Terii’s Cycling Babble


Murphy Is Toying With Me…
June 16, 2017, 7:09 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I wound up not going for a ride on June 12th. The weather was just too unstable. We’d get a bit of sunshine and then black clouds would sweep in from out of nowhere with torrents of rain. Pea sized hail even came pelting down a few times. That would have stung if I didn’t drown in it.

On June 13th, Jens had to dash to work early. Worryingly, when I did laundry the day before, I found myself having problems. My body ached, I was short of breath. The symptoms I’d been suffering from for months before I took 3 weeks of antibiotics. That was disheartening.

With that going on, I really didn’t feel like suffering through walks. My hip had done fine so there was no reason for me to avoid cycling. So, Loke was getting to go out with me on the trike.

It was gray and a bit cool, though at least it didn’t look as if it had rained recently. I dressed in my summer weight clothes without underlayers. My only concession to the chill was my eye-bleeding yellow, soft-shell windbreaker. Everything gathered up, I stepped out of the building into… a windy, misting drizzle. Loke stood there, wide-eyed and wagging his tail at me as I evaluated the rain. It wasn’t much and would have taken forever to make me even damp, so I decided to go.

Got the trike ready only to discover that I’d left my Garmin hooked up to the computer in the apartment. Rather than pull Loke along with me, I left him with the trike in the grass and hurried back for the GPS. When I walked back, rounding the corner of the apartment, I was met with a surprise.

Loke, was laying sphinx like in the grass. 10 feet away, in the same pose and with long ears raised was a hare. The two of them just sat there, staring at each other. I tried to sloooowwwly lift my phone up for a photo, but the hare spooked. Oddly, Loke just watched it bolt for the hedge. He didn’t get up until I walked up to the trike.

Naturally, as soon as I settled in and we rolled out, the mist intensified into a drizzle that left splatters on the tights. It didn’t last long so I headed off for the cycle shop. I dropped in long enough to say hi to everyone and make an appointment for getting the gears upgraded and chain swapped next week.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. The wind blasted alternating mist and sprinkling around while the Garmin displayed temps that hovered around 50 F. I pushed on through the deserted paths. Being a weekday and in weather most people deem to miserable to be out in if they don’t have to, it was a nice, peaceful kind of ride. I extended a bit and would have done so even more, except the temp took an unexpected dip to 45 F. I was just damp enough that the chill started to dig in, so I headed back. Finished the ride with 5.03 miles.  My longest since Feb 12th. Roughly 18 rides.

Originally, June 14th was going to be a rest day as the original plan before my back blew out had been to ride every other day as I eased back into things. Still a bit wary for my hip after all. The plan changed when it was just too darn pretty out to spend with short little walks. I quickly came up with the idea to go to the cycle shop again.

This time, I wanted to buy some cleats for cycle shoes. My current Shimanos have been hanging on and on and on, but of late, they felt a bit tight. Perhaps that’s why the aches in my feet when pedaling has gotten quite uncomfortable at times. So, I needed more cleats to put on my extra shoes.

I’m not sure where my blue ones are that I purchased last year, but I did find another pair of black ones purchased 3-4 years ago. They’ve just been hanging out in the closet for when the Shimanos were done. They’re a tad bit over-sized which gives me a bit of concern the cleats might sit too far forward on my foot. Still, wouldn’t hurt to try.

We rolled out about 9 am. The temp had gone from 38 F when I woke up to about 65 F by 9 am. The only thing that kept the intense sun beating down from a flawless blue sky from being uncomfortable was the light breeze and low humidity.

I dashed into the cycle shop for the cleats. They only had one package on the wall, but Bobby went hunting in the back and found a pair of slightly used ones. Seriously, the only thing that hints they were ever on a shoe and cycled with was a bit of dried mud. The used ones, I wasn’t even charged for.

As I stepped back out  into the absolutely prettiest day we’ve had since before my last dose of Lyme disease treatment antibiotics, I decided to add a bit of distance to the ride. I was going to go back home via Gamla Uppsala.

It was warm enough that even I was glad for the patchy bits of shade offered by the trees along Vattholma Road’s cycle path. I made a stop about half a mile after the cycle shop to offer Loke some water. Annoyingly, it seems I didn’t close the canteen tightly enough. We were almost to the grave mounds when I reached in for the canteen and Loke’s collapsible bowl, I discovered the bottom of my pod bag was wet and the canteen empty. The idea of Loke pushing on and getting warmer without water until we got home was not a comforting one.

I made the turn to the mounds and spotted an icecream flag on the tree by the museum’s entrance. Fingers crossed, I stuck Loke in a nice shady spot and hurried up to the door. Closed and 20 minutes to opening. I turned back while trying to decide on waiting or not, when a young woman came walking up. In her hand was a set of keys.

Immediately, I asked if they sold bottled water in the museum. Yes, they did. When I asked if I could buy one for my dog, she didn’t even hesitate, holding the door open for me to come in. With profuse thanks, I grabbed one of the unrefrigerated bottles and paid up. She was quite interested in Loke, asking if he was a husky, were his eyes blue, and how old he was.

I was barely out the door when someone called out ‘Ursäkta!’ (Excuse me!). I stopped and smiled as two older women and a man hurried up. They wanted to know where the bathroom was. As I fumbled through directions in Swedish, one of them asked if I spoke English. I brightened with a ‘yes’ and was able to give them clearer directions.

Loke was glad of the water as I poured about half of it into his bowl. As he gulped it down, the man politely approached and asked if I was American in very thickly accented English. When I said yes, he was happy to chat about that. He had family in the States, San Francisco, mostly. I asked if he was Swedish and he laughed. No, his parents were actually Americans from Iowa who immigrated to Denmark when he was a young boy about 70 years ago. As he said that, I said, ‘Ahh! That’s the accent I’m hearing.’ He was also tickled to hear that my husband has a sister in San Francisco.

Such a glorious day!

Loke in the sun

I wished him a nice visit and pedaled on since Loke was watered up and starting to act impatient. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the mounds with the trike, and even longer on such a gorgeous and dazzling day. The colors were so vivid in shades of blue and the deep, intense green of summer leaves.

I admit that I’ve missed seeing the year grow into those colors. Pedaling day by day as the landscape shifts from muddy brown and gray shades into the bright, hopeful hues in a riot of spring flowers and new leaves blushing in soft yellow-greens, before maturing into the deep, clear shades of dark emerald and forest. Was nice to be out in it though. The birds seemed to agree. There was the music of nature all around, especially the larks, singing their little hearts out as they fluttered above the mounds and fields. I so adore larks.

I finished up with 6.97 miles. We’d left home about 9:05 am and ended at about 11:30. There was no reason to rush through it and I can think of worse ways to spend a couple hours. While on the warm side, it hadn’t been miserable. It might have been a different story if I’d been in black tights, but since I’ve torn the world apart to find alternatives to broiling black on the largest portions of my body, it wasn’t so bad. So what if I make eyes bleed when people see me in clashing shades of pink and purple.

The best part about that distance is that I felt great and if I don’t go by a round-about way, it meant the Vaksala Square produce market is in reach. I much prefer to fetch my fruit by trike than hubby driven car. Parking in that area is just such a pain.

Once in the apartment, I rubbed Loke down with a damp towel before putting it on the floor under the ceiling fan. He slept for 20 minutes and turned into a pest again. As for me, I felt great. It’s been 8-10 months or more that I can recall feeling that good after a ride. Also, it’s the first time since February I’ve ridden for 2 consecutive days.

June 15th. What a near fiasco that was and where this post’s title originates. Murphy (as in Murphy’s laws) was toying with me. Things went wrong, but never as bad as they might have. It was almost as if Murphy was being a heavy handed flirt.

The forecast had promised to be cooler than the 14th, which would have been nice. The forecast lied. It turned out to be warmer even at 8 am with loads more humidity. Just a sticky, unpleasant kind of day. At least we had clouds for part of the ride and I was determined to go to the produce stand.

The old and the new.

While I waited for time to go, I attached the new cleats to the other shoes. Then I dressed. My feet seemed to have plenty of room in the new shoes as I dashed out the door at about 8 am. I really wanted to get to the fruit stand and back before the full heat of the day pressed down us.

Loke was fairly perky as we walked to the trike. Immediately, I had a bit of trouble with the new shoes. Or at least the cleats. It was a bit of a wrestle to get clipped and even more of a challenge to twist loose. With the day warming fast and the fact I have a husky, I didn’t want to waste precious slightly-cooler time fiddling with the pedals. I dashed back in to swap back to my tried and mostly true shoes. Then we scurried off to the storage for the trailer.

Getting the Burly up the slope and hitched went smoothly. In moments, Loke was jogging briskly as we rolled off to follow one of the main-line cycle paths to the train station.

Traffic on the paths increased the further into the center of Uppsala we went. The one that runs along the rail tracks all the way to the station was thick with people on foot and bikes. Some of those on wheels probably got a bit irritated with the fuzzy and I as we puttered along at 6 mph. There wasn’t much space to get out of the way though.

There was a touch of disappointment as I rolled down and up through the underpass beneath the track. There was the distinctive sound of an accordion, but it was a man sitting on a folding stool who coaxed the melody out of it instead of the woman with the voice that could soar through arias like swallows through air. Her singing was stunning. I hope that her absence there means her circumstances have improved. I’ll certainly miss those clarion notes.

As I started the slow creep up from that underpass, there was a woman walking along with a pug of all things. That little smoosh-faced little dog got excited at the sight of us, bouncing at the end of his leash and snorting in that way only pugs can. It was nice to see one excited and friendly instead of trying to lunge for Loke. Or cowering. Was kinda cute.

From there it was just a few yards to Vaksala square and the produce market. My timing was perfect. There was only one other woman there shopping, the produce I like most was already out. Better still, no line to pay! Loaded with half of a huge Greek watermelon and about 3 lbs of cherries, I headed us for home.

Well, that’s a nasty surprise.

The sun started coming out, but thankfully we had quite a bit of shade. As I was pedalling along, about 2 miles from home still, I happened to be kinda staring at my front rings and noticed a wobble in the chain. I slowed waaaaaaayyy down and watched for it to come around again. When I saw the straight line deviate again, I stopped and leaned in for a closer look. A broken link.

I stared at it in shock for a few seconds, wondering how long it had been like that and amazed that it hadn’t just snapped clean through as soon as that one side had given way.

I was about a mile from the cycle shop with no choice but to nurse the trike along, fingers crossed it would continue to hold. I kept to the lowest gears and away from any climbs up overpasses to avoid extra stress that might have finished the break.

As I crept down a mostly shady and flat cycle path, a voice called out to me as I was passing a bus stop. Smiling as I stopped, I met the gaze of an older woman. I asked her to repeat herself. She wanted to know about Loke. My aloof furball was his usual stand-offish self as she gushed over and petted him, chatting about huskies she used to have in her younger days. I had the feeling she was lonely and I’m always happy to stop and chat. She gave Loke a kiss on the head when the bus arrived and shuffled on board.

Amazingly, the chain held. Of course, for all I know, it’s been holding on for the last dozen rides, but still I rolled to a stop outside the shop with a sigh of relief. The gang there were great and Bobby grabbed one of those inserts to use as a patch since I’ll be getting a new chain next week. I told them I’d be bringing my lemon-raspberry muffins soon and Bobby grinned, saying, “And that’s why you get the prompt emergency fixes.”.

Made it home fine and dashed into the apartment to drop off the fruit and husky, deciding 5.3 miles was enough for Loke. It would be good for him to be able to rehydrate and lay under the ceiling fans. As I bent to left the melon out, something about the trailer’s wheels caught my attention. They looked as if they were a bit too far out from the body of the trailer. Once I had Loke and fruit snug in the apartment, I took a moment to fiddle with the wheels. I was right. The axles had somehow wriggled out of the slot though the locking levers were good and tight.

Wheels secured, I rolled toward the storage to put the trailer away though I’d be riding the trike back to the apartment. My strength and stamina still can’t handle the walk yet.

*sigh* Seriously?

Between the apartment and storage, it’s just a touch over a half mile. I was within a stone’s toss of the storage when there was this strange bang and then something scraping through the gravel of the path between the park’s trees. I stopped and sighed, not even needing to turn for a look to know what happened. A wheel had fallen off.

There was apparently no reason for it. The lever was still in the clamped position, but there the wheel lay  in the dirt. The other one looked like it was on its way out too. Those levers are tight. I put the wheel back on and rolled the last few yards to put the trailer away.

