Terii’s Cycling Babble

I Only Mention This Trip Because…
June 28, 2018, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Awww. So little! So young! It still wobbled on its little legs!

… it has completely impacted my ability to cycle. I’m also going to take the opportunity to stick photos of the trip into the narrative all willy-nilly. Example, here’s one of a tiny baby reindeer that at best was less than a week old. It might have even been born just that day as it still seemed a bit wobbly on its feet, kinda like Loke.

So, the day before we were due to leave to Norway, I still had to get the trike back to the storage. With so little chance to ride over the weekend of the Mid-summer because of dinner with the family, concern about drunk drivers, and last minute planning for the trip, I decided I’d go for broke on Sunday, June 24th, with a long ride. Do the Börje/Gamla Uppsala loop for 18 miles to explore that new cycle path across the fields.

Jens neatly popped that balloon. “Take Loke with you for a short bit?”

Suddenly a 4-5 hour ride was going to turn into a 7 hour with still packing to do. I decided to just do a short plod with the furball.

Lake View from hotel restaurant. Arjeplog, Sweden

And plod it was. Loke was back to his shuffling around. I didn’t bully him about it though. Just sighed and crept along at whatever pace he set. We got a bit over 2 miles which took about an hour and a half. As we rolled along in the pleasant weather which continues to kill the grass and other vegetation, even after a good solid rain on Sweden’s Midsummer holiday on Friday, it occurred to me. If I was just doing a measly loop around anyway, I should have done it in the early hours of Monday morning, just before leaving for the trip. That would have given Loke a bit of exercise before being pinned up in the car for 9 hours. Admittedly were going to stop and walk him a few times, but still.

When Jens came to get us from the storage, I took the chance to toss the kayak into the back of the car. Good. That much packing done.

The trike, since I’d taken it back to storage, clearly was going to stay home. My reasoning was this, Norwegian roads are SCARY. They’re narrow and twisty, often with a hard rock face on one side, a looooong drop on the other, and just enough space for vehicles to squeak by. Throwing my pokey self into that mix on blind curves while inching up a mountain and traffic desperate to pass from behind? Yeeeeaaahhh… umm.. NO.

Church in Arjeplog

That’s even without touching on the fact I’ve gotten so little cycling in this year. So very little. It means there’s been limited opportunity to build up stamina and strength for riding. Scary roads, mountains, and I’m about as strong as a toddler on the trike? Doesn’t sound like fun.

Back in February and March, I had such dreams for the year. I suddenly started feeling good on rides. Better stamina, my hip not hurting, my feet bothering me less. The sky was the limit! Then Loke crashed and burned in April, chaining me back to the hamster tracks. Last year it was my body. This year, his.

So, trike back in storage, and kayak in the car. We got most things packed that evening. The next morning, it was just on Jens to get up early, walk the dog, then we’d throw the more valuable stuff in the car and go. I’m not sure, but it might have been the first time we’ve ever gotten away at or even a few minutes before the departure time we’d picked.

This just looks so strange. Rocks settled in the hollows like water…

Jens got us to Gävle, a bit over an hour north, and then passed the driving to me for a bit. I did it for about 4 hours while he dozed. Then we stopped to give Loke a little walk and offered water. Then back in the car with Jens driving. it was a pretty day. Clouds here and there and not insufferably warm. It wasn’t until we were into Lapland and reindeer started showing up that the photos began.

A bit over 9 hours and we arrived in Arjeplog. The little cabin we had was good enough. The beds seemed comfortable. The only problem was it was so HOT in there. Seriously. Could have used it for a sauna or to house Amazon rainforest critters. The woman serving at the restaurant on the sight was very nice. We had to sit outside with Loke and out there, it was chilly and insanely windy. It hadn’t felt that bad before getting to where the restaurant stood at the edge of the lake, so I had no sweater or jacket. When I asked for a blanket, the woman couldn’t find it, so brought out her own jacket for me to use.

After a hot night, I woke with my back just killing me. Those beds had been sneaky. Felt comfortable and then WHAM! Back pain the next morning. I hate those tricksy ones. We didn’t rush as it was only 4 hours to our hotel in Norway above the Arctic circle and check-in wasn’t until 3 pm. Took turns hobbling to breakfast when even Jens’ back hurt on waking up. Then we walked with Loke a bit.

Oooh! First snow dotted mountain!!

Then we set off, Jens driving. The plan was with my wonderful hubby driving, we’d take our time and do lots of stops for photos on the way. Just let whim guide us.

Lake, cloud shrouded mountain peak, trees, and distant waterfall.

3rd time above the Arctic Circle.

The first photo I stopped for was what, to me, looked to be an odd sort of landscape. It was kinda marsh like with stunted conifer trees, but in some places, where one would expect water, were rocks instead. Most rather large. The size of large dogs. But instead of being a wild jumble of sizes and piled up, they were spread out into a curiously level sort of surface. Just struck me as weird. I’m sure it’s some kind of feature left by the retreat of the glaciers when the last ice age came to an end, but almost flat surfaces the rocks formed, and the way the patches were clustered across the ground was fascinating. It stretched on for some kilometers.

Can’t help it. I love geology almost as much as I love animals and cycling.

About an hour, hour and a half later, we crossed the Arctic Circle. There was a little gas-station/cafe/RV park there along with a sign marking the imaginary line.

I was so loving the landscape. Just breathtakingly different as well as beautiful. The stunted trees. The rough bedrock, gouged and scoured by glaciers long gone. Then there’s the soft swell and rise of the mountains, pushing up above the tree-line and dotted with lingering snow from which spring streams and waterfalls to come tumbling down into arctic lakes.

And then we were crossing the border into Norway. I suppose I should have photographed the crossing, but ah well.

And Norway!

