Terii’s Cycling Babble


Another Ride of Self-Abuse
May 24, 2020, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

May 17th’s ride on less than 7 miles of gravel road had left me quite worn down. After the ride was over, my knees ached and complained for a few hours. I was surprised that passed before bedtime, truth be told. The muscles felt used and tired, but my knees felt okay and I slept pretty well.

I didn’t ride between the 17th and the 22nd. I can’t recall how good/bad the weather was for some of it. Mostly, it was I focused a bit harder on advancing the spring cleaning. My sister-in-law was coming to stay with Jens and I for a few days in our 600 sq foot 1 bedroom apartment. She’s a lovely woman I adore, like all of Jens’ family and I was happy to accommodate her. We have a decent air bed that inflates with a pump and is very quick and easy to put up and take down. Granted, the only space open enough to accommodate it is the kitchen. Of course, that helped us all since I get up so early and with the kitchen door close, I wasn’t bothering her by emerging at 2 or 3 am with my insomnia to plonk on my computer.

She arrived Wednesday evening, which was perfect timing. Jens was off work thanks to a holiday for Thusday and Friday, so she wasn’t going to be tiptoing around as he did his work calls.

Thursday, May 21st, the weather was almost spectacular. The only thing in my mind that kept it from being a perfect day was it got just a little too warm in the apartment. The sky was absolutely clear, it was pushing 80 F, if it didn’t break over it. Clearly the warmest day of 2020.

I actually would have gone for a ride except I couldn’t find my keys. Without them there’s no unlocking the trike, opening the storage, fastening down the bike rack on the hitch. If I was gonna ride on a day when Jens didn’t have to work, it was gonna be off the hamster tracks.

My hunny to the rescue. Later that evening, he found my keys! It was too late to ride of course, but Friday, May 22nd was supposed to be a nice day, a bit cooler than the 21st. Though I didn’t plan on an early start. The morning was supposed to be one of those frosty ones that have become so common.

It turned out to be one of the warmest mornings maybe for the whole year. Almost 45 F. I started getting ready. Quietly. I didn’t want to wake Jens up just to drive me, though he probably would have done that provided it wasn’t like 3 am. I didn’t want to wake my sister-in-law either. So, just pulling on a layer of clothes was all I did.

Finally, my sister-in-law woke around 7 am and I went to make my smoothie. In the middle of that, Jens woke up. I was gonna finish breakfast first though.

There was only a rough outline for the day. No specific ride laid out, just the rough plan of ‘Jens drops me off at Järlåsa and I go north. Then, who knows?’

It was a bit of a later start than the previous ride in the area, leaving the apartment at about 9 am where on the 17th, I had the trike set up and was wandering over to that runestone a little after 8 am. I was reminding myself there was no rush though. I mean, going to bed at 10 pm, and there’s still quite a bit of daylight. Soon, there will be plenty of daylight even then.

A bit before 10, Jens asked I call every 2 hours or so to let him know I was okay. Before putting the handlebar bag and the drone case on the trike, I carried them with me to the restroom where I pulled off the light thermal layer I had under my tights and cycle top. It was that warm, especially if I took the sun into account.

Then I hustled to the front of Järlåsa church to take advantage of the lack of people. I was gonna send the drone up.

Järlåsa Church from on-high

I found myself quite nervous about flying it around to get the best position. There were trees close and I wasn’t secure in my ability to judge the drone’s position to them, or that it might not just get all weird and swervy all of a sudden. Not helped by the trees that always seemed to be just in the right place to block, or make it feel blocked in the best spot for framing the exact shot I wanted.

A drone photo taken, I plopped on the trike and rolled off.

The first quarter mile or so was downhill. It was going fast until in the middle of it I recalled the old church ruin I wanted to try to find. I stopped and turned around as a gaggle of 10 year old boys goggled at the trike and made ‘cool bike’ sounds as I waved and went back toward where I thought the ruin might be.

Couldn’t find it. I spent almost 15 minutes rolling up and down a little section of that bigger hill trying to figure out where it was supposed to be. The main problem was the yards. It was all cute little red houses with red painted picket fences. I have a feeling the circular remains of one of the two churches that predate the current 1700-1800’s circular church were tucked up in there. If I had to guess it’s the house that seemed surrounded by drystone walls. You know, the kind of walls that are typically around country chuchyards?

I had to give up finally. There’s not much of the first stone church left from what I understand. Just a small round lump that could have been anywhere.

Of course, since the ride, I’ve pinned it down a little better. It appears to be down a deadend side track behind a house. If I’d had that information, I could have found. Ah well.

Thought maybe it was a burial ground or old settlement, but nope. Just a pretty ripple in the middle of a field.
The last clouds of the day slipping off to the west.

It was a beautiful day. Except for an odd line of clouds between Uppsala and Järlåsa on the drive, there had not been any other. That strangely long, but incredibly narrow march of clouds had stretched across the 72. I saw that smudge a little longer when I first started north, but after a while it was gone and the sky was just an unbroken dome of flawless blue.

The last I saw of it was when I had whimsically turned down a dirt track with a center line of dandelions to get some distance from the houses by the road. I pulled the drone out and began flying it toward a rumple of tiny little hillocks and trees across the field, thinking it might be one of the old settlement ruins in the area. According to the archaeology map site, no. Nothing there. It’s just a pretty feature in the landscape of the field.

Or maybe it just hasn’t been examined. I suppose that’s possible though unlikely given how thoroughly everything else around has been documented.

A little off road, just because!

It was another of those days with almost perfectly still air. When the trike wasn’t moving, there were moments when, perhaps, there could have been the feathery soft caress against my cheek like the long distant memory of a breeze, but those felt rare as I made my way north. The choice to strip off the thermal layers had been a wise one especially when I was in the sun while creeping up a hill. It meant I cherished every moment of shade on the uphills and loved the descents where the wind blew through my hair.

Not blue yet, but they will be!

My sense of random exploration continues to hold strong. Not long after I left the fields behind, a narrow track leading off through the trees pulled me. Off I went, not even stopping to think about it. The shade was nice and there was that delightfully spicy scent of pine hanging in the still air between the trunks.

Soon-to-be-blueberries! As far as the eye can see!

And the blueberries! It seemed every square foot was covered with those knee high little shrubs except where the narrow pine trunks shouldered up or the path ran through them. Provided the weather doesn’t get into the crazy warm range with no rain, it looks like it will be a bumper crop year for Sweden’s wild blueberries. At least in Uppland.

That first little off-road jaunt was less than 15 minutes when there was a small tree trunk across the path. It would have been possible to drag the trike around it through the blueberries, but I had the rest of the day and miles of road with possible other trails to explore too.

The ride was almost over shortly after it started. The woodland was left behind for another batch of fields and I thought I’d send the drone up to see what the views might be like from above. I pulled off onto a short gravel drive that led to nothing and began the prep. With drone in one hand, my phone attached to the controls in the other, I stepped away from the trike to get far enough from the metal to not interfere with the drone’s compass and such.

A rock turned under my shoe, twisting my ankle horribly and down I went. Reflex made me free my hands so I didn’t smash my face into the rocks. My phone and the controller landed on a clump of grass. My drone bounced on its ‘butt’ and then came down hard on its back.

The horror of the drone’s bounce was a sliver of a second before the white hot waves of pain replaced it in my mind. That and the nausea as I curled up on those rocks, clutching my screaming ankle to the tune of my own screams muffled behind gritted teeth.

It was my left ankle too, which I think I think is more susceptible to such injuries after I twisted it so badly in Norway a couple years ago. For a good 5 minutes, probably more, all I could do was lay there and sob, trying not to throw up.

At last I was able to let go of my ankle and uncurl enough to pull over to the drone. It was scratched and dinged, of course. A few minutes later, I got myself over to the controller. Still just sitting on the rocks, I risked sending the drone up just a couple feet from me to see if it would still fly. It was just the quick launch that takes it up 3-4 feet to hover, waiting for the pilot to do more. It wobbled in the air like I need to calibrate that sensor again as I had done on the previous ride.

I wasn’t up to it at that moment. So, I just brought it back down and hobbled painfully to the trike to put everything away. Then I noticed the few scratches on my hands from catching myself as I fell. Oh happy day! Better than eating rocks though.

Then I just sat in the trike for a while longer, my left leg draped over the wheel to keep any pressure off my ankle. As the pain ebbed to a dull throb, I risked putting my feet on the pedals. There was no immediate increase in pain, so I did a small circle. There were a few sharp twinges, but nothing I couldn’t endure.

I actually decided to go on. During some of my previous ankle injuries over the years, it sometimes seemed the trike actually helped as long as I was careful about how my leg was positioned or I didn’t mash the pedals too hard. The hills to that point hadn’t been very difficult either. I felt it was an acceptable risk.

Besides, at almost 70 F, it was too glorious a day to spend pent up inside if I could keep those pedals turning without adding to the injury.

So sad. I could see this fixed up as a little work shed

I think it was a good choice. About 15 minutes after I started rolling again, I called Jens to check in. I told him about the fall, but that I planned to ride on at least for a while unless it got too painful. After riding for those few minutes though, my ankle felt uncomfortable, but no more than an annoyance really.

