Terii’s Cycling Babble


Hamster Tracks and More Hamster Tracks
July 29, 2017, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

My rides have been a bit sporadic. There was a bit there when I was getting out on the trike every other day, with kayaking on the days between. Then I had about 4 days where I felt like I’d been hit by a freight train and could barely walk and breathe at the same time.

Loke’s been up and down as well. He strains his way up stairs now as if they’re the northern face of Mount Everest. There was also some kind of issue with his left front foot. That’s the one missing a toe. At random moments, he wouldn’t even put it down on the floor. So, I made an appointment with the vet, which wasn’t until 4 days later what with 90% of Sweden being on vacation. Naturally the two days before his appointment he moved fine. I still took him in though. The vet gave him a thorough going over, but could find nothing wrong with the foot.

She also took blood to check his liver values.

I was’t surprised when, after all that, Loke again was keeping his foot up the following morning.

The weather has been freakishly dry of late. So dry that some leaves are already turning yellow and in no way because of the coming autumn. Grass is shriveling in places. The only water making its way over the Uppsala spillways into Lake Mälaren is coming through the fish ladders. I can’t remember the last day we had an actual rain. And it’s not like we’ve been hot with dazzling blue skies. No, temps between about 65 and 73 F with the sky covered in huge blocks of heavy clouds in threatening shades of gray. They’d tease with rain. A tiny drop here, a 5 second spate there. Not even enough dampen the top grains of dirt.

We finally had real rain yesterday. A softly steady fall that had a chance to get through the top millimeters of soil and perhaps revive the grass. It even looked damp under the trees toward the evening. It stopped around supper time. We need more of it, a lot more, but it’s a start and maybe the grass will get its proper green color instead of the sere yellow shades.

As well as being sporadic, the rides have been a bit of a roller coaster. A really bad one, then an okay one where Loke actually had energy and ran the best he’d done in a month or more. Then Loke slow again, but I felt better.

Still, all of it’s been on hamster tracks.

Jens did suggest I take the trike somewhere more interesting soon. When I replied that it just felt like such a fuss to load everything in the car, drive for 45 minutes or more to new ground and unload just to ride for 5 miles or so, he said that I could still just make a day of it. Did it really matter if I spent 6-10 hours riding in spurts to cover 15 miles? So what if my average might turn out to be only 3 mph. As long as I enjoyed the scenery and maybe got to see a new church or runestone for the first time since January, would it really be so bad?

The man has a point.

So, I think perhaps next week, I’ll plan something out somewhere. As long as Jens is willing to play chauffeur so Loke has a fall back. It might even be what the doctor ordered for both the fuzzy one and me. Fresh ground to stimulate the mind and senses.

 

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In Spite of Them All…
July 15, 2017, 6:12 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yep. I’ve been a bit quiet, but not entirely still.

So, last posted was about my meltdown with the stubborn nurse.

I thought I had an appointment with the doctor on July 4th, but it turned out to be on the 5th. However, I did have another appointment with my current physical therapist. Along with my back, she’s been helping with my hip as well. She’s heartily supported with what my SIL first set into place to start that healing, only adding to it. One thing she recommended after looking at a photo of the trike, was using a pad or such to raise my position on the seat. Something to elevate my pelvis a little higher up in comparison with the pedals. It would mean less of an angle at the top of the pedal stroke.

After kicking around the idea for a few hours, I formed a rough plan to make a seat pad out of an old foam mat for camping. A single layer of it was too thin, but if I doubled it, I thought it might be a perfect start. Adding a bit of rope, I’d even have something that would stay secure on the seat so I’d not have to go chasing it with every gust of wind when getting up.

I actually had a bit of fun making that pad. I’d grabbed everything to go out to the trike in the backyard of the apartment building to craft it. Scissors, the foam sleeping mat, rope, as well as that kind of silly strong cotton twine used for stitching stuffed turkeys closed, wrapping roasts, or keeping a crown of lamb in its circular shape.

I worked, sitting in the sun beside the trike to shape my idea and it was coming along well. As I stitched a section of foam, I heard a little flutter. I slooooowwwwly moved a little to see a sparrow on the far side of my trike, less than 1 foot away. Much to my surprise, it didn’t flap off as soon as it saw me, but just kinda crouched under the edge of my pod bag.

I suddenly wished I had bread or something to scatter around to see if I could get more of them to come close. Then I recalled that I often carried almonds. Maybe a few had fallen into the bottom of my bags? It spooked the sparrow as I dug around and actually found a few nuts. Since an almond is almost as big as a sparrow’s head, I used the scissors to crumble them and then scattered the pieces.

