Terii’s Cycling Babble


About The River
September 25, 2018, 5:19 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The Fyris River. Generally very still, sleepy, and dark. It winds through the countryside from a small lake near the village of Österbybruk about 20 miles north of Uppsala and ends in Lake Mälaren at the fringes of the city. In some places it’s just wide enough for a canoe or kayak. It’s banks are steep and often the waters sit far down in the channel, as if hiding from anyone at ground level. It’s history is a rich one though from it’s time just back in the Medieval times when it was wide and deep enough along its length that it was a major artery for commerce and travel. Now, it’s a small trickle of it’s former glory. It’s named for what was once a marshland called Fyrisvellir (now crop fields) where a battle between those who would be king took place.

It’s figured rather strongly in my local rides as much as it has in Uppsala’s and Swedish history. How could it not? Pretty much every single local ride I do I’m crossing it multiple times. Even my shortest, most overused hamster track loop is called the River Loop. There’ve always been ‘versions’ of it. Short Loop. The Full Loop. Full Loop with extensions. Well, I’m renaming it ‘River Loop v.1’. Yes, there are loops that are River Loop 2 and even River Loop v.2.1. Also, though I’ve only ridden it as part of River Loop v.2.1, there is also a River Loop v.3.0.

My limited computer skills are showing, aren’t they? *chuckle*

The 22nd was another of those river path walks for Jens and Loke.

The night of Saturday, September 22nd, I started to cough. Nothing drastic. Just a dry, soft kinda cough mostly because my throat felt itchy. My sinuses completely closed off at the same time. No pain or sniffles, just absolutely couldn’t get air through my nose. Ah, joy. Another cold.

Also, on Friday or Saturday, something else happened.

In my last post, I think I mentioned about my heart rate. It had been doing amazing for a month or more, seemingly in response to my consistent return to the gym. I’d wake up and glance at my Fitbit in the night to see if it was time to wake for the gym and my pulse would be in the mid to low 50’s per minute. I could go for a walk around the block with Loke and barely get out of 70 beats per minute which was completely amazing. For years, I couldn’t walk around with Loke with my heart rate staying below 100. Not unless I was just taking a step every 5 seconds or something. So just wow. I felt incredible.

Well, Friday morning, I think it was, I suddenly was back to the old heart-beat hell. At night it wouldn’t drop below 65. Just getting up and walking to the kitchen and it would be over 90 bpm. It was hard to catch my breath. I felt dizzy.

The only thing that had come up during this brief window was one of my medications. I’d run out of for about 4 days, which was a shorter time than my ‘feeling great with an incredible heart rate’ period, but I found it odd that it went back to hell almost the very hour I started taking the medication again. It’s not critical to my blood pressure, so I stopped taking it again to see what happens while I try to get an appointment with a doctor. So, we’ll see.

Any-hoo. When I woke up on the 23rd, I was still softly coughing through the morning and hardly able to squeeze any air through either side of my nose. Between just feeling like crap (trying to catch my breath while my nose refused to cooperate and coughing), I wrote off any chance of getting out for a ride.

About 7:30 am though, Loke needed to go out and so I took him.

Just… wow. What a perfect autumn morning!

Just… wow. The air, for the first time in days, was utterly, utterly calm. Not a breath to stir a leaf or ripple a flag. It was about 42 F which was so delightfully bracing. All that beneath a completely flawless blue sky from which the sun poured golden light like fine honey. In truth, it was an absolutely perfect September morning. That glorious quality of illumination that photographers have named for the times of day that typically have it: The Golden Hour. This far north, it can be much more than an hour though.

I love that light and stepping out into a morning like that was all I needed. If I wasn’t running a fever, I was heading out as quickly as possible. Cough and stuffy nose or not.

I walked back into the apartment and announced to Jens I was heading out for a ride. He asked if Loke was coming with me and nodded when I told him that if he was willing to come rescue the furball when he got tired, then yes. He didn’t realize I’d meant ‘right away’. When he saw me dressing for the ride, his reaction was, ‘What about Starbucks?!’. I told him it was too perfect a morning to kick around until 9 am, drive to Starbucks, have my hot chocolate and not get to ride until 10 am or later. It would have to wait or he could go get it for himself.

The high heart rate kept making me feel breathless and dizzy, like I was trying to do things on top of Everest with an elephant on my back. It took longer than I liked to get everything together. I was not to be deterred. I was going to make a stab at a River Loop ride to include the new bridge.

I have an old route from the past years which stretched about 21 miles (River Loop v.2). It allowed me to ride the western river path from end to end as well as include 2 of the most beautiful miles on a small ‘country road’ on the south-east edge of Uppsala that goes from Nåntuna to Flottsund where the Fyris River spills into Lake Mälaren. That little 2 mile road is one of my favorites no matter the season, though I’ve yet to try it during winter.

With the pedestrian bridge though, I could shave off 5-6 miles (some of the most boring), leaving me with a 15-16 mile route. Doable in my current condition. Or at least it was in the condition I was in last week before my pulse rate went all wonky.

Finally, I got everything together and out the door the furry one and I went. Loke was an odd combination of interested and apathetic. It really showed as we rolled out, heading for the end of the western river path at the heart of Uppsala. His pace was so very slow and he kept wanting to stop and sniff every few feet. While I’ve come to peace with Loke being slow and stopping for long sniffs here and there, I still can’t get past a feeling of aggravation when he wants to take 10 minutes for every bleeding inch of ground.

View down the Fyris River toward the cathedral.

Never get tired of this view and autumn makes it lovelier.

It didn’t help either, combined with the slowness and sniffing, he seemed a bit unsteady and the sound of his hind feet dragging more frequently than usual was like the scrape of nails on a chalk board.

I couldn’t tell if he was just having a bad day or if it was the fact he’d only had his medication about 20 minutes before I sat down on the trike. Normally when I have a ride planned in advance, I feed him as soon as I wake up so it has time to settle and his meds have a couple hours to get working. But this had been spontaneous.

Still, I nursed him along for the better part of an hour, gaining a whopping mile for all that time. I started to fret that he wasn’t really enjoying himself and was finding it difficult. So, I found a spot in the sun to call Jens where I could wait and thaw out a little while waiting for Loke’s rescue.

Wait. What’s going on? Why aren’t we moving? Something’s not right here.

Jens was in the middle of something and said it would be 10 minutes before he’d leave the apartment, was that okay? I said yes and settled in to wait. Loke just kinda sat there for 5 minutes as I fiddled around with my phone. Sitting downtown where Jens could easily reach us, there wasn’t much to hold my attention and enjoy for scenery, so I had my nose in my phone.

Suddenly there was a husky nose in between my nose and the phone. As I looked up into the brown eyes, inches from my own, he smooshed his nose into my cheek in a ‘kiss’ and then woofed at me. When I just looked at him, he stomped his front paws.

Well, that was pretty clear. Sighing, I called my hubby and told him we were inching along a bit further as our lordship had spoken.

I never noticed…

So off we went, southward through downtown Uppsala.

Quite a bit of construction in downtown. It blocked me off from hitting the riverside street when I’d planned. As we crept along through the pedestrian shopping stretch, we passed a statue/fountain.

You know, all the years, countless times passing this on foot and wheels, I never noticed this was the statue of a man holding up what appears to be sextant? I never gave it a second glance, taking it for a somewhat abstract dancing woman. Not sure why it jumped out at me this time. Maybe it was there was plenty of time to look at it since we were going about 0.4 mph and it was the most interesting thing in sight.

According to one of the fellow members of a recumbent trike group on FB, it’s a statue of Anders Celsius. Yep! The inventor of the metric temperature scale.

Peaceful and a bit cold really.

Finally found an open side road and made to the one-way street where cars on cobblestones have to share a two lane cycle way on pavement. Since nothing was open at that time, it was pretty quiet and pokey Loke gave me plenty of time to admire the older buildings without getting run over by speeding bikes. In Sweden, cyclists make me more nervy in crowded conditions than cars do.

Over the bridge and to the river path!

Entrance to City Garden and beginning of west bank river path.

Though he’d bullied me to move on, Loke didn’t really perk up much on the way through the heart of downtown.

That changed when I took a left turn at the pump house and Loke saw all the greenery and unpaved paths waiting for us. Instead of simply going ‘meh, whatever’ for my near constant, short pauses for photos, he actually gave an impatient sigh when I was taking the picture of the garden entrance.

Hey, if I’m gonna creep around at 1 mph, there will be lots of stops for photos.

Alternative autumn colors.

It was quite pleasant in the garden, even if it seemed kinda busy. It was after 9 am and people were starting to move. It seemed they all had the same idea I’d had though with a later start. People were out walking, with dogs, without dogs, cycling, jogging. Sometimes, I felt like I was moving through a swarm.

I was glad that Loke stepped up his pace a bit more once among the trees and grass of the river path. A little more physical exertion to possibly generate a bit more heat. The mid-weight thermals under my cycle top wasn’t quite up to the task to hold the chill of 45 to 48 F at bay. I was a bit cold. I needed either exercise or sunshine to counter the little shivers I was having.

Love the path!

Pelle Svanslöss (Peter No-Tail)

One thing baffled me as we went along. Loke suddenly decided he didn’t need to sniff every thumb-length of ground. Not that I’m complaining. It’s just odd. It seems like there would have been more dogs marking territory here than among the buildings and pavements of downtown.

The statue of Anders Celsius wasn’t the only statue to jump out at me on this ride.

This is a statue of Pelle Svanslöss (Peter No-Tail). He’s the main character in a series of 11 children’s books with the first one published in 1939. He lived in Uppsala and had many grand adventures with his friends. He’s very firmly part of the local legends for children and has been for generations. Walking tours and everything. There’s even a cat-crossing near the streets where he’s said to have lived, just a stone’s throw from the castle.

Gorgeous!

