Terii’s Cycling Babble


Much Better Than In April 2018!
April 22, 2019, 5:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

And still days to go!

Bear with me as I fill in some backstory about how April 19th’s ride came to be.

So. Doctor’s appointment was on Tuesday April 16th. I still had a couple days left on my meds so didn’t rush about getting the prescription filled. On Wednesday, April 17, I went grocery shopping at the mall and stopped in at the drug store to get my medication.

Only to discover the doctor hadn’t refilled the prescriptions. I hadn’t mentioned it needed done, probably because my subconscious thought it was obvious. Yearly check-up, yearly renewal of my medication. I dashed back home and tried to use the phone to maybe get it done, but the mechanical voice wanted me to give my ID number (fair enough), but then also the names of my meds and doses.

It didn’t seem terribly dependable to trust my ability to pronounce medication names for Swedish speakers with my deplorable American accent. I secured Loke and dashed off to do a quick walk-in to talk to a nurse and get it sorted. I had only one dose left.

That went surprisingly quick and easy. Nurse asked what I needed, I explained what had happened about forgetting to ask for the prescription renewal. She was gone for 3 minutes to talk to the doctor and returned saying it should be in the computer in less than 10 minutes.

And while, I realize I’m drawing this out quite a bit, it’s because I’m incapable of telling anything in short story style.

So, thinking all was good, I went back to the drug store. The guy pulled it up and got quiet with lots of typing and mouse clicking. Yeah, never a good sign. He explained that one of my medications wasn’t available any where in Sweden. The manufacturer had been slack, the supply had run out and dragging feet about getting it. September was the soonest they were listing for a restock. I’d have to go back to the doctor.

I asked what he thought my alternatives would be and he said the name of the medication I’d been on before I bullied my doctor to swap me to the now-missing type. I was NOT happy at the thought I might have to go back on the stuff that made me cough like mad. Especially when I couldn’t eat cough drops around the clock thanks to my intermittent fasting! Sarcasm there, but true.

I dragged my feet dispiritedly out of the shop. Hmmm. Just maybe, try my luck at the other drug store at the opposite end of the mall. Perhaps that one had a back supply somewhere. I don’t think the two franchises communicate about their stocks.

The girl there was much more helpful. First, she told me, there wasn’t any of the medication in all of Uppsala, should she order it? Wary that she might be unaware of the lack of supply, I told her I’d taken the last pill that morning. So, she broadened her search. She found a drug store that had it in a town about 20 miles away. I was so relieved.

06-27 a Alunda Kyrka

Alunda Church 2009

Alunda is a tiny village that I’ve been to the fringes of. Years ago, maybe back as far as 2009, the first year I started blogging no less, I’d started a ride from Alunda Church. Quite a warm day as I recall. Had to take lots of stops to rest Loke in shady spots. Back in those golden days when Loke and I both could do 30+ miles with a joyful ease as long as we didn’t burst into flame.

As I made the drive, a creeping annoyance took hold. Years ago, the smaller, busy road was converted into what I call a ‘carriageway’. It’s a 3 lane road lined with barricades and dividers. No shoulder to speak off and a speed limit of 100 kph though people go much faster. The middle lane swaps between the two directions giving intervals to each side for passing slower vehicles every few miles.

Carriageways have been the bane of a few of my routes. Planning a ride, using Google Street view, only to discover that in the 3 years since the street view as taken, the nice little road had turned into a carriageway, banned for bikes if anyone was even foolish enough to treat their lives so carelessly. Even in Sweden it would be foolhardy at best, suicidal at worst.

It can be so incredibly frustrating. A lovely little road intersects one, but the next road you need on the opposite side is a quarter mile, or less down the carriageway. No over or under pass. No cycle path. The only other way is a 30 mile detour even though you can see the medieval church you want to photograph and maybe go into just RIGHT THERE.

So, yeah. I rather resent carriageways.

When the one heading east out of Jälla started construction, I was dismayed and frustrated. I even tried to see if I could still reach some the areas of small roads I wanted to ride even with it coming into being. There’s a bit of cycle path that goes on from the big roundabout near Granby mall and I followed it, only to find a dead end. Some of my riding hopes for riding out from the apartment to loop through that part of the countryside and back home were crushed.

Well, on the April 17th drive, I started seeing little parallel roads were I don’t remember any. Dirt, but still. There were even short bits of cycle path with underpasses in some spots where I definitely know there were none.

It got my brain to working. Would it be possible now to reach some of those areas by paralleling the carriageway without adding ridiculous distance? You know what? It was going to be my next ride. The Easter weekend was coming up, I could go ride for at least one of the 4 days that Jens could be home with Loke.

There was a bit of chaos about what day to do it. Jens wanted to do things like go walk downtown for an outdoor lunch and I wanted to ride. I at last claimed Good Friday for the ride and planned to leave early.

Jens did try to persuade me to wait until after I did a Starbucks run for him. I put my foot down on that because that would mean not leaving until around lunch time, complicating my eating schedule more than the ride already was. Cycling and my fasting are definitely not getting along.

I’ve had some people suggest that I just take sandwiches. Jens thinks I should just be fine with fruits, nuts, and granola, and I would if I came home to a nice big meal, but 4 pm is still prime riding time if I want to do the all day thing like I used to. And I want to!

Seriously, if I start riding more than once every 2 weeks, say 4x a week, I really don’t want to spend those 4 days living like a squirrel with barely a hint of a hot, proper meal to be seen. Just because I can be happy with just a bit of salmon and cauliflower, calling it a meal, doesn’t mean I’d be thrilled to give that up for, as one person suggested, days of PB&J.

For the record, I detested PB&J even when I was a kid and it hasn’t improved. My other sandwich choices are a bit brutal on cholesterol levels and those that aren’t revolt me, so… yeah.

On the matter of eating convenience, if I left earlier, I’d get some good miles and at about 2 pm, pull out my little camp stove and see if it still worked. Pancake mix holds up just fine with no refrigeration, just add water and heat under a pan. Mmmmm… pancakes. If I left when Jens wanted me to, I still would have practically been in town when ‘dinner’ time rolled around.

It was a difficult day to dress for. It was 28 F when I woke up at 5 am. About 34 when we walked out the door to the car. The forecast was reporting a high near 70 F. Legs are the hardest part when dressing in layers that will need to be removed. I settled for a ratty pair of track pants that I didn’t care if they got grease on them from rubbing on the chain or chainrings. But it was sunny!

20190419_073814 alt

Just shambling along.

Jens dropped us off at the storage a bit after 7 am. To give my hubby a short break, I was going to do a 1 mile toodle with Loke back to the apartment. There, I’d load some more things on the trike, like the drone.

Jens also grabbed me a naughty breakfast. McD’s ‘Toast’ which is something like thin, not sweet pancakes used as bread for a grilled cheese. I took the time to devour it and grab the rest of the gear. Only then, I realized I’d forgotten the camp stove at the storage.

Sighing, I headed back there. Without the need to do old Loke speed, I felt pretty good, creeping up the 4% grade toward the storage. In my mind, it boded well for a good day of riding.

As I stopped in the little parking area, one of the very sweet women I’ve come to know over the years we’ve had the storage, came walking along with her darling little schnauzer, Mille. She saw me and a look of devastation crossed her face, hands to her mouth, eyes tearing up.

It took a me a second to realize what was going on. I waved my hands back and forth and shook my head. “Loke’s fine! He’s just not able go with the trike much any more. Still enough energy to be a pain in the butt at home though!”

She gave a gasp of relief and then a weak chuckle as she wiped her eyes. “I was so scared when I didn’t see him.”

Bless her heart. I stood there and chatted for a while. It was worth the time to reassure her as she cared so much for my furball. I amused Millie by throwing sticks since her favorite mini pinecones weren’t around.

20190419_092128 alt

Winding my way out of town.

Finally, we parted ways and I dug around for a while before finding the stove. It felt good to be officially on my way once I packed it in my rear pannier.

It was warming up fast. In the time it took for me to get back to the apartment with Loke, eat the breakfast Jens got me, back to storage, chat with the nice woman (who’s name I REALLY should learn), and find the stove, it had probably gotten at least 5 degrees warmer.

Once I was actually moving in purposeful direction instead of scrambling in circles, I found the urgency lightened a bit. It always feels like quite a bit of climbing, gentle but up all the same, when heading out of Uppsala. I wanted to be going the entire day and the plan was for me to just go and Jens would pick me up when I tired.

06-01 e Vaksala Tower 2 Pano

Tower of Vaksala Church – 2014

As I pushed on toward Granby and Vaksala church where the 288 shot off to the north-east, it continued to warm fast. By time I was in the area of the mall, I was overheating and wanted to get those track pants off. I hadn’t planned to stop at Granby, but rather than dancing around in my stocking feet on the cycle path within view of the mall, it seemed nicer to just go to the bathrooms there. Two birds with one stone. I even took the time to have a small beverage at Starbucks and chat with the ones working.

I admit, I felt a bit self-conscious walking through the mall in my cycle tights with running shorts and bright blue and pink Lycra sport top. At least it was just a few steps from the restrooms to the escalator and then an even shorter dash out the revolving door.

It was a bit of a struggle coming up from the underpass from the mall to the cycle path that heads toward Vaksala Church. They probably should have made the slope a few degrees gentler and gravel for the tire to slip on did not help.

After the underpass, it’s still a bit of a climb up toward the church and the Iron Age burial grounds to either side of it. Not brutal hills, but significant and, though I felt strong enough, I didn’t push too hard. Really didn’t want to blow out my knees before I even started.

20190419_102242 alt

WHEEEEEEE!!!!!!

In minutes, I was perched at the top of the slope and looking down the looooong drop beside the 288 toward Jälla.

A perfect moment for a photo stop with the land dropping away in gentle rolls into the distance. As I snapped it, the realization this was first struck me. This hill is well known to me, but always from the other direction. I’ve climbed it when choked with gravel in the early spring. The pedals have turned to push it up in summers and and autumn when the path was smooth and clear. I’ve even struggled with the climb through 4 inches of snow on studded tires. Everything in between. Rain, ice, you name it.

Not this time. Now, my trike was gonna fly down it. Phone put away, I set my feet firmly against any possible bumps and pushed off.

I’ll admit it. I was giggling gleefully as the Sprint raced like its name. The wind blowing through my hair made a roar in the ears that rivaled the traffic noise. I kept my shoes pressed hard on the pedals and just flew. It was fun way to get past a boring and annoying stretch of travel. I could have done without the facefull of wiper fluid though.

Breathless laughter bubbled up as I started to slow and time for leg power returned.

There was an loop I used to ride that added a few miles to my Vaksala Church loop, but I stopped doing it because I decided too much of it was boring. For miles, just utterly flat, the vast fields stretching off so that trees were just a black smudge on distant horizons. A steep hill or 3 thrown in. Just never felt it was worth the miles or the time. Once I passed the turn off for that abandoned hamster track, I was on territory I’d only ever ridden once before years ago when the carriageway was just torn ground beside the busy smaller road it once was.

Like most of the rolling done so far that morning, it wasn’t very interesting. The carriage way on one side. A few houses on the other. Then it was houses on the right and a big brown sound-wall on the left.

Cresting a gentle rise, I braced for the worst scenario – the dead end. Fortune smiled upon me! The road did a sharp rightward curve right were a cycle path began, blocking car traffic with several boulders.

I rolled right into a place that is heaven or hell depending on your tastes. A brand, spanking new, residential cluster filled with cookie cutter houses. They seemed to be divided into small neighborhoods. This little patch of streets had big, white 2 story houses with a huge sun-terrace built over a carport, completely identical except for the cars parked by them and the numbers on the side. The next streets over had a different type of house and further over, still another. The street I followed was parallel to the noise-wall and carriageway. The strip of land between wall and residential street was reserved for apartments, townhouses, and what Swedes call row-houses. The row houses were built almost as single building with doors ever 20 feet or so. Looked disturbingly like a motel more than permanent housing.

And the sheer number of kids! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that density of children between the ages of 5 and 11 outside of a school yard. They were yelling and bounding around on the postage stamp sized laws or chasing balls into the street, riding bikes, kick scooters, staring in open mouthed wonder at the odd, plump woman on the really weird bike.

04-19 aa Up And Out

And uuuuuupppppp!!!

I reached the end of the street and found a steep hill covered with trees. The first trees visible since I rolled into the neighborhood. The cycle path went up in a bit of a switch back right to the parking lot of a decent sized grocery store.

Since I hadn’t really planned the ride and some of the area wasn’t even updated on most of my map stuff, I had a bit of confusion at the grocery store. I found a spot out of people’s way to sit and flip around between PlotaRoute, Google Maps, and my Garmin’s maps to puzzle out the best way.

Most every where I looked seemed to be churned ground with the beginnings of construction or more houses that looked as if they were popped out of a factory’s assembly line. It was a rough dash down a hill on a crudely paved cycle path covered with gravel before I made a turn into another of those up and coming residential clusters. There were a few houses, tightly packed at the beginning of it, but further in it was just rough paved streets, fittings for future light poles, and crushed rock path beside the pavement where bike and pedestrian paths might one day lay. Across the broken ground consisting mostly of broken boulders and tree stumps, were 2 or three houses, just kinda sitting in the middle of the destruction on their own. One woman was just stepping out with her two kids and called out a cheery hello from one such house.