It took the birds about 5 minutes to get brave again, but they completely ignored what moving around I did to sew the pad. Mostly it was females or young sparrows that were bold enough to hop in close to grab a bit of almond. When they’d hop away to try and eat it where they felt safer, they generally were mobbed by males trying to take the food from them.

I got the pad finished and decided to sit in the trike seat itself to see how comfortable it was and just watch the sparrows until all the almond was gone. One cheeky little girl sparrow quite cleverly decided that my booted foot resting on a pedal was a PERFECT dinner spot. None of the bullies were brave enough to come so close and the leather of the tongue between the shoe laces was just perfect to keep her bit of nut from rolling away as she nibbled bits off it. I was utterly charmed by that tiny little creature, fearlessly nibbling on her treat, bright eyes watching me.

After I had made the pad and got everything back in the house, I was just too wiped and weak to go back out for a test ride on it.

July 5th was a gorgeous and absolutely perfect Swedish summer morning. To me any way. Mid 50’s, flawless blue sky, and not a breath of wind. While not rare for it to be that cool during July here in Uppsala, it’s not all that frequent either. Swedes oddly revel in the heat, but I love the cool summer days. Still get the vivid greens and flowers, but don’t wind up drenched in sweat if you so much as scratch your nose.

I would have gone for an early ride, but decided to wait until after the doctor appointment for the frustrating return of what appears to be the Lyme disease symptoms. It would be nice to be able to walk 100 yards without feeling on the verge of passing out. It seemed to go well. The doctor listened to me, took notes, asked questions, seemed to regard what I was saying as something to be taken quite serious. Once she felt she had all she needed, she immediately went to call a specialist in Lyme Disease. Apparently THE specialist for the Nordics if not all of Europe. She left a message and said she’d call me when she talked with the specialist and would hopefully have an appointment for me.

I got back home and immediately, if slowly, dressed to for a ride. It was going to be the first test with the ‘booster seat’. Sadly, the pretty sun and blue sky had disappeared behind a blanket of gray, parts of it quite threatening in appearance. Without the intense warmth of the sun, that 55 F felt a bit chilly.

After the first quarter mile or so, the results were quite encouraging. My hip seemed to agree with being about an inch higher than it used to be while pedalling. I decided to swing through downtown in round-about fashion just to get off the River Loop. Of all my hamster tracks, it’s a wonder the River Loop hasn’t been worn into a 10 foot deep rut in the past 2 years.

I’d barely gone a mile when I happened to hear my phone ring. The doctor calling me back, while I happened to be sitting at the most noisy intersection. From what she said the gist of the specialist’s answer was, ‘She had the antibiotics. It can’t be the Lyme Disease, even though the symptoms are identical to those that disappeared while on the medication. It might be inflammation. Have her take Ibuprofen for the pain even though it might conflict with high blood pressure medication.’ And with that answer, the specialist won’t see me.

That left me in a bit of a funk as I pedalled onward. In spite of that, I started to notice something. Stretches of longer inclines that used to slow me to the 3 MPH range, felt oddly easier. It wasn’t all because of my new, silly low granny gear either. I wasn’t even using the 40 toothed back ring, yet I felt strong as I spun up climbs at almost 2 mph faster with 75 RPM cadence. My breathing felt good, the muscles were strong and able to keep pace. Talk about a conflict of emotion. Frustration and disappointment at trying to get answers about why I can barely function off the trike on one end clashing with delighted glee and joy at having the best ride since the 5th day on the antibiotics for Lyme Disease.

Loke seemed to appreciate jogging along places we’ve not been in months. The threat of rain never materialized. I did try to stop at the ice cream shop to drown my sorrows in a couple scoops of their home-made Cherry Chocolate Crunch that is just to DIE for, but they were closed. I could have stopped at one of the summer kiosks for ice cream, but it just didn’t seem worth it if I couldn’t have the cherry.

Got back home with about 6 miles. Hip continued to feel just awesome the whole way. My feet were good too which is also a nice change. Of course, they’re always unpredictable. Great for one 1 ride and then the next 10 I have to stop ever few miles to get up and walk around to either get feeling back or ease cramped arches and/or toes. Go figure.

The next ride was on July 12th. Honestly, I can’t remember why I waited so long between rides. Baffled actually. I’d planned to ride on July 11th, but I was in hardcore recovery mode from going for a paddle in my kayak. Jens was there to help me get it into the water and then left me to my own devices as I paddled up stream. I made it all the way from the rowing club to the first spillway just outside of Uppsala’s downtown proper. Heading up stream was a snap. There wasn’t much wind and barely any current. The water level in the river is so low that the spillway is more of a ‘dribbleway’ at the moment. We really need rain.

