Terii’s Cycling Babble

Update – Trike, Fitbit, and Loke
October 22, 2017, 8:37 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yep! Finally happened! I joined the world of Fitbit users. Did I mention that? I can’t recall.

I picked the thing up on September 30th. The long ride on October 1st was also a test to see if it would at least log the extra calorie burn from a trike ride.

Jens had actually been mentioning me getting one for months, but I kept putting it off, worried that I’d end up not using it because it would just frustrate me. How? By setting goals I wouldn’t be able to make. 10k steps when some days just walking 100 yards had me near passing out? Really? But the hubby kept at it and I decided to give in to it.

I have to say, the results of that have been pretty astounding. While I’ve not been riding much, I have been making Fitbit goals. I set the bar pretty modest, I admit. First I had the step goal of just 5000. The first week or so, there were days when that fell short with somewhere between just 2 or 3 thousand, but I pushed on. Then I started aiming for the ‘mini’ goals as it were, mostly the ‘get up and walk a minimum of 250 steps every hour for x-number of consecutive hours’. I picked the hours between 9 am and 6 pm. Rather than just 250 steps, I tend to round up for a min of 300.

That seemed to help. I was abruptly getting the 5k steps and then some. After a week, I bumped to 5.5 k and was hitting those out of the ball park. Most days now, I seem to hit about 7 k. I refuse to be froggy though, set the number to 7000 or more and start failing goals by killing myself. One day, I actually hit over 10k and felt like I’d been beaten with a bat the next morning. Making those ‘at least 300 steps every hour for 9 hours’ was a challenge for that day. I finally did have to break down and take a few days with fewer steps just to recover so I could get back into the groove.

And it’s working! I can consistently walk further and sometimes even faster than I’ve been able to manage since my downward spiral thanks to un-diagnosed Lyme disease. Today, I even decided to bump up my goal to a minimum of 6 k. After a week or two of that, I’ll bump it again by a few hundred steps at least.

There is another hint at physical improvements. The Fitbit also measures heart-rate. More important, the ‘resting’ heart rate. When I started, it was about 68 bpm. After a few days, it was down to 65 bpm. Then 62. Currently, it seems to have settled at 58 bpm for my resting rate during sleep the past 4 nights. There are world class athletes who don’t have a resting bpm that low. Then again, I’ve always had a low resting bpm. I remember during overnight stay in a hospital years ago where the nurse actually talked with the doctor because during the hourly checks, it was coming up in the mid-50’s. Still, such a consistent drop indicates an improvement.

In other news, Loke is facing surgery after all. Yep, the eye started acting up again. So, we should be getting an appointment with an eye specialist at the university animal hospital soon. He’s being medicated for infection in the gland again while we wait. My hope to avoid it has apparently backfired.

As for cycling, well, there have been rides. Just on the hamster tracks though. One was river loop and extra stuff for about 9 miles, but not much else.

My current issue is that my walking to appease the Fitbit slave master seems to have shifted my ‘shape’ for lack of a better description though my weight is down a smidge. A part on the trike that wasn’t a problem has become one. It digs into my thigh and tears holes into my leggings. It would probably chew right on into my skin and flesh if I gave it a chance. I don’t want to keep ruining my clothes or gaining scars by riding, so the trike has been parked until Monday. Hopefully the problem can be shifted to no longer be a problem and leave the remainder of my tights and thermals intact. *crosses fingers*

So, that’s about all I feel like reporting at the moment. I can’t really stay on the computer long because of issues with my arm which I’m going to physical therapy for.

Oh, I’m also going to be seeing a dentist, hopefully next week, because I think part of a filling has gone MIA and now the entire lower left side of my jaw is an agony. Yay!

I’m so tired of needles, biopsies, and doctors. Now I get to add more needles and drills and dentists to the mix. Yay. I also still have to make an appointment with the doctor for my yearly post-stroke check-up which will mean more jabbing to get blood for cholesterol tests. I wonder how many dozens of stabs that’s gonna take?

