Terii’s Cycling Babble

Spring! Winter. Spring! Wint… Oh, Never Mind…
March 11, 2019, 6:12 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Clearly, from the title, the weather has been a roller coaster of seasons.

My rides have been few and mostly just kinda catering to Loke more than anything in spite of the gravel on the pavement. He’s been doing better with it though.

Naturally, back in February when it looked as if spring was here to stay, even the 10 day forecast seemed to hint at that. After my Feb 16th ride, I didn’t get out again until the 27th.

It was a glorious morning. A bit colder than the days before it, about 50 F, but so gorgeously clear and the sun had some warmth to it.

I had a few things to take care of, so didn’t get out for the ride until about 10:30 am. By then, thin clouds were creeping in leaving the sky a pale blue and the impact of the sun lessened.

I took Loke with me, figuring to give him a little toodle back to the apartment.

The trike felt different again. I had to wriggle around to get used to it. I guess my body shape had shifted again what with another 3 lbs gone added to the previous 7 lbs and all my gym visits.

While Loke enjoyed the very slow roll with his favorite toy in the world, it was heartbreaking for me. He struggled so. His hindlegs kept threatening to collapse. He tripped and nearly face-planted a few times. And so very slow. He’d been slow on his walks, but it’s hard to tell if it’s just boredom or him not feeling well. With the trike, it was obvious he was having a hard time.

Back at home, I made sure he had an extra scoop of kibble, something soft to lay on, and fresh water. Then, guilt or no, out the door I went to ride for both exercise and to run a couple errands.

The past rides, I guess since about Christmas, have been reminders of why I used to so love my trike. Since about the time of my stroke, I’d lost that sense of why I reveled in my rides. The outings had narrowed down to painful, agonized circles on my River Loop hamster track. The pedals spun with a heaping dish of pain.

Not on this outing. Nothing hurt. Not hips, not feet. No muscle pain as of flesh being torn from bone with meat hooks. Just pulse, breath, and the rise and fall of my knees to move me along.

The slow creep with Loke, it had been mostly sunny, but the sneaky veil of clouds had thickened until there was hint of neither blue sky or sun. The temp had warmed to about 53 F, but with the sun hidden, it dropped to 46 F. Brrrr. Still, I was determined to go on.

My first solo mile was done in under 10 minutes, which has been rare for a long while. Hitting the paths that were smothered with gravel slowed me down, not to mention that the 3 miles after that first one were a steady, if mild, climb. Just up and up and up on grades between 3% and 5%. Saps energy when combined with the gravel and chunky studded tires. Even so, it still felt so good!

My first stop was at my husband’s parents. They weren’t home, but what I’d come to drop off fit nicely in their mail box.

After that, I tried to zip on toward the Granby mall out on the north eastern edge of Uppsala, Sweden. It was more uphill and that gravel was just a nightmare. Occasional gusts of wind blew by, kicking up swirling haze, reminding me that it’s about time for the ‘Time of Dust’.

I still managed to keep a respectable pace (for me) and soon arrived at Starbucks in the mall to drop off the full recycle bag of Nespresso capsules. Thirsty thanks to the puffs of dust I’d ridden through, I got my own special drink which is apparently named after me though I call it by the guy who invented it. I rested for a bit and chatted with the people working there before heading back out to scurry home.

The ride back went much faster, thanks to being mostly downhill except for a few under and over passes.

My knee had a bit of an ache for the last 2 miles or so. I’ve been wondering if pedal extenders might be a good investment since I tend to ride with about 1/3rd of my foot off the edge of the platform pedals. Even when I swap back to my SPDs when warmer weather is here to stay, it could be good. Of course, that swap to my old pedals might be brief if my feet scream about it. I miss being able to pull on the pedals, but I like not hurting even more and the pedals with the inner tube heel slings seem pretty solid.

Though, for about 2 years, my feet were killing me no matter what pedals I used. It’s so nice to be able to go for more than 100-200 yards without stopping to put my feet down from pain bad enough to make my eyes tear up.

It was a good 8-ish mile ride with a slightly higher cadence and it felt wonderful.

