Terii’s Cycling Babble


Debacle.
October 22, 2018, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Debacle – Derived from French. It’s meaning is slanted toward a situational failure more drastic than ‘fiasco’ which tends to have somewhat comedic overtones, but… I’m tired of using the word ‘fiasco’ in my posts of late, so the word for this post is ‘Debacle’. It’s good to swap things up from time to time. I’m sure I’ll laugh about the days between Thursday, October 18th to the morning of October 20th in time, but right now, I’m more grumbly about it than chuckling.

Gripsholm From Mariefred – 2013

As mentioned in the last post, I had planned to do a ride away from Uppsala. I’ve had it all plotted out and been buzzing with anticipation, but was starting to wonder if it was cursed. As cursed as a ride in 2013 around a town called Marifred, west of Stockholm and on the southern shore of Lake Mälaren. It has a beautiful castle, runestones, church ruins and more I really wanted to see. I must have made 3 or 4 drives there and wound up coming back without the trike’s wheels ever touching the soil in that area. I finally did it, but it took several tries and I was starting to despair.

So, originally, I was going to do the ride between Finsta and Norrtälje on Friday, October 19th. With it being the first ‘away from Uppsala’ ride in… I can’t even think in how long, I wanted my legs good and fresh for the ride. I wasn’t going to wear them out with riding around home or overworking at the gym. So, I did just a light workout on the rowing machine at the gym Thursday morning and focused more on stretches.

The ride didn’t happen. Jens, it turned out had an appointment with his chiropractor and so, needed the car. That made me a little crazy. Thursday, the weather had been SOOOOOOO gorgeous. Mild, temps in the 50’s, but no wind and gloriously clear, blue skies and… just… *wistful sigh*. That perfect autumn day that begs for a person to go out and spend every moment of sunlit hours beneath the azure dome of the heavens, but no. I’d had to save my legs.

Saturday it would be then. Which meant, of course, that I wasn’t going to go for a ride on that perfect, equally flawless autumn day that was Friday, October 19th as well.

Saturday morning, my PC’s weather app, my phone’s weather app, Jens’ iPhone weather app, and the weather woman on the TV all claimed that while cold (34 F at 8 am when I’d be starting the ride and high of 42 F), it would be clear, sunny, and very little wind.

Friday, I had the trike packed in the car and Saturday (October 20th) morning, I assembled everything else, with the intention of getting on the road by 7 am. I dressed for cold, but dry.

It felt a bit warmer than my weather app said when I stepped out at 6:57 am. So much so, I did an about face to swap my cushy wool socks for cotton before my feet burst into flame. I did bring the wool socks though. Not 5 minutes out the door, Mother Nature cleared her throat, so I stopped at McD’s for their restroom. I didn’t fully get underway until almost 7:20 am.

As I hit the E4, I noticed it didn’t look particularly clear though it was a bit hard to tell since the sun wasn’t due to make it’s dawn debut for another 20 minutes.

By the time I made the turn off the highway at the exit for Knivsta, it was obvious that it was not clear. Rain started to spit down. Not that soft mist where the droplets are smaller than grains of salt. No. It was rain.

I kept peering at the skies and hoping for a break in the clouds as I went on, but they remained stubbornly unyielding and continued to drizzle and rain on the car. Pity, it was a pretty drive. One moment when the rain let up for a moment, I was driving by a lake and it was picture perfect with the trees of the opposite bank reflected in mirror smooth waters. Or it would have been picture perfect if I could have found a spot to pull over without getting hit by traffic to actually get a picture. So much autumn foliage still dazzling the landscape even under gray skies.

Skederids Kyrka – 2011

As I came into Finsta and made the turn to Skederids Church, I remembered that intersection and not fondly. The turn from the smaller road onto the 77 had been harrowing. It’s a hill no matter which way you go and a bit of a curve. My slow self trying to get across and up a hill meant getting in the way of someone whipping around the curve at high speed. I was going to have to think about maybe starting somewhere else.

