Terii’s Cycling Babble

Yay! Not Hot!
June 8, 2018, 7:22 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

As promised, the heat broke. Never mind that it’s forecasted to return, but hey! We got a break from it! Even had a patter of rain that did absolutely no good except to raise humidity levels. It was less than 1/16 of an inch. No way it even reached the shallowest grass root. Just kinda made the pavement damp. Yay! (sarcasm).

Meanwhile, forest fires are burning to the east and west of Uppsala. Or maybe the one to the east has been put out. Either way.

Anyhoo, on June 4th, I dashed out for a ride. I mean, it was almost cold! I couldn’t resist! I was practically giggling over it. Loke did his best to be his perky younger self and was definitely interested as I readied to ride. He even sorta pulled for the first 100 yards or so.

What’s wrong with this image? IT’S JUNE 4th! Not October.

My aim was for the storage with the furry one, then back to the apartment before scooting off on a solo dash for the produce market. Loke interested and as perky as he can be under his current circumstances, but also slow and a bit wobbly. So, we took it easy and fairly short. As we came along the path under the trees by the American football field near the swim hall, I happened to look up. I sighed.

Leaves of several trees were yellow and even with a splash of red. Autumn like colors and barely even into June.

Back at the apartment, I tucked Loke where he wouldn’t get into any trouble. Water, toys and even his comfy pillow were all within his reach before I headed out to get watermelon.

Hard to see the gulls flying through.

I took the time to enjoy the weather. I stopped at the river side just beyond the underpass by the police station to take a few photos. Still toying with the camera.

I think I’m finally warming up to some aspects of the new produce market arrangement at Vaksala square. I found a half of a big watermelon that didn’t look overripe. No way was I going to be able to fit it in the fridge. The cherries looked pretty sad, so I didn’t get them. While standing in the register line, I called my lovely mother-in-law to ask if she would like some watermelon! Of course, she said, but she and my father-in-law wouldn’t be home for a couple hours. Fair enough. I could just drop their share of the melon off with the car later.

I dropped my haul of juicy fruit off at home and didn’t have the heart to just leave poor Loke alone again just minutes after walking through the door. So, on went his harness and I took him with me to get the trailer back to storage and rolled back home. Over 3 miles for Loke for the day. Pretty good for the old man of late. I was over 8 miles for the day.

June 5th was glorious! I slept with a window open with the sort of slumber reserved for babies with fully tummies and momma humming lullabies. It was barely 40 F when I woke up and closed the window before creeping out of the room.

Poor Jens. I always close the bedroom door when I get up so as not to disturb him. After that I threw open the kitchen window and the living room balcony door. It was windy so that cold air came howling through the apartment with an impressive cross-breeze. I wanted to dissipate as much of the accumulated heat from the inside of our apartment as I could. Bundled up on the couch under snuggly blankets, I was happy as a clam. Right at 6 am, the bedroom door open and groggy Jens stepped out just as a truly monumental blast of frigid air slammed through the apartment. He gasped and shuddered, eyes wide. It honestly looked like someone had dumped icewater on him. He was suddenly scurrying around to button everything up, hunting for his heavy bathrobe and puffy sheepskin slippers. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed.

Much as I would have loved to, I didn’t ride that day. Too much to do. A bit later, clouds scudded in and it looked as if we were going to get a pour down of rain. It never came. Not in Uppsala any way.

June 6th, a very short ride. I was so sleepy. So very, very sleepy. I keep thinking I sleep well but then a few minutes after I wake up, I can hardly hold my eyes open. I end up staggering around zombie like for the day, clinging to consciousness only through sheer force of will. Jens finally bullied me out the door though, mostly to get Loke a bit of ‘exercise’. I took the camera and we crept along, taking over an hour for 1.8 miles.

That’s it for the rides at the moment. Otherwise, the only other thing going on that might be cycle related is another trip to Norway in the works. This one, I would be chasing down Norway’s famous ‘Stave Churches’. Truly impressive. Even if i don’t ride, I’ll have to share a few images any way.

So, that’s about it for now. Goodness! A blog post under 1k words! Wonders never cease?


Rides and Random Stuff
May 23, 2018, 8:15 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Quite a bit has happened since my last post and not just rides. Let’s see if I can’t stick to some semblance of order.

First, the heat! Monday (May 21st) was another broiler (mid-80’s F). Yesterday was cooler (78-80 F) and today will be cooler still (high 60’s) if the forecast holds. After today though, we’re talking back up in the mid to upper 80’s and still no sign of rain. At least now, there’s a bit of cloud action going on.

Between the 11th and the 18th, I pretty much stayed home. Combination of ‘just too damn hot’ and ‘can’t leave the husky for too long’. Temps were actually pushing into the 90’s and on the 16th, Uppsala was the hottest spot in Sweden and setting records for May which is already the warmest May since records of weather began. A fairly high (for here) humidity combined with not a breath of wind made it even more unpleasant. Going into the sun in those conditions just felt like the sun was crisping my skin like a Peking duck (mmmmm peking duck…*drool*). Stayed in, under the ceiling fans with Loke, our apartment closed up like a nun’s habit because every single time I opened a window, a yellow jacket would come buzzing in and harass us. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Not pleasant.

During this broiler period, there was a beacon of hope in the forecast. Thursday, May 17th. The temp was supposed to go from 85+ F to the low 60’s and stick around for a couple days. I was counting down the hours.

The 17th, I didn’t get to ride as I’d hoped. I wound up running around like a mad woman. Driving Jens to Stockholm for work, then dealing with Loke because he decided to chew part of the tumor off while coming back from Sweden’s capital city. I couldn’t drive and watch him both. When we got home, he bounced out of the car with blood everywhere. It looked pretty bad even after I cleaned it up, but the vet clinic was down one doctor because of illness and so had no openings. I decided it could wait until the next day as the bleeding stopped fairly quick. Then I had a few more errands to tend to, leaving Loke in a secure spot with the cone of shame around his head. To think, the day before I had thought to myself, ‘Hey! The tumor’s looking much better!’

Finally, Friday, May 18th, I managed to escape for a solo ride. The forecast was warmer than the day before, supposedly getting up to high 60’s. I almost didn’t go, feeling stressed about getting Loke to the vet and various other things that needed done. Jens was working from home though and chased me out the door.

It was sunny, but so wonderfully cool as I set out. Not even 60 F. I was excited too, because I was taking my new camera with me. Little did I know what chaos lurked all because of a lens.

I was about to get a crash course in ‘Chromatic Aberration’.

The first hint I had was when I took a picture of the little park near the storage. With the small view screen of the camera, I didn’t notice the issue though. Maybe just a little blurry because I’d had it on a more manual setting? I tried again, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. I told myself, I just needed to take the time to learn and be sure I took photos on the full auto setting as well as what I played with.

Since the ride had to be short to make sure I had time to get back home and clean up before dashing off to the vet, I decided I’d do the Grave Mound Loop. It would offer some nice opportunity to use the camera, but keep me closer to home.

Pretty, but OOF that wind!

One thing I didn’t expect was the wind. It had been brutal since the temperature dropped. The day before when coming back from Stockholm, there were spots were the air had a yellowish cast like when the wind comes up across the Sahara desert and picks up the finer grains of sand. Not one of those choking dust-storms that sends camels fleeing, but the milder kind. All those freshly plowed fields exposed to the dry air and the harsh sun were drying out and the wind was stripping off the top soil. Our little patch of Sweden was having a mini-dustbowl.

A car sitting for 10 minutes will have a fine coat of grit on it. Any place with windows and doors open finds dust over every exposed surface. I was sitting in Starbucks one morning. The door was open to let the heat out and I could see billows of dust swirling into the shop over the tiles.

Though I couldn’t see it at the start of the ride, that dust was still blowing around, carried on that stiff north wind. I could feel it. My eyes itched and watered and I couldn’t stop coughing. No, it wasn’t allergies. I’ve never found anything I’m allergic too. Just dust getting in the eyes and throat.

Even with the wind and tearing eyes, coughing, and on that 3-4% grade, I was still faster than if I’d had Loke with me on a calm day.

By the time I reached the turn for Gamla Uppsala, my skin had a layer of grit on it. The only easy place to cross Vattholma Road now is a few yards past the Gamla Uppsala entrance. So, I pedaled to it and in the distance, I could make out one of those plowed fields. No tractor out there, but there was still quite a cloud of fine-grained top soil getting pulled up by the wind.

Yay! More grit I’ll need to wash off.

Naturally, by time I got the camera out and zoomed toward the field, the thickest of the blasting dust was out of the shot, but what remained still impressed.

We desperately need rain. Still true as of this writing and no relief in sight on the forecast. A moderate sprinkle that sticks around for 2 days, to soak into the earth and give whatever it was that the farmers are planting in that dirt a chance to sprout and stop the dust storms.

Last year was hard on the trees, though at least that was a cool and cloudy summer even if dry. We had leaves withering and turning brown and the river stopped flowing over the spillways. This summer may shape up to be as dry, but with the heat and the unhindered sun, even harsher to the vegetation.

Getting more trees between me and the open, dry fields offered some relief for my eyes and throat. Having the wind at my back gave me a boost too. The trike rattled briskly along the base of the royal mounds (the 3 largest). I was surprised by the crowds though.

Hundreds of school age children, I’d guess between ages 8-10. It must have been the ‘end of year field trips’ before summer holidays. They were all over the tops of the mounds, they were walking in double lines with their teachers. I came to the edge of the big charge down the hill and sat there for about 5 minutes and a stream of kids came walking up and by me. Many waved and called out about how cool my bike was.

Only when the last kid was behind me, did I tip the trike over the edge for that wild charge down. I love that hill.

I did the 5.3 miles in roughly an hour. The wind slowed me a lot, but so did the pauses to fiddle with the camera as I wanted to be comfortable with it for our trip around Mid-summer. I was back in plenty of time for Loke’s vet appointment.

That actually turned out to be a bit anti-climatic. The gaping hole and flap of skin Loke had inflicted on the tumor had miraculously disappeared and, if anything, it looked even smaller and less angry than before Loke had chewed it. Franz, the vet, was surprised when he looked. His best guess is the tumor is the type they thought it could be and it’s finally responding to the lower testosterone levels. Not only is it smaller and the ulceration reduced and looking less angry, but the lump is softer as well.

Franz just said for me to keep doing what I’ve been doing, keeping it clean. I told him I try, but it turns into a major battle as Loke tries to tuck his tail and sit. I needed another arm to keep him from sitting while holding up his tail and doing the cleaning. Franz’s solution was direct. ‘Would you like me to shave back the fur for several centimeters so there’s just skin to clean?’ I took him up on his offer. We’re all much happier for it. Loke still tries to sit when I clean, but I can get a few quick swipes in and the ick comes right off. The joys of an old dog.

The next day, May 19th, it was supposed to be hot again. Mid-80’s, but that morning was a shock when I woke to our window thermometer showing 38 F. An almost 50 degree swing for the day. Boggles the mind.

I kinda meant to ride early, before the heat hit hard. While I waited for it to warm up into temperatures that didn’t require electric socks and heavy wool, a project I’ve had in mind engrossed me.

I’ve had my Arkel handlebar bag for quite a while now. While absolutely LOVING how sturdy it is and weather-proof to boot, one thing has driven me crazy about it. All 7 liters being wide open space. No compartments. I constructed one divider out of cardboard and duck tape, but Loke saw fit to yank it out and shred it (while eating all the cough drops) when I left him home alone one day.

Since then, it’s been back to a jumbled mess. A particular headache for those times when I’d take my DSLR camera. Phone on top of the camera. Phone under the camera. The camera getting tangled up with the charger cable connected to my battery brick when charging my Garmin or phone. Just kept waiting to drop and break something with all the juggling required every time something had to come out of the bag. *beats head on wall*

I had a plan to correct it. Just hadn’t gotten around to it. Months ago, I’d bought some thin, but fairly sturdy (and cheap) cutting boards, a silver gel pen to mark on the boards, a right angle ruler, and box cutters to cut the boards. Finding super glue was the problem. I looked everywhere. Can’t walk into any American hobby shop or grocery store without tripping over the stuff, but in Sweden? It’s almost like trying to find a unicorn.

Getting the 200D camera gave me a kick in the butt for tackling that problem though. Then on May 17th, it occurred to me. Hot glue gun instead of super glue to stick the parts together. So, I went and bought one. Only 99 kroner and it wasn’t even the cheap one. That’s about 12-13 dollars.

Before and After! Yay! Organization now possible!

So, early in the morning on May 19th, I started work on a divider. It turns out scissors worked better for cutting the plastic. More accurate too! I measured and trimmed, figured out how I wanted to lay it out, how big compartments needed to be for specific things. My camera over here. My phone with battery brick in that little space. Another for ‘whatever’. Then I got the bright idea of lining the bottom of the camera compartment with closed cell foam to reduce rattle and impact, even arranging a sort of air space between layers for more of a buffer.

Once I started the task, I was so focused that when I finally looked up, satisfied with the results, it was already quite hot, coming up on 2 pm. But I had compartments! A fair trade.

The camera drama made a major progression on that day as well. Though sunset isn’t until after 9, so I theoretically had plenty of time, I didn’t ride, mostly because I didn’t want to broil in that heat, under that sun, reclined on my trike. So, Jens dragged me and Loke off to Wiks Castle to walk the grounds there. I took the camera naturally.

Even with the small view screen, it was obvious something wasn’t right. No matter which settings I used (landscape mode, various semi-auto, or even full auto modes), the photos just looked oddly blurry and wrong. The only exceptions were close up photos of flowers.

Being so shady, it was a pleasant walk. I’m even more convinced that ravens are nesting in a particular pine tree on the grounds too. I even saw one of them swooping toward a thick clump at the top of it. RAVENS! Thrills me to bits!

I’ve taken blurry photos before, but this was completely different.

It wasn’t until the next day (May 20th) that I downloaded the photos and got a good look. I was horrified. My computer screen only confirmed what I thought was visible on the camera’s view screen.

Every photo had this bizarre purple/pink/green halo along the edges of things. No matter what setting, it was there and just looking at them made my eyes cross and even slightly nauseous.

I threw myself into trying to solve the mystery. Was it the camera? Was it something else? I looked at the first photos I took with the 200D and they were fine. Why did they look so bad now? It took a moment for me to remember the first dozen or so pictures had been with the lens that came with the camera. The pictures out at Wiks and even the blurry one of the park by the storage had been with the new 16-300 mm Tamron lens. The lens then?

Jens started snapping photos around the apartment as I attacked the internet. Chromatic Aberration (or purple fringe) is what the issue is called. It turns out every camera and lens has some degree of it. I’ve very likely been looking at it in most photos with my Canon 400D, but it was so minor (to me) that I didn’t recognize it as a ‘problem’ so never noticed. Some of the videos I viewed on the subject showed photos where, ‘Now you see here, the purple fringing is quite significant.’ Umm. No. I see nothing significant, nothing I’d have said was wrong with what they were showing. My recent photos on the other hand.

If anything, the photos Jens took in the apartment on full auto were worse than those at Wiks. It was like looking at old style 3D photos where you need the red and blue glasses to resolve it. I was about at my wits’ end.

Realizing that was getting me nowhere, I took a breath and started to think more methodically. The 200D did fine with it’s original lens. So… maybe the Tamron lens?

I was a couple more hours bashing around on the internet and playing with both cameras and all available lenses. The 400D camera didn’t seem to have any issue with the Tamron lens. The 200D had no issue with it’s original 18-55 mm lens or my 28-105 mm lens. Zooming in within a few dozen pixels around an edge of contrast just made it look blurry and pixelated, but no purple or green colors in shades to make the eyes bleed.

To make the test as fair as possible, I also took a crash course in camera settings which was made possible by the ‘guided settings’ mode on the 200D. I snapped a photo with the 400D and Tamron with the auto-setting. Downloaded the photo (looked fine) and made note of F-stop and aperture, as well as ISO and all else. Then, with the 200D on manual, I chased down all the settings to set them to identical values. I snapped the same picture with the same conditions of lighting and the Tamron lens with those settings. Purple fringe.

Even with the Tamron looking fine with the 400D, I didn’t give up on it being the lens and rather than the 200D. My beloved 400D Canon is over 10 years old. Sensors and other bits of processing power as well as compatible software in the 200D are that much more advanced. The 200D has quite a few more mega-pixels and the resulting photos on the ‘L’ setting for saving the files are 2000 pixels wider and longer than those on the 400D which offers more pixels for flaws to spread out over. Make them ‘bigger’. The sensor is more sensitive. Perhaps the Tamron lens was just incompatible with the 200D.

