Terii’s Cycling Babble

Busy, Busy
August 18, 2017, 11:53 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Things have been a bit chaotic and slow at once. Also, I really should stay on top of my posts better. There are rides I’ve done, but can remember like NO details of them. Maybe it’s the lack of photos. Of course, I’m not going to keep eating up my memory space on here with photographs of the same 5 spots.

I’ve only been on about 3 rides since my last post, for various reasons.

One part of it is that riding my trike has turned into a level of torture for my feet that would rival the foot screws of the Spanish Inquisition if I didn’t stop every few hundred yards to yank my tootsies out of the pedals and put them on the ground for 5-10 minutes. One ride, I kept telling myself, “It’s only 200 yards to the storage. Come on! Don’t stop!” only at 100 yards from the end of the ride, I couldn’t bear it any longer and had to unclip, pull myself out of the trike to totter around for more than 5 minutes until the feet stopped screaming and cramping.

That ride might have been on the 9th. I did about 7 miles with Loke as we rolled downtown for me to buy my favorite ice cream. It was something of a celebration after all.

The backstory is the income tax issue was finally resolved and my return was a nice chunk. When Jens asked what I wanted to do with it, I told him we should just put it in our account and decide on something for us. He actually insisted that I spend it all on myself.

Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything right off. Trike touring stuff, as always came to mind, but with it being such a struggle this year, it almost felt like it would be a waste. For almost 2 months, I only pondered on it and rejected various ideas. Then one day, I found myself considering drones. A bit of a risk to be sure as they weren’t entirely legal in Sweden (so we thought). Or rather they were, but only if you applied for permits to fly them for every area and date you might want to do so. That kinda ruined the spontaneity. Pedalling around on my trike and see a point of interest only to have to say to myself, ‘Oooh! That would be great to get a drone video or photograph of. Let me come back in 3 months when I finally get the permit for it!’

Still, the idea called. My research on drones was less inspiring. It seemed if they were small enough I could comfortably manage to carry on the trike, they had a 4 minute flight time after hours of charging. 4 minutes?! REALLY? If they had say, 15 minutes of flight time, they were big enough to be a burden and significant hassle to manage on the trike.

Jens to the rescue. I grumbled about my idea of a drone but how they didn’t seem to be a good idea. He turned to the internet and various colleagues and work network. One of guys in that web of acquaintances recommended a Mavic Pro drone. I started researching into it and actually became quite excited. Lots of ‘intelligent’ flight modes and countless settings. It really is a flying camera too. Not just a P-n-C camera, but one where you can set white balance, aperture, shutter speed as well as shoot video in 4k HD. Flight time? 27 minutes in ideal conditions, which to me translated into something between 19-24 minutes otherwise, Much better than the others I’d been looking at. Size? The drone, 2 extra batteries, the remote, extra props all fit into a case a bit smaller than the camera bag for my Canon. I was won.

It was a bit more than my tax return though. Jens generously said, ‘Happy Birthday’ with the extra cost even though the kayak was already a rather hefty b-day gift.

Gamla Uppsala Burial Mounds

As for the legality? Well, it turned out that on August 1st, it became legal to fly drones without the need of getting permits. Certain areas are restricted naturally, like airport areas, power stations, and military installations. But say, Gamla Uppsala should be okay. Of course, I was practicing with the drone around the church there and some old man came along, yelling at me that it was forbidden. I was endangering helicopters and planes. I bit my tongue as I guided the drone around the church, well below the building’s roofline. Honestly, if my drone was in the way of a helicopter where it was, that copter pilot would have had far more dire problems than a bit of plastic and metal only slightly larger than a Venti Starbuck’s latte.

Oh, and since the change in law relaxing the need of permits, Arlanda International Airport has had to stop take offs and landings because of drones buzzing too close. Idiots are going to get the law reversed. Jack*sses.

But I get a bit ahead of myself. My decision to do an ‘ice cream ride’ on August 9th was because I’d decided on the drone and Jens was going to be coming home with it on his way from work. Oh, and of course, my approaching birthday. I remember it was warm, so the ice cream was welcome. Loke was a bit sluggish I think. More than that, I recall nothing of the ride. I’m probably blocking the memory of the ride itself because of my tortured feet.