The change from Sweden to Norway always boggles my mind. It’s like someone said, “Hey, we’ll give you, Sweden, the nice soft mountains with pretty scenery, but we’ll take the sharper peaks, cliffs, deep gorges, and 4x the waterfalls for even more spectacular scenery.” Honestly, it happens in just a few miles of crossing the border. It’s like you go over that line, down a hill, around a curve and BAM! High, jagged peaks as yet unsoftened by erosion and deep little canyons filled with rapids of crystalline blue waters. I’ve been to Norway… 3 times, I think? Yet, I was still so surprised by that change. I imagine, it will still catch me off guard when I go again.

Seriously! Look at that gorgeous water!

Naturally, with the higher mountains thrusting up into the atmosphere, the sun had pretty much disappeared as the rising air had its moisture a bit squeezed by the walls of rock. Pity. The blue waters of some of those streams would really have popped with a bit of sunlight.

Narrow, twisty road. I would _not_ want to cycle it!

Just amazing.

I went as nuts with the camera as I could. Poor Jens. He doesn’t like heights and those roads were so narrow with long drops on one side. Yet, every time I’d say, “STOP!” as we passed a spot with a cut-out, he’d do his level best as long as there wasn’t any traffic behind us. He’d even offer to turn around if he had the chance. I always declined those offers. No sense in getting silly.

We took our time since there was really no rush thanks to the 3 pm check in time.

I’ll admit, the drive made me a bit nervous as we were coming down from the Swedish border. The road only had a little ‘lip’ of concrete or mortared rock about knee high and was so very narrow. We were on the ‘long drop’ side. Every time a bit semi-truck came by the other direction, I had to suppress the urge to grip the dashboard with a white knuckled grip. I really didn’t want to do anything to make Jens even more rattled.

But, we made it down in one piece, clearly. Soon, the waters of a fjord were rippling between the mountain peaks instead of wild waters of almost tropical blue.


It didn’t seem very long before we were down among the fjords. The roads were a little easier to take then. Good, strong railings a bit higher and the road was a tiny bit wider. We were on the E6 for a good portion of it which is considered a major European highway. Honestly, some Swedish backcountry roads are bigger. Also tunnels. Lots and lots of tunnels.

It turns out there were probably some places I could have ridden if we’d stayed in those areas. Spots where the E6 widened into two comfortable lanes and was treated like the E4 here here between Uppsala and Stockholm. To either side were tiny little roads, barely larger than say the cycle highways here in Uppsala. There wasn’t much traffic on them though as they served as thoroughfares for the little villages wedged between the mountains or the sea to either side of the E6. Sadly, none of those places were very close to our final destination.

On the way to the maelstrom.

Even with taking our time and lots of photo stops, we were still going to arrive fairly early. So, while I jumped out at one place to snap like mad, Jens did some looking around on his phone and found a place with a maelstrom. That is, a ‘crushing current’. The Saltstraumen Maelstrom has the claim of the world’s strongest tidal bore current and can produce whirlpools up to 30 feet across. It was about 40 minutes ‘off the path’, but with the there and back before heading on to the hotel, it would be just about right.

Overlooking the entrance of the tidal bore channel.

Naturally, we missed the tide change so couldn’t see the bore while there, but we made note of the next tides and decided we’d try again the next day.

Sea gulls just loved this little cottage. Later, there were 5 of them on it.

Then we headed off toward the hotel.

Should have shot this in black and white…

The weather just got more and more gray as we went. Jens’ phone flipping had discovered that the weather was supposed to be truly abysmal for the next 2 days. Roughly the length of our stay. Spits of rain were beginning as we pulled into the hotel parking and I went in search of reception. The first woman at the desk didn’t speak English and I couldn’t make out her Norwegian. Swedish and Norwegian are very close. The times I’ve gone to Norway with Jens, he chats along in Swedish as if he’s back at home and the Norwegian answers in his own tongue. I can often at least catch words in Norwegian, but not this time.

The waterfall of DOOM!

Finally she found someone who spoke kind of spoke English. Our room wasn’t ready. How long? She didn’t know.

I just love ‘keyhole’ photos.

I wandered back out to tell Jens. By then he’d wandered a bit with Loke and suggested we go around and look at the waterfall. The hotel actually sat just a few yards away from it, built on the cliff of the stream’s channel. We could even walk out to the boardwalk for a closer look. So, we set off. I had my camera with me, strap around my neck and was clicking photos.

Though there were stairs down to the board walk, part of the ‘path’ was right over glacier carved rock. Uneven and with thin gouges in it. I was looking down at it, being careful of where I put my feet rather than just obliviously stomping around and photo-snapping. It didn’t matter. I put my foot down on what seemed to be a safe surface and it just… rolled. The majority of my weight abruptly was on the outside face of my left foot and I felt rock against the ankle bone. I was essentially standing on the ankle bone and side of my foot.

Starbursts flared through my vision as I staggered sideways to get my weight on my right foot. I bent over, hand on my mouth as I tried not to scream and/or vomit. I started gulping air at the unbelievable pain. How I didn’t go completely down I don’t know. Jens was suddenly right beside me, trying to figure out what had happened. I kept gasping until my vision went gray with hyperventilation in an effort to suppress some of the agony. Couldn’t talk. Some how, I made it to a nearby bench, fresh bursts of red and ugly yellow in my eyes with each lurching, half-hopping step. Jens took the camera from me, saying if it hurt this much, he was impressed that I’d not gone down like a bag of rocks.

Almost 11 pm view from the hotel room

Jens left me with the fuzzy one and went to take care of the room. We had to go in through a back door with Loke. I’m not even sure how I made it. Surprisingly, the ankle didn’t swell up, but it hurt. I really expected it to turn black and blue and puff up like a basketball.

