Terii’s Cycling Babble

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.

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