Terii’s Cycling Babble

Loke, Loke, Loke… (sigh)
September 30, 2017, 5:24 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, the furball is getting some mad skills in freaking me out, especially at the end of rides. September 23rd was the seizure and before a full week could pass from that, we had an incident yesterday (September 29th).

Speaking of the seizure, I called the vet Monday (September 25th) and made an appointment the next day to come talk to one of the vets at our usual clinic about the episode. It was one I’ve never met with before, but she listened, took notes and asked questions. I made sure to mention that Loke has had seizures before, but never this bad. The last made a total of 4 in his 12 years.

She did some neurological testing and said he is responses were absolutely normal. The reason for it could have been any of several. 1) – Loke is epileptic, just not horribly so. 2)- Maybe  his electrolyte levels were low, but no way to test for that after so many days. 3)- Inflammation because of his allergies.

She wasn’t worried. She said the most dangerous thing with seizures is typically frequency and duration. Once every 3-5 years means the first is no problem. When I asked her about duration, she replied 10-20 minutes. To think I’d flipped out over less than 30 seconds. Her recommendation was if it happened again soon, bring Loke in quickly as possible so they could draw blood to check his electrolytes.

I felt better for having talked with her.

I only managed a couple rides through the rest of the week. My hip has been quite annoying. Sleeping wrong is my best guess. So, not wanting to wind up hurting as bad as I did at the beginning of the year, I’ve been taking it easy. Keeping the rides, few and short while working on stretches.

Yesterday turned into a bit of a fiasco post ride though.

A week or two ago, while I was out grocery shopping, Loke managed to open the bedroom door and somehow, got hold of one of the stuffed animals in my old collection. I haven’t added to it in years, but keep some of the nicer and more sentimental critters. It was the reindeer. Fortunately, no damage was done except a little slobber on the plush. When I spotted him with it and gave a sharp ‘Nej!’, Loke looked up at me with a blink of confusion. No guilt. Clearly, he thought it was his toy and couldn’t understand why I was telling him off.

Jens worked from home yesterday (Friday, September 29th) and spent much of the morning doing his, ‘Are you going to ride with Loke? Are you going to ride with Loke?’ thing. Finally, he changed gears and asked, ‘Will you go get me a chicken salad for lunch?’

That I agreed to. Spontaneously, I took Loke with me to stop in at Starbucks. For once, I wasn’t there to get Jens coffee, but to let one of the baristas meet Loke. When I’d bought hot chocolate the day of the seizure, she had wanted to meet him, but they had been too busy for her to come out. So, I was going just so she could say hi.

She was thrilled and was able to escape for a few minutes. Loke was surprisingly friendly with her. Maybe it was because of her all black clothing would adequately display his white hair. Another of the guys there was coming in for his shift, so he got to say hi to Loke as well.

Then it was off to get our lunches. The local pet store sits right near the Subway, so I took Loke from the car to go in with me to get him some more ‘car bribe’ goodies and maybe pick him out a toy. The incident with my reindeer had reminded me that it’s been AGES since Loke’s had one.

It’s always a gamble how long such things will survive. He had a lamb that endured more than 5 years before he randomly shredded it one day. Then it was his adorable wild boar with squeakies in the feet and would grunt like a pig when shaken. That one last a couple years. Oh, so did his monkey. There were a few others that Loke had for 20 minutes or less before their fate was sealed.

Loke showed most interest in a floppy deer thing with a single squeaky in it. I even let him carry it across parking lot, legs dangling from his mouth, making everyone who saw him grin.

By the time we got home though, one of the legs was already separated from its body. I brought the food in, Loke carried his toy. The separated leg, I forgot about as between food bags, leash, and keys, I didn’t have a spare hand to grab a piece of slobber soaked plush.

The toy…

So, he kinda played with his new toy while I ate and waited for food to settle. Then he just got weird. He started pacing around with it in his mouth and whining. After a minute or so, it was clear he was looking for somewhere safe for it, or even to bury it. Anyone seeing him would have thought he was a female dog looking for somewhere to put her dead puppy. It was more than a little creepy.

We finally decided we had to take it away from him. So, I managed to distract him with some kibble scattered under Jens’ desk. As he searched them all out, I grabbed it and stuffed it in a closet under some shoes. A few minutes later, I was standing beside Jens and heard a whine. There was Loke, standing there with it in his mouth again. Our closets don’t latch shut, so he’d managed to open it and find it. It was like a bad penny. I’ve never put anything of Loke’s in there, so it’s not like he knew it as a hiding space. He had actually scented it out. Or had it called to him, whispering in a sinister hiss for him to come reclaim it? It’s cursed! Cursed, I tell you!

Finally, I got dressed to go out with Loke and trike to serve as a distraction while Jens hid it or threw it away. Loke was soooo torn as I put him in the harness and leashed him. It seemed he really wanted to go for a run, but he didn’t want to leave THE TOY. We had a bit of an argument about it, but finally got him out the door while it stayed on the foyer floor.

