Terii’s Cycling Babble

Update – Trike, Fitbit, and Loke
October 22, 2017, 8:37 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yep! Finally happened! I joined the world of Fitbit users. Did I mention that? I can’t recall.

I picked the thing up on September 30th. The long ride on October 1st was also a test to see if it would at least log the extra calorie burn from a trike ride.

Jens had actually been mentioning me getting one for months, but I kept putting it off, worried that I’d end up not using it because it would just frustrate me. How? By setting goals I wouldn’t be able to make. 10k steps when some days just walking 100 yards had me near passing out? Really? But the hubby kept at it and I decided to give in to it.

I have to say, the results of that have been pretty astounding. While I’ve not been riding much, I have been making Fitbit goals. I set the bar pretty modest, I admit. First I had the step goal of just 5000. The first week or so, there were days when that fell short with somewhere between just 2 or 3 thousand, but I pushed on. Then I started aiming for the ‘mini’ goals as it were, mostly the ‘get up and walk a minimum of 250 steps every hour for x-number of consecutive hours’. I picked the hours between 9 am and 6 pm. Rather than just 250 steps, I tend to round up for a min of 300.

That seemed to help. I was abruptly getting the 5k steps and then some. After a week, I bumped to 5.5 k and was hitting those out of the ball park. Most days now, I seem to hit about 7 k. I refuse to be froggy though, set the number to 7000 or more and start failing goals by killing myself. One day, I actually hit over 10k and felt like I’d been beaten with a bat the next morning. Making those ‘at least 300 steps every hour for 9 hours’ was a challenge for that day. I finally did have to break down and take a few days with fewer steps just to recover so I could get back into the groove.

And it’s working! I can consistently walk further and sometimes even faster than I’ve been able to manage since my downward spiral thanks to un-diagnosed Lyme disease. Today, I even decided to bump up my goal to a minimum of 6 k. After a week or two of that, I’ll bump it again by a few hundred steps at least.

There is another hint at physical improvements. The Fitbit also measures heart-rate. More important, the ‘resting’ heart rate. When I started, it was about 68 bpm. After a few days, it was down to 65 bpm. Then 62. Currently, it seems to have settled at 58 bpm for my resting rate during sleep the past 4 nights. There are world class athletes who don’t have a resting bpm that low. Then again, I’ve always had a low resting bpm. I remember during overnight stay in a hospital years ago where the nurse actually talked with the doctor because during the hourly checks, it was coming up in the mid-50’s. Still, such a consistent drop indicates an improvement.

In other news, Loke is facing surgery after all. Yep, the eye started acting up again. So, we should be getting an appointment with an eye specialist at the university animal hospital soon. He’s being medicated for infection in the gland again while we wait. My hope to avoid it has apparently backfired.

As for cycling, well, there have been rides. Just on the hamster tracks though. One was river loop and extra stuff for about 9 miles, but not much else.

My current issue is that my walking to appease the Fitbit slave master seems to have shifted my ‘shape’ for lack of a better description though my weight is down a smidge. A part on the trike that wasn’t a problem has become one. It digs into my thigh and tears holes into my leggings. It would probably chew right on into my skin and flesh if I gave it a chance. I don’t want to keep ruining my clothes or gaining scars by riding, so the trike has been parked until Monday. Hopefully the problem can be shifted to no longer be a problem and leave the remainder of my tights and thermals intact. *crosses fingers*

So, that’s about all I feel like reporting at the moment. I can’t really stay on the computer long because of issues with my arm which I’m going to physical therapy for.

Oh, I’m also going to be seeing a dentist, hopefully next week, because I think part of a filling has gone MIA and now the entire lower left side of my jaw is an agony. Yay!

I’m so tired of needles, biopsies, and doctors. Now I get to add more needles and drills and dentists to the mix. Yay. I also still have to make an appointment with the doctor for my yearly post-stroke check-up which will mean more jabbing to get blood for cholesterol tests. I wonder how many dozens of stabs that’s gonna take?


It Finally Happened!
October 6, 2017, 11:12 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

So, for weeks now, if not months, I’ve been trying to get out the door for a longer ride. Except for a couple minor flare ups, my hip has been improved and filing on my shoes seems to have helped my feet. They still get uncomfortable and even venture into the edges of the realm of painful, but not the soul-crushing torment of before when anything over 100 yards was a major victory. The two things that were keeping me on the endless circle of loops between 5 to 8 miles right near home have become manageable.

To be sure, it was an ambitious endeavor. I mean, my longest ride this year was a paltry 11 miles. The loop I’d plotted was 18 miles at minimum or something over 22 miles if my first plan didn’t work out. I set the goal for Sunday, October 1st.

I woke pretty early and took my time getting dressed to ride. Loke caught something of my energy and became a bit restless, as if worried he might get left behind, even after an early feed to make sure his food was well settled before we rolled out. I made sure to pack fresh, extra water as well as some nuts to nibble on during the ride. Had to keep my energy up.

Looking at the forecast made deciding how to dress a bit tricky. It was barely going to be 50 F at the start of the ride and up into the low 60’s near lunch, under clouds the whole time though no rain. A thermal layer could mean I’d wind up too warm and no way to really get rid of it until I reached Ärentuna church where maybe a bathroom would be open. Though it would make the layers less effective, I settled for wearing the thermal layers over my usual cycle clothes.

Jens dropped us off at the garage a bit after 8 am. I felt a bit cool which gave me pause, but kept in mind I’d not warmed up with pedalling and it was supposed to get quite warm later. Loke was only slightly interested at first as we rolled out. He wasn’t a complete slug, but there was a sense of boredom about him as I rolled for the shortest route to Vattholma Road where I would push north toward Storvreta. As we came down a hill past the school, I screeched to a halt.

Fairy Ring!

On the slope up to the top of the wooded ridge, a fairy ring was tucked among the trees. It’s a little hard to see that it goes all the way around in the photo and the ring was over 6 feet across, but it’s a complete circle of mushrooms.

Watcher in the weeds.

Even that short dash, the most frequently used of my hamster track sections, offered yet another amusement. Loke, aka Mr. Oblivious, didn’t see it, but as we bumped up onto a cycle path, there was a cat watching us from the weeds. It didn’t look particularly concerned, just curious, even though there was a dog just 20 feet away. It only continued to look on as I pulled out the phone to take a picture. It’s always neat to cross paths with cats. There have even been times, when Loke wasn’t with me, that I’ve had one or two hop up into my lap for a cuddle. Fortunately, no cat has ever tried that with the furball present. That would be ugly and traumatizing for both kitty and me.

I started to feel a bit warm as we rolled around the over/underpass loop up onto Vattholma Road proper. No small wonder. The forecast had been wrong. It was about 55 F very quickly after the start, probably because of the sun that was supposed to be well hidden behind clouds.

The clouds sure look funny.

It had been cloudy around dawn, but those had peeled back and left a clear sky. I felt overdressed and considered shucking off the thermal top I’d worn as an outer layer. My feet felt quite warm as well, so there was also the thought to stop at Gamla Uppsala where I could conveniently use the seating at a picnic table to change to cooler socks.

Distant sunlight receding further away.

The clear blue wasn’t to last though. About the time we were passing the turn for Gamla Uppsala, the promised clouds has scuttled back in from the east. It started to feel cooler with the sunlight hidden, which meant I was dressed about right.

Little splashes of autumn.

Loke gave me a curious little glance as I pushed on north instead of making the left turn he anticipated. The unexpected direction put more zip into his stride. He’d been doing pretty good between 5 to 6 mph, but bumped it to between 6 and 7 mph. The next few miles used to be a hamster track, back when my Vaksala/Granby Loop was considered a short dash in years past, but having been done less than a handful of times in two years, it was fresh enough for Loke.

More bits of color on an autumn day.

When we cruised by the turn toward Vittulsberg, he even briefly pulled us into a run as we’ve rarely continued north from there. He really hit his stride then, ticking along between 7.5 and 8.7 mph as we sped by Valsgärde Burial Ground where 15 wooden Viking ship burials were found. We’ve gone up toward the Storvreta area perhaps 4 times in 11 years of enjoying the trikes, so I don’t think he’s quite gotten bored with it.

A Moment of Sun

While there were clouds, they weren’t a solid, leaden sheet across the sky. There were peeks of blue beyond and streaks of God rays across the landscape. Sometimes one of those rays would drift across our path for a moment of warmth and sun. Sun was good, because it’s almost always cooler out in the countryside. My concerns about being too heavily dressed changed to being not quite warm enough.

The turn for the ‘short cut’ came up right around the spot where the cycle path crossed to other side of the busy road. It was a combination of recently turned soft dirt mixed with gravel and with a steep descent down to the small flood plain of the Fyris River. I was not looking forward to climbing back up that surface if the short cut turned out to be a bomb.

On the map, it shows a dirt lane leading to what appears to be a tiny bridge over the river delineated by dash lines with roads on the other side. I wasn’t sure what it meant with the way over the river being marked with dash lines instead of solid, but I was going to go look any way.

Over the little bridge.

Poor Loke, he so much wanted to go running down the hill, but his ankles and feet weren’t agreeable thanks to the number of rocks studded in the dirt. He did go a bit quicker though.

At the end of the first bit of road, I found the bridge. It was completely made of wood, arching over a much smaller Fyris River. There was a road boom that extended over more than half of the bridge’s width to hinder cars, but plenty of space for bikes, or even a trike with a husky to pass.

The other side was not what I expected though. A lovely old wooden house and a well manicured yard wit a scattering of toys for kids, including a trampoline. I sat at the top of the bridge for a minute, evaluating if the feeling of being intrusive was worth the shorter distance.

