Terii’s Cycling Babble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Järlåsa Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Site of an old cottage apparently

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Siggefora Lake from above

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nameless lake.

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

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

Shade and oh, the colors!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe apple. Maybe cherry. Undeniably beautiful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A glimpse of the lake I didn’t loop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uppland Runestone #1174

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

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

Uppland Runestone #1175

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

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

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

Uppland Runestone #1173

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A glimpse of Ax Lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aren’t they lovely?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Västerlovsta Church in Heby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rough start to the year continues.

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

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

Gonna touch on a few days of the last year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please. Let him come home from this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cheap mitts.

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

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

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

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

Well, it was snowing, but not too much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I needed that realization.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fullerö Burial Ground, bird’s eye view.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With very little distance added… I think.

I probably should check my Garmin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, happy joy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old and new

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was sunny though. First time in ages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Just A Short Update
November 3, 2018, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, I went from riding frequently to taking a long slacking time off.

From the rail-trail ride on the 21st of October, away from Uppsala, to something like 9-10 days without riding. Part of that was Monday morning, (Oct 22nd), I woke with cold symptoms and a low grade fever. Spent the better part of a week fighting that. A few other days, dunno. Might have been the weather or something.

Halloween day, Loke perked up. I mean, seriously, perked up. Trotting around ahead of me every time I took him for a walk, bouncing around the apartment and harassing Jens. On November 1st, I took Loke to Wiks and we took a bit over 2 hours walking the full loop out there. It’s about 2 miles. It only took us that long because Loke was intent on sniffing a lot. When he was moving, he was trotting along quite happily and more surprisingly, with his tail up. That 2 hour stroll over hilly terrain did nothing to dent Loke’s spunk. He was still a complete pain in the rump, especially when Jens got home.

Oddly, his increased energy and enthusiasm coincided with a somewhat significant deterioration of his neuro-muscular control. Even walking around our apartment, his feet were skidding off in all directions. He fell at random moments for no apparent reason. He’d bounce back up fine and continue on his way, but still a bit worrying that it was worse.

Thrown into this was also our first snowfall, back on October 30th I think. It occurred to me as the world was a bit dusted with white and then kinda melted only to freeze into patches of slick ice, that maybe it would be best if this was one of the mild, snow-less winters. Even if it meant dreary landscape of muddy colors with short daylight hours and muted, low-angled sunlight when not raining. If Loke was hardly able to keep his feet under him on time roughened wooden boards of our apartment floor, an icy landscape might mean lots of bruises, dislocated hips, or worse.

The touch of winter didn’t last long. Just a couple days and then it bounced right back up into the 40’s and 50’s F.

Thursday, Loke was following me around so pitifully as I got dressed for the gym, which shares some elements of my cycling outfit, that I decided when Jens left for work, I’d have him drop Loke and I off at the storage for a ride back to the apartment. It wouldn’t be anything long as I had laundry to do which could not be put off any longer.

Silly me, I’d forgotten that I’d removed Loke’s running bar for the solo rail-trail ride. I almost walked home, but the pitiful looks from Loke giving me the ‘8 week old’ puppy expression changed my mind. Loke’s not the wild fireball who could dislocate my shoulder any more. Holding the leash wouldn’t be a problem.

Well, it was and it wasn’t. Instead of the leash, I had to hang on to his collar or harness. He had a tendency to want to pull ahead and then edge over to the right, putting him in danger of the wheel. It wasn’t hard to hold him, but tiring to keep my arm up and out. It also made shifting rather difficult.

Naturally, since I was having that difficulty of making sure Loke stayed beside me and off to the side, he did his fastest sustained pace since his April health crash. We cruised along at about 5.5 mph. I really would have loved to take him further than the 0.95 mile roll back to the apartment, but laundry called and I really wasn’t going to undo months of physical therapy on my arm, keeping it up with the elbow locked as a running bar substitute.

Yesterday (November 2nd) Loke was still spunky, so I decided to take him out for a longer ride.

Sweden treats Halloween a bit differently than the States. In the US, it’s celebrated on the 31st of October. Here, the acknowledgement of the day and All Saints Day afterward, is bumped to the weekend. A lot of places give employees a half day off on the Friday for a longer weekend. Adobe gave everyone the full day. So, my husband was home to come get Loke when he got tired. Since it had been a while, I decided I’d do the downtown River Loop with the furball and Jens could probably pick Loke up at the bandy court or something. Oh, and I remembered the running bar.

Loke started out as strong as he had the day before. We cruised along at 5.4 mph or so, even right up the hill as I steered us northward to jump on the cycle paths there before cutting off to the river side path to following it through town out to Kungsängen and back.

Oh, did I mention what I learned recently about Kungsängen? The name had always confused me. Kung is, of course, Swedish for King. Säng is the word for bed. En (or et) indicates ‘the’. So, I was always interpreting the place name for the wide pasture land by the river there, as ‘The King Bed’. Finally, someone in my recumbent trike FB group with better Swedish than mine pointed out it very likely wasn’t The King Bed, but The King’S Meadow. The word for meadow is apparently äng. So, KungsÄngEn. Well, duh! Doesn’t that make so much more sense for a name of pastureland once held by the crown for the livestock to support the royal household?

Today’s Swedish lesson was brought to you by the letters “Ä” and “Ö” and the color blå. Those of you who are old school Sesame Street fanatics will get the reference.

It was a pretty miserable looking morning at 10 am. Thick clouds and a dense, misty drizzle blocked much of the daylight so that even 2 hours after sunrise, it seemed a murky twilight and the disappearance of the vibrant autumn colors only made it seem even darker. Droplets of water, too small to see, were felt as ghostly touches to the skin of my face and hands. The clouds hung low, obscuring the top third or more of the cathedral’s steeples.

Looking so deary out, the expectation was that it would be cold. While not warm, it wasn’t as chill as I thought. 52 F and with a clammy, muggy sense to the air. Everything looked so wet, but the drizzle/mist wasn’t even enough to speckle my glasses. Unless it started coming down harder, I wouldn’t even get damp from it.

Less than 5 minutes after we left the apartment, I had to stop and strip off the extra layer on my top as well as shove my beanie in the handlebar bag.

As we came down the long hill toward the first bridge over the river, Loke pulled a bit faster and we hit 6.4 mph. Then, still at a trotting pace, he tried to lengthen his stride again for more speed, 6.8 mph. For a moment, I thought he was going to break 7 mph for the first time in ages. No. At about 6.8 to 6.9 mph, his hind legs started to act up and I braked us back to about 5.5 mph before he fell and ate pavement. Such a nasty look he gave me and tried to pull.

One thing I noticed though, he never tried to leave the two beat trotting stride for a 3 beat lope.  That made me a little sad.

At least his tail was up though! A cheery waving little banner above his back instead of kinda just hanging out parallel to the ground if not simply dangling down. That’s one way to know Loke’s feeling pretty good. Not that he’s just trotting around, but trotting around AND with a high tail. I love seeing it.

As we came out of the old River Loop paths and headed off toward downtown, I miscalculated some turns and wound up missing my intention to come out between the hospital and castle. It meant coming down the cycleway/single direction road with Loke. I really didn’t like that, but the other option was to climb a nasty steep hill, which would be as hard or harder on the furball than on me, or ride even worse roads for both me and Loke. I hated having cars passing on his side, but he didn’t seem to care. Used to be it would freak him out. I guess in his aged wisdom and experience it just another ‘eh, whatever’ occurrence. Hehe.

I was glad to get out of there to paths and roads were traffic was either less or we were separated from it. I was rolling down the west east bank of the river to give Loke a bit of variety. He’s most accustomed to going south on the west and north on the east. It seemed to increase his interest. I also took the path that’s marked exclusively for pedestrians. We took it slow though and every time someone on foot came along, I swerved over onto the grass to give them the whole path. It just felt nicer to give Loke a fine-grained gravel path and grass to go on instead of asphalt bordered by chunky rocks.

The King’s Meadow in the mist. Fog? Haze either way. 😛

By time we were up to the boat storage and approaching the big drawbridge, the feel of the drizzle had abated. The misty look had lingered on though. I guess it might have qualified as fog.

Passing under the bridge and hitting the narrow gravel path along the river, Loke perked up even more. By this time we were at about 5 miles. I’d half expected the furball to be back home with Jens. Yet, he was still going good. We’d slowed a little, from 5.5 mph or so to about 4.2 or 4.3 mph, but his tail was still high and his head up, eyes bright as his gaze swept our surroundings. There was remarkably little foot drag as well and I don’t remember him tripping even once for that whole distance. He adored the country feel of the gravel path by the pastures. A very happy husky.

The haze was starting to thin about time we reached the new foot bridge and crossed. I toyed with heading down the road a little bit and doubling back on the path for more distance. I changed my mind though, thinking it might be neater if Loke could make the full 8+ mile loop with me rather than having it extended and needing Jens to come get him. I was curious how far the furry one could make it. I think his previous record was 6.8 miles or so. 7 miles would be great!

Coming back north through the trees on the east side of the river, I felt the disappearance of the autumn leaves more strongly. The columns of tree trunks were all in shades of deepest gray and black. The gravel path its own color of gray with the fallen leaves having gone to the colors of mud. Combined with the dim light further shadowed by the skeletal web of tree limbs, it bordered on depressing. The patch of open ground on the west side which seems to lead to some kind of manor house was colorless where once there were the small sunflowers and the bright leaves of on the trees across the way.

The rest of the way back home was pretty uneventful as we doubled back on the same paths and roads we’d gone out on once we were past the bandy court. Loke was starting to flag a little, but by then, we were less than a mile to home, so I slowed to about 3.8 mph and just let Loke amble like that. He was still happy to be out, just slower. Even once we rolled to a final stop, he was a bit disappointed and woofed at me.

