Terii’s Cycling Babble

Slumped Into Rugby World Cup
September 30, 2019, 5:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Odd as it sounds, I love rugby. Sadly, Sweden doesn’t really have any way of viewing games elsewhere and has no real rugby team of its own. Well, it does, but it’s small and they can only play during the summer which limits their ability to compete on the world stage. Who’s really gonna get out for tackle practice when there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground, or frozen mud?

When I started my challenge back in August, I completely forgot this is a World Cup year for rugby. So, just as well that my challenge was canceled when it was. The World Cup is the only time in 4 year blocks when I can watch to my heart’s content and cheer on the team I’ve decided to love and support, New Zealand All Blacks.

There is no way I’d have been able to keep up with the 77 miles per week needed with matches held pretty much every day for the first 2-3 weeks of the event. Saturday and Sundays have 2-3 games which is 3 to 6 hours. I watch them ALL. Even 51 miles a week for my modified challenge isn’t really doable.

I’ve fit a few rides in around the games, but not many and I can’t really remember much about them, my brain full of rugby. The trike is an afterthought at the moment.

There is another time I can watch rugby and it happens once a year. Six Nations, but those Six Nations don’t include the All Blacks. It’s just Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, (and I think) France, and Italy. It’s fun to watch, but doesn’t give me quite a big a dose of rugby and lacks the team I really go nuts for.

So, the rugby will be easing off a bit as they get into the semi-finals. There will be fewer teams playing and they’ll need some days to recover from previous games, so there will be days when there’s no games and I’ll push myself out the door to ride again.

Until then, RUGBY!!!

Month 2 – Week 5; Off With a Bang
September 17, 2019, 5:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, Saturday, August 14th started the 2nd month of the challenge.

I wanted to start it off strong. A test, if you will, on the feasibility of doing the extra miles needed for my corrected math. So, I looked around for a longer ride possibility even though my legs were still feeling the workout and ‘push it’ ride of September the 13th.

Perhaps even just have Jens drop me off somewhere to make my way home. The most ‘obvious’ place that came to mind for a start point was a church a bit north of here in a village called Björklinge. Loke and I have done a few rides in the area. For a short, but ‘other where’ ride off my local hamster tracks, we’ve done a loop around a little lake near the village several times.

I’ve also ridden from the church directly too home too. I seemed to remember that the distance was about 17 miles. Good enough.

I double checked it on my route planner and nope. Just 14 miles. Well, pooh. I wanted more than that. Then it occurred to me, I could add the lake loop and then head home. That would be about 22 miles. Acceptable. I was a little wary though. As I said, my legs were feeling the the gym and ride from the previous day.

Jens solved the problem by saying it would be no problem to come get me if I crashed into ‘The Wall’. Fair enough.

Loke was a bit disappointed as Jens drove off, me at the church. I wasn’t going to have Jens sit around waiting for me to call to let him know the furball had tired out. His stamina is so unpredictable. It could have been 20 minutes. Or it might have been an hour. I made a plan to go ride by the apartment and take Loke back with me to the storage when I reached Uppsala.

Other than Saturday being September 14th, and so the start of Month 2, my other reason for really wanting to go on Saturday was Sunday, all through the morning was supposed to rain.

Well, Saturday morning was mostly clear, which was nice, but it was nippy. About 44 F. A bit breezy too.

I put feet to pedals and started off on the steep-ish half mile climb that would put me at the intersection to cross the big road and go down the country lane that flanked the western side of Långsjön (The Long Lake).

I almost turned around to just do the 14 miles back first digging into that climb. My legs were tired. They had very little strength and ‘oomph’. There was a little argument in my head as I slooooowly cranked the pedals and crept up that first hill. Sensible me, knowing I should take it easier if my legs were that tired. I shouldn’t risk breaking myself. Stubborn me, with her teeth in the goal, refusing to let go and yelling, “NO! I need the MILES!!”

It was circumstances that decided the winner of that internal conflict. It was still raging as I crested the hill, scooted across the road and started the 1 mile (or longer) glide down to the lake’s level.

Oh, that part of the loop never gets old. Trees, and fields and sun shining on the lake off in the distance. Out on the waters, reflecting back the blue of the sky, I could see the white specks of some kind of water fowl bobbing on the waves rippled by a soft north-western breeze.

Once I was down that fun hill, the course was set as the idea of cranking back up that mile lacked appeal even knowing what climbs I had in front of me.

I turned the pedals lightly, not worrying about speed and just admiring the countryside. Though it was later than I had intended to start, the mid-morning light still had a touch of that golden quality. For about a half mile stretch, the lake shore is screened by slender birches well spaced and the ground between covered with lush green grass. There was a faint hint of autumn’s yellow blushing the leaves and combined with the tone of morning sun, it was magical.

Then it was climbing a bit more to get past the manor house with its stable and other outbuildings. Across from the main house itself a trio of horses watched me curiously as I crested the gentle climb and took off at higher speed down an even milder descent.

Before I knew it, the lake was out of sight and I was in the open with fields all around as I trundled down the part of the ride that is dirt road. The unpaved country lane wasn’t too bad as such things go. A little rough in spots, but the stones were small or just a bit of churned earth. Other sections had some wash-boarding, but swerving over into other parts of the road solved that. For one quarter mile or so, it was flawless. Hard packed and smooth as freshly laid asphalt with nary a dip, washboard, or pothole. Alas it didn’t last too long.

Along that stretch, Mother Nature gave a call. Actually, she’d been calling and I’d been racking my brain of where I could go as well as searching for somewhere acceptable. Finally, I found a spot with a road boom where a gravel track curved away, lined by shoulder high field weeds. Good enough.

Done, I came out and was fiddling my gloves back on before getting back on the road, when I heard a hawk’s cry. I looked up and there it was, circling the small, freshly plowed field across the way. It wasn’t so close I could make out the fine details, but enough that I smiled. I settled back in the trike as it continued to search the field. Against the blue of the sky, it looked peaceful though I’m sure it was hunting. That was about 5-8 minutes of just relaxation. Me, blue skies, and a hawk.

My return to paved surfaces was a relief since most of the dirt lane wasn’t as perfect as that single .25 mile stretch. Also, where the pavement returned was the end of most of the fields. It was back to pasture and farm houses, cottages, and the like. That was especially welcome as when I’d come around a curve on the lane, I discovered all those newly plowed fields had been fertilized with pig poop and I was downwind. Never pleasant.

The downside of that return to pavement were the hills I had to climb. That last 3 miles or so of the 8+ mile loop have the steepest and longest hills. Some fun parts to come down, but you pay for it in sweat and effort. My knees weren’t particularly thrilled.

I bulled through and then was within sight of Björklinge church again. It had been a bit over 2 hours for those 8-ish miles. After 11 am and I was feeling hungry. Rather than juggle around with trying to make my sandwiches on my lap in the trike, I headed for the picnic tables at the church parking lot. Full circle.

Filled my belly in relative comfort and ease, though when not moving and sitting in the shade, it was a bit on the chill side even with an extra layer of wool on my top. I also discovered a bathroom available on the church grounds. All the years I’ve ridden there, though not often, and this was my first discovery of the restroom.