And it really was such a pretty day. There’ve been a few of these in 2020 admittedly. May 21st was one of them, but it had been a good 4-5 degrees warmer. Ambient temperature for May 22nd as I rode was probably around 68-72 F, but in the sun with no wind, the heat index was probably closer to 80 F. It was on the bare edge of becoming what I find unpleasant, but didn’t quite go over. Such a day close to temperature perfection would have been a sin to waste over something as paltry as a broken ankle. Right?

No clue what it is, but I know it’s not natural.

So, I rode on, taking it easy as I reveled in the scents of spring and pines, soothed by birdsong and wind. You know, there’s no way I wasn’t passed by a few cars on that northward stretch, but there must not have been very many or I was completely zen because I can’t recall a single moment of vehicular annoyance.

Actually after the ankle twisting, the next annoyance I recall was the discovery that a seam had popped on my right shoe. Durnit! I love those shoes! They’re comfy and don’t pinch my toes or rub blisters! You know how rare it is to find shoes to fit my feet with their wide and high instep in a country of skinny and low insteps? Picking up diamonds off the ground rare. That’s how it feels when I have to start the search for a new pair of shoes any way.

There was a bit of grumbling over that as I made it to the end of that road.

A Pasture in Spring Green

I sat at the ‘T’ junction for a while, trying to decide which way to go. Left would take me west. Right would, obviously be east, but also back toward Uppsala. If back toward the city, Jens wouldn’t have to drive so far to pick me up.

In my mind there was also the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I could surprise him by calling for a pick up at the storage! The road sign said it was 33 km (just a smidge over 20 miles) back to Uppsala. My distance at that turn was just a touch over 5 miles. How great would it be to have gone 25 miles in a day? Definitely my longest ride for the year!

Heck, probably my longest ride in multiple years. The only other rides in the past 3 years or so that might come close in my recollection is the out-n-back on the railtrail from Eskilstuna. I think that’s in the 24 mile category. Might be closer to 25.

The dandelions gave this scene the perfect extra POP of color.

Silly as it may sound, it felt possible. I hadn’t tried any walk since getting back in the trike after twisting the ankle, but it felt fine for the 3 miles or so I’d been riding. Hurting less with each mile I’d done. Hardly even twinges to be felt. While not fast up the hills as I’d been taking those easy for my knees and general stamina, I wasn’t having problems with them. After the last ride on the gravel roads, anything paved felt like a dream.

Just loved the birch trees and the look of this pasture

I was gonna do it! Right it was!

Oh for a twist, a turn, even a little curve

It’s a good thing the scenery to either side was pretty because the first mile and a half after that turn was arrow straight. Something about the roads so single directional that one can use them for a straight edge to draw a perfect line is just so boring. It’s kinda like the northern border of Florida which some random person in the past said, “Well, there’s no river to follow, so fine! I’ll just slap this ruler down on the map and *SLASH*, there’s the border between Florida and Georgia.”

Is it a weird thing to be bored by?

But as I said, the scenery was at least pretty in shades of spring green and flowers all over, especially the vivid yellow of dandelions. The unbroken blue of that utterly clear sky.

Not sure what this building was. Perhaps once little school like an earlier one I passed?

Another quirk of mine. I find absolutely clear blue skies kinda boring especially if I’m taking a lot of photos. Unless there’s mountain peaks or trees or something to break up the line of it any way. Give me clouds. Cheerful little puffs or even the risky dramatic skies on the ride of May 17th. Just something to add that extra layer of interest in my pictures.

While I know there are softwares aplenty that can replace a sky and change the lighting in a photo to match (not counting Photoshop), that just seems disingenuous for documenting my rides. If I were doing art photography, that’s different. I want my photos pretty, but not lying about what the weather was like or how it looked.

I really am quirky and rather picky about the strangest things.

The light brown horse being a bully

Finally the road started to have a little curve to it and that offered a bit of shade from time to time. Very welcome. Riding east, there was little that struck a cord of recognition in me. Part of me felt I had ridden the area sometime in the past, with Loke at my side, but maybe not this particularly road back to Uppsala? I wasn’t sure.

Then I saw them. A pasture and paddock area that held not only a pair of horses I didn’t recognize, but also two donkeys. One of them I was sure I’d seen before.

These two donkeys were old acquaintances it seemed

And after looking in my photos, I’ve confirmed it. A photo of some donkeys right in these paddocks and the two there this time were there when I passed here in April, 2011. There were more donkeys then, about 6. Now it seems just the two with the pair of horses.

There might be a third donkey in the near future. Hard to see in photos, but the white one had a belly as round as an exercise ball. Seriously. Looked ready to pop and primed to have a litter instead of the usual single foal donkeys typically have.

At the time that I took this photo, there was the idea that maybe I’d ride back through here in a month or so to see if a bundle of joy had arrived or if little Miss Bebe (as my mental voice has decided to name her) is just as round as a frightened roly-poly.

I have since reconsidered that thought and if I do so, it will require careful weighing of options. All will be revealed as I babble on.

As I put the camera away, the one horse continued to bully the other while leaving the donkeys alone. Pity he seem like such a meanie. I really loved his coloring. The lighter brown and a slight dapple pattern to his coat. I wonder if he’s as big a handful under the saddle?

Chattering happily at the curious donkeys, I rolled on.

Nice!

Not long after that, Mother Nature cleared her throat. The timing was actually rather perfect as I happened upon one of those random ‘through the wood’ trails.

Quite pleasant really. The under growth was more than just blueberries. The scent of the conifers was lovely. The surface, even with the central grassy strip, was easy to ride. The shade was also a nice buffer against the sun as the ambient temperature had very likely edged up toward 74 F and probably over 80. Oddly, I didn’t seem as sensitive to it as I’ve been in the past. Maybe I’m just more resistant or perhaps it was low humidity?

Nature’s demands answered, I found myself riding on down the trail a little further. There was a spot where it went from wonderfully packed dirt and grass to some loose gravel with the strip grown with woody weeds rather than grass a horse would love to munch. Naturally that happened right as it went up a hill. My back tire slipped quite a bit, but I made the climb into a patch of sunlight where an old clear cut was growing back over with trees about 5-8 feet tall. Then there was a fork. One way was overgrown with short grass, but passable. The other was more of the same, dirt and grass, but went toward a small building where sunlight glinted off a car.

I could see a tent there, depending on number of rocks and roots.

As I rode down the grassy way, it occurred to me that part of my curiosity and exploration might be a subconscious preparation for loaded cycle touring. Dragging around a trailer with camping gear and looking for places suitable to set up for the night.

After just 100 or 150 yards or so, the grassy way petered out into a rather rough looking footpath, so infrequently traveled, even it was grassy. Just before that though, there was a wide open flat area to one side. I didn’t check the surface beneath the obvious ground cover, but it was easy to imagine a little camp there. Obviously, I was not the first to think so. There was evidence of a fire probably from last year. The grass was lush and thick around and between the charred lumps of wood that formed a small circle about a foot in diameter.

I got up to turn the trike around to go back. When I sat back down and tried to pedal, something went wrong. A stick in my derailleur I thought.

Oh boy was I right. I’d barely done 2 or 3 cranks on the pedals, but there was a birch twig insanely wrapped around one of the cogs in my derailleur. It had pulled and wrenched the chain all through the system before I realized it.

I swear, birch twigs that look so lovely with green leaves, blowing in the wind like a horse’s tail, are worse than the strongest cordage at times. You can almost use them as cords for tying things up. These were wrapped so tight I couldn’t get a grip and just a little too stiff for me to unwind.

I needed something that I could push between the ‘strands’ and maybe cut them into smaller pieces that would more easily pull loose. Something like a knife… or scissors!

A while back, I decided to cut some pipe insulation into a short enough piece to fasten to the frame of my old neck rest so I wouldn’t have the bars slamming into my neck and base of my skull with every bump. After that, I put the scissors in my handlebar bag. On the previous ride, I’d started to feel a little silly that I still carried them around. Magically, it didn’t seem so silly then as I pulled them out and set to work with much more ease. I still broke a nail though.

The last of the twig removed, I was about to pat myself on the back for getting the problem solved with minimal drama, when I saw chain had fallen from the 40 toothed rear cog, wedging between the cogs and the spokes of the wheel. Not good. I had problems removing the rear wheel before I had the stroke. I didn’t relish arguing with it while sitting hunched in pine needles.

Again, fortunately, I was able to work things around for enough slack and get it back in place. Trike upright once again, I was about to sit down when the biggest threat to continuing the ride reared its ugly head. The chain had also fallen off the small front chainring. It threatened to lock itself tight against the bottom bracket the same way it used to on my old Trice.

Perhaps that could have been the biggest ride ender. Sometimes when it happened on my old trike, the only way to free the chain was to remove the chainrings which requires a special kind of wrench. Guess what I didn’t have?

Luck was with me again. Perhaps it was even the same luck that kept me dry on May 17th while the rest of Uppland was getting drenched and snowed on.