A day or two after that ride, winter came surging back and erased all trace of spring’s beginning. We had almost a foot of snow. Winds would come howling across the open fields and whip the blanket of white into ‘snow devils’ in an impressive display of arctic power. Except for walks with Loke, I hunkered down to wait it out.

Hard to believe I had such enthusiasm for winter rides at the end of last year, but since the whole hospital episode with Loke, and wondering if I was going to get a phone call that he’d passed, alone and frightened, I just haven’t been able to dig up the desire to ride in the cold.

Then on the 7th, the temp jumped back up and it rained. All that snow just vanished like a snowball in well, you know. It was still raining on the 8th, but then it mostly stopped and the sun started to try coming out. Jens was also supposed to be home early. All that combined to push me out the door for a ride, laundry be damned! Even though Loke and I had to walk to the trike, that’s not the titanic effort it used to be.

The plan was, I’d walk to the storage with the furball, take a slow ride back to the apartment with the furball. Then when Jens arrived home, I’d take off on a longer, faster ride for myself. The important thing though was to get Loke out of the apartment where he’s been a huge PITA. He’d been walking on the gravel fine for a few days, so why not ride?

Ah Loke. The tyrant of the household. He’s been relentless. My hips and back hated me because the bully went to town on Jens. Jens, trying to work or enjoy a bit of computer time, hollered at me and out the door I went for the 1000th time, TRYING to satisfy the husky. The nearly 14 year old husky who’s acting worse than he did when he was 4 years old and hadn’t been out with the trike in a week. He knows the easiest way to get something is to pester my husband. You can see it when he jumps on Jens and then will stand there and stare across the apartment at me as if to say, ‘Okay, hop to it.’

It was so SLOW. Loke took us along at a listless plod I could have out run on my worst ‘post-stroke’ day. For the 0.9 mile, we never broke 2 mph. It took us roughly 40 minutes, and that’s subtracting the time we sent chatting with a woman while greeting her darling 11 month old, white Scottish terrier. He was the sweetest thing once he got over his terror of first seeing us. And so SOFT!

As we approached the Swim Hall, Loke suddenly had an episode. He started staggering and then stopped, with legs splayed as they threatened to buckle. Maybe it was a seizure though not like any I’ve seen him present before. He has had nerve problems with his legs at times, but never this bad. After a few minutes, he started tottering forward again, but it was like a drunken stagger.

By time we were approaching the apartment, he was back to what he was before the episode. Sluggish and plodding. I had to help him up the stairs into the apartment. So the wait began for Jens’ early arrival home.

Didn’t happen. The sun disappeared and Jens was later than he said. Finally he texted he was on his way home. So, I hustled out the door with Loke to get the trike back to storage.

This time, of course, Loke was more like he’s been on all the previous rides in the past few months. He started out even kinda strong at almost 5 mph, but that faltered to about 4.2 mph after a couple hundred yards. He was still kinda perky as we made the final stretch.

The 1.5-ish mile of the two rides with him seemed to be enough to settle Loke for the evening. At least until dinner any way. Pretty sure he’d be laying at death’s door, in a coma, and come awake to be a pest right at 8 pm for his dinner.

The gray, snowless landscape was transformed just hours after we got back from the ride. The temp dropped to right about freezing and snow came down again. Only about an inch, but still. Since then, we had one morning that 0 F and it’s stayed freezing. The sun is strong enough there was some melt, even with the air temp in the 20’s though. Spring will not be denied much longer.

And in a few days, it’s supposed to be above freezing for at least 7 days.

So, what other pertinent things should I speak of?

Oh, yes, the rail-trail, Loke and I went to explore one day. Someone in one of my recumbent groups on Facebook had mentioned some time ago, that some portion of an old abandoned rail line was paved and converted into a cycle path. I looked around the town he mentioned (Eskilstuna) with Plot-a-Route and Google Maps.

They both showed hints of the old rail line, but no indication if it was passable by bike (or trike). The street view images were all from 2011 and showed the tracks still in place, even if overgrown.