Feeling refreshed and invigorated in a small way, I forged onward. At the very least I was going to reach Skuttunge church. It was only 3 miles away or so.

Within the first half mile, there was a drop in the landscape to a small stream, part of which has been dammed to create what I’m sure is a small mill race. I always come down that hill a little too fast to admire the stream below the dam, but given it’s on a blind curve, not too wise to spend more time there than absolutely necessary. So, it was just down fast and then push up as fast as I could to get to better lines of sight with traffic.

As I came up from the hollow of the stream course, I spotted a man at the intersection ahead. Bright yellow vest on and with a little red flag in hand. Huh. A race in the area, clearly.

He greeted me as I made the turn and then called out that ‘Vanliga cyklar’ (common/normal bikes) would be passing me from behind soon. Since he was behind me by time he said it, I gave him a thumbs up to show I’d heard.

Given the speed of racing bikes, it was surprising that it wasn’t until almost 15 minutes later they came. As I was rounding a gentle curve in the road, the view behind in my mirror blocked by road growth, I heard them before seeing. It’s a sound like a huge swarm of angry hornets really. A high pitched buzz of chains smoothly engaging over gear teeth and hum of narrow, high pressure tires on asphalt.

It was a tightly grouped race, I’ll give them that. The first and only pack of them blasted by, some 30 all at once, most of them wearing the same matching blue and white outfits as if on a single team. Between that first passing and the finish line, a spot in the small country road flanked by a pair of cones and a white slash of paint across the asphalt, there were only a few stragglers, less than a dozen. The only thing I could think, was it was a short race.

It seemed odd to have the finish line in such a no-where patch, but I guess it was a precise distance from the starting that mattered rather than a finish line of convenience at Skuttunge church less than half a mile away. Most of the riders didn’t even stop at the line, but pushed on to the church which makes sense. Convenient place to stop, out of random traffic and plenty of parking space to regroup, cool down, and perhaps load up bikes. At least the official there had some company. I wonder how he figured out how the individuals of that tightly clumped pack placed.

Winding through the last bit of road toward the church, where it curves around yards and pasture land, I was climbing a bit of a hill, quiet slowly because I was so tired, when I spotted an older man walking on the road side toward me. His pace was pretty brisk given he was using a walker. Seeing me, he gave the biggest smile and waved. “What a neat bike! Not part of the race though are you?”

His smiles was infectious and he had an impish humor as he teased about great a workout my arms must get. His name was Åke. I found this out because someone from the yard on the other side of the street called out a greeting to him. We said goodbye and went on our separate ways.


A horse eating rose-hips. A first for me to see.

Sweet relief to crest that climb and start the final roll down to the church. As I passed a small, overgrown pasture for that last stretch to the gravel parking, I saw one of the wild rose tangles rattling and jumping around. As I made the curve, I was finally able to see the gray horse determinedly yanking off mouthfuls of rose hips and munching them down.

I was so tired, but that stubborn part of me wouldn’t let go. Somehow, I scraped up the energy and will to push on.

I did a brief stop at Skuttunge’s vicarage near by, but it was closed up. I guess it’s considered more a private residence now than a show-case of Swedish culture as it used to be.

Between there and the outer fringes of Bälinge, things are kinda fuzzy. Only one thing ‘interesting’ happened and it wasn’t anything good.

There have been times lately, when swapping around my gears, I’ve been in my larger front chainring and clicked to go down into the small. And it didn’t happen. The chain just stubbornly stayed on the middle ring, making the hill I was struggling with even harder.

During the second half of the September 14th ride, it started happening more often than not. At one point, I had to get off the trike and physically move the chain to the lower ring. Once that happened, I stopped using my higher gears and just slogged along with the lower 11. That dropped my speed by a bit.

The other thing notable was that for about 2 miles, I did sort of have company. As I came up to an intersection with a sign indicating a riding ‘school’, a man and girl on bikes came out on the road in front of me. I’m slow, but amazingly, they made me seem a speed demon. Maybe it was the fact their bike tires were so low on air they were practically riding on rims. I’m baffled how they weren’t getting pinch cuts in their tubes. Seriously.

While the traffic wasn’t a steady stream, it was surprisingly busy on that narrow country road. While I might have been faster than they on the flats, I couldn’t remember if there were any significant hills. If there were, they’d be faster than me on those out of necessity if they wanted to stay upright. It seemed silly to do leap frog with them on the narrow way.

So, I went slow. The man did pull over and called for the girl to do the same to let me pass, but I waved him on with a cheery “please go on” and stayed back. I looked upon it as a sort of rolling rest.

Wouldn’t you know, I think it was the flattest 2 miles of the ride. They also turned off less than 100 yards from the start of the next considerable climb.

Up the hill and I was in Bälinge. Not much happened. It was just a matter of rolling through the village. I was looking forward to the next stage of the ride from there though. A cycle path.

Over 2 miles of it actually and along one of the bigger roads I’d be on for any amount of time for the ride. While there is one long climb, it’s a fairly mild grade and the rest of the path I’ve always been able to get descent speed on. That meant it was going to be a bit easier on my legs for a while.

And my legs were so tired. My knees ached. Yet it felt as if I were so close to home that it was silly to call for a pick up.

The first bit of the cycle path, I could just slump on the seat and go limp as I glided with gravity and a tailwind for help. That stiff breeze was welcome on the climb up to.

Before I knew it, there I was, leaving the path, whipping around a curve at a decent clip before taking a left, a sharp, fast plunge to the millrace at Ulva Mill. That of course, meant the hard slog back up.

Tired or not, I decided take the gravel cycle path along the river instead of the road.

So exhausted and my knees were complaining. It didn’t help it was only my lowest 11 gears that were usable so was pedaling more than I might otherwise have done.

Reaching Old Uppsala was a blur. Through the fog of pushing on, the reminder to myself that I was supposed to get Loke and ride back to the storage with him glimmered through.

I stopped at a junction at the burial mounds. Right was the mound path, the more direct way to the apartment. Left, was the way to take the road-side cycle path more direct to storage. Left meant mostly downhill, firm fresh pavement of the designated ‘cycle highway’. Right was steep (if short) climbs and loose gravel to make going harder. I fumbled for my phone and told Jens I was going to the storage. I was too wiped to come for Loke.

It was so nice to just kinda sit and let gravity do all the work for a mile or so.

During the last push for the storage,  as I was coming out of an underpass, I came into a tangle of dogs. What else would one call 5 dogs on leashes, all bouncing around to greet each other?

3 of them belonged to my friend who lives in the apartment building across from us. 2 Chinese cresteds, and one Chinese crested cross with chihuahua. Another was a black Staffordshire Terrier who belongs to another neighbor in the same building as my friend. The 5th, belonged to a man in his late 20’s, a pure white, Siberian Husky puppy just 4 months old.

She was so CUTE. I could tell she was going to have a personality like Loke. Doesn’t give a flip about most people and right up in the faces of all the dogs around.

I stopped as they tried to get the tangle out of the way, but ended up talking to everyone, asking about the puppy naturally, as well as general chatter. I ended up with one of the Chinese cresteds in my lap. At one point, I made a kissy sound as I petted her and she tilted her head and put the top of it to my lips to receive the kiss. That was just so sweet.

