Terii’s Cycling Babble


So Fast. So. Very. Fast.
April 27, 2018, 8:45 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Loke’s decline.

It’s rapid, but so erratic. I thought it was pretty fast before I had a realization a few days ago. Every time he’d be sluggish, or fall while walking on flat pavement, I’d just think to myself about how vibrant he had been in January. Bouncy and we’d done so well on the ride through the 11 mile Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Loop not to mention the 12 mile Läby Loop.

Then I looked. The 10 mile ride had been in February and the 12 mile Läby Loop was in March. February 16th and March 4th, respectively. His decline was so much faster than I’d thought. Then I wanted to believe I guess.

He still has his good moments. Mostly involving his food dish. April 18th, he was whirling as wildly as he ever did as a 5 year old as I walked over to put his dish down though he’d been a virtual pillow potato the entire day. He still enjoys walkies with Jens though I think he’s kinda done with the trike.

The tumor was giving me fits. I’ve been working to keep the ulcer clean. Then one day, I went to do my task and it looked disturbingly different. Covered with some kind of gray-ness. Panicked, I called the vet and sent photos on e-mail. As I waited to be told if I needed to bring him in, I suffered a sad revelation. Whatever it was, there’s nothing to be done for it. Surgery to remove the tumor has been ruled out as a very bad idea. When he was 5 and had his glands removed from that very spot, it was 4 days of hellish nightmare of his screaming in pain and fear. He was young, fit, and strong then. What would surgery in the same place mean for him now? Terror and agony for my fuzzy before granting him mercy? Would I really want his last days like that? If he even woke up from it at all? So, no surgery. Antibiotics? Again, no. Loke’s resistant to pretty much every available type of antibiotic thanks to his many, MANY infections over the years.

So, exactly what could be done with the issue? Not a thing. Just continue keeping it as clean as possible and make sure he’s happy. That conclusion has led me to a state of ‘numb resignation’ for lack of better description.

On to the rides!

Tower at the Gardens. April 12th.

April 14th, I decided to cycle on the other side of Haga, see if I could find that tower. According to a fellow recumbent trike rider on Facebook who lives and works in the area, it was built in the 1700’s and was used to judge horse races held on the ice. It sits on the grounds of a botanical garden. From the look of several maps with bike path information, it seemed to be an area thick with paths to explore. Perfect way to spend all day Saturday!

That sounded like a plan. Fresh ground and not much further than Haga. Perfect. So I thought.

It sounded so perfect, I made a point of leaving quite early to be sure of parking before the rush came to the park. I’m  glad I did, because even with GPS, it got confusing with me making a wrong turn thanks to 2 intersections being crazy close together. That led to a ridiculously long loop around before I could come back through to take the correct one.

Honestly, I wasn’t much in the mood for petty little frustrations like that. I was in a peculiar temperment. This bizarre mingling of frustration and apathy.

Finally arrived at the gardens and realized I’ve been there before. Didn’t explore too much though. I already knew I’d been to the Natural History Museum across the way, but not the garden. Even with the wrong-turn confusion, I was there just before 9 am. Awesome!

Parking was so cheap I just paid for a whole 24 hours. A whopping 60 kr. Pay more than that for 2 hours at Haga. I had high hopes to ride for most of the day.

I set it up so Loke could sit out and watch me get things together. Many curious looks as people came in to enjoy the sunny day at the gardens.

Loke watching water birds.

Once I had everything together, we rolled out. Loke was kinda sluggish. That odd mix of interested in his surroundings, but no ‘oomp’ to do more than a slow amble. Still, while I had hoped for more spunk, I was prepared to accept less, so just settled back in the seat to enjoy the pretty day and scenery once I figured out the direction I wanted to go.

I really wanted to stay close to the water. Scenery is so lovely with water, don’t  you think?

The path started out well, fairly broad with fine grained gravel. Nice and smooth. It each tree and every plant other than grass along the way had its own little placard to identify it in Swedish and Latin as well as a little description in more Swedish.

My attention was pulled by other things almost right away. Birds. At first it was a little black coot with its white bill paddling near the shore. There was a surprising amount of open water given that just 2 days while riding at Haga, it had looked frozen solid across!

I just adore grebes!

Moments later, I couldn’t help but to smile some even with my strange mood. Grebes! Over a dozen of them. No courting behavior, but they were essentially swimming around as pairs. I really was missing my old telephoto lens. Still haven’t replaced it after it was smashed when I rolled the trike to avoid getting my legs crushed by an idiot in a car.

The main reason I still lack a new long distance lens is because when I bring it up with Jens, he asks if I’d like a new camera. That leads to me researching sensor sizes and pros and cons of this or that. I feel overwhelmed and just let the moment go.

That, and since all I’ve been doing for the past 2 years is plodding around on the river loop, I hadn’t used the Canon much so didn’t feel the need to replace the lens. It only went out 4 times in 2017. Two of those, I took less than 10 photos.

I feel a bit mixed on the camera issue now. Part of me really wants to hope this will be a year of more exciting rides and therefore, needing a ‘real’ camera (as opposed to a camera phone) more and wanting to enjoy being able to bring distances closer with a longer lens. Also, I’d love to be able to photograph building interiors without needing to use Photoshop to stitch together 20 photos. I’d love to knock it down to say… 10? Dare I even hope for 5 or less? That would mean a smaller focal lens to bring too.

Pretty sure these are mergansers. A male on the water, female on the ice.

Then I think, more exciting rides means without Loke. Riding without Loke can mean only weekend outings or, well, that he’s gone, to put it bluntly.

A short distance further, I had my longing for a new long lens reinforced when I spotted what appeared to be a merganser pair. These two make only 3 mergansers I’ve seen since coming to Sweden. 4 in my entire life. That 1st one was at a wildlife clinic back in the states I volunteered at for 4 years. Gave my fingers a nasty slice one wouldn’t normally expect from a duck. Their bills have serrated edges to help them hang onto fish. A bird with ‘teeth’ as it were. I still think they’re awesome. It wasn’t the duck’s fault. It was terrified for its life.

Old pump house for watering the gardens

While watching the mergansers, it bothered me that Loke just sat down and stared across the water with no indication of impatience. It’s something he’s never done at the start of a ride. After a 5-10 miles, maybe, but not before we’ve gone even half a mile.

At least, he stood up without prompting as I made ready to roll out. He sat down again rather quickly when I stopped to photograph the old little pump house. Amazing that they actually used the brackish water of Baltic to irrigate the gardens right up until the 1960’s.

Our speed was barely faster than I can walk. I’m a slow walker, so that takes some doing. Still with blue sky, scenery, and birds, I was content enough to just creep while Loke plodded with opportunities to stop and sniff when he found something interesting. Slow or not, I think the furry one was still enjoying it.

The lovely path…

.. turned to this. Still lovely, but a tight fit at times.

After a bit further, the path came to a sort of intersection. Left seemed to head off toward the parking lot. Right turn? Well, it changed from small gravel to packed dirt, narrowing and following hard along a rock face with a sharp drop down to the water on the opposite side. Sometimes the edge of the path had nothing one could call a shoulder. Just open air.

Part of the Haga path across the bay.

A Victorian style green house.

It was never too tight for both trike and Loke when we had the trail to ourselves. Which we did most often. That was a matter of lucky timing more than anything. The joggers only seemed to appear when there was space to scoot over and let them pass.

Then the trail cut more inland and we rode through parkland rather than water’s edge. Loke’s interest waned a bit as we passed by an old Victorian style green house. I found it moderately interesting at least. It was too early for it to be open. Then again, I wouldn’t have left my furball alone to take a peek. Those days are gone.

A bit beyond the green house, I was able to find paths that cut back along the water. One was a little peninsula which was an interesting loop with some scenery value.

