Terii’s Cycling Babble

Wildly Inconsistent
May 9, 2019, 4:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I just can’t seem to get into a pattern of riding this year. After my last post about my April 19th ride, nothing. The mild temps and pretty days with the ground going bone dry, stunting the appearance of flowers and leaves, continued on, but I didn’t go out the door. Honestly, I’m not even sure why.

The good news is, the weather finally broke! A lot of people I spoke with were so delighted with the ‘pretty weather’, but it was already looking a bit rough on the landscape. Loke and I both were coughing quite a bit thanks to the sheer amount of dust in the air. Not as bad as last year, but enough that every morning, I was spending the first 20 minutes awake trying to get my throat and sinuses clear. The forecast just stretched on and on with sunshine and clear skies.

At the end of April, the forecast finally gave a possibility of moisture. It kinda traveled around though. Then April 30th, the clouds scuttled in and it started to look promising. That also happens to be the very day I had given in to necessity and put out a dish of water for the local, small wild animals. Hares, hedgehogs, birds.

Valborg celebrations apparently went off without a hitch in spite of the power keg that the landscape was (and may still be). There’ve already been a couple dozen forest and grass fires around the country. Some of them bad enough to require evacuations. There was a slight patter of rain. Not enough to even moisten the parched dust of the bare earth, though pavement looked kinda damp.

May 1st, Jens and I decided to go to Gysinge for a little cookout to try his plow-disc grill. Basically a big circle of slightly dished metal, like a shallow wok, you plop above a fire on its three metal legs. As we drove the 70 km (45 miles or so), we got speckles of wet on the windshield, but not enough to turn us back.

It was a nice cookout and Loke was the most energetic and fast I’ve seen him in ages. He even tried running at one point when I walked down a path with him. On our way back home, we passed through areas that had seen enough rain there were little puddles here and there on the road!

Later during the week, we had snow. Yep. SNOW. Enough of it that the roads here in Uppsala got a bit slushy. Typically, we would have had our summer tires on the car by now, but still had the winter ones and glad of it. That was followed up by a solid 24 hours of decent rain. It came soft, had a small break after about 12 hours where the water got to really soak in before another rain came along to gently patter down for another 6-7 hours.

I was absolutely giddy about the rain. People were giving me strange looks about it. Sorry, but I’d rather have a nice GREEN Sweden than 100 ‘pretty’ days as everything shrivels around me. I’m weird that way.

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Nothing says spring like dandelions AND tulips!

And oh, boy. Did nature respond. Where the patches of flowers and green had been kinda thin and lackluster, it was lush and thick. Color bursting out everywhere.

That was part of what gave me a push out the door.

The May 5th ride wasn’t very long. I have a project I’m trying to do and I needed branches. So, Jens suggested I ride my trike with the trailer and see what I could find. Maybe I could even take Loke since the furball was perky and Jens was home to come get him when he got tired. Sounded like a plan. Loke seemed to agree, following me around the apartment and watching intensely.

As we stepped out for Jens to drive me and Loke to the garage, I realized I’d underestimated the temperature. I thought I’d be fine once I got rolling through. Generate a bit of body heat.

As I pulled the trike out of storage and pushed it to the top of the ramp, Loke was a hindrance. Once I had the trike up, I hitched him up and went to argue with the trailer. After sitting, neglected, for the better part of a year, the tires needed airing. That done, I discovered I needed to argue with the hitch on the trike. When the tires were changed, the hitch’s angle was shifted. It required a bit of a struggle to get the lever on the rear axle flipped so I could move it.

As I worked at it, the man who always has dog goodies in his pocket came over to say hi to Loke. He knows the furball is allergic so didn’t even ask if he could give him something. We chatted as I worked and after a final pat to the furball he wandered on.

Once the trailer was settled, I dropped into the trike’s seat and realized there was no way I could do much riding dressed as I was. It was COLD. The fact there were a lot of clouds didn’t help either. A bit of a wind and no sun and I found my hands starting to ache and shivers rattling through me.

Loke started out strong for the first 200 yards or so, but then the struggle began. He kept tripping over his front feet and his hind legs buckled more than once. Cold or not, I settled for getting into the grass by the sidewalk to let him go as slow as he needed, even stopping to sniff.

It was a good thing really. As I came to end of the grassy strip and was angling to get my trike to do a tight turn onto the street, I heard a voice call out. It was that very sweet woman with her cute little dog, Millie. She was so happy to see Loke, she was laughing and waving as she ran up to hug him. Mille, adorable as ever, dropped her treasured ball at Loke’s feet as if to share.

