Terii’s Cycling Babble

The Cold That Wouldn’t Die
January 14, 2018, 6:29 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The plans of mice and men. I seem to throw that phrase out quite a bit it feels.

So, after my 6 mile ride on December 18th, I held on to my glorious plans of getting enough miles to bump 2017 from ‘Worst Mileage Year’ to ‘Second Worst Mileage Year’ at least. Just needed 15 miles or so for that. I could do that in 12 days. Surely. Right?

Oh, how the world conspired against me. First of course was the weather. It either hit bitterly cold while I had tasks and chores to do or it was warm enough to rain and not the tolerable misty sort. I watched the days ticked down, convinced I’d get a break. I remained fairly optimistic when Jens called to cheerfully say that he’d done it! He had apparently escaped Las Vegas without a cold and would be home on schedule.

Then came the frenzy of activity once he was back with matinee movies and lunch with his parents, both of which meant I didn’t have time to squeeze in extra miles. As we were at the mall with the movie theater, Jens complained about his throat hurting just 16 hours or so after his flight had touched down. Roughly 24 hours after he spoke those ill-fated words, my throat started to hurt as we were having lunch with his parents.

I went through the phase of where the throat feels as if a ball of needles had gotten stuck and coated with battery acid. Then the sneezing with sinus aches. Then the coughing. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cold with such horrible, unrelenting, debilitating coughs. Railroad spikes through my skull. Fits of it left me curled into miserable little balls, gasping and whimpering. A few times, I honestly wondered if I was going to cough my way into another stroke.

Jens was pretty miserable with the cold too, but he didn’t have the brutal cough I did. He was very sweet and took care of me and even all the walkies with Loke right through his own illness. The days kept marching on as days will and the cough lingered and lingered. I’ve been known to ride even with a hacking cold, but the fever that kept popping up stopped any ideas of me doing that. Well, that and the image of me having one of the bad fits that felt like my head was going to implode or explode, forcing me to curl up on the ground beside my trike. A week.. and still I coughed.

The vague hope that I could finish 2017 with a ride, even if it would still leave me 15 miles short, and start 2018 with another, was crushed as the cough went on and on.

Finally, I started to feel a bit better and we had a brutal cold snap. Almost a week of temps in the low teens during the day and single digits at night. Every time I went out in it, the cough, manageable in warm rooms, wracked me every time I went out in the bitter chill and took a few breaths of that frigid, dry air. Sad really and not just because it kept me from rolling, but because it kept me from doing anything except the absolute shortest walks with Loke on the absolutely most GORGEOUS days we’ve had in MONTHS.

This is just right outside the apartment. Birches and blue sky.

The mornings during those days of Arctic temps would start off with sub-freezing fog before the sunrise. Then it would blow away to flawless blue skies and every single limb of the winter-bare trees were sheathed in gleaming, pure white ice.  Those trees, made so beautiful by pre-dawn freezing mist, completely made up for the utter lack of snow. I itched to drive out of Wiks castle with Loke and my camera to take pictures of it in all its glory. But, no. The cough.

Then the weather made a bounce back to the warmer range, hovering right at the threshhold of freezing and thawing. We even had a bit of snow. The beauty of the frosted trees actually survived it for a bit, even made more stunning when soft, light snow fell and was snared by the delicate ice crystals. It added ‘lift’ to the amount of white on the limbs.

By this time of course, we were over a week into the New Year. With the warmer temps that didn’t trigger coughing, one would think I could get out for a ride and photos, yes? Nope!

We were getting our refrigerator replaced and apartment heaters fixed, which both became scheduled right when I was physically able to go out and enjoy the gift that winter had finally given us. Even with gray skies, the trees and dusting of snow were so very lovely. Yet, I remained penned up for 3 days, waiting for repair and delivery men.

I kept an eye on the forecast during this ridiculous taunting of fate. It promised that Saturday, January 13th, though gray, would be hovering right around the freezing mark but no rain. Saturday, there would be no deliveries or repairs to wait on.

The weather was just as promised. About 33 F and gray skies like flat, un-reflective lead. After getting Starbucks for the hubby, I came home and started getting ready to ride. It took a while. During the time I was sick, I managed to wash laundry, but not fold it. Clothes are scattered in disarray all over the place, hiding the location of my heavy woolens. I’ve been putting a dent in it, but not enough to find my snuggly layers. After wandering and searching through the various nooks and crannies, I gave up and resorted to… *shudder* cotton. Track pants over my mid-weight (and easy-to-spot bright pink) thermals, a zipper hoodie and a oversized sloppy sweater. I knew if it rained I’d instantly turn into a block of ice with cotton, but I was hoping the forecast was right.

Loke seemed incredulous as I made the final preparations. Phone, check. Garmin, check. Harnessed husky, check.