Just when I was starting to worry, I finally spotted the tower.

There were a couple of ‘Finnish’ cabins near the tower, but I didn’t take photos as they were rented out for private residences and people were around. The path split to either side on the approach to the tower. One being right by the cabins, giving the impression it was a driveway rather than than a path. The other side was clearly a path and up a very steep and graveled path.

That incline brought me to a stop. Literally. Not even halfway up and my tire started to spin. I gave it a couple more tries, but no go. I sat for a few minutes, arguing with myself and that depressive cloud hanging over me. What if I got over the hill and found I had to come back? Then I’d be stuck wrestling back over the hill. You know what? I wasn’t going to do it. Nope. Not pushing the trike up that hill. I got up and turned it around to roll back down there I could take the ‘drive way’. Confused Loke.

The tower I’ve been seeing from Haga.

It turned out the driveway was the correct way to go any way. At least, it was for the tower. There was a nice flat spot to stop, ringed with picnic tables. To one side, the tower sat high on a jut of rocky outcrop and on another, a little pink cabin.

The cottage didn’t really hold my attention, though I did walk around one side of it to see if I could squeeze the trike by to perhaps regain the path on the other side. It was possible, but it was steep. So, the concern of getting back over that hill if needed still put me off.

Loke watching me.

I’m not sure why, but Loke seemed determined to keep me in his line of sight as I wandered back over to look at the sign for the tower. I took a photo of Mr. Squinty as I walked back, even managing to catch him before he realized I had the camera pointed at him and he looked away. Go me!

I sat there for a few minutes, looking at my Garmin’s map as well as the OpenCycleMap app on my phone to figure out my next course. It seemed the best option was to go back the way I’d come for a bit and then cut across the grounds on a path by a pond to hopefully link back up with the water-side path further on.

So, off we went.

Lapwing to the left. Gulls to the right.

My favorite geese!

There were some things of interest along that pond path. Gulls galore, but then I heard a distinctive odd whistle and saw the peculiar square wings of a lapwing flapping around. It landed and I pulled out the Canon, again wishing for a long lens as I snapped a picture of it from a bit too far off for the tiny camera phone lens.

Then on the other side of the path, I found barnacle geese. These guys were braver than those at Haga. We quite close and they only eyed us a bit and then went on with their grazing. Loke was indifferent to them. Almost close enough for me to touch and he was just sniffing the winds.

My eyes followed the path before us as I rolled on. What lay ahead had me wincing. A long steep climb. It appeared to almost join up along side a road, so perhaps it would be paved?

My instincts were right on the money. It was paved. It climbed right up the face of rock with little flat spots at increments where small benches for pedestrians had been set. We took more than 10 minutes to go up. I’d stop at a flat spot to let my legs rest and nibble some nuts, offered Loke water at one, then push on.

At the top of the hill, the path seemed to cross a road and then a rather sharp decent to a graveled, wooded path on the opposite side. I took a moment to look at the maps and decided to at least see what was going on. I figured at worst, I could link up with one of the cycle paths along side a street to head back to the parking lot if I needed.

Oh for pity sake. Steeper than it looks.

So, down we went. Within moments, a wave of frustration just washed over me. Immediately at the bottom of the decline, the path rose again, sharp and hard. Up and up. I knew there was no way the trike was making up that hill. It was steeper than the one at the tower, a LOT longer of a climb, and on gravel no less.

I took a photo. Have you ever noticed that uphill paths never appear as steep in the pictures as when you’re standing (or sitting in a trike) right there looking at them? I swear, a photo of a trail on Everest would look like a gentle climb.

I shuffled the trike to the side of the path and then took Loke with me to see how bad it really was. It was a harsh climb on foot. Seriously? This was marked as a bike trail. Not mountain bike either. Around the curve was just more up.

That was it. I’d reached my limit. Maybe if I’d been in a happy mood, but with that odd frustrated apathy, I just couldn’t deal with Stockholm’s ridiculousness for climbs. No way I was going to struggle up that hill at nearly a 15% grade while pushing 50-ish pounds of trike, water, camera gear, and all else. I always forget how brutal that area can be for gravel paths and upward grades.

I had to hope I could make it back up the hill we’d come down to reach that point.

We could. It took work and with lots of slipping back tire, but I didn’t have to get up and push. I took a right turn on the small road serving as a drive for parking at a university building, intending to connect to a roadside cycle path to get back to the parking lot.

Even that turned into a confusing fiasco. Where the maps seemed to indicate I should go in the Escher-esk world of Stockholm, pointed to the E18, which is a highway. It would be like riding on the I-10 in the States with less of a shoulder and equally as forbidden for bikes.

I truly threw in the white flag. I felt exhausted and my mood completely sapped. Actually started to feel spacey and disconnected. I doubled back and took the absolutely shortest way across the gardens back to the car. Arrived there with barely 2.5 miles and it had taken us a bit over 2 hours to do. Admittedly, I stopped to watch various waterfowl and then wandering around the tower a bit, but that’s still pretty sad.

Loke turned into a lovey hindrance as I tried to put the trike away. It was as if he was ready to go now that I’d given up. Once packed, I took a moment to grab my parking stub and head for the payment machine. A woman in her 60’s was approaching it and I asked if she would like my leftover time. She seemed startled as I held it out to her. “Are  you sure?” she asked. I assured her it was an honest offer and valid until 9 am the next morning.

She smiled and took it, turning to tell her husband, who was walking up, about how this nice young woman had given them free parking. It was nice to be called young. As she went to put the stub in the window of her car, she promised when her and her husband were done, they’d pass it on to someone else. That at least made me smile.

I felt completely wiped and ‘shut-down’ for the rest of the day. Fell asleep before even 7 pm and woke up at 8 am the next morning. Dead to the world for 13 hours. No clue what was up with that whole day and night.

The next ride was April 16th. Off to Haga again. Worse places to ride. Like say, the River Loop?

Loke was interested as I parked, paid an insane amount of money for 4 hours (or was it 5?). My mood was much improved over the 14th. I was also a woman with a mission. I was going to find Solna Church. At least this time, I knew roughly where to find it and how to get there.

The weather wasn’t as nice as the previous two rides. Instead of sun or sun and a bit of clouds, it was all clouds. I didn’t really have a sense that rain was going to be a problem thankfully. I did need an extra layer on my arms so pulled on my vivid yellow windbreaker. A knit cap under the helmet was quite welcome as well. It was probably a bit under 50 F.

Haga’s north gate.

Bridge over the E4

It was confusing to the husky when I turned right where we’ve always gone left even on our walks. It intrigued him and he went along almost as brisk as our first Haga outing on April 12th. We left the park through the north gate and ambled over the E4, safe and high above the traffic.

While rolling over the bridge, I noticed what I thought were simply decorative pillars were, in fact, memorials to various people who had some hand in making Haga what it is today. A close look showed it was only the pillars on the south edge of the bridge to be memorials. The others, were just decorative.

Pillar memorial to Louis Jean Desprez – French architect responsible for many of Stockholm’s famous landmarks.

My favorite of the bunch was of Louis Jean Desprez. Probably because I’m fascinated by the huge ruins of the foundations of the grand Haga Palace, was never finished, where the blue prints shown on the pillar beneath the raise bias of the man’s profile. Turns out he also designed the conservatory at the Uppsala Botanical gardens and quite a few other landmarks in Stockholm. Busy man.

The pattern of roll a few yards, stop to photograph a pillar, roll a bit more, stop for another picture, had Loke sighing at me. At one point he even woofed. Poor inconvenienced husky.