Trying to thread my way through the tangle of half-finished streets, I got myself into a dead end where a backhoe was parked with a big pile of dirt and debris. As I backtracked and rolled by the house with the friendly mom, I wondered if this might be the end of my attempt. I took a chance and made a left where the asphalt disappeared into soft, loose sand, generously mixed with egg sized rocks.

04-19 ab Encouraging

Encouraging!

04-19 ab Less Encouraging

Hard going, but at least it’s going!

After a few hundred feet more, I slowed and stared warily at the kind of temporary fencing they put around construction sights. Hanging from it was a vivid orange sign I’ve come to associate with detours. Hopeful, I pedaled for it.

Yes! ‘Walking and Bike Road’ with an arrow. Looked like me and the trike were going to make it a little bit further. I was almost humming as drove the trike through the fence opening and onward.

The humming didn’t last long. I had to save my breath to move the trike through the even softer sand. My rear wheel slipped and spun in the stuff as the speed dropped to ‘Old Loke’ pace.

I reminded myself I still had a good 9 hours before sunset. Loke was snug at home with Jens for company. Being picked up somewhere down the road was already prearranged with just the location to be decided on when I got tired. I put it one of the easier gears and slowly crept over the sand.

I did wonder how much of it I was going to have to get through though.

04-19 ab Unexpected Pavement

Lovely surprise!

Turns out, not much. Just one more sign detouring for bikes and pedestrians and less than a quarter mile, pavement. Most encouraging was the condition of it. Not pot-holed, broken down asphalt of an abandoned road. No. It was lovely smooth and practically new under the dust of dried mud tracked on it by big machine tires. With a grin, I pushed off and the trike was soon humming along at over 7 mph.

I was relieved to be surrounded by a bit of trees and out of the packed housing development. I needed to find an out of the way place to answer a call of nature.

As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I discovered how used the mystery paved road was. People walking back and forth along it in greater numbers than I thought they would be given the apparent distances from the houses by then.

One was a very chatty man who waved me down when he saw me. Asked some questions about the trike and mentioned how great it would be if they made trikes like mine, but with pedals for both arms and legs. He was quiet taken with that idea.

04-19 ba Further Down Carriageway

Yes! Still going!

It was a bit further on, with a steep climb up a road of rocks that I found privacy to shut Mother Nature up. Was a rough downhill too. My route took me onward down the lovely new road and straight through an intersection where it joined with the carriage way with nothing on the other side but dead ends. That was fine with me, because right there was the start of another cycle path running parallel with that busy road.

The scenery was also showing signs of improvement. Along the surprise stretch of new road, it had least been trees rather than torn ground and new, tightly packed houses. They had been rather small and scrawny. Some variety more than those stunted pine sticks would have been welcome as well.

04-19 ba Much Nicer Scenery 1-1

Finally! Scenery worth looking at!

I still felt strong speeding down the ribbon of new-ish paved cycle path. The temperature by this time was pushing well into the 70’s F, but the clouds which had been thin wisps in Uppsala had gotten a little thicker. They blocked what would have been the worst of the sun’s impact. An unfortunate side effect though as the sky wound up looking white or washout in most of the photos I took.

It wasn’t raining, though the landscape is starting to get a bit desperate for it even so early in the spring. Yet, with that veiling of the sun, I wasn’t broiling in misery either. It was just on the warm side of perfect.

Being so close to the carriageway after the density of the newly developed areas got a bit tiring. The constant bombardment of noise and the feeling that I’d been out riding for 3 hours or so and very little to see for it was wearing me down. I distinctly remembered the cycle path ending at a road that sorta peeled off from the carriageway and wasn’t crammed to the brim with humanity.

04-19 bb More Like It 1-1

Oh sweet relief! Peace at last!

04-19 bb Flowery Hillock 1-1

The white flowers didn’t show up as much as I hoped. The rocks and trees are still nice.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the remembered junction and had a good screen of trees between myself and the traffic to muffle the steady roar. I didn’t realize how pushed I’d felt until I reached that delightful haven. Suddenly, flowers and patches of green buds on trees seemed to leap out at me from all sides. It was almost as if they’d been hiding from all the bustle and noise as much as I wanted to.

There are times when I don’t notice how much unpleasant noises get to me until their absence washes over me like a soothing balm.

04-19 bb Spring Flowers 2

Well, hello spring beauties!

Though the peaceful road beckoned and the surface was good for rolling, I found myself ambling at a pace barely faster than a walk, stopping to admire flowers or close my eyes to the bliss of birdsong.

There were a few houses tucked among the trees to the right side of the road (opposite the carriageway), but there was space between them. Imagine, not being able to open your kitchen window and reach your hand out to your neighbor’s window to borrow a cup of sugar. How do they ever survive!?

I’d barely done 10 miles and it was already after 12:00 pm, but it still felt like an accomplishment. The discovery of a navigable route in spite of the carriageway to fresher ground. The personal equivalent of discovering the Great Northwest Passage.

04-19 ca Burial Mound Maybe

A possible burial mound.

The landscape opened up a little and I came upon a pasture that had a random little hillock in it. Round and looking a bit oddly placed for anything natural. I snapped a photo of it just in case it’s actually a burial mound.

I took a short pause to sip water and examine what the road ahead was like according to various maps. It was heading back to reconnect with the carriageway.

I really wasn’t looking forward to that. I wanted more countryside, free of the steady ‘WHOOSH’ of motorized conveyances traveling at high speeds. There was a sign for Funbo that pointed down a dusty lane that intersected where I’d paused to decide my options.

03-26 f Funbo Kyrka

Funbo Church – 2016

I like Funbo. It’s a pretty church and has a lovely brook nearby with a stone bridge I’ve never quite been able to photograph. Good place for Jens to pick me up if I got there and was tired. It had been a while since I’d gone there and at least some of the roads between me and church had to be something new. Also, it would be exactly the kind of ride I wanted to achieve by finding a way to evade, but sorta follow the carriageway. No time like the present.

I took a nibble of a Snickers Bar to keep my energy up and pushed off.

04-19 cb More Sandy Soft

Slow, but pleasant going.

That unpaved lane was only about a mile long, but I took it very slow, as much by choice as the fact that it was soft sand and rocks. Lots of photo breaks and even just to listen to the babbling of a little brook or warble of a lark somewhere across the fields or pastures.

04-19 cb Babbling Brook 1-2

Chuckling and gurgling along.

This was precisely what I had been looking for and definitely worth the moderate aggravation it took to reach it. It was even better knowing that if I wanted to ride it again, I’d reach it faster because I’d know the way.

The brook parted ways with the road side and went winding off across some half-wild pasture land. Fields on the left began to taper off into rockier ground as I made a slow climb up. Have I mentioned that I couldn’t stop smiling. This was heaven for me!

 

04-19 fa Pretty Pasture 2

I just LOVE this. Imagine it with green grass and maybe summer flowers!

I reached the top of the climb and absolutely had to stop for a photo. The road was a bit inset to the landscape, so I had to scramble up an embankment a little higher than my knee for the shot I wanted.

Before I turned back to the trike, I heard hoofbeats and only then noticed that I was at a juncture of two pasture fences that formed mutual corners. The most stunning horse was coming right toward me.

He was an absolutely lovely boy, a coat that was a sort of dark gunmetal gray that bordered on black and splashed with subtle dapple rings that the weak sun highlighted. Sort of the same effect when you can see the rosette spots on a black leopard in the sun. His black mane and tail were just noticeably streaked with a gray just a few shades lighter. As if that wasn’t enough to make him stand out, his face had an almost calico pattern of brown and white as if someone had gone and painted a roan’s horse pattern there.

04-19 fb Dusty Lane 3

Near perfection.

I really wanted to get a photo of him, but he came fast and then a prompt spin at the corner of the fence. It turned out he wasn’t coming to see me at all. I was simply standing right near his toilet. He did his business and trotted off again.

Pretty as he was, I really didn’t want to share photos of horse butt and toilet use. I would almost suspect him of being canny and making sure he didn’t present a flattering view as I edged on hoping for a chance.

04-19 fb Dusty Lane 4

A view back the way I came.

There were other horses there as well, but it seemed the gunmetal man was the big boss. He was dominating the ‘upper’ section of a pasture that was almost tiered. I could just make out the pricked ears and expression of interest of a white horse in the lower area. He/she moved toward me and the dappled black made a sound I’ve never heard out of a horse. It would have been more expected to come from a rottweiler. Seriously.

The white horse stayed down pasture and I can’t say I blame it one bit. I finally had to give up on hoping for a good angle on the boss and moved on.

04-19 fb Possible Ruin 3

Thought it was quite strange.

I’m glad I was paying so much attention to my surroundings or I might have missed the peculiar collection of stones just past the horse paddock.

04-19 ga Old Buildings 1-2

Not ruined old buildings

It looked almost modern, just a few semi-straight rows of rectangular-ish shaped stones. For the life of me, what it might have been for eluded me. I was intrigued enough that I got up off the trike and went for a closer look and better photo angle.

As I snapped it, the square shaped almost ramp like structure at the near end made me think of those kinds of barns where there’s a stone and earth ramp up to the building’s second story. That offered one possibility. Pretty sure I was looking at the foundation support stones of an old farm structure. Quite a few old buildings are just wooden floor supports held off the ground by stones exactly like this.

04-19 gb Dusty Lane 5-2 Pano

I could wish for a 1000 more miles of views like this.

I could be wrong about. If I’m right, then this would have been an impressively large building to use this kind of support. If it had still stood, it might have claimed title of the largest I’d seen.

Not far around that curve hugging close to the old buildings, I came to the end of that sandy lane. Just 1 mile, but it had taken an hour. Stopping near the horses and then again at the ruin and for whatever other reasons I might have stopped rolling. Totally worth it.

04-19 gb Old Barn 1-1

As I see it falling to ruin, I wonder about its stories.

The next road I turned onto was paved so my speed picked up significantly. I don’t think I enjoyed the scenery any less.

The almost hidden building slumping to one side is a good example. It was fair distance away as I clipped along at almost 8 mph, but I spotted and stopped. Zoomed my lens to the max distance to take a snap. The good thing about the sheer amount of megapixels cameras have now days is you clip a small portion out of a picture and still have a good quality image.

I should have listened to my instincts and sent my drone over for an even closer look at the structure. I’m not sure why I didn’t. I think because I couldn’t see the interesting feature of the stone that seems to be part of it. I thought it was just a slumped barn.

I really need to use my drone more. I did use it, about another mile down the road, but it wasn’t at nearly as interesting a place as the slouching building would have been. I didn’t use it at the strange stones because of the horses. Always something, isn’t it?

It was coming up on 2 pm when I decided it was time to stop for my attempt at cooking pancakes on a camp stove.

I finally found a spot that wasn’t right on someone’s yard and with plenty of space to pull my trike out of the way. It as kind of tucked among some pine trees where cars might park. Assembly of the camp stove only began when I brushed as much of the pine needles and cones away as I could. Picked the spot that was mostly gravel to set to work.

04-19 ha Could Go Better

Scene of the crime against pancakes.

It was… a mixed success. I blundered around and didn’t get the stove quite set up right so couldn’t rest the pan on it. I’m also not nimble or flexible enough to sit on the ground while it was cooking. I had to do this awkward kind of kneeling squat which required constant shifting to ease my knees.

I called it done after getting three very small pancakes half cooked. Better than nothing I suppose.

Not long after I got everything packed up and was on the road again, my knees started to complain. I think it was around mile 20. Not surprising. I was over 700 feet of climbing which is more than I usually get during a ride.

As I was writing about my cooking fiasco, it crossed my mind the knees might have also been aggravated by the positions I was forced into by the grounded stove. Well, whatever it was, they started to hurt.

04-19 ia Old Buildings 2

Random Scenery

And for some bizarre reason, my stubbornness kicked in. I reached a cycle path along a busy road. Funbo was close, perhaps 2 miles. Did I go that way? Nooooo. Silly me, I got it into my head to get home myself, knees or not.

The cycle path parallel to the 282 was not a kind one. It seemed I was so often going up hill and not nice, ‘kind’ hills either. These were hills from the bad part of town who laughed viciously as they stuck ice picks in my knees and twisted. Still I pushed on.

04-19 ja Random Scenery

More scenery

I started recognizing things though. Last year, I rode that path but from Uppsala and out into the countryside on a day there was still snow lingering in places. I remember that because I found a piece of antique farm equipment and walked through knee deep snow to get a good photo of it.

Recognition made it feel as if it was the home stretch, but in truth, there were still miles to go. The knees were increasingly unhappy. Every now and again, the niggling thought that the wise thing to do would be stop and call Jens would wriggle into the light of consciousness. Generally, when it was most inconvenient. No place to safely park the car and load the trike mostly. So, on I went.

04-19 ja Bastu Maybe

I think it would look better with a traditional tile roof.

I finally reached a brief tipping point. The long climb up came to an end and it felt sooooo good to look down at a long drop. In the distance I could see where the cycle path moved away from the 282 where it would join a small road with some old farm houses and buildings. I braced myself and started down.

Hoooooo boy. That descent made the one by Vaksala church feel like a mole hill. The trike picked up speed until it was screaming down the slope. Or maybe it was me. Speed pushed up to nearly 30 mph as I held on to the steering bars with whitened knuckles and only heard the roar of wind, the almost shrill buzz of tires, and the slam of my pulse in my ears.

Only part of that was speed. The other portion making the charge so harrowing was the unevenness of the path. It wasn’t so much cracked and broken with potholes just, as I said, uneven. Sort of like a duvet a cat has walked on, leaving dips and rises. At that speed, staying on the trike was like riding a bucking horse. Heel slings and aggressively studded pedals or not, there was real concern my feet were gonna go off the pedals no matter how hard I tried to press them down.