I felt I was taking a risk on bringing Loke for a run. Back on the 11th, I heard a noise and my heart dropped into my feet. Licking. Loke was licking and before I even looked, I was certain he was licking a foot. He’s been naughty and gotten into a few things he shouldn’t. The most common symptom of his allergies the past few years has actually been intestinal upset rather than skin infections. Well, not this time. I’ve been treating it and it looked like it was working. The skin didn’t look too bad, so I decided to bring him with me. He probably would have chewed through the walls if I tried to leave him at home any way. Poor puppy has been fed up with walkies.

So, out the door we went. While I was relieved to finally be going for the first ride of 2018, it wasn’t without trepidation. I was pretty sure it was going to be a pitiful 2 miles and something I’d struggle over every inch of. So much fitness lost and such.

Loke was raring to go and we rolled out. Much to my surprise, as the first mile rolled away, I didn’t feel nearly as bad as anticipated. I expected to cough quite a bit brought on by the chill air and deeper breaths from the exercise, but no. I actually felt pretty good. We rolled off along the ‘back’ way to come through the wooded patch of the frisbee golf course. Came up to the steep hill on that path with it’s ice and gravel and cranked up it just fine.

My furball was so happy. He tried to run as much as possible.

I did notice one thing though, which I’ve been seeing signs of in other areas of his life. Loke wasn’t as strong as he used to be. Energy? God yes. Buckets of it. Stamina? Oh, yes. Strength? Not so much any more.

I still kept the ride short, not wanting to overdo it and set myself back into a worse state of the cold. It was 4 miles which was still 1 or 2 miles more than I thought it would be. With the last half mile, I really felt the ride in my legs and was actually panting some as I came in, having pushed a bit. It didn’t feel like suffering though. It felt like, exercising toward improvement.

Loke just paced around and harassed Jens. 4 miles? Pfft. Not even a scratch in the surface of his energy.

I immediately treated Loke’s foot again. It didn’t look any worse for wear, so still seemed on the road for improvement. Of course, later in the evening, Jens and I were watching the original Predator. Gun fire and grenade launchers banging through the apartment as Loke was laying in his bed in bedroom, completely out of sight. I suddenly sat up. Jens gave me a baffled look as I flung myself out of the chair, “What’s wrong?”

“Loke’s licking his foot.”

Of course, my hubby looked dubious. Surely I couldn’t have heard the soft, sneaky sounds of our husky licking his foot during a firefight scene from Predator on our surround sound. Somehow, that’s exactly what I did. I slapped more antiseptic on his foot and then taped a sock over it.

This infection really worries me. The last time Loke needed antibiotics, it was some rare, hard to find kind because the bacteria has become resistant to the more common sorts. It’s sort of the ‘last resort’ antibiotics. If we can’t beat this with topical washes and antiseptics, there’s no telling if antibiotics will even work again. That scares me. I’ve often thought it was going to be a race between what would take Loke first. Old age or a super-bug eating his feet to the bone. My bets were leaning toward the super-bug. There have been times I wasn’t even sure if he was going to make it to 12 years old.

I’ve actually been feeling guilty about Loke the past 8-10 months or so. He was doing good back in 2016 when we had our best mileage ever with the trike. He was fit. He was strong. Enter 2017 when my hip finally yanked the frequency of my cycling to almost a standstill. Then there was Lyme Disease and problems with my feet. Days and sometimes weeks would pass without rides and when they did come, they weren’t 8, 10, 20, 30 miles. They were 2 miles. Or 5 miles. Through it all, he’s lost muscle and strength, something which seems to have drastically accelerated since Christmas. Maybe. Just maybe, if I’d cycled more, he’d still be strong as well as energetic and with unstoppable stamina.

I know a lot of my not-cycling last year couldn’t be helped, but it still doesn’t stop me from feeling hard on myself about it for Loke’s sake. Now, he’s older and with his allergy issues, it’s harder for him to bounce back. Hard to get muscle back on him. Just… hard.

Hey! I managed to get him to officially be an ‘old man’. That’s something I wasn’t sure would happen if you’d asked me about it when he was 8 years old.


A Pitiful Year
December 20, 2017, 10:15 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Title says it all. Of course, by sheer, unadulterated luck it’s not going to be my worst year ever. I had my doubts for a bit until I actually looked at previous years on BikeJournal.com. I have 10 days to get another 15 miles or so and I’ll make sure it happens. That way, 2016 will be only the second worst year for documented miles. If I’m feeling really froggy, I could try pushing out another 30 or so and it would be only the 3rd worst, but not sure if I’ve got that much oomph in me.

End of November and beginning of December was very wonky. First was the weather of course. It was hovering above freezing, but raining. So. Much. Rain. We did have one spell of nice weather, but I wound up too sick to take advantage of it. Something bizarre.

The symptoms had crept up on me unnoticed. Or, rather I noticed them but attributed them to other things. I was so very cold. Just felt like I couldn’t get warm for anything. Near constant shivering and bundled up. I didn’t think anything of it beyond annoyance as I’ve been more sensitive to cold and the chills hit during a cold snap. My feet also got a bit puffy, fitting tight in my shoes. I’ve had that happen before though so just counted it toward water retention.

