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.

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