Cold and shivering, I still sat there for 20 minutes chatting with her. She adores Loke so much and was so happy to see him after our last meeting when I was alone and she had feared the worst at first.

Finally, she had to rush off for her volunteer shift at a cat shelter just outside of Uppsala.

After that 20 minutes of rest, Loke actually tried to pull the trike and run. That came to an ungraceful end when he nearly face-planted into some dirt by tripping over his own feet.

Just short of a mile back to the apartment, where I had to help Loke up the stairs.

I flew around the apartment, hunting down another layer of wool and grabbing a quick bite to eat.

I felt quite better with the extra layer as I sped off.

The ride turned out to be much shorter than I anticipated. Less than 4 miles as I found the branches I though I needed quickly. I felt self-conscious pedalling around with a good 3 feet of branches sticking out of the trailer. I ducked back into the apartment briefly to drop off my prize and then scurried the trike back to the garage for Jens to come pick me up. Between the branch hunt and Loke’s wobble around, less than 5 miles. Still, felt good to get out.

Oh, and I also got to meet the sweetest 11 week old golden retriever puppy.

Then, would you believe it, I went out again on May 6th!

Jens had the car in Stockholm, but the weather was nice (at first) and Loke was completely out of his canned food. Since the time he snapped at me when I tried to make him take his pills, it was critical to get him more of it. Riding it was! And at least it was warmer, and sunnier than on the previous day’s ride.

Loke was bubbling with energy as I started to get dressed and even did a bit of a spin as I pulled out his harness. As we set off on the walk, he went with intent purpose, brisk, and surprisingly stable. Once again, he was a bit impatient with me as I pulled the trailer out.

What a difference in Loke between the two days as we rolled out. I didn’t quite notice right away because I took him on the grass where he could sniff the trees and such again. Once I had to get us back on the little street, it was as if Loke were a completely different dog from the day before. He jogged along at almost 5 mph which is roughly his best since he got so sick 13 months ago. And his tail? It was straight up, waving and bouncing around like a cheerful little flag.

04-06 a Ah Spring

More joys of spring.

You have no idea how that made me smile. Since aged smashed into him like a freight engine, Loke’s tail has been an indicator of how good or un-good he’s feeling. Some days, it just kinda dangles, listless, like some overcooked noodle. Most days, it will at least come up to about parallel with his back as it sways around to help him keep his unstable legs balanced. On rare occasions, the tip of it has almost come above the level of his spine. It’s probably been the better part of a year since I’ve seen it up and animated like the days of old. Back in the days when the vets had to tether it to a hind leg after his surgery because he was pulling his stitches.

Without Jens around to come pick him up, I didn’t dare risk taking Loke on the 5 mile round trip to the vet clinic. So, we stuck to the same loop I had taken the day before back to the apartment. There, I saw him comfy with pillow, fresh water, and a goodie in the entry way where he couldn’t get into anything and off I went.

04-06 a Distant Rain

I expected to get damp at least!

There was no meetings of puppies or people as I cruised along, dashing down the big hill and then zipping northward on the riverside path. I couldn’t help but notice the clouds that started to clutter the sky and, on some of them, there were the distinctive smears of silvery gray sweeping down from them. Rain veils.

The only incident was right as I was making the turn from the path into the industrial complex where the clinic moved a few years ago, that I came to a stop.

A man was walking his dog, some kind of cute mix-breed bigger than Loke. She was very nervous of me and the guy was trying to coax her forward. She was having none of it just dug in her heels and was doing a soft, nervous ‘woof’ at me. I tried talking to her and even getting off my trike. Nope.

The guy was baffled as the dog apparently doesn’t react to bikes and generally loves people. I guess I was just too weird. Finally, he got her to move on her way so I could make the turn.

The receptionist at the clinic asked how Loke was doing and we chatted briefly as I paid for the 2 cans of food. Then it was back to the trike.

One might wonder why I had the trailer for 2 cans of dog food. Well, I’d spontaneously decided that it was time to start going back to my routine of riding to the produce market at Vaksala Square at least once a week. Watermelon *droooool*

I need the trailer for those wonderfully sweet wedges of Greek watermelons that are sometimes as long as a child’s leg.

I didn’t want to leave Loke alone too long though, so the meandering route I would have taken in the days of old with the furball beside me, I cut down as short as I could.

It was a bit harrowing. There’s 2 main ‘shopping’ streets downtown. One is exclusively for foot while allowing bikes to wobble through slowly. The other, cars are permitted, but bikes and pedestrians have right away. If there’s a 200 year old person doing half a mile an hour with their walker right in the middle of the street, cars have to deal with it.