Jens got home a little too late to try the drone, so the evening was spent making sure everything was charged and I watched every YouTube video I could about ‘first flight’ with the drone model. Good thing I watched about 5 of them. It seemed each and every one of them left off something. Like the camera clamp to prevent the gimbal from being damaged during transport and a few other niggling little things.

Naturally, it seemed as soon as I had the thing, the incredibly dry weather our patch of Sweden had been wilting and withering under, broke. On the 10th, I went out to the mounds just to get it off the ground to make sure it was working. It turned into a race against the clock, so I thought. Dark, threatening clouds were crowding the horizon as I went. Naturally, the done decided it needed a firmware update. As it sat in the grass, my phone feeding the files through its 4G connection, I kept eyeing those clouds as they marched closer.

There was a man with an adorable little baby boy. I’m not sure why, but the baby was absolutely fascinated with me, trying to toddle closer as he grinned and waved. Too darn cute. Finally the rest of the multi-generations of family arrived in the patch of lawn. That was when the baby’s father and grandfather came over and started asking about the drone. After a few minutes we all said farewell and they left. About 10 minutes later, the update finished, I rushed the drone straight up, took a photo of the mounds, and landed. It was a bit of a rush as I worked to put everything away, the first drops of rain coming down.

Naturally, as soon as I was back in the car, not a drop more and stayed dry through the evening. It seems even with drones, Sweden’s weather taunts me.

I didn’t ride the trike on the 11th either, because when I first got the kayak, my mind had set what seemed to be a ridiculous goal. I wanted to paddle from Skocloster Castle to Uppsala, or the other way around depending on wind direction. 9 miles and most of it on the wider waters of Lake Mälaren. My paddling on the river has been training with all my focus on making that trip. We finally had a day that was supposed to be fairly nice and the wind was coming out of the south and forecasted to be about 9 mph at max. If I left from the castle, I’d have it at my back. My one long paddle out into the lake hadn’t been too bad. My nerves were jangling, but I decided to do it.

Skocloster Castle from on high.

We found a spot to launch that looked pretty ideal not far from the castle’s church. Before I got the kayak in the water though, I took a few moments to pull up the drone and send it up for a photo of the castle. Then it was off to the lake shore where I discovered my ‘ideal’ spot was less so. What had looked like firm footing with gravel and even rocks was ankle deep, smelly muck. I got to jump into the kayak with that on my feet. Yay!

Well, I did it. 9.15 miles in about 4 hours. The miles on the lake were harsh. The wind was much faster than weather forecasters had said and created swells that bordered on white caps. Boats zipping around at high speeds did NOT help that situation. Another draw back to the wind was it really wanted to keep my kayak to the broadside so it was a struggle to keep it facing north instead of east or west.

Reaching the peaceful, still waters of the river was a profound relief. Somehow, I found the strength to get the kayak back on ground, drag it to the rowing club parking, fold it and wait for Jens to come get me. I even managed to avoid snake bite this time!

I could hardly move the next day, especially my arms. In spite of that, I dragged myself out for a short roll with Loke. Jens had done so much for me to tackle the kayaking goal. He’d had a crazy busy day with conference calls for his job and not much time to catch his breath, yet he had squeezed in the time to drive me to the castle as well as take care of Loke for the day. It was only fair that I tried to take over husky duty for him on the 12th. Between the painful feet and my general exhaustion, we did a whopping 2.3 miles and I tottered around on short little walks with the fuzzy for the rest of the day.

Will you look at that?!

I did find one oddity on the ride. Honestly, I’m not sure how long ago it had happened before I noticed it, but it does seem if I’d been through more than once or twice since the poor tree was struck by lightning, blowing it’s bark off in a thin, charred strip, I would have noticed. I’m not quite that oblivious I like to think. I did recall hearing thunder about a week before, so given the amount of soot still on the tree, it could have been as recently as then. Finger’s crossed the tree survives it. They often do. Bad enough to have lost one large tree on my main hamster track as it is.

Then there was a 4 day gap without rides. Mostly it’s been because the foot pain has made me so reluctant. The 14th, my birthday, was actually because Jens chased me out of the house to go find some place fun and quiet to try out the drone.