I finally rolled down the hill, but frustratingly, I could see where the drive way went to connect to the road on the other side. Too many fallen leaves of gold and orange. I might have pushed on except for my trike. For the past few months, it often sounds like a flock of geese being stomped on. Feels like the sound can carry for miles. Not something I wanted to continue with on someone’s property on a Sunday morning. So, I turned around to go back over the bridge and up the road. Glad I did for another reason too. I spotted some dog… ‘leavings’ and they looked like they could have come from something like a Rottie or Bull Mastiff. Something quite a bit larger than Loke definitely.

A much smaller Fyris river.

It appears that people on bikes use that as a through way quite often though. I was hardly 50 yards from the bridge when a guy on a mountain bike came streaking down the hill toward the river. He gave me a big smile and a nod as he swerved around me and then the road boom and rattled over the wooden planks. I thought about following him, but remembered the possibility of a large dog there. If I’d been solo, I wouldn’t have had any problem with going. Dogs here in Sweden are almost never aggressive to people on bikes. Other dogs are another story.

Besides, for all I knew, the guy might have lived in the house.

That theory was blown out of the water as another guy on another bike came shooting down the hill a few minutes later as I climbed up. Roughly the same age as the first, so less likely to be a resident of the house given that there were toys for kids of various ages from quite young to coordinated enough for a trampoline.

Though not fast, the climb backup wasn’t quite as bad as anticipated. I didn’t feel as weak as I thought I was. We scurried across the busy road to rejoin the cycle path and pushed on under the E4 toward the roundabout for the Storvreta turn. At that turn, the cycle path continues on to the town, but this time, I was heading north a bit further.

More sunshine to make the colors pop!

I wasn’t thrilled with it though which was why I’d tried the short cut. For about half a mile, I was going to be on the busy road. The shoulder was quite modest, not even enough for half the trike which meant Loke was pushed off into the weeds every time traffic came by. That results in a bit of a shoving match. I win those, but still leaves some risk that the furball might get his feet squished under the trike tire.

At one point, a roller skier passed us. I couldn’t decide if I was embarrassed or not. There were two autumn brilliant trees that made a lovely arch across the road I was going to turn on to. I pulled over into a drive way right across from it to pull out my phone to photograph it. In that time, the roller skier had scurried across so wound up in the photo.

Lovely old barn

Loving the scenery

In a traffic lull, Loke and I hurried across in the skier’s wake as it were. I enjoyed the few minutes of sunshine, sighing with relief at the peaceful little country lane with far less traffic and modest speed limit. Loke continued strong, head up and nose busy to sample the air which started to get breezy where it had practically still since the start of the ride. His tail waved like a banner, showing he was quite happy.

Like the busy bit north of the roundabout, this little lane was a stretch we’d never been on before. Not with the trike any way. I was on it briefly earlier in the year with the car to look at a possible launch point for the kayak. Fresh ground for just a smidge over 2.5 miles. I’ll take it where I can.

More scenery

As the sun came and went, the sheer number of God’s rays in the distance was impressive. Sadly, none of the photos I took did them justice. Actually, both my Canon and my phone washed them out altogether.

Just LOVE these colors!

Dramatic skies, golden fields, red trees, and hay bales. Must be autumn!

Standing stone? Rune stone? No clue!

My attempts to capture the God’s rays became somewhat limited at this point. As I was happily snapping photos with my Canon only slightly less than my phone, the battery suddenly died. No problem. After digging in my unorganized (Thanks, Loke) handlebar bag for the extra battery, I popped it in and… barely a charge. It was probably thanks to the fact the camera had barely been used all year since it feels silly to drag it along on hamster tracks so the power in my extra battery just trickled away. It left me grumbling under my breath for a few minutes as I pushed on.

I wasn’t too far from Ärentuna church when the wind became a force to be reckoned with. It chilled me to the point that another layer, at least on my arms, would have been most welcome. The thin wool gloves and cap in my handlebar bag did come into use. The sunny moments did little more than take the edge off the wind’s chill as we went on. Loke was quite happy with it though, still jogging on like a well-oiled machine at speeds of 7.5 to 8.5 mph with a bit of his old husky grin even when the 10 mile mark ticked by on the Garmin.

Ärentuna Church

If I dismissed the sensation of being chilled, I felt pretty good as I rolled into the parking area for Ärentuna church. Loke was still all happy-bouncy as well. Raring to go.

Loke, Sprint 26, and bell tower.

I’ve stopped at Ärentuna church once before while on a trike ride, though I couldn’t quite remember when. Convinced I had a photo of it and had probably written a blog post about the ride, I just took a careless photo of the church with my phone without much regard to ‘best angle’. After all, why take up valuable photo space on this site for repeats of the same churches, right? I could just use the same photo as I did last time.

Well, since I started this post, I’ve discovered I have no such photos of Ärentuna church or the rune stones or the burial ground/ancient village site or even posted about it. That means my previous trip through here must have predated 2009 and before I developed my system of organizing and labeling photos. I can’t imagine that I would have passed a medieval church and rune stones without photographing them, but I just can’t find them by the current method of organization. Probably means they’re lurking in a folder somewhere with the numbers assigned to them with the lousy point-n-click camera I original had for my rides. Waaaaay back before I finally gave in to the pressure to have a smart phone with included camera and began risking my precious Canon during my explorations.

Uppland Rune Stones #1014 and #1015.

I took a moment to take advantage of the hospitality of Ärentuna church. A little building right by the parking lot outside the churchyard walls with a clean bathroom. Gotta love the country churches for those. After that was dealt with, I took a photo of Loke and the trike in front of the bell tower before moving on to the rune stones where they sat outside a fence pasture area which also happened to be the site of an ancient village as well as a burial ground.

No order to the stones, but ancient remains all the same.

As with the church, I took photos without much regard to lighting or best angles of interest. In truth, I was feeling a bit stressed for time, wanting to get back home before it got too late.

Burial mounds near Ärentuna church

One of the least pleasant miles of the ride.

As we rolled out from the church, it was back onto a road I’ve ridden  once before though predating my blogging years. Less than half a mile past the church, I stopped to cheer. The longest ride of the year had happened the previous week with 11.01 miles. Well, the Garmin displayed 11.12 miles. About half way through the ride and everything after that was going to be a new benchmark for longest in 2017.

I mostly remember cold as we pushed on, but I still enjoyed the ride, loving the scenery in spite of the chilling wind. Loke remained a champion. His speed steady and acting impatient when I stopped to offer him water or to take a random photo. It was just a short jump from Ärentuna to Gävle Road which is just a tad bit too big and busy to be enjoyable. It felt safe enough with a big wide shoulder offering plenty of space between us and the whizzing cars, but shoulder or not, it’s just not much fun to have a constant stream of cars passing within 10 feet. The shoulder might have been smaller on the part between the roundabout near Storvreta and the little lane where I followed the roller skier, but somehow, I disliked this bit of road more. It’s matched with the mile or so stretch between the turn from Ulva mill and before the Gamla Uppsala turn for ‘too much traffic’.

Just cold wind, bikes, and walkers here.

At least Loke didn’t seem to care. As far as he was concerned, it was all the same. Some place we’d not seen very often to sniff and mark as his territory. Doesn’t take much to make a dog happy.

Though the next stage of the right was west of that road, at least were spared trying to cross it like a bad game of Frogger. For about 0.30 of a mile, there was a cycle path that conveniently took us under the road and then onward through a residential area of Lövstalot. Following those peaceful little streets lined with houses on their postage stamp sized yards, we joined up with a cycle path that led through parkland that separated two of those housing clusters. It led us out of the houses and then off across fields where all streets and cars were just distant noises and glimmers. Just shy of a mile long and a portion of path I’ve never ridden before.

These make me think more of summer than autumn, but lovely all the same.

I’d been keeping an eye on Loke’s feet during all this run and it was as I came up to Bälinge that the skin of his paw pads started looking a hair too thin for my liking. A couple years ago, I would have slapped a socks on him and kept going because he still had energy to burn and no signs of discomfort. Sadly, the inflammation from allergies and a slight touch of arthritis that has settled in his feet and ankles makes that impossible now. If a sock is snugged tight enough to stay on, it hurts his ankles and makes him limp horribly.

So, I stopped us at a little pizza kiosk next to a soccer field to call Jens for pick up, though only for Loke. I was feeling a bit tired, but the end of the loop felt so close. Just a push to Ulva Mill and then Gamla Uppsala from there which was just hamster tracks all the way back to the storage.

The distinctive Uppsala skyline

Though he’d run 15 miles, Loke was having none of it as I meant to sit and wait at the pizza place for Jens. He yanked on his tether, stared holes into me with tail wagging, woofed, and even pawed at my arm, trying to hook his claws into fabric and flesh as if to drag me into motion. My husband had just picked up some lunch when I called, so between him taking the time to eat as well as drive to our location it was going to be over half an hour of the furball’s attempts to bully me.

After about 10 minutes, I gave in, texted Jens we’d be between Bälinge and Ulva Mill, and let Loke drag us into motion. He settled into a determined sort of jog, rapidly hitting the same 7.5 to 8.5 mph pace he’d held for over 10 miles of the ride as if not so rudely interrupted by my attempt to spare his thinning pads. Loke’s forward momentum was interrupted a few times over the next 20 minutes as I stopped to make sure the skin wasn’t getting too much thinner. I also kept him shoved well over into the grass and weeds of the verge at the cycle path’s edge.