The brakes squealed in protest as I brought the trike down to under 25 mph for safety sake.

Finally reaching flatter ground, the trike gracefully slowed and I passed by the bent runestone before needing to pedal again. I kept it slow though, craning around to look for the other runestone across the road. The one which hasn’t been properly collected. I couldn’t find it at first, but the little stone bridge I have absolutely no memory of definitely caught my eye. It was on my side even.

04-19 ja Looks Like Drought

Starting to look a bit like a drought if you ask me…

The idea of getting off the trike for a few minutes felt like a winner. So I parked it and started to walk across the field.

Though from a distance, it looked nice with spring’s first blush of green shoots, it revealed a more worrying story as I trudged across it for better angle on the bridge. The ground was hard and cracked like smashed tile. It should be sticky mud at this time of year…

On the 15th, when I despaired at letting such a ‘rare’ gorgeous day go by without riding, we’d had gray and some rain in the day before that. On the 16th, I was overjoyed and had the almost manic ride because it also turned out so beautiful and with temps bordering on warm. By the 18th, my joy at such pretty days edged into worry as the past 2 summers have been bone dry. That outlook was not improved when a glance at the 10 day forecast showed only an endless string of pretty days. I mentioned to Jens my concerns. He gave me a wry look and said he’d heard them talking on the news about that very thing that morning.

2017, the river even stopped flowing over the spillways and was a mere trickle down the fish ladders. Oddly for being so dry, it was surprisingly cloudy. We had some nice days, but for the most part, the sky was hidden by gray. It was cool too though it didn’t stop some trees getting so desperate they were wilting and grass went brown in a lot of places.

Last year, ooooh, 2018 summer was brutal. Starting some time in May temps were pushing into records that had been set decades ago, even more than a century, in some cases. It wasn’t just 1 day was a record-breaker here, and another a week or so later a record-breaker, but nearly every SINGLE day. Too often, temps were pushing into the high 90’s. Sweden doesn’t know how to do AC and most places don’t even have it. You couldn’t find a fan for sale in any shop in the entire country. The sky remained stubbornly clear and the sun beat down cruelly. Svartbäcken Street has a median lined with trees. There was not a green leaf to be found and some of them looked utterly dead. Crops were failing. Wheat never made it even knee high before it went brown with barely a seed head on it. Harvest was in July as farmers desperately tried to salvage what they could. Everything was yellow and brown, no green to be seen. It was almost like a dust bowl; grit and grime everywhere and the sky would go kinda of a pale mustard color from wind pulling up the topsoil. Livestock and wildlife were suffering and everywhere you looked there were buckets and basins of water out for small animals. Baby birds, barely feathered, threw themselves from nests in droves, desperate to escape the heat. We had over 300 forest and grass fires. It might have even gone over 500, but I just stopped keep track after I heard 300.

So, as we look so dry already and had no rain in the forecast, I have to wonder – Will it be a cool drought or a hot drought? If it’s gotta be a drought, I’m rooting for a cool one. It would be nice to not spend 3 months planted in front of a fan, trying not to melt or heat-stroke.

04-19 ja Old Bridge

How have I missed this the other 2-3 times I’ve ridden this path?

Any way. Concerns aside, I got to a good spot and took my photo.

Walking back to the trike, I finally spotted the other runestone sitting in the middle of the other field across the way. There was some internal debate on walking over to it. After all, the ground wasn’t a miring muck that was going to stick to my shoes as every other time I’ve been in the area.

Alternatively, I thought about buzzing the drone over to do the work for me. I find I’m still pretty nervous about that though.

I just let it slide and started rolling again.

The rest of the way back home is a bit of a blur. I took a short break at that cluster of farm houses I mentioned where the cycle path turned into a small road. There was a woman out in the yard with two kids. She saw me and was so intrigued she came over for a chat. Her amazement when I described where I’d been riding made me smile. She called her grandkids over to come see the neat bike.

Then it was onward into a more industrial area, so newly developed it wasn’t on my various map apps and devices. I just kinda winged it until I got somewhere I recognized and then made the most direct way back I could think of.

28+ miles and some aching knees and a sore hip, but I counted it a good day. The rail trail ride of the same distance was soooo much easier. Of course, it didn’t have almost 900 feet of climbing for its distance.

 

 

 

 

 

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Behind on the Posts, But Ahead of the Miles!
April 21, 2019, 4:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Lots to catch up on. Where to begin? I guess I’ll try to stick to some kind of chronological.

Basic trike stuff. After the rail-trail ride on April 6th with the slipping gears, I went to the cycle shop on that following Monday (April 8th)  to schedule a time to get them worked on. There’d been a Facebook Post earlier that morning that the shop was slammed with people wanting their spring tuneups so they were solid booked for the entire week.

Bobby repeated as much when I walked in, but I just smiled and said to schedule me for next week then. He tapped at the counter a second and then asked if I had the trike with me. Yep, in the car. “It might take me a few days, but I’ll squeeze you in.”

Awwww. Such a nice guy. Maybe all the muffins help too.

I didn’t expect to hear anything for a few days.

Things moved on while the trike sat at the cycle shop. Most notably is Jens was getting grumbly about my hobby again. He’s worried about the age of our car, fretting that a major breakdown could be coming for it. He would love to replace it, but dreads the fact that we’d have to put Loke and the trike into a nice shiny new (to us at least) vehicle. He sees the dog hair everywhere and the dings and scrapes from the trike.

It doesn’t help that he’s pulled to smaller cars unexpectedly. The man who always wanted to get something I considered one step away from an aircraft carrier is now looking at things that would be a tight fit for the 28 inches (give or take) of my trike’s folded height.

It’s gotten me pondering solutions to reduce that folded height. I even dragged out my poor neglected, dismantled Trice to consider cannibalizing it for the drum brakes to replace the disc brakes on my Sprint.

Why drum brakes? Well, drum brakes would make it possible to take advantage of quick release axles. Technically, I could put them on the Sprint’s wheels with the disc brakes, but I’m a clutz and thanks to the stroke not always very coordinated. It would be tricky to get the wheels off and on without bending the discs. Bent discs are bad. Drum brakes are a snap. I love the stopping power of the discs, but missing the simplicity of the drums more and more. If the wheels can come off, that may drop the folded height of my trike by 5 inches or more.

I asked Bobby and ICE about the possibility of the swap and both indicate it’s possible, though ICE says I would need to replace the king posts on the Sprint. The current ones aren’t built to take a disc brake. Fair enough.

It would mean giving up any hope of getting my sweet Trice road worthy again. Or, I could buy what’s needed from ICE for the conversion and leave my Trice untouched.

Also, I’ve started toying around with the idea of a new ICE trike. They’ve released a ‘Sprint X Tour’ which has a tweaked frame with swept crossbars and indexed locking handle bars. While the frame with it’s new crossbar shape is the most significant if I continue to lose weight, the handlebars make me drool. No more eyeballing to see if I have the handlebar back in the correct position for optimal turn radius while being easy on my arms. The crossbars only mean that I’d have heel clearance when I have to move the boom in again. There’ve been a few other tweaks as well, but those are the two that REALLY stand out.

The reason I’m even considering a new trike is because, well, this year is a BIG BIRTHDAY. I want a big gift to console myself.

In spite of Jens’ current annoyances with trikes, I did tentatively put it forth. His first grouchy comment about it was, “Will it still have that huge back wheel?” When I pointed out that I needed that back wheel to keep the derailleur out of the ice and snow for winter riding, he returned with the fact that I barely rode this winter. Never mind dealing with an ailing dog took the wind out of my sails or the fact of the previous 6 winters I’ve ridden through?

A bit irritated that my generally loving and willing-to-put-up-with-something-that-makes-me-happy hubby was being so hostile to an activity that gives me incredible joy while allowing me to make memories that stay bright as new pennies even years later, I offered a suggestion I’m not entirely thrilled with.

I said that in theory there was always the option of an internal geared hub with a 20 inch tire. No derailleur to worry about. It would add a heft weight to the price tag along with actual pounds to the trike. A compromise. Compromise, of course, being defined as something no one is really happy with. Much to my shock, he told me to research it.

So, that whole mess has put even getting drum brakes on my current Sprint on hold.

Bobby called on Friday to say the trike was as ready as he could make it. It turned out that the derailleur hanger was bent. I told him maybe I’d hit it on the car loading it. No, it had been pulled outward and twisted. Odd. So, he’d tried to bang it back into shape as well as he could, but it was probably still a bit sloppy. I told him I had a spare and went to drop it off. He said he’d text me in a couple hours to let me know it was done. No second text that day.

Saturday, after doing research on the internal hub, I went to the cycle shop to talk to someone in the shop about if they’d be willing to work on an internal geared hub. The general answer was ‘Sure, but we’d have to ask you to supply and store the tools and materials yourself.’ Fair enough. My favorite cycle shop is a tiny place and they can’t really afford either the money or the space to keep specialized stuff around to work on just one person’s bike/trike.

Then Neil said it was 150 kr for the work done on my Sprint. I was surpised it was finished. Turned out, for some reason, the text didn’t go through. So, I got the trike back and took it right to the garage so it wouldn’t be sitting in the car, annoying Jens.

Monday, April 15th, gorgeous day. Temps in the high 50’s, not a single cloud to be found, and almost no winds. Loke wasn’t feeling well though so I didn’t feel good about leaving him alone. It broke my heart to watch the day slip away without rolling around in it.

Tuesday, April 16th, I woke with a sort of fiendish glee. My yearly check up for stroke follow up. I’d quit taking my anti-cholesterol medication and was braced to defend that position.

Turns out, I needn’t have worried. The doctor listened, nodded, and said, “It’s a good thing you ran out of the meds and discovered this, isn’t it?” I managed to not get snarky and point out that I’d been begging for help for 3 years with the pain and shortness of breath.

Not having to fight her combined with the really nice nurse who has 3 for 3 managed to get blood out of me on the first try had me almost dancing on air. The weather was nice. A few thin streaks of clouds, but it was slightly warmer at about 63 F. Hardly any wind. Listening to the thumping rhythm of a song by a Mongolian metal band, I felt like I wanted to fly.

Then I decided, Loke was just going to have to deal with it. I was going for a ride. The euphoric sense of a giddy, practically manic mood enveloped me while I dressed to ride. Loke watched me in bafflement as I threw in moments of primitive, almost tribal dance combined with my pitiful version of metal head banging to The Hu’s song “The Wolf Totem”. I’m not into metal, but something about this song just grabbed a place high in my favorites. It has a strong beat and the low, fierce voice of the lead singer demands to be answered. My first taste of Mongolian metal music complete with some traditional instruments and even throat singing tossed into the words I can’t understand, but which demand an answer none-the-less.

Loke seemed kinda interested when I pulled out his harness. Off to the storage and I started assembling the trike. He laid down to wait for me to get it together.

The ride almost didn’t happen. Got everything together, dropped into the seat and pushed off. The chain slipped, jerked, jumped, and skipped. The chain ring wouldn’t even do so much as a quarter turn without it skidding over the rear cogs. I kept trying, shifting through the gears and lurching the trike along toward the car where it would be dismantled and tossed in the back for an immediate return to the cycle shop.

I hit my granny gear and… it stopped. The slippage, I mean. Suddenly, the trike worked fine. I decided to edge the trike back toward the apartment by way of the football fields to get Loke a bit of an amble and see how it went. If it went badly, I could walk back for the car and load the trike at the apartment. If it went well, I could just keep going once I had Loke tucked up at home.

Loke wasn’t doing anything fast, though he seemed kinda happy to be out. He struggled a bit though. Fell once, on grass thankfully. His hind-feet dragged a lot.

That gave me a good 40 minutes to consider where I’d ride. Ulva mill? If so, which one? The short 13 mile ride to it or the 18 mile? Oooh! What about the 21 mile?! No, not 18 or 21 miles. Didn’t want to leave Loke that long. Through the city beside the river? That would be shorter, just 8 miles or so. What about out to Läby Church? That’s about 14.

I still hadn’t really decided once Loke was cozy with fresh water, a chewie and his pillow. Without consciously deciding, I found myself headed toward the cross-roads on Old Börje Road where I’d have 3 choices on which loop. The Ulva Loops (long and short) or out to Läby.

Such perfection! Not just the weather, which was warmer than it had been on the 15th, but how I felt. I felt strong. I felt free. My strength enough to send the trike skimming over the asphalt like a swallow over still waters. Rather, given my current fascination with the Mongolian music, like a fleet horse charging across the Mongolian Steppes.

THIS! THIS is was why I loved my trike back in those years before it became painful and restricted by my traitorous body. Freedom pure and simple. The warm sun on my clothes, the music of birdsong and tires on pavement, a cool wind to temper the heat of exertion. NO PAIN! I missed this so very badly. And here it was, returned to me and I couldn’t stop smiling and spin of my legs with the pedals seemed to catch the tempo of that song, ‘The Wolf Totem’ in my head. I was all but shaking a fist to that beat at the sky in triumph.

I know it sounds ridiculous or exaggerated, but it’s not. April 16th was a day I couldn’t stop smiling. I just want to dance and fly.

Since I’d nixed the 18 and 21 mile loops, I decided to go with Ulva Mill short instead of Läby. I wanted to get detailed photos of the mill for a project.