Down by the bandy court, it really got crowded for a while. I also turned into a bit of a bully. With Loke’s tender feet, the gravel paths can be a bit harsh. There were two narrow strips in the path where rocks had cast aside to leave smooth packed earth about 10 inches wide. I put the trike right where Loke could have that lovely, kind to his feet, surface. It meant riding pretty much exactly in the center and being a general obstacle.

It was very hard for me. Stressful even. I can’t abide rudeness… yet for my furry one, I was willing to set myself securely in the rude category (and middle of the path) and endure the hypocrisy of it.

Further down from the sports complex (which is growing into a major stadium, by the way), I came across something completely new. I didn’t have the rudeness to pull out my cameras and start snapping pictures of it though.

Never noticed this glimpse of what could be an amazing building.

There were dozens of people perched on the steep banks of the river. The path above them had just as many small carts or wagons of a very specific design parked. Small enough to be pulled by a person, mind you. It took me a bit to figure out what was going on. They were fishing or getting ready to.

And not just any fishing, but something I guess would equate to cane poles in the southern US. You know, those bamboo poles, generally stained to a ruddy brown color and shellacked to a high gloss, 10-15 feet long and a fishing line tied at the end. Only these weren’t your run-of-the-mill cane poles. These were made of something like PVC or carbon fiber, 20 feet or more long when assembled, which was almost half the width of the river in some places. They could be broken down into pieces and stored in tube-like cases. There were rigs to hold multiple poles in the water with alarms for hits, kinda like carp fishermen might use. This was a complex, highly geared activity.

Scrawny looking sunflowers and a hint of autumn in the trees.

Not the best choice for a tender-footed husky.

While I’ve seen a person here or there with one cane pole, lazily dabbing in the water, this collection of enthusiasts was something way beyond that. Kinda like the difference between a kid on a tricycle and a Tour De France champion with his engineering team, coaches, and support wagon. I wondered if it was like some kind of fishing competition going on. There were just so many of them with barely 20-30 feet between them. They could have smacked their neighbor to either side without moving a step.

Not far beyond the cane pole champions, the path split into two for a few hundred yards. One, closer to the river, and the other along an edge of open ground which had a swathe of sunflowers of all things. The two paths are very close together. Barely more than 6-10 feet between them. Just enough for some large trees. Drawn by the sunflowers, I took the right hand path.

It was again one of those instances where I notice something I’ve somehow missed the previous dozen times I’ve ridden that particular path. Intersecting the gravel lane, was another that ran right across the fields, breaking the line of sunflowers and on up a hill where a white building with rather lovely accents glowed in a gap of trees. A manor house perhaps? That would certainly explain the gravel path lined with ancient, gnarled trees. Those are often an almost sure-fire indicator of manors.

Up and over the river!

In my defense, I’ve almost always taken the path closer to the river between the tree rows and have come from the other direction every single time. This was the first time I’d ever ridden the direction of the river’s current on the west bank.

Loke kept meandering along and we finally came up to the new pedestrian bridge.

It was about the last quarter mile to the bridge that his pace suddenly picked up. I’m not entirely sure why. It might have been his meds finally had taken full effect.

From the bridge, I was going to cross to the east side and then follow the old road out to the cycle path along the rather large road that connects to the even busier 255. As we headed along the old semi-abandoned road, he became almost perky. Then it happened, his hind legs suddenly buckled, nearly dropping him to the asphalt. I stopped.

Looks like the laws against changing the Uppsala skyline are weakening. *sulk*

Scraping I’d been putting up with for almost 4 miles. I’d heard his right hind foot drag about a dozen times, perhaps as much as 20 over that distance. He’d also tripped twice, but no limping or other such. But a near complete collapse of his entire hindquarters? That spooked me.

As much as it bothered me to send him home when he’d sped up and started acting perky, I couldn’t get past him almost going down. So, I told Jens to come get us. Naturally as we waited, Loke started telling me, in his fashion, I really should keep moving. I didn’t listen. He did his best to convince me. It’s a good thing Jens arrived when he did, as it was, I almost buckled and went on with the furball when my lovely hubby said he’d be fine with coming back to get Loke further on.

Love these buildings.

Oh, but the look of betrayal Loke gave me as the car sped away.

I shook off the guilt, plopped down in the seat and sped away myself. I made one brief pause at the end of the road to take a photo of the old buildings that remain from the days when Kungsängen was a farm stead rather than a light industrial area.

As I set out on  my own, finally out from under the shadow of trees, you can guess what happened. Yep! Clouds started shadowing the sun. Just a couple of thin, wispy things, but they were thick enough to suck all the warmth out of the golden rays. Frustratingly, there was so much clear blue sky! Except right where the sun was. At least I was able to exert myself and get some extra body heating going.

Ho-hum. Trike isn’t gonna pedal itself.

Along there was a boring bit. Loke’s company would have been welcome though it would have meant drrraaaaagggggiiinngg out the tedium. Without him, I was clipping along at about 6 mph.

I should mention my feet. Why? Because they were actually doing much better. For most of the ride with Loke, I hadn’t felt the overwhelming need to unclip from the pedals. Same when I first went charging off on my own. Could it have been something about the way the padding had me sitting in relation to the pedals that was aggravating the problem? Well, I think I still need some time to decide that for sure.

The usual way through the boring stretch wound up kinda sidetracked when the cycle way was blocked off and directed through a more residential area. I had wanted to avoid it because it’s a lot of uphill and nothing much to look at. Half a mile of climb. Slow. Tedious. Climb.

It was such a relief when I was able to get back to cycle paths. Ones that didn’t follow along side a road I must mention. I really love cycleways like that. Just bikes and people. No sucking car exhaust. Though, to be fair, most of the distance had already been on paths, well away from motorized traffic.

Old building, old apple trees.

Though the path didn’t follow roads, it did curve and intersect around and between clumps of residential streets. A sort of pedestrian/bike alley way behind the houses. As I came up to one intersection, there was an elderly woman sitting in the sun, using her walker as a chair. Before I came up to the little crossroads, I pulled aside to drag out my water and take a few sips.

As I drank, the woman got up and started walking along. She gave me a warm smile as she came up to me and stopped, admiring the trike. “That’s a fine machine,” she said, then added with a grin, “Much better than mine.”

I laughed and told her with mine, you could park in the sun and get a nap all at once. The image delighted her. She wished me a good ride and walked on.

No cars, but a few Loke memories.

Somewhere along that tangle of paths, I joined up with the Sverigeleden (Swedish Trail). That thousands of kilometers long national cycle route I’ve mentioned before. I remember the days when I used to dream of riding it from end to end. Well, as much as you can ride something from end to end when it does loops back and forth the width of a country as well as up its length.

As I rode along, taking it easy to save up for the slight hills of my favorite bit of country road, I lingered over memories of riding those paths with Loke. His antics. How strong and fast he’d been. Even the time he’d started limping because he’d gotten a tiny little cut on his foot pad and then a even smaller pebbled wedged in it.

Love this scenery!

Before I knew it, I was racing down a hill and flew up to the end of the path where it joined the little road.

Winding road and glorious views.

I couldn’t stop smiling as I pedalled along, stopping for photos every time something caught my eye. Sometimes it was just the scenery. Other times a flower. No birdsong though. The season of singing birds is past, except for the honking of geese, the rasping caws of crows, magpies, or jackdaws, or chirp of sparrows (if you’re in town).

While there’s a bit of climbing, it seems there’s a lot more downhill to that 2 miles. It always feels over way too soon. The traffic is light, the trees and quiet are pleasant and the views across the pastures to the river are a delight. As far as the ‘fun’ of the road, I’m clearly not alone in that opinion, there were plenty of other bikes zipping around me.

Then I was coming down that last decline and making a turn onto a new strip of cycle path that starts at the intersection with a busier road. I’m rather glad of that new bit of path that leads down the hill and over the new-ish drawbridge there in Flottsund.

The start of the river path.

Just a few meters over the river, I made the turn onto what would become the southern end of the western river path. The first quarter mile is not only a harsh climb, but also allows cars as there’s a few cottages there, built on the ridge overlooking the river below. Since the other end is blocked off with it coming to a deadend for cars, but a throughway for bikes and people, it’s never any problem.

Well, not with cars any way. There was a torrential rain back in June. Torrent in the literal meaning of the word. Uppsala flooded. Hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, all knee deep. Something like 2 feet of rain fell in under 3 hours.

The results of that rain were still marked on the gravel road there. There’ve always been loose rocks, but there were even more than before and the ruts where some of the roadbed was washed out. Each turn of the pedals, my tire slipped more than it moved me forward. I really didn’t feel like getting up to push. Besides, it was kinda too late to try getting up from the reclined position without having the trike just slip down the path.

Steeper than it looks.

It took me a while and a lot of gasping for air, but I finally made it up that slope. Once on ground that resembled something flat or starting the decline, I swerved to the side to catch my breath and let my legs stop screaming. As if to show off, a pair of mountain bikers came cruising up the hill at jogging speed.

Part of me wonders how it would have felt if I’d done it last week? Easier? How much had the difficulty of that climb been impacted by the unexplained shift in my cardio responses? I’m hoping to find out at some point. If I ever get to feeling great again. *wistful sigh*

Just gotta keep plugging away with diet and gym and cycling. The cold kinda broke that rhythm. Kinda floundering around and looking for the stride again.

I probably could have crept along the 50-75 or so yards of the flat stretch and just coasted down the other side. It wasn’t going to be fast, not with the same washed out ruts as those I’d avoided on the way up.

From the path looking across to the magical 2 mile road.

At the bottom of the hill just before hitting the lovely, flat river path, was the outhouse, which was needed. I’d been out for almost 3 hours by that point and nothing in my stomach since then except water. For an outhouse, it’s clean and odor free. More importantly, private. I’m not flashing the world to answer a call of nature.

The path was rather busy, of course, the entire way had been. I think all of Uppsala was of the same mind as I was. Get out and enjoy the perfect morning in spite of the clouds that were skudding in to make the day feel colder.

Birch tree and old building at the Sunnersta Estate.