I was impressed with my old furball. 8.5 miles. Over a mile and a half more than his previous ‘longest since scratching on death’s door’. Wouldn’t you know it? He pranced around the apartment, going straight Jens in an attempt to bully him into doing something with him and then rampaged around the apartment for anything to eat. I thought he was a pig before, but since he’s been castrated, he’s taking gluttony to a WHOLE new level. A black hole wrapped in white fur.

But it was nice to get out and have the fuzzy one with me the whole way. I do think he’d have made it home just fine if I’d added the extra distance if his behavior at home was any indication.

October 22, 2018, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Debacle – Derived from French. It’s meaning is slanted toward a situational failure more drastic than ‘fiasco’ which tends to have somewhat comedic overtones, but… I’m tired of using the word ‘fiasco’ in my posts of late, so the word for this post is ‘Debacle’. It’s good to swap things up from time to time. I’m sure I’ll laugh about the days between Thursday, October 18th to the morning of October 20th in time, but right now, I’m more grumbly about it than chuckling.

Gripsholm From Mariefred – 2013

As mentioned in the last post, I had planned to do a ride away from Uppsala. I’ve had it all plotted out and been buzzing with anticipation, but was starting to wonder if it was cursed. As cursed as a ride in 2013 around a town called Marifred, west of Stockholm and on the southern shore of Lake Mälaren. It has a beautiful castle, runestones, church ruins and more I really wanted to see. I must have made 3 or 4 drives there and wound up coming back without the trike’s wheels ever touching the soil in that area. I finally did it, but it took several tries and I was starting to despair.

So, originally, I was going to do the ride between Finsta and Norrtälje on Friday, October 19th. With it being the first ‘away from Uppsala’ ride in… I can’t even think in how long, I wanted my legs good and fresh for the ride. I wasn’t going to wear them out with riding around home or overworking at the gym. So, I did just a light workout on the rowing machine at the gym Thursday morning and focused more on stretches.

The ride didn’t happen. Jens, it turned out had an appointment with his chiropractor and so, needed the car. That made me a little crazy. Thursday, the weather had been SOOOOOOO gorgeous. Mild, temps in the 50’s, but no wind and gloriously clear, blue skies and… just… *wistful sigh*. That perfect autumn day that begs for a person to go out and spend every moment of sunlit hours beneath the azure dome of the heavens, but no. I’d had to save my legs.

Saturday it would be then. Which meant, of course, that I wasn’t going to go for a ride on that perfect, equally flawless autumn day that was Friday, October 19th as well.

Saturday morning, my PC’s weather app, my phone’s weather app, Jens’ iPhone weather app, and the weather woman on the TV all claimed that while cold (34 F at 8 am when I’d be starting the ride and high of 42 F), it would be clear, sunny, and very little wind.

Friday, I had the trike packed in the car and Saturday (October 20th) morning, I assembled everything else, with the intention of getting on the road by 7 am. I dressed for cold, but dry.

It felt a bit warmer than my weather app said when I stepped out at 6:57 am. So much so, I did an about face to swap my cushy wool socks for cotton before my feet burst into flame. I did bring the wool socks though. Not 5 minutes out the door, Mother Nature cleared her throat, so I stopped at McD’s for their restroom. I didn’t fully get underway until almost 7:20 am.

As I hit the E4, I noticed it didn’t look particularly clear though it was a bit hard to tell since the sun wasn’t due to make it’s dawn debut for another 20 minutes.

By the time I made the turn off the highway at the exit for Knivsta, it was obvious that it was not clear. Rain started to spit down. Not that soft mist where the droplets are smaller than grains of salt. No. It was rain.

I kept peering at the skies and hoping for a break in the clouds as I went on, but they remained stubbornly unyielding and continued to drizzle and rain on the car. Pity, it was a pretty drive. One moment when the rain let up for a moment, I was driving by a lake and it was picture perfect with the trees of the opposite bank reflected in mirror smooth waters. Or it would have been picture perfect if I could have found a spot to pull over without getting hit by traffic to actually get a picture. So much autumn foliage still dazzling the landscape even under gray skies.

Skederids Kyrka – 2011

As I came into Finsta and made the turn to Skederids Church, I remembered that intersection and not fondly. The turn from the smaller road onto the 77 had been harrowing. It’s a hill no matter which way you go and a bit of a curve. My slow self trying to get across and up a hill meant getting in the way of someone whipping around the curve at high speed. I was going to have to think about maybe starting somewhere else.

Still, I drove to the church as it seemed as good a place as any to wait a bit in hopes the rain would let up. By then it was coming up past 9 am which made me antsy. I knew the old rail bed which had been converted into a cycle/bridle/foot path was unpaved, meaning it would be slow going for me. I wanted as much daylight hours I could get to do the loop I’d plotted. Days are getting short fast, already less than 10 hours between sunrise and sunset. It was coming down even harder 20 minutes later. Restless, I decided to go check out the prayer cave of St. Brigitta.

St. Birgitta’s Prayer Cave.

Just a short hop from the church to the ‘cave’ where I found lots of nice parking. It made me want to start from there rather than the church. Now, if only there were a connection between where I needed to join the rail trail. It was at least on the correct side of the busy road, but I wasn’t sure I could get over without going on the 77.

It felt bitterly cold as I walked, under umbrella across the grounds of the little farmstead area to the prayer cave. It was more of a cleft than a cave. A small space in the middle of a giant chunk of rock that had split ages ago, open to the sky above.

I was shivering as I walked back to the car. I saw snowflakes too. My hands ached. I was not dressed for this kind of weather. I’d worn thin wool under my tights and not enough layers on my torso though I did have my 400 g weight wool pullover on. It was inadequate for anything other than dry weather. For rain, I needed quite a bit more layers

If it’s not raining, is this liquid sunshine on the windscreen?

I called Jens to tell him I couldn’t make the ride thanks to the rain. It was nearing 10 am by that time. He was baffled as he checked the weather sites on his end and, apparently, they all said it was sunny and no rain.

I felt pretty peeved as I drove back through a leaden cloud cover of spitting rain that reached all the way to Uppsala by that time. Two glorious days I could have at least ridden locally, skipped just so I could have my planned ride on well rested legs, the first in years away from Uppsala, ruined by precipitation that the weather experts said wouldn’t be there.

That bothered me more than anything. The fact that every single weather source I’d checked insisted there should be no rain. That there would be no rain. If something had said it was going to be barely above freezing with rain, I likely wouldn’t have wasted the drive. At the very least, I’d have been dressed for riding in the wet.

Jens tried to console me with the news that Sunday, October 21st was supposed to be dry and warmer. I thought it was sweet of him to try. I spent the rest of the day doing laundry.

So, Sunday, October 21st, I woke up early, got my yogurt and started trolling the various weather apps and sites. A Swedish one even had current satellite and radar images which I checked… a lot. The only rain on them was over 100 miles to the north and forecasted to stay up there.

I was gonna risk it. I pulled on layers and readied to go. On my top, I had a light layer and then a medium wool layer before dragging the cycle top over those and then a big sloppy sweater over that. My heavy wool was packed in a pannier bag in case I needed it. My legs got the same treatment, only I had the medium wool against the skin, light wool over that and then the Lycra. Wool socks were packed.

Ma Nature was tweaking my nose as I went out on a short walk with Loke before leaving. Droplets of water plopped down on me from the trees. I peered suspiciously up at a dark sky that looked cloudy. An inspection of the pavement showed the droplets were only under the trees. Where there was open sky, it was dry.

Loke fed, hubby smooched bye, I jumped in the car. Was that a speckle of rain on the windshield? I narrowed my eyes at it, but decided to go on.

There were more spits of moisture on the glass as I went. The last couple miles to the exit on the highway, it got a bit heavier. In truth, I was about to turn back.

You know how someone starts joking with you about something relentlessly until you just want to wave your arms and holler? Then they might go, “Oh, I’m just teasing you. Here, I’ll show you,” and then does something amazing for you?

And this was just the warm up!

Well, that’s exactly what Mother Nature did. I made the turn off the E4 at the Knivsta exit and suddenly the sky was splashed with color and the rain stopped. The first moment I could, I pulled off to the side to snap a photo through the windshield.

And Mamma Nature wasn’t done yet. She rolled up her sleeves and pulled out all the stops. She was making her ‘apology’ for jerking my chain by making one of the most astounding visions I’ve had the fortune to ever see.

I’ve never seen such a darkly vibrant light that does such strange loveliness to the scenery.

It became the most heartrendingly beautiful sunrise I’ve seen in years. The quality of the light was just… I can’t even find the proper words. It was apricots, peaches, and roses all in one, giving their own hues and shades to the landscape and deepening the autumn pallet into entirely new colors with elusive names I’ve never had to describe. Such an inadequate way to say it. At one spot where I stopped in a bus-stop to take pictures, I saw the precise moment when the very edge of the sun’s corona cleared the distant treeline across a lake. My eyes got teary at the sheer magnificence of the morning.

Just a few seconds before the sun’s edge cleared the trees across that lake.

The intensely tinted light that turned the landscape into that of a magical other world, went on for over half an hour. It was seriously going to impact my arrival time in Finsta. I took my time for that portion of the drive, pulling over into bus stops to let faster traffic pass. I was bouncing in and out of the car every quarter mile or so where I could take photos. Sometimes, the camera didn’t even click. I just stood there with it in hand and… breathed, took it all in, amazed that such ephemeral beauty had unfolded.

More normal portion of sunrise, but lovely.

The astounding gave way to the more mundane once the sun actually came over the horizon. it was still lovely and I stopped a few more times for photos.

