Terii’s Cycling Babble


That Time Again
June 14, 2020, 4:43 pm
Filed under: Day Rides

Yep! The weekend long ride.

I did actually get out and do a short ride during the week though. June 8th or 9th. I forget which. I had laundry to do, so it was just a quick buzz around the Grave Mound loop for a bit less than 4.5 miles. The power and stamina that had me blasting through the ride on June 5th was still with me. I wowed myself by doing the distance in 38-ish minutes. Give or take 30 seconds. Completely shocked.

I didn’t get out for rides the rest of the week. Jens’ birthday was during the week and we went out to eat. I refused to eat grilled portabello mushrooms with grilled or steamed veggies, so instead, I had meat. That pretty much wrecked me for some days, so, no riding.

It’s hard eating out as a vegan. Restaurants refuse to get creative. It’s always mushroom served up as a pathetic meat substitute and a side of ‘nothing special done to them’ green veggies like grilled/steamed broccoli and maybe some green beans.

If I eat at home, I can have a tasty plate of nachos with homemade vegan sour cream and queso sauce or pasta with a yummy alfredo sauce. Using the homemade vegan cheese and sour creams, I can make a kick-butt twice baked potato that makes me roll my eyes with delight. Me, the hard-core, unapologetic carnivore, loving a vegan twice baked potato.

Oddly, I am almost a better cook as a vegan than I was as an omnivore.

Sorry for the off topic ramble, but it did impact my riding, so worth going on about as this is my ride diary.

Jens had been pestering me a bit about where I was going to ride this weekend. Nothing particularly called though. Friday, June 12th, I told him that I’d figure out Saturday’s ride when I woke up.

It didn’t really go so well. There was the thought that Jens drop me off at a little medieval church in Vattholma so I could ‘collect’ it and from there, I would have headed north, back past Tensta and chase churches and manors. I think the reason that idea fizzled is because I’ve ridden the area north from Tensta before and it was a brutal ride. I remember being hot, and a lot of traffic and accompanying fumes, exhausted, frustrated.

I looked in a few other places, but still not much called. Jens woke up and asked what I’d decided and threw a few ideas out, so I dragged my oddly reluctant self back onto the computer to look.

Up around a small village named Österbybruk, which was the site of old iron production, my eyes were pulled a bit northward to an even smaller blip on the map called Film. There’s a church there that I’ve meant to ride to a couple times, but the rides always fell a bit short. I’ve ridden the area south of Österbybruk two or 3 times and really wanted something fresher to sink my teeth into. Eyes wandering the map, the name Hökhuvud caught them.

In that little blip on the map, bigger than Film, smaller than Österbybruk, was a church of course. I have wanted to add that church to my collection for years. Ever since we passed when driving to Sing Island on Sweden’s east coast for Jens to fish for sea bass. Alas, it sat on a busy road and I had never managed to find a way to it from some place else and never found a way from it to other regions without, dealing with that busy road.

Well, looking from Film I spotted a way. Also, since June 5th’s ride being so spectacular, I looked further afield and found another church in a town to the south of Hökhuvud (Hawk Head for non-Swedish speakers), as well as what appeared to be a lovely length of road that ran further south. A small country lane, uninterrupted for quite some distance. It actually made me giggle.

So, it was decided. All batteries charged, stuff packed into my various bags and off we went.

I was so looking forward to getting the drone up at Film Church. Everything trike related out of the car, I sent Jens on his way and started to load up. While putting the last bits in place, a woman in her 70’s or so, came up. She was walking her bike along and paced up and down beside the church wall.

So, couldn’t launch the drone right then. I took my camera and went walking around the church in search of runestones as she finally headed off down a path that seemed to parallel the nearby lake. Perhaps by time I finished, she’d be far enough gone I could finally get aerial photographs.

Film Church

Nope. As I came back to the trike, she came back up from the path. So, I went into the bathroom to apply sunscreen on face and neck, but where I could wash it off my hands, hopefully keeping it off camera lenses. I hoped, beyond hope when I emerged, THEN I could do the drone.

Nope. I came out to the biking woman still there, along with an old man heading into the churchyard to visit/tend a grave. When yet still others arrived, I gave it up as a lost cause.

Loved the building and old farm equipment.

Pretty much the moment I rolled out, I felt the loss of the insane pep I’d had on my last long ride. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel as if I had the power to fly along and go all day. Not to mention, there was an ever-so-slight grumble of discomfort in one knee. That convinced me to take it even easier. It would have been silly to strive for the same performance I had on the 5th and wind up wrecking myself.

Disappointing. It made it unlike I’d be able to challenge my 30+ mile record.

It was a warm day even as I left Film Church at a bit after 10 am. On the way to Film, there had been faint smudges of high, thin clouds on the western horizon. Once I was rolling along though, they seemed to have vanished. Pity. They would have been welcome for the effect of lessening the sun’s impact.

Ah! Summer Scenery!

There was wind though. At times it lashed the trees at 15 mph or more and pulled at my Da Brim. Even if a hindrance to forward motion on the trike while moving south or east, the very directions I needed no less, it did mitigate the heat somewhat.

So, wind and higher temps, yet it wasn’t unpleasant. I pedalled along at a pace that didn’t aggravate my knee and whipped my head around, trying to see everything at once.

The road was paved, but still narrow. One of those country lanes that criss-crosses Sweden where it might be considered a lane and a half. Two cars have enough room to pass each other… just.

A different sort of road marker

I spend a lot of time on those kinds of roads. Naturally, they’re my favorite. A lot of times, they have little enough traffic so are pleasant.

As I came around the northern end of the lake and started south down the east side of it, the road was a little bigger, though still not quite a ‘full’ two lane road. It was also busier.

The cars were no problem as I rolled along at about 7 mph on the flats, slower on hills of course. Motorcycles though, that was a different story. About a dozen of them roared by me on that eastern side of the lake. More than half of them passed too close. A few may have been worried about swinging too wide out and getting hit by an on-coming car when passing me from behind. Others, they were just hugging the inside of the curves as they raced along in the opposite. Seriously, at least 3 of them, I could have reached out and touched them as they passed. The road might have been narrow, but not THAT narrow. Passing cars gave me more room. As if motorcycles don’t make me grind my teeth enough at home.

They frequently use the street at the back of our apartment as a speed way. Nothing like being jolted out of sleep at 1 am by some jerk’s motorbike SCREAMING down the street and echoing from the buildings. During the days in warm weather, with windows open so we don’t suffocate, we spend a lot of time rewinding things we watch because of it.

Along that madness, I found a spot by some mailboxes to pull off the road. No power lines above and about a 5 square foot spot of flat, grass free ground where I could launch the drone. There was an open view down toward Film Lake, which honestly, looks more like a bog. It would appear Film Lake is making its way into the history books just as Salsta Lake did a couple hundred yeas ago.

Overlooking a bit of an old farm

I was pretty focused on readying the drone, so I didn’t hear the woman call out to me the first time. The second time, I looked around, baffled and there was a woman pushing up the hill on her bike. I didn’t immediately catch what she said because, well, people rarely ask me about my Da Brim so it’s not a Swedish word pattern I’m familiar with.

A bit of Film Lake and the expansive reed beds around it.

The situation wasn’t helped that she really didn’t want to stop and lose her momentum up the hill either. So, it was a quick pattern of yelling back and forth as I told her I’d ordered it on line and gave her name Da Brim.

I’d barely launched the drone and had it less than 100 feet away, when a guy on a road bike, heading up the hill had apparently swerved to my side of the road to yell in my ear as he passed. Naturally, I jumped with a yelp and he laughed. His riding companion shook his head and offered an apology for his friend’s crass behavior.

While I’m getting braver with the drone, I wasn’t brave enough to send it buzzing the mile or so across reed beds and silting waters to the church. Even if I hadn’t been getting ‘High Wind’ warnings from it, I wouldn’t send it that far off. Though while choosing photos for the post, I did realize one has the church in it. Just so small as to be unrecognizable until one zooms in to the point of blurriness.

Fresh shorn alpaca always look so weird.

It was a relief when I reached the northern edge of Österbybruk and was able to make the turn onto the eastward stage of the ride.

The first mile or so of that new, smaller road was through a residential area. Lots of houses, kids riding bikes on the streets. And then, suddenly, at the appearance of 3 alpaca in a pasture, of all things, I was back in the countryside.

The black one didn’t look so odd as the other two

These alpaca, unlike the last trio I’ve met in previous years, had pretty much no curiosity in me at all. Only one of them even looked up at me. Perhaps the other two were sulking about their obviously recent shearing?

When they’ve got their fluff, alpaca are adorable. When they’ve been close clipped, they turn awkward looking. All scrawny neck and legs with barrel shaped bodies and over sized heads. These were no exception. So, if they were sulking, I can’t say I blame them.

Gubbo Road was fairly pleasant. I do want to say the difference between the number of trees in street view and the lack of them in current time is alarming along the first few miles past the alpacas. It definitely would have been nicer with all the trees seen in street view and not only because of shade. Trees are just so much nicer than stumps, torn ground, and general destruction of clear cutting.

After a couple of miles, knowing there was a lake just to the south, I started looking for a spot to launch the drone. I knew the lake was there because I recalled it from when I was looking at the maps. Also, there were occasional glimpses of water across the ruin of clear cuts or between trees.

Riding near lakes at this time of year has a special irritation, especially on windy days. Seed fluffs. As I rode along, there where white puffs from what I think are cattails flying on the breeze. Add in sunscreen and a little sweat. At one point, I think my cheeks may have looked as fluffy as an unshorn alpaca. It was hard to get that mess off without smearing sunscreen on my hands.

Finally, I came upon a parking lot. I think it was mostly to serve for those who wanted to walk on the Uppland Trail that ran around the edge of the lake and off across the landscape. Still for putting up the drone, it served admirably. Plenty of flat. The ground around it had been clear cut so for 100 yards or so there were no tall trees which always make me nervous if they’re too close.

Stordammen Lake

Up went the drone and I snapped a few photos of Stordammen (The Big Pond) Lake. Odd it should be called ‘Big Pond’ when it’s larger than many bodies of water nearby that carry the name ‘Lake’.

Out of curiosity just now, I looked up if the difference between a lake and a pond is size alone. Actually, it turns out it’s not about size at all. It’s all about depth, or rather if sunlight can reach the bottom of all the way across or if there are spots too deep for sunlight and therefore, plants can’t grow. Learn something new every day. Still, I’ll hazard a guess that Film Lake’s designation as such no longer stands, but it keeps the name because of its past glory. And who’s to say that when lakes or ponds were named in the past that it was with sunlight in mind back in say the 1500’s?

Actually pretty good as gravel roads go!

Because of street view and my Garmin’s map, I knew the lovely paved lane with so little traffic was soon to become unpaved. Naturally, when it did happen, it wasn’t any surprise. Oddly, my Garmin drew the road as a dotted line, as it might do with a footpath. Confusing as I’ve seen it draw dirt roads with yellow filled lines.

I was braced for the worst as I neared it. Turned into a pleasant surprise. There was some gravel, but the surface under the scatter of pebbles was rock hard, flat packed dirt. If the surface held for the entire distance of the unpaved, it was going to be a nice ride.

There wasn’t much traffic on the road either. Entire blocks of 10-20 minutes or more could pass with not seeing another soul. Best of all, no motorcycles buzzing me at less than arms length. No motorcycles at all!

Old barn and to the right, barely visible in trees, another building.

A bit further on, I discovered there were a lot of abandoned buildings/farms on this road. That realization first came when I spotted an old abandoned barn down the road and stopped to take a photo from the distance. As I put the camera away, I noticed the edge of a roof line highlighted by the sun of another building in the trees.

Oh, look! A second, collapsed barn!
Closer view of collapsed barn

Naturally, it was time to launch the drone when I reached the barn.

There was a surprise once I had the drone up. A second barn at right angle to the first, visible one. The fact it had collapsed and with the way the land was shaped and tall grasses, I hadn’t been able to see it really. Except maybe a few pieces of wood. Certainly the extent of it surprised me. It had very likely been larger than the one still standing. Playing around with the photos, it appears when it collapsed, it had a vehicle of some kind in it as well as a trailer. Not very archaic either. I’m talking nuts, bolts, pneumatic tires kind of vehicle and trailer.

So close, yet so far.

I wasn’t quite bold enough to send the drone zooming around the tree tops to see if I could make out the roof of the building just barely visible in the trees. For that, I put the drone away and started walking across the wheat field on foot, following a line of plants crushed by tractor tires.

I kept hoping to find some remnant of a path to the building, especially seeing how old it looked with a stone foundation cellar. But no, it’s abandonment had been too long in the past and all such had been well over-grown. Adding to the frustration was a peek of more red faded wood to the left of another structure beyond the first one.

I could have pushed through the hip and chest high grass, but the thought of ticks made my skin crawl. So, I just paced around the fringes in frustration before giving up. Maybe if I remember I can go back during the winter when the weeds have shriveled, the trees dropped leaves and ticks are slumbering.

After that abandoned farm, it seemed old buildings were hiding behind every tree.

Okay, a slight exaggeration, but I spotted at least six. Who knows how many I didn’t spot. Clearly, this area had a time when it was more populated and more intensively farmed. Most of those ‘back in the trees’ buildings I didn’t get photos of because the resulting photos wouldn’t have been worth it. Trees and leaves with a hint of faded red paint on wood back in the shadows… if that. Fortunately, there were plenty of old, out-in-the-open farm buildings for me to point my camera at.

With the lake left behind and no other nearby, I no longer had the flying seed fluffs sticking to my face to contend with. It still wasn’t trouble free though. Seed fluffs were replaced with insects. Horseflies chief among them. By a miracle, I was only bit a few times. They never came in droves, mostly singles with the occasional team of 2 or 3. Most shocking though was they never came at my face or ears. That’s when I really freak out. An inch long biting fly going for my eyes will unhinge me.

One spot in the middle of the 8-10 miles of gravel travel made me wonder about the past nature of the road. In a spot with a cluster of houses and kept-up farm buildings was a stretch of paved road for 300-400 yards or so. Miles of dirt to either side.

Just past the mystery paved stretch
Pretty pasture.

Perhaps the gravel road had been paved at one time. That might explain why the dirt was so hard packed as to rival even pavement. It had been prepped to provide a solid foundation for an asphalt covering. It could very well have been when the population fell to the extent that the farm I’d found was abandoned, the government decided it wasn’t worth the cost to maintain pavement for so few people so they pulled it up.

Even as good as the base surface of the unpaved road was, it was nice when I reached paved surfaces again. I definitely was lacking the strength and staying power I inexplicably had on June 5th. So, when I no longer had rocks increasing the rolling resistance, it was a relief.

Slowly falling apart. So sad.

I still didn’t feel too bad though. I was tiring, yes, but not exhausted. My knee was uncomfortable, though never quite crossed the threshold into pain. Honestly, my feet hurt more. The temperature had edged up toward the low 80’s F, but amazingly, I wasn’t suffering from it like I used to.

5 years ago, anything over 75 F, especially under the summer sun would have had me shaking, on the verge of vomiting, feeling like my face was going to combust, and wanting to pass out. But lately, I recognize it’s warm and happily accept the cooling embrace of any shade or even wish for a bit of clouds, but I don’t need them. Not even sure it has slowed me down.

I think it would be prettier with clouds

Then I was done with going east and the road was all south, south, south. There were less trees and more fields so the wind buffeted me around some, but that helped take the edge off the sun. I slowed down a bit, having given up any hope of beating the 30+ mile recent record some time earlier in the ride.

I probably could have done it as long as I didn’t rush, but the idea of staying out on the trike for another 3 hours or so didn’t have much appeal. I was starting to feel the fact I’d only had only a few nuts. Maybe with an earlier start. Something more ‘meal like’ to break up the day would probably help too. Nuts and fruit can only take one so far.

I definitely was going to call it done when I reached Hökhuvuds Church.

Uppland’s Rune Carving #598

On a long glide down a gentle hill, relaxing and enjoying the cooling feel of the wind, when a sign leaped out at me. ‘Runsten’. I had to hit the brakes hard, looking for the distinctive shape. Then I realized, I’d seen it before though never on the trike. The runes weren’t carved on a stone. They were carved on a flattened bit of bedrock. The very earth itself was the runestone.

Red definitely was not a good color with which to highlight the runes on this carving. The paint kind of faded into the rusty hue of the rock face.

I can’t remember exactly when it was we first drove by Uppland’s rune carving #598. The sight of it definitely triggered a clear memory of driving along, turning back and me getting out to take photos of it. I even want to say my dad was with us, so that would be in 2008, probably when we were on our way into Dalarna on a sight seeing trip.

As I came closer to Hökhuvud, the road had gotten busier, so I was cautious pulling out from the stone and onto the road again.

From the runestone until I reached the end of the road where it met the busier 288. I remembered the area around Hökhuvuds Church being heavily trafficked. Enough so, that I often felt frustrated by my desire to ‘collect’ the church on a trike ride, but unwilling to risk my life for it kind of thing.

There appear to have been changes since the last time we drove by the church on our way to Sing Island. A bike lane was added to the side of the road. No physical separation from traffic, just a white painted line, but that’s more than what it used to be. I scurried across and made it safely to the church.

Hökhuvuds Church

I rolled to a stop at Hökhuvuds Church and… I was blissfully alone. Well, aside from the constant traffic on the street. But no one wandered the churchyard or the like. I called Jens to let him know where I was and got my rump in gear to get the drone up before anyone strayed along to ruin the plan.

It was actually a good spot for the drone. The trees close by were short as trees go and not very many of them. An open field flanked the church so plenty of room to maneuver.

I had a bit of fun flying around there. At first I was a bit nervous, sending the drone up higher to try and get a good angle over the top of the small trees that were blocking the view of the church when I first went up with it.

Oland’s River, not the Fyris, believe it or not.