It Finally Happened!
October 6, 2017, 11:12 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

So, for weeks now, if not months, I’ve been trying to get out the door for a longer ride. Except for a couple minor flare ups, my hip has been improved and filing on my shoes seems to have helped my feet. They still get uncomfortable and even venture into the edges of the realm of painful, but not the soul-crushing torment of before when anything over 100 yards was a major victory. The two things that were keeping me on the endless circle of loops between 5 to 8 miles right near home have become manageable.

To be sure, it was an ambitious endeavor. I mean, my longest ride this year was a paltry 11 miles. The loop I’d plotted was 18 miles at minimum or something over 22 miles if my first plan didn’t work out. I set the goal for Sunday, October 1st.

I woke pretty early and took my time getting dressed to ride. Loke caught something of my energy and became a bit restless, as if worried he might get left behind, even after an early feed to make sure his food was well settled before we rolled out. I made sure to pack fresh, extra water as well as some nuts to nibble on during the ride. Had to keep my energy up.

Looking at the forecast made deciding how to dress a bit tricky. It was barely going to be 50 F at the start of the ride and up into the low 60’s near lunch, under clouds the whole time though no rain. A thermal layer could mean I’d wind up too warm and no way to really get rid of it until I reached Ärentuna church where maybe a bathroom would be open. Though it would make the layers less effective, I settled for wearing the thermal layers over my usual cycle clothes.

Jens dropped us off at the garage a bit after 8 am. I felt a bit cool which gave me pause, but kept in mind I’d not warmed up with pedalling and it was supposed to get quite warm later. Loke was only slightly interested at first as we rolled out. He wasn’t a complete slug, but there was a sense of boredom about him as I rolled for the shortest route to Vattholma Road where I would push north toward Storvreta. As we came down a hill past the school, I screeched to a halt.

Fairy Ring!

On the slope up to the top of the wooded ridge, a fairy ring was tucked among the trees. It’s a little hard to see that it goes all the way around in the photo and the ring was over 6 feet across, but it’s a complete circle of mushrooms.

Watcher in the weeds.

Even that short dash, the most frequently used of my hamster track sections, offered yet another amusement. Loke, aka Mr. Oblivious, didn’t see it, but as we bumped up onto a cycle path, there was a cat watching us from the weeds. It didn’t look particularly concerned, just curious, even though there was a dog just 20 feet away. It only continued to look on as I pulled out the phone to take a picture. It’s always neat to cross paths with cats. There have even been times, when Loke wasn’t with me, that I’ve had one or two hop up into my lap for a cuddle. Fortunately, no cat has ever tried that with the furball present. That would be ugly and traumatizing for both kitty and me.

I started to feel a bit warm as we rolled around the over/underpass loop up onto Vattholma Road proper. No small wonder. The forecast had been wrong. It was about 55 F very quickly after the start, probably because of the sun that was supposed to be well hidden behind clouds.

The clouds sure look funny.

It had been cloudy around dawn, but those had peeled back and left a clear sky. I felt overdressed and considered shucking off the thermal top I’d worn as an outer layer. My feet felt quite warm as well, so there was also the thought to stop at Gamla Uppsala where I could conveniently use the seating at a picnic table to change to cooler socks.

Distant sunlight receding further away.

The clear blue wasn’t to last though. About the time we were passing the turn for Gamla Uppsala, the promised clouds has scuttled back in from the east. It started to feel cooler with the sunlight hidden, which meant I was dressed about right.

Little splashes of autumn.

Loke gave me a curious little glance as I pushed on north instead of making the left turn he anticipated. The unexpected direction put more zip into his stride. He’d been doing pretty good between 5 to 6 mph, but bumped it to between 6 and 7 mph. The next few miles used to be a hamster track, back when my Vaksala/Granby Loop was considered a short dash in years past, but having been done less than a handful of times in two years, it was fresh enough for Loke.

