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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