Terii’s Cycling Babble


Spring-Like Weather!
March 27, 2018, 11:18 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Finally!

I feel a little guilty starting to grumble about the wintery weather we’ve been having. So much grumbling about how missing the old winters from my first years here and now out come the complaints about the snow and cold. I’m just a contradiction, aren’t I?

The main sticking point about the winter has been just trying to manage the needed layers with the extra weight I’ve been carrying. My heavy duty thermals are tight which makes it hard to flex the hips and knees. Adding thin, medium, and puffy layers of wool also increase my circumference quite a bit leaving me squeezed in my trike. None of this makes for pleasant riding.

But let’s stick to some semblance of a time line.

First? Loke.

Loke, like me, has become something of a contradiction. In my last post he was a crazed bundle of 3 year old husky energy and vigor. Now, age has slammed into him hard. He’s having issues with his hind legs. They slip out from under him even on the wood floors of our apartment never mind ice and packed snow. A few times this week, I’ve seen one of his legs just buckle and collapse before he caught himself.

The furball is still a pest though. Staring at Jens and occasionally harassing both of us. Once out, he’s staggers a bit and with the trike, he’s just slow. Not the ‘gotta sniff everything slow’, but ‘plodding along, don’t make me go faster, but don’t take me home’ slow. He’s interested to be out and happy, but speed isn’t in the equation. That seems to validate my theory that his insanity mentioned in the last post was likely due to heightened levels of testosterone before the castration chemicals did their job.

It could also explain his difficulties with smooth surfaces. Testosterone aids in the development of muscle. The lack of it combined with age could be rushing a loss of said muscle in my fuzzy and making it harder to control his legs when his feet slip.

But it has reduced the size of the tumor. It’s gone from about the size of a large-ish grape to about a pea. The wound on it has even closed up a couple times. Then Loke scootches his rump and opens it again, but it’s staying healed for the most part. Surgery avoided. I have a few months to decide if it’s worth a wobbly, flabby husky. Of course, there might be no coming back from such loss of conditioning at Loke’s age.

My next ride was on March 7th. With the occasional bouts of snow going to slush, Loke had gotten a bit dull. It wasn’t a terribly cold day, so rather than call the groomer, I decided to ride there. Loke was still firmly in ‘insanity’ mode as the testosterone levels hadn’t started to drop yet so it was brisk going.

By time we were at the dog salon, he was as mucky as could be. Left black splatters all over the waiting area of Jennifer’s shop. She just laughed it off and penned us in for a day the following week. Then it was a quick dash back home where I spent an eternity toweling Loke off so he wouldn’t completely ruin the recently cleaned floors.

Between the 7th and the 20th, nothing. Some days it was because it was bitterly cold. Others because we’d gotten like 6 inches of fresh snow and it had gone to that sandy texture on the roads.

One of those days, Jens and I had a conversation along the lines of:

Jens-Why don’t you take Loke for a run?

Me- Are you kidding? 15 cm (6 inches) of churned snow on everything? I couldn’t make it 100 yards of pushing the trike through that before my knees would explode. Loke wouldn’t even count that as a walk around the block.

Jens- Always something. It’s too cold. There’s too much snow.

Me (joking) – Well, if I had a fat trike, I could just go right over the top of it.

After a few seconds pause, Jens-  How much would that cost? 25,000 – 30,000 kr?

Me (staring incredulously) – More like 50,000 to 55,000.

To be absolutely clear, I don’t really want a fat trike. I mean, part of me thinks they’re pretty neat and heaven knows I’ve wound up in places where it would have made things much easier. Really though, how much use would I get from it as a fat trike? Someone on FB in my trike group told me I needed a fat trike to deal with what snow I found on my 11 mile ride back on March 4th. Out of those 11 miles, I only had snow that slowed my Sprint down for maybe 3 miles. So, for just those 3 miles, I should make the other 8 miles that much harder with a very heavy trike and huge, chunky tread tires?

Then there’s the inconsistency of winter. This is the first winter where snow has been a semi-persistent issue in years. What if I got the fat trike and we didn’t get more than dustings of snow or snows that vanish within hours for the next 5 years? It would just sit in the storage gathering dust beside my snow shoes . Quite a waste of 5000 dollars.

Transportation? I can fit my Sprint in our car, but a fat trike, even folded is NOT going to make the squeeze. I’d have to strip it down to stand a chance and uncertain my back could handle wrestling a brute like that in and out of the back hatch.