Still, I drove to the church as it seemed as good a place as any to wait a bit in hopes the rain would let up. By then it was coming up past 9 am which made me antsy. I knew the old rail bed which had been converted into a cycle/bridle/foot path was unpaved, meaning it would be slow going for me. I wanted as much daylight hours I could get to do the loop I’d plotted. Days are getting short fast, already less than 10 hours between sunrise and sunset. It was coming down even harder 20 minutes later. Restless, I decided to go check out the prayer cave of St. Brigitta.

St. Birgitta’s Prayer Cave.

Just a short hop from the church to the ‘cave’ where I found lots of nice parking. It made me want to start from there rather than the church. Now, if only there were a connection between where I needed to join the rail trail. It was at least on the correct side of the busy road, but I wasn’t sure I could get over without going on the 77.

It felt bitterly cold as I walked, under umbrella across the grounds of the little farmstead area to the prayer cave. It was more of a cleft than a cave. A small space in the middle of a giant chunk of rock that had split ages ago, open to the sky above.

I was shivering as I walked back to the car. I saw snowflakes too. My hands ached. I was not dressed for this kind of weather. I’d worn thin wool under my tights and not enough layers on my torso though I did have my 400 g weight wool pullover on. It was inadequate for anything other than dry weather. For rain, I needed quite a bit more layers

If it’s not raining, is this liquid sunshine on the windscreen?

I called Jens to tell him I couldn’t make the ride thanks to the rain. It was nearing 10 am by that time. He was baffled as he checked the weather sites on his end and, apparently, they all said it was sunny and no rain.

I felt pretty peeved as I drove back through a leaden cloud cover of spitting rain that reached all the way to Uppsala by that time. Two glorious days I could have at least ridden locally, skipped just so I could have my planned ride on well rested legs, the first in years away from Uppsala, ruined by precipitation that the weather experts said wouldn’t be there.

That bothered me more than anything. The fact that every single weather source I’d checked insisted there should be no rain. That there would be no rain. If something had said it was going to be barely above freezing with rain, I likely wouldn’t have wasted the drive. At the very least, I’d have been dressed for riding in the wet.

Jens tried to console me with the news that Sunday, October 21st was supposed to be dry and warmer. I thought it was sweet of him to try. I spent the rest of the day doing laundry.

So, Sunday, October 21st, I woke up early, got my yogurt and started trolling the various weather apps and sites. A Swedish one even had current satellite and radar images which I checked… a lot. The only rain on them was over 100 miles to the north and forecasted to stay up there.

I was gonna risk it. I pulled on layers and readied to go. On my top, I had a light layer and then a medium wool layer before dragging the cycle top over those and then a big sloppy sweater over that. My heavy wool was packed in a pannier bag in case I needed it. My legs got the same treatment, only I had the medium wool against the skin, light wool over that and then the Lycra. Wool socks were packed.

Ma Nature was tweaking my nose as I went out on a short walk with Loke before leaving. Droplets of water plopped down on me from the trees. I peered suspiciously up at a dark sky that looked cloudy. An inspection of the pavement showed the droplets were only under the trees. Where there was open sky, it was dry.

Loke fed, hubby smooched bye, I jumped in the car. Was that a speckle of rain on the windshield? I narrowed my eyes at it, but decided to go on.

There were more spits of moisture on the glass as I went. The last couple miles to the exit on the highway, it got a bit heavier. In truth, I was about to turn back.

You know how someone starts joking with you about something relentlessly until you just want to wave your arms and holler? Then they might go, “Oh, I’m just teasing you. Here, I’ll show you,” and then does something amazing for you?

And this was just the warm up!

Well, that’s exactly what Mother Nature did. I made the turn off the E4 at the Knivsta exit and suddenly the sky was splashed with color and the rain stopped. The first moment I could, I pulled off to the side to snap a photo through the windshield.