Then there was a river of course, adding its own special accent to the scenery. Not the Fyris which was a surprise.

Once I was done flying the drone as far as I dared, I brought it down, packed it up, and proceeded to strip everything off the trike in readiness for Jens’ arrival.

It had been a pretty good day, especially since I finally got to fly at a church. The first since Järlåsa Church back in May. I’m also getting a bit bolder with it. But then I’ve been getting significantly more practice with it of late. The past 2 months, I’ve probably flown my drone more than all of last year. Dare I even say, more than I’ve used it in all the rest of the time I’ve had it? Not impossible honestly. Kinda sad to think about.

So, here I am about to hit ‘Publish’ on another long ride post at 6:40 pm, June 14th. Tomorrow, Monday, June 15th, the trike goes to the cycle shop. I think I mentioned in the post about my ride on May 31st, the right brake pad doesn’t have much grab left in it. Hardly enough to bring me to a prompt stop even if I’m not heading down any kind of a hill. So, need to get that fixed and get my gears tweaked again too.

So, here’s to coming rides. Not sure if I’ll go for a long ride next weekend as it’s the saddest day of the year – Midsummer. From then until December 20th or so, the days will be getting shorter. *mournful sigh* While Midsummer isn’t as bacchanalian as Valborg (pre-pandemic) is, there’s still quite a bit of drinking. I’d rather not end up as a greasy smear because one of the 1000’s of extra drunk people on the roads hits me.



Just… WOW!
June 8, 2020, 10:42 am
Filed under: Day Rides

After my ride on May 31st, I needed most of Monday, June 1st to recover. I’d been on paved roads for 99.5% of the ride which was a nice change from the previous gravel rides.

June 2nd through to the 4th, I kept planning to go for early rides on my local hamster tracks. Get out about 4 am, probably be back before the cycle paths got crammed with people who have no idea how to keep distance from others sort of thing.

Well, the weather kept nixing that idea. June. Frost. Not two words that typically go together. But the 2nd and 3rd were in the mid-30’s when I woke up and there was frost in the shadowy spots. I still have that aversion to go out into the cold during ‘warm’ months. Of course, then it warmed up to almost 65 during the rest of the day. That meant I didn’t want to ride because I didn’t want idiots blocking my way and coughing on me as I tried to squeeze past.

June 6th is Sweden’s ‘National Day’, and Adobe gave everyone Friday off to make a long weekend. I had no plans to go for a ‘out there’ ride, but with the forecast saying it was supposed to be in the 40’s about the time I wake up, I planned to do the early local ride.

Jens changed that. He was getting up at 7 am on June 5th to go swap tires on his parents car. Later, he was going to do their and our shopping. He was almost pushy about the idea that I go ride. Either he could drop me off somewhere within a half hour of our place, or I could do a ‘pick a direction and ride from home’ thing. To save my honey from more time in the car, I opted for ‘pick a direction’.

It was just before 8 am when Jens dropped me off at the garage. As I put everything on the trike, I pondered my choices. Any where toward the city center, of course, was out. So, I could go toward Gamla Uppsala and pick one of several choices from there. Or, I could head out on Old Börje Road which would also give me a multitude of options at different points.

Been a while since I’ve seen these gray sky lumps.

I felt more like heading west than out past Gamla Uppsala for some reason, so off on the first portion of the River Loop I went.

It was a glorious morning. By 9 am it was in the mid-50’s F. There was almost no wind and that early, the sun wasn’t very harsh. Also, the clouds were multi-level. Lower gray-ish puffs drifting above the trees with a higher, thin veil above them,which I hoped would keep the sun muted enough to not fry me.

And the colors! Last week’s ride had some summer shades of green and flowers. Just 5 days and there was very little of anything I would call ‘spring green’. It had all deepened into those darker, richer hues that announce summer’s arrival.

On Old Börje Road, I was surprised. Even right from the beginning on that steep hill up from the New Börje Road, I was stronger and faster. I’ve been needing my 40 tooth granny gear with the 22 front ring. I tackled it on 2 rings down from the 40. So, 3rd gear instead of 1st? I honestly can’t remember when I could do that.

Yes, the barn again, but the rock with flowers!

When I came down from the hill to the gentler road beyond, I was still strong and fast. As long as the grade was less than 3%, I was cruising along at 9 mph or faster.

I’ve been able to do that fast, but how long would it last?`It did feel different though. I felt good. Really, really good.

I’m not so accustomed to the trike feeling so much like flying when not rushing down a hill. I reveled in it like in the days of old.

I slowed down as I came up to the yellow house, trying to see if there was any improvements. I think one of the windows has been replaced. About 100 yards past the house, is a large old farm building I’ve always liked. I noticed it’s actually had a fresh coat of paint on the white trimmed windows and doors.

Annoyingly though, about the time I came up to the cross-road, Mother Nature was starting to clear her throat. I pulled over at the bus stop to make decisions. If I went left, I knew of a spot, tucked out of site from the road to answer the call of Nature. Right would take me out toward Ulva Mill. Straight, of course, would take me to Börje.

I decided against Ulva. Left would take me toward Läby and two choices. One to head back into Uppsala or I could ride out toward Vänge, which somewhat toward the area of the last 3 rides, just not out from Uppsala so far.

Börje Church – April 2010

I was drawn more toward Börje though. So, off I sped toward the first church I’d ever ridden the trike to.

Besides, I had the drone with me and wanted to toss it up there to see if I could get some good photos.

My pace continued to be amazing, right along with my strength and stamina. 6 miles and I was still feeling better than any first mile on my rides for the entire year.

It just boggled my mind. Once when I was complaining about how wrecked all my 2 years of hard work with 3-4 times a week at the gym, someone mentioned to me that, as long as it wasn’t silly long time before I started trying to build back up, it would go much faster than it had over those 2 years before the cold, busted rib, dying dog, and pandemic ruined my gym record.

Maybe that was true and my strength and speed on June 5th was from that. It was amazing.

I reached the church and rolled into the parking lot. But there was a problem. I got up and I really needed a bathroom. I was doing the ‘I Gotta Pee’ Boogie as I tried to focus on the church and what might be the best angles for drone shots. I gave up for the moment and dashed around in search of a restroom servicing the church, but no luck.

That required some thought. Was it wise to attempt a drone flight when distracted and twitching around with the ‘Gotta Pee’ dance? Given my fledgling skills at flying it and the number of trees around, not really.

Sheep and lambs!

I dropped back into the trike and pushed off as fast as I could, aiming for the outhouse at Old Farm. Pedalling the trike with a full bladder is uncomfortable, but it had to be done. The area near Börje church is all fields or houses tucked in the little woody patches with no real areas to get out of sight of the road.

I was glad I was faster and stronger, but that still felt like a LONG two miles.

I couldn’t fling myself from the trike or hustle across the lawn to the outhouse fast enough to suit me. Yet, when I opened the door, I had to pause. There on the floor was a dead yellowjacket.

Not good. I listened. Nothing. I eased in and spotted another dead one in the wash basin. Still no buzzing. I turned to latch the door and spotted a small nest, about the size of a pingpong ball in upper corner. I had to risk it though.

Old Farm from on-high!

Nature’s call answered, I went back to the trike and got the drone up.

I was thrilled to get photos of the little farm from above. Some didn’t come out too well, with a washed out sky and the buildings too dark. Maybe once I get better at flying, I’ll convince myself to take more time fiddling with the camera settings. At least the one overlooking the main buildings came out decent!

Then I sat down at the picnic tables to decide the next course of action. I flipped around on Google Maps with my phone.

Just loved this view of the pasture behind Old Farm

I was still on one of my country loops and would be for a few miles more no matter which way I took. On Old Farm side of the 272, a dirt road lead off to Jumkil Church which could be fun to get drone photos with. On the other side of the 272 I would have a choice of east or north west.

Jumkil would have to wait because if I headed toward the 272, there was the big hill with the bridge and sharp curve at the bottom running through a burial ground. I’ve wanted to get drone pictures of that since the day I bought the drone.

Once out of Old Farm, I rarely pedal once I tip over the crest of the ridge. Over half a mile of gliding and, if one doesn’t chicken out like I do, it’s possible to hit speeds in excess of 27 mph. I settle for about 20 mph.

My mind was already buzzing with glee at the thought of finally getting the drone over the burial ground. I was probably a bit too worked up about it by time I found a spot I could get the trike enough out of the road and I thought far enough from the blind spot of the hill.

I should have calmed down and taken the time to do better. Live and learn.
Trike and burial ground in background

When getting a new phone to replace my Galaxy Edge (whichever), I research for one with the supposed best visibility in sunlight. It was the Samsung folding phone which cost more than my high end desk top did when it was new. So, I went with 2nd best of Galaxy Note 10+. Though it’s brighter than most phones, it can still be hard to tell how good or bad photographs with the drone come out until I get home.

There is a DJI drone specific monitor which functions the same as phones do, but it extremely bright. Supposedly works awesome in the most intense sunlight. Of course, you pay out the nose for that puppy. Still, I think wistfully of such from time to time.

After the burial ground, I had intended to send the drone up at Åkerby Church. Didn’t happen. There was too much activity around the church. Some restoration (I hope) or renovation (I hope not) work going on.

By time I crossed the 272 and made to the next steep drop into a stream’s gully, I had decided where I was going and which way to get there. Ärentuna Church. Adjacent to that church’s parking outside it’s graveyard wall is a burial ground and remains of an ancient settlement. A few times I’ve wanted to fly my drone over that spot, as well as get a high shot of the church, for quite a while.

Before reaching the roundabout which would take me to Marsta and across the busy road, I had a silly little event that began with something near panic but ended with a ‘awwwwww’ of cuteness.

Too darn cute!!!

Rolling along a shady spot with some old buildings around and lovely birch trees, I spotted something in my peripheral vision that looked black and yellow, hovering to the side. My first thought was ‘Yellowjacket!!!’. I leaned away, but moved with me, only strangely. That’s when it hit me. It couldn’t be a yellow jacket because there was no buzz.

Stopping, I carefully removed my helmet to find it was something that looked like an inch worm, but yellow and black in color instead of green. It was dangling from my Da Brim by a silken thread like a spider. To get it off, I lightly brushed the tall grass by the trike to stick it in there.

As the grass rustled, there was a burst of black feathers and a bird awkwardly flapped off 3 yards before looking back at me with all the indignity a jackdaw fledgling could muster. Delightfully, he just sat there as I pulled out my camera and took his picture. He didn’t even flutter when I moved on.

Uppland’s Runestone #1089

The road between a spot on the map named Forkarby and the busy Gävle Highway was busier than I liked. Two full lanes and it felt as if it was a near constant stream of traffic. During that hectic stretch, there was a runestone. I pulled off into a driveway and scurried over the road to get a picture of it in spite of being convinced I’d probably collected it years ago.

Turns out, this might have been my first time seeing U#1089. No hint of it was to be found in my many years of photographs.

One drawback from these spontaneous kinds of rides is that I probably miss a lot. it’s rather hard to research all the archaeology in a 20+ mile radius of our apartment. Even if I do manage that a lot of what is close to the roads I ride isn’t visible. Ancient house foundations are often overgrown with trees if not robbed out completely. So, it starts to become something of a balancing act of trying to find what’s worth seeing and not wasting time hunting around for something that only remains in soil samples or historical records.

So glad it’s less than a quarter mile to the turn.

The Gävle Highway was busier than the road I’d just come off. That’s understandable though. It actually used to be the E4 before they constructed the current, 4 lane, American Interstate style highway that claimed the E4 title years ago. Seems weird, I can actually remember the time before that bigger road opened. The traffic through Uppsala was insane.

I made it across to the narrow shoulder. It didn’t stay narrow long, which was a blessing. There was a lot of traffic, but they gave me as much room as they when passing. Even with all that, the extra speed and strength discovered on this ride was so nice. It made that 0.25 mile of unpleasantness that much quicker.

Turning on the quieter country road, I felt quite upbeat as I pushed on at the brisk pace. By that time I’d done over 13 miles. The past 4 rides or so my knees have bothered me. The first of the 4 most recent, it was about mile 11. The second was about mile 12-ish give or take. The last one, I think there was some knee complaint at about mile 13 or 14.

Not this time. I felt strong and fresh and raring to race on.

Just before the turn to Ärentuna Church, there’s a burial ground. I thought about sending the drone up or looking around, but I’ve seen it before and just wanted to get to the church. It turns out, there’s more to that spot than meets the eye. A runestone or two as well as an old road and a bridge along with the usual mounds and sod covered stone settings. I guess I’ll have to go that way again at some point to chase the runestones down at the very least.

*grumble*

The last few hundred yards to the church, my upbeat enthusiasm was replaced with disappointment. The main burial ground by the parking which also contains the foundations of an old settlement, was once fenced in with wire and wood. You went through a to a sort of barricade that sheep and cattle couldn’t manage. Well, that was gone and replaced with electric wires. Where the ground had always been empty the 2-3 times I’d been there.

It was what was in that fenced area that bummed me. Horses. There was no way I’d be flying the drone anywhere around the church with those two there. Also, there were about a dozen people sitting at tree shaded picnic tables just beside the electric fence. That would have stopped my drone flight as well, so it was a double whammy.

My new friend.

I got up and went to look for a way in. But where the original animal barricade had been, just a few boards remained and there seemed to be no other way through the fence from that side. Just kept getting better, didn’t it?

As I stood frustrated, the horses curiously wandered over. The brown one came first, but not within reach, before it wandered over to the grass to graze. The black one though. He came right up where I stood at the boards which interrupted the electric wire. Much to my surprise, he reached over the slats and pressed his head against my torso.

Ärentuna Church

Frustration and disappointment evaporated as I melted at such sweetness. I’ve always been crazy about horses and this gorgeous boy amplified it with his bid for attention. I, of course, found a spot at the base of the jaw where it joins the neck and scratched. It was his turn to melt. Must have been 5 minutes before he went to go graze again.

Uppland’s Runestone #1014

Back on the trike, I rolled toward the bell tower. That’s when it hit me. A memory of being there with Loke and him sitting with the trike in front of the bell tower as I went to walk around the church. While I’ve been to the church on the trike alone, last year as a matter of fact, Loke was was still alive then. This was my first time with him gone.

That memory heavy in my mind, I took a moment to go into the bathroom for a sunscreen touch up.

Uppland’s Runestone #1015

As I work on this portion of the post, I’m just surprised at the fact that there are no photos or even a mention of this church and its runestones in the blog. I’m pretty sure I rode here last year solo on a long outing that came up through Storvreta and then over to this church, then off toward Skuttunge and maybe even all the way home. Just so weird. Did I really do a long ride to this place and not mention it? Given how sick I’d been of trying to make rides on my River Loop hamster track interesting, it’s hard to believe I’d miss such an opportunity for a real ride report.

The detested sunscreen applied, I went back out where a woman with a little dog was pulling a wagon full of big, green plastic watering cans. As we started a quick chat about how hot it was and the trike, it occurred to me that she didn’t look as if she was tending just a grave or two, but the other landscaping around the church. I took a chance. “Is the church closed?”

Photo of the best preserved murals in the porch, ruined by bad lighting.

“It’s open,” she answered. “We had some visitors, but they just left and I was about to close it. Would you like to go see the inside while I eat my lunch?”

She did not have to offer twice. I gushed about how thrilled I was to see inside as I wrestled my handlebar bag off the trike. She gave a happy laugh, saying she just loved to see people excited to go inside the church. I thanked her again, wished her a good lunch and rushed in while waving.

As I stepped into the porch, I was floored by the sheer number of murals. Then I was annoyed by the lighting. The source was from a kind of glassed in drop-pendant style. It was fairly dim, but worse, were the stark lines of shadows thrown across the walls from the metal framework holding the glass panes of the light fixture. I tried using the flash, but that just left the images blown out and unusable.

From the back looking forward

It’s a pity, because the images were interesting, some of them a little different than most I’ve come across. The best of the pictures in the porch I took that I share here was of the newborn Christ receiving the three wise men which is rather standard.

On another panel was an image of a type I’ve not seen before. Several figures sat at a table. Perhaps it was supposed to be the last supper, but only six clearly human were seated. Behind them lurked bestial figures, peering over their shoulders. Sins? Temptations? Demons?

Looking to the back

Above the table and its people and demons was what looked like a document, but the lettering was too faded to make out as it fit around a bestial figure. In one ‘hand’ it held a goblet, and in the other some kind of narrow, triangular object.

Baffled by the strange murals, I stepped into the church proper. My jaw dropped. Except around the inside of the window casements, there wasn’t a single square foot of wall that didn’t have some part of a painting on it, whether it was just ornamentation or scene from a Bible story, or something more sinister.

One of the ‘devouring’ beasts with demons in its maw

Once the surprise from the paintings passed, I noticed the little pipe organ practically at my shoulder. It might be that Ärentuna church is the smallest of the country churches I’ve ever been lucky enough to see inside. I thought Jumkil was small, but even it was still large enough to put its organ in a loft.

I took my time to look the murals over as I took photos. The imagery of demons an animalistic humanoids continued on the inside. Strangest were what I’ll call the ‘devouring beasts’, one of which seemed to be trying to swallow Christ, or a saint, while demons waited in its mouth.

There were demons with flails lurking about. In one corner where a vault started, a strange face looked out across the church. It was too faded to make out more than anguished or terrified eyes and a nose. Very strange. And you know, there was not a single angel that I could find. A skeletal figure in another corner. Beasts and demons, saints, other Biblical figures, sure. But not a so much as a wing tip of an angel.

Another pulpit with a sacristy entry.

I’ve seen other churches with paintings of figures that weren’t clearly human, but not to this extent. The one that comes to mind had a painting of a ship with human figures sailing up to a shore while horned and snouted figures in crude garments hailed them from land. But the Ärentuna murals seemed to have demons and beasts tucked in all over. I imagined the priests of the past for this church being the ‘fire-and-brimstone’ types.