In spite of enjoying the run so much, Loke still exhibited nothing but joy when our car pulled over into a tractor access just in front of us. He even cheerfully jumped into the back of the car. It was probably all because of the goodies we bribe him with. Jens reported later that when I shut the car’s door and went back to the the trike, Loke had watched with face pressed against the window and whined. As Jens turned the car and I pedalled on toward Ulva Mill, he’d scrambled around to keep me in sight as long as he could, still giving soft anxious complaints.

Something important missing.

It felt weird rolling out without my cycle partner. He’d done extremely well though. 17.3 miles by the time he jumped in the car to head home and that only because of the skin of his feet. He’d had the power and energy to go miles more. He was probably better off than I was at that point. The wind had become a contender by then, bringing not only cold, but adding to the effort to move forward as well. My knees were quite unhappy and even my hip was complaining a bit. Oh, and the thighs. There was that distinctive lactic burn in the muscles along the front of my upper legs.

It’s been more than a year since Loke’s done so long a run. Maybe as much as 2 years. For me, it was the longest ride since July last year. That was when I did the Jumkil loop which was more than 28 miles. I still had to get home, but the distance would still be short of that Jumkil ride.

It was so very cold as I dashed on, pushing the trike over a flat 2 miles or so at speeds of more than 10 mph. I had no idea there were such reserves in me. About the time I reached Ulva Mill though, I had to slack off. My knees were complaining the worst. That both frustrated and worried me. The determination to get back under my own power was undiminished.

As I drove myself onward to Gamla Uppsala, the rare moments of sunshine were welcome. I’d gotten chilled enough that my fingers ached even beneath the wool gloves. I was looking forward to something hot, whether it be a shower or soup, when I got home.

I hope that’s archaeology work and not construction…

As I came up to the turn that goes by the once-cathedral-now-church at Gamla Uppsala, I spotted piles of dirt on the ridge that extends out from the church yard. That bothered me. I truly and profoundly hope it’s more archaeology to examine potential finds associated with the old Viking longhouse that stood there a 1000 years ago. Please, do not let it be some eyesore of modern construction that will only detract from the history and culture of this place.

I certainly can’t imagine anything that could be added to enhance the spot. Of course, there are way too many people in the world who look at a spot with grass and trees or other natural terrain only to think how ‘wasted’ it is and it should be ‘improved’ with a parking lot or some graceless block of a building.

I glowered at the scarred ridge as I crept up the hill and finally lost sight of it behind some trees as I passed the along the church yard wall.

It felt good to be at the church. It meant I was firmly back on the hamster tracks and home was within reach. I’d probably think that way even if I had a broken leg, I swear. There have been quite a few times when I’ve reached a familiar landmark, in pain and struggling, but thought to myself, ‘Come on! This is part of my River Loop! It’s silly to call for help now!’

First photo of Gamla Uppsala church AND it’s bell tower together!

Does that make me a glutton for punishment?

The sun made another of it’s brief appearances then. It even lasted longer than most of the others through the day. With the end so close, I pushed hard even with complaining knees and muscles that just wanted to surrender. Home was sooo close.

I called Jens when I was about 15 minutes out. I made it to the storage in 10 minutes. Just as well I had that extra time. It took a few minutes before my legs quit twitching and regained something like normal function so I could pull myself out of the seat.

It felt good though! I’d done it! After Loke’s departure, I’d gone another 6.21 miles. A total of 23.58 miles for me, of which, Loke had covered 17.3 miles. I felt it though since I’d more than doubled the previous distance of ‘2017’s Longest Ride’. Had probably been overly ambitious, but the sense of accomplishment was heady.

THIS is what my cycling was supposed to be about. Getting out and seeing and experiencing and exploring. Not the treadmill-ing around on the same little circles of tiny distances.

I admit, in spite of the success, I felt frustrated. It had taken 7 hours. So very, very slow. The 28 mile ride last year had only taken me 5 hours. I’ve been fighting back that feeling though, since 7 hours or not, it was a success and an accomplishment. Now, I just need to try and make it a more regular thing if my body allows it.

Loke, Loke, Loke… (sigh)
September 30, 2017, 5:24 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, the furball is getting some mad skills in freaking me out, especially at the end of rides. September 23rd was the seizure and before a full week could pass from that, we had an incident yesterday (September 29th).

Speaking of the seizure, I called the vet Monday (September 25th) and made an appointment the next day to come talk to one of the vets at our usual clinic about the episode. It was one I’ve never met with before, but she listened, took notes and asked questions. I made sure to mention that Loke has had seizures before, but never this bad. The last made a total of 4 in his 12 years.

She did some neurological testing and said he is responses were absolutely normal. The reason for it could have been any of several. 1) – Loke is epileptic, just not horribly so. 2)- Maybe  his electrolyte levels were low, but no way to test for that after so many days. 3)- Inflammation because of his allergies.

She wasn’t worried. She said the most dangerous thing with seizures is typically frequency and duration. Once every 3-5 years means the first is no problem. When I asked her about duration, she replied 10-20 minutes. To think I’d flipped out over less than 30 seconds. Her recommendation was if it happened again soon, bring Loke in quickly as possible so they could draw blood to check his electrolytes.

I felt better for having talked with her.

I only managed a couple rides through the rest of the week. My hip has been quite annoying. Sleeping wrong is my best guess. So, not wanting to wind up hurting as bad as I did at the beginning of the year, I’ve been taking it easy. Keeping the rides, few and short while working on stretches.

Yesterday turned into a bit of a fiasco post ride though.

A week or two ago, while I was out grocery shopping, Loke managed to open the bedroom door and somehow, got hold of one of the stuffed animals in my old collection. I haven’t added to it in years, but keep some of the nicer and more sentimental critters. It was the reindeer. Fortunately, no damage was done except a little slobber on the plush. When I spotted him with it and gave a sharp ‘Nej!’, Loke looked up at me with a blink of confusion. No guilt. Clearly, he thought it was his toy and couldn’t understand why I was telling him off.

Jens worked from home yesterday (Friday, September 29th) and spent much of the morning doing his, ‘Are you going to ride with Loke? Are you going to ride with Loke?’ thing. Finally, he changed gears and asked, ‘Will you go get me a chicken salad for lunch?’

That I agreed to. Spontaneously, I took Loke with me to stop in at Starbucks. For once, I wasn’t there to get Jens coffee, but to let one of the baristas meet Loke. When I’d bought hot chocolate the day of the seizure, she had wanted to meet him, but they had been too busy for her to come out. So, I was going just so she could say hi.

She was thrilled and was able to escape for a few minutes. Loke was surprisingly friendly with her. Maybe it was because of her all black clothing would adequately display his white hair. Another of the guys there was coming in for his shift, so he got to say hi to Loke as well.

Then it was off to get our lunches. The local pet store sits right near the Subway, so I took Loke from the car to go in with me to get him some more ‘car bribe’ goodies and maybe pick him out a toy. The incident with my reindeer had reminded me that it’s been AGES since Loke’s had one.

It’s always a gamble how long such things will survive. He had a lamb that endured more than 5 years before he randomly shredded it one day. Then it was his adorable wild boar with squeakies in the feet and would grunt like a pig when shaken. That one last a couple years. Oh, so did his monkey. There were a few others that Loke had for 20 minutes or less before their fate was sealed.

Loke showed most interest in a floppy deer thing with a single squeaky in it. I even let him carry it across parking lot, legs dangling from his mouth, making everyone who saw him grin.

By the time we got home though, one of the legs was already separated from its body. I brought the food in, Loke carried his toy. The separated leg, I forgot about as between food bags, leash, and keys, I didn’t have a spare hand to grab a piece of slobber soaked plush.

The toy…

So, he kinda played with his new toy while I ate and waited for food to settle. Then he just got weird. He started pacing around with it in his mouth and whining. After a minute or so, it was clear he was looking for somewhere safe for it, or even to bury it. Anyone seeing him would have thought he was a female dog looking for somewhere to put her dead puppy. It was more than a little creepy.

We finally decided we had to take it away from him. So, I managed to distract him with some kibble scattered under Jens’ desk. As he searched them all out, I grabbed it and stuffed it in a closet under some shoes. A few minutes later, I was standing beside Jens and heard a whine. There was Loke, standing there with it in his mouth again. Our closets don’t latch shut, so he’d managed to open it and find it. It was like a bad penny. I’ve never put anything of Loke’s in there, so it’s not like he knew it as a hiding space. He had actually scented it out. Or had it called to him, whispering in a sinister hiss for him to come reclaim it? It’s cursed! Cursed, I tell you!

Finally, I got dressed to go out with Loke and trike to serve as a distraction while Jens hid it or threw it away. Loke was soooo torn as I put him in the harness and leashed him. It seemed he really wanted to go for a run, but he didn’t want to leave THE TOY. We had a bit of an argument about it, but finally got him out the door while it stayed on the foyer floor.

It was a nippy 53 F, gray, and a bit of an on-again-off-again wind. Loke was eager to go though. Maybe it was more of a ‘lets get this over with so I can get back to the cursed object’. My hip was actually feeling pretty decent. A little tight perhaps, but not painful. My feet also seemed agreeable so, instead of another quick 2-3 mile dash, I headed off for the longer grave mound loop.

Loke had a spring in his step and even wanted to run. He dragged the trike into a 14 mph sprint down one hill. Pretty sure a new speed record for the year. We were both doing so well, I even added a bit more distance by taking the out-n-back toward the garrison.

Colorful 2016 autumn to this one.

As I’ve been riding around since the colors started popping out to herald the coming of autumn, it’s continually struck me how big a difference there is between last year and this. While this year has turned out to be one of the more colorful in say, a decade, it no where comes close to the scope of last year’s. The garrison road offers a stark contrast when the photos are compared. Last year was probably the most gorgeous autumn I’ve seen since moving here.

