Terii’s Cycling Babble


Fulfillment of a Minor Dream
April 22, 2020, 10:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I hope this post finds all who read this post (and don’t read it) well, safe, and healthy.

It’s been going relatively okay here. A bit frustrated with the Corona scare, but who isn’t. Sweden still hasn’t gone into any kind of real shut down. Some businesses are closed. Last I heard theaters and museums were shut tight, but that was voluntary rather than decreed by the government. Schools are open. Most shops, especially the grocery stores, have put up marks in some areas to help people keep distance. Some smaller shops limit how many people come in. Public service announcements all over with directions on how to wash hands and remind people if they feel unwell to stay out of the public spaces.

For the most part, I’ve been avoiding public places as much as I can, which is quite a lot. Jens does most of the shopping right now, as it gives him a chance to shop for his parents who are being extremely careful about their social distancing given their age.

But it’s impacting my health and I’m starting to worry about the fact that my blood pressure has increased a bit in spite of the medication, and my resting heart rate is about 8 bpm higher than it was before I caught that cold and the insanity came over the world. There’s no room for a treadmill or rowing machine, which means if I want any kind of cardio, I ride or I walk outside.

Naturally, I’ve opted for walking.

Just kidding. Riding of course, though I’ve taken to swinging a kettle bell around when my rib lets me and trying to do stretches. Can’t do the ones where I lay on the floor, but some others are okay. Cursed rib.

Since my last post on the 5th, I’ve done 7 rides. Yep! Seven!

I’ve made an effort to get out when it’s early, hoping to beat the swarms of people that come out later. It’s been kinda tricky though. So many mornings when I’ve awoken, it’s been near freezing, if not below freezing. We’ve had more frost and snow in April than all through December, January, February, and most of March.

With just a few exceptions, the pattern of the days has been, frosty in the morning, then it warms quickly to the high 40’s or mid 50’s F. Oh, and sunny. That means every Swede who isn’t at work because they’re supposed to be social distancing goes running out the door and choking up the paths and trails.

To be fair, I’ve kinda been one of them, but I make an EFFORT to keep my distance from others. Too many people almost seemed as if they were making a point of crowding those they pass.

I rode on April 6th. It started off just cold enough for frost when I woke the first time. Managing to get back to sleep for a bit, I hustled out the door to ride when I woke the second time at about 41 F.

The plan had been to ride the old ‘field loop’ which I’d not done in years. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Coming down the big hill to the bridge over the river, my rib started to complain with the pedalling, so I cut it shorter than I wanted before I hurt something.

Still, it was a nice ride with flowers all over and sunshine. Even butterflies here and there. Managed to avoid the worst spots of humanity.

April 7th’s ride was an earlier ride as the morning proved warmer than the previous. It started at about 38-39 F, though by time I wandered out the door at near 6 am, it was closer to 36 F. I would have gone earlier, but, once again, my lights had now charge so I had to wait for the sun to brighten the sky a bit.

The paths were surprisingly clear of people. I expected a few at least to have started doing jogs and walks before whatever job some might still be going to. Nope! There was an additional treat too! Clear paths! The gravel laid down over the bit of winter we had in November was had been swept away. Smooth sailing!

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So pretty and only a short time to see it.

It would have been nice if the ride had started 15 minutes or so earlier though. I think April 7th was the morning of the ‘Pink Super Moon’. Even if it wasn’t, the glimpses I had of the moon before it set were stunning. It was full and big and beautiful. Would have been nice to have seen more of it.

I took advantage of the peace while I had it. Also, the rib pain that had cut the ride short the day before was conspicuously absent.

Determined to make it be the longest ride of the year, I headed off for the out-n-back along the river bank to the north. It was so still, not a breath of wind so the river was like a sheet of perfectly polished obsidian. Dark and yet so gorgeously reflective.

Though it was just another loop on my local hamster tracks for the 1200th time, it was a reminder of how much I used to adore getting out early. Seeing the sun rise. The golden hour of light that paints the world in amazing hues. The feeling that I have it all to myself for that small sliver of time before others come rampaging through with no regard for its wonder and peace.

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No clouds, but a glorious sunrise all the same.

The delights kept coming. I got to hear lark song. I miss the larks once they’ve moved on to warmer climes for the winter. It’s always good when they come back.

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Water like an obsidian mirror

The lack of stamina was still quite apparent, but I could swear my strength was as good or perhaps even better than before all the chaos of 2020.

I felt pretty good though when I reached the end of the cycle path. Every time I roll that way, I wonder if they’ll ever extend the path onward along the sleepy Fyris River, perhaps all the way to Ulva Mill. That would probably become my favorite ‘short ride’ of all my local hamster tracks.