We talked around the problem for a while. The weather the next day was supposed to be heavy rain and gale force winds. My ankle, did I think we should take me to an emergency room? Honestly, the idea of driving an hour to the nearest town with a hospital didn’t sound like much fun. Not to mention it being a Norwegian hospital. Was I even going to be able to do anything for the next few days. I took a few tablets that are the Swedish equivalent of Tylenol. The only OTC pain meds I’m allowed thanks to my blood pressure. I was at last able to have my foot rest on the bed without wanting to cry.

On the way back to Sweden

I slept fitfully, annoyed by the stupidity of such a senseless thing happening. Especially since I’d been taking such care to not slip. The beds made my back even worse than the last hotel. Jens still set the clock for midnight so we could wake up and see if the sun was out. We’d come all this way so I could see the ‘midnight sun’ if the clouds let us. I woke up at about 10:35 and the sun was trying to come through a bit. When the alarm woke me at midnight, it was all gray again. Still quite bright. I could  have sat outside reading a book with perfect ease.

The sun flirts with mountains across a fjord.

Ankle was, if anything worse when we got up the next morning. After a brief discussion we decided to just give it up and make a mad dash for home. it would mean driving for the entire day. Clearly even if the weather had been glorious, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. No kayaking. Couldn’t walk down to the best overlooks for the maelstrom if we drove there. But the weather was’t going to make any of that pleasant even if I could walk. Insanely high winds lashed the trees and sent heavy rain slashing at our hotel’s window. It came in waves. I spent part of the morning sitting and staring out the window watching the distant mounts disappear and reappear. If we went home, I could convalesce in my comfy recliner, foot propped up. I could deal with the emergency room I was most familiar with. The kitchen at home was a few hops away, not 100 yards or more to a cafe for mediocre food. Home, it was.

We were on the move by 7 am. It would have been about 6:45, except it took me 15 minutes to get from room to car.

My wonderful hubby encouraged me to call out for photo stops if any turned up. I took him up on the offer as long as I could get them from the car without the need to step out. The rain slashed down for much of the first few hours. Wild winds whipped and shoved the car around. After a bit though, the rain would let up on occasion and a glimpse of blue could be seen. Then it stopped raining. Suddenly, as we struck for inland Norway, the rain all but disappeared and the sun came out.

We left behind the rugged peaks, deep gorgeous, and crystal streams of Norway, climbing up into the domes and swells of the softer mountains toward the Swedish border. Shortly after we crossed back into the country I now call home, Jens decided he wanted to stop to walk Loke where a patch of snow wasn’t too far from the road. It was sunny and the clouds were cheerful puffs in the sky.

Stark, beautiful, and hilarious.

It turned into a hilarious riot that lifted my spirits. As soon as Jens opened the car door a gust of wind, so strong, blasted in that my ears popped, and yanked the door out his hand. Truly, I’m surprised the car didn’t plump into a sphere shape like some kind of metal and glass balloon. In the whirling gusts at temps of 40 F, he struggled with his jacket, the arms flapping wildly in the air as he fought to make them cooperate so he could slide the garment on. Then he staggered around to let Loke out.

Sun and shadow

I couldn’t help myself. I grabbed the camera and stepped out, my ankle hurting not quite so much as long as I was VERY careful how I set weight on the foot. My hair twisted into coils, each lashing around like an angry snake as the wind didn’t seem to have any particular direction. It would shove from one side and then a split second later, push from another. That wild, wind, untamed by tree or building, only shaped by mountains added to the beauty of that landscape. So primal, this world of rock, ice, and air.

Loke was not impressed. After so many hours in the car for 2 days, he really had developed something akin to hate for the car, something he’s never really liked any way. The day before, when we’d let him out for a short walk and potty, he’d look so despondent as we’d turn back to the car even with goodies waiting for him as a bribe. Not that time. He couldn’t get back to the car quick enough. He’s unstable on rough ground and that wind, he just wanted to jump back into the car on his comfy pad away from the crazed atmosphere.

15 hours in the car and we were back home. My hubby was the hero in my book. Not only did he take all of the driving, shopping for food, and walking Loke; he kept my spirits up by telling he still counted the trip as a success, twisted ankle and bad weather aside. We’d had 3 days together without the distraction of TV or overuse of mobile phones or pads, chatting and even enjoying comfortable silences. I’d gotten to use the new Canon camera. We’d gotten to see some spectacular scenery and other than the beds killing us, which might just have been because we weren’t used to them, the hotels I’d picked weren’t bad.

Anyway, my ankle felt pretty bad when I woke this morning. I was actually using my computer desk’s chair as a wheel chair. Using my good leg and grabbing onto shelves, coffee table, or door jams to pull myself along, I’d scootch across most of the apartment. When Jens woke of his own accord, I gave him time to wake up and drink some coffee before getting him to drop me off at the emergency room here in Uppsala.

That was about 5 hours, but it didn’t feel like it. It never seemed that any single wait of the whole thing was a very long one. I had to wait for a nurse to see me, then for the doctor to come, xrays to be ordered, and then for those to be taken. After that, a wait for the radiologist to decide if more were needed, they were, and those to be taken. The longest wait was for the doctor.

Her earlier assessment that nothing was broken was reinforced by the xrays. Just a very bad sprain. Honestly, by time all of the visit was done, my ankle felt a bit better than it had that morning. A nurse came and wrapped it, gave me a paper with some PT exercises for it, and I was on my way home.

No cycling for a few more days at least though. See, cycling impacted so I’m sharing the trip and photos. I think I’ll wait until Monday. So, fingers crossed!

“Saddest” Day of the Year Come and Gone
June 23, 2018, 6:25 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yep! It came and went! The summer solstice. From here until the solstice in December our days will get shorter and shorter. But onward to chronological order!