It was a nippy 53 F, gray, and a bit of an on-again-off-again wind. Loke was eager to go though. Maybe it was more of a ‘lets get this over with so I can get back to the cursed object’. My hip was actually feeling pretty decent. A little tight perhaps, but not painful. My feet also seemed agreeable so, instead of another quick 2-3 mile dash, I headed off for the longer grave mound loop.

Loke had a spring in his step and even wanted to run. He dragged the trike into a 14 mph sprint down one hill. Pretty sure a new speed record for the year. We were both doing so well, I even added a bit more distance by taking the out-n-back toward the garrison.

Colorful 2016 autumn to this one.

As I’ve been riding around since the colors started popping out to herald the coming of autumn, it’s continually struck me how big a difference there is between last year and this. While this year has turned out to be one of the more colorful in say, a decade, it no where comes close to the scope of last year’s. The garrison road offers a stark contrast when the photos are compared. Last year was probably the most gorgeous autumn I’ve seen since moving here.

Though Loke and I both had enough ‘oomph’ to go on, it was coming up past 4 pm as I began the last stretch toward the storage. Lunch was digested and I started feeling like it was time to go home and enter into the ‘what should we have for dinner’ discussion with Jens.

Wise choice it turned out and not because of food. As we rolled along the street with the hawthorn trees gone all yellow and their berries now the color of dried blood, the temperature took a 5 degree plunge in just minutes. I was fine with 53 F as long as I pedalled, but even physical exercise wasn’t enough to counter the shivering that started at 48 F, especially as the wind kicked up.

We finished up with 6.43 miles. Still chipping away at that 500 miles for the year. Yes, I’m still determined that 2017 will not be my worst year of cycling ever. Just second worst.

So, we hopped into the car to come back home. As I backed out of the parking spot, I heard Loke messing with something and remembered the toy’s leg that he’d torn off. I wasn’t concerned though. With all the toys and other objects Loke has shredded over the years, he’s never swallowed anything. Not a squeaky ripped from stuffing guts, not the stuffing. Not little ears or curly tails. Nothing. The only things he has swallowed that he shouldn’t, have been organic. Like putrefying dead rats.

As I pulled into our spot at home and turned the car off, Loke made this weird noise. I twisted in the seat just in time to see the bulbous brown ball of the toy’s foot disappear down my husky’s gullet. I was stunned. I tore around to pry his mouth open, but nope. It was well and truly down.

Oh, don’t give me that innocent look. Brat.

I dragged Loke into the apartment at a dead run. Baffled Jens came out of the living room to ask what was wrong. I told him as swapped from my biking shoes to normal ones and asked if he still had the toy so I could show the vet exactly what Loke had swallowed.

Things moved quick. Emma (the receptionist) listened and then goggled with disbelief when I showed her an example of what Loke had managed to get down. Less than 20 minutes after it had done its disappearing trick, we were in an exam room, waiting for the silly furball to regurgitate it. Honestly, I wasn’t sure he’d be able to get it back up. The lumpy feet looked too big! Of course, I guess what can go down can come back up.

It took about another 20 minutes before it finally reappeared. The vet was quite impressed. I was just relieved. I hadn’t been thrilled at the idea of attempts to pull it out with an endoscope… or worse, surgery.

Loke was somewhat wobbly for about an hour after we got home. After that, he was back to being a pest and sniffing around for the toy. The toy that I threw away before I even left the vet clinic. I’m going to call an exorcist if it reappears…

Another Scare
September 25, 2017, 7:50 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The day after my last post, I headed out the door for another ride. That meant 3 days between rides actually. A combination of weather, chores, and Jens off and away with the car in Stockholm.

I think I even managed a bit more work on the shoes, yet hoping for perfection. Still, the improvement with the feet had given me a bounce for riding again. So, on the 13th, Jens dropped us off at the garage as I gave in to the restless need to ride. It was gray with no sun though patches of blue peeked between the gray clumps of cloud. At 50 F, I needed wool beneath my cycle top at least.

A splash of autumn color.

There were patches of color popping out on a few of the trees. Sadly, it appeared the color on the birches isn’t going to come into full force as the leaves are throwing themselves to the ground practically as they turn yellow. Pity, I adore golden birch trees.

In spite of some discomfort in his shoulders that morning, Loke kept a fairly decent clip of about 6.2 mph. Any attempt to take him slower earned me nasty looks with an irritated cant to his ears before throwing his weight against the harness.

To my annoyance didn’t seem to be much improvement in my right foot’s comfort level after all my hard work the previous. As I pedaled along, trying to figure out why getting my cleat down almost a quarter inch didn’t feel any different, it occurred to me it’s my RIGHT foot. The stroke affected the right side of my body. Got me wondering how much of what I was feeling was some kind of nerve damage rather than incompatible cleat positioning.

The cooler air has me starting to ponder winter solutions. Moving cleats is all fine and good when I can wear my standard trike shoes, but once the cold becomes an issue, the combat against frost bite solutions vs foot-suck safety will begin once more. Not the most enjoyable conflict especially since my hip problems at the end of 2016 accelerated when I started using the flat pedals with the straps.