About the time I made the turn at the crossroads, a thin smear of cloud, just enough to dim the sun a bit, firmly placed itself between me and the source of warmth, and stayed there stubbornly. It got a bit chilly with the sun weakened as it was. A bit frustrating really. To the east and west, flawlessly clear sky and just that long streak of cloud with a roughly north-south orientation staying right where the sun was.

It was about 8 miles to the mill and I admit, I’d pushed myself hard enough I was feeling the hills and speed. The gravel of the path across the fields slowed me down a bit more. My knees started to complain a bit. You know what? Didn’t even phase me. Still smiling, I cheerfully slowed and adapted to compensate.

I made several stops at the mill to get all the angles I needed for the work project. and then headed home. I was glad when that annoying cloud gave me a break and let the full glory of the sun come down again.

In spite of my knees, I decided to make the dash home down the burial grounds path. Though it’s slower going with the gravel and a couple of very steep, but very short hills, it was more direct and I wouldn’t be tempted to just leave the trike at the apartment and walk back to the car later.

20190416_153426 alt

As always, will be one of the biggest bonfires in the area… or would have been.

As always, it was pretty out at the mounds. I smiled at the sight of the growing mound for the Valborg bonfire just a couple weeks away.

Though it was just one of my countryside hamster tracks, it had bee a great ride on what was a great day. Even after that exertion, I still had so much energy and still couldn’t stop grinning wide enough to put the Joker to shame.

20190418_124444 alt

What the HELL?!

A few days later, I took Loke for a walk out at the mounds and found that some hugely entitled jerk had burned it. Nothing more than a smoldering pile was left with the scent of wood smoke drifting on the breeze. This year will be the 14th Valborg that I’ve been in Sweden and this is the first time someone’s done this. The crassness and self-entitled ego. It’s like someone old enough to know better sticking their hand in a wedding cake and sneaking off with a chunk of it when no one’s looking.

I spent a good hour seething over that. I’m sure they had their fun, robbing everyone else of a celebration tradition.

I don’t poke my nose out of the apartment on Valborg mind you, but just that someone would do this hits my last nerve.

Shake it off, Terii. Shake it off…

Okay, onward!

A few days ago, while organizing photos and updating my Garmin Connect account with the most current rides, I got curious and took a quick peek at April 2018, wondering if I was at least coming close to the same miles.

April 2018, I went for rides on 9 days for a whopping total of (drum roll) … 47 miles. I was blown away. In just 2 rides for April 2019, I was right around 42 miles. That I’d been feeling stronger was obvious with the ride on April 6th being my longest ride in 3 years at 28 miles. I’ve not ridden as much with the reluctance to leave Loke home alone. If not for that, I might well have come close to already beating the total miles for 2018, which was pitifully small thanks to those evil medications and then the twisted ankle, the ridiculous ‘Mississippi Summer’ heat.

My next ride was going to leave April 2018’s distance in the dust and far out of sight.

But, that’s for another post as this one has run on long enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Such a Glorious Day!
April 8, 2019, 6:18 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Things have improved a bit since my last post. What a relief. I had finally shaken off the last effects of the stomach bug. My ankle was feeling stable and hip pain-free again. I even managed a gym visit for the first time in 11 days and didn’t fall apart. So, on about Wednesday, I told Jens (again), the rail-trail ride was going to happen on Saturday.

I was a bit nervous about it though. On Thursday, April 4th, the weather had been stunning. Almost in the 60’s F, sunny, very little wind. I so desperately wanted to go for a long ride in the countryside. Something like my 18 mile Börje loop or longer. No. Couldn’t leave Loke. That perfect weather and thwarted desire to ride was like a canker on my mood. Heightened the whole ‘trapped!’ feeling.

Naturally, after during a glorious day, the forecast for Saturday took a bit of a downturn with chance of rain, high in the mid-40’s. 

My intention to go on Saturday was announced again several times on Thursday as I tried to think of something I could eat on the trail. Something more than nuts and fruit since I was almost certain I’d be spending all my eating hours on that bike path and not getting home until after 4 pm when my fasting phase begins. I couldn’t really think of anything that would keep well and not be a huge dose of cholesterol which I’m being very careful of until my blood test coming up in another week or so.

Even with all my announcements and such, Jens still forgot and announced weekend plans. On Friday, as I looked at maps and tried to decide when to leave, he said, “I think we should have lunch with my family tomorrow.” I only smiled and said, “That will be hard for me. I’ll be 100 km away at lunch.” He grumbled, but we went over to their place later that evening, where I socialized during their dinner. It was after 4 pm, so no more eating for me and it left them able to have Indian food which I’m not fond of.

In between the family dinner, I was able to get all the parts of the trike in the car. The seat, flags, and such. I took an early bedtime as I would have on a gym day. The forecast for Saturday had changed again. From chance of rain and low 40’s F, to mostly sunny and a high somewhere in the 50’s. Nice! In spite of being so excited I was practically vibrating, I fell right to sleep.

Waking up was more of a challenge. I first opened my eyes at 3 am, but that was just too early. It would have been unpleasant trying to assemble the trike not only in freezing temperatures, but in the dark and then have to wait around for enough light to finally roll out on the ride.

I woke again right at 4 am. In spite of giddy excited feelings, actually getting my rebellious eyes to cooperate with staying open so I could start moving was a bit of an argument. The blanket also seemed to be part boa constrictor and didn’t want to let me go. Finally, my body thrashed free at about 4:22.

The rest of getting ready went okay and I would have been out the door at 4:45 am like I’d planned, but then I’d forgotten to take down coordinates for the ‘Music Castle’ where I planned to park. I wound up taking a long look at the map to plan where to go to find the trail since I wasn’t sure where the head of it was exactly.

04-09-aa-misty-morning-1

Unexpected mists discovered just outside Uppsala.

Turns out the half hour delay wasn’t bad, though it did leave me worried about completing the nearly 30 mile out-n-back for the daylight hours. Why did it turn into something of a good thing? Because of the light. Dawn was just starting to brighten the landscape as I rolled out and once beyond the fringes of Uppsala where fields and patches of woods dominated, it was breathtaking.

04-09 aa Misty Morning 2

How could I resist this?

04-09 aa Red Sun Rise.jpgIt really complicated the drive. Every clump of trees passed opened new vistas where mist pooled or threaded its way around and through the landscape in dream-like veils gently frozen in time. The need to arrive in Eskilstuna early enough to be sure of time for the ride warred with my itchy shutter finger. Every bus-stop or even just the wide shoulder of the 55 invited me to stop and simply go nuts with the camera.

Resist I did. Mostly any way. Just stopped 3 times though I cringed and whimpered quite a lot at passing by so much stunning beauty without snapping at it.

I know that studies have shown people remember things better when they aren’t taking photos right and left and I do take pauses when out on rides to just ‘be in the moment’. To absorb the sounds, quality of light that my imperfect camera skills can’t capture. But, I’m also a shutterbug. It’s just my nature.

04-09 ab Morning Over The Lake

Adding water to any sunrise or sunset is magical.

Catching the photo of the red sun was the most frustrating. I caught a glimpse of it over my shoulder, but as soon as I spotted it, the trees were in the way. It turned into a nail-biting few minutes of frustration as the few places where I could see it didn’t have a place to stop on a road with no shoulder and it was an ephemeral sight that would quickly disappear as the sun rose higher. Sheer luck I finally found a spot before the light changed too much.

The drive got easier once the mists thinned and the light changed so I wasn’t distracted by all the ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’. There was a little tangle for the last quarter mile to Balista Music Castle when the GPS insisted I go a way that was blocked. It was simply solved though.

The ‘Music Castle’ wasn’t terribly inspiring. It was part a huge honking block of uninspired 1600-1700’s architecture, part modern, and being tagged with graffiti did not improve its allure. I didn’t even bother photographing it.

04-09 ab Ready To RollThe important thing was the wide, flat gravel lot just across the tiny street leading to and past the music castle.

It felt so cold as I got out to get the trike together. My hands ached and I pulled on every layer I had for my top. Oddly, my legs were fine with thin wool under my tights. Handling all that cold metal to get the seat on the trike was not pleasant even with wool gloves. Even so, it went rather quickly and I was good to go in surprisingly short order. I attribute a large part of that to my increased fitness thanks to the gym.

I swear, I was floating on air while double checking that everything was loaded and the car was locked. I settled into the trike with the kind of sigh you make when you sit into your favorite chair with your favorite snack food to watch your absolute favorite TV show or movie after a hard day.

I put my feet on the pedals to push off and… reality crashed through the rose tint of euphoria. My chain jerked, hiccupped, slipped, and jumped on the rear cog. The gears were a bit fouled. I didn’t know if it was from the tire swap, though Bobby is usually on top of such, or if it had happened during the transport, but they weren’t working very well at all.

Honestly, I’m stunned with how calm I was with something that might have ruined my first ride in ages away from my hamster tracks. After a bit of thinking, I decided to at least ride down to the runestones I’d passed on the way into the castle. Less than a quarter mile as the road went and worse case, I’d have to walk the trike back that short distance. That would give me a chance to evaluate how bad the situation was.

It wasn’t ideal. I didn’t have my granny gear at all. Completely unusable with all the slippage. The same was true of the next one down, though the third was usable, and the rest down from there was okay if a bit noisy.

04-09 ad Runetones Sö 107-109

Runestones Sö – 107, 108, and 109. No clue which is which.

As I snapped photos of the 3 runestones, I decided I was going any way. It was a risk that my gears could completely crap out on me when in the middle of no where, miles from the car or even any access that another car could reach me. I thought they’d hold though and I really wanted and desperately needed this ride. That decided, I was all smiles again.

The big runestone was quite impressive. To give you a frame of reference, the one stone next to the big one is about as tall as I was at 5′ 2″. It’s definitely up there as one of the biggest stones I’ve seen that wasn’t an outcropping of bedrock, though I’ve seen taller.

The placard was useless. Any information on it completely illegible. I wasn’t worried though because I have my runestone site, right?

Well, as I started working on this post with the photos and things to document, it’s turned into a bit of a nightmare. WordPress has changed how it does things with photos, so there’s no way I can set it up that clicking newly added photos will send one to an attachment page where I usually put information about rune translations or histories of castles and churches, and the like. Fortunately, all my old posts are unaffected… for now.

As for my runestone database site, they’ve done away with the handy map that was open on the list page. Not sure what designation the runestone I was looking for was? No problem! Zoom in with the map in the area I found it and TADA! So that stone on this road at that tree was Runestone (insert designation). Or wanted to be sure I was finding all the runestones in a given area? Zoom around and look along the route I planned.

No more of that.

04-06 ac Boring

Uphill and humdrum area.

Okay. Rant off and I’ll plug along as best I can with what remains.

Most of the 1.5 mile between the runestones to the trailhead was ‘meh’. Large road, but at least had a nice cycle path beside it, then past a hospital and the edge of a building site for new apartments.

To navigate to the rail trail, it was my phone with Google Maps doing the work instead of my once trusty Garmin. It looked like with the new update the unit had performed just that very morning before I jumped in the car, the map type had changed. No longer was it the clear Open Street Map with dedicated cycle paths marked with a bold, dotted blue line, but something almost Google Map like. Google Maps is impossible to read on my computer, but it does on the phone okay if it has the cycle paths clearly marked but the random little roads and foot paths and all else I could get on my Garmin, no. It was a bit awkward to to keep my phone in one hand while trying to shift and steer.

04-06 ac More Like It Phone

Now we’re talking! Still climbing, but it’s the trail!

Much sooner than expected of finding an street that crossed it, spotted the opening of a cycle path that went away from any street and dove down under a currently functional rail line… and there I was. Rail-trail bliss.

Rough gears or not, I was in heaven. A smile on my lips and this desire to hum or even sing, though I had no idea what tune.

It was still cold, but the trees sheltered me from the worst of the wind for a good while as I made that first long climb. Still, the grade was gentle enough that most of the time I was doing more than 5 mph, which isn’t bad for me. I felt strong and nothing hurt as long as I stayed in one of the gears that didn’t want to slip and jump. That always gives my knees a jolt. Happily, I drank in the cool, fresh air and relished the thrill of spring-time bird song and fresh ground.

Probably after less than half a mile on the trail, my phone chimed the 8 am, ‘break your fast’ reminder. Immediately I stopped and started to dig out the cup of yogurt. It turned out to be the perfect spot for a break. There was a little brook or rill that was gurgling and chuckling right by the path. That, combined with the birdsongs of spring was a perfect natural symphony to accompany breakfast. 

I sat there quite happily for about 15 minutes as I slowly ate and just enjoyed my surroundings.

After licking the spoon clean from the last bite, sighing in satisfaction of being fueled for more riding, I moved on.

It wasn’t long before I stopped yet again. The breakfast brook had moved away from the cycle path, cutting off into the patch of woods on the right side of the path. It was replaced with another on the left. More ditch than brook this time, but with fresh running water from a spring source. A bit along there, a clump of debris that blocked the water flow caught my attention. I was curious enough to get up and examine it.

04-06 ba Possible Beaver Dam 2

Suspected beaver dam

The tumble of branches, sticks and grasses didn’t look accidental. I mean it was just a jumbled mess, but it was a mess that appeared to have purpose. Not man made, but not accident of physics. There was a substantial branch on the top where the end of the wood looked bright white with newness and as if it had been cut with slivers carved out of it. Dare I say, almost like it had been gnawed by… beaver teeth?