More bits of color on an autumn day.

When we cruised by the turn toward Vittulsberg, he even briefly pulled us into a run as we’ve rarely continued north from there. He really hit his stride then, ticking along between 7.5 and 8.7 mph as we sped by Valsgärde Burial Ground where 15 wooden Viking ship burials were found. We’ve gone up toward the Storvreta area perhaps 4 times in 11 years of enjoying the trikes, so I don’t think he’s quite gotten bored with it.

A Moment of Sun

While there were clouds, they weren’t a solid, leaden sheet across the sky. There were peeks of blue beyond and streaks of God rays across the landscape. Sometimes one of those rays would drift across our path for a moment of warmth and sun. Sun was good, because it’s almost always cooler out in the countryside. My concerns about being too heavily dressed changed to being not quite warm enough.

The turn for the ‘short cut’ came up right around the spot where the cycle path crossed to other side of the busy road. It was a combination of recently turned soft dirt mixed with gravel and with a steep descent down to the small flood plain of the Fyris River. I was not looking forward to climbing back up that surface if the short cut turned out to be a bomb.

On the map, it shows a dirt lane leading to what appears to be a tiny bridge over the river delineated by dash lines with roads on the other side. I wasn’t sure what it meant with the way over the river being marked with dash lines instead of solid, but I was going to go look any way.

Over the little bridge.

Poor Loke, he so much wanted to go running down the hill, but his ankles and feet weren’t agreeable thanks to the number of rocks studded in the dirt. He did go a bit quicker though.

At the end of the first bit of road, I found the bridge. It was completely made of wood, arching over a much smaller Fyris River. There was a road boom that extended over more than half of the bridge’s width to hinder cars, but plenty of space for bikes, or even a trike with a husky to pass.

The other side was not what I expected though. A lovely old wooden house and a well manicured yard wit a scattering of toys for kids, including a trampoline. I sat at the top of the bridge for a minute, evaluating if the feeling of being intrusive was worth the shorter distance.

I finally rolled down the hill, but frustratingly, I could see where the drive way went to connect to the road on the other side. Too many fallen leaves of gold and orange. I might have pushed on except for my trike. For the past few months, it often sounds like a flock of geese being stomped on. Feels like the sound can carry for miles. Not something I wanted to continue with on someone’s property on a Sunday morning. So, I turned around to go back over the bridge and up the road. Glad I did for another reason too. I spotted some dog… ‘leavings’ and they looked like they could have come from something like a Rottie or Bull Mastiff. Something quite a bit larger than Loke definitely.

A much smaller Fyris river.

It appears that people on bikes use that as a through way quite often though. I was hardly 50 yards from the bridge when a guy on a mountain bike came streaking down the hill toward the river. He gave me a big smile and a nod as he swerved around me and then the road boom and rattled over the wooden planks. I thought about following him, but remembered the possibility of a large dog there. If I’d been solo, I wouldn’t have had any problem with going. Dogs here in Sweden are almost never aggressive to people on bikes. Other dogs are another story.

Besides, for all I knew, the guy might have lived in the house.

That theory was blown out of the water as another guy on another bike came shooting down the hill a few minutes later as I climbed up. Roughly the same age as the first, so less likely to be a resident of the house given that there were toys for kids of various ages from quite young to coordinated enough for a trampoline.

Though not fast, the climb backup wasn’t quite as bad as anticipated. I didn’t feel as weak as I thought I was. We scurried across the busy road to rejoin the cycle path and pushed on under the E4 toward the roundabout for the Storvreta turn. At that turn, the cycle path continues on to the town, but this time, I was heading north a bit further.

More sunshine to make the colors pop!

I wasn’t thrilled with it though which was why I’d tried the short cut. For about half a mile, I was going to be on the busy road. The shoulder was quite modest, not even enough for half the trike which meant Loke was pushed off into the weeds every time traffic came by. That results in a bit of a shoving match. I win those, but still leaves some risk that the furball might get his feet squished under the trike tire.

