Terii’s Cycling Babble


“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.

AGAIN!

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!

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