Finally, everyone pulled loose from the mayhem and we all went our ways.

24.95 miles when I rolled to a stop outside the storage. I could hardly walk. Everything hurt. Jens came promptly to get me and said he had sushi waiting for me at home. Bless my darling and thoughtful husband. And by some miracle, I was home just before 3 pm. The exact amount of time needed to savor 10 pieces of salmon sushi with plenty of pickled ginger.

The ride gave me pause in considering the whole challenge.

I’ve come to the conclusion, I need to temper it. Jens has been encouraging me to do that anyway, afraid I’ll hurt myself or burn out. I pushed so hard for those 25 miles and yet, I still was going to need another 53 miles before the week was out. I needed at least one recovery day from that big ride so over the next 5 days, I’d need over 10 miles EACH and every day of the rest of the ride-week.

Maybe I could do it, but the time it would take and how broken would I end up feeling only to have to hit the ground, spinning hard, for the week after that. I know there’d probably be a point where it would get easier, but would it come before or after I’d wrung myself out and ended up behind because I crashed and burned? Those extra 25 km a week were gonna be brutal. Worse than the first 2 weeks of my challenge were, I’m certain.

If I’d started training up before the challenge, perhaps it would have been manageable. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that.

Throw in that winter is coming and I don’t know how the cold is going to impact me. Are we to have a mild winter? Or a brutal one? Something in between? Studded tires – that says plenty all by itself. Harder work pushing those around. Harder still with studded tires and ice and snow and gravel strewn everywhere.

I’ve toyed with dropping the distance to 51 miles per week. That’s doable (at least before snow and studded tires and winter cold) and still gives a nod toward my birthday challenge. Jens thinks I should do a more modest 40 miles.

One thing we both agree is that I should keep some kind of goal as it is motivating me and the results have been noticeable. I’m smaller. I’ve had more energy, though it’s been hard to tell with how I’ve turned right around and burned it all up with pedaling the trike around like a mad woman. I’m sure it’s there though.

I want to keep that forward push. I would love next year to be a year of long countryside rides and perhaps even loaded camping tours.

I want to soar like that hawk.


Slumps and Surprises
September 16, 2019, 7:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, Wednesday, September 11th, I didn’t ride because, as I mentioned in the previous post, I seemed to be developing a cold. Gratefully, it never materialized beyond that sense of throat-scratchy, sneezing, and feeling ‘blah’. By that afternoon, I was feeling fine, but it was raining. With such a near miss of annoying illness, it didn’t seem wise to go out and tax my system with getting wet and chilled.

Thursday, September 12th, I felt fine, bounced out of bed to trundle to the kitchen for a morning drink of water. In my head, plans for the day played through. Scurry to the gym as it opened at 5 am, then Jens would drop Loke and I off at the garage where I’d roll him home before heading back out to get some miles. At the sink, I turned on the water with one hand and reached out to grab a glass with the other. The moment I tried to grip the cup, I yelped and cradled my hand. I couldn’t hold the glass.

I have no clue what I did during that night of sleep, but I couldn’t use my hand for anything. Any attempt to hold or grip anything sent a spike of pain through my wrist. So, the gym was out. I wouldn’t have been able to do the rowing machine for warm up, or swing around my kettle bells. Even just getting up and down from the floor for stretches would have been difficult. It put a monkey wrench on any plans to ride too. No way I could manipulate my twist grip shifters.

That was a fun day (sarcasm). In between walkies with Loke, I spent it as a vegetable on the couch, watching educational YouTube videos on my tablet to passively progress my skills as a 3D designer and modeler. Yep. Even spending more than 2-3 minutes at a time on computers was out. I kept my wrist stable and immobile with one of my exercise wraps.

There was no bad luck for me the next day, Friday, September 13th. I woke up and my wrist was fine as if I hadn’t needed to spend entire previous day coddling it. I put off going to the gym though as I’d over-slept. After doing a few tasks and getting Jens Starbucks, THEN I went to the gym and did a kick-butt workout.

I went back home to get Loke before heading to the storage. The furball had been quite a pest right when I’d gotten out of bed, so I figured it was safe to take him for a bit of an outing with the trike. It was even going to be something more than our usual ‘roll down to the football fields, past the fields, over to the swimhall and home’ mile. Not much more, but at least different directions for him and a tiny bit more distance to see how he’d do. After all, the past couple times I’ve taken a longer way back to the storage from home, he’d done very well.

He was quite interested as I readied the trike. We started across the park and he had a brisk pace and interested in his surroundings. Once we were out of the park, he picked up his pace, tail above the level of his back and a spring in his jogging step. We ‘cruised’ along at roughly 4.4 to 4.6 mph. I was moderately impressed.

Loke back at home with Jens and his scoop of lunch kibble, I headed back out to go buy the furball some more soft dog food. I sped off and just, wow. I felt great. Even having worked out hard that morning, I had plenty of ‘oomph’ and zipped along, pushing myself as much as I dared. Did a smidge over 7 mph average. Very good for me especially with kinda tired legs.

That wasn’t even the best or most surprising of the day. After finishing the loop of over 7 miles, I stopped back at the apartment to get Loke to roll with him back to the storage.

He was so happy! A husky smile, a spring in his old legs, and, delightfully, his tail was still up above the level of his back. I clipped him to the trike and he gave me an impatient “Woof!”

I loosed the brake and my ancient furball threw his weight into the harness and made the spring in his running bar squeak. Kangaroo hopping and pulling me into speeds of exceeding 15 mph are beyond him, but he was doing his best to pull. I accommodated him with more speed until we were rolling along the little residential street at over 5 mph. I was grinning happily at his enthusiasm. We cruised through the residential area and past the school at a pace between 5.4 mph and 5.7. I was very impressed.

On the other side of the school where the route goes from residential streets to cycle path, we approached the underpass. The trike had just begun to pick up a tiny bit more speed for the descent. Abruptly, Loke gave a lurch and my heart jumped into my throat, fingers twitching toward a hard breaking, expecting a seizure or his legs collapsing. Shock froze me before I clenched the brakes as, much to my amazement, Loke was RUNNING. I honestly can’t remember the last time he showed any inclination to even attempt a run. Yet, there he was, loping down the path to the bottom of the underpass. Once the ground leveled and then started back up out of the pass, he slowed back into his 5+ mph jog.

I’ll admit it, I got choked up. Tears in my eyes and all.

As we came up to the 2nd underpass, I was kinda ready, curious if he would do the miracle again. And he did and even better. I wasn’t sure how much better though as I was focused on him rather than looking at my Garmin for speed information.

It turns out, my furry old cycle partner hit 11.1 mph.

We got back to the garage with another 1.25 (give or take) mile and I think it was one of his best times in months. I gave him a hug and praised him effusively. I was still in a state of bemusement as I put the trike away. Loke had done most of the whole way at almost 5.5 mph not to mention two times he ran. Okay, so he ran for less than 100 yards between the two times, but he RAN. I can’t emphasize enough how significant that is.

Just beyond words how it really made me feel.

Loke Da Butt

Not just intense stares, but woofing, stomping, and whirling too.