At one point, a roller skier passed us. I couldn’t decide if I was embarrassed or not. There were two autumn brilliant trees that made a lovely arch across the road I was going to turn on to. I pulled over into a drive way right across from it to pull out my phone to photograph it. In that time, the roller skier had scurried across so wound up in the photo.

Lovely old barn

Loving the scenery

In a traffic lull, Loke and I hurried across in the skier’s wake as it were. I enjoyed the few minutes of sunshine, sighing with relief at the peaceful little country lane with far less traffic and modest speed limit. Loke continued strong, head up and nose busy to sample the air which started to get breezy where it had practically still since the start of the ride. His tail waved like a banner, showing he was quite happy.

Like the busy bit north of the roundabout, this little lane was a stretch we’d never been on before. Not with the trike any way. I was on it briefly earlier in the year with the car to look at a possible launch point for the kayak. Fresh ground for just a smidge over 2.5 miles. I’ll take it where I can.

More scenery

As the sun came and went, the sheer number of God’s rays in the distance was impressive. Sadly, none of the photos I took did them justice. Actually, both my Canon and my phone washed them out altogether.

Just LOVE these colors!

Dramatic skies, golden fields, red trees, and hay bales. Must be autumn!

Standing stone? Rune stone? No clue!

My attempts to capture the God’s rays became somewhat limited at this point. As I was happily snapping photos with my Canon only slightly less than my phone, the battery suddenly died. No problem. After digging in my unorganized (Thanks, Loke) handlebar bag for the extra battery, I popped it in and… barely a charge. It was probably thanks to the fact the camera had barely been used all year since it feels silly to drag it along on hamster tracks so the power in my extra battery just trickled away. It left me grumbling under my breath for a few minutes as I pushed on.

I wasn’t too far from Ärentuna church when the wind became a force to be reckoned with. It chilled me to the point that another layer, at least on my arms, would have been most welcome. The thin wool gloves and cap in my handlebar bag did come into use. The sunny moments did little more than take the edge off the wind’s chill as we went on. Loke was quite happy with it though, still jogging on like a well-oiled machine at speeds of 7.5 to 8.5 mph with a bit of his old husky grin even when the 10 mile mark ticked by on the Garmin.

Ärentuna Church

If I dismissed the sensation of being chilled, I felt pretty good as I rolled into the parking area for Ärentuna church. Loke was still all happy-bouncy as well. Raring to go.

Loke, Sprint 26, and bell tower.

I’ve stopped at Ärentuna church once before while on a trike ride, though I couldn’t quite remember when. Convinced I had a photo of it and had probably written a blog post about the ride, I just took a careless photo of the church with my phone without much regard to ‘best angle’. After all, why take up valuable photo space on this site for repeats of the same churches, right? I could just use the same photo as I did last time.

Well, since I started this post, I’ve discovered I have no such photos of Ärentuna church or the rune stones or the burial ground/ancient village site or even posted about it. That means my previous trip through here must have predated 2009 and before I developed my system of organizing and labeling photos. I can’t imagine that I would have passed a medieval church and rune stones without photographing them, but I just can’t find them by the current method of organization. Probably means they’re lurking in a folder somewhere with the numbers assigned to them with the lousy point-n-click camera I original had for my rides. Waaaaay back before I finally gave in to the pressure to have a smart phone with included camera and began risking my precious Canon during my explorations.

Uppland Rune Stones #1014 and #1015.

I took a moment to take advantage of the hospitality of Ärentuna church. A little building right by the parking lot outside the churchyard walls with a clean bathroom. Gotta love the country churches for those. After that was dealt with, I took a photo of Loke and the trike in front of the bell tower before moving on to the rune stones where they sat outside a fence pasture area which also happened to be the site of an ancient village as well as a burial ground.

No order to the stones, but ancient remains all the same.