The weekend of the 9th-10th after my last post, I didn’t get out to ride as I’d hoped. It got too hot and too humid, so I stayed in and melted with the husky. The only interesting thing I did was go kayaking very briefly. Jens kinda bullied me out because he wanted us to be sure the kayak was functional before our trip.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled because, like I said it was hot. Sitting on a kayak, broiling in the sun isn’t any more pleasant than doing it while sitting on a trike.

Still, he was right. So, I got things together and was surprised. It appeared my going to the gym was paying off more than I’d believed. I’ve been careful about my workouts, taking it slow and easy in deference to the arm that was giving me such fits for all of last year and part of this one. So, while I’d been impressively consistent about something I despise so much (every other day like clockwork for over 2 months), I didn’t really think it was improving me much though except maybe reduced discomfort in the right arm.

Was I wrong! I got the kayak out of the garage and into the car. Yeah, it was heavy and awkward, but not as much as I remembered last year when I felt so strong after spending part of the summer kayaking. When we got to the rowing club, Jens was going to stick close, walking with Loke, in case I needed help with it.

I continued to be stunned. Got it out of the car with greater ease than I anticipated. Aired up was a bit more challenging because my left knee was killing me. Got it down to the water in record speed as Jens followed along, ready to take over if my muscles gave out. Then, getting into the kayak which felt tricky all last year, seemed almost a snap.

I’d forgotten my phone, so told Jens I’d stay out just for half an hour, to test the kayak. In that half hour, I remembered how much I really loved being out on that water. Yeah, it was hot and I felt a bit like a turkey in a baking pan, but it was so pretty. I could barely hear the traffic noises over the abundance of bird song. Blue sky, rippling water, and green all around me. The only flaw was my right shoulder and upper arm were unhappy as I paddled.

Back at the rowing club, I was surprised again when I got out of the kayak. It wasn’t graceful and it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the last time I’d paddled.

I know kayaking isn’t cycling, but my health and fitness are, and this was an indication both were improving.

Monday, June 11th, we had a ‘treat’. It RAINED. Glorious, glorious rain. Admittedly, it wasn’t much. Just enough to leave thin, scarce puddles on dampened pavement, yet the ground was still dust-dry almost as soon as it stopped. It probably wasn’t enough to save even a single blade of withering grass, but it gave me hope.

Tuesday, June 12, I woke to gloriously cool temps. 54 F! I was so thrilled with it, I pulled on my cycle clothes and was ready to go by the time Jens woke up. I was smart enough to wait with the extra layer until we were heading out the door for Jens to drop us off at storage before heading to work.

Loke was feeling all of his age and quite a few of his infirmities that morning, but still seemed determined to come with as Jens let me out. I pulled the trike up and got ready, Loke following at the running bar as if already hitched. I took it slow so he could shuffle along at whatever pace he wanted with lots of opportunity to stop and sniff. It made him happy. We did 2.14 in right about an hour.

After having lunch and seeing Loke settled where he couldn’t destroy anything, I headed out for a quick solo jaunt. More of an errand really. I went to the salon of a family friend who has done my hair since the month I arrived in Sweden. I felt better going in person, even in my goofy cycle clothes, than I did calling. Besides, it was motivation to get out on my hamster track which, clearly I need. It only got me another 2.6 miles. Not even 5 miles for the day, but at least my Fit big registered it as exercise.

The weather kinda flirted around the ‘hot’ phase, but thankfully not as bad as May. Between that and other things I can’t remember, I didn’t get out to ride again until June 19th. The earliest ride of the year.

Just before 3 am, I tossed awake, all covers kicked off, window wide open, and ceiling fan spinning like mad. Just too warm and uncomfortable for sleep to return. I struggled with it for about 20 minutes, but nope. Too unpleasant and, with a few hours sleep, I wasn’t tired enough for sleep to overcome the hot, sweaty feelings.

Birds were singing and sun already peeking over the horizon as I sat up, waving the white flag of surrender in the combat between wakefulness and sleep. As I put my feet on the floor, it occurred to me, I should go ride.

Loke didn’t even twitch an ear as I left the room. Just continued snoring away on his pillow by Jens’ half of the bed. I clipped to the pedals before 4 am.

I headed out for a quick jaunt on an old hamster track, the Vaksala/Granby Loop. It used to be a ‘short’ ride for me back when 5 miles wasn’t even worth pulling my tights on. Now, I consider it kinda long. Compared to what I’ve been doing the past 2-3 years, it’s sadly true.

It was a brisk 53 F out. I needed an extra layer! How on EARTH was it so cool out and yet, an apartment, wide open to such delightful temps with ceiling fans spinning, was too hot to sleep?! Bleah.

I didn’t bother taking out my phone or camera as I spun along the paths and roads. The turn to the burial grounds was almost a blur thanks to it being on the crest of a hill with a long glide down to the open fields beyond. Thankfully, there was little wind and the dust storms seem to have passed. I had some fun doing the ‘roller coaster’ stretch and waved at the closed Starbucks as I zipped by the mall. I was back home before 6 am with a smidge over 10 miles under the tires. Fastest ride yet. Perhaps another sign the gym has been good for me?

While I’m an early riser by nature, before 3 am is pushing it even for me, but at least it wasn’t wasted.

I didn’t ride again until June 20th. Where did the month go? The sun and a portion of the warmth returned, accelerating the death of grass and even a few trees around Uppsala. Some have browned leaves and a few even hang as bare as they would be in winter even though they were flush with green back in April.

On the days it wasn’t so warm, I didn’t ride because I’d think about it and Jens would say, ‘Take Loke’ when I had my heart set on getting exercise. Plodding around for 2 hours with my poor old man and then going out again for another 2 hours on boring hamster tracks? Just UGH. No. Without an errand, I can’t stomach doing the hamster tracks twice in a day.