Later that evening though, it got quite exasperating. Here he was, having gone with the trike for the longest this year and the fastest as well, and being a complete PITA.

He paced around harassing Jens and I both. He stomped his paws and woofed demandingly. Every time I moved, he’d give an excited whirl. I don’t know if his 40 minutes of a brisk pace and a short spate of running sharpened his appetite or what, but he was insufferable right up until I fed him right as I went to bed.

It almost made me regret that he’d been able to run. But only almost. Brat.

I can’t remember if I mentioned, but there was a sad bit of news about a week ago. I’ve been FaceBook friends with the lovely Norwegian couple who also had taken home a furry little member of the ‘E’ litter 14 years ago. One of Loke’s brother, Eric. Unlike Jens and I, they left his name as Eric. Loke was named ‘Ezlo’ at birth, but Jens had set his heart on Loke before we even found a puppy.

So, over the years, I’ve heard about Eric’s adventures. Winning races, going on hikes with his people. A few months ago, he abruptly went deaf. Still happy and energetic, but couldn’t hear a thing. About a month ago, they found a cancerous tumor, but Eric was still pain-free and loving life. Then in a week, the tumor apparently got very big and ugly and started to affect Eric’s quality of life. Just a few days after the 14th anniversary of bringing Eric the puppy into their home, they had to say goodbye to Eric the old man.

I cried. Tearing up typing this too. I’ll miss getting updates about Eric’s adventures. It was nice to feel a connection to Loke’s ‘greater family’ as it were.

This sorrowful news also gave me an irony. While Kerstin (Loke’s first human ‘mommy’) managed to keep track of most of Loke’s brothers and sisters, a one them did ‘disappear’ much to her distress. But of those there is still contact with, Loke appears to be the last. It’s very likely, he is the last of the ‘E’ litter born in 2005.

Strange to think, that out of the perfectly healthy ones, it’s Loke, plagued with health difficulties galore since the age of 4, and being allergic to pretty much everything that has outlived them all.

The Challenge Continues – Week 4
September 11, 2019, 5:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

September 4th, first day of the continuing challenge. Did I go out and ride? Yes! Jens worked from home. While he had back to back business calls and couldn’t really take Loke out, he was at least home to keep the furball company. I was gone for less than 3 hours any way.

I keep discovering that my countryside loops are smaller than I recall. The Ulva Mill/G.Uppsala Loop is a perfect example. I have a clear and, I thought, certain memory it was 14-ish miles. Nope. Less than 13 and that was after I added a bit of distance to it with a small River Loop extension. The only explanation that offers itself is perhaps I made a consistent habit of adding the northern river side out-n-back when I rode it. 12 or so miles, plus the 2 for the out-n-back comes to the right number.

It was a lovely day. I’d say the first day of 2019 that felt truly autumnal. At least until I got out into the countryside where the air was dead calm and under the full brunt of the sun which is still quite intense. In those conditions, it still felt as if summer had some fight left. In the shade or when I actually got some speed going, it was brisk. Delightfully brisk. How I loved it.

Since I’d gone to the gym first thing in the morning, my legs were a bit tired and knees somewhat fussy. That just meant taking it easy. I did push from time to time, testing myself on the flatter portions and managed some respectable RPMs (for me) and a decent cruising speed. When the knees gave even the least bit of a grumble, I dropped the speed and gears. Some of the steeper hills made them fuss even in the lowest gear, but they were fine as soon as the climbs were done. No harm.

It was a nice ride.

It did bring home the fact that food remains an issue with my cycling,  combined with the challenge. I wound up eating in the evening. Without the late supper, it was just silly that my entire day’s worth of food would have been a serving of fruit yogurt, a Starbuck’s hot chocolate, 2 clementines, and a sandwich to fuel, not just my basic daily calorie burn, but over an hour at the gym and 2 and a half hours of riding. I swore I could feel my body attacking my meager muscle mass for protein. It’s almost like I need to wake up and cook ‘supper’ to be eaten at 7 am to be sure I have more than 800 calories for my new very busy days.

September 5th. It rained until about 9 am, but with errand and tasks to do until about 11 am, it was no real issue.

By time I was done being responsible, it was sunny, about 68 F and ‘breezy’ I thought. At first I was pretty okay with the idea of getting out for 12+ miles. As I got dressed and started thinking about essentially riding the Ulva Mill/Old Uppsala loop again, I started to feel less enthused and downright ‘meh’. Still, I packed up some fruit and a Snickers bar, anticipating I wouldn’t be home in time for my ‘supper’ before 3 pm. Not to worry though, I had a nice big ‘lunch’ at 9:30 am.

To be sure I had extra miles for ‘just in case’, I decided I was going to be certain to add the ‘out-n-back’ of the river path that runs north of Uppsala’s edge. As I pedaled it, I discovered that ‘breezy’ was an understatement. The wind was fierce and whipping any bit of plant life within an inch of its existence. It was roaring straight out of the west too. The very direction I needed for the loop.

As if that was not enough to dissuade me from riding out into the countryside, the 2nd toe on my left foot started killing me. It felt as if the toe-nail was being slowly peeled back every revolution of the cranks. It finally got bad enough I had to stop when I came up to a path-side bench. I dug around in my bags and came out with a roll of duck tape.

Sitting on the bench, I pulled shoe and sock off and poked around the toe to figure out what was going on. Nothing obvious and the toe-nail seemed fine. Not knowing what else to do, I wrapped the toe with several layers of the tape in such a way there was a open space at the end. It was stiff enough to act as a sort of cast and protective bubble. It at least let me pedal as long as I didn’t flex or wiggle the toe itself. Uncomfortable, but still an improvement.

I didn’t want to combat high winds head on for 5+ miles on a route I was feeling ‘meh’ about with a toe that could start screaming any moment. Not to mention, Uppsala is kinda weird. Start riding west – into a headwind. Turn north – into a headwind. Turn east – into a… you get the idea.

Feeling bored and lethargic, I settled for just doing a loop through the northern fringes of the city. Trees and structures to shelter me from the worst of the wind and the hills aren’t quite so bad.

Just 8 miles which left me short of the minimum distance needed for my 5 rides a week. Actually, 8 miles a day for 7 days wouldn’t have been enough.

Friday, February 6th, I headed out with some errands in mind along with needing to make up some miles.

It was an absolutely stunning morning when I headed out with Loke to start the riding. About 58 F, flawless azure skies, and not much wind. The lack of wind was a welcome change over yesterday’s insanity.

I had decided to try taking Loke for his mile roll because it was the first morning in a couple weeks when he’d had energy and strength enough to display an attitude. He was bouncy, demanding, and just a pain in the rump almost from the moment I woke up. A nice change from the furry slug he’d been.

He did pretty good and soon I had him back home and headed back out the door to go buy him another can of soft dog food and then planned to ride across town to the biggest sporting goods store in the area. All this riding and going to the gym, I need more cycling/workout clothes.

It was another of those ‘coddle the knees’ ride. I did push it here and there when not dealing with too much in the way of climbs, but for the most part, just took it easy. The vet receptionist asked about how my challenge was going and then we talked animals briefly. She spent the evening taking care of a 9 week old kitten. Neurological damage and the little guy couldn’t blink. So, she had taken him home with her to get up through the night to moisturize his eyes and close them again to get him back to sleep. He’s improving.