As with the church, I took photos without much regard to lighting or best angles of interest. In truth, I was feeling a bit stressed for time, wanting to get back home before it got too late.

Burial mounds near Ärentuna church

One of the least pleasant miles of the ride.

As we rolled out from the church, it was back onto a road I’ve ridden  once before though predating my blogging years. Less than half a mile past the church, I stopped to cheer. The longest ride of the year had happened the previous week with 11.01 miles. Well, the Garmin displayed 11.12 miles. About half way through the ride and everything after that was going to be a new benchmark for longest in 2017.

I mostly remember cold as we pushed on, but I still enjoyed the ride, loving the scenery in spite of the chilling wind. Loke remained a champion. His speed steady and acting impatient when I stopped to offer him water or to take a random photo. It was just a short jump from Ärentuna to Gävle Road which is just a tad bit too big and busy to be enjoyable. It felt safe enough with a big wide shoulder offering plenty of space between us and the whizzing cars, but shoulder or not, it’s just not much fun to have a constant stream of cars passing within 10 feet. The shoulder might have been smaller on the part between the roundabout near Storvreta and the little lane where I followed the roller skier, but somehow, I disliked this bit of road more. It’s matched with the mile or so stretch between the turn from Ulva mill and before the Gamla Uppsala turn for ‘too much traffic’.

Just cold wind, bikes, and walkers here.

At least Loke didn’t seem to care. As far as he was concerned, it was all the same. Some place we’d not seen very often to sniff and mark as his territory. Doesn’t take much to make a dog happy.

Though the next stage of the right was west of that road, at least were spared trying to cross it like a bad game of Frogger. For about 0.30 of a mile, there was a cycle path that conveniently took us under the road and then onward through a residential area of Lövstalot. Following those peaceful little streets lined with houses on their postage stamp sized yards, we joined up with a cycle path that led through parkland that separated two of those housing clusters. It led us out of the houses and then off across fields where all streets and cars were just distant noises and glimmers. Just shy of a mile long and a portion of path I’ve never ridden before.

These make me think more of summer than autumn, but lovely all the same.

I’d been keeping an eye on Loke’s feet during all this run and it was as I came up to Bälinge that the skin of his paw pads started looking a hair too thin for my liking. A couple years ago, I would have slapped a socks on him and kept going because he still had energy to burn and no signs of discomfort. Sadly, the inflammation from allergies and a slight touch of arthritis that has settled in his feet and ankles makes that impossible now. If a sock is snugged tight enough to stay on, it hurts his ankles and makes him limp horribly.

So, I stopped us at a little pizza kiosk next to a soccer field to call Jens for pick up, though only for Loke. I was feeling a bit tired, but the end of the loop felt so close. Just a push to Ulva Mill and then Gamla Uppsala from there which was just hamster tracks all the way back to the storage.

The distinctive Uppsala skyline

Though he’d run 15 miles, Loke was having none of it as I meant to sit and wait at the pizza place for Jens. He yanked on his tether, stared holes into me with tail wagging, woofed, and even pawed at my arm, trying to hook his claws into fabric and flesh as if to drag me into motion. My husband had just picked up some lunch when I called, so between him taking the time to eat as well as drive to our location it was going to be over half an hour of the furball’s attempts to bully me.

After about 10 minutes, I gave in, texted Jens we’d be between Bälinge and Ulva Mill, and let Loke drag us into motion. He settled into a determined sort of jog, rapidly hitting the same 7.5 to 8.5 mph pace he’d held for over 10 miles of the ride as if not so rudely interrupted by my attempt to spare his thinning pads. Loke’s forward momentum was interrupted a few times over the next 20 minutes as I stopped to make sure the skin wasn’t getting too much thinner. I also kept him shoved well over into the grass and weeds of the verge at the cycle path’s edge.

