Terii’s Cycling Babble


Merry Christmas Or Whatever You Celebrate!
December 25, 2018, 8:37 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I hope these last weeks of the year have been full of joy and love to all who glance this way.

Even as I make this wish, I find I’ve been a bit down. Not surprising. Christmas has always come with a sense of melancholy with a cloud of those past years when they seemed fraught with disaster and misfortune. I like to think that each successive one, the mood is not as dark as the one before.

The day after my last post, amazingly, I made it out for another ride. 4 days and 4 rides. A new recent record. The snowfall mentioned at the end of the December 10th post thickened. Enough came down that the damp stuff clung to the winter bare branches and clumped on the grass. Pavement and cars only got wet, not white. Still, fluffy flakes will always be magical to someone who grew up on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. where frost was rare, never mind snow.

The main reason I went for another ride was my feet. They’ve started splitting and cracking with a vengeance which makes walkies with Loke painful and very short affairs. Admittedly, my feet have been on the painful side of uncomfortable even when I ride, but at least it’s not like getting lemon juice in giant paper cuts level of painful.

There was no trace of snow on the morning of the 11th as I started to drag on layers of wool. The sun was no where to be seen with heavy gray clouds across the sky, but very little wind and it was 33 F. Loke was at least intrigued as I readied.

His interest peaked a bit more as I took us off toward downtown Uppsala, avoiding any part of the ol’ standby of the River Loop. The plan was to aim for old pedestrian drawbridge at the city park for a total of roughly 4 to 5 miles.

There was some wobble to the old furball’s legs, but he was content to shuffle along at 4 mph with the occasional stumble. I’m sticking to the ‘quality of life’ rather than quantity of days. Better he be happy for for a shorter time than miserable for longer. As long as I’m convinced it’s just miscommunication in the nerves and not pain, we keep going though slowing down is in order if he stumbles too much. Limping is another story. If he limps, I read that as pain and get him home as quick as I can.

Loke wasn’t impressed with our roll through town, but he perked up when we reached the parkland. Of course, that’s right where the old pedestrian bridge over the river happens to be. I felt bad depriving Loke of a wander along the gravel paths and tree lines of the park to turn right back around to plod through the city heart again. Though slow, he was ticking along pretty well and interested in his surroundings. I’d push on to the big drawbridge that is a major traffic artery over the river. I could jump on a ramp to go up and over, then back down to take the riverside path on the opposite bank. That would get us another mile or more while letting the old one sniff and enjoy grass and trees.

Naturally, as I reached the big bridge, the lovely gravel path wound on along the open pasture and fields toward Kungsängen (The King’s Meadow). Loke was going a little slower, but still happy. Going to the new pedestrian drawbridge would be another mile, putting us over 7 miles by time we returned home. Jens was in Stockholm, so getting Loke wasn’t going to be an option. Did I dare?

Yeah, I dared. Loke was happy and it would make him more content if he had more of an outing. Quality of life. As we rolled southward, meadow on one side and river on the other, his pace picked up to over 4 mph again. Naturally, that’s about the time the cold finally started sucking the warmth out of my feet. Snuggly wool socks and chunky boots be damned. It occurred to me it would perhaps be wise to get the sock batteries charged.

Cold or not, gloomy or not, I enjoyed being out, off the old River Loop and having my cycle partner beside me, slow or otherwise. I let a sense of contentment sink into me as I relaxed to let Loke take lots of pauses to sniff. It wasn’t a bad way to spend 3 hours. Still, curling up under an electric blanket felt downright dreamy.

Sadly, I didn’t push on to make it 5 rides in 5 days. Distractions came up.

For one thing, the temperature dropped which triggered something in me. It’s funny how something, while annoying, is just endured as part of an activity. The something I mention was my constant argument with gloves/mittens. While it’s never been as bad (read agonizingly painful and close to frostbite) as my feet, I’ve struggled with keeping my hands warm enough. Gloves are a disaster. I have wide palms with short fingers. If I get gloves that fit the palms, I have an excess of fabric flapping at the end of my fingertips which makes me insane. Mittens, while they can have the same issue, it never bothered me quite so much, but it did make shifting gears challenging. Not to mention, gloves or mittens, I still had trouble keeping my fingers warm and often had to shove them under my jacket. I also tried glove liners.