And much to his relief we were finally at the end of the bridge where I immediately turned left to roll on a cycle path wedged between the big graveyard where Nobel is buried and the roar of the very busy E4 highway. Thanks to a nice bushy hedge, I couldn’t see the highway, only hear it. On the other side was more hedge, but behind a fence of black iron. Made the cycle path seem almost cozy except for the traffic noise.

While slowly rolling down the hill to accommodate Loke’s amble, I kept an eye out for an opening in the fence I could get through. There were a number of little passages, but only for pedestrians. Maybe even someone could get a bike through, but not while riding it. Nothing to allow a recumbent trike with a running bar and husky to squeak by.

Tree-lined path to the building for Jewish burial ceremonies. (I think)

At last I found a car sized gate and pedaled through. Ahead was a lovely assemblage of paths and trees, still in muted grays and browns of winter hues, the center most lane leading to a pretty building.

The gravel surface was pretty soft, but not too bad for rolling at the leisurely speeds we did. I kept looking for a way to move onward, but it seemed every side path, I examined got smaller with a sharp turn or somehow dead-ended. I went right up to the building and circled around it, finding it true of everything beyond.

Then I started looking closer. No crosses or other such Christian touches to the markers. Then understanding clicked. We were in the Jewish burial yard. I had known it was in the graveyard, but not that it had been so effectively ‘sealed’ off from the rest of the grounds. I went out the way we’d gone in and continued to follow the fence until I found an second entrance big enough for us.

It was a surprisingly long climb through the graveyard, though thankfully a gentle grade. No more than 4% or 5%. There was no need to rush through such peaceful and scenic environs. You know, I don’t think I’ve found a single graveyard in Sweden that I would call ‘spooky’?

I reached the opposite side and came up to a street. Across it was another graveyard, or perhaps just more of the same one divided by the road. I had to wait a few minutes for a break in traffic where I could scurry across.

Solna Church from front.

Just a few yards past the entrance, stood Solna Church. Quite a lovely building. I found the central roundhouse core, the oldest part of the church, most appealing.

As I parked to do my typical walk around, the church bells clanged, giving Loke quite a start. Was it possible the church was open? As if in answer to my wandering thought, someone came around the corner and I cheerfully rocked to my feet as he went to the door. Alas, my hopes were extinguished when he ssssoooo carefully opened the door just enough for him to peek inside before squeezing through the opening as noiselessly as a frightened mouse. At that moment choral harmonies came through the ancient walls. Drat. Services of some kind.

There were a lot of trees and tall headstones around the church, so I left my camera in the bag, taking my phone instead to collect the church. Naturally, made me think of the 11-18 mm lens I spotted recently. How perfect it would have been for taking the pictures in such tight quarters. Even with the phone, I had to do some angle chasing to find a spot that gave a good view without something in the way of a feature I wanted included.

Solna Church – Side View

A burial marker. Perhaps this entrance is a burial chapel?

I forgot to look for any runestones while I was there. I guess that will give me another excuse to go back soon. As I went to sit back in the trike, I noticed a stone placard on the wall. An angel, or cherub, above the frame with a skull and crossed bones beneath. The calligraphy of the text made it hard to read and I was more interested in the carvings than the writing, so I just took a photo and admired it for a few seconds more.

Now that I’ve cropped the photo, I got curious and bumped up the contrast to make the text a little clearer. It’s some kind of memorial or burial marker.

At the very top is the word ‘Epitaph’ in Latin. Just below that, might be a name where the flourishes of the writing are so extravagant as to make the lettering impossible for me to read. After that, it seems to say something about ‘tired bones (something, something) under this stone’. Further down it says whoever it is was born in Stockholm in 1668 though I can’t make out the month or day. The ‘death’ line lists the year in 1728, but names both June and July. So, perhaps they died in June, but were interred in July? The last 4 lines are scripture.

My difficulty translating might be because it’s old Swedish, which changes the spellings, combined with my unfamiliarity reading such elaborate script. Still I find the marker even more interesting now.

Chapel perhaps?

I did a quick roll around the church, stopping to take a picture of the building behind it. It looks almost as if it could be a charming little house, but where it is in the graveyard, I’m guessing it’s more of a chapel.

The main mission of the ride accomplished, I turned us back to cross the street again and take a long, slow roll down the hill through the bigger graveyard. From there, I trace my steps back toward Nobel’s grave until I reached the entrance near it. After a short ride under various overpasses, I came up to Haga’s southern gate.

I stopped before going through and stared off in the distance where a cycle path ran along the fringe of an open field. Perhaps to keep things in Haga interesting, I should change it up? Follow the field path, then cut to the water and do that path in opposite of our first Haga ride? Sure!

Going that way led me to an unexpected treasure. On the drive to Stockholm, there’s a spot where the E4 splits into a few parts, going under, over, and around itself like a Celtic knot. Wedged hard against all that mess, one bit of road runs within yards of an old Courthouse. A lovely building. Well, there it was. I had no idea I was so close to it. There seemed to be no way to get a nice photo of it. From the front, the waist high concrete wall between the paving stones in front of the stairs and traffic pinned me in so I there wasn’t even a good way to just photograph the entrance. The sides, frankly looked a bit boring, and the back was mostly parking with what I remember as garbage bins. I could be wrong though. I just remember feeling frustrated that there was no pretty view.

One book I had when I was a child was “The Little House”. It was about a little house (surprise!) who was in the country, but she dreamed of what it might be like in the big city. Well, time went by and the city came to the little house until she stood, cramped and crowded, miserable and forgotten.

Looking at the courthouse and trying to find a good position to photograph the front made me think of that book. I’d not thought of it in decades to be honest. But here was this beautiful building, half encircled at the front by a road network that can see thousands of cars an hour.

View of the bay with husky ears.

That frustration didn’t last long though as we cut across the field toward the water. There, a few grebes paddled around on what was almost completely ice free water. A bit further along where we rejoined the path taken on our first Haga ride, but in the other direction, there was still quite a bit of ice clinging along the shoreline.

Not far down that path, Loke started to flag. He’d never been what I would call energetic on the outing, but interested at least. His pace went from what I would call an amble to a plod and he had a few trips and stumbles where there was really nothing to hinder him. I stopped and took him off the trike tether in exchange for his leash. He took a few steps over to sit in the grass, just watching the birds on the water mostly. I relaxed, sipped some water after offering him some, and waited.

After about 15 minutes, he stood up and wagged his tail at me. When I asked him ‘What?’, his ears went up and he shuffled over to stand by the bar, ready to be tethered up to go.

A ‘temple’. There are a few of these, inspired by Greek temples I think.

Nice and easy. Still, it rather broke my heart. My crazed fireball of a husky, struggling with less than 4 miles under his paws. There was still joy in him for the outing though. He’d perk up when a goose would set up a racket in the distance. Once, he even tensed as if he was going to bolt after a squirrel. So, still interested in his surroundings.

As brilliant as he had done on the first Haga ride, I’d hoped he’d be giving a repeat performance on the 2nd one even after his sluggishness through the Botanical Gardens two days before. It wasn’t meant to be.

Blurry, but beautiful. Should have tried for it with the Canon.

So, I was left to stare forlornly where the path continued along the water past a little marina area where I’d hoped to explore further before surrendering to common sense and heading back to the car.

This is only one end of the foundation.

The last stop was by the foundation ruins of the never-finished Haga palace. I decided to get a photo of the portion we could easily see with Loke and the trike in the foreground. This ruin is mind-boggling. These huge stone walls in the picture are maybe a quarter of the total length and these are only the foundation and the basement. Above them were meant to be several stories of palace. The fellow trike rider who lives in Stockholm has mentioned a labyrinth of spaces under these stones as planned cellars. I admit. I’m curious to seek it out at some time in the future.

