The Halfakid joined me yesterday for a brisk run up the river. The moment we turned upriver, March starting living up to its reputation. “Good thing it’s not windy,” I joked, “because that would suck.”
There was nothing for it but to keep our heads tucked down and our legs spinning. The Halfakid decided to suck my wheel for a while. Then when we got to a spot where he was sure of the directions (just keep following the path), he zipped ahead. I could see him about 500m ahead of me, sucking someone else’s wheel.
Despite the wind, my 5km splits were still coming in under 15 minutes, so I was making pretty good time. Whenever the path passed through the shelter of a grove of trees I would pick up my pace. Unfortunately, there aren’t many spots like that on the course.
The final run up to the end of the course is pretty exposed and has a couple of fairly steep switchbacks, and this is where I posted my first 5km over 15 minutes. The Halfakid was waiting for me at the water fountain at the end. “Why are you so slow,” I asked him as I wheeled to a stop. “You getting old?”
We sat down in the shade of the pavilion and ate all of the onigiri that Nana had prepared for us. We had a brief rest but didn’t dawdle too long; now that we were stopped, the wind was cooling us off quickly.
A headwind on the way upriver is a tailwind on the way back home, or mostly so. At times it was a crosswind. But we were making much better time now. On the way up, I’d been struggling to keep the pace above 20km/h and topping out about 24km/h. On the way back, I was keeping the pace about 28km/h, with bursts up to as much as 38km/h. Even in crosswinds, I wasn’t falling below 24km/h. Still, the Halfakid was racing ahead. I nearly caught up with him at one traffic light, but it changed while I was still on the wrong side of the traffic. And that was the last I saw of him until the next rest stop.
On the way home we’d agreed to turn off the path before reaching Futako. It shaves about 5km off the trip, but puts us into traffic for the final 16km (vs 12km when we continue to Futako), including a couple of climbs where we’re elbow-to-elbow with buses and delivery trucks and cement mixers and whatnot. Traffic was backing up and we played cat-and-mouse with a Ferrari Daytona for a few traffic lights before finally leaving it in our dust. I left the Halfakid at a convenience store and continued on home without stopping to give Nana a progress report. In the city the wind was less of a factor and I was making pretty good time. At the same time, I was feeling the distance in my thighs and looking forward to a hot shower. In the end, I arrived home a full hour before I’d predicted — which gave me a little time to relax before I had to start cleaning up for the party.
I ended up paying for the ride in a big way, though. All that wind meant lots of pollen, and I hadn’t bothered with a mask. As the evening wore on my nose got more and more stuffy, and it got harder and harder to keep my red eyes open. I was glad in the end when Nana and our friends at the party insisted I go to bed.
And with that, my first ride in March, I completed this month’s Strava challenge!