Getting back to the apartment was quick and easy since it’s mostly downhill. I finished up the day with something like 7 miles. Once I was safely back home I could chuckle about it. The chain had kinda snapped, but not enough to leave me stranded miles from home with 10 lbs of fruit. The wheel had come off the trailer… but not when it was loaded with 10 lbs of fruit. So, Murphy was flirting with me by making things go kinda wrong without them turning into full blown disasters.

Still, if there’s something wrong with the trailer either the slots the wheel axles or the axles themselves, that will be annoying. These trailers aren’t cheap and I’d rather not have to replace it. I don’t want to be without it either. It’s much more interesting to get my fruit and Loke’s dog food with the trailer and trike.

 



2017 – Worst Mileage Ever (So Far)
June 12, 2017, 3:53 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

This year is turning into such a fiasco. I’d say I’d want to start the year over, except two of the biggest issues that have wrecked my mileage started last year, if not clear back in 2015. The hip could probably be traced right to the stroke in 2014, so no help there.

However, I just loaded up stuff from my Garmin and looked at the list of rides through the year and my jaw dropped. Seriously, I had waaaaaayyyyy more rides than I thought I did through January, February, and even March. Here I thought I had many 15-16 rides for 2017. Nope. 37 as of yesterday’s ride. Quite a shocker there. My rides might have been pathetically short through January and the first half of February, but they were many.

So, where was I? Right.

So, last post, I had a good ride on the Sunday (June 4th) after taking the last of the antibiotics on Friday, June 2nd with the day between spent letting the meds purge out of my system. On that Sunday ride, it was clear I was out of shape, yes, but otherwise felt solid, hills were easy, etc…

It was so good, I was going to commit to riding every other day to start getting back into my riding pattern (with better leg position). Work on chipping down the weight I gained thanks to barely being able to move for the better part of 3-4 months.

Jens was home the day of the next ride, Tuesday. A national holiday here in Sweden actually, the equivalent of their 4th of July. Got dressed, bounced out the door for another ride, full of optimism. It was still gray and a bit on the chill side, but I felt pretty good. Loke was interested. Got the trike settled and rolled out. I even added a little more distance over the previous whopping 3 miles, finishing with over 4 miles. Hard to believe, I know. Felt good, a bit stronger even than the previous ride. Wondered how much I’m going to be using that 40 toothed ring on my rear cassette for hills.

Got home and decided to jump into the shower to clean up. My mood was so pleased with how well the ride went, I was smiling and practically singing. Then, I bent to grab the shampoo and felt it, a split second before the pain struck. The weird, sickening sensation of a vertebrae slipping wrong in my lower back and then it popped. The pain hit like a bolt of lightning and was so bad everything went gray, my pulse whooshed and thudded in my ears. Only slumping against the wall kept me from tumbling into a heap. Apparently, I screamed because Jens appeared, trying to help.

I received my first trike in 2006, my beloved Trice Q. It was a birthday present from my dad and Jens, with the cost split between them. It was crippling backpain that originally led me to a trike. I’d moved to Sweden, this wonderful country almost made for cycling right along with places like Denmark and the Netherlands. But my back was so wrecked, I could barely walk let alone jump on a diamond frame bike. The years of back pain evaporated within months of getting the Trice.

So, needless to say, I wasn’t surprised the back had done this to me. After all, since February 14th, I’d hardly had any exercise with some days being so bad even getting up to get a glass of water was a challenge with the Lyme Disease pain. Those 2+ months of so little moving around had done my core muscles no favors. Jens also theorized that while I’d had the Lyme Disease symptoms so bad, my muscles were tense from the pain which helped stabilize my spine. Then of course, the pain went away, the muscles relaxed, and one bad move…

Everything hurt again. No matter how I sat or stood or what just hurt. I just wanted to find a position on the floor and not move.

Thankfully, Wednesday (June 7th) wasn’t a holiday. I called the health ward for an appointment. I was offered one 8 days later for a doctor and over a month for a physical therapist. I declined both and steeled myself for the 200 yard walk to the ward for a walk-in time with a nurse. It was worth the pain, though oddly, after the first 20 steps or so, as long as I moved very carefully, walking didn’t hurt. Saw the nurse and was immediately given a time with a doctor for 1 hour later and a physical therapist the next day. Much better.

The doctor poked at me a bit. Under her examination, I realized how weird this back issue was compared to the last. As long as I sat bolt upright, perched on the edge of a chair with my thighs angled 90 degrees or more to my body, I could generally get up with little pain. Walking hurt hardly at all, except the first few steps if I’d been sitting wrong. I could even bend in a few unexpected directions with little pain. The worst though was if I tried to lean back and then come forward to rise. The exact things I needed for trike riding. I felt crushed.

But the doctor gave me some muscle relaxers and I shuffled home.

The PT was very nice and had actually remembered me from a few years ago with the foot issue. That or her notes had been surprisingly detailed. She even asked about my trike and Loke.

So we did our thing. Her exam and guiding me through some exercises. She said that my lower spine is extremely stiff. When bending, most people do it from the waist, the vertebrae at the lower back. Me, I bend with my hips.

So, I’ve been doing the exercises like a good girl and taking the relaxers. Thursday was still a bit rough. Friday, I actually started to feel much improved. Nevermind I was spending most of my waking hours sitting, perched on the edge of the coffee table while staring at Netflix. Sitting with any degree of recline meant a world of agony if I had to get up for any reason. Walking also started to hurt even less than it already had. So, all through Thursday and Friday, I either sat on that spot of the coffee table or was walking. Lots of short little walks or just pacing around the apartment. My feet actually started to hurt from it all not to mention my upper back with all the sitting so stiffly upright with no support. For the first 3 nights since the disc slip, I slept on a mattress pad on the floor which felt less painful than the bed.

Saturday (June 10th) though, I felt pretty good. Much to my surprise. Even was well enough to go have dinner with the hubby for his birthday as a belated celebration.

Sunday, June 11th, I felt better still. Enough so that when Jens and I went out to get him Starbucks, we stopped at the storage. The hubby followed me down and hovered, ready to act as I risked sitting down into the trike. No problems. Put my feet on the pedals. No problems. Then the real test, I gently shifted myself to get up. No pain. Planted my feet, grabbed the front boom and carefully rocked up into a standing position. Nothing hurt.

Once we were back from getting Jens his latte fix and my breakfast had settled, I got dressed. Loke was only moderately interested. I still had Jens go down and push the trike up the ramp. That kinda puts an oddly placed strain on my back so it seemed safer to have him do it. My wonderful man waited while I got settled, clipped in and even for a couple minutes, watching me roll across the park to be sure I wasn’t going to start screaming and flopping around like a beached fish.

Nope. It was actually going pretty well. The only difficulty I started to have was when I had to get up 2 times in less than a minute. Loke ‘did his business’ and that needed cleaning up. Then, the trike felt hard to move. So I got right back up to check the rear wheel. Turned out I’d just forgotten to loosen the parking break. There was a bit of a twinge in my back when rising that 2nd time.

The bigger issue for the ride was with my feet. My shoes, oddly, were very tight when I put them on and it made my feet ache as I pedaled. After a few hundred yards though, either the shoes stretched or the swelling went down and I felt better.

It was quite warm though and not just for Loke. Especially when the sun was out and it beat down on my reclined shape, it was bordering on uncomfortable. Thankfully, clouds abounded and generally shaded the sun. There was also a nice breeze which helped. The Garmin displayed about 74 F.

There were a lot of people out and about. Joggers, cyclists, walkers, even a few people on roller blades and 3 on roller skis. I followed the same 3 mile route as my first ‘post antibiotic’ ride, intending to keep it short until more certain of my back.

Unexpected passenger

As I came through the parkland between the residential areas, some odd movement up near the brim of my Da Brim caught my attention. It appeared I had a stowaway. An inchworm of all things. I kept a close eye on it as I stopped at an intersection of cycle paths to let a group of 40+ people roll through. Some kind of tour group I think.

Once they passed, I pedaled on until I found a spot where a shrub grew right next to the path. It took hardly any coaxing to get the inchworm from my Da Brim into my sleeve and, then from there, onto a leaf.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We went down the hill and by the river. Admittedly, from the position of a recumbent trike, one can’t really see the river now. The summer growth of weeds is such a riot that only a wall of green is visible.

Once I got back and stood up, my back felt so GREAT! No pain, more relaxed and yet stronger. As soon as the injury happened, getting so I could ride again was my main focus. Not for miles or number of rides, but because trikes have been almost magical for my back. Even that first ride back in April of 2006 when I eased myself down into a Trice Q at ICE’s headquarters in England to test it out, my back felt so much better when it was over. The best it had felt in over 6 years. I was sure it was just what I needed once I got to where I could get in and out of the seat without killing myself. My faith was vindicated.

Just a smidge over 3 miles.

Though I’d originally intended to do every other day for the first couple weeks, I’m thinking I might go ride again today at some point. See if it continues the improvement on my back. Also, after being penned up AGAIN because of physical issues, I really just want to be out and doing even if only the local hamster tracks.

Also, I really want to build up so I can start going to the Vaksala’s produce market for my summer fix of watermelon and cherries. Gotta have those fruits!



What A Roller Coaster
June 5, 2017, 4:58 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, the past 7-10 days have been a bit of a fiasco, but hopefully I’ve turned a corner now.

So, here’s the update.

Friday (June 2nd), I finished the antibiotics for the Lyme Disease. There’s been improvement. Actually, when I woke on the morning after my 4th dose, I was shocked at how great I felt. I honestly had no idea how long it had been since I’d come out of bed with a bounce with little to no pain. Not in anything. My hip felt fine, but so did the rest of me. I had energy! The doctor had warned me that the antibiotics would make me hyper sensitive to sunlight, or at least the UV light, but I’d bounced out of the bed at 4 am. Though dawn was coming fast, it was still early enough that sunlight wasn’t much of a threat. With Jens away on business, I bolted out the door with Loke and we went to the Grave Mounds where I walked the full loop with him. Roughly 1.2 miles. It’s been ages since I’ve been able to do that. Truly, I think it was the best I’d felt in a year, or perhaps as much as 2 years.

The next day was more of a set back. That’s pretty much how most of the 3 weeks went, though I didn’t really have a day quite as incredibly awesome as that one. There was always some Lyme Disease symptom niggling at me. If it wasn’t neuromuscular pain, it was weakness. If it wasn’t weakness, I was short of breath. You get the idea, but each day was still not as bad as those the weeks previous, so it was still progress.

The restriction of going out into the sunlight has been frustrating. We’d quite literally had the absolute best stretch of weather in months. Over 2 weeks of gloriously clear skies, warm temps and very little wind. Only one or two days got what I would call ‘too warm’ (says the heat wimp) hitting temps of 80-85 F. Most of them were about 65-75 F. Yet, with the improvements, I’ve not felt nearly as moody and frustrated as I was at the beginning of the year… or the 6 months before that. Feeling like I’ve probably found answers for why I’ve been breaking down so badly and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel has made things so much more bearable.

Friday, I was standing in line somewhere, groceries I think. It hit me, I had that ‘awesome pain-free’ feeling again.

Earlier in the week, I’d decided Sunday was going to be my next day to ride. While, physically, I felt capable of riding, I wasn’t going to wake up at 2 am to go for a ride to get back home so I could hide from the sun by 4 am. Sunrise is roughly 3:30 am currently. The only reason I wasn’t doing it on Saturday was because I wanted one full day off the antibiotics so they’d be out of my system. Would have been stupid to rush it and wind up crisped because I didn’t wait another 24 hours.

But that last week has been harsh. For some reason, I wound up with strained, knotted muscles all through my upper back and shoulders. For about 3 days, I was practically laid flat and so much as twitching a finger made me whimper. With help of Jens’ youngest sister, recommending stretches and a session of therapeutic (painful) massage, I started to recover.

So, Sunday, (June 3rd), I felt pretty good. I had Jens drive me to Vaksala Square for the produce market since I’ve not been able to ride there what with crippling pain and then medicated sensitivity to sunlight. It was something of a flea market kind of gathering there. Lots of stalls and people clustered around the produce market’s tent. Dodging through the crowds, I didn’t notice a spot where the cobble stones had been ripped up. My ankle twisted so violently as the foot came down half on and half off the stones. I saw stars and somehow managed not to fall on my face.