Throw into this argument with glove/mitten sizes and finger lengths, my frequent photo stops. With the over-long mittens or gloves, I couldn’t fumble with the controls very well on the phone or camera. That meant, pulling off the handcovers with my teeth, taking the picture and spending the time to pull the glove liner back on and then wrestle the outer layer over that. 5 minutes later, doing it all over again. Sometimes, it could feel like I spent more time doing the handcovers on and off than I did rolling along.

For some reason, after 12+ winters arguing with it, I decided I’m fed up with it this winter. I wanted pogies which are also called bar end mitts. Imagine a giant, mitten with two openings. One in the normal place a mitten would have it and another out beside the ‘finger’ area. You slip the second opening over the end of your handlebar and there’s generally a way to cinch it snug so wind won’t get in so easily. Ta-da! Your grip, gear controls, and brake handles are all wrapped up in a wind and weather proof muff of various materials, often lined with insulation. I wanted THOSE. Giant mittens that say on the handlebars.

That decided, I went to the cycle shop. A quick look around and there were none to be found. When I asked Neil about them, he said he could order them, but it would take a week or so. Rather ironic, that every winter since I started going to that shop, they’ve had the mitts. The year I decided I want them? No mitts. Murphy is laughing at me again.

So, I threw myself into a frenzy to find something. No cycle shops seemed to have them. Finally I found one kind.

There’s a shop here, called Biltema. It’s a strange kind of place that has a bit of everything. Stuff for horses, camping, sports, bikes, cars, boats, tools, gardening, minor electronics, office supplies, kitchen, laundry room, toys, dogs stuff, small building supplies. It’s all dirt cheap and every single bit is labeled as the Biltema brand. Well, in the motorcycle section, they carried one kind of bar end mitts. A sort of plastic like, weather resistant fabric with a thin insulation that’s not quite cheap fleece and not quite cheap felt. Huge in size as they’re made for, you guessed it, motorcycles or ATVs. Still, the price was right and I could get them right away while deciding if I wanted something better.

So, I picked them up on the 12th. On the 13th of December, I had laundry, so I didn’t get to ride with my new mitts.

Mitts
The cheap mitts.

Finally, December 14th, I started dragging on layers of wool to ride in 29 F temps. I also argued with the wires of my electric socks in between the light and medium layers of wool leggings. It was slow going to get everything on since I’d done a long and hard workout at the gym earlier that morning.

Then it was off to the storage. As I unpacked them, I was taken aback by how huge the mitts were. Seriously, there is enough space in them for the Hulk to use them and still have space to wiggle his fingers. I mounted them up.

They aren’t completely ideal. They get in the way of my opening and closing the handlebar bag as well as restrict the movement of the handlebars near the wheels which makes my turning radius even larger. But they also have plenty of room for my hands even with chunky mittens if I decide to go that way. I even tucked my phone in the mitt instead of leaving it in the bag so my hands can help keep the cold from sucking the battery dead.

There was another complication. Where to put my Garmin? The GPS has always ridden on the small rear view mirror mounted into the end of my steering bar. Well, the giant mitt covers both of them. Engulfs them is probably a more proper term. I wound up flipping open my handlebar bag and letting my Garmin ride around in the lid. It works just fine, provided it’s not raining or snowing too much.

Well, it was snowing, but not too much.

Almost right away, something was wrong. Loke was limping. I examined his feet, finding nothing, and sat for a few minutes to ponder that. The furry one needed walkies. I reasoned that he wasn’t likely to limp less if I was walking with him than with the trike. So, rolling walk it was. I’d just take it slow and keep it under 2 miles for distance which is probably a bit less than what Jens walks him even when he’s limping. We crept along at 1.5 mph as Loke limped and wobbled. There were plenty of stops to let him sniff hedges and trees.

The temp display on my Garmin dipped to 26 F, but my socks on level 1 and bare hands snug in the bar mitts, I felt almost over dressed. If I hadn’t felt so worn and weary from the morning’s strenuous workout, it would have been a pleasant even if ridiculously slow ride. It was just bits of the old River Loop, but thanks to the thin snow, it felt fresh and new. I wouldn’t have minded going longer, but I couldn’t shake the anxiety over Loke’s limping. Finished up with about 1.7 mile.

The riding stalled over various little health issues for a few days. About the 17th of December, I felt better, but had too much to do for a ride. At last, on the 18th, I had a plan to ride. A glorious plan. Not just my woefully overdone River Loop again, but a real ride out in the countryside.