Pretty scene, but wouldn’t it look better with a bit of cloud to breakup the blank blue? 😛

Such a relief when I was able to finally move on from that. I set off at a fairly brisk pace when it was flat or downhill. Still feeling strong and enjoying the ride.

It was about mile 10 when I discovered the ‘seat of the pants’ type of planning for rides in areas I didn’t know too well came back to bite me in the tush.

I glanced at my Garmin which was on the map screen and realized less than half a mile ahead, the road was going to end at the dreaded 272.

One does not ride on the 272 when they are an incredibly pokey woman on a low slung recumbent trike. Particularly when said woman forgot her brightly colored flag. It’s a busy road with a speed limit around 70 mph, but people have NO compunction about driving it much faster. Just 2 lanes and a shoulder that doesn’t have enough space for a mouse let alone anything bike or pedestrian like.

That left me with 2 choices. Find a spot to stop and wait for Jens, turn back for 5 miles to go west, or see if there’s an alternative.

A closer look and I spotted a faint line that hinted at some kind of road that linked up with other tiny, twisty roads through a sea of green that was the map’s way of saying, ‘Here be woods’. Okay. I decided to try that.

There was a sign forbidding motorized traffic when I found it. Was a rougher version of the dirt and grass track that had led to the spot where the twig twisted in my derailleur. There was even muddy potholes. The first wet spots I’d seen on the entire ride. About 300 yards or so on, it joined up with the dirt road.

And the road wasn’t too bad! There was the usual gravel to the sides and spots with it in the center. But the rest was lovely, smooth, hard-packed dirt lacking even potholes and washboarding. It was completely doable!

At the start, there were a few houses. Two of them made me roll my eyes. Seriously, who thinks, “I want a country house. Oh, I know! Let’s buy this plot right next to this other house to build close enough that I can open a window and borrow a cup of sugar without either of us stepping out side!”

If I were to get a country house, I wouldn’t even want to be able to see or hear the neighbors. No overhearing conversations. Not a hint of what TV show they’re watching or music they put on. Just birds and wind. A nice buffer of owned land with the house dead center so no one could even consider plopping down on top of us.

Anyhooo!

The same waterway that’s in Uppsala, but smaller.

The first mile or two was country landscape. Woodland, yes, but fields and little country houses too. I also crossed the Fyris. You know, the river that once powered Ulva Mill and I’ve ridden along every time I’ve done my River Loop hamster track a thousand or more times over 14 years?

Still the Fyris

That was a surprise. In Uppsala, the Fyris is big enough for good sized tour boats. While smaller north of the swimhall, it’s still plenty big for say my kayak or canoes well beyond Ulva Mill and even past Storvreta. But one spot where I stopped to take pictures of this adorable little waterway, definitely wasn’t big enough for my kayak or any canoe. It was a shock to find it was actually the Fyris.

This is a crying shame. An old Volvo. I was thinking ‘ambulance’ for a bit. Now, I wonder if it’s an old coroner’s vehicle.

Not much further on, the road surface became rougher. A few potholes and hint of washboarding. More loose pebbles. It all meant harder and slower going.

I made a point about not stressing about my speed. Was I moving? Yep! Good enough then!

I kept my eye on the Garmin map. Every time I came to anything remotely like an intersection, I checked each one to make sure it wasn’t a dead end. There was one such meeting of the little dirt roads where one choice would have taken me back to roughly the area of the wrapped derailleur. I actually considered that, but no. I wanted to keep heading toward Uppsala in some form or fashion. No backtracking.

Freshly grated except for this narrow little strip.

For that goal, one turn gave me pause. It was the only way to go as the other way was a dead-end and I didn’t want to turn back. It was up a long-ish looking hill for starters, but the main sticking point was a freshly grated surface except for the far right edge.

When first I made my way onto the little gravel roads, I was passed by a single car near the bridge over the mini-Fyris river. Nothing since then. The only people I’d seen was a man out feeding his kenneled dogs with his son.

When I made the turn onto that freshly turned nightmare of dirt, I knew it was gonna be a blissfully quiet ride. I mean, seriously. Look at it. Just two narrow little stripes that I think were small wheels of the road rake the tractor dragged along. No car tires. Not a single set.

That actually wasn’t the worst to come.

40 – 50 minutes. An hour? More? I don’t know. Felt like eternity.

After a bit of slogging along with a slipping tire and trying to push my left front wheel through the soft, loose dirt and rocks, I came up to a recent clear cut.

While the stumps didn’t look particularly raw, the wood stacked along side the road smelled fresh and had a bit of sap that didn’t look too old oozing from the cut ends. As for the road itself. It was mostly loose and churned, nothing packed down tight. The ‘pebbles’ were goose egg sized rocks. If I had to guess I’d say that they put down the huge honking rocks for a road surface that gave heavy machinery some traction and keep it from just digging into the softer dirt.

With the big stones making it hard for the front wheels to move and twisting under the back wheel when it turned, I’d push the pedals and often not gain any ground. At least twice, I had to get up and push the trike for a some yards. And I had thought the fresh grated surface was hard to ride. I found myself hoping for the return of those halcyon moments of small pebbles with loose dirt.

You know it was bad when getting back to this is a relief.

The torment of the huge honking rocks did end and it was a return of the fresh grated surface. It felt almost easy compared to what I’d just endured. Unfortunately, it was all up hill again and with older clear cut to either side. Yet, it felt a relief.

The lake still had its trees!!

Somewhere along here, just over the ridge of clear cut was a small lake. I had somewhat planned to launch the drone for a look at it. However with the torn ground, sun bleached rocks, and scatter of broken limbs, it would have been a horrible disappointment to go through the effort of sending it up only to find the lake was a puddle in the middle of ruination. So, I kept on.

A lost chance. It turned out that around the curve at the top of the climb through the clearcut and then down a quick, bumpy dash of a hill, the trees were intact and there, between some of them, was the shimmer of water. I stopped and pulled myself onto exhausted and wobbling legs to totter to the edge of the reeds for a photo.

It was somewhere around that small lake I had the first sign of human life I’d seen in hours. A very nice couple riding gravel bikes gave me cheery greetings as they sped down the hill I was trying to climb.

The ride continued to be brutal. It was all up or down. The climbs were hard. Pebbles flew out from under my back wheel. My knees hurt. Most of the way I navigated through the confusing tangle of tiny dirt roads was through a nature reserve. That was good. It meant less clear cutting.

I had to be careful on the downhills though. There were potholes lurking and if I slammed into one at 14+ mph, it might have shaken a foot off the pedal and left me with leg suck.

And that would have really sucked. Through most of the nature reserve, I had no cell coverage. If anything happened, odds were I would have been stuck there until someone blundered upon me. Given I was 3 hours or more in that area with only the couple for the entire time, it might have been a very long wait.

At least the ups had some downs.

But even over the hard slog, there was beauty and things that made me smile. Or in the case of the wild boar I saw, quickened my pulse. So many butterflies. A lot of yellow ones. A few white. A handful of one kind that was mostly black. The other type that is in shades of black, burnt umber, and orange who’s caterpillars feed on the hated stinging nettles.

Most enchanting though were the ones I’d never seen before and they were everywhere! I would have loved to get a photo, but they didn’t sit still long enough and they were so TINY! A wing was barely the size of my thumbnail. The color of them. They were the perfect color of lush, summer grass fed by plenty of soft rain and good soil. That vivid sort of green that rivals emeralds. Dainty fluttering jewels that danced on the still air. I couldn’t stop smiling at the sight of them even as my knees screamed up the hills.

It was probably close to 3 pm when I finally saw my first car. It was parked just off the road, but no one in sight. I still had no cell reception though.

Oh, blessed civilization!

It was almost 4 when I came down a hill and the trees parted. The view opened up across a field of dandelions and in the distance, I saw houses. Houses would mean cell coverage again.

I looked at my distance and winced. I was at 19.4-ish miles. Soooo close to 20 miles and I craved that nice round number. No way to get to the city under my own power though. I was somewhat boxed in against the 272 again, but at least I’d planned for it by that point. All the other little roadways would have taken around the city to the southern side adding some 10+ miles. After the first clear cut with its big stones, I’d just been aiming for my longest ride of the year while coming to rest in a spot easy for Jens to pick me up.

I managed to push on for that extra 0.6 mile and finished with 20.04, parking at a little crossroads of 3 dirt lanes meeting with a paved single lane country road.

Longest ride of the year by 4-something miles. I was exhausted, a little sunburned, and my knees hated me so much. I also felt sorry for my poor drone. Not only had it taken the knock when I fell, but every hill on those dirt roads must have been like a paint mixer for the sheer force and amount of vibration it endured.

Hard as it was, I still counted it a good day. I celebrated by going off the vegan wagon with one of Dylan’s incredible pork sandwiches. After only having a smoothie at 7 am and 10-15 pecans, some water, that sandwich tasted so good, it should have been illegal. Seriously.

I’m paying for it, but after a day like that, it was so very, VERY worth it.



Glutton For Punishment
May 23, 2020, 9:03 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Well, the weather was weird there for a while. May 16th, we had rain and then, at one point, we had hail. It came down for nearly 10 minutes and reached the size of peas. It completely covered the back lawn like some kind of bizarre snow. The mornings of course, continued to be in the freezing range.