Even so, a woman rushed over to grab my arm and stabilize me as she asked what had happened. Was I okay? I thanked her and explained I’d sprained my ankle. I stood there a moment and then hobbled painfully onward to get my watermelon and cherries. I was treated to a new vision of stars every few steps. It’s been years since I’ve hurt myself like that.

Jens spotted me hobbling back and drove up as close as he could to save me the trip. He thought I was so slow because of the watermelon I’d bought for both myself and his parents.

Morning of June 4th, my ankle still hurt a lot, yet I was going to try for a ride any way. Though it still stabbed with pain if move side to side the least little bit, just flexing it forward and back was relatively painless. That’s all pedaling needs, especially with cycle shoes that clip to a pedal.

Loke didn’t move much as I pulled on my cycle clothes. He looked a bit more interested when I struggled to get on my cycle shoes though. The left one felt tight and a bit uncomfortable thanks to the ankle swelling extending down into the foot area, but overall tolerable.

Once I picked up the furball’s harness, I had every scrap of his absolute, intense focus. He sprung up and scrambled over, giving a little whirl in front of me as I untangled the straps. Then he was very still with a raised head to help get it around his neck. After that, he jumped the gun a bit, flailing with his right front paw in an attempt to rush it through the loops so I could buckle everything in place. Once he heard that last click, he about bowled me over to bounce around again before wedging himself in front of the door as if worried we’d forget him.

And it was a ‘we’. Jens offered to drive me to the storage to spare me the hobble from the parked car and down the slope to the storage door. Then, the dear man even insisted on going down the slope and pushing the trike up for me. All I had to was step out of the car, attach my handlebar bag, clip Loke to his tether and plop into the seat.

Loke seemed to forget his recent little issues. He threw his weight into his harness, jaws parted to let his tongue flop in that canine expression that can only be called the ‘Husky Grin of Joy’. We darted through the park with the fuzzy one providing most of the power as I was more focused on evaluating my ankle than speeding along.

And it felt good enough. No fiery, sharp stabs of pain as it flexed with the pedal turns. It seemed it was satisfactory to get me at least 2 miles.

There was one thing that flawed the start of the ride. I felt rather… cramped in the trike. Sadly, this whole fiasco extending back to the beginning of the year has wound up with me quite a few pounds heavier. I have issues with comfort eating. If I’m emotionally drained or upset, I eat. If I’m in pain, I eat. Well, pretty much since the last few months of 2016 until mid-May, I’ve had truckloads of both emotional upheaval in terms of frustration, despair, and anger with my physical struggles as well as the constant pain from my mucked up hip and the delightful (sarcasm) symptoms of the Lyme Disease. It made controlling my diet that much harder.

So, throw in that overwhelming impulse to eat that slipped more than usual with a sharp dive in the amount of exercise I could manage and it’s a recipe for disaster. I went from cycling a minimum of 5 hours a week, often more, to pretty much 2 hours a month at best. I tried to replace at least a tiny portion of that with the gym, but the weeks between getting the skin biopsies and waiting for the doctor to get back with me got so bad I couldn’t do so much as lift a 4 lb barbell. Even the days I could do something at the gym, a 30 minute routine twice a week wasn’t going to replace the calorie burn of 1+ hour ride 3-4 times a week. Admittedly, I was still getting out to walk with Loke for about 1.5 hours a day on most days, but that was just slow, agonized staggering around that didn’t even cover a mile. If that burned the calories found in a single raw cashew I’d be amazed.

Other than that, the ride felt… well, amazing is about the only word I could put to it. In many ways, it was almost as impressive an improvement as when, after just a couple days of following Jens’ sister’s recommendations about how to help my hip, I swung out of the trike without it screaming at me.

For about a year, the rides have been a struggle. I was riding more frequently, fighting to improve my fitness and the distance I could go only to continue a downhill slide into gritting my teeth through the painful circles on River Loop. Well, the ride on June 4th was… more like ‘back in the saddle after thaw’.

The first 6 years of recumbent trike riding, I had the Trice Q. Still have it actually, it’s just dismantled and sitting in the storage. I loved that trike, but it simply couldn’t handle snow and ice. So, between 2006 to 2011, cycling was seasonal for me. Once there were ridges of plowed snow along the roads, ruts frozen in what had been slush on the cycle paths, or more than an inch of snow, it was a no go. Then, when spring thaw came, I’d have to start building up strength and stamina again. I’d feel a bit out of shape and unable to go very far for the first few weeks, but it generally came back pretty fast.

And THAT was how I felt on this past ride. Not like I was fighting a downhill struggle with my body, but just that I’d been cooped up off the trike over winter. My hip hasn’t bothered me in weeks, so that it felt fine on the ride wasn’t much of a surprise though it was a relief. I didn’t feel particularly strong, but the weakness felt more like a matter of fitness than what I’d been facing for the better part of a year. My stamina went quick, but I wasn’t gasping for air like a beached whale either.

I felt… good.

And you know. I felt and continue to feel hopeful. I’ve had bits of that since I started taking the antibiotics, especially after that first ‘great’ day where I woke up and was filled with a sense of something like myself of old. It’s like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m going to come rolling out into the sunshine with my trailer rattling along behind me on some adventurous tour far and away from the hamster tracks I’ve worn deep ruts into over the past 2 years.



Sad Start to March
March 7, 2017, 6:34 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

There were a few more rides after the one last mentioned in my last post in mid-February. Just quick little half-hour jaunts per my sister-in-law’s recommendation. The last was on the 23rd or some such before things took a nose-dive. The reasons for the lack of rides are varied.

One of them is that I simply got busy. This task, that task, those errands. It felt silly to lose almost 2 hours out of the day for a measly 30 minutes of ride what with dressing in layers, readying the dog, finding parking, etc. Another hiccup was that after a few rides, the improvements in my hip during rides started to reverse. Nothing drastic as the what drove me to ask my SIL’s advice, but still discomfort. I began to wonder if I’d improve faster if I didn’t ride. So, I decided to take a few days off.

After those first 4-5 days, my hip felt much better. Hardly a twinge or ache to be felt and I reveled in it. Feeling the best there I’ve felt in months made me reluctant to risk a ride. Ironic really. I didn’t want to go to a physical therapist because I was terrified he/she’d tell me to stop riding. Yet, R told me to keep riding… and there I was, having stopped.

The weather has been terribly confused. Unable to make up its mind if it’s winter or spring. All our snow was gone at one point, except what lurked, hidden under the gravel from where the plows had shoved it into the gutters. Then, I even spotted the first hints of daffodils and tulips peeking out of the turned earth of a flower bed while walking Loke.

The very next day after seeing those, the snow came back. Inches and inches of it. I almost went riding in it when it first started to fall because it was so lovely and wasn’t so deep as to make riding harsh. I chickened out though. Then we got even more snow. Caught the city by surprise it seemed as it took forever before plowing began. Actually, it started so late, I had to wonder why they even bothered. Traffic had mostly cleared may streets, even ones as small as the one where our apartment sits.

Over the weekend, the snow stopped and the sun emerged. Gorgeous day. Breathtaking with the inches of snow and blue skies.

It wasn’t until yesterday though, March 6th, that I finally braved the trike again. It was such a glorious day. Not a cloud to be seen over Uppsala, though I discovered it was mostly cloudy in Stockholm when I drove Jens to his office. On the way back from that errand, it was easy to see more clouds lurking on the distant northern horizon on the parts of the E4 that goes through miles and miles of vast, open crop fields. Neither cloud covers even approached Uppsala. The entire day, it remained dazzling and flawless, as if the city lay beneath a bubble of perfection.

Between the beauty of the day and the fact Jens wasn’t around to take Loke for a long walk, I finally dragged myself out for a ride. First in 11 days. 11! Quite a bit more than my ‘no more than 2 full days between rides’ rule.

I was nervous as I dressed and we finally stepped out to drive to the storage. I gave the trike a quick check before rolling it up. Pressure in the tires, making sure the brakes weren’t grabbing, that sort of thing.

Loke was fairly ‘meh’ about the outing. I don’t blame him. It was a pretty day though. We crossed the park and set out on our short 30 minute toodled as a test. At first, I felt pretty good actually! Enough that I decided to add a tiny more distance with an extra loop along some other streets. I kept my pace down, watching my legs, and… my hip started to ache in spite of all my care.

It was especially noticeable on the last .5 mile or so back to the storage. No where close to the near crippling intensity last month, but significant and frustrating. I parked the trike back in storage with a whopping 2.06 miles. The first for the month of March.

Sad really, but I’ve given up on any hope of making 2017 better than 2016.

I’m actually feeling very despondent about riding right now. Part of it because I’ve started copying my blog posts to save as backups. Looking back over the time when a 20 mile ride was ‘short’. Or the days when I could plop myself down on the trike at 5 am and finish up the day with an amazing outing 12 or more hours later. Back when rides were about discovery and magic. Not just… hamster tracks to get miles and try to stop Loke from harassing Jens for walkies. The quantity of my rides might have increased sharply, but the distance per ride and the quality of them has taken a sharp-nose dive. For the places seen, runestones, churches, and other things I love to find and explore, 2016 was the worst year even compared to years where I rode 600 miles or less. 90% of the miles just round, and round, and round on the River Loop or dashes into Uppsala. It’s depressing. It’s frustrating.

That’s probably another reason that the frequency of my rides has declined so sharply. I’ve just lost heart and so very profoundly bored with being stuck with 1.5-4 mile rides on the River Loop and suffering when I do ride.



Plodding February
February 13, 2017, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Ho-hum.

Despite my best intentions, February has turned into no small dud. My goals and hopes for it were modest, no more than those I had for January though with 3 fewer days. Just 100 miles broken into 25 mile blocks over four 7 day periods. Yet, the goals of the first 2 blocks came up so very short that the month goal is pretty much blown.

That said, I’m oddly not feeling particularly stressed about it. Not at the moment any way. Maybe I’ve just mentally decided to roll with the punches rather than let them hit hard.

A lot of the missed miles comes down to Loke. When he limps as much as he’s been and has also decided to go quite slow, it just makes it harder to accumulate the distance. I’ve had problems too. So many rides just feel like massive struggles. Legs that have absolutely no strength or vitality and every turn of the pedals is an accomplishment of the highest order. Then of course, there were a few days at the beginning of the month that had highs of 2 F. That is not a typo. I really do mean 2 F (-17 C). Even without the foot thing still giving me fits at times, I’m not sure if I’ve got the gear to brace single digits for a ride.

It’s meant low mileage and it’s not likely to change for this week either.

The furball is still limping quite a bit. He has his good and bad days, but at least it doesn’t seem to be related to foot sores and infection with increasingly resistant bacteria. The skin between his paw pads actually looks pretty good right now. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a combination of age and long-term inflammation that he’s probably had for years. Allergic responses that are finally catching up to him.

When we went to see the general vet about Loke’s nose, she noticed he was stiff in the feet and ankles. She recommended a kind of treatment for him. Did I mention that in the last post? Or the one before? Can’t remember. Well, any way, it’s a series of shots that are supposed to help joint pain and function. 1 injection a week for 4 weeks and then follow up shots every 3 or 6 months as needed. It supposedly has had very good results.

On my side of things, other than the strength and difficulty of pushing the trike along, I’ve been arguing with my hip a lot. It’s not a new thing, though the intensity of it is getting problematical again. It doesn’t generally bother me when I’m actually pedalling the trike, but getting up and walking after a ride was sometimes a lesson in pain. Getting my right foot in the pedal made me see stars at times as well.

It was especially bad this week. I rode on the 11th and was hobbling badly to get from the storage to the car after an 8+ mile ride. Yesterday, February 12th, I was still in a lot of pain. Limping and lurching around. More on that, but I want to talk about socks first!

 

Oh, yes! The foot warmer conundrum. Anyone who’s read more than 3 of the most recent posts would know that the batteries of my Hotronic footwarmers are on the way out. Every time I use them, it’s a gambling game of ‘Will They, Won’t They Work?’. Admittedly, even when they do, they’ve seemed kinda limited of late.

So, during the first week of February, I was furiously researching alternatives. That was slap in the middle of those days we had single digit temps for our highs. Finally I found something that made me kinda excited to see. Electric socks. Unlike most electric socks though, these didn’t just have a cluster of heating under the toes and hope for the best for the rest of the foot. No. These socks proudly proclaimed that their heating went around the toes and up the top of the foot. That honestly sounded sooooo much better than a little disc of heat situated under the toes like the Hotronic heating element set in a shoe sole.