So, no. I really don’t want a fat trike. Maybe if we lived out near some huge patch of woods with unpaved, rocky, root tangled trails webbing through it, but not in my current triking circumstances.

Jens’ response was unexpected though. He seemed perfectly serious in his consideration.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised though. It was my delivery of an off-hand comment like that which led to my Sprint 26. He grumbled about wanting me to take the dog for a run and I responded that there was too much ice and snow for my Trice’s low-riding derailleur. Next thing, I knew he was seriously asking how much a trike with a bigger back wheel would cost. That following winter, I was riding through a snowy wonderland with Loke instead of pedalling on a trainer. Probably the last winter before this current one to have snow that wasn’t a flash in the pan.

Okay, enough about random, startling, trike related conversations between Jens and me.

My next ride was March 20th. It was one of those ‘suffer the layers’ ride. It felt worse than usual. In complete honestly, I felt like I had pillows fastened to the back of my knees that required extra effort to compress at the top of every stroke. Just ugh.

It was a short ride though. Just a brief loop around to give Loke time to do a little business while getting us to the cycle shop.

My sister-in-law is interested in perhaps starting to do triathalons. She’s on a student’s stipend and dealing with other issues, so my hubby and I have decided to help her out with gear. While we’ve spoiled Jens’ parents and his other sister over the years, his youngest sister has never seemed to need anything. I’ve always felt a bit guilty about that. So, if this endeavor is something that she wants, why not? We can be her sponsors as it were.

So, I was set to meet her at the cycle shop to chat with the owner about bikes and other cycle related gear she might need.

It wound up not going through, which she felt extremely guilty about, though as we chatted afterwards, I think I helped put her concerns to rest. It’s not our expectations (we have none) she should worry about, but more about finding an activity she’s enthusiastic with. Whatever she decided, we’d be happy to help.

That little ride gave Loke and I less than 2 miles. I was sooooo glad to get home and strip off those layers so I didn’t feel like an over stuffed pillow.

The next ride was the very next day, March 21st. Ahhh, the vernal equinox. So, that made it the first official ride of astrological spring, as opposed to meteorological spring. I think by the Swedish weather service, Uppland is still technically in winter.

Just the River Loop, but it was a lovely day. The forecast predicted temps in the 50’s and sunny. Warm and sunny? That’s so rare. It’s generally either warm and raining or sunny and cold.

Well, it was sunny and cold when I woke. About 23 F. So, I kept waiting for it to get warm enough that I could do away with at least the bulkiest of my layers. Finally, about 12:30, the temp climbed into the 40’s so I threw on middle weight wool under the tights with light and mid-weight wool on my top.

What a difference it was without the cotton track pants! It felt almost easy to pedal along. There wasn’t much wind so with the strong warmth of the March sun and my exertion, I found I didn’t need hat or gloves as we rolled along at a slow amble. The paths were all covered in slush as what was once rock hard ice the day before had ‘rotted’ and gone all crunchy and wet.

Still, it was so pleasant out that I felt good, that I didn’t mind it was just the River Loop again for the 14th time out of 17 rides for the year. I felt bad that Loke’s infirmities were slowing us down, but that was for his sake, not connected to the enjoyment of the day. I just toodled along, feeling perfectly comfortable in the layers I’d chosen while admiring the contrast of blue sky against the white blanketed earth.

It was a nice 3.55 miles.

I had great hopes for the next ride. Early in the week, the forecast promised truly wonderful things. Warm and sunny again. At first it was on Friday and the thought crossed my mind that if Jens worked from home, then Loke and I could set out in some random direction and just ride off the hamster tracks to be picked up when we grew weary.

Naturally, weather prediction is such a hit and miss kind of thing, so Friday wasn’t the day. It was warm enough that I could have gotten some miles in, but it would have been close to home. I needed temps that were warm enough for me to spend all day in without needing to be buried under my own body weight of wool to keep from freezing. I wound up running errands instead.

Saturday (March 24th) came to be pretty cold, so I settled for walkies with Loke.

Sunday, March 25th, the magic finally happened. The forecast promised it would be warm, mid-to-upper 50’s and clear. I woke and it was even above freezing which hasn’t happened in quite while. Clear skies were an added bonus. Still not quite warm enough for me to head out directly as I would have needed to be too warmly dressed to survive the morning that I’d explode into flames about noon.