From this…

By the time I rolled into Finsta, the best of it was done and I was able to get to the task of deciding where to start. I would have loved to park at St. Birgitta’s Cave area, but I wasn’t sure if there was a way through the 100 yards or so of trees to the school area without getting on the 77 where traffic was already picking up. Over at the school, I did find a nice little parking lot and classes certainly weren’t going to be in on a Sunday. I decided to go for that. First, I went to the nearby church to see if the restroom there was locked. It wasn’t.

…to this in a snap!

I had the trike out in what felt like record time. Clearly, the gym is paying off. That 30 lbs or so of awkwardly shaped metal, plastic, and rubber feels about 10 lbs lighter and quite a bit less cumbersome.

The sun had become a bit more shy as I rolled down from the parking lot on a small hill above the street, but I was encouraged by the patches of blue sky off to the west. I rounded a curve and spotted one of the round blue and white signs indicating a path reserved for walking and cycling. In this case, it triple served as a bridle path too.

I made the turn and the trike zipped down a short dip and there I was, on the old Länna-Norrtälje rail-way. Given how much I adore ravens, I took the distinctive call of one from nearby as a welcome and good omen. I would have loved to have seen it, but at least I heard it.

I had hoped for more gravel and less grass.

I already knew the rail trail was unpaved for much (if not all) the way. In the spots where I’d been able to get a glimpse of it with Google Street View, where it crossed roads, it had been a gravel and grass track. And where it wasn’t a lot of grass, the gravel was still pretty loose, bordering on sand and bogged me down a bit.

It made for slow going, but I was good with it. I enjoyed the fresh scenery, the autumn colors that were clinging on in this part of Sweden.

I can’t remember if I mentioned, but it turned out that none of the 3 churches on my plotted route were new. It turned out that I’d actually ridden in the area back in 2011 where I found photos of them all.

I guess the guys who clear cut this little patch were bored. 100+ lb stone on a 12 foot tree trunk.

Firmer gravel under lovely leaves. Very changeable path.

It didn’t really dishearten me though. I mean, seriously eight years ago since I last rolled across this part of Sweden? Given that it feels like I’ve rolled on my old River Loop every 8 minutes the past 3 years or so, this was still glorious. Not to mention, this time I knew where a bunch of burial grounds and the like were. I had grand plans to go buzz the ones that weren’t overgrown with my drone, which was fully charged and snug from the weather in my waterproof pannier bag.

Autumn colors across the fields. And, hard to tell, but some blue sky.

Yet, I found as I pedaled by first a burial ground and then a hill with the invisible remains of an ancient fortified village/fortress, I was reluctant to get the drone out. That screaming controller and the quiet of the early (for some people) morning with houses clustered here and there just close enough to where I would have been flying. It put me off.

Loved the colors and the peek at old buildings among the trees.

I’m sure the controller isn’t loud enough to be heard for a even quarter mile, but it feels like it when there’s mostly silence all around you. Still, the result was, I’d come up to one of the landmarks I meant to buzz around and would chicken out because of houses or a jogger would spring by like a gazelle.

I didn’t let it dishearten me too much though. It was too lovely to be on what felt like fresh ground. I stopped for lots of photos. I enjoyed the surprising number of birds chattering around. In and around Uppsala, it’s almost dead silent and devoid of anything resembling bird chatter or song. Just the occasional fuss from sparrows or the harsh calls of jackdaws and, rarely, hooded crows.

When I was moving, my rolling speed swung between about 4 mph to about 3.5, depending on the surface. There was gravel, nice and loose and slippy. There was gravel and grass. Gravel covered with leaves. Mud. Mud with grass. Mud covered with leaves. Quite a workout even at slow speeds.

Approaching a crossing with a country road.

I hit a muddy stretch where the trees closed in, forming an autumn shaded corridor. Ahead, it was brighter with the quality of light that indicated it was another crossing. Light at the end of a pleasant tunnel. Just a smidge over 1.5 mile.

Abandoned House – 2011

I rolled out and immediately recognized the spot. Years ago, I’d ridden here. I recognized the little house at the edge of the road where the rail trail continued on to the northeast. When last passing through here to turn onto the cycle path toward Norrtälje, I’d come down the road from the right. The discovery of the rail trail had been a happy happenstance I’d not planned for back then. I remember being intrigued, not just by the arrow straight gravel corridor through the trees, but also by the little house sitting there so sadly. I had contemplated what joys and sorrows it might have seen in its time span perhaps stretching back a century or more.

Oh wow! Whatta change. I love when old buildings are rescued!

I was truly surprised to find the house not only still standing, but no longer abandoned and neglected. Clearly, someone had invested time, money, and no small measure of love.

I never would have thought the structure was salvageable or that someone would have bothered with it even if it was. Looking at the old photo again though, I can see the bones were still strong, holding the little house straight and even the roof line was good and even which tends to be the first to go under the weight of clay roof tiles.

I was so thrilled. I even giggled at how darling it looked. Bright, fresh red paint on the walls and vivid white trim. The cute yellow shutters were just the perfect touch. Odd how random little things like that can make one happy.

See? Very lovely trail surface!

On the other side of that street, the trail improved. Less grass and the gravel, in general, was a bit more packed. There were some shallow, smooth-edged potholes here and there, but it was manageable. At times, my moving speed was about 9-10 mph without much effort. Of course there were still the pesky stops for photos and the like.

Drone Play!

Then it happened. I was toodling along and came out into the open where the only trees near the path were little thing, barely more than shrubs with plenty of clear space along the path. It was nearly lunch time so even if any noise could reach the random house faaaarrr across the fields, the people should all be awake. For over 15 minutes, I’d seen neither jogger, dog walker, horseback rider,or cyclist.

I was gonna do it! I was gonna pull out the drone! By happy coincidence, it also happened to be when the sun decided to come out for a brief while. Perhaps the sun, open ground, and the fact I’d not seen another living soul in a while all conspired to put the idea in my head to fly some.

Swedish countryside from on-high.

It was fun. Though I wasn’t yet brave enough to send it whizzing across the fields, I do think I’ve gained significant confidence in my handling of it. It also gave me a chance to figure out why the last time I flew it and took photos at Kungsängen they came out so dark. It frustrated me because the camera was on auto. Well, like my Canon, I can control the exposure intensity even on the auto setting. Turned out it was on one of the controllers little wheels. Once I figured that out the images came out much better. Nice to have that little mystery solved.

Meant to be a video buzzing down the trail about 6 feet off the ground past the little trees to those in the distance.

I also made an attempt at a video. I brought the drone about a foot higher than my head, over the trail. I was pretty sure I’s swapped it from camera to video and hit record as I sent the drone zipping off down the trail. Nope. Managed to flub it, but I didn’t get it stuck in the shrubby little tree or smack it into the ground, so I count that a win.

I buzzed it around some more, never straying more than 150 feet or so away from where I stood, training myself with lowering and raising the camera, flying circles and 8’s to get used to turning the drone by its personal orientation rather than by mine. After about 20 minutes, before it could start screaming at me about low batteries, I brought it down.

I kid you not, less than a minute after I landed it, gun shots. I was folding the props back in against the body to put it back in its snug case when they ran out through the air. I’m pretty sure they weren’t because of my drone. It is the hunting season after all, but the coincidence was kinda funny. Not only that, as I was zipping up the case and putting my phone back in its case, a jogger came by.

I think I know what the hunters were after. Barely 200 yards down the path from where I’d spent my fun 20 minutes with the drone, a pair of pheasants ran across the trail, no more than 70 or so feet past the front of my trike. Naturally too fast for me to get a photo. I paused to comment on it though so I wouldn’t forget it for this post. Odd it was a pair of males. I joked about how the first time I rode this trail, I’d seen a single pheasant cock. This time, I’d seen two. Maybe if I rode it again, I’d see 3? As I typed on the phone, I could hear them rustling around in the undergrowth and they even called a few times.

One of the two, bravely watching as I crept closer…

Of course, just a few minutes later another pair of male pheasants completely ruined that amusing theory.

I didn’t know they were pheasants at first, though I suspected that the moving black dots in the distance were just that. One of those times when having my long lens would have been nice.

Instead of flying up on them, I crept closer foot by foot, taking a series of about 8 photos. One of the two chickened out (haha) rather early and slipped into the reeds. The other stood there, watching as if trying to figure out what I was. I didn’t get as close a photo as I would have liked before that one also scuttled under cover. Still,  you can tell it’s a pheasant.

How is that for an autumn image?

There must have been something about that stretch of about half a mile or so. Perhaps it was just the marsh that flanked the trail, making it such a bird sanctuary. I doubt it was all the golfers wandering around that made them happy with it.

Though that could explain all the pheasants there, hiding out from people wearing combinations of camo and bright orange. Not like hunters are going to be allowed to go tromping around a manicured golf course, taking pop shots at birds in random directions. I think the golf club would get rather displeased if all its members wound up bleeding or worse. Not good for membership dues. Not at all. So, very likely a safe haven for pheasants.

And ducks. I kept hearing a lot of ducks in the distance as I rolled on, keeping the camera in hand because I was so enchanted by the autumn hues along the trail and also, yes, hoping to get a better photo of a pheasant or two.

Mom, dad, and young’uns.

And there was another noise, not at all harmonious. It sounded rather like an inflated set of bag pipes getting used for soccer practice, sort of sharp honking squeaks. I passed into a row of birch trees and could see water just beyond them. There, at a golf tee spot, was a little pond. It looked as if the golfers were supposed to smack the ball across the pond to reach the green. On the water I spotted a family of swans.

They were kinda far out, but I thought I could get a decent enough photo with my camera’s current lens while catching some of the lovely backdrop of the pond. So focused on the swans (the source of that bizarre honking), I didn’t really notice the ducks in the water along the pond’s edge. Blasted things about gave me a heart attack when I stood up. The surface of the water just kinda exploded as a 100 or so ducks frantically took wing. I think they got my heart going faster than theirs.