Naturally, once back at the car, Loke was all lovey and in the way again. As soon as I had the trike put away though, he hesitate and then refused to jump into the backseat even with a ‘cookie’ bribe waiting for him. I had to pick him up. Quite undignified for a husky of his years. It would have gone a little easier if I’d not taken his harness off. Being lifted in like a suitcase might not offer more dignity, but easier on both of us I think. He slept the whole was home. Just 4.6 miles.

The next ride, was on April 19th. Perhaps I should call it an ‘attempted ride’. Loke seemed interested and my feet were just killing me. Rather than hobble painfully around for several kilometers through the day, I decided I’d use my trike as a moving armchair and just inch along with Loke.

Inch was right. We went out and he went at a lazy sort of trot for about 200 yards. Then it was an almost weary walk for another few hundred yards. About time we reached the cycle path, he was going very slow indeed before he just stopped out by the big metal sculpture. That is the first time that Loke has stopped on a ride. When the snake bit his paw and he could hardly stand to touch it to the ground, he still wanted to go on his three good legs. Hot day and found a patch of shade to cool off in? He still would scramble to his feet, eager to keep going when I so much as scratched my nose or blinked. My furball has never been the one to refuse to keep going no matter what the conditions.

It was a sad first…

I stopped and swapped to his leash so he had a bit more room to settle for a rest. He tottered across the little ditch and laid in the sun-drenched, winter-brown grass, wind ruffling his fur. About 20 minutes later, I coaxed  him to his feet, but kept him on the leash. I managed to get a few hundred yards out of him before he just sat down a again. Just a bit over a mile and it took more than an hour.

I’ve taken to calling Jens the ‘Husky Battery’. Because the rest of the day, Loke all but refused to move off his pillow in the living room. The moment Jens got home, Loke was bright eyed and wanted to go for walkies. *beats head on wall*

Honestly, I can’t tell if he was feeling so incredibly bad on our hour long, 1 mile mosey, or if he just doesn’t have the energy or interest for a local ride to overcome his boredom.

I didn’t ride again until April 25th. Mostly from lack of opportunity. I didn’t have the will to deal with another ride like the previous one where it almost seemed Loke was going to lay down and die mid-ride. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but it doesn’t feel much like one. And the fuzzy one can’t be left alone. He’d probably eat the couch or the remote, batteries and all. Putting him in the bathroom with everything he might destroy isn’t an option either since it’s too small for him in there with the Cone of Shame that would keep him from bothering the tumor.

So, trapped at the apartment it was. I did manage a few walks at Wiks. Also walked at Haga since I didn’t feel like loading the trike back in the car.

So, when Jens came home about 2 pm on Wednesday, I flew in my cycle clothes. It was about 60 F and seemed mostly sunny. A bit of apprehension danced along my nerves as I readied the trike. How well would I do on a solo ride? How much fitness was lost over the past weeks of riding with my aging husky or not at all? Did I dare attempt the 10 mile Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Loop?

I decided at the very least to do the Gamla Uppsala loop. That would give me a mile or more to evaluate how I felt yet could still be the beginning of the longer ride.

Right away, I was surprised. I headed off down one of the little residential streets to dash off to the cycle highway that leads out to the burial mounds at Gamla Uppsala. I zipped along at 8 mph for the first quarter mile, whipped through some turns and still kept pace through the rest of the little streets. As I headed for my connection to the cycle paths that would loop me around to Gamla Uppsala Cycle Highway along side Vattholma Road, I was surprised by the clouds looming above the trees that stand thick in the frisbee gold course. The tops, white as mounds of purest whipped cream, but underbellies of dark slate-blue with streamers of rain veils. It looked like it could be wet around the mounds.

I still cheerful blasted down around the curve and under the overpass, almost coasting right up the other side to make the sharp right turn. Mostly, I was in the sun though the clouds reared higher and closer, looking more threatening with the dark bottoms. From where I turned onto the ‘cycle highway’ toward Gamla Uppasala, it’s pretty much all uphill with one short slight decline. Even so, I spun along at over 4 mph which is faster than any ride I’ve had with Loke in months.

Wind came gusting on and off as the clouds finally swallowed the sun. It was a chill, fitful breeze and the Garmin’s temp display went from 61 F to 55. I started to shiver a little as I’d gone with summer weight clothing. Not a single layer of wool to be found.

The rain held off until I reached the spot where I cross Vattholma Road to cut over to either the cycle path or go onto the mound’s path. As gray as it was over head, it was an even darker wall of threatening rain to the north. That was enough to decide that I’d take the shorter mound loop.

Dashing down the slight slope to where the old rail tracks once crossed, big heavy drops came bombarding. They hit right through the Lycra as if I were bare skinned. Felt just on the edge of being ice and combined with no sun and the wind, it had me shivering in short order.

As I went to connect with the path across the front of the mounds, I almost ended up in a bit of a tangle. A girl, maybe 10 years old, was wobbling along on her bike, going so slow she could barely keep up right. Worse, she was distracted. I waited for her to make up her mind what she was doing. Finally, she turned onto the path’s far left side and I started forward, hugging to the right edge. Abruptly, still looking down the path rather than in the direction of her bike, she cut hard to left, right into my path. I yelled and clenched the brakes so hard it felt like my rear wheel bounced off the gravel. My boom was just inches from the front of her pedals. Her head snapped right to look at me with wide eyes as she jerked her front wheel left to wobble to the other side of the path again.

I bit my tongue and spun fast and hard to put her in my rear view.

The annoyance didn’t stay with me long as I went quite briskly, faster than I would have believed possible at the current level of fitness and weight. I broke free of the rain about the time I came up to the big descent at the end of the ridge of mounds. Wind whipping tendrils of hair that had slipped loose their bounds at the nape of my neck, rattling o’er the gravel at almost 20 mph, giddy laughter bubbled from my lips. I finished the wild downward plunge and whipped left onto the gentle incline, inertia flinging me back up. Then I hit the brakes to not terrorize the couple trying to wrangle a tangle of 6 chihuahuas on leashes by whizzing by. Heaven forbid if one of them had stepped in my way. Tiny little things wouldn’t have stood a chance. Better to go respectfully by at a pace only slightly faster than a walk.

Then it was up the sharp little hill where the path emerges from the trees. A woman was walking up it as I approached. It felt good, and just oddly awe inspiring that I actually beat her up. I remember when people would pass me on that climb. I waved at her as I started the next downhill glide.

It’s not nearly as steep as the big one, but a good length. I rattled along happily at about 15 mph. A head, I could see a couple walking with a large dog. They weren’t really paying attention to things around them, sprawled out to hog the entire path. I slowed to about 10 mph and was about to break when the man turned. He stepped aside, and guided his wife closer to the left side before waving me on.

I took the invitation happily and spun on the pedals with gravity still in my favor and buzzed by them at about 12 mph. The woman was holding onto to the dog, which looked to be a very fat, old Irish Setter. I was only a few yards by them when I heard yelling and the deep, belling bark of the dog. A glance in my rear view showed I was a hare on the run. Fortunately, I hadn’t reached the next incline and still had about 150 yards further of downhill. He didn’t seem to be closing the gap at all. I pedaled up until I was about 15 mph, watching warily, hoping the dog would give up before I hit that hill.

He did. Aged and fat as he was, he probably didn’t go more than 150-200 yards before wheezing back to his owners.

I still managed to do 3 mph up that hill, wanting to be sure the dog didn’t change his mind and catch me at my slowest. From there, it was another long ‘wheeeeee’ down a gentle grade for almost half a mile. I love that stretch.

The hill with the “The Sign”.