That had me jumping in the car and driving north toward Gävle to return the lens. They took it back and refunded the money with no fuss. Just as well. I went armed with all my research and had even crammed examples of my experiments on my tablet to beat them over the head with if they gave me guff. It was not needed.

As much love I have for my 400D, I’m already quite attached to the 200D. The ‘guided mode’ for the settings has already taught me more about using a DSLR than a decade of searching for videos and arguing with incomprehensible (to me) settings with the 400D. Fortunately, the 400D’s auto didn’t do TOO badly most of the time. It’s certainly been much better than the old point-n-click I used when I first began blogging here.

May 21st. Why didn’t I ride? You know. I can’t remember. Maybe it was just too hot and since I dislike the idea of leaving Loke penned up with the cone on, alone, for more than an hour or two, I just let it go.

Yesterday (May 22nd) though, Jens worked from home after a mid-morning appointment here in Uppsala. I was going to ride and I had a plan encompassing two errands. Most obviously of course, was the fruit stand. I need my yearly fill of cherries and awesome watermelon. The other was camera related. With the return of the Tamron 16-300 mm lens to the store, I still crave a 300 mm lens before our north trip. I’ve missed it so since the last one was smashed. I was going to go to Uppsala’s only camera shop and look at lenses.

Loke was no where in any of those plans. The last rides I’ve done since May 11th, he’s given no indication of interest as I pulled on the clothes and shoes. Given some of the rides where I took him even though he didn’t show enthusiasm as I dressed, wound up with him plodding for just a few hundred yard and then stopping to stare off in the distance or give me looks that felt an awful lot like reproach, I decided to just stick with walkies.

Well, as I wandered around pulling on the tights and top and then sat down to put the shoes on, there was Loke, head on my knee, puppy eyes and wagging tail. That surprised me. As a kind of test, I went for his harness and held it up. He came right over and put his head and leg through the loops with no prompting, then looked at me all bright-eyed and eager.

So, I asked Jens if he would be able to drop Loke and I off at the storage and maybe come get Loke somewhere if rescue was a necessity. ‘Yeah. No problem.’

The furball didn’t exactly go bounding down the ramp, but when I pushed the trike up and out, he went right to the running bar to be tethered up. He wanted to go.

I was fiddling with the trailer when an older gentleman came wandering by. We’ve met him before as he lives in the complex where our storage is located. He stopped to look at Loke.

Your dog looks tired.

Believe me. This is Loke’s new ‘I wanna go’ face.

I glanced at Loke. He was a bit squinty as he looked off toward the park and perhaps not his old bouncy self he was in March, but interested. “He’s 13 years old. You’d look tired too if you were 90,” I answered lightheartedly.

What are you doing taking a 13 year old dog out with a bike in this heat!? Take him home to go sleep! Walk with him tonight!” Judgement just rolled thick in his voice as he waved a hand at first the sun and then me and Loke.

I fought to keep my tone from going acid. “He wants to be here. He sat in front of the door as I got ready. He begged to come. I have plenty of water. I’ll go slow and stop often in the shade. I even have an umbrella for shade if there’s none near-by. He needs a walk any way and I can’t walk very well, so I’m walking him with the bike. My husband will come get him if he gets tired.”

Me and the man just stood there for a good minute or two staring daggers at each other. Finally he just made a disgusted noise and walked on.

Poor Loke. In the apartment, he thinks he can go for a 30 mile run and want more. The spirit is still so young and willing. Whatever I was trying to do with him to make him happy, this man was suggesting, to put it mildly, Loke should just go home and sleep until he died. No more fun or living. How cruel that would be?

It did sour my mood for a bit as we rolled out. Loke worked hard as he could to dispel it, though probably completely unaware of the exchange or how it had affected me. My furry old man actually kinda/almost pulled the trike across the street to the park. Bless him, trying to be his former self. He gave it up once we were across the road though. I let him amble through the park in leisurely fashion. The shade was nice and while the sun was blistering, the air was actually fairly cool feeling.

I couldn’t say exactly what temp it was at that time and any remarks about speed are just guesses aside from ‘slow’ or ‘leisurely’. Why? Because it seems after my last ride, I forgot to turn the Garmin off. The battery was dead and I didn’t have the connection cable to hook up the battery brick.

We emerged out of the park and Loke shuffled on. I kept him in shade as much as I could as we rolled down the cycle path. Experimenting, I stopped only to have Loke stare at me in annoyance and sigh. That much at least is like his old self, showing me he wanted to keep going. We probably weren’t doing much more than 1.5 mile per hour at a rough guess. I could definitely have walked faster, though it wouldn’t have been nearly as comfortable or able to continue for long.

We hadn’t gone far when the sun dimmed somewhat. A high, thin layer of cloud had scuttled between us and the sun. Sadly, nothing that hints at rain the trees so desperately need. Some leaves are starting to look positively wilted. Still, it probably brought the temp down a little and it certainly seemed to give Loke a bit more oomph. He started ambling a bit faster. Even edged into a bit of a jog in spots.

I decided to go with the old basic River Loop with him, going back around to the apartment to drop him off with Jens. He enjoyed it. Coming down the long hill to the bridge over the river, he even stepped up into a brisk, if loose-limbed jog. Had to be 5 or 6 mph. I mapped out the distance later on Plotaroute.com. 2.15 miles. It took about an hour and a half not counting the time to argue with the pushy man. Once back in the apartment, Loke started bugging Jens. *sigh*

I bolted back out the door after taking the time to grab the charger cable for the Garmin.

I set off for the most direct route toward the camera shop.

It was the same guy there to help me as when I went in to buy a replacement lens cap last week. He was more than happy to help and talk lenses. When I started to tell him the whole story about the purple fringe with the Tamron lens, he nodded. “Yeah, that problem was coming up a few weeks ago. We called Tamron about it and pushed to have the software updated.”

I blinked. “The lenses have software installed in them?”

He grinned, “Everything’s connected.”

I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. One can hardly brush their teeth without a toothbrush connected to a smart phone. Still, my internet research had never hinted at such as a possibility for the issue.

He asked to take a look at it and kinda chuckled when I said I’d returned the lens. He also confirmed that it hadn’t been happening with every camera either which explains why it was fine with my 400D. Unfortunately, they only had Tamron lenses for the size I was looking for and I still felt a bit burned. He said he would need to have Canon brand lenses shipped from their other shops from way down south, but assured me the Tamron lenses were actually quite good. Before the software issue, they’ve sold a lot of them and people like them. Now that they’ve supposedly been fixed, people are happy with them again.

Then he really surprised me. “If you like, you can take this lens out for a few hours to try and see. We could then take a look and see if there’s a problem and what I can do to help fix it.”

You’d actually let me borrow it?”

He grinned cheerfully again, “Of course! Really, they are quite good though I can get you a Canon in a while if you prefer. We’re just out of them.”

I decided I’ll try the lens, but preferably when I next have the car rather then when I’m riding around with the trike, on my way to the fruit stand. Perhaps on Saturday. Pick up the lens, drive back out to Wiks.

While I didn’t get a lens, the stop felt very productive. Certainly walked out with a lot of information to settle in my brain.

After that, I tried to make a stop at a bank, but couldn’t find somewhere I was comfortable parking the trike when I might have to stand in line for an hour or more to get my ATM card fixed. Something wrong and it won’t let me withdraw cash with it.

With the produce market, I’ve always preferred to use cash over the card, but now I can’t withdraw, so I’m stuck using my credit card. The bank would have to wait.

The watermelon looked a bit iffy, but I finally picked a quarter that looked decent. Since it was just a quarter rather than a half and it was the best of them with the others looking barely edible (to me), I decided getting extra melon for my mother-in-law would have to be on another day. There were also some cherries. Not many, but I grabbed about a pound of them.

Then it was back home, with the trailer rattling behind me to carry the watermelon.

I pulled up to the storage with 4.99 miles on the solo fruit run. I sent a text to Jens. My hubby sent back that he was stuck in a work call for another hour. Maybe I should bring the trike home. He wanted the car for work the next day any way, so maybe I’d like to have the trike on hand to ride.

That offered a bit of a dilemma. There’s room at the apartment to put the trike fine. Or there’s room for the trailer. Both? Not so much. I couldn’t carry the watermelon without the trailer. I was a bit tired and the sun was back out, full and strong, so I didn’t relish the idea of riding home with the watermelon, back to storage to put the trailer away, then back home sans trailer. Just ugh. Too much back and forth.

The solution was ridiculously simple. It’s rather cool in the storage. Not refrigerator cool, but nothing one would call ‘warm’. Just leave the melon with the trailer in the storage and come back for it when I went grocery shopping for dinner. An hour or so wouldn’t hurt it.

So, that’s what I did.

To get back, instead of just heading across the little park, I went the opposite way which was a nice gentle descent to the cycle path by the American football fields and then past the swimhall and back home. That added 0.91 mile to the rest of the day. Just a tiny bit over 8 miles. Not bad, especially since Loke got a bit of an outing from it.

A fairly productive day.

A Semi-Continuation of the Last Post
May 13, 2018, 9:31 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

So, starting this post just an hour after I hit ‘Publish’ on the last. It was just running so long!

On the 11th, I bravely decided to go for another ride. I know. Right? Two rides in two days! That’s not happened since March where I did it twice. Then came old age hitting Loke like an avalanche and being able to escape for rides became problematical.

The plan was to hitch up the trailer and trundle off to the produce market… with Loke. See if I could get him at least a slow, lazy mile or two for Jens to have a bit of a break.

So, I found parking close enough to storage that I wasn’t going to melt in the heat before reaching it. As I pulled everything out and was hitching the trailer, I heard a cheerful voice calling, “Hi, Loke!”

There’s a lovely nice woman who lives in the complex where our storage is located. I honestly can’t remember her name, but her little Schnauzer is an 11 year old sweetheart name Mille. The woman and Millie both came down to greet us and for me and the woman to chat. And we talked and talked. Dogs, the differences between the US and Sweden, weather. You get the idea.

Loke laid down and slept. Millie found a small pine cone about the size of a ping-pong ball. I heard a little ‘yap’ and looked down. There, on my shoe, sat the cone and Millie was looking up at me with a wagging butt. Smiling, I reached down and threw the impromptu ball up the ramp. Oooh! She loved that. Her little legs scrambling as she chased it up the incline and then halfway back down when when she missed the catch. Then, back on my shoe, eyes staring hopefully up into my face as me and her mom chatted. I must have thrown it more than 20 times.

Our conversation was winding down when the other incredibly nice woman I know in the complex came along. She needs a mobility scooter to get around, but was so happy to see Loke after so long, she brought it right down the ramp so she could half get off the scooter and love on the furball. To my surprise, he was happy to be affection. That’s rare.

Lovely shaded path.

It had already been warm before I spent half an hour or more chatting. That meant the ride with Loke was going to be VERY slow with as direct a ride to the fruit stand as I could work out. The first portion was a gentle down slope for a few hundred yards. At the beginning of the year, Loke would have been pulling the trike at 12 mph. This time, we did just 3 mph and made a left turn onto the cycle path that runs by the American Football fields.

I slowed us to about walking pace. Loke seemed happy with it at first. Stopping to sniff from time to time. Then he slowed even more and became increasingly wobbly in the back legs and tripped with the front ones a few times.

Nope. No way was I going to risk him like that all the way too and from the fruit stand. I suppose I could have coaxed him on a little further and have Jens come pick him up. I just didn’t want to chance it. He was home with just 0.93 mile. He also went directly to Jens and started bugging him as if he could have kept going. *beats head on wall*

So cool and restful

From the apartment, I jumped straight onto the cycle path along Svartbäcken Road right where it goes under the other busy road by the police station. It’s so nice to have that underpass open again! From where it was a brief amble in the shade along the river which is looking lovely in the colors of spring and summer.

I came up to the big pink-ish bridge at the intersection and swerved over to stop at the ice cream stand that opens there every summer. It’s just standard Swedish ice cream, which is pretty good though it doesn’t hold a candle to the ‘gone-forever’ wonderful stuff of the place that closed. I went with mint chocolate chip and chocolate in a cone. My trike made a comfortable seat to nibble it while watching ducks on the water, once I moved it to the shade.

There was a bit of looping around at that point, as I went kinda spacey and made a wrong turn for the next easiest way to the fruit stand. Other ways that would have been quicker and more direct were complicated with construction last I looked. I decided to stick with the most recent way I knew was clear.

In no time, I was rolling to a stop at the fruit stand. There were three giant ‘cartons’ of those big watermelons though not so many cut ones. I bounced out of the trike, grabbed a basket and walked over to the table where one of the guys working the stand started slicing melons with a machete. The first ones were disheartening. With big gaping cracks in the flesh and hollows. When melons look like that, I associate them with eating sand soaked with sugar water. They’re just way too sweet and so very, very gritty.

So, I waited as he cut through another melon. Then another. After about 10 minutes or more and all the melons looking the same with cracks and hollows, I gave up and started looking at the other fruit. Seems too early for cherries. The Belgian strawberries they had were pretty, but had almost no scent which generally means little flavor. The green grapes had that yellowish tinge which just screams they’re overripe and cloyingly sweet. The red grapes were mushy which means the same as the yellow color in the green ones. Nectarines? You could have used them to drive nails through concrete.

Back-way cycle paths with more shade.

I came away from the market with nothing. I drank some water and then pedaled on back toward home. It really was a pretty day. The green colors intensifying from the softer yellow or more pale shades of green that mark spring into the deeper, richer, harder colors of summer. There was a tangy sweet smell in the air that had taken me years to discover came from birch trees blooming. You’d never know it to look at them, their flowers are so incredibly modest and green, but the scent of them just fills the air like magnolias do in southern Mississippi.

It was also a tiny bit cooler than on the 10th. Must have been less humidity too, because I just didn’t seem to feel it as harshly. Surely I was acclimatizing that quickly? It might have been as simple as all the trees along the cycle paths and the 2 and 3 story buildings offering more shade than the country roads with fields to all sides. Probably safer to go with that theory.

I was coming up to the mosque when I heard the phone ring. It was Jens. He wanted to know how far out I was since he had errands he needed to run. I had to be there to dog sit as well as bring the car back to the apartment.

It turns out he’d also arranged to have a cook out at his parents. The first of the year. Trips to restaurants and cookouts after all my rides? How on earth am I to lose weight like that?! (Mostly joking)

In the spare time between the rides on the 10th and the 11th as well as for a fair chunk of May 12th, I devoted myself to researching cameras. Having cleared up the debate ‘twixt full and cropped sensor, I was looking into the various Canon models available. Features, sizes, that sort of thing. As I kept flipping through 3 potential choices (2000D, 200D, 80D), I did tell Jens that since I knew I was going for a cropped sensor, we could just get the lens replaced and not worry about the camera just yet.

Spontaneously, Jens suggested we drive up to Gävle where one of the electronics stores had all three of the cameras I was debating over. It was more of a ‘go look’ trip and he figured we could stop at a fishing spot he wanted to check over.

Jens waited in the car with Loke as I wandered in. As I looked around, a very nice guy wandered over to help. Henrik. We talked cameras and it turned out the 200D was the better Camera between the 2000D which I’d already sort of known. We also talked lenses since they had a 10-18 mm for closer in shots like say, church interiors or trying to get pictures of a church from the outside when it’s surrounded by trees. Lots of back and forth running between Henrik and Jens, I managed to reject the 2000D as a possibility and even more firmly rejected the 80D. That one was such a chunky, heavy brute of a camera that it was about as bulky as a full sensor one. Ugh.

Without intending to, I walked out of there with a camera. Oops.

I didn’t get it without Jens’ blessing though. We’ve been talking about a new camera since the 70-300 mm lens was smashed during that car fiasco a couple years ago. I also ran outside to ask, ‘Are you SURE it’s okay?’ about a dozen times. So too, I replaced that long lens but with a 16 to 300 mm. The 10-18 mm lens I passed on because the only one they had was the display.

One of the reasons for this camera plunge is because Jens and I have scheduled a week to go up north just after Midsummer. For that, especially if we decided to go into Norway, I wanted my telephoto lens replaced. With the advances in digital technology over the past 10 years with sensor improvements and ISO enhancements, as well as the fact I liked the way the 200D felt, went with it. Early Happy Birthday, I’ll say.

Now, I’ll have over a month to get used to it. I should go out shooting with today. It will also still fit on my tripod without it collapsing into a pile of bent aluminum.

I do find a sentimental attachment to my old, trusty 400D though. Makes me almost sad to part with it.

The 200D does seem to be chock full of possibilites that might mean I can start using more advanced functions though! I felt almost giddy as I was flipping around with the selections on the touch screen!