I felt a bit bemused by the strangeness of the paintings as I left the church. I’ve been awed my the old murals in the churches, but this was more of a discombobulated feeling. They were still amazing and beautiful. I guess I felt the same way about looking at them as I do with Salvador Dali’s paintings.

I would have liked to thank the woman once more for letting me see inside the church, but she was no where to be found. I parked in a shady spot to decide where to amble off to next.

Thanks to getting inside Ärentuna church, I had my appetite whetted. Churches called. There wasn’t anything in the direction of Storvreta, except the possibility I could ride back home. That felt kinda boring. I could also cut back over to Bälinge. Again, felt boring. Both are places I’ve ridden around so much. I could also go to Björklinge. I’ve ridden there less, but still felt somewhat recent.

Honey suckle and invasive, renegade lupins that escaped eradication.

Then the name Tensta on Google Maps caught my eye. It’s a large country church and I remember the scenery being nice in the area. I’d been there perhaps twice in 14 years and it was probably 8 years or more since the last time. I remembered some of the roads between Ärentuna and Tensta were unpleasantly large though. Well, I could always try, particularly since the first busy road was only after 4 miles on nice, quiet country lane.

A smithy? Maybe?

There were memories, ghost-like, of Loke beside me over those 4 miles even though I believe I’ve only ever ridden it once. There was the spot when we saw a hare and Loke pulled the trike into speeds of more than 15 mph even after it stopped teasing us and disappeared in a ditch.

Further down, that place where a tree shaded pasture fence came up to the edge of the road and three 1 year old calves rushed over to say hello. One of them licked the top of Loke’s head, which he didn’t like, while the others shoved each other around to get petting from me. They even mooed forlornly after us as we moved on.

There were changes though. Like part of the pasture with the calves had been cleared of rocks and trees, ground flattened and ugly white blocks of modern, suburban like houses put up close enough anyone living in one could hear the neighbor’s TV. Ah, country life.

Of course, at Ärentuna, between my ride last year and this visit, they had taken down a bunch of the trees lining the gravel path leading to the church door too.

It turned out that the first mile on the busy road I remembered wasn’t actually on it. Pretty sure it wasn’t there when Loke and I came through years ago. For over a half mile, there was a dedicated and isolated cycle path beside it. When the path ended, there was a sort of little country road that splintered off and then rejoined further down for another half mile or so. The cycle path was all uphill, but it made up for it by letting me go ‘wheeee’ on the little side lane.

Then I was on the busy road I remembered. While there was no way I could match the 70 kph speed limit, it felt less of a hinderance since I was able to do 10-11 (17 kph) mph even with a gentle incline rather than 3 mph (5 kph). Over 18 miles and I still felt strong and raring to go. Not even the least little twinge from either knee.

Uppland’s Runestone #1043

Then I reached a spot where I had to scoot across the lanes to reach a dirt track. There was a runestone there by the road and I wasn’t sure if I’d collected it.

Good thing I did. No trace of U#1043 in my photos or blog.

You know. I wonder if the reason there’s no mention of my first visit to Ärentuna and this runestone in the blog with Loke, is because it was in 2008, the year before I started blogging. Would make sense. Doesn’t explain last year though.

Anyhoo, as I went to leave, I have a habit of back-pedalling the trike, or rolling it back a bit to get the pedals in good position to more easily get my right foot up. On this ride, for some inexplicable reason, the chain kept threatening to jump to the inside of my smallest front chainring. Well, it made good on its threat that time. I wound up sitting in the dust, getting my hands all black with grease to wrestle it back onto the ring.

Naturally, I had nothing to clean my hands with. I settled for rubbing them furiously in the dry dirt/dust of the ground to get the worst off before getting even more off by scrubbing hands on my tights. Good thing it was one of my older pair that is on the verge of retirement.

After that delight, when getting back on the trike, I pushed the trike forward to adjust the pedals and locked the back wheel to prevent it rolling backwards as I sat. Annoying. I also had to take great care not to back pedal during other times. It’s probably a very bad habit any way, but honestly, it’s necessary sometimes with my knees.

Go me!

Just before I pushed out into traffic again, I happened to look at my Garmin. Wouldn’t you know it? At some point along that busy road before the runestone, the ride had become my longest for the year by more than a mile. And I still had plenty in the tank.

As gravel roads go, this one’s pretty good. Better than on the last recent rides especially!

The passing cars were polite as I went back out on the road. Honestly, so were the trucks, but they were so big and, at speeds in the 70-90 kph range, they felt close no matter how much space they were able to give me.

After passing the access ramps for the E4, the amount of traffic eased considerably. Even so, it was with great relief when I turned the trike onto a gravel road.

At first, I was unhappy with the idea of gravel after rides on May 17th and May 22nd. I even looked at my maps to see how much more of the busy road I’d have to take.

1 mile. Hmm. While I was faster, I didn’t know if I wanted to deal with that much traffic for another mile. I took a closer look at the gravel surface and realized it was actually good. Gravel in the middle on on the sides, but between those strips, the surface was smooth and hard packed. Rattling minimum.

Some of the few dandelions still in bloom and more threatening clouds.

It turned out to be pleasant. I was passed only 3 times. Cars, once from each direction each. It was a bit harrowing when for some reason a huge semi appeared on that narrow dirt track. It had been close enough with cars, but when that big truck came by, there was no driveway or passing bay handy. I was half tilted in the ditch as he crept along. There was less than 1 foot between my handlebar bag and those big wheels. That was less than fun.

It hardly made a difference to my speed when I reached paved country lane again. Off in the distance across fields of deep summer green and a sky of puffy clouds, some with gray-about-to-rain bellies, Tensta Church was visible like a beacon.

My pace was still very good as I pushed on for the turn to Tensta. Even after more than 20 miles, it just blew my mind how great, strong, and fast I felt. Even when I was attempting the 5100 km in a year (100 km per year I’d have been alive), and had made it through the first month, I didn’t feel this awesome or quick. Truely, I couldn’t recall when riding felt so… effortless is the most suitable word I suppose.

Not a great photo. I wish I’d found a date for it.

As I crossed the old stone bridge, I pulled off on the other side to go take pictures of it. There’s an old farm holding there that also serves as a B&B, shop, and cafe. When there’s not a pandemic any way.

I love this spot. I’d stay here if it wasn’t so close to home.

The bridge which crosses a pretty little brook in a series of vaults. To one side is the grounds for the B&B and they’ve set it up as a lovely spot for guests. Charming wooden foot bridges crossing the burbling waters from bank to little islets in the middle of the water.

If I’d found a place like this on a trip Jens and I made, I’d be thrilled to bits. I do admit though, that I have found some pretty amazing places to stay on some of our trips. Like the one up at Nordkap. Cute little village of only 100 residents and our hosts were the most lovely people.

Tensta Kyrka – 2010

Memory ghosts of Loke were with me still as I rolled up to the church. It surprised me, how I teared up looking around, especially toward the bell tower.

Loke and I had arrived at the church and to the side, there’s a little open-air museum area with some old buildings. We were wandering around, so I could get photos. All of a sudden, there was a burst from a hedge and a hare stopped for a split second practically at our feet.

Before we could react, it did this weird leap into air and ran in 2 circles or so, sometimes as close as a yard from Loke’s jaws. Then it did that bizarre hop again, to do the same in the opposite direction.

Tensta-Upplands Rune Stone #1034

I remembered standing there, bemused and wondering how on earth hares survived if they did such silly stuff so close to dogs. As it bolted off toward a distant fence line at last, I looked down at Loke. He was just standing there, looking as befuddled as I, with a tilt to his head. After about 2 seconds, it occurred to him he should chase it and lunged.

I had to laugh. I guess that’s how hares survive in those situations. They just baffle potential predators.

Tensta – Upplands Runestone #1036

While the memory made me smile, it was still bittersweet. I have noticed though that as time goes and I visit the places with Loke memories, the sting of grief becomes less. Perhaps doing such rides in places like this is a good thing, beyond the exercise and miles and scenery.

Tensta – Upplands Runestone #1035

I stopped at the parking lot in front of the church with a frustrated sigh. In the churchyard, an elderly woman worked lovingly on neatening up several graves. I wasn’t comfortable buzzing around the church with the drone as she worked. It felt too disrespectful.

Not sure what this was originally used for.

Instead, I got up to see if the church was open. No luck there. The woman didn’t seem to be finishing up anytime soon. When another car rolled to a stop in the parking lot, I gave it up as a lost cause.

A few yards down from the parking lot, I did stop to get photos of the museum buildings. Not sure why I didn’t in the past, but then my motivations in previous years are often a bit baffling.

See The Way She’s Eyeing Loke?? – 2010

Just a few yards further on and prompted by a ‘Gravfält’ (Grave Field) sign, I tuned left onto a gravel road.

Loke memories where there too and knew exactly the grave field that I rolled toward. The ride I remembered but was doing in reverse was from September 2010 and I titled it ‘Dr. Dolittle Should Have Been There’. It was such a day full of random animal encounters.

One of those animal memories was arriving at Gödåkers Burial ground and finding a few cows in it with calves. I really wanted to go in and look at the stones, to get some better photos than could be had from the road. But the mamma cow with a shy, black bull-calf was not gonna let a white, wolf looking husky into the field with her baby. Every time I went to the barricade, she came over to block it. Several times, she lowered her horns at Loke in clear warning. It was both funny and frustrating.

As I pedalled down the graveled way, I wondered if there were going to be cows in the burial ground pasture again.

Nope! The pasture which contained the bulk of Gödåkers Burial Ground was empty. On the other side of the dirt lane, however were 5 half grown bull-calves.

I almost didn’t launch the drone with the 5 little bulls standing there, staring at me in the cute way curious young cows have. I didn’t want to panic them into injury. Then again, they hadn’t panicked over the sight of the trike, which often freaks out horses. Cattle don’t tend to be quite as spooky as horses.

After having been thwarted from flying the drone at both Ärentuna and Tensta Churches, I decided to risk it. I’d launch the drone a couple feet off the ground. If the cows spooked, I’d bring it down immediately.

I watched the cows as I hit the launch function which brings the drone to about 4 feet off the ground into a hover. The buzz made all 5 of the bulls startle a little. They stood for 2-3 seconds with their heads down, stock still in surprise. Then, as if synchronized, they abruptly relaxed and returned to normal standing postures, staring at me again. Didn’t so much as twitch an ear at the drone after that.

Drone’s view of Gödåkers Burial Ground. Several standing stones and burial circles.

The cows indifferent to the buzz of the giant hornet like device, I was almost cocky as I sent it off. There was the wire fence and just a few feet above that, a power line. I sent the drone zipping between fence and power line and then meandering off between some of the low trees before pushing it a bit higher up for pictures. The most daring I’ve been with the drone since ever.

I found it interesting that the name ‘Gödåker’ may derive from ‘Gudhiuaker’ which literally translates to ‘Field of the Goddess’. I wonder which goddess if that’s true. Freya? Gefion? Sif? Someone predating Norse pantheon?

Road through the burial ground. Standing stones to both sides and a few cairns on the right.

The bull calves hardly looked away from me the whole time. It was as if I was some unique puzzle they were pondering over. Even after I turned the trike around and sat down to look at Google Maps for my next destination, they only stood at the fence line and watched. I probably should have gotten a photo of them, but hindsight and all that.

Loke memories had pretty much chosen my next destination by then. I only wanted to check the distance. On that ride in September 2010, Jens had dropped Loke and I off at a nearby manor house called Salsta. From the grave field, it was almost 4 miles on the nose.

It beckoned, but I resisted.

I’d done about 24.5 miles by that point and still felt damn good. There was some weariness starting to make itself known, but it was quite minor and my legs and knees felt fine. I was gonna head for Salsta Manor.

Those 4 miles got a bit harder the further into them I got. About mile 26 one of my knees started to grumble some. Not enough for me to even consider stopping, but it did make me go with more care.

Not to mention when a random path through the trees caught my eye, I decided against it. It would have felt ridiculous to have fallen short of the manor house because riding on roots and pine needles wore me out or caused my knees hurt too much to continue.

I was very much looking forward to getting the drone up at the manor house.

The first sign I was getting close to Salsta was the sight of the big yellow stables in the distance as I crested the brow of a hill. It was welcome to see. It meant I was close to the manor, but also being at the top of a hill I could just glide down. Coming up on mile 28, something like exhaustion had finally caught up with me. My knees felt achy and I was close to running on fumes. It probably didn’t help that all I’d had to eat in about 8-9 hours was my morning smoothie and a few pieces of pecans.

The old stables that once had a library and smoking room

Tipping over the crown of the hill, I let gravity do the work until I reached the bottom where I stopped to take a quick photo of the stable. It’s quite impressive. The date over the doors in black iron numbers is 1931, but I seem to remember it predating that. It also used to be bigger, housing not only the manor’s horses, but a library and an oriental smoking room. I wonder if that means opium?

The same river as goes through Uppsala. Just much smaller.

The bridge going over the thin thread of water, that believe it or not, was the Fryis River. Yep. A sluggish movement of water not even big enough for me to turn around my kayak was the same as the one through the city of Uppsala, big enough for sizable tour boats.

I smiled a bit tearfully at the bridge. The last time I was there, Loke had gone completely bonkers when a mink (of all things) had scampered over the river on the bridge. I was so excited to see the mink, once Loke had calmed down I’d called Jens to babble about it.

My mind worked overtime on the final approach to Salsta castle down its long gravel lane. It wasn’t just the possibility of flying the drone I mulled. My Garmin was sitting at about 28.5 miles. That bugged me.

Salsta Slott – September 2010

Then I was distracted from those thoughts. There was a small residence near the parking lot for the castle, but also a road boom was down across the final approach. It was too low and no way for me to get the trike around it. I considered a few minutes just going for a walk to get closer to the castle for a quick up and down with the drone.

No, by that point, I was too tired to go stomping around carrying my handlebar bag and my drone case. It was annoying and I just wasn’t confident enough to send the drone up, perhaps irritating the people in the house so close, while flying over some very tall trees to get a good view of the manor on high.

Disappointed, I considered just stopping in the parking lot and calling Jens. That 28.5-ish miles on my Garmin taunted me though. “So, close to 30 miles,” a little voice whispered in my head. “You’re not as tired as you were on last ride of 19.8 miles. What’s another mile and a half? Ya know ya wanna.”

Durnit, that whisper was right. I thought maybe I’d just ride up and down the dirt lane a while to get the miles. Decided that would drive me insane in short order. So, I rode to the end of the drive, took a right and pushed slowly and uncomfortably up the hill. Almost immediately, there was another right turn and a sign forbidding motorized traffic. That was for me!

In 1600’s, all this was a lake. By 1850’s, the lake was gone

Not far down the turn, it turned into a downhill glide. It didn’t seem too steep though, so I let it go. Off to the right, was a strange sort of landscape I’m not sure I’ve seen in Sweden before. It was utterly flat except for these big dense clumps of bushes. They were the size of small houses at times.

I thought it likely that the open ground with the strange growth of bushes was perhaps the old lake bed where the Fyris River had widened. Salsta Manor had originally been built on a peninsula after all. Just a few centuries ago, the Fyris River was large enough to serve as a transportation route for boats carrying goods this far, and perhaps even up to its source in Österbybruk.

Once far enough that was I certain to be over 30 miles when back at the manor’s parking, I turned back and started the slow climb up the gentle hill. Even though it was after 4 pm, the sun had been gone for more than an hour, leaving me a bit chilled, I didn’t rush it. It would have been silly to break myself in the last 0.75 of a mile.

I watched the Garmin and the moment the counter hit 30.00 miles, I gave a cheer, stopped, and took a photo.

I was over the moon. While there was a time when a ride of less than 30 miles was hardly worth getting out for, it had been so long since I’d done so well. I truly couldn’t say when the last time was.

I had a huge, silly grin on my face as I rolled to a stop in the parking lot with 30.48 miles.

Leave it to my Garmin to deflate my joy somewhat. When I hit end ride and then save it, a screen popped up, ‘New Distance Record!’ and listed that my old distance record was 29 and some miles. Before I saw when that was, the screen was back to the usual home screen.

I’ve had the Garmin Edge 1000 for some 6 or more years. In all that time, I’d never done a ride over 30 miles?!

Once home and fed with my first real food in over 10 hours, I started scanning down the list of rides on Garmin Connect. I found the ride who’s record I broke. It was in 2015 when I went on a credit card tour on the Kattegatte Route in southern Sweden just a few months after the stroke.

It was dispiriting to see the sheer number of my rides that didn’t even break 10 miles. That holds true even in 2016 which finally my old ‘Best Distance in a Year’ record of about 1200 miles. Most of those 2016 rides were on my River Loop hamster track with some variations going into town for the produce market or the like.

Of course, I broke 30 miles on June 5th and while quite tired by the end of it, and needing most of June 6th to recover, it will hopefully mean I’ll be doing longer rides more often.

Here’s to covering miles!



An Easy Ride (Relatively)
June 2, 2020, 11:51 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

After the brutal ride of May 22nd (rocks. So. Many. Rocks), I wanted to get out for another ride for the last weekend of May that wasn’t quite so harsh. I’ve been saving my adventure rides for the weekends since Jens is freed from the computer after working all week. Working from home and still puts in 50 hours or more.

Saturday was laundry day, supposedly, but I was naughty and ate something I shouldn’t have. Wound up being so severely punished for it that I didn’t even get that done. Teach me to stay away from animal products.

I hoped I’d feel better on Sunday, May 31st and I did. So, I started to plan a ride.

For the past week, give or take, our frosty mornings have been behind us which is nice given it was almost June for pity sake. Of course, even with mornings in the mid-40’s, I’ve not been getting out and riding like I should during the week. I need to change that.