So, on the last day of November, or perhaps the first day of December, the shivering started full on. Not just a deep chill, but actual body shuddering and teeth chattering. I felt abruptly dizzy and sick at the same time. Could hardly move. About lunch time, I took my temp and it was about 101. I took something to help push it back down, but it just kept climbing. It reached 103.8 even when I spent almost 20 minutes sitting under the stream of a cool shower. Took another dose of anti-fever tablets and it broke just about the time I was getting ready to go to the hospital before my brain cooked.

The next day? Felt fine. Good appetite, and energy with clear wits and no more chills. My shoes even fit like they should again. Naturally, the day of the fever it was absolutely beautiful out. The next day? Back to cold, barely-above-freezing rain. Not the light, blowing misty kind of precipitation either, but the ‘get wet to the skin’ kind of rain that would have had my woolens drenched before I’d even gone a mile.

Look! Snow! Well… kinda.

I was about going bonkers when the weather finally gave us another break. It got colder and stopped raining both. There was a tiny bit of an overlap, so we had some dusting of snow in places where the trees didn’t completely shelter the grass. So, out I went.

Loke was raring to go. No matter which way I turned, there was this bright-eyed, eager husky in my way.

It was just a short ride of 3 miles. It was a hard one too as I’d not yet gotten accustomed to the chunky studded tires and much of my fitness levels had tanked.

The furball did his best to speed us up though, which made me a bit nervous. Not only had Bobby done the tire swap for me, but he also did the pedals. While my feet were snuggly warm in my studded Icebug boots on the studded platform pedals, it’s not secure at all. I kept our speed down so that if a foot slipped, the damage from foot-suck would be minimized. There is yet a solution that spares tootsies from frostbite and secures against foot-suck.

The Garmin declared it to be 25 F with windchill. Everything else that doesn’t account for windchill said it was 33 F. Loke was disappointed with such a short run. Of course, the way he was acting, he probably would have been harassing Jens for long walkies after a 30 miler.

My next ride was on the 5th, which made it the closest together I’ve done two rides in ages. I would have ridden on December 4th, but it didn’t work out with errands and such. The 5th was an absolute ‘MUST DO’ though. Jens was trapped for a long day at work for end of quarter stuff, but we had dinner out with the family. It was the 50th wedding anniversary of Jens’ parents, so we took everyone out to our favorite restaurant.

Since Jens needed the car that meant a drop off at the garage to ride the trike for some exercise with the fuzzy one in hopes he would do something (else) uncharacteristic- like gobble down a bunch of  loose weight, mixed ‘nature goodies’.

Yeah, Loke decided to do something he’s never really done before and went after a bowl on the table that had some snacks decoratively set out. There were raw cashews, smoked almonds, and dried coconut along with more cashews covered in milk chocolate and cranberries in dark chocolate. Guess what he ate? Yep! Every scrap of chocolate-anything while scattering the non-chocolate stuff all over the livingroom floor while I was gone. What a fun 2 hours that was, rushing to the animal hospital so he could be induced to regurgitate all that. I swear, he’s been acting like an ill-mannered puppy the past few months.

So, I glanced at the window thermometer to estimate what I’d need to wear and shivered. 23 F in the sheltered side of the building, next to the wall which is radiating heat from inside. I started dragging on the layers until I felt like Maggie Simpson in her snow suit.

Moonlight! Feels right!

Loke seemed fairly ‘meh’ about the outing, a sentiment I shared, but once out of the car and walking down to the garage door, I perked up about it. Mostly because the big, full moon was gleaming through the trees. I just love moonlight.

After the trike was up at the top of the ramp and I managed to get the lights and all on it, the furry one seemed more interested. I settled in and off we went. For the first 100 yards or so, going slowly through the park, I kept craning my neck to look over my shoulder at the moon. I did spare a little attention to admire the way the lights glittered off the frosted grass, as if it had been sprinkled with diamond dust.

As we cleared the park and picked up a little bit of speed, I found myself humming Cat Steven’s ‘Moonshadow’ while admiring our celestial company. Whimsically, I decided that all my photos would have the moon in it.

Big moon above a frosted hill

From time to time, I did take my eyes off the moon and the frosted landscape to glance at my Garmin. The temp, of course, always reads quite a bit warmer at the start of a ride, so I watched the numbers dropped. It hit 23 F as indicated by our window thermometer, and it kept going. 22.4 F. 20.9 F. 19.6 F. Finally, it kind of levelled off around 17.2.

About halfway through the 3.33 miles, it was clear I should have done more for my feet. The tips of my toes were feeling a bit uncomfortable. The electric socks would have been nice, but eluded my hurried search so I had hoped they wouldn’t be needed.

No more moon, but still have trike and husky!