There’s a gravel road where the path ends. Left takes one to the busy 272 which already competed with the larks with it’s roar of traffic. Right, goes over the river and right up to a gate. A back entrance for the garrison I guess. I decided to step out on the bridge and get a photo the river in the sunrise. Totally worth the 2 minutes.

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What on EARTH?!

Sitting down on the trike and flipping back the lid of my Arkel handlebar bag, I was shocked to notice something. The front edge of my bag was ripped. What on earth?!

I did some poking and looked around the bag in general and came to one conclusion. Mice. Not only was the edge of the bag frayed from the chewing along that top edge, but a closer look found the foam in the bottom where I made the dividers with holes in it too. Probably the little critters were after stuff like the nearly microscopic bits of chocolate from all the times I put a Snickers bar in there after a couple bites to finish later. Or bags of nuts.

Checking my side bags found more evidence. An empty bag of pecans that had its contents removed by way of small holes chewed ALL over it. A baseball styled hat I used when it rained to keep water out of my scalp and eyes was completely destroyed. But it was hit and miss what they did or didn’t chew. Like the hat had more holes than Swiss cheese, but the gloves tucked right up against it untouched.

So, clearly the storage has been overrun with invaders and it’s my fault for keeping nuts and granola in my bags when the trike is parked there. I didn’t used to do that, but since I started trying to deal with riding and my intermittent fasting, I did. I never know when I might be out on a ride and it’s coming up on 3 pm when I’ve not eaten since noon. I could just reach in my bags and pull out some nuts or granola. Obviously not a good idea.

Fortunately, the damage to the bag was minor and doesn’t impact its usefulness in the least. The other stuff that was damaged it annoying, but ultimately replaceable.

The funny thing is, it took me so long to actually notice. I’ve been riding with the bag like that probably since the ride I took after Loke’s passing. Ah well, at least it was my longest ride of the year when I got back to the storage. A whopping 5.3 miles.

The next ride was April 10th. The mornings between the 7th and 10th were frustrating. The mornings were so cold, but the days became so pretty. Sunny skies, mild temps. The sheer masses of people all determinedly crowded together on the paths to enjoy the pretty weather. The thought of going out and ‘joining’ them made my skin crawl. Some Corona virus moron passing just a foot from me and sneezing, passing it on.

My awesome husband had an idea. Why didn’t we put the trike on the car and drive to Wiks Castle. Jens could walk on the environs for exercise and then when he was done, he’d come pick me up from where-ever I’d ridden. A sound plan.

Not surprising, but it was busy at the castle. Jens and I found it hilarious that people had parked as if their cars needed social distancing. Every other parking spot was empty.

It’s a fun ride, coming down from the castle’s hill. Along the way, I discovered that while it was all sunshine and blue sky with just a few puffy clouds, it was also quite windy. I had to work against it all down the lane from the castle back onto the road. Fortunately, once I turned right, the wind was at my back and things got easier.

I’ve ridden the area there a few times, but it’s been long enough that I enjoyed it. I tired pretty quickly. After just a bit over an hour, I was tired, the clouds had thickened so there was less moments of sunshine and I got cold. I stopped at Västeråker church to wait for Jens to come. The little country roads are quite narrow and the parking at the church is generous and a prime place to load the trike. Certainly better than a tractor easement on a space that’s not even 2 full lanes wide.

It was just 4.53 miles, but at least I only had to swerve wide to avoid 3 joggers instead of dozens of them on a 2 meter wide cycle path. Oh, and on the way home, there were rain clouds east of Uppsala.

I didn’t ride again until April 15th. Just frustrated and stymied by the density of people. It wasn’t much better on the 15th, but I was just desperate.

I tried my best to avoid spots where typically people are most dense, like down by the school. It was just impossible though. Even spots where over the course of some 14+ years, I’ve seen maybe a total of 3 people, I suddenly doubled the amount in just that single ride. It was crazy. I knew better than to even consider riding the grave mound paths.

I tried to do the out-n-back along the river, but wound up cutting that short because there was a cluster of about 6 women packed together in a social little group with strollers. Coughing and sneezing was coming from at least 2 of those strollers. No way I could pass those little plague carriers with social distance. I cut through the industrial area, which at least WAS clear of pedestrians and cyclists and pushed on back toward Uppsala.

Spontaneously, I decided to see how bad my old field loop might be. Not clear, but it was more manageable than anything closer to the apartment, river, or the burial mounds. Some parts of it, I couldn’t even see a living soul, which was nice.

I did get a little choked up as I climbed the wooded hill though. Loke, back when he could run, loved that hill. Not the climb so much, but just the chance that he could stretch out for a full on mad dash down the other side.