Sunday, May 31st morning was a nice one. It was, again, about 44 F maybe a bit warmer and the forecast indicated temps in the mid 60’s and sunny. I plopped down on the computer to decide where to ride.

I’m quite focused on the area I’d ridden the last 2 times (now 3). Just continuing to push westward from that first ride on May 17th which started on a lonely dirt road next to a runestone. At first I plotted a route that went from Järlåsa church, northward to the intersection at Östfora, only this time, where I went right before, I’d go left. As I explored the possibilities with my various maps (Google, OpenCycleMap, and the Swedish archaeology), a plan was formed. Maybe instead of starting at Järlåsa church again, I start somewhere near that intersection 5 miles north. That would mean I could have 5 miles extra of new ground to use my stamina on. Also, I wanted to ‘collect’ a burial ground on the edges of a town called Morgongåva (Morning Gift).

Järlåsa Church

When the dust cleared, I had a route that would total about 28 miles. It would have been closer to 19, but in a moment of unfettered ambition, I added a 9 mile loop around a lake in the area. I really wanted this ride to be the longest of the year and, since it seemed to be all paved, I was going for broke as it were. It wasn’t a perfect route by my standards, having quite a bit of out-n-backs. Almost 7 miles of it. Anyone who’s read enough of my posts will know how I feel about out-n-backs. But, I was gonna get a burial ground with hopefully a runestone or more and the miles.

While waiting for Jens to wake, I made sure the drone was charged and also plugged in my extra battery pack. He woke about the time I was making my breakfast smoothie, so I had to finish that and it never goes fast. If I try to gulp them, I feel queasy. We didn’t get on the road until after 9:30 am.

Jens was a bit nervous about the area I planned to start. It turns out it was very close to a drug rehab center that is fairly ‘prison’ like. He used the words, ‘Force people into treatment’. He didn’t want me starting within sight of the place.

We found a spot and as I started getting the trike ready, I was annoyed to discover that I’d left the battery pack at home. Jens asked if I had to cancel the ride and poo-pooed the idea. My phone was fully charged and if my Garmin went dead, I was sure I could manage. So, he left me to finish the final touches. I settled into the trike and turned on the Garmin. Immediately, it flashed “LOW BATTERY“. I stared blankly at that before it went dead. And no battery pack. Well, crap.

No Garmin. No Battery. No Problem (I hoped)

It would mean I’d have to do the ride with only my phone for navigation. Most of the way wouldn’t need it, I was sure, but it still made me nervous. Okay. So, phone mostly only for when I needed Google Maps to figure out turns, to call Jens, and fly the drone. I would keep my media posts and photos with it to a minimum.

I absolutely refused to let these little hiccups ruin the day which was shaping up to be nearly perfect from the look of it. The temp was in the mid 50’s with the air feeling just cool enough to be bracing and counter the strong punch of the intense sun. Not a single cloud in the sky. I had miles of lovely little country roads waiting for me.

Site of an old cottage apparently

And apparently more of those little black signs as I found on the May 17th ride awaited me as well.

A bit baffling as to why this was here really. Not like it was an inn or a factory. Just a little cottage where a man had a wife and 4 children. The man and woman passed and one of the widowed daughters moved in for a time, only to be forced to go live in a poor house with the cottage sold off. Nothing of the old cottage here now.

I found it so strange because it was so minor. Not a family of power and influence to fall on hard times. Just, average people living lives that most everyone else in the country lived, with a sad ending for some.

The next stop wasn’t very far either. Just a mile from where I started actually. It was a parking area for a swimming spot at the first lake was I passing near. Just gravel and some cars. Even a few campers where some people had parked and were sitting in lawn chairs and grilling an early lunch.

It was a good spot to re-calibrate the drone which hadn’t been done since it took its bad tumble when I did on May 22nd followed by the paint-mixer style rattling it endured on those rocky roads. So. Many. Rocks. *shakes it off*

I was a bit nervous as I went through the procedure. Not just from worry that the drone was permanently damaged, but also the controller kept giving these loud, piercing beeps that must have carried for miles. It hadn’t been doing that the last times I’ve flown it. There were no obvious alerts scrolling on my phone or the controller, just that intermittent scream. And people nearby of course.

Between the controller’s hollering and the buzz of the drone when it flies, I didn’t do more than launch it up off the ground to about head height and squint at it for 10 seconds or so. Rock steady. Whew.

With the lake nearby, I was eager to find a more isolated spot to get the drone up for a look at the lake. It didn’t appear it would be visible any other way. Too much distance from the road and with lots and lots of trees.

Speaking of trees, I was a tiny bit disappointed that significant portions of the scenery along the road weren’t as nice as I’d seen in Google Street View. Dratted clear cutting.

And finding a spot to launch proved more difficult that anticipated as well. Even in the areas of clear-cut where there were few to none trees, I couldn’t get the trike off the road thanks to ditches. The times when I was ‘lucky’ and had a track or some other spot I could get the trike safe, there was a power line above it offering the double hazard whammy of physical obstacle and electromagnetic interference.

You would have thought I’d learned. At least for a while.

About a mile after I’d fixed the drone, toward the end of the first lake, there was a dirt track running to either side of the road. Signs indicated it was the Uppland’s Trail no less. A network of trails that criss-crosses Uppland (think Swedish State). Another sign pointed to church(something) about 2.5 km away. Interesting. On the south side of the road, closer to the lake, there’d been a clear cut a while back, so not so much in the way of tall trees. Perfect.

Though, wouldn’t you know it, rocks. I didn’t need to go far though. Right?

So just 50 yards or so down from the road, I stopped to send the drone up.

I’m still quite nervous about flying the drone and this first flight of the day was no exception. It was not helped I had trouble keeping eyes on it thanks to the sun. I didn’t want to send it too high or send it off too far and definitely lacked the confidence to send it out over the lake itself. With those limitations, I thought the resulting photos were pretty much a flop. I didn’t even bother to share them on Facebook later in the evening.

Siggefora Lake from above

While perusing through photos for this post, two of the photos were well aligned that they could maybe stitch together in a bit of a panorama. So, I tried it and, I’ll be damned. It looks decent!

After buzzing around nervously and getting a few so-so photos, I brought the drone down. Curiosity tugged at me to continue on down the trail. it looked so cool and inviting and maybe it would come out along side the lake somewhere.

A bit down, there was parking lot and a sign. Not much information about the immediate area though. Just a general sort of blurb about the Uppland’s Trail with no mention of Church-whatever. Leaving the parking lot, I didn’t make it far. There was a road boom. Too low for me to go under. Too wide for me to get around. Saved from my own curiosity, I made the short climb back up the rocky path to the road.

At times, the sky just looks weird being this solid a blue. Looks even more odd in photos.

Except for a bit of nervousness about my phone having to bear the weight of multiple functions on this ride without a battery pack, I found I felt very good on the ride. The scenery was gorgeous though, of course, I still believe that a few clouds would have spruced up the scenery some. At times, I also missed knowing how fast I was going when I found spots that I could hit a good pace. Oh, and lets not forget ambient temperature and gradients on the climbs.

Something else that’s been surprising me on the last 3 rides, is my tolerance for heat. A while back ago, I could have gone riding on a day like May 31st, with its intense sun and moments where the air was still and I would have been suffering. Used to be that, under a hot sun when the air hit anything over 70 F, I felt like an egg in a microwave. It was as if the heat went straight to my bones, amplified and threatened to come bubbling back up until I was gonna spontaneously combust. Flushed hot face, couldn’t breathe, nausea. That sort of heat intolerance.

The nameless lake.

But lately, it’s like the sun feels intense, but never goes much past the surface. Kinda like a Baked Alaska. Outer meringue might be warm and crispy, but the inside is still chill. I might not be thrilled with the impact of the sun on my surface, but at least I don’t feel as if I’m gonna have a heatstroke the moment it hits me. Still not a big fan of warm.

With that, I was quite happy when I left the fields behind for a bit of shaded lane along the lake. At times, even as close as I was to the water, I couldn’t see much due to the density of trees and thickets. The lake isn’t named on the maps. It’s not much longer than Siggefora Lake, but narrower

Shade and oh, the colors!

Such a pretty little lake and, once again, I would have loved to get aerial photos of it with the drone. The problem with trike off the road, open space with no overhead power line persisted, so I had to content myself with shore shots.

It was such a relief that the ‘meat affliction’ from the day before had lifted. May 31st was too glorious a day to be wasted with curled up on the couch and watching TV while suffering. In truth, May 30th was about as nice, but there was that whole laundry thing and the fact I had some of Dylan’s excellent pork to celebrate the fact that accidentally throwing my phone had only cracked the very new screen cover I’d gotten for it.

I’d barely left the last glimpses of the mystery lake behind when I was given another treat. The trees and shade suddenly parted and in the full impact of the sun were horses. So many horses. Nearly as far as the eye could see, open ground covered with barns, pastures, and paddocks with what had to be more than 100 horses total. Dirt roads stretched off into to the distance of the valley dropping off to the left of the road, all flanked by fencing. Even up near the road were smaller paddocks with horses often kept in pairs.

While impressive for the sheer number of horses, it wasn’t very attractive otherwise, so I didn’t bother to take photos. Even with the gentle downhill slope of the road, I took it very slow, chattering and soothing every horse I came across that seemed on the verge of bolting.

They were beautiful. All shiny coats and healthy weight with bright gleaming eyes. Well cared for.

Thought this might have been the next turn. Gave me a pause.

Not having the Garmin with its handy maps made things a bit confusing at times. Once I left the paddocks and pastures behind, I started looking for the northward turn that would take me around the next lake. I actually winced when I saw it. There didn’t seem to be many rocks on it, just the grass strip, but I know that can change in a blink. I pulled out the phone for a Google Maps check.

Maybe apple. Maybe cherry. Undeniably beautiful.

Whew. Wasn’t the turn. That one was actually just shy of 2 miles away. I would have had to think long and hard about that northward lake loop if it had been. But it wasn’t, so onward!

So glad I got out on this day. Just – WOW
Couldn’t get enough of the scenery

This was an amazing time of the year. A mingled combination of things of spring and the stronger, bolder hues of summer. Mostly it was in the trees leaves as most of the spring time flowers have started to fade, except for dandelions. But there were fruit tree blossoms and the spring green of leaves which has that hint of of sunny yellow. Then there’d be trees with the richer green of deep woods with a splash of vibrant blue or purple of a summer bloom.

I did notice the bird vocalizations weren’t as frenetic as it is earlier in the spring. I still heard larks, but it wasn’t like the sky was full of them. There were other amusements to replace the throng of bird song. I was pedalling by a field which hadn’t really started to grow whatever crop may or may not have been planted in it.

Was getting rather whimsical with my pictures.
Not as close a squeeze as it looked.

As I rolled by the acres of dark earth, I heard a distinctive call prompting me to crane my head around in search of the sources. Lapwings. Odd medium sized birds that belong to the plover family. Black and white with a cute little crest at the top of their heads. Their wings are this weird rectangle shape and their flight rivals bats for its erratic nature.

I spotted them, right about the time one of them made a defensive attack. He/she came swooping right at my head and near enough I ducked. I couldn’t help it, I laughed. Part of me disliked I was distressing them so, but the sheer boldness of them delighted me. I hustled on, not wanting to upset them too long even as I scanned the dark dirt for pale, sandy colored puffs running over it which would have been their chicks.

The attacks kept up for a more than 100 yards. One, I think might have come close enough I heard the touch of feathers or the lightest scrape of a beak on my helmet. And then, they were content that they had driven off the attacker. At least they didn’t resort to pooping on me.

As I toodled leisurely over the countryside, savoring the scenery and pausing for photos every 2 minutes (so it felt), my mind was working. The thoughts it pondered were triggered by the sight of that grassy track I had first thought to be the one I needed for the northern lake loop.

A glimpse of the lake I didn’t loop

Really, the lake loop had been an after thought added for extra miles to pad the ride into the ‘longest of the year’. The big draw for the outing had been scenery which had paid off in spades and getting to the burial ground at Morgongåva. The loop was about 9 miles. I started to fret. What if in the middle of the loop, if it ended up being rocks most of the way, I had to call Jens for pick up because I was too tired? I REALLY wanted that burial ground.

The time I reached the turn for the lake loop, I’d talked myself out of it. Even so, it was good to see that it appeared paved, at least at the start, as I passed it. And who knew, maybe I’d still do it if I felt strong enough after leaving Morgongåva once I’d been to the burial mound. There was still quite a bit of ‘oomph’ in me after almost 10 miles. That decision left me quite a bit more relaxed.

It felt like quite a bit of climbing once I passed the lake loop turn. I refused to stress about how the inclines impacted my speed or might tax my strength in the long run.

Interesting the stables were named in English. And not to worry, I moved the trike after the picture.

As I came up to the turn for Morgongåva with a blip on the map tagged with the name of Molnebo, a cluster of interesting buildings caught my attention. I swerved off the road to explore a bit.

Hey! This building turned 100 years old last year!
Loved it!

The buildings were fascinating. Especially the ones that were of a type I’d rarely, if ever, had seen in Sweden. Some, obviously, were the typical timber style painted the Falu red with white trim at windows and doors. But then there was that huge yellow and white one built in 1919. A barn? Hay storage?

A cute bridge crossed the tiny rivulet of water and in one spot, it looked as if there were the footings of a previous bridge perhaps. One cluster of buildings incorporated ruined stone walls which I found extremely intriguing. Sitting so close to the running water, I wondered if it might have been an old mill.

The crumbling stone walls is the remains of an old watermill, I think.

And wouldn’t you know it? It was an old mill! Research didn’t find much except that the manor and surrounds had a new owner as of 2017. Oh, and an old ironworks on the site as well, complete with a big hammer forge as well as a blast furnace. It’s all gone though. A bit of the even older watermill survived, but nothing from the ironworks.

I felt a bit intrusive as I skulked around, trying to find the best angles of some of the buildings for photographs. On one hand, it looked open and inviting, but on the other it looked like a home and no sign of parking for visiting public.

As much of the manor house as I dared to get.

There were signs of horses all around, other than the obvious stables across the road from the drive that is. The little gravel drive up to the bridge was flanked by paddocks with scraps of hay, bits of manure, and hoof prints, though they were currently empty. As I tried to look confident in my explorations just over the bridge, I could see a huge pasture beyond the manor house and dozens of horses.

I had just taken the photo of the manor house, when someone came out of one of the outbuildings that looked to have been converted into a cottage. I didn’t exactly hustle my way back to the trike, not wanting to appear as if I felt I’d been trespassing, but I didn’t linger either.

Honestly, it’s hard to know at times if one is or isn’t trespassing in Sweden. I mean, clearly, if you’re tromping across someone’s small lawn and over the kid’s toys, you are. But on an estate like this? It feels a bit more ambiguous without ‘Privat’ signs.

Leaving Molnebo behind, I made the turn toward Morgongåva. I didn’t seem to have taken any photos on the 2 miles to the town. I guess there wasn’t much to see. Or maybe I was getting too excited about the burial ground to notice what I was passing.

Bike path on fringes of Morgongåva. Horribly unfair. Road with shade. Path with full sun.

As I came into the town though, I do recall that I was starting to feel the ride. It also felt like most of the winding way through it was all uphill. I had to use Google Maps a lot as I worked through the maze. It wasn’t just to get to the burial ground either. The lack of food had me feeling a bit peckish. All I’d had was my morning smoothie and a small handful of pecans after all. A restroom would also have been nice.

Most of such conveniences didn’t seem to be on the end of town with the burial ground, except one summer cafe supposedly right next to it. That, of course, was closed thanks to the pandemic.

Burial ground from ‘Younger Iron Age’ (450 AD to 1050 AD)

The final stretch to the burial ground was a hot one. The open ground around it meant there was some air moving though, which helped, but that sun. Amazes me how intense it can feel this far north.

Uppland Runestone #1174

Molnebo wasn’t even 3 miles away when I rolled to a stop at the burial ground. I’d felt pretty good and still raring to go there, but at the burial ground, I was in the first stages of exhausted.

There wasn’t any proper parking for visitors to the gravefield. Maybe they expect people to park at the cafe and then stroll over. A fair assumption, but it didn’t really help me. Fortunately, by the slap-dash foot bridge of boards and pallets, the ditch was bone dry and very shallow. I just pushed the trike down the gentle slope of the ditch’s side to park it under a birch tree, in the ditch.

Uppland Runestone #1175

Trike out of the way of passing cars, I made the short walk over the fallow field to the runestones for close up photos. Then I went back to the trike where I could use the trike’s seat to put stuff as I fiddled with getting the drone up.

It was rather breezy at ground level around the burial ground and even windier over about 15 meters. It made me cautious. More than usual I mean. Still, I got it up and took a few shots before packing everything up to move on.

Before I did, I sent Jens a text to let him know I was probably going to cut the ride a little shorter. I was feeling pretty rough. So thirsty and water didn’t seem to help. It occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t drink I was craving so much as calories. Instead of going back the twisty way I’d come through Morgongåva, I stuck to the little service road and rolled toward the part of the town that fronted on the 72.

Uppland Runestone #1173

I came up to the intersection at the ‘train station’ of the town and had to wait as a train came to a stop. As I waited for the booms to come back up, a shape caught my eye. At a glance, it looked like a runestone but just a little too ‘finished’. Curious, I went for a closer look.

I was right! The stone wasn’t an original runestone, but a copy. The original is in Princess Gardens, just below the castle in Edinburgh, Scotland.

A click on the photo will bring up more information on the story behind it.

By time I finished taking photos, the train had moved on and the booms had gone up. I scuttled across the tracks to the cycle path along side the 72. Right beside the single platform which is the entirety of Morgongåva’s train station, was ‘the candy shop’ and across the busy road, a pizza and bar.

