me by making things go kinda wrong without them turning into full blown disasters.

Still, if there’s something wrong with the trailer either the slots the wheel axles or the axles themselves, that will be annoying. These trailers aren’t cheap and I’d rather not have to replace it. I don’t want to be without it either. It’s much more interesting to get my fruit and Loke’s dog food with the trailer and trike.

 



2017 – Worst Mileage Ever (So Far)
June 12, 2017, 3:53 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

This year is turning into such a fiasco. I’d say I’d want to start the year over, except two of the biggest issues that have wrecked my mileage started last year, if not clear back in 2015. The hip could probably be traced right to the stroke in 2014, so no help there.

However, I just loaded up stuff from my Garmin and looked at the list of rides through the year and my jaw dropped. Seriously, I had waaaaaayyyyy more rides than I thought I did through January, February, and even March. Here I thought I had many 15-16 rides for 2017. Nope. 37 as of yesterday’s ride. Quite a shocker there. My rides might have been pathetically short through January and the first half of February, but they were many.

So, where was I? Right.

So, last post, I had a good ride on the Sunday (June 4th) after taking the last of the antibiotics on Friday, June 2nd with the day between spent letting the meds purge out of my system. On that Sunday ride, it was clear I was out of shape, yes, but otherwise felt solid, hills were easy, etc…

It was so good, I was going to commit to riding every other day to start getting back into my riding pattern (with better leg position). Work on chipping down the weight I gained thanks to barely being able to move for the better part of 3-4 months.

Jens was home the day of the next ride, Tuesday. A national holiday here in Sweden actually, the equivalent of their 4th of July. Got dressed, bounced out the door for another ride, full of optimism. It was still gray and a bit on the chill side, but I felt pretty good. Loke was interested. Got the trike settled and rolled out. I even added a little more distance over the previous whopping 3 miles, finishing with over 4 miles. Hard to believe, I know. Felt good, a bit stronger even than the previous ride. Wondered how much I’m going to be using that 40 toothed ring on my rear cassette for hills.

Got home and decided to jump into the shower to clean up. My mood was so pleased with how well the ride went, I was smiling and practically singing. Then, I bent to grab the shampoo and felt it, a split second before the pain struck. The weird, sickening sensation of a vertebrae slipping wrong in my lower back and then it popped. The pain hit like a bolt of lightning and was so bad everything went gray, my pulse whooshed and thudded in my ears. Only slumping against the wall kept me from tumbling into a heap. Apparently, I screamed because Jens appeared, trying to help.

I received my first trike in 2006, my beloved Trice Q. It was a birthday present from my dad and Jens, with the cost split between them. It was crippling backpain that originally led me to a trike. I’d moved to Sweden, this wonderful country almost made for cycling right along with places like Denmark and the Netherlands. But my back was so wrecked, I could barely walk let alone jump on a diamond frame bike. The years of back pain evaporated within months of getting the Trice.

So, needless to say, I wasn’t surprised the back had done this to me. After all, since February 14th, I’d hardly had any exercise with some days being so bad even getting up to get a glass of water was a challenge with the Lyme Disease pain. Those 2+ months of so little moving around had done my core muscles no favors. Jens also theorized that while I’d had the Lyme Disease symptoms so bad, my muscles were tense from the pain which helped stabilize my spine. Then of course, the pain went away, the muscles relaxed, and one bad move…

Everything hurt again. No matter how I sat or stood or what just hurt. I just wanted to find a position on the floor and not move.

Thankfully, Wednesday (June 7th) wasn’t a holiday. I called the health ward for an appointment. I was offered one 8 days later for a doctor and over a month for a physical therapist. I declined both and steeled myself for the 200 yard walk to the ward for a walk-in time with a nurse. It was worth the pain, though oddly, after the first 20 steps or so, as long as I moved very carefully, walking didn’t hurt. Saw the nurse and was immediately given a time with a doctor for 1 hour later and a physical therapist the next day. Much better.

The doctor poked at me a bit. Under her examination, I realized how weird this back issue was compared to the last. As long as I sat bolt upright, perched on the edge of a chair with my thighs angled 90 degrees or more to my body, I could generally get up with little pain. Walking hurt hardly at all, except the first few steps if I’d been sitting wrong. I could even bend in a few unexpected directions with little pain. The worst though was if I tried to lean back and then come forward to rise. The exact things I needed for trike riding. I felt crushed.