It was a wonder the swans didn’t freak out and go flapping across the water for the reeds. They swam a little faster, but didn’t rush exactly. It would have been nice to get them when they were a bit closer. Dratted ducks.

Not the first time ducks have caused me problems. I still feel my hackles rise when they quack thanks to 2 solid nights of a duck quacking in Bruges, the sound echoing off the canal walls and depriving me of sleep. It’s a myth that the quack doesn’t echo. That or it was 2 or three very talented ducks in perfect synchronicity.

More grass and gravel. Slower going

The next distraction. The first riders of the day.

Just past the swans, the marshland ended and it seemed the golf course as well. The boundary was pretty clear now that I think about it. The trail went from nice, generally smooth and well packed gravel back into grass and gravel. It dropped my moving speed some. As if the many distractions hadn’t been doing that anyway.

And of course, the distractions didn’t stop coming. The next one was a pair of riders, on sturdy, adorable Icelandic horses. I saw them coming, stood up from the trike and took my helmet off. Once they were close enough and one horse looked a bit nervous, I started talking. Just a bit of snorting and pulling uneasily at the reins which calmed as I spoke and then they were by.

Would have liked a nicer sky here, but still a pretty picture.

So many reasons to stop. Scenery. Swans. Drone flying. I blame that for making less than 5 miles in 2 hours than I do grass, loose gravel and mud. So worth it though!

The weather by that point hadn’t been too bad. It had been bouncing a bit, covering a range between 43 F and 52 F. A lot of that was to the on again and off again presence of the sun. Shortly after the swans though, the sun disappeared and the wind kicked up a bit. Naturally, that triggered a temp drop. There was also something about that wind that made me think of rain. Maybe it was some subtle smell triggering the rain sense of my subconscious. Sometimes wind is just wind and other times it makes me start searching the horizon for heavier clouds.

Oh, I saw another pheasant as I was pondering possible rain while pedalling the trike through a combination of sand and loose gravel. A female that ran across the path almost under my pedal boom. I think both of us were quite startled and, she was too fast for me to pull out a camera.

The heavier clouds came. The day got darker and I actually started stressing about the time and tried to speed up a bit. Another bit of worry was triggered when I looked at my PlotaRoute info on my phone of the day’s ride. It showed that the total climbing for the 13-ish miles (if I didn’t go into Norrtälje), was going to be over 800 feet. There I was, just shy of 5 miles and my Garmin showed I’d climbed less than 80 feet.

Not even 1 pm and yet, it felt later than 3 pm.

Time wasn’t really an issue at that point… I think. It wasn’t even noon when I reached the road where I was to turn from the rail trail onto a country lane and go to Malsta Church. As I went from loose rocks to good, ole’ solid pavement, my Garmin said I’d gone 5.9 miles and climbed a whopping 82 feet.

Malsta Church & Lake

It was maybe a quarter mile from the trail to Malsta. I was over 100 feet of climbing when I reached the church. Still, after the loose gravel for almost a mile, it didn’t feel that harsh. It gave me hope that I could actually manage 6+ miles with over 800 feet of climb.

Interior of Malsta Kyrka – 2011

I really had to answer a call of nature when I arrived at the church. There just hadn’t seemed to be any where I could get off the rail trail without some random golfer getting mooned. I hoped the bathroom at the church was unlocked. Alas, no. My suffering was to continue. I had also been so excited by the thought of flying my drone around the church and get a gorgeous shot of the little lake. And… didn’t happen. Parked right by the little shack with the restroom was a car. I could hear voices and children giggling and yelling from somewhere near the water below the churchyard. I went to see if the church was open.

No luck, but I could see the family. There was a little dock on the water at the shoreline and they were capering around. No drone.

And you know, I took a photo of Malsta church from almost the same spot as I did in 2011, except I was further from the churchyard gate so was able to get more of the church in the shot with the lake and old wall. I like the new one much better!

I sat at the church for a bit, pondering the maps and the situation. It really did feel so very late to me thanks to the heavy gloom of clouds and the rising wind. Maybe it was just the oppressive force of deeply buried instinct warning me of rain. Something in me was just saying, urgently, “Go! Go! Gotta get back to the car before sunset. Hurry!”

I really wanted to take the road back for some fresh scenery, but that 800 feet climbing was daunting. I knew it would slow me down more than gravel, mud, and the many distractions the trail had offered. It did turn out however, that for the next mile or so down the road, there were little unpaved lanes that I’d crossed while on the trail. I could turn onto one of those and get back on it. After that 3rd one though, it was 5 miles or more to the next. Still, I could give it a shot.

Heavy, gray skies, but lovely on the ground!

So, I left the church and pushed on through the increasingly gloomy afternoon. Almost right away, I was climbing a hill. I was slow, but it didn’t feel particularly brutal. And the scenery with a lovely building at the road side and the color of the leaves made for a pleasant view as I crept upward.

I stopped to take a photo of that first hill. You know how they say cameras add 10 lbs to people in photos? Well, hills look 10% less steep in photos. A 12% grade magically looks like 2% in any picture.

Another hill, pretty cottage and more gray skies.

I had a bit of a downward dash and then some short distance that resembled something semi-level. The climbs were slow, but I just took the ‘steady’ approach up them and didn’t feel too bad for it. There was still that insistent little voice in my head. “Hurry, hurry. It’s getting dark. You don’t want to be out here after the sun sets! Go!” I kept looking at the time. 1:30 pm. Yet the voice wouldn’t stop.

I passed the 3rd chance to turn back to the trail and decided I’d go on. It was less than 200 yards when I discovered the first real hill of the ride. There was no ‘spinning’ the pedals to get up it. It was a hard push even in my ultimate granny gear. I had to stop frequently to gulp air and let the discomfort in my muscles and knees subside.

For a third of a mile, I went up that slope by inches. I wasn’t too far from the top when an older couple came walking along. “Quite a hard climb, isn’t it?” the man said. I agreed. “Bikers really don’t like this part,” he added. I told them maybe I should have stayed on the old train line path. The woman nodded, “That would have been wise.” They waved and left me to my creeping.

Somewhere along that 0.3 of a mile (which took me over 15 minutes), I felt the first kiss of moisture on my face. Just droplets of what might have been rain about the size of sugar grains. When I reached the pate of the hill, I swerved into the parking for a go-cart track so I could secure everything that needed to stay dry, like my drone. It was also an excuse to catch my breath and stop gasping like a beached fish.

I spent 5 minutes in that spot. It wasn’t just to catch my breath either. I was calculating, evaluating. Looking down the hill it was a precipitous drop. A fun ride with gravity doing all the work, for sure. Beyond that though, I could see the start of the next climb and it looked as steep as what I’d just huffed, and strained my way up. The top of that hill put me at 6.9 miles for the ride. In the mile between the 5.9 mile when I left the trail with 82 feet of climb to 6.9 mile at the top of that 3rd, steepest hill so far, my climbing had jumped to over 200 feet. 600 more of it to go. With sunset less than 4 hours away, I had my serious doubts. It would be getting dark even faster if the clouds lingered and stayed as thick as they already were.

Feeling stressed for time, I looked down from the way I came. I could just see the beginning of the little gravel road that would take me back to the rail trail. I could be on it in just seconds with the speeds I’d hit. Regretfully, I turned the trike around and shot back down the way I’d come.

Just around the corner of this nice building was the trail

There was a car behind me as I started the down-dash. He didn’t get a chance to pass me though as I hit almost 30 mph in what seemed like a ridiculously short time. The road surface was descent, so I didn’t chicken out and hit the brakes like I do when I come down the long drop between The Old Farm and the small stream on my Börje Loop. To keep the car from trying to pass, I let go of one steering handle to motion my intention to do a left turn and then hit the brakes hard to whip around from pavement onto the unpaved country lane.

The car beeped and the driver gave me a grin and thumbs up as I twisted around to look. Then I pulled out my camera to take a photo of that pretty building right on the corner of where the gravel met pavement.

Much to my shock, the trail was right behind the far end of that building. I’d had no idea I’d passed so very close to the paved road.

Oh, lovely, lovely rail trail. I was a fool to leave you!

Though I generally hate out-n-back type rides, it was such a relief to get back on the nice, flat rail trail.

As I pushed back the way I came, I did at least take fewer photos. With the wind still kicking it up higher and the day continuing to get more gloomy, I was powering it back to the car as rapidly as I could.

The scenery being so recently seen, my mind was free to wander. For some reason, the idea of riding in the snow during a full moon crossed my mind. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. I love moonlight and what it does to a snow covered landscape is nothing short of magical. Almost as magical as the sunrise I’d witnessed that morning.

Lovely mushroom that I missed the first time through here.

I’d had a chance to do it last winter, but had decided not to. I kept having images of cars skidding into me on the slick, recently snow covered country roads in the dark. Cycle paths wouldn’t give me the experience I wanted, all of them being fairly well lit. That would make moonlight on snow all but impossible to see. Like stars in the heart of New York City. I needed a path, that would be plowed, but unlit.

I wondered if this path could offer that.

As that crossed my mind, it suddenly took the pressure off getting back to the car before sunset. If I was willing to ride here in the dark for snow and moon, why should I rush. The reason to hurry had been not wanting to be on the hilly, twisty roads in the dark. My lights are good, but depending on them to keep drivers, rushing over the tops of hills or swinging wildly around curves from hitting me didn’t feel wise. Now, I was back on the trail. Safe from cars.

That figured out, my mind stopped the fretting and whispering at me to rush, rush. Another concern rushed into the space once that other thought vacated it. Mother Nature was screaming at me. I needed to answer.

