Terii’s Cycling Babble


Hard Slog and True Rest
August 27, 2019, 6:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sunday, August 25th, was a hard day. It didn’t start out too well either.

Saturday’s ride was meant to be an easy one. Gentle grades on the rail trail with what I had remember as practically a free ride most of the way back to the beginning. While the hills weren’t steep, they still made me work for it, both directions.

I thought I felt pretty okay when I woke up and decided to go to the gym, by riding the trike for distance. Gym opens at 10 on Sundays, I was going to leave about 8:30 to go with Loke from storage to home with the trike and then set off along the river most of the way to the gym. Simple. Straight forward. Right?

Hah! I felt tired as soon as I arrived to pull the trike out. Loke’s running bar wasn’t attached which I’d forgotten. I really didn’t feel like struggling with it. My back and legs were too tired to stand, hunched over in some weird position while I argued with the bar and the hose clamps and the tool. I decided to just hold the leash and take him.

That wasn’t too bad, except he was limping badly for some reason. I almost took him back to the car to take him home, but he still needed walkies enough to ‘do business’, so I just slowed WAY down, creeping along by inches all the way back to the apartment.

Oh, the trike was also making the strangest noises as if something was wrong with the gears which heightened my aggravation further.

So, the way back to the apartment took longer than I meant and I arrived aggravated and tired. Still, I pushed on out to argue with how on earth to carry the 4 kg kettle bell I need for my gym workouts. Putting it in a pod bag let it swing and bash on the frame below the seat. That doesn’t seem healthy. I was worried that having 4 kg hanging from one side of the rather delicate seeming luggage rack would perhaps snap it if I hit too many hard bumps.

Finally I found I could loop it over the metal frame of the now-pillowless neck rest. It made for a very uncomfortable ride, keeping my head forward and the handle pressing uncomfortably at the nape of my neck, but it wasn’t going to break anything there. Except perhaps my spine, right? *eye roll*

It felt very good to ride without the running bar. While I’ve enjoyed Loke’s company with the trike for over 12 years, I’ve always hated that running bar when he wasn’t with me. Before a year and a half ago, it wasn’t an issue. 98% of my rides were with Loke. Those that were solo, tended to be out in the countryside with wide open spaces and few if any pedestrians to pass.

Now, here I am riding so much around the paths of the city, crowded with people wandering in drifting, aimless patterns and there’s this 2 feet of metal bar sticking out from the side of my trike just waiting to knee-cap someone who doesn’t see it and steps to one side at the wrong moment. I typically try to hug hard to the side of the path, but a lot of people are stubborn and want that side.

So, it is such a relief to have the bar off.

That sense of aggravation stayed with me until I reached the King’s Meadow gravel path. There where the river is green and peaceful and the traditional royal pasture land stretches off into the distance on the other side, I started regaining some kind of harmony.

I tired quickly and exhaustion had hold of me even as I walked into the gym just a touch before 11 am. I did my workout for my arms which helped my weariness not at all. I asked Sayid (not sure about the spelling, but really nice guy) if I could leave my kettle bell and come back for it in a few hours. “Sure! It will be right here behind the desk!” Bless the man.

So very, very tired. I struggled to keep the pedals going as I followed cycle paths in the direction of Vaksala church. Breakfast had been at 7 am, it was coming up on 1 pm. I’d been struggling to keep the trike going for several hours as well as the workout which had been as intense as I could manage. My brain started working on the easiest way home.

It was a bit from the gym when my Garmin suddenly gave a beep and I glanced at it just as the screen went blank. Odd. It had been fully charged and the time I’d been using it wasn’t enough to drain it.

Still, I plugged in the external battery and turned it back on. 80% battery it said. It had also quit recording the ride just a few hundred yards from the gym before it even turned off. Very strange.

I ended that current ride counter and started it fresh.

My brain was working hard to figure out the easiest way back to the storage. The fewest climbs and most downhills and flats. It was going to cost me some distance, but I was too exhausted to care.

Though that section of the ride was a bit fuzzy, one bit stands out and it was as fuzzy as my brain. Only much, much cuter. There was a bit of a tiny field next to the path, surrounded by some fencing that was part of a school playground. Scattered across the grass were small agility pieces. Girls were running around with what I thought were small dogs on leashes. I finally got close enough to see that, no, not dogs. Bunnies! Dozens and dozens of adorable rabbits jumping hurdles and doing weave poles as their owners ran next to them.

As the adjusted route took me right past Starbucks, I stopped in for a bread roll to cram in my face. There was a distant and desperate hope that food would give me some strength and energy to push on. Everyone there wished me luck as I staggered back out to the trike.

The rest of the ride was a haze. Sheer exhaustion and trying to keep the trike moving. The relief I felt, rolling down the ramp to the storage was profound. I staggered around to get everything put away and then all but crawled back up to street level to wobble to the car. That was sometime after 2 pm.

From 8:30 to 2 pm. If I didn’t count the time it took me to get Loke back home, still a bit after 9 am to 2 pm, for 12-ish miles and a gym visit.

I didn’t go home. Instead, I called Jens to tell him I was going to get BBQ from Dylan’s BBQ Spot. Did he want something. He didn’t.

Dylan does awesome BBQ. I made my order and sat down at the tables he has there. The food was beyond good this time. I guess my body was so very, very desperate for calories, it made what was awesome taste completely out of this world.

Feeling a bit better, I said bye to Dylan and offered to go to Starbucks for Jens. He loved that idea. I bought myself one of the tea drinks they do up like a slushee.

I pretty much collapsed for the rest of the evening.

August 26th, was something of a rest day. I didn’t so much as look at the trike. I didn’t go to the gym. I did however, walk around with Loke and sling laundry around. It was a break I desperately needed.

I’m feeling stressed about the rest of this week though. I need to go to the gym. I need to get the miles, but it’s gonna mean leaving Loke alone for long hours.

I expressed my stress last night. This is supposed to be fun. A challenge yes, but fun. Instead it’s just turning into anxiety. I need the miles. What do I do for the dog if I’m gone for 6 hours? I have laundry today, how to do I do my ride and still have time/energy for the laundry. How do I get the miles I need so I have a day’s break?

Jens would suggest that I just leave Loke with his parents. Well, then that turns my little challenge into a headache for other people. Loke’s a complete bully with Jens’ dad and I’m supposed to interfere with their days for 12-20 hours a week so I can do my challenge? I cringe at that idea. If anything, it just adds to the stress.

This is why I tend to avoid goals…



Rail-Trail Rest
August 25, 2019, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, August 22nd was a rest day. Badly needed in all honesty. I still felt tired and sore on August 23rd, but didn’t really feel I could sit still for another day without winding up behind on the miles.

I’m not sure why, but I keep sticking to the loops and paths through town. The ride on the 23rd was 12 miles which I could have done with the Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Church loop for 11 miles or even the Läby/Stenhagen loop which would have given me 12 or more miles. But nope! Went through Uppsala and its edges. One appeal could be that in town, the hills have mostly been flattened, aren’t as harsh. Unless I’m doing something silly like trying to climb up to the castle or something, under/overpasses are about the worst hills I have to deal with. Not so in the countryside.

Loke and I stepped out for the outing at about 9:30 am. My husky was a beacon of brightness on that gray and gloomy morning. Less than 16 hours since bringing him back from the groomer, his white parts of his coat were practically glowing.

Annoyingly, it started to rain as we walked around the side of the apartment building to the parking. By time we reached the garage, it was a significant rainfall. Not like that freak cloud burst that had Loke and I both soaked to the bone in under 30 seconds, but it would have had us pretty wet in 10 minutes or so. I did not want my pretty, fluffy, and fresh smelling husky made all mucky with mud and rain before he’d even been clean for 24 hours.

We sat in the car for a while, but it showed no signs of stopping. So, I took us back home with the intention of going back out after leaving Loke at home. It actually took me some time to convince myself to go back out in timely fashion. The rain stopping helped, but I still left Loke home with Jens.

I decided to test the route I’d picked for the gym, which according to Plotaroute.com, was right about 10 miles. Perfect. Ride to the gym, work out and get all the miles I need for a day in one tidy package. Part of it even follows the river path, south out of downtown which is a pleasant area to ride.

As I pedalled through downtown Uppsala, I felt good enough to whimsically add a little more distance. Instead of making the left turn to climb up to the paved path beside the busy road, I headed straight down the lovely gravel path toward King’s Meadow. At the pedestrian bridge, I crossed the river and started back to the big drawbridge.

It was pleasant by the river, even when it started sprinkling on me. I decided to pull out the poncho I bought some time ago and see what alterations need to be made for using it with the trike. Of course, almost the very moment I pulled it out, the drizzle stopped.

Riding down the path section with the very big, old trees by the river, I had never noticed before that for a portion of the path, the trees have a wire or cable going back and forth between them, as if they’re laced together. If I had to guess, it’s to help keep the trees right by the river’s edge from pitching over into the water.

Very soon, I was back at the big bridge and started up to cross the river again. THAT was a nasty climb. I think I’ll try to avoid it in the future by going on the other side as originally planned. My knees hated me so much.

I followed the paved path beside the very busy road, though separated from it by enough of a median it wasn’t a complete nightmare. As I came to the intersection I needed, I discovered I really don’t need to take the big bridge. The intersection sat within sight of where the little road to King’s Meadow emerges onto a larger street that crosses over the one I needed. Well, now, there’s a new gravel path that comes down to join the cycle path I was on. Nice and mostly flat the whole way on a more pleasant path. Win-win.

From there it was a fairly direct push toward the gym past MediaMarkt and other big shops. It was a bit of a climb mind you, but low grade, probably never more than 4-5%.

The gym was unexpectedly busy. Being a bit damp, I decided against going in. I really didn’t want to go in, looking like a drown rat, especially with the gym packed. I guess Friday afternoons are going to be the busy ones. Everyone wanting to get a hard workout in before spending a weekend with bad food and alcohol.

As I pushed on there were more sprinkles of rain. It was just enough to keep me damp. It wasn’t bad enough though for me to even consider pulling out an extra layer of wool. I did however, pull out my water proof camp and cram it on under the helmet. I cannot STAND the feel of water creeping over my scalp to run into my eyes. *shudder*

I was tired for the last 5 miles back from the gym. My knees ached which meant I had to take it very easy. Oh, the frustration as it was going to mean getting back home too late for my ‘last meal’ of the day. I’d eaten at 11 am but if I stuck to the pattern, I’d get nothing until 7 am the next day.

I crumpled. I ate decent food, but a couple hours into my fasting phase.

As for Loke, I dragged myself out for a walk at Gamla Uppsala with him to spare Jens a walk with him.

In the middle of all this was a vague plan for me to go ride the Eskilstuna rail-trail on August 24th. More miles, something different. Also, while the hills might be long on the rail-trail, they’re typically very gentle. In addition, it would give me a chance to see if the trail had been extended further to Marifred. I really hoped it had.