And Mamma Nature wasn’t done yet. She rolled up her sleeves and pulled out all the stops. She was making her ‘apology’ for jerking my chain by making one of the most astounding visions I’ve had the fortune to ever see.

I’ve never seen such a darkly vibrant light that does such strange loveliness to the scenery.

It became the most heartrendingly beautiful sunrise I’ve seen in years. The quality of the light was just… I can’t even find the proper words. It was apricots, peaches, and roses all in one, giving their own hues and shades to the landscape and deepening the autumn pallet into entirely new colors with elusive names I’ve never had to describe. Such an inadequate way to say it. At one spot where I stopped in a bus-stop to take pictures, I saw the precise moment when the very edge of the sun’s corona cleared the distant treeline across a lake. My eyes got teary at the sheer magnificence of the morning.

Just a few seconds before the sun’s edge cleared the trees across that lake.

The intensely tinted light that turned the landscape into that of a magical other world, went on for over half an hour. It was seriously going to impact my arrival time in Finsta. I took my time for that portion of the drive, pulling over into bus stops to let faster traffic pass. I was bouncing in and out of the car every quarter mile or so where I could take photos. Sometimes, the camera didn’t even click. I just stood there with it in hand and… breathed, took it all in, amazed that such ephemeral beauty had unfolded.

More normal portion of sunrise, but lovely.

The astounding gave way to the more mundane once the sun actually came over the horizon. it was still lovely and I stopped a few more times for photos.

From this…

By the time I rolled into Finsta, the best of it was done and I was able to get to the task of deciding where to start. I would have loved to park at St. Birgitta’s Cave area, but I wasn’t sure if there was a way through the 100 yards or so of trees to the school area without getting on the 77 where traffic was already picking up. Over at the school, I did find a nice little parking lot and classes certainly weren’t going to be in on a Sunday. I decided to go for that. First, I went to the nearby church to see if the restroom there was locked. It wasn’t.

…to this in a snap!

I had the trike out in what felt like record time. Clearly, the gym is paying off. That 30 lbs or so of awkwardly shaped metal, plastic, and rubber feels about 10 lbs lighter and quite a bit less cumbersome.

The sun had become a bit more shy as I rolled down from the parking lot on a small hill above the street, but I was encouraged by the patches of blue sky off to the west. I rounded a curve and spotted one of the round blue and white signs indicating a path reserved for walking and cycling. In this case, it triple served as a bridle path too.

I made the turn and the trike zipped down a short dip and there I was, on the old Länna-Norrtälje rail-way. Given how much I adore ravens, I took the distinctive call of one from nearby as a welcome and good omen. I would have loved to have seen it, but at least I heard it.

I had hoped for more gravel and less grass.

I already knew the rail trail was unpaved for much (if not all) the way. In the spots where I’d been able to get a glimpse of it with Google Street View, where it crossed roads, it had been a gravel and grass track. And where it wasn’t a lot of grass, the gravel was still pretty loose, bordering on sand and bogged me down a bit.

It made for slow going, but I was good with it. I enjoyed the fresh scenery, the autumn colors that were clinging on in this part of Sweden.

I can’t remember if I mentioned, but it turned out that none of the 3 churches on my plotted route were new. It turned out that I’d actually ridden in the area back in 2011 where I found photos of them all.

I guess the guys who clear cut this little patch were bored. 100+ lb stone on a 12 foot tree trunk.

Firmer gravel under lovely leaves. Very changeable path.

It didn’t really dishearten me though. I mean, seriously eight years ago since I last rolled across this part of Sweden? Given that it feels like I’ve rolled on my old River Loop every 8 minutes the past 3 years or so, this was still glorious. Not to mention, this time I knew where a bunch of burial grounds and the like were. I had grand plans to go buzz the ones that weren’t overgrown with my drone, which was fully charged and snug from the weather in my waterproof pannier bag.

Autumn colors across the fields. And, hard to tell, but some blue sky.