I also had a bit of a scare about the time the clouds kidnapped my lunar companion. We were transitioning from a tiny residential street onto the cycle paths which involves a bit of a bump. I hit it and my left foot slipped. It didn’t hit the ground, but instead oddly my leg got crunched between the pedal and the crossbar. I gave quite a yelp, but from scare factor more than pain. It was enough to startle Loke who then gave me an offended look. I REALLY need to figure something out.

Cold sunrise ride.

Since the evil clouds had snatched the moon from my sight, I turned my attention to the southeast in stead. There, sun was making use of the clouds by painting a pretty dawning, so I focused on snapping bunches of pictures of that. It also started to warm up. By time we got home, it was a balmy 22.3 F!

I didn’t get out to ride again though, so Loke had to deal with walkies for the rest of the day. I half expected to come home and find he’d eaten the couch or all of Jens’ shoes. Nope, he was apparently well behaved.

Remarkably, my next ride was on the 7th. I would have gone on the 6th of December, but just had too much to do with errands and chores. I did get out for a walk at Gamla Uppsala though, mostly for Loke. It was pretty. There was still a moon out and, though the snow wasn’t enough to cover the grass, it had been sheathed in hoarfrost which looked even lovelier than snow. Snow just flattens grass under a heavy blanket. Hoarfrost turns tall grass into gorgeous, feathery plumes.

Everything that needed doing on the 6th just about broke me down. I’ve been having problems with my right arm since early spring. It’s improved after many visits with a PT and even a handy little electrocution machine (TENS). Unexpectedly though, the shoulder of my left arm has exploded into an impressive amount of pain, making dealing with, well, pretty much everything difficult, let alone wrestling multiple layers of rough fabric over each other. So, between hitting the ground running from about 7 am and not stopping until after 7 pm and overusing my arms, yeah. Wasn’t sure I could deal with all the layers.

Another deterrent was the forecast declaring it would warm overnight to about 40 F and be raining from about 3 am onward. Yay. Rather sad when southern Mississippi (my childhood stomping grounds) is predicting snow and we’re getting their weather here in Sweden in December.

When I woke to splashy noises from traffic, there was no surprise. Not until I got up to close the window and saw the snow. Not a lot, but enough to make the pitiful, tooth-pick of a Christmas tree in the back lawn of our apartment building look pretty. Between that and the hubby grumbling at me, I endeavored against my right shoulder to get dressed.

A drizzling mist, a Christmas toothpick, a trike, and a husky.

It took a while, but after about 40 minutes, I was getting the GPS turned on and Loke hitched. The furball was quite interested, I think because of the snow or perhaps the unsatisfying walks of the previous day. Naturally, as I was taking the photo with the Christmas tree, the dusting of snowfall became a misty drizzle of rain. Ah well. At least that kind of rain I can ride in with not much trouble, even at a 27 F windchill.

It looks like REAL snow!

Loke pulled us briskly along as I headed out for the River Loop. The cycle paths that aren’t glorified sidewalks at the edges of streets, but rather on their own to connect different areas, had been ploughed. Not an improvement really when there’s this little snow. The weight of the little tractor plow compresses the snow that it doesn’t push off the pavement into ice. Instead of an inch or two of snow to walk though, you’re left slipping on ice. Yes, much better (sarcasm). Quite glad I had the studs both on tires AND shoes.

The plan to do the full river loop was cut quite short. Instead of 3 to 5 miles, just over 2 thanks to the steadily increasing rain. A misty drizzle slowly dampening the wool that still holds warmth? No problem. A rain heavy enough that it starts running over my skin through the various layers of wool? Nope. I’m done ASAP.

Still, got out for a roll which is better than nothing. AND it was my first snow ride of the season.

And would you know it? I went back out for another ride the very next day, December 8th! Can’t for the life of me recall when I’d last squeezed in 3 rides in 4 days.

Naturally, all that lovely snow we’d had the previous morning was gone. Just a few sad little clumps clinging on at the side of the cycle paths and roads. The afternoon temps of about 40 and good stiff rains had just washed it all away. The forecast for the 8th announced clear skies and sun. Well, if it’s going to be unseasonably warm, better sun than rain!

It was a bit of a lie. While there was no rain at least, the skies were far from clear. Such is the angle of the sun at this time of year that no direct light reaches the ground if there’s anything that even resembles ‘cloud cover’

With the misleading promise of sunshine, I put off riding in hopes of getting some wheel time in that glorious golden light. The last 2 rides started in the pre-dawn (7 am) and finished up just before the sun actually cleared the horizon (8:30 am). I gave up a bit after 10 am and started getting dressed.

Getting ready went much easier than yesterday as my shoulder has improved quite a bit. It also helped that being 40 F instead of 27 F, I didn’t need as much in the way of layers.

I couldn’t quite decide what to ride when I first started out. Loke didn’t seem to have a preference as long as the pace was ‘brisk’. Against my better judgement with the threat of foot-suck, I relented… a little.