The first 2 places I had hoped to try flying the drone turned into a bit of a flop after I’d dropped Jens off out by the river to take a long walk back home with Loke. Too many people at Uppsala-Näs Church for me to feel comfortable about buzzing the drone around. Jumkil has what appears to be major construction going on around it. One spot I remember as fields, is now a gravel parking lot with chainlink fencing and piles of dirt and gravel. Not exactly a lovely backdrop. That was what sent me further east. While it gave me peace and quiet to focus on learning the drone’s controls, it turned out to be a less than fascinating place as far as recording video or taking photos. So, I spent the better part of an hour just buzzing the drone around and even moving it between trees.

The 3rd battery still had a bit of a charge as I headed home on the back roads. I’ve ridden those roads with the trike a few times. A post back in the first months of my blogging featured a ride on them as a matter of fact. One of my favorite places to ride on the fringes of Uppsala, back when rides of 30+ miles were more doable. So, when I was winding along those little country roads, flanked by trees or fields, I was shocked, disheartened, and disturbed when the asphalt paving of old abruptly vanished to be replaced with chunky, loose gravel. Something about it absolute absence of any paving hinted at permanent change. 3 miles of paving just… gone and hard-going rocks in its wake.

The discovery of that ‘downgrade’ left me a little glum as I rejoined the 55 to zip back toward home.

Just at the edge of Uppsala, I came to a turn off the main road and remembered a neat little burial ground with standing stones and such. I decided to check it out. It was actually the perfect spot to play with the Point-of-Interest flight setting and I had enough power left in the last battery to make it worth while.

Not perfect, but I did get video footage as well as more practice, helping to brighten my mood again. Now, I just need to learn to fiddle with the camera settings as well as how to smooth out the control when I change the lens angle and it will be much better. For a first run of video and POI flight, I was quite tickled really. Sweet of the hubby to have chased me out of the house and even kept me from doing anything resembling a chore for the entire day.

After that ride, there were a few more days of busy-ness about the apartment. No more drone flights, kayaking or cycling.

Oh, aside from reorganizing out livingspace, there’s been Loke to take care of as well. Earlier in the week, I took him to get his B-vitamin shot. In the post about our last ride on the Long Lake Loop, off the major hamster tracks for the first time since the beginning of the year, I had pointed out that much of Loke’s recent sluggishness seemed to be because of boredom of fathomless depths. I have to correct that. Boredom of fathomless depths AND Vitamin B-12 deficiency. The morning after that injection, there was this bouncy, bright-eyed husky in Loke’s place though he did look like my fuzzy buddy from about 3 years ago. He’s been so perky that he’s even been a pest to Jens at night. I’ve had to retreat to sleep in the livingroom closing Loke out of the bedroom so Jens could sleep. Naturally, Loke goes straight to his bed and sleeps the night peacefully through, not disturbing me in the least. Just something about Jens that Loke feels the need to harass him when he tries to go to sleep. Been fed, doesn’t need to go potty, has water, even when he’s had a 6 mile run in the day… just being a pest to Jens.

Well, after that turn around in Loke’s behavior, some other thing decided to be an issue. Over the years, Loke’s had surgery on his lower eyelids because some of the sebaceous glands acted up. 3 times on one lid and once on both at the same time. Shortly after the double whammy surgery, the area of the incision on his right eye developed a swelling. I took him immediately to the vet, but they didn’t think it was anything dangerous and after some discussion we decided to just keep an eye on it. It reached a certain size and stopped. Didn’t bother him, didn’t obscure his vision or scratch the cornea where as the other growths had. Loke’s been under sedation so many times in his life that I decided if it wasn’t hurting him and it was just a cosmetic issue, I wasn’t going to inflict more anesthesia and surgery on him just to ‘make him prettier’.

Well, Sunday, I thought it looked a little bigger. Monday, the swelling was definitely bigger and something else odd going on with it where a bit of skin or a scab came off an edge of it and left a white spot on Loke’s black lid. It was distorting the shape of the eyelid quite a bit and starting to look as if it would block part of his vision. The earliest a vet could see me was Wednesday, August 16th.