Before I knew it, I was back under sunshine and coming off the gravel path onto the paved River Loop where they connect at the hill of the metal sculpture named ‘The Sign’. I stopped for a picture because I just loved the contrast of the clouds with their dark undersides and streamers of rain against the sun. As I took it, frisbees came sailing out of nowhere. The first one went fairly straight and overshot the ‘hole’. The second one had more of a hook and fell quite short. The third one seemed dead on target… for my head, but missed by about a meter, skittering on the path.

I laughed about the near miss. It’s not like they could have aimed for me on purpose. The line of the hill blocked their view of me. They gave me apologetic waves as they came from behind the other hill.

I’ve actually had a frisbee bonk off my helm, but that was back in the wooded portion of the course.

The sun and breezes quickly dried off the last damp from my clothes and the temp bounced up to 61 F again. So very pleasant and as much fun as I was having, it seemed a no-brainer for me to add the out-n-back of the north river path.

I passed the 4.5 mile mark as I made the northward turn. My feet had some discomfort, but my legs still seemed happy to keep churning the pedals. I cruised at quite a brisk pace along the path where the river ran surprisingly high down the bank. There were splashes of green in the grass and down toward the end of the path where I turn around, the wide stretches of grain crop (wheat probably) were already blushed with a lovely verdant hue of spring. Just need the trees to catch up.

I arrived back home with 8.53 miles in just over an hour. I was stunned. That is the fastest ride I’ve had in… you know. I’m not sure. I think it could be as much as 2 years. 5 mph average for a while and the past 6 months or more it’s been closer to 3 mph average.

So, yeah. I was amazed. I felt guilty not going with Loke, but it felt so good.

A further bonus was what my Fitbit told me. Almost every ride I’ve had since getting it has showed hardly any exercise result. 3 hours rolling with Loke, could net me maybe 10-15 minutes of something the little device counted as exertion. Out of 77 minutes on the trike on the solo ride, my Fitbit said I exercised for 63 of them.

That made that River Loop ride even more worth the time. Fun and fitness together!

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This Week Has Been HARD.
April 13, 2018, 1:45 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

 

The title is an understatement. Grief just coming in waves. It certainly has given me a little clearer perspective on Loke’s decline though.

Bright and early on Wednesday, April 11th, I got word from old friends who were in truth more like family through all of my teen years and well through early adulthood, that their mother had a major stroke the evening before. We’d lost touch with each other for over 15 years, and I’d only recently reconnected with them. Mom J. has been struggling with health issues, among them Alzheimers. They were taking her off life support as the stroke had caused too much damage and there was nothing doctors could do.

That was like a kick to the head after the punches dropped me.

Ever since their daughter had plopped down beside me under a pine tree during lunch at one of my first days at a new school, her family had enfolded me like one of their own. Sue and I were practically inseparable. Mom J. mothered me as much as she did her own three. When I had to leave home abruptly, they took me in and gave me a new home. When Dad J. passed suddenly, Mom J. insisted I stand with the rest of the kids during the funeral. I was family and never mind what the rest of the family on his side thought of that.

I don’t know where I would have been without that wonderfully quirky girl who just appeared out of nowhere and said to a lonely, shy me, ‘Let’s be friends!’ I truly believe my life would have taken me in directions that would never have led here to Sweden with my wonderful husband and a 13 year old husky who’s explored so much of this country with me and the trike.

On Wednesday, April 11th, I had planned to take the trike to Haga Park at the northern edge of Stockholm for a slow toodle with Loke. Somewhere fresh, that the trike has never been, that could brighten our day. Mostly it was for Loke. I was going to spend hours going as slow as he wanted or even just sit in the trike as he basked in the sun if he so desired. First, I had to get done with a vet appointment.

The evaluation was about what I expected in many ways. We discussed the tumor and after going over it all, both the vet and I decided that in Loke’s current state of decline, it would be cruel and useless to subject him to that surgery. When the glands were removed from that very spot years ago, it turned into a 4 day horror show. He was young, fit and strong. Odds are now, he’d have the surgery and need to be let go within days of it, all the while, in terrible pain and terror. That’s not how I want my old man to go out. Of course, that’s if he’d wake up at all…

As for the increase in wobbly-ness, she recommended another medication to be used in conjunction with the others. It could potentially ease whatever nerve pain he might be having from the deterioration. It might make him sleepy though, so she recommended just an evening dose first and then if he still seemed uncomfortable to add another morning dose. Can even go up to 3 times a day if needed.

For when the time comes, they have a separate entrance to the clinic for just that purpose. A comfortable room one can get to without passing through the waiting room with all its generally distasteful veterinarian memories. One can pay in advance so that as the deed is done, there’s no need to fumble through payment as one sobs inconsolably over the loss of their furry companion.

I’ll admit, I started crying as we talked about it. The vet hugged me tight, saying how sorry she was.

By the time all that was done, I decided it was too late to leave for the ride. it was almost noon and once I dressed, stopped somewhere to grab something for lunch, made the drive there, unloaded and assembled the trike, it would be after 2 pm. Thursday was supposed to be as pretty though. Sunny, high in the upper 50’s. Thursday it was.

It almost didn’t happen. Loke was so unsteady on his feet. His right back leg in particular was giving him problems. And blood. It wasn’t a gush coming out of the tumor, but it was the most that there’s been. It made quite a mess of a cotton pad as I tried clean and evaluate it.

I had to step back for a moment and honestly ask myself if his time had suddenly ambushed us. After getting all teary eyed and pacing around a bit, I decided to do as I had planned. If need be, I’d call and make the appointment for his passing on Friday if he was too bad, but I was going to at least take him out for one more ride with the trike somewhere we’d maybe both like. Monday would be even better as long as he wasn’t suffering too much. That way we could spoil him over the weekend with all the naughty stuff he’s not had for years because of his allergies.

It was a hard drive. Loke usually sits up and kinda stares out a window on the drive to Stockholm. This time, he just laid down from about the moment we hit the E4 and didn’t get up until I took the off ramp for Haga Park. I had some weepy moments as I played over memories with him and even older ones of the good times with Mom J.

She was lingering on after they had ceased life-support.

I pulled into the parking at Haga and started pulling the trike out. I rolled down the windows so Loke could stick his head out if he wanted to. He did. Well, when he wasn’t watching me from over the back seat any way. He perked up almost like his January self as I worked.

I was fastening the seat when a woman in a large SUV type Jeep rolled up. She opened the back and out jumped a magnificent Rhodesian Ridgeback. I smiled and asked her about him. His name was Harry and he was 2 years old. I asked how much he weighed and she made a bit of a face, “I don’t know. I’ve not weighed him in quite a while.” Then she dropped her voice a bit, “But he needs to lose a couple kilos. He’s a bit pudgy.”

There was perhaps a little extra weight around his waist, but not as bad as some dogs can get. Personally, I think he still was a beautiful, handsome boy. His shiny short coat still showed off his musculature rather nicely. He wasn’t so well padded that it was hidden.

She admitted then that she originally wanted a husky, but didn’t believe she had the time or energy to give one the energy outlet it needed. I nodded and told her that I wished more people thought of that. We did consider it and even so, it still kinda caught us by surprise. Without the trike, we’d never have been able to keep a husky happy. And Loke was pretty laid back as huskies go. Well, healthy, fit huskies any way. Out of shape, obese, huskies condemned to a life of ‘a half hour’s walk a day’, not so much.

Then she walked on as I finished putting last touches back on the trike.

Still hates cameras. It was only because of the cookies he looked at me.

Loke seemed almost perky as he jumped out the car and was helpful in getting his harness on. It was as if he was raring to go in his decrepit own way. That made me feel a little better though I was still wondering if this was going to be his final trike outing.