I decided to stick somewhat close to home. The last 2 rides have been between 2 or 3 miles as my legs have worn out pretty quick from not just peddling, but working to keep the feet firmly on pedals. I did want a bit more distance though. With my arm keeping my computer time to about 5-10 minutes out of every hour, and my limitations for most other physical activities right now, I’ve been watching waaaaayyyyy too much TV as my shoulder takes time to heal and get right. I’ve blown through most series that hold interest so… I’ve been suffering a bit of cabin fever.

Deciding to get at least another mile or two, I struck off to the east for a short distance onto little residential roads I’ve not touched in months as well as the cycle path that goes through the frisbee golf course. Loke liked that. As I rode through the almost spring-like weather with shrubs budding in confusion and even clouds of gnats for pity sake, I decided I was gong to push it for a full on River Loop with all extensions. It’s been AGES since I’ve done that. Months at least. That would finish up with 6 miles, give or take.

The furball seriously perked up as I turned north to follow the river path. I guess it’s been long enough that it felt ‘fresh’ to him. I didn’t anticipate the wind out there though. Once past the industrial portion of it, it turns to wide open fields on the west bank of the river. Nothing to stop the wind for several hundred yards at least. It wasn’t consistent either. It would be kind of mild and then a howling gust would slam out of no-where, whipping the grass and making Loke put his head down and squint. It only intensified as we turned around to head back.

On the southern end of that portion of the river path, it was a relief to get back into the cover of the trees though they creaked and swayed as the wind made that low, roaring growl through the canopy.

As we came up to the swim hall, we over took a class out for a walk. About 30+ kids in the 10-11 age range, shepherded along by 3 adults. They saw us coming from behind and a ripple of noisy amazement and interest spread as they all moved to the left to let us pass. Such were the calls of ‘Beautiful Dog!’ and ‘neat bike!’ I decided to stop. A few of them asked about Loke and finally one of the boys asked if he could come pet Loke. I said yes. Well, the chaperone missed the part where he’d asked and yelled at him to get away from the dog. ‘You do NOT approach a dog without ASKING!’. I immediately defended the boy. When she asked if I was certain it was okay and I assured her, there was a sudden chorus of ‘Can I pet him too?’

Loke was suddenly swarmed under by about a dozen kids. He responded more warmly than usual which kind of surprised me. He ‘kissed’ faces and wagged his tail. Usually, he just kinda stands in place like a stuffed animal, indifferent to the attention. They were amazed by the fact he was older than all of them. When another of the kids not petting Loke heard me mention he was a Siberian husky, he ran over to give some attention too. Some of them, hearing my accent even showed off their English, one boy calling out ‘Merry Christmas!’ as he ran to catch up with his friends. When the moment was over, the teacher thanked me for my patience and kindness.

I smiled for the rest of the 6.4 mile ride. That was a surprisingly good ride even if on hamster tracks.

I also rode on December 10th, but it was just 2.1 miles of utter hell. Feet hurt, hip hurt, even something about the way I was sitting in the seat made my arm hurt. Just… ugh. Gray, drizzling weather on trails I’ve left ruts in deep enough to rival the Grand Canyon. Just too unpleasant on so many levels that it wasn’t worth suffering for more time/distance. Perhaps if I’d had fresh ground to distract me, I could have gone further, but loaded the trike in the car at this time isn’t really doable.

I didn’t get out for rides for several days. Mostly it was because it just felt like time was so limited. Our ‘days’ are just 6 hours long (5 hours and 55 minutes actually). I’d wake up in the dark and by time some light came around, I had things to do. When I was finished, I would have been heading out to ride about time the sun set which is a bit after 3 pm. Without the moon, I’m just not interested in ‘streetlight rides’. If I’m going to ride in the snowy dark, I would prefer it to be with clear skies, a full moon, and NO streetlights. I’m just dreamer that way. Few things are more enchanting than moonlight and snow painting a world of midnight blue, pewter, and silver. And we had no snow.

And we had full moon during that time, even if it had been clear enough to see the sky. Oh, right and NO SNOW. Mississippi, land of 100 degree summers and historically mild winters where even frost is a rarity, was getting buried under the stuff while we had the winter that should have been theirs.

Then it finally happened! We got snow! Actual, full on, snow fall. About 6 inches of it just dropped on us like a blanket. The day after it came down, we had temps cold enough that it didn’t start melting. Naturally, those were some of the ‘busy’ days I didn’t have a chance to go out. Then for 2 days, it was melting like crazy, the rain helped by temps back in the 40’s again.

December 16th was the first day in a while I’ve had the morning free enough to get out during some daylight. Much to my surprise, there is still quite a bit of snow and not so cold that my legs needed 3 layers, but would be just fine with my mid-weight wool under the tights.

Loke had a bit of bounce and anticipation as I got ready and his fuzzy tail was waving like a cheerful banner as we walked out to the trike. He also threw himself down in the slushy snow over the muddy grass to wallow around.