I love the path. It’s only because of the distance involved, which I’ve been mostly unable to do for quite a while, that it’s not been made into a ‘hamster track’. I think over the 12+ years with trikes, I’ve ridden it less than a dozen times. It meanders along side the river and its marshlands, often very close to residential neighborhoods, though there’s not often a view of those. Just high reeds and trees to the west side of the path and rippling water and reeds to east. From the turn onto the little dirt road just over the new Flottsund drawbridge to the pump house, it’s right about 5.5 miles.

Just beyond the ‘Uppsala Alpine Center’, the path took a rough turn. Rough, literally. Some cheeky government department in charge of such things had gone in and laid down chunky gravel since the last time I rode that way. Loose rocks, an inch or so in diameter just eating into my speed and effort. It would have ruined Loke’s now very-tender feet.

These flowers were all over the place. Just lovely.

My legs were tiring by this time so those chunky bits of stone skittering under my tires were not welcome. The good news was, when I came to an intersection and followed the path along the river which hadn’t been re-graveled, I felt like I was flying. Nicely packed pea-gravel scattered with pine needles and leaves. And it was actually pea gravel; smooth little stones, none bigger than a pea.

It would have been too easy to let the abruptly easier surface lull me into pedaling furiously, which would have burned me out like a match compared to a candle. So, I focused on the scenery. How lush things looked, bouncing back from the drought.

I guess it’s possible though that the lack of rain didn’t impact the river-scape much. Trees and, to some extent, grasses and shrubs still could have had access to water even if it had dropped lower than usual.

The first of the mystery yellow flowers, teasing me from a distance.

So, as I cruised along at just 4 mph, something caught my eye among the reeds. A tiny splash of yellow peeking out of the autumn dried cattail leaves and purplish blossoms of varying shades. Something I’ve never seen before.

While, I’ve only ridden this stretch perhaps a dozen times, I’ve done it several times in autumn, a few times in summer. Maybe even a few times in spring. Winter, not so much. The idea of tackling that first steep hill covered with ice and snow? Not appealing. Yet, I’d never seen a flower like that one. Could be I’ve always just missed its blooming time, or perhaps just buzzed by too quickly to notice.

I’m thinking it’s the ‘missed the blooming time’ option. After I saw that one, they turned up everywhere along the trail.

More of them!

Not as singles either. Scattered patches of them, growing on stalks that looked to be about 3 feet high, strewn among cattails most often. Never close enough to get a really good look though. I guess they needed water to be a certain depth or such. It drove me wild. I wanted to see one close.

I claim to not be a bird watcher, but get excited by barnacle geese, hawks, ravens, uncommon ducks. I have no interest in botany, but flowers, the less familiar the better, and I get desperate for a closer look. Odd aren’t I? But I’m sure we already knew that.

So _that’s_ what they look like!

At last! I found a handful of them growing on the west side of the path, the drier side opposite the river. They were only a few yards away with no reeds or cattails between me and them. Just shorter marsh grass and hidden water or mud.

The mystery would have been more quickly solved if I’d had my telephoto lens with me. I just haven’t been comfortable with carrying my newly replaced long lens the side pod bag where the old one was smashed. That might have been due to very specific circumstances, but I’d rather not risk it. More on that in a bit.

As I came back up to where the brand new pedestrian/bike bridge was, I was feeling every one of the miles I’d done. It was only about 4 miles more to home. I could make it.

This trail is known as the Uppsala-Skokloster Road. Clearly it’s not a road any longer.

The clouds were pretty solid across the sky as I crossed the river yet again. 4th time for the day. At the beginning, I’d ridden the western bank path to the new bridge with Loke before crossing to the east side to do the rest of the way to Flottsund, crossing and then joining the far southern end of the west path. Now, I was going to take the east path from the bridge back into town. A wonky figure-8 of a ride.

The east path wasn’t as busy as the other side. Looking across the river there were still more than enough people moving around.

I could have taken the same path back, but in truth, I think this one was a little smoother and also would turn into paved surfaces much sooner. I was craving pavement by this time. Unless it’s really bad pavement, it would be easier to move on than gravel however nice.

It did mean coming by the winter storage yard for boats, which is less than attractive scenery. I was just so ready to be home… and fed. Not a bite to eat since yogurt at 5 am that morning and it was coming up on 4 pm.

Pumphouse and garden across the river.

As I came up across the river from the pumphouse and entrance to the city garden (not to be confused with the city forest), the sun re-emerged and stayed with me all the way back home.

Loke seemed rather peeved with me when I staggered through the door. I was too wiped to care, feeling as if someone had put a belt around my hips hung with about 400 lbs of unbalanced weight. I grabbed some boiled shrimp and cocktail sauce from the fridge as well as some coleslaw, plopped down to start eating before I fainted.

Still, I felt very proud of the day’s accomplishment. As I stuffed my face, it occurred to me there was another kind of River Loop I could do as well. Ride one side to the foot bridge and the other side back home for roughly 8 miles. I could even alternate which side first for more variety. That made 3 different versions of what I could call River Loop, with small variations of each. Good enough.

Even though this post is getting ridiculously long, (and I already broke it in two!), still a little more for me to babble about.

My feet. Already they were mentioned to be doing better on this new river loop ride. The last 5 miles or so, they got quite unhappy though it wasn’t exactly the same way. I didn’t need to yank them to the ground, desperate. It was more that, ‘Okay, enough of that. I want a break from that hot, uncomfortable spot behind my big toe’. So, an improvement which could perhaps be.. improved upon. Perhaps a large portion of it was because of the pad after all.

Winter is coming and no, not meant as a joke about Game of Thrones. Even as I type this, it’s just 38 F (up from 34 F). Definitely gonna need those platform pedals and see if I can’t construct that foot catch I’ve envisioned. To do that though, I need pedals. Preferably, the ones that have the red Restrap power straps attached to them. Jens won’t be the only one annoyed if I have to buy another pair.

Where have they gone? I have no clue. Jens and I both have torn through the garage looking for them. I’ve looked everywhere I can imagine in the apartment where Jens is convinced he saw them last. You’d think with those big floppy, bright RED straps attached to them, they would just kinda leap into your attention. Maybe they would if we could just catch sight of the cursed things.

If these cold temps hang on, I’m gonna need them because boots will be absolutely necessary to avoid frost-nip and frostbite. As it was, early in the ride on the 23rd, I could feel a bit of chill on my feet for those first couple miles.

Trike improvements. Other than those necessary for winter, like the swap of pedals, construction of heel catches, change to studded tires. Hmmm. Maybe a new sheepskin for my seat.

I also presented Jens with a list of other things I’d like to get. Feeling so much stronger on the trike (even after this relapse of wonky heart rate) has made me want to arrange it more conveniently.

First, flags. Jens keeps after me to remember my flag. Seriously though, I can’t see what good a tiny scrap of orange plastic, smaller than a Kleenex tissue, does. So, fine. I’m getting pretty flags from Soundwinds which turns out will ship to Sweden. One flag will be a spinner type made of a highly reflective material to join my lights as attention getters in dark. Not cheap, especially once customs and VAT are added in, but people who’ve had the flags give glowing reports for their quality. So, I’m gonna bite the bullet and order them.

Also, a way to carry my telephoto lens so I’m not stuck in a lurch like I was with the yellow flowers. *grin* I’m going to order a new side bar for the other side of my trike seat and probably throw a new chain tube in as well from ICE. Then, I’m going to order another Arkel handlebar bag and make another divider for the inside to carry the big lens and other oddities. That’s not going to be cheap either. I’d completely forgotten that the Arkel bags were so pricey. It’s been worth it though. 3 years of hard use and excited puppies trying to stomp on it for a boost into my lap, but it’s still strong, water-tight and secure.

When I presented Jens with an itemized list detailing the costs, I made sure to point out that I’d gone inexpensive for my birthday since passing up on a 1000 dollar harp. This stuff was going to be an early Christmas present and was much cheaper than the harp would have been even pricey as it is. No complaint.

So, that’s that. I guess now, I’ll make another sweep of the apartment and cellar for those pedals. Want to have them settled by time these 35 F temps come to stay! Brrr.

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Looking For A Repeat Performance
September 25, 2018, 2:27 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

After Loke’s amazing performance on September 15th, the Sunday, the 16th was kinda meant as a rest day, but Jens decided he wanted to walk Loke along the river path south of the city like he used to do before Loke’s April health crash.

Jens used to do the walk at least once a week and he still has me drive out and drop them off for an attempt. They’ve not gone the distance since then, mostly because it takes so long for Jens’ limited time off. He might be okay walking for 1.5 hours, but 3 or 4? Not so much and I can relate though I’ve come to peace with it when it takes us almost 2 hours for 4 miles.

But Jens does still make the occasional stab at it. When I drop them off, instead of heading home, I just drive off to a point further up-stream to wait for them to come up to me. Often taking my drone for practice flying as there’s wide open fields there and not so many houses.

One spot I park was here the old road at a place called Kungsängen (The King’s Bed, no clue) dead ended at the stump of an old bridge. I’m guessing it’s the one that served for crossing the river before the big drawbridge was built. Back when the working dog shop was open in that area, I’d ride down to the old bridge foundations and follow the gravel path on the river bank back to town.

The past couple months or so, when I’d do the drop off, I’d drive down to the old bridge foundation on the opposite side of the river and found construction going on. It looked almost as if a new bridge was being the built. The remnants of the old one had been cleared away and fresh work done. A new bridge?

Old bridge made new.. for non-motorized traffic at least.

On the 16th, when I parked there, I discovered that the construction work on the brand new drawbridge (for people and bikes only) at Kungsängen had been finished and was open. It must have happened that very weekend because the sheer number of people that were flocking around it. It had an almost carnival air to it.

That seriously whet my appetite for some kind of loop along the 21 mile jaunt where I’d head out to Nåntuna and come back down the river path from right where it begins. I could alter it thanks to the new bridge. Stick to places that were more interesting than along the huge busy road past the Ikea and such. I set to plotting it out in my head.