After that ride, it was a barrage of vet visits for Loke again. I don’t think I mentioned about the eye thing which has gone on for over 2 weeks now. I’m not sure why I’ve not done so. Anyway, earlier in the month, the lump on Loke’s left eyelid, which has existed at a set size for years, decided to start swelling. It swelled quick too. In just 2 days I was worried it might start pushing on his eye and it was very likely obscuring a significant part of his vision in the lower part.

Off to the clinic. Frans was the one to see  him and numbed the eye before fiddling with it. It appeared that the sebaceous gland which is what is making the lump had gotten some kind of infection in it. Frans managed to squeeze some of the gunk out of it and prescribed an antibiotic eye cream that we hoped would work.

It did. The lump reduced quite a bit, though was still slightly larger than it was before going all wonky. Frans prescribed a cortisone eye drop for a week. That worked even better. By the last day’s dose, the lump was even smaller than it’s been since it first appeared years ago.

I’m glad I’ve kept an eye on the lump, even having the vets check it during most visits. But since the infection, we started talking in terms of getting it removed. If it’s going to become unpredictable and causing issues, it’s probably best not to leave it. The problem was the size of it. The typical method of removing such is just to cut it away, skin and all and stitch it closed. That won’t work with Loke’s. It would require a complex surgery to try rebuilding a false lower eyelid because so much would be taken away. That could easily lead to complications. So, the smaller we get it, the better it might be.

Okay, that’s the eye stuff caught up on.

Even though I had such a great ride the previous time, feet doing pretty good and no problems with the hip, I’ve found myself in an annoying kind of funk. Everything is just ‘meh’. I feel restless, but no motivation. Nothing keeps my attention. So, over the course of the 4 days between the ride on the 13th and finally again on the 18th, I kept thinking to myself, ‘I should go ride.’ An hour later, ‘Oh, yeah. I should get dressed and go ride.’ A time later, again. Just couldn’t actually get myself moving to do it.

On the 18th, what actually spurred me out the door to ride was purpose. Though I had the car and it would have been easy enough to go ‘Meh, I’ll just drive there’, I managed to hold the course and dressed for us to go via trike. With the hubby in Copenhagen on business, a bit of a brisk walk or (hopefully) a jog with the trike would be good since there’s no long walk for him with ‘daddy’.

The day was gray and chill, and as soon as I stepped out, I knew I was a bit under dressed. With the temps around 49 F and completely lacking sun, I should have had on my thin wool under my tights with my 150 gram weight wool layer under my top instead of the 100 gram. I didn’t feel there was time enough to run in and add the layers. It’s always uncertain how Loke’s going to go on runs so I wanted him to have plenty of time.

I needn’t have really worried. Maybe because of the chill, Loke was in a frenzy of excitement as I dressed, he even yodeled at me as I got everything settled. I can’t remember the last time he did that. I think he’s given a bossy ‘woof’ once, but been more than a year since he actually did a proper excited husky yodel. Even more, he did a couple of kangaroo hops as we crossed the lawn and then proceeded to drag into a bit of run. He hit 13 mph for the first time this year.

Loke was Mr. Zippy for most of the rest of the way too. The harness jingling along as he kept me and trike cruising at about 7 mph for most of the time. For an almost 2 mile stretch, he even had me going over 8 mph. It’s great to see such energy out of him on an outing.

There was absolutely no wind, which was nice and not just because I was cold. It meant those fibreglass like seed fluffs didn’t get blown around. They were just sitting, waiting for a breath of air to carry them away from their parent plants to torment innocent pedestrians or cyclists.

This is the river, not a pond or puddle.

How the Fyris river SHOULD look.

Loke was making such good time, that I added extra distance in a few spots. One of them was to follow the river extension all the way to the end. As we passed one section where I could actually see down to the water, I was shocked. All the way across, it was covered in green. Not sure if it was algae or duckweed, but I do know, I’ve never seen any part of the river like that, not in all the years I’ve been riding up and down along it. Goes to show how the scarcity of rain has left the Fyris River practically stagnant.

The purpose of the vet visit was for Frans to look at Loke’s eye again and discuss our options in depth. He decided Loke should get more of the cortisone drops in hopes of reducing it even further. He also thinks it’s possible to use another method than the usual one to remove the gland. Cut a slice in the skin and scoop it out, leaving most of said skin in place.

Though if it gets small enough, another option could be to just leave it. We could chance that maybe it won’t swell again or get another infection as it’s been problem free for so many years before this. Loke’s 12 so it’s a possibility, he could be unbothered with it for what time he has.

He had blood was taken as well, for follow up checks for his anemia, skewed Folic Acid levels, and B-12 deficiency. Hopefully those values will have improved, though since Loke’s anemia has held steady for a year, I don’t expect that to have changed. Frans also wanted to double check Loke’s liver and kidney values in case we decide to go through with the eye surgery.