I’ll grant you, a 3 foot wide ditch with perhaps 2 feet of water isn’t a very impressive beaver dam, but I couldn’t shake the feeling. I even walked up and down the side a bit, looking at tree stumps to see if any of them looked chewed. There were a few that might have been, but they were so weathered it was probably a year or more ago. It just didn’t make any sense. Not until I remembered the cute little pond I’d seen a few hundred yards back which would have been perfect for a family of beaver. Maybe this ditch ran into it along with the earlier brook so the dam was meant to control the pond’s water level? Not impossible.

I would have loved to be able to solve the mystery for certain, but all I have is my gut intuition and guess work. Fun to think about!

04-06 bc Winter Holding On 1

Didn’t expect this or ice on the path I found.

I continued the upward climb at a mostly leisurely pace. The temperature sloooowy edged up along with my altitude. The sun was a bit weak what with a thin veil of clouds over the sky that turned the blue to something almost white. The quality of light had a glare to it in the southerly direction I rode. A haze in the air didn’t help.

As the trail ran pretty straight through lots of woodland, I could tell the fields weren’t too far off. There was a miasma odor of pig poop which is often used to fertilize fields in the spring. If it wasn’t field mulching, it would have been one huge pig farm. Brought back memories of Öland.

04-06 ca Rail Trail View 4

And downhill and then back up in the hazy glare of sky and sun.

While I love woods and did enjoy the views of mossy green, cool depths of the trees, I was starting to wish for a change of scenery after a time. I soon got my wish. The views opened up some. At first it was just because the rail line split down the middle of a residential area, with little houses to either side. you could see in the distance as I came up on one of the first negative grade slopes before the trail angled back up into another climb. After that, it went from wooded and residential to open farm land.

Those first miles of the ride alleviated another concern I’d had with the trail. When I’d explored by driving to spots where roads intersected it, I was concerned by the barricades I found. Those metal bars, often in pairs on opposite sides of the path, often with not enough space for a recumbent trike to get through.

04-06 cb Open Scenery 1a

The glaring light just muddling my scenery shots, dammit.

Turned out it wasn’t an issue at the first because the trail was also designated as a bridle path, so horses had to be able to get by the barricades. Generally it was just the gravel shoulder swerving between posts to one side. Perfect width for a trike to go through even. Further on, the barricade bars were solo, so you could just zip through on the opposite side. Only one set of barricades required me to slow to a crawl and manage some tight swerving and backward rolling in multi-point turn to get through.

There was a minor mixed blessing with the more exposed landscape. The sun could finally reach me and I felt its warmth. The wind had direct access to me too though. Even if it was from the south, that brisk breeze still had quite a bit of chill to it.

04-06 cb Open Scenery 2b

Loved what I could see of this barn!

Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I was out in the open, Mother Nature started insistently clearing her throat. Naturally, there had been quite a few places I could have gotten the trike off the trail into the woods for a bit of privacy for a nature call. There were even places that fired my imagination as camp sites. Some of them were just a widened section of gravel shoulder, the perfect size for a small tent, a trike to park and some space for a camp chair and camp stove to do its work.

I refused to let the pressure ruin my good fun though. The weather had gone from cold to mild, even if windy. I was out in the sun on new ground and covering beautiful, fresh miles with a body that felt perfectly fine doing it. Nope. It wasn’t going to bring me down. I was doing what I love, the absolute best thing of what I adore about my trike. Not sloppy gears, annoying Garmin maps, or a sudden need for a dense clump of trees and bushes when there were none was going to sour my mood!

04-06 cd Old Farm Building 3b

I thought this building had character.

04-06 cd Old Farm Building 2

Just love old buildings like this. Really I do.

A bit after the call of nature began, I did a tiny little detour, no more than 100 yards total really. The trail intersected a little dirt road where a cluster of old farm buildings and even an old car. I wanted to hunt down better angles of light and framing for photographs.

It was a nice unpaved road actually. A little soft from recent rains, but not so much it was miring. Nicely packed with minimal loose stones. Might have been worth exploring more of, except I really didn’t trust my gears to tackle more challenging hills without something silly happening. Snapped gear teeth or broken chain kind of thing. Besides, I expect I’ll ride it again in the near future, stronger and with working gears on days with more light. More time to take off to the sides and explore. Chase down more churches and runestones.

04-06 da Old Car 1b

Rusting away. An old Volvo maybe.

I did my tiny little detour of less than 200 yards and turned back for the rail trail. That little photo stop was right about 2 hours into the ride and a bit less than half the distance of the trail’s length. Told you I was taking it nice and easy. Part of that was just enjoying the day. Also, I wanted to be sure my hip wasn’t going to crap out on me at an inconvenient place.

But to that point, my hip felt absolutely fine alone with my feet and knees. I felt just absolutely great even with the surprisingly steady climbing.

One problem was becoming more persistent though. That pesky call of nature.

I’ll cheerfully give this rail-trail high marks. The surface was good, the barricades that keep cars off it weren’t much of an issue to my trike. If I could find a rail trail just like this 100’s of miles long, I’d be touring on it so fast, Jens would wonder what was that blur going through the apartment, grabbing all my riding gear. There were plenty of places to park the trike for the night. Sometimes, the gravel shoulder would widen enough that it would have comfortably held my tent, parked trike, and camp chair with room to spare. Gravel isn’t exactly soft, but it was flat, no huge rocks, divots, and roots to worry about. 

04-06 dc Curious Where It Goes

So curious where it goes. Maybe next time.

But it doesn’t beat the Klarälves Track with it’s clean outhouses that even had toilet paper. I didn’t really look closely for camping spots with that one, but I do remember the outhouses every 5 km. They were practically distance markers. That’s how I remember it any way.

I ramble.

The point was, it was starting to feel more than a little uncomfortable. Just a short distance past the photo stop, I found a patch trees clustered over a rocky hill padded with withered, overgrown grass from last season. There was enough shape to the hill I could mostly get out of sight. More importantly, I could scramble across the ditch between cover and trail. If I’d looked at it last year in April, I would have said no way. I love having more agility and strength. It’s just so awesome. Might not be a parkour master, but no longer a shuffling invalid either. 

It was still a little more exposed than I like, but I was enjoying the ride and if I kept going, it would become unpleasant. The hill it was.

I continued in even better spirits after that. I was practically dancing on air again.

Not far from where I’d stopped for the call of nature, I decided to take a break to eat my home baked muffin and pull out the drone. There were no horses to spook as had been in an earlier spot I’d thought about droning. There was a lapwing (my first of the year) flapping around like a broken kite in a high wind with its strange calls on the breeze, but I wasn’t going to go flinging the drone across the fields.

I ate my ‘lunch’ and got the drone out and ready. Turned it on. A message pops up. “Private air strip near-by. Take care. Do you accept responsibility for your flight?”. That made me grumble. I hit yes and took the drone up no more than 30 feet or so. It seemed a bit unstable. I think it needed calibration. With no surface I could be sure was level, that was out.

I took a photo or two of the area and brought it back down. It kinda seemed to fight me, even more than the breeze could explain.

That bummed me a tiny bit. I’d been all thrilled with the idea of flying around in areas where there weren’t any houses as the rail-trail strayed into open countryside away from roads from time to time. Nope airfields and calibration issues. A waste of 3 charged batteries.

04-06 dd Rail Trail View 5c

The glare was getting to me. Asphalt blindness instead of snow blindness.

About a mile further on, I started to hear… something. A kind of bass vibration. A few minutes later, it turned into what sounded like either music or just a voice. I wondered if someone had put speakers outside and was playing their music while enjoying the lovely (if glaring) day which had pushed up near 60 F. I’d pulled off most of my layers which felt great.

04-06 ea Creative Camera Play 1a

Random scenery through the trees.

I’ll admit. I felt a bit peeved with it. Even more than the roar and hiss of car tires on the occasionally nearby roads, it distracted from my enjoyment of nature’s sounds.

I eventually found out what it was, but it was still a good ways off. But that sound carried! 

My Garmin showed me that I was coming up to the town of Ärla. I recognized the name and remembered the place from when Loke and I had come through, chasing the rail trail to find how far it went.

Emerging from the trees into the fringes of the town proper, there was an interruption of the trail. I came out onto the main road through the town. Directly across, I could see where the rail bed had been. Flat ground, but instead of asphalt or even gravel, it was mostly over grown with a narrow dirt track. People were walking on it. I couldn’t reach it without getting off the trike and physically lifting it up and down 8 inch curbs.

I wasn’t terribly worried. I knew a little further down was the town’s sport fields where I’d parked and walked Loke a little bit on the ice covered trail for a very short distance. Worse case, I’d just ride the town’s paths.

Actually, that’s what the interruption was. It was simply that rather than pave a quarter mile of fresh asphalt, they just let the decent, road-adjacent paths serve double duty for a brief bit.

I still breathed a sigh of relief when I reconnected with the trail though.

That booming noise, by this point had resolved into a voice and when I reached the sport fields, I at last discovered what it was, an announcer trying to get a bunch of mountain bike racers in line and ready to start. The sheer volume of it though. Seriously, I’d been hearing it for over a mile!

I decided that since the field was in use, and the bathrooms open, I’d circumvent any ideas Mother Nature might have had about interrupting my fun just when I got outside of town and with no trees close by. Also, the trail had gotten a lot busier, with bikes zipping to and fro, roller skiers, families walking around.

My timing for the bathroom break was perfect I might add. I rolled to a stop outside the bathroom about 1 minute after the pack of bikers had hammered off up the steep side of a ridge and a wave of people were surging toward the restrooms. I scrambled into one with mere seconds to spare.

04-06 ea Wide Open View 2b

Ahhh! Countryside again!

Ärla isn’t a big village/town, just a small grocery, a tiny convenience store, and a pizza restaurant, with perhaps a few other random shops, maybe a school tucked somewhere, and no traffic lights, but I was glad when it was behind me. I didn’t even mind that it meant getting through the one intersection where I had to wriggle the trike to and fro through the barricades.

About mile 11 or 12, I had a moment that was thrilling at first. The trail was on a downhill grade while running south and I guess, thanks to the fact I didn’t need to pedal which made my gears noisy, had me in a kind of stealth mode.

The trail was running between two fields. Hardly any ditch along the side, but on the right, there was a thin screen of trees and bare-limbed under growth between me and the open land beyond. As I rolled down the slope with barely a whisper of tires, movement, very close to the screen of trees, caught my eye.

Oh so carefully, I applied my brakes to make pace with the fox, trotting on the very edge of the plowed earth near the screening trees. Less than 30 feet away, it hadn’t seen or heard me. Our combined movement meant, while I’d seen enough to tell it was a fox and caught a breif, but good view of its magnificent head, I hadn’t seen all of it before branches and a bit of a rocky hillock went between us. Something hadn’t looked quite right though.

04-06 eb Sick Fox Distant

There he/she goes!

With it out of sight, I slowed more, eyes rapidly scanning for some flicker of movement along the top of hummock or ahead. Thankfully, my brakes stayed silent. I was only doing a slow creep when it suddenly stepped out onto to the trail from around the end of the rock pile with barely 20 feet between us. I could see every detail.

My heart broke. Its head and most of the front of its body was fine with thick fur a lush, russet color and white at the throat, but from about the middle of it’s back and belly to the tip of its tail, the pelt went patchy and completely gone in places. I could see oozing sores in spots where it had scratch furiously at the mange tormenting its skin.

I was so startled and saddened at its revealed suffering, I didn’t click the photo while it was close. It honestly wasn’t an image I wanted to capture. It was so surprised by me, it just stood there for a good 3 seconds before it finally bolted, running like mad, down the trail of all the directions it could have picked. I snapped the picture only when it was a good way distant.

I didn’t follow it either. I refused to add additional stress to its life by making it feel chased. I sat there, teary eyed, until it was completely out of sight.

04-06 ec End of Line

End of the line

I reached the end of the trail just a few minutes later. My Garmin said I’d gone just a smidge less than 13.7 miles. I was going to be pushing 28 miles by the time I got back to the car.

28 miles. That gave me a bit of a thrill, though my mood was still a bit sorrowful so soon after the fox. I mean, 27 or 28 miles is the longest ride I’ve done in years. That’s no exaggeration. July 22, 2016 when I did a 28+ mile that began and ended at the apartment where I rode to Börje Church and then pushed on deeper into the countryside to ride by Jumkil Church.

The rail trail ride was a huge accomplishment. Hard work at the gym and physical therapy to help correct all the issues with my hip and fitness. The biggest thing was probably stopping with the statin medication. That might actually be the pivotal moment in my improvement this year.

I can’t stress enough how big this really was to me.

So, I snapped the photo of the end of the rail trail, stood up, and stared wistfully across the little road where the rail bed continued on, overgrown, but empty of rail-tiles and iron rails. Not really navigable by trike, certainly not for another 14 miles or more. Maybe one day though.

04-06 ec Kinder Light 1b

Oh, the lovely lack of glare!

I wrestled the trike around into the opposite direction and, oh my.

It really is a wonder what just turning from south-ish to a north-ish direction did for the quality of light. The glare of the pavement was gone. Even the air seemed so much clearer, almost lacking any hint of haze. The subtle ache in my eyes and across my forehead sudden disappeared. Colors popped! The sky was suddenly blue instead of a sort of yellowish, off-white glare.

I settled back into the trike, ready to tackle the long hill, almost 2 miles, I’d just coasted down.

I hadn’t really mentioned it much since talking about the beginning of the ride, but the wind had remained pretty significant the whole ride. Mostly it had been blowing from the front to one degree or another, making my fan flag snap and my little spinner flag whirl like mad. I was relieved and even giddy to put it at my back.