In spite of that grand plan, our next ride didn’t happen until the 19th and it wasn’t that altered southward river loop.

Honestly can’t remember why there was so long between the rides. Jens wasn’t home, being away on business in Denmark, so no kiting off across the countryside to have Loke picked up when he tired or his feet got worn. Still, I wanted to do something other than the River Loop v.1.

Well, my hair was overdue for a trim, so I spontaneously decided that the outing for September 19th would be a jaunt downtown to make an appointment with Jenny, a friend of the family who’s been doing my hair trims since I moved to Sweden 14+ years ago.

Though I had a purpose for the ride, I still set off on a River Loop v.1 for the start of it. Going directly to the salon would have given us only 2 miles and Loke’s better than that. So, the first part of the old River Loop hamster track for a bit more distance.

He was pretty sluggish, which disappointed me. Admittedly, it could just have been boredom. He still didn’t perk up much when we hit the downtown areas where he’s not been in quite a while. Of course, it might have been that he was just a little over warm. I felt that way on some of the outing.

Jenny was delighted to see Loke out with me and the trike. It had been years since she’s seen him and the stories about how sick he was in April kinda stuck with her. She’s known the furball since he was a puppy after all.

Still, slow as Loke was, I didn’t want to overdo it with him so our way back home was more direct. Naturally, he seemed to show a bit of spunk for that. Goof ball.

After that day, the weather took a bit of a turn. A bit of rain, but more than a bit of water falling from the sky was the wind. Crazy winds that violently whipped the trees. I was coming out of a grocery store as a blast of air shoved over someone’s unlocked bike. It didn’t stop there, the bike then went scraping across the pavement where a car almost ran over it. There’s not much to a downed bike’s profile for the wind to grab and push on to overcome the friction of asphalt, but it was doing an impressive job of it. Part of it was the remains of a named storm (Knut) that had come screaming out of Denmark.

In spite of that insanity, I decided to take Loke and I out on the 21st.

Ah! Autumnal Equinox! Though considered autumn by the orbit of the earth around the sun, Sweden tends to mark it’s seasons by certain rules about temperatures. It makes sense. Kinda silly to say, ‘It’s spring!’ when there’s 3 feet of snow and another month or more of the stuff to look forward to. Does get a bit odd though that the south might be considered in full spring, while the north is full winter still.

Elderberries. One of the many fruits that thrived in spite of the drought.

Other than the crazy air currents, it had otherwise been pretty mild for September. Temps in the 60’s and no trace of frost. The trees are colouring up though and fruit trees are dropping their burdens which ferment in the grass. It’s amazing that I don’t get legally drunk riding through some areas. Even more amazing how apple trees and ornamental plums managed to produce such HUGE numbers of fruit after a withering drought that destroyed so much else.

It had been raining when I woke on the 21st, but ceased at about 8 am. At 66 F, even with the blasting air, it wasn’t cold by any stretch of imagination. Since Jens was working from home, I wanted to aim for a few more miles than the River Loop. I decided I’d take Loke with me and see how much of the countryside Vaksala/Granby Loop he could accomplish. Miles and let Loke see something he’s not seen in a few months. Win-win!

It faltered almost right away. I was hoping Loke would go clipping along as well as he’d done on the 15th when he’d managed those 6.8 miles.

He just wasn’t feeling that way on the 21st though and I kept hearing that scrape of dragging hind feet that makes me cringe. More than that, I wasn’t feeling too great either. My feet were just killing me. I kept needing to disconnect from the pedals and put my feet on the ground to get the pain to stop. And the wind was more brutal than I’d anticipated. Even at Loke speeds it was hard going.

As I came up to the ‘front’ entrance to Old Uppsala, I waffled about what I wanted to do. Stop at the parking lot there and have Jens get the fuzzy one before heading off on the planned loop for the miles I need while my feet screamed? Or just go creeping through the burial mound path hamster track and coax Loke back home. He still hadn’t done his ‘business’ in the 1 hour and 2 miles we’d inched over.

I couldn’t stand the thought of enduring more foot pain for the rest of the 10-11 miles the Vaksala/Granby Loop would mean. Burial mound path it was.

Our speed was barely walking pace. Actually some people even passed us at a walk. Still, Loke was enjoying the area. I let him stop and sniff as much as he wanted as it offered a lovely excuse to have my feet on the ground, wriggling my toes to dispel cramps.

One of those times, I had a moment of desperation. On my seat, I’ve had a bit of foam padding that I put there to raise my hips up a bit in relation to the pedal boom. It reduced the amount of flex required of the joint which seemed to help a bit back in 2017 when my hip was so bad and just starting to recover.

I couldn’t say for certainty that was when my feet started paining me more than they used to, but my hip is generally good now, so I figured it was worth a try for a few rides at least. Naturally as tortured as my feet felt, I didn’t think there’d be a magical, immediate change. And there really wasn’t.

Spring-like flowers with hints of autumn colors in distant trees.

While the leaves are coloring and the fruit ripening and fermenting, in other spots, it seems almost spring-like. I think after the drought, the return of the rains kinda ‘reset’ many plants into their spring-time growth periods. I’ve been seeing a lot of blossoms I associate with May rather than September. It makes an amazing contrast at times.

It also gave me something to admire as we inched along.

There were a lot of people out with dogs. Most of them ignored us. One young woman was walking along with a gangling, obviously young pup. The poor dear completely panicked when she saw us. Who can blame her? This weird contraption with some big, unfamiliar dog attached to it. She planted her feet and pulled hard to go the other way.

I called out in a cheerful ‘talk to the puppy’ voice, “Oh, we’re nothing scary.” It completely changed her opinion of us. Suddenly, her paws were scrabbling against the leash to come to me. She jumped up in my lap, licking my face furiously before turning her extreme energy and exuberance on Loke. Her owner kept apologizing and trying to untangle the leash from various parts of the trike.

I asked what the cutie was. She looked a bit like a black lab, but not quite. It was only part of the story. She was Dalmatian, Black Lab, and some kind breed with words ‘gun dog’ in it, but I missed exactly what.

She was a handful and for a couple moments, I think Loke was annoyed with her. Then, much to my shock, he actually started playing with her in his own ham-handed fashion.

After a few minutes of chatting about our dogs, we parted ways.

Got home with 5 miles on the nose in just under 2 hours (1 hour, 59 minutes, and 47 seconds).

It’s hard not to be disappointed. There had been such hope that Loke could come back more to what he’d been like in March. Or closer to it at least. I understand that he’s old, but that 6.8 mile run was unexpected and amazing. It would have been lovely if he could have kept that or even improved.

Well, I’ll spoil him as much as I can either way. He still loves the trike, out we’ll go with short little jaunts and as slow as he likes.



Clearly I’ve Underestimated Him…
September 19, 2018, 8:54 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Loke that is.

After my last outing on September 9th, I wound up catching the cold that Jens came home with from work at some point. As colds go it wasn’t too bad. With the first symptoms of a scratchy throat and sniffles, I actually went to the gym for a very gentle work out. I was a good girl though and scrubbed down all the machines with the disinfectant available once I finished. The hand sanitizer in the locker room to be exact. Later that day the cold got it’s hooks deeper in so I didn’t go ride. Not even a short toodle with Loke, who was being a complete pain. Then I had a couple days where I was feverish so didn’t even make my schedule gym visits. But barely any coughing. Hardly a sniffle and was over it in a few days. Like I said, not bad as colds go.

Saturday morning, I was itching to get back into to the swing of things. I still felt a bit sluggish from the cold, but a quick check with a thermometer showed I had no fever. Off to the gym I went, again for a nice, gentle workout.

The weather was miserable at 5 am when I was at the gym. About 45 F and a heavy sort of drizzle driven by winds pushing the 20 mph range. But by time I was at Starbucks, it was just gray and chill without any water falling from the sky though rather forceful breezes snapped at the flags.

Once I was back from Starbucks, the clouds were beginning to break up and it was almost 60 F. I announced to Jens that I was going to take Loke cycling, but instead of taking him for a 2 or 3 mile River Loop and coming back home to drop him off before going off on my solo ride, I was going to head out on my 14 mile Ulva/Gamla Uppsala Loop. When Loke was done, Jens would come get him and I’d go on solo.

My dear husband made no fuss about it, agreeing with something akin to cheerfulness.

Loke seemed pretty interested as I started getting ready. Given his previous days and evenings of crazy energy in the apartment, bullying Jens and I mercilessly, it was less than I expected though.

As we rolled out, I didn’t add any of the flourishes I would have if riding on the close-by River Loop. No winding through the smaller residential streets to the end of the frisbee golf course before finally rolling westward. I headed due north to hit the local path directly west toward Old Börje Road.

The furry one was fairly slow at the start, but now I’m pretty sure it’s just because there’s a 3-4% grade for the first quarter mile and hills slow Loke down as much or more than they did/do me. On the downhills and flats of those first 2 miles though, it seemed every time I looked at my Garmin it showed us holding at a steady 4.3 mph. My fuzzy old man just ticking along like a little clock.

Once over the bridge, I pointed and directed Loke to go straight instead of left, the first time that way since he’d gotten sick back in April, I think. He perked up. He carried his head a bit higher, his nose was busier and ears flicked around as he scanned the reeds for small critters. It’s a flat stretch and he still held that steady jog of 4.3 mph as we headed for the crossing at the 272 to Old Borje Road.

Once through that intersection, he was quite slow for 0.15 of a mile thanks to the long and fairly steep climb there. It gave me plenty of time to admire a small patch of autumn colors. On the other side of that hill, where the road twisted out before us, he hit 5 mph briefly and then back to, you guessed it, 4.3 mph.

He was so happy. He had perked up even more as we’d scurried over the 272. He was testing the gusting winds. I couldn’t help smiling at having him beside me and so willing to go. It was worth the shivering. Out among the fields with nothing to block the wind, I felt every little breath of it. The thin wool I’d worn under my cycle top was not enough to keep me warm while the Garmin told me it was about 58 F.