I finally found a spot where I could get the trike off the trail by a few feet. There were little paths webbed up the side of a hill, winding around little clumps of rocks and the trunks of trees. Somewhere there would be no mooning someone on the path.

I still took a few photos on the way back.

That taken care of, I also took the chance to gobble up a couple handfuls of my granola and nuts for an extra energy boost. Then I put the trike back on the path.

Hill with the remains of a fornborg (fortress) atop it.

I didn’t even roll more than 50 yards before I stopped again. From down the path came a group of women on horses and one on a bike. The line of them was stretched out over 200 yards or so. They were all on adorable Icelandic horses. I removed my helmet and stood up. The first one came up on a white one. She stopped and looked at my trike and I looked at her horse. I asked about it. It wasn’t hers. All of them were on horses from a riding school. The woman on the bike was the instructor. The woman then asked why had I stopped. I explained that it was to help keep the horses from spooking about how weird my bike was. They tended to do better if I was standing up and talking to them, so they could see I wasn’t some weird monster, but just a person. She laughed and said it took a lot to make Icelandic horses afraid. She’s right, but better safe than sorry.

The other riders started catching up and soon they were all past me. The woman on the bike last. She gave me a huge smile and stopped to thank me. “You know how horses work! Thank you so very much for being kind and patient!”

From there the rest of the ride was pretty anti-climatic. The temperature did drop to about 45 F and wind increased. I kept a good pace on the packed gravel through the grounds of the golf course. There were no pheasants though. The swan family was gone though the ducks had returned, only to burst out of the water and into flight as I zipped by. Startled me again.

Then I was across the road with the restored house and back to the harder slog of mud, sand, and loose gravel. That was when my knees started to bother me. It got quite uncomfortable as I made the push and arrived back at the car before 2:30. Loading back up even with my unhappy knees went quickly.

My timing was perfect. As I got in the car, the windshield started getting speckled. My plans to maybe go see if I could fly the drone around the churches was scrapped.

It had been a good day though. Perhaps not as I’d planned it, me riding back to the car on the trail again. Still, I’d had that breath-taking sunrise, a bit of drone flying, pheasants. Oh, and AWAY from Uppsala on the trike for the first time in YEARS. So, while it had started turning into a debacle with my first attempts to get out of the house and go ride it, it had turned into a good day and avoided becoming one of the cursed rides.

And I Keep Rolling!
October 18, 2018, 6:09 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

What an about face! From riding not-so-much to riding quite a bit!

It hasn’t all been wine and roses though.

Saturday, October 13th was a rest day. By my ‘strict’ gym schedule, I was supposed to go workout, but my knees were uncomfortable and other parts of my body really didn’t like the thought of going to do gym stuff for an hour. Friday was fun with the 21+ mile ride, but it left me feeling a bit battered

Sunday I went to the gym and did a gentle workout to loosen some things up. My right calf was especially tight. Mostly, I stretched.

The beautiful weather was continuing though. That amber light and colorful trees with temperatures warm enough that it bordered on the weird given it’s October. I planned to go for a ride once I got back from Starbucks for Jens.

Things took a bit of a nose dive as I walked through the door, however. Without even a chance to hand his coffee to him, Jens told me to come look at something on Loke’s back. What he showed me completely soured my mood, leaving me stressed and anxious. It was a patch of skin next to spine about midway between his shoulders and tail. It was a bit angry looking, but more worrisome was the yellowish goo and once the fur was parted to reveal it, the smell just about had me hurling my cocoa.

It was exactly what used to be so common on Loke’s feet, between his toes and the footpads. The same angry skin, the slime, the smell. A reaction of his allergies and overgrowth of skin yeast (which he’s allergic to) and bacteria turning his flesh into something like pudding. In all the years of dealing with his issues, I’ve never seen it anywhere but on his feet. The one blessing was it being out of reach of both his feet so he couldn’t scratch and his tongue so he couldn’t lick it bloody. I cleaned it with some wound cleaner and made plans to call the vet on Monday (October 15th).

That cursed raspberry.

Bummed, I still dressed, intending to ride the downtown River path. Jens, naturally, asked me to take Loke for at least a ‘short while’. I agreed and off we went.

He wasn’t really thrilled with it and seemed more wobbly than usual. Slower too. We crept along at 2 mph or less as he plodded with his head low and just no interest.

Then, there was a momentary bright spot that I would have missed if we’d been going faster. There was a flicker of movement near a flower. Curious, I stopped to look closer. A tiny little shape hovered around the rather pitiful looking blossom. For all the world, it looked like a hummingbird. Sweden doesn’t have hummingbirds and then it clicked. I was watching a Hummingbird Hawk Moth. I inched closer, fumbling with my camera, intending to get a photo. It was so adorable and tiny, barely an inch long. Sadly, before I could get the camera out and on, it flitted away through the hedge and out of sight.

Still, I got to see it! So neat!!

That was pretty much the high point of the day though. Loke didn’t perk up as we crept along. He was actually struggling quite a bit. Feet dragging, a lot. His back legs buckled a few times and he kept tripping over nothing. His limbs just refused to move when they were supposed to. The final straw came when he knuckled his front paw, came down on it pretty hard and then started limping. We’d not even gone half a mile and I called Jens to come get him. I wasn’t even going to try to get him back the short distance to home. He was that bad.

Between the slimy patch on his back and how hard the little walk had been for him, I was pretty bummed. I drew a deep breath and decided to continue on though.

That didn’t last long either. I hit the cycle path and it was like landing in a swarm of humanity. I can’t quite remember a time when the cycle path of my local River Loop hamster track has had such a press of people. So many out walking, then throw in those who were flying around between the pedestrians on bikes at speed and a number of roller skiers too. I could hardly do faster than a walk even without Loke. With such a mess no one was walking in straight lines, so I’d go to pass someone and they’d suddenly drift right, nearly getting caught by Loke’s running bar which sticks out a bit past the width of the trike.

No, it just wasn’t going to work. Bad as the local path was, the path by the river through downtown and the south side of town was going to be a 100x worse. I’d be leaving a wake of crippled people behind, knee-caps crushed by Loke’s bar. I would have just struck off down Old Börje Road to get some miles in the countryside, but it was really too late and guess who hadn’t charged her lights… again? I needed to go home first and remove the bar.

Such was my mood and my dislike of such crowded conditions, that ‘Go home and remove the bar’ just became ‘Go home.’

Over-night, the icky patch on Loke’s back improved. It dried out and the smell went away. Even the skin looked a bit less angry. That helped cheer me a bit. So, when Jens worked from home Monday, I headed out the door for a ride shortly after Starbucks. Before I took off for my own fun, I took Loke out for a little wobble. A lazy walking pace and he did better. We didn’t have the car though (service) so it wasn’t like I could just set off in a direction and have Jens come get the furry when he got tired. So, I kept it short, just 1.5-ish mile loop to leave him back home and this time, I remembered to leave the bar even though the crowds weren’t nearly so thick, it being a week day and all.

We did go by the hedgerow where I’d seen the hummingbird moth the day before. I went the entire way of that hedge with camera in hand, hoping. Alas, I was not so fortunate.

I set a brisk pace for downtown a bit before noon. In my usual pattern, I found myself ravenous because breakfast was long past and I’d not done more than shove a handful of mixed nuts into my mouth before running out the door.

Before and after of the same trees. The difference of just a few days…

It was another gorgeous and warm day. The sun was kind, the air was soft and still a bit hazy. There was a change though. The beautiful autumn leaves have begun to plummet from the limbs. Friday, there weren’t many leaves on the ground during the long ride, but Sunday and Monday, it seemed there were more leaves on the ground than on the trees. Now, the ground was carpeted in amber foliage in places. Here and there, trees were starting to look a bit threadbare and some barely hung on to any leaves at all, though those were rare for the moment.

Hungry as I was, I knew I’d be getting a headache if I didn’t do something about it. So, I stopped in at Subway to get one of their low-fat options and a small bottle of juice. I took it go with the plan to eat it at the city garden. Much nicer atmosphere than sitting next to a busy road at a small, lopsided table, on a busy sidewalk. And, as I rode to the garden, I also decided that I’d ride the River Path backwards, south on the east side and north on the west instead of the way I’ve been doing it.

Nice view and the trike is a comfortable lunch chair too!

I found a nice spot off the paths, parking on a bit of the garden’s lawn, so thick with leaves, there was scarcely a blade of grass to be seen. I pulled out my sandwich and started devouring it, hardly taking a moment to breathe between bites. A couple of people grinned at me and one guy offered a thumbs-up with his smile.

Hunger put to rest, I pedaled on and realized I should have eaten only half of the 6 inch sub. It wasn’t settling well with my exertions. Still, I scuttled back across the downtown pedestrian drawbridge to the east bank of the river.

The road way along the boat storage was quite busy. People hurried putting boats away for the end of the season. I dodged through cars and the few pedestrians. I really would have expected it to be quiet there, but I guess the rush to end the summer boating season changes the rules. One guy leaving, slowed down and rolled down his window to give me a thumbs up and, “Nice machine” though his expression remained stoic with no smile. One of those gruff types, I guess.

It felt a little weird, but refreshing to ride the loop ‘backwards’ as it were. I have ridden the east bank path southward, but that was back when the working dog shop had moved to Kungsängen area and before it had closed for good. *sniff*

Not a great launching point, but I wanted off the road.

Other than removing Loke’s running bar, another thing I remembered to do was grab the drone. I had some hope of maybe finding somewhere that wasn’t so crammed with around the area to fly it a bit. So, when I reached the new bridge, I turned down the old road instead of crossing the river. There’s a small building in the middle of the northern pasture there and I remembered there being a way to it from the road side.

