Terii’s Cycling Babble

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.

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