Before, I made the plunge and bought them, the weather shifted. Around February 4th or so, the temps climbed well above freezing and it looked as if it was set to stay that way. To me, it suddenly made buying the electric socks redundant. Get them just so the battery could sit and age until late October, early November?

Naturally, just to trip me up, the temp did an about face and we got cold again. Jens was nice and ordered the socks for me on the 7th. Would you believe we got a notice that the package was ready to be picked up on the morning of the 9th? Jens told me to take his passport to see if the point of pickup would let me have it. It’s just a hop-skip-and-jump from the apartment. Actually, almost dead center between home and storage where I keep the trike.

It seemed fitting then that I fetch it via trike.

And they did let me have the package! When I took it, I was dubious that it was the full order as it barely felt heavy enough for electric socks let alone socks with a battery and charger. I texted Jens I thought they’d forgotten the battery as I walked out to the trike and dropped the envelope in the trailer and pushed on to fetch dog food from the vet clinic. Naturally, the hubby had me stop and open the package.

It wasn’t even socks! It was little round balls of black rubber with bolts in the end of them. No clue what they’d be used for. Utterly baffling.

That is, until I actually gave the the invoice more than a passing glance. It was an order for a Jens Sturnberg rather than my hubby’s last name. Jens laughed when I told him, ‘What are the odds there’d be an order from 2 Jens in the same day?’. I gave my hubby the order number on the invoice to call about the mix up.

I put it back in the trailer and toodled on while Jens apparently worked things out with the guy we’d ordered from. Apparently, it’s one guy running the webshop. Jens called me back to tell me he’d been extremely apologetic and had flung another package with socks and battery together. He was going to dash out the door to chase down the delivery truck which had _just_ left his location. He later emailed Jens to say he’d caught it.

As for Loke and I, we made it back to the storage with a 17 lb of dog food in the trailer. 6-something miles. It would have been more if I’d taken the kibble to the apartment first, but I was feeling so weak and wiped, I just wanted to get the ride done. Even now, the kibble is still sitting in storage, in the trailer. I just haven’t had the oomph to lug it from storage to the car.

Loke and I went out again on February 10th. One of my glove liners has gotten threadbare. Literally. A spot on the thumb has worn so thin that the loops of yarn are no thicker than a human hair. By some miracle they’ve not broken and officially become a hole. The errand to encourage a little more distance was to shop a replacement. We’d also gotten notice that in less than 24 hours, the replacement package was ready to be picked up. I did that with the car on my way to the storage, instead of looping around extra with the trike.

We covered over 8 miles for the loop. Loke did amazingly good. Slow, but pretty much no limping, which was a win in my book. Sadly, no glove love. The shop was making its shift from winter to spring/summer, so the glove selection had dwindled and nothing was suitable for my fingers or my needs.

Oh, but how I hurt. The car was less than 100 yards away. Could see it easily from the storage, but it took me several minutes to hobble over to it. The pain, trying to lift and swing the right leg in as I tried to get into the driver seat left starbursts in my vision. While I’d been pedalling, I was fine. Nothing horrible, but getting up at the shop and then, of course, when putting the trike away was a completely different story.

Usually it eases up after a little bit of time. Nope. I was lurching painfully around on the 11th too. Even though the battery had been charged and my new socks were ready for their test run, I just hurt too much to take the trike elsewhere in the car for a ‘trial by ice’.

Since I wasn’t going anywhere on Saturday, we had a semi-spontaneous dinner gathering planned with my husband’s family. His youngest sister came over early to vacuum up Loke fur since I could hardly move across the room let alone push a vacuum around. Doesn’t help Loke’s been blowing his coat like mad for the past 2-3 weeks either. I swear, he’s dropping enough fur to make another husky every hour.

R also happens to be training for a career in Physical Therapy. I asked for some advice and she had me lay down and do some moves while she poked at my hip. She said she thought it might be that I’m sitting wonky when I’m pedalling the trike and that it’s pulled some muscles tight while putting a strain on others. Perhaps something about the alignment of my leg with the hip and it’s letting the muscle on the outer thigh get stronger while the inner muscles weaken letting the leg get pulled into an uncomfortable position.

As she said it, I imagined me pedalling and what might happen with the inequality of muscle strength she described. I sat on the couch and put my feet on the coffee table in a semi-approximation of feet on pedals. Sure enough, my knees wanted to pull to the outside.

Her recommendation was a series of stretches twice a day, some gentle exercises to try and correct the imbalance of muscle strength. Also, she actually wants me to keep riding, maybe even try to go every day. BUT, she wants me to take it slower and only go for about half an hour at a time for at least 10-14 days. The goal is for me to be mindful of the position of my knees during the pedal strokes and keep them in the proper alignment as much as possible while the muscles adjust and it moves into muscle memory so I don’t have to keep thinking about it.

Honestly, it was better than I expected to hear. I was dreading that I’d pay to go to a physical therapist and have them tell me to stay off the trike. I think Loke and I both would have been clawing at the walls inside a week. Even 30 minute ride restriction is better than nothing. Hamster tracks or not.

Yes, I really said that.

So, yesterday (Feb 12th), I started dressing. I wanted to test the socks and our (mine and R’s) theory about my bad pedalling habit.

The socks. Well, that turned into a bit more of a challenge than anticipated. It’s a good sized battery first of all. Second, there was no way to carry it. It has to stay around the general waist area thanks to the length of the cables, but there was no clip to fasten it to belt or waist band. I looked on the web site to see if there was some accessory I’d missed, but nope. I used to have a fanny pack, but couldn’t find that either. Jens recommended I tape it to my leg or waist. Ummmm… no.

Finally I had the brilliant idea of pulling on a base thermal layer, then pulling on a sport bra over that. Then, I tucked the battery in the front of the bra with the nice, snuggly wool underlayer to act as a buffer in case it got overly warm. Because I’m so short, there was just enough length to still run the cable from battery to socks!

Finally! A real use for an otherwise annoying woman’s garment.

I limped out the door with Loke for a short ride. My hip felt only a little bit better with just 2 stretching sessions, but I was determined. I’d plotted on a map for about 1.7-2 miles, figuring at the current pitiful speeds Loke and I have been averaging that should be about 30 minutes. Slow and steady. Loke was fine with that. He was a tiny bit limpy and quite happy to go slow. My cadence was way down, about 60-63 RPM as I focused more on keeping my knees, especially the right one, in more. I tried to align it properly between the ankle and hip.

The results were shocking. Truly. Less than 200 yards from the storage, Loke stopped to… ahem, do business right there in the middle of the street. I fumbled around for a bag and, completely without thinking, rocked to my feet. I stood there, dumbfounded for a good 5 seconds, waiting. No pain. It was just like a switched flipped somewhere. I honestly can’t recall the last time getting up from the trike had felt so natural and… painless. Months easily without at least some level of significant discomfort that would make my steps awkward or give me pause.

I warily shifted my weight and stepped over the bike frame to go to Loke’s mess and still, no pain.

Honestly, I hardly noticed the tedium of the rest of the 1.8 miles hamster track loop. I couldn’t stop grinning or staring at my knees to keep them positioned properly.

There was a bit of very mild ache in my legs after the ride. Most of it felt like muscle fatigue as if some of them were working for the first time in a long while. It still was uncomfortable a little when I went to get into the driver’s seat, but still the easiest time I’ve had in months and the least amount of ‘owie’.

As for the socks and the carry arrangement? Just fine! To check the battery and the settings, all I had to do was tug back the neckline of the outer layers to see it. My feet were snug and warm just on setting 1. Admittedly, I wasn’t out for very long though at least it was in the 20’s for the ride.

Of course, the weather promptly turned. Today’s 30 minute ride, to send back the stuff accidentally shipped to my Jens instead of Sturmberg, it was 46 F. 42 F with windchill. Needless to say, I didn’t need the electric socks or my heavy duty wool.

Oh, forgot to mention that for the past 4-5 days, the weather has been GORGEOUS. Okay, so most of them quite cold, but clear with a cheerful sun. Even today was mostly clear, just thin clouds that did nothing to noticeably diminish the sunshine. Very little wind. It’s been a wonderful change over the dismal murk we were having. A bit frustrating that I’ve not been able to ride further, but hopefully with R’s advice and me being more aware of the bad knee habit, that might change…

Oh, and Loke goes tomorrow to get the first shot of that treatment. Yep, on Valentine’s Day because I love him. Hopefully it will give him some relief. His limping now isn’t due to tender, raw skin between his paw pads. The skin looked pretty good actually. Not red or angry at all. So, it must be the stiffness and discomfort in the joints that the foot specialist commented on last year.

Then on the 15th, it’s off to the groomer. Just in time. We’d be up to our knees in husky fur otherwise. Though if my hip continues to improve, at least I can vacuum without killing myself.

Sorry. No photos. Just round and round on the hamster tracks with not much of interest to see.



January Can’t Make Up Its Mind…
January 20, 2017, 10:52 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

So, on January 1st I hit the ground running with that lovely, frosty ride.

After that, things did a nose dive. The 2nd and 3rd of the month, I didn’t ride because of work naturally.

On Sunday (Jan 2nd), while at work, I planned out my goals for the month. I need/want more miles in this January than I had last if aiming to make 2017 the new ‘Best Ever Distance Year’, obviously. At 87.98 miles for January 2016, I decided to aim for the nice round figure of 100 miles. Breaking the month of January into four 7-day blocks, I would need 25 miles per block.

I knew, with the weather and how slow I’ve been of late, not to mention the parade of colds, it could be a tight schedule, but at least I have the 3 ‘extra’ days that don’t fit into the nice, neat 7-day blocks which I could use for make up or just 1 or 2 (dare I even think 3?) extra rides for the cherry on top.

The 4th, out I went, sticking to schedule as it were!

I can’t remember why nor did I mention the ride on Facebook as a reminder, but the ride was only 2.12 miles, a bit shorter than my usual dash from the apartment back to the storage. The ride did that, but mostly, it was just doubling around. I did a very short out and back past the mosque as if I’d meant to go toward the grave mounds, but changed my mind. I guess I must have felt really weak or perhaps there was so much snow to push through. Something that just slowed or bothered me too much to be endured.

Almost up to the axles on my 20" front wheels.

Almost up to the axles on my 20″ front wheels.

After that pitiful ride, there were no additional rides for that first 7-day block of the month. A bitter disappointment, but we had insane amounts of snow fall and then days where the highs were in the single digits. Low 20’s or perhaps even into the high teens I’ve adapted to, but single digits?! Not yet. Maybe one day. On one of the warmer (temps in the teens), Jens tried to talk me out for a ride, but I said I wanted to wait. He persisted, asking what waiting another day was going to get me. I pointed out that riding on a plowed road was much easier than trying to pedal the trike through 5 or more inches of untouched snow. I wanted at least the streets plowed.

The reason the city was so laggardly about plowing was mostly because of 12th Night holiday that Sweden observes in its secular fashion.

Of course, once they did plow, the temp dropped.

The first week of January finished with a whopping (sarcasm) 11.18 miles.

Then Sunday (Jan 8th), the temp crept back up until barely freezing and I watched as it sorta snowed through the windows of the shop at work. Monday (Jan 9th), was more of the same, except the temps did a huge jump into the 40’s and it was mostly a drizzling rain in place of the snow. It triggered a major flash thaw that turned the streets into rivers and lakes.

I woke at 5:30 am on January 10th. The thermometer showed above freezing (34 F) and the forecast said it would be cloudy, but warm for Sweden in January and dry.

I pulled on layers for what I thought would be good enough for for mid-20’s to account for any windchill. Loke bounced around as I made sure I had my phone and Garmin, plus everything else in my handlebar bag.

We stepped out the door and I immediately stopped to hang my head with a sigh. The forecast was wrong again. Rain. I stood there a moment, evaluating, before deciding the precipitation was light enough that it wouldn’t do more than dampen my outer layers in the hour or so I’d be out. Determinedly, I marched to the car.

Loke was thrilled to be out after 6 days of having nothing but walkies. The first half mile stretch of road was slush, but the furball’s sheer exuberance pulled us into a brisk 9 mph as he ran happily through the pools of light of the lamps in an otherwise, inky dark morning.