Yet, I found as I pedaled by first a burial ground and then a hill with the invisible remains of an ancient fortified village/fortress, I was reluctant to get the drone out. That screaming controller and the quiet of the early (for some people) morning with houses clustered here and there just close enough to where I would have been flying. It put me off.

Loved the colors and the peek at old buildings among the trees.

I’m sure the controller isn’t loud enough to be heard for a even quarter mile, but it feels like it when there’s mostly silence all around you. Still, the result was, I’d come up to one of the landmarks I meant to buzz around and would chicken out because of houses or a jogger would spring by like a gazelle.

I didn’t let it dishearten me too much though. It was too lovely to be on what felt like fresh ground. I stopped for lots of photos. I enjoyed the surprising number of birds chattering around. In and around Uppsala, it’s almost dead silent and devoid of anything resembling bird chatter or song. Just the occasional fuss from sparrows or the harsh calls of jackdaws and, rarely, hooded crows.

When I was moving, my rolling speed swung between about 4 mph to about 3.5, depending on the surface. There was gravel, nice and loose and slippy. There was gravel and grass. Gravel covered with leaves. Mud. Mud with grass. Mud covered with leaves. Quite a workout even at slow speeds.

Approaching a crossing with a country road.

I hit a muddy stretch where the trees closed in, forming an autumn shaded corridor. Ahead, it was brighter with the quality of light that indicated it was another crossing. Light at the end of a pleasant tunnel. Just a smidge over 1.5 mile.

Abandoned House – 2011

I rolled out and immediately recognized the spot. Years ago, I’d ridden here. I recognized the little house at the edge of the road where the rail trail continued on to the northeast. When last passing through here to turn onto the cycle path toward Norrtälje, I’d come down the road from the right. The discovery of the rail trail had been a happy happenstance I’d not planned for back then. I remember being intrigued, not just by the arrow straight gravel corridor through the trees, but also by the little house sitting there so sadly. I had contemplated what joys and sorrows it might have seen in its time span perhaps stretching back a century or more.

Oh wow! Whatta change. I love when old buildings are rescued!

I was truly surprised to find the house not only still standing, but no longer abandoned and neglected. Clearly, someone had invested time, money, and no small measure of love.

I never would have thought the structure was salvageable or that someone would have bothered with it even if it was. Looking at the old photo again though, I can see the bones were still strong, holding the little house straight and even the roof line was good and even which tends to be the first to go under the weight of clay roof tiles.

I was so thrilled. I even giggled at how darling it looked. Bright, fresh red paint on the walls and vivid white trim. The cute yellow shutters were just the perfect touch. Odd how random little things like that can make one happy.

See? Very lovely trail surface!

On the other side of that street, the trail improved. Less grass and the gravel, in general, was a bit more packed. There were some shallow, smooth-edged potholes here and there, but it was manageable. At times, my moving speed was about 9-10 mph without much effort. Of course there were still the pesky stops for photos and the like.

Drone Play!

Then it happened. I was toodling along and came out into the open where the only trees near the path were little thing, barely more than shrubs with plenty of clear space along the path. It was nearly lunch time so even if any noise could reach the random house faaaarrr across the fields, the people should all be awake. For over 15 minutes, I’d seen neither jogger, dog walker, horseback rider,or cyclist.

I was gonna do it! I was gonna pull out the drone! By happy coincidence, it also happened to be when the sun decided to come out for a brief while. Perhaps the sun, open ground, and the fact I’d not seen another living soul in a while all conspired to put the idea in my head to fly some.

Swedish countryside from on-high.

It was fun. Though I wasn’t yet brave enough to send it whizzing across the fields, I do think I’ve gained significant confidence in my handling of it. It also gave me a chance to figure out why the last time I flew it and took photos at Kungsängen they came out so dark. It frustrated me because the camera was on auto. Well, like my Canon, I can control the exposure intensity even on the auto setting. Turned out it was on one of the controllers little wheels. Once I figured that out the images came out much better. Nice to have that little mystery solved.