I also remembered the squirrel incident. We spotted a squirrel in the trees and Loke wanted that critter SO bad. He seemed so convinced that if the squirrel, a 4 legged critter, could get up there, then so could he, also a 4 legged critter. What was funnier when we rode that path again after 9 months had passed, he was desperately looking for that squirrel.

Now that I’ve done the hill alone, it will be less of a wrench next time.

Coming down the hill, it got crowded on the other side of the 55. A few times, I was half in the ditch because a pair or trio of people were sprawled out across the path which would have made passing a challenge even without wanting the extra distance.

Still, I got out and had something of a work out. Longest ride of the year too! 7 miles. I was a bit disappointed with the fact that one of my knees developed a slight ache. Thankfully, it was better by the next morning.

I looked at the forecast for the coming days and decided that, if my knee let me, going for a ride on the next day (April 16th) was probably for the best. It was supposed to be relatively warm in the early morning and less so in the days after.

I’d not been sleeping well for some days (still haven’t been) and I woke up at 3:30. I could tell sleep wasn’t going to come if I laid back down, so I got up, comforting myself that it would make it easier to get out for the early ride I craved. As cobwebs cleared from my head, the sounds from outside came into my awareness. A deep, rushing, roaring sound with occasional high pitched whines. Wind. And not your typical playful breeze. This was wind with teeth.

That rather blew my enthusiasm away. While it was 41 F, with winds in range of 20+ mph, it was gonna feel much colder. I sluffed off for a bit and then a closer look at the forecast had me resignedly pulling on my middle weight layers and cycle clothes. Frosty mornings I wasn’t up to riding in followed by mild temps and sunny skies where people would be out in the hundreds. If I wanted a peaceful ride, this was my only chance for a while.

I plopped down in the trike at about 5:30 am. It was brutal, that wind. I was nervous going under trees as I pushed off toward the burial mounds. I surprised myself on the first half mile or so, which is a steady 3-4% grade. Even with the gale in my teeth, snapping my flag around with enough violence that a broken pole was a real concern, I kept a good pace. Better than some days with no wind shockingly.

Other than the wind, it was so gorgeously clear. The light was so, SO beautiful. Another of those reminders harkening to the days when early morning rides were standard and exactly why that was so.

Did I mention the wind? I crossed over the 55 and decided I couldn’t stick to the Vattholma Road any longer. The wind was from the north and came tearing down the street like it was a wind tunnel. The moment I was able to, I turned off into a residential development that’s tightly packed town houses with small lanes that zig-zagged. That and some trees offered shelter and made the going so much easier.

I used to ride those paths frequently, before they improved the ones along side Vattholma Road. It wasn’t too much of wrench to ride there without Loke for the first time. There’s no special or significant memories of any of it. It was just a way we went and nothing ever really happened.

I ended up being diverted off the route though. I turned onto a small street along some houses and a sign for road work and blocked road showed up. I pushed on toward the visible barricade, hoping I could just squeak by. What might stop a car can be quite passable for people or bikes.

From the look of it, if the of the hedge had some give, perhaps I could push through. The first foot or so had unexpected resistance. Then I took a closer look at the hedge. Oh hell no. It was the evil sort of hedge like those near our apartment with inch long thorns.

I carefully backed out and resigned myself to hitting Vattholma Road sooner than I wanted. As I pushed against the wind toward the crosswalk where I cut over to head for the mounds, I admit, the wide open countryside, bathed in the honey glow of the early sun had a profound siren’s call. I yearned to go straight down the hill and into the landscape of fields and woods beyond.

But that wind was stronger than the call of the open roads. I let it blow me back toward the beginning of the gravel path along the burial mounds.

It was unexpected, but it turned out that much of the mound path was sheltered from the raging air. The ridge of the mounds itself blocked a lot of the wind at at the beginning and then it was trees and another ridge. There were a few spots where the trike got buffeted around where chinks were found, but it was fairly pleasant. On the way, I called Jens to ask if he could come get me at the storage rather than tackle the paths that would be busy with joggers and commuters.

I didn’t ride again until April 19th. Jens spent all day Saturday encouraging me to go for a ride, but the weather didn’t quite cooperate. Sunday though, the weather was a bit better and I felt more in the mood. Jens was offering to drop me off somewhere and pick me up when I was done. I opted to just have him drop me off at the storage and planned to ride off to the north west.

I started rolling about 10:30 am. It was a glorious day. Mostly clear skies, warm sun, the air hardly moved at all. I struck out for Old Börje Road. The plan was to take it easy. I was gonna stop for photos or just to listen to larks as much as I wanted. I’d go as slow or fast as I pleased. If I just wanted to laze about at 3 mph, so be it.

As I’d noticed on previous rides, I felt stronger and, yes, even a little faster than expected. I crested the first steep hill at the beginning of Börje Road, whipped down the hill and started the push past the first stretch of fields.