When I mentioned about how I’d considered talking my hubby into letting me get a Maine Coon cat when Loke has passed, she gave me the name of a breeder, she trusts.

From there, I pushed off back to the cycle paths along the river to follow it all the way north. As I headed for the end of the path, I was given a real treat.

Pedalling north, I was startled as a large bird, less than 10 off the ground and 25 feet away, swooped across the path. A raptor of some kind, perhaps a common buzzard. So close I could see the barring on the feathers, the sharp hook of the beak, and speckles on the pale breast.

Where it had crossed, there was some open ground with tall grass. Perhaps it was looking for a meal. As it reached the tree line just 30-40 yards away, it banked to fly parallel to trees and path. I pushed the pedals faster to sorta keep up. Where the tree line came back toward the path, the bird darted over the path again and disappeared through the trees on the other side of the river.

I couldn’t stop grinning and my heart was racing. Barely 50 yards further on, it reappeared, flying lower and practically over my head as it headed over another plot of open land before climbing up and disappearing over the trees. I waited a few minutes to see if it was going to come back, but no such luck.

With an utter sense of delight at the experience, I went to the northern end of the path and doubled back to join up with the southern section of it where it goes right through downtown and out the south side of Uppsala.

The rest of the ride was uneventful as clouds moved in and it warmed up to almost 70 F. I made it to the sporting goods store, but found nothing I wanted. Then, with it coming up on 2:30 pm, I darted into a ChopChop for some orange chicken. That gave me the energy to push onward back home.

The solo ride of over 17 miles took me a smidge over 3 hours. I popped in at the apartment to grab Loke before heading to the garage. He was very interested as we rolled out, and still seemed stable, so I decided to give him a bit more distance than the measly 0.5 mile. 1.4 mile instead.

He did great. He was alert and engaged with his surroundings. Coming down the slope of an underpass, he amazed me by breaking 6 mph. It would be nice if he could build up more strength and muscle, but he’s had issues with his muscle mass and tone even before the health crash that brought him so low. Still it would be nice if he could start going 3-4 miles with me.

The distance more than made up for the previous day’s short fall. When I tallied up the total, I had to smile. Though I hadn’t made the 61 miles for the week yet, I was, however, just 3 miles away from getting the minimum distance for the month and with 8 days to spare. I was so thrilled! I’d done it!

Or so I thought. I since discovered that there was a miscalculation in the distance needed per week. I thought it was 100 km. If I wasn’t doing some kind of complicated way of tracking months/weeks/days, it would have been true. But no. I can’t do things simple and I did a way with a few weeks over the course of the 12 months. The ‘extra’ days for rest or catch up. Because of those, I need 125 km a week, coming to roughly 78 miles. 17 miles more than I’d been allowing myself.

61 miles had been hard, but 78 will be harder. Kinda. I’m stronger now I think so perhaps 78 miles will be as hard as the 61 miles were when I first started this insane challenge. Still, the problem is the time. I had figured that 61 miles was going to take 11-14 hours a week. 78 miles? I’m guessing that’s closer to 15-16 hours. Practically a full time job.

This realization came upon me on Sunday, September 8th.

That was a very lazy day. The realization I was actually behind in the mileage didn’t come until that evening. Thinking I was ahead of distance, I took Sunday as a full on rest day. A real rest day. Not one of those rest days where the only rest really is that I stay off the trike while running around like an insane woman. Walking the dog, zipping around town to do shopping and slogging back and forth with laundry bags for the wash. Nope. Sunday, September 8th, I was a lump and Jens was nice enough to do all but two really short walkies with Loke.

It felt so good even though there was that twinge of guilt. Jens heading away on business for Monday and Tuesday so my riding would be especially restricted. There was a little voice whispering that I should be taking advantage of the fact he was home. Nope. I didn’t even do house chores. Just languorously draped myself on the couch and watched TV. Then that evening discovered my miscalculations.

Then Monday, September 9th, it was tipping down buckets of rain. No ride then either though I did scurry around with shopping, walking the dog, and some laundry.

Tuesday, September 10th, I got out for a ride. The last day of week 4. Just a bit over 9 miles in my complicated morning. I headed out, by car, to the gym where I did a vigorous workout. From there, I drove to the storage and jumped on the trike, not only to get miles, but also Loke needed more soft food.

I had a  nice chat with the receptionist. She asked about my challenge and I explained the mess up with the math. She gave me some encouragement.

I did the latter part of the northern river path twice for the extra distance. I considered adding the burial mound paths, but started feeling stressed for time. I’d left the apartment at about 6:30 am and by time I returned to the storage, it was pushing 11 am. Off to Starbucks, where I finally had some calories. Jos, the barista I’m quite friendly with, gave me a pep talk about my rides and drew a cute little bike character on my cup.

Then shopping and home around 11:30 am. 5 hours I was gone.

Loke didn’t seem to care. I still felt guilty though.

September 11-13 are ‘free days’ before the new month begins on the 14th which also will reset my cycle weeks running from Saturday to Friday instead of Wednesday to Tuesday. Optimally, I’d be riding to catch up from my mess up with the math. Now, it looks as if I’ll be fighting a cold.

I felt fine when I woke up this morning (September 11th), but in the last 2 hours, I’ve gotten a sore throat, sneezing, and a general feeling of ‘I’m not feeling good’ sluggishness.

I’ll try to put the down time to good use though. Fold clothes and solve my rain/cold difficulties to keep riding through the harsher days of weather.










5100 km Birthday Challenge – Week 3
September 4, 2019, 10:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yes, I still march on with this madness.

Tuesday, August 27th, shortly after I hit ‘Publish’ for my last ride, I headed out to get the last miles needed for my 2nd week. Just 5 miles or so.

I drove Jens to the train station in Stockholm for his work trip to Denmark for the next few days and then came home. In spite of having felt so horrible and frustrated the day before, that I’d considered just giving up the challenge, I found  myself getting ready to ride. I was sneaky about it though.

I’ve mentioned the guilt about leaving Loke alone too often and for too long, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to loosen it’s strangle hold on me. From May to July, my trike sat neglected and largely untouched all because of guilt.

You know what? My health has suffered for it. Yes, I’ve been doing good about going to the gym, but if I’d added riding sooner, how much better would I be? The answer is: a helluv lot better. I need to start carving out time away from Loke and the apartment. Don’t do it so much Loke is neglected, but I can’t keep neglecting myself just because of guilt that my dog is is old and his days are numbered.

So, to try and minimize any separation anxiety, I dressed as if I were just gonna go to Starbucks. I took my purse and a couple of grocery sacks out with me. One filled trash, the other held my cycle clothes. My camera, my handlebar bag both stayed home.

At the storage, I changed clothes in the dark as I can’t reach the lights to replace the bulbs, even with a step stool. Too much stuff stacked on the wall in front of them.

Tuesday, August 27th was warm by Swedish standards and even around 9 am, it already felt kinda sticky and muggy.

I rolled out, my mind working on where I wanted to go for that 5 mile minimum.