Though Loke and I both had enough ‘oomph’ to go on, it was coming up past 4 pm as I began the last stretch toward the storage. Lunch was digested and I started feeling like it was time to go home and enter into the ‘what should we have for dinner’ discussion with Jens.

Wise choice it turned out and not because of food. As we rolled along the street with the hawthorn trees gone all yellow and their berries now the color of dried blood, the temperature took a 5 degree plunge in just minutes. I was fine with 53 F as long as I pedalled, but even physical exercise wasn’t enough to counter the shivering that started at 48 F, especially as the wind kicked up.

We finished up with 6.43 miles. Still chipping away at that 500 miles for the year. Yes, I’m still determined that 2017 will not be my worst year of cycling ever. Just second worst.

So, we hopped into the car to come back home. As I backed out of the parking spot, I heard Loke messing with something and remembered the toy’s leg that he’d torn off. I wasn’t concerned though. With all the toys and other objects Loke has shredded over the years, he’s never swallowed anything. Not a squeaky ripped from stuffing guts, not the stuffing. Not little ears or curly tails. Nothing. The only things he has swallowed that he shouldn’t, have been organic. Like putrefying dead rats.

As I pulled into our spot at home and turned the car off, Loke made this weird noise. I twisted in the seat just in time to see the bulbous brown ball of the toy’s foot disappear down my husky’s gullet. I was stunned. I tore around to pry his mouth open, but nope. It was well and truly down.

Oh, don’t give me that innocent look. Brat.

I dragged Loke into the apartment at a dead run. Baffled Jens came out of the living room to ask what was wrong. I told him as swapped from my biking shoes to normal ones and asked if he still had the toy so I could show the vet exactly what Loke had swallowed.

Things moved quick. Emma (the receptionist) listened and then goggled with disbelief when I showed her an example of what Loke had managed to get down. Less than 20 minutes after it had done its disappearing trick, we were in an exam room, waiting for the silly furball to regurgitate it. Honestly, I wasn’t sure he’d be able to get it back up. The lumpy feet looked too big! Of course, I guess what can go down can come back up.

It took about another 20 minutes before it finally reappeared. The vet was quite impressed. I was just relieved. I hadn’t been thrilled at the idea of attempts to pull it out with an endoscope… or worse, surgery.

Loke was somewhat wobbly for about an hour after we got home. After that, he was back to being a pest and sniffing around for the toy. The toy that I threw away before I even left the vet clinic. I’m going to call an exorcist if it reappears…

Another Scare
September 25, 2017, 7:50 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The day after my last post, I headed out the door for another ride. That meant 3 days between rides actually. A combination of weather, chores, and Jens off and away with the car in Stockholm.

I think I even managed a bit more work on the shoes, yet hoping for perfection. Still, the improvement with the feet had given me a bounce for riding again. So, on the 13th, Jens dropped us off at the garage as I gave in to the restless need to ride. It was gray with no sun though patches of blue peeked between the gray clumps of cloud. At 50 F, I needed wool beneath my cycle top at least.

A splash of autumn color.

There were patches of color popping out on a few of the trees. Sadly, it appeared the color on the birches isn’t going to come into full force as the leaves are throwing themselves to the ground practically as they turn yellow. Pity, I adore golden birch trees.

In spite of some discomfort in his shoulders that morning, Loke kept a fairly decent clip of about 6.2 mph. Any attempt to take him slower earned me nasty looks with an irritated cant to his ears before throwing his weight against the harness.

To my annoyance didn’t seem to be much improvement in my right foot’s comfort level after all my hard work the previous. As I pedaled along, trying to figure out why getting my cleat down almost a quarter inch didn’t feel any different, it occurred to me it’s my RIGHT foot. The stroke affected the right side of my body. Got me wondering how much of what I was feeling was some kind of nerve damage rather than incompatible cleat positioning.

The cooler air has me starting to ponder winter solutions. Moving cleats is all fine and good when I can wear my standard trike shoes, but once the cold becomes an issue, the combat against frost bite solutions vs foot-suck safety will begin once more. Not the most enjoyable conflict especially since my hip problems at the end of 2016 accelerated when I started using the flat pedals with the straps.

After that ride, it was a barrage of vet visits for Loke again. I don’t think I mentioned about the eye thing which has gone on for over 2 weeks now. I’m not sure why I’ve not done so. Anyway, earlier in the month, the lump on Loke’s left eyelid, which has existed at a set size for years, decided to start swelling. It swelled quick too. In just 2 days I was worried it might start pushing on his eye and it was very likely obscuring a significant part of his vision in the lower part.

Off to the clinic. Frans was the one to see  him and numbed the eye before fiddling with it. It appeared that the sebaceous gland which is what is making the lump had gotten some kind of infection in it. Frans managed to squeeze some of the gunk out of it and prescribed an antibiotic eye cream that we hoped would work.

It did. The lump reduced quite a bit, though was still slightly larger than it was before going all wonky. Frans prescribed a cortisone eye drop for a week. That worked even better. By the last day’s dose, the lump was even smaller than it’s been since it first appeared years ago.

I’m glad I’ve kept an eye on the lump, even having the vets check it during most visits. But since the infection, we started talking in terms of getting it removed. If it’s going to become unpredictable and causing issues, it’s probably best not to leave it. The problem was the size of it. The typical method of removing such is just to cut it away, skin and all and stitch it closed. That won’t work with Loke’s. It would require a complex surgery to try rebuilding a false lower eyelid because so much would be taken away. That could easily lead to complications. So, the smaller we get it, the better it might be.

Okay, that’s the eye stuff caught up on.

Even though I had such a great ride the previous time, feet doing pretty good and no problems with the hip, I’ve found myself in an annoying kind of funk. Everything is just ‘meh’. I feel restless, but no motivation. Nothing keeps my attention. So, over the course of the 4 days between the ride on the 13th and finally again on the 18th, I kept thinking to myself, ‘I should go ride.’ An hour later, ‘Oh, yeah. I should get dressed and go ride.’ A time later, again. Just couldn’t actually get myself moving to do it.

On the 18th, what actually spurred me out the door to ride was purpose. Though I had the car and it would have been easy enough to go ‘Meh, I’ll just drive there’, I managed to hold the course and dressed for us to go via trike. With the hubby in Copenhagen on business, a bit of a brisk walk or (hopefully) a jog with the trike would be good since there’s no long walk for him with ‘daddy’.

The day was gray and chill, and as soon as I stepped out, I knew I was a bit under dressed. With the temps around 49 F and completely lacking sun, I should have had on my thin wool under my tights with my 150 gram weight wool layer under my top instead of the 100 gram. I didn’t feel there was time enough to run in and add the layers. It’s always uncertain how Loke’s going to go on runs so I wanted him to have plenty of time.

I needn’t have really worried. Maybe because of the chill, Loke was in a frenzy of excitement as I dressed, he even yodeled at me as I got everything settled. I can’t remember the last time he did that. I think he’s given a bossy ‘woof’ once, but been more than a year since he actually did a proper excited husky yodel. Even more, he did a couple of kangaroo hops as we crossed the lawn and then proceeded to drag into a bit of run. He hit 13 mph for the first time this year.

Loke was Mr. Zippy for most of the rest of the way too. The harness jingling along as he kept me and trike cruising at about 7 mph for most of the time. For an almost 2 mile stretch, he even had me going over 8 mph. It’s great to see such energy out of him on an outing.

There was absolutely no wind, which was nice and not just because I was cold. It meant those fibreglass like seed fluffs didn’t get blown around. They were just sitting, waiting for a breath of air to carry them away from their parent plants to torment innocent pedestrians or cyclists.

This is the river, not a pond or puddle.

How the Fyris river SHOULD look.

Loke was making such good time, that I added extra distance in a few spots. One of them was to follow the river extension all the way to the end. As we passed one section where I could actually see down to the water, I was shocked. All the way across, it was covered in green. Not sure if it was algae or duckweed, but I do know, I’ve never seen any part of the river like that, not in all the years I’ve been riding up and down along it. Goes to show how the scarcity of rain has left the Fyris River practically stagnant.

The purpose of the vet visit was for Frans to look at Loke’s eye again and discuss our options in depth. He decided Loke should get more of the cortisone drops in hopes of reducing it even further. He also thinks it’s possible to use another method than the usual one to remove the gland. Cut a slice in the skin and scoop it out, leaving most of said skin in place.

Though if it gets small enough, another option could be to just leave it. We could chance that maybe it won’t swell again or get another infection as it’s been problem free for so many years before this. Loke’s 12 so it’s a possibility, he could be unbothered with it for what time he has.

He had blood was taken as well, for follow up checks for his anemia, skewed Folic Acid levels, and B-12 deficiency. Hopefully those values will have improved, though since Loke’s anemia has held steady for a year, I don’t expect that to have changed. Frans also wanted to double check Loke’s liver and kidney values in case we decide to go through with the eye surgery.

As we stepped out of the clinic to roll back toward home, the receptionist came out with her dog for a potty-break. I was so thrilled to finally meet her new puppy! A 52 kg (114 lbs) Irish Wolfhound. She’s about a year old and still growing. I’ve never gotten to actually meet an Irish Wolfhound, only see them from distances of 30 feet or more.

She was soooooo sweet! And HUGE. I mean, logically I knew she was big and the breed is big, but to actually have her leaning against me and giving me slobbery smoochies, it gives a whole new perspective on ‘big’. A couple of Jack Russel puppies also joined in the fun, hopping on my feet in an attempt to get their share of attention as well. Cuteness overload!

The jaunt back home was uneventful. Loke went along with brisk enthusiasm, sporting an acid green wrap on his right front leg where blood had been drawn. We arrived at home with roughly 7 miles. Under dressed as I’d been, I curled up with my electric blanket while Loke gobbled down an extra scoop of kibble.

