This weekend I was looking for something different (or at least not too challenging), and Tomo and my son both were up for it. As I cast my mind over the available routes, suddenly one I haven’t done in more than a year came to me: Minatonomieruoka Park in Yokohama. This park is on a bluff overlooking the Minato Mirai area of Yokohama and the bay (and hence its name).
I’d tried a couple of different routes to reach it in the past: across Maruko Bridge and continuing on Rte. 2, and crossing on the Daishi Bridge (which has nice, lovely pedestrian ways) and continuing along that route. This time I found a course that splits the difference, crossing at the Rokugo Bridge (which has rather narrow pedestrian walks) and continuing straight along Rte. 15 to the goal. This had the advantages of being very easy to navigate as well as making a convenient meeting place for Tomo at Rokugodote. On the downside, Rte. 15 is very heavily trafficked.
I’d just had Kuroko delivered back from the Kyoto – Nara – Osaka ride, and set about reassembling her on Saturday. I was a bit surprised to find the chain had come off the gears as I have a pulley that slips over the axle to keep tension on the chain when the wheel is removed. But the wheel went back on without trouble and I gave it a few shifts (while Kuroko was on the workstand) and it all seemed to be well. But once I began riding her Sunday morning, it was obvious there was an issue. The rear derailleur was acting up: It would shift a gear and not quite get it right. The gears would be making noise. Or it would skip a gear while shifting. The problem was especially noticeable while downshifting. I was soon shifting down twice and then up once to get a satisfactory shift.
This was good enough for most of the ride, and I continued on at a good pace, just cursing from time to time when a shift didn’t go as expected. I made some visual inspections during breaks and didn’t see that the derailleur was bent.
I picked up my son and we headed for the Tama River cycling course and took that south towards Haneda. We were making good time, with 5km splits in the 12-minute range. We took a break and I checked my phone and there was a message from Tomo: she was at the meeting place 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Fortunately, we were only 20 minutes away at that point.
From our meeting we crossed over Rokugo Bridge and joined the traffic on Rte. 15. There was a bike lane marked out on the sidewalk with blue paint, but between the pedestrians and the cars crossing over the lane, it turned out to be more fraught than just riding in traffic. We soldiered along through the urban landscape of warehouses and family restaurants.
In less than an hour, we crossed over a bridge into Minato Mirai with the Landmark Tower on our left. Not long after that we passed the gate to Chukagai (Yokohama Chinatown), and then we were facing the one good climb of the day, a short but steep rise up the bluff to Minatonomieruoka Park. I tried getting into my lowest gear, but with the rear derailleur baulking it wouldn’t stay there. I gave it a good go in the second-lowest gear and got more than halfway up the hill before stopping to walk. The moment I did, my son soldiered past on his lowest gear, and he made it to the top. I looked back to see Tomo gamely pushing her bike up the rise, and soon we were all three at the top.
The weather had been cloudy and cool all day. When we were biking it wasn’t a problem, but now that we were having a break on the exposed bluff, the wind was freezing. We wasted little time eating Nana’s trademark onigiri and a few snacks provided by Tomo. While we were eating, we saw a wedding couple having photos taken, and the bride was obviously freezing in her shoulderless gown.
With the temperature being what it was, we quickly ate up, took a few snaps and refilled our water bottles before setting off for home.
We’d no sooner put Yokohama behind us than it started to rain. Just a few sprinkles, but we had to wonder if we were going to get drenched. While on our way we quickly warmed up again, but a rain might have our teeth chattering. Fortunately, a few scattered drips and drops were all we experienced. It wasn’t long before we were back at our meeting place of Rokugodote and buying warm food and drinks at the convenience store.
We said goodbye to Tomo at that point, and my son and I discussed visiting Haneda, about 5km away, before heading home. At that point I was feeling a bit tired and looking forward to a hot bath, so I said no, let’s just get on home. The route back up the Tama River cycling course is very familiar, and it wasn’t long before we were climbing the hill up out of Futakotamagawa and into the city. The skies continued to darken, so I put on my lights at this point even though it wasn’t yet 3 p.m. I’m happy to say, though, that we had no more rain by the time we got home. I left my son at a convenience store near his apartment and continued on my way, eagerly counting down the kilometers to a hot bath.
The three of us agreed before splitting up that we’d like to do this ride again when it’s sunny and warm, and perhaps continue on to Kamakura. That would add 30km onto the route (60km round trip), so it’s a challenge for one of the longer days of summer when we have lots of sunlight.