Terii’s Cycling Babble

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…

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