But it was Friday and Jens was working from home, so he couldn’t really move far from his computer for the day. By time he could, it was after 5, I was just too exhausted to go the garage and deal with loading the bike rack. Jens, sweetie that my husband is, offered to get up early and get the rack on the car. He asked that I not bully him out of bed at 4 am, but 6 am he was willing to do. I took pity on him and gave him 6:30 am instead.

It meant getting underway later than I’d hoped, but I was willing to take a shot that I’d still have enough daylight to make the distance. I was also going to park at a gravel lot right by the trail head instead of across town like I did in April.

Jens actually woke up a bit early, and at 6:20 am, we had all the gear loaded, trike on the rack. I came back home to finish getting thing ready for the ride. Like food. I made up 2 ham sandwiches and packed them up, nuts, several pieces of fruit, and a solitary Snicker’s. I was on my way for 1 hour 30 minute drive before 7:30 am.

The bike rack has been doing us well. First the drive to the river side where Loke and Jens often walk. Then Jens picking me up in Odensala. Now, an hour and a half drive to Eskilstuna and it would be the same coming back.

When I made the drive in April, it had been a misty morning that started about 45 minutes before sunrise. Streamers of mist threading over fields, around trees, kissed with the pre-dawn light and blushing in gorgeous colors.

Well, August 24th, it was fog. Technically still mist, but combined with clouds and not being in bits and pieces, but more like… well FOG. Everything was just gray and wet. Definitely no colorful ribbons of mist.

I arrived with no problems at the gravel lot and parked. By 8:30 I had everything loaded and ready to roll. I pushed off onto the road next to the lot and pedalled up a bit of a hill toward the beginning of the rail trail.

As I approached, a woman was trying to cross the street with a little dog. Poor darling was a bit freaked out over the weird looking bike and the woman was gently trying to pull and coax. As I’ve taken to doing, I called out to the dog and held out a hand.

That did the trick. The cutie went from trying to avoid coming toward me to running up as fast as her little legs and the woman holding the leash would let her.

The woman was amazed at the trike and asked a lot of questions about it as the dog (A poodle/shih tzu/something-else-small cross hopped up on my lap, quite content with my skills at ear scratches. The woman was amazed that I’d driven from Uppsala to come ride the trail.

After a 20 minute chat, the dog was getting impatient for her breakfast even with a comfy lap and willing hands to pet her. The woman pointed just across the street, up on a bit of a hill where a new apartment complex sat. “If you like, when you get back here, come see me there. Have lunch or dinner with me. I know you’ll be hungry!” With a wave, she gave me her apartment number and headed back up the hill.

What a kind gesture.

So, feeling lighthearted with the meeting and the kindness, I started on.

The first mile and a half of the trail is all uphill. I was feeling pretty good for it though not setting any speed records. The weather was still quite gray and everything was sopping wet, from the lowliest weeds, to the highest leaves of the trees, and the pavement had a gloss of moisture.

The pavement also had slugs. So. Many. Slugs. A high percentage of them were squished, a few on purpose if I had to guess. Swedes love their little veg gardens as much as slugs do. It would be expected that more than a few such people would be riding along and see a slug, thinking, “THIS is for my cucumbers!”

I prefer to avoid them if I can. It’s not their fault that people plant tasty things for them to munch. Goodness knows they existed long before tomatoes were a crop plant.

I wasn’t yet at two miles when a woman on a mountain bike going the opposite way waved at me and stopped. I paused and she gave the trike a long look. “There’s a tree across the path ahead. I’m not sure you can get your bike past it.” I thanked her for the warning and told her I’d go take a look. She wished me luck and went on.

Tree

Big tree. Or part of one any way.

It wasn’t much further ahead of where I was warned. And oh, boy. WHAT a tree. More than a foot thick.

Even as I confronted it, it did seem there was a possibility for me to get around the thing. The top had snapped off and seemed to be missing completely. There was a gravel edge to the path for horses to use. After a closer look, I thought if I removed the flag, there would be just enough room to squeeze the trike kinda under and around the obstacle. It was definitely going to be a squeeze though because the gravel strip was right at the top of a steep ditch. The edge was also crumbling a bit from where other people had edged around the tree.

The alternative was to go back to the parking lot, and with less than 5 miles for the day’s ride, return home. 3 hours driving for less than an hour riding? No. I squeezed.

It went fine and I zoomed onward as I reached a section of down slope.

The clouds started to lighten and fog disappeared. The pavement even started to dry some, which seemed to be a cue for snails to join the pavement clutter with their sluggy cousins.

As the weather improved, the path got even busier. It seemed every minute or so, I was responding to a friendly greeting of another cyclist or roller skier. Generally on a ride, I might get greetings (nod, tiny little wave, or a full on ‘Hej’) from half the people I pass. I think on this ride, it was all but two people who had some kind of friendly acknowledgement.

It continued to get warmer and clearer as the day wore on. By time I reached the little town where there had been a mountain bike race back in April, it was mostly sunny. The rail-trail gets a bit interrupted there. The route goes along the village’s walks and cycle paths for about half a mile before rejoining the rail-bed proper.

Near the village’s pizza place was a kind of activity going on again. This was a sort of flea market meets farmer’s market with about 3 or 4 bouncy castles and carnival food trucks thrown in for good measure. I considered stopping to look around, but I didn’t really want to leave my trike parked somewhere. I pushed on.

Nearing what had been the end of the line in April, I thought about that poor fox as I came through the area I’d seen it. Wondering how it was. If it was even alive. Sadly, I don’t think mange is the kind of thing an animal gets over without treatment. Death by infection is almost inevitable as wounds from endless scratching turn septic. A horrible death.

11.75-ish miles and I came to the barricade that had marked the end of the trail in April, looking hopefully forward. Nope. Not even a hint that any work had been done to extend it. Well poop.

I turned the trike around and anticipated a long, restful glide back to the car. That’s how I remembered April’s ride back anyway. I swear to you, someone must have rumpled the path, because it was a lot more work to get back to the beginning than recalled. I have clear impressions of just riding gravity along, breaking to get through intersections.

There were parts of it that were like that, but there were parts of the trail that were like that going out too. It was hard work for more than I thought.

The sun was also out in full force. I kinda missed the clouds, but it didn’t feel as bad as I thought I would from the way the intense light glared off the lingering damp spots of pavement. There was no wind, which meant the stretches where there was no shade were a bit uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say I was miserable.

The main annoyance for the ride back, other than more hard work, was grasshoppers of all things. There were sections of path where I’d be creeping along and could see dozens of them hopping on the path. During those delightful downhill sections, they were jumping and winding up hitting me, often in the face. The small (barely an inch) ones were bad enough, but when it was one of the giant, 3 inch green ones? Those hurt!

I’ve been in Sweden for 14 years. I’ve never seen so many grasshoppers!

With the warmer temp, strong sunlight, and drying pavement, the slugs and snails had disappeared, except for those unfortunate to have been crushed by bike wheels. Other things came out. Skinks for one.

Darling little lizards those are. I saw 3 of them scurrying over the path. I guess they were glutting themselves on the little grasshoppers.

I can’t remember if I mentioned, but on a previous ride along the out-n-back north by the river, I saw a raven, and just seconds later a snake slithering off the path. Good thing I’m not a superstitious Viking or there might have been an omen in that.

I was a bit antsy as I neared the end of the ride, close to where I’d edged around the tree. How bad was the ditch edge going to be with all the traffic that would have stomped on it to get around it?

Turned out, I needn’t have worried. It had been moved! I don’t know if it was the work of whatever department keeps the path maintained or just a bunch of trail users rallying together to get it done, but it was off the path.

That last 2 miles or so was a dream! A long glide down, back to the trail head.

As I finished the ride, I decided to take the woman up on her offer. I pushed across the road and started toward the apartment. She was out on her patio, chatting with a couple of her neighbors. She waved enthusiastically upon seeing me and waved me around to the front of the building to let me park in the atrium.

Yep, the building has a huge glassed in atrium crammed with plants. Stunning place really.

She had just finished prepping herself some lunch and made me a plate. We sat and chatted as her little dog laid on my feet. After visiting an hour or so, I headed back to the car. She walked with me, so I rolled the trike back by hand. As I started pulling off the bags and such, I saw our heights were much the same and invited her to see how it felt to sit on it.

She loved it! We exchanged phone numbers and I finally headed home. It had been a nice day.

It had taken me 5 hours to do the ride, but had been worth the 23.75 miles. The next time I ride the trail, I have someone I might visit with again. Not bad at all.



Week One Done – Second Week Begun
August 22, 2019, 8:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I made it. From Wednesday, August 14th, to Tuesday, August 20th, I managed to make the minimum and then some for the first 7 days of the 5100 kilometer challenge. I needed at least 61 miles and I squeaked out 73 miles.

Today, I’m not sure I’m riding as I have other things that need doing. Chores around the apartment. The biggest task on me is a combination of laundry and kayak cleaning. And, yes, I’m even kinda combining it. I will wash my kayak and then, during the laundry time, I’ll drag it down into the drying room and spread it out on the floor to dry at the same time I’ve got laundry hanging in there.

I’ve done that once before and it worked well. But, it will take quite a bit of time which doesn’t leave enough for 2+ hours of riding the trike. I might do a quick dash back to the storage with the trike this evening. I was a lazy and left the trike here last night.

Monday, August 19th, I almost gave up on the whole 5100 km endeavor. I’d only done a measly 6 miles, but that was enough to push me over the 61 miles (100-ish kilometers) I needed for the first week and then some. I felt so horrible. Everything hurt including my back and, oddly, my right shoulder. I was exhausted, barely able to move. The apartment was already looking messy, and I felt bad every time I had to leave Loke alone for my outings.

I had to get creative that day too. Shopping needed doing, but I didn’t feel I had the time to do it with the trike as it was going to involve a lot of running around. The idea of spending the time to ride the trike for those final miles I needed, coming home to change only to walk back out the door, leaving Loke for another 2 hours, perhaps a him a bit wound up at being left twice. I couldn’t do it.

So, when I went riding, I actually brought a change of clothes. When I dragged, exhausted, back to the storage, I changed clothes there. In the DARK storage I might add. The lights in there blew out long ago, but the fixtures are on the wall with a bunch of stuff sitting in front of said wall. No way for me to reach them for changing the bulbs. From there I went and did the errands, Loke none the wiser.

Later that evening, I was feeding Loke, relying heavily on the support of the kitchen counter to remain upright, I told Jens I didn’t think I could do it.

He rallied in support of the goal. He was almost pushy about it. Don’t decide anything when you’re feeling bad. Maybe you should make the end date of the goal more fluid (which feels a bit like why bother having the goal at all?).

