Terii’s Cycling Babble


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gamla Uppsala Burial Mounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skocloster Castle from on high.

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

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

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

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

Will you look at that?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s me caught up!



Briefly Off The Hamster Track
August 8, 2017, 8:14 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Things have been kinda slow. We’re making some reorganization to our living arrangement, the first in years. That takes up a bit of time, not to mention just sucks the endurance right out of me.

In spite of that, I have gotten a bit of exercise done in between the rain we’ve finally been having. For some of the trees, it won’t save their leaves, but for others it came in the nick of time if it managed to get down to the roots. Still been bone dry under some trees even after it’s pattered down for most of a day. The grass is reviving which is nice. It was all starting to look a bit sere around here.

As I’ve mentioned, Loke’s been more than a little sluggish. To describe him as being actually sluggish would be an insult to slug kind as they’ve been faster than he of late. It’s made me a bit fretful for my old man which, in turn, made Jens want to ‘fix it’. His insistence and quite valid point about going for rides off the hamster tracks, even if it took all day to do just 15 miles, became even more emphatic.

August 2nd, it finally happened.

dmittedly, I wasn’t exactly flinging myself out the door with enthusiasm at first about today’s ride, but Jens’ insistence that I, ‘GET THE TRIKE OUT SOMEWHERE ELSE!’ Pretty sure it was getting to the point, he was going to stuff me in a sack, throw me in the car with husky and trike to toss us all out in the countryside somewhere. Most of my reluctance stemmed from the hassle of loading the trike in the car for such short and close to home ride.

The hassle never really appeared. My recent kayaking forays have apparently given me new and unexpected upper body strength. The folded length of metal, plastic, and rubber didn’t feel as heavy or awkward as I recalled. Makes me want to go paddle more!

Loke was fairly ‘meh’ as he hopped in the car to go the garage. That did not inspire my confidence about his ability to be able to do more than 5-6 miles, so good thing the loop around Långsjön (Long Lake) was only about 5 miles, the same as the basic River Loop hamster track at the apartment.

‘Meh’ turned to confusion and then perhaps a glimmer of hope as I left him in the car (all the windows down) to start bringing the trike up the ramp and dismantle it. As we made the 20 km drive to Björklinge church where I’ve always parked the car for this loop, he wouldn’t settle. He kept pacing back and forth. Usually he just lays down for a drive.

We arrived and I tethered him to a picnic table by the church parking lot. Every time I so much as turned in his direction, he’d scramble to his feet and wag his tail. Clearly, this was far more interesting than the River Loop or the downtown jaunt for fruit.

Trike back in one piece and loaded, I sat down to fiddle with GPS and helmet, and there was this husky face shoved into mine. ‘WOOF.. arrraahhah, yuuuoo… pfft.’ That’s husky for ‘MOVE IT! You don’t need all that crap.’ with a sneeze in my face for good measure. He’s not done that in quite a while. Probably since about January. Well, except when it comes to leftovers he thinks he’s entitled to.

Off we went and Loke PULLED. He tried to run in spite of the fact that the first quarter mile was up and up and up. With his help, I managed to keep almost 4 mph average on a hill I generally would struggle for 3 mph. Then we were across the old E4 and starting the looooooonggggg downhill toward the manor house. It was like time had turned back a year or more. Loke buzzed along at 6 mph or more, head down and all intensity. We did over 2 miles in 30 minutes and that with stops for doggie ‘business’, photos, creeping up hills, and going slowly along a stretch of road that desperately needs repaving. It would seem that his sluggishness I was attributing to old age is in part just bone-deep boredom.

Sätuna Manor – 2013

Finally we came up to the manor house with it’s gorgeous old wooden stable where the state of the road improved so I didn’t have to argue with Loke about walking in the grass and weeds and our speed picked back up. The clouds thickened, which helped as it had been uncomfortably warm on the hills where the trees sheltered the wind. In the wind, it was pleasant though.

Our speed dropped again when we reached the gravel road. Clearly, Loke’s paws with their inflamed joints and tendons are no longer up to that kind of surface. I gave him the smoothest part, gritting my teeth as I rattled and banged down the rocky centre strip for almost 2 miles.

We nudged over 4 miles when I had an inkling that something was off. I had been absolutely certain that the Long Lake Loop was about 5 or 5.5 miles, but I recognized that we were only about half way. That gave me a pang of concern, but I decided Loke would guide me as to when I should call my hubby’s dad to rescue him.

The fuzzy was a machine. On the smoother surfaces he jogged along, tongue flopping in a husky smile. He only drank the offered water a few times. We had a chat with a couple in an old huge Buick convertible. They gushed over my old man and told me about their 14 year old German Shepherd back at home.

As we _finally_ started the last stretch to arrive back at the church, with 8+ miles, Loke was still just fine. He’d slowed just a little, letting the tether jingle with some slack instead of pulling out extra line, but going strong. When I turned us back into the parking lot right at 8.45 miles, he was disappointed. While I turned off the GPS and removed my helmet, he again stuck his face in mine, though without the backtalk, trying to use his husky Jedi mind trick to make me keep going.

“So, what are we doing now?!”

Back home, he’s prancing around and trying to stare me into doing something amusing. Or maybe he just wants extra kibble. Or both. He is the centre of the universe after all… in his fuzzy little mind. Clearly, age isn’t bothering him quite as much as I imagined.

On the 3rd, I went for another kayak. I want to keep that upper body strength improving after all. I’ll only mention that it was an interesting trip and I finished with 6.75 miles as I paddled southward, the furthest I’ve managed to go. Right out into Lake Mälaren.

Since this blog is more about things that impact my cycling, I won’t go into much detail about the paddle, but I will mention more in depth about what happened as I packed the kayak. Why? Because it kept me from cycling for 3 days.

So, exhausted, I still managed to wrestle the kayak out of the water and drag it on the little trailer all the way back to the car. I knelt in the grass for several minutes, pumping the air out and fiddling around to start getting it folded. I shifted slightly and then immediately howled in pain. Something fiercely stung my ankle. It hurt as bad or even a little worse than the yellow jacket stings I was nailed with years ago, but the image in my head as I threw myself to my feet and and slapped at spot was of being chewed on. It hurt. Oh, how it hurt. I hobbled over to the car, bending over to wipe blood away from the ankle every few steps. Yes, blood.

On the skin where there was a gape between my leggings and the neoprene reef boots, blood seeped from a spot a bit less than an inch across. It was hard to make out any details in between the swipes I made to both try to rub the pain away and keep the blood from staining my tights, but it mostly looked like scrapes of some kind. Hurt more than any scrape I’ve ever had, even road rash.

I dashed the tears of pain from my eyes and went back to the kayak. I looked in the grass where I’d been kneeling, but found nothing. I got everything packed up and headed home. Still the ankle hurt. The pain didn’t stay localized to the little spots that had wept so much blood either.

Later that evening, I finally took a closer look at the wound. It honestly looked like two very equally sized little punctures with tiny scrapes beneath them. Oh, kinda like, I don’t know. The fangs of a snake with the gripping teeth behind them? All indications are that I crossed paths with the single species of venomous snake in Sweden. Fortunately, it’s really no worse than a yellow jacket, a risk only to the young, infirm, allergic, or small animals. The front of my ankle throbbed for most of 24 hours, was too sore to wear shoes for about another 24, and then I was fine. It did mean I couldn’t put on a cycle shoe on my left foot for a few days though.

