Now that the Halfakid has Myrina (we settled on the name during the course of today’s ride) he’s eager to get in some longer rides. Following our Tamagawa Course Round Trip last weekend, he mentioned a Century: 100 miles (161km). So I said I’d start thinking of routes and destinations, and one thing that came to mind was a grand loop of Tokyo: Up the Tamagawa, down the Arakawa, lateral to Haneda and back up the Tamagawa to home.
Today’s ride was just a portion of that, to investigate of the feasibility of the Arakawa-Haneda segment. We set out early on a sunny Groundhog Day (well, it was still Groundhog Day in the US) with the goal of reaching Haneda, and from there Tokyo Disneyland — across the Arakawa — and back again.
We had ridden to Disneyland in December, via the Arakawa. Today’s ride would be nearly twice that distance, thanks to the long detour to the southwest to take in Haneda along the way.
The Tamagawa cycling course was not overly crowded this morning (a wonder with such fine weather) and the wind, if any, was with us. We stopped only once and made very good time, arriving at Haneda well before 10 a.m.
We paused only long enough to eat one of Nana’s amazing asari onigiri (two in the Halfakid’s case) and then struck off inland, across the edge of Tokyo Bay but definitely in traffic. I took a wrong turn immediately, but we followed the Garmin and our noses and ended up headed in the right direction in short order.
The route essentially consists of two straight segments, with a turn at Nihonbashi. From Haneda to Nihonbashi is about 18km, and we rode the entire way without stopping (except at numerous traffic lights). There wasn’t much to see along the way except for traffic and more traffic, but at least we were making very good time. Towards the end of this leg I kept wondering if we’d perhaps passed Nihonbashi already, but inevitably a route sign would appear showing it was just another Xkm.
The Halfakid pointed out that whenever either of us passes Nihonbashi, we’re in a car or a train and so we don’t stop to appreciate the view. With that in mind we played tourist for a few minutes (at times to the consternation of pedestrians en route from their own particular A to B).
At this point we turned east on Eitai-dori and headed towards Arakawa. It’s 7km from Nihonbashi to Arakawa and another 7km to the entrance to Tokyo Disney Resort. We’re still looking for the best route from the pink cycling path on the eastern bank of the Arakawa, through the park at the end of the path (while minimizing pedestrian interactions) and then across an overpass and another river to the goal. We made some progress today in improving the way, but I think the goal of the perfect route still eludes us.
On our return from Tokyo Disneyland to Arakawa, it was just noon and we’d already covered more than 70km. We were definitely hungry! We stopped at a convenience store to supplement our remaining onigiri and then found a suitable park bench to relax and top up the calories. It had warmed up quite a bit by this point, and when we were in the sun we were perfectly comfortable (I was even sweating in my black jacket and tights). But the moment we sat down in the shade we cooled off, and quickly!
Between the futzing around with the Tokyo Disneyland route, the diversion to the convenience store and then finding a park bench to sit down and eat, we’d burned up an hour. I was beginning to worry that we would be returning home well after dark. Once we mounted up again and were on our way, though, I realized that this was mostly the result of having been hungry and fatigued. We crossed the Arakawa again and made it back to Nihonbashi in jig time.
From there it was a turn back towards Haneda in the south. At this point the Garmin started reporting a low battery. It wasn’t too much of a concern as I knew that if we just kept heading in the same direction we’d eventually end up at Haneda and Tamagawa, but at the same time I wanted to avoid the wrong turn we’d made after Haneda on the way out, and thus have a good record of the route we want to take in future. The Halfakid and I kept an eye on each route sign as we passed underneath, and of course I worried constantly that we’d already missed our turning. When it eventually arrived, however, it was almost impossible to miss. We took the right course this time, and ended up at Haneda at 2:40 p.m.
We wolfed down a couple of donuts I’d been saving from the convenience store at Arakawa, washed down with some vending machine coffee. After a quick time check and a brief note to let Nana know we were OK, we headed back up the Tamagawa.
At this point I’d already ridden 100km, and we were definitely heading into the wind. I did my best to keep my momentum up, but at the same time we were wading through much more pedestrian (and slower bike) traffic than we had earlier in the day. I could feel the fatigue in my thighs and the soreness in my butt, and I knew that I needed to keep some energy in reserve for the climb at Futako. Happily for us, once we cleared the river mouth the headwind became a crosswind, and we soldiered on homewards.
We had a break a scant 4km from the Futako climb, and I rested my tender posterior while the Halfakid sought out a men’s room. We were soon on our way again, and when we got back to Futako the Halfakid rocketed past me and was waiting at the top of the climb, perfectly rested, when I finally arrived sweating and out of breath.
We compared the readings from our Stravas and the Halfakid realized at this point that he would not break 120km for the day. We joked about him doing a few laps around the block when he got home to make up the difference, but in the end we just pulled up in front of his apartment and shared a fist bump before I set off for home.
I was in the final 8km stretch now, not pushing but just spinning to get back. At times, though, I realized that tired as I was I still had it, and would get up on the larger chainring. At the same time my aching body was telling me that I’d never make it home, and would have to lock up Kuroko somewhere for the night while I caught the train, my mind was recording the fact that I now had only 6km to go, and now only 3km.
Nearing home, it’s tempting to cut corners and jump lights, but at the same time fatigue makes it more likely I’ll miss a cue, botch a recovery or just plain make a poor judgment. I did my best to balance my capabilities with the traffic conditions, and when I finally started the long descent towards home, I was surprised how quickly it had come. I also managed to make two lights green that I usually hit red, and so I finally rolled into the goal just before 5 p.m. (whereas I’d told Nana when I was at the top of the Futako climb that I’d be home sometime after 5).
The moment I walked in the door, the amazing aroma of Nana’s spare ribs hit me. She’d already started the bath, and I soaked in the hot tub for 20 minutes before dressing and sitting down to a fantastic dinner. I’d lost half a kilogram during the bike ride, but I may have made it all up in spare ribs this evening!