Typically, at this time of year, the fields are just full of a riot of larks singing their hearts out. Not this time. Except for traffic sounds, it was silent. No larks or birds of any other kind. No wind. Just… eerie.

I’ve ridden that stretch of road so much over the years. It was one of my first countryside rides when I’d finally gained confidence enough with the trike to start going off the local paths. I didn’t resent it on that day though. I was away from the crowds of people cluttering the paths closer to town. Out on the little country lanes, there was plenty of room for everyone.

So many Lycra clad road riders were out and they were so cheerful! I guess the pretty weather and maybe they were feeling the liberation of bikes after being somewhat shut in. Every single one of them waved and called out happy hellos.

Since I’ve ridden the Ulva loop without Loke a fair bit, though this was the first since his death, it wasn’t as big of a gut punch as other spots where I’d not ridden without Loke ever. Still, as I started up the gentle, long slope toward what I’ve affectionately dubbed the ‘Kitty Cottage’, I did feel sad. There’s a house that has an elderly couple in it. They used to have about 5 or more cats. Several of them were always to be seen lounging or stalking across the yard. Loke always used to make a crazed half-mile dash to see the cats.

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The old house, 2018

I was brooding on that memory a bit. Then I was distracted by ‘the house’. Not the Kitty Cottage, but the old yellow house is just before the cottage.

It really is an old house. I’ve always given it a couple centuries at least. Ever since the very first ride out toward Börje, I’ve loved that house and it broke my heart watching it slide into ruin as the years went on. Paint more faded. A window, perhaps broken out. Holes in the roof where a tile slid loose.

Then, back in 2018, I saw the old wooden gate had been removed and the lawn cleared of debris. Something was clearly happening. I was afraid it was going to be demolition so an eyesore of modernity could replace it’s faded elegance.

On a following ride, I saw that the porch was being propped up and a pallet of new tiles waited to be installed on the roof. Since then, I wasn’t riding much, caring for Loke, but when I did, my heart soared to see hints of progress.

As I came up the last bit of the climb before the ground tilted down from Kitty Cottage, I saw that the foundation of the old yellow house looked stronger. Fresher. I was coming up to the drive when a woman stepped out into the road, looking both ways and then gesturing for a man driving a tractor to come out. I stopped to give them the time and space for him to get moving.

As he chugged down the road and the woman gave me a smile, walking back toward the house, I called out in English, “I was so happy when you started working on the house!”

It led to a lovely chat, about 10 feet kept between us, as I gushed about how much I loved the house and how sad it made me watching it fall apart over the past 14 years. She described how much work it was, but a labor of love. Then, I’m not quite sure where it came from, I boldly asked, “Can I have a peek inside?”

She hesitated, but finally agreed. “It’s a mess,” she said apologetically. “We haven’t had much chance to do the interior. Just the roof, fixing the foundation, shoring up the frame, getting it weather tight. You’ll have to use your imagination.” I assured her it was no problem.

As we walked around to the side, she explained the house had been in the family since sometime in the 1800’s when her great grandfather (or was there another great?) bought it. It wasn’t a new house when the purchase was made, but it wasn’t old either.

Neglect is unkind and it was a mess. Ceilings torn to the beams. Walls of cracked and broken plaster, often with huge patches had fallen away to reveal the wooden slats behind. Most of the floor was cheap plywood temporarily over bare frame boards. Debris from what had to be pulled away or left over building supplies crammed around.

I saw it all and perhaps she worried, I’d just declare how awful it was. No, not me. I saw the past and the future possibilities. As we stepped into the kitchen and I got excited by the sight of the old plaster and stone, wood-fire stove/oven, she brightened. She pointed up to the ceiling in the kitchen where newer wood was hanging down. Her father had apparently been determined to put in a modern drop ceiling back in the 80’s, but he hadn’t gotten very far before he stopped trying to fix the house up. That was going to be the first thing to go in the kitchen. It was going to be wood boards and beams.

We walked through and she warmed to the subject. The windows were all handmade in the style of the when the house was built, right down to the glass. The panes were either salvaged or from a glassblower in Germany.

Even in its decay and ruin, it was beautiful. The proportions of the rooms. The position of the windows and the way the light streamed through and how perfect it would be when the rooms were restored to their former glory. I went completely nuts when we passed through a doorway and I stopped before going through to peer at the damaged wall. So many layers of wallpaper. Not machine made stuff either. I’m talking OLD, block printed Victorian (and earlier) wall paper. Even faded or stained with water damage, they were so beautiful.