Honestly, I pity the snake. It must have been quite small, with just half an inch between it’s fangs, well camouflaged with the ground cover. Exhausted as I was, I probably would have missed it even if it had been in flashing neon. But the circumstances must have been that I didn’t see it and I knelt on the poor thing, pinning it hard between my ankle and the ground. When I shifted, putting my toes forward and creating an arch between my ankle and the grass, it finally got enough space to object to my oblivious mistreatment of it, and bit me. Can’t blame the snake. If some big thing came and squished me, I’d object vehemently when I could wriggle again.

Yesterday was the first ride I was able to do since the bite. Loke was remarkably energetic for it being a River Loop. Apparently the little toodle on the longer-than-I-thought Long Lake Loop recharged him.

Wasn’t really much of a ride. I was sleepy, it was trying to rain on us and was just 56 F, so I just did the minimum of about 2.5-ish miles. If it had been other than River Loop sections, I might have been able to dredge up more interest, but the combination of all that meant, I just wanted to get home and curl up with a Netflix series.

Before I wrap up, I should also mention that the vet got back to me with the results of Loke’s blood tests. His kidneys and liver are just fine. However, several other of his values were off, mostly in terms of vitamin deficiencies and folic acid. She said it hinted at an issue with his intestines, something that they often see in dogs with allergies, especially as drastic as Loke’s. The chronic inflammation just wears the body out, joints, ligaments, tendons and intestines especially. It might also be a tumor, but she thought the inflammation was a more likely culprit. It would also explain why Loke suddenly needed double the food he used to in order to maintain his weight. His gut simply isn’t working as efficiently as it did so much of the nutrition and calories aren’t extracted.

Then she also said, he is very slightly anemic. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, I responded with, ‘Oh crap! I was supposed to have him tested for that!’ I explained that a few years ago when I took him to see the orthopedist at Ultuna, the blood tests they took then had showed he was mildly anemic. I’d completely forgotten to get a follow up 6 months later. Loke had gone back to bouncing around like a healthy dog that the impression of well-being had pushed it out of my mind.

The local vet assured me it wasn’t anything drastic and so slight, she thought it was probably the same level as that old test I described to her.

She recommended that I stop giving Loke any additional food aside from the kibble, much to Jens’ disappointment. I’m also taking Loke in for vitamin shots, especially of the ‘B’ variety which will probably improve his gut function. Perhaps once that starts working better, he’ll process his food better and will be able to get B-vitamin boosts from tablets rather than injections.

What it comes down to though, is – Loke’s an allergic, old dog. He can still run almost 9 miles and stare me down for more, so he remains the fittest, healthiest, sick dog in Sweden.



Hamster Tracks and More Hamster Tracks
July 29, 2017, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

My rides have been a bit sporadic. There was a bit there when I was getting out on the trike every other day, with kayaking on the days between. Then I had about 4 days where I felt like I’d been hit by a freight train and could barely walk and breathe at the same time.

Loke’s been up and down as well. He strains his way up stairs now as if they’re the northern face of Mount Everest. There was also some kind of issue with his left front foot. That’s the one missing a toe. At random moments, he wouldn’t even put it down on the floor. So, I made an appointment with the vet, which wasn’t until 4 days later what with 90% of Sweden being on vacation. Naturally the two days before his appointment he moved fine. I still took him in though. The vet gave him a thorough going over, but could find nothing wrong with the foot.

She also took blood to check his liver values.

I was’t surprised when, after all that, Loke again was keeping his foot up the following morning.

The weather has been freakishly dry of late. So dry that some leaves are already turning yellow and in no way because of the coming autumn. Grass is shriveling in places. The only water making its way over the Uppsala spillways into Lake Mälaren is coming through the fish ladders. I can’t remember the last day we had an actual rain. And it’s not like we’ve been hot with dazzling blue skies. No, temps between about 65 and 73 F with the sky covered in huge blocks of heavy clouds in threatening shades of gray. They’d tease with rain. A tiny drop here, a 5 second spate there. Not even enough dampen the top grains of dirt.

We finally had real rain yesterday. A softly steady fall that had a chance to get through the top millimeters of soil and perhaps revive the grass. It even looked damp under the trees toward the evening. It stopped around supper time. We need more of it, a lot more, but it’s a start and maybe the grass will get its proper green color instead of the sere yellow shades.

As well as being sporadic, the rides have been a bit of a roller coaster. A really bad one, then an okay one where Loke actually had energy and ran the best he’d done in a month or more. Then Loke slow again, but I felt better.

Still, all of it’s been on hamster tracks.

Jens did suggest I take the trike somewhere more interesting soon. When I replied that it just felt like such a fuss to load everything in the car, drive for 45 minutes or more to new ground and unload just to ride for 5 miles or so, he said that I could still just make a day of it. Did it really matter if I spent 6-10 hours riding in spurts to cover 15 miles? So what if my average might turn out to be only 3 mph. As long as I enjoyed the scenery and maybe got to see a new church or runestone for the first time since January, would it really be so bad?

The man has a point.

So, I think perhaps next week, I’ll plan something out somewhere. As long as Jens is willing to play chauffeur so Loke has a fall back. It might even be what the doctor ordered for both the fuzzy one and me. Fresh ground to stimulate the mind and senses.

 



In Spite of Them All…
July 15, 2017, 6:12 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yep. I’ve been a bit quiet, but not entirely still.

So, last posted was about my meltdown with the stubborn nurse.

I thought I had an appointment with the doctor on July 4th, but it turned out to be on the 5th. However, I did have another appointment with my current physical therapist. Along with my back, she’s been helping with my hip as well. She’s heartily supported with what my SIL first set into place to start that healing, only adding to it. One thing she recommended after looking at a photo of the trike, was using a pad or such to raise my position on the seat. Something to elevate my pelvis a little higher up in comparison with the pedals. It would mean less of an angle at the top of the pedal stroke.

After kicking around the idea for a few hours, I formed a rough plan to make a seat pad out of an old foam mat for camping. A single layer of it was too thin, but if I doubled it, I thought it might be a perfect start. Adding a bit of rope, I’d even have something that would stay secure on the seat so I’d not have to go chasing it with every gust of wind when getting up.

I actually had a bit of fun making that pad. I’d grabbed everything to go out to the trike in the backyard of the apartment building to craft it. Scissors, the foam sleeping mat, rope, as well as that kind of silly strong cotton twine used for stitching stuffed turkeys closed, wrapping roasts, or keeping a crown of lamb in its circular shape.

I worked, sitting in the sun beside the trike to shape my idea and it was coming along well. As I stitched a section of foam, I heard a little flutter. I slooooowwwwly moved a little to see a sparrow on the far side of my trike, less than 1 foot away. Much to my surprise, it didn’t flap off as soon as it saw me, but just kinda crouched under the edge of my pod bag.

I suddenly wished I had bread or something to scatter around to see if I could get more of them to come close. Then I recalled that I often carried almonds. Maybe a few had fallen into the bottom of my bags? It spooked the sparrow as I dug around and actually found a few nuts. Since an almond is almost as big as a sparrow’s head, I used the scissors to crumble them and then scattered the pieces.