Oh, and I also got a white one. I just really liked the way it looked. So refreshing to find a DSLR that isn’t BLACK.

I’ve Been Riding!
May 13, 2018, 6:34 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Three rides since my last post about the one on April 28th!

Part of that was a perfect storm of hindrances to additional rides. The 29th being ride-free was desperately needed for recovery. April 30th was Valborg where Uppsala gets drenched in a flood of alcohol so deep that some of the historic buildings cover their lower outer walls in plastic to protect them (seriously). There’s also the tents the hospital puts up to deal with the huge influx of alcohol poisoning cases. That makes me a bit leery about going out on the roads when half a city’s sense of judgement is so distorted that the hospital needs to expand their capacity to treat alcohol poisoning. May 1st, Jens had something he wanted to do so I had to stay home all day with the husky. After that, Jens was off away 3 days to London for work.

Of course with Jens gone, that effectively seemed to nail my feet to the floor. Rather, it seemed I’d be ride-less as Loke has been too weak and lethargic.

May 4th, that kind of changed. Loke was a huge pain in the butt. I mean, he’s always being a bit of one. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, plenty of energy in the apartment only to act like he’s 3 breaths from the end of his life as soon as I take him out.

On the 4th though, Loke was an even bigger pest in the apartment than he’s been. In my face, nudging my hands and arms, but pulling away when I’d reach out to pet him. Standing 2 yards out of reach and stomping his feet as he woofed at me. When he remained semi-bouncy on his morning walkie, I decided we’d try a ride with the trike. Say, perhaps go to the garage to get the trailer and then ride to the Vaksala Square produce market? Sounded like a plan!

I get that you’re eager, but this is not helping me get shoes on faster…

The furball seemed kinda interested as I dressed. More than he was all through April any way. It seemed every time I turned around, I was tripping over him. Also, I’m not entirely sure he really understands how unhelpful he can be as I try to put my shoes on. Once I locked the door, he proved a little too enthusiastic for his current abilities going down the stairs. I managed to snag his harness and keep him from crashing headfirst into the floor at the bottom of the landing.

As I settled into the trike, there was a minor change of plan. The trailer was at the garage, but the main tire pump was at the apartment and far too large to try carrying on my trike. While I do have a travel pump, it is something I would only use in emergencies. I didn’t relish spending an hour at the garage, furiously working my little pump to blow up trailer tires. I’d just have to see what other way I could carry any possible fruit home. Besides, that would also make a shorter trip in case Loke’s energy fizzled out quickly.

Little did he know what lay in store. Muahahaha.

We shuffled off at about 4 mph. Loke enjoyed it. A light wind ruffling his fur, about 54 F with sun/cloud mix. Not a bad day really.

As I pushed on for the the center of town, I thought about how bad Loke had been shedding on his first walk of the morning. He had little tufts sticking out all over and I pulled a few handfuls off and cast to the wind. When we walked just a few yards on, I heard a racket behind us and looked back to see a mob of sparrows having it out over the fur. A full on birdie riot for husky hair. The groomer was kind of on the way to downtown, so why not stop by to see when she had a time available to see us.

We crept and rolled that way. Perhaps I’m not being fair to Loke. We actually were doing about 4 mph, which is pretty good for the past few weeks with him.

I’m friendly with Jennifer, so we chatted as she finished brushing out the dog she had on the table. She was sympathetic upon hearing about what’s been going on with Loke. Asked if I should bring him to her to say bye ‘when the time came’. Definitely!

When she finished with the current dog, she put him away and came to look at her appointment book. Nothing until July. I was about to make the appointment when she suddenly said, ‘Actually, if you can leave him, I’ll fit him in. I can’t give you an exact time I’d be finished with him, but we can do it. He’ll feel better without all that itchy, shedding fur.’

I was truly touched and took her up on her offer. Loke wasn’t entirely thrilled by the change of events.

With Loke in the care of Jennifer, I hustled out the door and rushed off. I still wanted to see if the produce market had watermelon, even if I didn’t buy any. Then I had another awesome idea. I should go by the cafe that had that awesome ice cream. I sped off practically drooling at the idea.

I was in for a nasty shock. I made the turn through the roundabout by the big grave yard and bumped down the cobble stones. Something didn’t look right. First, it was the roses that used to grow up and over the door frame. They were gone. Right after that, I spotted something else. The cheerful little, hand-painted sign over the door with the name of the cafe was missing. I rolled up past where I usually park and a hand written note on the door said, ‘Sushi coming here! Next week!’

Noooooooo!!!! The place that had my absolute favorite ice cream of all time had close. Poof! Vanished! They had the ill-grace to disappear with my chocolate cherry crunch.

I was in a sulky funk as I came bumping and shaking down the hill of cobblestones toward downtown and then up over the iron bridge. From there, it was a quick dash to the train-station and then up toward the produce market.

Now, isn’t this all neat and tidy tenting!

They’ve had a bit of a change this year. In the previous years, the ‘tent’ was made of multiple tarps strung up every which way to keep the rain off. Well, this year, they have a set of lovely matching tent tops and some with sides to form up the shaded and rain-free area. Must be much quicker to put up in the mornings too.

Oh and they had those watermelons I so love which remind me of my childhood summers in Mississippi. I thought about grabbing a quarter of one to see if I could somehow carry it home sans trailer. One look at the line for the register changed my mind. Almost 30 people in it. Since there was no firm time-line no when Jennifer was going to be finished with Loke. I wanted to be securely back at home and ready to fetch Loke with the car when she called. Better to get him that way than risk wearing him out or hurting him by having to run him back home with the trike. Finished the day with just a tiny smidge over 7 miles. About 4 of those, I actually got my heartrate up enough my Fitbit called it exercise.

Loke was so fluffy pretty when I picked him up.

Then for 6 days, there were no rides. Rather strange since some of that was over a weekend, so Jens would have been home. During that time, there was a change in the weather. The cool days shifted and I found myself grumbling about temps pushing 80’s F. Visually, the weather has been stunning. Clear skies, often with not a cloud to be seen, but oh, how that sun hammers down when one is laid out like a turkey underneath the broiling element of an oven.

Nor does it help that I’ve never really been fond of being warm, never mind hot. I mean, a chilly atmosphere and cuddled up under a blanket kinda ‘warm’ is fine. If it gets to be too much, you can just kick the blanket off and voila, you’re good. But ‘warm’ where the air temperature is something you can’t escape, so you’re just warm no matter what you do, I detest. Hot is even worse.

Having grown up on the Gulf Coast, 75 F doesn’t sound particularly warm. A lot of people there would be complaining about it getting a bit chilly. I thrived in those temps and colder! Now that I’ve adapted to Sweden, it’s right on the edge of ‘too warm’. If you have clouds or somewhere with lots of shade, or a nice brisk wind, it’s okay. Heaven forbid if it’s clear and no wind and no shade. I just start unhappily broiling. So does Loke for that matter.

Needless to say, the past 3-4 cool summers have absolutely spoiled me. This one is shaping up to be a hot one. And my theory is ‘warm winter/cool summer’ countered by ‘cold winter/warm summer’. I’d need to look back through my blog posts, but I really do think that every time we’ve had a winter that was on the warm side, the summer has been cooler. This summer is more like the first 4 or so for me in Sweden and all those winters were ‘proper’ winters with temps in the 20’s, teens or colder with knee deep snow.


My next ride was May 10th. Though it was on a Thursday, Jens was off because in Sweden the Pentecost is at least a bank holiday. My nice hubby offered to take care of the dog so I could get the trike out and get exercise. It’s frustrating on the now extremely rare occasions I go out with Loke. 3 hours with him, we get maybe 3 miles and my Fitbit insists no exercise.

After getting our Starbucks’ fix, I got dressed and headed out the door. My generally trusty Canon camera came with me, as did the drone with all batteries charged. The plan was to again do the Börje/Gamla Uppsala Loop while stopping in spots that I could launch the drone and maybe do flyovers of little burial grounds that are scattered all over along the ride. It would also be good to add extra distance and make it the longest ride (so far) of 2018. Besides, I want some flight time logged so I’m good and ready for our trip up north in a few weeks. Dare I say it? Maybe even in NORWAY!

I get ahead of myself.

Sweet, sweet shade.

Even though it wasn’t even yet 10 am, it was already significantly warmer than the forecast had declared. Warm enough that Jens didn’t even suggest I at least take Loke for a short trike-walk. Also, Loke seemed a bit stiff and tired after the slow, careful ride to the groomer where he’d set the pace. Better to let the old man rest.

I loaded up the trike and wrestled it around to get rolling for the most direct way to Old Börje Road since it’s better if my extra distance to be on the country roads, not portions of the River Loop. While pushing up the gradual climb from the apartment, I made sure to savor the little patches of shade I passed through. There were be very little of that outside the city.

Before I’d even gone a mile, I was sticky and my face felt flushed-hot which gives me images of spontaneous combustion. I sipped some water, not that it helped cool me in the least, and kept on.

The soft greens, the flowering trees all say ‘Spring’. The heat says, ‘SUMMER!’

This wasn’t going to be a fast day. I’m not interested in fast, just ‘out for more than an hour and faster than I can walk’.

It seemed a bit breezy as I came along the cycle path toward the 272 where I’d scoot across to Old Börje Road. Then it was the slow climb up that short, steep hill. The downward glide on the other side was glorious. Little patches of shade and the wind of hitting 20+ mph.

As I came proper into the ‘countryside’, the sheer force of the wind stunned me. It had seemed merely breezy on the cycle path. No, it was out-n-out windy. It was coming from the back too. Deep down, it went against my instincts to continue out with a tailwind, but I just figured I’d make a day of it even if it meant bucking a hard headwind on the way back to Uppsala.

I watched the temperature on my Garmin. Even with the wind, it kept creeping up and soon hit 80 F. UGH. Of course, winds from the back when riding a trike or bike are tricky things when it comes to temperature perception. Once you get moving fast enough with the tailwind, there’s the sudden illusion that the air is utterly and completely dead still. And that happened as I clipped along the flats at over 12 mph. 80+ F, under the hammer of a blazing sun with a sky so clear it seemed like the crystal of a magnifying glass amplifying that hot light.

The grass! The fields! The trees! All green now!

I must say though, the warm temps had made an almost miraculous change on the landscape. When I rode through the loop on the 28th of April, there were hints of green in the winter brown grasses, with some patches of proper green, but there was still the muted murky tones over the entire countryside because the trees still looked so bare. The buds were there, but you had to be just a few feet away from the branches to spot the swellings on the twigs.

Not so now. It’s all green! Green! GREEN!

The shades on the trees are still those with a soft yellow hue to them that speak of spring, but they are green. Hot the light might have been, but it made those colors pop. And the blue sky above? Just… wow.

Skimming down one of the flats with that wind pushing on my back, I eagerly approached the old house to see if it was still there. Yes! Still there! The wood cladding on the eastern outer wall had been stripped off, but it appeared to be in preparation for replacement. There was also a large pallet of clay roof tiles sitting in the yard. I smell restoration!

As I came down the hill toward the crossroads, my eyes kept straying to the left. It wasn’t because I was thinking of cutting the ride short on the Läby Loop, but there’s a dirt road that runs semi-parallel to the paved lane I’ve always taken that way since 2006. My various archaeology sites have burial grounds and even a runestone hiding somewhere along there. I’ve known about them for about 2 years, but since I wasn’t riding the longer loops (over 15 miles) again until this year, I’ve never tackled it. You know what? I was going to do it!

Besides, I hoped that getting off the asphalt might be cooler. Garmin was reading almost 85 F.

My hopes were dashed. It was actually warmer at the start. As I made the turn and pushed up a bit of a hill where there was no shade yet trees to either side to block the wind, the Garmin’s display jumped to 92 F! I gulped water and pushed on.

Burial ground to the right.

Trees so close, but no shade.

I was glad when it opened up again so I had the full force of the wind, bringing the temp back down to about 86 F. The unpaved surface had some washboard-ing and a few shallow ‘potholes’ as well as the general bumpiness of random loose rocks the size of quail eggs, which kept my speed down. The tailwind overtook me nicely, blowing through the mesh of my seat and cooling me down a smidge. Such a relief. The whole thing made me grateful I had tights in colors other than black. Can you imagine?! Reclined on the trike, under that sun in those temps while half of the body is covered in black?! Give me my bright plum any day.

Looks burial-mound-y.

As I passed by the incredibly smoothly plowed fields, it occurred to me that some spots there would be absolutely perfect places to launch the drone. Of course, it equally struck me that it was likely a very bad idea to launch the drone. The wind, if anything, was getting worse. A steady blowing of something close to 15 mph with chaotic gusts much higher. It offered some reprieve from the heat, but kept my drone firmly tucked in its bag.

It was frustrating. Especially when I was curious about this random mound in the middle of a field just calling for a low fly-over by a drone to see if there was any order to the rocks studding it or other indication that it was what it appeared to be. A possible burial mound.

The promise of shade beckons!

As I came up to where my next turn was to be, I was a little confused and concerned. The way it sat lower than the surrounding ground, I couldn’t see it until I was within 50 yards of it or so. A modest little track rather than a full on road. It was flanked on either side by barbed wire fencing.

Hrrrmmm. Not my favorite surface. I’ve had worse though!

The rougher ground made climbing the hill there more labor intensive. Once firmly under the shade of the trees, the relief from the constant pressure of wind was significant. I was being diligent about applying sunscreen to hands and face, but the wind was starting to make my cheeks feel a little raw.

I positioned myself on the track in such a way that seemed to offer least rolling resistance and pushed on. The next turn gave me a bit of a pause, however. Instead of packed dirt (with or without a grassy strip), it was all loose rocks.

I drew a breath, made the turn and just reminded myself I was in no hurry. It’s all exercise to build me up to greater things! Right?

Irritation set in as I came to a large round area cut clear in the trees maybe 30-40 yards across. The surface of it was a combination of loose dirt and rocks. There was obvious sign of a way forward. The map indicated a for bikes and walking straight ahead that would lead to a cluster of small dirt roads emerging right at Börje Church. I couldn’t see it. Just a wall of trees and undergrowth.

Sheltered from the wind and with so much space in the center, I decided to send the drone up. No where else. Just straight up since I wanted to turn it on to do a compass calibration any way.

I sent it just 30 meters up and it got buffeted by the wind, giving me a warning on the controls. I brought it right back down and packed it up. At least I ‘officially’ got to fly the drone on the ride.

I could wish for a 100 miles of this!

Working the trike around in a gradual turn on the mushy surface to start the hard ride back to the paved road almost 2 miles away, against the wind, I spotted what looked to be a spot near a boulder where grass and undergrowth at the tree line had been flattened down. I stood up to look.

YES! The trail! And it looked so lovely! Smooth packed earth with a cushion of pine needles here and there. The occasional rock or root. Nothing my Sprint couldn’t eat for lunch and want more. A broad grin just wouldn’t go away.

The trail didn’t stay quite so Sprint friendly. Rocks and roots became more frequent and sometimes clustered quite inconveniently. I had to get up, lift the rear wheel, and walk it over the worst spots. Just twice, which wasn’t too bad. The trail wasn’t more than a couple thousand feet. It wasn’t fast, but it was a pleasant little distance. Mostly shady, sheltered from the wind. Shockingly, there were very few bugs. Honestly, I fully expected to be lunch for several thousand blood suckers. Nope! Was buzzed by one thing that might have been a horsefly. If so, it was just a fly-by (haha) and no biting.

Blueberries! Rather, they will be in a few weeks!

There were hints of forest sweetness coming in the weeks to come.

At the end of the path, I was able to ride through the last couple hundred yards, though at no faster than walking speed. It required very careful calculations to find the best path for the rear wheel. Before I knew it, I was back on a proper road. Dirt, but in fair condition with only a little washboard surface and very few divots of something resembling smooth, shallow potholes. Most of it was downhill too. I just let the trike coast along, leaning into the curves while whipping through at speed.

Börje is lovely in the distance.

When Börje Church came into clear view was the only stop made. A rather pretty scene it made, even if the field in the foreground was just dry, freshly plowed dirt. I stared contemplatively at it as I put the camera away, wondering if I dared try the drone again. The parking on the side of the church abuts a wide field so I could take off and land with what I thought was plenty of distance from any trees. Did I dare risk the wind? It wouldn’t hurt to go evaluate.

It’s going slow, but the wall is being rebuilt.

The unpaved road comes out a bit past the parking, so I had to pedal by the front of the church to the parking. Naturally, as I passed, there was a ruckus at the door to the house of the vicarage across the street, and a small crowd of people came out. They were all dressed ‘in Sunday best’ rather than full on hot summer day casual. They began to stroll across to the church. No, I wasn’t going to send my buzzy, noisy drone up as people were about to go in for Pentecost worship. Ah well.