Yet when I woke up on May 17th, it was in the low 40’s F and sunny. No way was I going to waste the opportunity to get out for a ride elsewhere. Jens was home and I was going to take advantage of it.

Järlåsa Church – March 2011

The place I picked to start the ride was a bit odd. Down the 72 to a tiny little dirt road just off the main way where I’d follow the unpaved country lane to Järlåsa Church. From where, I’d follow another unpaved stretch until just before it rejoined the 72. I was just curious to ride there, and best of all there’s a runestone right where the first dirt road joined the 72. I’ve wanted that stone for years.

It wasn’t going to be a particularly long ride. 7-ish miles, but I figured I’d take my time and it was going to be gravel the whole way, so was still likely to take me 3 hours, especially if I stopped for photos a lot.

We loaded the trike and set off before 8 am. The clear sunny morning had given way to a thin blanket of clouds over Uppsala, but it was almost 50 F. As we headed west 15 miles or so, down the 72, we came out from under the cloud bank into blue skies and sunshine with just a tiny hint of a breeze.

There was a convenient tractor access to unload everything. As I settled the drone’s new case on the rear rack, Jens asked I call every couple of hours and drove off. There was a moment of panic as my phone wasn’t in the usual spot of the handlebar bag. Panicked, I jumped around waving my arms as Jens turned onto the 72 and sped off. Fortunately, a few moments later, I found it. It was hiding in the bag with the bananas and granola of all places.

Uppland Runestone #889

Panic over the phone done with, I went to the important work of walking over to the coveted runestone a short distance away on the other side of the road and a ditch.

The ground was a bit rough to walk on, but I made it without breaking an ankle. Already, not having rolled even an inch on the trike, I had a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Like I said, I’ve wanted that stone for a long time.

Before I moved out, there was one additional task to take care of. Back during the ‘not winter’ we had, I had gone out on a pleasant morning to just fly the drone around. Well, the one launch I made, it was behaving so erratically that it was landed immediately and I came home.

For a while, Jens has been very pushy about me calibrating it and getting the drone out again. He’d all but bullied me into bringing it for this ride.

Off I go!

There was actually a spot on the tractor access level enough to do the calibration. So, for about 15 minutes, that’s what I did. Once it was over, it hovered nice and stable. No wobble or looking as if it was going to stray off on its own random adventures into trees. Otherwise, there was nothing interesting to fly more for photos, so I just packed it back and sat down to pedal off.

The surface wasn’t too bad to start off. Most stones were packed down pretty well except along the edges, of course. The rain over the previous day had wet it down, but it had drained enough that it was only a tiny bit mushy.

Replace the trees with live oaks and it could be sitting on a plantation in Mississippi!

For the first mile or so, it was fields and a handful or less of farm houses to either side of the dirt road. There was one house that went beyond ‘farm house’. As I rolled closer to it, it looked so out of place. It looked for all the world like a small antebellum plantation house. The trees along the drive weren’t live oaks, but for that one detail, it could almost have been sitting in a pre-Civil War plot in the southern states.

I wonder how old the house is and if it might actually have been patterned off the antebellum homes of the south. I mean, architects have never been shy about about borrowing heavily from the styles of other places. Wik’s castle borrows heavily from French design when it was renovated in the 1700’s if memory serves. Why not from the pre-Civil War US?

A glorious spring morning
A hint this road may have been important in the past.

And then, the open fields of farms were behind and I rode a rougher surface between an old clear cut on the left and a woodland of protected nature reserve on the right. It was work to get along and not helped by the fact it felt as if it was on a constant uphill grade.

As I pushed along, it struck me how quiet it was. Actually, since Jens dropped me off, I’d not seen another human being even when there were farm houses in sight. Not a single car had passed either. By time was past the fields and into the landscape of trees, I couldn’t even hear the dull roar of traffic from the 72. Just the various squeaks and rattles of my trike, the wind, and birds.

So empty of humanity and it was bliss. It’s times like that which are the only moments of quiet for me. When I’m at home or any place where there’s people even remotely in the vicinity, I can’t ‘do nothing’. I have to keep my mind distracted or thoughts can take an ugly turn.

On my trike, especially when there’s no cars, no immediate reminder of humanity’s constant swarm, I can sit and just ‘be’, immersing myself in the now. I did that a few times on that abandoned stretch of road. Sat in the trike, eyes closed and listening to the birds and wind, feeling the warmth of the sun that countered the coolness of the air. *dreamy sigh* Recharged from such little pauses, I’d push on, carefully sparing my knees.

There was a hint that the empty lane had perhaps been a significant roadway in the past when one of the traditional road markers appeared on the edge of the trees. Now, except for me, it was a forgotten lane for a mile and a half.

Starting to look a bit unfriendly up there.

During the first mile along the fields, the clear blue I’d started out in had become dotted with cheerful puffs of white. About halfway into the mile and a half along the nature reserve, some of those clouds had become decidedly less cheerful looking. Their bottoms flattened and a darkening gray. It bore watching.

The forecast had said it might be partly cloudy, but there was no mention of rain. Of course, we all know how exact a science meteorology is, right? But I had layers of wool packed, so a light sprinkle would have been no problem to endure. I never wear rain gear any way, except to pile on layers of wool which help maintain warmth even when wet.

Even though I was taking it easy, staying in my easier gears and trying to spin in a gentle tempo rather than mashing on the pedals, it was tiring. The fact the rocks kept slipping under my back wheel didn’t help either. At times it was like being on some kind of sadistic sort of cycle trainer. Outside, but pedalling for 5 miles while only moving 1 mile.

For less than 3 miles, I’d been pedalling for over an hour and a half. As I said, I wasn’t pushing myself. My knees had already been grumbling in protest as it was, but I was determined to be out.

Finally! A little downhill!

Finally, the trees parted and I found myself looking at my first downhill since I’d started the ride. In the distance, I could see sunlight on the fields beyond angry clouds. With a sense of relief, I pushed off down the bumpy descent.

Well, THAT’S not good

The wind was distinctly chill once out on the more open terrain. Once I cleared the trees on the left and could look to the north, there was a surprise waiting for me. Darker clouds with trailing streamers of rain.

One cluster of clouds was doing a slow creep across the fields right toward the little road on which I had to pass. The race was on!

Well, perhaps ‘race’ is too generous a term. I was slow. The rain cloud was slow. If there’d been any spectators, it would have been like watching snails charge toward a finish line.

There was just nothing in me to push faster in an attempt to try and beat the wet falling from the sky. My knees were complaining, the surface was still covered with loose rocks and the dirt was looser and wet enough to be boggy. It wasn’t quite like riding on churned sand, but not far off. I went with hunched shoulders, expected to get dumped on at any moment.

Yet, it never happened. There was maybe a single drop, two at the most that might have tapped on my Da Brim, but no more than that. I’m not sure if I beat the rain or it just missed me, but dry I stayed. I counted it a minor miracle.

Pretty, and curious rather than afraid.

The end of the first half of the ride finished with yet another climb on those rocks. Just over the trees atop the hill I worked, I could see the dome of Järlåsa Church’s roof.

Slow as I was, I had plenty of time to look around. All around, on every horizon was dark clouds and veils of rain. Annoying, it has to be said. Those little bursts of rain brought wind gusts as well and those were quite chilly at times. Enough that I was pulling the sleeves of my fuzzy thermal tops down over my fingers for lack of gloves. I didn’t relish getting wet in 40 F temp especially since I didn’t have any extra wool layers for my legs if it was more than a light sprinkle. Those streamers were definitely more than light sprinkles.

I reached the church and came to a stop in the parking lot. The restroom there was a welcome respite, not only to answer the call of nature, but to get out of the wind and get a little bit of warmth back in my hands.

Back out in the parking, I thought about putting the drone out and getting an above shot of the church, but it felt too busy. People visiting the graves, someone mowing a lawn at a house a few yards away. Getting out and flying around with something that sounded like a couple hundred soft-ball sized bumblebees felt too intrusive.

I did check to see if the church was open. Alas, no luck.

After trying the church door, I sat in the trike and looked around at all the clouds. After about 10 minutes as I struggled with the choices of calling for a pickup rather than risk rain or push on, the sun actually came out over the church. Then it was time to call Jens to check in any way. I pulled my phone out to discover a text from him had pinged in about 15 minutes earlier. “It’s snowing here! Are you okay?!”

Wait, what?! Snow in Uppsala? It had been almost 50 F when we left the storage to drive to the runestone! Now it was snowing??

I called and told him I was fine and had been dry… so far. There were rain clouds everywhere, but it was in the low 50’s and the rain had missed me. I told him I was going to wait a few minutes to decide if it was going to be time to come home or to get a few more miles in.

As if to help the decision, about 5 minutes later, the patch of sun overhead extended off to the west, the clouds parting like the Red Sea. That avenue of warm light pulled me onward.

At the bottom of the hill, more rain
Pretty sure this was snow.