It took the birds about 5 minutes to get brave again, but they completely ignored what moving around I did to sew the pad. Mostly it was females or young sparrows that were bold enough to hop in close to grab a bit of almond. When they’d hop away to try and eat it where they felt safer, they generally were mobbed by males trying to take the food from them.

I got the pad finished and decided to sit in the trike seat itself to see how comfortable it was and just watch the sparrows until all the almond was gone. One cheeky little girl sparrow quite cleverly decided that my booted foot resting on a pedal was a PERFECT dinner spot. None of the bullies were brave enough to come so close and the leather of the tongue between the shoe laces was just perfect to keep her bit of nut from rolling away as she nibbled bits off it. I was utterly charmed by that tiny little creature, fearlessly nibbling on her treat, bright eyes watching me.

After I had made the pad and got everything back in the house, I was just too wiped and weak to go back out for a test ride on it.

July 5th was a gorgeous and absolutely perfect Swedish summer morning. To me any way. Mid 50’s, flawless blue sky, and not a breath of wind. While not rare for it to be that cool during July here in Uppsala, it’s not all that frequent either. Swedes oddly revel in the heat, but I love the cool summer days. Still get the vivid greens and flowers, but don’t wind up drenched in sweat if you so much as scratch your nose.

I would have gone for an early ride, but decided to wait until after the doctor appointment for the frustrating return of what appears to be the Lyme disease symptoms. It would be nice to be able to walk 100 yards without feeling on the verge of passing out. It seemed to go well. The doctor listened to me, took notes, asked questions, seemed to regard what I was saying as something to be taken quite serious. Once she felt she had all she needed, she immediately went to call a specialist in Lyme Disease. Apparently THE specialist for the Nordics if not all of Europe. She left a message and said she’d call me when she talked with the specialist and would hopefully have an appointment for me.

I got back home and immediately, if slowly, dressed to for a ride. It was going to be the first test with the ‘booster seat’. Sadly, the pretty sun and blue sky had disappeared behind a blanket of gray, parts of it quite threatening in appearance. Without the intense warmth of the sun, that 55 F felt a bit chilly.

After the first quarter mile or so, the results were quite encouraging. My hip seemed to agree with being about an inch higher than it used to be while pedalling. I decided to swing through downtown in round-about fashion just to get off the River Loop. Of all my hamster tracks, it’s a wonder the River Loop hasn’t been worn into a 10 foot deep rut in the past 2 years.

I’d barely gone a mile when I happened to hear my phone ring. The doctor calling me back, while I happened to be sitting at the most noisy intersection. From what she said the gist of the specialist’s answer was, ‘She had the antibiotics. It can’t be the Lyme Disease, even though the symptoms are identical to those that disappeared while on the medication. It might be inflammation. Have her take Ibuprofen for the pain even though it might conflict with high blood pressure medication.’ And with that answer, the specialist won’t see me.

That left me in a bit of a funk as I pedalled onward. In spite of that, I started to notice something. Stretches of longer inclines that used to slow me to the 3 MPH range, felt oddly easier. It wasn’t all because of my new, silly low granny gear either. I wasn’t even using the 40 toothed back ring, yet I felt strong as I spun up climbs at almost 2 mph faster with 75 RPM cadence. My breathing felt good, the muscles were strong and able to keep pace. Talk about a conflict of emotion. Frustration and disappointment at trying to get answers about why I can barely function off the trike on one end clashing with delighted glee and joy at having the best ride since the 5th day on the antibiotics for Lyme Disease.

Loke seemed to appreciate jogging along places we’ve not been in months. The threat of rain never materialized. I did try to stop at the ice cream shop to drown my sorrows in a couple scoops of their home-made Cherry Chocolate Crunch that is just to DIE for, but they were closed. I could have stopped at one of the summer kiosks for ice cream, but it just didn’t seem worth it if I couldn’t have the cherry.

Got back home with about 6 miles. Hip continued to feel just awesome the whole way. My feet were good too which is also a nice change. Of course, they’re always unpredictable. Great for one 1 ride and then the next 10 I have to stop ever few miles to get up and walk around to either get feeling back or ease cramped arches and/or toes. Go figure.

The next ride was on July 12th. Honestly, I can’t remember why I waited so long between rides. Baffled actually. I’d planned to ride on July 11th, but I was in hardcore recovery mode from going for a paddle in my kayak. Jens was there to help me get it into the water and then left me to my own devices as I paddled up stream. I made it all the way from the rowing club to the first spillway just outside of Uppsala’s downtown proper. Heading up stream was a snap. There wasn’t much wind and barely any current. The water level in the river is so low that the spillway is more of a ‘dribbleway’ at the moment. We really need rain.

Getting back was more of a challenge, as wind decided to kick up and hubby was trying to rush me so we could have dinner out with his parents. Dinner was a bit of a blur. I was so exhausted, I remember very little of it.

The new ‘life vest’ thingie we got worked a treat though. It’s one of those things that inflates if you get submerged, so it’s small and almost sleek to wear. Good thing. I would have hated to look so very ridiculous as I did on the first float with the kayak what with the vest up around my nose and nothing to see between said vest and hat, but my sunglasses peeking out.

The reason for concern about how it would have looked with the vest was that I wound up getting into the way of a professional grade video camera. A film crew on a boat filming shots for a tourism commercial. As we floated by each other in opposite directions, one of the guys called out, ‘If we keep this shot is it okay if you’re in the commercial?’

I actually agreed.

But, after 6+ miles of paddling, struggling against the wind, and my rump finally feeling as if it had been beaten with a granite slab, I really needed a day to rest. I practically slept through most of July 11th. My arms had felt on the verge of falling off after the paddle, but by the 12th, I felt fine again. I found that level of recovery rather impressive.

Honestly, on the 12th, I was torn between paddling or triking, but hubby talked me into riding because he wanted a break from taking 6+ mile walks with Loke. I decided it was just as well because I was also out of watermelon and cherries. I’d also promised to bring some to my lovely MIL because Vaksala Square produce market has the absolutely BEST watermelon in Sweden.

It looked as if it might rain as Loke and I set out. A blessing really. It was fairly warm and VERY humid so even though it was windy, it did absolutely nothing to cool things down. So, the lack of a sizzling sun meant it was almost comfortable.

Loke was SUCH a slug. No, actually, slugs were passing us in riots of mocking laughter he was so slow. Seems he was really feeling his age today.

A few miles into the ride and approaching the ice cream shop, I saw a woman who was out with her Saluki puppy. OMG! TOO CUTE and delightfully elegant even as a pup! She was 4 months old and such a dainty little lady. Very timid.

The shop had my cherry chocolate crunch and I sat on a low wall to enjoy it while Loke sighed and finally sat down out of sheer boredom.

Down the hill from the ice cream shop, I started my hunt at the health stores, looking for a salve I use on problem skin. Nope! “Life” shops which have always carried the stuff and not a single one of the three had it. Ominous. As if the stuff has been discontinued. I also popped into Naturkompaniet (The Nature Company) shop again, looking for one of those little air-up seat pads. Not for the trike, but the kayak. After 2 hours on the provided seat, it felt like I was sitting on jagged granite… and I was in the kayak for 4+ hours. They didn’t have what I was looking for though.