That’s the one I took. So much traffic of all kinds. Throw in a truck trying to back into a tight space to make a delivery to a shop and road construction creating additional choke points combined with impatient cars.

At last I won free, scooted across a road that seems to separate busy from less busy as I headed for a small alleyway between two buildings. It’s a major foot and cycle path that ends at a crosswalk over King’s Street with lights. From there, it’s a straight shot across some bus lanes to speed down the underpass below the train tracks.

As I pedalled along the short bit of street to the path, I was stunned by the sheer number of bikes parked there. I mean, I’ve grown accustomed to Uppsala’s numbers of bikes, but this was crowded even for that and especially for that spot. I’ve ridden though there many a time, and yes, there were bikes parked, but perhaps only a few dozen even in the spots reserved for them. Not now. They were spilling out into the street. Much more and they’d have to start piling them on each other. I was just completely boggled.

I finally reached the market and, yes! They had watermelon! I grabbed a little wheeled basket, picked the half melon I thought looked best and started to look around. There were some apples that looked amazing as well as some black and red grapes nearly big as ping-pong balls. I even whimsically threw in a pomegranate just because I recently saw a video about how to easily cut one open to remove the tasty bits. I went completely nuts.

Ooof, it was a lot of fruit and quiet heavy.  I definitely felt its pull in the trailer, but it didn’t seem to slow me down much as I made way back toward home.

A big further on, I was sitting at a light when the trike gave a sudden lurch forward, as if I was going to be thrust into traffic. I clenched on the brakes there was a lesser bump. Realizing it was a collision into my trailer, I twisted around to look. It was an elderly man on a bike. He apologized, looking completely mortified. So frail looking a figure, I wasn’t going to add to his distress for something he might not have been able to help. The trailer and trike were fine. No harm done and I told him as much.

As I walked in the door with my burden of fruit, Loke greeted me with wide eyes, high wagging tail, and practically vibrating with energy. Confronted with that, I felt I had no choice but to take him with me to the storage. When I picked up his harness again, his did spins that put his earlier ones to shame. As we went onto the landing, I was cautious and kept him short. Good thing too. I’m pretty sure he would have launched himself in a clumsy leap down the stairs. It used to make me cringe when he did that as a young dog. Now, it’s just a high impact with the wall at the bottom waiting to happen. He’s caught me by surprise a couple times in the past few weeks. So far, he’s been lucky. I’d rather not keep trusting to that.

So, I got Loke hitched and, my brave boy, did his best to pull. He’s as weak as a day old kitten, but perhaps in his head, he was pulling the world and doing it well. We went up the gentle hill between apartment and storage at a fair clip, Loke’s tail cheerfully wagging like one of my flags. We did it in the best time we’ve had in months.

The pace slowed a bit as we came into the park. The gravel and little pine cones just seemed to give my furry old man fits. I also let him stop to sniff at the pine trees as we took it slow.

There were two women there, a mother and daughter, with a cute, little, toddling boy. He saw us, Loke especially, and his eyes went wide in wonder. Those chubby legs started wobbling our way as if he was an adorable piece of iron and we were a magnet. His grandmother tried to pull him back, but it was inexorable. I told them it was fine if he wanted to come meet Loke.

The cutie lost his courage about 5 feet away, content to just stand there and stare though his mom and grandmother tried to encourage him by showing how sweet (aloof) Loke was. Finally, the women laughed and said maybe next time.

Once at the storage, I felt a bit tired. The idea of walking back home didn’t appeal, so I only put the trailer away and Loke and I went back home with the trike.

It’s pretty much a downhill glide and Loke actually gave me annoyed looks when I tried to keep us under 5 mph. He didn’t try to run, just jogged along with amazing stability at just shy of 6 mph. Truly his best time in ages. We finished up with about 2 miles for Loke and something around 10 miles for myself.

And made it home just in time too! My tights were getting speckled with little droplets of rain for the last minute of the outing. 10 minutes after we were tucked snug at home, it was raining. A nice soft rain perfect for watering grasses, flowers, and trees. Oh, and crops of course.

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Oh, how I missed this!

And of course, once I was back home, I set my teeth into a HUGE helping of apples (disappointing), grapes, and watermelon (wonderful). It was glorious. The brutal heat of last summer which started in early May last year, deprived me of this routine and juicy sweetness. I’m hoping this year lets me go at least once a week with trike and trailer to get more of nature’s candy.