From the church it was a screaming, mad dash down a steep hill for a bit less than a quarter mile. I went all white knuckled and tense as I hit over 20 mph. It was a short paved strip before bumping hard down onto more gravel, but I had already known there was going to be more of that. At the bottom, I took stock of the situation around me. More clouds and more rain veils.

Before reaching the trees on the other side of the fields, there was a streak of ‘rain’ that didn’t look quite like rain. Rain is typically a gray in a hue that is the same, or very close to, the same shade as the bottom of the cloud it comes from. This was a pale gray, almost white really, and had a ‘wispy’ look to it.

Also, though the probable snow never reached me, my Garmin’s temp display took a sharp 10 degree drop from low 50’s to low 40’s F. Brrr.

The assault of cold winds that came with the lack of sun and threats of rain wasn’t constant though. After all, it had been a corridor of sunlight which lured me away from the church.

I was glad it did. The going was marginally easier than it had been on the first half of the ride. The surface of the road firmer, but that meant the pebbles were more likely to spin under my tires. It was also busier with cars passing by me with an unexpected frequency. To be fair, there were more houses.

Sunshine and history, hand in hand.

It turned out there was also more obvious history along the way. The first hint of that I got was pedalling slowly along and came up to a tiny little rill your average person can just jump over. Of course, cars can’t jump so there was a smidge of the a bridge. As I came up to the rail, I spotted a sign just to the side.

Another Road Marker and more important looking than the first

It turned out, the bridge had a name, Porslinsbron (The Porcelain’s Bridge). Just to the left of my trike in the photo (I think) was a porcelain factory between 1795 to 1822 when a man named Olof Petter Rothenburg-Rudbeck took over such a factor in Vänge and relocated to this location. There’s nothing left of it except the place name of the bridge and historical records.

The slow pace gave offered plenty opportunity to keep an eye out for other such signs. There was also about half an hour where I had sunshine and temps bumped back up into the 50’s. Even with my spinning rear tire on any incline greater than 3%, it was a pleasant ride in spite of aching knees and tiring legs.

One motivation that drove me onward was my curiosity about the lake. On the map, the little road ran right against the shore of a small body of water. Bigger than a pond at least, though just a drop in the bucket compared to Mälaren.

Lovely view!
Pretty scene with the adorable bridge

I’m glad I went on. The meandering along the lake shore was lovely. The people in the area clearly take care of it. Flower studded clipped lawn with picnic tables. There’s even a spot where another tiny rivulet comes down to the lake where someone built a cute little wooden arched bridge across.

Not sure what that ‘puddle’ is, but it is man-made. A silt choked dock area maybe?
A well so close to the lake?

There were more cars and people moving around as they tended to their yards. There was also a mystery spot where a small road branched off the lane I was on. Cars were crammed in everywhere and even a parking guard. I didn’t see what could be drawing so many people. Honestly, I was too tired to even think of investigating.

This bit of unpaved roadway had a heyday back in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. I found signs for an inn though there was nothing to see at the spot except a bunch of chest high thickets. Apparently within a 300 yard stretches there were actually TWO inns as this had been a significant thoroughfare toward Uppsala in the past.

In another spot, there was also a sign for a smithy which had been in operation from 1764 until 1940. Again, not much left except for the foundation… which the current owner had used to put up his summer house.

More scenery and approaching clouds to the west

My energy started to flag once I left the views of the lake behind. My back tire seemed to slip more. It was harder to push the trike onward. The scenery seemed to lose its magic in the face of my exhaustion and the unwillingness of my legs to put up with much more of the unpaved surface and hills. Hills, which were never very long mind you, just briefly steep and close together.

And then of course, the hour or so of sunshine along the lake I’d gotten to enjoy started to get a bit shadowed. The clouds on all horizons crept in, shrinking the opening of blue above.

Oops. It didn’t look good.

Then came the moment when I was sure I’d pushed my luck too far. I was about half a mile from where the road was going to rejoin the 72, so had started to look for a spot to wait for Jens. A dark scowl of a cloud swept up on the wings of a chill wind that dropped the temperature by 12 degrees or more. I pulled out all the wool I had and wished for a hat too. Any thought of sending up the drone in the field across from where I waited disappeared with the rise of heavy gusts.

I sat hunched in my trike, waiting for that cloud to start dumping either rain, snow, or both on me.

It never came. It was all threat and bluster. By time Jens arrived, the sun was peeking back out and the temperature started to rise.

Jens asked how much I’d gotten rained or snowed on, shocked when the answer was none. There’d been dense flurries with rain-snow mix in Uppsala for hours. Even on the way to get me, he’d passed through three fairly heavy rain showers. Yet I’d stayed dry for the entire ride.

Maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket? My luck is rarely that good. I was so exhausted. It was good to sit in a seat I didn’t have to pedal and even better to get home and eat. Coming up on 2 pm, I’d had nothing since about 7 am. I was ravenous.



Surprises on Old Ground
May 15, 2020, 10:05 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

After May 6th, I didn’t ride. Part of it has been the weather. Mornings have been frosty. May 11th, at lunch time, there were snowflakes swirling through the air. I haven’t been able to get the OOMPH (not the meat replacement) to get out into the chill for rides.

And there’s been other stuff, but I haven’t decided if I’ll touch on that.

The next ride, however was May 9th.

It was one of those days that my mood was beyond foul. It was vile. I was hovering on the verge of smacking Jens with blunt objects. I snarled when spoken to, I paced through the apartment like a big cat with a broken tail just looking for something to rip to shreds. Everything grated on my last nerve like sandpaper on raw flesh. It was not helped by the fact that it seemed no matter what I did, it went wrong. Not disastrously wrong, but just pushing toward that last annoying straw that snaps the camel’s back kinda thing. Oh, and let’s toss crappy sleep on top of all that. That always helps a mood.

Then Jens, taking his life precariously into his own hands, started pressing me to get out for a ride. Thankfully it was warm enough. It might have gone very differently if I’d decided it was too cold to ride given my current aversion to extra or puffy layers.

The original plan had been to load the trike and go to Ulva Mill since Jens had an errand there. Just the short distance to the storage, I decided I’d just ride from the garage. I could NOT be bothered with the effort of loading the trike. There was this image in my mind’s eye that I’d be trying to get it on, something would go wrong and I’d hulk out and start smashing it while shrieking in white hot rage.

It really was a glorious time to get out for a ride. It was about 60 F, not much wind and the sky was blue with just thin, veil like smudges of clouds. I wasn’t really sure where I was going to ride. I had mentioned to Jens that I had thought to do one of the countryside rides that went through Ulva Mill area, but I didn’t know if the bridge had been reopened.

At first, even in the open air and sunshine, I felt as if I rolled under a dark cloud sparking with lightning, but the truly gorgeous weather did act on my mood like water wearing on a stone. The soft air and warm sun just kinda working to smooth the jagged edges of the temper. There was some set back to it though. The SILLY amount of traffic on Old Börje Road. Seemed every 10-15 seconds a car was passing from one way or another. There was no way to listen for larks with the roar of rubber on the road reinforced with a noisy motor spewing fumes in my face.

Before reaching the cross roads where I’d have to decide which ride it was gonna be, Jens called to let me know that the bridge was open. That decided me. I went straight through the crossroad, heading for Börje church and the rest of the 18-ish mile loop beyond it.

On the other side of the cross-roads, traffic was a bit better. There were times I could actually hear a lark or a lapwing for a change. My mood started to improve a bit faster with lesser traffic.

With the tension going out of me, I was able to enjoy the day more and observe my surroundings. I wasn’t taking many pictures for the first 5 miles or so because it’s spots I’ve ridden and photographed so much. Once I was headed on the road to Börje beyond the cross-roads, I started taking a few more. It’s been a while since I’ve gone that way and I was relaxed enough to notice.

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Someone to the rescue!

One spot that made me smile and do a quick snap was discovering a little cottage like building apparently getting a renovation. I’ve always liked the little structure and, as always, the neglect and ruin into which it was slumping made me sad. So good to see it made someone else sad and they were now remedying the situation.

Like the yellow house, I’ll be keeping an eye on its progress.

I wonder if it’s the same couple doing this building as are doing the yellow house. The woman mentioned they’re also doing some building near the cross-road.

I pushed on toward the church and had to give a bitter sweet smile at the memory of how much Loke loved that stretch. A sharp downhill with a tight curve into a mostly flat dash straight past the church with another gentle downhill and curve to whip into a turn. He so loved to run that half mile.

05-10 b Börje New Angle

Börje is lovely in the distance. May, 2018

Börje Church holds a lot of memories for me too. Stopping there in the autumn to pick apples. Right by the churchyard wall is where I hit that black ice and flipped the trike. Loke might have saved my life by stomping on me to bring me out of my addled daze so I could move out of the road before some car came whipping around the blind curve and smashed me. Börje was the first Swedish country church I rode to on my first trike back in 2006 along with its runestone in the wall being the first of those as well. Out of all those memories, there was one that was lacking.

With my desire to keep the triking group I’m part of on Facebook regaled with images of my ride, I stopped in the grass at the vicarage across from Börje church to get a photo of the bell tower. A good thing I did too! As I put the camera away, I grabbed the back of the trike to turn it for a quicker start out of the parking lot. My gaze absently swept over the front of the church. Whiplash about ensued as my attention went from distracted and lazy to direct in a split moment.