Franz (Frans?), the very nice male vet, took a look and thought he was seeing signs of puss leaking from the bulbous lump. His suspicion is that the sebaceous gland has become infected for one reason or another, which caused the increase in size. He numbed Loke’s eye and lids so he could manipulate the bulge (about the size of a Skittle) without distressing the furball. He took a sample of some of what came out to be sent to the lab.

There is a bit of a problem though. He thinks it now needs to come off since it’s obviously gone through a change. The difficulty is the surgery to do so. If it were smaller, it would have been a simple cut-n-stitch and done thing. Now, and probably even before this recent growth, it would require a far more complex, almost reconstructive plastic surgery. So much of the lid would need cutting aside that it wouldn’t be able to close up easily. At least not without hindering Loke’s ability to blink or close the eye. So, we’re going to try and get the size down. Loke’s getting an eye ointment with an antibiotic in it. It might be working. At least it didn’t get any bigger yesterday and looks as if maybe, it’s a tiny bit smaller today. So… fingers crossed though I have a feeling it won’t get small enough to let the surgery be ‘simple’.

So, on August 17th, I finally dragged out for another ride. I had mentioned to Jens about the foot problem. He came up with an odd suggestion. ‘Could it be the booster pad you made?’

Honestly, I couldn’t quite see how sitting a little higher up to spare my hip could make it so horrible for my feet. While I’ve always had issues with my feet getting hot spots, numbing or cramping, it’s never been quite this bad or this persistent. Before it was like ‘This ride pretty bad’, ‘The next ride great!’, ‘Ride after that, so-so.’ When it did hurt, I might have needed to take my feet down, but only after 2-3 or even as much as 5 miles. Not 500-800 YARDS. I mean, needing 6-7 stops for 2 miles to unclip and work out the cramps is ridiculous.

So, after Jens dropped us off at the storage, I undid the fastening of the pad and plopped warily down into the seat.

It was still pretty uncomfortable, but I seemed to make it further before I wanted to detach from the pedals. Pretty sure the pain wasn’t as bad either. For 3 miles, I think I stopped less than 3 times. I’d worried about removing the pad though since it would mean a deeper flex for my hip. It’s been doing pretty good of late and the idea of causing it re-injury is not a pleasant one. Surprisingly, it handled it fine. So, just maybe in trying to make things easier on my hip, I was killing my feet. Still, it might have given the hip room enough to progress much further toward healing.

And that’s me caught up!

Briefly Off The Hamster Track
August 8, 2017, 8:14 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Things have been kinda slow. We’re making some reorganization to our living arrangement, the first in years. That takes up a bit of time, not to mention just sucks the endurance right out of me.

In spite of that, I have gotten a bit of exercise done in between the rain we’ve finally been having. For some of the trees, it won’t save their leaves, but for others it came in the nick of time if it managed to get down to the roots. Still been bone dry under some trees even after it’s pattered down for most of a day. The grass is reviving which is nice. It was all starting to look a bit sere around here.

As I’ve mentioned, Loke’s been more than a little sluggish. To describe him as being actually sluggish would be an insult to slug kind as they’ve been faster than he of late. It’s made me a bit fretful for my old man which, in turn, made Jens want to ‘fix it’. His insistence and quite valid point about going for rides off the hamster tracks, even if it took all day to do just 15 miles, became even more emphatic.

August 2nd, it finally happened.

dmittedly, I wasn’t exactly flinging myself out the door with enthusiasm at first about today’s ride, but Jens’ insistence that I, ‘GET THE TRIKE OUT SOMEWHERE ELSE!’ Pretty sure it was getting to the point, he was going to stuff me in a sack, throw me in the car with husky and trike to toss us all out in the countryside somewhere. Most of my reluctance stemmed from the hassle of loading the trike in the car for such short and close to home ride.

The hassle never really appeared. My recent kayaking forays have apparently given me new and unexpected upper body strength. The folded length of metal, plastic, and rubber didn’t feel as heavy or awkward as I recalled. Makes me want to go paddle more!