Still, I went to Starbucks for my hubby’s daily addiction and while there, it started snowing. Lovely, feathery flakes drifting around on a soft wind into gorgeous swirls and spirals. It reinforced my determination to ride away from Uppsala’s heart and the river.

Back home, things just seemed to start to go wrong as I began to get ready. My energy fled. My muscles seemed to fatigue ridiculously quick and I started to feel irritable with a side helping of annoyed and frustrated. As I wrestled the layers on my legs for 26 F, I felt overheated in our 65 F apartment and then I felt the wire connector between my battery wire and my right electric sock pop loose. I had to get everything off again, plug it back in and retape the sucker before dressing once more. The only way to keep the connection is to wrap the two parts in duck tape… and even that can slip, clearly.

Loke didn’t seem to be doing to well. Wobbly and weak. He was still interested enough in going out that he came over to get harnessed, but then promptly flopped on his pillow and didn’t move again until I picked up his leash. Instead of having my hubby drop us off at the garage, I told him I’d take the car and just ride back home with Loke before taking off across the countryside.

The snow had stopped, my mood was quite sour and it just seemed EVERY LITTLE THING annoyed me. No matter what I did, it just went wrong in petty, ridiculous ways that drove me batty. For example, putting a car key in a pocket shouldn’t take 20 seconds and two hands while breaking a fingernail. Loke would move along fine for a few steps and then plant his feet and want to sniff something for 2 hours. *beats head on desk*

I wound up resigning myself to getting less than half the miles I’d planned and being stuck on the River Loop for all of it. As we were coming up to the bridge over the river, it started snowing again. That had the effect of cheering me. Even though I was feeling slow and fairly weak, Loke was being even slower still, I decided I’d add the out-n-back along the riverbank to the north.

I slipped and spun at the bridge for a few minutes before just giving up and pushing the trike up. Then Loke and I made the right hand turn to follow the cycle path north beside the river. THAT didn’t even happen for more than 200 yards or so, as up around a curve with some trees, I discovered a work crew had completely blocked the cycle path with a huge red truck. Pedestrians could squeak by and bikes could be walked past, but my trike with Loke on his bar weren’t making it by. Muttering, I slipped and skidded in a multi-point turn to go back.

The snow came down thicker and mellowed my mood again, but I’d resigned myself to doing ONLY the river loop. Mother nature was screaming. The time it would take me to get Loke home, answer the call and get all my layers and wires wrestled back on, it would be after 12:00 pm. With thick clouds, sunset is essentially 2:30 and I really didn’t want to ride in the dark, which given how slow I felt even without Loke, would have been too little time for my 11 mile route over snowy roads with chunky studded tires. So, I gritted my teeth and just got us back to the car and then home.

Pity. I really would have loved to been out in the countryside through a feathery swirl of falling snow.

That seemed to announce the full arrival of the Christmas melancholy. I felt low and apathetic with spikes of frustration and just feeling completely trapped. Trapped by my own body. Trapped by Loke’s aged limitations and Jens’ persistent insistence that every time I even THINK about going for a ride, Loke come with me. Trapped by tasks that ate up the morning until the earliest I could ride was 11 am with a 2:30 pm sunset and being incredibly slow and weak, so trapped to the cycle paths of the River Loop. I am so very over the River Loop and it just ticks me off.

On the 23rd of December, I managed to shake off the apathy a bit and decided that I was going to ride my old Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Church loop. Out in the countryside, but still one of my shorter country loops at roughly 10 miles.

By 7 am, I was dressed to ride. It was the coldest morning we’ve had in weeks, but I still had the grand plan to do that loop. A fresh fall of snow and I wanted to go see the snowy landscape that didn’t involve the city. I desperately needed the miles as well.

It didn’t happen. We set off and I felt fine for about 200 yards or so. Loke was slow, but the sun wasn’t quite up yet and I’d get him home with a bit over a mile and then push on for the wide open, snowy places.

It was a pretty winter day. 15 F, but with no wind, my electric socks, and huge honking mitts, I was dressed for it, but I just wasn’t feeling it. What I did feel was slow. Even old Loke was being held back by me. I wasn’t comfortable in the trike or my own skin. My feet hurt as did my right knee. Every foot the trike moved was pure work, spinning the pedals at roughly 67 RPM and yet hardly faster than a walk. Just getting past the grave mounds was going to take me over an hour with the rest of the ride perhaps taking another 4 hours. I’d still potentially wind up on snowy roads in the dark. Nope. Wasn’t going to do it.