My last experience with a pizza place’s attempt at vegan kinda put me off that. After my reaction to pork on Saturday, May 30th, I wasn’t going to risk anything with meat or cheese. So, I parked the trike outside the candy shop.

Actually, the shop was a strange combination of things. A surprisingly large shoe section. Some clothing. Oil, filters, wiper blades, and windshield fluid. Other than the obvious bunches of loose weight candy, there were chips and drinks all over the place. A spot in the back even sold flowers and gifts. You could also get some hot food like hotdogs and not sure what else as there was some cafe seating too. Oh, and a restroom. Jackpot!

I settled for a cold soda and a sort of frozen ice-cream (but not cream) thing from the cold case. It was like a pear sorbet onna stick. Truly awful actually. Pear is probably one of my least favorite fruits. Was the best I could figure for staying vegan.

I plopped down in the trike’s seat with my scrapings of calories and chugged half the soda down right away. While waiting for the carbonation to settle and burble into a workable equilibrium in the tummy, an old man started chatting with me about the trike.

There’s a bit of an alcoholic culture in Sweden. Some of the hardcore drinkers will gather in public places to drink the day away. I don’t think the candy store was a drinking spot so much as selling cigs and quick food. This man was one of those people caught in that culture by his addiction. I could smell it and he was a bit wobbly.

A glimpse of Ax Lake

The conversation at first was along the lines of, “That bike looks very comfortable! I bet you can take a nap in it! Or eat lunch! Or read a book.” Then his eyes really brightened, “Or drink!” He really seemed to love the idea of that. 3 wheels, not needing balance and a comfy place to sit while staying drunk.

Finishing my pear horror of a sorbet-cicle, I said farewell to him and rolled on.

I didn’t want to go back through the portions of Morgongåva I’d come through already. It’s a nice enough town, but kinda… I don’t know. It’s mostly just late 1900’s houses and apartment blocks with the occasional shop or other service or such tucked away. Winding back through it to hit the 1.5 mile road I’d come down to arrive in it just felt like too much trouble.

Hoping for a way to get from the cycle path along the 72 and back on that road, I scurried over to said path to hunt a patch shade. Once I found one, with a bit of a view of one of the two lakes at Morgongåva, I pulled out Google Maps.

I was right. There was a break in the protective curb of the cycle path for people to reach the road I wanted back on. There was still about a minute or so when I considered just pushing west on the cycle path which ran all the way to Heby from Morgongåva. Scenery is kinda ‘meh’ mostly because of the constant noise of traffic and sucking exhaust, but I was fairly tired and it was direct and quick, relatively speaking.

No. No. If it took me longer, so be it, but I’d come out for scenery and to have fun. Not endure a cycle path along a busy two lane highway. I pushed on to the break and hustled back across the 72 to head back to Molnebo.

The scenery was nice, heading back north, but it must have been mostly trees with nothing truly eye-catching since there were no photo stops either on the way down to or up from Morgongåva.

Another interesting building at Molnebo
Another view of some buildings at Molnebo

I reached Molnebo and would you believe it, I actually sat at the intersection for a minute or so, looking back to the east, considering doubling back the mile to the turn for the northern lake loop. I was tired and one of my knees was starting to hint that it would disapprove strongly later in the loop if I was silly enough to attempt it, but for a moment it was a possibility.

No. Better I head to Heby which was an hour or more at my pokey pace. Definitely more if I did any photo stops or drone flying.

I crept by a part of Molnebo as I pushed off toward Heby. In the distance there were a couple dozen or more horses wandering in the knee-high, lush grass of a huge pasture. By the road, in a paddock was a pair of horses apart from the others. One a lovely, almost black color and the other a typical brown of most horses. There was a bit of fretting for a few seconds and then, as if a switch flipped between their pointy ears, they were suddenly fearless and curiously standing at the fence to look at me.

Aren’t they lovely?

After chattering at the lovelies for a few moments and certain they weren’t gonna do anything silly that might get them hurt, I moved on.

I must have been quite tired on the way from my second visit at Molnebo to Heby. Almost 4 miles and I only took a couple of ‘down the road’ shots. Granted, the last 2 miles into Heby, I didn’t feel particularly comfortable stopping on a 2 lane road with a 90 kph speed limit and very little shoulder to speak of.

I get a bit ahead of myself though. At one point, before the bigger road which had 2 full lanes, I stopped to give my right knee a bit of a rest as it had started to complain. As I sat there, baking in the strong sun, I heard a mighty noise. The deep rumble of motorbikes. Not the Kawasaki crotchrocket types. I’m talking cruisers and choppers. Some were like the Goldwings. You know, those type of motorbikes that are like the Cadillacs of bikes and probably cost as much. One of those was even a delta trike style (1 front wheel, 2 back) that had a sidecar, all body work in deep burgundy.

But about 30-50 bikes came thundering by me. A good 5 minutes of motorcycle after motorcycle after motorcycle. Must have been a rally or the like going on somewhere.

All told, the number of motorcycles I’d seen over the course of the day was close to 100.

It was with a bit of trepidation that I came to the 2 lane, higher speed road for the final 2 miles into Heby. It didn’t look too bad as I paused at the junction to make sure no one was coming at 100 mph or something silly. I pushed out.

Actually, it was kinda fun. Most of the way was downhill. For something like 1.5 mile, I didn’t even pedal. Mostly because it would have done no good. The 15-17 mph glide was too fast for me to assist. It would have been just useless spinning and risking a leg-suck because I wouldn’t have had enough pressure on the pedals to prevent it. So, I braced my feet and just enjoyed the ‘wheeeeeeeeeeee’

Once in Heby proper, it was a little confusing to find my way to the church, even with the steeple above the trees to guide me. Lots of looking at Google Maps and orienting myself by the view of it over the leaves for me to finally get there.

Västerlovsta Church in Heby

I admit, I winced when I saw it. The building sat high up on a very steep hill, but that’s where I’d told Jens to pick me up. That climb to the front of the church had to be more than an 18% grade. There was no spinning up that sucker. I would have needed a much, MUCH lower gearing to be anywhere near spinning.

Once up on high, it was a bit anticlimactic. Trees blocked most of the view of the church. Just as well, since it looked as if it would have been rather boring thanks to all the renovations that hide any trace of its possible medieval origins under a bland skin 1800’s design. Always feels such a shame to me when I’m faced with that. History pretty much erased from view.

Up on the hill, there wasn’t much room for parking either. Just a couple of handicapped spaces and I felt guilty at the idea of using them to load up. At the bottom of the hill, which I’d ignored in my determination to ‘get to the church’, I saw a good sized parking lot by a small school. Perfect.

If you look VERY closely, you’ll see the only cloud I saw all day.

I texted Jens about the change in plans and tried not to go flying into the street coming down that hideous slope. Having very little friction in my right brake didn’t exactly help. Fortunately, my left one still had plenty of grab.

It was a bit of a wait. Soon, I’m gonna need to take the car and do loops without Jens dropping me off or the poor man will be spending the entire day in the car every time I go for a ride away from the hamster tracks. He’s encouraged this way of doing things for now, helping me build up strength and confidence for bigger and bolder things. Things, by the way which were derailed by the pandemic and a cracked rib keeping me close to home and, worse, out of the gym. I had plans for tours later in the year after Loke’s passing.

Oh, I haven’t forgotten how my 2 years of consistent gym attendance has been ruined. It’s just hard to try and make up for it at home lacking the rowing and weight machines.

Jens finally found me. Once everything was loaded and I flopped gratefully into a seat requiring no pedalling, I was shocked to see what time it was. After 5 pm.

No wonder I was so hungry! And no, I didn’t even pretend that I was going to do my intermittent fasting. I got home and had 2 small, doubled baked potatoes. Vegan of course.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Järlåsa Church from on-high

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A little off road, just because!

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

Not blue yet, but they will be!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Pasture in Spring Green

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

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

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

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

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

Just loved the birch trees and the look of this pasture

I was gonna do it! Right it was!

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

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

Is it a weird thing to be bored by?

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

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

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

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

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

The light brown horse being a bully

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

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

These two donkeys were old acquaintances it seemed

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

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

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

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

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

Chattering happily at the curious donkeys, I rolled on.

Nice!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyhooo!

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

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

Still the Fyris

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

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

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

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

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

Freshly grated except for this narrow little strip.

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

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

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

That actually wasn’t the worst to come.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lake still had its trees!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least the ups had some downs.

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

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

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

Oh, blessed civilization!

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Järlåsa Church – March 2011

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

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

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

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

Uppland Runestone #889

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

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

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

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

Off I go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting to look a bit unfriendly up there.

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

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

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

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

Finally! A little downhill!

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

Well, THAT’S not good

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty, and curious rather than afraid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunshine and history, hand in hand.

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

Another Road Marker and more important looking than the first

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

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

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

Lovely view!
Pretty scene with the adorable bridge

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

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

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

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

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

More scenery and approaching clouds to the west

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

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

Oops. It didn’t look good.

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

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

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

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

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



What A Bumpy Start
January 8, 2019, 6:59 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

And my fingers are crossed that it’s smoothed out a bit at least for a little while.

As mentioned in the previous post on the 2nd, Loke went into the hospital. On the 3rd, I waited for a call to update. I was so anxious and feeling a bit guilty that I’d not taken him to the emergency room on New Year’s Day. It never should have come to the point that his digestion was shutting down and heartbeat faint and fast.

Well, I missed the call at about 3:30 pm. The phone was charging in the living room while I was cooking in the kitchen. I had thought the ring would be loud enough for me to hear, but clearly not. By time I checked, the switchboard at the hospital was closed.

That was a hard night. The idea that Loke might die got stuck in my head. I mean, I know it’s coming, he’s 13.5 years old, as of January 1st no less. I have EVERY intention of being there with him when the moment comes, which clearly I wouldn’t be if this episode killed him.

When I got up on the morning of the 4th and found the kitchen door open, I actually burst into tears. Loke’s such a jackal since getting castrated that he can’t be trusted to not do something like raid the pantry or break open his food bin. The kitchen door has to be closed over night. Yet, without Loke there, Jens had left it open. It just hit me ridiculously hard.

About 10 am, the call came. Loke had responded well. He’d had a few episodes during the first night, but all day on the 3rd, he’d been improving. The tests had found everything normal, with exception of his B vitamin levels. They were completely tanked. So, he’d been given IV fluids and vitamin B injections. He was alert and ready to come home.

Sweet relief at the news. I drove there and spent some time with the vet (a very charming and kind Spanish woman) to go over all the news and post care. Then she went to go Loke.

Loke’s not the most lovey dovey of dogs, but even for him he was down right chill toward me. If a human acted the way he behaved, I would have said they were resentful and feeling betrayed. He didn’t look bad at all though. An orange bandage wrapped around his front leg where the catheter had been and a sore on his nose. I rolled my eyes at the sore and said, ‘Let me guess? Shredded his blanket and was pushing the pieces around his cage?’ The vet laughed in surprise.

Instead of heading directly home, I headed off down the old road toward Kungsängen’s new pedestrian bridge, thinking I could walk him there to burn off a little of his pent up energy.

It appeared to be a good choice as the way back toward downtown had been graveled over the hard ice on the path. I’d not worn my Icebugs naturally. Loke was happy and did his ‘business’ on the 15 minute walk and it was completely normal.

Then it was off to home where he started in on harassing Jens right away. Jens started fussing, paranoid that Loke was going to explode. Knowing that if I just walked around the block with the furball, Jens would only grumble when we came back and Loke got in his face again, I decided to go to Gamla Uppsala. Walked around there for an hour and all Loke did was sniff.

Back home and Loke was back at Jens again. My hubby finally gave up and went to take Loke for a walk. Naturally, the fuzzy went right away and it was soft. The vet said that might happen, so I wasn’t too worried at that time.

Loke didn’t really settle even after that. Mostly, I thought it was because he was hungry. Jens begged me to give Loke some food, so I did. Just half a scoop.

About 6 pm, Loke was pacing and panting and harassing both Jens and I. So we all went out the door to walk around the block. Loke exploded and it was liquid.

Not even a consideration to just wait and see how he was in the morning. As far as I was concerned, his body was still probably a bit ‘battered’ by the previous fit of this issue and I wasn’t going to let him gush all his hydration away as Jens and I hopped in and out of the apartment every 20 minutes through the night. Called the hospital and told them we were coming.

Jens had to come with since animals with vomiting or diarrhea aren’t allowed in the main reception and Loke can’t be left in the car alone. We were back at the hospital before 7 pm.

The vet was a nice guy who had tended Loke the previous two nights. He agreed it was good we brought him back in directly if it was that bad and had come back so fast. Time for more blood tests and hook him back up to the IV. I made a point of telling them and having it entered in Loke’s journal that if he took a bad turn that they call me, no matter the hour, so I could be there if it came to the end.

I wasn’t overly worried this time though. We’d caught it early, he still seemed pretty perky even as we arrived at the hospital. Oddly, he was even eager to go in. That completely baffled me.

The call on the 5th was that Loke was doing well. He’d had a few episodes on the first night with diarrhea, but had been much better during the day. What little they were feeding him, he devoured and wanted more, and it was staying down. Since the symptoms had come back so hard and fast, they decided to keep him for another day if that was fine with us. It was. Better an extra day in the hopes it would finally be over than jump the gun.

On the morning of the 6th, I made a point of vacuuming and mopping the kitchen down. Jens was eating a coissant at one point, went to get up and wander through the kitchen as he munched. I stopped him short and blocked him back at his desk until he was done so I could vacuum over it again. I really didn’t want crumbs scattered through the apartment that might re-trigger Loke.

He was back home on the 6th and we watched like a hawk.

All seemed good. So far, almost 48 hours later, he’s been okay. Hungry though. The vet told us to gradually increase his food from 1/4 the usual amount to full amount only by Thursday. He’s also been off one of his meds because it’s harsh on tummies and also no meat until the same time. I’m gonna be nervous about adding his meat and medication again on the 10th, but fingers crossed.

Through this whole fiasco, I never managed to make it out for another ride. Just too stressed and worried about Loke to want to deal with all the necessary layers of clothing, electric socks and all. A pity really since it was mild weather.

Then yesterday, even after Loke had been home for 24 hours and seemed stable, I just couldn’t find the oomph. I cringed at the idea that Jens would perhaps insist I take Loke for an outing.

Then much to my surprise, Jens actually suggested I go for a ride and he’d walk Loke. Just pick a direction and go. I found myself getting dressed with the idea of doing my old G.Uppsala/Vaksala Church loop. 10-ish miles and conveniently, it was even passing the cycle shop which was reopen after their holiday break.

Didn’t quite happen. I felt terrible. It was hard to pedal and I felt like I was dragging a sledge loaded with rocks. My knee hurt, I had trouble catching my breath. I didn’t know what was wrong with me or the trike. I supposed it could be a bit of me feeling rough for whatever reason combined with the chunky studded tires on gravel covered asphalt.

The result was that after booking a time for the shop on the morning of the 8th to get my brake repaired, I just pushed the pedals enough to get me around the River Loop. 2nd time for the year already. I was absolutely exhausted by time I got back home with 4.2 miles.

As I was putting the trike away, I noticed that the alignment of the valve on my right wheel wasn’t looking right. It was pushed in and skewed. I mushed on the tire and it had some give. Going flat. If it had been that way on the whole ride, that could have contributed to the rough going as well.

Rough start to the year continues.

But the trike is now at the shop in Bobby’s capable hands. Loke has had a bit more kibble and is now sleeping contentedly as the sky dumps down snow like mad. Signs of improvement?



2019 – A Frightening Start
January 2, 2019, 6:02 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Gonna touch on a few days of the last year.

December 24th, was a gorgeous day. The clouds rolled back to reveal skies of blue and sun like honey for the first time in… I have no idea. Weeks if not a couple months at the very least. The temp took a sharp drop, the high of the day capping at 9 F. Lovely as it was, I wasn’t inspired to go out on the wheels for it. Besides, I had laundry.

On Christmas Day, the temp bounced back up to just over freezing (35 F) and clouds scuttled back in. I wasn’t feeling any more motivated than the day before. I’d had a vigorous workout at the gym and was pretty certain I’d only feel as weak and struggling as on December 23rd.

Jens wouldn’t let it go though. Around noon, he started bugging me to take Loke for a walk. Then it changed to an outing on the trike so maybe Loke could have a longer amble and my husband could relax the need to go for a long walk. Finally, I gave in and started dragging on layers of wool.

I wasn’t thrilled to be going out so late, after 1 pm by time we headed to the garage, and sunset is still rather early. Throw in that I’d been rushed and hadn’t put on the electric socks, it wasn’t looking to be a good ride.

Loke was pretty happy to get moving with the trike, jogging along at over 4 mph consistently. Much to my surprise, I also felt WAY better than I had on the 23rd. Stronger and it didn’t feel like such a painful struggle. My feet didn’t hurt, my knee was okay. The trike rolled easier, but I’m guessing it was down to having the snow more compacted since it was kinda/sorta melting. My plan to do just a short dash back to the apartment turned into something more substantial as I hit the cycle path to roll down to the bridge over the river.

Ah, the River Loop hamster track… again. 95 rides so far this year and 80 (or more) of them are very likely the River Loop in some fashion or another. *sigh*

Still, the sunset was pretty and while my toes did start getting cold when I turned north to follow the riverside path for extra distance, it wasn’t an unpleasant ride. My hands were snug, even over-warm in the cheap bar mitts. I stopped and had a lovely chat with a couple who were curious about Loke.

I arrived back at the garage with 4.4 miles. It help improve my mood that it was easier than last time. Little things.

December 26th, and out the door again amazingly. It was so mild, with a high at nearly 40 F. Over head and to the north was clue skies. Clouds lurked to the south which is where the sun stays at this time of the year, but it managed to find a few chinks and thin spots so we were graced with its delightful light.