But the doctor gave me some muscle relaxers and I shuffled home.

The PT was very nice and had actually remembered me from a few years ago with the foot issue. That or her notes had been surprisingly detailed. She even asked about my trike and Loke.

So we did our thing. Her exam and guiding me through some exercises. She said that my lower spine is extremely stiff. When bending, most people do it from the waist, the vertebrae at the lower back. Me, I bend with my hips.

So, I’ve been doing the exercises like a good girl and taking the relaxers. Thursday was still a bit rough. Friday, I actually started to feel much improved. Nevermind I was spending most of my waking hours sitting, perched on the edge of the coffee table while staring at Netflix. Sitting with any degree of recline meant a world of agony if I had to get up for any reason. Walking also started to hurt even less than it already had. So, all through Thursday and Friday, I either sat on that spot of the coffee table or was walking. Lots of short little walks or just pacing around the apartment. My feet actually started to hurt from it all not to mention my upper back with all the sitting so stiffly upright with no support. For the first 3 nights since the disc slip, I slept on a mattress pad on the floor which felt less painful than the bed.

Saturday (June 10th) though, I felt pretty good. Much to my surprise. Even was well enough to go have dinner with the hubby for his birthday as a belated celebration.

Sunday, June 11th, I felt better still. Enough so that when Jens and I went out to get him Starbucks, we stopped at the storage. The hubby followed me down and hovered, ready to act as I risked sitting down into the trike. No problems. Put my feet on the pedals. No problems. Then the real test, I gently shifted myself to get up. No pain. Planted my feet, grabbed the front boom and carefully rocked up into a standing position. Nothing hurt.

Once we were back from getting Jens his latte fix and my breakfast had settled, I got dressed. Loke was only moderately interested. I still had Jens go down and push the trike up the ramp. That kinda puts an oddly placed strain on my back so it seemed safer to have him do it. My wonderful man waited while I got settled, clipped in and even for a couple minutes, watching me roll across the park to be sure I wasn’t going to start screaming and flopping around like a beached fish.

Nope. It was actually going pretty well. The only difficulty I started to have was when I had to get up 2 times in less than a minute. Loke ‘did his business’ and that needed cleaning up. Then, the trike felt hard to move. So I got right back up to check the rear wheel. Turned out I’d just forgotten to loosen the parking break. There was a bit of a twinge in my back when rising that 2nd time.

The bigger issue for the ride was with my feet. My shoes, oddly, were very tight when I put them on and it made my feet ache as I pedaled. After a few hundred yards though, either the shoes stretched or the swelling went down and I felt better.

It was quite warm though and not just for Loke. Especially when the sun was out and it beat down on my reclined shape, it was bordering on uncomfortable. Thankfully, clouds abounded and generally shaded the sun. There was also a nice breeze which helped. The Garmin displayed about 74 F.

There were a lot of people out and about. Joggers, cyclists, walkers, even a few people on roller blades and 3 on roller skis. I followed the same 3 mile route as my first ‘post antibiotic’ ride, intending to keep it short until more certain of my back.

Unexpected passenger

As I came through the parkland between the residential areas, some odd movement up near the brim of my Da Brim caught my attention. It appeared I had a stowaway. An inchworm of all things. I kept a close eye on it as I stopped at an intersection of cycle paths to let a group of 40+ people roll through. Some kind of tour group I think.

Once they passed, I pedaled on until I found a spot where a shrub grew right next to the path. It took hardly any coaxing to get the inchworm from my Da Brim into my sleeve and, then from there, onto a leaf.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We went down the hill and by the river. Admittedly, from the position of a recumbent trike, one can’t really see the river now. The summer growth of weeds is such a riot that only a wall of green is visible.

Once I got back and stood up, my back felt so GREAT! No pain, more relaxed and yet stronger. As soon as the injury happened, getting so I could ride again was my main focus. Not for miles or number of rides, but because trikes have been almost magical for my back. Even that first ride back in April of 2006 when I eased myself down into a Trice Q at ICE’s headquarters in England to test it out, my back felt so much better when it was over. The best it had felt in over 6 years. I was sure it was just what I needed once I got to where I could get in and out of the seat without killing myself. My faith was vindicated.

Just a smidge over 3 miles.

Though I’d originally intended to do every other day for the first couple weeks, I’m thinking I might go ride again today at some point. See if it continues the improvement on my back. Also, after being penned up AGAIN because of physical issues, I really just want to be out and doing even if only the local hamster tracks.