A lock. I needed a lock of some kind for when I’m transporting the trike on the rack, so I powered off toward the cycle shop. Skägget (The Beard) was stepping out to bring a bike in for work and greeted me cheerfully. As I looked the locks over, he asked what I needed. I explained and then said I wasn’t sure if the horseshoe locks they had were long enough.

He pointed out a cable/chain thing that looks as if it’s covered in what might be kevlar. “This one is pretty good. The bolt cutters we have here weren’t able to get through it nor any of the other tools we tried,” he said. That’s good enough for me! It was even cheaper than the stronger horseshoe locks they have. It’s a heavy sucker though.

Monday, August 26th, had been a rest day and it apparently did me a world of good. As I left the cycle shop, I decided to buzz off toward the burial mounds. I usually take the long, subtle climb up from the cycle shop toward the mounds at about 4.8 to 5.2 mph. Today, I was cruising at about 6.3 mph all the way up. My cadence was higher. ‘Pushing it a bit, but not killing my knees’ cadence was about 64-68 RPM. I was spinning at right about 75-79 RPM on August 27th and it wasn’t brutal. It was almost as if the 70’s RPM were the new 60’s. That cheered me.


Go me!

I practically flew (for me) the entire ride, even heading off to the vet clinic to grab Loke another can of soft food. I followed the riverside path all the way north to the end and did the turn around to go to the clinic. As I made the turn, I was shocked by what my Garmin was telling me. 6.93 miles in one hour. Seriously?! A sneeze less than 7 miles in one hour?! I’ve not done that well in YEARS. I was almost giddy with glee.

I did start to tire as I left the vet’s clinic, but I still kept a good pace. I rolled to a stop at the storage with 10.22 miles in 1 hour and 27 minutes. I’m not sure I’ve done that fast since the credit card tour in 2015. It made me all choked up.

Something else about the ride. The sun had been out and harsh, it had been almost 80 F, and it didn’t bother me. It felt warm, but not brutally so. The surprises just keep coming.

Wednesday is the Monday of my ‘challenge weeks’ and I started Week 3 off with a rest day. Well, from the trike at least. I did go to the gym and I drove to the American Food store in Sigtuna, bringing Loke with me. We walked around the old part of Sigtuna and strolled along the lake. Loke seemed to enjoy the change and didn’t appear to mind waiting out side the store while I grabbed some stuff.

That meant I definitely needed to get some miles on Thursday, August 29th. Originally, I was kinda aiming for a touch over 10 miles a day for 6 days of the week. I’ve made it a bit more fluid for now, but still going for 61 miles a week by getting 12-ish miles over 5 days. Give me a little more rest time.

While I have some 20 miles ahead of schedule, I’d like to keep that and grow it for when weather and such doesn’t allow rides.

Thursday, August 29th is supposed to be another warm day. I’d been enjoying the cool, almost autumn like days so much, but no, summer had to rear it’s head again. The past 4 days have been mostly dry, mostly cloudless, and quite warm in the mid-80’s F or a touch more. Not the 90’s F thankfully.

So, when I woke at 4 am, I decided to get the ride over with as early as I could. The temp hadn’t gotten as cool as the forecast had promised which means the apartment was already quite warm with less dissipation of the previous day’s build up. We had slightly cooler temps promised, but pretty sure it was a lie so I wanted to ride before it got too warm. Besides, Loke tends to be lazy and sleepy early in the day, not perking up until a couple hours after lunch at least.

Sadly, my lights were charged so I had to kick around a bit. It just gave me some time to wake up some and walk Loke so I wouldn’t feel quite so guilty about leaving him at home. I still felt that guilt, sitting heavy on my shoulders, but it was a smidge less than it would have been if I’d just taken him to the hedge rather than a 20 minute walk.

I finally felt it was light enough to head out a bit before 6 am. Though I didn’t sneak my cycle clothes out in a plastic bag to change in the garage, I did leave my handlebar bag at him. Instead my phone and Garmin were in the pockets of the running shorts I wear over my tights. Gave Loke a treat and hustled out the door.

Stepping out, it was already muggy and just… bleh. It was that sort of non-temperature temp. It didn’t feel cool though it didn’t feel warm, yet you found yourself covered in sticky sweat none-the-less. A few degrees less and it could have been called clammy. Instead it was just “ick”.

I set off on just the Grave Mound/River Loop combo. The base distance for that is 10-ish miles. I was going to do the ‘River’ part of it first. While I don’t mind riding the back paths and along the river, once I cut over into the more urban area, I get bored quickly. Much better to start out on the interesting bit of the River Loop, be bored in the middle, and then finish with the more interesting Old Uppsala grave mound loop.

While I didn’t feel weak, I wasn’t feeling nearly as strong as I did on the last ride where I came very close to doing more than 7 miles in an hour. My cadence was down some too and not much to be done about it because when I tried to spin faster, my knees let me know they did not approve. The joys of knees injuries that have plagued me since I was 15.

It was an uneventful ride. 11.45 miles in under 2 hours, which is more than respectable for me. It’s technically less than I need for my minimum of 61 miles if I’m aiming for 5 rides a week, but being more than 20 miles ahead of total distance needed for the total time that has passed so far, I’m pretty okay with it.

Then it was onward to August 30th.

There was a certain lack of motivation for that day. I knew I needed the miles, but just ‘ugh‘. My plan was to roll with Loke for the 0.92 mile from storage to home before setting off across the countryside with one of my old ‘not the River or Downtown’ loops.

The idea changed as I meandered with Loke beside me past the football fields and the swimhall. I’d been to the gym so was a bit fatigued in the muscles from that, my knees ached some, and the winds were insane. All that combined meant I really did not want to get out into an open landscape with a full-on headwind and steeper hills. At least it was under 80 F by a comfortable amount. 68 F with those crazy winds, it was almost pleasant feeling.

Still I needed the miles, so I dragged on, heading to the vet clinic to grab Loke a fresh can of soft dog food. He only gets a couple tablespoons of it in the morning and again in the evening to trick him into gobbling down some pills.

Since I do better on my hamster tracks if I have a purpose beyond ‘get miles’, I’ve taken to buying only 1 can at a time. That way, every 3 days or so, I have somewhat urgent errand to get to the clinic and buy another can. It works.

On several of my local rides, when feeling the crunch for squeezing my meals in around the time demands of riding, I’ve been eating sushi quite a bit because of my rides out to the grave mounds. Instead of sushi on this ride, it was Dylan’s BBQ and it wasn’t because of a time crunch, but because I like Dylan and his food is wonderful.

Tummy full, dog food in bag, I pushed on to ride the northern river side path along the river.

There was a moment of ‘heart in the mouth’ excitement during that portion of the ride. I’d stopped to admire the way the tall reeds along the path rippled energetically in the wind and sip water. I heard the beast before I saw it. A deep thrumming sound, like a bumblebee on steroids, or perhaps an Apache helicopter.

Then it was in my face and I have a little squeak of alarm before holding my breath and not moving. The European Giant Hornet hovered back and forth just inches from my face for a good 20-30 seconds. Much longer of breath holding and I’d have been seeing spots. The impressive insect looked nearly as long as my thumb. There are probably smaller hummingbirds. I’m pretty sure my phobia of all things needle like (except for sewing needles) made it seem bigger than it was, but that stinger looked like a dagger.