It was right where I remembered it though narrower than I thought, especially with a small boulder blocking part of it to keep cars from squeezing across the ditch.

As I was pulling the drone out, a woman came walking down the path between the fence lines from somewhere across the pasture. I almost put the drone away, but since she just looked to be passing through and gave me a pleasant smile even with the giant hornet in my hand, I continued.

I found myself quite nervous as I got it up and buzzing around a bit. When it was flying on the opposite sides of the fence, I had images of it crashing down and I’d have to go pasture tromping to retrieve it. I only took one photo. Even sitting in the shadow of a small tree and hunched over the phone to shade it, it was hard to make out what was going on with the camera. It looked too dark, but I couldn’t tell if that was because the settings were overexposed or it just looked that way on the phone’s screen in the daylight.

Drone Shot – brightened a lot thanks to Photoshop.

It turned out it was seriously over-exposed, but here it is with some altering with Photoshop to change that issue… imperfectly. Looks weird.

Oh, and to be absolutely clear, I made sure the cows were far off across the pasture and kept the drone close to me and well way from them. Bad enough I’ve freaked horses out with my trike and husky, I’m not about to start antagonizing animals with my drone too.

Other than that one single photo, I mostly just zoomed the drone around in circles and figure-8s, practicing the controls. I want it to feel natural, but need quite a bit more practice. While there’s a simulation function on the app and drone, but’s not quite perfect because it doesn’t really give a ‘camera’ perspective’ to practice from. Flying with a drone’s-eye-view is quite a bit different than flying with a view from over the top and behind the craft which you would never see.. unless you have a drone following your drone. Like that wouldn’t be a confusing headache.

The battery only had about half a charge, so about 12 minutes later, the remote started it’s hellish screaming with a low-battery alert every 2 seconds or so. I hate that. There’s no way to acknowledge that, yes you know the battery is low – thank your for warning me, but now SHUT UP.

The grass there was a bit too deep for landing. Actually, it wasn’t good for taking off either, but I’d done so any way. For coming down, I got up from the trike and walked to the roadway. I felt pretty pleased with the experience. Real practice flying and I don’t think it bothered anyone. Or, at least I didn’t get yelled at, which suits me just as well.

Everything packed up, I spun back to the bridge and over.

More leaves on the ground than trees and no gravel to be seen.

On the west side of the river through there, the trees are more dense and older. It made it so much clearer just how fast the leaves were coming down. It wasn’t what I would have called windy, but the air did move from time to time. When it did, a cascade of amber and orange would come tumbling out of the trees in a swirl to the ground. There were stretches of path so densely covered that the sound of my wheels was muted to near silence since the leaves hadn’t had time to dry out and crunch.

It made for pretty images. The trees still having enough leaves that they didn’t look skeletal, the leaves on the ground still vibrantly hued, and the spinning, dancing descent of color in between. Made me a bit sad though. The trees will go bare in just a few days and the colors fade soon after. It will be the kind of murky time, which may last clear through to April if we don’t get snow. Everything brown, black and gray with short daylight hours.

It’s already happening. I was walking around yesterday and looked down the street where just 2 days before trees were so very bright and beautiful and just… gone except for an orange splash on the pavement. Seems surreal how quick it can go.

A Tug Boat with it’s new-born.

I kept a good pace back to the older pedestrian bridge and crossed back to take the straight shot down the cycle way back home. This time, I managed to not shoot any Americans (or Swedes) in the shins with random chestnuts.

Finished the way with over 10 miles and felt pretty fine except for my stomach still feeling acidic.

I also went for a short ride yesterday, again along the river toward downtown, but instead of going to Kungsängen pedestrian bridge, I only went to the first one near downtown. The one that had almost 1,000,000 crossings last year. It’s about 5 miles, but with the very slow 3 miles I did with Loke, it was about 8 for the day.

Fairly miserable ride really. A light blowing mist of rain and a high of 52 F. The golden days we’ve been having have finally broken and something resembling proper October weather is starting to muscle in. Yesterday was the first day of this autumn where all of Sweden stayed under 20 C (68 F). This month was already going for the ‘warmest October on record’ award. Why not? Why should May and July have all the fun? Maybe even June and August. I’ve lost track to be honest. Just leave it to say that since April, it’s been warmer than usual here in Sweden even when not breaking records.

No photos. There’ve been so many of that stretch and if I’m not careful, that loop is going to become a ‘tedious hamster track’ in very short order as much as the ‘old’ River Loop. Also, I really didn’t want to stop generating that extra body heat to stave off the chill. Brrr.

So, now the days are in the low 50’s F instead of mid-60’s F. We’re supposed to get some sunshine again tomorrow (October 19th) and I’ve got a plan to go for a ride that isn’t HERE. Here being the immediate area of Uppsala that I have counted as hamster-tracks at some point. I’m going to pack up the car tomorrow and ride somewhere that’s a combination of new and ‘I’ve seen it once before’. I’m almost dizzy with anticipation. I can’t remember the last time I actually did that. There will even be a new church to add to my collection. Maybe two!

Don’tcha Just Love…
October 15, 2018, 8:40 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Glorious days? I do. And just… wow. October 12th was one for the recent record books. And you know, I can’t recall the last time I wrote a post for just one ride.

In the earlier couple weeks, the weather had a bit of bite in the air, especially in the mornings. Many didn’t get cold enough for frost, but still quite chill and there were 2 days where there frost silvered the grass in more exposed places. That, of course, is what gave me an additional kick in the butt to get the pedal situation settled.

The past week though, the weather underwent a shift. Instead of cool days with nights and early mornings bordering on frosty, the nights have been cool and the days became unseasonably warm for October. I’m talking summer temperatures. Nice, mild, glorious Swedish summer temps. Not summer from the lower rings of hell… or Mississippi. I’ve not gotten as many rides in as I would have liked.

The story of the ride on October 12th actually begins the day before on the 11th. I had to drive Jens to work to keep the car for fetching Loke’s ear meds. Such a pretty morning. The sky was softly masked by a high fog, turned into pastel shades of peach, gold, and orange.  There were wisps and streamers of mist here and there across the fields as we sped down the E4 toward Stockholm. Mornings like that, it’s an absolute pleasure to drive my hubby to work just for the scenery. It would have been so incredible to get back home and ride after that, but no. There was the errand to the drug store and then the dreaded laundry. How many beautiful days that would have made incredible rides, ruined by that evil, day-consuming task? Countless it feels like. That’s not even touching on the fact, I would have had to deal with the guilt of leaving Loke alone for however long I was out for.

October 12th though, the weather woman on the news promised it was going to be a gorgeous day; temperatures in the 60’s and sunny. As I scurried to Starbucks for our daily dose of hot chocolate (me) and a latte with 5 shots (Jens), it almost looked as if that promise was to be fulfilled. There was more of that mist and fog as had made the previous morning so pretty. There was one problem though. It was 42 F. Tricky dressing.

Not to be deterred, I rushed home and started getting dressed. I kept going back and forth about how to clad my legs. The upper body is no problem. Shucking and adding layers is as simple as removing my helmet and doing it. Legs though. I’m not a big fan of the idea of kicking off my shoes, dancing around in my socks on the pebble-strewn side of the road, entertaining the locals while trying to add or remove a layer. So, when there’s going to be a 20 degree temp swing, do I dress for the high and freeze until it warms up? Do I dress for the cold and roast like a turkey when it finally gets warm? This time, I opted to dress for the warm and just piled the layers on my torso. I had hopes that even my pitiful circulation would get the heat down to my legs enough they’d not turn to blocks of ice.

I asked Jens if he’d be able to come get Loke if I took him out across the countryside with me. Yes, but he wouldn’t be able to do it until 11:30 because work calls were going to keep him tied to the computer until then. So, practically twitching out of my skin, I waited until it was a bit after 10 am before heading out the door. I was pretty sure, Loke would go for that long.

Awww. Come on! Where’s the promised sun?

We stepped out into… disappointment. Where were the blue skies? The sunshine?! It was about 42 F and lead gray skies. Really?

It gave me pause. If the sun didn’t come out and it was windy across the fields, that could be unpleasant with very little option of changing. I decided it didn’t matter. If it was cold, and stayed cold, I’d cut the ride short. That simple. Loke seemed less than enthusiastic about the outing. Enough so that I considered just doing a 1 mile loop with him. Once we were on the cycle path along the main street, he perked up and started his consistent 4.3 mph amble. That was better.

Barely half a mile out from the start of the ride. MUCH better!

It was amazing how quick the weather did an about face. Seriously. Less than half a mile, the sun found chinks in the clouds. Abruptly, it began to look less like cloud and more like a high fog. That was a relief. It did look as if it was going to get pretty and warmer as predicted.

I wasn’t doing anything ‘fancy’ for the start of the ride to add extra distance. Just jumped onto the cycle path along side Svartbäcken Street which is pretty much the most direct way to Old Börje Road.

I don’t mind admitting, I was glad when the sun came out. Even with extra layers on my top, my arms felt a bit chilled until the sun hit them and the air began to warm some.

With the first big hill behind us.

Loke seemed content enough as we climbed that first steep hill on Old Börje, but not excited, if you know what I mean. For once, it wasn’t me holding the speed back as I cranked up it. The furry one just kinda plodded. Given that it wasn’t even yet 10:30, I felt a bit guilty that I’d not just done a short 1 mile loop for Loke’s business walk and left him at home. That eased a tiny bit when we crested the hill and he almost hit 5 mph on the descent. Just so hard to read him sometimes.

Fog bank across some kind of crop field.

The clouds continued to clear away, except for a faint gray smudging on the horizon about 3 fingers wide as well as the soft haze of a barely visible, lingering fog. It didn’t diminish the colors, but softened them. It was shaping up into an absolutely perfect, if warm, autumn day.