The door of the church’s porch was ajar. 14 years passing this church on dozens of rides and not once had I ever seen the door open that I can recall. I’ve never seen the inside of Börje church.

I don’t think I looked away from that slightly open door even once as I grabbed my handlebar bag off the trike and fumbled with the lock to make sure it stayed put. Nor do I believe I looked away as I scampered across the road and made the hurried scramble up steps through the churchyard gate and to the door itself.

By the door, there was a small ‘A-frame’ sign. The church was open on Saturdays and Sundays through the summer during day-time hours. I guess that means it’s now acting as a ‘Road Church’. A new development

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Interior of Börje Church’s porch. Even faded, the paintings are lovely.

Slipping quietly through the half open door to avoid disturbing anyone, the first thing that leapt out at me were the murals. Second was the unusual shape the original doors might have been. I thought what a shame it was that they had been bricked in for more conventional door shapes.

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An Alms Bucket.

The next thing to catch my eye was an old alms bucket locked to a bracket on the wall beside the outer door. I loved the old iron work and just the sense of age it had. It fascinated me to no end.

During the moments where I took my pictures and just admired the walls and the alms container, 3 other people came out of the church. I stepped well back against the wall to give them space to pass and then went in.

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Finally! The interior of Börje Church! From Crappy to Happy Day!

While not the most stunning of little churches I’ve seen, it was beautiful and I felt giddy finally getting inside. It was empty, but I moved quietly. While not religious, I do show respect for others beliefs and it just seemed wrong to go stomping carelessly through a building that has seen some 700+ years of time.

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Interesting Pulpit.

I couldn’t stop craning my neck around, trying to see everything at once. I don’t know why I was rushing. Perhaps it was just disbelief at this chance and excitement?

One of my favorite details was the pulpit. A rather nice one, but in most ways, very like most others I’ve seen. The one difference that made it distinctive was where most pulpits are mounted by a stair case along the wall, or in rare instances, from a small, but grand sort of staircase entered through a small structure, this one was entered from another room. My guess is, one comes into it from the sacristy. Pretty neat I thought.

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Faded, but beautiful. Mostly angels and maybe some saints. Can’t tell for sure.

The murals were everywhere. Pity they were so faded. For the ceiling photo, I increased the contrast to bring the images into better view. I bet in their glory days, the paintings were stunning. They’re still pretty.

I heard someone come in as I walked to the front of the church, stopping short of stepping up into the chancel area

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A triptych from the 1300’s.

Above the alter was a triptych. I’m a bit uncertain which it represents.  The central figure in the middle panel is clearly Jesus. There are 12 secondary figures, which initially brought to mind the 12 Apostles. It’s just that 2 or 3 of them look very feminine, such as the one immediately to the left which made me wonder if the two beside Jesus might be Mary and Joseph. If that’s so, then maybe the others are saints? My research offered no hints, only that the artifact dates to the 1300’s.

Finished with my exploration, I turned to leave as two men, one perhaps 50 or 60 years old, the other in his early 20’s, climbed up to the organ loft. I’d only taken a few steps when the older of the two, dressed in all black, sat down at the organ. I all but dropped my handlebar bag to fumble my phone out as the organ came to life.

I couldn’t stop grinning as the pastor played something to warm up a bit or perhaps blow the dust from the pipes. Not only was I so lucky as to finally see the inside of Börje Church after 14 years, but also getting to hear a pipe organ for the first time in a Swedish country church. The day really had improved!

After I recorded a bit and went to leave, he started playing around with the higher range. Those organs really have reach from deep bassy voices that can vibrate in your chest to shrill high notes that can give a penny whistle a run for its money.

I was practically walking on air as I went back to the trike.

The next few miles of the ride were nice. Just around the curve that was the site of the 2012 crash, I made the right hand turn and breathed a sigh of relief. For a bit, the way would be less trafficked. I mean, even less than it had been after the cross roads. I spun along enjoying the greening of the landscape, helped along by the rain we’d had in previous days. Most of 3 miles, the only sounds were those from the trike and birds. Perhaps the distant roar of traffic far out of sight. I was passed by one car.

There’s also fun to be had on that stretch. Almost a half mile of ‘WHEEEEEE!!!’ There’s a few spots of that on the 18-ish mile loop. That one past Börje Church about half a mile. Then, once you’ve climbed up from that first WHEEEEE!! there’s another one that stops at the base of another climb, atop which sits the ‘Old Farm’. Just past old farm is what is probably the biggest of the mad, downhill dashes where one whips around a curve over a bridge as fast as they dare. It’s not quite as fast as it used to be since they repaved it with chipseal. Chipseal. *shudder* That stuff just plays havoc with rolling resistance.

As I hit that first long downhill, I whimsically pulled out my phone, securing it to my wrist for the downhill glide. I didn’t pedal much, just enjoying the ride and trying to keep my front left fender from rattling all through the recording.

I noted some changes in the surroundings as I climbed up from that downhill dash. A house I know had done some serious expansion and remodeling. Across from it, what had been a steeply wooded hill of nothing but trees now had a fresh gravel lane heading up and over the ridge.

Then it was another 20 mph charge before the climb back up to Old Farm.

House at Gamla Gården

House at Gamla Gården – 2015

I was glad to reach the old farm. There’s an outhouse there, always clean, with water and soap to wash hands, and no smell. The timing was perfect. As I rolled to a stop outside the gate, I was a little sad.

When I first discovered Old Farm back in probably 2006, I was utterly charmed. A lovely green space to take a rest. Answer nature’s call, have a light snack while letting Loke sniff around, all in the shade of beautiful birch trees and surrounded by spring flowers early in the year. I loved those birch trees.

Now, no more birch trees. Two or three of them were cut over the past few years, but now they’re all gone. The last 6 or 8 of them just went down recently from the look of the stumps. The raw wood hasn’t gone gray, which happens within weeks or a few months of weathering. It was as pale as fresh buttermilk. Now the whole yard is sunshine. There were flowers, almost dense enough to be called a carpet, but it didn’t make up for the loss of those beautiful trees with their branches of vibrant spring green swinging like locks of beautiful hair in the breezes. I’ll miss their shade when I ride there on warm days.

I left Old Farm and went down the really big WHEEE!! I chickened out a bit at the bottom curve. There’s always this image of coming down that hill at 30 mph, my tires losing grip as I whip the curve. Or worse, coming down, hitting that curve and smashing into the grill of a car that’s hugged the inner part of the curve in the wrong direction like a race car driver on a track.

The rest of the ride would have been fairly usual I think, if not for the pain that started around mile 11. My knees were unhappy with me. By mile 12, one of my groin muscles decided to join in the fun. I probably should have stopped at Ulva Mill for a pick up, but I really hoped the pain would just stop so I could make it home.

From Ulva, I took the gravel field path along the river that joins up with the old E4. That was probably a mistake. While the rolling resistance wasn’t like riding in loose sand, it was harder work than if I’d stayed on the road even with it’s 2-3% gradient.

By time I reached pavement again, my knees and groin were unforgiving. Naturally, there was no where for a car to sit while a trike was loaded on a hitch rack. I had to push up that long (.56 mile) 4-5% grade to the nearest safe spot. I reached the odd little loop of pavement by the old E4 where one can turn toward Old Uppsala and sent Jens a map pin of where to get me.

After a while, he called. The hitch was stuck in the car where it tucks away. He’d been fighting with it, but it just wouldn’t come loose so he could mount the bike rack. No way to come get me.

That was unpleasant news. There were 2 ways for me to get home. My usual way through Old Uppsala which involved a few climbs, all of them fairly short, but very steep. In theory, going along the E4 toward the storage was also feasible. The wide shoulders went all the way down to the road with the garrison and the residential area beyond which I often use as extra distance on my River Loop hamster track. It was shorter, though later it was surprising to see it was only shorter by half a mile. More importantly though, few to no hills. Maybe even a tiny bit of a decline.

I hesitated to take the old E4 though. It’s unpleasant enough to endure it for the .56 mile from where the cycle path ends to the turn toward Old Uppsala. Adding a mile or so more wasn’t gonna be fun with traffic blasting by. Add to it that people sometimes use the shoulder as an extra lane to get out of the way of cars going faster than they are.

I sighed and turned the trike toward Old Uppsala. I was just coming up the steep hill by Disa Farm when the phone rang again. Jens was able to get the hitch out. As I struggled painfully with the climb, I gasped out Disa Farm.

As I rolled to a stop in the parking, Jens arrived and helped me load the trike.

If he’d picked me up at the loop by the old E4, the ride would have been 13-something miles. At Disa Farm, I had 15.3 miles for the whole thing. Even the 13 miles would have been the new ‘Longest Ride of the Year’. Still it felt good to break 15 miles.

Since then, ride wise, I’ve been pretty lazy. Poor sleep is a lot of it and stress. Jens’ father is having some medical issues, enough that he’s had multiple trips to the hospital. We’re hoping those have gotten under control. But with the pandemic crap on top of the rest, it’s worrying to have my awesome father-in-law in the hospital. None of us can visit him, but at least he doesn’t have the virus and is in a section of the hospital that doesn’t deal with Corona patients. The Swedish medical community is being VERY careful.

