I’ve ridden solo for years, but more recently I’ve gotten in the habit of riding with the Halfakid, occasionally Tomo and other friends. When I was faced with a solo ride today at first I didn’t feel motivated — especially when I stepped out on the balcony to get my water bottles and helmet and was hit with a blast of frigid air. But then Nana started making onigiri and so I was honor-bound to go.
The moment I set out riding, though, all such concerns vanished. I was soon warm enough, even working up a sweat, and Kuroko handles the wind a lot better than Ol’ Paint ever did — although the occasional gust would make the front wheel wobble for a moment.
I set out on the Arakawa – Disney route I last did with the Halfakid in early December. I had a look at the map before leaving and realized there was a spot early on where I could shave two or three kilometers off the route to the river by simply going straight where I had turned in the past. And despite the wind, I was turning in 12-minute 5km splits. Soon I’d reached the river.
The wind here was even stronger. The moment I moved away from the sign I was nearly knocked over. But I was in luck: it was blowing downriver for the most part, and that was the direction I was heading. I got my first evidence of the strength of the wind when the GPS told me I’d done 5km in 9:23. From that point as I continued downriver, all my 5km splits were less than 10 minutes, and I posted a best of 9:02, for 33km/h.
OK, I was probably benefiting from the tailwind. Somewhat.
When I’d set out in the morning I’d told myself I could always skip the Disneyland leg if I was tired. But after the downriver 25km non-stop blast — passing through two separate marathons along the way — I didn’t even question it. It’s about 1km back upriver to the bridge, and yes I was riding into the wind now (which Garmin informs me was no less than 19m/s) but I was feeling fine. I nearly tangled with a mother pushing her bike with two children aboard on the ramp up the bridge, but I was quickly clear of her and the other pedestrian traffic and once again heading downriver towards Kawaguchi — this time on the opposite river bank.
From there it’s a cruise through a park and then some tangling with pedestrians and buses around the Disney parking area before climbing another bridge to arrive at the goal.
As usual, I only stayed long enough to get the snap and then it was back over the bridge to fight with the pedestrians and buses once again. I stopped at a convenience store to buy some hot coffee and then continued back into the park to look for a sunny spot to lunch. The perfect location soon presented itself and I sat down to enjoy Nana’s onigiri. I noted the time: I’d set out just after 9 a.m., and it was now noon, so I’d made very good time.
What about the ride home, though? I’d be back in traffic and most likely fighting against the wind. Freshly refueled with onigiri, I embarked again upriver towards the bridge, and I was indeed fighting the wind now. Before long I was over the bridge and back in traffic. A couple of other riders joined me at a traffic light and we played cat and mouse for the next few kilometers. The wind was gusty and sometimes against me, but I continued to make good time with 5km splits mostly below 15 minutes.
After Nihonbashi, the next landmark is the Imperial Castle. It’s Sunday so the road was blocked to cars and I rode past without stopping. Next up was my final rest stop: Budokan. But first, I had to climb Kudanzaka. Would the wind be against me? As luck had it, the wind cooperated and I made good time to the top.
I stopped here to eat the last onigiri and drink the last of my water. I messaged Nana that I would be home with an hour. (In the end, it took 30 minutes.)
This was my first ride with the new shoes, which was one reason I hadn’t opted for a longer ride (along with it being cold and windy and my being a wimp). So how did they work out? My toes were very comfortable: no pressure at all. The width worked out fine in the end. There was a little pressure from the edge of the tongues against my ankles, which will no doubt ease up as I break the shoes in. They’re a bit more awkward for walking than the previous pair. Overall, the only thing that could make me happier is if they didn’t have the blue trim. And maybe if they did the pedaling for me when it’s uphill and against the wind …
Once home I had a nice, hot bath and took stock. Somehow, I’d gained half a kilo on the day. (I blame the onigiri.) But I’d also posted a new 40km personal best of 1:24:35, for an average of 28km/h. I’d just like to mention that not all of that was the 25km downriver blast.