I clipped in (oh beloved SPD shoes/pedals) and we did a brief roll across the parking lot to the pay machines. He actually woofed impatiently at me as I put in 4 hours. I thought about putting in more, but wasn’t sure Loke would have that much oomph to walk that long or the patience to sit still for long in the sun.

Then we left the parking lot, scooting across the entrance road to the paths and it was like the past weeks fell away. Suddenly, it was my beloved husky of February and early March beside me. The one who cheerfully loped for a good part of our 10 mile Vaksala/Granby Loop. The one who jogged and ran 12+ miles on the Läby loop in March. The one who still wanted more after both rides.

Such a lovely day at odds with the sorrow in my heart.

I kept his pace down a bit, out of respect of his wobbly back legs. A fairly simple matter at the beginning as it was immediately a bit of a climb. Loke would likely have been fine with a bit more speed, as he actually put some weight in the harness, trying to get us up the slope faster.  Happily, but a bit confusing, once we were moving, his legs seemed pretty good. Quite stable.

Even when we finally got some downhill time, we didn’t speed up too much. Too many people to weave through and every time we did get a clear trail, I’d stop for a photo. Many annoyed sighs from the husky beside me.

Baltic ice reflecting blue skies.

The Garmin showed a temp of about 55 F and the sun was quite warm, but it felt colder than 55 F. I was a bit under dressed for it, especially when a bit of a breeze would blow when we were in the shade.

Moist dirt. Just hard enough to be good for the trike, but soft for old husky paws.

I was not to be deterred though. I took the paths we generally walk. The uphill past ‘The Copper Tents’ of the cafe where so many Swedes were sitting with faces upturned to the sun. Even people who were in groups had their backs to friends. It was like looking at a bunch of human sunflowers. Then it was the downhill toward the shores of a Baltic Inlet. The small paved road leads up to the gated entrance of the Princess’s manor, always locked, but there’s a lovely unpaved path that runs along the bank between the high iron fence with it’s security cameras and the softly lapping waters of the sea. Well, waters that ‘softly lap’ when they’re not frozen that is.

We were climbing up a tiny lump of a ‘hill’ on the path, going slow as I admired some swans on the ice through the screen of dried reeds, when Loke’s head went up in interest. Ahead of us, a woman on a small, compact white mare was riding toward us. The path was pretty narrow and not much space for me to offer for a potentially skittish horse to pass. Fortunately, there was a narrow dirt track that hugged right along the water’s edge, putting some very large rocks between us and the horse. She hardly seemed to see us at all. Whew. What a relief.

Botanical Gardens & Natural History Museum across the way.

As cold as it had been coming down from the parking area, with quite a bit of open sun and away from the water, it was worse on the shore path. A half mile or so of ice, across which the wind blew, sucking up the chill to bite right through my inadequate light wool layer. Made my hands ache too. Loke loved it.

The path was nice and fortunately clear. It’s so low and close to the water, that it can become flooded if the Baltic goes high for whatever reason. The only water on it was from melt on the right side, trickling its away across to the sea.

We rounded the curve, still along the water’s edge where it peels away from the estate’s fence line and I found quite a treat!

*squee of glee!* Barnacle Geese!!!

Geese! Not just any geese either, but barnacle geese! Admittedly, I get a bit giddy at the sight of just about any other goose than the ubiquitous Canada Goose. Those are just about everywhere, generally so noisy and downright belligerent. Barnacle geese are smaller, typically less noises and something elegant about them that delights me.

Across the way.

They weren’t too concerned about our appearance though a few were less than 40 feet away when I stopped. One or two raised their heads to regard us with wary suspicion before deciding there was no threat when all I did was pull a camera out and Loke looked bored.

After a bit, I took pity on the impatient husky and we rolled on, still following the paths closest to the water. Just few dozen yards down, there were a pair of Canada geese. I warily eyed them as we rolled between them, one on each side of the path. They mantled their wings and lowered their heads with hissing threats. Yeah, I’m not fond of getting close to Canada geese at all.

Once past the mean geese, the path took us around a bit of a little inlet within the inlet so we could look across on the bit of winter-brown land where we’d just come from. There was an intersection there and instead of going right, as I’d done for all our walks there, I took a left. Oh happy day for the husky! Somewhere we’d never gone! He really stepped up his game along there. Since it was flat with some stretches of down hill, our pace came to about 5 mph. It’s been weeks since Loke’s gone so briskly. He actually wouldn’t have minded a bit more speed, but again, me being cautious.

“MUST you?! And no, I will not look at the camera phone.”

I also took a moment to point the camera at Loke. Immediately, he looked away even though it meant squinting into the sun. It’s amazing how aware he is of photos and how he responds to them. I guess it’s because of the times when a flash has gone off.

As I snapped his profile, a woman suddenly stopped. “Would you like me to take your picture for you?” she asked.

I didn’t really want that, but it was such a polite offer I said “Yes, thank you,” and handed her the phone. She snapped a few, trying to get a good angle with Loke’s face which he stubbornly avoided. After returning the phone, she patted Loke on the head and told us to have a nice ride.

Grand mystery gate to nothing?

I really enjoyed the roll through the next section. The path was kind of nestled down between two ridges. On one side were some lovely old, wooden buildings where it was a softer mounded landscape. On the other it was almost a small cliff face upon which more very distinctive buildings perched. The light wasn’t good so the photos came out poorly, except for the one of the gate.

Oh yeah. Stockholm…

The paths got a bit muddled around out of the hollow between the hills. Several branching off and weaving into a slight tangle that was hard for me to suss out which I needed for the church I wanted to find. I picked a direction that took us into open ground a bit of water and the glint of steel and glass over there to remind one that this is really part of Stockholm.

I finally decided to use the navigation function of my Garmin which proved a bit difficult as I couldn’t remember the name of the church. Haga didn’t turn up anything and now I know it’s Solna church that I needed. Since I didn’t know that at the moment, I just pulled up a list of POIs and started flipping through them. One immediately grabbed my attention. ‘Alfred Nobel’s Grave’. Hey! Why not? Provided the grave yard didn’t forbid bikes and/or dogs. I picked it and hit ‘navigate’.

Haga’s south gate and a squinting husky

It led us across the open ground, a bliss bit of warmth that was a bit sheltered from the wind. We passed by the gate for Haga’s southern entranced and then down under an overpass along a busy road. Loke ticked along like a tractor. Not fast, but unstoppable.

An old mausoleum. I think?

I found the entrance to the grave yard and crept past the gate, keeping a sharp look out for signs. Nope! Nothing that banned bikes or dogs. I was especially surprised about the dogs.

It was a lovely old grave yard. Old trees and well maintained. Most of the headstones were no earlier than middle 1800’s. A few were perhaps as old as mid-1700’s, but none older than that I saw. Respectful of the dead, I kept Loke away from the grass and definitely from the stones and trees.

The Garmin guided me well though as I came within a few meters of where it said Carl Alfred’s grave was, I had a bit of trouble locating it. I was also a bit anxious around there since a landscape crew was industriously going about the post-winter tasks of trimming plants, raking grass, and sweeping up gravel. I half expected them to tell me off. Soon enough the charmed smiles some of them cast Loke’s way reassured me that no harsh words were coming.

After, I made a turn, the Garmin showed I’d passed what I was looking for. Rather than bother Loke by rolling backwards with him tethered as I used to do before his hind legs went all wonky. I pulled out his leash to unclip him from the trike.

Poor confused husky. It completely baffled him when I rolled backwards, but he felt no tug. He even tried walking backwards without any guidance, but then just turned around to follow along with his running bar. He knew where he should be.

After going a few yards down a different path, it showed I’d passed the grave again. I finally got up with the Garmin in hand, zoomed in as close as it would go and searched around.

Resting place of Alfred Nobel.