Then it was off to the fruit stand. The guys who run it gave me cheerful waves as I rolled up to park in the shade of a tree for Loke. I hurried grabbed what I wanted and then called my MIL to see if she was home.

Yep! As we left Vaksala Square at the edge of Uppsala’s downtown district, the clouds became almost scarce. Unpleasant. We went even slower out of respect for Loke. It also seemed to be the stretch with the least shade on the way to my husband’s parents.

Fortunately, Kiki (MIL’s nickname) was waiting with cold water for Loke and ‘saft’ for me. She cut a chunk of melon to share around with my FIL and one of my husband’s sisters. Loke, the stinker, snuck out of the kitchen and into the living room where he found a decorative square of reindeer hide to start shred. The brat.

After Loke and I both cooled down a bit, we headed back out into the sun to ride home. I was actually quite impressed with the day. Slow, yes, but also the longest ride since January at over 9 miles. On some recent rides, I felt pretty bad. This hurt, that hurt, weak, couldn’t breathe, no energy. Not as bad as when I walk, but not fun. This ride, while I didn’t have any oomph (and didn’t need it with pokey Loke), I felt like I could honestly have gone on for hours more. My breathing felt fine. No pain. No where. My feet did get a bit warm and numb, but nothing horrible.

I felt so good that visions of flinging the trike into the car and striking out on a long ride filled my head. Alas, I want more confidence.

I took another short ride on the 13th. I do mean short. Right about 2 miles. Mostly it was just to give Loke a rolling walk. He’s really starting to act old. It’s worrying.

So, no ride yesterday (July 14th) as it was another kayak day. Nothing as ambitious as the last one. Just a lazy toodle downriver for 50 minutes, and then 25 minutes back. A tailwind is nice, kayak or trike.

Today (July 15th) was out for another very short jaunt to give my husband a break from long walks with Loke, which even at 12 years old, don’t really settle him. I should have started earlier when it was cooler, but since I went to Starbucks in the morning, having a half liter of warm, milk based beverage sloshing around in my tummy isn’t the most appealing prospect.

This summer has been pretty nice in a lot of ways. We’ve had ‘rather warm’ days mixed in with ‘mild’ or even cool days. Less than a handful of anything that qualifies as ‘hot’. One thing Uppland is starting to need rather urgently is rain. We really need a cover of thick gray clouds to settle in with a light, but steady rain for the better part of a week. The river is hardly flowing at all with water only dribbling over the spillways which makes for easy paddling back upstream, but on land, even some of the trees are starting to look droopy from lack of moisture. A steady, but gentle, ground-soaking rain of long duration would also refresh the bloom of summer flowers.

So, when Loke and I headed out from the garage and I saw the lovely dark gray clouds to the north, I was hopeful. Some cover from the sun would have been nice for Loke at least though I could have enjoyed not having the sun-side of my body feeling like it was about to crisp right through my cycle clothing.

The fuzzy one had a bit more spring in his step today than the last outing. He wasn’t as interested in stopping to sniff as frequently and even pulled into a slow run as we descended down the cycle path underpass beneath the 55. I think it’s probably because he’s feeling better thanks to not having reindeer the past several days. I’m 95% convinced he’s developed a low grade allergy to it to go along with just about every other possible food source. Vet specific kibble that costs 100 USD per 17 lbs and rabbit is all I’m remotely certain he’s non-reactive to any more.

The clouds sadly broke apart into dark looking clumps. One speckled us with a few drops, but no more than that. Loke was moving well enough, I decided to add the 0.75 mile of the out-n-back to the Uppsala Garrison. As we toodled along that stretch, I found myself squinting suspiciously across the fields on the right. Chain link fence. I don’t remember that. I’m sure I don’t remember it, but it didn’t look new either. That filled me with a bit of misgiving. So much of Uppsala’s green spaces have been gobbled up with ugly eye-sores of apartment buildings. Now, the idea that the countryside might get pushed further back from my hamster-tracks is, frankly, nauseating. Hopefully, it’s just the garrison expanding it’s ‘protected’ area and they won’t be bulldozing it.

I decided not to push on further though Loke still seemed willing. Definitely taking a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach with him as more and more, he’s starting to act his age.

As for me though, I felt pretty good. Nothing pained me and breathing was fine. I had a bit of an episode where I was struggling just to make it back to the car after shopping for dinner, but there was no sign of pain, breathlessness, weakness, or lack of energy in the muscles. I count that a win. Maybe I’ll actually get enough confidence to go off the hamster tracks soon.

So, that’s me caught up after a fashion.

 



Yay! We Did It!
July 3, 2017, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Loke & siblings on their birthday.

It’s official! The average life span of a husky is between 12-14 years. There were times when I wasn’t sure we were going to make it to the minimum, but as of July 1st, 2017, it happened. Loke turned 12. All his infections and various other scares with tumors, antibiotic resistances and such, but we held on and made it through.

I posted last on June 29th, saying I was about to go to the health ward in hopes of getting some help.

Perhaps, because it’s the start of the official ‘vacation’ time in Sweden so people want to get over every little ache and such before heading off, but the health ward was a madhouse with people dropping in like crazy. I checked in and made it up to the waiting room. I hurt. Everything ached and burned, though at least once I was seated, the profound weakness started to ease up and my breathing improved.

Finally, after an hour and half, a nurse called for me. She was a bit impatient as I made my way to the exam room. Once there, I started to explain the issue, with some of the back story about the Lyme Disease, how I felt 1000% better when I was being treated for it, but the symptoms came back. She didn’t listen. I could see it. I started to get frustrated. Perhaps it was a mistake to mention the pain, because she focused on that instead of hearing what I was saying about not being able to breathe when I did anything that required moving, or how it was like my muscles just turned to jelly.

I talked, she didn’t listen, proving it completely when I stopped explaining and the first words out of her mouth were, ‘I’ll book you with a physical therapist.’

Instantly, I could see how the next month or more was going to play out. 2 weeks or more to get an appointment with the PT because most of them would be on vacation and the rest buried with work load. Then taking the time to do what the physical therapist said, meaning at MONTH at the very least before I’d be back to talk to the nurse to again attempt to get them to LISTEN. Then, who knows how long to get an appointment with a doctor, who I will then still have to convince that another trip to the PT will NOT help. All the while, the weeks and months, I’d be in pain, gasping for air with my vision going gray and limbs threatening to drop me in a pile on the ground/floor every time I tried to move more than 100 yards at a time. What? Some damn stretches and little exercises are supposed to fix the shortness of breath or the fact my muscles feel like a battery-driven toy with the power running out?

I burst into tears and started ‘yelling’ without actually yelling. You know, that slightly raised voice, suppressed through gritted teeth, struggling not to erupt into a full throated scream of rage? My dignity and grip on trying to be calm and rational just gone in the face of the woman’s damn indifference and arrogance. My sobbing, yelling/not-yelling tirade went something along the lines of, ‘No! PT will NOT fix this. That is not what THIS is. I’m in PAIN. I CAN’T BREATHE! I CAN’T MOVE! LISTEN to me. I’m not lying. I’m not making this up. JUST SOMEONE HELP ME!‘. There was more, but it was really just repeating the same words in different order, pounding her with my desperation and frustration as it were.