Thar be blue!

There was hope though! A head in the distance, the horizon had a growing smudge of blue at an edge of the shelf of clouds. Since the weather had only been improving through the day, I was hopeful those blue skies, and by implication, sunshine would soon reach me. Or me reaching it. Either way, I was hoping we’d come together. Not often I’m wishing for sunshine.

At about mile 3 on our way in that direction, there’s a widened spot for a bus-stop and someone’s private road. Enough space to get comfortably off the road. Since Loke’s average outings have been about 3.(something) miles, I stopped there to evaluated  him and offer water. All I got for my efforts was a bright-eyed look, a wagging tail, and woofing. He didn’t even glance at the water dish even when it was shoved under his nose. Just that intense look, drilling into me, willing me to put my feet on the pedals and MOVE. On we went.

Much to my chagrin, the temp took a bit of a nose-dive. From about 58 F, no sun, and a blustery wind to almost 52 F, no sun, and a blustering wind. I shivered harder.

Loke’s ‘steady on the flats’ 4.3 mph pace picked up a bit as we came to the stretch I called the ‘Kitty Cottage Dash’. There’s a darling little cottage where an elderly couple used to have about 8 cats or more. Every time we rode by there, there’d be a cat or 3 in the yard and Loke always remembered that and would start a mad run for the half-mile leading up to the place. Well, he did his 13 year old equivalent. 5.1 mph. Even though it’s been years since I’ve actually seen cats there, he still gives it his all as we come up to it. I think, sadly, the couple has become too frail to care for so many kitties.

Yes! Still here and getting renovated/restored!

I didn’t mind the boost of speed, though I kept close eye on how Loke was doing with it. I really wanted to see how the house was doing.

That pretty, old yellow house that’s been abandoned since before I discovered it back in 2006. Late last year, I saw hints that something was going on with it. Then it was definite that someone was doing something though I couldn’t tell if it was demolition, moving, or restoration. Safe to say, it’s being fixed up.

I’m so happy! I’ve always thought it was such a pretty little place and would be a shame to see something over 100 years old just smashed to bits for some modern thing that popped out of a cookie-cutter. The porch is free-standing again and it appears the upper windows are about to be replaced.

The pause to look at the house and take a picture annoyed Loke and he huffed at me. He really wanted to get to the cottage which was right next to the house. Just a little rocky hillock blocks the view between them.

Sadly, no kitties at the cottage and Loke settled back into his steady, almost mechanical 4.3 jog on flats and descents, only the occasional little scrape of a dragged foot to mar the rhythm.

Sunshine and a view!

Somewhere between the kitty cottage and the right hand turn at the cross-roads, the wonderful happened! The sun came out! The temp went from about 53 F to 60 F. I finally stopped shivering.

I was shocked Loke was still doing so well. As we came up past mile 4, I stopped again at another bus stop to evaluate him. Pretty much the same response, though he did give his water a couple laps. The intense stare, the insistent woofing. He even pawed at my arm.

Loke, still happy and raring to go at mile 6!

Honestly, I was almost in tears as I rolled out for more distance with him. A month ago, I believed his days with the trike were over. A couple weeks ago, I was believing it was just going to be slow, plodding little 3 mile loops of around the apartment trails. Yet, here he was, out in the countryside and jogging happily (if slowly) along with me, thrilled to be out in the countryside with the trike and raring to go even after 4 miles. Slow or not, it felt so nice to have my cycle partner beside me.

As we came up on mile 5, I pulled into the parking lot of a small school and insisted Loke take a bit longer of a rest. It was a way of testing him really. If I sat there for a while, would his enthusiasm be overcome by the lurking weariness. Loke was always one of those dogs who could push through pain or exhaustion because he was just so crazy to go-go-go and run. Offered water was ignored. He pawed at me, woofed at me. Finally after about 15 minutes, he kinda resigned himself and sat down with a sigh. That was it though. He just sat there, staring off down the road with a few more mournful sighs. He didn’t flop down, or even lay down. As soon as I moved my feet, he lurched back up and wagged his tail. He was good to go!

We did go a bit slower though. I wasn’t very happy with the condition of the roadbed for Loke’s feet. The bitumen was worn away from around the pebbles in the paving so that the stones stuck up kinda like eggs in a carton. The potential for bruised paw pads was high if we went too quickly. The verge of the road was no better really full of big chunky rocks with sharp edges. So, we walked. I was also keeping a close eye on the condition of his paw pads as they were showing slight signs of wear.

As humans age, the skin can get very thin, soft, and delicate. A wrong look at it can make it bruise. A slight bump on an edge of furniture can leave a cut. I’m pretty sure it’s the same with dogs, so I was being very careful of the skin Loke has to walk on.

While keeping him outfitted with socks was a pain in the butt, it was easier on my peace of mind back then to know I could always sock him and he could jog on to his furry heart’s content. I rather missed that reassurance, but it just hurts his ankles too much to have a bit of fabric and duck tape velcroed around them.

About mile 6, there was some hints that Loke was finally starting to maybe tire a little, or have muscle fatigue at the very least, not to mention his paw pads were showing some wear. I was wondering if Loke could actually make it to Ulva Mill, but then a front paw dragged, knuckled, and then twisted so that he limped a few steps. Nope. Wasn’t going to push him any further. While he’d dragged his hind feet a few times during the miles, this was the first time for a front foot and a limp.

So, I called Jens and told him where to look for us as I started to look for a spot close that was out of traffic where we could stop.

6.8 miles. More than double what he’d been doing since starting to go with me and the trike again. He still really didn’t want to stop. He woofed, he bullied. But I wasn’t going to let him jog his feet bloody.

Jens arrived and when I swapped him to his leash, Loke was bouncing cheerfully in long grass near by. With the promise of a cookie, he practically threw himself in the car and kissed Jens’ cheek. As soon as the car door closed though and my husband put the car in gear, Loke suddenly was at the window, eyes huge, wide and staring in devastated disbelief. I was riding on without him! How could I?

I felt a little guilty, but it didn’t last long. I’d had a good few miles with him and he was still feeling spunky so I’d not broken him. Now, I had the last miles back home to look forward to.

I did that last mile from where we stopped to Ulva Mill in under 10 minutes.

I did a brief stop at the shops on the hill above the mill. I needed the restroom and I was so starved. It was after 3 pm, I’d had no lunch and the yogurt for breakfast and hot chocolate at Starbucks were a distant memory. Unfortunately, my choice of pastry at the cafe there was an unfortunate one. I threw it away after just 2 bites.

As I headed back out, I almost giggled. Last year, I think it was, I had spotted some construction at the edge of the fields near the old E4 where the mill road joined it. I had thought maybe it was for a cycle path. Turned out I was right. Then earlier this year, I spotted work just up the hill from the bridge over the mill race that looked like the beginning of the other end of what might have been that cycle path. Turns out I was right.

The new path betwixt river and field! Oh happy day!

For months I’ve been wanting to ride it and only then had I felt froggy enough to go for it. It was time. I sped down from the mill, across the bridge and began the slow climb up. Finally, I was able to cut across the road and roll onto the gravel of the new path.

River, path, and field.

It’s not paved, but I’ve known that for months. There were spots where the gravel was a little loose and slowed me a bit, but it was so much better than than the road! I was over the moon as I took it leisurely and enjoyed the views. There were little glimpses of the river between the reeds and trees. There was surprisingly little wind there which was nice. I loved not worrying about passing cars. The scenery was much nicer than strawberry fields with white tenting or the long stretch of chainlink fencing around the Garrison property.

Another thing I loved was getting to see the sliver of burial ground along there from a new direction. I’ve always enjoyed the view of it riding from the road, especially when there was the dead tree standing high on the crest of it, stark against the sky. The tree is gone now. I guess they were worried about it falling on a cow during the time they’re pastured there.

A different face to this patch of burial ground.

It presented a whole new character from the cycle path side. Ripples and folds of what might have been the smaller mounds of multiple burials. The lighting wasn’t optimal for photographing, but was certainly different than the other side. I would have loved nothing more than to go buzz around it with my drone, but being just across a road from the army garrison (where even know I hear gunfire as I type this), it wouldn’t have been wise.

Then I was done with the path as the river curved around to where the road bridged it. From there, I went onto the old E4 and began the long slow climb up to the turn for Gamla Uppsala.

My feet complained a bit more as I rode alone, my pace double or more than the speeds I’d had with Loke. I’m convinced I need to move the pedal boom in a bit as since shifting the cleats back and the fact that I’ve lost some weight. Even with the arch of my right foot giving me a few fits, I still pushed on, taking the grave mound loop instead of the street-side path where I could have carelessly glided down for over a mile.

And distance! I wanted distance! I needed 180-ish miles to be sure that 2018 wasn’t going to become the worst ever year for mileage. So, where the mound loop connected with the River Loop, I pushed onward instead of taking the shorter way home. I was tiring fast and sooooo hungry, but I wanted the distance. I did the full River Loop with all the extensions except for the Garrison out-n-back. I arrived back at the apartment with 10.4 solo miles. Adding in 6.84 miles where Loke was with me, it was a fairly respectable 17+ miles.

I felt pretty good about it even with aching arches. Oddly, my right arm was killing me. I had problems with it all through 2017 and laid the blame firmly on using my desktop computer. The pain through my upper arm was bad enough I wondered if my poor PC might not have gotten a bad rap with all the blame heaped firmly upon it. My arm has improved quite a bit since I restricted my PC use so much, but I also wasn’t riding my trike much. It’s possible it was a combination between them, but one still has to wonder.

I’ve not ridden since then, but I think I’m going to take Loke out today. I’ve just been kinda sluggish of late and today my hip is quite sore. But riding with Loke isn’t much of a hardship. In all truth, the 6.84 miles with him, even against the wind and up hills, my Fitbit indicated that my pulse never even went above 80 bpm.