Also, I really want to build up so I can start going to the Vaksala’s produce market for my summer fix of watermelon and cherries. Gotta have those fruits!



What A Roller Coaster
June 5, 2017, 4:58 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, the past 7-10 days have been a bit of a fiasco, but hopefully I’ve turned a corner now.

So, here’s the update.

Friday (June 2nd), I finished the antibiotics for the Lyme Disease. There’s been improvement. Actually, when I woke on the morning after my 4th dose, I was shocked at how great I felt. I honestly had no idea how long it had been since I’d come out of bed with a bounce with little to no pain. Not in anything. My hip felt fine, but so did the rest of me. I had energy! The doctor had warned me that the antibiotics would make me hyper sensitive to sunlight, or at least the UV light, but I’d bounced out of the bed at 4 am. Though dawn was coming fast, it was still early enough that sunlight wasn’t much of a threat. With Jens away on business, I bolted out the door with Loke and we went to the Grave Mounds where I walked the full loop with him. Roughly 1.2 miles. It’s been ages since I’ve been able to do that. Truly, I think it was the best I’d felt in a year, or perhaps as much as 2 years.

The next day was more of a set back. That’s pretty much how most of the 3 weeks went, though I didn’t really have a day quite as incredibly awesome as that one. There was always some Lyme Disease symptom niggling at me. If it wasn’t neuromuscular pain, it was weakness. If it wasn’t weakness, I was short of breath. You get the idea, but each day was still not as bad as those the weeks previous, so it was still progress.

The restriction of going out into the sunlight has been frustrating. We’d quite literally had the absolute best stretch of weather in months. Over 2 weeks of gloriously clear skies, warm temps and very little wind. Only one or two days got what I would call ‘too warm’ (says the heat wimp) hitting temps of 80-85 F. Most of them were about 65-75 F. Yet, with the improvements, I’ve not felt nearly as moody and frustrated as I was at the beginning of the year… or the 6 months before that. Feeling like I’ve probably found answers for why I’ve been breaking down so badly and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel has made things so much more bearable.

Friday, I was standing in line somewhere, groceries I think. It hit me, I had that ‘awesome pain-free’ feeling again.

Earlier in the week, I’d decided Sunday was going to be my next day to ride. While, physically, I felt capable of riding, I wasn’t going to wake up at 2 am to go for a ride to get back home so I could hide from the sun by 4 am. Sunrise is roughly 3:30 am currently. The only reason I wasn’t doing it on Saturday was because I wanted one full day off the antibiotics so they’d be out of my system. Would have been stupid to rush it and wind up crisped because I didn’t wait another 24 hours.

But that last week has been harsh. For some reason, I wound up with strained, knotted muscles all through my upper back and shoulders. For about 3 days, I was practically laid flat and so much as twitching a finger made me whimper. With help of Jens’ youngest sister, recommending stretches and a session of therapeutic (painful) massage, I started to recover.

So, Sunday, (June 3rd), I felt pretty good. I had Jens drive me to Vaksala Square for the produce market since I’ve not been able to ride there what with crippling pain and then medicated sensitivity to sunlight. It was something of a flea market kind of gathering there. Lots of stalls and people clustered around the produce market’s tent. Dodging through the crowds, I didn’t notice a spot where the cobble stones had been ripped up. My ankle twisted so violently as the foot came down half on and half off the stones. I saw stars and somehow managed not to fall on my face.

Even so, a woman rushed over to grab my arm and stabilize me as she asked what had happened. Was I okay? I thanked her and explained I’d sprained my ankle. I stood there a moment and then hobbled painfully onward to get my watermelon and cherries. I was treated to a new vision of stars every few steps. It’s been years since I’ve hurt myself like that.

Jens spotted me hobbling back and drove up as close as he could to save me the trip. He thought I was so slow because of the watermelon I’d bought for both myself and his parents.

Morning of June 4th, my ankle still hurt a lot, yet I was going to try for a ride any way. Though it still stabbed with pain if move side to side the least little bit, just flexing it forward and back was relatively painless. That’s all pedaling needs, especially with cycle shoes that clip to a pedal.

Loke didn’t move much as I pulled on my cycle clothes. He looked a bit more interested when I struggled to get on my cycle shoes though. The left one felt tight and a bit uncomfortable thanks to the ankle swelling extending down into the foot area, but overall tolerable.