He had seen in my Facebook post earlier in the day, as I sat outside at the sushi restaurant at 2:30 pm to cram in a meal before the 3 pm cut-off, I’d been pleased with my accomplishment of breaking that first 61 miles. And I was happy and felt delighted I’d made that mini-goal. It was the 3 miles after that to return to the storage and 2 hours of running through various stores that broke the camel’s back.

My dear man’s reasoning was that he wanted me to have more of that happiness and satisfaction of a goal met. He was very concerned that if I gave up on it, I’d be upset and angry with myself. Regretful. In his mind, he’s trying to encourage me for the good and protect me from the bad. I love him for that, but I admit I wanted to throttle him for it at the time.

And that’s another thing this whole 5100 km goal and the demands on my time interferes with. My 8-16 eating/fasting schedule. Monday, the day I wanted to give up so badly, I’d had one tiny bowl of yogurt at 7 am and then sushi at 2:30 pm. Nothing else. It had been cram the yogurt in my mouth, drive Jens to Stockholm so I’d have the car, get to the storage, roll with Loke back to apartment, then go ride which started some time after noon. No time to eat the large salad I’d intended to scarf.

I was exhausted which made me slower. Stopping in the cycle shop to talk with Bobby about options for the new trike’s gearings took some time as well. Trying to figure out where to go to get the miles. Before I knew it, it was 2:30 pm, I only had half an hour more for my eating window if I was sticking to it. If not for me riding toward Gamla Uppsala and so passing by the sushi place, I’d have been out of luck.

And entire day, running around like a mad woman, and I came so close to having only one small serving of a dairy product to fuel it? That would have been bad. Bad enough that the only plant based foods I’d consumed were the fruit in the yogurt, and ginger and rice in the sushi. I’m not even sure that counts. Can’t be particularly healthy having only that.

And the past few months have shown me that I really do need the structure of the 8-16 intermittent fasting. Since June, I’ve gained 6 lbs. First it was the bad cold I had. Coughing fits that were so intense it felt like my head was splitting open drove me to devour cough drops and hot honey-lemon at all hours, completely wrecking the fasting. Then it was Jens’ birthday. Then it was his vacation and it’s hard to resist when he wanted to go do evening grilling with the family or go out to eat. Then the days just before and just after my birthday where, even though I was mostly able to stick to the fasting window, I was eating a big slice of Devil’s Food chocolate cake with fudge frosting. No one else was eating it with me. Except for Martina (woman who works at the gym). When I found out her birthday was just before mine, I took her a slice. Us August birthday’s gotta share cake, right? She was so delighted and I thanked her for saving my hips from that cake slice. Hot on the heels of my birthday was our anniversary (15 years), which meant more bad food later in the day.

A lot of what I’ve read about people doing the fasting, their window is typically something like noon to 8 pm. I’m far too much of a morning person to pull that off. For the first months, my window was 8 am to 4 pm. It felt kinda hard. I always started feeling really starved around 6:30 am, but had to wait another hour and a half. It felt like I was staring at the clock, willing it to move faster to that magic time when I could finally have breakfast.

With that in mind, pretty sure noon is a no go. I’d never make it. Unless I have my husband begging me to go astray, it’s very easy for me to not eat in the afternoon and evening. Shockingly so.

Also, since my blood pressure meds seem to upset my stomach if I don’t eat something with them, I need that somewhat early first meal of the day. If I wait until noon, I’d risk forgetting to take them which isn’t an option. I’d rather not have something in my head explode again. One stroke is enough, thank you.

So, I decided with this time-crunch between eating and riding, I needed something kinda portable for those days when I’m not passing by an acceptable place to eat at a perfect time. One of Sweden’s many millions of road side pizza/kebab places do NOT qualify.

Sandwiches would work, except I can’t stand dry sandwiches or mustard sandwiches. Yep. I’m a mayo girl. I’ve tried tuna salad without mayo and I think swallowing dry, shredded cardboard would go faster and easier. I could try it with some kind of oil like olive or sunflower, but… EWWW.

Getting back into watching my cholesterol means mayo is a no go. My one attempt at fat-free mayo didn’t end well. Tore my stomach right up. Then I was wandering through the grocery on Monday and passed… VEGAN mayo. I stopped and stared at it on the shelf. My experience with most vegan replacements for animal based products has been pretty mixed. I’ve had great success in some cases with oat cream and oat sour cream, but other stuff has been bad.

What did I have to lose except a few hours of a calm tummy if it went south? I grabbed it.

I tried it yesterday on a sandwich, even though I know the irony of vegan mayo with lunch meat or tuna. It wasn’t half bad. Unlike my experiment with fat-free mayo, if someone had given me a sandwich with the vegan, I probably wouldn’t have noticed or just shrugged it off as an unfamiliar brand. Kinda like the difference between Hellmann’s or Kraft.

So, now I can pack sandwiches and if I make sure I bring some fruit, my diet won’t be completely bizarre. Perhaps a bit thin on the ‘home cooked meal’ side, but eh. I don’t do ‘home cooked’ so much any more. Frozen springrolls, a bit of salmon and a salad is about as home cooked as I get on a lot of days. None of which takes much time. Longer to heat the oven than cook the food in it.

Pity, I don’t think salad would stand up well to traveling around in my cycle bags. Wilted lettuce. Ewwwww.

Yeah, I’m picky. Not as much as I used to be, being brave enough to try oat dairy products and vegan mayo.

As I laid down for sleep Monday night, I was pretty sure I was done with the challenge.

What did I find myself doing bright and early Tuesday morning? Well, after dragging myself up at 4 am and going to the gym for a kick-butt workout, Jens dropped Loke and I off at the garage. I rolled Loke home.

Once the furball was tucked up with a pillow, I was out the door again to, you guessed it, get miles. Even though I already had more than the 61 miles I needed for the first ‘week’ and Tuesday was the ‘Sunday’ for how I count my Challenge riding weeks, I figured I’d get a head start.

The mile with Loke to get home and the 9.(something) miles I did on mini-errands got me over 10 miles.

The first errand was buying Loke another can of soft dog food. On the way back from that, I stopped by at Dylan’s BBQ Spot food truck to just chat as it was too early for him to be open. Always nice to have a visit with a nice guy who also happens to be a fellow American.

I was going to be way under 10 miles if I’d gone home then. Spontaneously, I decided to ride to the groomer. Loke’s not been washed and had his coat blown out since last year. His cough and his general weakness made me wary. He’s a bit stronger now and Jennifer (the groomer) is very careful with her older clients.

She was glad to see us and happy to hear that Loke’s still going. Rolled her eyes with a ‘Loke, Loke, Loke’ sigh when I told her about the thorn thing. She was able to squeeze us in for Thursday at 3 pm. That was very sweet of her.

I also got to meet one of her new clients. Under her reception desk, she has a few kennel cages for the smaller dog. She beckoned me over to the gate that opens to let dogs into the grooming area and pointed down. There was the most ADORABLE little face looking up at me. A tiny, caramel colored puff of a Pomeranian. Pommies are small, but honestly, she made your normal Pomeranian look like a Great Dane.

I truly thought it was a 20 week old Pommie puppy, she was that little. Nope. 6 years old. Jennifer took her out of the crate and she went all cute and wiggly. Just so happy and friendly. It was hard to hang onto her because she was so little and bouncy, wanting to lick my face and then jump over to lick Jennifer’s.  Didn’t dare tighten my grip. Kinda felt like I was juggling fur covered crystal.

Almost made me want one. Almost. While she was as quiet as Loke used to be, Pomeranians are typically very yappy. Besides, I’d want a dog that can run with the trike if we get another. Pomeranians might be in the same Spitz family tree as Huskies, but those tiny legs complicate a 40 mile run.

Still was going to be well under 10 miles as I left the groomer’s. I sat pondering for a few minutes. Then ICE CREAM popped into my head. The day was a bit cool, starting at 52 F when I was getting Loke back to the apartment and was flirting with about 67 F when I thought of ice cream. Those temperatures actually made direct sunlight feel nice for a change. Ice cream still sounded tasty.

After I finished with my strawberry and triple chocolate scoops, I saw it was still going to be less than 10 miles when I got back to the apartment. More than 9 at least and combined with the mile I did with Loke, I’d technically have more than 10. I was tired and didn’t want to leave Loke alone much longer, so off for home I went.

I should have gotten the trike back to the storage that evening, but Jens got home kinda late and I was so tired, I begged off.

Still it felt good that I had gotten out again. I’d managed more than 10 miles over the minimum I needed for the first 7 days of the challenge. I needed 61 miles, I pedaled a smidge over 73 miles. I suppose I could use it as a rest day later in the challenge at some point.

Wednesday, August 21st, was the start of Week 2 of the 5100 km challenge. With the extra 10 miles from the previous week, I thought to take a rest day. I had laundry and Jens was fairly insistent about me checking the kayak over.

When my inflatable kayak was packed up last in 2018, I forgot to check if it had been completely dry. I had images of it being covered in mildew. With the leaves turning and cooler temps nudging around the edges of morning, as if testing summer for weakness, my chances to kayak are dwindling, so good to get it out, checked and be certain it’s dry before put back away for winter.

It was a bad, BAD day. My muscles felt painful and powerless. It wasn’t exactly as if they’d been overworked, but more like how they were in the first months after the stroke or when I was on the cholesterol medication for 3 years. Just walking across the apartment was a trial, and doing something like loading the dishwasher an agony. I had trouble breathing when I took Loke for walks. I wound up staggering around and had to stop, clinging to light poles or sides of buildings or trees to wait for the burning pain and shakes to pass while gulping desperately for air. My vision went all grey a few times.

It took me over half an hour to just get the kayak out of the car, on the lawn and unfolded because I kept needing to sit down and put my head between my knees. I checked my blood pressure and pulse during the worse of it. Pressure was fine and my pulse was a tiny bit elevated, but nothing drastic.

Murphy either took pity on me or was distracted else where, because the kayak was bone dry and not a hint of mildew. I didn’t need to scrub it at all. Sweet relief. Rain was threatening and I really didn’t want to wrestle it down into the cellar laundry drying room if it got wet. That might have killed me.

Jens got home early from work and sympathetically suggested I try just a short little toodle around the block to be sure I could get the trike back to the garage. I went with it.

It was just the ticket. While I didn’t feel great, I did’t feel nearly as bad. There was still some weakness as I pedaled, but the pain, graying vision, and desperate gasping for air was no where to be found. I wound up doing 8.3 miles.

I took it slow and easy. Doing 2 mph on a stretch I’ve been doing 5-7 mph? Didn’t care. I was moving and didn’t feel like Death had me by the throat. I headed off up to the grave mounds and took that path back to the cycle paths of the River Loop, which I did in full.

I discovered that feeling like complete and utter hell when doing everything else, but feeling okay on my trike cured my intense dislike and boredom of doing my hamster tracks again for about the 2000th time. I was just happy to be pain free and doing something other than staring mindlessly at my lap top computer or the TV.