Getting back was more of a challenge, as wind decided to kick up and hubby was trying to rush me so we could have dinner out with his parents. Dinner was a bit of a blur. I was so exhausted, I remember very little of it.

The new ‘life vest’ thingie we got worked a treat though. It’s one of those things that inflates if you get submerged, so it’s small and almost sleek to wear. Good thing. I would have hated to look so very ridiculous as I did on the first float with the kayak what with the vest up around my nose and nothing to see between said vest and hat, but my sunglasses peeking out.

The reason for concern about how it would have looked with the vest was that I wound up getting into the way of a professional grade video camera. A film crew on a boat filming shots for a tourism commercial. As we floated by each other in opposite directions, one of the guys called out, ‘If we keep this shot is it okay if you’re in the commercial?’

I actually agreed.

But, after 6+ miles of paddling, struggling against the wind, and my rump finally feeling as if it had been beaten with a granite slab, I really needed a day to rest. I practically slept through most of July 11th. My arms had felt on the verge of falling off after the paddle, but by the 12th, I felt fine again. I found that level of recovery rather impressive.

Honestly, on the 12th, I was torn between paddling or triking, but hubby talked me into riding because he wanted a break from taking 6+ mile walks with Loke. I decided it was just as well because I was also out of watermelon and cherries. I’d also promised to bring some to my lovely MIL because Vaksala Square produce market has the absolutely BEST watermelon in Sweden.

It looked as if it might rain as Loke and I set out. A blessing really. It was fairly warm and VERY humid so even though it was windy, it did absolutely nothing to cool things down. So, the lack of a sizzling sun meant it was almost comfortable.

Loke was SUCH a slug. No, actually, slugs were passing us in riots of mocking laughter he was so slow. Seems he was really feeling his age today.

A few miles into the ride and approaching the ice cream shop, I saw a woman who was out with her Saluki puppy. OMG! TOO CUTE and delightfully elegant even as a pup! She was 4 months old and such a dainty little lady. Very timid.

The shop had my cherry chocolate crunch and I sat on a low wall to enjoy it while Loke sighed and finally sat down out of sheer boredom.

Down the hill from the ice cream shop, I started my hunt at the health stores, looking for a salve I use on problem skin. Nope! “Life” shops which have always carried the stuff and not a single one of the three had it. Ominous. As if the stuff has been discontinued. I also popped into Naturkompaniet (The Nature Company) shop again, looking for one of those little air-up seat pads. Not for the trike, but the kayak. After 2 hours on the provided seat, it felt like I was sitting on jagged granite… and I was in the kayak for 4+ hours. They didn’t have what I was looking for though.

Then it was off to the fruit stand. The guys who run it gave me cheerful waves as I rolled up to park in the shade of a tree for Loke. I hurried grabbed what I wanted and then called my MIL to see if she was home.

Yep! As we left Vaksala Square at the edge of Uppsala’s downtown district, the clouds became almost scarce. Unpleasant. We went even slower out of respect for Loke. It also seemed to be the stretch with the least shade on the way to my husband’s parents.

Fortunately, Kiki (MIL’s nickname) was waiting with cold water for Loke and ‘saft’ for me. She cut a chunk of melon to share around with my FIL and one of my husband’s sisters. Loke, the stinker, snuck out of the kitchen and into the living room where he found a decorative square of reindeer hide to start shred. The brat.

After Loke and I both cooled down a bit, we headed back out into the sun to ride home. I was actually quite impressed with the day. Slow, yes, but also the longest ride since January at over 9 miles. On some recent rides, I felt pretty bad. This hurt, that hurt, weak, couldn’t breathe, no energy. Not as bad as when I walk, but not fun. This ride, while I didn’t have any oomph (and didn’t need it with pokey Loke), I felt like I could honestly have gone on for hours more. My breathing felt fine. No pain. No where. My feet did get a bit warm and numb, but nothing horrible.

I felt so good that visions of flinging the trike into the car and striking out on a long ride filled my head. Alas, I want more confidence.

I took another short ride on the 13th. I do mean short. Right about 2 miles. Mostly it was just to give Loke a rolling walk. He’s really starting to act old. It’s worrying.

So, no ride yesterday (July 14th) as it was another kayak day. Nothing as ambitious as the last one. Just a lazy toodle downriver for 50 minutes, and then 25 minutes back. A tailwind is nice, kayak or trike.