I was rather surprised when I found it. I was expecting something a little more… well, more. It was quite modest really. An obelisk of gray stone about 8-10 feet tall framed by a horseshoe curve of tall ever-green shrubs. Perhaps one of the most famous of Swedes (barring modern musicians and film stars). Maybe it isn’t too surprising, given his dark legacy (he was called the Merchant of Death in a French newspaper once), as the inventor of dynamite and his business in weapons. But this man also became appalled by such a legacy and so founded the trust which led to the Nobel prizes for peace, technology, literature, science, and others, celebrated in grand ceremony every year in Norway and Sweden.

I took a short break there, beside Alfred Nobel, offering Loke some water and then trying to puzzle out where the church was and how to get there. We’d done almost 3 miles. It was about another half mile to the church. Loke was still pretty strong. Amazingly strong and vibrant, given I’d been expecting to call the vet to arrange sending him into the beyond just on the drive to the park the next day. It hadn’t turned out to be the ‘one last roll at half a mile an hour for old time sake’ I’d believed it was to be. Such an amazing turn around.

Even though our moving speed on the flats was between 3 to 5 mph, I’d taken time to watch birds, admire scenery, poke up hills, and take photos. It was coming up on 2 pm. Looking at the tangle of trails and bike paths on the OpenCycleMap app, I wasn’t sure I’d have enough time to make it to the church and then wind back across Haga to the parking lot before the time ran out. What if Loke’s boundless energy wasn’t so boundless?

I decided to start back to the parking lot waaaay on the other side of the park. To get there required some doubling back along the road-side cycle path, under the overpass, and climb back up to the southern gate.

The plan was to make our return to the car leisurely. It worked out that way at first, but only because it was a loooong steady climb. Then we tackled an even steeper climb when a sign at an intersection pointed down a shady little path just wide enough for 1 car. It was ‘Gamla Haga’ (Old Haga). Had to see it so up and up we went. Loke tried to help a bit.

The Turkish Pavilion at ‘Old Haga’

Once we got up there, I realized it was the buildings we’d seen from the path through the hollow. The ones perched on the edge of a rock face. I only took a photo of the Turkish pavilion because the other, lovely wooden buildings were rented out as private residences and some of the people were out. Just felt too intrusive to photograph them.

The other structures rented out as homes were originally in another area of the land that later became the parkland. When the king went on a building spree in the 1700’s, the original buildings were moved to the top of this hill and renovated into a modest residence for the king at the same time, taking on the name ‘Old Haga’. The pavilion was a bit later, (1788). Full history as reported by the placard if you click the photo.

There was enough space that I could just pedal the trike around in a tight (for a recumbent trike) circle and pointed back down the hill. Much to my surprise, Loke threw his weight into his harness and shot me a side ways look as if daring me to not let him run. I relented. It wasn’t a wild charge down the hill, but a good steady lope that I held back just shy of 9 mph. He tried to keep it going as we made a right turn and started back up another, less steep climb along the edge of an open field.

Soon enough it seemed, we were back to pathways I’ve walked with him quite a bit. That’s when Loke became sluggish. Looking at him though, I was pretty sure it was more of a sulk than suddenly becoming sickly or tired. He knew we were heading back to the parking lot and end of the ride.

We made it back with roughly 40 minutes to spare. So, it wouldn’t have been quite enough to get to the church. If I’d known Loke would be so strong and energetic, I would have added another hour or two, but how could I have known?

As I started to break the trike back down, I used a cable to tether Loke to the ‘Oh shit’ bar in the back of the car. Leaving the door open, it meant he could sit out with me beside the car, or jump in to lay down more comfortably. He stayed out with me and turned into an adorably, lovable hindrance as I tried to get packed up. Stooped over awkwardly to undo the seat clamps? Loke wriggled his head under my arm and licked my chin. Sitting on the back of the open car to undo his running bar? The furball rested his head on my knee and kept bumping my hands for petting. Trying to walk around to put things in the car? Leaning against my knees with pitiful looks. His way of saying, ‘Please? Can we keep going?’

One of the few times when Loke has always seemed unequivocally lovable. At the end of a ride he’s really enjoyed. Otherwise, he’s generally ‘meh’ about affection.

Loke’s been in fair condition since the ride. Certainly better than he was yesterday morning (April 12th) when I was convinced he was knocking on death’s door with three paws in the grave already. Since he did so well, I’ve decided I’m going to go riding with him again on Saturday (April 14th). I discovered that the strange tower visible across the water from Haga is in a botanical garden and there doesn’t seem to be anything banning bikes or dogs. It’s a fairly wild looking garden and paths criss-crossing everywhere. The Natural History museum is right across from it as well. I can’t go into the museum with Loke, but perhaps lots of nice spots to ride along the water and through secret gardens.

So, perhaps another interesting post coming in the next few days!

 



Approaching the End of an Age
April 10, 2018, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

So, as I’ve stated before in the recent posts, Loke’s having issues.

With said issues, I spoke with a vet again about what might help the fuzzy stay comfortable and sane. She suggested the series of shots again, that might ease some of Loke’s joint pain. I agreed and so, he’ll be getting the 3rd of the 4 weekly shots tomorrow.

Between shots 1 and 2, Loke’s ‘wobble’ issue had gotten a bit worse, so when we went in for shot 2, I spoke to the vet about it. She gently looked Loke over and came to the conclusion that there’s some kind of back issue. He’s lost some reflexes in his back legs and occasionally didn’t notice when she’d ‘knuckled’ his foot over, both indicating some loss of nerve response. The problem is, she’s not sure if it’s an injury or degeneration from age.

Injury is completely possible as he was acting like a 3 year old for those couple weeks before the testosterone levels started going down after the chemical castration, but also a chance it might be degeneration and injury. There’s no real way to be certain except for like CAT scan or MRI. That would perhaps give us answers as to exactly what was happening, but unlikely to change the prognosis or outcome. So, it would mean sedating Loke for no change in what we do.

She said that if he were a younger dog, she would recommend strict rest for a month. Honestly though, she didn’t think it would improve things at his age, only serve to make him (and us) miserable. So, she advised limiting his jumping and stairs, but otherwise, let him do what he wants. If he seems to want long walkies, go for it. If he wants to go out with the trike, do it, though maybe don’t let him run. Stick to walking and jogging.

She also found that his front ‘ankles’ are in quite a bit of discomfort. She came to that conclusion when she wanted to look at one of his front paws. He stubbornly resisted her efforts to lift a foot though once she had it up, he didn’t really care what she did with the toes, only objecting when she flexed the ankle. It was mostly that he really didn’t want to put extra weight on one foot. I’ve known his ankles have been sensitive for a few years now because he couldn’t walk with the socks on, but now I know they’re quite a bit worse.

Hopefully though, the series of shots will help both problems.

Since the 2nd shot, Loke has had some good days and others that dipped into the realm of ‘bad’. He’s gotten even slower. Yesterday, after coming back from his morning walkies with Jens, my husband actually said he didn’t think that I should take Loke when I went to the cycle shop because he had struggled so much. That completely floored me. I’ve always thought Jens would be encouraging me to take Loke out with the trike as long as he was with us.

Tomorrow, we go to the vet for the 3rd shot, but I’m going to talk to her about how he’s been heading downhill even with the treatment. He’s had more incidents of his back legs just buckling. He limps most of the time when we’re out and his shoulders are bothering him more. An additional burden of worry is the tumor.

Initially, the size of the tumor went down about the time that Loke’s hyperactive behavior slacked off. The wound even closed up. The past 3-4 days though, that’s reversed. The tumor has grown to almost its biggest size and the sore has not only reopened, but is larger than ever. So, going to have to try and figure out what to do about that.