I swung back by the apartment and got Loke for the half mile back to the storage.

Loke’s been having problems too. The nerve impulses didn’t seem to be getting to his legs like they should. His back end had been buckling a lot, as if his legs were threatening to dump him on his butt. He kept walking on his knuckles every few steps or tripping over his front feet. He was still happy to be going with the trike and, even with his difficulty keeping his legs under himself, he wasn’t that much slower even with me insisting on being more careful.

Yesterday (August 21st) as I got the trike back to storage, he was doing quite a bit better. He jogged along at over 3 mph and even over 4 mph for a few hundred yards. He was engaged with his surroundings and eager. Easily could have done another half mile. Dare I say? Perhaps even a whole mile?

I had meant for yesterday to be a recovery day from riding, but clearly my body had other ideas and enforced my compliance with torture.

I’m hoping today will be a little kinder. I went to the gym, which I hope helps, but otherwise, I have things to do. Much as it galls me to say, cycling, while it is a passion, can’t be my entire life. If for no other reason Jens would divorce me and my cycle clothes would start to smell. 😛



5100 km Challenge – Yes or No?
August 19, 2019, 5:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Even though I’d done that math and it seemed the obvious conclusion of the 5100 km challenge was no, I still couldn’t let go of the idea. After my 10-ish mile outing on my birthday, I found myself out the door again on August 15th. Much less mental arguing with myself about it though.

I took Loke for the 1 mile roll before I left though. He was a bit sluggish, mostly a flare up with his neurological issues it seems. I took it easy with him, letting him set the pace and gave plenty of opportunity to sniff if he wanted to.

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Look at that! Autumn is creeping in!

During the roll with him, I happened to look up at some branches over the cycle path. What should I see? The first hints of autumn color. And this is the true autumn gold rather than the more distinctive brown of sick and/or dying tree.

While our mornings have been downright nippy at times, it hasn’t really had that ‘snap’ to it that says autumn to me. There’s cold summer and then there’s that brisk, indefinable vibrancy to the air that boldly announces the changing of the seasons that puts a spring in my step or a boost in my pedaling. We’ve not that sensation yet.

I left Loke tucked up with fresh water and a comfy pillow before I headed out the door for my solo miles, feeling guilty about it, I might add. After his mile, Loke didn’t seem to care. He just flopped down on his pillow with a contented sigh.

Since it’s really hard for me to go ride ‘just for miles’, it was a relief that I actually had errands I could do with the trike. It does wonders for my attitude when there’s a purpose to my rides beyond the vague ‘exercise’ or less vague, but still boring ‘I need the miles’. Errands are acceptable. Adventures and exploration and photography, or combination of all three, preferred.

I felt quite pleased with my pace as I buzzed off toward the paths of the River Loop, heading for Loke’s vet clinic for the first errand. The furball was out of his soft food which is needed to trick him into taking his meds.

The temp was pleasant as I buzzed down the hill, but I felt uncomfortable when the sun came out. I don’t know if it’s my meds or just some kind of weird nerve damage left over from the stroke, but I SWEAR I can feel my skin crisping like burning bacon when the sun hits it, especially between early June to about September when fairly intense. It even feels that way right through my clothes. Just hate that feeling. So when the clouds would meander across the face of the sun, I was happiest.

As I moved at a brisk pace on the north out-n-back section of the dead-end river path, I noticed there were thicker, larger clumps of clouds to the north and east. Masses with dark blue bellies and half seen streamers of rain trailing down. I idly wondered if there was a drenching in my near future.

There was no receptionist at the clinic when I arrived. The one who handle the payment of two cans of soft food was a new face among the veterinary staff in fact. When she asked if I’d been there before, I just laughed and said that if they kept animals over night, this would be Loke second home.

Food tucked in my pod bags, I turned back north when I reached the river side path again. I needed those miles, so I’d take right to where it dead-ended at the gravel path. Then I did my back and forth, multi-point turn to turn around and sped back toward Uppsala at about 8 mph. I just love how fast I felt! It wasn’t killing me either!

I blasted down under the 55 to continue along the river, past the swim hall, over Gamla Uppsala Road and a bit further until I crossed the yellow bridge over the Fyris River along the little cul-de-sac that the local health ward sits on. I scuttled over the big road and into the tree-lined peace of a small residential strip before coming down a sharp drop to climb up beside another street.

I did a little zigging around to reach the paths that would take me to my in-laws. Every 2 or 3 months, these free recipe magazines arrive in our mail because I use a discount card when I shop groceries. I don’t use them, but my mother-in-law just ADORES them, but she shops in another shop for her food. So, I cheerfully deliver the magazines when I get them.

As I was meandering along the last half mile to my in-laws place, it started to rain. It felt so good. I’d been feeling a bit overheated before the cool drops started pattering down. It was a pretty good downpour by time I reach my second destination. I parked the trike under a rowan tree just outside their door in a crude attempt to keep a dry seat.

No one was home, which meant my seat didn’t really have a chance to get wet. I dropped the magazines in their mail box and headed off down paths that would take me back toward the storage.

Less than 10 minutes since I rolled out from their place, the phone rang and my darling mother-in-law said it was so sweet of me to bring those to her. I laughed and told her we’d missed each other by such a small margin.

As I came to the path that runs through the wooded portion of the frisbee golf course, the sun came back out and glared harshly, not only on me, but on the sopping wet pavement as well. I really missed those rain clouds.

It was just a smidge over 9 miles when there was less than a quarter mile to the storage. That was irritating. I had my heart set on my solo ride being at least 10 miles. Granted, with the mile I did with Loke it was more than 10, but I kinda like having buffers. Sighing, I pushed on a little bit past the turn and then took a right to loop through a neighborhood of small houses and back to the path which was a bit over half a mile. I came back to the storage with 10.34 solo miles for the day. I walked back through the door at home just 1 hour and 55 minutes after I’d left Loke.

Furball was still happily on his pillow, snoring contentedly. I’m not sure he even noticed I was gone. That was a comfort.

Friday, August 16th, though it pricked at me like nettles, I didn’t ride. There was just too much to do. Various little errands and, most of all, laundry. I did have some vague idea to leave very early the following morning to drive to Eskilstuna west of Uppsala and ride that rail-trail. The one I did in April and enjoyed very much even if it was an out-n-back.

The rail-trail would be ideal. No big hills and even better, it had appeared that 70% or more of the gentle climbing I did was on the out. I remembered that getting back to the car was mostly coasting, slowing at intersections, and going WHEEEEEE until I left the trail to ride the roads back to the music mansion.

It didn’t happen. I just felt kinda stressed with needing to get the bike rack on the car which wasn’t going to happen until kinda late and, I don’t know.

Jens was a bit grumbly about that. He’s been fairly gungho and encouraging about this whole 5100 km challenge. So, yesterday morning (Saturday, August 17th), he groused at me, “I think you should go for a longer ride, even if it’s around here.”

He followed that up with, “Or just pick a direction. I’ll put the rack on the car and come get you when you call that you’re done.”

I decided I’d get at least 10 miles, to leave the option of doing the 5100 km open, mind you. As long as I did 10 miles each day between Saturday to Tuesday, I’d be okay and still have a chance at a ‘Yes, I’m gonna do it’ answer.

One thing I was curious about was how long would it take me to ride to the gym. If I let go of my obsession of going at 5 am and were to ride my trike there, that would give me some easy miles. I’d start the day with that.

I didn’t take the time to puzzle out the best route, but just picked what seemed most convenient in terms of paths and avoiding the steepest areas that would slow me down. Not sure I accomplished that and will have to experiment more. The result of the way I picked was 3.85 miles and it took me roughly 38 minutes. Not optimal. Also, come winter, throwing on studded tires, I’m probably looking at over 45 minutes.

That would mean my trips to the gym could be in excess of 3 hours with the trike. Of course, what’s really the difference between that where I’m getting both riding AND the gym done as opposed to driving to the gym, work out an hour, then going for a 2+ hour ride? Admittedly, to make up the extra miles needed for the 10 miles a day thing for the 5100 km, I’d have to add a bit more time, but, it’s starting to look a bit more doable.

From the gym, my options felt a bit limited. Mostly hemmed in by big roads or around places I’ve ridden before. I thought about hitting the area around Danmark church which was fairly direct, but then considered some of those hills… and just ‘meh’.

Then I remembered how nice some of the country roads had been when Jens and I had driven the back roads home from visiting friends. There was cycle path along the busiest sections and then onto what I remembered as quieter roads.

Off I went!

It wasn’t exactly exciting at first. I had to get through the big commerical district of Uppsala. Ikea, building supply warehouses, giant sporting goods, a rather boring mall complex.

Then I was free of that and scurrying across a busy road to follow another busy road. At least the cycle path is good and separated from the traffic by a wide ditch. But the strong winds, whipping the reeds and cattails filling the ditch, threw the odor of car exhaust in my face. Such a delightful scent. (Sarcasm for those who didn’t catch it).

It was a relief when I turned onto the road I was aiming for.

08-17 a Distant_Danmark

I could have been riding over there, sheltered from the wind, but NOOO, I wanted to avoid the hills. Hehe

At first it seemed not so bad. Not many cars as it ran parallel to the rail line for a bit. On the left there was wide expanses of fields and nothing to stop the wind on either side. At least at that time, the hard gusts and blasts were off to my right.

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Sure, it looks peaceful NOW. Don’t let it fool you.

Then it got busier. Also, tractors were not helping the situation. The harvest was in full swing, probably because rain was in the forecast for August 18th. So, cars were not only getting backed up behind my pokey self in the wind and with some rather long, steepish, nasty hills, but the tractors were slowing them down too.

Thankfully, Swedish drivers were polite about it all. Giving me plenty of space when they passed and waiting to do so when it was safe for such. I swerved over into bus-stop bays when available.

There was one moment when a tractor got stuck behind me. Too slow to pass even when the traffic had a break that would have been more than enough for a car. Naturally, it happened when I was stuck with no where to go while climbing a hill and no bus-stops. After about 150 yards, I came up to a driveway on the opposite side of the road and the next on-coming car was far enough away I could hopefully make it over. I crossed my fingers that no one behind the tractor would get the bright idea to try passing him, running me down as I made the turn, and went for it.

The tractor driver gave me a thumbs up as he passed. Yes, I’m sure it was a thumbs up and not a ruder finger gesture.

Even though everyone was polite, no flip-offs, or yelling, or buzzing me off the road, I did start feeling stressed. I wanted smaller, quieter roads.

08-17 b Runestone U-947

I came up on a spot where I could just squeeze to the side of the road, out of traffic, to take moment to look at various maps (my Garmin and Google and PlotaRoute on the phone). Conveniently, it was right where a runestone happened to be. Apparently, it’s a stone I’ve not ‘collected’ before. I got up long enough to take photos and plopped back down to scan through maps of the area.