I could almost swear to you, the instant I sat down in the trike to begin the ride back to the car, the wind died. I had to tackle that steady 2 mile climb with no help of the wind which had slowed me on the way down. It made me chuckle.

04-06 ec More Scenery 2

How pretty is this?

How good I felt as I pedalled back the way I’d come was as heady as some people might find a fine wine. I’d made it to the end of the trail and all was awesome. The sun was warm, the wind, now at my back when it chose to make an appearance, had lost its teeth. I was looking forward to the last few miles of the ride. Being mostly downhill, it was going to be an awesome time.

I didn’t take many photos on the way back. After all, I’d already been there, right?

About mile 20, there was some subtle ache in my knees. By mile 22, they were hurting significantly. I think once I crested whatever rise in the landscape and started the long downhill dash, I was a little too enthusiastic with helping the trike’s speed. The occasional slippage of the gears and the jarring that sent through the pedals didn’t help. It was a struggle to convince myself to stop pedalling and just, enjoy the ride.

Once I did that, it was fun. Buzzing along at 10-15 mph an hour with only four 4 photo stops. The only other thing I slowed for were the intersections. That’s one thing I wish they’d have managed better when building the trail. The transition between pavement and gravel when crossing the unpaved country lanes. Some of them were enough to jar my teeth loose even at walking speed.

The first 13.7 miles had taken me just over 4 hours. Taking my time, stops for breakfast and the failed drone attempt, photos, and the like. From turning around to arriving back at the car? 2 hours. According to my Garmin, my total time from when I hit start to when I hit stop was a smidge over 6 and a half hours. My average speed for the entire time was something like 4.5 mph, but my average MOVING speed was 6 mph. My total time moving for those 27+ miles was right at 4 hours and 30 minutes.

My knees were complaining enough that when I arrived back at the music castle, I was glad to see the car. Once I was off the trike, they didn’t seem to bother me so much and I dismantled everything and started to load it while serenaded by the music from the big, graffiti tagged building on the hill. The lovely strains off… death metal or something equally harsh, clashing out of the walls and windows. Another person going nuts with a thundering, hard rock, drum solo. Also something that kinda had the tones of some combination that was almost like grunge with punk.

Not at all what I expected.

I was so tired, but in a good way as I started the hour and a half drive back home at a bit after 2 pm. I had so very needed that day. I feel so much better after my little adventure and the huge sense of accomplishment that comes from my longest ride in almost 3 years. The trapped feelings have lessened for the time being and all is good in the world.

Other than the knee aches which I can manage by more sensible pedalling, there was one baffling concern though. My right arm started hurting quite a bit too. I’m wondering if I need to swap from twist grips to trigger shift.

Something to consider.

 

 



Tethered, Chained, Shackled.
April 2, 2019, 4:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Things have been a bit rough around here. Spring has finally made a more solid appearance though on the morning of April 1st, it was ‘raining’ slushy ice and snow flakes, it was very pretty and warm-ish out later in the day.

With the trike’s tires swapped back to summer smooth and the milder temps, I had fully intended to go explore that rail-trail mentioned in the previous post during the last weekend of March. I was so determined to do it, the trike even stayed in the car. The only packing I’d have to do, was decide how to handle food, get the seat in the car and other knickknacks, and go. I made plans where to start/end the out-n-back including where to park. On Tuesday, March 26th, I made a ‘no arguing’ announcement when Jens came staggering out of the bedroom.

Oh, the best laid plans. March 27th, I woke up at 4 am for my gym visit. I felt fine. Sleepy, but otherwise completely normal. Got up, started getting dressed. 4:15, I was in the bathroom with dry heaves in spite of my stomach being empty for more than 12 hours from the 8-16 hour fasting.

Some kind of vicious stomach bug. I have NEVER gone from fine to dying so fast in my life. My temp started to spike, climbing up into the 102 F range and stubbornly staying there. Jens went shopping for me since I couldn’t move more than 5 yards away from a bathroom, and brought back juice, popsicles, and crackers I asked for.

Oddly, I only shivered with the fever for about the first 8 hours. The rest of the 30+ hours I was so ill, I had no fever symptoms. Just my insides going inside-out every few moments. Glad I didn’t shiver an shake that whole time.

Needless to say, there was no gym visit then. Friday, March 29th, my temp had dropped to under 100 F, but I wasn’t going to go workout with even a low grade fever. The drop of temp stopped and just wouldn’t budge for the entire day.

Saturday morning, it let go, but of course, my temp didn’t go back to normal until well after sunrise, too late the bolt out the door for the rail-trail ride. I still got dressed thinking perhaps a ride in the countryside at least. No, Jens wanted me to do the drop off-pick up for the river side walk with Loke. There it was, my foot nailed to the floor.

Every time I think to do something for myself that takes more than a few minutes and would put me out of reach of someone else’s needs for a few hours, the rug gets yanked out from under me. I have been feeling so trapped. Trapped by my own body.

First I had some kind of issue flare up again with my right hip very shortly, perhaps even the next day after my last ride. It hurt bad. No idea why. Was it the ride? Was it the kettlebells? Was it just me sleeping wrong? Was it because the skin on my feet was cracking again, leaving me to limp and lurch around like a ‘Walk Dead’ extra? Was it some combination of the four?

Started to get that addressed (no riding, no kettlebells, and stretches for the Iliac crest), and along came the stomach bug and the fever that wouldn’t let go. Oh, and nearly forgot the severe ankle pain that randomly appeared out of nowhere and had me half crippled for almost 2 days.

Now, I just feel like the 10 days without a gym visit have set me back months from a fitness stand point. I had such grand hopes for this warm weather. Riding across the countryside. Maybe some tours, but I’m going to be weeks trying to reclaim the strength and endurance I had before everything started coming unraveled.

Throw in that Loke snapped at me. I can’t remember if I mentioned, he’s developed an allergy to reindeer. Probably since it’s what put him in the hospital for the first week of the new year. That makes giving him one of his meds a bit problematical. For a while, I was able to trick him. Sit, feeding him bits of kibble one at a time and then, as he was focused on gobbling each piece as fast as he could so I’d give him the next, make it a pill. For a few weeks, he’d just gobble the capsule without noticing and another piece of kibble coming.

Then he started spitting them out every now and again. Finally, every time. So, I had to start prying his jaws open to put the capsules on the back of his tongue, close his mouth and massage it down. After a couple weeks of that, he decided he was going to snap at me.

I had a bit of a break down at that point. He needs that medication to keep him from flopping around and convulsing on the floor, but I wasn’t willing to be bitten for something I need to give him 2 of twice each day. Jens tried to insist I go back to hiding it in bits of ground reindeer, but I’m not willing to put our dog in the hospital for the sake of convenience either. Also seems cruel to condemn him to that merry hell again.

Instead, I went to the vet to take a look at what soft foods they had. I knew they didn’t have the same type as his dry food. Apparently the process they use to break down the proteins for his Anallergetic kibble doesn’t work for soft food.

The vet did tentatively recommend I could try a ‘sensitive digestion’ type, she though might have the proteins broken down into small enough molecules which should avoid triggering Loke’s allergies.

It appears, it might not be completely perfect. I keep having to treat his feet with cortisone spray, but better than getting bit, or him having seizures, or hospitalized.

I hate the stuff though. It’s hard to hide the pills in it because it’s a weird consistency. Try to push a pill into a clump of it and it just kinda… crumbles. And it doesn’t want to stick to itself very well either, so once it’s in pieces it’s nearly impossible to squish it into a lump around the capsules. That’s not even addressing the smell of it.

It was all been a bit much and I feel cornered like some poor beast in a cage. All my hopes and aspirations for a roaming summer (barring another broiling one like last), just eroding away. My ankle shackled to a post so all I can do is shuffle around in a tiny circle, hurried around each loop by the demands of others.

One advantage to the enforced rest of the stomach flu though, is my hip is feeling pretty okay. Tomorrow, I go to the gym and add 1 or 2 of the kettlebell exercises back to see how it responds. This weekend, I’ve already told Jens I’ll be going to ride that rail trail, so no sudden announcements that we’re having dinner with his parents. I’m going to use the time he’s home to watch our dog so I can have a day off for a ride, away from Uppsala.

I even told Jens about how I’ve been feeling like my world is squeezing in on me. It’s become small and pitiful. Most days just shuffling around a block or two of our apartment on walks with Loke. My rides hardly out of sight of our neighborhood. The only time I move beyond 100-200 yards of our home is running errands, generally for others. I have GOT to carve out something for myself and stretch my wings a bit or I might well have another break down.



Spring! Winter. Spring! Wint… Oh, Never Mind…
March 11, 2019, 6:12 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Clearly, from the title, the weather has been a roller coaster of seasons.

My rides have been few and mostly just kinda catering to Loke more than anything in spite of the gravel on the pavement. He’s been doing better with it though.

Naturally, back in February when it looked as if spring was here to stay, even the 10 day forecast seemed to hint at that. After my Feb 16th ride, I didn’t get out again until the 27th.

It was a glorious morning. A bit colder than the days before it, about 50 F, but so gorgeously clear and the sun had some warmth to it.

I had a few things to take care of, so didn’t get out for the ride until about 10:30 am. By then, thin clouds were creeping in leaving the sky a pale blue and the impact of the sun lessened.

I took Loke with me, figuring to give him a little toodle back to the apartment.

The trike felt different again. I had to wriggle around to get used to it. I guess my body shape had shifted again what with another 3 lbs gone added to the previous 7 lbs and all my gym visits.

While Loke enjoyed the very slow roll with his favorite toy in the world, it was heartbreaking for me. He struggled so. His hindlegs kept threatening to collapse. He tripped and nearly face-planted a few times. And so very slow. He’d been slow on his walks, but it’s hard to tell if it’s just boredom or him not feeling well. With the trike, it was obvious he was having a hard time.

Back at home, I made sure he had an extra scoop of kibble, something soft to lay on, and fresh water. Then, guilt or no, out the door I went to ride for both exercise and to run a couple errands.

The past rides, I guess since about Christmas, have been reminders of why I used to so love my trike. Since about the time of my stroke, I’d lost that sense of why I reveled in my rides. The outings had narrowed down to painful, agonized circles on my River Loop hamster track. The pedals spun with a heaping dish of pain.

Not on this outing. Nothing hurt. Not hips, not feet. No muscle pain as of flesh being torn from bone with meat hooks. Just pulse, breath, and the rise and fall of my knees to move me along.

The slow creep with Loke, it had been mostly sunny, but the sneaky veil of clouds had thickened until there was hint of neither blue sky or sun. The temp had warmed to about 53 F, but with the sun hidden, it dropped to 46 F. Brrrr. Still, I was determined to go on.

My first solo mile was done in under 10 minutes, which has been rare for a long while. Hitting the paths that were smothered with gravel slowed me down, not to mention that the 3 miles after that first one were a steady, if mild, climb. Just up and up and up on grades between 3% and 5%. Saps energy when combined with the gravel and chunky studded tires. Even so, it still felt so good!

My first stop was at my husband’s parents. They weren’t home, but what I’d come to drop off fit nicely in their mail box.

After that, I tried to zip on toward the Granby mall out on the north eastern edge of Uppsala, Sweden. It was more uphill and that gravel was just a nightmare. Occasional gusts of wind blew by, kicking up swirling haze, reminding me that it’s about time for the ‘Time of Dust’.

I still managed to keep a respectable pace (for me) and soon arrived at Starbucks in the mall to drop off the full recycle bag of Nespresso capsules. Thirsty thanks to the puffs of dust I’d ridden through, I got my own special drink which is apparently named after me though I call it by the guy who invented it. I rested for a bit and chatted with the people working there before heading back out to scurry home.

The ride back went much faster, thanks to being mostly downhill except for a few under and over passes.

My knee had a bit of an ache for the last 2 miles or so. I’ve been wondering if pedal extenders might be a good investment since I tend to ride with about 1/3rd of my foot off the edge of the platform pedals. Even when I swap back to my SPDs when warmer weather is here to stay, it could be good. Of course, that swap to my old pedals might be brief if my feet scream about it. I miss being able to pull on the pedals, but I like not hurting even more and the pedals with the inner tube heel slings seem pretty solid.

Though, for about 2 years, my feet were killing me no matter what pedals I used. It’s so nice to be able to go for more than 100-200 yards without stopping to put my feet down from pain bad enough to make my eyes tear up.

It was a good 8-ish mile ride with a slightly higher cadence and it felt wonderful.

A day or two after that ride, winter came surging back and erased all trace of spring’s beginning. We had almost a foot of snow. Winds would come howling across the open fields and whip the blanket of white into ‘snow devils’ in an impressive display of arctic power. Except for walks with Loke, I hunkered down to wait it out.

Hard to believe I had such enthusiasm for winter rides at the end of last year, but since the whole hospital episode with Loke, and wondering if I was going to get a phone call that he’d passed, alone and frightened, I just haven’t been able to dig up the desire to ride in the cold.

Then on the 7th, the temp jumped back up and it rained. All that snow just vanished like a snowball in well, you know. It was still raining on the 8th, but then it mostly stopped and the sun started to try coming out. Jens was also supposed to be home early. All that combined to push me out the door for a ride, laundry be damned! Even though Loke and I had to walk to the trike, that’s not the titanic effort it used to be.

The plan was, I’d walk to the storage with the furball, take a slow ride back to the apartment with the furball. Then when Jens arrived home, I’d take off on a longer, faster ride for myself. The important thing though was to get Loke out of the apartment where he’s been a huge PITA. He’d been walking on the gravel fine for a few days, so why not ride?