Loke was fairly ‘meh’ as he hopped in the car to go the garage. That did not inspire my confidence about his ability to be able to do more than 5-6 miles, so good thing the loop around Långsjön (Long Lake) was only about 5 miles, the same as the basic River Loop hamster track at the apartment.

‘Meh’ turned to confusion and then perhaps a glimmer of hope as I left him in the car (all the windows down) to start bringing the trike up the ramp and dismantle it. As we made the 20 km drive to Björklinge church where I’ve always parked the car for this loop, he wouldn’t settle. He kept pacing back and forth. Usually he just lays down for a drive.

We arrived and I tethered him to a picnic table by the church parking lot. Every time I so much as turned in his direction, he’d scramble to his feet and wag his tail. Clearly, this was far more interesting than the River Loop or the downtown jaunt for fruit.

Trike back in one piece and loaded, I sat down to fiddle with GPS and helmet, and there was this husky face shoved into mine. ‘WOOF.. arrraahhah, yuuuoo… pfft.’ That’s husky for ‘MOVE IT! You don’t need all that crap.’ with a sneeze in my face for good measure. He’s not done that in quite a while. Probably since about January. Well, except when it comes to leftovers he thinks he’s entitled to.

Off we went and Loke PULLED. He tried to run in spite of the fact that the first quarter mile was up and up and up. With his help, I managed to keep almost 4 mph average on a hill I generally would struggle for 3 mph. Then we were across the old E4 and starting the looooooonggggg downhill toward the manor house. It was like time had turned back a year or more. Loke buzzed along at 6 mph or more, head down and all intensity. We did over 2 miles in 30 minutes and that with stops for doggie ‘business’, photos, creeping up hills, and going slowly along a stretch of road that desperately needs repaving. It would seem that his sluggishness I was attributing to old age is in part just bone-deep boredom.

Sätuna Manor – 2013

Finally we came up to the manor house with it’s gorgeous old wooden stable where the state of the road improved so I didn’t have to argue with Loke about walking in the grass and weeds and our speed picked back up. The clouds thickened, which helped as it had been uncomfortably warm on the hills where the trees sheltered the wind. In the wind, it was pleasant though.

Our speed dropped again when we reached the gravel road. Clearly, Loke’s paws with their inflamed joints and tendons are no longer up to that kind of surface. I gave him the smoothest part, gritting my teeth as I rattled and banged down the rocky centre strip for almost 2 miles.

We nudged over 4 miles when I had an inkling that something was off. I had been absolutely certain that the Long Lake Loop was about 5 or 5.5 miles, but I recognized that we were only about half way. That gave me a pang of concern, but I decided Loke would guide me as to when I should call my hubby’s dad to rescue him.

The fuzzy was a machine. On the smoother surfaces he jogged along, tongue flopping in a husky smile. He only drank the offered water a few times. We had a chat with a couple in an old huge Buick convertible. They gushed over my old man and told me about their 14 year old German Shepherd back at home.

As we _finally_ started the last stretch to arrive back at the church, with 8+ miles, Loke was still just fine. He’d slowed just a little, letting the tether jingle with some slack instead of pulling out extra line, but going strong. When I turned us back into the parking lot right at 8.45 miles, he was disappointed. While I turned off the GPS and removed my helmet, he again stuck his face in mine, though without the backtalk, trying to use his husky Jedi mind trick to make me keep going.

“So, what are we doing now?!”

Back home, he’s prancing around and trying to stare me into doing something amusing. Or maybe he just wants extra kibble. Or both. He is the centre of the universe after all… in his fuzzy little mind. Clearly, age isn’t bothering him quite as much as I imagined.

On the 3rd, I went for another kayak. I want to keep that upper body strength improving after all. I’ll only mention that it was an interesting trip and I finished with 6.75 miles as I paddled southward, the furthest I’ve managed to go. Right out into Lake Mälaren.

Since this blog is more about things that impact my cycling, I won’t go into much detail about the paddle, but I will mention more in depth about what happened as I packed the kayak. Why? Because it kept me from cycling for 3 days.