Today (July 15th) was out for another very short jaunt to give my husband a break from long walks with Loke, which even at 12 years old, don’t really settle him. I should have started earlier when it was cooler, but since I went to Starbucks in the morning, having a half liter of warm, milk based beverage sloshing around in my tummy isn’t the most appealing prospect.

This summer has been pretty nice in a lot of ways. We’ve had ‘rather warm’ days mixed in with ‘mild’ or even cool days. Less than a handful of anything that qualifies as ‘hot’. One thing Uppland is starting to need rather urgently is rain. We really need a cover of thick gray clouds to settle in with a light, but steady rain for the better part of a week. The river is hardly flowing at all with water only dribbling over the spillways which makes for easy paddling back upstream, but on land, even some of the trees are starting to look droopy from lack of moisture. A steady, but gentle, ground-soaking rain of long duration would also refresh the bloom of summer flowers.

So, when Loke and I headed out from the garage and I saw the lovely dark gray clouds to the north, I was hopeful. Some cover from the sun would have been nice for Loke at least though I could have enjoyed not having the sun-side of my body feeling like it was about to crisp right through my cycle clothing.

The fuzzy one had a bit more spring in his step today than the last outing. He wasn’t as interested in stopping to sniff as frequently and even pulled into a slow run as we descended down the cycle path underpass beneath the 55. I think it’s probably because he’s feeling better thanks to not having reindeer the past several days. I’m 95% convinced he’s developed a low grade allergy to it to go along with just about every other possible food source. Vet specific kibble that costs 100 USD per 17 lbs and rabbit is all I’m remotely certain he’s non-reactive to any more.

The clouds sadly broke apart into dark looking clumps. One speckled us with a few drops, but no more than that. Loke was moving well enough, I decided to add the 0.75 mile of the out-n-back to the Uppsala Garrison. As we toodled along that stretch, I found myself squinting suspiciously across the fields on the right. Chain link fence. I don’t remember that. I’m sure I don’t remember it, but it didn’t look new either. That filled me with a bit of misgiving. So much of Uppsala’s green spaces have been gobbled up with ugly eye-sores of apartment buildings. Now, the idea that the countryside might get pushed further back from my hamster-tracks is, frankly, nauseating. Hopefully, it’s just the garrison expanding it’s ‘protected’ area and they won’t be bulldozing it.

I decided not to push on further though Loke still seemed willing. Definitely taking a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach with him as more and more, he’s starting to act his age.

As for me though, I felt pretty good. Nothing pained me and breathing was fine. I had a bit of an episode where I was struggling just to make it back to the car after shopping for dinner, but there was no sign of pain, breathlessness, weakness, or lack of energy in the muscles. I count that a win. Maybe I’ll actually get enough confidence to go off the hamster tracks soon.

So, that’s me caught up after a fashion.

 



Yay! We Did It!
July 3, 2017, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Loke & siblings on their birthday.

It’s official! The average life span of a husky is between 12-14 years. There were times when I wasn’t sure we were going to make it to the minimum, but as of July 1st, 2017, it happened. Loke turned 12. All his infections and various other scares with tumors, antibiotic resistances and such, but we held on and made it through.

I posted last on June 29th, saying I was about to go to the health ward in hopes of getting some help.

Perhaps, because it’s the start of the official ‘vacation’ time in Sweden so people want to get over every little ache and such before heading off, but the health ward was a madhouse with people dropping in like crazy. I checked in and made it up to the waiting room. I hurt. Everything ached and burned, though at least once I was seated, the profound weakness started to ease up and my breathing improved.

Finally, after an hour and half, a nurse called for me. She was a bit impatient as I made my way to the exam room. Once there, I started to explain the issue, with some of the back story about the Lyme Disease, how I felt 1000% better when I was being treated for it, but the symptoms came back. She didn’t listen. I could see it. I started to get frustrated. Perhaps it was a mistake to mention the pain, because she focused on that instead of hearing what I was saying about not being able to breathe when I did anything that required moving, or how it was like my muscles just turned to jelly.

I talked, she didn’t listen, proving it completely when I stopped explaining and the first words out of her mouth were, ‘I’ll book you with a physical therapist.’