The cycle paths were wonderfully clear and so were most of the other roads of my River Loop hamster track. One of them was hard frozen enough it could have been used for a crude skating rink, but offered plenty of grip for husky paws and studded tires. Once, the Garmin displayed 28 F, but mostly it hung at about 29.7. The rain got lighter if anything so I never felt any chill from that at least.

As for me, I felt pretty strong at the start of the ride, which was a nice change from weak and sluggish of many of the last few rides. My stamina petered out rather quickly, but given how few rides I’ve had since the beginning of November, that’s hardly surprising. Gives me hope though.

It was annoying that I didn’t have time to ride more than I had, but the car had to get back to Jens for him to go to work.

Another annoyance pricked at me through the duration of the ride. My little fairing started to list over to the left. A few times during the ride, I had to kick my left foot out of the straps to push it back to the right. I was baffled, because I was absolutely certain, it had been wrenched it down good and tight when remounted. I would have tightened it as soon as I noticed it moving, but had left the tool at home.

Slow as I was and with the fairing slouching over bit by bit with every bump, I had plenty of time to ponder the problem.

One explanation of course was that I’d not tightened it down as much as I thought. Another though, was when I’d removed the fairing the last time, the powder coating paint of the bar that gets clamped by the removable part of the fairing mount just flaked off in one piece. Maybe the unpainted metal of the inside of the fairing’s bar with the uncoated metal of the part on the trike offered too little friction to keep it from moving.

Wobbly fairing, rain and general slow speed, we got through the ride and all before there was even a hint of dawn in the sky.

Then Loke and I were off to his vet appointment. He’s been stiff so much of late, as well as needing a renewal on his prescription of anti-inflammatory medication.

The vet said he’s mostly stiff and uncomfortable in his feet and ankles, so just a continuation of what the podiatrist he saw last year commented on. She did have a recommendation about a treatment though. A series of injections over 4 weeks with boosters to be given every 3 to 6 months that supposedly would help lubricate the joints. She said there’s been good results. I said I’d think about it.

As for the spot on the nose, she said it just looked like a little abrasion. Nothing lumpy or particularly threatening about it. Still, she took my word about its persistence as well as the fact Loke doesn’t seem to be rubbing at it. She recommended I see a dermatologist about it.

I told her I’d arrange it since we have a dermatologist as it were.

Turns out, no we don’t. I called the wonderful woman who helped us stem the flood of infections Loke used to have and get him stable, only to find she’s no longer at the Stockholm clinic. She moved to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Since the clinic there still seems to have the best collection of animal dermatologists, I booked a time with one of the others. The earliest they had was January 26th. The receptionist told me to keep an eye on the spot and if it starts looking dramatically different, she’d fit us in with the one GP vet that works there to at least start tests for cancer.

Later in the day, one of my bosses/co-workers called to ask what other days of the week I was scheduled. Gave me a pang of frustration as I can’t really afford to keep harassing my husband’s family with my job, not to mention Loke needs more than walkies. I’d say, he does best with a minimum of 3 outings with the trike a week. Less than that and he starts getting bored and annoying. More is better when I can swing it.

I answered that no further shifts been scheduled so they asked for Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday, I had laundry scheduled and it was desperately needed, but I unbent enough to say I could work 2 to close on Wednesday. That would still give me a chance to run Loke with the trike in the morning, he could be left alone for the 5 hours I worked without anyone else needed to come walk him, and since I had the car, I could drive myself.

When I originally started working at the shop, Charles had put it forth that I work just 1 day a week, Sundays with emergency shifts when needed. Sunday is the shortest shift with the store open just from Noon to 5 pm. He knows about my stroke and respects whatever physical limitations I might have, yet would give him and his wife time with the family.

I felt a bit rough for the first couple weeks, but hung in and actually improved. Charles would call and ask if I could fill in other days. I soon built up better stamina though so offered them another day a week. I picked Monday. It’s a day that seems to be easiest on my husband’s parents to come walk Loke around 2 pm when Jens and I are at work. Having it as a set day, means they always know it’s on Monday and don’t have to continually scramble their schedule around my job.

Now, it another partner seems more in charge of the Uppsala store and if there’s an expectation for me to work more days of the week when it’s not an emergency, it could get complicated. I can’t and won’t further burden other people with my job. It’s not fair to them and losing outings with the trike isn’t fair to Loke or to me. My weight has already gone up. I’ll admit that could be mostly down to colds, weather, and other such cutting my rides short, but still, losing those two potential days to ride can’t help.

So, when I went out for a ride on Wednesday, Jan 11th, I felt stressed. Before my co-worker’s call, The plan had been to tackle a nice 15 mile ride on Wednesday. Instead, I had to keep an eye on time to be sure I had time to get ready for work. Time, time, time. Two rides and both of them dictated by restrictions of forces other than my own strengths and the weather.

Still, with work only starting at 2 pm and being awake so early, I thought about at least tackling my 10 mile Vaksala Church loop to give Loke more exercise as well as try to make up the miles I lacked in the first week of the year. While dressing and lookout out at a world entirely devoid of sunlight, I decided to wait for dawn. The previous day’s ride had been undertaken completely in artificial light sources. Might have been a nice change to do it daylight even if it was a gray sky.

So, about 9 am we were at the storage. I had remembered the tool and tried tightening the clamp on the fairing, but even when I’d wrenched it until it wouldn’t budge, the fairing still wanted to wobble. Electrical tape to the rescue!

The later start meant I had to forego the 10 mile ride so, River Loop again.

The ride was much like the previous day’s. Slush at the start, mostly clear cycle paths, but in murky gray daylight instead of dark. Oh, and wind. The. Wind. Any time I was riding near clusters of trees, they rocked and swayed with creaking limbs as the torrent of air in the branches sounded like rapids of a river. Little bits of twig and even thin branches were scattering about. It made the ride even harder as it seemed no matter which way I rode, the wind was in my face.

My Garmin said it was about 34 F even with windchill. Generally at that temp, my feet would have been happily snug in their boots with cushy wool socks and the fairing, but that wind found ways around the fairing and stripped away any bit of warmth. By about mile 3, my left toe actually became uncomfortable, bordering on painful from the cold. Naturally, my footwarmers’ batteries had decided they didn’t have a charge in spite of spending most of the night plugged in. At least the rest of me was perfectly dressed even against such blustering air.

Because of the cold toes, I skipped the extra 2 miles I had planned to add before starting the ‘get ready for work’ scramble. 4.5+ miles. Once we were back home, Loke’s spent the entire time following me around and staring at me pitifully. I think he knew he was going to be all by himself for a time. Or maybe he’s was trying to tell me he wanted more than a pitiful, shortened River Loop.

Thursday, Jan 12th, was laundry day. In the hopes of getting an early start on the wash, there was no ride.

Friday, the 13th. The first one of only two we’ll have this year. What a muck up it turned into.

After the first two rides of the week being such stressful, time constrained things, I’d fully planned to to just head out and go for a ride WHEN I wanted, HOW I wanted, and for as LONG as I wanted. The only time issues I’d allow for it would be sunset and how long I could endure the cold.

Though I wasn’t entirely convinced it was true, the forecast was excellent. 35 F, not supposed to be much in the way of wind, and at least partly sunny.

Normally, I don’t hold much stock in the Friday the 13th thing, but UGH! It seemed to be in high form on that day.

It started out well enough. Waking early, I plotted a tentative route out through the countryside with my hubby’s offer to come get Loke and I at the end of it, rather than worrying about a loop. Though the ground wouldn’t entirely be new, after about 4-5 miles, it would at least not be ‘Hamster Track’ ground. I had the way mapped in good time… and everything fell apart when I started trying to print the maps.

First, I couldn’t copy the screen view of my monitor and get it to paste into Photoshop. Finally, I had to bully the hubby out of bed to figure out what was wrong with it after beating my head against that for almost an hour. Then, Plotaroute.com wasn’t printing its maps like it should either. That ate up almost another hour. Then I started to get dressed and discovered I couldn’t find my camera which was another 20 minutes or more tearing around the apartment in desperate searching. Finally I remembered I’d left it at the storage.

After all that silliness, it was coming up on 11 am, less than 4 hours of day light left. Probably would have had to pack up and go home about the time I got off the Hamster Track and into more interesting ground. Just wasn’t worth it.

The hubby grumbled when I said I’d do just another river loop, but out Loke and I went.

Waiting for warmer times.

Waiting for warmer times.

The fuzzy was thrilled and enthusiastic. Pulled like mad for that first half mile and happily charged down the long hill toward the river after going across the overpass. There was a bit of sun and blue skies as we followed the cycle path beside the Fyris River north of Uppsala, Sweden. Clouds were coming though, in interesting bands across the north eastern horizon.

We were on the return half of the loop when Mother Nature started calling. Actually, she kinda skipped calling and went right down into screaming. Fortunately, by the dog yard at the beginning of the Grave Mound path is an outhouse. The 150 yards/meters between the outhouse and the intersection was rock hard, slick ice. For the first 100 yards or so, I’d guess I pedalled the equivalent of 200 yards with so much tire slipping.

34 F ambient temps aren’t ideal for an uninsulated outhouse where one can see day light between the floor boards, but any port in a storm.

Wistful about the other dogs.

Wistful about the other dogs.

When I stepped back out, Loke was staring mournfully past me at the dog yard where fellow canines ran and played. Unfortunately, since Loke doesn’t play well with other dogs, we moved on.

Yeehaw. A bumpy ride down.

Yeehaw. A bumpy, slippy ride down.

Silly me, we should have just skidded back the way we came. For some reason the ice armored path up a hill called to me. I should have let the previous 150 yards of path be a warning. At first it wasn’t too bad. Lots of tire slipping, but still we inched forward. Finally I found there was enough room to the far edge of the path where I could put the rear wheel for more traction and still give Loke enough space to walk. Then it was all ice across as we slid in a rattling glide down the hill we climbed. The next hill was just a little bump and yet I absolutely got _NOT_ get any traction. The ice was laughing at me and thumbing its figurative nose at my studded tires.

Finally, I had to give up. The last 200 yards of that portion of path, I got up, turned the trike around, and started dragging it. Loke was NO help. He kept pulling off in random directions for sniffing, dragging the trike. Finally, I was stuck walking in the crunchy snow beside the path with the rear wheel in one hand and Loke’s collar in the other just to be able to make any progress.. He kept shooting me reproachful looks.

Finally under a bit old oak, was a big patch of bare gravel of the path where it intersected another. I plopped the trike down, turned it and then sat down to continue. The rest of the way off that end of the burial ground path was flat, so even though the tire spun, I didn’t have to walk the trike.

Every now and again, I need that little reminder that ice on unpaved paths and roads is in a whole different class than anything on paved surfaces.

That wasn't enough! Again!!

That wasn’t enough! Again!!

We made it back with 7.19 miles and a bit of minor adventure on ice. As I finished the ride, it occurred to me that after all the aggravation of trying to plot things earlier, it was Friday the 13th. Guess that might explain some things, though at least it mostly stopped that silliness once I was on the trike. Unless one counts the ice, but that was completely self-inflicted rather than Friday the 13th style happenstance.

Loke was an immediate pest once we were back home. It seemed that 7+ miles was barely more than a stroll around the block though I certainly felt all that hard work in my legs. Not only was the furball giving me a bit of a hard time, but so was Jens. Mostly on my husband’s part it was because when Loke wasn’t harassing me with woofs and pitiful looks, he was attempting to bully Jens. So, the generally wonderful man in my life kept asking me, ‘Are you riding tomorrow? Maybe for the longer one? Are you?’ while the fuzzy one kept woofing at him or even jumping up to paw at his shoulder as if trying to pull him out of the chair.

I steadfastly answered, ‘I don’t know. I’ll see how I feel in the morning.’

It turned out I didn’t feel so bad after all.

I still waffled a bit about heading out to tackle the longer ride that had been so thwarted the day before. On January 13th, the temps had been in the mid-30’s. On the morning of the 14th, the window thermometer and various weather apps showed 21 F. Throw in windchill just from rolling the trike, it would go easily into the mid-teens if not colder. Still having some foot challenges, so it made me wary.

Jens assured me he’d come pick us up even if less than an hour into the outing. So, bitterly cold or not, I decided to go. I took special care pulling on the layers though, adding medium weight wool leggings under my heavy weight leggings under my tights. A first for this winter.