Wound up back at the storage with a whopping 1.7 miles which my Fitbit registered as 37 minutes of exercise. Instead of feeling like my wings to freedom, my trike had felt like a rock I had to drag around. Logically, I know walking that distance would have been worse, but it was still depressing.

And that brings us to the present. The end of the year is rushing up on us and I’m still lacking about 19 miles for the measly 450 I’d hoped to have. Just enough that this won’t be the worst year ever. Well, the worst year for distance any way. I had a bit of upset at the thought that this year would be perhaps the worst year in another way. A year with nothing new. 98% of the rides involving the Fyris River and 80% of those being the old River Loop, the rest down through Uppsala beside the river. The ride just west of Norrtälje was some place I’d ridden before even if I didn’t realize it until I was on it. I thought there were no new runestones or churches. Just… nothing but old circles.

It was come consolation when I looked on my GarminConnect account at the rides this year and found some discoveries that had slipped my mind. A runestone which might be one I’d not seen before. I can’t be sure. But in April, there was a new church. New places I’d not seen on the trike as I coddled sickly Loke around Haga park just outside of Stockholm, wondering if it was his last days. I found Alfred Nobel’s burial site. I found how to get to a lovely old courthouse I’ve admired for years while heading into Stockholm on the E4. A few new things at least. Some exploration that is like food for my soul. More than loops and circles on the River Loop, trapped by circumstances and my body.

I needed that realization.



Fits and Starts
December 10, 2018, 1:04 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

That’s how my riding has been going. Since my last post I’ve ridden 3 times, though as I type this, I’m starting to get dress for another ride where Jens will drop Loke and I off at the storage before heading to work. It will be 3 rides in 3 days. Really need it to get another 32 miles in before 11:59 pm, December 31st. If not, then 2018 will become the new ‘worst year ever’ for miles since getting my first Garmin to track such things. Too many things just went wrong this year, the months of intense summer heat being only one.

Yay! Proper flags! Bigger than half a hanky and prettier than orange plastic! 😀

Just a day or two after my last post, it finally happened! My flags arrived! I got a text that they were ready for pick up from the local post location which is at the back of the local grocery store. I was giddy as I dashed off to bring them home and get them unpacked.

Finally, after wanting flags like this for years, I had some. One brightly colored fan type and one little twirly thing that reflects flashes and headlights spectacularly. I didn’t get out for a ride right away. Part of it was the temp took a precipitous drop and oddly, I found myself feeling every little bit of the cold right down to my bones. It was an almost surreal experience given that I’ve spent the past years driving Jens crazy by leaving windows cracked even at 13 F or walking around without jacket, hat, gloves or scarf if it was warmer than 28 F if it was a calm day. Then suddenly, everyone else is more lightly dressed than me, the apartment is buttoned up and there I am burrowed under electric blankets complaining about the cold.

Jens did his level best to get me to ride, but if I was cold and shivering in a warm(ish) apartment then going out in 27 F temps with wind had zero appeal.

Fullerö Burial Ground, bird’s eye view.

It was a real shame too. We had absolutely stunning hoarfrost. I’m sharing a photo I took at Fullerö with the drone. It might not be from riding the trike there, but it’s just too pretty not to share. It was so cold, I was only able to stay out flying the drone for about 15 minutes before my fingers started to hurt. Still was fun though!

Loke, however, was not nearly as impressed. He laid around near my feet and looked annoyed at the drone’s buzz.

Another thing I did during this ‘not riding time’ was to make the drive to Falun, Sweden. 2 hours from Uppsala, give or take. Why? Because I was curious to see the area my great-grandfather and his fathers might have walked. The place is best known for the old copper mine there. Indeed, the mining history goes back over 1000 years. It started with just the local farmers digging for the metal for their own needs before it became the big business of the town to mine Stora Kopparberg (Big Copper Mountain) extensively.

Oh, you know all those lovely, old, red buildings scattered across the Swedish countryside I so often photograph? Well, the red color is called Falu red, named after the mine where the copper was originally taken to make the pigment.