Meant to be a video buzzing down the trail about 6 feet off the ground past the little trees to those in the distance.

I also made an attempt at a video. I brought the drone about a foot higher than my head, over the trail. I was pretty sure I’s swapped it from camera to video and hit record as I sent the drone zipping off down the trail. Nope. Managed to flub it, but I didn’t get it stuck in the shrubby little tree or smack it into the ground, so I count that a win.

I buzzed it around some more, never straying more than 150 feet or so away from where I stood, training myself with lowering and raising the camera, flying circles and 8’s to get used to turning the drone by its personal orientation rather than by mine. After about 20 minutes, before it could start screaming at me about low batteries, I brought it down.

I kid you not, less than a minute after I landed it, gun shots. I was folding the props back in against the body to put it back in its snug case when they ran out through the air. I’m pretty sure they weren’t because of my drone. It is the hunting season after all, but the coincidence was kinda funny. Not only that, as I was zipping up the case and putting my phone back in its case, a jogger came by.

I think I know what the hunters were after. Barely 200 yards down the path from where I’d spent my fun 20 minutes with the drone, a pair of pheasants ran across the trail, no more than 70 or so feet past the front of my trike. Naturally too fast for me to get a photo. I paused to comment on it though so I wouldn’t forget it for this post. Odd it was a pair of males. I joked about how the first time I rode this trail, I’d seen a single pheasant cock. This time, I’d seen two. Maybe if I rode it again, I’d see 3? As I typed on the phone, I could hear them rustling around in the undergrowth and they even called a few times.

One of the two, bravely watching as I crept closer…

Of course, just a few minutes later another pair of male pheasants completely ruined that amusing theory.

I didn’t know they were pheasants at first, though I suspected that the moving black dots in the distance were just that. One of those times when having my long lens would have been nice.

Instead of flying up on them, I crept closer foot by foot, taking a series of about 8 photos. One of the two chickened out (haha) rather early and slipped into the reeds. The other stood there, watching as if trying to figure out what I was. I didn’t get as close a photo as I would have liked before that one also scuttled under cover. Still,  you can tell it’s a pheasant.

How is that for an autumn image?

There must have been something about that stretch of about half a mile or so. Perhaps it was just the marsh that flanked the trail, making it such a bird sanctuary. I doubt it was all the golfers wandering around that made them happy with it.

Though that could explain all the pheasants there, hiding out from people wearing combinations of camo and bright orange. Not like hunters are going to be allowed to go tromping around a manicured golf course, taking pop shots at birds in random directions. I think the golf club would get rather displeased if all its members wound up bleeding or worse. Not good for membership dues. Not at all. So, very likely a safe haven for pheasants.

And ducks. I kept hearing a lot of ducks in the distance as I rolled on, keeping the camera in hand because I was so enchanted by the autumn hues along the trail and also, yes, hoping to get a better photo of a pheasant or two.

Mom, dad, and young’uns.

And there was another noise, not at all harmonious. It sounded rather like an inflated set of bag pipes getting used for soccer practice, sort of sharp honking squeaks. I passed into a row of birch trees and could see water just beyond them. There, at a golf tee spot, was a little pond. It looked as if the golfers were supposed to smack the ball across the pond to reach the green. On the water I spotted a family of swans.

They were kinda far out, but I thought I could get a decent enough photo with my camera’s current lens while catching some of the lovely backdrop of the pond. So focused on the swans (the source of that bizarre honking), I didn’t really notice the ducks in the water along the pond’s edge. Blasted things about gave me a heart attack when I stood up. The surface of the water just kinda exploded as a 100 or so ducks frantically took wing. I think they got my heart going faster than theirs.

It was a wonder the swans didn’t freak out and go flapping across the water for the reeds. They swam a little faster, but didn’t rush exactly. It would have been nice to get them when they were a bit closer. Dratted ducks.