But he’s being a perky pest and with 4 days of rest, the skin on his paw pads looks normal and unscuffed. I can’t just take off across the countryside since Jens isn’t home to come get him, but I can probably safely take him out for a 5 mile amble.

In other quick news, I’ve started making plans to ready for winter. The main frustration at the moment is hunting for my red platform pedals. I could have sworn they were in the storage, in the same plastic bag they were in when I brought them home from the cycle shop after the spring pedal/tire swap. Jens and I both have looked everywhere there for them with no luck. No white plastic bag in sight and no bright red pedals with a red power straps to be found in any box, bin, or shelf. I did find some tire liners that were in the bag with the pedals, but nothing else.

Even though it will probably be another month before I feel the need to swap the pedals, I have an idea for a heel catch, but needed the pedals in my grubby hands to turn at every angle and decide if the plan will work. Without the pedals, I can’t be sure. I will say that it involves timber strapping that they use to reinforce wooden frames of buildings. I found some that’s pretty stiff and quite strong. I think it would shape well and unlike heel slings it will stay in place without my heel braced against it. That means I could tap-dance my feet around on the pedals all I want. It would also take up less space than those ‘Franken-pedals’ with the huge platforms and strapping at toes and ankles often associated with handicap people.

Jens seems to believe the pedals are here at the apartment. I’m convinced they were at the storage, which went through a lot of chaos during the flooding back in July. I’ve been making a stab at searching the apartment, but so far, the sensible spots for the pedals to be has yielded no results.

I’ve also been considering other things for the trike. Nice flags, which after shipping and VAT from the U.S. will cost a hefty chunk and one of those will be of a high quality reflective material that will practically glow by headlights. New chaintube. Another handlebar bag side mount as well as an Arkle bag to hang from it for more camera gear like my telephoto lens. New studded winter tires. Probably a few other small things as well.

I’ve told Jens that I’m going to count it all toward Christmas. My birthday already went from quite expensive idea to small change, so I think I can go a bit big for Christmas. *impish grin*

So, that’s me all caught up for the moment. Now I’m going to head out on a little toodle with Loke. It will do both of us good.



The Improving Me
September 11, 2018, 1:55 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

So! The riding continues, so clearly I did get the brake un-stuck.

September 5th – It took some hunting around in storage and apartment before I found the blue bucket that I knew had the stuff needed. Once I had that in hand, I headed outside with the bucket, a little plastic step-stool, and Loke in tow. I tethered Loke near by where he could relax in the grass in shade or sun as he chose and plopped down to start work on the front end of the trike with nothing more than a spray bottle to rinse with. After poking around the brake setup a bit, it was clear the problem wasn’t in the brake caliper itself, but in the handle. Dust and mud had gotten up in there and was gritting up the works.

It was obvious the rather large black bike brush I had was not going to cut it. I needed something smaller. Not batting a lash, I told Loke I’d be right back and rushed inside to grab my very own tooth brush.

While the air was quite cool, the sun can still be very intense at this time of year. By the time I got the brake back into some kind of working order, I felt a bit crisped. Loke seemed to enjoy the warmth though. He mostly sprawled on his back in the sun in that ‘dead bug’ pose dogs sometimes do when they’re feeling content, comfortable and lazy.

By the time I was certain the brake would continue working, I was kinda hobbling around with my hip, knees, and back all rather unhappy with me. Only a fraction of the work done on my poor neglected Sprint.

I mentioned to Jens how much work still needed done on the trike and he recommended I take it to the bike wash. Bike wash? Yeah, bike wash, over by the river near the ice rinks.

I did an online search and wouldn’t you know? There is a bike wash and I’ve ridden past it quite a few times as I think it’s more than a year old.  It’s a modest gray structure. One side is restrooms. The other is open on the long side with front wheel racks to hold bikes.

While I do have a bike washer, it takes the car to operate it as the plug is for a car lighter and there aren’t really any outside outlets any way. So, the bike wash would be about perfect.

A plan instantly formed. The very next day, September 6th, I’d take Loke out for another wobble to be followed up by a solo ride to the bike wash.

Loke was in an odd state for quite a few days. Very high energy. He was trying to play with tennis balls, even attempting to get Jens and I to throw for him. Also a lot of paw-stomping and woofing at us.  While energy he had in spades, he didn’t really have control of his limbs. He’d be trying to bounce around after his ball and then his hind end would go flying in a random direction for a spectacular fall. Up he’d scramble and keep playing.

With my problems walking, he was definitely going out with the trike for a longer walkie.

Old, slow, and wobbly, but glad to be out.

I kept it shorter than the previous one because of his instability and did the route in such a way I could cut it shorter still at just about any time. I didn’t need to, but Loke did have one bizarre fall where he was walking slowly over a stretch that had not so much as a single loose pebble on good pavement. He was plodding along and suddenly fell on his face. In spite of that, he was quite determined to keep a pace of about 3 mph. Not his worst by a long shot.

After getting him back home, I hustled out the door with my bucket of cleaning supplies. I took the bucket handle over Loke’s running bar and set off with it swinging just behind my shoulder.

It was a good thing I’d decided to go to the bike wash. The brake started sticking again. Grrrrr.

There were longer ways I could have taken where I needed to go. Ways that I used on a regular basis the summer before to ride to the produce market at Vaksala Square. I didn’t really want to leave Loke home alone longer than need be so I made a direct dash for the bike wash, spinning rapidly along. It was right about 2 miles when I pulled to a stop at the small gray building.

Not a bad set up. I was definitely going to need my cleaning supplies though. At first, all I could find were the air blowers to help with drying. One was a tiny thing with a gun-like handle for blowing water out of hard to reach nooks. It was even small enough to get down and blast air through my chaintubes! Finally! I could clean my chain, blast the water out, and oil without it feeling completely useless. The other hose was like one used to vent hot air from a dryer. Plastic with a wide mouth. You could activate it to blow warm air to dry things faster.

One thing I couldn’t locate was the water hose. There was a sign that seemed to say it was in a cabinet to the left, but when I looked at the cabinet, it appeared locked and had one of those stickers warning for an alarm. I didn’t want to touch it. Finally, to be absolutely sure I wasn’t misreading something, I used my Google Translate app. Yep. In the cabinet. Warily opened it and there was a heavy duty waterhose with a heavy duty trigger type nozzle.

I stripped the trike down, gave it a quick splash of water, and soaped it up. It was a bit peeving that I forgot to bring the tooth brush, but I did my best with the brake handles using the pressurized water once I was done giving the trike a quick scrub.

As I worked, another guy came along and put his bike in the spot closest to the water. Then he went flailing about with the hose so carelessly, he drenched not just me and the trike, but also my helmet and bags which had had been tucked halfway behind the opposite corner. I didn’t put the stuff completely behind that corner because I wanted to be able to keep an eye on it. I truly don’t know if the guy was just rude or malicious.

Another guy in a mountain bike get up came along as I was blasting air through the brake grips in the hopes of finally getting them clear. He was pleasant. Greeted me in friendly fashion, didn’t splatter water for tens of yards in all directions, and even commented on how cool he thought my trike was. He was so nice that I offered the use of the bike soap I’d brought along.

I wasn’t able to tackle the chain like I’d wanted as my hip and even my back started to complain. I gritted my teeth to finish off blowing water out of the chaintubes though. The poor chain was so neglected and practically devoid of oil, my hands barely even got dirty when I touched a few times. So, even though I’d not scrubbed it properly, I gave it some oil once I had all the water possible whisked away.

Much happier trike!

The trike looked so much better for that little care. It seemed to repay me in kind by practically flying as I rolled out.

Instead of heading directly home the way I’d come for a total of 4 miles, I headed off along the roads I used to take when visiting my husband’s parents before they moved. That put me in line for the mall and Starbucks. I decided to stop in for some hot chocolate thanks to the dampening I’d had and riding in the cool air. Plus, I like chatting with the people who work there that I’m quite friendly with.

I would have loved more distance as I left the gang at Starbucks, but I was feeling a bit stressed about leaving Loke alone much longer. I settled for adding enough distance that the Garmin said I had over 10 miles. Naturally it was more than that, but I’d paused it once and forgot to turn it on for as much as a quarter mile.

Feels like my grand total of miles would be 200 or 300 more than I have recorded because of silliness like that.

But I finished the day with a husky that acted like I should have taken him for another 20 miles instead of the 3 miles he had and a much cleaner and smoother running trike. So, I count that as a win!

Friday, September 7th, was a rest day for Loke. Not that he needed it. He just kept getting crazier and crazier. Harassing Jens until my poor hubby was about to pull his hair out. He acts as bad as he did when he was 8 years old. Did I say 8? I meant 4! Just a bullying pest but without the stamina and stability to do enough to satisfy him.

The furball has also been acting like he’s starving. Every time I leave the apartment, he goes cruising around for something edible he can get into as soon as the door clicks behind me. That’s even with Jens at home! The garbage and his food bin being prime targets. The last time I had chicken, eating at the table in the living room, he tried to stick his nose on the plate as I got up to toss the bones. Just shameless! Cough drops aren’t safe from him either. I used to keep a small bag of them on the center table between our chairs. Not any more. He was never like this in his younger years.

And I assure you. Loke is not starving. He’s getting fat is what he is.

Saturday, September 8th, I wound up going kayaking instead of cycling. Only the 2nd time this year. While the paddling went about as expected, other aspects of the activity left me dazzled.

Since back around April, I’ve started going to the gym with fair regularity. 3 or 4 times a week by going every other day. There was a 4-5 week break or so from the end of June to about the beginning of August though as I waited for my ankle to heal.

At first, it was just shaping up to feel like the other times when I’ve made stabs at going consistently. I go, I work out, but don’t seem to feel I’m improving. After a while of that, I just kinda go ‘meh’ and stop going. Just a waste of time in a place I really can’t stand.