Frigid mornings and chilly days even when it’s not been raining, or even better, snowing, add to my reluctance to go out for rides. I just feel the cold so keenly of late.

So, that’s all for the moment. Hopefully things will improve soon. But it was a nice ride for about 11 miles and I got to see inside Börje Church and hear a pipe organ!!



Still Riding!
May 6, 2020, 1:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, after hitting send on my last post of April 22nd, I went out the door for a ride. That, or I didn’t mention that day’s ride because it was pretty horrible. The weather was glorious. No clouds, still air, maybe a little nippy, blah, blah, blah.

I didn’t get out as early as I wanted to avoid the crowds on the paths, both commuters and people out for exercise. Jens had to take his mom to the doctor’s office though for nothing serious. That went quicker than expected so I was in the trike by 8:30.

I didn’t even make 3 miles. I was racking my brain for ways to avoid the crush of people rushing to work and school and actually was doing pretty decent at it. The first mile was mostly downhill, so it felt pretty okay. Then I actually had to start pedaling and it was HELL. I couldn’t breathe, my vision was graying out as I gasped like a beached fish. My feet were SCREAMING no matter how I tap-danced on the pedals. Nope! No way was I gonna suffer for miles more with all that going on. I struggled back to the storage.

Even after all that, I got myself out the door for a ride the next day (April 23rd). My hunny, with the best intentions I’m sure, was being a bit of pest about me going pedalling. Even to the point of assuring me that his work load for the day was light so if I wanted to do one of those ‘pick a direction’ rides he could come pick me up with no problem.

Though not the earliest start, which meant it was a bit of a gamble with how crowded the paths might be, I decided to risk it. Would be nice to get out of the house again.

I set off to the north, toward Gamla Uppsala with the vague notion to kinda head off toward Funbo. Not too far from Funbo, I seem to recall an old mill that I was curious to re-examine.

I have to say, it turned out to be a perfect spring day for a ride. The sky was utterly clear and the sun warm with still air just cool enough that it didn’t get hot. Unlike the previous attempt, I felt pretty good. My cadence was just shy of 70 RPM which is pretty darn good for me. As I went up that first mile of gentle climb, I didn’t feel too bad at all making April 22nd even more of a mystery.

When they moved the rail line through the major portion of Old Uppsala into a tunnel, they turned most of the old rail bed into a gravel cycle path. The section on the north side of Old Uppsala, I’ve ridden a couple times, but never the part on the south side of the burial mounds parking. This time, I was gonna try it!

Just a quick scurry across Vattholma Road at the proper moment and I rolled onto it.

Nope! The gravel was loose and mixed with some sand. A perfect quagmire to my tires, combined with that 2-3% slope. I turned around to go right back to the paved path.

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Old Rail Bed – North end. Not a single cloud to be seen.

I stopped at the new bathroom area at the Gamla Uppsala parking before heading on to the north again. The first two times on the north end of the short rail-trail were fine, so I gave it another go. MUCH better than the south end. More solid a surface and it was downhill. Away from the steady stream of traffic, it was more peaceful too with larks singing. The paved, road-side path is more fun, being a long 15-20 mph dive down from the ridge upon which Gamla Uppsala sits, but the other way is almost tranquil and had fewer people.

From the bottom of the trail where it rejoins the cycle path, it was time for a steep-ish climb to where I was supposed to make a turn.  I came up to the intersection and paused. One way was kinda off toward Funbo by going along roads that make up a portion of my 10 mile country loop. There was an impulse to continue north. I’ve not gone that way nearly as often. It’s possible to get to Funbo by way of Storvreta, it’s just further. Even if I didn’t make it, Jens was ready to come get me no matter where I ended up.

Northward ho! For a while, there were shockingly few people on the miles long cycle path. Then it was about noon-ish, I think when it seemed there was a swarm of not only people on bikes, but pedestrians too. That struck me as very strange as I doubt there was a single house for miles.

Annoyingly, not even a hour after having stopped for a rest break at Gamla Uppsala, less than 3 miles, Mother Nature was making noises again. It was quickly becoming urgent.

I don’t know why or how it happens. At home, I can gulp water or other liquids like a fish and only need to answer nature a few times a day. Drink very little and border on dehydration, and I’m needing to go every 20 minutes if I’m on the trike! It’s infuriating.

Along a busy road, fields with no screening trees anywhere, I got desperate fast. There is a gas station and restaurant sort of thing near where the E4 crosses the road. I decided to pop into the restaurant for the restroom and to see if they had any options for a vegan meal.

It was just as well, I wanted the food, because the bathroom was either pay for it or for customers.

The only thing remotely vegan they had was a vegetarian pizza, so I ordered it without the cheese. Got the code for the bathroom, sweet relief, and then waited for my pizza.

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Cooked crust but raw veggies and WAY too many olives!

While the staff were very nice, one guy even curious to chat with me about the US and he knew where Mobile, Alabama was, the pizza fell on its face… hard.

It must have been some serious magic going on in the oven to have cooked the dough into a mostly crispy kind of crust while leaving every shred of vegetable on it absolutely raw. Also, the cook went seriously insane with the olives and I really dislike olives. Mushrooms I’ve learned to be okay with, but olives still make me cringe.

I also discovered that while it looked as if there was enough tomato sauce on it, I couldn’t taste so much as a hint of it unless it was a piece of the crust that lacked anything else.

Still, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna get home before 3 pm for real food, so I settled for flicking the olives out the way, cutting pieces of it, rolling them into tubes and munching on it like a burrito. Managed to get a bit more than half of it down before my stomach protested at the abuse.

While their vegan pizza left much to be desired, a woman at a nearby table had burger and fries. I could hear the fries crisp with each one she ate and the burger looked and smelled divine.

I confess. I almost broke. Somehow, I stayed strong though.

I left the restaurant and pushed on, tackling another of the climbs that the area has. Generally not very long, but steep and I’m just so very slow on them.

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The road less traveled! So brown for this time of year!

Still on the fringes of Storvreta proper, I paused where a gravel path joined the paved one on which I traveled. The 4-5 times I’ve ridden to Storvreta, I’ve passed that path, cutting through a field and disappearing into a patch of woods a short distance away. Curiosity always made me turn my head as I went by, but I never jumped on it. After just a short pause, any thought of pushing toward Funbo and searching for the mill beyond evaporated.

Crossing the stretch over the field, it struck me how dry everything looked. Fresh grass was scarce. Where it was sunny, there were few to none in the way of spring flowers. Some fields had blushes of green where farmers had plowed earlier in the month when we still were getting a little rain.

Other fields though were the brown of desiccated, winter dried grain stalks left from last autumn’s harvest or the pale dusty brown where plowed dirt had gone parched, lacking either the seed or the moisture to sprout them.

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Up and over, stopping to look at the pretty, purple flowers not visible in the picture.

No, flowers were reserved for the shadowy hollows of the woods where the boughs of trees protected the moisture from greedy sun and wind.

I didn’t stress about my speed as I crossed the field or pushed up a hump of a little hill at the fringe of the woodland. This was fresh ground, new vistas. I wanted to savour it and save my knees for what lay beyond.

There was quite a tangle of paths in that patch of woodland. One of them seemed to run off toward the area just south of where I’d had the pizza. Perhaps if I went this way again, I’d take that path to get away from the constant buzz of traffic on the road.

There was the additional good fortune that I appeared to have it all to myself.

The absolute bliss of seeing nothing but rocks, most of them under thick, shaggy coats of moss, trees, and a few shy, woodland flowers didn’t last too long. It seemed hardly after a blink, the path was running off between two rows of houses, with their small backyards to either side and an occasional intersection leading off to meet with with the streets.

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A bit rough, but pretty.

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See! Flowers!

Then, it was back to dense trees though all around, there were glimpses of tile roofs and brick walls of apartments and houses. The path got surprisingly rough. No hint of gravel, just big knobs and obstacles of tree roots with pine needles. It required quite a lot of work and some creative swerving in a couple spots.

I was pretty much ringed in by residential streets by that point and the paths met up with them. They were small and quiet, but I was disappointed that I was surrounded by houses and small apartment blocks. I stopped to flip around on my Garmin’s map to see if there was something worth heading for or if I should just turn back.

Intriguingly, there seemed to be more ‘country’ paths if I pushed on a bit further. So, that’s what I did.

The way off the residential streets was over a narrow board bridge crossing a ditch. After eyeing it dubiously for a moment, I decided it was wide enough. And it was, by the width of a finger for each front wheel. An inopportune sneeze could have had me in the dry ditch with the trike on top of me it was such a narrow margin.

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Not bad! I was intrigued!

The path turned into one of those striped tracks. Trees to the left, a field to the right and a rail line against the field.

One good thing about the lack of rain at that point was the grass in the center and to the sides of the track was withered and flattened after the winter. Rain might have left it all tall and lush, something that would have been harder to push through. I did have to wonder though if Jens would be able to reach me if something happened.