I found one that appeared to have some promise and I thought perhaps I could reconnect to the section of pretty scenery I had been aiming for since leaving the gym. I had a mile and a half to go to reach it. There was a long hill with enough of a grade to slow me to a slow crawl. Just kept eyes focused on the crest of that climb and turning the pedals as well as I could without making my knee scream.

I was so glad when I reached that turn and delighted. It was a narrow, paved country lane, a single car wide with passing bays every now and again. Trees which screened the wind a bit and offered a touch of shade for those moments when the sun came out.

I was utterly charmed. Cute little cottages with delightful yards cluttered with decoration and well kept. A scattering of old farm buildings dotting here and there.

08-17 c Random_Cute_Building1

The graffiti made me angry, defacing such a lovely, old building! A smithy perhaps? Baking house? Don’t know.

That slowed me down. The siren call of photograph chances was too strong to resist. A half mile give or take probably took me about 20 minutes because I stopped for photos or to just admire the views of the buildings.

08-17 c Random_Cute_Building2

A lovely scene I thought.

Another thing that slowed me a touch was simple politeness and consideration. I came rolling slowly up to a little pasture spot. On a rocky hillock to the back of the pasture was a building I wanted a picture of. I stood up to get the photo, but didn’t sit back down while putting the camera away.

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Couldn’t stop taking photos!

In the pasture was a pair of ponies. Not the stubby little Shetland sorts, but more horse-like, but with backs perhaps only mid-chest high on my short self. Two girls stood holding a pony each as a woman worked to lift hooves and give them a cleaning. It would have been rude to drop in my trike and go whizzing down the hill, flags flapping, perhaps getting the woman kicked in the face by a spooked pony. I walked it down the slope.

The girls gave me big smiles and said thank you. As for the ponies? To be honest, I don’t think they would have cared one way or another, but you never know.

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Views like this and I don’t mind this gravel so much!

Past the ponies, I pushed on, emerging out from the lovely shaded area with its gorgeous buildings into a shallow valley like area open, once again to the wind. I passed an intersection that seemed to lead back to the road I’d abandoned even when the lane went from paved to gravel. I knew I wanted that road to take me to the wonderful sights remembered from the drive back during midsummer, but the traffic I’d had to endure just a short time ago put me off.

08-17 d Road_Veiw 3

Okay, this and hills was getting old. Nice to be out of the wind though!

Gravel it was and it wasn’t too bad at first. There were bits of lovely scenery here and there and I pushed on even when there was warning of road boom. There were an unexpected number of cars that came along, rattling on the rocks. It was heartening that those that went in didn’t come out and I didn’t think there were that many houses out along that stretch.

There was a lot of climbing and on gravel, which was often a combination of wash-board and loose rocks, didn’t make the going easy. It was nice to be shielded from both sun and trees.

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Not the most interesting scenery. Oh, and look… GRAVEL! Not as bad though.

I don’t know how far it was, but finally there was light at the end of the exhausting tunnel of trees. A parking lot for the nature reserve I’d just ridden though. Just beyond the gravel parking was a tiny underpass that ducked under a set of rail tracks. It would have been a close fit for a car bigger than a Smart car.

I ducked through and pushed on over yet more gravel as the path ran along side the rail line. It seemed to be favorite place of joggers. The mountain bikers I saw were most likely headed for the trails of the nature reserve.

One couple did wave me down to ask questions about the trike as I passed. They were walking back to their car, carrying baskets full of berries from the woods. Looked rather tasty.

08-17 e Random_Cute_Building7

Nice barn

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Open scenery once again!

Finally, I came upon a turn and hit asphalt again. Even though it was a bit of a climb, I felt like I was flying and my legs, knees especially were so relieved. It was back out in the wind with mostly fields to every side, but my pace was better in spite of it.

Much as it galls me to admit, scenery is better out in the open where you have items of interest standing out in a wide vista. You can find interesting things among trees too, but they’re often harder to spot if they’re even there at all. It’s like digging for diamonds. But I do so love woods and forests. Maybe it’s because the impact of the sun is more muted with all the dappled shade.

Of course, out in the open there was the wind again. There’s one aspect of the wind at this time of year I’ve not mentioned. Not this year at least.

There’s a certain plant. Starting at the end of July or so, it goes from whatever kind of bloom it has into seed ‘fluff’. Only this fluff is exactly like fiber glass. Clumps of it hit me and it’s like I went wallowing in insulation or something. That needle-like burning scratch. Not as bad as nettles, but a similar sensation. I’ve not been hit in the face with a clump… yet. It makes me dread the wind even more.

So, once out of the woods, I was back to watching for the clumps drifting on the wind and trying to avoid them. Scratching furiously when I missed or they snuck up on me.

It was about 2:30 pm when I came to a cross-road. I stopped to look at my options. Interestingly, the right turn indicated Uppsala. Something to keep in mind if I ever wanted to come this way again, but avoid the busier road, the gravel, and such. That was apparently 20 km. Sigtuna, Sweden’s oldest official town, was straight ahead about 5 miles away. I wasn’t sure if I’d end up on busy roads again though. Left was Knivsta and it was only 2 miles away.

It was just half an hour until the cut off for my eating window. My only food for the day to that point had been a small bowl of yogurt at 7 am. I was ravenous. Even though I’d be a little late even if I found one, I made the turn to Knivsta in hopes of finding a cafe or the like.

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*squeeeeee!!” Too CUTE!

About 10 minutes after the turn, I came upon the absolute best part of the day. There was a field with 6 or 8 horses in it. I approached cautiously, though they had plenty of room to run and ‘get away’. They looked up and there was nothing but curiosity in their manner.

Then I noticed that one mare, nearest the fence had an extra set of smaller legs. A foal! I expected the mare to be protective and keep the little darling hidden, or that the unseen cutie would be shy and hide behind her.

No such thing. She came boldly out from behind mamma and both of them came to the fence line. Pity the foal was a fillie. If it had been a boy, I’d have called him ‘Blackjack’ because the white splotch on the forehead looked like a playing card spade. Okay, so it was white, but the shape was right!

Did I say she was absolutely adorable?!

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Old building next to new apartments. I couldn’t bear to ruin the image with said apartments in the shot. 😛

That little meeting gave me a boost as I pushed on toward Knivsta and, I hoped, food.

The boost didn’t last long. My legs were tired and the wind was a torment. It was after 3 pm as I finally made it into the fringes of Knivsta, but with no place in sight to purchase a meal. Just a cycle path along side more rail-line and brand new apartment blocks aside old farm buildings.

At last I reached the heart of Knivsta. It was busy and vibrant, but the nearest cafe was a bit away from where I came in and so many people. It was coming up on 4 pm, so I’d decided I wasn’t going to stick to my 8-16 fasting. Cheap cafe food I didn’t really like was not going to cut it and definitely not worth the calories.

I was still 3 miles short of the 20 miles I wanted for the minimum. I started looking at maps and such. Odensala popped into my head, though I wasn’t sure how far it was. Googlemaps said roughly 5 miles.

5 miles. Did I have that in me? Only one way to find out. I pushed off down a little gravel path through the rest of Knivsta before emerging out onto a road. Had to sit and wait on a train and then pushed up another of those evil hills. At least in town, the wind didn’t seem so bad.

There was a nice bike path for a while as I wound onward toward Odensala. I was nearing the little church just south of Knivsta I’ve always called Knivsta church though it’s got another name, something about a saint.

Along the mile or so before the church, a couple of people were standing by the road way with little flags. Then came a cyclist. I mean one of the elite. He had the slick gear, including the tear-drop helmet that extended down his spine a way to give him the improved aerodynamics, and a bike that would have done honor to the Tour de France. He was tearing along as if his butt was on fire and the person on the side of the road waved a little flag to get him into the turn. He took it with barely a drop in speed and went streaking off down the hill. Other, less intense, riders came after him and as I approached the intersection, a bunch of cyclists were coming up the hill to continue into Knivsta. I guess it was an out-n-back portion. Hard to believe the first rider I had seen was further back in the pack.

I stopped at ‘Knivsta’ church, but only long enough to use the facilities. Then it was onward as I still lacked about a mile for the 20 total.

So tired. So slow. I stopped at one point to call Jens and told him I was about 2 kilometers out from Odensala church, which was where I planned to stop.

“Oh, that will take you about 10 minutes then?”

I did one of those “Haha, you’re so funny” remarks. I told him it could be as much as an hour what with my aching knees, possible hills, and that CURSED wind. He suggested I call it before reaching the church, but there was really no where to get safely off the road to wait or have space to load the trike. The church was the best place.

Actually just minutes after that call, I lucked out. It turned out to be mostly downhill into Odensala. I rode along the downward dash like an over-cooked noodle. Completely limp in the seat, I was using just enough muscle function in my arms to steer. I was too exhausted to even do a ‘WHEEEEE’ as I  hit over 25 mph for almost a quarter mile.

There was one last push up to the Odensala church parking lot for about 150 yards and I was DONE! I staggered out of the trike to wander a bit and stretch, calling Jens to come get me. About 20 minutes he said.

That was a cold 20 minutes. The wind was howling, unblocked from the fields from the south right over that parking lot to slam into me on the bus-stop bench. No longer pedaling, I wasn’t generating extra body heat. I had one extra layer of thin wool hiding in my pod bags which did a tiny bit of good. Otherwise, I just sat huddled and shivering with my arms crossed, my helmet on as I kept my head down to use the Da Brim to block some of the chill from my torso. My Garmin said it was 60 F, but with that wind chill. Brrrr…

I felt a bit bummed as I uncurled enough to look at the stats for the day. 21.89 miles, but it had taken me almost 6 hours. And I had been so proud of my average speed being up to over 5 mph average. Where had that been? At least I had gotten over my desired minimum 20 miles.

Stats

Wasn’t as bad as I thought.

It wasn’t until later when I’d had a chance to look at it on Garmin connect that I discovered that my actual moving time was just a smidge over 4 hours and my average moving speed was 5.2 mph. Sure, if all the time I was out was added, it dropped to 3.8 mph. But I did spend a lot of time letting my knees rest, searching maps, taking photos, trying to decide where and how I wanted to go.

I felt somewhat better seeing that.

And had I decided to aim for the 5100 km goal? Not yet, but I have to keep it up so I still have the choice when I do decide. I guess that’s an answer of itself.

 



A Pleasant Birthday
August 15, 2019, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So! I left the last post hanging about my appointment with a dermatologist on August 6th.

The appointment went well. The office was tiny. Just two very small exam rooms, a meeting room for the staff to one side and the reception desk all arranged around a 15 foot long hall way that had 2 chairs to double as the waiting room.

The receptionist was the same cheery woman who had made the call to schedule the appointment. When I walked in, she gave me this HUGE smile and said, in Swedish, “There’s our American who said her Swedish was bad, but’s really quite good!”