Sunday, June 17th, was a rough day for the fuzzy. He’d been pretty wobbly on the 16th as well, but Jens decided to try taking Loke on one of his long walks. While my hubby reported that Loke seemed very interested and happy, he fell a few times, wobbled a lot and had a mild seizure that made him walk in a right-hand curve. I had to go get him. Once home, he flopped on his pillow and only stirred when I clipped the leash to his collar to get him out the door for the last call of nature before bed. He was still very interested in food though.

Monday, June 18th. He pretty much slept through it. The only time he moved from his pillow in the living room was when I dragged him out the door for slow walks. Oh and food. He was still happy to see his food dish, though he didn’t do the crazed spinning.

Tuesday, the weather shifted to cooler day-time temps and Loke did a complete 180. He was bright-eyed, energetic. Actually, he was a complete and utter bully. He woofed at me, stomped his paws, interfered with my hands on the computer, and stared holes through me. I would have loved to have gotten him out the door for a bit with the trike, but I had errands first and decided there was no way.

The wind. It was insane. When I came out of the health clinic from renewing my prescriptions, I made it back to my car with a few little red welts from where the wind had flung small sticks and what I believe was a drought stunted apple at me. Trees whipped around and coming out of buildings sometimes meant getting a hard shove. Even Loke didn’t like it when we went out to the grave mounds for a short walk. I’d say it was close to 30 mph sustained with higher gusts. Just crazy. Loke was almost turned into a kite flapping at the end of the leash.

Pity about those storm force gales. Otherwise, it was a perfect day for a ride. Sunny, but very mild temps that would have made it a pleasure to be in the sun.

Wednesday, June 20th, there was much less wind. So, when Loke started the day by his woofing-stomping-staring-annoying me, I was gonna try him out on the trike. Not to mention, I was having a rough time walking again.

That was most annoying because the week previous, I’d been great! I mean, seriously great. Best I’d been when out walking in months. Maybe even a year. I’d be out doing some errands where I was wandering around the big grocery or downtown between shops and it would hit me. NOTHING HURT. My feet felt fine, my knee, my hip. The muscles through the shoulders didn’t feel as if they were being ripped off by meat hooks. My breath came smooth and easy instead of feeling like an anaconda was wrapped around my chest and prepping me for dinner. It was a surreal, but extremely pleasant feeling.

Sadly, it only lasted a few days…

What? I wasn’t doing anything! I’m a good boy!

So, being unable to hardly walk again but with an insanely pesty husky, very little wind, and nice temps, the trike it was.

Loke, the Harasser, did his best to look all innocent as I picked up the phone to see if he’d continue bullying with it pointed at him. He stopped woofing and sat down, but his ‘I wasn’t doing anything’ look needed some work.

He was so excited as I started dressing. When I picked up my handlebar bag he was sitting wedged hard against the door, making sure I couldn’t forget him.

Once on the trike with everything settled, he heard the sound of the brake loosing and went bonkers. He threw himself into the harness and bounced on his hind legs to hurry us across the parking lot. He’s not kangaroo hopped in ages! I don’t think he was doing it even back in March before he started having such problems!

My furry old man continued to impress! We ‘tore’ through the first mile at almost 8 mph. A brisk shuffling jog that only looked slightly weird. There was still a bit of wobble in his back end. Every time I tried to slow down, he’d shoot me a disgusted side glance as if to say, “GET your hand off that brake!”

It was near the 1 mile mark when the momentum broke a moment. Loke started limping significantly. It appeared to be something in his right shoulder. Like husky, like owner, hmmm? I immediately stopped to check him. He seemed more annoyed with the lack of movement than with me poking at him and checking his paws. As I sat back down in the trike to ponder if I should turn back for home, Loke woofed and wagged his tail, brown eyes bright and expectant.

Onward it was! He limped a bit more for about 100 yards and then seemed back to his old self. Maybe the hopping combined with his ‘running’ was a bit of a shock to his muscles and they just needed a bit more time to warm up. So, we took it slower. He was so happy though. I’m glad I pushed on.

The sun disappeared and a bit of wind ruffled the leaves of the trees, tattered by bouth drought and windstorm. In a world of shriveled grass, wilting shrubbery, and struggling trees, it was a bit irritating to see that stinging nettles are doing just fine.

Happy husky. Even at almost 13, still happy to go at times.

As we passed through a small wooded patch along the paths, Loke had a moment where he perked up with a cat made a mad dash from dry undergrowth on one side to the other. He even made a short attempt to run after it.

Cruising around at about 5 to 5.5 mph, Loke was doing so well, I decided to turn north along the river for a bit. I even unclipped Loke from the running bar and put the leash on him instead in case he wanted to range off to the sides a bit.

Nope. He associates moving with the trike as moving WITH the trike. He had to be right there at my side. I had to watch him though as he had a tendency to pull ahead a bit. I really didn’t want him swerving in front of the tire. We were going slow enough I wasn’t too worried, but I remained careful. I must say, after about a quarter mile along side the river, it was much easier to turn around with the trike having Loke ‘loose’ from the tether bar. It confused him terribly, but it was still easier.

Can just see the tail..

As we came up on mile 3, Loke still  had plenty of spunk and I had to be quick about pulling the leash short as I came to a stop. Slithering on the pavement in front of us was a snake. Dark with a bright yellow ring around its neck, so probably the non-poisonous ringnecked snake. Good sized for the type I think, being a bit over 2 feet long.

I tried to juggle leash around to pull the camera out before it disappeared. I wasn’t entirely successful. Just the tail is visible as it disappeared.