Once I picked up the furball’s harness, I had every scrap of his absolute, intense focus. He sprung up and scrambled over, giving a little whirl in front of me as I untangled the straps. Then he was very still with a raised head to help get it around his neck. After that, he jumped the gun a bit, flailing with his right front paw in an attempt to rush it through the loops so I could buckle everything in place. Once he heard that last click, he about bowled me over to bounce around again before wedging himself in front of the door as if worried we’d forget him.

And it was a ‘we’. Jens offered to drive me to the storage to spare me the hobble from the parked car and down the slope to the storage door. Then, the dear man even insisted on going down the slope and pushing the trike up for me. All I had to was step out of the car, attach my handlebar bag, clip Loke to his tether and plop into the seat.

Loke seemed to forget his recent little issues. He threw his weight into his harness, jaws parted to let his tongue flop in that canine expression that can only be called the ‘Husky Grin of Joy’. We darted through the park with the fuzzy one providing most of the power as I was more focused on evaluating my ankle than speeding along.

And it felt good enough. No fiery, sharp stabs of pain as it flexed with the pedal turns. It seemed it was satisfactory to get me at least 2 miles.

There was one thing that flawed the start of the ride. I felt rather… cramped in the trike. Sadly, this whole fiasco extending back to the beginning of the year has wound up with me quite a few pounds heavier. I have issues with comfort eating. If I’m emotionally drained or upset, I eat. If I’m in pain, I eat. Well, pretty much since the last few months of 2016 until mid-May, I’ve had truckloads of both emotional upheaval in terms of frustration, despair, and anger with my physical struggles as well as the constant pain from my mucked up hip and the delightful (sarcasm) symptoms of the Lyme Disease. It made controlling my diet that much harder.

So, throw in that overwhelming impulse to eat that slipped more than usual with a sharp dive in the amount of exercise I could manage and it’s a recipe for disaster. I went from cycling a minimum of 5 hours a week, often more, to pretty much 2 hours a month at best. I tried to replace at least a tiny portion of that with the gym, but the weeks between getting the skin biopsies and waiting for the doctor to get back with me got so bad I couldn’t do so much as lift a 4 lb barbell. Even the days I could do something at the gym, a 30 minute routine twice a week wasn’t going to replace the calorie burn of 1+ hour ride 3-4 times a week. Admittedly, I was still getting out to walk with Loke for about 1.5 hours a day on most days, but that was just slow, agonized staggering around that didn’t even cover a mile. If that burned the calories found in a single raw cashew I’d be amazed.

Other than that, the ride felt… well, amazing is about the only word I could put to it. In many ways, it was almost as impressive an improvement as when, after just a couple days of following Jens’ sister’s recommendations about how to help my hip, I swung out of the trike without it screaming at me.

For about a year, the rides have been a struggle. I was riding more frequently, fighting to improve my fitness and the distance I could go only to continue a downhill slide into gritting my teeth through the painful circles on River Loop. Well, the ride on June 4th was… more like ‘back in the saddle after thaw’.

The first 6 years of recumbent trike riding, I had the Trice Q. Still have it actually, it’s just dismantled and sitting in the storage. I loved that trike, but it simply couldn’t handle snow and ice. So, between 2006 to 2011, cycling was seasonal for me. Once there were ridges of plowed snow along the roads, ruts frozen in what had been slush on the cycle paths, or more than an inch of snow, it was a no go. Then, when spring thaw came, I’d have to start building up strength and stamina again. I’d feel a bit out of shape and unable to go very far for the first few weeks, but it generally came back pretty fast.

And THAT was how I felt on this past ride. Not like I was fighting a downhill struggle with my body, but just that I’d been cooped up off the trike over winter. My hip hasn’t bothered me in weeks, so that it felt fine on the ride wasn’t much of a surprise though it was a relief. I didn’t feel particularly strong, but the weakness felt more like a matter of fitness than what I’d been facing for the better part of a year. My stamina went quick, but I wasn’t gasping for air like a beached whale either.

I felt… good.

And you know. I felt and continue to feel hopeful. I’ve had bits of that since I started taking the antibiotics, especially after that first ‘great’ day where I woke up and was filled with a sense of something like myself of old. It’s like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m going to come rolling out into the sunshine with my trailer rattling along behind me on some adventurous tour far and away from the hamster tracks I’ve worn deep ruts into over the past 2 years.