Not the first time ducks have caused me problems. I still feel my hackles rise when they quack thanks to 2 solid nights of a duck quacking in Bruges, the sound echoing off the canal walls and depriving me of sleep. It’s a myth that the quack doesn’t echo. That or it was 2 or three very talented ducks in perfect synchronicity.

More grass and gravel. Slower going

The next distraction. The first riders of the day.

Just past the swans, the marshland ended and it seemed the golf course as well. The boundary was pretty clear now that I think about it. The trail went from nice, generally smooth and well packed gravel back into grass and gravel. It dropped my moving speed some. As if the many distractions hadn’t been doing that anyway.

And of course, the distractions didn’t stop coming. The next one was a pair of riders, on sturdy, adorable Icelandic horses. I saw them coming, stood up from the trike and took my helmet off. Once they were close enough and one horse looked a bit nervous, I started talking. Just a bit of snorting and pulling uneasily at the reins which calmed as I spoke and then they were by.

Would have liked a nicer sky here, but still a pretty picture.

So many reasons to stop. Scenery. Swans. Drone flying. I blame that for making less than 5 miles in 2 hours than I do grass, loose gravel and mud. So worth it though!

The weather by that point hadn’t been too bad. It had been bouncing a bit, covering a range between 43 F and 52 F. A lot of that was to the on again and off again presence of the sun. Shortly after the swans though, the sun disappeared and the wind kicked up a bit. Naturally, that triggered a temp drop. There was also something about that wind that made me think of rain. Maybe it was some subtle smell triggering the rain sense of my subconscious. Sometimes wind is just wind and other times it makes me start searching the horizon for heavier clouds.

Oh, I saw another pheasant as I was pondering possible rain while pedalling the trike through a combination of sand and loose gravel. A female that ran across the path almost under my pedal boom. I think both of us were quite startled and, she was too fast for me to pull out a camera.

The heavier clouds came. The day got darker and I actually started stressing about the time and tried to speed up a bit. Another bit of worry was triggered when I looked at my PlotaRoute info on my phone of the day’s ride. It showed that the total climbing for the 13-ish miles (if I didn’t go into Norrtälje), was going to be over 800 feet. There I was, just shy of 5 miles and my Garmin showed I’d climbed less than 80 feet.

Not even 1 pm and yet, it felt later than 3 pm.

Time wasn’t really an issue at that point… I think. It wasn’t even noon when I reached the road where I was to turn from the rail trail onto a country lane and go to Malsta Church. As I went from loose rocks to good, ole’ solid pavement, my Garmin said I’d gone 5.9 miles and climbed a whopping 82 feet.

Malsta Church & Lake

It was maybe a quarter mile from the trail to Malsta. I was over 100 feet of climbing when I reached the church. Still, after the loose gravel for almost a mile, it didn’t feel that harsh. It gave me hope that I could actually manage 6+ miles with over 800 feet of climb.

Interior of Malsta Kyrka – 2011

I really had to answer a call of nature when I arrived at the church. There just hadn’t seemed to be any where I could get off the rail trail without some random golfer getting mooned. I hoped the bathroom at the church was unlocked. Alas, no. My suffering was to continue. I had also been so excited by the thought of flying my drone around the church and get a gorgeous shot of the little lake. And… didn’t happen. Parked right by the little shack with the restroom was a car. I could hear voices and children giggling and yelling from somewhere near the water below the churchyard. I went to see if the church was open.

No luck, but I could see the family. There was a little dock on the water at the shoreline and they were capering around. No drone.

And you know, I took a photo of Malsta church from almost the same spot as I did in 2011, except I was further from the churchyard gate so was able to get more of the church in the shot with the lake and old wall. I like the new one much better!

I sat at the church for a bit, pondering the maps and the situation. It really did feel so very late to me thanks to the heavy gloom of clouds and the rising wind. Maybe it was just the oppressive force of deeply buried instinct warning me of rain. Something in me was just saying, urgently, “Go! Go! Gotta get back to the car before sunset. Hurry!”