Ah Loke. The tyrant of the household. He’s been relentless. My hips and back hated me because the bully went to town on Jens. Jens, trying to work or enjoy a bit of computer time, hollered at me and out the door I went for the 1000th time, TRYING to satisfy the husky. The nearly 14 year old husky who’s acting worse than he did when he was 4 years old and hadn’t been out with the trike in a week. He knows the easiest way to get something is to pester my husband. You can see it when he jumps on Jens and then will stand there and stare across the apartment at me as if to say, ‘Okay, hop to it.’

It was so SLOW. Loke took us along at a listless plod I could have out run on my worst ‘post-stroke’ day. For the 0.9 mile, we never broke 2 mph. It took us roughly 40 minutes, and that’s subtracting the time we sent chatting with a woman while greeting her darling 11 month old, white Scottish terrier. He was the sweetest thing once he got over his terror of first seeing us. And so SOFT!

As we approached the Swim Hall, Loke suddenly had an episode. He started staggering and then stopped, with legs splayed as they threatened to buckle. Maybe it was a seizure though not like any I’ve seen him present before. He has had nerve problems with his legs at times, but never this bad. After a few minutes, he started tottering forward again, but it was like a drunken stagger.

By time we were approaching the apartment, he was back to what he was before the episode. Sluggish and plodding. I had to help him up the stairs into the apartment. So the wait began for Jens’ early arrival home.

Didn’t happen. The sun disappeared and Jens was later than he said. Finally he texted he was on his way home. So, I hustled out the door with Loke to get the trike back to storage.

This time, of course, Loke was more like he’s been on all the previous rides in the past few months. He started out even kinda strong at almost 5 mph, but that faltered to about 4.2 mph after a couple hundred yards. He was still kinda perky as we made the final stretch.

The 1.5-ish mile of the two rides with him seemed to be enough to settle Loke for the evening. At least until dinner any way. Pretty sure he’d be laying at death’s door, in a coma, and come awake to be a pest right at 8 pm for his dinner.

The gray, snowless landscape was transformed just hours after we got back from the ride. The temp dropped to right about freezing and snow came down again. Only about an inch, but still. Since then, we had one morning that 0 F and it’s stayed freezing. The sun is strong enough there was some melt, even with the air temp in the 20’s though. Spring will not be denied much longer.

And in a few days, it’s supposed to be above freezing for at least 7 days.

So, what other pertinent things should I speak of?

Oh, yes, the rail-trail, Loke and I went to explore one day. Someone in one of my recumbent groups on Facebook had mentioned some time ago, that some portion of an old abandoned rail line was paved and converted into a cycle path. I looked around the town he mentioned (Eskilstuna) with Plot-a-Route and Google Maps.

They both showed hints of the old rail line, but no indication if it was passable by bike (or trike). The street view images were all from 2011 and showed the tracks still in place, even if overgrown.

So, I chased down the GPS coordinates where roads met the path, packed Loke up in the car with me and off we went to find how much of it was good to go.

Loke wans’t entirely impressed with the outing. He’s not a big fan of car rides.

It was a bit of a shock to discover how much snow and ice was still hanging on west of Västerås. Even more unexpected when it actually began snowing! And me without my Icebugs.

The thick ice in some places, made it hard to tell what kind of surface was beneath. Gravel or asphalt? Even when I couldn’t be sure, it still counted as a cycle path and was easy to tell it had been developed thanks to the barricades to keep cars off it. Happily, they weren’t the sort of barricades that are impossible to navigate through with a trike.

I had hoped the entire line had been finished from Eskilstuna to Marifred, about 28 miles. Alas, no. Just 14 miles from Eskilstuna to where it stopped at a small road. The line of course, continued on, and it’s possible they may continue developing it as all the tracks from where the cycle path ends clear to Marifred have been pulled up since the 2011 street-view photos were taken. It would be very rough going on the trike though. I think I’d rather do an out-n-back on what’s finished.

Other news.

Kettlebells. They could impact how I ride.

Since walking Loke so much caused some back pain, it made me face that my core still needs strengthening. Clearly what I’ve been doing isn’t improving it has much as I’d hoped. Honestly, I almost feel cheated that I don’t have a rock hard body after 1 year. But then, I am having to undo a LOT of damage, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, I started looking around at what I could do to work on the core more within the modest confines of my little gym. Then it hit me, kettlebells.

I’ve always been intrigued by them, but was a bit wary of committing to them. At the gym, there are only 4 kettlebells. Two that are 12 kg and two that are 16 kg. Pretty sure trying to do more than pick them up to move from one spot to another would cripple me. No choice for it. If I wanted to do exercises with kettlebells, I’d have to buy my own and drag them to and from the gym. I decided it was worth it. Bells are pretty cheap at the lighter weights I needed.

Would you believe it’s even a bit tricky to find 4 kg bells? Well, I finally did find some and picked up two 4 kg for those exercises that might require a bell in each hand, and one 6 kg bell. I’m doing this very carefully, slowly, and with light weights until I’m more certain I’m not going to hurt myself.

I picked 4 exercises that are ranked for beginners as well as focusing on the core.

What a workout! Just a measly 4 kg and it got my pulse going, a bit of a sweat too. I could feel it.

There were a few hiccups with them though. My body shape for one. Parts of me got in the way when I was trying to do a couple of the moves. Then came the floor exercise. I couldn’t even do it without the bell. Given that it’s a sort of ‘get up off a flat surface’ motion, that’s pretty sad.

Still, it had felt kinda fun and I could feel that I’d done something.

Then I went to the gym for the 2nd time with the bells, and it all went even better. I could almost swear I was stronger just from the brief little set of exercises before. I ripped through the 4 km of rowing at brisk pace. As for the bells, it went better too. Even the floor exercise that I couldn’t do before, I managed to actually do a set on each side. Was it pretty? No. Smooth and strong motions like the woman in the video? Definitely not. With the bell? No, but I could do the motion which will start getting me strong enough to add the bell at some point.

I was so thrilled with that last gym visit, I even forgot to recall how much I hate the gym. I do wish my gym would allow rental of locker space so I could just park my kettlebells there, but hey, it is what it is.

I want to also mention, the past 2 days, my back has felt the best it’s been in weeks! I should have started this ages ago.

I was supposed to go to the gym this morning, but my hip had other ideas. I slept wrong on it and it woke me up with burning stabs from the Iliac Crest (high point of the hip bone) down past my knee. While today’s workout was supposed to be just gentle warm up and stretches, no bells, no hitting the rowing machine like a mad woman, and no strength machines, I didn’t think I could manage even the warm up rowing.

I think a lot of why I can ride so much better of late, is thanks to all the work at the gym. The changes in my body and such. I want to keep it up until I’ve regained my old freedoms of 30-50 mile rides through fresh countryside. Touring. Oh, how I want to do touring again!



Riding and Creative Solutions
February 19, 2019, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Out for a ride yesterday and… it was so NICE.

As mentioned in the last post, for the better part of 3 weeks, I’d not done anything fun or interesting outside the apartment for myself. Jens and Loke both being sick and then Loke going all tender-footed so he can’t deal with gravel covered asphalt, which is ALL there is in Sweden except perhaps further north where ice and snow still rule instead of spring.

I was starting to go down right batty and feeling cornered isn’t good for one’s mood. I was starting to growl at everything like a caged beast. So, as Jens was finally feeling somewhat human again, when he came staggering out the door at 5 am on February 16th, I loudly declared, “I’m leaving Loke with you today and going for a ride when I get back from Starbucks.” He blinked at me in that bleary I’ve-not-had-coffee-yet fashion and mumbled, “Okay.”

Jens was worried Loke would go nuts if he saw me getting into the ‘magic clothes’ so, as I started pulling on my single layer of wool under my cycle stuff, he went out on a long walk with the fuzzy. I waffled a bit about adding more layers, but with the reported temp in the 50’s, I didn’t think I needed it and also left the electric socks put away.

I didn’t get out as quickly as I’d hoped, not arriving at the storage until almost 11:30. There was still a thick layer of crunchy snow and slick ice on the ramp in front of the storage door. Since I’d not worn Icebugs, I searched for the least slippy parts to step as I started pulling everything out and up.

I was a bit nervous as I went to settle into the trike. Was it going to be uncomfortable and something to be endured as it was for pretty much all last year. Would I be fortunate and it would be awesome like the ride a few days ago with a owie-footed husky?

Turns out it was the latter. I sat down in the trike and it felt comfortable and right, instead of something like an ill-fitting shoe. As I pushed off on the pedals, the muscles of my legs seemed strong and the movements smooth. As I made the turns that would take me on the beginning of the River Loop, it was almost like flying, even with chunky, studded tires and pushing through an inch or more of gravel over asphalt.

The annual Great Sweeping can’t come soon enough.

Feeling surprisingly (but deservedly) fit and powerful, I was going for a countryside ride. Originally, I’d thought to do the Gamla Uppsala/Vaksala loop for 10 miles, but Jens had taken Loke out to Gamla Uppsala, and better that I didn’t go cruising past the furball. He’d perhaps decide to be an even bigger PITA than he’s been the past couple weeks.

That left me with heading out down Old Börje Road where I’d have a choice of three loops.

There was one aspect of my current fitness levels that I’m not particular thrilled with. Lactic acid build up in my legs seemed to happen very quickly and my cardio-respiratory system needs some work. There were some moments when I was trying to spin up a hill and just felt kinda breathless and ran out of muscle strength in a very short time. Disappointing.

I didn’t let it stop me from pressing onward. Just as I didn’t let the shock and cold of the howling winds turn me back.

In the residential fringes of northern Uppsala, there’d been no hint of significant winds. Even with my thinnest layer of wool under my usual riding clothes, I felt over-dressed and hot.

That changed almost the moment I crested the first steep hill right at the beginning of Old Börje Road and coasted down to a mostly flat section just before the big fields.

All that open space and the wind came screaming across it, sucking up cold from the lingering snows and the ground that’s still frozen underneath an inch or two of the frozen muck. It went right through my 100 g weight wool as if it were bare skin and a direct bite to the bone. 18-20+ mph winds out of the south-west.

The wind chill was horrendous. Suddenly, I felt like a block of ice and tucked my fingers under my arms as much as I could while riding. When I couldn’t stand it much longer, I dug in my side bags, with no real hope.

Amazingly, I came out with a thin pair of knit glove-liners as well as another cycle shirt with an additonal 100 g weight wool layer top. Meager as it was, I pushed on without feeling warm, but at least it didn’t feel bitterly cold. My feet didn’t have any real problems even though I was wearing sneakers rather than boots. Without the electric socks and in the wind, they felt cold, but not painful.

I pondered my choices as I pushed on into the raging air, my flags snapping and popping behind my head. When I’d gotten up to pull on the extra shirt layers, and could actually see the flags, the flex in the poles alarmed me. It seemed any moment my very nice, very expensive flags were going to get ripped off to go dancing across a muddy field.

My first choice, to turn left at the crossroads to head toward Läby Church was discarded. Hard as the wind was, it was coming from over my left front wheel, which was a smidge better than head-on. A left turn would put me right into the teeth of it.

That left the 18 mile Börje/Ulva Mill loop or the shorter, 14 mile Ulva Mill loop. Stressing, I looked at the time. No, not Börje. With the wind, my speed wasn’t exactly blazing and time was passing. I’d planned to get home in time for spaghetti before 4 pm, but it wasn’t looking good even if I did Ulva Mill. Just maybe though, with the wind at my back, I’d stand a chance. I really wanted more for food for the day than a serving of fruit yogurt, a oatmilk hot chocolate from Starbucks, and small handful of hazel nuts.

Another nice thing about having the wind at my back, it didn’t feel nearly as bitter or biting. My speed did pick up and for a good mile or more between the cross-road and the big road, it’s either flat or slightly downhill. I smiled wide, easily cruising along at 10 mph.

Clipping along so briskly, I enjoyed the scenery around me. Sadly, though the some fields have so rapidly cleared of snow, they were silent. No soaring, warbling song of larks. I’ve heard larks even when there was still a foot of snow on the fields, but I guess, clear or not, it’s just too early for those wonderful little singers to have arrived from their winter havens.

I did get several little surprises though. I’d hit a higher speed, almost 15 mph, where the landscape takes a slight downward tilt toward the small stream. Grinning, I spun the pedals, determined to see if I could get even faster. Then I saw a small black shape on the road surface and it was moving.

A black wooly teddy bear caterpillar?! Really? Sure enough. I shifted the line of the trike’s path enough that I wouldn’t squish the cutie even as I tore past it. I thought about rescuing it from the road, but remember the last time I tried to take pity on a caterpillar which almost turned painful. I saw 2 more a bit further on.

Every time I do that, spot something very small and swerve to avoid it at speed, I think of one of the biggest subjects of contention among us recumbent trikers. Visibility.

A lot of riders on the FB cycle groups I’m part of, take a kind of arrogant attitude about how those of us who ride on roads are taking our lives in our hands. They NEVER go off trails and there have been many time when they sneer at me for saying how sick I am of the River Loop. These are also the same people who would be snarky and mean about my putting the trike in the car in search of new places to ride.

Their main argument is that they are so low to the ground that drivers can’t see them. A low of hooey. People see small animals scurrying across the street. Lines on the road are lower still. Speed bumps? When I drive, I see those things just fine.