So, I chased down the GPS coordinates where roads met the path, packed Loke up in the car with me and off we went to find how much of it was good to go.

Loke wans’t entirely impressed with the outing. He’s not a big fan of car rides.

It was a bit of a shock to discover how much snow and ice was still hanging on west of Västerås. Even more unexpected when it actually began snowing! And me without my Icebugs.

The thick ice in some places, made it hard to tell what kind of surface was beneath. Gravel or asphalt? Even when I couldn’t be sure, it still counted as a cycle path and was easy to tell it had been developed thanks to the barricades to keep cars off it. Happily, they weren’t the sort of barricades that are impossible to navigate through with a trike.

I had hoped the entire line had been finished from Eskilstuna to Marifred, about 28 miles. Alas, no. Just 14 miles from Eskilstuna to where it stopped at a small road. The line of course, continued on, and it’s possible they may continue developing it as all the tracks from where the cycle path ends clear to Marifred have been pulled up since the 2011 street-view photos were taken. It would be very rough going on the trike though. I think I’d rather do an out-n-back on what’s finished.

Other news.

Kettlebells. They could impact how I ride.

Since walking Loke so much caused some back pain, it made me face that my core still needs strengthening. Clearly what I’ve been doing isn’t improving it has much as I’d hoped. Honestly, I almost feel cheated that I don’t have a rock hard body after 1 year. But then, I am having to undo a LOT of damage, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, I started looking around at what I could do to work on the core more within the modest confines of my little gym. Then it hit me, kettlebells.

I’ve always been intrigued by them, but was a bit wary of committing to them. At the gym, there are only 4 kettlebells. Two that are 12 kg and two that are 16 kg. Pretty sure trying to do more than pick them up to move from one spot to another would cripple me. No choice for it. If I wanted to do exercises with kettlebells, I’d have to buy my own and drag them to and from the gym. I decided it was worth it. Bells are pretty cheap at the lighter weights I needed.

Would you believe it’s even a bit tricky to find 4 kg bells? Well, I finally did find some and picked up two 4 kg for those exercises that might require a bell in each hand, and one 6 kg bell. I’m doing this very carefully, slowly, and with light weights until I’m more certain I’m not going to hurt myself.

I picked 4 exercises that are ranked for beginners as well as focusing on the core.

What a workout! Just a measly 4 kg and it got my pulse going, a bit of a sweat too. I could feel it.

There were a few hiccups with them though. My body shape for one. Parts of me got in the way when I was trying to do a couple of the moves. Then came the floor exercise. I couldn’t even do it without the bell. Given that it’s a sort of ‘get up off a flat surface’ motion, that’s pretty sad.

Still, it had felt kinda fun and I could feel that I’d done something.

Then I went to the gym for the 2nd time with the bells, and it all went even better. I could almost swear I was stronger just from the brief little set of exercises before. I ripped through the 4 km of rowing at brisk pace. As for the bells, it went better too. Even the floor exercise that I couldn’t do before, I managed to actually do a set on each side. Was it pretty? No. Smooth and strong motions like the woman in the video? Definitely not. With the bell? No, but I could do the motion which will start getting me strong enough to add the bell at some point.

I was so thrilled with that last gym visit, I even forgot to recall how much I hate the gym. I do wish my gym would allow rental of locker space so I could just park my kettlebells there, but hey, it is what it is.

I want to also mention, the past 2 days, my back has felt the best it’s been in weeks! I should have started this ages ago.

I was supposed to go to the gym this morning, but my hip had other ideas. I slept wrong on it and it woke me up with burning stabs from the Iliac Crest (high point of the hip bone) down past my knee. While today’s workout was supposed to be just gentle warm up and stretches, no bells, no hitting the rowing machine like a mad woman, and no strength machines, I didn’t think I could manage even the warm up rowing.

I think a lot of why I can ride so much better of late, is thanks to all the work at the gym. The changes in my body and such. I want to keep it up until I’ve regained my old freedoms of 30-50 mile rides through fresh countryside. Touring. Oh, how I want to do touring again!