The woman was telling me all they were doing and hoping to do for the house. It was going to be a gentle restoration. Some modern conveniences of course. Updated wiring that wasn’t a fire hazard. A fridge and proper stove in the kitchen, but sympathetically worked in to remove as little of the sense of charm and age. But everything else was going to be done as it had been done when the house was built in the early 1800’s (she thought). Her great-grandfather (or was it another great?) had bought the house in the 1800’s. It hadn’t been ‘brand new’, but it wasn’t old when it came into the family.

Her face glowed when she talked about what they hoped to do and how they’ve been talking to the craftsmen located in Gysinge who specialize in work on the old manor houses and such.

It was only the first floor I got to see. There was only one stairway and it’s in such poor condition that it’s dangerous.

For 14 years, I’ve longed to see the inside of that house. Hell, I actually would have loved to be the one to have it restored, but no way Jens and I could afford it. So, on a random ride, an unexpected crossing of paths, the little dream was mine. I got to see it. I love that house more than ever.

Maybe one day, I’ll get a chance at another walk-through.

The lovely couple wished me a good ride as I pedaled off. Even a mile down the road, I felt as if I were gliding on air, I was so giddy from having that chance. I’m still rather shocked at my blatant wheedling to go inside.

I continued in great spirit without really rushing.

It started to get a bit chilly at times thanks to thickening clouds. They blocked the sun more and more as I made the right turn toward Ströbylund. There still wasn’t much wind moving on its own, but there are quite a few big hills to go racing down  as one comes out of Ströbylund and heads off to Vänge. Every time I went speeding down one of those hills and the sun disappeared, it was enough to make my hands ache since the mice chewed my lighter weight gloves.

Still, I enjoyed the ride. I’ve not ridden there in ages so I had that sense of freedom added to the lingering euphoria of getting to see inside the yellow house.

I stopped at one point to snap a random scenery photo and enjoy a patch of sunlight without the wind to sap its warmth. To the left, was the busy road and wide open fields. To the right, tangled undergrowth of a patch of woods. I had just dropped the phone into the camera bag when there came a racket. A deer burst into the open, no more than 10 feet away. It stopped, head down with wide, startled eyes. I’m not sure who was really more startled. The deer or the one it had nearly stomped on. Naturally, there was no chance to grab phone or camera before it did a leaping whirl to blunder its way back under cover.

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Root cellar at Ekeby Museum

As I came near the fringes of Vänge, which is a tiny little village, I decided I would scurry across the 72 and go explore Ekeby. It’s a somewhat well preserved example of row village.

Laundry shed with it's water pump and my trike in the foreground

Trice trike by the wash house – April 2007

Loke and I discovered the place ages ago, April 2007. Oddly though, I never explored it. I simply rode in far enough to park at the laundry house, took a picture of the Trice sitting by the pump and rode away.

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Wash House with my Sprint

This was the time for exploration. I parked the Sprint at the laundry house. In a nod to my first stop here, another photo was taken with the trike in roughly the same spot I believed I’d put the Trice. Not quite, but close enough.

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Inside the wash house

This time, happily, there was no curtain on the window of the wash house. I went for a peek. Stuff was still in there. The window glass was a bit smudged so the photo came out hazy from where I smooshed the camera lens against the glass. Better a bit of smudge than a glaring reflection.

Is it strange that I can find something as mundane as a wash house fascinating? I just adored the old hearth and tubs. The wooden frame work to the side is some kind of roller to press fabric. We actually have one in same cellar as our laundry room, though it’s function is automated with electricity and some kind of machinery unlike the one in this photo.

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Some of the buildings at Ekeby

I’ll admit, there was something of an ulterior motive for my exploration of the row village. I really needed to answer a call of nature. It always seems to be the way, doesn’t it?

Not sure what possessed me to walk around the site rather than ride. Perhaps it was the bike racks set up outside the gates. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt for me to pedal along the dirt tracks and then walk through the enclosed yards.

I say this because as I was walking back toward the wash house where I’d parked the trike, I felt near death. Hard to breathe and body hurt. A complete about face compared to how I’d been feeling on the trike, that’s for sure.

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Buildings, a sledge, and something to work in the fields

I sat down and put my camera away, considering what to do next. It was almost 2 pm and my fasting begins at 3 pm. For food for the day all I’d had was my breakfast smoothie and a few pecans. The sun had completely disappeared. Though the clouds didn’t look the least bit threatening, it was unexpectedly cold without sunshine. Oh, and my eyeballs were floating with no apparent way to deal with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay going ‘in the wild’ if I have to, provided I can find somewhere that isn’t mooning passersby. As importantly, that I have TP.

Barely over 9 miles, but I was gonna call it. To be fair, even with less than 10 miles, it had been one of my absolute best rides in ages. Getting to see the house, taking the time to explore Ekeby. I wanted to end on a high note.