Though moving to get dressed to ride, it wasn’t with any anticipation, lovely weather or not. The absolute, mind-numbing tedium of yet another River Loop just felt as if my brain would turn to pudding. Yet, there was the vague hope I could perhaps push it for 6 miles or so.

It didn’t quite happen as it just wasn’t ideal for me or Loke. The snow has had 2 days to get well melted before being packed down and refrozen into slick ice. The ice and pavement was then scattered with gravel by city trucks to help with traction. That wasn’t very kind on old husky paws. I tried to keep him off the worst of it while avoiding ice which could make Loke slip, but it was difficult.

Then there was the long laundry list of things that were bothering me (pain in the feet, a cut on a toe rubbing on the inside of my boot, charlie horse in my leg that had me yelling for a few seconds). All that combined with the tedium, I cut the ride short at just over 2 miles

Pity about all the issues. It was a pretty day, but creeping around at 3 mph on such old ground felt like a treadmill even before the charlie horse livened things up. I honestly had to suppress the impulse to pull out my phone and watch Netflix as we inched along.

There were no more rides for 2018 after that. It went out with only a wheezing death rattle that didn’t even qualify as a whimper. It was a combination of reasons. Feeling so bummed about how bad the year had been for cycling, starting to get a bad case of cabin fever from just circling the river, and constantly having my feet cramp up no matter how I tap dance on the pedals, just sucked the will to go out from my soul.

The final blow to my getting out for rides in the last days of 2018 was discovering that for distance, I’d already made more miles than my ‘worst year ever’ which appears to be 2017. 2017 was still better in terms of ‘adventure’ even if fewer miles.

I toyed with the idea of getting out for a ride December 31st, since it was supposed to get up near 40 F. It turned out that didn’t happen until about 7 pm. I suppose I could have gone for a ride in the dark. The River Loop scenery is so ingrained in my memory that I don’t need to see, right? Good in theory, but I just couldn’t find the energy.

December 31st passed quietly in our household though chaos of fireworks banged, thudded, and shrilled around us. This is the last chance people had to do fireworks willy nilly. From now on, it will require a permit in all of Sweden.

Delightfully, Loke didn’t seem to notice all the noise. Gone the days when he used to cower in my lap. We had a lovely dinner. Steak and potatoes for Jens and I. A fair bit of cut up deer roast for Loke.

And perhaps, that’s where the trouble began. Later that evening, Loke bullied Jens out for a walkie well after 10 pm. His tummy also started making noises.

I woke up at about 6 am to find it was 41 F. I took Loke out for a walk only to get a rude surprise. His bowels were loose. I was shocked. There was no other indication he was unwell though. He gobbled down breakfast and had plenty of energy.

The temp started to drop almost immediately. By 8 am it was about 38 F, so I started pulling on the layers to get out before it got too much colder. If I could get away with TWO layers instead of three, I was gonna hustle out the door quick as I could.

As a random experiment, I shoved my feet into a pair of Jens’ shoes. With the puffy wool over the electric socks, I had plenty of space even if there was about 2 inches too much past my toes and I felt like a clown. I still hoped it might help the foot pain I’ve been struggling with.

After a night of warm temps and maybe a touch of rain, most of the snow had vanished, leaving just patches and stretches of ice on the paths with their liberal casting of gravel.

Loke showed quite a bit of energy, but his feet seemed very sensitive. The gravel made him limp. I shifted around a lot to try and give him the spots that didn’t have much of the grit while attempting to avoid the ice which could make him fall. I made the turn as we crossed over the river, still clad in ice which had survived the night’s warmth.

As we headed north on the River Path extension, I decided to make a turn to take us back and have Jens come get Loke where we could meet the car. As we toodled along a stretch of path we’ve not done in a while, I was surprised to find a it was covered in frost in spite of above freezing temps with some sunlight casting its warmth.

Loke’s tummy showed another indication it was still unhappy just before he jumped in the car to go home after just 1.39 mile in 52 minutes. It felt less cruel than inflicting him with more gravel though the heart-broken stare through the car window might have stirred some doubts.

After sending him home with my husband, I wound up dashing home any way for a restroom break as well as to devour some lunch. The 1.58 mile took just over 15 minutes. After eating, it was back out the door for a bit of a solo ride.

That went less well. I think just because without Loke to temper my pace, I push myself in ways I’m not ready for. My knee and a groin muscle were feeling unhappy, combined with being really slow in spite of my efforts and weak.

Still, I managed to add 3.48 miles. As for my feet, they were snug, warm, happy, and pain-free. No cramping arches or toes! I looked like Bigfoot, but hey, I often look ridiculous when I ride on so many levels, what’s oversized shoes into that? I often say function over form when it comes to what works for riding.

Sunshine and pain-free feet. Suddenly riding even on the River Loop was making my mood better. It had turned into a kinda good day for a ride. I’d gotten out and started 2019 with a few miles under my wheels. I would have rather done an ‘elsewhere’ special ride, but I had no confidence in my body.

As the day progressed, Loke didn’t seem to be doing too badly. Drinking and eating like normal and with plenty of energy. I thought he was starting to get over it and drinking enough that he would be okay.

Through last night (Jan 1/2), he started bugging us to go out even when we’d been asleep. Not something he does unless it’s desperate. It was desperate.

Then at 4 am, I heard him vomiting. That’ll get someone out of bed faster than any alarm clock. It was disturbing that what he brought up was his dinner and it was mostly intact, almost no liquid or any hint of digestion. I resolved to call the vet at 8:30 when their lines opened.

By 9 am, Loke had vomited again, same result just less of it and had desperately scrambled out the door five times. One time he barely made it out of the building.

Our local vet clinic was overwhelmed. They generally have 3 on staff for weekdays, but one was sick and since they had just reopened after being closed for 4 days for New Year’s, they were heavily slammed and mostly with emergencies. No way to work in Loke and the nurse said it was probably best to take him to the animal hospital. To her, it sounded as if Loke would need longer supportive care than they could offer since they aren’t equipped to keep animals overnight. She was so apologetic and even upset about not being able to help as she’s known us for years.

That meant the animal hospital. Off we went. Poor Loke. He was still very hungry for the ‘get in the car’ bribe, but didn’t even have enough liquid to do his usual drool.

It turns out the university pet hospital has now opened an infectious ward where they want all animals with diarrhea and vomiting to go. You have to check in at main reception first, leaving the pet in the car while doing so. Well, I wasn’t about to leave Loke in the car to get into trouble. I played the ‘can’t speak Swedish very well’ card. I wasn’t thrilled with the need to go to the infectious ward, especially since I was pretty sure Loke wasn’t suffering from a bug, but something he’d eaten. Probably the extra deer meat.

The waiting room in the infectious ward was tiny. I thought the main waiting room was bad with uncomfortable chairs, but at least one has access to a vending machine for beverages and a restroom. All there was in the new area was 3 chairs, a TV, and a coffee machine. I don’t drink coffee. I settled in and expected a very long wait.

Much to my surprise, it wasn’t nearly as long as expected. The doctor asked questions and I gave her a general outline about Loke’s allergies and what the issue currently was. She agreed with me that it sounded as if his digestion was shutting down from lack of fluids. He was also having some abdominal pain when she palpated. She wanted to admit him immediately for supportive care and start pouring liquids into him via IV. She expected that he’d be in their care for at least 2 days.

The nurse came a short time later and drew blood, put on a different collar and leash to take him back. I found myself choking up and my eyes getting teary. I needed a moment to hug Loke before walking away. I’d been pretty okay up to that moment.

I missed a call from the vet while I was cooking dinner. Just couldn’t hear the phone ring where it was charging in the living room.

I hope Loke comes through this okay. I hate the idea that my last memory of him will be the wide, pitifully staring eyes as I walked away. If he has to go, I want to be with him, holding him to the last and not to feel abandoned to a scary place with people doing things he doesn’t like…

Please. Let him come home from this…



Merry Christmas Or Whatever You Celebrate!
December 25, 2018, 8:37 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I hope these last weeks of the year have been full of joy and love to all who glance this way.

Even as I make this wish, I find I’ve been a bit down. Not surprising. Christmas has always come with a sense of melancholy with a cloud of those past years when they seemed fraught with disaster and misfortune. I like to think that each successive one, the mood is not as dark as the one before.

The day after my last post, amazingly, I made it out for another ride. 4 days and 4 rides. A new recent record. The snowfall mentioned at the end of the December 10th post thickened. Enough came down that the damp stuff clung to the winter bare branches and clumped on the grass. Pavement and cars only got wet, not white. Still, fluffy flakes will always be magical to someone who grew up on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. where frost was rare, never mind snow.

The main reason I went for another ride was my feet. They’ve started splitting and cracking with a vengeance which makes walkies with Loke painful and very short affairs. Admittedly, my feet have been on the painful side of uncomfortable even when I ride, but at least it’s not like getting lemon juice in giant paper cuts level of painful.

There was no trace of snow on the morning of the 11th as I started to drag on layers of wool. The sun was no where to be seen with heavy gray clouds across the sky, but very little wind and it was 33 F. Loke was at least intrigued as I readied.

His interest peaked a bit more as I took us off toward downtown Uppsala, avoiding any part of the ol’ standby of the River Loop. The plan was to aim for old pedestrian drawbridge at the city park for a total of roughly 4 to 5 miles.

There was some wobble to the old furball’s legs, but he was content to shuffle along at 4 mph with the occasional stumble. I’m sticking to the ‘quality of life’ rather than quantity of days. Better he be happy for for a shorter time than miserable for longer. As long as I’m convinced it’s just miscommunication in the nerves and not pain, we keep going though slowing down is in order if he stumbles too much. Limping is another story. If he limps, I read that as pain and get him home as quick as I can.

Loke wasn’t impressed with our roll through town, but he perked up when we reached the parkland. Of course, that’s right where the old pedestrian bridge over the river happens to be. I felt bad depriving Loke of a wander along the gravel paths and tree lines of the park to turn right back around to plod through the city heart again. Though slow, he was ticking along pretty well and interested in his surroundings. I’d push on to the big drawbridge that is a major traffic artery over the river. I could jump on a ramp to go up and over, then back down to take the riverside path on the opposite bank. That would get us another mile or more while letting the old one sniff and enjoy grass and trees.

Naturally, as I reached the big bridge, the lovely gravel path wound on along the open pasture and fields toward Kungsängen (The King’s Meadow). Loke was going a little slower, but still happy. Going to the new pedestrian drawbridge would be another mile, putting us over 7 miles by time we returned home. Jens was in Stockholm, so getting Loke wasn’t going to be an option. Did I dare?

Yeah, I dared. Loke was happy and it would make him more content if he had more of an outing. Quality of life. As we rolled southward, meadow on one side and river on the other, his pace picked up to over 4 mph again. Naturally, that’s about the time the cold finally started sucking the warmth out of my feet. Snuggly wool socks and chunky boots be damned. It occurred to me it would perhaps be wise to get the sock batteries charged.

Cold or not, gloomy or not, I enjoyed being out, off the old River Loop and having my cycle partner beside me, slow or otherwise. I let a sense of contentment sink into me as I relaxed to let Loke take lots of pauses to sniff. It wasn’t a bad way to spend 3 hours. Still, curling up under an electric blanket felt downright dreamy.

Sadly, I didn’t push on to make it 5 rides in 5 days. Distractions came up.

For one thing, the temperature dropped which triggered something in me. It’s funny how something, while annoying, is just endured as part of an activity. The something I mention was my constant argument with gloves/mittens. While it’s never been as bad (read agonizingly painful and close to frostbite) as my feet, I’ve struggled with keeping my hands warm enough. Gloves are a disaster. I have wide palms with short fingers. If I get gloves that fit the palms, I have an excess of fabric flapping at the end of my fingertips which makes me insane. Mittens, while they can have the same issue, it never bothered me quite so much, but it did make shifting gears challenging. Not to mention, gloves or mittens, I still had trouble keeping my fingers warm and often had to shove them under my jacket. I also tried glove liners.

Throw into this argument with glove/mitten sizes and finger lengths, my frequent photo stops. With the over-long mittens or gloves, I couldn’t fumble with the controls very well on the phone or camera. That meant, pulling off the handcovers with my teeth, taking the picture and spending the time to pull the glove liner back on and then wrestle the outer layer over that. 5 minutes later, doing it all over again. Sometimes, it could feel like I spent more time doing the handcovers on and off than I did rolling along.

For some reason, after 12+ winters arguing with it, I decided I’m fed up with it this winter. I wanted pogies which are also called bar end mitts. Imagine a giant, mitten with two openings. One in the normal place a mitten would have it and another out beside the ‘finger’ area. You slip the second opening over the end of your handlebar and there’s generally a way to cinch it snug so wind won’t get in so easily. Ta-da! Your grip, gear controls, and brake handles are all wrapped up in a wind and weather proof muff of various materials, often lined with insulation. I wanted THOSE. Giant mittens that say on the handlebars.

That decided, I went to the cycle shop. A quick look around and there were none to be found. When I asked Neil about them, he said he could order them, but it would take a week or so. Rather ironic, that every winter since I started going to that shop, they’ve had the mitts. The year I decided I want them? No mitts. Murphy is laughing at me again.

So, I threw myself into a frenzy to find something. No cycle shops seemed to have them. Finally I found one kind.

There’s a shop here, called Biltema. It’s a strange kind of place that has a bit of everything. Stuff for horses, camping, sports, bikes, cars, boats, tools, gardening, minor electronics, office supplies, kitchen, laundry room, toys, dogs stuff, small building supplies. It’s all dirt cheap and every single bit is labeled as the Biltema brand. Well, in the motorcycle section, they carried one kind of bar end mitts. A sort of plastic like, weather resistant fabric with a thin insulation that’s not quite cheap fleece and not quite cheap felt. Huge in size as they’re made for, you guessed it, motorcycles or ATVs. Still, the price was right and I could get them right away while deciding if I wanted something better.

So, I picked them up on the 12th. On the 13th of December, I had laundry, so I didn’t get to ride with my new mitts.

Mitts
The cheap mitts.

Finally, December 14th, I started dragging on layers of wool to ride in 29 F temps. I also argued with the wires of my electric socks in between the light and medium layers of wool leggings. It was slow going to get everything on since I’d done a long and hard workout at the gym earlier that morning.

Then it was off to the storage. As I unpacked them, I was taken aback by how huge the mitts were. Seriously, there is enough space in them for the Hulk to use them and still have space to wiggle his fingers. I mounted them up.

They aren’t completely ideal. They get in the way of my opening and closing the handlebar bag as well as restrict the movement of the handlebars near the wheels which makes my turning radius even larger. But they also have plenty of room for my hands even with chunky mittens if I decide to go that way. I even tucked my phone in the mitt instead of leaving it in the bag so my hands can help keep the cold from sucking the battery dead.

There was another complication. Where to put my Garmin? The GPS has always ridden on the small rear view mirror mounted into the end of my steering bar. Well, the giant mitt covers both of them. Engulfs them is probably a more proper term. I wound up flipping open my handlebar bag and letting my Garmin ride around in the lid. It works just fine, provided it’s not raining or snowing too much.

Well, it was snowing, but not too much.

Almost right away, something was wrong. Loke was limping. I examined his feet, finding nothing, and sat for a few minutes to ponder that. The furry one needed walkies. I reasoned that he wasn’t likely to limp less if I was walking with him than with the trike. So, rolling walk it was. I’d just take it slow and keep it under 2 miles for distance which is probably a bit less than what Jens walks him even when he’s limping. We crept along at 1.5 mph as Loke limped and wobbled. There were plenty of stops to let him sniff hedges and trees.

The temp display on my Garmin dipped to 26 F, but my socks on level 1 and bare hands snug in the bar mitts, I felt almost over dressed. If I hadn’t felt so worn and weary from the morning’s strenuous workout, it would have been a pleasant even if ridiculously slow ride. It was just bits of the old River Loop, but thanks to the thin snow, it felt fresh and new. I wouldn’t have minded going longer, but I couldn’t shake the anxiety over Loke’s limping. Finished up with about 1.7 mile.

The riding stalled over various little health issues for a few days. About the 17th of December, I felt better, but had too much to do for a ride. At last, on the 18th, I had a plan to ride. A glorious plan. Not just my woefully overdone River Loop again, but a real ride out in the countryside.

Still, I went to Starbucks for my hubby’s daily addiction and while there, it started snowing. Lovely, feathery flakes drifting around on a soft wind into gorgeous swirls and spirals. It reinforced my determination to ride away from Uppsala’s heart and the river.

Back home, things just seemed to start to go wrong as I began to get ready. My energy fled. My muscles seemed to fatigue ridiculously quick and I started to feel irritable with a side helping of annoyed and frustrated. As I wrestled the layers on my legs for 26 F, I felt overheated in our 65 F apartment and then I felt the wire connector between my battery wire and my right electric sock pop loose. I had to get everything off again, plug it back in and retape the sucker before dressing once more. The only way to keep the connection is to wrap the two parts in duck tape… and even that can slip, clearly.

Loke didn’t seem to be doing to well. Wobbly and weak. He was still interested enough in going out that he came over to get harnessed, but then promptly flopped on his pillow and didn’t move again until I picked up his leash. Instead of having my hubby drop us off at the garage, I told him I’d take the car and just ride back home with Loke before taking off across the countryside.

The snow had stopped, my mood was quite sour and it just seemed EVERY LITTLE THING annoyed me. No matter what I did, it just went wrong in petty, ridiculous ways that drove me batty. For example, putting a car key in a pocket shouldn’t take 20 seconds and two hands while breaking a fingernail. Loke would move along fine for a few steps and then plant his feet and want to sniff something for 2 hours. *beats head on desk*

I wound up resigning myself to getting less than half the miles I’d planned and being stuck on the River Loop for all of it. As we were coming up to the bridge over the river, it started snowing again. That had the effect of cheering me. Even though I was feeling slow and fairly weak, Loke was being even slower still, I decided I’d add the out-n-back along the riverbank to the north.