Sun-touched tree tops

Sun-touched tree tops

Though the forecast was for cloudy, it was delightfully clear as Jens dropped us off at the storage just a few minutes after sunrise. An earlier start would have been nice, using the murky light of pre-dawn to get through the places ridden the most, but that’s what I get for swinging back and forth with indecision.

Loke was soooo confused when we went straight out from the parking instead of whipping around to follow the street in our usual direction. He kept looking at me in bafflement as we rolled toward the area with our apartment. Rather than taking my usual way toward the river which would have meant riding away from the area that was my focus. Slow as I’ve been, it would have been ridiculous to waste time on the hamster tracks that wasn’t needed. I was aiming for Vaksala Church by the shortest, most direct route I could think of that didn’t involve busier roads.

The change perked Loke up more than he otherwise would have been, I think. We were still on over done ground, but rolling in the opposite direction along the paths than we typically do.

Brrr! New 'lowest ever' temp display while out on a ride.

Brrr! New ‘lowest ever’ temp display while out on a ride.

As for the temperature? The numbers on my Garmin kept dropping. The previous lowest I could remember was about 16 F last year before I had to call my husband for rescue at Storvreta because my toes felt like they were being twisted off.

Early sun through the trees

Early sun through the trees

I kept waiting for the chill to set in, but it didn’t happen. I would have turned around then if so, but nope. Feet were all snuggly and warm feeling even without turning on my undependable footwarmers. I really should get around to replacing them.

And 'Brrrr' again! New coldest ever record.

And ‘Brrrr’ again! New coldest ever record.

Loke was really excited about time the Garmin displayed a whopping 13.8 F. It had nothing to do with the temperature though. He knew the wooded stretch we rolled along quite well and the direction we were going in revved him up. It’s probably the way my husband walks when he goes on foot with Loke to his parents’ apartment. There’s a cycle path that cuts through the heart of the complex where their building is.

I felt a twinge of guilt as my furball was absolutely convinced that ‘Grandpa’, the man with unemptying pockets of goodies was so very close… only for us to roll right by the proper turn off. Loke’s tail came down and he kept twisting his head to look back over his shoulder. Finally, he sighed and gave me glances of mournful reproach.

I gave him an apologetic pat as I pushed on toward the new section of road/cycle path that runs along the edge of the ever growing sport complex. The sidewalk/cycle way beside the road was lightly uphill and the thin crust of crunchy snow made it more of a workout and even slower going. While Loke still cast hopeful glances back toward Grandpa’s house, we passed a jogger who greeted me with a cheery, ‘God morgon!’

As I reached the round-about and scooted across the busy road to the next cycle path at the intersection, it struck me how much archaeology there was so recently cleared away in progress. For years, I rode by these empty fields in cars, not knowing about the runestones and stone-setting burials there. Now, I do know and it’s all gone. Dug up, bulldozed flat and paved over. Sad, but in human terms, progress is destruction though many would disagree. Of course, there’s practically no where in this part of Sweden where one can build without destroying some hint of long past inhabitants.

Uppsala in miniature!

Uppsala in miniature!

In the new shopping area, I did a little detour to dash across the mostly empty and quiet parking lot to head for a new playground recently built there.

It’s Uppsala in miniature! The burial mounds at Gamla Uppsala. The heart of Uppsala with the swan pond, the river with the mill-turned-museum, cathedral, and of course the palace. Even the eye-sore of the concert hall. All the major landmarks laid out in playful scale on rubberized surface for kids to tumble around on. The river, hidden under frost, is just blue painted rubber as is the swan pond, but still there. The playground has enchanted me from the moment I realized what it was.

Photos taken, I headed out to the nearest cycle way to rejoin the one out toward Vaksala church. I had a bit of an argument with myself as I pushed on. Starbucks peppermint hot chocolate or not?

Surviving bit of burial ground across the fields.

Surviving bit of burial ground across the fields.

The internal debate raged on as I stopped to photograph a bit of burial ground I’ve driven by hundreds of times, though ridden past only a few occasions. I’ve always suspected it was one, but now I have confirmation.

I decided against the hot chocolate as I pedaled on by the Granby Mall. I didn’t want the complications it would cause later in terms of calls of nature.

Another burial ground

Another burial ground

Loke was finally over his disappointment and happy to walk or slowly jog along at the creeping pace that seems to be my new speed of late. We scooted across the 288 and paused there for me to take more photos.

Another burial ground just 100 yards or so from the previous.

Another burial ground just 100 yards or so from the previous.

Something poignant about old, bare-limbed trees.

Something poignant about old, bare-limbed trees.

In the field to my right, which was also a burial ground as I’ve long suspected, the low morning sun was doing amazing things to the frosted wisps of grass that had somehow managed to stay upright in spite of the past heavy snows. It gave the impression that a white-gold mist hovered above the snow. Sadly, my camera couldn’t quite seem to catch the magic of it.

I came up to the entrance to Vaksala church and turned in to take a quick break at the restroom there.

I have to say, while out riding in it, I didn’t feel cold at all. Once I hit the heat of the delightfully warm little stone building where the church’s restrooms hide, it was clear I was actually a bit chilled.

Still, I didn’t linger long. I wanted to do at least a little riding in places that aren’t considered part of my hamster tracks. My pace was incredibly slow, not helped in the least by the frequent photo stops. Lounging around next to a radiant heater wouldn’t have sped things along at all.

Ooooh. THAT'S the cloudy weather the forecast was talking about.

Ohhhh. That’s the cloudy weather the forecast was talking about.

We moved on a bit quicker as it’s a bit downhill from Vaksala church to the road crossing just south. As we emerged from the trees around the church and vicarage, I was startled by the view off to my left. A heavy finger of clouds reach off toward the south. I cast a glance behind me and the entire northern horizon was dark with the approach of the weather front. Quite dramatic looking really.

No way to outrun it, but at least it was cold enough that it would be some kind of extremely freakish weather phenomenon for it to be rain. Though I guess ice storms are proof it could happen.

A tiny little burial ground.

A tiny little burial ground.

We scooted across the road and continued down the cycle path running through the residential area. Another quick stop to photograph a mini-burial ground with 4 circular stone settings. I was racking up the burial ground count fast. All of them ones that I’ve ridden by on my hamster tracks countless times or driven past even more. Even just going to the mall is visiting what was once an burial ground. Quite a major one was apparently built and paved over when the mall was built.

Sun goes byebye.

Sun goes byebye.

The clouds arrived fast and soon were covering the sky overhead and threatening the southern horizon where the sun calls the winters home in Sweden.

Not-so-old-ground under gray skies.

Not-so-old-ground under gray skies.

The progress of the clouds sweeping in from the north coincided almost perfectly with my shift from ‘hamster track’ ground to ‘not so frequent’ territory. We toodled through at not-great-speed through the last of the cycle paths through the residential area and reached the first little road that began the transition to ‘country lane’ as it were. Under all the houses there, it seems was once a rather significantly sized activity stretching from the Stone Age right through to the Middle Ages.

While writing this up, I’ve also found several burial grounds that I missed within about half a mile of the area. I may have to ride through again to collect those. It seems runestones and churches were my obsessions (and still are), chasing burial grounds has joined the fun. I’ve always been thrilled to find them when I’ve done so, but as my archaeology map website is proving, they’re a lot more tricksy than churches and runestones. Well, except for runestone fragments hiding among tumbled stones in woods.

Look! Not a burial ground! :P

Look! Not a burial ground! 😛

Loke had already been fairly interested in our surroundings. After all, it wasn’t the River Loop. Yet, once we pushed free of the little houses with their postage stamp sized backyards with little fences and hedges, he perked up even more. He likes trees and fields, places with slightly more open views where he might catch a glimpse of some small creature in the distance.

The sheep we passed? He couldn’t have cared less. I’m not even sure he glanced at them though they watched us with intense suspicion. Perhaps it’s that ancestral memory of the whole sheep/wolf conflict and it’s been remarked on occasion how much like a wolf Loke resembles.

Somewhere around and perhaps even a bit before the sheep were, you guessed it, burial grounds. I missed 2 of them as I was abruptly dazzled by ground I’ve not seen a dozen times in a single year.

Bad lighting, but a standing  stone to the right.

Bad lighting, but a standing stone to the right.

The 3rd one was more obvious. It was the big standing stone that called my attention to it and reminded me of my fascination. The lighting wasn’t the best, what with it being off to the south and there still being a thin band of brighter light where the edge of the clouds hadn’t quite reached the distant horizon.

Burial Ground.

Burial Ground.

It was amazing. Though I was still as slow as ‘turtles stampeding through peanut butter’ (an favorite phrase to describe me at times), I felt so much freer. Things to notice that I’d not seen in just about every conceivable non-disastrous condition on my rides. Examples being fire, flood, asteroid impact, or zombie apocalypse, but I think I can do without seeing the scenery near my apartment in those conditions. Not once had I set eyes on the Fyris River! That in itself was cause for joy.

Snow making distances hazy.

Snow making distances hazy.

The landscape opened up for the final push to cross the busy 282 for the push for Danmark Church. Rather boring stretch really. There’s hints of archaeology described on my map site, but all of it is lost to vast stretches of plowed fields as well as the E4. About the time we emerged from the trees, the clouds that had blanketed the sky except for the bare edge of the southern horizon finally proved to be carrying precipitation after all. Snow.

Not big fluffy swirling flakes mind you. More of a grainy, blowing dust wasn’t even really enough to accumulate any where in spite of the fact that it made distant tree-lines into misty shadows. A kind of sandstorm but with tiny grains of ice.

It was a bit unpleasant along that open stretch as we pushed on and had a bit of a faster charge to go under the E4. Utterly flat and nothing to break the wind for 100’s of yards if not a mile or more in some directions. Even on days where it’s generally not that windy, such open spots seem to encourage it. Though at least my Garmin was displaying 23 F instead of 13 F.

Finally, we scooted across the 282 when someone was nice enough to stop which made traffic easier to navigate since I only had to worry about one direction instead the both. I made sure to give them a big smile and cheery wave as I passed the bumper of their car.

Loved the combination of rocks, buildings, and trees here.

Loved the combination of rocks, buildings, and trees here.

Back in among the trees, it was more pleasant going as we sloooowwwly cranked up the little hill by the vet where Loke had surgery years ago. It didn’t appear Loke had any recollection of the horror of that experience. He was focused in getting us up that hill.

Burial ground among the trees.

Burial ground among the trees.

The scenery was much more interesting again among hills and with patches of woods to break up the areas of crop fields and pastures.

I admit, by this time, there was a sense of aggravation. A petty one, to be honest. The sheer number of things I wanted to photograph was slowing me down. Rather, what was slowing me down most wasn’t just grabbing the phone or the Canon from my handlebar bag, but arguing with my hand covers.

It started to feel like, pedal for 100 yards, stop, pull off my windproof Gore Tex mittens with wool glove liners, grab photo device, take picture, put away device, pull on glove liners, pull on one mitten, fight with too long thumb on mittened hand to get a grip on other mitten to pull mitten over glove liner. Repeat 2 minutes later. Taking the photo was generally less than 30 seconds. The mitten wrestling took almost 2 minutes, in part because there’s not a mitten or glove in existence that fits me proper. My current mittens, a bit oversized to fit with my glove liners has almost an inch and a half too much thumb. Even the old mittens which the width of my hand without glove liners had better than half an inch too much thumb.

Bored Loke waiting on me to finish glove combat.

Bored Loke waiting on me to finish glove combat.

Gloves, don’t even GET me started on gloves. I’m apparently a freak of nature when it comes to fingers. I’ve toyed with the idea of finding a professional seamstress (seamster if male?) to alter gloves and mittens with more skill than my hack and whip-stitch fashion could manage.

If not for the fact that it felt so incredibly, bitterly cold, I would have just left the gloves off. Bizarrely, it felt so much worse at 24 F than it had earlier with the record setting 13 F for a ride. Maybe it was sunshine. Maybe it was plenty of warm blood since it was the start of the ride. Could also be a matter of humidity levels. Don’t think it was really any more wind than when I started, but I could be wrong about that. All I do know for sure is that early in the ride, glove liners were enough. Later, I needed the mittens over them.

Danmark Kyrka - Back Side

Danmark Kyrka – Back Side (April, 2013)

Upon reaching Danmark church, I debated calling Jens for pick up. I was feeling cold and started to worry about my feet getting chilled. Still, it wasn’t even noon yet and my feet, while a bit cool, didn’t feel bad and I’d not even turned on my warmers yet.