As for my food issue, Jens had ordered me fried rice from a take-away place. YUM!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Frustrations, Ribs, and Rides
April 5, 2020, 7:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

2020. What a year. Only the first quarter gone and it’s been like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Not just the world at large from the virus, but on a personal level as well.

Loke’s decline and how clingy and needy he became so I could barely leave the house while Jens was traveling a lot for work. Then, a bad cold that moved in just in time to say goodbye to my constant companion of nearly 15 years. The cold that would not die I should add.

In  my last post, I mentioned having gone to the doctor for the dratted cough because it felt like it was tearing me apart. Well, that’s perhaps closer to the truth than I knew. For most of 2 weeks, all I could do was sit in my old chair, as upright as possible and not move. When at the health clinic, the pain in my ribs was in the lower right side. Shortly after getting the prescription cough syrup, there was one last sneezing or coughing fit and something happen in the upper left. The pain was excruciating. Even just the expansion and contraction of my chest from breathing hurt. I couldn’t walk.

It was frustrating. Honestly, even just getting out of the chair to take care of personal needs was enough to send stars bursting through my vision. I couldn’t recline at all. Oddly, the most comfortable position to sleep was on my right side. Sleeping on my back was a huge no-no. To even rolling over from one side to the other meant I’d wake, sit up, shift on my sit-bones to tilt my torso in roughly the correct orientation and then flop down, praying I got it right.

There were times that I despaired it would ever get better. Maybe I was just constantly re-injuring it just by existing.

Well, finally there were some signs of improvement. Getting up from the chair was still hell, but I could walk across the apartment without seeing stars and draw a normal breath with just some discomfort. By then it was March 25th. I was going stark out of my mind just from the lack of exercise for so long. I’d not been to the gym since the 2nd week of February. The cold had kept me all but flat (or upright, unmoving in a chair). Then with the rib I couldn’t do anything with the resistance strap, big exercise mat, or kettlebells to compensate for avoiding the gym.

The world was (and still is) in a panic about the virus, but Sweden is taking a laid back approach. I figured it would be okay if I could get out on my trike. Should be easy enough to maintain social distance.

The problem was, my rib was still fairly painful, especially in a reclined position. Sitting in my recliner or laying on my back were still big no-no’s. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sit in my trike or, more importantly, get out of it once I flopped into the seat.

Against my instincts, I decided to go see how I felt on the trike at about lunch on March 25th. Jens drove me and came down into the storage as I first made an attempt to see how much it hurt to manage the trike.

I got down into it, mostly okay. Just a low level, dull kinda ache. After being unable to sit in a reclined position or sleep on my back in weeks, the expectation of pain was high when I relaxed into the seat. Much to my shock, nope! In all truth, it was probably the most comfortable I’d been in weeks.

Jens then suggested I try to put my feet on the pedals before assuming any more. That was a bit tricky, but with minimal fumbling, they got into place. I made a very delicate attempt at doing some reverse pedaling to test how the circular motion was going to impact my torso.

There was an increase in pain which made me doubt the wisdom of a ride, a high 4 or a low 5 on a 10 point scale. Then it was time for the big test – getting up. I flopped around a bit, not wanting to wriggle and flex my spine (and therefore my ribs) overmuch. It wasn’t quite as bad as anticipated, trying to figure out the least painful way to get forward in the seat to pull up. In just a few moments, I was in position to pull myself up. Fortunately, getting up from the trike once I’ve gotten my feet tucked close under me, I use my right arm the most. The pain when I pulled and managed to stand was perhaps a 6 on a 10 point scale. Not fun, but compared to just trying to take a deep breath 4 days earlier, easier.

There was a short discussion as I wanted my Jens’s input. He’s the one who has to endure me being mostly crippled if I set back any healing. It’s not as bad as being the one who needs to heal, but his opinion does matter, especially as we were (and still are) currently together 24/7 thanks to the pandemic.

He actually thought I should at least try a ride as long as I wasn’t hurting too bad. Maybe even if it was just to get the trike back to the apartment.

I agreed. I’d been very down because by then I’d been 7 weeks with essentially NO exercise except for that one tiny little ride I did about a week after Loke’s death. I had gained weight thanks to be pinned in that damned chair for most of my waking hours, barely able to move. Muscle tone and fitness evaporated. 2 years of 3-4 times a week at the gym just ppppppbbbbbtttthhhh down the toilet. All because of a dratted COLD. Not the Coronavirus. Not pneumonia. A COLD. Do I sound bitter?

Perhaps I am. It definitely has left me frustrated and upset, not to mention bored out of my ever-loving mind. Toss in 2 people, who though still a very tight marriage, are still getting on each others nerves.