A wide loop through the parking lot and back onto the road to head off toward Old Farm. Work on the north-western corner of the churchyard wall seems to be progressing. It does appear that during this chaos of ripping apart and repairing, they took out one or more trees that once grew between the road and stones. A silver lining to that I suppose is that in the coming spring thaws, it’s less likely that black ice will be lurking in wait for innocent trike riders who come racing down around that hilly curve.

The loop I was aiming for was 21+ miles. Börje church is just six miles from the start or about 7 miles with the alternative dirt road/foot path I’d taken. Somehow though, as I made that turn which almost hugs the churchyard wall, it feels like a halfway point. I’m not sure why.

One significant change as I flew through the turn, the wind. I abruptly found it in my face and completely unforgiving. It was expected. I geared down and hunkered into the seat to grind away the miles.

The scenery was a distraction as I crept along. Since I have a vague idea now of where there are burial grounds along the way, I kept an eye out for them as well as admiring the burst of green that had been lacking before.

Always drove me crazy if this was a runestone.

It’s mostly fields for about a half mile or more after the church. It made me itch to send the drone up to fly over the tree clusters across the dirt to explore what I now knew to be burial monuments. There was one such with a large, chunky stone thrusting up in such a way that strikes me as ‘not natural’. I keep wondering if it’s a runestone.  That was one spot where I really wanted to take the drone out to go look. Nope. Just too much wind.

How much archaeology destroyed for a few skinny trees?

Creeping through the countryside like a snail, I noticed how much plowing was going on. It was hard to miss. The earth is so very dry and with that much wind, dust flew in storms around every tractor. Quite a few times, I was forced to pull my shirt up over my lower face to keep from inhaling too much of it. Doesn’t seem to be a good practice for topsoil to send it flying like that.

One spot I stopped, knowing for sure there is (was?) a small burial site. As I clicked my camera phone at it, I had to wonder, how much of the archaeology had been wiped out by the heavy equipment that had mowed down greenery on that outcrop. Certainly couldn’t see any signs of a burial ground. Just chewed earth and ragged stumps. For what? The trees had been small, skinny things. No use for timber. Toothpicks perhaps?

Of course, how many ancient burials do I walk across as I go into Starbucks at the Granby mall? I keep saying it. Can’t walk 3 feet without tripping over some ancient cultural site here in southern Sweden. It still breaks my heart though.

The journey against the wind and into the dust continued. I came up to Old Farm, suppressing the urge to risk the drone. The best shots of the farm would have been within 10-15 yards of the trees. If I stopped, I might have succumbed to the temptation and had a harsh gust blast it into the trailing, blowing strands of birch branches.

Taking the time to admire what I’ve under-appreciated all these years.

With the winter damaged road making it too unsafe to go screaming down that looooonnnngggg hill to the river at 27 mph, I finally stopped and snapped photos of building I’ve always (briefly) admired as I sped by.

So beautiful the way the countryside rolls.

While the wind made it ill-advised for me to play with the drone, it didn’t stop me from scoping out places I could maybe launch from. Especially as I made that slow climb up from the river by Old Farm. There’s burial mounds there and it’s open. I’d love to maybe buzz around there to get some flying practice as well as get a view of the site from up high. Something like a tractor inlet for the fields would be about perfect. No houses for almost a quarter mile which is awesome!

The dandelions seem late this year. No vast fields of them yet.

I didn’t really have a chance too look too closely though. There was a tractor stirring up more dust and a lot closer to the road than the previous ones had been. Perfect wind direction to bring it right to me to. Dust in my eyes, mouth. Had to keep wiping my Garmin’s display clear. I really wanted to get out of his range.

As seen in the photos, clouds had scurried in to break up the single sheet of blue the sky had been. At times, I even had a brief little patch of traveling shade to offer solace during the hard labor against the wind.

As I rolled up to Åkerby church, I was feeling every inch of the ride since making the turn by Börje church. I rolled by the entrance of the churchyard to tuck the trike out of sight behind the church itself. I just kinda melted into the seat for a bit, waiting for the twitching and aches to leave my legs before pulling myself up and slinging on the drone bag along with the handlebar bag with the camera so I could go runestone hunting. Embedded in stone wall encircling the graves around the church a runestone lurks. Or at least a sizable fragment of one.

On wobbly legs, I started my search. It was cut short. Much as thighs and knees were unhappy with walking at that moment, my shoulders with the weight of the bags were just screaming bloody murder.

There’s been an internal raging debate going on in my head for a few weeks now. Camera upgrade. The question of whether to go full sensor or stick with the cropped sensor. The cropped one is generally used in what are considered beginner’s cameras. One of the drawbacks of the bigger sensor was a question of size. Well, that little stroll cinched the deal. I thought I was willing to deal with the greater size and, therefore, weight.

Nope. Not at all. I was going to go for another cropped sensor like camera. Just my old 400D is over 10 years old now and improvements in digital technology mean that even with a camera that is considered in the same class as my 400D was when it was purchased new, I should get better results. Besides, I still needed to replace that smashed lens which would cost more than a cropped sensor camera body. The compatibility of lenses is less than ideal between the two types, so I needed to be sure which camera I was going with before getting another 70-300 mm lens.

I only searched about a quarter of the wall before I stumbled back to the trike and divested the weight of the bags. No how was I getting a heavier camera. The pressure on my shoulders from the straps thanks to either the Lyme Disease or nerve damage from the stroke would drive me to my knees if I tried it. I was so sure, I even texted Jens at that moment to tell him. Besides, cropped sensor cameras are about half the price of the others.

I actually sat in the shade of the trees by Åkerby church. Is it my imagination or do I not have a close up photo of the church on my blog? I found one distance shot, but nothing close unless one counts some interior photos from that time I came across the caretaker. I’ll have to correct that. Maybe with my drone?

Drone. Drone. Drone. I’m not obsessed. Not the least little bit.

Not sure I’ve photoed this root cellar before.

White amongst the green

I pushed on from Åkerby, convincing the legs it wasn’t really that much further. Only 8 miles. That was going to be 8 miles for the 18 mile loop. The wind was not only robbing me of the chance to fly my drone, but also to make the ride longest of 2018.

I have to say, I missed the gliders as I pushed on from Åkerby toward Ulva mill. I’m not surprised they weren’t out though. The wind would have had them tumbled all over the air-strip like toys in a toddler’s room after a tantrum.

Crossing that stretch between Åkerby and Ulva was brutal. The wind, my weariness. My feet were giving me fits as well. At times, they were fine and I could pedal along with no discomfort. Other times, it was like the ball of the foot was on fire or in that ‘painfully numb’ state. How is that even possible? If it’s numb, it shouldn’t hurt! Oh, but it does. The worst was when it bizarrely felt as if someone was stripping away the soles of my feet with a belt sander. At times, I’d barely go 300 yards before I’d have to stop again to detach from the pedals and wriggle the toes in the shoes.

Random old building.

I was surprised how much quicker I was able to go when I reached the cycle path along side the last leg to Ulva mill. It’s mostly out and exposed to the wind which came from a front quarter. Combine that with the exhaustion, I would have been happy to just go faster than I could walk. Instead, I was clipping along at nearly 8 mph. Go me!

Ulva mill. I was so glad when I reached it at just a bit before 4 pm. I decided to stop in spite of the bee-hive of human activity that swarmed around it. The parking field across from the mill grounds was packed. Bikes and motorcycles zipped around. I still rolled in between the buildings and found a haven of shade near some picnic tables. I staggered to my feet, grabbed the bags and tottered into the cafe. Some chilled water in one hand and an ice cream in the other, I reemerged to sit at one of those tables and savor the sensation of cold things in the shade. Comfortable as my trike’s seat is, it felt so good to sit on something else.

Naturally, as I forced myself take the time to enjoy the ice cream and cold water rather than devour them like a ravening, starving beast, Jens called to inform me he’d booked a table at a local pub/restaurant in our neighborhood for 6 pm. At first I was a bit frustrated because I was ‘ruining’ my appetite. Then it hit me. My last calories had been about 8:30 am with Starbucks hot chocolate. By the time I had my treat at Ulva, my Fitbit said I’d burned almost 3000 calories with 4 hours and 40-minutes of exercise. Yeah, I wasn’t going to let a bit of ice cream ruin whatever I ate at Sherlocks.

I had to be honest with myself though. I didn’t know if I could make it by 6 pm. I wasn’t going to further kill myself for it either. So, I stubbornly sat at Ulva, refusing to rush back into the slow crawl against the wind toward home.

I left Ulva and climbed back up from the river. The possible cycle path rambling out across the fields caught longing looks from me. I didn’t have the energy and strength to risk a possible ‘out-n-back’ on what could be loose gravel over hills let alone the time. My average speed wasn’t helped by the seeming near constant need to unclip my feet to wriggle them around.

Somehow, I made it to Gamla Uppsala. While the much easier way along the Vattholma Road beckoned, I was determined to put the trike in the storage rather than at the apartment. I just knew though, if I rode so close to the apartment, there was no way I’d push onward to the storage. I’d crash and burn out, stopping at home to collapse. So, off onto the grave mound path I went.

It actually turned out to be a fun ending to the ride. I lucked out on the big hill. There weren’t any of the 1000’s of joggers on it as I came screaming down, gravel flying, strands of hair whipping in the wind. I flew through the turn and gravity slowed me for the nice, shady wood section. Perfect really. I got to say hello to the tiniest chihuahua puppy. I swear he wanted to run with me. Or maybe just sit in my handlebar bag for a ride. Too darn cute.

I called Jens when I thought I was about 15 minutes from the storage. It was well timed. I had rolled down, unlocked the door and gotten everything back in when he arrived. I didn’t even need to sit and wait.

While the restaurant is within a 10 minute walk of our apartment, I drove while Jens walked there with Loke. There just was no way my legs were going to work for a walk there and back.

In spite of the fits the wind gave me, the discomfort of my feet, and the pressure to get back home with a time limit, it was worth it.

There was another ride the day after this Börje/Ulva Mill Loop, but this post has run long enough. I’ll save the Fruit Stand ride for the next post and combine it with Camera chatter.

Visiting an Old Loop.
May 1, 2018, 9:25 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Goodness. I’m a posting mad woman of late, aren’t I? Of course, it helps that I’ve had rides to post about.

Only one ride since my last post. Such a slacker, I know.

There was a minor contention during the morning of April 28th. Jens offered to do a long walk with Loke, freeing me to get a ride that would be actual exercise. Dreaming of a nice long outing, I wanted to a fairly early start, but Jens wanted to relax until about noon and then have me drive him out. I kind of won. Jens decided that as tired as Loke had become on the last long walk by the river, maybe it would be better to just do a walk out to the Grave Mounds and back here. That way, if the fuzzy became too tired, the walk could be shortened.

So, first I went off to Starbucks for our hot-chocolate and latte fix, back home by 10 am. Planned to wait until about 11 am for the food to settle and then go.

Nope! My stomach started doing roller coasters for some reason. I really wanted to go ride, but not have an ‘accident’. So, I waited. And waited.

Jens was out walking with the furry one when things at last relented and ceased the assault on my tummy. I was dressed and getting the trike ready at about 12:30.

First, I had a bit of a task to perform. When I took the trike out of the car last time and assembled it, I noticed that one of the seat clamps wouldn’t tighten. The threads in the collar were stripped. Second time that’s happened. Fortunately, the first time, I ordered extra clamps when getting the replacement. So, I had to work the knob out of the stripped collar and get the new one put on. That was about a 15 minute wrestle because I stubbornly refused to remove the seat.

It was mostly sunny as I moved out. Big puffs of clouds here and there and off in the distance, they were bigger and dark on the bottoms in that dramatic way we’ve had for the better part of a week. Rather than take the back streets in the opposite way of where I intended to ride, I headed straight to the big street and headed north. Extra distance would be for another time.

When I rode the 8+ mile Gamla Uppsala/River Loop a few days ago, I hit the ground over 8 mph for more than the first mile. From where I started, heading north on Svartbäcken, it’s up a bit of a hill, which slowed me to about 5 mph. Still pretty good for me on a hill.

Flowers taking their moment in the sun!

It also gave me a chance to admire the little park across from the grocery store. I guess you call it a ‘dell’. It’s down in a low hollow, just a few dozen yards across in all directions. A green place once it shakes off the winter browns. It’s gorgeous in spring. The trees will burst into white flowers in a few weeks. Now, it’s the time when grass has started to come in and, with the sun able to come in through the currently leafless trees, thousands of purple flowers have sprung up. Lovely.

I picked up some good speed once I crested the hill and zoomed on toward the connection with part of the River Loop. It wasn’t quite the fun downhill dash all the way to the turn that I hoped for. Outside an apartment building, a moving truck had parked on the cycle path. I had to swerve over onto the pedestrian path right near the doors of the building to get by since I couldn’t get down the curb without possibly scraping the underside of the trike.  Not wanting to run someone over if they stepped out of the building, I took it slow until I reached the cycle paths.

I hit about 9 mph on a bit of a flat as I pushed on down the path. At one point, I had a bunch of boys on BMX bikes, yelling encouragement as they struggled to keep up. We were all laughing and pedaling like mad before they swerved off onto a street. That, of course, was followed by a fast blast down the big hill to the bridge across the river. Hoping for a nice long ride, I didn’t push, but just coasted the whole way down. It was so nice to be able to take full advantage of gravity. From there, it was just a short hop to cross the 272 and start pedaling up that first silly steep climb on Old Börje Road.

Oof! The wind! Pretty day though!

Road view on a pretty, if windy day.

It felt so good to take advantage of the descents though as well as see how fast I could comfortably clip along on the flats. It wasn’t quite as fast as I had hoped, as I discovered a brisk wind barreling from the south-west across the fields. Since it was hitting from just left of front, it meant some work to push against. My Garmin showed about 68 F in the sun which, while cool, wasn’t uncomfortable with those capricious breezes. Just about right as I pedaled briskly.

You know, I did not expect the amount of traffic I encountered on that road. Weekends seem to be the worst along Old Börje. It is typically quieter during the weekdays.

Countryside in spring

There was one minor issue which caught me by surprise, particularly with my level of reduced fitness. Into the wind, which slowed me, I was still hitting the top gear available on the 2nd chain ring and spinning quickly. I could definitely have used more gears on the 3rd ring. Since upgrading my rear cassette from 9 speed to 10 and adding a 40 tooth cog though, there was no way to get enough chain on the trike without having too much slack with the small ring and smaller back cogs. In favor of being able to climb hills easier on my knees even if much slower, I sacrificed my big front ring in favor of the 40 tooth on the back.

As I pushed on, I was hopeful to find the old yellow house still there. As I mentioned the last time I posted about riding past it, there was work going around it which I hoped was restoration rather than demolition. Happily, the house was still there and there looked to be some building supplies to one side. It still seems it is being restored and may well stay on site. Yay!

As I passed that old house, I turned my mind to deciding how far to ride. Around the 4.5 mile mark, I’d reach the cross-roads. Left would make the ride roughly 12 miles on the ‘Läby Loop’, so named for the church I ride close to on the way. Right, would be Ulva/G.Uppsala Loop at about 14.5 miles. Straight, well, that was a bit more of a possible challenge. 18+ miles on the Börje/Ulva Loop.

The inside of Jumkil. July 2016

Before I was forced into such a late start by my traitorous tummy, I had thought to do the Börje/Ulva Loop. My dilemma continued right up to the point I was speeding down the hill with the cross-road looming fast at the bottom. My eyes were drawn wistfully to the twisting road straight ahead. It called with a song as sweet as any siren’s serenade.  The last time I’d gone straight through the intersection was back in… 2016, I think? I believe that was the year I ambitiously rode to Jumkil church and was so incredibly fortunate to have a chance to see the inside of it and another church that I’ve ridden by countless times over the past 12 years. All because of a very kind caretaker.

Late start or not, I felt good and the sun sets after 8:30 pm, I was going to do it! I threw my arms up in the air and yelled like a winner of a race as I sailed straight through the intersection.

With a bit of flat road, I pushed up into my middle chainring and my smallest back cog to clip along at about 11 mph. There was a bit of a break in the wind along there, so I probably could have gone even faster if I’d had the big ring to use. Ah well.

That reminds me. I really should replace the battery in my cadence sensor now that I can spin with the pedals thanks to having my SPD shoes back!

Seems like I always pause here. Not sure why.

I took a quick break to photograph down the road beside one of the lovely barns on the ride. Not sure why I like the view there so much, but I do.