Loke still seemed pretty ‘zippy’ as we came back home with 3.65 miles. He was quick to lay down as soon as I stopped the trike though. I also gave him a bit of a boost to get up the stairs to our apartment.

He actually didn’t want to come to me to have his harness off. And then he paced around and even woofed a bit as if to say, ‘So, now what? We’re going back out, aren’t we?’

Such fun when he does that. Leaves me trying to figure out if I’ve come close to breaking him in his new fragile condition or if he really could have done, say a trip to the produce stand and back. I mean, it’s likely he could do it, but just would take a silly long time to accomplish. I do want him happy but the threshold of my brain’s tolerance for ‘tedious’ and ‘mind-numbing boredom’ is quite low. Though, perhaps thanks to my fairly strict restrictions of computer time, it’s gotten better. I mean, I’ve watched stuff on TV of late that would normally bore me to tears because I’ve burned through all the interesting stuff or have to save it to watch with Jens.

Nap time!

I think it was actually about the right amount. After about 20 minutes, Loke laid down for a nap and was content for the rest of the evening. The most peace I’d had from him in 2 days.

It actually had been a good ride though. It was nice to have Loke trotting along at an average of about 6 mph over the whole 3.6 miles. We did it in about 40 minutes. Which better than the 90 to 120+ minutes of the past months. My Fitbit even registered a bit of exercise from it! Can you believe it!?

I’ve not been out on a ride since, but may do one after this is posted.

I took Loke out for a walk elsewhere on another windy day. After we were done getting battered around, I decided I wanted to drive to Ulva Mill to see if any progress had been made on that gravel path I thought was going to be a new cycle path.

You know, I was right! Car barriers and the bright blue and white sign designating the path that winds off across the fields along the top of the high riverbank for pedestrians and bikes. I was so giddy! And that’s the ride I may do when done chattering here.

There’s a fellow recumbent trike rider who is in the same group on Facebook who was also in Uppsala for this week. When I mentioned the path on the group, he said he’d have to go check it out. Well, he posted back that it’s a lovely gravel path across the fields. Confirmation that it’s complete.

The summer solstice has also come and gone. Saddest day of the year because from here on, the hours of light become less. It was celebrated as a holiday here in Sweden on Friday, June 22nd. The ‘May Pole’  like poles went up, wrapped and wreathed with ivy and flowers. Traditional foods and drink. Family, friends, and festive. Much to the dismay of the Swedes, it was also the first truly rainy day we’ve had in months. I’m sure many across the country lamented that fact. Sunshine and blue skies, but as soon as it was time for one of Swedens biggest outdoor holiday, went, cold, and, in their eyes, miserable. Me? I loved it. Never mind the holiday, we got RAIN! Enough that even the soil under the hedges shaded by birch trees had some damp to it. We had big puddles and water gurgling down storm drains.

So, that’s it for now. I’m going to have breakfast and consider squeezing that ride in before we need to start packing for our Norway trip that we leave for on Monday!

Yay! Not Hot!
June 8, 2018, 7:22 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

As promised, the heat broke. Never mind that it’s forecasted to return, but hey! We got a break from it! Even had a patter of rain that did absolutely no good except to raise humidity levels. It was less than 1/16 of an inch. No way it even reached the shallowest grass root. Just kinda made the pavement damp. Yay! (sarcasm).

Meanwhile, forest fires are burning to the east and west of Uppsala. Or maybe the one to the east has been put out. Either way.

Anyhoo, on June 4th, I dashed out for a ride. I mean, it was almost cold! I couldn’t resist! I was practically giggling over it. Loke did his best to be his perky younger self and was definitely interested as I readied to ride. He even sorta pulled for the first 100 yards or so.

What’s wrong with this image? IT’S JUNE 4th! Not October.

My aim was for the storage with the furry one, then back to the apartment before scooting off on a solo dash for the produce market. Loke interested and as perky as he can be under his current circumstances, but also slow and a bit wobbly. So, we took it easy and fairly short. As we came along the path under the trees by the American football field near the swim hall, I happened to look up. I sighed.

Leaves of several trees were yellow and even with a splash of red. Autumn like colors and barely even into June.

Back at the apartment, I tucked Loke where he wouldn’t get into any trouble. Water, toys and even his comfy pillow were all within his reach before I headed out to get watermelon.

Hard to see the gulls flying through.

I took the time to enjoy the weather. I stopped at the river side just beyond the underpass by the police station to take a few photos. Still toying with the camera.

I think I’m finally warming up to some aspects of the new produce market arrangement at Vaksala square. I found a half of a big watermelon that didn’t look overripe. No way was I going to be able to fit it in the fridge. The cherries looked pretty sad, so I didn’t get them. While standing in the register line, I called my lovely mother-in-law to ask if she would like some watermelon! Of course, she said, but she and my father-in-law wouldn’t be home for a couple hours. Fair enough. I could just drop their share of the melon off with the car later.

I dropped my haul of juicy fruit off at home and didn’t have the heart to just leave poor Loke alone again just minutes after walking through the door. So, on went his harness and I took him with me to get the trailer back to storage and rolled back home. Over 3 miles for Loke for the day. Pretty good for the old man of late. I was over 8 miles for the day.

June 5th was glorious! I slept with a window open with the sort of slumber reserved for babies with fully tummies and momma humming lullabies. It was barely 40 F when I woke up and closed the window before creeping out of the room.

Poor Jens. I always close the bedroom door when I get up so as not to disturb him. After that I threw open the kitchen window and the living room balcony door. It was windy so that cold air came howling through the apartment with an impressive cross-breeze. I wanted to dissipate as much of the accumulated heat from the inside of our apartment as I could. Bundled up on the couch under snuggly blankets, I was happy as a clam. Right at 6 am, the bedroom door open and groggy Jens stepped out just as a truly monumental blast of frigid air slammed through the apartment. He gasped and shuddered, eyes wide. It honestly looked like someone had dumped icewater on him. He was suddenly scurrying around to button everything up, hunting for his heavy bathrobe and puffy sheepskin slippers. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed.