In a random aside: Since the drought stunted the wheat and triggered an early harvest of what little grew, there’s been a different kind of crop spreading out across many fields. Low growing with broad leaves that just screams, ‘root vegetable’ to me. Lately they’ve started sending flowers up. I almost want to say it’s something like turnips. *shrug* I mentioned it because this is as much a diary about all things cycling as it is a blog and I wanted to remember it in case I figure out what these plants are.

Barely visible fog enhancing the autumn scenery.

There was a little wind out through the fields, not surprising. It’s more of a shock when I ride that stretch of road and there isn’t a wind. Huge swathes of clear land with nothing to hinder a breeze and keep it from getting overgrown and playful. The temp was rising, but at 55 F, it was still a bit too brisk for what I was wearing for it to be comfortable at the pace we were doing. It did give me plenty of time to admire the colors.

And the vibrant shades of autumnal trees has left me in awe. It’s kinda like a vision of deep, fresh snow. I just don’t seem to get weary of it or jaded. Growing up where the seasons were nothing more than ‘Hot’ or ‘Not-So-Hot’ with perhaps a bit of browning of grass and trees, honest-to-goodness seasons remain magical to me even after 14 years in Sweden.

Our pace was one of the slowest it’s been in weeks, perhaps months. Clearly, my poor old man was having a time of it. There was the paw dragging, of course, which I kept an eye on. A few stumbles when a hind leg didn’t want to move when it was supposed to. True to my conviction of ‘quality of life’, I just slowed down to make it easier for the fuzzy so he could still be out doing what he’s loved for all these years. On the flats, he was still determined to try for his consistent 4.3 mph, but any little incline slowed him down. Even just going up a grade of 1% or 2%, dropped his pace to under 3 mph. I kept an eye on the clock, stopped often, putting him on the leash and getting up to let him go sniff in the tall grass along the ditch. I didn’t want to send him back, but I also didn’t want him struggling so much even knowing he was going to be dismayed when the car drove off without me and the trike in it with him.

My view as I waited for Jens

Limping though, that was where I drew the line. One of his front paws knuckled and his weight came down on it pretty harsh. I stopped, checked the foot, he didn’t react, but when we moved again, he limped some more. That was it.

I called my husband and told him where he could find us, then started coaxing Loke the quarter mile or so where we could get off the bigger road and wait. I felt a bit more justified in the decision when Loke didn’t make much of a fuss. Even with him on the leash so he could move toward some trees and grass to sniff while we waited, he stayed right by me without harassment.

Did it stop him from giving me the most heartbroken stare through the car window when Jens drove off? Not one bit. It was like he was dragging my heart out of my chest with that look. Dogs and small children can undo you with just their eyes.

Loke had made it just shy of 4 miles. As I reset the Garmin to count my solo miles, I looked down the hill, across the fields. My mind churned about what route to take. 3 choices awaited me at the bottom of that slope where the cross-roads waited. Left, would take me to Läby and through Stenhagen and back home. Generally about 12 miles for that loop, so 8 miles more. Right, would be the short way for Ulva Mill and back to Gamla Uppsala which would give me another 9-10 miles or so. Straight, well, that’s Börje Church, The Old Farm, then Ulva, Gamla Uppsala, and home for a total of 18 miles, give or take. I’ve done it a couple times this year.

Yep! I was gonna do it! Besides, it would be a good test of the new pedals. The rides I’d done hadn’t really been very long, or with much variability to the road conditions.

These colors! I. Can’t. Stop. Photographing.

In a completely weird turn of events, once I was solo riding, my feet stopped hurting. My right foot especially had that fiery discomfort through the arch of the foot while toodling along with the furball though not nearly as much as with the SPD cycle shoes. It’s like there’s some magic combination of tempo and pressure with the flat pedals achievable only at the faster pace possible without Loke. I was moving pretty briskly too. Between 9-10 mph on the flats as I admired the scenery. Of course, that’s my general speed… when I was moving.

I’ve photographed this building and trees several times, but can’t resist with the colors!

The stunning pallet of autumn colors painted across the landscape just wouldn’t let me pass by without stopping for photos. LOTS of photos. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even roll more than 100-200 yards from the previous photo stop before I’d pause again to haul out the Canon or/and the phone. Even subtle shifts of perspective seemed to open whole new vistas of orange, gold, and red in the distance. It’s like when I ride during the snowy winter days. The colors took the old and familiar places I’ve been photographing and riding past since 2006 and made them amazing, shiny, and new all over again. Magical in some cases. For some 8 miles, the camera or phone scarcely left my hands.

Glorious Autumn Panorama!

I was kicking myself for not bringing the drone. It also occurred to me that I really should figure out why I can’t get my Canon to recognize my phone though my phone will say it’s connected to the camera. I would love to be able to share some of the great camera shots on the fly with my friends and family on FB.

Amazed this old little building is still standing every time I pass. 😛

Most of the photos don’t seem to have picked up the soft misty veil over the landscape. The settings I kept choosing for the light and what-not kept contrasting the fog out of the images. It was there. The gray smudge on the horizon was also persistent and if one looks closely, you can see it. It was like there was was a bank of fog hovering around Uppsala in a 10 mile circle. A distant, misty wall.

I wasn’t the only out to enjoy the pretty (and warm!) day. Two roller skiers passed me as I sat fiddling with my camera at various times. By then, it was about 63 F and I was perfectly dressed for it. One of them, coming toward me on the road grinned and called out, “Isn’t this weather great!?” as he powered up a hill.

As I passed Börje Church, swinging through the right turn that follows the churchyard wall, I came to quick stop. Hunger called. Breakfast had been at 5 am and Starbucks hot-chocolate at 8 am. It was after 1 pm and I was ravenous.

A bit over-ripe for my taste, but still something to eat!

Random Loveliness

While not my absolute favorite of fruits, the apples hanging over the fence set my mouth to watering. Hunger makes most things taste great and there’s something to be said about eating fruit straight off the vine. Well, the tree in this case. It was on the church property and with other trees as heavily laden as this one and the ground practically carpeted with fallen apples, the fate of three small ones wouldn’t be taken amiss.

To be fair, there are so many apple trees all over Uppsala, or Uppland, for that matter, people often set out baskets and bushels of them with signs saying, ‘PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TAKE SOME APPLES!’

I took a short break from photography as I sped along a bit, munching my make-shift lunch. As I enjoyed the day and followed the curving road, I happened to see something tiny on the road. Before my consciousness completely registered what it was, I swerved to be sure of missing it. A black wooly caterpillar of all things. A few yards on, another one.

I have never in all my life seen so many woolies in one day. Heck, there have been entire years I’ve not seen a single one and other years where I maybe saw 3. Over a dozen in less than 2 miles. That’s how many cute, fuzzy little ‘pillars I dodged. Must have been a hotspot for them or something though I’ve never seen them there before over the years.

Gammlagården (The Old Farm)

See the fog smudging the horizon?

There’s a long downhill dash on that road between the church and The Old Farm. I managed to enjoy it without stopping and clicking with my camera every few yards. The colors were a bit more muted there and it just felt good to let gravity do the work.

What goes down must also go up and I set to work climbing past a few houses and some trees before the road flattened briefly. Then it was another downhill race with pastures before me and cows looking up curiously as I blasted by. Then finally another stiff climb up to the Old Farm.

I discovered they have a new sign! Old post, but the paint on the actual pointy bit of the sign is fresh.

I made a stop to answer a call of nature. As such things are ranked, the outhouse there is top notch. Doesn’t smell, the ‘seat’ isn’t up ridiculously high, always plenty of paper, as well as a bucket of water (which is always fresh) with a large ladle, a tin bowl, and bottle of hand soap.

A splash of color among the Iron Age burials

As I was leaving, a bunch of men in a car beeped and waved at me. I think it’s some of the people who live in the houses and farms around the Old Farm. The self-appointed caretakers as it were. If that’s the case, then they probably remember me from the time when they came along to do maintenance while I was eating lunch there once. That was a fun time. Chatting with them about the buildings and even getting to go into the house to look. The entire attic area is just crammed with smaller items of farm equipment. Scythes, sickles, butter churns, ox yokes, harness bits, spinning wheels. Wish I knew where those pictures went off to.

Also as I was leaving, I noticed an odd sort of vine growing on a fence post by the corner of the gate ‘house’. I’d stopped to take a photo of the ripening hops (yes, as in beer hops). As I looked at it and posted it to tweak the noses of all my FB who drink beer, I heard this weird kinda beeping trill from over my right shoulder. It didn’t sound quite like a bird and I glanced over my shoulder to see if someone was goofing with me. No one there. 3 more times that happened.

I suppose it could have been a bird, hiding in eaves of the gate house. Magpies make sounds that are more electronic in nature than bird like. So, who knows.

I pushed up the tiny little climb off the gravel road, back onto the paved surface, hanging a right and preparing for The Big Drop down to the little river below.

Chipseal. The Devil’s pavement.

The last time I rode here, the road was in a sad state. Crumbling pavement where entire chunks, some the size of my fist, were coming up to leave gaping potholes, some as big around as my trike’s front wheels. The top few hundred yards, the road had been fine. I stopped for a couple photos that caught my eye before getting to really good bit. Then I kicked off.

I abruptly discovered that the road bed had been ‘repaired’. With CHIPSEAL. Evil stuff. The road department seems to have gone crazy with it. That makes two of my country rides that have been tainted with the foul substance.

View across a burial ground just up the hill across the bridge.