As we stepped out of the clinic to roll back toward home, the receptionist came out with her dog for a potty-break. I was so thrilled to finally meet her new puppy! A 52 kg (114 lbs) Irish Wolfhound. She’s about a year old and still growing. I’ve never gotten to actually meet an Irish Wolfhound, only see them from distances of 30 feet or more.

She was soooooo sweet! And HUGE. I mean, logically I knew she was big and the breed is big, but to actually have her leaning against me and giving me slobbery smoochies, it gives a whole new perspective on ‘big’. A couple of Jack Russel puppies also joined in the fun, hopping on my feet in an attempt to get their share of attention as well. Cuteness overload!

The jaunt back home was uneventful. Loke went along with brisk enthusiasm, sporting an acid green wrap on his right front leg where blood had been drawn. We arrived at home with roughly 7 miles. Under dressed as I’d been, I curled up with my electric blanket while Loke gobbled down an extra scoop of kibble.

Not sure why, but I wound up with 4 ride-less days once more. Part of it was weather, I’m sure. We’ve been getting rain and it’s been in the 50’s F for most of the time. I was aiming to do the 18-20+ mile route on Saturday though. We had no plans with other people for the weekend. Jens was going to be home for both days. The forecast was decent at partly sunny and temps in the low 60’s F. I announced what I was going to be doing on Saturday and Jens agreed.

So, Saturday, September 23rd, came and… it was disheartening from the start. The sky looked like the surface of poured lead, heavy murky gray, as a misting drizzle spitted down. It was about 48 F when I took Loke out to do business at 7 am. Also, and most annoying, my hip was hurting the most it’s done in months. Not quite to the point of limping, but far from being comfortable. All of that combined went a long way to take the wind out of my sails.

It wound up that I was too restless to not keep edging toward going in spite of my lack of motivation. Finally, I stepped out the door at about 9:20 am. I’d wanted to get an earlier start for the long ride as I wasn’t sure how Loke and I were going to do. At roughly 20 miles, I didn’t want to be still pedaling at 7 pm or something silly. Granted, Jens was home to come get us, but I wanted to actually do a loop.

Then it occurred to me, I could head that way and if I decided it wasn’t going well, then we could turn off to do my old Vaksala/Granby loop. It’s roughly 10 miles depending on how I go at certain points at the beginning and toward the end.

Lovely cottage and autumn tree.

I wasn’t even on the trike before I started questioning if I’d even be able to do a short 3 mile loop. Just walking to my ride had my right foot cramping, making me limp, which in turn made my hip hurt even worse. Still, I was determined to take the furry one for at least a quick run. I gritted my teeth and settled in. At least the drizzling mist (misty drizzle?) had slacked off though everything in the distance had a haze.

It was a nightmare for the first mile. I had to unclip my right foot 3 times. Then, I don’t know why, it stopped and my feet were fine. A bit more wiggling around eased my hip somewhat, so I pushed off toward Gamla Uppsala, figuring I could do the grave mound loop if my other two choices were going to be too much.

This is it?!

Besides, there was also a Vendeltid exhibition supposed to be going on at the mounds. I was curious to at least take a quick look at it. We rolled through the area by the mounds and museum about 10 am. It didn’t look as if they had everything set up yet. There was one little awning up with a table beneath it holding like a helmet and a few other, smaller things, a viking style tent with a cook fire set up in front of it and about 2 dozen people wandering around there and the museum area in archaic Scandinavian clothing.

Loke and I did just a quick loop through there, not stopping as there seemed to be nothing more to see. Besides, I was curious how the autumn colors were progressing outside the residential areas of Uppsala. In town, the colors are fairly intense in spots, but that’s just the nature of the trees planted in places. I’m pretty sure they were chosen both for their shade properties for summer and their tendency to color for autumn.

Every example of this tree has this blight on the leaves. Can’t be good.

The countryside tends to tell a different story as the distribution of tree species is somewhat down to nature in many places.

The fuzzy had been fairly perky for that part of the ride which is a section of hamster track, but when we turned north, he was even more interested as we’ve not gone that way in some months. Actually, I can’t remember when we last did the Vaksala/Granby loop.

Loke’s speed was pretty good, but as I did timing calculations in my head about the longer route, concerns about how my hip was going to hold up continued to intrude. Probably helped along by the twinges of pain it insisted on thrusting upon my consciousness.

No more booms and rail crossing. Feels so weird.

As we came down the long-ish hill toward where the rail crossing used to be (weird that it’s gone after so many years), I decided to just take the turn toward Vittulsberg and head toward Vaksala.

Pretty autumn road

Loke was thrilled with the choice, even pulling into a run as we headed down the underpass beneath the rail tracks. It was nice to be out in the country and on a road that is one of my favorites, especially in the winter.

Ruined I tell you. Ruined!

Turns out though, it’s lost about a mile of its charm. I’ve loved how the trees clustered the way, some of them older growth and the charm of traditional Swedish stake fences along the sides in spots. Oh, especially in winter, all draped in snow. Just… stunning.