I was shaking with reaction when it finally thundered away. The third one I’ve seen over the years. The other two were dying from impacts with cars so not quite so exciting as my third encounter.

Reaching the end, I turned around. Whimsically, I decided to go downtown for ice cream. Might be my last chance for the ‘summer’.

Definitely the last time I do that, sadly. The only flavor they had left that I remotely liked as Lemon Sorbet. They’re selling out their stock in preparation to close for the cold season.

Miles, miles. Where to get more miles? Maybe head off toward the burial ground yet again? I decided it couldn’t hurt to at least start off that way. I took a bit of a round about way back toward the north end of the city and saw I was going to come out a bit over 12 miles by time I stopped by the apartment and rode with Loke back to the storage. Perfect.

August 31st. Again, planned to get out and ride early, though my lights still weren’t charged, so had to wait for enough daylight that any stray police spotting me wouldn’t be writing a ticket for being without lights.

One reason to get out early as possible was an attempt to beat the potential winds. The nights and early mornings have been dead calm. I planned to head off into the countryside, hopefully before the air got crazy.

Naturally, about the time I decided it was light enough to leave, I realized I should pack food. I was going to be out before 7 am, which is when my ‘eating window’ starts. The first meal of the day is yogurt which is used to keep my tummy calm while gulping my medication. Fortunately, I have little cups for just the occasion. Yogurt in the cup with my medication snug in the bubble-topped lid which is used for musli that Swedes eat with yogurt. I don’t. I prefer mine fruit-flavored and musli free.

It was almost 6:30 am when I finally strayed out the door thanks to that little diversion. Another 15 minutes later, I probably could have gotten away with eating breakfast and meds without resorting to bringing it with me.

I also added some clementines for extra food later in the ride. As I left, Jens told me to have fun. My response was, “Eh. It’s just work.” Kinda sad, but truly that’s how it’s started to feel.

There was already a bit of a light breeze as I stepped out of the apartment. 55 F and partly cloudy. Some would think that cold, but to me it was glorious. I felt invigorated and ready to hit the ground at a spin.

I set off at a respectable clip for the River Loop section that would lead me to Old Börje Road. The Läby/Stenhagen loop is right about 12 miles. As I cruised along the paths and came down the big hill to cross the river, I decided to add the northern river side path for an extra 2+ miles.

It’s pretty in the morning along the river. That morning was no exception. And the light was just to die for. I love morning light any way, but it’s starting to get that autumnal quality which feels even more amazing and special. The lyrical birdsong of spring was missed though. The countryside seems so quiet now.

Thankfully, no giant hornets that time.

The past two days I’ve ridden that stretch, there’s been a woman on a bike just going crazy with laps. She’s 70 if she’s a day, dressed in black work out clothes with pink sneakers so bright they practically make my eyes bleed. Granny’s got game. She’s been lapping me like crazy in spite of my general improvement with riding. We’ve taken to grinning and nodding to each other every time she blasts by me. Go, woman! Go!

Finishing that out-n-back, I turned right to follow the path between the off-ramp of the 55 and a building supply warehouse. I rode that path on the 30th. When I rode it on Saturday, August 31st, I swear to you, it had changed.

The path has been pretty rough for all this year really. Cracks covered over with black tar patches that are holding up pretty good. It’s got dips and rises that make riding it kinda like riding a drunken racing camel if you get any speed going.

In spite of how bad the path has been, I was still shocked when I had to swerve to avoid a new gape in the pavement I would swear had not been there the previous day. Over 6 feet long and open by about an inch or so. More surprising was the fact that the left side of the crack was over an inch higher than the left. The sight of it left me shaking my head. Typically, cracks like that only develop during the spring thaw when we’ve had a lot snow and hard freezes. Even those would take a few days to get that extreme. Baffling.

Once I climbed up from that first steep hill on Old Börje Road and was out in the countryside with patches of woods and fields turned golden and orange by the lovely morning light, I actually began to enjoy the ride.

I pulled over at the mouth of a dirt drive leading to a farm along the road to made a FB post and then just sit and enjoy the view. After a couple minutes, I heard feet crunching on gravel and turned to look. A man, perhaps in his 70’s was walking up to the mailboxes and had a little wire-haired dachshund with him.

We wound up chatting for a while. I had the feeling that he welcomed the chance since his wife died 5 years ago and it’s just him and the very sweet little dog. He asked questions about the trike and my riding. Then he asked if I was going to be joining the cycle race that was happening in the area later in the day. It was the first I’d heard of it. After a 20 minute talk about random things, we parted ways.

There was a smile on my lips as I continued down Old Börje Road, remembering things from the past 13 years of riding it. The kitty cottage, that old yellow house that is in the process of being restored from the brink of ruin. Just a happy meandering through nostalgia from back in the days when Loke could run with me through there.

I finally came down the hill to the cross roads and took a left turn. From there, it’s a bit of a long slow crawl with some persistent slopes. Of course, it makes a nice glide down on the other side before needing to climb back up to the buy 72 with a secure cycle path to one side of it.

That path was a bit of a puzzle. There were sections of it that were beautiful with new, flawless black asphalt so flat it wouldn’t have had puddles if it rained. Then there’d be a bump and, still fresh-ish black, but it was like they had tried to spread too little asphalt over a lumpy, cracked surface. Kinda like if someone tried to smear a single tablespoon of frosting over an entire, badly baked cake. Just so weird.

Then it was a quick glide past the shopping area and into the wooded paths on the other side where I would connect with the cycle ‘highway’ back into town. As I rode the highway, I found myself taking a right in one area instead of going straight. I had apparently decided to ride the paths to the huge hill that would blast me down to the river path to get home instead of a more direct route. Fair enough! More distance!

That hill is quite fun if you can get there during a time when there’s not much traffic. It’s not as fun as it used to be though. There’s a bunch of construction going on, so just as you come to the turn to the road leading to the new arena’s outdoor parking, it’s been blocked off.

I came streaking down that hill past the hospital, wind blasting my hair back and a huge grin on my face. I hit 22 mph. That made me smile bigger, but not from the speed. When Loke was a young fireball of a husky, his top speed was 22 and some mph. It’s staggering how fast that really is and so hard to believe he could do that. Not for long mind you, but he could do it for a quarter mile or more.

This ride was just full of nostalgia.

I was over 17 miles when I got back to the apartment. I put Loke’s harness on him and we went out together. A lazy, slow loop back to the storage. Instead of taking him along the most direct half mile, I took a few extra little additions. I think my darling, old furball appreciated it. He went along at mostly 4 miles an hour and was sniffing around, engaged with his surroundings. Even tried to pull a little a few times.

1.48 miles in one go. He’s done a mile and a half on quite a few days in August, but it was 1 mile followed by a half mile later in the day. It’s been months since he’s done that far in one go with the trike. It might even be the first time this year. I was so proud of him. He still had plenty of spunk to drive Jens crazy that evening too.

I was feeling those miles, I’ll tell you. The wind and the hills were no help. Still, I found the oomph to go shop for the fixings for my orange chicken and cooked up a nice batch. It tasted so goooood! I ate way too much of it, I might add.