Pig fencing? Yep! A sign this was a pig farm a little further down confirmed.

I meant to blast onward as fast as my legs could spin the pedals, but an unexpected sight had me stopping again to do a quick click. Where over the past years that I’ve ridden here, it’s always been a crop field, wheat mostly, though there was canola planted here one year, there was now a bit of electric fencing. Not your typical layout for electric fencing either. Two strips of electrical tape topped by a bare electric wire which is common, but not all arranged with a total height of barely more than 2 feet.

My experience with livestock fencing isn’t exactly extensive, but the only time I’ve ever seen fencing like this was for, well, pigs. Free range pigs. Animals given space to amble and forage around in wide pasture ground the same offered any horse, cow, sheep, or goat. Off in the distance, I thought I saw a few short, blocky animals that might have been pigs.

This shack looks considerably more weathered since I last saw it.

A few yards down from where I took the fence photo, was a sign along side a gravel drive. Yep. Freshly plowed pasture ground for a pig farm. Can I call it or can I call it?

Traffic was still a bit heavier than expected. They were all really polite though. Didn’t crowd me and one person waited until I waved for them to pass on a curve with limited visibility. Then I was making a wild dash down the tight curve by the Börje school and racing up to the church.

I still feel a fond sense of nostalgia for Börje church. The first one I reached with my trike back in 2006. The first ‘collected’ on a ride. One could say it was the first such ‘adventure’ that opened my eyes to how much freedom a shining machine of candy-apple red and three 20 inch wheels could offer in exploring this new country I had adopted as my home. Such grand times I’ve had.

Börje Kyrka – 2009

Perhaps, with revisiting these old loops of lengths greater than 8 miles, I can begin to recapture that sense of adventure and see more of this corner of the world. I’ve missed doing it. New places, new experiences.

There was something going on at the church. A backhoe was in the parking lot as well as what looked to be a shipping container. The earth between the churchyard wall and the road was scraped clear of grass, the dirt churned, and caution cones set everywhere. I think there was probably a tree or two gone along there too.

I stopped only long enough to click a photo of the runestone in the churchyard wall for my Facebook trike groups before dashing down the hill and around the sharp curve. From there, it was an immediate hard right turn.

So many bees! Oh, and yellow jackets. Lots and lots of yellow jackets.

I stopped again after the turn as well and smiled at the road ahead. So long since I’d been here. At the time I didn’t even know how long since my trike’s wheels has touched that pavement. I wanted to savor the moment.

My ‘savoring’ was interrupted by a surprising amount of buzzing hum. The kind of hum a bee makes, but more. So very much more. Puzzled, I looked left and up. The branches of some kind of tree loomed over my head. What at a distant glance had appeared as leaves of pale yellow green, were in fact a sort of modest, puffy flowering.

Those flowers must have smelled sweet on some level undetectable to humans, because the bees were flying from puff to puff in a frenzy of industrious effort. So many that they filled the air with a low hum of wings.

I stiffened as something yellow and black swooped down to hover briefly in my face. My mouth went a little dry at the sight of it. Not a bee, but a yellow jacket. I held my breath and stayed perfectly still until it moved on, my eyes following it to one of the tree’s flowers. That’s when I noticed that about half of the ‘bees’ were, in fact, yellow jackets.

I would love to ride in one someday.

I promptly flung my phone in the handlebar bag and scurried onward. Bees, I don’t mind. Yellow jackets and I don’t have a good history.

Not far after the bee tree, I heard a different kind of buzz and looked up to see a small, single prop plane. Behind it, a glider was getting up to speed. I got to watch as the glider broke loose and continued serenely on its own, the noisy tow-plane heading back toward the air strip.

I’ve always been fascinated by gliders. And hang-gliders for that matter. Just such an amazing, and peaceful way to explore the world from on high. Maybe someday.

Smiling, and glancing up frequently to the sky with it’s near constant parade of tow-planes and gliders, I started the up and down between Börje and Åkerby churches. Those downhills along there are downright (haha) exhilarating.

Not as ugly as some clear cut hill sides. Still makes me sad though.

I’d not even reached the ‘Old Farm’ before I felt a little pang at some changes along the way. There were piles of logs along the road in some places. One stretch of hill had so many trees removed from it. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still made me sad. I have seen worse though. Ground left raw and churned into an eye-sore of destruction with broken stumps sticking up and a few scraggy twigs left standing. There were more trees left standing and I didn’t see many stumps, nor did the ground look terribly chewed up and spit out.

Flowers can still make me smile.

It left me wondering how long it had been since the cutting happened.

I finished that first downward charge there and set to climbing the next hill. More clear cuts, but not as extensive as the earlier ridge.

A huge tractor chugged off the field, onto the road just behind me and came creeping up I inched upward. I pulled over as far as I could as the farmer gave me a grateful wave and squeezed over as far as he could. There was just inches to spare, both on his side, my side, and the space between us.

Massive wheels, taller than I am and pulling a huge raking sort of arrangement that would have flattened out to 3x the width of the machine dragging it. Two parts of it were folded up so it was no wider than the tractor. Rows and rows of metal tines, each as long as my arm and several inches thick, seemed to hang over my head like a threat. I couldn’t shake the image of something breaking and having the thing fall, impaling me with two or three of those tines. *shudder*

Was glad when he was past me. I took my time even more slowly up the hill to give him plenty of opportunity to be off the road by time I started the next downhill dash.

House at Gamla Gård – 2015

The farmer waved again from field he was working as I zipped by, spinning hard on the flat. Doing about 12 mph on the level, I flashed by a huge pile of deadwood awaiting Valborg night bonfires of April 30th. Then it was up the quite steep climb where I’d be approaching Gamla Gård (Old Farm).

These collection of old buildings, rescued and maintained by the local residents used to be a frequent stopping point on my rides, when I did these loops so often as training for rides else where. Back before my body started breaking down because of the stroke followed hard by Lyme disease. So many days, Loke and I would stop here so he could have some water and cool off in the lush grass under the shade of the birch trees while I had a simple lunch and listened to the birds.

There’ve been a few changes, which left me a bit sad. I’m not sure why. Some trees are gone. There are two picnic tables now, instead of one, and they sit on slab of big red stones inset into coarse gravel, which is actually kind of nice. The traditional fencing around the ‘farm yard’ was looking older, more lichen covering the staves.

The guys restored it beautifully! Love the mill-stone step!

One definite improvement though is the building which had been just recently rescued from ruin elsewhere had been fully restored. When I last saw it, the wood was looking a bit too weathered and the door, falling apart and hanging crooked. In place of a ceramic or even sod roof, it had been covered over with a tarp.

The restoration has been beautifully done. The gorgeous door made with diagonal beams in a chevron pattern was stunning and I absolutely loved the millstone slab they used as a stoop. I heartily approve! It makes me so happy to such such buildings preserved. One of the reasons this is one of my favorite local places.

I’ve always loved this little gatehouse too.

After doing some digging, it appears I last rode by here 3 years ago. I guess that could explain why some of the changes seem so drastic. If I’d been coming by several times over the summer, it wouldn’t have felt so jarring.

I didn’t linger long. Though I was going faster than Loke and I have in perhaps years, even with the hills, time was ticking onward. I really wanted to make it home at a reasonable time for dinner as lunch time had slipped away with no food to sustain me. At the end of the dirt lane that leads to the parking spot of the old farm, is a bit of a steep incline. I spun up it and then paused at the top for dramatic effect.

For over a half mile, a long descent awaited. My top speed at the bottom usually caps at about 27 mph thanks to the blind sharp curve right where there’s a bridge across a river. I chicken out about going faster, not wanting to skid into grill of an oncoming car.

And example of winter damage that made me cautious flying down the hill

Today’s dash down only hit a bit over 17 mph. The condition of the road after the first winter snow in years was just too shoddy to instill the confidence to go faster. Then, of course, a car came roaring up from the blind spot at the bridge, straying into my lane which had me hit the brakes hard enough to drop to 5 mph. I only managed to get back to about 12 mph to sail across the river.

As exhilarating as coming down that is, there is a steeper climb to leave the ravine. Not as long, but steeper. Creeping along gave me plenty of time to look around at my surroundings, even when it was just a solid wall of grass on both sides leading up to fenced pastures over head. As I started to come back up to ‘ground level’ as it were, I happened to look left. “Huh. Those lumps look like they might be mounds. Could that be a burial ground?” I paused long enough to take a picture before chewing my way onward.

I’m getting sharp-eyed. Indeed, a burial ground. From Stone Age to Iron Age.

Naturally, once I started writing this post and came this point, prompted by the photo, I pulled up my trusty archaeology map. Wouldn’t you know? I was right! There are also a couple of mounds on the right in the low, flat area by the river’s curve. While the current bridge is all modern construction of concrete, there was an older bridge of stone vaults, about 12 meters long, back in the 1800’s. Oh, and the horse pasture that partially surrounds ‘The Old Farm?’. Yep, burial ground.

And between Börje Church and The Old Farm? Perhaps another half dozen smaller burial grounds I’ve been taking in as just a small aspect of the surrounding landscape without realizing what I was only half seeing. One of them, I could have sat on my trike and tossed pebbles at, it’s so close to the road. That one, I will forgive myself for missing though as it’s covered in trees and thick undergrowth.

Ah, southern Sweden. Can’t take 3 steps without tripping over Stone, Bronze, or Iron Age archaeology. Not quite as intense as say, Greece, where there’s not a square inch you can scuff without turning over 3 types of artifact. The next time I ride the loop, I’ll look at the entire way with a new appreciation. I’ve been circling it off and on for 12 years now and yet, it has become almost new with this knowledge.

About the time I left the old farm, the temperature started to drop. The starting chill was mostly due to the loss of sunlight behind a thickening veil of higher clouds behind the clumps. Combined with that stiff wind, I really started to feel it by the time I passed Åkerby church. I didn’t stop there, though I’ll have to do so next time as I just found out there’s an ‘uncollected’ runestone hiding in the churchyard wall.

Pretty scene and just noticed one can see the top of Gamla Uppsala church in the distance.

I had no problems crossing the busy road and continuing on the small country lane. Overhead, the tow planes still buzzed, leaving gliders in their wake. I was clipping along at about 11 mph when I spotted someone in my rear view. Fully decked in Lycra road gear and on a racing bike. He passed me like I was standing still. 70 if he was a day. He told me, ‘Good job!’ as he buzzed by.

Naturally just as he passed, I stopped. It didn’t happen because I was sulking, but because I wanted to photograph the peaceful scene of a grazing horse. As I cropped this photo to put in the post, I only now noticed one can just make out the top of Gamla Uppsala church in the distance. A little triangle point jutting above the tree-line to the left. Roughly 4.7 miles away as the crow flies. I had no idea it was visible from so far off! Imagine how it must have been when it was a cathedral!

Left? Right? Windy, 48 F and dressed for 55+ F. Right it is!

Camera tucked back away, I charged at a high spin for the half mile flat before another steep down and up through a ravine at a tiny water course. At the top of the climb out, I paused after pulling forward enough out of traffic. Left, an unpaved road wound, rock strewn surface not too bad as such things go. That direction would bring me out at Bälinge, adding about 3 miles to the ride. Those extra miles would put me at the longest ride of 2018. Right, was the more direct way home for 18+ miles. Left? Right?

Bälinge Church in the distance.

Time and temperature decided for me. It was right at 4 pm with probably 8 miles to home. It had gone from low 60’s to under 50 F since I’d started. Throw in complete lack of warming sun and that wind. As much as the idea of a longer ride called, I was getting cold and already well past ‘hungry’ into the realm of ‘ravenous’. I headed off to the right.

Next time I come this way, hopefully earlier, I’ll tackle the 21+ mile total.

There was another up and down right away, I spun through it as quick as I could. I was starting to feel the ride by this point though. I had hot spots on my feet and my left knee was starting to have some pain. My muscles didn’t feel too bad though, which surprised me.

Rolling on, it seemed everywhere I looked there were changes. A few centuries old buildings were missing. One of them had caught fire and I had hoped it would be restored, but it seems it was demolished instead. The stretch between the long hill ending in a bridge and onward toward Ulva, hadn’t been ridden by me since sometime in 2016. That would have been the same ride where I was fortunate enough to peek inside Jumkil and Åkerby churches.

It felt like no time at all when the grassy air strip appeared on my right. This was the launch point for all those gliders I’d been seeing.

Down… down… down.. and landed!

Even with the wind howling across the fields with not even a low shrub to block it, I stopped to watch, hoping that I’d get to see a glider going up. It seemed they were wrapping up for the day though. One tow-plane took off, did a quick buzz and then landed, all without a glider. Still I waited. After about 15 minutes, a glider started circling in for a landing. I snapped a quick series of pictures until it came to rest gently on the grass.

I finally gave up and pushed for home, joining up with the cycle path along a busier road until almost to the mill. Then it was a brisk down and slow back up to and from the mill race as I shot past Ulva.

I didn’t think it had been so long since I’d last been at Ulva. Yet there were changes. One was a new paved drive flanked by decorative brick posts for a house that sits on a high out-crop of rock above the mill and river there.

Hard to make out, but there’s a smooth, gravel path leading off across the fields beside the river…

Opposite was a brand new curving strip of gravel with the easiest access points of it blocked by barricades. It was fresh enough that the tidy edges hadn’t yet had a chance to ‘crumble’ as it rambled off into the distance, following the contours of the Fyris River. Beautifully finished surface too. I stopped to stare it contemplatively.

It looked suspiciously like the beginnings of a paved cycle path or a gravel one soon to be opened. An almost perfect match for a gravel stretch just off the same road where it intersected with the old E4. Dare I hope? Perhaps before the year is done there will be a new way to get from Ulva to the old E4, across the fields and beside the river?! My heart was all aflutter at the very thought.

The temptation to bump across the little ‘ditch’ and explore how far it went was strong. The drive to satisfy my curiosity. Cold, hunger, and the fact it was after 5 pm had me reluctantly letting it go.

As I came streaking down the hill to the old E4, I did stare mournfully at what might be the other end of the path before making the turn for the last push to Gamla Uppsala.

I was flagging as I whipped by Disa Farm museum and came around the curve to start the climb up beside the church there. It’s not the steepest climb of the ride, but it was the hardest. Muscles ached and burned and my left knee complained more vociferously than before. I stopped at the juncture where I could either take the mound path, or glide down to Vattholma Road for a gentle, mostly all downhill descent practically to my front door. It was the lack of steeper climbs that clinched the deal. On the mound path were the two very short, but very steep climbs I wasn’t sure I was up to. If I took the road-side cycle highways, the only real climb I’d have was the underpass beneath the rail-line. It wasn’t as steep as the other two.

I was soooooo glad when I rolled to a stop at home. It was a bit of a struggle to pull myself out of the trike, but I’d done it. Even with me slowing at the end and all the hills I’d had to climb, it remained the fast ride I’d done in probably 2 years. Legs like noodles and an unhappy knee only made the sense of accomplishment even richer.

I collapsed into a puddle on the couch and pretty much stayed there for the evening.

Jens took a moment to surprise me. As I flattened into sofa cushions, he came up with a catalog from our favorite camping/outdoor shop, Naturkompaniet. He tapped at an item on the open page. “Would this be something you’d be interested in for your tours?”

It surprised me. I’ve not even attempted a tour since the one in 2015 which was a hotel tour rather than camping. Even with an ailing, elderly dog effectively keeping me tethered close to home, he still keeps my dreams in mind and considers them when he sees something that might make them a little easier. This time it was an Amok hammock sleep system.

Maybe some day. I have a feeling it won’t be this year though.

Loke. Such a bundle of contradiction. He’s doing better in some ways, worse in others. The tumor is smaller. The ulcer on the tumor doesn’t look as… wrong, having shrunk some and looking more like raw meat with little to none of that gray stuff. He’s often bright eyed and perky while in the apartment, particularly for Jens, but rapidly runs out of ‘oomph’ even on walks in interesting places. Oh, and he trips over his front feet quite a bit now too. Used to be just his hind legs. I guess the front ones got jealous and didn’t want to miss out on all the fun.

Jens is about to head off on a business trip for a couple days. Maybe I’ll make another stab at taking Loke with the trike to save me a walk and see how he does. It would be nice if I could at least do a 3-5 mile toodle without him stopping in the middle of it. My feet hurt.

So Fast. So. Very. Fast.
April 27, 2018, 8:45 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Loke’s decline.

It’s rapid, but so erratic. I thought it was pretty fast before I had a realization a few days ago. Every time he’d be sluggish, or fall while walking on flat pavement, I’d just think to myself about how vibrant he had been in January. Bouncy and we’d done so well on the ride through the 11 mile Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Loop not to mention the 12 mile Läby Loop.