Well, a fair portion of it has been pretty much clear cut. An old tree or two left here or there and some leafy twigs of what remains of undergrowth standing among the stumps, churned dirt, and stacked logs. The lovely shade of the trees gone. Just an exposed scab of scarred earth at the road’s edge now. It made what was a lovely, pleasant way to go into something just to get through. Left me quite bummed in truth.

If I had to guess, someone with an eye to ‘development’ thought, ‘What a lovely spot! I know! Let’s remove everything that makes it great and slap some houses in so others can enjoy it!’ Enjoy what? Cookie-cutter houses with no charm and completely lacking trees?

Interesting and pretty.

As if Uppsala’s growing pains haven’t been bad enough with hideous bricks of apartment complexes popping up like this year’s bizarre density of mushrooms. At least the mushrooms are interesting and even sometimes, pretty.

At least on the road before that butchered stretch remained pretty and even blushed with some autumn colors here and there.

With the temperature bouncing between about 48 F and 51 F, the humidity so high that moisture condensed on everything including hair, fabric, skin and fur, I was quite chilled as we scuttled across the busy road to the cycle path that heads up toward Vaksala church. Starbucks hot chocolate from the mall sounded like just the perfect thing. Or at least it would once I answered a desperate call of nature.

That was best done at Vaksala church proper. The clean and comfortable little bathrooms tucked into the charming 17th century building that sits just outside the graveyard walls. From there, it was a quick dash back over the 288 where I followed the re-routed cycle path around yet ANOTHER upgrowth of an unattractive apartment building going up to the mall.

From an architectural aesthetics perspective, I’m really in the wrong century. Modern buildings are hideous to me. Victorian age structures, much lovelier. Of course, I don’t think these apartments are meant to be attractive. Just go up fast.

I parked right up against the Starbucks window so Loke and I could see each other as I dashed in. I’m friendly with all the baristas there and when one of them gave my clothes a curious look I pointed her gaze in the direction of Loke. She was quite charmed by what she saw, adoring huskies as she does.

Once I was back in the trike, I continued on at a slow amble. Strange looks followed us. A plump woman in a rolling arm chair with pedals accompanied by a white husky while sipping a Starbucks’ hot beverage. What’s strange about that?

The rest of the way back to the storage was uneventful. I rolled to a stop with 11 miles on the nose. Loke was disappointed it was over, even woofing at me to turn the trike around and go some more.

Jens had been called though and I pushed the trike in and settled back in the seat to wait for pick up. I had unclipped the furry one and played out some length of his leash so he could move about a bit as we waited.

Loke had moved to stand just outside the storage door. He watched me for a few seconds and then looked back up the slope with a disappointed sigh.

I shook my head at him as I pulled out my phone. Suddenly, Loke lurched. The first thing I noticed was how his hindlegs buckled, then he staggered first one side to the other as he crouched down, desperately trying to stay upright. His head twitched from side to side and eyes doing the same as if he’d been stuck on a merry-go-round at high speed. A seizure. All equilibrium gone and clearly, to his perception, the world was in a whirl and he was just trying to find one spot to focus on as it spun by.

I flung myself from the trike and clutch him close. Seconds later, it eased and Jens pulled up while I was still hugging my furball. He was a little wobbly as I walked him up the slope using the harness as a handle to keep him steady. Loke was eager to jump in by himself, but I picked him up.

Minutes later, he was his normal bouncy self. He flung himself out of the car with an enthusiastic jump and pranced into the apartment. He gobbled down the extra scoop of kibble I offered and then bounced out the door on a 2 mile walk with Jens as a test to see how he really was. Just fine as if nothing had happened.

I agonized with myself about going to the animal hospital for quite some time, but I had a feeling that the vets would find nothing wrong as it had been the last 3 times he had seizures. Admittedly, his seizures had never involved his head. Limbs twitching and going stiff, but not the ‘trapped on a merry-go-round’ thing.

Jens thinks we should wait it out rather than subject Loke to hospitalization or extra sedation. He’s 12, clearly not in pain or distress. Just his normal energetic, food-focused self. If it follows the same pattern, we may not see another seizure unless Loke lives for another 4 years or more. While Loke does have a relative who was 17 years old when a photo of  him was posted on his birthday this year, that old man doesn’t have Loke’s long list of issues. Eric, Loke’s brother, is still running strong this year last I heard. Loke’s dad, passed away at age 13.

I’m still going to make an appointment to talk to the vet today. I want to discuss what the seizure may mean in respect to the surgery to remove the gland in his lid if nothing else. Also, this time, if the vet does think it needs to be looked at, I’ll have an appointment via referral with neurologist at the university animal hospital instead of a generalist taking a 5 minute look and shrugging in bafflement.

I think Murphy just loves toying with me not to mention torturing my dog.

The Great Experiment
September 12, 2017, 6:59 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

It occurred to me that I forgot to mention what had happened to my hip when I last posted though I’d mentioned there was something was wrong with it.