I would have laughed at the look on her face except I was just so angry. Then she started telling me to calm down, that the doctors were busy and couldn’t see me right away. I broke out of my rant to tell her I didn’t expect to see a doctor on the instant, but that she needed to listen and not waste my time, making me suffer longer, with PT. Then she asked for a moment and scrambled out of the room while I regathered the shattered pieces of my dignity and composure.

When she came back, she said she had set up for me to have an EKG to check my heart because of my shortness of breath. Even though I was fairly sure that was going to come back normal, I agreed. At least it wasn’t a physical therapist. Also, she booked me a time with a doctor for July 4th. A nice big chunk of time so I’d have time to talk to the doctor. That’s great! Provided she actually listens to what I say rather than making a snap judgement that leaves me to suffer.

The nurse/technician who set me up for the EKG and ran the machine was a doll. She really was. Seeing my face, she asked if I was okay, encouraging me to talk to her while putting on the sensors. She couldn’t do anything about the problem, except run the EKG, but the fact that she was actually hearing what I was saying was something of a relief. Someone in the Swedish medical profession who wasn’t just brushing me aside.

I admit, I felt a bit silly about my meltdown as I left, but honestly, what was calm rationality getting me? Nada. I think I would have preferred more anger and determination over histrionics though.

Oh, yeah. There’s also another source of immense stress. There’s an issue with the Tax Authority. I won’t go into it, but could be looking at fines or charges for someone else’s mistake. Yay.

So, between my physical issues and that delightful legal stress, perhaps my medical melt-down was no surprise. I’ve been teetering on the edge of anxiety for a couple weeks at least.

With 2+ days devoured with trying to get the medical and tax matters dealt with, there was no riding. So, on June 30th, I was determined to head out for a ride.

By the way, I’m still loving those gears. Jens dropped Loke and I off at the garage and I set out. It was quite a pretty day. A bit warmer than Loke and I prefer, but pleasant, breezy and sunny. The furry one seemed to be glad at being out and moving and, once on the trike, I felt mostly okay. A bit weaker than when I was taking the antibiotics. The shortness of breath though? Not a trace. My muscles had energy even if they lacked ‘fitness’. None of that burning muscular pain either.

As the good feeling stayed with me, I pushed on to add distance. The garrison out-n-back as well as the northern out-n-back along the river. I’ve not done that part of the river loop in ages. Been too busy coddling my hip, which on that ride felt fine. So, off I went.

We finished up with over 6 miles and a better frame of mind.

July 1st, I finally got out on my birthday kayak. Getting it ready went much better from a physical standpoint than it had on the day I aired it up in the back lawn of the apartment building.

There were some issues though. Was worried about dropping the paddle and losing it in the river. I couldn’t take my phone out for photos because I didn’t want to lose grip on the paddle. I was in a badly seated position which made propelling the kayak difficult, but couldn’t effectively shift into a better seating arrangement because I didn’t want to lose grip on the paddle. Sensing a theme? Another huge annoyance was my flotation device. A vest. It had fit very nicely when I tried it on the first couple times, even when I sat down. For some reason, as soon as I sat down my kayak, the chest portion of the vest wound up above my nose. Jens walked around in the area where I paddled and when I was just a few yards from where I’d launched, he called. I actually had to put the phone through the arm hole to get to my ear. It’s not that the vest was too big. Any smaller and I would barely have been able to zip it closed. It just rode up and there is no groin strap to keep it down.

So, that’s about all since the last post. Fingers crossed for my doctor visit tomorrow.



And The Hell Continues…
June 29, 2017, 7:24 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The name says it all.

So, waaaay back last year, or even longer, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting my gears changed. Pretty much since hills have become so difficult and with me keeping my eyes firmly on the goal of touring, I’ve wanted a ‘softer’ granny gear. Really don’t want to spend half a tour pushing the trike with a loaded trailer up hills because my knees can’t handle mashing up a 12% slope the easiest gear.

As mentioned in the tag-end of winter, Bobby the mechanic had said my chain was getting pretty bad, but we agreed to wait until after the rest of the thaw was done. Less muck to start grinding in a new chain. Since Sweden seems to be phasing out 9 speed chains, derailleurs, and shifters, I also decided to just throw my hands up in surrender and get 10 speed. We settled on the best arrangement for what I wanted and he put in the order. Never mind it now appears that the cycling community in Sweden is now working on phasing out 10 speed in favor of 11 and 12. I was guided by Bobby’s wisdom though that, for now, it’s not really worth the huge cost bump between the 10 speed to the 11.

Naturally, while waiting for the parts and the thaw to finish, I physically fell apart with hip finally giving out, Lyme Disease symptoms becoming physically impossible to function with, antibiotics keeping me penned in on the sunniest, nicest weather we’d had in months, back issues, so forth. I mentioned most of this in previous posts. The parts came in about the time I’d started the antibiotics. Since I was penned up out of the sun for about 3 weeks, I didn’t feel any rush to make the appointment for the work. The shop (probably all of them in Uppsala) gets quite busy in the weeks leading up to mid-summer.

Then of course, my throwing my back out delayed getting the trike in by about another week.

Finally, I dropped the trike off on Tuesday afternoon, June 20th, as an early check in for the work to be done the following day.

Wednesday, June 21st and the summer solstice, Bobby called about noon. He sounded his normally cheerful self, but when I asked how his day was, he responded, with ‘It’s a rough day’.

Bobby is one of the most laid-back, happy people I know, so hearing that, I knew he was having a horrible day. I’ve always had the feeling that for him to say it was a ‘rough day’, it would have been apocalyptic scale to someone else. He asked if it would be alright if he pushed working on my trike to the next day. I answered it was no problem. He sounded so relieved. Since he was having such a bad day, I went to the shop with fresh baked lemon-raspberry muffins in hand. He was practically buried in stuff in the workshop, but brightened at the sight of the muffins. Lotten practically did a jig when she saw them and Neil brightened up too.

Thursday, June 22nd, Bobby called again to say he was working on my ride, but he had a question. There was an issue with chain length what with the 40 tooth ring on the back and the big front. He noticed it didn’t look as if I used the big front ring much, so what did I think of treating the front as a 2 ring instead? I admitted the chain hadn’t been on the big ring in years, not even by accident, so it was fine. Honestly, I’d anticipated just that problem. Heck, with 99.5% of my rides being with an aging husky, I barely use the middle ring let alone the big one. It’s surprising the small ring hasn’t been worn away to nothing.

Finally, the text came the trike was done. I let my over-worked hubby know and he came home early to drive me to the storage so I could to the seat. Once at the shop, I thanked them all (especially Bobby), put on the seat and hitched the husky. Then I remembered something and hurried inside to ask Bobby about it.

It looks as if I might have forgotten to mention it. On the ‘almost disaster day’ where I found the half broken chain link while riding with 10 lbs of fruit and later the wheel parted company with the empty trailer when I was just yards from the storage, I thought I had noticed something when I was just pulling the trailer up from the storage. Walking up directly behind the trike, something about it caught my eye. I stopped and tilted my head back and forth. It seemed, maybe, there was a tiny bit of a tilt to the right in the rear wheel. When I’d dropped the trike off at the shop, I had asked Bobby if he could check that since it would explain why, the gears maybe got a bit fussy after a while.