It’s further reinforced when I’m on the trike and going at a brisk pace and yet, I can see a vole scurry into the road, or swerve to avoid a black caterpillar, smaller than my pinky, inching along dark, wet pavement. Froglings, just fresh out of the river on pavement after a rain look just like pea-sized pebbles and yet, when riding the trike, I can spot them even when they aren’t moving and try to avoid them.

That said, there are circumstances where our low profile is a disadvantage. Riding around parked cars or hedges and the like. On the open road, no. The only excuse that a driver didn’t see us is because they weren’t looking at the road.

Personally, I’ll take the sneers and yeah, I’ve had a couple of tumbles from bad drivers. Yet, my trike world is so much bigger than those who stick to only those trails they can easily reach to ride over and over and over, like my endless River Loop. So many things I would have missed. So much I have missed these past years with my body keeping me trapped on the hamster tracks. I pine for those open roads.

I don’t know if true freedom will come this year, but I’m working hard for it. Going to the gym 4x a week and hopefully more and longer country hamster tracks this year at the very least. Jumkil and Vänge. Maybe even manage to do the huge loop out to Wiks and back to Uppsala.

But I’ve gone off track..

Wind or no, it was turning into a good ride. I felt comfortable in the trike and, when not battling the wind, I felt fairly strong and zipping along on the flats and gentler hills. A vivid reminder of why I love riding. A sense of freedom and being off the River Loop helped that right along.

About mile 8 though, it turned into a bit of struggle as my knees started to ache. I guess I was pushing a bit harder on the pedals than I should have, but with all the wind, it was no surprise.

But that was about the only discomfort, other than the cold, on the ride. I wasn’t desperately stopping every 500 yards to jerk my feet off the pedals to work out cramps.

I was borderline frozen when I turned into the collection of buildings at Ulva that sit above the mill. It looked rather closed. The cafe definitely was, but then every few minutes, someone would walk from one building to another and all signs were turned to ‘open’. I was a tiny bit bummed about the cafe being closed. A hot chocolate would have been so welcome.

I scuttered into the bathroom to warm up a bit.

It was about 2:30 pm by this time. Getting home in time for a hot dinner wasn’t looking good, but I was gonna give it my all. I’d have had to drink the cocoa on the go so I guess it was just as well the cafe was closed.

The trike buzzed down the hill to zip over the mill race and it was another steep hill to leave the water behind. I looked over at the new cycle path, only to see snow and packed ice. Staying on the road was quicker with no ice or gravel, but less interesting.

Even with aching knees, I felt the strongest I’ve felt in a while. It was just so wonderful to be pedaling along with feet, hips and all but my knees feeling good. It was also a wonderful mental boost to away from River Loop.

I came down the hill toward the intersection with the old E4 and saw the southern end of the new cycle path was actually completely free of the white and slippery stuff. It likely would have been a mushy ride, as hard on the knees as the first part with snow, but I filed the information away for later.

I was actually making pretty good time for the last few miles of the ride. By the time I hit the last 2 miles, I was so glad that it was almost completely downhill except for the underpasses. My knees were getting painful enough that they were interfering with the joy of the ride.

As the time edged toward 3 pm, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t have time to eat if I took the trike back to the storage where the car was parked. Better that I stop at home, cook the spaghetti, and stuff it down my gullet before the 4 pm deadline, and THEN ride the trike back to storage.

Or maybe I’d just put the trike away here at the apartment instead. Give my knees an early rest and then once food had settled a bit, I could walk with Loke to fetch the car.

That sounded like such a good idea! Didn’t happen. Every route to the trike’s spot here was blocked by mounds of snow knee deep or higher. Reluctantly, I parked it beside the other bikes.

I was slapping ground meat in a pan right about 3:05 pm. Had just enough time to cook and eat.

Loke was interested as I put his harness on him. The trike was still where I’d locked it up and soon we were inching along. The gravel was just horrid on the poor fuzzy’s feet. Fortunately, it was just a few yards to cycleway along Svartbäcken Street which is kept clear of gravel when it’s as warm as it’s been.

I finished with just a bit shy of 14 miles. Half a mile of that was with the furball.

Back home, Loke was his usual pain in the rump. Just relentless of late. It got my mind working on how to protect his feet without socks that clench around his ankles and cause him as much or more pain than gravel covered asphalt.

Sunday, I ran around looking for the things needed to try an idea.

I spent all day Monday arguing with denim, needles, thread, elastic and Gorilla Tape.

Oh, Gorilla Tape. How I wish I had discovered you back when Loke was still able to wear socks. One set would have lasted 4 or 5 times longer than with the standard duck tape! Of course, for all I know the stuff is a recent arrival here in Sweden. Just from my handling it the little bit to reinforce the test socks, color me impressed.

For my next ride, I’m going to replace the duck tape on my chain tube with it.

But for my sock experiment, it came to nothing. If I had the elastic attached between harness and sock just short enough to keep the sock in place when Loke lifted his foot for a step, it was too short for when he extended, jamming his toes and nails uncomfortably into the end of the sock. If it was loose enough to accommodate his extension, it was too loose and let the sock twist and slip down at the left which would then trip him when he tried to extend for the step.

Wasted an entire day on that. Now I know though. Just one more obstacle to Loke coming with me, as if his general slowness and foot frailty wasn’t frustrating enough.

So, that’s my most recent ride and so nice to get out and about.

Other cycle related things I’ve been pondering are possible upgrades to my tent. Feels ridiculous to even consider that as the tent I currently own has seen so little action. I don’t think it’s been erected more than 5 times in the years I’ve had it and only slept in twice. It’s a good little tent. I just haven’t been able to go tour as much as I’ve desperately wished to do.

A few months ago, Jens posted me a link to an Amok hammock. Supposedly, you can sleep flat and the orientation of the sleeper is across the line of the support ropes. It can convert into a chair shape as well. It has a built in bug net. To keep the rain off, you need a tarp. It got my mind thinking wistfully of sleeping up off the uneven ground with rocks and roots. I’m just a bit wary about it because a lot of wooded areas are so densely packed with undergrowth and young trees that it’s practically impossible to find an open space between two trees big enough to suspend a hammock.

I suppose I could just bring my tent to leave my options open.

It’s led to me to look at other possibilities though. I’ve found one called ‘Flying Tent’, which is a more traditional like hammock, length wise on the lines. Best of all, it can be used as a bivy tent as well, which is VERY intriguing, but reviews have shown a tendency for the bug fly to tear along the seams.

There’s another that also can swap between tent and hammock that I’m researching. My feelings are pretty mixed though. I love the idea, but wary of spending a chunk of change on something I can’t really use…

We’ll see.



Muddling Along
February 13, 2019, 8:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve been very quiet here, I know, but that fits right in with the fact that since the first week of January, I’ve only had one ride and that one just a dash on my hamster track of the River Loop.

The weather was staying pretty cold for a while. Firmly below freezing even during the daylight hours, which is amazing, given it was winter and all.

Loke continued to have a bit of an up and down thing with his recovery from the hospital visits, but fortunately, nothing that put him back in the hospital. I finally just quit offering him ground deer meat to take his pills and now, it all seems hunky dorey. I guess he’s just gotten allergic to the meats we’ve been giving him since all domestic meat went off the table. Just kibble from here on. Oh, and dried rabbit ears for treats.

About a month after his last visit to the hospital, I took him to our vet clinic for blood tests to check his B vitamin levels. I also had the vet check him for kennel cough because, well, he was coughing and his nose was running like faucet. I read that correct. Kennel cough. *bangs head on desk*

So, he couldn’t go out with the trike thanks to that too.

Not that the trike was calling much. Every time I’d even consider going for a ride, I’d look at the pile of wool and electric socks and just UGH. 40 minutes just to get ready for the ride and to ride what? The River Loop? At a snail’s pace? Actually, a pace that would be easy for snails to beat. Just no. Go out for a walk, takes 3 minutes to get ready and going about the same speed. Not to mention, I could also jump in the car and say, drive to Wiks for a far more interesting walk than another plod on the hamster tracks.

Truly a pity in some ways because some of the days were just A-MAZ-ING. Mother Nature rolled up her sleeves and had every tree across the landscape perfectly flocked with snow and frost, all set against a backdrop of flawless blue skies. Days with not a breath of wind to shake the delicate layers loose from even the smallest of bare twigs.

To have gotten out and ride across the countryside in that would have been breathtaking. Then there was the wool and the socks and Jens insisting I take Loke for a ‘short’ ride which would eat into 3 hours or more of the brief daylight we have at this time of the year…. and no. Just go for a walk.

And walking has been much easier of late. I don’t even dislike it, amazingly enough. All thanks to the gym. I may hate the gym, but for the results I’ve finally been getting the past months, I can push through that hate and keep going. That combined with intermittent fasting (8 hours of the day where I eat – 16 hours I fast), I’ve lost about 11 pounds and feel worlds better.

Most shocking about it, it’s been easy. When I first researched about it, there were the all the articles talking about adjustment periods and such. Feeling hungry in the middle of the night and what-not.

Nope, none of that for me. Even the first couple days. I held off breakfast until 8 am, and had my main meal of the day around 2 pm, and finished off with some salad a bit before 4 pm. Not hungry through the evening and slept the nights through like a baby. Woke the next morning and felt fine. No low blood sugar, no gnawing hunger pangs, no headaches. Felt a bit hungry about 6:30 am, but nothing that even tempted me to throw myself at an early breakfast. I made it to 8 am just fine.

Honestly, it’s been much easier this way than going with my traditional 1400 calorie restriction diet. That one, I had headaches and hunger pangs. Sometimes, my blood sugar would have me shaking and feeling light-headed. All gone.

An even bigger surprise with the fasting, it’s completely derailed my compulsive comfort eating. Decades of struggling with that and now, it’s like it never existed. Just… wonderful and weird.

Does make things like dinner with the family a bit challenging, but I’m willing to be flexible if I need to.

The biggest challenge I think will be if I get back to REALLY riding my trike. I’m not talking plodding around the River Loop for the 10,000th time, or even my old Börje Loop or the like. I’m talking, I wake up to birdsong at 3:30 am and by 4 am, I’m dressed and either pedaling or on the road for fresher roads and staggering home 6 or 8 pm.

Breakfast in that scenario wouldn’t be a problem. Just put my fruit yogurt in one of the travel cups and stop out in the gorgeous countryside to tuck in when 8 am rolls around.

My main meal, that’s where it’s gets tricky. Just pass the entire day snacking on some fruit, nuts, and granola? What about a good solid protein source? A protein bar doesn’t count and not sure I could stomach any of them on the market.

Jens doesn’t much like the idea of me stopping with my camp stove to whip up something resembling a proper meal, but if I’m gonna stay with this fasting thing, then that’s likely what will need to happen. I’ll look at it as touring practice. Hehe.

And I do hope to tour… at sometime. I would love for it to be this year, but as long as Loke’s still in our lives, I’m not sure it will happen. If the past 2 weeks have shown anything to me, it’s how hard it is to escape him to go ride. Really ride, never mind just pedaling off across the Swedish landscape for days with a trailer full of camping gear.

The past two weeks, Jens has been home sick with a brutal cold. I kid you not, other than going to the hated gym, every moment out of this apartment has been to walk the dog, get something for Jens, or get something for the general household. I’m about to start clawing at the walls.

And even just going for a walk with Loke has gotten complicated. The weather did a major jump. In less than 2 days, it went from single digit temps to nearly 40 F. 2+ feet of snow on the ground and what had been packed into hard ice on the roads and paths suddenly turned into miniature canyons where the flush of melt water carved into it. One of my friend posted photos of daffodil shoots and buds that practically exploded out of the ground where the snow and vanished overnight.

It was so pleasant and Loke was being such a huge PITA, that I decided there was no help for it, I had to go for a ride. At least I could skip all but one layer of wool and didn’t need the socks at all. The roads and paths were mostly clear of ice too.

Loke was thrilled as I got dressed and off we went. I had a bit of a pleasant shock when I sat in the trike.

Before Christmas, when I’d ride, I felt kinda… precarious in the trike since making the swap of the seat cover for one that wasn’t coming all to pieces. It was just like I was kinda ‘pushed out’ and not comfortable at all. Of course, even before I swapped the seat cover, I’ve not often felt comfortable in the trike for a couple years or more.

Well, this ride, I just fit better in the trike. I felt comfortable. Nothing was painful. I also felt nicely strong. Admittedly, with Loke along, it wasn’t like I was exerting myself. My heart rate was barely 70 bpm the entire way.

The complication reared its head rather quickly though. I headed down the road to connect with the cycle path. Less than half a mile down the path, Loke was walking uncomfortably. The paving of the path was under a good half inch of gravel, all that the city had laid down for traction on ice and snow which had melted away. It was killing his feet. He can’t wear socks any more. The 3 miles to get him back to the apartment took over 2 hours.

I would have called Jens to come get him sooner, but he was loopy from various medications it wouldn’t have been legal for him to drive.

That just depressed me to no end. It makes me feel even more trapped since Loke can barely even go for a walk on that stuff. We were doing walking speed with the trike as it was. The walks since then have been with a ‘owie’ footed husky unless I just wander up and down the sides of Svartbäcken Street where they keep the cycle way clear of ice and gravel for commuters to go faster.

I’m hoping I can get out for a ride soon. The weather forecast seems to hint that spring is here. No daytime temps below freezing for the next 10 days at least. I truly hope that doesn’t mean we’re going to get another hellish summer like last. I just need something positive for me and my riding to happen. I’m so… trapped.