Jens has gone a bit nuts for a new PS4 game, so he’s been hogging the TV. I wanted to watch Netflix so went to sit at Jens’ desk. Silly me, I propped my feet up into one of the other chairs. Well, after a couple hours of that as I watched a movie, my hip strenuously objected. It fussed at me for a few days, but fortunately, it didn’t hang on too long.

Even without the hip giving me problems, it’s been a chaotic few days, but finally got out the door for another ride. Really should keep my rump moving so I can break the measly 500 miles I’m aiming for this year.

It might have gotten easier though.

Through the whole struggle with my feet, I’ve kept wanting to move my feet forward, but being clipped in, couldn’t really. The days of attacking my battered Shimano touring shoes with a file to lengthen the bolt slots needed to be tested. Sunday, September 9th, was the day my husband finally bullied me out the door with Loke to try them.

The sky was chaotic as I settled the trike. Everything was still damp from the rain all through the night and morning. The leaden sheet of gray across the sky had broken up into chunks of clouds, some which looked very threatening as the monochrome shades ran through the gamut of the palest, bright silver to the deep underbellies of slate. A guessing game really. Was I going to get drenched or stay dry? At about 60 F, it would have been uncomfortable, but at least not a nightmare.

Loke was actually kind of excited to step out the door. I was wary as I clipped in and we rolled out.

The first 100 yards pain free! I started to grin. Maybe, just maybe, I would be taking it further than the 2.3 miles that we use to get back to the garage half a mile away. About a quarter mile on, I had slight (and I do mean slight) discomfort in my right foot, but my left was happy as a clam in mud.

I didn’t put my right foot down until almost 1.5 mile. A new record of late, I think. Admittedly, my last ride in un-adapted shoes, it took a while longer to hurt than the previous 20 or so and then barely at all on the last 2+ miles after I dropped the furball off at the groomer. True, it could just have been a fluke, yet I was and am hopeful.

I definitely decided to ride on a bit further. Loke was glad of it. He even pulled into a slow run down some of the slopes as I aimed myself for the River Loop extension.

About mile 4, my left foot started having issues. It wasn’t a cause of much concern though, because I think it was because the cleat had slipped. When attaching it, I didn’t wrench it as tight as I should, anticipating the need to do more work on it. So, in the course of curbing Loke’s messes, it had come forward and twisted to one side slightly when I unclipped.

The clouds had thinned a bit as I followed the river path north, but were starting to look threatening again as I finished off the hamster track of 6.75 miles. Loke was slowing by the last mile or so, but since he bounced into the apartment and went directly to Jens to start the ‘staring tail-wag of persuasion’, pretty sure it was just boredom making him sluggish.

As for me, there was a bounce in my step too. Of late, I’ve absolutely hated going for rides around here. While I thought I was factoring in the foot issue into making me so fed up with the hamster tracks around here, it appears I wasn’t giving them enough credit. On the 6.75 miles, only 3 times, I felt compelled to stop to give my feet a break. That’s like nothing. When I did stop, it wasn’t remotely close to the pain of rides in the previous months. As a result, hamster track or not, I actually had a grin on my lips and enjoyed the ride. Sad, but I’m not sure I can remember that in recent memory, not since Loke and I went up to ride around Långsjön (The Long Lake) a bit north of Uppsala.

Suddenly, the 200 miles I still need for 500 miles, doesn’t seem so remote.

Two days, two rides since I went out the very next day, September 10th I had a thought at first to do an 18 to 20 mile loop, but one ride with mostly okay feet does not a trend make. I didn’t want to wind up harassing my hubby to come get me somewhere along the way because I couldn’t take the Inquisition any longer. I did decide to aim for at least going further than I did yesterday on my local hamster track paths.

Mostly sunny, though every now and again a threatening looking cloud would scuttle in. Yet, the sun never disappeared. Breezy and pleasant at about 65 F. When I started, there was a bit of hope that I could make the 20 miler, so I set out toward the Old Uppsala Burial ground as it’s kind of on the way. I cut a couple miles of my usual ‘burial ground’ loop though and took a dirt track I’ve not used in years. I think I’ve ridden it only once before in the 11 years of being on the trike.

Loke was very intrigued by it, being that he probably had absolutely no memory of the .25 mile stretch and it was lined with trees and weeds, tucked in the cool shade.

I needn’t have worried about my feet too much. My left foot was still happy and my right foot was less unhappy than it was yesterday as I had worked at the shoe with the file for about an hour through the morning. Might have gotten my cleat a whole 1/8th of an inch further toward the arch!

The burial grounds were a hive of activity. Joggers, walkers, and hordes of bikes.

As I rolled along the gravel paths of the burial ground. I started itching furiously. Spot on my right arm. Spot on my right leg. Right side of the stomach. Then it hit me, I KNEW that itch. That burning, almost nettle like itch though less severe. Pretty much like fiber glass.

Yep! The ‘Season of the Itch’ was upon me. Once I knew what was happening, I saw it. The fiberglass-like puffs blowing on the wind, pulled off the withered and dried parent plants to spread torment to whoever got in their path. It became a kind of game. Watching the upwind side of the path for the flying clumps, slowing down or speeding up in an attempt to avoid them hitting me.