When paying for the work, I had forgotten to ask him about it. It turns out, Bobby did think I was right. It was an incredibly slight angle off true to the right. He was pretty sure he had it nice and straight now. I thanked him again and hurried back out.

While getting the handlebar bag settled and Garmin on, a woman came up to gush over Loke. I invited her to meet him and she was thrilled. Oddly, Loke, (aka Mr. Aloof and Stand-offish) was incredibly sweet with her. Wriggling around, hopping up to ‘kiss’ her (smoosh nose into random part of face). Quite surprising. As she hugged on him, she said it was clear I was a loving owner because Loke was so very trusting and kind to strangers.

As she reluctantly tore herself away from the fuzzy one,  I plopped in the seat and off we went. Loke, perhaps perked up by getting so hyper with the woman, threw hard into the harness and we zipped around the parking lot before I decided to aim for the grave mounds to play with my new gearing. I’m familiar with how that stretch feels and there are a couple steep, if short hills to test the shiny new granny gear. Right from the start, I was heartened by the first few shifts as we did a loop around to get onto the cycle path to Gamla Uppsala. Smooth as butter.

In moments, we sped past the mosque and squeezed by some of the road construction onto the gravel path. The unpaved trail hard up against the soccer field’s fencing was reserved for pedestrians. As they are tearing up the roadside cycle way though, all foot and bike traffic has to share that little strip of gravel. Along there, it seemed usually bright as I pedaled. It took me a few seconds to realize, it was because I’d forgotten my helmet and there-fore my Da Brim. Definitely a ‘D’oh’ moment.

After our brisk start out of the parking lot, we wound up a bit slower than usual (even for me), because one of my knees was complaining from time to time. That discomfort kept me to the lower gears with a higher cadence. For significant stretches, I was pushing 80 RPM (amazing for me) though barely hitting 5 mph, less on climbs.

A veritable cycle highway!

A lot of the road work chaos along the first stretch of Vattholma Road seems to be focused mostly on the cycle path. One section, they’ve mostly finished with already and it’s very much wider than it used to be. Before, it was perhaps 4-5 feet wide, enough for a single bike to pass another or dodge pedestrians. Now, it’s wide enough for a car to use. I’m pretty sure I’ve been on narrower country roads. It turns out they are converting the paths there into Uppsala’s third ‘Fast Cycle Path’. The first, I think is from Flogsta. Or at least the first one I noticed a sign for when they were done making wider than it used to be. The next one, I noticed was the one where part of it comes down along the hospital grounds toward downtown. Now, soon the third will be done which will offer better bike traffic flow between Uppsala and Old Uppsala.

I was falling in love with the new gears as we rolled on to the mounds. The mounds, were lovely as always. The trip through there was pleasant, but nothing much happened. I did stop a few times, just to sit in the seat with closed eyes to savor the sounds of larks. Oh, and Loke’s impatient sighing. He may not be the speediest cycle partner in his later years, but he’s still not happy with just standing around either.

Other than me being giddy and gleeful about the new gearing, it was an uneventful ride. Birds were singing, flowers blooming. The little park-land just before the garage was practically carpeted in clover which lent a heavenly touch to the soft breeze. I think clover is one of my favorite scents right up there with honey suckle, wisteria, and magnolia. Yep, I’m a southern girl.

We made it to the garage with a grin on my face and a husky disappointed with only 4.98 miles. I was quite pleased with the gears though. Even if slow as frozen honey on the steeper little climbs, I wasn’t forcing the pedals or ‘mashing’ to use a proper cycling term. It felt more like ‘gliding’. I like that sensation quite a bit more than ‘chewing’ my way up. Yes, I was quite pleased.

Friday, June 23rd was Sweden official ‘Midsommar’ celebration. Midsummer, the saddest day of the year for me. That tipping point where the year swings away from long days, short nights toward the grim and colorless time of short days and long nights. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter when we have snow. Snow that STAYS for more than 3 days before everything turns to muddy, murky shades with 5 hours of watery, weak daylight. Snow for the past few years though has been the exception rather than the rule. At least now, I can still try to ride through the winters, thwarted only by threat of frost bite rather than shattering derailleurs. Still love my 26″ rear wheel in spite of bouts of nostalgia for my old Trice.

Jens had I were going to have an early dinner with his parents. Originally, the plan had been for me to finally try out my early birthday kayak in the morning. I decided it was just too much of a rush. Dashing around to get to where ever I wanted to float it, get it inflated, paddle, deflate, struggle to cram it back into the bag, and hurry home for shower to arrive at my hubby’s parents for a 2 pm meal. Just felt simpler to put it off another day.

Woke up on Saturday, June 24th, bouncy and excited.  My back had been feeling pretty good for days with not so much as a twinge. Admittedly, I was being very careful with it and avoiding some things, but still a vast improvement from spikes of agony through the spine when washing my hands, reaching for something or just standing up from a sitting position.

That changed rather dramatically within minutes of arriving at Wiks Castle. Before I even started on the kayak, there was a tiny, prick of warning in my lower spine as I wrestled on some neoprene ‘water sock’ like things to keep my feet from getting too cold while out on the water. Then a worse twinge when I was just unzipping the kayak’s bag. I gave a tug on the bag to flip it so gravity would help get the boat out, and a worse one hit. Nope. It wasn’t going to happen.

Jens asked if I’d at least walk with him and Loke before we headed home and I agreed. That lasted for about 100 yards before I was clutching a fence post and seeing stars. Getting back to the car was a bit of a blur broken up with yet more fireworks of agony.

I thought about going for a ride once we got back home, but I wasn’t sure I could get in and out of the seat without a spasm leaving me in an awkward crumple over the trike. The pain this time was even less predictable than last, but fortunately, the afternoon and evening spent mostly flat, continuing my PT combined with muscle relaxers helped immensely. Today, I was sure I could at least manage getting in and out of the trike without seeing stars and jerking around as if being electrocuted.

The weather was much better on June 24th than the day of the failed kayak attempt. The 23rd had been murky gray with a fine spitting mist driven on high winds. It was still windy, but partly sunny. About 11 am, hubby drove us to the garage and, playing it safe, he offered to push the trike up the ramp. I accepted his help.

I reveled in my new gears. I tossed aside concerns about speed and just… moved. The apparent return of the Lyme symptoms slowed my cadence down, but staying in the lower gearing was better on my knees and back anyway. Even though it was only another roll on a hamster track, I enjoyed the cool wind roaring through the trees and making waving ripples in the tall summer grass, the play of shadow and light racing across the open landscape around the grave mounds as the clouds sped across the sky. At times, the odd swirl of wind would bring the scent of flowers. Roses, some kind of strange and very sharp peppery smell, and of course clover. 6.35 miles which took us about an hour and a half.

I’m frustrated by the feeling of being trapped in a small box by my body. The nostalgic pang of the days when the trike meant adventure and freedom is bitter sweet. It’s been reduced to little more than a treadmill. Without those three wheels though, the box  in which I currently exist would be hardly bigger than our apartment. I try to hang on to the idea that half a loaf of stale, plain white bread is better than no loaf at all. I do so hate white bread and always have. I was the only kid for miles who would refuse to eat a PJ sandwich if it was on white bread. It had to be whole wheat or I’d go hungry. But I stray.