Then I looked. The 10 mile ride had been in February and the 12 mile Läby Loop was in March. February 16th and March 4th, respectively. His decline was so much faster than I’d thought. Then I wanted to believe I guess.

He still has his good moments. Mostly involving his food dish. April 18th, he was whirling as wildly as he ever did as a 5 year old as I walked over to put his dish down though he’d been a virtual pillow potato the entire day. He still enjoys walkies with Jens though I think he’s kinda done with the trike.

The tumor was giving me fits. I’ve been working to keep the ulcer clean. Then one day, I went to do my task and it looked disturbingly different. Covered with some kind of gray-ness. Panicked, I called the vet and sent photos on e-mail. As I waited to be told if I needed to bring him in, I suffered a sad revelation. Whatever it was, there’s nothing to be done for it. Surgery to remove the tumor has been ruled out as a very bad idea. When he was 5 and had his glands removed from that very spot, it was 4 days of hellish nightmare of his screaming in pain and fear. He was young, fit, and strong then. What would surgery in the same place mean for him now? Terror and agony for my fuzzy before granting him mercy? Would I really want his last days like that? If he even woke up from it at all? So, no surgery. Antibiotics? Again, no. Loke’s resistant to pretty much every available type of antibiotic thanks to his many, MANY infections over the years.

So, exactly what could be done with the issue? Not a thing. Just continue keeping it as clean as possible and make sure he’s happy. That conclusion has led me to a state of ‘numb resignation’ for lack of better description.

On to the rides!

Tower at the Gardens. April 12th.

April 14th, I decided to cycle on the other side of Haga, see if I could find that tower. According to a fellow recumbent trike rider on Facebook who lives and works in the area, it was built in the 1700’s and was used to judge horse races held on the ice. It sits on the grounds of a botanical garden. From the look of several maps with bike path information, it seemed to be an area thick with paths to explore. Perfect way to spend all day Saturday!

That sounded like a plan. Fresh ground and not much further than Haga. Perfect. So I thought.

It sounded so perfect, I made a point of leaving quite early to be sure of parking before the rush came to the park. I’m  glad I did, because even with GPS, it got confusing with me making a wrong turn thanks to 2 intersections being crazy close together. That led to a ridiculously long loop around before I could come back through to take the correct one.

Honestly, I wasn’t much in the mood for petty little frustrations like that. I was in a peculiar temperment. This bizarre mingling of frustration and apathy.

Finally arrived at the gardens and realized I’ve been there before. Didn’t explore too much though. I already knew I’d been to the Natural History Museum across the way, but not the garden. Even with the wrong-turn confusion, I was there just before 9 am. Awesome!

Parking was so cheap I just paid for a whole 24 hours. A whopping 60 kr. Pay more than that for 2 hours at Haga. I had high hopes to ride for most of the day.

I set it up so Loke could sit out and watch me get things together. Many curious looks as people came in to enjoy the sunny day at the gardens.

Loke watching water birds.

Once I had everything together, we rolled out. Loke was kinda sluggish. That odd mix of interested in his surroundings, but no ‘oomp’ to do more than a slow amble. Still, while I had hoped for more spunk, I was prepared to accept less, so just settled back in the seat to enjoy the pretty day and scenery once I figured out the direction I wanted to go.

I really wanted to stay close to the water. Scenery is so lovely with water, don’t  you think?

The path started out well, fairly broad with fine grained gravel. Nice and smooth. It each tree and every plant other than grass along the way had its own little placard to identify it in Swedish and Latin as well as a little description in more Swedish.

My attention was pulled by other things almost right away. Birds. At first it was a little black coot with its white bill paddling near the shore. There was a surprising amount of open water given that just 2 days while riding at Haga, it had looked frozen solid across!

I just adore grebes!

Moments later, I couldn’t help but to smile some even with my strange mood. Grebes! Over a dozen of them. No courting behavior, but they were essentially swimming around as pairs. I really was missing my old telephoto lens. Still haven’t replaced it after it was smashed when I rolled the trike to avoid getting my legs crushed by an idiot in a car.

The main reason I still lack a new long distance lens is because when I bring it up with Jens, he asks if I’d like a new camera. That leads to me researching sensor sizes and pros and cons of this or that. I feel overwhelmed and just let the moment go.

That, and since all I’ve been doing for the past 2 years is plodding around on the river loop, I hadn’t used the Canon much so didn’t feel the need to replace the lens. It only went out 4 times in 2017. Two of those, I took less than 10 photos.

I feel a bit mixed on the camera issue now. Part of me really wants to hope this will be a year of more exciting rides and therefore, needing a ‘real’ camera (as opposed to a camera phone) more and wanting to enjoy being able to bring distances closer with a longer lens. Also, I’d love to be able to photograph building interiors without needing to use Photoshop to stitch together 20 photos. I’d love to knock it down to say… 10? Dare I even hope for 5 or less? That would mean a smaller focal lens to bring too.

Pretty sure these are mergansers. A male on the water, female on the ice.

Then I think, more exciting rides means without Loke. Riding without Loke can mean only weekend outings or, well, that he’s gone, to put it bluntly.

A short distance further, I had my longing for a new long lens reinforced when I spotted what appeared to be a merganser pair. These two make only 3 mergansers I’ve seen since coming to Sweden. 4 in my entire life. That 1st one was at a wildlife clinic back in the states I volunteered at for 4 years. Gave my fingers a nasty slice one wouldn’t normally expect from a duck. Their bills have serrated edges to help them hang onto fish. A bird with ‘teeth’ as it were. I still think they’re awesome. It wasn’t the duck’s fault. It was terrified for its life.

Old pump house for watering the gardens

While watching the mergansers, it bothered me that Loke just sat down and stared across the water with no indication of impatience. It’s something he’s never done at the start of a ride. After a 5-10 miles, maybe, but not before we’ve gone even half a mile.

At least, he stood up without prompting as I made ready to roll out. He sat down again rather quickly when I stopped to photograph the old little pump house. Amazing that they actually used the brackish water of Baltic to irrigate the gardens right up until the 1960’s.

Our speed was barely faster than I can walk. I’m a slow walker, so that takes some doing. Still with blue sky, scenery, and birds, I was content enough to just creep while Loke plodded with opportunities to stop and sniff when he found something interesting. Slow or not, I think the furry one was still enjoying it.

The lovely path…

.. turned to this. Still lovely, but a tight fit at times.

After a bit further, the path came to a sort of intersection. Left seemed to head off toward the parking lot. Right turn? Well, it changed from small gravel to packed dirt, narrowing and following hard along a rock face with a sharp drop down to the water on the opposite side. Sometimes the edge of the path had nothing one could call a shoulder. Just open air.

Part of the Haga path across the bay.

A Victorian style green house.

It was never too tight for both trike and Loke when we had the trail to ourselves. Which we did most often. That was a matter of lucky timing more than anything. The joggers only seemed to appear when there was space to scoot over and let them pass.

Then the trail cut more inland and we rode through parkland rather than water’s edge. Loke’s interest waned a bit as we passed by an old Victorian style green house. I found it moderately interesting at least. It was too early for it to be open. Then again, I wouldn’t have left my furball alone to take a peek. Those days are gone.

A bit beyond the green house, I was able to find paths that cut back along the water. One was a little peninsula which was an interesting loop with some scenery value.

Just when I was starting to worry, I finally spotted the tower.

There were a couple of ‘Finnish’ cabins near the tower, but I didn’t take photos as they were rented out for private residences and people were around. The path split to either side on the approach to the tower. One being right by the cabins, giving the impression it was a driveway rather than than a path. The other side was clearly a path and up a very steep and graveled path.

That incline brought me to a stop. Literally. Not even halfway up and my tire started to spin. I gave it a couple more tries, but no go. I sat for a few minutes, arguing with myself and that depressive cloud hanging over me. What if I got over the hill and found I had to come back? Then I’d be stuck wrestling back over the hill. You know what? I wasn’t going to do it. Nope. Not pushing the trike up that hill. I got up and turned it around to roll back down there I could take the ‘drive way’. Confused Loke.

The tower I’ve been seeing from Haga.

It turned out the driveway was the correct way to go any way. At least, it was for the tower. There was a nice flat spot to stop, ringed with picnic tables. To one side, the tower sat high on a jut of rocky outcrop and on another, a little pink cabin.

The cottage didn’t really hold my attention, though I did walk around one side of it to see if I could squeeze the trike by to perhaps regain the path on the other side. It was possible, but it was steep. So, the concern of getting back over that hill if needed still put me off.

Loke watching me.

I’m not sure why, but Loke seemed determined to keep me in his line of sight as I wandered back over to look at the sign for the tower. I took a photo of Mr. Squinty as I walked back, even managing to catch him before he realized I had the camera pointed at him and he looked away. Go me!

I sat there for a few minutes, looking at my Garmin’s map as well as the OpenCycleMap app on my phone to figure out my next course. It seemed the best option was to go back the way I’d come for a bit and then cut across the grounds on a path by a pond to hopefully link back up with the water-side path further on.

So, off we went.

Lapwing to the left. Gulls to the right.

My favorite geese!

There were some things of interest along that pond path. Gulls galore, but then I heard a distinctive odd whistle and saw the peculiar square wings of a lapwing flapping around. It landed and I pulled out the Canon, again wishing for a long lens as I snapped a picture of it from a bit too far off for the tiny camera phone lens.

Then on the other side of the path, I found barnacle geese. These guys were braver than those at Haga. We quite close and they only eyed us a bit and then went on with their grazing. Loke was indifferent to them. Almost close enough for me to touch and he was just sniffing the winds.

My eyes followed the path before us as I rolled on. What lay ahead had me wincing. A long steep climb. It appeared to almost join up along side a road, so perhaps it would be paved?

My instincts were right on the money. It was paved. It climbed right up the face of rock with little flat spots at increments where small benches for pedestrians had been set. We took more than 10 minutes to go up. I’d stop at a flat spot to let my legs rest and nibble some nuts, offered Loke water at one, then push on.

At the top of the hill, the path seemed to cross a road and then a rather sharp decent to a graveled, wooded path on the opposite side. I took a moment to look at the maps and decided to at least see what was going on. I figured at worst, I could link up with one of the cycle paths along side a street to head back to the parking lot if I needed.

Oh for pity sake. Steeper than it looks.

So, down we went. Within moments, a wave of frustration just washed over me. Immediately at the bottom of the decline, the path rose again, sharp and hard. Up and up. I knew there was no way the trike was making up that hill. It was steeper than the one at the tower, a LOT longer of a climb, and on gravel no less.

I took a photo. Have you ever noticed that uphill paths never appear as steep in the pictures as when you’re standing (or sitting in a trike) right there looking at them? I swear, a photo of a trail on Everest would look like a gentle climb.

I shuffled the trike to the side of the path and then took Loke with me to see how bad it really was. It was a harsh climb on foot. Seriously? This was marked as a bike trail. Not mountain bike either. Around the curve was just more up.

That was it. I’d reached my limit. Maybe if I’d been in a happy mood, but with that odd frustrated apathy, I just couldn’t deal with Stockholm’s ridiculousness for climbs. No way I was going to struggle up that hill at nearly a 15% grade while pushing 50-ish pounds of trike, water, camera gear, and all else. I always forget how brutal that area can be for gravel paths and upward grades.

I had to hope I could make it back up the hill we’d come down to reach that point.

We could. It took work and with lots of slipping back tire, but I didn’t have to get up and push. I took a right turn on the small road serving as a drive for parking at a university building, intending to connect to a roadside cycle path to get back to the parking lot.

Even that turned into a confusing fiasco. Where the maps seemed to indicate I should go in the Escher-esk world of Stockholm, pointed to the E18, which is a highway. It would be like riding on the I-10 in the States with less of a shoulder and equally as forbidden for bikes.

I truly threw in the white flag. I felt exhausted and my mood completely sapped. Actually started to feel spacey and disconnected. I doubled back and took the absolutely shortest way across the gardens back to the car. Arrived there with barely 2.5 miles and it had taken us a bit over 2 hours to do. Admittedly, I stopped to watch various waterfowl and then wandering around the tower a bit, but that’s still pretty sad.

Loke turned into a lovey hindrance as I tried to put the trike away. It was as if he was ready to go now that I’d given up. Once packed, I took a moment to grab my parking stub and head for the payment machine. A woman in her 60’s was approaching it and I asked if she would like my leftover time. She seemed startled as I held it out to her. “Are  you sure?” she asked. I assured her it was an honest offer and valid until 9 am the next morning.

She smiled and took it, turning to tell her husband, who was walking up, about how this nice young woman had given them free parking. It was nice to be called young. As she went to put the stub in the window of her car, she promised when her and her husband were done, they’d pass it on to someone else. That at least made me smile.

I felt completely wiped and ‘shut-down’ for the rest of the day. Fell asleep before even 7 pm and woke up at 8 am the next morning. Dead to the world for 13 hours. No clue what was up with that whole day and night.

The next ride was April 16th. Off to Haga again. Worse places to ride. Like say, the River Loop?

Loke was interested as I parked, paid an insane amount of money for 4 hours (or was it 5?). My mood was much improved over the 14th. I was also a woman with a mission. I was going to find Solna Church. At least this time, I knew roughly where to find it and how to get there.

The weather wasn’t as nice as the previous two rides. Instead of sun or sun and a bit of clouds, it was all clouds. I didn’t really have a sense that rain was going to be a problem thankfully. I did need an extra layer on my arms so pulled on my vivid yellow windbreaker. A knit cap under the helmet was quite welcome as well. It was probably a bit under 50 F.

Haga’s north gate.

Bridge over the E4

It was confusing to the husky when I turned right where we’ve always gone left even on our walks. It intrigued him and he went along almost as brisk as our first Haga outing on April 12th. We left the park through the north gate and ambled over the E4, safe and high above the traffic.

While rolling over the bridge, I noticed what I thought were simply decorative pillars were, in fact, memorials to various people who had some hand in making Haga what it is today. A close look showed it was only the pillars on the south edge of the bridge to be memorials. The others, were just decorative.

Pillar memorial to Louis Jean Desprez – French architect responsible for many of Stockholm’s famous landmarks.

My favorite of the bunch was of Louis Jean Desprez. Probably because I’m fascinated by the huge ruins of the foundations of the grand Haga Palace, was never finished, where the blue prints shown on the pillar beneath the raise bias of the man’s profile. Turns out he also designed the conservatory at the Uppsala Botanical gardens and quite a few other landmarks in Stockholm. Busy man.

The pattern of roll a few yards, stop to photograph a pillar, roll a bit more, stop for another picture, had Loke sighing at me. At one point he even woofed. Poor inconvenienced husky.

And much to his relief we were finally at the end of the bridge where I immediately turned left to roll on a cycle path wedged between the big graveyard where Nobel is buried and the roar of the very busy E4 highway. Thanks to a nice bushy hedge, I couldn’t see the highway, only hear it. On the other side was more hedge, but behind a fence of black iron. Made the cycle path seem almost cozy except for the traffic noise.

While slowly rolling down the hill to accommodate Loke’s amble, I kept an eye out for an opening in the fence I could get through. There were a number of little passages, but only for pedestrians. Maybe even someone could get a bike through, but not while riding it. Nothing to allow a recumbent trike with a running bar and husky to squeak by.

Tree-lined path to the building for Jewish burial ceremonies. (I think)

At last I found a car sized gate and pedaled through. Ahead was a lovely assemblage of paths and trees, still in muted grays and browns of winter hues, the center most lane leading to a pretty building.

The gravel surface was pretty soft, but not too bad for rolling at the leisurely speeds we did. I kept looking for a way to move onward, but it seemed every side path, I examined got smaller with a sharp turn or somehow dead-ended. I went right up to the building and circled around it, finding it true of everything beyond.

Then I started looking closer. No crosses or other such Christian touches to the markers. Then understanding clicked. We were in the Jewish burial yard. I had known it was in the graveyard, but not that it had been so effectively ‘sealed’ off from the rest of the grounds. I went out the way we’d gone in and continued to follow the fence until I found an second entrance big enough for us.

It was a surprisingly long climb through the graveyard, though thankfully a gentle grade. No more than 4% or 5%. There was no need to rush through such peaceful and scenic environs. You know, I don’t think I’ve found a single graveyard in Sweden that I would call ‘spooky’?

I reached the opposite side and came up to a street. Across it was another graveyard, or perhaps just more of the same one divided by the road. I had to wait a few minutes for a break in traffic where I could scurry across.

Solna Church from front.