Much as I would have loved to, I didn’t ride that day. Too much to do. A bit later, clouds scudded in and it looked as if we were going to get a pour down of rain. It never came. Not in Uppsala any way.

June 6th, a very short ride. I was so sleepy. So very, very sleepy. I keep thinking I sleep well but then a few minutes after I wake up, I can hardly hold my eyes open. I end up staggering around zombie like for the day, clinging to consciousness only through sheer force of will. Jens finally bullied me out the door though, mostly to get Loke a bit of ‘exercise’. I took the camera and we crept along, taking over an hour for 1.8 miles.

That’s it for the rides at the moment. Otherwise, the only other thing going on that might be cycle related is another trip to Norway in the works. This one, I would be chasing down Norway’s famous ‘Stave Churches’. Truly impressive. Even if i don’t ride, I’ll have to share a few images any way.

So, that’s about it for now. Goodness! A blog post under 1k words! Wonders never cease?

Loke, Cameras, Heat, and Such
June 3, 2018, 3:54 am
Filed under: Misc

Just an update. No rides, mind you, but still stuff that does impact my cycling and blogging of rides.

Loke – Well, he’s doing pretty well given the circumstances. He’s still having trouble getting to his feet sometimes. Trips and wobbles on occasion. When it’s cooler in the evenings, he has interest to go out though he’d rather just stay in and melt under a ceiling fan during the hot hours. As for the tumor? Practically gone! I can hardly believe it! No noticeable lump and the ulcer is barely more than 1/8th of an inch across. Quite an improvement from something that looked like the size of a large grape under the flesh with a gaping wound over it. *shudder* For a dog who I didn’t think was going to see May back in the middle of April, he’s… good. Not as good as he was back in March, but not staggering around with 3 paws in the grave either.

Camera – This story is a little more involved.

So, on May 23rd, I packed up my Canon 200D and went off to the camera shop, upbeat and ready to borrow a lens for a test. The guy was more than willing to do so and we walked back to the lens case. As soon as he reached for Tamron 70-300 mm lens, things came to a screeching halt.

THAT’S the lens?!” I blurted incredulously.

He pulled it out. “Yes.

It’s HUGE! The 16-300 mm Tamron lens was tiny! This is a monster! Even the Canon 70-300 mm isn’t nearly as big.”

It really was big. To be fair, the 70-300 mm lens that was smashed might be as long, but at least it wasn’t as big around as a grapefruit. And talk about heavy. Oof.  It just wasn’t going to work for me. The lens was wider than the camera’s body so it wouldn’t have even fit in the compartment I’d made for it.

So, back home I went and threw myself into trying to figure out if there was somewhere. ANYWHERE that had my old telephoto lens. Or one enough like it to make no difference. Finally, I found that there was a ‘version 2’ of my old lens. I could go look at it and perhaps buy it at a shop called ‘Scandinavian Photo’ which claimed to be the largest photo-supply shop in, well, Scandinavia. They were even open on Sunday.

So, Sunday, May 24th, I jumped on the train for Stockholm. The camera shop was downtown, apparently not too far from the station. Perfect. I’d go there and then maybe off to the mall in the area which has a delightful kiosk with yummy gourmet chocolates. It’s past time for me to send a package to my family back in the states. I always try to send them some of those awesome goodies.

The train ride, was well, a train ride. I’m glad I have a habit of arriving early though. I jumped on the train as soon as it pulled in and took a seat. By the time it rolled out, the train was packed. People were having to stand for the journey. Annoyingly, I got motion sick. What on earth?! I mean, yeah, I’ve gotten seasick on ships and larger boats since I was in my early 20’s, but motion sick on a train? All that’s left is cars and my trike. Heaven forfend such a thing from happening.

The train arrived at the Stockholm central station just before 11 am. I went to plug in the shop’s location on my phone only to get a notice that it didn’t open until noon. Oops.

Oh well. I started off toward the mall with the chocolate shop then. Stockholm is one of those cities I thought I didn’t mind too much. It’s clean compared to most. Lots of things I find interesting to see and divided up into islands. This time, it was just too hot, too many people. My body seemed to break down within a couple hundred yards with feet and muscles through my shoulders screaming.

It’s frustrating really. One day, I can go walk at Wiks for 2 miles, no problem. The next, just getting around the block with Loke kills me. This was one of those ‘around the block kills me’ days.

I took it slow and got to the mall, found the chocolate shop. I had thought to maybe shop for more light weight summer tops. Instead, I bought a cold, fresh pressed juice and found a place to sit for a bit. When it was finally close enough to noon, I started out again.

It turned into such a fiasco. Maybe it was because of the tall buildings that my phone didn’t have enough of a connection for Google Maps to work well on the walking setting, but it wouldn’t update with any accuracy. I’d start walking and move off a few hundred yards and it would just show me where I’d been. Then it would give this jump and display that I was on ‘X’ street, completely off the plotted route, when I was on ‘B’ street. Or the other way around. After stumbling around for a bit, I finally gave up and ducked into a tourist center, grabbed a paper map and went all old school.

All the while, the heat, the noise, the sheer press of people and traffic, remind me why I typically despise cities.

Finally, I got on the right road, scanning for building numbers as I walked along the crowded sidewalk. I gave a distracted glance across the street and did a double take. The central train station, right there. The original building is actually fairly graceful with Victorian accents and holds center stage in a way with the expansions taking a more modest approach in the chaos of Stockholm. Now, see if my phone’s Google Maps had just plotted back the way I’d come from the station to the mall (direct), it would have clicked in my head. Instead it had marked a string of dots off in this direction and then down Queen Street (site of that terrorist attack a couple years ago), the over and around. What. The. H*LL?!