Not sure why, but I wound up with 4 ride-less days once more. Part of it was weather, I’m sure. We’ve been getting rain and it’s been in the 50’s F for most of the time. I was aiming to do the 18-20+ mile route on Saturday though. We had no plans with other people for the weekend. Jens was going to be home for both days. The forecast was decent at partly sunny and temps in the low 60’s F. I announced what I was going to be doing on Saturday and Jens agreed.

So, Saturday, September 23rd, came and… it was disheartening from the start. The sky looked like the surface of poured lead, heavy murky gray, as a misting drizzle spitted down. It was about 48 F when I took Loke out to do business at 7 am. Also, and most annoying, my hip was hurting the most it’s done in months. Not quite to the point of limping, but far from being comfortable. All of that combined went a long way to take the wind out of my sails.

It wound up that I was too restless to not keep edging toward going in spite of my lack of motivation. Finally, I stepped out the door at about 9:20 am. I’d wanted to get an earlier start for the long ride as I wasn’t sure how Loke and I were going to do. At roughly 20 miles, I didn’t want to be still pedaling at 7 pm or something silly. Granted, Jens was home to come get us, but I wanted to actually do a loop.

Then it occurred to me, I could head that way and if I decided it wasn’t going well, then we could turn off to do my old Vaksala/Granby loop. It’s roughly 10 miles depending on how I go at certain points at the beginning and toward the end.

Lovely cottage and autumn tree.

I wasn’t even on the trike before I started questioning if I’d even be able to do a short 3 mile loop. Just walking to my ride had my right foot cramping, making me limp, which in turn made my hip hurt even worse. Still, I was determined to take the furry one for at least a quick run. I gritted my teeth and settled in. At least the drizzling mist (misty drizzle?) had slacked off though everything in the distance had a haze.

It was a nightmare for the first mile. I had to unclip my right foot 3 times. Then, I don’t know why, it stopped and my feet were fine. A bit more wiggling around eased my hip somewhat, so I pushed off toward Gamla Uppsala, figuring I could do the grave mound loop if my other two choices were going to be too much.

This is it?!

Besides, there was also a Vendeltid exhibition supposed to be going on at the mounds. I was curious to at least take a quick look at it. We rolled through the area by the mounds and museum about 10 am. It didn’t look as if they had everything set up yet. There was one little awning up with a table beneath it holding like a helmet and a few other, smaller things, a viking style tent with a cook fire set up in front of it and about 2 dozen people wandering around there and the museum area in archaic Scandinavian clothing.

Loke and I did just a quick loop through there, not stopping as there seemed to be nothing more to see. Besides, I was curious how the autumn colors were progressing outside the residential areas of Uppsala. In town, the colors are fairly intense in spots, but that’s just the nature of the trees planted in places. I’m pretty sure they were chosen both for their shade properties for summer and their tendency to color for autumn.

Every example of this tree has this blight on the leaves. Can’t be good.

The countryside tends to tell a different story as the distribution of tree species is somewhat down to nature in many places.

The fuzzy had been fairly perky for that part of the ride which is a section of hamster track, but when we turned north, he was even more interested as we’ve not gone that way in some months. Actually, I can’t remember when we last did the Vaksala/Granby loop.

Loke’s speed was pretty good, but as I did timing calculations in my head about the longer route, concerns about how my hip was going to hold up continued to intrude. Probably helped along by the twinges of pain it insisted on thrusting upon my consciousness.

No more booms and rail crossing. Feels so weird.

As we came down the long-ish hill toward where the rail crossing used to be (weird that it’s gone after so many years), I decided to just take the turn toward Vittulsberg and head toward Vaksala.

Pretty autumn road

Loke was thrilled with the choice, even pulling into a run as we headed down the underpass beneath the rail tracks. It was nice to be out in the country and on a road that is one of my favorites, especially in the winter.

Ruined I tell you. Ruined!

Turns out though, it’s lost about a mile of its charm. I’ve loved how the trees clustered the way, some of them older growth and the charm of traditional Swedish stake fences along the sides in spots. Oh, especially in winter, all draped in snow. Just… stunning.

Well, a fair portion of it has been pretty much clear cut. An old tree or two left here or there and some leafy twigs of what remains of undergrowth standing among the stumps, churned dirt, and stacked logs. The lovely shade of the trees gone. Just an exposed scab of scarred earth at the road’s edge now. It made what was a lovely, pleasant way to go into something just to get through. Left me quite bummed in truth.

If I had to guess, someone with an eye to ‘development’ thought, ‘What a lovely spot! I know! Let’s remove everything that makes it great and slap some houses in so others can enjoy it!’ Enjoy what? Cookie-cutter houses with no charm and completely lacking trees?

Interesting and pretty.

As if Uppsala’s growing pains haven’t been bad enough with hideous bricks of apartment complexes popping up like this year’s bizarre density of mushrooms. At least the mushrooms are interesting and even sometimes, pretty.

At least on the road before that butchered stretch remained pretty and even blushed with some autumn colors here and there.

With the temperature bouncing between about 48 F and 51 F, the humidity so high that moisture condensed on everything including hair, fabric, skin and fur, I was quite chilled as we scuttled across the busy road to the cycle path that heads up toward Vaksala church. Starbucks hot chocolate from the mall sounded like just the perfect thing. Or at least it would once I answered a desperate call of nature.

That was best done at Vaksala church proper. The clean and comfortable little bathrooms tucked into the charming 17th century building that sits just outside the graveyard walls. From there, it was a quick dash back over the 288 where I followed the re-routed cycle path around yet ANOTHER upgrowth of an unattractive apartment building going up to the mall.

From an architectural aesthetics perspective, I’m really in the wrong century. Modern buildings are hideous to me. Victorian age structures, much lovelier. Of course, I don’t think these apartments are meant to be attractive. Just go up fast.

I parked right up against the Starbucks window so Loke and I could see each other as I dashed in. I’m friendly with all the baristas there and when one of them gave my clothes a curious look I pointed her gaze in the direction of Loke. She was quite charmed by what she saw, adoring huskies as she does.

Once I was back in the trike, I continued on at a slow amble. Strange looks followed us. A plump woman in a rolling arm chair with pedals accompanied by a white husky while sipping a Starbucks’ hot beverage. What’s strange about that?

The rest of the way back to the storage was uneventful. I rolled to a stop with 11 miles on the nose. Loke was disappointed it was over, even woofing at me to turn the trike around and go some more.

Jens had been called though and I pushed the trike in and settled back in the seat to wait for pick up. I had unclipped the furry one and played out some length of his leash so he could move about a bit as we waited.

Loke had moved to stand just outside the storage door. He watched me for a few seconds and then looked back up the slope with a disappointed sigh.

I shook my head at him as I pulled out my phone. Suddenly, Loke lurched. The first thing I noticed was how his hindlegs buckled, then he staggered first one side to the other as he crouched down, desperately trying to stay upright. His head twitched from side to side and eyes doing the same as if he’d been stuck on a merry-go-round at high speed. A seizure. All equilibrium gone and clearly, to his perception, the world was in a whirl and he was just trying to find one spot to focus on as it spun by.

I flung myself from the trike and clutch him close. Seconds later, it eased and Jens pulled up while I was still hugging my furball. He was a little wobbly as I walked him up the slope using the harness as a handle to keep him steady. Loke was eager to jump in by himself, but I picked him up.

Minutes later, he was his normal bouncy self. He flung himself out of the car with an enthusiastic jump and pranced into the apartment. He gobbled down the extra scoop of kibble I offered and then bounced out the door on a 2 mile walk with Jens as a test to see how he really was. Just fine as if nothing had happened.

I agonized with myself about going to the animal hospital for quite some time, but I had a feeling that the vets would find nothing wrong as it had been the last 3 times he had seizures. Admittedly, his seizures had never involved his head. Limbs twitching and going stiff, but not the ‘trapped on a merry-go-round’ thing.

Jens thinks we should wait it out rather than subject Loke to hospitalization or extra sedation. He’s 12, clearly not in pain or distress. Just his normal energetic, food-focused self. If it follows the same pattern, we may not see another seizure unless Loke lives for another 4 years or more. While Loke does have a relative who was 17 years old when a photo of  him was posted on his birthday this year, that old man doesn’t have Loke’s long list of issues. Eric, Loke’s brother, is still running strong this year last I heard. Loke’s dad, passed away at age 13.

I’m still going to make an appointment to talk to the vet today. I want to discuss what the seizure may mean in respect to the surgery to remove the gland in his lid if nothing else. Also, this time, if the vet does think it needs to be looked at, I’ll have an appointment via referral with neurologist at the university animal hospital instead of a generalist taking a 5 minute look and shrugging in bafflement.

I think Murphy just loves toying with me not to mention torturing my dog.

The Great Experiment
September 12, 2017, 6:59 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

It occurred to me that I forgot to mention what had happened to my hip when I last posted though I’d mentioned there was something was wrong with it.

Jens has gone a bit nuts for a new PS4 game, so he’s been hogging the TV. I wanted to watch Netflix so went to sit at Jens’ desk. Silly me, I propped my feet up into one of the other chairs. Well, after a couple hours of that as I watched a movie, my hip strenuously objected. It fussed at me for a few days, but fortunately, it didn’t hang on too long.

Even without the hip giving me problems, it’s been a chaotic few days, but finally got out the door for another ride. Really should keep my rump moving so I can break the measly 500 miles I’m aiming for this year.

It might have gotten easier though.