I really wanted to take the road back for some fresh scenery, but that 800 feet climbing was daunting. I knew it would slow me down more than gravel, mud, and the many distractions the trail had offered. It did turn out however, that for the next mile or so down the road, there were little unpaved lanes that I’d crossed while on the trail. I could turn onto one of those and get back on it. After that 3rd one though, it was 5 miles or more to the next. Still, I could give it a shot.

Heavy, gray skies, but lovely on the ground!

So, I left the church and pushed on through the increasingly gloomy afternoon. Almost right away, I was climbing a hill. I was slow, but it didn’t feel particularly brutal. And the scenery with a lovely building at the road side and the color of the leaves made for a pleasant view as I crept upward.

I stopped to take a photo of that first hill. You know how they say cameras add 10 lbs to people in photos? Well, hills look 10% less steep in photos. A 12% grade magically looks like 2% in any picture.

Another hill, pretty cottage and more gray skies.

I had a bit of a downward dash and then some short distance that resembled something semi-level. The climbs were slow, but I just took the ‘steady’ approach up them and didn’t feel too bad for it. There was still that insistent little voice in my head. “Hurry, hurry. It’s getting dark. You don’t want to be out here after the sun sets! Go!” I kept looking at the time. 1:30 pm. Yet the voice wouldn’t stop.

I passed the 3rd chance to turn back to the trail and decided I’d go on. It was less than 200 yards when I discovered the first real hill of the ride. There was no ‘spinning’ the pedals to get up it. It was a hard push even in my ultimate granny gear. I had to stop frequently to gulp air and let the discomfort in my muscles and knees subside.

For a third of a mile, I went up that slope by inches. I wasn’t too far from the top when an older couple came walking along. “Quite a hard climb, isn’t it?” the man said. I agreed. “Bikers really don’t like this part,” he added. I told them maybe I should have stayed on the old train line path. The woman nodded, “That would have been wise.” They waved and left me to my creeping.

Somewhere along that 0.3 of a mile (which took me over 15 minutes), I felt the first kiss of moisture on my face. Just droplets of what might have been rain about the size of sugar grains. When I reached the pate of the hill, I swerved into the parking for a go-cart track so I could secure everything that needed to stay dry, like my drone. It was also an excuse to catch my breath and stop gasping like a beached fish.

I spent 5 minutes in that spot. It wasn’t just to catch my breath either. I was calculating, evaluating. Looking down the hill it was a precipitous drop. A fun ride with gravity doing all the work, for sure. Beyond that though, I could see the start of the next climb and it looked as steep as what I’d just huffed, and strained my way up. The top of that hill put me at 6.9 miles for the ride. In the mile between the 5.9 mile when I left the trail with 82 feet of climb to 6.9 mile at the top of that 3rd, steepest hill so far, my climbing had jumped to over 200 feet. 600 more of it to go. With sunset less than 4 hours away, I had my serious doubts. It would be getting dark even faster if the clouds lingered and stayed as thick as they already were.

Feeling stressed for time, I looked down from the way I came. I could just see the beginning of the little gravel road that would take me back to the rail trail. I could be on it in just seconds with the speeds I’d hit. Regretfully, I turned the trike around and shot back down the way I’d come.

Just around the corner of this nice building was the trail

There was a car behind me as I started the down-dash. He didn’t get a chance to pass me though as I hit almost 30 mph in what seemed like a ridiculously short time. The road surface was descent, so I didn’t chicken out and hit the brakes like I do when I come down the long drop between The Old Farm and the small stream on my Börje Loop. To keep the car from trying to pass, I let go of one steering handle to motion my intention to do a left turn and then hit the brakes hard to whip around from pavement onto the unpaved country lane.

The car beeped and the driver gave me a grin and thumbs up as I twisted around to look. Then I pulled out my camera to take a photo of that pretty building right on the corner of where the gravel met pavement.

Much to my shock, the trail was right behind the far end of that building. I’d had no idea I’d passed so very close to the paved road.

