Terii’s Cycling Babble

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.

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