So, I decided, potential pain or not, I was gonna try it. Jens went home and I pushed the trike up the ramp, with very little discomfort. Airing the tires was a bit of a nightmare, because silly me, forgot to check those while my husband was still around to have helped with that, but I got it done.

Finally, I managed to get back in the trike and pondered my route. The most direct way is about half a mile. I’d have to push up a slope across the park, but once on the other side of the park, it would be a downhill glide right to the apartment door.

I decided instead of head for the swim hall short ride, the same way I went on my last ride with Loke on New Years Eve day. It’s downhill for about a quarter mile, then flat all the rest of the way. That’s about .75 of a mile.

It’s about 37 F and so WINDY this morning. Usually on that downhill dash, I hit about 12 mph without pedaling. This time, it was about 5 mph and a few times, I had to pedal to keep going. Crazy.

I found that people in Uppsala have NO clue about ‘social distancing’. Most of the people on bikes were just zipping by as usual, practically within arm’s reach of the trike even when they had almost 2 meters to spare on the other side. I gave berth as much as I could. Riding on country roads might be all and good, but I really need to think on how to safely reach them through such a sea of idiots. Riding on city streets is maybe doable, but still would have to ride in center of the lane to avoid bikes riding the edge of the paths. *eye roll*

Any way, there were moments of pain, like discovering I had to watch when my lungs were full of air during the pedal stroke. If I was inhaling as my left leg came up, it hurt. Exhaling during the left foot’s upstroke, not so much. Annoyingly, I couldn’t quite get breathing and pedaling to properly sync.  Even so, I managed a very slow, careful ride of about 1.8 mile and not once felt like yelling from the pain.

When I got up from the trike at the apartment, I was convinced I’d made a horrible, horrible mistake. Though it wasn’t a sharp pain, it was in the 7 range of a 10 point pain-scale. It hurt to breathe, walking was a challenge. I got the trike put away in its spot and hobbled inside.

Yet, after about 10 minutes, I would have sworn I felt better than before the ride. I counted that alone worth the discomfort I’d endured.

The weather started to misbehave. After the evenings staying well above freezing all through December, January, February, and most of March, we started getting the coldest temperatures since November. Maybe even colder than any of the sub-freezing evenings in November when we actually had a few days of snow deep enough to hide grass. Typically, the days warmed up in the 40’s, but the morons on the cycle paths that had crowded me unnecessarily had kinda put me off the idea of riding any time between mid-morning and midnight.

I might not be panicking about the Coronavirus, but I really don’t want to take stupid risks with it either. A dislocated or cracked rib from a common cold is bad enough. Let’s not start coughing again from something even worse.

Then the weather started to get really weird.

March 30th, it started out not much colder than the previous nights, but the temperature decided, ‘No, not gonna get warm. As a matter of fact, here! The first snow since November!’

If not for the snow and cold, I might have tempted fate for a ride, but pulling on my heavier thermal layers felt like too much of a risk. In my bullet proof thermals, it’s hard to move, and would have been painful with my rib, even if wrestling on the layers wouldn’t have made me cry. Also, after taking a risk on doing some chores, my side felt worse even without all the bending, twisting, and flexing that layering up would have required.

April 1st, no April-Fooling, my rib had a miraculous turn around. It was a magical moment when I was able to put on my socks using both hands, and in under 5 minutes, and with not a single whimper or teary eye. Being fed up with turning into a lump, I decided it was time for a short ride, idiots or not.

It was going to be just a short river loop at first and I set off at a careful pace. Discomfort was still significant, but perhaps a bit better than the previous ride. Still had to watch the pattern of pedal stroke and inhalations.

Plans of a simple river loop changed with the discovery of how jumpy my gears were being. It was the first ride since I’d gotten them adjusted. Spontaneously, I decided to go by the cycle shop to tell Bobby about the gears, if shop was open and if he was there.

He was and he came right out to tweak it a bit and then even asked if he buzz the trike around the building to test it. Bobby is one of the few guys who can actually fit himself in the trike with the boom so far in for my short little legs. It’s not ideal, but he can pedal it without knocking himself out with his own knees. It’s kinda weird to watch someone else rolling around on my trike.

It was working, the new cable had just gotten a bit stretched with the weather fluctuations. I said thank you and pedaled back the way I came, deciding I wasn’t going to go much further. My side was getting too uncomfortable.

It was a better ride than the one on March 25th as the pain wasn’t quite as bad. People were also trying to maintain distance from those around them except for school kids all packed together in small playgrounds.

The last half mile, coming down the gentle hill of Svartbäcken wasn’t fun. Usually, I’m smiling as the trike comes racing down the slope, but it’s not the smoothest stretch even between the intersections. The jolts and thumps were not kind on my rib. I felt a touch worse after the ride than before, but once again, my spirit felt lighter, so worth it.