September 1st, I woke early, but there was no big plan to ride early. The thought was to take the trike to the gym which opens at 10 am on Sundays. So, Loke from storage to  home, then home to gym, workout, and home again. Hoping it was going to go better this time than the first.

I got dressed and was working at my computer, waiting until it was time to go. The balcony door was open and I heard something. Thunder? No. Surely not thunder. A big truck or some distant construction thumping around with something heavy. Must be it.

About 3 minutes later, no, definitely thunder. I stepped out to look and the west horizon was all dark and threatening. Time passed, no rain and no thunder. It looked as if it had all missed us.

Loke and I stepped out shortly after 8:30 am and, it seemed almost that very instant, droplets of water dotted the dry pavement. I stood for a moment and then decided it was light enough to ride and the clouds didn’t look particularly threatening.

Just the short distance to the car it was coming down hard enough I decided I didn’t want to be soaked to the skin before I even reached the gym. Working out with sopping wet tights and hair had no appeal either. Back in we went.

The rain was toying with us. By time I was back in the apartment, it wasn’t raining. I didn’t want to play Mother Nature’s cruel little game, so I sat down to work a bit more.

When Loke and I went back out at a few minutes after 9 am, there was not a cloud in the sky.

My plan changed slightly again as Loke and I moved out from the storage. My beloved furball was acting oddly. Struggling really. He tripped. His hindlegs buckled. There were moments where he was walking funny and his head would suddenly drop, almost thumping down into the pavement. No way I was going to take him for a mile doing all that. We took the most direct way and very slowly as he still needed morning walkies. I went slow enough that he wasn’t going to hurt himself.

Loke safe at home, I stepped out with my gym stuff to load on the trike. Jens had a suggestion about using a cargo strap to secure my kettle bell to the top of the luggage rack. I tried, but it didn’t work well. As I stood there, aggravated, I had an idea. I removed my lock from the luggage wrack and let it coil around Loke’s running bar. Then I slipped the kettle bell over the bar to hang. The coiled, rubberized cable lock provided a buffer to keep the kettlebell from banging on anything and the short cargo strap kept it from sliding around. Problem solved! It did mean I had to keep Loke’s running bar attached though.

I set out for the gym at a very gentle pace. After the 18.6 miles the day before, my knees felt a little unhappy. Slow and easy was the way to go for them. It meant being very slow, but it seemed to work and after about half an hour, my knees even felt better.

As I wound along by the river, trying to avoid knee-capping people with Loke’s running bar, I realized the weather forecast had been a lie. The earlier thunderstorm had seemed to hint that it was on track, but what I rode through had nothing in common with my weather apps.

It was supposed to be a high of 75 F, mostly cloudy with high chance of scattered thunderstorms. By 10 am, it was 80 F, high winds and not a cloud in the sky. The heavens didn’t have that luscious blue color though. It was all white or a blue so pale it was like denim that had been washed so much there was hardly any color left. The sun was a harsh glare that gave everything a flat look. It felt almost surreal.

I made it to the gym and wandered in to do my workout. It wasn’t pleasant. First, it was incredibly stuffy and almost warmer in the gym than outside. Second, I’d forgotten my ear-buds and the music selection was worse than usual. I guess it shows how much I’ve adapted to working out though. A year ago, hot, bad music, no ear-buds, and I’d have been in and out in under 20 minutes. Nope, I stayed and did the whole routine, except for the warm-up. An hour and 14 minutes of cycling in 80+ F temps was more than enough warm.

I felt a bit wobbly as I finished and left to go home. The heat was worse. When I paused in the shade, my Garmin read 85-87 F. When I was pedalling in the sun, with a good wind at my back, it was over 90 F.

I was amazed at how ‘not awful’ I felt. At the beginning of summer, those temps and trying to exercise in them would have made me physically ill. I was fine though. Slow and felt warm, but not ‘my flesh is melting from my bones and I’m about to burst into flames!!’

The idea of taking Loke back to the storage from the apartment was nixed. It would have been cruel to subject him to that level of heat especially if he wasn’t feeling well.

Still, the outing accomplished what was needed. I finished the day with 12.06 miles and had a gym visit done.

September 2nd (Monday), something strange happened. After 2 days where I’d covered over 30 miles along with a vigorous gym workout in the middle of one of those rides, I woke at 5 am and, kid you not, bounced out of bed. I was practically singing like Snowwhite in the Disney animation as I hustled into the kitchen and started cleaning.

Before September 2nd, I’d spent most every day in a state of exhaustion or feeling starved, or a combination of the two. Yet, without a rest day after 2 intense rides, there I was whirling around the apartment to do a bit of catch up on the chores which had been somewhat neglected from the start of the Birthday challenge.

My energy was high and best (and strangest) of all, nothing hurt. Not my hip, not my knees, not my back. Nothing. I felt as if the world was going to be at my mercy. Laundry, here I come! Rwar!

Sadly, I crashed and burned at about 3 pm, but only after I’d put a huge dent in the kitchen, walked Loke 3 times, went to the gym for another hard workout, grocery shopping and popped into 3 stores to look at earphones to replace my earbuds for my workouts.

The sudden crash, complete with aching back, put me in a bit of a funk. Here I thought I was ready to seize the day. I couldn’t even scrape up the energy or strength to cook Jens some supper.

A few hours later, it struck me how silly I was being. Okay, so my energy and strength had run out before I could finish laundry. You know what though? I HAD strength and energy for most of the day. I can’t even tell you when I last had that kind of get-up-and-go where I also had not a bit of pain. Perhaps sometime earlier in the year I was feeling good enough where I had a day or two that I bounced out of bed, feeling pretty solid, but nothing in recent months.

That all by itself was a helluva victory especially since there’d been no rest-day before it!

Tuesday, September 3rd, last day of ‘Week 3’ of the Challenge. I still needed some 5-and-something miles to get 61 miles. It also happened that Loke needed food. Sadly, Loke couldn’t come with me even for a half mile wobble. He was having too much trouble staying on his feet, I didn’t feel comfortable bringing him at all.

Off to the storage alone, where I pulled out the trailer because it wasn’t just soft food needed, but a fresh 8 kg of kibble too.

Not much to say about the ride. I rode to the clinic and shopped what was needed. As I left the light industrial area where the clinic is located, I took a left to go to the end of the northern river path. Getting the trike turned back around was a bit of a hassle, needing to stand up and drag the trailer and trike around in stages, but it gave some extra distance.

My knees didn’t think much of the extra 9 kg (20-ish lbs) of weight from the food. The trailer didn’t bother them, but the kibble did. I just took it nice and slow. Got back to the storage with over 7 miles. Tada! Week 3 done.

Now, I go into Week Four. I’m hoping to get a more interesting ride or two in because what I’m doing now is more than a little old. My attitude about it isn’t as bad as it used to be though. Kinda like how I hate going to the gym, but I go because I love the results. Well, I hate riding the same loops over and over and over, but if it means smaller body, more energy, and less pain? Bring it ON! Charge down the hamster tracks as fast as my knees will let me!

I still feel guilty about how much time I have to leave Loke at home alone though. I’ve just decided I can’t go on letting my health suffer for it. For all I know, he’ll live to 20 or so something.