I slipped and spun at the bridge for a few minutes before just giving up and pushing the trike up. Then Loke and I made the right hand turn to follow the cycle path north beside the river. THAT didn’t even happen for more than 200 yards or so, as up around a curve with some trees, I discovered a work crew had completely blocked the cycle path with a huge red truck. Pedestrians could squeak by and bikes could be walked past, but my trike with Loke on his bar weren’t making it by. Muttering, I slipped and skidded in a multi-point turn to go back.

The snow came down thicker and mellowed my mood again, but I’d resigned myself to doing ONLY the river loop. Mother nature was screaming. The time it would take me to get Loke home, answer the call and get all my layers and wires wrestled back on, it would be after 12:00 pm. With thick clouds, sunset is essentially 2:30 and I really didn’t want to ride in the dark, which given how slow I felt even without Loke, would have been too little time for my 11 mile route over snowy roads with chunky studded tires. So, I gritted my teeth and just got us back to the car and then home.

Pity. I really would have loved to been out in the countryside through a feathery swirl of falling snow.

That seemed to announce the full arrival of the Christmas melancholy. I felt low and apathetic with spikes of frustration and just feeling completely trapped. Trapped by my own body. Trapped by Loke’s aged limitations and Jens’ persistent insistence that every time I even THINK about going for a ride, Loke come with me. Trapped by tasks that ate up the morning until the earliest I could ride was 11 am with a 2:30 pm sunset and being incredibly slow and weak, so trapped to the cycle paths of the River Loop. I am so very over the River Loop and it just ticks me off.

On the 23rd of December, I managed to shake off the apathy a bit and decided that I was going to ride my old Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Church loop. Out in the countryside, but still one of my shorter country loops at roughly 10 miles.

By 7 am, I was dressed to ride. It was the coldest morning we’ve had in weeks, but I still had the grand plan to do that loop. A fresh fall of snow and I wanted to go see the snowy landscape that didn’t involve the city. I desperately needed the miles as well.

It didn’t happen. We set off and I felt fine for about 200 yards or so. Loke was slow, but the sun wasn’t quite up yet and I’d get him home with a bit over a mile and then push on for the wide open, snowy places.

It was a pretty winter day. 15 F, but with no wind, my electric socks, and huge honking mitts, I was dressed for it, but I just wasn’t feeling it. What I did feel was slow. Even old Loke was being held back by me. I wasn’t comfortable in the trike or my own skin. My feet hurt as did my right knee. Every foot the trike moved was pure work, spinning the pedals at roughly 67 RPM and yet hardly faster than a walk. Just getting past the grave mounds was going to take me over an hour with the rest of the ride perhaps taking another 4 hours. I’d still potentially wind up on snowy roads in the dark. Nope. Wasn’t going to do it.

Wound up back at the storage with a whopping 1.7 miles which my Fitbit registered as 37 minutes of exercise. Instead of feeling like my wings to freedom, my trike had felt like a rock I had to drag around. Logically, I know walking that distance would have been worse, but it was still depressing.

And that brings us to the present. The end of the year is rushing up on us and I’m still lacking about 19 miles for the measly 450 I’d hoped to have. Just enough that this won’t be the worst year ever. Well, the worst year for distance any way. I had a bit of upset at the thought that this year would be perhaps the worst year in another way. A year with nothing new. 98% of the rides involving the Fyris River and 80% of those being the old River Loop, the rest down through Uppsala beside the river. The ride just west of Norrtälje was some place I’d ridden before even if I didn’t realize it until I was on it. I thought there were no new runestones or churches. Just… nothing but old circles.

It was come consolation when I looked on my GarminConnect account at the rides this year and found some discoveries that had slipped my mind. A runestone which might be one I’d not seen before. I can’t be sure. But in April, there was a new church. New places I’d not seen on the trike as I coddled sickly Loke around Haga park just outside of Stockholm, wondering if it was his last days. I found Alfred Nobel’s burial site. I found how to get to a lovely old courthouse I’ve admired for years while heading into Stockholm on the E4. A few new things at least. Some exploration that is like food for my soul. More than loops and circles on the River Loop, trapped by circumstances and my body.

I needed that realization.



Fits and Starts
December 10, 2018, 1:04 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

That’s how my riding has been going. Since my last post I’ve ridden 3 times, though as I type this, I’m starting to get dress for another ride where Jens will drop Loke and I off at the storage before heading to work. It will be 3 rides in 3 days. Really need it to get another 32 miles in before 11:59 pm, December 31st. If not, then 2018 will become the new ‘worst year ever’ for miles since getting my first Garmin to track such things. Too many things just went wrong this year, the months of intense summer heat being only one.

Yay! Proper flags! Bigger than half a hanky and prettier than orange plastic! 😀

Just a day or two after my last post, it finally happened! My flags arrived! I got a text that they were ready for pick up from the local post location which is at the back of the local grocery store. I was giddy as I dashed off to bring them home and get them unpacked.

Finally, after wanting flags like this for years, I had some. One brightly colored fan type and one little twirly thing that reflects flashes and headlights spectacularly. I didn’t get out for a ride right away. Part of it was the temp took a precipitous drop and oddly, I found myself feeling every little bit of the cold right down to my bones. It was an almost surreal experience given that I’ve spent the past years driving Jens crazy by leaving windows cracked even at 13 F or walking around without jacket, hat, gloves or scarf if it was warmer than 28 F if it was a calm day. Then suddenly, everyone else is more lightly dressed than me, the apartment is buttoned up and there I am burrowed under electric blankets complaining about the cold.

Jens did his level best to get me to ride, but if I was cold and shivering in a warm(ish) apartment then going out in 27 F temps with wind had zero appeal.

Fullerö Burial Ground, bird’s eye view.

It was a real shame too. We had absolutely stunning hoarfrost. I’m sharing a photo I took at Fullerö with the drone. It might not be from riding the trike there, but it’s just too pretty not to share. It was so cold, I was only able to stay out flying the drone for about 15 minutes before my fingers started to hurt. Still was fun though!

Loke, however, was not nearly as impressed. He laid around near my feet and looked annoyed at the drone’s buzz.

Another thing I did during this ‘not riding time’ was to make the drive to Falun, Sweden. 2 hours from Uppsala, give or take. Why? Because I was curious to see the area my great-grandfather and his fathers might have walked. The place is best known for the old copper mine there. Indeed, the mining history goes back over 1000 years. It started with just the local farmers digging for the metal for their own needs before it became the big business of the town to mine Stora Kopparberg (Big Copper Mountain) extensively.

Oh, you know all those lovely, old, red buildings scattered across the Swedish countryside I so often photograph? Well, the red color is called Falu red, named after the mine where the copper was originally taken to make the pigment.

The mine was closed down in the 1960’s. It had once been called Sweden’s Treasury and more than half of the copper in Europe from the middle ages until close to the Industrial Revolution originated from it. It had originally been a shaft mine, but in the summer of 1687, the mountain, so criss-crossed with tunnels it was like Swiss cheese, had a major collapse leaving a pit over 300 feet deep. Believe it or not, no one was killed. There were only two days of the year that the mine was closed. Mid-summer and Christmas. It happened on the evening of Mid-summer, so all the miners were off. After that, it was handled as a combination of open pit and shaft mining.

It was a nice trip. I saw a fox from very close and dozens of deer on the drive. I wandered around the edge of the pit and explored a bit of the town as well as a church, which I had believed to be Stora Kopparberg Church. Sadly, it wasn’t, but a slightly newer church. I guess that just gives me a reason to go back to the town and next time I’ll take my trike. It was a nice way to spend a day.

The hoarfrost hung around for the better part of a week. Maybe even two. My grasp of time gets fuzzy after it’s in the past. The frost was finally washed away when it warmed up and started raining. Except for a few spates of snow, it feels like it’s been raining almost constantly since then.

It was a bit of a relief when it warmed back up though. The frost had actually coated a lot of road surfaces and left them quite slick. Guess who didn’t have studded tires on the trike yet?

Finally, on September 30th, I felt ‘warm’ enough to think about going for a ride and there was no trace of ice to cause problems with non-studded trike tires.

Jens wheedled at me to walk Loke. I’d been walking Loke quite a lot at the time. Going for a walk in 30 F, I can just pull on a decent long sleeved shirt, decent pants, go out with a winter coat and maybe end up feeling too warm. Go out in the same temp for a trike ride, I need 2 layers of wool on the legs, 2 or 3 on the top, gloves, a beanie, cushy wool socks with wool sock liners, and yet will still probably come home and shiver. So, yeah, I preferred to walk when I’m already feeling chilled inside. Once above freezing again though, I finally decided to take pity on my aching hips and knees and ride instead.

The lack of ice made me happy not just because I still had my winter tires, but also for Loke’s sake. He has problems keeping his feet under him on the rough wooden floors of our apartment. Ice would really give him fits.

It was going to be the first ride with my new flags. I as I set them up though, I decided to leave my pretty fan flag in the garage. I just had an image of the wind snatching it off the pole to send it capering across a field faster than I could run. There was a little zip tie I could have fastened at the bottom, but that would have pulled the flag down over the first connector for the collapsible pole, making it difficult to fold it. I needed time to think of a solution.

Still, I was glad to go with my little orange and yellow whirly.

It was coming up on twlight as we rolled out. Loke was fairly slow and it took us over 40 minutes for 2.5 miles. Though there’d been no sign of ice anywhere around the paved surfaces in the neighborhoods I’d been walking with Loke, I found slush and ice both on the cycle path near the river. I spotted it before we rolled over it so was able to push over to the side and put Loke in the grass where he had good grip.

My next ride was on December 4th. Loke had been a bit more energetic for a few days, becoming a real PITA. It was enough to overcome the general apathy I had about getting out for rides. The persistent chill that often left me shivering, the feeling that I needed to get this done and that done to the trike. Sometimes I’d think of riding and then it would turn into, ‘Oh, but I need to figure out what I want to do with the rain poncho for bikes I got and.. just forget it.’

Along with the extra energy, I also realized it had been a while since Loke had any what I guess I would call ‘sound fits’. For a time it was like certain noises would make Loke’s synapses spark so he’d give little jerks as if being jolted with brief shocks. Maybe something like a micro seizure or something. The crumple of a paper bag. The dead bolt clacking in the lock when opening the apartment door. One day it was even the crunch of gravel under the trike wheel. That had him twitching like crazy as he walked along. It doesn’t cause him pain or any apparent distress. Honestly, he doesn’t even notice. Nothing the vets can do about it, so if he’s not hurting or freaked out, we just roll with it. As I said though, as of the 4th, he’d not had it triggered by anything in a few days.

I still hadn’t even made an appointment to get the tires swapped, so I decided I should get some more distance before the forecasted snow arrived.

The short days have been a bit maddening of late. It seems most of the time, I’m not able to think about going for a ride until about lunch time. Sunset is before 3 pm, but with the persistent and thick clouds we’ve had and lack of snow, it’s pretty dark even before 2:30 pm. Just adds to the apathy that any ride I take is going to be coming home in the dark. Still, Loke, the hyper 13 year old, needed exercise and I needed miles. So, out the door we went.

It was a very doggie ride. Early in the ride as we came by an apartment complex, a couple of older men were out with their small dogs. The gray-muzzled chihuahua was kinda growly and stand-offish with Loke, though he kinda seemed to want to come say hi to me. The other was a little gray, female poodle. She had no compunction about coming to greet me. Spotted me and scrambled right over to jump up on my tummy to give my face a thorough licking. She completely ignored Loke even when he nosed at her. Very people focused that one. Very cute. Her owner was pleased for the excuse to come over and greet Loke. With him, my furball was quite standoffish, but the man didn’t seem to mind.

We left the complex behind the rolled over the 55. As we came up to the big hill down to the river, there were two women talking on the side of the path with dogs. The one with what looked like a pitbull, also had a bike. Seeing us coming, she angled the bike to block her dog. As we rolled by, I was horrified. Not by the pitbull’s highly aggressive behavior, but by his head.  Half of the poor thing’s head swollen more than twice it’s proper size. It looked almost like a doggie version of Joseph Merrick (aka Elephant Man). Broke my heart.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We took it slow since that’s about all Loke can manage now days, his average moving speed about 4 mph. I think he enjoyed it as we pedalled northward along the path beside the Fyris River just beyond the residential outskirts of Uppsala, Sweden. A light blowing mist of rain moved in a couple times, but not heavy or steady enough to get through the wool under layers I had on. We wound back up at the garage with 4.97 miles.

The only other thing of note was when we were on our way back to the park from the grocery area, there was a double glare of lights in my face on the cycle path. After a few minutes, I could make out that it was a tricycle. Like mine, it had 2 wheels in front with indirect steering, but unlike mine, it was an ‘upright’ trike, not reclined or ‘recumbent’. Attached to the side of it was a simple frame work that attached to the harness of a medium sized dog, keeping it a safe distance from the trike and it’s wheels in all directions. Turned out I recognized both the man and the dog. The last time I saw him though, he was on a bike with a little frame work and an extra wheel to one side, to keep his dog in a safe position with the bike. I guess I could say he just upgraded. Hehe.

After the ride, I drove to the cycle shop to see if they had any studded tires left and, if so, to make an appointment to get my tires swapped. Bobby was on vacation, but the other mechanic, who’s name other than ‘Skagget’ (The Beard) escapes me, was only too happy to help. It turned out though that they only had one 20 inch studded tire. That wasn’t any good. My old studded tires needed replaced. Bad enough they’d been poking holes in my tubes before Bobby shoved a section of old tubing between the tire and tubes, but the studs had become too worn to grip by the end of last winter.

There was another batch of 20 inch studded incoming at any time, so Neil (shop owner) said he’d give me a text when they arrived. They came that very evening, so back I went before they closed to make the appointment. I really needed those studs with the threat of ice and snow just a day or two away. I could drop the trike off on 5th.

I was there right as Neil was unlocking the door and starting to wheel out all the bikes he’d stored in the shop. A bit after lunch, he called to say the tires he’d gotten were ‘too chunky’ for my rims. He would need to order another two, slightly smaller, but was pretty sure they’d be there the next day (December 6th). Well, if that was what was needed, so be it. Finally, about 2 pm, I got the text my trike was ready for pick up. I didn’t have the car though. I considered for a few minutes, walking with Loke to the shop and pushing the trike, minus the seat, back to the apartment. Then I remembered, I’d also have to bring the summer tires with me. Walking along with a dog leash in one hand, pushing the trike with the other and trying to keep 3 tires from sliding off my shoulder as I plodded along for half a mile? Ummmm, I was gonna have to say no.

Jens agreed to let me have the car if I drove him on the 7th, so to be able to get the trike, that’s what I did. What an utterly miserable day. The promised snow hadn’t come, but we had drizzle and blowing mist aplenty beneath a pewter dark sky. I got the trike, but it was such an icky day that even if I’d not had laundry, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have taken the trike out.

Finally, December 8th, I made it out the door for another ride.

I had a reason to get the trike rolling other than the needed miles. My husband’s parents 51st wedding anniversary was on December 5th. We held off for the weekend to take them out to dinner so that the youngest daughter could come with us. That means, Loke was going to be at home alone for a couple hours. It’s always best to give him a bit of exercise before leaving him to his own devices.

So, even though it appeared it was going to be a twilight murk what with the clouds combined with precipitation alternating between a feather-soft misty drizzle and a light rain, I made ready to slog out the door a bit after 10 am with Loke in tow.

The furry one seemed pretty interested as I dragged on layers of wool against any possible rain as I’ve not yet taken the time to fiddle with the poncho.

Though very wet, it was about 45 F at the start. Loke quickly settled into his 4.3 mph pace as the trike vibrated along. Ah, just love studded tires when there’s no ice or snow.

At first, I was actually too warm even with the patter of light rain dampening my cycle clothes and wool under layer. That lasted until bout the time we hit the northward river extension. Suddenly there was wind enough to set my little spinner flag whirling furiously and I pulled out another layer of wool to drag on. Wind chill dropped the temperature around my Garmin from about 44 F to 34 F. Fortunately, I had the layers for it.

As I was coming back south along the river extension, the sky went from a flat iron-gray texture to having some detail in the clouds. With that, the rain finally tapered off and for the last half the ride, it was only the wind I had to deal with. Well, wind and a call of nature.

I swear, during the day when I’m not on the trike, I’m practically like a camel. Can go ages between nature calls. As soon as I sit on the trike it’s like my kidneys switch into overdrive with quadruple the output while my skin just pulls gallons of moisture out of the thin air. I went to the bathroom twice before finally going out the door for the ride, and yet 30 minutes later, there’s Mother Nature clearing her throat. By time I was 5 minutes from the apartment, she was screaming bloody murder I answer her. I’d had little to nothing to drink between breakfast and getting ready for a ride. It’s an ingrained habit just for that reason.

For Loke, the ride finished at about 4.47 miles. I desperately needed the restroom. Also, I was starting to feel a little short of time to get back home to clean up for the evening’s dinner out, so it was perfect to run in for the bathroom and leave Loke at home so I could finish that last half mile in less than 20 minutes. My total distance for the day was 5.02 miles.

I would have done more, but simply didn’t have the time.

Then, believe it or not, I went out again the very next day. Jens pleaded with me for it. My feet had been killing me though, so it was just a short little jaunt, less than 2 miles and Loke was back to harassing Jens before I even got his harness off.

This morning, with my feet feeling as if they’ve been flayed and then pounded with hammers, I really didn’t feel like hobbling around the block 5 or 6 times with Loke. I can’t even walk through the apartment without limping and lurching along while stars burst through my vision. I decided that, though still painful on the trike, it’s less painful, I would have Jens drop us off at the storage and I’d give Loke a couple rolling walks for his ‘business’ opportunities. I only pulled on the absolute minimum I thought I’d need for a short dash from storage to home. A longer outing could wait until we had some daylight.