Through the whole struggle with my feet, I’ve kept wanting to move my feet forward, but being clipped in, couldn’t really. The days of attacking my battered Shimano touring shoes with a file to lengthen the bolt slots needed to be tested. Sunday, September 9th, was the day my husband finally bullied me out the door with Loke to try them.

The sky was chaotic as I settled the trike. Everything was still damp from the rain all through the night and morning. The leaden sheet of gray across the sky had broken up into chunks of clouds, some which looked very threatening as the monochrome shades ran through the gamut of the palest, bright silver to the deep underbellies of slate. A guessing game really. Was I going to get drenched or stay dry? At about 60 F, it would have been uncomfortable, but at least not a nightmare.

Loke was actually kind of excited to step out the door. I was wary as I clipped in and we rolled out.

The first 100 yards pain free! I started to grin. Maybe, just maybe, I would be taking it further than the 2.3 miles that we use to get back to the garage half a mile away. About a quarter mile on, I had slight (and I do mean slight) discomfort in my right foot, but my left was happy as a clam in mud.

I didn’t put my right foot down until almost 1.5 mile. A new record of late, I think. Admittedly, my last ride in un-adapted shoes, it took a while longer to hurt than the previous 20 or so and then barely at all on the last 2+ miles after I dropped the furball off at the groomer. True, it could just have been a fluke, yet I was and am hopeful.

I definitely decided to ride on a bit further. Loke was glad of it. He even pulled into a slow run down some of the slopes as I aimed myself for the River Loop extension.

About mile 4, my left foot started having issues. It wasn’t a cause of much concern though, because I think it was because the cleat had slipped. When attaching it, I didn’t wrench it as tight as I should, anticipating the need to do more work on it. So, in the course of curbing Loke’s messes, it had come forward and twisted to one side slightly when I unclipped.

The clouds had thinned a bit as I followed the river path north, but were starting to look threatening again as I finished off the hamster track of 6.75 miles. Loke was slowing by the last mile or so, but since he bounced into the apartment and went directly to Jens to start the ‘staring tail-wag of persuasion’, pretty sure it was just boredom making him sluggish.

As for me, there was a bounce in my step too. Of late, I’ve absolutely hated going for rides around here. While I thought I was factoring in the foot issue into making me so fed up with the hamster tracks around here, it appears I wasn’t giving them enough credit. On the 6.75 miles, only 3 times, I felt compelled to stop to give my feet a break. That’s like nothing. When I did stop, it wasn’t remotely close to the pain of rides in the previous months. As a result, hamster track or not, I actually had a grin on my lips and enjoyed the ride. Sad, but I’m not sure I can remember that in recent memory, not since Loke and I went up to ride around Långsjön (The Long Lake) a bit north of Uppsala.

Suddenly, the 200 miles I still need for 500 miles, doesn’t seem so remote.

Two days, two rides since I went out the very next day, September 10th I had a thought at first to do an 18 to 20 mile loop, but one ride with mostly okay feet does not a trend make. I didn’t want to wind up harassing my hubby to come get me somewhere along the way because I couldn’t take the Inquisition any longer. I did decide to aim for at least going further than I did yesterday on my local hamster track paths.

Mostly sunny, though every now and again a threatening looking cloud would scuttle in. Yet, the sun never disappeared. Breezy and pleasant at about 65 F. When I started, there was a bit of hope that I could make the 20 miler, so I set out toward the Old Uppsala Burial ground as it’s kind of on the way. I cut a couple miles of my usual ‘burial ground’ loop though and took a dirt track I’ve not used in years. I think I’ve ridden it only once before in the 11 years of being on the trike.

Loke was very intrigued by it, being that he probably had absolutely no memory of the .25 mile stretch and it was lined with trees and weeds, tucked in the cool shade.

I needn’t have worried about my feet too much. My left foot was still happy and my right foot was less unhappy than it was yesterday as I had worked at the shoe with the file for about an hour through the morning. Might have gotten my cleat a whole 1/8th of an inch further toward the arch!

The burial grounds were a hive of activity. Joggers, walkers, and hordes of bikes.

As I rolled along the gravel paths of the burial ground. I started itching furiously. Spot on my right arm. Spot on my right leg. Right side of the stomach. Then it hit me, I KNEW that itch. That burning, almost nettle like itch though less severe. Pretty much like fiber glass.

Yep! The ‘Season of the Itch’ was upon me. Once I knew what was happening, I saw it. The fiberglass-like puffs blowing on the wind, pulled off the withered and dried parent plants to spread torment to whoever got in their path. It became a kind of game. Watching the upwind side of the path for the flying clumps, slowing down or speeding up in an attempt to avoid them hitting me.

I. HATE. THOSE. PLANTS. Loke seems immune. Of course, that brat can stick his face into a knee high patch of nettles without a care in the world.

About mile 5, my feet did get uncomfortable enough that I felt the need to take a short pause to put them off the pedals. It was more like the discomfort of old though. More of a tight, tingling numbness than the flayed, charred, crushed sensation I’ve been enduring this year.

We finished up with 7.75 miles, one whole mile more than the previous ride. Loke started getting pokey and I couldn’t tell if it was boredom (most likely) or some other reason. Still, he’s currently curled up contently in his bed, so I guess it was just enough for the furball.

So, the feet were better. I had an appointment on the 11th so no ride then. It was off to the hospital for a heart ultrasound. The results of that were the same as last year which at least means it’s no worse. My heartwall is thickened, but no thicker than it was last check-up. So, that’s good at least.

It was raining today and laundry time, so no cycling again today. That’s good. It will give me more time to file the shoes. I’m aiming for perfection!

Foot Fun
September 7, 2017, 4:54 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, things have been a bit chaotic of late.

Just 2 rides since I posted last. The foot thing really gets to me if you couldn’t tell. My hip was feeling much better (yes past tense, but we’ll get to that) so I was itching to ride further and areas other than hamster tracks, but the feet. I mean, having to stop 30-60 times on a 20 mile ride JUST to put my feet off the pedals for 3-5 minutes each session would put a serious damper in the ride just from the perspective of time. Never mind that each pause is precipitated by excruciating pain. If I didn’t push it to that edge, it would probably mean doubling the amount of stops. Not doable. So, I shy away from riding because it hurts like heck and is extra boring to boot between being a hamster track and stopping every few hundred yards.

The lack of riding drives Jens up the wall of course, because Loke makes him crazy. Staring at him and refusing to act like a 12 year old dog. Still can’t get over he’s really that old.

I’ve noticed when I have struggled along with the torturous pedals that I keep wanting to push my foot forward, but given the nature of shoes attached to pedals, there’s not much room to do just that. So, in desperation, I talked Jens into not fretting too much about me taking a metal file to my old Shimano touring shoes. Being 5+ years old, they’re quite worn now and since I have 2 ‘new’ pair meaning one to spare, he’s thrown his hands up in surrender and let me do as I will. Still, being so difficult to find fitting cycle shoes, the search has already begun for the next pair.

So, for the better part of a week, I’ve put in quite a few hours of filing… and filing… and filing. Ugh. The stiff insole might be ‘just’ plastic, but it’s darn tough and, with my arm giving me fits, takes a looooooonnnnnngggg time to make any progress. Thank goodness for Netflix as I sit on the sofa with a towel to catch the filings as I work. Soon, I’ll give it a shot and see how it goes.

In other news, I was used as a medical curiosity/case study at the hospital last week. The dermatologist I saw at the beginning of the year who diagnosed and treated me for Lyme Disease had called sometime during the summer to get an update on the spots. I told her that they’d started to fade while I was on the medication and a couple weeks after, but then when the symptoms of the disease came back, so did the spots. She was completely dismissive that it could have been resurgence of Lyme Disease. Baffled, she said that on Fridays, her and her colleagues assemble to look over the most interesting cases. Would I mind coming in for that?

Come in and let a bunch of people poke at me? Sure, why not. Who knows, maybe something useful will come of it.

So, last Friday, there I was, showing off the Lyme disease blotches to about a dozen people. At least I didn’t have to pay for the privilege. I’ve not reached the cap on medical costs yet, so I still have to pay the modest fee. Regardless of what people think, Swedish medical care is NOT free. Cheap and does come with a cap with how much is paid before the cost is waived, but not free. But, apparently to be a case study, the cost is waived if one hasn’t reached the cap. Nice of them.

It took longer than anticipated after they had their look and went away to discuss. Of course, 10+ people offering their insights and opinions on something does take time. When it was over and the original dermatologist came back, she asked the expected. “Do you mind if I take another biopsy?”

I cringed at the idea. The last time was unpleasant enough, but I’m determined to get answers. There was something I was dreading more than her punching out little bits of skin any way. Blood Test. Yep. She wanted that too. Rather sad when one can face having chunks of skin removed better than blood drawn.

The doctor took skin from 2 places. The center of one of the spots and from unmarked skin next to it for comparison.

As for the blood. The first nurse tried once to get the stuff out of me and nada. Not even when she pulled the needle out of my arm. Desperate, I offered my feet for another two stabs since last time that took about 30 seconds. Nope. No good. She went to get another nurse to take a look, but since I was already so rattled from the previous attempts, she didn’t find anything she felt confident enough to torment me with. So, off to the lab on Monday since I had to run back to the car before the parking ran out.

The last blood tests over the year have been a complete nightmare with most of the arm and hand jabs giving nothing and they’ve resorted to pricking my fingers and squeezing the blood out of me. Some tests, though apparently MUST come from the vein. Three of the tests the dermatologist wanted were those. I had all weekend to fret myself about sick at how many jabs it was going to take to get what was needed.