Just a few yards past the entrance, stood Solna Church. Quite a lovely building. I found the central roundhouse core, the oldest part of the church, most appealing.

As I parked to do my typical walk around, the church bells clanged, giving Loke quite a start. Was it possible the church was open? As if in answer to my wandering thought, someone came around the corner and I cheerfully rocked to my feet as he went to the door. Alas, my hopes were extinguished when he ssssoooo carefully opened the door just enough for him to peek inside before squeezing through the opening as noiselessly as a frightened mouse. At that moment choral harmonies came through the ancient walls. Drat. Services of some kind.

There were a lot of trees and tall headstones around the church, so I left my camera in the bag, taking my phone instead to collect the church. Naturally, made me think of the 11-18 mm lens I spotted recently. How perfect it would have been for taking the pictures in such tight quarters. Even with the phone, I had to do some angle chasing to find a spot that gave a good view without something in the way of a feature I wanted included.

Solna Church – Side View

A burial marker. Perhaps this entrance is a burial chapel?

I forgot to look for any runestones while I was there. I guess that will give me another excuse to go back soon. As I went to sit back in the trike, I noticed a stone placard on the wall. An angel, or cherub, above the frame with a skull and crossed bones beneath. The calligraphy of the text made it hard to read and I was more interested in the carvings than the writing, so I just took a photo and admired it for a few seconds more.

Now that I’ve cropped the photo, I got curious and bumped up the contrast to make the text a little clearer. It’s some kind of memorial or burial marker.

At the very top is the word ‘Epitaph’ in Latin. Just below that, might be a name where the flourishes of the writing are so extravagant as to make the lettering impossible for me to read. After that, it seems to say something about ‘tired bones (something, something) under this stone’. Further down it says whoever it is was born in Stockholm in 1668 though I can’t make out the month or day. The ‘death’ line lists the year in 1728, but names both June and July. So, perhaps they died in June, but were interred in July? The last 4 lines are scripture.

My difficulty translating might be because it’s old Swedish, which changes the spellings, combined with my unfamiliarity reading such elaborate script. Still I find the marker even more interesting now.

Chapel perhaps?

I did a quick roll around the church, stopping to take a picture of the building behind it. It looks almost as if it could be a charming little house, but where it is in the graveyard, I’m guessing it’s more of a chapel.

The main mission of the ride accomplished, I turned us back to cross the street again and take a long, slow roll down the hill through the bigger graveyard. From there, I trace my steps back toward Nobel’s grave until I reached the entrance near it. After a short ride under various overpasses, I came up to Haga’s southern gate.

I stopped before going through and stared off in the distance where a cycle path ran along the fringe of an open field. Perhaps to keep things in Haga interesting, I should change it up? Follow the field path, then cut to the water and do that path in opposite of our first Haga ride? Sure!

Going that way led me to an unexpected treasure. On the drive to Stockholm, there’s a spot where the E4 splits into a few parts, going under, over, and around itself like a Celtic knot. Wedged hard against all that mess, one bit of road runs within yards of an old Courthouse. A lovely building. Well, there it was. I had no idea I was so close to it. There seemed to be no way to get a nice photo of it. From the front, the waist high concrete wall between the paving stones in front of the stairs and traffic pinned me in so I there wasn’t even a good way to just photograph the entrance. The sides, frankly looked a bit boring, and the back was mostly parking with what I remember as garbage bins. I could be wrong though. I just remember feeling frustrated that there was no pretty view.

One book I had when I was a child was “The Little House”. It was about a little house (surprise!) who was in the country, but she dreamed of what it might be like in the big city. Well, time went by and the city came to the little house until she stood, cramped and crowded, miserable and forgotten.

Looking at the courthouse and trying to find a good position to photograph the front made me think of that book. I’d not thought of it in decades to be honest. But here was this beautiful building, half encircled at the front by a road network that can see thousands of cars an hour.

View of the bay with husky ears.

That frustration didn’t last long though as we cut across the field toward the water. There, a few grebes paddled around on what was almost completely ice free water. A bit further along where we rejoined the path taken on our first Haga ride, but in the other direction, there was still quite a bit of ice clinging along the shoreline.

Not far down that path, Loke started to flag. He’d never been what I would call energetic on the outing, but interested at least. His pace went from what I would call an amble to a plod and he had a few trips and stumbles where there was really nothing to hinder him. I stopped and took him off the trike tether in exchange for his leash. He took a few steps over to sit in the grass, just watching the birds on the water mostly. I relaxed, sipped some water after offering him some, and waited.

After about 15 minutes, he stood up and wagged his tail at me. When I asked him ‘What?’, his ears went up and he shuffled over to stand by the bar, ready to be tethered up to go.

A ‘temple’. There are a few of these, inspired by Greek temples I think.

Nice and easy. Still, it rather broke my heart. My crazed fireball of a husky, struggling with less than 4 miles under his paws. There was still joy in him for the outing though. He’d perk up when a goose would set up a racket in the distance. Once, he even tensed as if he was going to bolt after a squirrel. So, still interested in his surroundings.

As brilliant as he had done on the first Haga ride, I’d hoped he’d be giving a repeat performance on the 2nd one even after his sluggishness through the Botanical Gardens two days before. It wasn’t meant to be.

Blurry, but beautiful. Should have tried for it with the Canon.

So, I was left to stare forlornly where the path continued along the water past a little marina area where I’d hoped to explore further before surrendering to common sense and heading back to the car.

This is only one end of the foundation.

The last stop was by the foundation ruins of the never-finished Haga palace. I decided to get a photo of the portion we could easily see with Loke and the trike in the foreground. This ruin is mind-boggling. These huge stone walls in the picture are maybe a quarter of the total length and these are only the foundation and the basement. Above them were meant to be several stories of palace. The fellow trike rider who lives in Stockholm has mentioned a labyrinth of spaces under these stones as planned cellars. I admit. I’m curious to seek it out at some time in the future.

Naturally, once back at the car, Loke was all lovey and in the way again. As soon as I had the trike put away though, he hesitate and then refused to jump into the backseat even with a ‘cookie’ bribe waiting for him. I had to pick him up. Quite undignified for a husky of his years. It would have gone a little easier if I’d not taken his harness off. Being lifted in like a suitcase might not offer more dignity, but easier on both of us I think. He slept the whole was home. Just 4.6 miles.

The next ride, was on April 19th. Perhaps I should call it an ‘attempted ride’. Loke seemed interested and my feet were just killing me. Rather than hobble painfully around for several kilometers through the day, I decided I’d use my trike as a moving armchair and just inch along with Loke.

Inch was right. We went out and he went at a lazy sort of trot for about 200 yards. Then it was an almost weary walk for another few hundred yards. About time we reached the cycle path, he was going very slow indeed before he just stopped out by the big metal sculpture. That is the first time that Loke has stopped on a ride. When the snake bit his paw and he could hardly stand to touch it to the ground, he still wanted to go on his three good legs. Hot day and found a patch of shade to cool off in? He still would scramble to his feet, eager to keep going when I so much as scratched my nose or blinked. My furball has never been the one to refuse to keep going no matter what the conditions.

It was a sad first…

I stopped and swapped to his leash so he had a bit more room to settle for a rest. He tottered across the little ditch and laid in the sun-drenched, winter-brown grass, wind ruffling his fur. About 20 minutes later, I coaxed  him to his feet, but kept him on the leash. I managed to get a few hundred yards out of him before he just sat down a again. Just a bit over a mile and it took more than an hour.

I’ve taken to calling Jens the ‘Husky Battery’. Because the rest of the day, Loke all but refused to move off his pillow in the living room. The moment Jens got home, Loke was bright eyed and wanted to go for walkies. *beats head on wall*

Honestly, I can’t tell if he was feeling so incredibly bad on our hour long, 1 mile mosey, or if he just doesn’t have the energy or interest for a local ride to overcome his boredom.

I didn’t ride again until April 25th. Mostly from lack of opportunity. I didn’t have the will to deal with another ride like the previous one where it almost seemed Loke was going to lay down and die mid-ride. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but it doesn’t feel much like one. And the fuzzy one can’t be left alone. He’d probably eat the couch or the remote, batteries and all. Putting him in the bathroom with everything he might destroy isn’t an option either since it’s too small for him in there with the Cone of Shame that would keep him from bothering the tumor.

So, trapped at the apartment it was. I did manage a few walks at Wiks. Also walked at Haga since I didn’t feel like loading the trike back in the car.

So, when Jens came home about 2 pm on Wednesday, I flew in my cycle clothes. It was about 60 F and seemed mostly sunny. A bit of apprehension danced along my nerves as I readied the trike. How well would I do on a solo ride? How much fitness was lost over the past weeks of riding with my aging husky or not at all? Did I dare attempt the 10 mile Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala Loop?

I decided at the very least to do the Gamla Uppsala loop. That would give me a mile or more to evaluate how I felt yet could still be the beginning of the longer ride.

Right away, I was surprised. I headed off down one of the little residential streets to dash off to the cycle highway that leads out to the burial mounds at Gamla Uppsala. I zipped along at 8 mph for the first quarter mile, whipped through some turns and still kept pace through the rest of the little streets. As I headed for my connection to the cycle paths that would loop me around to Gamla Uppsala Cycle Highway along side Vattholma Road, I was surprised by the clouds looming above the trees that stand thick in the frisbee gold course. The tops, white as mounds of purest whipped cream, but underbellies of dark slate-blue with streamers of rain veils. It looked like it could be wet around the mounds.

I still cheerful blasted down around the curve and under the overpass, almost coasting right up the other side to make the sharp right turn. Mostly, I was in the sun though the clouds reared higher and closer, looking more threatening with the dark bottoms. From where I turned onto the ‘cycle highway’ toward Gamla Uppasala, it’s pretty much all uphill with one short slight decline. Even so, I spun along at over 4 mph which is faster than any ride I’ve had with Loke in months.

Wind came gusting on and off as the clouds finally swallowed the sun. It was a chill, fitful breeze and the Garmin’s temp display went from 61 F to 55. I started to shiver a little as I’d gone with summer weight clothing. Not a single layer of wool to be found.

The rain held off until I reached the spot where I cross Vattholma Road to cut over to either the cycle path or go onto the mound’s path. As gray as it was over head, it was an even darker wall of threatening rain to the north. That was enough to decide that I’d take the shorter mound loop.

Dashing down the slight slope to where the old rail tracks once crossed, big heavy drops came bombarding. They hit right through the Lycra as if I were bare skinned. Felt just on the edge of being ice and combined with no sun and the wind, it had me shivering in short order.

As I went to connect with the path across the front of the mounds, I almost ended up in a bit of a tangle. A girl, maybe 10 years old, was wobbling along on her bike, going so slow she could barely keep up right. Worse, she was distracted. I waited for her to make up her mind what she was doing. Finally, she turned onto the path’s far left side and I started forward, hugging to the right edge. Abruptly, still looking down the path rather than in the direction of her bike, she cut hard to left, right into my path. I yelled and clenched the brakes so hard it felt like my rear wheel bounced off the gravel. My boom was just inches from the front of her pedals. Her head snapped right to look at me with wide eyes as she jerked her front wheel left to wobble to the other side of the path again.

I bit my tongue and spun fast and hard to put her in my rear view.

The annoyance didn’t stay with me long as I went quite briskly, faster than I would have believed possible at the current level of fitness and weight. I broke free of the rain about the time I came up to the big descent at the end of the ridge of mounds. Wind whipping tendrils of hair that had slipped loose their bounds at the nape of my neck, rattling o’er the gravel at almost 20 mph, giddy laughter bubbled from my lips. I finished the wild downward plunge and whipped left onto the gentle incline, inertia flinging me back up. Then I hit the brakes to not terrorize the couple trying to wrangle a tangle of 6 chihuahuas on leashes by whizzing by. Heaven forbid if one of them had stepped in my way. Tiny little things wouldn’t have stood a chance. Better to go respectfully by at a pace only slightly faster than a walk.

Then it was up the sharp little hill where the path emerges from the trees. A woman was walking up it as I approached. It felt good, and just oddly awe inspiring that I actually beat her up. I remember when people would pass me on that climb. I waved at her as I started the next downhill glide.

It’s not nearly as steep as the big one, but a good length. I rattled along happily at about 15 mph. A head, I could see a couple walking with a large dog. They weren’t really paying attention to things around them, sprawled out to hog the entire path. I slowed to about 10 mph and was about to break when the man turned. He stepped aside, and guided his wife closer to the left side before waving me on.

I took the invitation happily and spun on the pedals with gravity still in my favor and buzzed by them at about 12 mph. The woman was holding onto to the dog, which looked to be a very fat, old Irish Setter. I was only a few yards by them when I heard yelling and the deep, belling bark of the dog. A glance in my rear view showed I was a hare on the run. Fortunately, I hadn’t reached the next incline and still had about 150 yards further of downhill. He didn’t seem to be closing the gap at all. I pedaled up until I was about 15 mph, watching warily, hoping the dog would give up before I hit that hill.

He did. Aged and fat as he was, he probably didn’t go more than 150-200 yards before wheezing back to his owners.

I still managed to do 3 mph up that hill, wanting to be sure the dog didn’t change his mind and catch me at my slowest. From there, it was another long ‘wheeeeee’ down a gentle grade for almost half a mile. I love that stretch.

The hill with the “The Sign”.

Before I knew it, I was back under sunshine and coming off the gravel path onto the paved River Loop where they connect at the hill of the metal sculpture named ‘The Sign’. I stopped for a picture because I just loved the contrast of the clouds with their dark undersides and streamers of rain against the sun. As I took it, frisbees came sailing out of nowhere. The first one went fairly straight and overshot the ‘hole’. The second one had more of a hook and fell quite short. The third one seemed dead on target… for my head, but missed by about a meter, skittering on the path.

I laughed about the near miss. It’s not like they could have aimed for me on purpose. The line of the hill blocked their view of me. They gave me apologetic waves as they came from behind the other hill.

I’ve actually had a frisbee bonk off my helm, but that was back in the wooded portion of the course.

The sun and breezes quickly dried off the last damp from my clothes and the temp bounced up to 61 F again. So very pleasant and as much fun as I was having, it seemed a no-brainer for me to add the out-n-back of the north river path.

I passed the 4.5 mile mark as I made the northward turn. My feet had some discomfort, but my legs still seemed happy to keep churning the pedals. I cruised at quite a brisk pace along the path where the river ran surprisingly high down the bank. There were splashes of green in the grass and down toward the end of the path where I turn around, the wide stretches of grain crop (wheat probably) were already blushed with a lovely verdant hue of spring. Just need the trees to catch up.

I arrived back home with 8.53 miles in just over an hour. I was stunned. That is the fastest ride I’ve had in… you know. I’m not sure. I think it could be as much as 2 years. 5 mph average for a while and the past 6 months or more it’s been closer to 3 mph average.

So, yeah. I was amazed. I felt guilty not going with Loke, but it felt so good.

A further bonus was what my Fitbit told me. Almost every ride I’ve had since getting it has showed hardly any exercise result. 3 hours rolling with Loke, could net me maybe 10-15 minutes of something the little device counted as exertion. Out of 77 minutes on the trike on the solo ride, my Fitbit said I exercised for 63 of them.

That made that River Loop ride even more worth the time. Fun and fitness together!

This Week Has Been HARD.
April 13, 2018, 1:45 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc


The title is an understatement. Grief just coming in waves. It certainly has given me a little clearer perspective on Loke’s decline though.

Bright and early on Wednesday, April 11th, I got word from old friends who were in truth more like family through all of my teen years and well through early adulthood, that their mother had a major stroke the evening before. We’d lost touch with each other for over 15 years, and I’d only recently reconnected with them. Mom J. has been struggling with health issues, among them Alzheimers. They were taking her off life support as the stroke had caused too much damage and there was nothing doctors could do.

That was like a kick to the head after the punches dropped me.

Ever since their daughter had plopped down beside me under a pine tree during lunch at one of my first days at a new school, her family had enfolded me like one of their own. Sue and I were practically inseparable. Mom J. mothered me as much as she did her own three. When I had to leave home abruptly, they took me in and gave me a new home. When Dad J. passed suddenly, Mom J. insisted I stand with the rest of the kids during the funeral. I was family and never mind what the rest of the family on his side thought of that.

I don’t know where I would have been without that wonderfully quirky girl who just appeared out of nowhere and said to a lonely, shy me, ‘Let’s be friends!’ I truly believe my life would have taken me in directions that would never have led here to Sweden with my wonderful husband and a 13 year old husky who’s explored so much of this country with me and the trike.