The mine was closed down in the 1960’s. It had once been called Sweden’s Treasury and more than half of the copper in Europe from the middle ages until close to the Industrial Revolution originated from it. It had originally been a shaft mine, but in the summer of 1687, the mountain, so criss-crossed with tunnels it was like Swiss cheese, had a major collapse leaving a pit over 300 feet deep. Believe it or not, no one was killed. There were only two days of the year that the mine was closed. Mid-summer and Christmas. It happened on the evening of Mid-summer, so all the miners were off. After that, it was handled as a combination of open pit and shaft mining.

It was a nice trip. I saw a fox from very close and dozens of deer on the drive. I wandered around the edge of the pit and explored a bit of the town as well as a church, which I had believed to be Stora Kopparberg Church. Sadly, it wasn’t, but a slightly newer church. I guess that just gives me a reason to go back to the town and next time I’ll take my trike. It was a nice way to spend a day.

The hoarfrost hung around for the better part of a week. Maybe even two. My grasp of time gets fuzzy after it’s in the past. The frost was finally washed away when it warmed up and started raining. Except for a few spates of snow, it feels like it’s been raining almost constantly since then.

It was a bit of a relief when it warmed back up though. The frost had actually coated a lot of road surfaces and left them quite slick. Guess who didn’t have studded tires on the trike yet?

Finally, on September 30th, I felt ‘warm’ enough to think about going for a ride and there was no trace of ice to cause problems with non-studded trike tires.

Jens wheedled at me to walk Loke. I’d been walking Loke quite a lot at the time. Going for a walk in 30 F, I can just pull on a decent long sleeved shirt, decent pants, go out with a winter coat and maybe end up feeling too warm. Go out in the same temp for a trike ride, I need 2 layers of wool on the legs, 2 or 3 on the top, gloves, a beanie, cushy wool socks with wool sock liners, and yet will still probably come home and shiver. So, yeah, I preferred to walk when I’m already feeling chilled inside. Once above freezing again though, I finally decided to take pity on my aching hips and knees and ride instead.

The lack of ice made me happy not just because I still had my winter tires, but also for Loke’s sake. He has problems keeping his feet under him on the rough wooden floors of our apartment. Ice would really give him fits.

It was going to be the first ride with my new flags. I as I set them up though, I decided to leave my pretty fan flag in the garage. I just had an image of the wind snatching it off the pole to send it capering across a field faster than I could run. There was a little zip tie I could have fastened at the bottom, but that would have pulled the flag down over the first connector for the collapsible pole, making it difficult to fold it. I needed time to think of a solution.

Still, I was glad to go with my little orange and yellow whirly.

It was coming up on twlight as we rolled out. Loke was fairly slow and it took us over 40 minutes for 2.5 miles. Though there’d been no sign of ice anywhere around the paved surfaces in the neighborhoods I’d been walking with Loke, I found slush and ice both on the cycle path near the river. I spotted it before we rolled over it so was able to push over to the side and put Loke in the grass where he had good grip.

My next ride was on December 4th. Loke had been a bit more energetic for a few days, becoming a real PITA. It was enough to overcome the general apathy I had about getting out for rides. The persistent chill that often left me shivering, the feeling that I needed to get this done and that done to the trike. Sometimes I’d think of riding and then it would turn into, ‘Oh, but I need to figure out what I want to do with the rain poncho for bikes I got and.. just forget it.’

Along with the extra energy, I also realized it had been a while since Loke had any what I guess I would call ‘sound fits’. For a time it was like certain noises would make Loke’s synapses spark so he’d give little jerks as if being jolted with brief shocks. Maybe something like a micro seizure or something. The crumple of a paper bag. The dead bolt clacking in the lock when opening the apartment door. One day it was even the crunch of gravel under the trike wheel. That had him twitching like crazy as he walked along. It doesn’t cause him pain or any apparent distress. Honestly, he doesn’t even notice. Nothing the vets can do about it, so if he’s not hurting or freaked out, we just roll with it. As I said though, as of the 4th, he’d not had it triggered by anything in a few days.

I still hadn’t even made an appointment to get the tires swapped, so I decided I should get some more distance before the forecasted snow arrived.

The short days have been a bit maddening of late. It seems most of the time, I’m not able to think about going for a ride until about lunch time. Sunset is before 3 pm, but with the persistent and thick clouds we’ve had and lack of snow, it’s pretty dark even before 2:30 pm. Just adds to the apathy that any ride I take is going to be coming home in the dark. Still, Loke, the hyper 13 year old, needed exercise and I needed miles. So, out the door we went.