Well, it didn’t turn out as bad as anticipated. I woke at 4 am and prepped with pain meds and lots and lots of water to plump the veins. The first nurse found a vein the hand, but got nothing. Rather than stab me again, she called for one of the supervisor nurses. That woman came over with a brisk efficiency. Instead of examining my hand or the lower arm, she went right for the bend of the arm, fingers pressing deep. She didn’t rush, moving my arm around a bit until she got it in JUST the right position. Then she pulled out one of the larger needles and went in.

BLESS HER, she hit first time and either because of her skill or the pain meds or both, it barely hurt. In less than a minute she was done. I was so grateful, I thanked her profusely. Her aloofness broke and she gave me a sympathetic smile while patting my shoulder.

Hopefully all this will be a step toward getting some answers at least. Even better if it does more than clear up Lyme disease blotches from my skin, but also improves my quality of life from every other aspect. Maybe being able to walk without collapsing like a puppet with cut strings.

So, on the 3rd, I finally got out for another ride. The first in like… 10 days or something silly like that.

The weather has finally kind of broken. We’ve gotten spates of rain, some of it torrential since our first frost during the last week of August. Set a new record for cold on that day. Was just enough of a frosting that it only really stuck to cars and not much on grass, but still. FROST in AUGUST. Of course, last week, while I was walking around in my summer weight shirts, there was snow in Oslo, Norway which is quite a bit further south than Uppsala, Sweden. At least the weather hasn’t gotten quite as crazed as it has in the States. My thoughts are with those who have endured Harvey and those now facing the next storm.

It was quite gray and muggy in spite of being cool-ish on the 3rd. I thought for sure I was going to get some rain on us, but by some miracle it held off. A whopping 2 miles with the fuzz butt. It hurt, of course. Spanish Inquisition foot screws kind of hurt.

That of course, gave me a kick in the butt to work some more on the Shimanos.

On the 5th, Jens was grumbling a bit, so I had him drop Loke and I off at the storage. The tentative plan was to roll the trike to the apartment, see if I could finish the filing enough to test the adapted shoes.

It was quite a lovely morning actually, on the chill side, but lovely. 48 F at the start of the ride and edged up into 51 F by time I rolled to a stop at home. Put a real spring in Loke’s stride. There was blue sky and sunshine too. The first in a while.

After the frost, autumn colors have started to come into a few of the trees. REAL autumn colors. Not the shriveled, desiccated brown of leaves that perished for lack of water thanks to our silly dry (but cloudy) summer, but bright yellow popping out here and there. One tree was even flushed vivid red, the hue brightened by the early morning sunlight.

We came home with 3.4 miles. Loke had a slight spring in his step in spite of his profound boredom. The cooler temps agreed with him.

The really strange thing though, was my feet. I think, just to spite me after all my hard work filing, the foot rules have changed again, because on the 3+ mile loop, I only put my feet down 3 times because of discomfort! The first .25 mile in, which is an improvement over the worst rides, and then not again for over 1.5 miles and the last time about 500 yards from home. If I could count on that, I’d be willing to tackle longer rides. I mean, 12-15 stops for my feet would be manageable over a 20 mile ride as opposed to 30-70 stops.

I wasn’t home for long. Just enough for Loke to gobble down breakfast and take a 20 minute snooze when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but answered. It was Jennifer, the groomer. She asked if I could bring Loke in then instead of the next day for his appointment. Could I be there in about an hour?

I said sure! Put Loke back in his harness and out the door we bolted again! Oddly, Loke was a running machine. Not sure what boosted him, but we arrived earlier than I thought we would because he was just pulling us along at a brisk trot.

He wasn’t thrilled when I left him there though and rode home.

On the ride to the groomer, about 2.7 miles, I had to put my feet down only 2 or 3 times. I forget how much, but not nearly as often as rides all through the rest of the year.

The solo dash back home was fun. I discovered I’m not quite as pokey as I thought I was. Not burning up the roads with blazing speed, but on flats even with a bit of a headwind, I was able to push for 8 mph. Down the hills of course was where the real fun was. I didn’t need to stop even once for foot relief. There was a bit of discomfort, but nothing I could categorize as pain, let alone bad enough to have me seeing stars as I rip feet from pedals to stop the torture.

So, are the foot rules changing again? Would stand to follow. I mean, I’ve put in hours on working to adapt the Shimano shoes, so naturally, the rules would change to make it unnecessary.

I did notice one possible complication. Where the slots on my Shimano shoes are dead center, those of my newer shoes are toward the inside of the foot rather than centered. I’ve ridden with both shoes and had the same amount of pain, so I don’t know what kind of impact that actually has on my pedalling, but I guess it’s something to be aware of.

Complications, complications.

But, now I’m caught up! I’d better get my butt in gear if I want to break 500 miles for 2017 though. Only 3 more months to make it and at the rate my rides have been going, it might be a close call.

Busy, Busy
August 18, 2017, 11:53 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Things have been a bit chaotic and slow at once. Also, I really should stay on top of my posts better. There are rides I’ve done, but can remember like NO details of them. Maybe it’s the lack of photos. Of course, I’m not going to keep eating up my memory space on here with photographs of the same 5 spots.

I’ve only been on about 3 rides since my last post, for various reasons.

One part of it is that riding my trike has turned into a level of torture for my feet that would rival the foot screws of the Spanish Inquisition if I didn’t stop every few hundred yards to yank my tootsies out of the pedals and put them on the ground for 5-10 minutes. One ride, I kept telling myself, “It’s only 200 yards to the storage. Come on! Don’t stop!” only at 100 yards from the end of the ride, I couldn’t bear it any longer and had to unclip, pull myself out of the trike to totter around for more than 5 minutes until the feet stopped screaming and cramping.

That ride might have been on the 9th. I did about 7 miles with Loke as we rolled downtown for me to buy my favorite ice cream. It was something of a celebration after all.

The backstory is the income tax issue was finally resolved and my return was a nice chunk. When Jens asked what I wanted to do with it, I told him we should just put it in our account and decide on something for us. He actually insisted that I spend it all on myself.

Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything right off. Trike touring stuff, as always came to mind, but with it being such a struggle this year, it almost felt like it would be a waste. For almost 2 months, I only pondered on it and rejected various ideas. Then one day, I found myself considering drones. A bit of a risk to be sure as they weren’t entirely legal in Sweden (so we thought). Or rather they were, but only if you applied for permits to fly them for every area and date you might want to do so. That kinda ruined the spontaneity. Pedalling around on my trike and see a point of interest only to have to say to myself, ‘Oooh! That would be great to get a drone video or photograph of. Let me come back in 3 months when I finally get the permit for it!’

Still, the idea called. My research on drones was less inspiring. It seemed if they were small enough I could comfortably manage to carry on the trike, they had a 4 minute flight time after hours of charging. 4 minutes?! REALLY? If they had say, 15 minutes of flight time, they were big enough to be a burden and significant hassle to manage on the trike.

Jens to the rescue. I grumbled about my idea of a drone but how they didn’t seem to be a good idea. He turned to the internet and various colleagues and work network. One of guys in that web of acquaintances recommended a Mavic Pro drone. I started researching into it and actually became quite excited. Lots of ‘intelligent’ flight modes and countless settings. It really is a flying camera too. Not just a P-n-C camera, but one where you can set white balance, aperture, shutter speed as well as shoot video in 4k HD. Flight time? 27 minutes in ideal conditions, which to me translated into something between 19-24 minutes otherwise, Much better than the others I’d been looking at. Size? The drone, 2 extra batteries, the remote, extra props all fit into a case a bit smaller than the camera bag for my Canon. I was won.

It was a bit more than my tax return though. Jens generously said, ‘Happy Birthday’ with the extra cost even though the kayak was already a rather hefty b-day gift.

Gamla Uppsala Burial Mounds

As for the legality? Well, it turned out that on August 1st, it became legal to fly drones without the need of getting permits. Certain areas are restricted naturally, like airport areas, power stations, and military installations. But say, Gamla Uppsala should be okay. Of course, I was practicing with the drone around the church there and some old man came along, yelling at me that it was forbidden. I was endangering helicopters and planes. I bit my tongue as I guided the drone around the church, well below the building’s roofline. Honestly, if my drone was in the way of a helicopter where it was, that copter pilot would have had far more dire problems than a bit of plastic and metal only slightly larger than a Venti Starbuck’s latte.

Oh, and since the change in law relaxing the need of permits, Arlanda International Airport has had to stop take offs and landings because of drones buzzing too close. Idiots are going to get the law reversed. Jack*sses.

But I get a bit ahead of myself. My decision to do an ‘ice cream ride’ on August 9th was because I’d decided on the drone and Jens was going to be coming home with it on his way from work. Oh, and of course, my approaching birthday. I remember it was warm, so the ice cream was welcome. Loke was a bit sluggish I think. More than that, I recall nothing of the ride. I’m probably blocking the memory of the ride itself because of my tortured feet.

Jens got home a little too late to try the drone, so the evening was spent making sure everything was charged and I watched every YouTube video I could about ‘first flight’ with the drone model. Good thing I watched about 5 of them. It seemed each and every one of them left off something. Like the camera clamp to prevent the gimbal from being damaged during transport and a few other niggling little things.

Naturally, it seemed as soon as I had the thing, the incredibly dry weather our patch of Sweden had been wilting and withering under, broke. On the 10th, I went out to the mounds just to get it off the ground to make sure it was working. It turned into a race against the clock, so I thought. Dark, threatening clouds were crowding the horizon as I went. Naturally, the done decided it needed a firmware update. As it sat in the grass, my phone feeding the files through its 4G connection, I kept eyeing those clouds as they marched closer.