With a grin, I quipped back the same line though about her being Swedish and her English.

I was a bit early, but the doctor was able to see me right away and she was as nice as the receptionist. No desire to punch her at all. If anything, I want to whip up a batch of muffins to take as a thank you for being so kind. Jens would say that for the money they charge, of course, they’re nice, but still.

For the mark on my face, the very nice doctor did take a decently close look. She didn’t say anything about moisturizing, but otherwise it was the same as the doctor at the local clinic had said, just with a bit of kindness and respect rather than looking as if she wanted to be doodling on the table with a smirk. Oh, and more importantly, she was willing to give me an explanation of what it was rather than just shrug at me.

She said it’s just an age kind of spot. Not dangerous, but unfortunately, not much to be done about it though it might just exfoliate off one day. She did warn me not to scrub a hole in my skin to get rid of it sooner though.

She was a little incensed at the state of my hands and feet though with their ‘eczema’. It appeared the fact I’d spoken to a dermatologist about it, even receiving treatment for it, made her angrier. I answered her questions about the treatment and the response. The fact there’d been no tests or follow up really seemed to irritate her.

When she had all the information I had, she said, “If you had come to me at the hospital in Dalarna where I usually work, I would have ordered a series of tests and treatments for you. The treatment requires monitoring though since it involves oral medications.” She was completely upfront that doing it through her little clinic would be hideously expensive. What she did do though, was refer me to the dermatology department at the hospital.

I felt a bit hopeful about that, even though I’ve been to them. But, here was a fellow dermatologist sending a referral telling them to do ‘X’ tests and such. Because of that, I’m feeling a bit hopeful. Perhaps after so many years, I won’t have episodes where the skin splits open and leaves me hardly able to walk or touch things. Of course, there’s a chance the doctors at said hospital could just overrule her, but still. Hopeful.

She also wrote up several prescriptions to try to keep the condition under control while I wait several months for the appointment with the skin department at the hospital. Pretty much the same as what the hospital dermatologists did, but a bit stronger and it’s helping.

I didn’t go for a ride after the appointment. I was a bit wary doing it after the way my hip responded to walking less than half a mile during my brief time downtown for the appointment. It had felt pretty good when I woke up. But just walking across the street from where Jens dropped me off left me uncomfortable. Then he asked me to meet him at a parking spot across the river for easier pick up. Just a short distance to one of the bridges over and a bit of a double back to where our favorite restaurant is. By time I got there, it was as if liquid fire was pouring down my leg, starting up around the hip and collecting around my knee.

When I got home, all I wanted to do was cram a few pain meds in my mouth and stretch out to lay unmoving for a few hours.

Jens was being really nice about it, walking Loke without complaint. It was lovely, but I felt bad that he was having to do all of it. I decided to give riding a shot on August 7th. I mean, if I went with the old furball, surely creeping along at less than 1 mph wouldn’t hurt anything, right? It’s practically sitting still and in a comfy seat.

So, off we went! I got my feet settled and made certain that my right knee was aligned correctly with hip and ankle before pushing off in my 22-40 granny gear.

Loke was rather happy to be out with the trike. He wasn’t fast, stable, or strong, but he was happy. I actually rolled along in the grassy verge beside the paths as much as I could so he had soft surfaces and plenty of sniff while helping to keep my pace slow enough to match his. He was a bit tired for the last 200 yards of the mile, but I was proud of him that he managed it and it only took us 48 minutes.

Then I pushed myself off for a short ride solo. A whopping 1.4 miles that took me 37 minutes. I was being very careful of my hip. Low gear and low cadence. I was taking as few chances as I could to avoid making it worse.

It felt a little foolish when I finished. My hip actually felt pretty good, as if I could have gone faster and further. Almost as good as it tended to feel when first awaking in the morning but before I started wandering around.

As for Loke, well, later in the evening, he turned into a huge PITA, woofing and trying to bully us as he suddenly had plenty of energy, strength, and stability. Always the way.

The next morning, my hip was feeling a tiny bit better than on previous days even when I started moving around the apartment a bit. Loke appeared to have no ill effects either. I decided for both of us to go out again on August 8th.

I toyed with the idea of getting somewhere more interesting for the furball, but since I wasn’t entirely confident of my abilities to do more than a couple miles with my dodgy hip, I settled just to roll with Loke over the same 1 mile.

My furry old cycle buddy was eager to go. I took it slow, let him sniff plenty, but he did much better than he had the previous day. We finished the mile in a smidge under 40 minutes! Great going that he’d shaved off a full 8 minutes and wasn’t nearly as tired as he had been for the last 200 yards as last time.

Before going for a ride, I’d gone shopping and did a few errands. My hip had shown some improvement over the previous days before I went for the ride. Once in the trike seat though, there was little to no pain. Best I’d felt in weeks! So, I actually allowed myself a bit higher cadence as long as I didn’t push too hard. I wasn’t gonna worry about speed.

Spontaneously, I decided to head off for the burial grounds just to the north of Uppsala, Sweden. The area called ‘Old Uppsala’. I didn’t fret that while tackling the 1 mile gentle climb, I was only doing about 3 mph. I just enjoyed the fact I was moving! So tired of being a lump. Better still, moving and not hurting!

I was watching the clock though. I do what’s called ‘intermittent fasting’. I have an 8 hour window out of every 24 hours where I eat (generally in sensible fashion), and 16 hours where I fast. Slow as I was, it was starting to appear that I wouldn’t make it home for my last meal of the day (3 pm is the cut off time) I didn’t really relish doing a 4 hour eating window with a 20 hour not eating. The 8-16 thing is a snap for me, but trying to do a 4-20 and I’d probably be eyeing Loke as a tasty snack.

I was passing a pizza place, but I’m not particularly wild about Swedish pizza. It’s definitely not worth the large amount of calories for how little I like it. I crept through a round about and was about to pass another cluster of eateries, when the fact that one of them was a sushi place made my mouth water. It’s even my favourite sushi place in all of Uppsala.

Yummy!

Oooooh! The tasty sushi!

I rolled up, parked the trike, ordered some food and sat outside. I munched happily when it came out. I did rather wish they had the awning up as the sun came emerged. If it’s warmer than about 72 F, I always feel like an ant under a magnifying glass when the sun hits me.

I figured out one reason why I detest warmth and heat so much. It just sucks the energy out of me. The warmer it gets, the slower I want to go, until it reaches a tipping point where I want to hide somewhere cool.

Coolness or cold on the other hand energizes and invigorates me. I want to move and go, go, GO! I want to do things! Active things!

From there, with a not-too-full tummy, I rolled onward toward the burial mounds. As I rode the mound path, I was still feeling great. Hip pain free, hardly any complaint from my knee either. Clouds started to kindly hide the sun again, which made the temperature about perfect.

I made sure to take it easy on the mound path. There was a touch of a breeze to bring the temp down a little more. Going so slow, I was able to admire the flowers and observe things. I love doing that. One thing I noticed along the path was one of the trees was a pear tree. I’ve ridden that path in all seasons more times than I can even think of and I honestly never noticed that any of the trees were even fruit trees, let alone a pear.

Even as I enjoyed the sweeping views across the fields toward the city with the cathedral and castle dominating, there were little patches among the trees that made me a little blue. Dead trees.

The skeletal trunks and branches of dead trees are everywhere across the landscape. Hardly a place you can look where there aren’t a handful of them thrusting up the dead limbs among the green. Far more than there should be. Yes, trees die all the time, but not clusters all at once. One here, one there. One falls before any of the others next to it starts its death.

It’s just the way our summers have been so dry, never mind how viciously hot and especially dry 2018 was for 4 months. It’s just weakened so many trees and any additional shocks, a few days more of heat, or not quite enough rain, and then they drop leaves, lose bark and all that’s left is gray weathered wood.

At least this summer has been a bit wetter than the previous two and only a 2-3 weeks of really hot days. We’ve been a bit short on rain. You can tell it when wandering along the river. It’s a bit lower than it should be, but at least there’s been enough that the countryside is mostly green. I so missed green last year.

I was feeling pretty strong and pain-free enough to consider riding further, but I decided it would be silly to wind up hurting myself on the trike. As I was about to make the turn back toward the garage, an elderly man came walking along with his tiny little poodle off the leash. Seeing my ‘weird contraption’, the little dog rushed me, barking furiously, probably to protect his owner. I paused and put my hand out, saying, “Oh, stop that. I’m not so bad.”

The poodle stopped short and then suddenly was all sweet and cuteness, even jumping up on my tummy to lick my face. I chatted with the man a bit as the poodle happily settled down on me for scratches.

When I got back to the storage with 4.4 solo miles under the wheels, my hip felt better than before I’d started riding. Such a change. The last time I had hip problems, riding the trike was the source and I wound up needing physical therapy for the better part of a year. This time, it appears to be the cure.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that my Sprint is helping the issue since I suspect it began with me stupidly riding a stationary bike as part of a new exercise routine on some machines at the gym.

Pity, because that workout thing was doing me some real good before my leg started screaming about it. Now, I’ve been avoiding anything at the gym that involves flexing my hip over much. Including most of my kettlebell exercises.

With my hip doing so good on the rides, improving even, I was disappointed when Friday, August 9th, shaped up in such a way, I wasn’t able to go. Errands needed tending, stuff needed doing and then there was dinner with Jens’s family at about 2 pm.

It was a lovely dinner, cooking out with his parents and a sister and her hubby. Wonderful people I’m glad to be a part of the family with.

Skipping the ride combined with walking a bit more to get things done, set me back a bit. My hip hurt a bit worse both that evening and the next morning.

For Saturday, August 10th, Jens suggested that for his last weekend of vacation, maybe I should plan something more ambitious. I would have loved to fling the trike on the bike rack and speed off to the rail trail about an hour to the west, but I wasn’t sure enough of my hip to go do a 28 mile ramble. Also, I wasn’t sure I wanted the first true run with the new trike rack to be driving about 75 miles, some of it at interstate speeds.

After the initial ‘try the trike on the rack and drive around the block’, we’ve not done a more intensive test. Loke had that issue with a thorn in his foot, then it got silly hot followed by my hip imploding on me. With my birthday coming up, Jens really wanted to be sure the rack would be good for more than a half mile loop at 20 mph before ordering the ‘big number birthday’ trike.

So, to do a bit more of a proper test, while potentially avoiding damaging myself, I suggested that we load the trike and drive to the spot by the river where I often drop Jens and Loke off for a walk. Then I could drive the car down to where I usually pick them up, unload the trike and ride back home. Jens liked the suggestion, but altered it a bit by deciding that we’d unload the trike where I usually drop them off. He and Loke would do an out-n-back from and to the car.

Jens was a bit surprised when I had to fumble around with getting things strapped down and settled. He was under the impression I had it all worked out. Not sure how I could have done so since there’d been no chance to do so. I have a good imagination, but my memory isn’t photographic, so I had to puzzle out the dimensions and interactions of the two objects as I worked.