It was starting to sprinkle as we rolled out, but thankfully, it didn’t last long. We weren’t even 0.10 mile from home before it stopped. The furball had that husky grin going as we rolled along and for once, I seemed to find the sweet spot with feet and pedals right away. The Garmin showed a temp of 29 F, though that’s probably with wind chill. It’s probably closer to 34 F. I was perfectly dressed, Loke eager as we rolled out.

Not a long ride as my legs started to tire from the strain of being sure they don’t bounce off the pedals into the dreaded foot suck. It still was good to get out for the 3.6 miles we rolled. The studded tires were necessary, though there were spots where even they slipped. Loke clearly appreciated the exercise as well and offered a bit of assistance pretty much the whole way. He’s such a good boy.

December 17th was another warm day that was chipping away at the last of those 6 inches we’d managed to get. The forecast promised it was going to get cold and start snowing that night though. However, upon waking on the 18th, there was not a bit of fresh snow to be found. The weather app then shifted to say it would start about noon.

Actually, it started to snow at about 10 am as I was picking up groceries.

So, there it was. Fresh snow falling and temperatures were about 33 F instead of 23 F. I couldn’t help myself. It was an absolute must to go out the door for a short ride at least since I didn’t need to pull on 3 inch thick layers of wool. It was also good that it was that warm because, though I’d found my sock batteries they take a while to charge and weren’t ready.

Loke was all for it, getting underfoot. He’s a smart dog and with 12 years, you’d think he’d have figured out the way to get out the door faster is to NOT sit on my feet or try to crawl into lap while I’m pulling on the layers.

As we marched out to the trike, there wasn’t yet much accumulation though granular snow doesn’t stack up as quick as flakes. As I dragged the trike out, it rolled a little funny. A huge chunk of dirt/mud had frozen to one of the wheels. It was apparently quite a bit colder than I thought. I kicked it off and sat down to pull out the Garmin and settle the rest of the things, when Loke started singing and woofing at me to get a move on. It’s been ages since he’s done that.

The ‘sandy’ snow was starting to come down a bit more seriously as we rolled out. Even though I had dressed a bit on the light side, I decided to do more than the short river loop. Fresh snow? I was going to do the grave mounds!

As I struck out on the main road toward the grave mounds where the new ‘cycle highway’ has been built along side it, I was surprised with how there was absolutely not snow accumulating it. It almost looked as if it were heated. I was curious enough to stop, pull off my glove, and put fingers on the asphalt. While not what I would call _warm_, the surface wasn’t exactly cold either. Cool, maybe a bit chilly, but above freezing to be sure. Loke wasn’t impressed with my experiment. A waste of time that we could have been moving. No scientific curiosity, that one.

The furball had energy and ‘oomph’ enough to boost our speed a bit. What I would allow any way. I kept things on the slow side to reduce the risk of foot suck if one slipped.

We were tediously headed up a bit of an incline by some soccer fields, on the other side of which are the fields beside the Grave Mound path. On the far side of the fields, probably where the rail tracks drop into the new tunnel, was a small bridge and a pedestrian/bike path sign. First I’ve noticed it. It did perk my curiosity, though not enough to change my planned route. Still, marked and noted for another day.

Loke really turned the effort on when we hit the grave mounds proper. I hated to disappoint him, but I had miscalculated something. The condition of the path. I ALWAYS overestimate how much unpaved surfaces melt compared to paved. Where I had expected somewhat slushy gravel starting to build up a layer of snow, it was all rock-hard, brutally rutted ice. Risk of foot suck shot up into the orange threat level.

It wasn’t enough to turn me back though. I just took it easy, jolting us along at walking speed. It gave the furball plenty of time to sniff along the verge. Two spots, I had to get off the trike to push up the short, but steep climbs because the studded tire couldn’t grip enough to get me up, even with Loke’s help. At the tail end of the mound ridge, were some men with weedwhackers. I can’t imagine how sucky that must be, trying to cut several acres of snow covered grass with those. They stopped to watch us roll by.

Mounds and church hazy in the blowing snow

The wind was howling across the fields in places as the snow went from the grainy, almost sand-like stuff to something more ‘flakey’ and a denser fall of it to boot! At times it was going horizontal and I started to feel the cold as the Garmin went from a windchill temp of 29 F to 24 F. My gloves got wet and the wind with poor circulation in my feet meant the toes started to let me know they were getting unhappy. In spite of that, I was loving the ride. In one spot, sheltered by the worst of the wind by trees, I stopped to just ‘be in the moment’. Listening to the snow tick on the Da Brim of my helmet and admire how beautiful it all looked, coming down against the back-drop of deep green conifers.

“It wasn’t enough. Let’s go again!”

The Grave Mound path is about 1 mile or 1.5 mile (you’d think I’d know after all these years), and it took the better part of 40 minutes to make it. Lovely as it had been, I was so glad to reach pavement again. Nice, smooth-under-the-half-inch-of-new-snow, pavement. I was surprised the trike hadn’t shaken loose.