I. HATE. THOSE. PLANTS. Loke seems immune. Of course, that brat can stick his face into a knee high patch of nettles without a care in the world.

About mile 5, my feet did get uncomfortable enough that I felt the need to take a short pause to put them off the pedals. It was more like the discomfort of old though. More of a tight, tingling numbness than the flayed, charred, crushed sensation I’ve been enduring this year.

We finished up with 7.75 miles, one whole mile more than the previous ride. Loke started getting pokey and I couldn’t tell if it was boredom (most likely) or some other reason. Still, he’s currently curled up contently in his bed, so I guess it was just enough for the furball.

So, the feet were better. I had an appointment on the 11th so no ride then. It was off to the hospital for a heart ultrasound. The results of that were the same as last year which at least means it’s no worse. My heartwall is thickened, but no thicker than it was last check-up. So, that’s good at least.

It was raining today and laundry time, so no cycling again today. That’s good. It will give me more time to file the shoes. I’m aiming for perfection!

Foot Fun
September 7, 2017, 4:54 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, things have been a bit chaotic of late.

Just 2 rides since I posted last. The foot thing really gets to me if you couldn’t tell. My hip was feeling much better (yes past tense, but we’ll get to that) so I was itching to ride further and areas other than hamster tracks, but the feet. I mean, having to stop 30-60 times on a 20 mile ride JUST to put my feet off the pedals for 3-5 minutes each session would put a serious damper in the ride just from the perspective of time. Never mind that each pause is precipitated by excruciating pain. If I didn’t push it to that edge, it would probably mean doubling the amount of stops. Not doable. So, I shy away from riding because it hurts like heck and is extra boring to boot between being a hamster track and stopping every few hundred yards.

The lack of riding drives Jens up the wall of course, because Loke makes him crazy. Staring at him and refusing to act like a 12 year old dog. Still can’t get over he’s really that old.

I’ve noticed when I have struggled along with the torturous pedals that I keep wanting to push my foot forward, but given the nature of shoes attached to pedals, there’s not much room to do just that. So, in desperation, I talked Jens into not fretting too much about me taking a metal file to my old Shimano touring shoes. Being 5+ years old, they’re quite worn now and since I have 2 ‘new’ pair meaning one to spare, he’s thrown his hands up in surrender and let me do as I will. Still, being so difficult to find fitting cycle shoes, the search has already begun for the next pair.

So, for the better part of a week, I’ve put in quite a few hours of filing… and filing… and filing. Ugh. The stiff insole might be ‘just’ plastic, but it’s darn tough and, with my arm giving me fits, takes a looooooonnnnnngggg time to make any progress. Thank goodness for Netflix as I sit on the sofa with a towel to catch the filings as I work. Soon, I’ll give it a shot and see how it goes.

In other news, I was used as a medical curiosity/case study at the hospital last week. The dermatologist I saw at the beginning of the year who diagnosed and treated me for Lyme Disease had called sometime during the summer to get an update on the spots. I told her that they’d started to fade while I was on the medication and a couple weeks after, but then when the symptoms of the disease came back, so did the spots. She was completely dismissive that it could have been resurgence of Lyme Disease. Baffled, she said that on Fridays, her and her colleagues assemble to look over the most interesting cases. Would I mind coming in for that?

Come in and let a bunch of people poke at me? Sure, why not. Who knows, maybe something useful will come of it.

So, last Friday, there I was, showing off the Lyme disease blotches to about a dozen people. At least I didn’t have to pay for the privilege. I’ve not reached the cap on medical costs yet, so I still have to pay the modest fee. Regardless of what people think, Swedish medical care is NOT free. Cheap and does come with a cap with how much is paid before the cost is waived, but not free. But, apparently to be a case study, the cost is waived if one hasn’t reached the cap. Nice of them.

It took longer than anticipated after they had their look and went away to discuss. Of course, 10+ people offering their insights and opinions on something does take time. When it was over and the original dermatologist came back, she asked the expected. “Do you mind if I take another biopsy?”

I cringed at the idea. The last time was unpleasant enough, but I’m determined to get answers. There was something I was dreading more than her punching out little bits of skin any way. Blood Test. Yep. She wanted that too. Rather sad when one can face having chunks of skin removed better than blood drawn.

The doctor took skin from 2 places. The center of one of the spots and from unmarked skin next to it for comparison.

As for the blood. The first nurse tried once to get the stuff out of me and nada. Not even when she pulled the needle out of my arm. Desperate, I offered my feet for another two stabs since last time that took about 30 seconds. Nope. No good. She went to get another nurse to take a look, but since I was already so rattled from the previous attempts, she didn’t find anything she felt confident enough to torment me with. So, off to the lab on Monday since I had to run back to the car before the parking ran out.

The last blood tests over the year have been a complete nightmare with most of the arm and hand jabs giving nothing and they’ve resorted to pricking my fingers and squeezing the blood out of me. Some tests, though apparently MUST come from the vein. Three of the tests the dermatologist wanted were those. I had all weekend to fret myself about sick at how many jabs it was going to take to get what was needed.