Ah well, if something did happen, I’d just have to figure it out, right?

Tension just flowed away as I ambled along with the trike. The surface wasn’t too bumpy. The sun was pleasant. Birds were singing and since leaving the streets, I’d not seen another human being.

Every now and again, I’d stop to search the paths dotted on the Garmin map. I realized this was the complex of paths that linked up with Jälla to the south. If I could reach Jälla, then there was a chance I could head to Gränby from there and back home all on my own.

With that planned out, I started searching for the intersection I needed.

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Not too bad, but it’s always more about what it becomes.

Discovering it didn’t inspire much confidence in me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a perfectly lovely foot path. Nice and wide for a hiker, good surface. For my trike? Workable, but heaven forbid if it got much narrower.

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No how. No way.

It was pleasant actually. Then, I came to the path headed off in the direction required.

It was a rut of loose dirt and torn grass going up the side of a steep hill. Nope. The path that had led me there continued, but not toward anything helpful to me and it was a bit narrower so I’d have had to push through with branches grabbing at me. The bigger track seemed to go on toward some country roads though, so I turned back.

Winding onward to the south, more people turned up, all of them on mountain bikes. At least with the triple track, there was plenty of room to give distance for passing. Everyone was polite and it was all, ‘get over as far as possible with a cheery greeting’ kind of thing. People in town could take lessons.

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Uhhhh. What happened?!

So, there I was, rolling happily along and heading for a country road ahead when the track threw me for a curve. It disappeared.

Seriously, all that remained was a narrow strip of packed and rutted dirt between woods and the soft earth of a plowed field. I was really glad of the lack of rain at that point. Swedish field dirt turns into a gooey, clinging mess if its wet. Trying to walk on it will get you a 10 pound clump on each foot after just a few steps. Getting a trike wheel through something like that would have been impossible. One wheel in dry loose dirt wasn’t bad, just hard work.

At the end of that dirt strip, was a essentially a rough lawn. Given that people had been passing me and had to be coming and going from this area, I did as they must have and went on. I stayed respectfully to the side, following the faint hint of a path until I reached the unpaved road.

The road was a dead-end with maybe 6 houses on it. Yet, I was passed by over a dozen cars as I pedalled on and reached pavement. It was just weird how much traffic there was for such a nowhere road with so few houses. Seriously.

After all this, I was actually feeling quite exhausted and my knees were starting to hurt. Rolling along, I started looking for somewhere to stop for pick up. Looking at the map, it seemed I could come out near the restaurant. Big parking area, perfect spot to load the trike. The road did a bit of a curve and then a steep up and over the rail track. Just looking at it made my knees scream. Right about there was a big tractor access for the adjacent field. Plenty of space for the car to tuck in with room to maneuver and no problem loading the trike.

As I waited for Jens to come find me, I started to hear a duck. That was baffling as a quick glance around showed no hint of water any where. The sound kept coming though. Finally, I got up to look. It turned out that a field boundary I thought was a rough strip of growth was, in fact, quite a deep channel and it had a little bit of water in it. Down there, in a puddle I could have hopped over, was the mystery duck.

And, I made it home in time to have my dinner before 3 pm! 12.2 miles and a nice day.

The next ride wasn’t until May 2nd. The reason being, we had another cold snap, complete with spates of snow. Another day where it was chilly and, for some reason, I REALLY was suffering from the lower temperatures. Walked around the apartment bundled up to the ears and went to bed that night under a mountain of blankets.

May 1st was warmer, but we finally got some much needed rain. Most of Sweden was already under a fire ban and it was only April. Of course, the ‘April and through summer fire-ban’ seems to be turning into a ‘thing’. It was also Valborg and remarkably, most Swedes showed unexpected restraint. There were no mass waves of alcohol poisonings and screaming and shouting until all hours of the night. Part of that was probably many of the official activities for the holiday were canceled and the unofficial ones were stopped by rain.

Being the weekend, Jens offered to do the ‘pick a direction and I’ll come get you’ thing. It didn’t look certain at first, since the morning started with rain. That stopped about 9:30 am, but the clouds stayed heavy and threatening. When the street started to get dry patches, I decided to roll with his idea since it was warm enough. After being cooped up for so long though, I was willing to risk it. I decided to head off toward Funbo and that mill again.

I wasn’t the only one getting out, but a startling number of people weren’t being as reasonable as I was about what activity to do. Along the way toward Gamla Uppsala, the soccer fields were PACKED with people. If there’s still a ban on gatherings of more than 50, I’d say this broke it by 4 times over if not more.

I don’t know why, but I just lost the oomph to make it a pick up later. After making the turn off Vattholma road, my mind was made up to just do the 10-ish mile Vaksala Loop.

I didn’t turn out that way though. I wound up just doing my shortest country loop that I’ve dubbed ‘Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Loop’

There were larks singing and I thought, maybe things were already starting to look a bit green. It did appear especially that the birch trees had gone berserk and were wearing their spring time finery of pale, yellow-green.

The ride turned into a tiny bit more than the 10 mile loop. I find I have an odd impulse to just take off in random directions off places I’ve ridden countless times. I was coming down the country road when an unpaved track of gravel and pine needles heading off through the trees caught my eye.

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Almost a fairy tale path.

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Can’t help but to love spring!

It’s probably caught my eye most of the 100 times or more I’ve ridden by it, but I always just kept going. Well, this time when giving the customary curious glance, I was enchanted by the flowers. All through the patch of woods there, small white blossoms peeking up from the green of leaves carpeted the ground. There was no resisting.

It started off wide enough for a car, but soon narrowed down to more modest proportions. Still plenty for the trike though. The wet earth was perhaps a little boggy under the tires, but I truly didn’t care. The flowers were everywhere and sleepy birdsong filled the softly muted shadows of the wood. I was beyond content to be rolling along at a walking pace. Gave me plenty of time to just take it all in.

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Just perfect. Wish I’d had 1000 miles more of this to explore.

Going along the path got slower still when it narrowed again and still more at one point when to get past a rock in the middle of the narrow path, I was tilted at a 45 degree angle and expected to just flip right over.

I had hoped to follow the path along to where it came out further along the road I usually ride. The plan was thwarted by a fallen tree over the trail. It had been there a while. Long enough for no less than two paths to be worn around, but they were very narrow, meant for people squeezing between saplings and thickets, with sharp turns. Not what one would call ‘navigable by trike’.

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No further on the flowery way

There was nothing for it but to turn around. I couldn’t really be disappointed. It was just as pretty going out as it had been going in. I managed getting around that big honking rock much better as well.

Birdsong in the woods so very different from that of the fields. Less of it it seems, but a dreamy quality to it. There was one bird calling out so beautifully, I stopped and closed my eyes just to listen. A soft wind in the branches above, the bird, the musty scent of damp forest loam.

I must have sat there, just being immersed in the moment for 15 minutes or more. Until a loud hammering gave me a start. I’ve heard a lot of woodpeckers before, but this one hit decibels I never could have imagined coming from the pointy beak of a bird on a tree trunk. It didn’t ruin the moment, just changed it and gave me a good laugh.

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Pretty girl or boy

The rest of the ride was fairly standard. I considered just having Jens come get me at Vaksala church. I was torn. I wanted to avoid the paths which, I’m sure where crowded with people who either have no space to social distance, or have no clue, or don’t care. It just felt silly to get a pick up when I was just 2 miles from home.

I was right, it was a madhouse on the paths, but manageable. As I pushed on toward the mall, I diverted and headed off along the cycle path instead of going into the mall area proper. I was hungry and there was no way I was going to get home in time to start my fasting phase by 3 pm. So, I pedalled to Max’s for one of their no-chicken sandwiches.

Even though it was just my country hamster track, it turned into a really nice time thanks to the random impulse to explore the flower path. Came out just a bit under 12 miles and was out for over 3 hours. According to Garmin Connect, my average moving speed for the ride was 5.1 mph. I must have been moving even faster than I thought for the time I wasn’t on the path because I was slow there even not counting the stops for photos and listening to birds.

On May 3rd, I think it was, we got more rain. Actually, one spate of rain that came marching through was a full on storm with lightning. One strike was pretty close.

When I went out for a ride on the 5th, the Swedish landscape has really responded to the moisture. Fields that just a couple days before were a dusty desert brown, now have a blush of pale green. Flowers, such as dandelions, which were so rare earlier in the week have just sprung up all over. If it keeps up, there were be huge fields turned yellow with them in a few more weeks.

As for the rides on the 5th and 6th, it was just the Gamla Uppsala mound loop. A number of factors I really don’t want to get into, but at least I have gotten out. Unless it’s very cold or raining tomorrow, I’ll go again. If I get out early enough, I may even do something like the Läby loop. Maybe this weekend, I’ll push out for an 18 mile ride or something.

I’ve also looked into potentially riding in the area around Falun. Load the trike up, drive to the old copper mine, ride through the town to Stora Kopperberg (Big Copper Mountain) church where some of my ancestors might have been baptized, married, and buried. That could be fun, but will need more planning and it’s a lot hillier in Dalarna than it is here in this part of Uppland.

Of course, that depends on the state of the whole Corona virus thing.