In spite of enjoying the run so much, Loke still exhibited nothing but joy when our car pulled over into a tractor access just in front of us. He even cheerfully jumped into the back of the car. It was probably all because of the goodies we bribe him with. Jens reported later that when I shut the car’s door and went back to the the trike, Loke had watched with face pressed against the window and whined. As Jens turned the car and I pedalled on toward Ulva Mill, he’d scrambled around to keep me in sight as long as he could, still giving soft anxious complaints.

Something important missing.

It felt weird rolling out without my cycle partner. He’d done extremely well though. 17.3 miles by the time he jumped in the car to head home and that only because of the skin of his feet. He’d had the power and energy to go miles more. He was probably better off than I was at that point. The wind had become a contender by then, bringing not only cold, but adding to the effort to move forward as well. My knees were quite unhappy and even my hip was complaining a bit. Oh, and the thighs. There was that distinctive lactic burn in the muscles along the front of my upper legs.

It’s been more than a year since Loke’s done so long a run. Maybe as much as 2 years. For me, it was the longest ride since July last year. That was when I did the Jumkil loop which was more than 28 miles. I still had to get home, but the distance would still be short of that Jumkil ride.

It was so very cold as I dashed on, pushing the trike over a flat 2 miles or so at speeds of more than 10 mph. I had no idea there were such reserves in me. About the time I reached Ulva Mill though, I had to slack off. My knees were complaining the worst. That both frustrated and worried me. The determination to get back under my own power was undiminished.

As I drove myself onward to Gamla Uppsala, the rare moments of sunshine were welcome. I’d gotten chilled enough that my fingers ached even beneath the wool gloves. I was looking forward to something hot, whether it be a shower or soup, when I got home.

I hope that’s archaeology work and not construction…

As I came up to the turn that goes by the once-cathedral-now-church at Gamla Uppsala, I spotted piles of dirt on the ridge that extends out from the church yard. That bothered me. I truly and profoundly hope it’s more archaeology to examine potential finds associated with the old Viking longhouse that stood there a 1000 years ago. Please, do not let it be some eyesore of modern construction that will only detract from the history and culture of this place.

I certainly can’t imagine anything that could be added to enhance the spot. Of course, there are way too many people in the world who look at a spot with grass and trees or other natural terrain only to think how ‘wasted’ it is and it should be ‘improved’ with a parking lot or some graceless block of a building.

I glowered at the scarred ridge as I crept up the hill and finally lost sight of it behind some trees as I passed the along the church yard wall.

It felt good to be at the church. It meant I was firmly back on the hamster tracks and home was within reach. I’d probably think that way even if I had a broken leg, I swear. There have been quite a few times when I’ve reached a familiar landmark, in pain and struggling, but thought to myself, ‘Come on! This is part of my River Loop! It’s silly to call for help now!’

First photo of Gamla Uppsala church AND it’s bell tower together!

Does that make me a glutton for punishment?

The sun made another of it’s brief appearances then. It even lasted longer than most of the others through the day. With the end so close, I pushed hard even with complaining knees and muscles that just wanted to surrender. Home was sooo close.

I called Jens when I was about 15 minutes out. I made it to the storage in 10 minutes. Just as well I had that extra time. It took a few minutes before my legs quit twitching and regained something like normal function so I could pull myself out of the seat.

It felt good though! I’d done it! After Loke’s departure, I’d gone another 6.21 miles. A total of 23.58 miles for me, of which, Loke had covered 17.3 miles. I felt it though since I’d more than doubled the previous distance of ‘2017’s Longest Ride’. Had probably been overly ambitious, but the sense of accomplishment was heady.

THIS is what my cycling was supposed to be about. Getting out and seeing and experiencing and exploring. Not the treadmill-ing around on the same little circles of tiny distances.

I admit, in spite of the success, I felt frustrated. It had taken 7 hours. So very, very slow. The 28 mile ride last year had only taken me 5 hours. I’ve been fighting back that feeling though, since 7 hours or not, it was a success and an accomplishment. Now, I just need to try and make it a more regular thing if my body allows it.