Any way…

Between March 25th and April 3rd, my rides were non-existent. Yes, part of it was the way age is slamming into my husky with the weight and speed of an avalanche. But I could have endured the hyper slow rides if I didn’t have to play revolving layers with the weather.

It was such pretty weather. Clear blue skies, but in the mornings it was 24 F and about 1 pm, it was 55 F. I wanted to ride, but for staying out all day, it was just too much to deal with. Dress for 24 F and die of heat stroke before noon. Dress for 55 F and be found frozen along the side of the road before noon. The torso layers are no problem to deal with, but legs. That’s the sticking point. I’m not going to put on a show by kicking off my shoes and dancing around on gravel covered pavement to wrestle off layers of thermal tights. No, just not going to happen. At least, not until I’m smaller and more agile.

On April 3rd though, it finally came together that it was warm fairly early that I wasn’t going to be dealing with Arctic temps at 9 am and tropics at 11 am. I could pull on modest layers and be able to endure them through the ride. Not to mention, it would also help Jens with Loke and my feet.

For about a week, I just had the worst time with the soles of my feet feeling down right bruised. Reluctant to ride with Loke, but could barely walk. So, I was glad when, at least the weather wasn’t conspiring against me.

At the time of the ride, though Loke was struggling with some things, as long as he was going in a straight line, he was fairly okay. Sharper turns are when he’d sorta trip over his own feet or have a leg crumple.

He was definitely interested as I dressed and held up his harness. We started out at about 3.8 mph thanks to the Svartbäcken cycle path being mostly gravel free. Sadly, the back cycle paths were quite gravel choked so our speed dropped to about 2 mph and slower in some stretches. Even with little rocks making Loke’s feet unhappy, he was still clearly enjoying the outing.

I was fairly bored with it to be honest. Not even vigorous enough to offer exercise and already like the 18th (of 20 rides) River Loops of the year. I amused myself by scanning for sprouting flowers. Alas, no joy.

We were passing then swim hall, when a pair of women waved me down to gush over the trike. One of them remarked that they’ve seen me before and wanted to ask questions, but I had been too far away for them to get my attention. It’s highly unusual when someone talking to me doesn’t at least ask or comment even briefly on Loke, but he might as well have not been there to that pair. I answered their questions and we parted ways with smiles and waves.

As I pushed on, I decided that since Loke wasn’t acting too bad given the circumstances, I’d pedal on to the grocery store a couple hundred yards past our apartment to pick up something for lunch. Loke, as ever, waited outside like a good boy as I dashed in and then we did a slow, creeping coast back down to the apartment.

Not an exciting ride, but at least it was pretty with blue skies instead of the forecasted overcast we were supposed to have.

Over the 4th and 5th, the weather did a dramatic shift from mid-20’s in the mornings with 55 F highs and gloriously clear skies, to above freezing even at night though still in the mid-50’s during the day. The other change was gray skies and rain. The first rain we’ve had in a long while. Combined with a pokey, elderly husky, I just stayed in.

On April 6th, it was snowing of all things when I woke up. Paved surfaces stayed clear with the white stuff only gathering on grass, dirt, and cars. About lunch time, the white falling flakes disappeared in favor of rain.

I would have loved to just stay in, but Jens worked from home and was pushy about ‘Walk Loke, walk Loke, walk Loke.’ Still dealing with my feet, I decided to spare them with a slow crawl with the trike.

Naturally, as I started dressing, it was beautifully sunny out. Once Loke and I stepped out the door to go to the trike, the clouds ambushed us as did the wind and a sharp drop in temperatures. 38 F. Brr. Even better 200 yards into the ride, spitting rain came slinging in on the wind gusts. I started shivering immediately.

Inclement weather or no, Loke was quite happy to be out. Not happy enough to be faster than 3 mph, but still happy.

The rain didn’t last long, but the damage was done. It had rained enough to get through my thermal layers and the addition of the wind with the end of daylight temp drop was too much. I still managed to push on for a total of 2.45 miles. Oddly, Loke’s pace picked up for the last three-quarters of a mile or so. We cruised at almost 6 mph to get back to the garage. Pity he doesn’t do that more often.

Once we were back at the apartment, Loke was predictably a crazed, bouncing, 3 year old husky.

I didn’t ride again until April 9th. The weather was above freezing and still raining on occasion. The wind couldn’t make up its mind if it wanted to blast around or just stand there.

I had to push out the door any way though for an appointment to get the tires and pedals swapped to my summer arrangement. Yay! SPD shoes and pedals again! Not to mention sleek tires free of chunky tread and studs.

The shop didn’t open until 9 am, so Jens took Loke for a morning walkie. Upon his return, he told me that he thought I should leave Loke at home when I rode to the shop because the furball was really struggling during the walk.

I about had a heart-attack. Jens, suggesting I leave the husky home. Never thought that would happen.

About 5 minutes before we were going to leave for Jens to drop me off at the storage, I went out with the garbage. No rain. As we walked to the car to drive to the trike, it was sprinkling and I saw a single snow flake.

Arriving at the storage, it was a full on rain. The good news was, with Loke staying home, at least I could roll a little faster.

I took one of the most direct ways I could to the cycle shop. Just 1.2 mile and it took me less than 15 minutes. I arrived at the shop early as I’d hoped to take a longer route there with a chance to get some exercise finally. Probably should have done that any way since all I did with my early arrival was sit, trying to squeeze up under my Da Brim as the rain fell.

I was so happy when ‘The Beard’ (yes, that’s what he’s called) arrived and kindly let us stand in the shop as he shuffled all the bikes out. Brr.

Trike checked in, I dashed off with the car directly to Starbucks and the desperately needed hot chocolate with hazelnut flavor. Oh, and there wasn’t a hint of a single raindrop as I left the cycle shop.

The text that my trike was done came a couple hours later. By then, Loke had a bit more spring in his step, so I decided that he’d go with me and the trike from the shop back to storage.

There was no rain as we rolled out from the shop, my trike now sporting summer tires and SPD pedals once again. While VERY slow (1.5 – 2.1 mph), Loke was interested in the outing. His head was up with a busy nose and ears and quick gaze noting the flitting of birds in a breeding frenzy of spring.

There were some issues. He would give a halting step at times and others, his back end would wobble. He was still happy. His favourite place in the world is beside the trike and moving.

I didn’t wan to push him too much though, so I kept it short. 1.7 miles. Took a smidge longer than an hour.

It truly breaks my heart, this sudden decline. Back in January, I would have said my husky was unstoppable. Now, I’m bracing for the end as we keep him happy with a decent quality of life for however long we can.

It’s been a good run and so much more than I ever could have imagined when I brought home an 11 pound, white and grey fluff-ball with a pink nose. I’m grateful for the years we’ve had and especially the last 5. When he was 8 years old, I didn’t think we’d be able to keep him going to 10. He was strong and fast, but so many issues. I used to joke he was the fittest, strongest, fastest, sick dog in all of Sweden. When he was 10, I just hoped we could keep him going strong to 12 years old which would make it the minimum average life span of a husky (12-14 years). He blasted through his 12th birthday like he was going to go forever.

I just want him happy for however long we will still have him. Even if it means my rides with him are at 1 mph. He still loves to move beside HIS trike.

So, tomorrow, April 11th, the plan is to put the trike in the car and drive to Haga Park which is where the butterfly ‘zoo’ is. There are a few miles of nicely groomed gravel paths bordered with soft, trimmed grass which should be easy on old feet. I’ll have food packed for us both and water of course. We’ll just poke around and see if there’s any paths we’ve not found yet that a trike and elderly husky can go. Somewhere we’ve never cycled before though we’ve walked a few miles of paths several times.

Hopefully, we can make a day of it, even if we only do 5 miles for the entire time. As long as it makes him happy.