There have been 2 differences this time though. 1 – I’m not inflicted with migraines 1 to 3 times a week which makes consistency easier. 2 – The mystery muscle agony has all but disappeared as mysteriously as whatever it was that caused it which like the absence of migraines, makes consistency more likely. 3 – Rather than being stuck with the dreaded treadmill as the only option for warming up left to me since the gym removed the hand cycles, I have access to rowing machines.

Rowing machines. Who on earth would have thought I’d develop something akin to affection for a rowing machine?!

It’s especially taken off the last 2 weeks. Before that, even though it had been months since I’d twisted my ankle, I was still kinda floundering with the rowing machines. 10 minutes and my ankle would fuss. Or my hip because I wasn’t doing the motions correctly to compensate for my ankle. I’ve had to keep my feet on the floor instead of on the braces. Then I was able to tough it out for 14 minutes. 16 minutes. Then in the last 2 week window, I suddenly had a stunning workout where I blasted through 23 minutes and the display said I’d gone over 4 kilometers.

And yes, this tedious discussion of rowing machine workouts relates to my kayak day which leads back to my other comments about the other things about that activity which left me stunned.

Sometime around that awesome workout, I think was about the time when I posted about that ‘flying ride’ on August 28th, which I attribute in no small part to my gym activities. See, relates to cycling! It was also around the time when I went to buy Loke another bag of dog food, picked it up, and put it back down because I thought it felt too light. 8 kilograms felt more like 6 kg, or perhaps even 5 kg. That was somewhat unexpected, but I had some strength improvement last summer after kayaking 1 or twice a week for a few months. Granted, I lost that over the winter.

But the latter rowing sessions had a bit of a lull after that 23 minute bout, until 4 days go when I belted out another 20 minutes and smashed through 4 kilomters in 20 minutes.

Then came the kayaking. Getting the kayak in the car was easier. So was getting it out at the rowing club. I was thrilled, almost giddy with how almost effortless it was to move around, getting up and down off the ground to connect the hose to the valves. Dragging it to the water? A cinch except for the trailer that didn’t want to track straight. Oh, and I can’t even describe the sheer ease I had getting in and out of it! Just… I almost tear up to think of it.

Other than strength which came in handy with getting the kayak in and out of the car as well as to and from the water, it was the agility that left me almost dazed in a glow of disbelief. My ankle twinged and my hip complained a little, but I was practically throwing myself down on the ground and getting back up with relative ease. Last month, if I went down on the floor to say chase Loke’s tennis ball out from under the coffee table, I would have had to clutch at the table top to brace and use my arms to pull up with every muscle and joint screaming.

Saturday, while folding the kayak up, I flopped down on it, laying on my tummy and depressing a valve to force more air out for folding without even giving the least pause for how I was going to struggle back up. It wasn’t a struggle. I squished out the air, rolled over into the grass on my back and rocked to my feet as if it was nothing. No clutching at fence rails or handy trees, just… moving. Moving in ways I’ve been unable to manage since the stroke. Ways that people take for granted.

And really, I think it’s my consistency with the gym and the rowing machine which is the only real, measurable difference, compared to the other times when it was hand cycles and treadmills for warm up. Now, I look back almost fondly at that trip to the gym months ago when I looked at the treadmill with distaste and dread only to spot the two rowing machines. The dubious, ‘Well, I can at least try it, right? Can’t be worse than the treadmill and might even help me with paddling the kayak.’ After the session I was thinking that it wasn’t so bad at all. No destroyed ankles and it worked more than my legs.

And that energy for the gym is spilling over into my cycling. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been going more consistently. Well, that combined with the cooler weather. Not broiling in 95+ F temps helps a lot. I would like to improve on that even more.

But as for the paddle session, it went pretty well. The wind kicked up and caused a bit of tracking issues when I went to return to the rowing club. I enjoyed being out on the water though. Listening to the wind hiss in the reeds and cattails. Watching the dragonflies do loops across the river. Watching the beautiful little swallows skimming just a fraction of an inch above the wind-lapped water, narrowly avoiding being gulped down by a pike. Yep. A pike was doing its level best to make a meal of swallows on the wing.

I was out for less than an hour. Just as well. I was about 15 minutes from getting back to the launch site when I started to hear thunder growl. No photos. The wind was blowing too hard for me to take the time to pull the phone out, take a picture, and put it back without having to flail my way out of the reeds.

Sunday, September 9th, was a day that could have used a little more improvement. It actually kinda pointed out a bad habit of mine. I took Loke for a wobble with the trike. That happened easily enough. In the back of my head, I had this grand plan to head out on the 13-15 mile Ulva/Gamla Uppsala loop. There’s a new cycle path just at the top of the hill after passing the mill and crossing the millrace. It’s gravel, but it takes off along side the river and across the fields before coming out near the intersection of the mill road to the old E4. I’ve been wanting to ride it for months. I had this image of stopping in the middle of the fields, no houses of people to annoy, few-to-no trees, no power lines, and practice flying my drone, or even getting pictures of the mill from on high. I was almost giggling at the thought.

As I did the loop with Loke, that plan came crashing down. I realized it was too close to the Uppsala Army Garrison. As that balloon popped so did my oomph to ride the loop. It was like if my plan couldn’t go perfectly, complete with drone flight, it wasn’t worth doing. Not true, but the way my energy and enthusiasm vaporized, it felt that way. Once I was back home, I just kinda sluffed the day way.

Loke did amazingly well on that outing though. He went along at a brisk jog and was unexpectedly stable. Perhaps the most stable he’s been since early April. He set a new speed record since his health crash. Also made Jens’ evening one of frustrated aggravation as he absolutely would not stop bullying my poor beleaguered hubby.

Jens tried to encourage me to go out and I told him about what I’d planned with the drone before the ‘garrison too close’ knowledge crushed it. He said, ‘You do know that the garrison is barely used for anything right? Practically abandoned?’

I pointed out the weekly bouts of gunfire I often hear even here in our apartment which are from their battle ‘games’. I’ve even seen them out there, ducking, dodging and running around with ‘rat-tat-tat-tat’ popping off. Doesn’t seem even close to abandoned or unused. I added, ‘And admit it, it would make you furious if my drone got shot out of the sky.’

Jens shook his head, “No, I’d be furious if they somehow tracked you down to slap a fine or hit you with jail time or a criminal record for spying on the garrison. If they just shot it out of the sky, the story of how, ‘Terii lost her drone to an army sniper‘ would be worth the cost of replacing it.”

That caught me by surprise. That my hubby would be amused by my several thousand kronor expensive drone shattered to bits by a bullet from the garrison. 14 years and I still learn unexpected things about my stocky, red-headed spouse.

Sunday was also a day I was supposed to have a gym work out, but that didn’t happen either. I did wake up, get dressed, and drive there to stay in the habit of going even if I didn’t actually do anything, but truly, my arms were just killing me after the hour or so in the kayak. Most of the discomfort was focused in the triceps and every muscle that connects to the shoulder blades. Rowing would have been torment.

Monday would have been an off day from the gym, but my arms felt a bit better, so I went any way. Just 6 minutes on the rowing machine at a gentle pace, and only 2 rounds on the other machines. Nice and careful. Spent more time working through stretches than anything else.

After Loke tortured us all Sunday evening, I didn’t even bother with a rest day for him. Out we went again yesterday, September 10th. He wasn’t moving very well though. All that spunk and energy was lacking as was the stable control of his limbs. While he was faster than the 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 47 minutes, he wasn’t holding the previous pattern of each trip faster than the last. Slower than perhaps the previous 2 actually. But he was still happy to be out. I couldn’t spend as much time as I would have liked out with him though. I had to start laundry. It also meant no solo exercise ride for me either. Laundry, ever a curse to my longer cycle rides.

The fuzzy one was still a bit of a pest that evening. Where is all that energy when out with the trike!

As for other things to touch on, I’m still struggling a bit with the foot issue. I think I need to shorten the boom a bit and perhaps move the cleats a bit further back toward the heels.

I’m also starting to look toward winter solutions. The whole risk of frost bite vs foot suck conflict. I love being able to use my chunky, warm winter boots to ride on, but that requires the platform pedals where feet can slip if I hit a bump or my legs get tired. I’ve tried pedal straps, but those caused foot cramps and didn’t really hold me to the pedals very well which gave me a scare. Heel slings? Yeah, no. I move my feet around too much. If you can’t keep your heel firmly back into the sling and shift a foot forward a bit, it just drops right off and goes swinging, no longer in position to catch the foot if it goes.

I might have come up with an idea for a home-made foot catch. I just need to double check that I can attach them to the pedals.

You know. I think I’ll go see if I can find my winter pedals right now as I’ve pretty much caught up on things now.



Not The Miracle It Seemed…
September 5, 2018, 8:41 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

After my ‘flying ride’ on August 28th, I was on top of the world. Giddy even. One reason, other than the obvious about how great it felt was the distance. 9+ miles and it felt like nothing.

That kind of distance means I could consider getting off the River Loop, reaching for those hamster tracks that loop through the countryside and start building up for rides off said hamster tracks. I even had the first countryside hamster loop in mind. The old Vaksala/Granby Loop which is 10 miles. If 9 miles was nothing, then 10 miles should still be snap, right? The very thought of it made me giggle.

After his 2.44 mile run at a whopping 1 hour and 47 minutes, Loke spent that evening and the next day being a bit of a hyper pest. After giving him a day of rest on the 29th, I decided to do the 10 mile loop on the 30th and same as the previous outing, I’d take Loke for a short, slow roll first.

He was raring to go as much as he’s been able to since the health crash at the beginning of the year. Also, he did much better! That first quarter mile stretch, he cut the time in half, 7 minutes instead of 15 minutes. He was moving a bit awkwardly though, as if his right shoulder was stiff. Oddly, it seemed better if I let him do a wiggling 4 mph jog than a slower walk.