On Wednesday, April 11th, I had planned to take the trike to Haga Park at the northern edge of Stockholm for a slow toodle with Loke. Somewhere fresh, that the trike has never been, that could brighten our day. Mostly it was for Loke. I was going to spend hours going as slow as he wanted or even just sit in the trike as he basked in the sun if he so desired. First, I had to get done with a vet appointment.

The evaluation was about what I expected in many ways. We discussed the tumor and after going over it all, both the vet and I decided that in Loke’s current state of decline, it would be cruel and useless to subject him to that surgery. When the glands were removed from that very spot years ago, it turned into a 4 day horror show. He was young, fit and strong. Odds are now, he’d have the surgery and need to be let go within days of it, all the while, in terrible pain and terror. That’s not how I want my old man to go out. Of course, that’s if he’d wake up at all…

As for the increase in wobbly-ness, she recommended another medication to be used in conjunction with the others. It could potentially ease whatever nerve pain he might be having from the deterioration. It might make him sleepy though, so she recommended just an evening dose first and then if he still seemed uncomfortable to add another morning dose. Can even go up to 3 times a day if needed.

For when the time comes, they have a separate entrance to the clinic for just that purpose. A comfortable room one can get to without passing through the waiting room with all its generally distasteful veterinarian memories. One can pay in advance so that as the deed is done, there’s no need to fumble through payment as one sobs inconsolably over the loss of their furry companion.

I’ll admit, I started crying as we talked about it. The vet hugged me tight, saying how sorry she was.

By the time all that was done, I decided it was too late to leave for the ride. it was almost noon and once I dressed, stopped somewhere to grab something for lunch, made the drive there, unloaded and assembled the trike, it would be after 2 pm. Thursday was supposed to be as pretty though. Sunny, high in the upper 50’s. Thursday it was.

It almost didn’t happen. Loke was so unsteady on his feet. His right back leg in particular was giving him problems. And blood. It wasn’t a gush coming out of the tumor, but it was the most that there’s been. It made quite a mess of a cotton pad as I tried clean and evaluate it.

I had to step back for a moment and honestly ask myself if his time had suddenly ambushed us. After getting all teary eyed and pacing around a bit, I decided to do as I had planned. If need be, I’d call and make the appointment for his passing on Friday if he was too bad, but I was going to at least take him out for one more ride with the trike somewhere we’d maybe both like. Monday would be even better as long as he wasn’t suffering too much. That way we could spoil him over the weekend with all the naughty stuff he’s not had for years because of his allergies.

It was a hard drive. Loke usually sits up and kinda stares out a window on the drive to Stockholm. This time, he just laid down from about the moment we hit the E4 and didn’t get up until I took the off ramp for Haga Park. I had some weepy moments as I played over memories with him and even older ones of the good times with Mom J.

She was lingering on after they had ceased life-support.

I pulled into the parking at Haga and started pulling the trike out. I rolled down the windows so Loke could stick his head out if he wanted to. He did. Well, when he wasn’t watching me from over the back seat any way. He perked up almost like his January self as I worked.

I was fastening the seat when a woman in a large SUV type Jeep rolled up. She opened the back and out jumped a magnificent Rhodesian Ridgeback. I smiled and asked her about him. His name was Harry and he was 2 years old. I asked how much he weighed and she made a bit of a face, “I don’t know. I’ve not weighed him in quite a while.” Then she dropped her voice a bit, “But he needs to lose a couple kilos. He’s a bit pudgy.”

There was perhaps a little extra weight around his waist, but not as bad as some dogs can get. Personally, I think he still was a beautiful, handsome boy. His shiny short coat still showed off his musculature rather nicely. He wasn’t so well padded that it was hidden.

She admitted then that she originally wanted a husky, but didn’t believe she had the time or energy to give one the energy outlet it needed. I nodded and told her that I wished more people thought of that. We did consider it and even so, it still kinda caught us by surprise. Without the trike, we’d never have been able to keep a husky happy. And Loke was pretty laid back as huskies go. Well, healthy, fit huskies any way. Out of shape, obese, huskies condemned to a life of ‘a half hour’s walk a day’, not so much.

Then she walked on as I finished putting last touches back on the trike.

Still hates cameras. It was only because of the cookies he looked at me.

Loke seemed almost perky as he jumped out the car and was helpful in getting his harness on. It was as if he was raring to go in his decrepit own way. That made me feel a little better though I was still wondering if this was going to be his final trike outing.

I clipped in (oh beloved SPD shoes/pedals) and we did a brief roll across the parking lot to the pay machines. He actually woofed impatiently at me as I put in 4 hours. I thought about putting in more, but wasn’t sure Loke would have that much oomph to walk that long or the patience to sit still for long in the sun.

Then we left the parking lot, scooting across the entrance road to the paths and it was like the past weeks fell away. Suddenly, it was my beloved husky of February and early March beside me. The one who cheerfully loped for a good part of our 10 mile Vaksala/Granby Loop. The one who jogged and ran 12+ miles on the Läby loop in March. The one who still wanted more after both rides.

Such a lovely day at odds with the sorrow in my heart.

I kept his pace down a bit, out of respect of his wobbly back legs. A fairly simple matter at the beginning as it was immediately a bit of a climb. Loke would likely have been fine with a bit more speed, as he actually put some weight in the harness, trying to get us up the slope faster.  Happily, but a bit confusing, once we were moving, his legs seemed pretty good. Quite stable.

Even when we finally got some downhill time, we didn’t speed up too much. Too many people to weave through and every time we did get a clear trail, I’d stop for a photo. Many annoyed sighs from the husky beside me.

Baltic ice reflecting blue skies.

The Garmin showed a temp of about 55 F and the sun was quite warm, but it felt colder than 55 F. I was a bit under dressed for it, especially when a bit of a breeze would blow when we were in the shade.

Moist dirt. Just hard enough to be good for the trike, but soft for old husky paws.

I was not to be deterred though. I took the paths we generally walk. The uphill past ‘The Copper Tents’ of the cafe where so many Swedes were sitting with faces upturned to the sun. Even people who were in groups had their backs to friends. It was like looking at a bunch of human sunflowers. Then it was the downhill toward the shores of a Baltic Inlet. The small paved road leads up to the gated entrance of the Princess’s manor, always locked, but there’s a lovely unpaved path that runs along the bank between the high iron fence with it’s security cameras and the softly lapping waters of the sea. Well, waters that ‘softly lap’ when they’re not frozen that is.

We were climbing up a tiny lump of a ‘hill’ on the path, going slow as I admired some swans on the ice through the screen of dried reeds, when Loke’s head went up in interest. Ahead of us, a woman on a small, compact white mare was riding toward us. The path was pretty narrow and not much space for me to offer for a potentially skittish horse to pass. Fortunately, there was a narrow dirt track that hugged right along the water’s edge, putting some very large rocks between us and the horse. She hardly seemed to see us at all. Whew. What a relief.

Botanical Gardens & Natural History Museum across the way.

As cold as it had been coming down from the parking area, with quite a bit of open sun and away from the water, it was worse on the shore path. A half mile or so of ice, across which the wind blew, sucking up the chill to bite right through my inadequate light wool layer. Made my hands ache too. Loke loved it.

The path was nice and fortunately clear. It’s so low and close to the water, that it can become flooded if the Baltic goes high for whatever reason. The only water on it was from melt on the right side, trickling its away across to the sea.

We rounded the curve, still along the water’s edge where it peels away from the estate’s fence line and I found quite a treat!

*squee of glee!* Barnacle Geese!!!

Geese! Not just any geese either, but barnacle geese! Admittedly, I get a bit giddy at the sight of just about any other goose than the ubiquitous Canada Goose. Those are just about everywhere, generally so noisy and downright belligerent. Barnacle geese are smaller, typically less noises and something elegant about them that delights me.

Across the way.

They weren’t too concerned about our appearance though a few were less than 40 feet away when I stopped. One or two raised their heads to regard us with wary suspicion before deciding there was no threat when all I did was pull a camera out and Loke looked bored.

After a bit, I took pity on the impatient husky and we rolled on, still following the paths closest to the water. Just few dozen yards down, there were a pair of Canada geese. I warily eyed them as we rolled between them, one on each side of the path. They mantled their wings and lowered their heads with hissing threats. Yeah, I’m not fond of getting close to Canada geese at all.

Once past the mean geese, the path took us around a bit of a little inlet within the inlet so we could look across on the bit of winter-brown land where we’d just come from. There was an intersection there and instead of going right, as I’d done for all our walks there, I took a left. Oh happy day for the husky! Somewhere we’d never gone! He really stepped up his game along there. Since it was flat with some stretches of down hill, our pace came to about 5 mph. It’s been weeks since Loke’s gone so briskly. He actually wouldn’t have minded a bit more speed, but again, me being cautious.

“MUST you?! And no, I will not look at the camera phone.”

I also took a moment to point the camera at Loke. Immediately, he looked away even though it meant squinting into the sun. It’s amazing how aware he is of photos and how he responds to them. I guess it’s because of the times when a flash has gone off.

As I snapped his profile, a woman suddenly stopped. “Would you like me to take your picture for you?” she asked.

I didn’t really want that, but it was such a polite offer I said “Yes, thank you,” and handed her the phone. She snapped a few, trying to get a good angle with Loke’s face which he stubbornly avoided. After returning the phone, she patted Loke on the head and told us to have a nice ride.

Grand mystery gate to nothing?

I really enjoyed the roll through the next section. The path was kind of nestled down between two ridges. On one side were some lovely old, wooden buildings where it was a softer mounded landscape. On the other it was almost a small cliff face upon which more very distinctive buildings perched. The light wasn’t good so the photos came out poorly, except for the one of the gate.

Oh yeah. Stockholm…

The paths got a bit muddled around out of the hollow between the hills. Several branching off and weaving into a slight tangle that was hard for me to suss out which I needed for the church I wanted to find. I picked a direction that took us into open ground a bit of water and the glint of steel and glass over there to remind one that this is really part of Stockholm.

I finally decided to use the navigation function of my Garmin which proved a bit difficult as I couldn’t remember the name of the church. Haga didn’t turn up anything and now I know it’s Solna church that I needed. Since I didn’t know that at the moment, I just pulled up a list of POIs and started flipping through them. One immediately grabbed my attention. ‘Alfred Nobel’s Grave’. Hey! Why not? Provided the grave yard didn’t forbid bikes and/or dogs. I picked it and hit ‘navigate’.

Haga’s south gate and a squinting husky

It led us across the open ground, a bliss bit of warmth that was a bit sheltered from the wind. We passed by the gate for Haga’s southern entranced and then down under an overpass along a busy road. Loke ticked along like a tractor. Not fast, but unstoppable.

An old mausoleum. I think?

I found the entrance to the grave yard and crept past the gate, keeping a sharp look out for signs. Nope! Nothing that banned bikes or dogs. I was especially surprised about the dogs.

It was a lovely old grave yard. Old trees and well maintained. Most of the headstones were no earlier than middle 1800’s. A few were perhaps as old as mid-1700’s, but none older than that I saw. Respectful of the dead, I kept Loke away from the grass and definitely from the stones and trees.

The Garmin guided me well though as I came within a few meters of where it said Carl Alfred’s grave was, I had a bit of trouble locating it. I was also a bit anxious around there since a landscape crew was industriously going about the post-winter tasks of trimming plants, raking grass, and sweeping up gravel. I half expected them to tell me off. Soon enough the charmed smiles some of them cast Loke’s way reassured me that no harsh words were coming.

After, I made a turn, the Garmin showed I’d passed what I was looking for. Rather than bother Loke by rolling backwards with him tethered as I used to do before his hind legs went all wonky. I pulled out his leash to unclip him from the trike.

Poor confused husky. It completely baffled him when I rolled backwards, but he felt no tug. He even tried walking backwards without any guidance, but then just turned around to follow along with his running bar. He knew where he should be.

After going a few yards down a different path, it showed I’d passed the grave again. I finally got up with the Garmin in hand, zoomed in as close as it would go and searched around.

Resting place of Alfred Nobel.

I was rather surprised when I found it. I was expecting something a little more… well, more. It was quite modest really. An obelisk of gray stone about 8-10 feet tall framed by a horseshoe curve of tall ever-green shrubs. Perhaps one of the most famous of Swedes (barring modern musicians and film stars). Maybe it isn’t too surprising, given his dark legacy (he was called the Merchant of Death in a French newspaper once), as the inventor of dynamite and his business in weapons. But this man also became appalled by such a legacy and so founded the trust which led to the Nobel prizes for peace, technology, literature, science, and others, celebrated in grand ceremony every year in Norway and Sweden.

I took a short break there, beside Alfred Nobel, offering Loke some water and then trying to puzzle out where the church was and how to get there. We’d done almost 3 miles. It was about another half mile to the church. Loke was still pretty strong. Amazingly strong and vibrant, given I’d been expecting to call the vet to arrange sending him into the beyond just on the drive to the park the next day. It hadn’t turned out to be the ‘one last roll at half a mile an hour for old time sake’ I’d believed it was to be. Such an amazing turn around.

Even though our moving speed on the flats was between 3 to 5 mph, I’d taken time to watch birds, admire scenery, poke up hills, and take photos. It was coming up on 2 pm. Looking at the tangle of trails and bike paths on the OpenCycleMap app, I wasn’t sure I’d have enough time to make it to the church and then wind back across Haga to the parking lot before the time ran out. What if Loke’s boundless energy wasn’t so boundless?

I decided to start back to the parking lot waaaay on the other side of the park. To get there required some doubling back along the road-side cycle path, under the overpass, and climb back up to the southern gate.

The plan was to make our return to the car leisurely. It worked out that way at first, but only because it was a loooong steady climb. Then we tackled an even steeper climb when a sign at an intersection pointed down a shady little path just wide enough for 1 car. It was ‘Gamla Haga’ (Old Haga). Had to see it so up and up we went. Loke tried to help a bit.

The Turkish Pavilion at ‘Old Haga’

Once we got up there, I realized it was the buildings we’d seen from the path through the hollow. The ones perched on the edge of a rock face. I only took a photo of the Turkish pavilion because the other, lovely wooden buildings were rented out as private residences and some of the people were out. Just felt too intrusive to photograph them.

The other structures rented out as homes were originally in another area of the land that later became the parkland. When the king went on a building spree in the 1700’s, the original buildings were moved to the top of this hill and renovated into a modest residence for the king at the same time, taking on the name ‘Old Haga’. The pavilion was a bit later, (1788). Full history as reported by the placard if you click the photo.

There was enough space that I could just pedal the trike around in a tight (for a recumbent trike) circle and pointed back down the hill. Much to my surprise, Loke threw his weight into his harness and shot me a side ways look as if daring me to not let him run. I relented. It wasn’t a wild charge down the hill, but a good steady lope that I held back just shy of 9 mph. He tried to keep it going as we made a right turn and started back up another, less steep climb along the edge of an open field.

Soon enough it seemed, we were back to pathways I’ve walked with him quite a bit. That’s when Loke became sluggish. Looking at him though, I was pretty sure it was more of a sulk than suddenly becoming sickly or tired. He knew we were heading back to the parking lot and end of the ride.

We made it back with roughly 40 minutes to spare. So, it wouldn’t have been quite enough to get to the church. If I’d known Loke would be so strong and energetic, I would have added another hour or two, but how could I have known?

As I started to break the trike back down, I used a cable to tether Loke to the ‘Oh shit’ bar in the back of the car. Leaving the door open, it meant he could sit out with me beside the car, or jump in to lay down more comfortably. He stayed out with me and turned into an adorably, lovable hindrance as I tried to get packed up. Stooped over awkwardly to undo the seat clamps? Loke wriggled his head under my arm and licked my chin. Sitting on the back of the open car to undo his running bar? The furball rested his head on my knee and kept bumping my hands for petting. Trying to walk around to put things in the car? Leaning against my knees with pitiful looks. His way of saying, ‘Please? Can we keep going?’

One of the few times when Loke has always seemed unequivocally lovable. At the end of a ride he’s really enjoyed. Otherwise, he’s generally ‘meh’ about affection.

Loke’s been in fair condition since the ride. Certainly better than he was yesterday morning (April 12th) when I was convinced he was knocking on death’s door with three paws in the grave already. Since he did so well, I’ve decided I’m going to go riding with him again on Saturday (April 14th). I discovered that the strange tower visible across the water from Haga is in a botanical garden and there doesn’t seem to be anything banning bikes or dogs. It’s a fairly wild looking garden and paths criss-crossing everywhere. The Natural History museum is right across from it as well. I can’t go into the museum with Loke, but perhaps lots of nice spots to ride along the water and through secret gardens.

So, perhaps another interesting post coming in the next few days!