While waiting for it to warm enough for minimal layers, I happily went to Starbucks for Jens. With such a big day of riding planned, I sat down at the counter to have a croissant with my hot chocolate and a delightful visit with Lucas and Max. Fueled up, I came home with Jens’ coffee and croissant to start dressing.

Thin wool layer on the legs and no electric socks. Oh, that felt so nice to not bother with them! The top I pulled on thin and middle weight wool as well as packing extra in a bag to bring with.

Loke was definitely interested. He followed me around with puppy eyes, trying to stay in my line of sight.

Such a lovely forecast and looking to come true, I also loaded up my drone. At last! A day of warm weather that wouldn’t instantly suck the batteries empty as well as no rain. I bought the drone late last year and haven’t even flown it once because of the uncooperative weather.

Set out a bit before 11 am. Blue sky, about 44 F and mild winds. Loke was interested, but slow. That was a bit of a downer. I set out for the most direct route across town. That turned into a bit of a fiasco as the cycle paths that would best have kept me out of the way of traffic were closed off for construction. I had to get a bit creative in a few places.

There was a bit of a snag almost immediately. Loke. He was slow. He looked around at the surroundings and was alert, but his pace was listless. Barely over 4 mph even down slopes. Worse, he limped.

I check his feet regularly and there’d been nothing wrong on Saturday, but when I looked during his ride, I found a patch of raw, angry red flesh the size of a nickle between his toes. I decided to coax him along a while longer. He still needed walkies and walks with Jens over gravel strewed pavement wouldn’t be any different than walking with me on the trike at 3 mph over gravel covered asphalt. At 3.5-ish miles, I had Jens come get him. It had taken us an hour and 10 minutes to get that far.

Once on my own, I was able to pick up the pace a bit. Still no speed demon, I admit. But even with the chunky studded tires and gravel, I was hitting about 7 to 8 mph on the flats. I buzzed by the old location of Loke’s vet and pushed on to a new section of cycle path I can’t recall ever riding before.

Ugh, the noise. The motor cycles are coming out. As I pedalled parallel to the old E4, there were 4 guy on crotch rockets. They went screaming back and forth between two round-abouts. South, weaving through traffic at over 30 mph faster than the speed limit, whip through the round-about to send their bikes shrieking north, through the round-about south.

I hate being slow. It took me forever to escape that hellish noise.

Just lovely!

I love Swedish country scenery!

It was nice when I finally hit a country lane sort of road. I climbed a bit of a hill, offering plenty of time to admire a pair of old farm buildings. Then it was a rapid dash down the slope, I’d clawed my way up. I hit over 20 mph just by gravity alone. Without SPD shoes, I don’t pedal if going down a slope as the risk is too great a foot could slip off the pedal and get sucked under the trike with one bad bump. Instead, I brace and enjoy the ride.

With some distance between the cycle path and busy road, I had an opportunity to hear something. Larks. My beloved larks have returned to fields of Sweden. I stopped to listen to the trilling, lyrical chorus that shivering through the air from several directions.

Larks! I can’t see them but there’s no missing the song!

The reprieve didn’t last long. The cycle path cut back toward a busy road to ride within meters of it again. It took me past a rune stone I’ve passed once years ago, though I can’t quite remember the circumstances.

Plenty of time to admire scenery.

Old houses have always held a deep fascination for me.

It was a long climb from there. It also happened to be the moment when it got the warmest. 62 F. From the plow piles and over rocks, water trickled and gurgled. As predicted the snow was going quick.

Faster than I was, to be sure. Honestly, my miles per hour didn’t really improve with Loke’s trip home. Of course, it was different. Except on hills, my moving pace was higher, but I was stopping to listen to larks or take photos.

Okay, this is just TOO neat!

At last, I reached the turn to cut away from the busy roads onto the small country lanes I love so much. Immediately, I jerked to a stop with absolute delight. A gorgeous piece of antique farm equipment. A hay baler to be exact. I know, silly to get all giddy over such things. The wood looked new, but the wheels and gears were all old turn of the 1900’s century iron with connecting strap-belts to drive fly wheels. I found it quite a treat. Even more than when I’ve crossed paths with antique tractors.

I was fascinated enough that I jumped up and tromped through knee deep snow to get a closer look. Wound up with some of that snow falling down my boot which immediately turned into a wet trickle into my sock.

So pretty! Hard to believe it was about 50 F!