I decided to push on. It was so early and glove/photo annoyance aside, I didn’t feel too bad. I wanted a bit more than 8 miles. I mean, I can get 8 miles with just a few minor additions to the River Loop.

One of the Danmark vicarage buildings.

One of the Danmark vicarage buildings.

Of course, Loke was happy to keep going. Our pokey pace was barely enough to get his heart rate up if I had to guess. A few downhill stints where we might have hit 9 mph, but little more than that. Much of the rest of the way was 5 mph at best and often less. My heart rate, on the other hand, was probably up quite a bit. Felt like I was working for every foot I rolled. I didn’t feel weak or sluggish. Just felt like the trike weighed about 1000 lbs rolling through sand.

I had optimistically plotted roughly 20 miles for the ride. While hopeful I could make it, I didn’t really expect to. At least it gave me plenty of distance with guidance for chasing down the burial grounds, runestones, or ruins that might be lurking around the area. Not to mention other medieval churches.

Burial Ground

Burial Ground

So, it was the next church on the route I hoped to hit before needing to call the ride. It was less than 5 miles way, which I was fairly sure was possible before sunset.

Alas. It wasn’t to be. Not long after I left Danmark and plodded on, the cold abruptly got to my feet even with my footwarmers working. To alleviate the discomfort, I had to stop every 15 minutes or so to walk around for 3 or 4 minutes to get the toes to stop aching and warm up. Then it was every 10 minutes for 5 minutes of warm up. Wasn’t going to get anywhere at that rate.

Between my toes and perhaps my annoyance with the mitten tussle for every photograph, I got sloppy and passed by quite a few landmarks without noticing. Tsk-tsk on me.

I called Jens to come get me at Linnaeus’ Hammarby, an open air museum celebrating the Swedish national hero who developed the method of categorizing plants, animals, and fungus in Latin.

The cold had a good grip on me by then. I had to keep stopping to put my hands under my arms to stop the harsh sting as I worked to dismantle everything to hurry along getting the trike loaded when Jens arrive.

Loke was disappointed, I think. So was I really. We’d just managed 9.99 miles. It was barely 1 pm. Just couldn’t take the cold any more.

Still, it had been nice to have about half the distance, or a bit more, off the hamster track. Not exactly new ground, but somewhere I’d not been in the better part of a year at least.

And here, I’ll end the post as 6500 words is a bit overlong as it is.



2016 Out With a Whimper – 2017 In With a Bang
January 3, 2017, 11:02 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Though Jens offered, repeatedly, to do pick up and drop off for another leg of the Mälardalsleden, I couldn ‘t quite dig up the motivation for it. Part of it was the fact that the portions of the loop are moving further and further away from home and Stockholm and the days are currently so short. By the time he’d reach the Mall of Scandinavia, it would practically be dark and he’d have to come get me again. No way he could get home and sit for more than 20 minutes either. There was also the fact we were to have dinner with his parents that evening which put more pressure on cutting the day short sooner.

So, 2016 went out with me on the hamster tracks around here.

Loke’s been having issues though. Moving stiff or as if his feet hurt. I’ve looked closely at every inch of his toes and paw pads, but everything looks fine. Still, he’s often been moving how I would if walking barefoot on fresh oyster shells. Combined with the fact I felt weak and sluggish with an aching hip, the last ride of 2017 was a whopping 2.95 miles.

With that, here are my stats for 2016

Miles – 1318.21

Rides – 203 total

Solo Rides – 24 for a total of 130 miles.

Rides With Loke – 179 for a total of 1,188 miles.

Hours Moving – 297

Medieval Churches – 9

Church Interiors – 4

Burial Grounds – 5

Runestones – 5

Ruins – 1

Rock Carvings – 2

Manors/Castles – 8

Fornborg(Ancient Fortress) – 1

I beat the miles to make 2016 the best distance year ever, probably the time and certainly number of rides, but the rest of the stats are pretty sad. I was surprised there were that many manor houses, but I guess I have the Mälardalsleden to thank for that.

The rest of the numbers are simply pitiful. Pretty much every single year I’ve been blogging, I’ve found more than a dozen churches, one year it was 40, the average is probably 25. Same with runestones. It’s all the hamster tracks I’ve been doing. They’re wrecking my numbers.

24 solo rides is the most of those I’ve done in a dog’s age. Perhaps since 2008 when I set that first enduring mileage record of 1200+ miles. Last year, except for the tour, I don’t think Loke was away from my side except on those occasions when Jens would come get him mid ride.

That said, this year for Loke was his best ever. 1,188 miles. Pretty good for an old man, wouldn’t you say?

Through the rest of New Year’s Eve, Jens kept telling me that for January 1st, he’d drive me anywhere for me to ride. No complaints.

I took him at his word and started looking for something to ride. I don’t know what it is, but I had a really hard time deciding on where. It wasn’t until I woke up on the 1st (about 5:30 am), I picked something and started plotting.

I took pity on Jens and didn’t pick something too far either. Admittedly, it wasn’t completely fresh territory and it wasn’t the next leg of the Mälardalsleden. A few years ago, I did some kind of ride involving a little village called Österbybruk with a history of iron working. Apparently there’s something there called a Walloon Forge and it is the world’s only perfectly preserved working example. Another ride, years ago, was started in a little town called Alunda. So, for my New Year’s Day treat, I plotted a route between the two.

For a tiny bit of fresh ground, I set the start point of the ride 4 miles outside of Österbybruk, at a church called Dannemora. I’ve been curious about this church for years. So, about 3/4ths of the 20 mile route was going to be on roads I’ve never ridden. The rest have only been ridden once years ago. Most of the major landmarks were one’s I’ve seen before.

With the help of the Swedish Archaeology web site, I found minor points of interest to chase down. A lot of it was ‘might not be much visible’ category, but I was determined to still look when I could.

The weather forecast was pretty nice for the day around the area I was going to ride. Highs at about 38 F and sunny. Little to no wind. To err on the side of caution, I dressed my legs in my bullet proof 400 g weight wool, which is good for anything between 33 F to perhaps 24 F without extra help and packed a couple extra layers for my top.

We got a later start than I’d wanted, but I was determined to do at least a bit of the ride. Loke seemed a bit restless, dare I say even eager? Perhaps it was because he was already in his harness and the trike was loaded up in the back of the car.

It was a beautiful drive. The sun was playing a bit of hide and seek with the clouds cluttering the southern 1/3 of sky. Across the fields, patches, pools, and streamers of mist drifted up from the fields. One stretch where the land dropped into a deeper valley around the river, the fog pooled like water turning it into a lake of opalescence where the sun touched it. Sadly, the drive was on a carriage way with no place to safely pull over so I could take photos of such breathtaking beauty.

As we neared my destination, I was given a rude surprise. While staring out the window dreamily, I absently asked Jens, “What does the car say?” That our code for the ambient temperature reading the car’s dash displays.

He glanced down, “-2.5 C.”

That snapped me to the present and I echoed that number in disbelief and concern. -2.5 C comes to 27.5 F. Waaaaayyyy colder than the 35 F the computer had told me it was.

It made the back roads interesting I must say. We went to a stop at one intersection and nearly slid right through it.

Dannemora Church - First of 2017!

Dannemora Church – First of 2017!

Yet, we arrived at Dannemora Church without incident.

It was cold as I scrambled about to assemble the trike. Jens walked down the little road with Loke a ways and nearly went down on its slick surface which convinced him to walk in the frost-crunchy grass. Though it was after 10 am, the surroundings were much in shadow as there was a bit of a tree covered rise to the south hiding the sun which at this time of year is still sits low to the horizon even at its zenith.

I discovered I’d left the flag at storage. That worried Jens some, given how shadowed most of the road was not to mention slippery. To ease his mind, I mounted the nice, bright lights he bought me a couple years ago and turned them on.

Jens wasn’t convinced my studded tires would be enough to keep me from sliding around on the roads, but he didn’t attempt to dissuade me as Loke was hitched up and I settled into the trike.

Lovely little barn going to ruin.

Lovely little barn going to ruin.

My furry cycle partner was all bright eyes and wagging, bushy tail as I turned the Garmin on.  As soon as I loosed the parking brake, he threw his weight into his harness and hauled like a dog possessed. Gone was the limping creature of the past weeks. No sign of hesitation brought on by stiff, inflamed muscle. He was all power and smoothly running animal.

There wasn’t much of anything like hills at first and I let Loke go as he wanted, pedaling a bit to boost us along when I wasn’t lurching us to a stop for photos. He had that happy, tongue-floppy husky grin as we hit speeds nearing 15 mph. It’s been weeks, perhaps even months since I’ve seen such verve and enthusiasm in him. It was worth that extra windchill at such speeds to see him so strong and crazy-happy. He honestly seemed happier than I was to be off the hamster tracks!

Frosty roads or not, both Loke and the trike had no trouble keeping traction. Our breath puffed in clouds as I rolled along with the loping, delighted husky beside me. My Garmin showed 28 F but I felt surprisingly little of it. While I had my wool socks and boots (non-studded), the cold has tended to get to my feet at those temps, but my feet felt snug.

No problem on the frosty roads!

No problem on the frosty roads!

After a couple miles of shadowy, mossy green woods, younger tangled wooded clumps, fields and the occasional little house, we came up to the main road in the area and scooted across into the first climb of the day.

There were signs along that climb, yellow with a stylized steam engine. That generally means an old museum railway like the one that runs in and out of Uppsala here. The one I keep meaning to take a ride on. This is a different one though. I could tell because the gauge of the tracks was larger than the Uppsala one.

Frosty grass kissed by sun and old buildings. Heaven!

Frosty grass kissed by sun and old buildings. Heaven!

After about 3 miles, Loke settled into a more sedate pace. Mostly because I think he just didn’t want to drag me around any more. There was still a bit of extra line pulled out on his tether, but not the wild dragging as at the start.

Free! FREE! I'm FREE!! Mwua-hahaha... *ahem*

Free! FREE! I’m FREE!! Mwua-hahaha… *ahem*

I was loving the scenery. The fields, some turned pale with a kiss of frost. The deeper, greener depths of forest where one could almost expect to see a wood imp or unicorn passing among the green capped rocks and silent tree trunks. What an incredible sense of freedom off the hamster tracks.

How gorgeous is this?

How gorgeous is this?

There wasn’t much archaeology to chase down over the first few miles. There were bits and pieces a bit off the route I’d planned, but much of it was buried deep in woods or under houses. Nothing I could easily access even if I rode to the general area. Some of the old country buildings were lovely though. One was a pretty barn converted into a dog kennel, though it might have been a newer construct.

Odd rocky ramp

Odd rocky ramp

One structure really leaped out at me from the road side at one spot though. It was back from the edge of the road, a neatly arranged ramp of rocks only slightly shifted over time. No idea what it was, but clearly man-made. If it had been near the bank of a stream or such, I would have said it was the footing for a bridge, but there was no such water course to be crossed. In hindsight, I suppose it could have been the ramp it appeared to be. One of those built to get goods easily into the upper loft of a barn. If so, it must have been a large one as it was bigger and more solid a footing than other such barn ramps I’ve seen.

First old buildings I passed in Österbybruk.

First old buildings I passed in Österbybruk.

Finally we came rolling into Österbybruk. The fringes were fairly boring, but soon I was into the older parts of the village. The first buildings I found predating the 20th century were timber barn looking things painted in the traditional Swedish red. I passed them by riding down the main street that curved around them toward a mill race.

Adored it and its twin!

Adored it and its twin!

Before I crossed the little gurgling path of water, I noticed a pair of buildings at the end of the line of timber ones. Curved, quarter-circle structures of brick with yellow plaster and white accents. 4 of them would have made a lovely little round building with a tiny circle of courtyard in the middle. There were only two, set a bit apart from each other. They almost looked like the free-standing wings often added to Swedish manor houses in the area, but without the manor house.

A mill race ran through it, but not sure it's a mill.

The unfamiliar building with mill race running through it.

They intrigued me enough that I turned to ride between them and further up through the little lane that ran between the timber houses as well. It gave me a good look at all of them and made looping back around to come down the main road again easier.

Smithy in Österbybruk

Smithy in Österbybruk

Clock tower across frozen mill pond.

Clock tower across frozen mill pond.

Loke was a little impatient as I toodled along at about 4 mph through there, just enjoying the look of the old town. While items in it looked familiar (the clock tower, the smithy, the manor), the arrangement was nothing like I recalled. Part of it could be perhaps that when I saw it the first time, it was warmer weather with things all green and lush. Also, it was at the end of a long ride and I was exhausted.