It was a very doggie ride. Early in the ride as we came by an apartment complex, a couple of older men were out with their small dogs. The gray-muzzled chihuahua was kinda growly and stand-offish with Loke, though he kinda seemed to want to come say hi to me. The other was a little gray, female poodle. She had no compunction about coming to greet me. Spotted me and scrambled right over to jump up on my tummy to give my face a thorough licking. She completely ignored Loke even when he nosed at her. Very people focused that one. Very cute. Her owner was pleased for the excuse to come over and greet Loke. With him, my furball was quite standoffish, but the man didn’t seem to mind.

We left the complex behind the rolled over the 55. As we came up to the big hill down to the river, there were two women talking on the side of the path with dogs. The one with what looked like a pitbull, also had a bike. Seeing us coming, she angled the bike to block her dog. As we rolled by, I was horrified. Not by the pitbull’s highly aggressive behavior, but by his head.  Half of the poor thing’s head swollen more than twice it’s proper size. It looked almost like a doggie version of Joseph Merrick (aka Elephant Man). Broke my heart.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We took it slow since that’s about all Loke can manage now days, his average moving speed about 4 mph. I think he enjoyed it as we pedalled northward along the path beside the Fyris River just beyond the residential outskirts of Uppsala, Sweden. A light blowing mist of rain moved in a couple times, but not heavy or steady enough to get through the wool under layers I had on. We wound back up at the garage with 4.97 miles.

The only other thing of note was when we were on our way back to the park from the grocery area, there was a double glare of lights in my face on the cycle path. After a few minutes, I could make out that it was a tricycle. Like mine, it had 2 wheels in front with indirect steering, but unlike mine, it was an ‘upright’ trike, not reclined or ‘recumbent’. Attached to the side of it was a simple frame work that attached to the harness of a medium sized dog, keeping it a safe distance from the trike and it’s wheels in all directions. Turned out I recognized both the man and the dog. The last time I saw him though, he was on a bike with a little frame work and an extra wheel to one side, to keep his dog in a safe position with the bike. I guess I could say he just upgraded. Hehe.

After the ride, I drove to the cycle shop to see if they had any studded tires left and, if so, to make an appointment to get my tires swapped. Bobby was on vacation, but the other mechanic, who’s name other than ‘Skagget’ (The Beard) escapes me, was only too happy to help. It turned out though that they only had one 20 inch studded tire. That wasn’t any good. My old studded tires needed replaced. Bad enough they’d been poking holes in my tubes before Bobby shoved a section of old tubing between the tire and tubes, but the studs had become too worn to grip by the end of last winter.

There was another batch of 20 inch studded incoming at any time, so Neil (shop owner) said he’d give me a text when they arrived. They came that very evening, so back I went before they closed to make the appointment. I really needed those studs with the threat of ice and snow just a day or two away. I could drop the trike off on 5th.

I was there right as Neil was unlocking the door and starting to wheel out all the bikes he’d stored in the shop. A bit after lunch, he called to say the tires he’d gotten were ‘too chunky’ for my rims. He would need to order another two, slightly smaller, but was pretty sure they’d be there the next day (December 6th). Well, if that was what was needed, so be it. Finally, about 2 pm, I got the text my trike was ready for pick up. I didn’t have the car though. I considered for a few minutes, walking with Loke to the shop and pushing the trike, minus the seat, back to the apartment. Then I remembered, I’d also have to bring the summer tires with me. Walking along with a dog leash in one hand, pushing the trike with the other and trying to keep 3 tires from sliding off my shoulder as I plodded along for half a mile? Ummmm, I was gonna have to say no.

Jens agreed to let me have the car if I drove him on the 7th, so to be able to get the trike, that’s what I did. What an utterly miserable day. The promised snow hadn’t come, but we had drizzle and blowing mist aplenty beneath a pewter dark sky. I got the trike, but it was such an icky day that even if I’d not had laundry, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have taken the trike out.

Finally, December 8th, I made it out the door for another ride.

I had a reason to get the trike rolling other than the needed miles. My husband’s parents 51st wedding anniversary was on December 5th. We held off for the weekend to take them out to dinner so that the youngest daughter could come with us. That means, Loke was going to be at home alone for a couple hours. It’s always best to give him a bit of exercise before leaving him to his own devices.

So, even though it appeared it was going to be a twilight murk what with the clouds combined with precipitation alternating between a feather-soft misty drizzle and a light rain, I made ready to slog out the door a bit after 10 am with Loke in tow.