Oh, lovely, lovely rail trail. I was a fool to leave you!

Though I generally hate out-n-back type rides, it was such a relief to get back on the nice, flat rail trail.

As I pushed back the way I came, I did at least take fewer photos. With the wind still kicking it up higher and the day continuing to get more gloomy, I was powering it back to the car as rapidly as I could.

The scenery being so recently seen, my mind was free to wander. For some reason, the idea of riding in the snow during a full moon crossed my mind. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. I love moonlight and what it does to a snow covered landscape is nothing short of magical. Almost as magical as the sunrise I’d witnessed that morning.

Lovely mushroom that I missed the first time through here.

I’d had a chance to do it last winter, but had decided not to. I kept having images of cars skidding into me on the slick, recently snow covered country roads in the dark. Cycle paths wouldn’t give me the experience I wanted, all of them being fairly well lit. That would make moonlight on snow all but impossible to see. Like stars in the heart of New York City. I needed a path, that would be plowed, but unlit.

I wondered if this path could offer that.

As that crossed my mind, it suddenly took the pressure off getting back to the car before sunset. If I was willing to ride here in the dark for snow and moon, why should I rush. The reason to hurry had been not wanting to be on the hilly, twisty roads in the dark. My lights are good, but depending on them to keep drivers, rushing over the tops of hills or swinging wildly around curves from hitting me didn’t feel wise. Now, I was back on the trail. Safe from cars.

That figured out, my mind stopped the fretting and whispering at me to rush, rush. Another concern rushed into the space once that other thought vacated it. Mother Nature was screaming at me. I needed to answer.

I finally found a spot where I could get the trike off the trail by a few feet. There were little paths webbed up the side of a hill, winding around little clumps of rocks and the trunks of trees. Somewhere there would be no mooning someone on the path.

I still took a few photos on the way back.

That taken care of, I also took the chance to gobble up a couple handfuls of my granola and nuts for an extra energy boost. Then I put the trike back on the path.

Hill with the remains of a fornborg (fortress) atop it.

I didn’t even roll more than 50 yards before I stopped again. From down the path came a group of women on horses and one on a bike. The line of them was stretched out over 200 yards or so. They were all on adorable Icelandic horses. I removed my helmet and stood up. The first one came up on a white one. She stopped and looked at my trike and I looked at her horse. I asked about it. It wasn’t hers. All of them were on horses from a riding school. The woman on the bike was the instructor. The woman then asked why had I stopped. I explained that it was to help keep the horses from spooking about how weird my bike was. They tended to do better if I was standing up and talking to them, so they could see I wasn’t some weird monster, but just a person. She laughed and said it took a lot to make Icelandic horses afraid. She’s right, but better safe than sorry.

The other riders started catching up and soon they were all past me. The woman on the bike last. She gave me a huge smile and stopped to thank me. “You know how horses work! Thank you so very much for being kind and patient!”

From there the rest of the ride was pretty anti-climatic. The temperature did drop to about 45 F and wind increased. I kept a good pace on the packed gravel through the grounds of the golf course. There were no pheasants though. The swan family was gone though the ducks had returned, only to burst out of the water and into flight as I zipped by. Startled me again.

Then I was across the road with the restored house and back to the harder slog of mud, sand, and loose gravel. That was when my knees started to bother me. It got quite uncomfortable as I made the push and arrived back at the car before 2:30. Loading back up even with my unhappy knees went quickly.

My timing was perfect. As I got in the car, the windshield started getting speckled. My plans to maybe go see if I could fly the drone around the churches was scrapped.

It had been a good day though. Perhaps not as I’d planned it, me riding back to the car on the trail again. Still, I’d had that breath-taking sunrise, a bit of drone flying, pheasants. Oh, and AWAY from Uppsala on the trike for the first time in YEARS. So, while it had started turning into a debacle with my first attempts to get out of the house and go ride it, it had turned into a good day and avoided becoming one of the cursed rides.

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