One building didn’t look familiar at all and that was the kinda barn looking thing just a pebble’s toss from the lovely part-circle buildings. Some of the sides were open beam structure. There was a ramp leading up to the overhead loft like many old barns in Sweden have. There was the clear sound of gurgling water echoing from it as the mill race actually ran through it. That led me to believe it was an unusual mill of some kind.

Odd that I had no memory of it given it was snuggled right up against the old smithy with it’s plaster painted a vivid yellow and the date 1794 in iron lettering just below the peak of the eaves. The smithy, I clearly remembered.

Österbybruk's Manor - April 2013

Österbybruk’s Manor – April 2013

Housing for the 'factory' workers and families. April 2013

Housing for the ‘factory’ workers and families. April 2013

I made the turn toward the manor house, parking near the smithy to get pictures of it as well as the frozen mill pond and the clock tower on the other side with it’s blurry reflection in the ice. We passed by the manor house, stopping long enough for me to photograph the chapel which stood as one free standing wing to front and right of the main house. Then I did a quick loop to pass by it all again and cross the mill race to continue on.

From there, it was the little road out of the village to pass by the workers’ housing from back in the day, centuries passed when this was a major iron producing town. Those were familiar as well though I’d come from the other direction when i saw them last.

Once outside of Österbybruk, I was nervous about the next 0.7 mile or so. It was going to be on the 272 where I think the speed limit is about 90 kph. There’s a moderate shoulder on it, but apparently it’s been consistently colder in the area than in Uppsala. Black, gravel mixed ice took up most of the shoulder.

Frosty country roads.

Frosty country roads.

Fortunately, the lanes are nice and wide and visibility up and down the road was good. Also the fact it was New Year’s Day meant was probably quieter than usual. I still didn’t like it. I pedaled faster which made Loke happy. Even with a slight climb up, I hit and maintained about 8 mph for most of that distance. Nothing like motivation to get one moving better than one thinks one can.

I was sooo glad when I finally got to turn back onto a nice, little country road again. Narrow, not even 2 full lanes wide, but slower speeds and in general, less traffic.

"The Sunstone". A property marker, I think.

“The Sunstone”. A property marker, I think.

That’s not to say it was all song and roses. It was sunshine though. The road mostly went south and in areas there were clear cuts, I caught that low angled sun full in the face. Even sunglasses weren’t much help. I kept thinking to myself how much easier it would have been going north. But I’d already ridden that area from south to north. I sucked it up and used my hand as a sunshade for much of the way.

I also started keeping an eye out for when I approached the areas where I’d marked archaeology. As I was approaching the first such marked item, I spotted an upright stone on the side of the road.

At first, I thought it was a runestone though I’d seen no hint of such in the area according to my various websites.

According to the little placard next to it (barring bad translation) it’s named ‘The Sunstone’ and it was apparently placed there to mark someone’s ownership of the land. Could be wrong. I need to ask the hubby if I’m even remotely translating it correctly.

Last gasp of the Canon's battery.

Last gasp of the Canon’s battery.

Thank goodness for my decent camera on the Galaxy Edge!

Thank goodness for my decent camera on the Galaxy Edge!

As I wandered around photographing the stone and scenery, my Canon’s battery chose that moment to die. I pulled out the spare and… nothing except a little flashing red battery icon telling me to replace the battery. I’m not sure if I forgot to charge after swapping last time or if the cold sapped it. Irritating, but at least my Galaxy’s camera is fairly decent most of the time.

Overlooking a burial ground

Overlooking a burial ground

Just a 100 yards further on from the stone, I came up to the first of the burial grounds I’d marked. As I guessed, there wasn’t really much to see. As a rule, most burial grounds aren’t as glaringly obvious as Gamla Uppsala. Sometimes, it’s pasture land with deep, lush grass and a few stones poking up hear and there with the rest of the rocks (1-2 feet in diameter) forming the ring smothered under grass. Or under shrubs or scrubby trees. Stone rings seem to out-number mounds 7 out of 10 from what I’ve noticed. Mounds, tend to be small things. 30 feet or less in diameter, but rarely even a meter high which makes them very hard to spot in an otherwise rippled landscape, especially with bushes and trees in the way.

This burial ground perfectly fit the description. Lots of long grass, browned and flattened by winter, with clusters of shrubs and a few scrawny trees. Some stones showed here or there with caps of lush green moss, but they had no clear pattern at a glance.

I still grinned at it. Gaining that deeper awareness of the places I rode through heightened my delight in it.

Of course, I was already thrilled with my surroundings even without finding the burial ground. While I’ve ridden it once before, it was from the opposite way and I have no clear memory of that specific scenery. Free of the hamster tracks. Such a sense of freedom.

Medieval house foundation

Medieval house foundation

Loke and I pushed onward, making a significant climb for a bit. Along the way, I searched along both sides of the road less than a quarter mile away from the burial ground where there were supposed to be old building foundations quite close to the road. I didn’t really expect to find them though, knowing they could have been well down in the dirt, covered over with centuries of composted grass or even trees and shrubs.

Amazingly, one of them did leap out at me. A roughly square outline of similar sized rocks with a bunch of trees growing out of it. At least, I think it was one of the foundations I was looking for. It seemed there was a honking big hump of a boulder right in the middle of it that sat higher than the stones forming the square.

Frost at 1 pm! Brrr!

Frost at 1 pm! Brrr!

Even though it was after 1 pm shortly after I found the foundation, there was still frost everywhere. Most fields seemed to have a dusting of it, turning the brown of dead grasses and leaves to a more muted beige. Even dead leaves scattered along the road side were delicately outlined with white lines of the finely frozen once-dew.

I started to feel the cold. Mostly it was in my hands. Every time I stopped to offer Loke water, the canteen just sucked the heat out of my fingers and they were slow to regain it even with my glove liners and mittens.

Another burial ground. Perhaps it's a burial mound on the left.

Another burial ground. Perhaps it’s a burial mound on the left.

As I came up to the next area of burial ground, I was treated to a trio of sturdy little draft type horses in a paddock. Either Haflinger or Norwegian Fjord from the look of them, but I can’t be sure. Someone was out in the pasture with them or I would have taken a picture. As it was, I felt a bit weird photographing the burial ground at the edge of the paddock. This one, small and narrow as such things go at least had what appeared to be a recognisable little mound in the edge. It was supposed to continue on the other side of the road, but there was nothing to be seen beyond the sun brightened tangle of brushy, little trees.

Another burial ground.

Another burial ground.

The next burial ground patch was easier to make out knowing it was there, though it was thick with older trees. There were swells and ripples of the ground that were probably parts of mounds, though the stones didn’t seem to be in any formation what-so-ever.

At one stretch, Loke and I came to stop for a few minutes, but it was more to keep a pair of horses from spooking at the sight of us. Well, to keep the high strung thoroughbred type from spooking any way. The other horse was another of those little draft types. It was bundled up in a horse blanket almost right up to the ears so it was hard to tell, but I think it was Norwegian Fjord horse. I love draft horses. They’re just so calm and undisturbed by random things and end up being curious rather than scared.

The thoroughbred calmed right down. Now is curious.

The thoroughbred calmed right down. Now is curious.

The bundled one was no exception. He/she saw us and wandered right up as close as possible to the electric fence to watch us. That calmed the thoroughbred down and soon it was standing close by the fence line too. Of course, as soon as I pulled my phone out, the draft horse was mostly hidden by a winter shrub. Then it started munching on dried grass and wouldn’t move. *grumble*

Finally, the thoroughbred was starting to get distracted by other things and probably wouldn’t panic when we moved. I don’t want to spook a horse into hurting itself. I’ve already spooked one into breaking through an electric fence which allowed an entire herd to go trotting off across fields and woods. Never again if I can avoid such.

This line of stones looks a bit unnatural.

This line of stones looks a bit unnatural.

Bad as that event was, I’d feel ever worse if a horse panicked and fatally injured itself because it ran blindly over rocks or into trees just because of my weird bike.

An almost colorful shelf fungus

An almost colorful shelf fungus

While every now and again, I get frustrated at my slow pace, I must admit, it does let me enjoy scenery when it’s worth enjoying. This was no exception. I had time to admire the deep, secretive looking patches of woods or the frosted grass of the fields. Once, something as simple as a colourful bit of shelf fungus growing a tree stump caught my eye. Something I never would have seen blasting by in a car… or even speeding along at 15 mph with the trike.

Morkarla (not Morloc) Church

Morkarla (not Morloc) Church – April 2013

Morkarla Church's Belfry

Morkarla Church’s Belfry

It was coming upon 2 pm and in the 3 hours hours or so since starting the ride, we’d not even done 10 miles. I was already going to call the ride done though. My hands ached with the cold. With the sun getting lower, the temp dipped into the 24 F range and my feet started to feel the cold. I’d packed the foot warmers, but turned out the batteries were dead. There was only about half an hour of good daylight left.

Another significant influence in the decision was we were approaching Morkarla Church. I’ve been there once before, but coming from the other direction. It had a nice parking lot to load the trike. I even hoped the restroom would be unlocked, though on New Year’s Day, I was sure it was a bit too much to expect.

Aside from the church, there was also another interesting bit of archaeology to end the day on. Other than the church itself, I mean.

I rolled into the parking lot and ran up to try the bathroom door. Yes! It was open. Would you believe it was also deliciously heated?! I had really been crossing into the threshold of suffering when I arrived at the church. Hands aching in my gloves, bone deep chill burrowing through the layers of wool on my top. I think if I’d pulled on the 400 g weight top sooner, I might have been okay. I was just too cold for any body heat to build up under it when I did dig it out of the packs. My legs were chilled too though not as bad as my upper body. My feet of course, but not nearly as bad as they normally have been. I didn’t feel like there was a threat of frostnip or frostbite at all.

I practically wrapped myself around the radiator in there for 3 or 4 minutes before going back out to keep Loke company.

Loke did not want to stop. He stared at me with this bright eyed gaze and wagged his tail in hopes of continuing. I unhitched him and we walked toward what remained of the dike (like a moat but smaller in this case) that used to surround the church and the stone bridge across it. Loke bounced around me and even flung himself down for a good wallow on the mossy like plant that seemed to thrive there in place of grass.

Didn't realize exactly what this was back in 2013. Bridge and little moat.

Didn’t realize exactly what this was back in 2013. Bridge and little moat.

I took photos of the old bit of bridge and moat from several angles, wondering how I’d missed realising what it was the first time I was there. Then I scurried back to the restroom to hangout, this time with Loke. Every time I heard a car coming, I’d open the door a crack for a peek.

Finally Jens came and I rushed around, loading everything back into the car. Then it was off toward home where snuggled down into the heated car seat, trying to shake off the chill. It took me hours to stop feeling cold, buried under my electric blanket.

In spite of how cold I got, and it was less than 10 miles, it was a good day. It felt marvelous to ride somewhere else. It was inspiring to see Loke acting like a young dog again. By the way, he immediately started harassing Jens to take him for walkies the moment we were home. I counted it a good start to 2017.

Hopefully it will stay that way. I have an appointment on Jan 2nd for Loke at the vet. Part of it is to get him checked and renew his prescription for anti-inflammatory medications. Maybe even switch him since he’s been feeling uncomfortable when he doesn’t have the distraction of new places to sniff and run.

Another thing though, is he’s had a little wound on the top of his nose for almost 2 weeks now. It won’t heal. No clue how he got it. He doesn’t seem to have been rubbing his nose on anything and it won’t go away. The last time he such an sore on his nose, it was because he was stuck for 5 days on strict cage rest in the animal hospital. He shredded every blanket they put in with him and then would shove the pieces around with his nose for hours. Poor guy was just that bored. But once he was home from the hospital, it healed up in a matter of days. This has just been going on and on.

When I look at it, I keep seeing in my mind’s eye pictures of a friend of mine’s cat who had a similar sore on her nose. It turned out to be a malignant cancer. Loke’s had countless hours out in the sun and it’s impossible to keep sunscreen on a dog’s nose.

So, I’m crossing my fingers that Loke’s just been managing to rub his nose on something without me spotting it though I seem to have a supernatural sense about when he licks a foot or scratches his face, or, or, or… you get the idea.

Let’s hope that the awesome start of the year isn’t crushed by bad news.