Well, it didn’t turn out as bad as anticipated. I woke at 4 am and prepped with pain meds and lots and lots of water to plump the veins. The first nurse found a vein the hand, but got nothing. Rather than stab me again, she called for one of the supervisor nurses. That woman came over with a brisk efficiency. Instead of examining my hand or the lower arm, she went right for the bend of the arm, fingers pressing deep. She didn’t rush, moving my arm around a bit until she got it in JUST the right position. Then she pulled out one of the larger needles and went in.

BLESS HER, she hit first time and either because of her skill or the pain meds or both, it barely hurt. In less than a minute she was done. I was so grateful, I thanked her profusely. Her aloofness broke and she gave me a sympathetic smile while patting my shoulder.

Hopefully all this will be a step toward getting some answers at least. Even better if it does more than clear up Lyme disease blotches from my skin, but also improves my quality of life from every other aspect. Maybe being able to walk without collapsing like a puppet with cut strings.

So, on the 3rd, I finally got out for another ride. The first in like… 10 days or something silly like that.

The weather has finally kind of broken. We’ve gotten spates of rain, some of it torrential since our first frost during the last week of August. Set a new record for cold on that day. Was just enough of a frosting that it only really stuck to cars and not much on grass, but still. FROST in AUGUST. Of course, last week, while I was walking around in my summer weight shirts, there was snow in Oslo, Norway which is quite a bit further south than Uppsala, Sweden. At least the weather hasn’t gotten quite as crazed as it has in the States. My thoughts are with those who have endured Harvey and those now facing the next storm.

It was quite gray and muggy in spite of being cool-ish on the 3rd. I thought for sure I was going to get some rain on us, but by some miracle it held off. A whopping 2 miles with the fuzz butt. It hurt, of course. Spanish Inquisition foot screws kind of hurt.

That of course, gave me a kick in the butt to work some more on the Shimanos.

On the 5th, Jens was grumbling a bit, so I had him drop Loke and I off at the storage. The tentative plan was to roll the trike to the apartment, see if I could finish the filing enough to test the adapted shoes.

It was quite a lovely morning actually, on the chill side, but lovely. 48 F at the start of the ride and edged up into 51 F by time I rolled to a stop at home. Put a real spring in Loke’s stride. There was blue sky and sunshine too. The first in a while.

After the frost, autumn colors have started to come into a few of the trees. REAL autumn colors. Not the shriveled, desiccated brown of leaves that perished for lack of water thanks to our silly dry (but cloudy) summer, but bright yellow popping out here and there. One tree was even flushed vivid red, the hue brightened by the early morning sunlight.

We came home with 3.4 miles. Loke had a slight spring in his step in spite of his profound boredom. The cooler temps agreed with him.

The really strange thing though, was my feet. I think, just to spite me after all my hard work filing, the foot rules have changed again, because on the 3+ mile loop, I only put my feet down 3 times because of discomfort! The first .25 mile in, which is an improvement over the worst rides, and then not again for over 1.5 miles and the last time about 500 yards from home. If I could count on that, I’d be willing to tackle longer rides. I mean, 12-15 stops for my feet would be manageable over a 20 mile ride as opposed to 30-70 stops.

I wasn’t home for long. Just enough for Loke to gobble down breakfast and take a 20 minute snooze when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but answered. It was Jennifer, the groomer. She asked if I could bring Loke in then instead of the next day for his appointment. Could I be there in about an hour?

I said sure! Put Loke back in his harness and out the door we bolted again! Oddly, Loke was a running machine. Not sure what boosted him, but we arrived earlier than I thought we would because he was just pulling us along at a brisk trot.

He wasn’t thrilled when I left him there though and rode home.

On the ride to the groomer, about 2.7 miles, I had to put my feet down only 2 or 3 times. I forget how much, but not nearly as often as rides all through the rest of the year.

The solo dash back home was fun. I discovered I’m not quite as pokey as I thought I was. Not burning up the roads with blazing speed, but on flats even with a bit of a headwind, I was able to push for 8 mph. Down the hills of course was where the real fun was. I didn’t need to stop even once for foot relief. There was a bit of discomfort, but nothing I could categorize as pain, let alone bad enough to have me seeing stars as I rip feet from pedals to stop the torture.

So, are the foot rules changing again? Would stand to follow. I mean, I’ve put in hours on working to adapt the Shimano shoes, so naturally, the rules would change to make it unnecessary.

I did notice one possible complication. Where the slots on my Shimano shoes are dead center, those of my newer shoes are toward the inside of the foot rather than centered. I’ve ridden with both shoes and had the same amount of pain, so I don’t know what kind of impact that actually has on my pedalling, but I guess it’s something to be aware of.

Complications, complications.

But, now I’m caught up! I’d better get my butt in gear if I want to break 500 miles for 2017 though. Only 3 more months to make it and at the rate my rides have been going, it might be a close call.