Part of the better mood was down to discovering I didn’t seem to be as bad off as expected physically. I was stronger than I believed I should have been, getting up hills with far less trouble than anticipated. My stamina, admittedly, was in the tank, which was no surprise at all, but I can work with it if I can get up the hills without completely killing myself.

April 2nd started off pleasant. I thought about going for a ride, but silly me, I decided I needed to run some errands. Driving the car was a bad idea I discovered. Set the healing progress back significantly. I spent the rest of the day, you guessed it, sitting bolt upright in my old chair and hardly moving to minimize pain.

The morning’s pleasantness took an unexpected downturn though. Sometime around 3 pm or so, the wind came rampaging out of the north. The metal sheeting on our balcony banging around and the sound of roaring all through the trees. At about 5 pm, Jens went to do shopping for his parents and sent a photo of a tree down on a street just a few hundred yards from our apartment. Also, it was snowing.

Woke on the morning of the 3rd and everything covered with about half an inch of snow. Still raging winds too, though not quite as furious as the previous day. April 3rd remained weird. The sun would emerge, flawless blue skies, not a cloud to be seen and yet snowing. Or it would cloud up and snow would fly insanely through the air. Half an hour later, all sunny and birdsong. Rinse and repeat.

Still coddling the rib, so I wasn’t gonna argue with layers.

Sweden still isn’t on much of a shut down. Some places are closed, such as theaters and museums, but that’s the choice of those locations, not government declarations. It has been ‘decreed’ that gatherings of more than 50 people are banned. There have even been a few arrests of people who organized gatherings bigger than that. Yet, schools remain open which completely baffles me with the limitation on gatherings.

Grocery stores have set out little tables with paper towels and cleaning supplies for people to wipe down cart handles and hands. Also, some have marked out 2 meter marks on the floor at checkouts to help people keep distance. When I was at the mall a couple days ago, they were installing sheets of plexiglass in front of the registers and prescription stations. I’ve also noticed a few shops at the mall which were closed.

On the morning of the 4th, the rib was feeling pretty okay. Actually, on the 3rd and the 4th it had a major leap in improvement. Between feeling delighted with the rib and how mostly okay people were about distancing on my last ride, I decided to go for another.

In truth, with the current circumstances, my instinct is to ride early. I’ve been waking up in plenty of time. I don’t spend much time at my desktop computer while I heal up so I don’t get distracted in the mornings like I typically did. But noooooooo, not riding when it’s 23 F out because of thermal layers vs hurting side.

So, it warmed up and about lunch time I decided to head out, bracing myself for the worst. It was just too pretty a day and it just seems that every place possible swarms with people who want to get out into the sunshine.

And for about 200 yard stretch of the ride, I got the worst. Just at the elementary school and frisbee golf course, there was a tight bottleneck of people and any thought of social distancing just cast to the wind.

I’ve ridden that bit of path for the 14 years I’ve had my trikes. I’d say that spot has been crossed by as much as 75% or more of my rides. In all those rides, I’ve NEVER seen that stretch so packed with people. Not a single time.

A commotion erupted just as I put the phone away. Near as I could puzzle out, a pedestrian, feeling crowded by a guy on a bike, said something. The biker had a meltdown. He was screaming at the top of his lungs in language (English and with all the ‘extra’ words) that would have put a drunken sailor with a stubbed toe to shame. Stopping, he put his bike broad side across the path to block the pedestrian as he continued to shriek and heap abuse.

I pulled my phone out again and put the camera on video in case it escalated so the police would have something to go on if need be and proceeded to move off the path onto the packed earth of the school yard grounds, keeping a good distance between me and other people as well as the threat of violence.

The incident was limited to the pedestrian refusing to further engage with the enraged Brit on a bike as the screaming continued. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if the man had started frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog.

By the time I was forced back onto the path where picket fences block off everything to the sides, the bottleneck had cleared significantly and I was able to maintain my expanded personal space pretty well.

Fortunately, the rest of the ride was uneventful. Parts were a bit busier than others so I had to do some creative speed adjustment and swerving from time to time. Otherwise, it wasn’t a bad ride. The sun was pretty warm, but the wind was fairly fierce from the north which had a bit of a bite even with the extra layer I’d pulled on my top.

Just 4.23 miles and I have to say, I was feeling it. Still pretty proud of myself that I kept a good clip where I was able, but I’m clearly out of shape as I had described before. Stronger than I should be getting up hills, but stamina quickly burns out.

When I got home, that’s exactly what I told my husband when he asked how the ride went. “Fine, but I’m out of shape.” His response was a flippant, “Round is a shape.” Clearly, I’m so very loved.