It was just the same short loop as the previous one, but he did it right at 1 hour, shaving off 47 minutes. I was impressed. He wasn’t thrilled when he realized I was making the turns for home. He even tugged in other directions at intersections as if trying to convince me to go further. There was going to be no overdoing it for him though. That was my job.

Once back home, I saw him settled with fresh water, treat, bed, and toy before practically skipping out the door, buoyant with anticipation and ready to hit the country roads.

The old rail bed into gravel trail.

The beginning of the loop means going in the general direction I take to the Gamla Uppsala Burial Mounds. It offered the perfect opportunity to check out the gravel path that was the old rail-bed before they dug out a tunnel so traffic didn’t have to come to a stop every 3 minutes. It doesn’t seem to be an official cycle path and the road-side cycle way would have been smoother and faster, but it was interesting and kinda nice have a 100 yards or so distance from the road and the traffic.

Looked like I’d be getting wet.

It was quite a bit warmer than when I’d been out with Loke, going from about 65 F to low 70’s. I would have preferred the cooler temps. The clouds had also thickened quite a bit and I had to wonder if my luck was going to continue to hold, allowing me to miss the rain. Or would it be the rain missing me? Either way, the hope was to avoid getting drenched.

I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t feel as wildly strong and fast as I had on Tuesday, but I wasn’t doing too bad I guess. The first 2 miles, I’d been able to maintain a minimum of 5 mph even up the loooooonnnng climb most of the way up to the grave mounds. After that, my foot started bothering me, so I had to slow down quite a bit unless going down hill.

Still, it felt so very good to be off the River loop and I did the 10.03 miles in a smidge less than 2 hours. Given the amount of climbing and how much that can slow me down combined with the painful foot I suppose that’s not too bad.  In truth, considering how little cycling I’ve done since April, not a bad ride at all.

Sticking to the established schedule, I took Loke out again after one day’s rest. The plan was the same as before. A shorter, slow roll with Loke to get him out and see if the improvements were continuing followed by a countryside hamster-loop. I hadn’t decided if it was going to be the 10 mile Vaksala/Granby Loop again or a more ambitious Ulva/Gamla Uppsala Loop or Läby/Stenhagen Loop which are both roughly 14 miles.

Loke was so very eager to get out and go, I decided to add a smidge more distance for him. Nothing dramatic mind. Just a little. He was giving tiny hops, woofing and trying so very hard to pull, smiling with that tongue lolling as we rolled out.

We did a pretty good 5.5 mph at the start, but that oomph didn’t last long before he settled for slowing and speeding between 3.2 and 4.5 mph. I was thrilled when he still managed to hit 0.6 mile before the first 10 minutes. A new record since March or so.

He was so happy. Every time I tried to slow him, he’d cast me an irritated glance. Finally, I had to. His legs started having coordination issues. A front foot would knuckle and drag. His hind end would abruptly buckle as if the legs were going to completely collapse. He didn’t want to stop and it was an awkward spot for a rescue, so the only option was to reduce speed. Loke attempted to struggle against the 1.8 mph limit I pulled him to, but it did seem to help, probably because his legs didn’t need to move as fast.

In spite of that, we arrived back at the apartment with 3.13 miles in an hour and 10 minutes. Better and better.

Our time would have been better still if not for my feet. I had to keep stopping because my right foot especially was just killing me. A hot poker twisting near the back of the arch by the heel or a pair of pliers crushing the metatarsals from the ball of the foot to the end of my last 2 toes. The pain was bad enough that it killed any thought of a solo ride. I’m just not masochistic enough for that kind of self-inflicted pain.

It was a disappointment really. I wanted the exercise because I’ve been doing so well with losing weight, getting fit at the gym. Much as I adore riding with Loke, it can’t be called exercise by any stretch of the imagination. It’s the difference between floating in a tube down a lazy river over swimming across an open lake.

It was during that evening I was marveling at this miraculous turn around in my furry old man’s verve, but realization clicked. There’s nothing amazing or miraculous about it, it’s just testosterone. He had been chemically castrated back in late February or early April and I’d been told it would last 5-7 months. Well, it was something close to 6 months. The implant was running out. Mystery solved, miracle debunked.

Sadly, it meant his current level of spunk so much like his pre-health-crash attitude, could once again fade into sleepiness and sluggishness. It was either that or risk the tumor’s return and I truly did not want that. I hated torturing Loke 3 times a day with washing the open wound on the growth and he was starting to cringe away from me any time I so much as passed by or looked at him. Broke my heart. No. Better the castration than that.

The foot pain gave me a bit of a kick in the butt. For a year or more now, I’ve been working at elongating the slots in the bottom of one pair of cycle shoes so I could slide the cleats back. Even though the sole of the shoe is just very hard, stiff plastic, it was taking me ages to get even the smallest fraction of an inch with a metal file. This higher level of determination to hopefully correct the problem with a power tool was triggered when Jens said he found one for less than 8000 kr in a shop though he wasn’t sure it would suit my needs.

I made a trip to look and no, it wasn’t anything that would have worked very well. I had the bug by then though, so I went to one of the big hardware/building supply stores. I looked at the Dremel, but then noticed some less pricey options. I found one that appeared to have all the same tool heads as the Dremel for less than 1/8th of the cost. I texted Jens I was getting it.

It took me a little work to figure out which bits were best suited to what I wanted to accomplish. The space available to work being restricted by pesky things like the shoe and sole around the plastic plate hasn’t made it simple, but in just 40 minutes I made more progress than the 20+ hours of filing I’d struggled with previously.

I wound up skipping an extra day between rides. Too many things to do to squeeze one in along with working on the shoes with the tool. Most of that was laundry on Monday.

September 4th was a testing day though. Would Loke continue to improve his time on the River Loop? Would the work on the shoes prove helpful?

Loke had a vet appointment for 2:15 pm, but I decided I’d squeeze in a ride before that. I had kinda planned the day to be ‘gym, short ride with Loke, shower, shopping, vet, longer ride for me, dinner, bed’.

It seemed to be a good idea, because Loke started bright and early being a PITA. In a cute way of course. Don’t believe me? I’ve got proof and this was him being calmer after I picked up the tablet to film him. He’s always been a bit camera shy.

I hate the way my voice sounds in this. Geeze. Do I always sound like that?

He didn’t seem to think I needed 15-20 minutes to eat breakfast and recover from a vigorous gym workout. Back to being the bully I know and love. Fingers crossed it lasts!

At least, being dressed for the gym, all I had to do was swap tops and put on my cycle shoes to be ready. Loke was practically glued to my hip as it did that. He was determinedly helpful when it came to putting on his harness. When it was time to start moving out, he was hopping and even started making sounds that approached proper husky yodeling. YODELING! I can’t even remember the last time he even came near to doing that.

Once we hit pavement, he scrabbled as hard as he could with his wobbly legs to pull us faster and I hit the pedals to give him some help. Much to my delight, he got into a running motion as opposed to jogging. He was pretty darn stable about it too. No dragging or dramatic staggering. Just an old, happy husky trying to do what he loved best in the world… closely tied with eating. For about 100 yards or a little more, we were cruising at 6.5 mph, but hey, it was running! Never mind I remember the days when anything less than 9.6 mph was a jog. The fact he was able to do anything like a run at any speed at 13 years old is pretty impressive. Testosterone or not.

He settled pretty quickly into a surprisingly strong trot at about 4.5 mph. He was so thrilled as he’s been on all the recent outings. He was scanning his surroundings, sniffing the air as he ambled along. He was showing every sign of improving his speed again as I steered us along the 3.1 mile loop.

As for my feet, they seemed to be responding well. There was still some discomfort in my right foot, but it wasn’t anything that had me tearing my feet off the pedals with cries of relief. I think I need to have the boom moved in a smidge and perhaps work on the shoes a bit more to get the cleats another quarter inch or so further toward the heel.

As the miles went on, Loke predictably slowed a bit more, but it was still looking to be faster than the last time. He’d done the first 0.7 of a mile in 10 minutes.

About the last half mile though, he started getting wobbly again so we slowed to about 2 mph. Honestly, the timing was perfect. My trike made it very evident it needs some TLC. The right brake grabbed the disc and wouldn’t let go. It wasn’t a tight clamp, but I had to work to keep that 2 mph speed.

I probably should start parking the trike back in the storage as well as give it some tender care. I think the flooding season is past so it should be safe enough from being submerged. I’m hoping it’s just splashed mud gritting the moving parts of the brake and a bit of cleaning will free it. Otherwise, off to the cycle shop it goes.

We did the 3.1 miles in less than an hour, shaving off perhaps 15 minutes from the last time. Pretty good with a sticking brake, I say.

I got home, jumped in the shower and had just enough time to run some errands before coming back to take Loke to the vet.

It was a new vet and Loke, shockingly, seemed to like her even though she was wearing the dreaded scrubs. She looked him over, commented she perhaps heard a heart murmur but it was inconsistent. I told her that he’d had heart murmur scares before, but ultra-sounds and such never found anything. Then she examined tumor area and listened to my concerns. She’s pretty sure she felt something still there, so we decided there really was no choice, but to re-castrate.

When it was done the first time, Loke was so sick and frail that he couldn’t keep going with the trike. Touch and go if he was going to make the next week at any given moment. So, he lost a lot of fitness because all he could do was sleep and wobble for a few hundred yards at a time.

This time, he’s doing good. he’s so much stronger than he was even 2 weeks ago. He’s got energy and enthusiasm. Let’s see if we can keep his lack of testosterone from robbing him of that by trying to keep his exercise levels up as I’ve been. Even if it just turns into a sort of holding pattern where he’s doing 3 miles in an hour every other day, it’s better than he’s been. I’d love it if he could get up to doing 5 miles in an hour and a half, but if It’s 3 miles, I’ll take it.

As for the pattern, today is a rest day. Loke’s an old man after all. I have chores and errands to do not to mention getting that brake unstuck providing I can find the bike cleaning stuff I KNOW we have laying around somewhere. Unless it got pitched in the flooding chaos. Always a possibility I suppose…