The furry one seemed pretty interested as I dragged on layers of wool against any possible rain as I’ve not yet taken the time to fiddle with the poncho.

Though very wet, it was about 45 F at the start. Loke quickly settled into his 4.3 mph pace as the trike vibrated along. Ah, just love studded tires when there’s no ice or snow.

At first, I was actually too warm even with the patter of light rain dampening my cycle clothes and wool under layer. That lasted until bout the time we hit the northward river extension. Suddenly there was wind enough to set my little spinner flag whirling furiously and I pulled out another layer of wool to drag on. Wind chill dropped the temperature around my Garmin from about 44 F to 34 F. Fortunately, I had the layers for it.

As I was coming back south along the river extension, the sky went from a flat iron-gray texture to having some detail in the clouds. With that, the rain finally tapered off and for the last half the ride, it was only the wind I had to deal with. Well, wind and a call of nature.

I swear, during the day when I’m not on the trike, I’m practically like a camel. Can go ages between nature calls. As soon as I sit on the trike it’s like my kidneys switch into overdrive with quadruple the output while my skin just pulls gallons of moisture out of the thin air. I went to the bathroom twice before finally going out the door for the ride, and yet 30 minutes later, there’s Mother Nature clearing her throat. By time I was 5 minutes from the apartment, she was screaming bloody murder I answer her. I’d had little to nothing to drink between breakfast and getting ready for a ride. It’s an ingrained habit just for that reason.

For Loke, the ride finished at about 4.47 miles. I desperately needed the restroom. Also, I was starting to feel a little short of time to get back home to clean up for the evening’s dinner out, so it was perfect to run in for the bathroom and leave Loke at home so I could finish that last half mile in less than 20 minutes. My total distance for the day was 5.02 miles.

I would have done more, but simply didn’t have the time.

Then, believe it or not, I went out again the very next day. Jens pleaded with me for it. My feet had been killing me though, so it was just a short little jaunt, less than 2 miles and Loke was back to harassing Jens before I even got his harness off.

This morning, with my feet feeling as if they’ve been flayed and then pounded with hammers, I really didn’t feel like hobbling around the block 5 or 6 times with Loke. I can’t even walk through the apartment without limping and lurching along while stars burst through my vision. I decided that, though still painful on the trike, it’s less painful, I would have Jens drop us off at the storage and I’d give Loke a couple rolling walks for his ‘business’ opportunities. I only pulled on the absolute minimum I thought I’d need for a short dash from storage to home. A longer outing could wait until we had some daylight.

It was pretty much dark when I was pushing the trike out of the storage and up the ramp. Not a hint of the approaching dawn to be seen at all. Loke waited patiently as I got the lights and flags settled. I felt comfortable enough even in my lesser layers at 33 F, I decided we would at least do the little swimhall loop all on the east side of the river. Usually, I take the little street down to the cycle path by the football fields, but with school traffic and Loke being so slow, I decided to ride along the sidewalk instead. Actually, I rode in the grass where Loke could mark the trees and sniff.

Unexpectedly, it felt pleasant out and to be on the trike. I wasn’t cold in the least though I would have thought myself woefully underdressed given my recent sensitivity to cold. I also felt stronger and more comfortable on the trike than I had yesterday. Whimsically, I decided I was just going to do the River Loop by turning right at the end of the street instead of left onto the cycle paths.

Loke seemed fine with that idea, ticking along at about 4 mph. I think he rather enjoyed getting out in the pre-sunrise. We weren’t fast, but it was still nice so I decided to just do the old and very basic River Loop hamster track again. I even considered heading along the out-n-back going north along the river, but decided I didn’t want to push Loke that much while hoping to do the newer River Loop jaunt which goes through downtown.

There was a little surprise as we came back along the river heading past the swimhall with its beautifully lit bridge over the river between the pool complex and parking lot. Snowflakes. Honestly, I only noticed them as we were crossing a street at the corner of the swimhall and passed in front of a car that was waiting for us to get over. The tiny flakes were clearly highlighted in the headlights where they’d been invisible in the murky gloom of pre-dawn.

Of course, it’s so easy to be up at ‘pre-dawn’ in December. Sun didn’t rise until 8:40 this morning. Will be about 8:50 am for the Solstice. Still, I count it a more than fair trade for the 20 hours between sunrise and sunset during summer. Love me some Swedish summer.