Given the speeds I used to hit on that hill, the chipseal surface was at least safer. I wasn’t going to plummet into a pothole or have a chunk of broken asphalt smacking me in the face, but talk about a sharp reduction in speed while increasing vibration. I didn’t even break 20 mph. I generally chickened out at about 27 mph when whipping around the curve at the bridge. The brakes never were applied this time.

As I come out of the deep gully the river has cut into the land there, I’ve taken to stopping at the top of the hill and getting off the trike to look back. The view is pretty and there’s an ancient burial ground to one side of it. The vision that greeted me this time was just… wow. A sweep of emerald growth across the field by the road giving way to the oranges and golds of autumn and the soft haze of lingering mists that just clung to the entire day. It was a view I thought I’d seen before, but at that moment, it was something completely new. Not my old stomping grounds, but some place I’d never been. I must have stood there and just looked for a good five minutes. Feeling the history and taking in the colors.

I took another break from the camera, focusing my attention on getting over that chipseal. My speed wasn’t too bad considering, but it was quite a bit of work. It was such a relief when I reached the 272 where the new paving ended. A quick scurry across and I was back on proper, if somewhat patched, pavement where pedaling was much easier.

The colors seemed oddly muted on the other side of that busy road. A lot of it is open fields, but even where the trees beyond were visible there just didn’t seem to be much vibrancy. Maybe it was the haze and distance that dimmed them. It meant that for a mile, it was just me and the trike before another gully drop to the next turn.

Front wheels in the gravel. Couldn’t decide if this direction was worth it…

As I sped along at about 10 mph, getting passed by a man on a racing bike as if sitting still, I noticed a darker smudge with edges more distinct amidst the softer dove-gray of the fogwall. A fire. A rather large one from the look of it. Couldn’t quite make out where, but listening to the news later gave no clues.

Fire has loomed rather large in the news this week. A school here in Uppsala burned to the ground and two teen girls were arrested in suspicion of arson. They were reporting on it the way the news in Mississippi reports on hurricanes.

Speaking of hurricanes, my heart goes out to all those who have been impacted by Michael. I know it doesn’t do much, but my thoughts are with you.

I finally reached the end of that mostly flat mile and took the wild dash down, making sure my gears were ready for the climb backup and my feet set firmly on the pedals. Nifty, clever heel slings or not, I wasn’t going to get careless at over 20 mph. I pushed to the top of the hill where the pavement curves sharply right and a gravel road goes sharply left.

Oh yeah. The scenery was worth the extra work of the gravel.

Gravel roads can be tricky things, especially those that are along my hamster track loops. There aren’t many, but a few. Their conditions are so variable. Sometimes, they’ve absolutely gorgeous, smooth packed dirt that’s better than all but fresh paved asphalt. Then you have that point a few months later where there are the potholes and wash-boarding. Or my all time favorite, freshly grated where it’s nothing but loose stones all over. This road was at that in between stage between smooth packed perfection and recently grated. Smooth double strips flanked by gravel. The packed bits weren’t quite wide enough for all my wheels to fit off the pebbles. I contemplated the unpaved road.

The pastures! A pair of ponies blending in with the trees.

Horses and autumn. Anything better?

Why? Well, distance for one. It would add roughly 3 miles to the ride and it was still 120 miles to keep this year from being the worst year for distance. Also, scenery I’ve not seen for a while. It would be a lot more work with the gravel, but flatter and less hills to climb. I just couldn’t tell if the added rolling resistance of the rocks would be worth the distance and the scenery. Also wasn’t sure how much it would slow me down. The days are getting shorter and it was already well toward 2 pm. Could I do the slow 2 miles on the gravel and still get home before sunset? My lights were at home, so I had to be sure.

I decided to go for it. Oh, it was so worth it. This was where all the colors on the east side of the 272 were hiding! The going was slow and lots of work, but it gave me more time to admire the surroundings. In some spots the road bed turned into a mire of something like loose sand and rocks, but fortunately that was only for a short distance.

Another reason I wanted to ride this way was to see if any of the horses were out in the pasture area that’s down the road. For a couple years, there was a lovely sorrel mare who was always so happy to see us. She’d whinny and come running up to the fence to trot along while kicking up her heels. Once we’d reach the end of the pasture, she’d stand there and call after us. I was pretty sure she was long gone. Horses don’t seem to stay in one place for long. For a couple years at times and even one pony who would go completely silly at the sight of Loke for almost 5 years. Others, if they stay more than a year, it’s rare.

The first I spotted were a couple of ponies that blended almost perfectly with the autumn foliage, with chestnut brown coats and flaxen manes. They weren’t even ruffled by my appearance. Hardly an ear flick as they kept munching away at the grass, not even bothering to look up.

Lovely trio.

Then I came up to another section of pasture/paddock and it was a black mare, thoroughbred type. I slowed down and called out to her, but she seemed more curious than spooked. As she came up to the fence, another two horses, equally curious, came over. A draft type and another thoroughbred though in the more typical brown color. I talked at them and even stopped to gather up handfuls of grass to feed them. I do so love horses.

Finally, I let them get back to their grazing and rolled on.

Cute guys!

There’s always been a lot of fencing for pastures and paddocks since I first found this road years ago. Sometimes dozens of horses out in the grass here. It’s still true, though most of spaces were empty. A lot of the posts were new as were the electric ribbon fencing. Slowing down to let a car by, I heard a bleat. Well, that was a first for this spot. Goats! Two curious goats staring through the wires, watching me with fascination and baaaahhh-ing at me from their tiny little space squeezed in amongst the bigger horse paddocks. They looked fit and well cared for, though perhaps they get a little bored in such a little space with not much to do in it but jump on a tire.

I chattered at them a little, took the photo and bleated back as a way of saying goodbye before heading for the faster bit of road which is a bumpy descent. I like goats.

Again, I made sure my feet were well set on the pedals before gravity took over.

Bälinge Church

As much as I had enjoyed the scenery, it felt good to get back on pavement. I pedaled along the 2 lane road a bit, getting passed by cars every now and again, but feeling safe enough. I relaxed a bit more when I reached the beginning of the cycle path at Bälinge. It runs almost all the way to Ulva. I thought about stopping at the church, but I was so hungry and my legs were feeling a bit worn after the 2 miles of gravel road. Oh, and that mile and a half of chipseal coming up from the The Big Drop all the way to the 272 where gravity wasn’t in my favor.

Somewhere along the cycle path, I came close to a case of foot suck. I must have shifted my left foot in some weird way, but abruptly the pedal twisted as if something yanked the strap down and forward, very nearly dropping my heel on the pavement. Given I was cruising at about 12 mph, that could have been ugly. I immediately stopped and fiddled around, shifting my feet hard against the straps and moving them every which way to recreate what had happened without risking dislocated joints and torn flesh. I wanted to know exactly what I’d done so I could avoid doing it again. For the life of me, the straps kept my feet from going down and no pedal rolling at all. So.. clueless.

Thickening haze.

The wind picked up, chilling the 63 F temps a bit and the haze, which had been with me the entire ride, started to thicken. Or maybe it was just the angles of the light bringing it into clearer view.

By time I was coming to the end of the cycle path and doing the last push to Ulva, I was feeling a bit rough. My legs were tired and I was so hungry a headache pounded at my temples. 3 little apples were long burned off. To add to the discomfort my knees were also becoming very unhappy with me. This was probably the hardest workout they’ve had in months.

I took a moment to catch my breath and let my knees rest as the trike zipped down to and across the mill race at Ulva. Then as I cranked up the hill on the other side, I tried to decide which way to go. The gravel cycle path beside the river? Or should I take the paved road. The road would have been easier, but the traffic was fairly steady. No, the path’s peace called too strongly.

Second time on the new Ulva Mill bike path.

While the scenery there was nicer and not a single car speeding by, I did come to regret it for a bit. My knees hurt and the gravel was soft enough to really make it more of a work out. I kept reminding myself it was just a few more miles. Four at the most. In my head, I even counted the climbs. The one along the old E4 at the end of the cycle path to where I would turn toward Old Uppsala. Then the steep little hill right just before Disa Farm right by Gamla Uppsala Church. I thought about taking the last stretch home by way of the mound path, but that meant more gravel and two really steep if very short climbs. If I took the cycle path along side Vattholma Road, it would be almost a mile of a gentle descent. Very little pedaling until coming up from the underpass of the train tracks by the cycle shop.

Doing that kind of cycle math in my head distracted me as my weary, aching legs pushed me along.

Back on pavement, I felt almost like I was flying again. Even the half-mile climb along the old E4 felt easier than that gravel.

View at the start of the homestretch!

Making the turn onto Ärna Road for the short push to Old Uppsala felt like the beginning of the home stretch. I was going to make it. Actually, short of foot suck, I knew I was going to make it. On rides like this, very little short of traumatic injury will stop me from getting home under my own power. If I can turn the pedals without screaming, I do it.

Autumn Bliss

Oh, it felt sooooooo good to come down that long descent. I just kinda went flat in the seat and let physics take over. My thoughts turned to food. I was going to need something more substantial than baked salmon and cauliflower.

I had to just kinda stay limp in the trike for a while before I could find the oomph to get up after I parked. It was a wobbly walk into the apartment. My knees seemed to bounce back with surprising vigor though. About 20 minutes after putting the trike away, I was at the local shops to buy the fixings for mashed potatoes and reindeer in sour cream sauce with lingon berry preserves. A very Swedish dish. Extremely tasty too and just what a carbohydrate starved body craved.

It had started out gray and kinda dull looking, but it had turned into an amazing day and I’d done a great ride of it. As for the new pedal arrangement? Well, except for the mystery near disaster, they’d done great! Better than all my other attempts at riding with shoes that don’t have gaping chasms in the soles to accommodate SPD cleats. I’m well satisfied with them. I just have to make sure I don’t get careless.