I would have loved to push on along the river loop extension, but hands and feet were unhappy and making the rest of me chilled in spite of wool, not to mention the temp was going to drop with dark less than 20 minutes away. I was happy though as the Garmin ticked over 4 miles for the ride. That meant 400 miles for a year. Pitiful really. Less than 1/4th of last year’s distance.

Finished up the ride with a total of 6.17 miles. Loke seemed content when we first got home. It didn’t last. After about 20 minutes as I attempted to bake away the chill under the electric blanket, there he was. Nudging and woofing at me. Such a bully!

Yesterday (December 19th) was quite cold, enough so the snow we had was able to stick around. Not that it was much around the apartment. It might have been snowing like mad at the mounds, but just a mile away, we didn’t even get a quarter inch at home.

While the distance might bump up a tad, there won’t be any more churches or runestones. So, the year’s count for those is 1 church. Unless I count the one I rode past on October 1st. While I’ve been by that church once before on my trike, it was before I started blogging. So, okay. I’ll call it 2 churches and 2 runestones then. Oh, and 1 burial ground with a bit over 400 miles for the year.

Aayyee. I hope next year is better. Now, I’m off to do my arm exercises to offset the blog typing…

Merry Christmas to one and all if I don’t post again before that.

On Again, Off Again
November 22, 2017, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The title pretty much sums up the way things have been for me. I get to feeling just well enough to push out for a ride and issues either get worse once more or friends join them.

My arm is still pretty annoying though better than it was. Today, I seem able to use it as normal without even noticing except for the occasional little twinge every now and again. Yesterday I was about ready to strap it to my side and pretend I didn’t even have a right arm.

Monday was down right bizarre though it appears it was just the climax of what I had no clue was happening. It seemed to coincide perfectly when the abrupt approach of something like winter weather. The temp dropped to sub-freezing for quite a few days and I just couldn’t seem to get warm. Since the stroke, I’ve felt the cold more, so didn’t associate it with anything other than simply being cold. I did notice that my feet seemed swollen. Shoes that typically fit fine were suddenly quite tight.

Turns out those days of shivering and pinching shoes were probably joined with a low grade fever. Without my other usual symptoms of a fever, I didn’t notice or even think to check my temp. Then this last Monday (November 20th), something just hit me like a freight train. I felt so dizzy that everything spun and I felt like I was looking down a long tunnel. So nauseous even the thought of water made me retch. I checked my blood pressure and it was very low. The cold bit in hard. About noon, I finally got the bright idea to check for a fever.

Yep. Had one. It kept going up even after I took something for it. By 2 pm it was over 101 F. By 4 pm, I was starting to consider the hospital as it was edging up over 103 F. I called a medical advice hotline and talked to a nurse. She didn’t seem particularly worried at that moment, but gave me a recipe for salted sugar water to help with dehydration and low blood sugar and told me if it reached 103.5 to get to the hospital.

I’m glad I waited. The next dose of OTC meds I took seemed to turn the trick and it started going back down. By 8 pm, I was feeling well enough to eat toast and no longer felt the cold like I’d been. Next morning, my tummy still felt a bit delicate, but other wise I felt pretty good. Strength was back, my shoes fit like normal. Most telling perhaps was I didn’t feel the cold nearly as much as I’d been doing the past few days. I’d even slept with the balcony door wide open to the snowy evening with nary a shiver one when I’d been chattering my teeth even with the apartment warm and buttoned up. Just weird.

And yep! Snow! We’ve actually it for 3 or 4 days as I write this. I think it came down on Sunday. Or was it Saturday? Sunday night. I remember now because I was all excited at the idea of going for the first snowy ride of this winter. Not a lot of snow, but still enough to make the scenery different. Of course, the fever hitting me even before Jens left for work changed that idea.

It’s been the longest a snow fall has stuck around in ages. I don’t think snow stayed more than 1 or 2 days all last winter. Maybe even the winter before that. This one is working on day 5 though it’s supposed to rain this evening. *sulk*

I have gotten to ride a couple times since my last post, though no snow. Back when it was a bit warmer. We’ve had a few pretty sunny days at least, I even rode during one of them. The low sun all through the day makes for pretty light when there aren’t any clouds. When there are clouds, it’s kinda dreary and dim though.

What else? Oh! Loke’s eye is looking even better still. The lump is less than half as big as it’s been in the years since it swelled up. No indication of infection either. There was much cause for rejoicing. Even Jens has said it was a good thing we decided to hold off on the surgery when it was considered the first time a few months back.

So, that’s all for now. More updates as they seem necessary.