Muttering, I put my phone away and walked through the door. The guy at the register laughed when I blurted, ‘Woah!’

Scandinavia Photo claimed to be big. With that declaration, I expected something maybe… triple the size of Uppsala’s camera shop? Maybe even quadruple. Nope. I can’t even calculate. The area where they had just lenses and cameras on display for people to get their hands on was more than double the size of the entire Uppsala photo shop. Then of course were the accessories – bags, tripods, filters, video cameras, flashes, light meters and more. Also a couple of photo studios for rent and on several levels. I mean, all things camera. Just… wow.

They were doing brisk business, so I took a number, found an out of the way spot to sit on a step, desperate to get off my feet. My number came up and a very nice woman introduced herself and asked how she could help. I opened the backpack to pull out the old lens.

“I need to replace this.” I held it out to her.

She looked a bit baffled until she took it and it rattled. “Oh! Well, that’s a very expensive maraca.”

I told her how it had happened and then explained that I knew this model lens was no longer produced and went briefly into the story of chromatic aberration with the Tamron lens. So, I wanted the upgraded version of my old lens that I’d heard was out. Was it possible for me to look at it? Perhaps even put one on my camera and snap a few photos to check for purple fringe?

She said the new model was so new they didn’t have one for display yet, but she was willing to open one up and let me try it. She even let me step outside to snap some photos of the train station across the way. You know, I discovered that my 200D’s touch screen will let me not only view the photo after I’ve taken it, but I can even ZOOM in to check the pixels on the contrasting edges of say, a roof-line and the sky? The camera just keeps impressing me.

And it all looked good with the new lens. It was the same size and shape, just a couple buttons rearranged and a little LED display screen for a couple extra bells-n-whistles. I called Jens to ask if he minded. He didn’t.

Even better? They were having a special on that exact lens. 20% off! Kismet? I was practically on Cloud 9 as I waltzed out the door.

It was well after lunch time by this point. I was hungry. I thought about finding somewhere to eat in Stockholm since Jens was going to be tied up with something until after 4 pm. I thought about more staggering around the crowded, loud, and hot city and, no. Just no. I plodded back into the cooler space of the train station and found a bench to sit on for about 15 minutes before heading off to the platform 5 minutes early.

Then it was back to Uppsala. I rode in the upper level of the double-decker train. Again, glad I was there early. It was standing room only for those later arrivals.

Hungry and with a couple hours to spare, I inched my way exhaustedly through Uppsala to one of our favorite little restaurants. It’s one of those sorts for smaller meals. It’s called ‘Plock’ which translates to ‘Pick’ in English. You pick a little of this and a little of that. I relaxed and sated my hunger until it was time for Jens to pick me up.

So, camera settled! Mostly. I’m looking into sturdy lens case now and a couple of ‘carry systems’ have intrigued me. Something to have the camera quick to use if I get up from the trike and walk around, say, a church? Something less agonizing than a strap around my neck or over the shoulder. I kinda like the idea of one of those clip like things that can fit on a belt. I could just have a nice, sturdy mesh belt with the clip on it. Get up from the trike, clip the belt around my hip. Camera on one side, maybe lens on the other?

Turns out my bag can’t accommodate the camera with the long lens on it. Maybe if I hadn’t put in the foam inserts to reduce rattle. Not worth it though. I’ve always had to swap my telephoto lens off and on for use and transport, so no change. Completely acceptable.

And the heat. Oh, and lack of rain. Just on and on. Even during the nights, it’s not getting so cool (downright cold) any more. Jens, Mr. Sleep-All-Summer-Under-Goose-Down, has been kicking off covers and complaining about how warm it is. I’ve noticed some hint of discoloration in the leaves of a few trees. Looks like they’re starting to go brown on the branch. Baby birds are leaping from the nest way too early because they’re just cooking in them and desperate for shade. This weekend, the trains south of Stockholm stopped running because the tracks are warping. Ankle high wheat is turning yellow. Some of those fields that were yielding up so much soil to the wind are, at best, thin with sprouts, withering for want of water. At least it hasn’t been so breezy, so there’s a lot less dust flying around. May was the hottest on record and we had NO precipitation for the entire critical growing month. Those blueberries in a previous post won’t be turning blue if we don’t get rain soon if it’s not too late already.

June is shaping up hot as well and still no rain on the forecast for the next 10 days. Saturday, June 2nd, was Stockholm’s annual marathon and the officials were worried about runners collapsing with heat exhaustion if not stroke. At least one woman should be fine though. She was on the news for having run 40 Stockholm marathons and 80 if she’s a day. She’s not worried at all. She ran a marathon in Havana, Cuba a few years ago when it hit over 120 F. I’ve not heard anything about it yet.

We did get a slight kiss of rain Friday night. So little there was no trace of it the next morning except for streak patterns in the dust on the cars.

At least a brief relief from the high temps is in the forecast for Monday – Wednesday. Tuesday is supposed to be down right nippy. I’ll have to get out and ride on those days before it gets warm again. Maybe even get some flight practice with the drone.

Anything else? Oh, hotels booked for our northern trip. Not sure if I’ll be taking the trike though. Norwegian roads look kinda scary to ride on. Even their major ‘highways’ are narrow 2 lanes winding through the mountains, squeezed tight between cliffs and rock faces with no where for a cyclist to get out of the way if someone comes whipping through a blind curve. The forecast for the area this week is cool and rainy. I wonder if the heat’s gonna follow us?

And that’s caught up. Until next time. Hopefully I’ll have rides to report then.