There was a man with an adorable little baby boy. I’m not sure why, but the baby was absolutely fascinated with me, trying to toddle closer as he grinned and waved. Too darn cute. Finally the rest of the multi-generations of family arrived in the patch of lawn. That was when the baby’s father and grandfather came over and started asking about the drone. After a few minutes we all said farewell and they left. About 10 minutes later, the update finished, I rushed the drone straight up, took a photo of the mounds, and landed. It was a bit of a rush as I worked to put everything away, the first drops of rain coming down.

Naturally, as soon as I was back in the car, not a drop more and stayed dry through the evening. It seems even with drones, Sweden’s weather taunts me.

I didn’t ride the trike on the 11th either, because when I first got the kayak, my mind had set what seemed to be a ridiculous goal. I wanted to paddle from Skocloster Castle to Uppsala, or the other way around depending on wind direction. 9 miles and most of it on the wider waters of Lake Mälaren. My paddling on the river has been training with all my focus on making that trip. We finally had a day that was supposed to be fairly nice and the wind was coming out of the south and forecasted to be about 9 mph at max. If I left from the castle, I’d have it at my back. My one long paddle out into the lake hadn’t been too bad. My nerves were jangling, but I decided to do it.

Skocloster Castle from on high.

We found a spot to launch that looked pretty ideal not far from the castle’s church. Before I got the kayak in the water though, I took a few moments to pull up the drone and send it up for a photo of the castle. Then it was off to the lake shore where I discovered my ‘ideal’ spot was less so. What had looked like firm footing with gravel and even rocks was ankle deep, smelly muck. I got to jump into the kayak with that on my feet. Yay!

Well, I did it. 9.15 miles in about 4 hours. The miles on the lake were harsh. The wind was much faster than weather forecasters had said and created swells that bordered on white caps. Boats zipping around at high speeds did NOT help that situation. Another draw back to the wind was it really wanted to keep my kayak to the broadside so it was a struggle to keep it facing north instead of east or west.

Reaching the peaceful, still waters of the river was a profound relief. Somehow, I found the strength to get the kayak back on ground, drag it to the rowing club parking, fold it and wait for Jens to come get me. I even managed to avoid snake bite this time!

I could hardly move the next day, especially my arms. In spite of that, I dragged myself out for a short roll with Loke. Jens had done so much for me to tackle the kayaking goal. He’d had a crazy busy day with conference calls for his job and not much time to catch his breath, yet he had squeezed in the time to drive me to the castle as well as take care of Loke for the day. It was only fair that I tried to take over husky duty for him on the 12th. Between the painful feet and my general exhaustion, we did a whopping 2.3 miles and I tottered around on short little walks with the fuzzy for the rest of the day.

Will you look at that?!

I did find one oddity on the ride. Honestly, I’m not sure how long ago it had happened before I noticed it, but it does seem if I’d been through more than once or twice since the poor tree was struck by lightning, blowing it’s bark off in a thin, charred strip, I would have noticed. I’m not quite that oblivious I like to think. I did recall hearing thunder about a week before, so given the amount of soot still on the tree, it could have been as recently as then. Finger’s crossed the tree survives it. They often do. Bad enough to have lost one large tree on my main hamster track as it is.

Then there was a 4 day gap without rides. Mostly it’s been because the foot pain has made me so reluctant. The 14th, my birthday, was actually because Jens chased me out of the house to go find some place fun and quiet to try out the drone.

The first 2 places I had hoped to try flying the drone turned into a bit of a flop after I’d dropped Jens off out by the river to take a long walk back home with Loke. Too many people at Uppsala-Näs Church for me to feel comfortable about buzzing the drone around. Jumkil has what appears to be major construction going on around it. One spot I remember as fields, is now a gravel parking lot with chainlink fencing and piles of dirt and gravel. Not exactly a lovely backdrop. That was what sent me further east. While it gave me peace and quiet to focus on learning the drone’s controls, it turned out to be a less than fascinating place as far as recording video or taking photos. So, I spent the better part of an hour just buzzing the drone around and even moving it between trees.

The 3rd battery still had a bit of a charge as I headed home on the back roads. I’ve ridden those roads with the trike a few times. A post back in the first months of my blogging featured a ride on them as a matter of fact. One of my favorite places to ride on the fringes of Uppsala, back when rides of 30+ miles were more doable. So, when I was winding along those little country roads, flanked by trees or fields, I was shocked, disheartened, and disturbed when the asphalt paving of old abruptly vanished to be replaced with chunky, loose gravel. Something about it absolute absence of any paving hinted at permanent change. 3 miles of paving just… gone and hard-going rocks in its wake.

The discovery of that ‘downgrade’ left me a little glum as I rejoined the 55 to zip back toward home.

Just at the edge of Uppsala, I came to a turn off the main road and remembered a neat little burial ground with standing stones and such. I decided to check it out. It was actually the perfect spot to play with the Point-of-Interest flight setting and I had enough power left in the last battery to make it worth while.

Not perfect, but I did get video footage as well as more practice, helping to brighten my mood again. Now, I just need to learn to fiddle with the camera settings as well as how to smooth out the control when I change the lens angle and it will be much better. For a first run of video and POI flight, I was quite tickled really. Sweet of the hubby to have chased me out of the house and even kept me from doing anything resembling a chore for the entire day.

After that ride, there were a few more days of busy-ness about the apartment. No more drone flights, kayaking or cycling.

Oh, aside from reorganizing out livingspace, there’s been Loke to take care of as well. Earlier in the week, I took him to get his B-vitamin shot. In the post about our last ride on the Long Lake Loop, off the major hamster tracks for the first time since the beginning of the year, I had pointed out that much of Loke’s recent sluggishness seemed to be because of boredom of fathomless depths. I have to correct that. Boredom of fathomless depths AND Vitamin B-12 deficiency. The morning after that injection, there was this bouncy, bright-eyed husky in Loke’s place though he did look like my fuzzy buddy from about 3 years ago. He’s been so perky that he’s even been a pest to Jens at night. I’ve had to retreat to sleep in the livingroom closing Loke out of the bedroom so Jens could sleep. Naturally, Loke goes straight to his bed and sleeps the night peacefully through, not disturbing me in the least. Just something about Jens that Loke feels the need to harass him when he tries to go to sleep. Been fed, doesn’t need to go potty, has water, even when he’s had a 6 mile run in the day… just being a pest to Jens.

Well, after that turn around in Loke’s behavior, some other thing decided to be an issue. Over the years, Loke’s had surgery on his lower eyelids because some of the sebaceous glands acted up. 3 times on one lid and once on both at the same time. Shortly after the double whammy surgery, the area of the incision on his right eye developed a swelling. I took him immediately to the vet, but they didn’t think it was anything dangerous and after some discussion we decided to just keep an eye on it. It reached a certain size and stopped. Didn’t bother him, didn’t obscure his vision or scratch the cornea where as the other growths had. Loke’s been under sedation so many times in his life that I decided if it wasn’t hurting him and it was just a cosmetic issue, I wasn’t going to inflict more anesthesia and surgery on him just to ‘make him prettier’.

Well, Sunday, I thought it looked a little bigger. Monday, the swelling was definitely bigger and something else odd going on with it where a bit of skin or a scab came off an edge of it and left a white spot on Loke’s black lid. It was distorting the shape of the eyelid quite a bit and starting to look as if it would block part of his vision. The earliest a vet could see me was Wednesday, August 16th.

Franz (Frans?), the very nice male vet, took a look and thought he was seeing signs of puss leaking from the bulbous lump. His suspicion is that the sebaceous gland has become infected for one reason or another, which caused the increase in size. He numbed Loke’s eye and lids so he could manipulate the bulge (about the size of a Skittle) without distressing the furball. He took a sample of some of what came out to be sent to the lab.

There is a bit of a problem though. He thinks it now needs to come off since it’s obviously gone through a change. The difficulty is the surgery to do so. If it were smaller, it would have been a simple cut-n-stitch and done thing. Now, and probably even before this recent growth, it would require a far more complex, almost reconstructive plastic surgery. So much of the lid would need cutting aside that it wouldn’t be able to close up easily. At least not without hindering Loke’s ability to blink or close the eye. So, we’re going to try and get the size down. Loke’s getting an eye ointment with an antibiotic in it. It might be working. At least it didn’t get any bigger yesterday and looks as if maybe, it’s a tiny bit smaller today. So… fingers crossed though I have a feeling it won’t get small enough to let the surgery be ‘simple’.

So, on August 17th, I finally dragged out for another ride. I had mentioned to Jens about the foot problem. He came up with an odd suggestion. ‘Could it be the booster pad you made?’

Honestly, I couldn’t quite see how sitting a little higher up to spare my hip could make it so horrible for my feet. While I’ve always had issues with my feet getting hot spots, numbing or cramping, it’s never been quite this bad or this persistent. Before it was like ‘This ride pretty bad’, ‘The next ride great!’, ‘Ride after that, so-so.’ When it did hurt, I might have needed to take my feet down, but only after 2-3 or even as much as 5 miles. Not 500-800 YARDS. I mean, needing 6-7 stops for 2 miles to unclip and work out the cramps is ridiculous.

So, after Jens dropped us off at the storage, I undid the fastening of the pad and plopped warily down into the seat.

It was still pretty uncomfortable, but I seemed to make it further before I wanted to detach from the pedals. Pretty sure the pain wasn’t as bad either. For 3 miles, I think I stopped less than 3 times. I’d worried about removing the pad though since it would mean a deeper flex for my hip. It’s been doing pretty good of late and the idea of causing it re-injury is not a pleasant one. Surprisingly, it handled it fine. So, just maybe in trying to make things easier on my hip, I was killing my feet. Still, it might have given the hip room enough to progress much further toward healing.

And that’s me caught up!