I would love to get off the hamster tracks, but at the moment, my back can’t deal with disassembling, loading into the car, reassembling and repeat right now, even if my hip could deal with a 10-15 mph ride.

It’s getting to the point of desperation. Life is feeling a bit rough at the moment. The pain of my body from even the simplest tasks, though at least, again, my back is back on the mend and hasn’t made me see stars in days now. There’s a huge issue with the tax authority which could leave me charged with tax fraud. Yay (sarcasm if you couldn’t tell). Jens is slammed with work, stuck with crazy long days and high stress while trying to help me deal with digging out from the tax issue. I feel desperate for escape and sense of freedom. The best I could do yesterday was totter down to little park a quarter mile away. The walk there took almost half an hour. I left my phone. Just me and Loke. Once there, I just sat on a bench with my eyes closed to listen to wind and birds over the sounds of traffic. A day out in the countryside with wheels beneath me and husky beside me as we explore fresh places would have been so much more healing, but it’s beyond me right now.

So, as I wrap up this post, I am actually about to totter down to the health ward and brace the beasts of medicine in their dens in a struggle to take me seriously… and help me get something of a life back.



Murphy Is Toying With Me…
June 16, 2017, 7:09 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

I wound up not going for a ride on June 12th. The weather was just too unstable. We’d get a bit of sunshine and then black clouds would sweep in from out of nowhere with torrents of rain. Pea sized hail even came pelting down a few times. That would have stung if I didn’t drown in it.

On June 13th, Jens had to dash to work early. Worryingly, when I did laundry the day before, I found myself having problems. My body ached, I was short of breath. The symptoms I’d been suffering from for months before I took 3 weeks of antibiotics. That was disheartening.

With that going on, I really didn’t feel like suffering through walks. My hip had done fine so there was no reason for me to avoid cycling. So, Loke was getting to go out with me on the trike.

It was gray and a bit cool, though at least it didn’t look as if it had rained recently. I dressed in my summer weight clothes without underlayers. My only concession to the chill was my eye-bleeding yellow, soft-shell windbreaker. Everything gathered up, I stepped out of the building into… a windy, misting drizzle. Loke stood there, wide-eyed and wagging his tail at me as I evaluated the rain. It wasn’t much and would have taken forever to make me even damp, so I decided to go.

Got the trike ready only to discover that I’d left my Garmin hooked up to the computer in the apartment. Rather than pull Loke along with me, I left him with the trike in the grass and hurried back for the GPS. When I walked back, rounding the corner of the apartment, I was met with a surprise.

Loke, was laying sphinx like in the grass. 10 feet away, in the same pose and with long ears raised was a hare. The two of them just sat there, staring at each other. I tried to sloooowwwly lift my phone up for a photo, but the hare spooked. Oddly, Loke just watched it bolt for the hedge. He didn’t get up until I walked up to the trike.

Naturally, as soon as I settled in and we rolled out, the mist intensified into a drizzle that left splatters on the tights. It didn’t last long so I headed off for the cycle shop. I dropped in long enough to say hi to everyone and make an appointment for getting the gears upgraded and chain swapped next week.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. The wind blasted alternating mist and sprinkling around while the Garmin displayed temps that hovered around 50 F. I pushed on through the deserted paths. Being a weekday and in weather most people deem to miserable to be out in if they don’t have to, it was a nice, peaceful kind of ride. I extended a bit and would have done so even more, except the temp took an unexpected dip to 45 F. I was just damp enough that the chill started to dig in, so I headed back. Finished the ride with 5.03 miles.  My longest since Feb 12th. Roughly 18 rides.

Originally, June 14th was going to be a rest day as the original plan before my back blew out had been to ride every other day as I eased back into things. Still a bit wary for my hip after all. The plan changed when it was just too darn pretty out to spend with short little walks. I quickly came up with the idea to go to the cycle shop again.

This time, I wanted to buy some cleats for cycle shoes. My current Shimanos have been hanging on and on and on, but of late, they felt a bit tight. Perhaps that’s why the aches in my feet when pedaling has gotten quite uncomfortable at times. So, I needed more cleats to put on my extra shoes.

I’m not sure where my blue ones are that I purchased last year, but I did find another pair of black ones purchased 3-4 years ago. They’ve just been hanging out in the closet for when the Shimanos were done. They’re a tad bit over-sized which gives me a bit of concern the cleats might sit too far forward on my foot. Still, wouldn’t hurt to try.

We rolled out about 9 am. The temp had gone from 38 F when I woke up to about 65 F by 9 am. The only thing that kept the intense sun beating down from a flawless blue sky from being uncomfortable was the light breeze and low humidity.

I dashed into the cycle shop for the cleats. They only had one package on the wall, but Bobby went hunting in the back and found a pair of slightly used ones. Seriously, the only thing that hints they were ever on a shoe and cycled with was a bit of dried mud. The used ones, I wasn’t even charged for.

As I stepped back out  into the absolutely prettiest day we’ve had since before my last dose of Lyme disease treatment antibiotics, I decided to add a bit of distance to the ride. I was going to go back home via Gamla Uppsala.

It was warm enough that even I was glad for the patchy bits of shade offered by the trees along Vattholma Road’s cycle path. I made a stop about half a mile after the cycle shop to offer Loke some water. Annoyingly, it seems I didn’t close the canteen tightly enough. We were almost to the grave mounds when I reached in for the canteen and Loke’s collapsible bowl, I discovered the bottom of my pod bag was wet and the canteen empty. The idea of Loke pushing on and getting warmer without water until we got home was not a comforting one.

I made the turn to the mounds and spotted an icecream flag on the tree by the museum’s entrance. Fingers crossed, I stuck Loke in a nice shady spot and hurried up to the door. Closed and 20 minutes to opening. I turned back while trying to decide on waiting or not, when a young woman came walking up. In her hand was a set of keys.

Immediately, I asked if they sold bottled water in the museum. Yes, they did. When I asked if I could buy one for my dog, she didn’t even hesitate, holding the door open for me to come in. With profuse thanks, I grabbed one of the unrefrigerated bottles and paid up. She was quite interested in Loke, asking if he was a husky, were his eyes blue, and how old he was.

I was barely out the door when someone called out ‘Ursäkta!’ (Excuse me!). I stopped and smiled as two older women and a man hurried up. They wanted to know where the bathroom was. As I fumbled through directions in Swedish, one of them asked if I spoke English. I brightened with a ‘yes’ and was able to give them clearer directions.

Loke was glad of the water as I poured about half of it into his bowl. As he gulped it down, the man politely approached and asked if I was American in very thickly accented English. When I said yes, he was happy to chat about that. He had family in the States, San Francisco, mostly. I asked if he was Swedish and he laughed. No, his parents were actually Americans from Iowa who immigrated to Denmark when he was a young boy about 70 years ago. As he said that, I said, ‘Ahh! That’s the accent I’m hearing.’ He was also tickled to hear that my husband has a sister in San Francisco.

Such a glorious day!

Loke in the sun

I wished him a nice visit and pedaled on since Loke was watered up and starting to act impatient. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the mounds with the trike, and even longer on such a gorgeous and dazzling day. The colors were so vivid in shades of blue and the deep, intense green of summer leaves.