Then we piled into the car and headed off.

As we were coming past the castle, there’s a park between the southern gate of the courtyard and hospital. In that space were a bunch of cars, several horse trailers, and a kind of fencing going up as well as hints of posts and streamers. It looked like a jousting tournament. My first experience with such was right there at the same park just 1 month after getting my Trice assembled back in 2006.

Jens suggested that I ride by on my way home to see what was going on. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the idea. Coming up from the river path past the hospital to the park was a long, steep hill. I’ve gone screaming down it at almost 30 mph (on the rare occasions there were no pedestrians). While my hip feels better when riding, I wasn’t sure I wanted to test it that vigorously.

Then he suggested, “Why don’t you just follow the road down to it?” A fair suggestion. Pretty much a straight shot. Some climbs, a few over half a mile, but at much gentler grades. I sighed wistfully at the thought of the cool river path, but decided he was right if I wanted to see if it was the jousting tournament.

The drive with the trike on the rack went just fine.

We parked at the gravel lot where I typically let them off and Jens did the actual unloading once I pulled all the fastenings off. He didn’t want me aggravating my hip. As they set off along the shady gravel path along the banks of the Fyris River, I headed off toward the busy road flanked by a cycle way to suck car exhaust. But I’m not bitter.

Before I reached it, I spotted a little side road that terminated in a cycle path and calculated in my head that it must come out near the animal hospital (Loke’s 2nd home). If it kept me further away from that steady stream of traffic, all the better.

I emerged by the vet hospital and pushed on by it along other streets away from the bigger one. I wound along little side roads flanked by University properties, and an apparent solar energy research group. A nice little cycle path with a hedge on one side and small trees and benches on the other. Unexpectedly pleasant.

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Oh, for a 1000 miles of this!

Finally I did have to join up with the big road and its noise and exhaust. Less than a mile though and I came up to a fenced patch of forest. I’ve always wanted to ride through there, but not enough to leave the river path and travel that noisy road. This time, I didn’t have to choose. Even better, there were no sheep so I really could go in. Just sail through the wide open livestock gate.

It was so pretty and cool. The trees and undergrowth buffed the traffic noise. Just too short. Not even half a mile. But it was lovely.

Then it was out into the open again, but a gravel path cut across a field. As often as I’ve drive by that spot and even ridden the area on my trike a few times, I’d never seen that path or the interesting little building at the edge of some trees.

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No clue what it was for, but I like it. 🙂

I stopped to go get a photo of it and also spotted a tent hiding in another patch of trees not too far away. Probably a beggar’s camp if the condition of the tent was any indication.

Then it was the last push toward the park. They had the ‘fencing up, just poles with some fabric. I saw the horses, some of them in full caparisons. Three of them even had proper medieval saddles. I stopped and locked the trike. Sadly, I didn’t have the cash or Swish (an electronic payment via phone).

I called Jens to let him know I was heading straight home rather than lingering at the event. Darling man offered to swing by an ATM and bring me cash.

I considered it, but decided against. While my hip felt awesome on the trike, I was under no illusions that if I had to stand around to watch the jousting or sit in the grass, it would become very unhappy, very quickly. Disappointed even as I knew it was the right choice, I unlocked the trike and headed for the deeply shaded path that drops steeply down from the castle park to the river-side park.

Another consideration was that I desperately needed to eat. Since I wasn’t sure I could make it home before my 3 pm cut off for food, I decided on ice cream this time. Not the healthiest choice, I admit, but less calories than a burger and I liked it better than the other options, including sub-par sushi. I sat by the river to watch the water flow as I tossed bits of cone to the sparrows.

Then it was the last 1.5 mile push home. I arrived at the apartment with 6.41 miles and felt pretty good. My hip grumbled a bit as I walked from where I parked into the apartment. I had just enough time to scarf down some real food and then bolted out the door to get the trike back to the storage.

I took Loke for that half mile.

I was so IMPRESSED! The first couple days, he was doing a sort of loose limbed, walking plod. Not this time. He was doing a loose limbed JOG. His tail was kind of up, he was surveying his surroundings and jogging (albeit slowly) along side the trike even up the slope between here and storage. As we came through the little park near the storage, which is a bit of a downhill, he even broke 4 mph! The fastest he’s managed all year! Best of all, he looked happy doing it!

That gave me roughly 7 miles for the day and I felt wonderful. Hip only bothered me walking.

I didn’t ride on Sunday, August 11th. Not sure why. Can’t remember for the life of me.

I did ride on Monday the 12th, sorta. 1.5 mile for the entire day which is the 1 mile roll from storage to home and then a half mile back. Mostly it was to stay off my hip while getting Loke some walkies.

Again, he did great! Shaved time off the morning roll and for the evening one, he was sooooo close to breaking the 6 mph mark as we came through the park.

Tuesday, August 13th, was more of the same, though he didn’t a bit worse than on the 12th. I decided that Wednesday would be a rest day for him.

Jens worked from home, which was kind of nice, as it was my birthday.

The day before, I had baked myself an American style Devil’s Food cake with fudge frosting, so I was good to go that way. Other than that, I was feeling kinda ‘meh’ about the whole day. Jens spent most of it asking, “Want to go to a movie this evening? Out to dinner?! Want a little something special as a ‘right now gift’ since you don’t have your ‘big number birthday gift’ trike?!” My answer to everything remained pretty much, “Meh,” though I was wise enough to add a ‘thank you’ and apologize for feeling just so indifferent to everything. I appreciated his willingness to do so much, but I was feeling oddly ambivalent about doing/getting  anything.

My awesome guy still booked a table at one of our favorite restaurants in case I shook off the strange mood. It was a strange mood. I wasn’t upset or depressed about turning 50, just… meh. I was more moody and down about birthdays 48 and 49 than 50. I guess the fact that I’m feeling fitter, stronger, and every waking moment isn’t all about existing in a haze of agony helps. *smirk*

Into the mix of this ‘meh’ birthday, also came a choice that I don’t think I’ve mentioned. Or if I did, I didn’t spot it while scanning the last couple of posts here.

A few weeks ago, a grandiose (for me) idea popped into my head. Between August 14th, 2019 and August 14th, 2020, maybe I should ride 5100 km. Why kilometers when I count my rides in miles? Well, because 5100 kilometers is a LOT less than miles. It’s like deciding to climb a mountain that’s half the height of Everest instead of tackling Everest itself when you’ve never climbed a mountain.

Why 5100 of them specifically? Well, 100 for each year I will have been on the planet when I turn 51 of course. It will also be my ‘best ever’ year in terms of distance even in miles.

The idea continued to pluck at me as my birthday marched closer. On the evening of the 13th and early morning of the 14th before I went to the gym at 5 am, I started fiddling with the logistics of it. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t terribly feasible.

Fact is, to stand a chance at it, I would need to ride a minimum of something like 98.5 kilometers every, single week. That’s 60-something miles rounded up to 61 for the sake of convenience. There are blog posts on here I mentioned my struggles and failures to pull off week goals of 50 miles, or even just 25 miles. Yet, here I sit facing 52 weeks of 61 miles, each and every week.

That’s challenge enough. Then, let’s throw in the fact that there will be weeks when I have colds or flu that Jens brings home or I catch from machines at the gym. Those kilometers/miles would have to be caught up. What about if/when it gets below 0 F this winter and riding would be a risk of losing fingers and toes? More miles to be made up somehow when the weather is mild enough. I could end up with a cascade effect and find myself staring at the remaining weeks when I need to do 120+ miles in hopes of making that 5100 km before August 14, 2020.

So, aside from THAT headache, let’s also consider time. I’m slow. I saw a meme on FB once that someone posted, “I cycle! I’m slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, but I cycle!” Well, for me over the past few years, I’ve related to that, though I kinda felt like my turtles were cold and stampeding through peanut butter. 61 miles, is at least 12 hours. More than that if I have a rough days because I’m tired from the gym, or have a pulled muscle, fighting 20 mph winds, picked somewhere with a lot of hills to climb. You get the idea.

Loke can only come with me for about 1 mile at a time which takes 30-40 minutes all by itself. Jens works. That means, for most of those hours, Loke will be home alone. I cringe to even think of leaving him alone for that long on top of the times I have to leave him to run errands around town.

In spite of the nightmare of the logistics, I find myself unable to let go of the idea. Jens also kept asking as the day progressed if I was going to go riding, which kinda kept pulling my mind back to the grand goal.

It was about noon when Jens asked if I was going to Dylan’s new grill truck to get one of those awesome pulled pork sandwiches. It was my birthday after all. I thought about it and decided that sounded good.

I grabbed my  purse and the car keys. As I reached for the door handle to step out, a little internal voice whispered, “You could ride the trike there. Burn off some of the birthday cake and the sandwich.”

There was an internal struggle. Part of me was, “But then I might not have time to shower after the ride if I decide we should go to the restaurant.” The other part was, “Exercise and maybe get at least a FEW miles in so you don’t end up too far behind before you decide if you wanna to do the 5100 km challenge or skip it.”

Back and forth. Suddenly I just threw my hands in the air and exclaimed, aloud, “Fine! I’ll ride the trike there!” and turned to get my cycle clothes on. Jens, who had been silent at his desk writing work e-mails, leaned over to peek around the kitchen door at me curiously. “I didn’t say anything and I’m not forcing you to ride the trike,” he said baffled. I grumbled it was me that wasn’t leave me be about it. He laughed.

I drove to the storage and got the trike out. You know, I was at Dylan’s food truck in under 7 minutes. Gotta love that big hill. Dylan gave me a bit hug with the birthday wishes and sat chatting with me as I tucked into that wonderful sandwich.

Tummy full of grilled goodness, I headed back to the path. It was a pretty day. The sun was pretty intense, but the clouds offered frequent cover and it was quite breezy in an appealing way. My ‘meh’ mood lifted a bit and I found myself smiling, spontaneously deciding to ride to the vet clinic for more of Loke’s soft food. I could take the northern river side path most of the way.

As I made the turn to cut into the industrial area where the vet clinic is located, I passed the receptionist walking toward the river with her adorable little dachshund. That was when I remembered the clinic is closed between 1 and 2 pm for lunch. I still did a loop through part of the complex for distance. I hit the cycle path again to follow it to the end before cutting back to the city.

I was keeping a pretty good clip and letting myself go with it instead of worrying about coddling my hip. As I hit the section of the River Loop on the south side of the 55, I decided to ride to the cycle shop, see if Bobby was in for a chat about possibly dealing with a new trike.

Bobby was in and I had a good conversation with him which left me feeling much better about what I’m getting to boot. I stepped out of the shop and found my eyes straying to the north along Vattholma Road, toward Gamla Uppsala. An easy ride, especially as strong as I was feeling. I bet combined with my dash north along the river, it would be close to 9 miles by time I got back to storage.