So, exhausted, I still managed to wrestle the kayak out of the water and drag it on the little trailer all the way back to the car. I knelt in the grass for several minutes, pumping the air out and fiddling around to start getting it folded. I shifted slightly and then immediately howled in pain. Something fiercely stung my ankle. It hurt as bad or even a little worse than the yellow jacket stings I was nailed with years ago, but the image in my head as I threw myself to my feet and and slapped at spot was of being chewed on. It hurt. Oh, how it hurt. I hobbled over to the car, bending over to wipe blood away from the ankle every few steps. Yes, blood.

On the skin where there was a gape between my leggings and the neoprene reef boots, blood seeped from a spot a bit less than an inch across. It was hard to make out any details in between the swipes I made to both try to rub the pain away and keep the blood from staining my tights, but it mostly looked like scrapes of some kind. Hurt more than any scrape I’ve ever had, even road rash.

I dashed the tears of pain from my eyes and went back to the kayak. I looked in the grass where I’d been kneeling, but found nothing. I got everything packed up and headed home. Still the ankle hurt. The pain didn’t stay localized to the little spots that had wept so much blood either.

Later that evening, I finally took a closer look at the wound. It honestly looked like two very equally sized little punctures with tiny scrapes beneath them. Oh, kinda like, I don’t know. The fangs of a snake with the gripping teeth behind them? All indications are that I crossed paths with the single species of venomous snake in Sweden. Fortunately, it’s really no worse than a yellow jacket, a risk only to the young, infirm, allergic, or small animals. The front of my ankle throbbed for most of 24 hours, was too sore to wear shoes for about another 24, and then I was fine. It did mean I couldn’t put on a cycle shoe on my left foot for a few days though.

Honestly, I pity the snake. It must have been quite small, with just half an inch between it’s fangs, well camouflaged with the ground cover. Exhausted as I was, I probably would have missed it even if it had been in flashing neon. But the circumstances must have been that I didn’t see it and I knelt on the poor thing, pinning it hard between my ankle and the ground. When I shifted, putting my toes forward and creating an arch between my ankle and the grass, it finally got enough space to object to my oblivious mistreatment of it, and bit me. Can’t blame the snake. If some big thing came and squished me, I’d object vehemently when I could wriggle again.

Yesterday was the first ride I was able to do since the bite. Loke was remarkably energetic for it being a River Loop. Apparently the little toodle on the longer-than-I-thought Long Lake Loop recharged him.

Wasn’t really much of a ride. I was sleepy, it was trying to rain on us and was just 56 F, so I just did the minimum of about 2.5-ish miles. If it had been other than River Loop sections, I might have been able to dredge up more interest, but the combination of all that meant, I just wanted to get home and curl up with a Netflix series.

Before I wrap up, I should also mention that the vet got back to me with the results of Loke’s blood tests. His kidneys and liver are just fine. However, several other of his values were off, mostly in terms of vitamin deficiencies and folic acid. She said it hinted at an issue with his intestines, something that they often see in dogs with allergies, especially as drastic as Loke’s. The chronic inflammation just wears the body out, joints, ligaments, tendons and intestines especially. It might also be a tumor, but she thought the inflammation was a more likely culprit. It would also explain why Loke suddenly needed double the food he used to in order to maintain his weight. His gut simply isn’t working as efficiently as it did so much of the nutrition and calories aren’t extracted.

Then she also said, he is very slightly anemic. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, I responded with, ‘Oh crap! I was supposed to have him tested for that!’ I explained that a few years ago when I took him to see the orthopedist at Ultuna, the blood tests they took then had showed he was mildly anemic. I’d completely forgotten to get a follow up 6 months later. Loke had gone back to bouncing around like a healthy dog that the impression of well-being had pushed it out of my mind.

The local vet assured me it wasn’t anything drastic and so slight, she thought it was probably the same level as that old test I described to her.

She recommended that I stop giving Loke any additional food aside from the kibble, much to Jens’ disappointment. I’m also taking Loke in for vitamin shots, especially of the ‘B’ variety which will probably improve his gut function. Perhaps once that starts working better, he’ll process his food better and will be able to get B-vitamin boosts from tablets rather than injections.

What it comes down to though, is – Loke’s an allergic, old dog. He can still run almost 9 miles and stare me down for more, so he remains the fittest, healthiest, sick dog in Sweden.