I admit that I’ve missed seeing the year grow into those colors. Pedaling day by day as the landscape shifts from muddy brown and gray shades into the bright, hopeful hues in a riot of spring flowers and new leaves blushing in soft yellow-greens, before maturing into the deep, clear shades of dark emerald and forest. Was nice to be out in it though. The birds seemed to agree. There was the music of nature all around, especially the larks, singing their little hearts out as they fluttered above the mounds and fields. I so adore larks.

I finished up with 6.97 miles. We’d left home about 9:05 am and ended at about 11:30. There was no reason to rush through it and I can think of worse ways to spend a couple hours. While on the warm side, it hadn’t been miserable. It might have been a different story if I’d been in black tights, but since I’ve torn the world apart to find alternatives to broiling black on the largest portions of my body, it wasn’t so bad. So what if I make eyes bleed when people see me in clashing shades of pink and purple.

The best part about that distance is that I felt great and if I don’t go by a round-about way, it meant the Vaksala Square produce market is in reach. I much prefer to fetch my fruit by trike than hubby driven car. Parking in that area is just such a pain.

Once in the apartment, I rubbed Loke down with a damp towel before putting it on the floor under the ceiling fan. He slept for 20 minutes and turned into a pest again. As for me, I felt great. It’s been 8-10 months or more that I can recall feeling that good after a ride. Also, it’s the first time since February I’ve ridden for 2 consecutive days.

June 15th. What a near fiasco that was and where this post’s title originates. Murphy (as in Murphy’s laws) was toying with me. Things went wrong, but never as bad as they might have. It was almost as if Murphy was being a heavy handed flirt.

The forecast had promised to be cooler than the 14th, which would have been nice. The forecast lied. It turned out to be warmer even at 8 am with loads more humidity. Just a sticky, unpleasant kind of day. At least we had clouds for part of the ride and I was determined to go to the produce stand.

The old and the new.

While I waited for time to go, I attached the new cleats to the other shoes. Then I dressed. My feet seemed to have plenty of room in the new shoes as I dashed out the door at about 8 am. I really wanted to get to the fruit stand and back before the full heat of the day pressed down us.

Loke was fairly perky as we walked to the trike. Immediately, I had a bit of trouble with the new shoes. Or at least the cleats. It was a bit of a wrestle to get clipped and even more of a challenge to twist loose. With the day warming fast and the fact I have a husky, I didn’t want to waste precious slightly-cooler time fiddling with the pedals. I dashed back in to swap back to my tried and mostly true shoes. Then we scurried off to the storage for the trailer.

Getting the Burly up the slope and hitched went smoothly. In moments, Loke was jogging briskly as we rolled off to follow one of the main-line cycle paths to the train station.

Traffic on the paths increased the further into the center of Uppsala we went. The one that runs along the rail tracks all the way to the station was thick with people on foot and bikes. Some of those on wheels probably got a bit irritated with the fuzzy and I as we puttered along at 6 mph. There wasn’t much space to get out of the way though.

There was a touch of disappointment as I rolled down and up through the underpass beneath the track. There was the distinctive sound of an accordion, but it was a man sitting on a folding stool who coaxed the melody out of it instead of the woman with the voice that could soar through arias like swallows through air. Her singing was stunning. I hope that her absence there means her circumstances have improved. I’ll certainly miss those clarion notes.

As I started the slow creep up from that underpass, there was a woman walking along with a pug of all things. That little smoosh-faced little dog got excited at the sight of us, bouncing at the end of his leash and snorting in that way only pugs can. It was nice to see one excited and friendly instead of trying to lunge for Loke. Or cowering. Was kinda cute.

From there it was just a few yards to Vaksala square and the produce market. My timing was perfect. There was only one other woman there shopping, the produce I like most was already out. Better still, no line to pay! Loaded with half of a huge Greek watermelon and about 3 lbs of cherries, I headed us for home.

Well, that’s a nasty surprise.

The sun started coming out, but thankfully we had quite a bit of shade. As I was pedalling along, about 2 miles from home still, I happened to be kinda staring at my front rings and noticed a wobble in the chain. I slowed waaaaaaayyy down and watched for it to come around again. When I saw the straight line deviate again, I stopped and leaned in for a closer look. A broken link.

I stared at it in shock for a few seconds, wondering how long it had been like that and amazed that it hadn’t just snapped clean through as soon as that one side had given way.

I was about a mile from the cycle shop with no choice but to nurse the trike along, fingers crossed it would continue to hold. I kept to the lowest gears and away from any climbs up overpasses to avoid extra stress that might have finished the break.

As I crept down a mostly shady and flat cycle path, a voice called out to me as I was passing a bus stop. Smiling as I stopped, I met the gaze of an older woman. I asked her to repeat herself. She wanted to know about Loke. My aloof furball was his usual stand-offish self as she gushed over and petted him, chatting about huskies she used to have in her younger days. I had the feeling she was lonely and I’m always happy to stop and chat. She gave Loke a kiss on the head when the bus arrived and shuffled on board.

Amazingly, the chain held. Of course, for all I know, it’s been holding on for the last dozen rides, but still I rolled to a stop outside the shop with a sigh of relief. The gang there were great and Bobby grabbed one of those inserts to use as a patch since I’ll be getting a new chain next week. I told them I’d be bringing my lemon-raspberry muffins soon and Bobby grinned, saying, “And that’s why you get the prompt emergency fixes.”.

Made it home fine and dashed into the apartment to drop off the fruit and husky, deciding 5.3 miles was enough for Loke. It would be good for him to be able to rehydrate and lay under the ceiling fans. As I bent to left the melon out, something about the trailer’s wheels caught my attention. They looked as if they were a bit too far out from the body of the trailer. Once I had Loke and fruit snug in the apartment, I took a moment to fiddle with the wheels. I was right. The axles had somehow wriggled out of the slot though the locking levers were good and tight.

Wheels secured, I rolled toward the storage to put the trailer away though I’d be riding the trike back to the apartment. My strength and stamina still can’t handle the walk yet.

*sigh* Seriously?

Between the apartment and storage, it’s just a touch over a half mile. I was within a stone’s toss of the storage when there was this strange bang and then something scraping through the gravel of the path between the park’s trees. I stopped and sighed, not even needing to turn for a look to know what happened. A wheel had fallen off.

There was apparently no reason for it. The lever was still in the clamped position, but there the wheel lay  in the dirt. The other one looked like it was on its way out too. Those levers are tight. I put the wheel back on and rolled the last few yards to put the trailer away.

Getting back to the apartment was quick and easy since it’s mostly downhill. I finished up the day with something like 7 miles. Once I was safely back home I could chuckle about it. The chain had kinda snapped, but not enough to leave me stranded miles from home with 10 lbs of fruit. The wheel had come off the trailer… but not when it was loaded with 10 lbs of fruit. So, Murphy was flirting with me by making things go kinda wrong without them turning into full blown disasters.

Still, if there’s something wrong with the trailer either the slots the wheel axles or the axles themselves, that will be annoying. These trailers aren’t cheap and I’d rather not have to replace it. I don’t want to be without it either. It’s much more interesting to get my fruit and Loke’s dog food with the trailer and trike.