I wound on from there. The little road was quite busy. Mostly people out walking to enjoy the day. Then, I saw the first of them. The Lycra clad members of the diamond frame road bike tribe.

Road view with old buildings.

It was so pretty. Snow across the fields set brilliant against the darker trees and the vivid skies. There were old buildings adding a lovely touch to the scenery, offering focal points of interest. Larks singing. Off in the distance, a burst of color caught my attention. A familiar pattern of orange and yellow. I was pretty sure what it was.

The temperature did a drop as I pedalled by the fields. There was a bit of a wind and with no trees combined to all that snow, the air just sucked up the cold and blasted it by me. I pulled layers back on in pure self defense.

Uppland Rune Carving #999

Further along, I took a short break from pedaling upon spotting a narrow shape. It stood about 20 yards or so from the edge of the road, and a bit taller than myself, thrusting from the middle a mixture of snow and patches of wet, dark earth. A runestone and my first ‘new one’ of the year. Near as I know, I’ve never ridden past it let alone ‘collected’ it.

That of course meant I needed to reach the little placard. It was quite a bit of work to reach it. First was the knee deep snow of the ditch. I found it easiest to tramp a channel through it that would make it easier to get back. Then was the fun of picking my way through the uneven ground where snow hid traps. Sometimes, it was perhaps an inch deep while less than a foot away, it was deeper than my knees. Quite a bit of slipping and trodding playing ‘Guess: Is It Deep or Shallow Snow?‘. You know who would have loved that though? Loke, of course. I missed him.

The snow was better to walk on than the mud. Oh, the mud. Gawd. It clung to my boots when I was silly enough to step on it. Held on like wet doggie poo. Bleah. I was quite a bit winded by time I made it back to the trike and road on.

So pretty

I came up to an intersection and scooted across on a left turn. The place looked familiar. Not unlikely as it was one of the main ways to Funbo Church and I’ve ridden to there twice at least. Maybe as many as three times. It was a bit confusing in some ways though as my rides along that stretch had always been in the opposite direction.

It appears I’ve never photographed this little manor house.

That set me up for another long climb. Again, just took my time. There was a pasture/orchard to one side, old, twisted little trees lining the little road as it rose up to a distinctive little manor house, painted in bright shades of yellow and orange at the top of the hill where the road took a sharp right. That manor is featured in the first of my blog posts.

A very sweet boy.

Along the climb, there were a collection of paddocks with at least 3 horses and a single pony. I was a bit edgy as I came up to them. Horses can be tricky. Fortunately, these beauties were curious rather than spooked. The one with the paddock closest to the road came over to look at me over the electric fence, snorting softly. I enjoyed the little visit.

Up and around the curve it was back down for a while. Another gentle coast as I headed toward roads more well traveled by my trike wheels. Soon, I was back on the streets I used to ride almost weekly in days gone by, aiming for Vaksala church and Granby mall.

Oooh, by that point, I was really starting to feel it. My thighs, calves, and hips were complaining. I gave serious consideration to calling for rescue. I’d been out for over 4 hours by that point. Yet, I couldn’t stop. The spire of Vaksala church beckoned and once I reached it, there was less than 3 miles to home. I could do it.

Limping along, I decided to stop once I reached the safe harbor of Starbucks at the mall. Lucas and Max were still there as well as Josephine. I plopped down on a chair at the counter and had another hot chocolate. It got quite busy as I clutched my beverage.

Then, I had to laugh, realizing the entire day to that point had been fueled by Starbucks. A croissant and hot chocolate before the ride and then a 2nd hot chocolate just then. Nothing else.

I recovered enough for the final push for home. And push it was. I’m not entirely sure how I actually managed those last few miles. I thought about taking the trike to the garage, but I couldn’t manage that last half mile.

Everything from the hips down were unhappy with me, but I’d done it and felt good about it. It had been such a lovely day and a great way to enjoy it. 19+ miles. It had taken me almost 6 hours. What would I have done with that time if I hadn’t gone riding? Sit watching Netflix. Chores? Ugh. Slow or not, I had a better time with the pokey ride.

I’m a bit bummed Loke didn’t get to come with me, but he’s looking better after just 2 washings and one spray of a cortisone medication. Maybe he’ll be feeling well enough to go further with me next time. Honestly, the ride would have taken me even longer to do with the furball. I would have been slower on the move and combined with all my stops. It would have been a good 8-10 hours instead of roughly 6.

Still, I’d like to get a few more good rides with him before age completely puts a stop to it.

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