It was pretty much dark when I was pushing the trike out of the storage and up the ramp. Not a hint of the approaching dawn to be seen at all. Loke waited patiently as I got the lights and flags settled. I felt comfortable enough even in my lesser layers at 33 F, I decided we would at least do the little swimhall loop all on the east side of the river. Usually, I take the little street down to the cycle path by the football fields, but with school traffic and Loke being so slow, I decided to ride along the sidewalk instead. Actually, I rode in the grass where Loke could mark the trees and sniff.

Unexpectedly, it felt pleasant out and to be on the trike. I wasn’t cold in the least though I would have thought myself woefully underdressed given my recent sensitivity to cold. I also felt stronger and more comfortable on the trike than I had yesterday. Whimsically, I decided I was just going to do the River Loop by turning right at the end of the street instead of left onto the cycle paths.

Loke seemed fine with that idea, ticking along at about 4 mph. I think he rather enjoyed getting out in the pre-sunrise. We weren’t fast, but it was still nice so I decided to just do the old and very basic River Loop hamster track again. I even considered heading along the out-n-back going north along the river, but decided I didn’t want to push Loke that much while hoping to do the newer River Loop jaunt which goes through downtown.

There was a little surprise as we came back along the river heading past the swimhall with its beautifully lit bridge over the river between the pool complex and parking lot. Snowflakes. Honestly, I only noticed them as we were crossing a street at the corner of the swimhall and passed in front of a car that was waiting for us to get over. The tiny flakes were clearly highlighted in the headlights where they’d been invisible in the murky gloom of pre-dawn.

Of course, it’s so easy to be up at ‘pre-dawn’ in December. Sun didn’t rise until 8:40 this morning. Will be about 8:50 am for the Solstice. Still, I count it a more than fair trade for the 20 hours between sunrise and sunset during summer. Love me some Swedish summer.



And Another Update…
November 18, 2018, 6:08 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

With very little distance added… I think.

I probably should check my Garmin.

It’s amazing how wildly my interest in riding swings about. One day I’m all wild-eyed and eager to hit the roads at a flat run (or as close as I can get). Then the next or even just an hour later, I’m kinda languishing apathetically around the apartment. No apparent rhyme or reason.

Perhaps it’s been the murky, sunless days thanks to dense clouds combined with the lack of color in the landscape. Or that I’m reluctant to go out with Loke when he stumbles and falls 4 times on a 5 minute walk. Could also be that with the days so short and dim, I’ve just been kinda waiting on my flags to arrive.

Flags? Did I not mention that I’d ordered flags for my trike? Nice, large and brightly colored flags from a company called ‘Soundwinds’ located in Oregon, USA. I purchased a rather nice ‘fan’ shaped as well as one that kinda hangs loose on its pole and spins. The spinning one is crafted from a highly reflective fabric and will glow like a spot light when headlights hit it. I should be quite visible in the dim and dark between that and my lights.

Ironically, just a few days after I finally got around to ordering the flags, I popped onto the website again to fetch the number and call them in order to be sure I’d given the right address. Splashed across the top of the home page was a banner announcing they’d be closing soon. I reached the same very nice guy who had taken my original order and asked when they’d be closing. At the end of the year or when they run out of flags, he said, though his last day was just that coming Thursday. I asked about the address, it was correct, and then I wished him the best of luck in his future. He seemed genuinely surprised at that and thanked me.

Oooooh. Yeah, I’d forgotten about this. I was just looking on my trike FB group since I make little posts about my rides as soon as I finish them there. I just took a look there to see if there were any rides I was forgetting. There was an absolutely huge mess on November 5th. I’m not surprised I didn’t remember it until I looked. It was quite a disaster and something my brain didn’t want me to remember.

So, November 5th, I dragged myself out of bed and went to the gym for what turned into quite a vigorous work out. That is somewhat significant for what followed later.

Loke had been pretty stubborn about doing his ‘business’ on walkies so I decided I’d go for a roll on the trike. At least that way, I could rest my workout weary legs while inching along with the trike to get Loke a longer walk. A whopping 2 miles took us an hour and 10 minutes. He was just seeming tired and his legs didn’t want to stay under him very well. I would have cut shorter, but he just wouldn’t GO potty. It was quite worrying since he’d done so great on November 2nd.

Before I got back home with Loke, I’d decided that I could take care of a few little errands using the trike to get me a few more miles. Short easy ride to my wonderful in-laws to drop something off to Jens’ adorably sweet mother. I tucked Loke up at home with a cozy pillow, fresh water and a treat before running out the door with the items that needed dropping off in tow.

I set off at a brisk pace and felt bad that in less than 15 minutes I had more distance than Loke’s total for the day.

I arrived and sat chatting with my mother-in-law for a time. It had been quite a few weeks since I’d seen her and it seemed she had honestly missed the contact. And here, I try to avoid being a pest. She asked if I’d done any interesting rides of late. I told her about the rail-trail ride and pulled up some of the photos to share. I could probably love the woman to bits just for that. It’s always so nice when someone is genuinely interested in your hobby. They may not ride with you, but are happy to ask questions about how the trip was, to see the pictures, and such.

After about 20 minutes, I walked back out to the trike. Heading directly home was an option, but those miles I need to make 2018 only the 2nd worst year ever demanded to be done. Not to mention, I wouldn’t have minded a nice hot chocolate with Starbucks. Going directly to Starbucks was an option too, but I went charging off in the opposite direction with the notion that I’d do the 10 mile Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala loop. Adding the ride to Jens’ parents, it would be over 12 miles.

Again, I sped off at a brisk pace for Gamla Uppsala. It was another of those gray, misty days where the temp hovered at about 45 F. We had weeks of that which only know is showing signs of breaking into a normal November… kinda.

Being so murky, I didn’t feel inspired to take photos of the loop, but just pedalled along, feeling fairly strong and quick, especially for me. Even the chipseal failed to annoy me. Before I knew it, the 288 was there before me to do a rapid scoot over into the parallel cycle path.

As I started the push to Vaksala and Granby mall with Starbucks just beyond. I started, I thought, to feel tired and a bit weak. Just seemed hard to push the trike. Just as I reached the base of the long hill up to the church area, the trike started to pull to the right and ride got bumpy.

Oh, happy joy.

Well, it was obvious what THAT meant and a quick glance at the right front tire confirmed. Flat. There was still a tiny bit of air lingering in the tube, but it clearly wasn’t going to last long. I jumped out of the seat and stomped around the trike, yelling and waving my arms. Even if I had the strength in my hands (thank you stroke) to change the tire, I’d not yet replaced my mini-pump since it was submerged in the storage flood back in June.

Well, standing on the cycle path beside one of the busiest road sections in Uppsala wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I took Loke’s ‘oh crap’ leash off the neck rest of the trike, looped it over the left steering bar to keep the wheels on a straight track, and started pushing up that hill. Walking is typically difficult for me at the best of times. Pushing 50-ish pounds of water, rubber, metal, mesh and plastic up a long hill? I settled in for the hard slog with grim determination and the goal of making it to the mall (and Starbucks) for a start.

It was almost 1 mile on the nose from where I got up out of the seat to Starbucks’ outside door. Amazingly, while tired and my legs wobbly and weary, I didn’t feel that bad. I desperately wanted to sit down and shake off the chill with hot chocolate, but there was no random weird pain screaming through my shoulders and arms. I was breathing fine. Most astounding, my feet didn’t even hurt.

The woman working the shift saw me coming. Everyone calls her Jos and she’s sweet as can be. Bless her, she had my usual waiting for me as I staggered in the door and told me to sit down and rest, that I could pay before I left.

I ranted a bit and got that out of my system before we just had a nice chat about other things. When she had to tend other customers or a task, I contemplated my dilemma. Jens was at work in Stockholm and wouldn’t be able to get free until sometime after 5, so wouldn’t get home until near 6. It was only just coming up to 3 pm and I’d been gone from home for almost 2 hours. Walking home was about another 3 miles, which pushing the trike, could take me 2 hours or more. I really didn’t like the idea of leaving Loke alone that long.

Still, sitting there and staring into an empty cocoa mug wasn’t going to solve anything. I paid and said bye to Jos, who said she wanted an update on how it turned out when she saw me next.

I set off at a plod from the back of the mall, heading for the 4H grounds. Then it hit me how silly I was being. Jens’ parents were much closer than home was. Admittedly, the trike wouldn’t fit in Å’s car, but it would fit on their back porch where it would be locked and out of sight and then I could get a ride home to Loke that much faster.

I plodded along past the paddocks and pastures of the 4H, still wheeling my flat trike along. Though I wasn’t going to ride with a flat, I recognized that I still could use it as a rest chair when the walk got to be too much.

Do you know that I made the 1.1 mile from the mall to the door of my in-laws apartment in one go? I’d done the same with that first mile from flat to Starbucks. I did however flop down on the porch bench after I’d rang the doorbell, so that my mother-in-law found me slumped to one side of her stoop when she opened the door. I was back at the apartment just after 3:30 pm. You should have seen the accusatory look Loke gave me when I walked in smelling of ‘grandma and grandpa’s’ house.

Jens’ reaction that evening when he got home and heard the news was a bit of a shock. ‘You had your lock. Why didn’t you just lock the trike to a tree or something and call my dad?’ Seriously?! Leave my pride and joy sitting on the side of a busy road?!

The next day, I set off with the car to fetch the trike back home as well as stop off at the cycle shop and schedule a time for the tire to get fixed. Bobby was able to fit me in for the next day (November 7th). Once that was done, I headed off to Starbucks for more cocoa and to let Jos know how the day turned out. We had a bit of laugh after it was all said and done.

Bobby got the work done on the trike in record time. I dropped it off right at 9 am as they opened on the 7th and I got a text before it was even 10 am. He couldn’t find any cause for the flat, but replaced the tube and I was good to go.

I headed out for another ride on the 8th. I could have done so on the 7th, but it would have meant blowing off some errands that needed doing before it got too dark. With it being such a wet and miserable day, errands felt like a better option.

Besides, Loke was pretty sluggish and lethargic on that day. He slept all day. The only time he got up from his pillow was when I dragged him out the door. Bad enough that to get him leashed, I had to walk over to him where he was laying and pull to get him on his feet and insist on him following me outside. After playing rug all day, naturally, when Jens got home he suddenly was bouncing all over the place with a case of the zoomies. In our tiny apartment, that’s pretty much just scrambling in small circles as his partially out-of-control hind legs went in all directions.

After that silliness, I layered up after getting Jens on his way to work, determined to use up some of Loke’s bounce. To get ready, I had to lug the bags and the seat out to the car. It was a stark reminder of how much I do not miss keeping the trike in the apartment. Just lugging the seat and bags out before arguing with getting the seat on the trike was bad enough. I really would hate for it to become an ‘every ride ritual’ again, as well as needing to carry the frame in and out with the rest. *shudder*

As I shuffled in and out, poor Loke was worried he was going to be left. He was so relieved when I came back in for him and my handlebar bag.

We set off at a good clip. Loke even did a lunging hop on his hind legs when he decided I was being too slow about getting rolling. The slight uphill grade at the start toward the north end of the city, hardly slowed him down at all, we went at about 5 mph. Much better than on ‘flat tire day’. First time in ages he’s felt good enough to perform that little trick. When he was younger, he’d kangaroo hop for a good 20-30 yards before shooting off at warp speed down the roads and paths.

I made a quick stop at the garage to get my ‘new’ mesh seat from there. My current one is waaaaaaay past the time I should have replaced it. I’ve just been reluctant to do so, convinced that it will be only weeks before the ‘new’ one (I’ve had for 2+ years) gets holes and starts ripping like the old one. Granted, it’s taken 6 years before it’s becoming almost critical to make the swap, but still.

The original plan had been to do a short 1.5 mile loop, but Loke was doing well enough, I took us back to the cycle paths and we arrived back at home with 2.63 miles. Loke had been getting pretty slow by the last half mile or so, but I think he enjoyed it in spite of it being just the River Loop hamster track AGAIN.

Even though it’s been crazy warm for November, while being gray skied and misty drizzle, at 45 F with that damp, even with wool, the chill gets to you. It felt good to curl up with a hot beverage and plush blanket.

I’ve been feeling that chill a lot lately. So, even though the weather continued mild at 45 F, I didn’t get out and ride again for a while.

45 F. I swear, it’s like Uppsala has been under a stasis field of some kind. For two weeks, give or take, it’s been 45 F. I mean that literally. Go to sleep, 45 F. Wake up the next morning, 45 F. Have lunch, you guessed it, 45 F. The temp just wouldn’t budge. Nor did the clouds, which is probably one reason why the temp was so stable. That gray cover between earth and sky acting like a blanket and keeping things warm.

Old and new

I did finally get the oomph to make the swap on the seat. Yeah, it was definitely past due. The tearing of the fabric had accelerated to an alarming rate.

Much to my annoyance, I found that the plastic caps that fit in the top of the tubes of the frame had cracked and fell loose when I removed the old mesh. That could make putting the new flag poles in the seat a bit difficult. I’ll likely need to get a new solution for that when the new ones arrive. *grumble*

Friday and Saturday, the clouds finally broke. Friday though, I did something silly and went to Stockholm in search of a new pair of Icebug boots to replace my old ones which have lost a few studs. They’re not good on ice any more. Rather than figure out where on earth to park the car near the area I needed, Jens suggested I take the car to the mall near where his office is, park there, then take the subway where I needed to go in the city.

I wasn’t so sure. I’m not a city girl and had images of winding up in Oslo or something. After looking at maps and figuring out which stops I needed, I decided to try it. Besides, the subway stop was very close to the American Food store in Stockholm as well.

Oof, what a day. I walked almost 6 miles when it was all done. Clearly, the gym is paying off. I had thought it impressive when I did the 2+ miles on flat-tire day.

There was an unfortunate side effect though. My ankle. Remember the one I twisted at the end of June just as we had arrived at our hotel in Norway? Yeah, that one which took 2 months before it was even possible to walk without a zombie like hobble from the pain. Well, I’d thought it was good and sound again. No. The long day on urban surfaces had me limping quite badly by time I got back to the car.

It was sunny though. First time in ages.

It was kinda sunny on Saturday too, but I decided that staying off my foot was the wiser course of action. Give it a chance to recover… again. And it worked. It already felt better on Saturday than it had Friday evening. I would have gone riding, but I didn’t think all the flexing would be good for it at that moment either.

Today, it felt even better still. I’d have thought myself back to normal except for a few fairly bad twinges when I first took Loke out this morning. It was almost enough to make me consider not riding, except then Jens pleaded with me to get the furball out with the trike so he’d maybe give Jens a break. Clearly, my husband was overly optimistic.

Even though I was feeling the chill even more than in the previous days, thanks to a 5 degree drop in the temperature, finally (under 45 F!), I dragged myself out after layering up. Also, once again, had to get bags and seat and all back out to the trike and everything reassembled. I finally got Loke out the door.

I wasn’t sure how fast or far we were going to go. He’d been so unstable first thing in the morning. One of the worst since March. What a pair we’d made, me lurching a few times because pain cracked through my ankle for a few steps, and Loke falling on his face 4 times over a 300 yard walk.

His meds clearly did their job though because with him setting the pace, we were soon cruising along at 5.4 mph. Pretty good for a 13 year old who could barely walk 6 hours earlier.

I can’t say I was enjoying the new seat mesh. I guess with the rips in the old one, it kinda let my sitting position sink into the strapping so I felt more IN the trike and cradled. On this one, I felt like I was perched on wooden boards and kinda being pushed out of the trike. Not a secure or comfortable feeling at all. My back wasn’t especially pleased either. Yet, if I start loosening the straps, the mesh will slacken and start rubbing on them and that’s where the holes come from.

Even wearing my heavy 400 g weight wool with a lighter 150 g base layer and my usual cycle top, I was quite chilled. Then of course, I hadn’t really believed I needed to dig out my wool socks. It would have been nice to have them. While I was wearing hiking boots that are often too warm for my feet, they were starting to get cold.

Loke was doing well enough that when we came down the big hill to the bridge over the Fyris River (hitting 6.5 mph no less), I decided to turn north and follow the out-n-back path along the bank for some extra distance. Oh, the wind! That slight chilly feeling in my feet started to get uncomfortable and the many roller-skiers I shared the path with weren’t happy with it either. My feet started to toy with that thin line between ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘painful’ from the chill. Oh, yes. Wool socks would have been so very welcome.

I was glad I had worn the 400 g wool though. I zipped it up and pulled the high neck up around my ears.

As I followed that river extension, I noticed they’d done some work on it in places. I still have a feeling it’s going to be in a truly terrible state come spring if we get any snow what with all the cracks that were already splitting it in spots. I reached the end and started the multi-point turn to go back, and as always, I stared mournfully across the gravel road to the fields and trees beyond where the river winds on. Maybe one day, I’ll come here and they’ll be extending this path onward so one can ride the whole way to Ulva Mill along the bank. That would be so great!

I also took the chance to get up and poke at the big green leaves in the crop field by the path. After the failed grain harvests, the fields sprang up all across Uppland with this crop plant. I was pretty sure it was some kind of root vegetable, but not which. Some on Facebook have said turnip or radish. The first time in 14 years I’ve seen them, but I was more certain than ever it was something like a turnip once I got a closer look. Radish never occurred to me, probably because I’ve never seen one in the ground yet I have actually pulled up a few bushels of turnips when I was a kid.

It was 35 F when we got back home, feet throbbing from the cold, and OH so glad to be back into our slightly warmer apartment which had no heat earlier. I was quite proud of my furry old husky. He’d done 6.23 miles and still had energy to spare for annoying Jens.

So, a few more miles toward the year goal of 450 minimum. Best of all, my ankle hardly bothered me at all on the ride. Yay!