Instantly, I could see how the next month or more was going to play out. 2 weeks or more to get an appointment with the PT because most of them would be on vacation and the rest buried with work load. Then taking the time to do what the physical therapist said, meaning at MONTH at the very least before I’d be back to talk to the nurse to again attempt to get them to LISTEN. Then, who knows how long to get an appointment with a doctor, who I will then still have to convince that another trip to the PT will NOT help. All the while, the weeks and months, I’d be in pain, gasping for air with my vision going gray and limbs threatening to drop me in a pile on the ground/floor every time I tried to move more than 100 yards at a time. What? Some damn stretches and little exercises are supposed to fix the shortness of breath or the fact my muscles feel like a battery-driven toy with the power running out?

I burst into tears and started ‘yelling’ without actually yelling. You know, that slightly raised voice, suppressed through gritted teeth, struggling not to erupt into a full throated scream of rage? My dignity and grip on trying to be calm and rational just gone in the face of the woman’s damn indifference and arrogance. My sobbing, yelling/not-yelling tirade went something along the lines of, ‘No! PT will NOT fix this. That is not what THIS is. I’m in PAIN. I CAN’T BREATHE! I CAN’T MOVE! LISTEN to me. I’m not lying. I’m not making this up. JUST SOMEONE HELP ME!‘. There was more, but it was really just repeating the same words in different order, pounding her with my desperation and frustration as it were.

I would have laughed at the look on her face except I was just so angry. Then she started telling me to calm down, that the doctors were busy and couldn’t see me right away. I broke out of my rant to tell her I didn’t expect to see a doctor on the instant, but that she needed to listen and not waste my time, making me suffer longer, with PT. Then she asked for a moment and scrambled out of the room while I regathered the shattered pieces of my dignity and composure.

When she came back, she said she had set up for me to have an EKG to check my heart because of my shortness of breath. Even though I was fairly sure that was going to come back normal, I agreed. At least it wasn’t a physical therapist. Also, she booked me a time with a doctor for July 4th. A nice big chunk of time so I’d have time to talk to the doctor. That’s great! Provided she actually listens to what I say rather than making a snap judgement that leaves me to suffer.

The nurse/technician who set me up for the EKG and ran the machine was a doll. She really was. Seeing my face, she asked if I was okay, encouraging me to talk to her while putting on the sensors. She couldn’t do anything about the problem, except run the EKG, but the fact that she was actually hearing what I was saying was something of a relief. Someone in the Swedish medical profession who wasn’t just brushing me aside.

I admit, I felt a bit silly about my meltdown as I left, but honestly, what was calm rationality getting me? Nada. I think I would have preferred more anger and determination over histrionics though.

Oh, yeah. There’s also another source of immense stress. There’s an issue with the Tax Authority. I won’t go into it, but could be looking at fines or charges for someone else’s mistake. Yay.

So, between my physical issues and that delightful legal stress, perhaps my medical melt-down was no surprise. I’ve been teetering on the edge of anxiety for a couple weeks at least.

With 2+ days devoured with trying to get the medical and tax matters dealt with, there was no riding. So, on June 30th, I was determined to head out for a ride.

By the way, I’m still loving those gears. Jens dropped Loke and I off at the garage and I set out. It was quite a pretty day. A bit warmer than Loke and I prefer, but pleasant, breezy and sunny. The furry one seemed to be glad at being out and moving and, once on the trike, I felt mostly okay. A bit weaker than when I was taking the antibiotics. The shortness of breath though? Not a trace. My muscles had energy even if they lacked ‘fitness’. None of that burning muscular pain either.

As the good feeling stayed with me, I pushed on to add distance. The garrison out-n-back as well as the northern out-n-back along the river. I’ve not done that part of the river loop in ages. Been too busy coddling my hip, which on that ride felt fine. So, off I went.

We finished up with over 6 miles and a better frame of mind.

July 1st, I finally got out on my birthday kayak. Getting it ready went much better from a physical standpoint than it had on the day I aired it up in the back lawn of the apartment building.

There were some issues though. Was worried about dropping the paddle and losing it in the river. I couldn’t take my phone out for photos because I didn’t want to lose grip on the paddle. I was in a badly seated position which made propelling the kayak difficult, but couldn’t effectively shift into a better seating arrangement because I didn’t want to lose grip on the paddle. Sensing a theme? Another huge annoyance was my flotation device. A vest. It had fit very nicely when I tried it on the first couple times, even when I sat down. For some reason, as soon as I sat down my kayak, the chest portion of the vest wound up above my nose. Jens walked around in the area where I paddled and when I was just a few yards from where I’d launched, he called. I actually had to put the phone through the arm hole to get to my ear. It’s not that the vest was too big. Any smaller and I would barely have been able to zip it closed. It just rode up and there is no groin strap to keep it down.

So, that’s about all since the last post. Fingers crossed for my doctor visit tomorrow.