Dragging Through The Last Of 2017
November 9, 2017, 11:16 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Sometimes, my years have ‘themes’. Year of wind. Year without a winter. Year of trike problems. Year of broiling hot summer. Thankfully the summer one has been pretty rare the last few years. This year has been ‘The Year of Pain’. Hip and feet almost crippling me in January. Then it was the Lyme disease symptoms for a few months more. Then just struggling with the extra weight and attempting to regain my fitness before my arm decided to become practically useless during which my back joined the fun.

Fortunately, the back was quickly taken care of, but the arm. Now, my left arm is starting to have some issues to.

The arm has actually kept me from cycling for weeks now. The weather took a cold plunge and struggling with layers while my dominant arm can barely manage to lift the tiny TV remote makes dressing for it a herculean task. So… I’ve not ridden much this month.

I did get out for one ride last week. Just a short 3.55 mile jaunt as the temperature did a brief bounce back into the ‘cold Swedish summer’ range. I didn’t feel nearly as breathless and weak as I expected. That might have been due to Loke though. He was surprisingly hyper and even pulled into a run so my effort requirements were a bit lower than usual.

It’s gotten cold again though. Ice and frost. Even a few spates of snow that left less than a 1/16th of an inch, but still, we had flakes swirling through the air! So, back to sighing wistfully at the thought of riding and snarling at my arm.

Oh, and update for Loke’s eye. We had our appointment with the eye specialist on Tuesday (Nov 7th).

I headed out very early given my last experience with taking a morning appointment at Ultuna. Took over an hour and I arrived about 5 minutes late. I did not want a repeat of that. Of course, that mean the 15 minute drive took 20 minutes so I had almost an hour to kill. I took Loke for a 40 minute walk along the river, which he seemed to enjoy.

The waiting room was quite busy. Loke did get to kinda meet a 12 week old chocolate lab puppy. Such a cutie! Poor thing though. Just 12 weeks old and he’d already had hip surgery in his young life. It had been some weeks ago. The only sign of it was a patch of short clipped fur over his left hip. Another couple weeks and it won’t be noticeable.

Very nice woman who had an ‘intern’ vet who was sitting in to get experience in eye-specialization. Loke was his usual, unhappy, but cooperative self. The vet assured me that the lump wasn’t anything ‘dangerous’ from a potential cancer source at least. There were 3 options to deal with it with increasing levels of ‘invasive-ness’.

– Lance it and try to squeeze the congealed lipids out of it like a pimple or abscess.

2 – Schedule a simple surgery to cut the skin open and scoop out as much as possible.

Both of those would leave something behind, which could mean coming back at some point depending on how fast it returned if it did and how long Loke lives.

3 – Cut it all away and hope to be able to rebuild a workable lower eyelid.

That 3rd one has the greatest risk of post surgery problems of course. So, hoping to avoid that one, we decided to go with option 1 for starters. Topical anesthesia, hold Loke’s head, and done with it. There was only a bit of blood and even right away the lump looked a little smaller. She wanted to give him topical and oral antibiotics, but given that Loke already has highly resistant strains of some bacteria, I convinced her to just stick with topical which worked to clear the infection up a couple months ago.

The size has reduced a little more. She warned me that the space left after she got some of the gunk out would fill with blood and that might take a while to be reabsorbed by the body. So, we’ll see. If it gets the size down and takes more than say, 6 months to swell back up (if at all), then I consider it a win and we can repeat again to spare Loke going under for full on surgery. If it does come to that, I think we’ll still go with option 2 first. He’s 12, going on 13. I’d hate to put him through more than is needed if we can manage it in a less invasive fashion. I would feel truly horrible if his last years were spent having to put up with a messed up eyelid that made him uncomfortable for winter of his life.

Recovery has been a snap. He doesn’t seem to have noticed anything. Unless it some relief of the pressure of the skin there. No rubbing or bothering the eye at all. Such a relief!

Oh! And as we were waiting for our number to come up so I could pay, I got to peek at some tiny 18 hour old kittens. They were so tiny and precious!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairy Ring!

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

Watcher in the weeds.

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

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

The clouds sure look funny.

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

Distant sunlight receding further away.

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

Little splashes of autumn.

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

More bits of color on an autumn day.

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

A Moment of Sun

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

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

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

Over the little bridge.

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

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

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

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

A much smaller Fyris river.

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

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

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

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

More sunshine to make the colors pop!

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

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

Lovely old barn

Loving the scenery

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

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

More scenery

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

Just LOVE these colors!

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

Standing stone? Rune stone? No clue!

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

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

Ärentuna Church

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

Loke, Sprint 26, and bell tower.

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

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

Uppland Rune Stones #1014 and #1015.

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

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

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

Burial mounds near Ärentuna church

One of the least pleasant miles of the ride.

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

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

Just cold wind, bikes, and walkers here.

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

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

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

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

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

The distinctive Uppsala skyline

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

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

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

Something important missing.

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

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

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

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

I hope that’s archaeology work and not construction…

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

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

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

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

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

Does that make me a glutton for punishment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I felt better for having talked with her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The toy…

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

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

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

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

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

Colorful 2016 autumn to this one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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