Off I went. Even on the 1 mile long, gradual climb, I found myself cruising at roughly 5.1 mph. I’ve not typically been that fast there. Generally I do about 3.8 mph for that stretch.

The ‘meh’ was gone as I rolled into the burial grounds. The place was packed. About 3 guided tour groups, people with cameras walking everywhere, a viking tent set in the open field next to the museum. I had a slow down a bit and wind my way back and forth between people.

I was free of the burial grounds proper and pushing along through a veritable blizzard of seed-fluff when I spotted a pair of girls walking a husky. He was stocky and more compact than Loke, smaller. I stopped to ask how old he was. 12 years as it turned out. I chatted with them a bit as he came over to rest his chin on my chest and stare softly into my face with silver blue eyes, tail wagging as I gave him scratches. Then he gave my cheek a soft lick before they all walked on.

As I began the last push to the storage, I realized I was going to be just a touch over 9 miles. I figured if I was going to even attempt this 5100 km challenge, my best bet would be 6 days a week with rides of around 10 miles. At least to start. So, to cut sharply off the main path to take a quick dash through a small residential set of streets for about half a mile before heading off to put the trike away.

Finished with 10.38 miles in about 2 hours. Just 50-ish miles left for the next 6 days.

I felt really good as I hurried home to throw myself in the shower. The ‘meh’ mood was lifted and I told Jens we were going to the restaurant.

The day actually turned out very nice. Jens took Loke for a walk and came home with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for me. I had awesome food both from Dylan’s and Frenchi’s restaurant in downtown Uppsala. I had an awesome ride even if it was just on my hamster tracks around home. Lots of birthday wishes from friends and family on Facebook.

Truly, it turned into one of the best birthday’s in a while. Jens has always tried hard to make all my birthdays great, even those when I was so down because of the stroke and the sheer amount of pain I was in for 3 years. This year has had a radical change in attitude since the stroke. I feel stronger, fitter, and even more positive. That helped my birthday as much as the good ride and all the affection and well-wishes.

I also rode again today, leaving Loke all by his lonesome for 2 hours, but I think I’ll put that in another post. This one is getting a bit long and my ride reports give “War and Peace” a run for it’s money for length. Or those of you who read mostly fantasy, any of the Wheel of Time novels.

 



Aggravations
August 6, 2019, 5:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, since Loke’s recovery, not much has been going on. Jens has been on vacation. At first it looked as if we were going to do one of our cycle/fish trips to the south where I had discovered a paved rail-trail bike path in the area. Then we were going to go up north instead. Finally, we just settled on staying in Uppsala.

Sadly, part of that consideration is that Jens doesn’t want to have me sitting around to babysit Loke while he goes fishing. Loke probably wouldn’t appreciate being tethered some 10-20 meters away as Jens went flinging his fly rod around so, he wouldn’t be able to fish while I rode. I don’t want Jens stuck, sitting around all day with Loke, doing nothing, while I went riding.

So, the easiest solution was to just… stay home.

I had planned to start riding around here more, especially with Jens home for 3 weeks. It hasn’t really panned out that way. If it wasn’t my hip just KILLING me for days at a time, it was Sweden broiling in temps of 90 F. A few days we hit over 95 F. Unpleasant without AC, as I’ve mentioned before.

Sunday, August 4th, Jens walked into the living room to announce that this last week of vacation had him at my disposal for ground support while I did cycling or kayaking, which ever I chose. I really appreciated the offer, pity it came when I was having some kind of bizarrely bad day physically. I could barely walk across the apartment without pain and my legs threatening to collapse. Even something as stupid as trying to open a bag of salad was an agonizing struggle.

I’m feeling a bit better this morning. If the trend continues, I’ll take him up on that before the week is out perhaps. Or maybe I’ll go ride that 14 mile rail-trail about an hour to the west which, being a simple out-n-back, would save him driving all over creation.

I admit, I felt a bit frustrated by this episode, whatever it was. Earlier in the year, I felt great. I had energy to take Loke for a 3 mile walk, come home to do chores around the apartment before bolting out the door to for shopping, and cook. Now, I struggle to fold a load of laundry and get Loke around the 200 yard block walk. All that while STILL going to the gym consistently.

As for my hip, I think that’s down to a new workout method at the gym that involves both cross-trainers and a stationary bike. If I had to guess, it’s the bike that had the bigger hand in wrecking my hip. Those darn 170 mm pedal cranks with these short little legs.

Pity, because I was seeing fast improvement in both my body shape and fitness before the hip brought it to a screaming halt. I’ve been limping along with a reduced regimen. Back to rowing machines with my feet on the floor and avoiding any kettlebell exercises that require a hip flex under load. Dead lifts, the windmill. Pretty much 75% of my routine. The Milon machines (set up in a circle as you do rounds doing different exercises), I’ve avoided the ones that involve the legs and stuck to arms and back.

I was declining in my abilities before my hip started screaming though, so it’s not just a case of getting out of shape in record time.

In other news, my birthday approaches. Jens has taken to asking me every day, “Have you thought about ordering the new trike for your birthday?”

Yes, but I’m having trouble committing to it. Do I want the Rohloff hub or standard gears? Drum brakes or disc?

I’m really fed up with fighting with the gears. The last ride I did a while back, I had actually considered going for at least my 10-11 mile countryside hamster track, but other than my knee and hip being unhappy and strong winds kicking up to make pedalling even harder, the gears were slipping and jumping. Each time they did, it was a painful jolt through my hip. A great way to become unmotivated. I wound up just doing the grave mound path and river loop.

The good news from that was, my hip didn’t really feel any worse after the ride in spite of the jolts.

But with those stubbornly sloppy gears, it’s almost like the trike is trying to convince me to get the Rohloff. It’s just so pricey and I can’t test ride one before I get it. I do love the idea of being able to change gears while sitting still. Or not having to worry so much about gears jumping or slipping. Everyone I’ve talked to about the hubs has just gushed about them. Some claim to have ridden over 10,000 miles, trouble free and going strong. No maintenance except for changing the chain and regular oil changes in the hub.

Oooh, and also the consistent steps between the gears. *drool* Sometimes, swapping gears, it’s like the jump between one and the next is too little, but in other spots, a gear is too easy, but the next is just a bit too hard. Would be lovely to have the intensity of the gears, up or down, be the same as every other one. Provided the jump between them isn’t always just a bit too hard.

Brakes are less of an issue than they were. The main reason I was pondering a change to drum brakes was to make the trike fit better in a slightly smaller car by being able to quickly take the front wheels off. Now that the trike will be carried on a bike rack, removal of the front wheels is not necessary. I could easily stick with hydraulic discs as my current trike has.

But, that’s the source of my waffling.

Today (August 6th), my hip is feeling better and it appears we’re going to have a mild day. First, I have to get through an appointment with a dermatologist at 11:20.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this, but a couple months back, when the fields and such were being plowed and it was windy, I came back from a ride. I went into the bathroom, was washing my hands, when I looked up in the mirror. On the side of my left cheek, I noticed a brown smudge. Frowning, I rubbed at it. The skin felt oddly rough, but most of the color brushed away. Most, but not all. Baffled, I got a wash cloth and scrubbed at it with soap. The rough texture remained as did a slightly darker color, though barely noticeable. Honestly, the ONLY reason I noticed that thumbnail sized blotch was because the dust clung to to the roughened skin much better.

It just kinda freaked me out. I’ve had skin issues GALORE over the past 5-7 years, but other than a few pimple breakouts, my face has been untouched by what has effected the rest. I’ve accepted I’ll never wear a bikini again (not that I did often even when I was young and skinny), so splotches the world will never see, I’ve learned to accept. But the idea of my face turning into a big scaly brown mass freaks me out.

The very next morning, I rushed to health ward to see a nurse. She was actually concerned enough, she went to get a doctor to come look. The doctor wasn’t particularly versed in skin conditions, so they decided I should see someone with more experience in them. I took that to mean a dermatologist and was surprised when they booked me at the ward (instead of the hospital) the next day.

No, it wasn’t a dermatologist, just someone more knowledgeable than the other doctors about skin.

I never wanted to punch a doctor in the face as much as I wanted to put my fist through that woman’s supercilious expression. I don’t know if she judged me because I was just a fat woman with gray hair or what, but she just sat back in her chair, not even really looking at the scaly patch, saying ‘It’s nothing.’ The distance between us, I doubt she could have even seen it, since it was more about texture and just the tiniest big darker than my normal tone. I swear there was even a dismissive little smirk playing around her lips.

I couldn’t pry an explanation of what it WAS out of her or even if there was something that could be done about it, other than ‘moisturize’.

Moisturize? REALLY? That’s her answer to someone’s who’s face is gleaming with ‘moisture’ almost the moment she steps out of the shower? I’ve got seriously oily skin, so dryness is NOT an issue.

I railed about to Jens the following morning as I drove him to work. He suggested a private dermatologist. It would be expensive, but perhaps I’d get better treatment. As we drove on, he even found one on the internet with his phone and used my e-mail to send an inquiry about cost as well as possible times for an appointment.

My sweet guy trying to make me happy and fix the problem.

I didn’t hear anything for a while, but after a couple weeks, I did get an e-mail back. They said they’d tried to call, but I’d not answered, so e-mail it was. It would cost 1500 kr for a consultation, which could also include a prescription if necessary. They had ‘X’ dates available.

I discovered the e-mail a few days after the appointment slots had passed of course. For some reason I’d stopped checking my e-mail for about 10 days. Weird.

But the spot hadn’t grown or changed in any obvious way and vacation time was in full swing for all of Europe, so I was content to wait until things settled more into normal life.

This weekend, I noticed that the spot had become significantly darker. Since I don’t wear make-up or style my hair, I honestly don’t spend a lot of time examining my reflection in a mirror, so I’m not entirely sure when it changed. All I can say is that last week, it was as it had been since first noticing it. Then this weekend, I glance up in a mirror at a public restroom while washing my hands and the spot was far more noticeable. Definitely darker though I don’t believe the size had changed.

I told Jens and he suggested I e-mail the dermatologist again. So, I did that yesterday (August 5th). While doing so, I discovered Jens had given my phone number wrong. that would explain why I hadn’t noticed any missed calls.

Perhaps by the end of the week, I’d hear something back.

Nope. Less than 2 hours later, my phone rang and it was the dermatologist’s office. Yes, they could see me. Would tomorrow be good?

Completely blew me away. The last time I was scheduled to meet a dermatologist, I had to wait MONTHS. That was admittedly in the public system.

But I’m nervous. Will they do a better job treating my concern seriously? Will it really be nothing serious, but something I can get taken care of? I can accept that I’m getting older and not likely to turn any heads, but I’d rather not look like reptile either.

Fingers crossed!

And maybe I’ll get a ride in afterwards.