I told the Halfakid last night I wanted to ride the Arakawa to Disneyland today, something not too strenuous in light of the heat. And make an early start so we could be home before the worst of the heat came down on us. Unfortunately, this morning he said he couldn’t join me, so I set out solo.
Before setting out, I filled up the tires again and gave them a good swirling to help the latex sealant cover the entire inner tire surface. I also adjusted the brakes and brake levers. And I stuffed some of Nana’s world-famous onigiri in the bag.
The first 13km of riding are in traffic. That’s about the same distance to reach Tamagawa, my usual stomping grounds on Tokyo’s western boarder, but it seems farther to get to Arakawa because it’s nearly all on Yamate Dori, a major artery with lots of traffic. Fortunately this morning the traffic wasn’t bad and most of the drivers were behaving.
I found myself pacing a much stronger rider, catching up with him time and again at the traffic lights. I’m sure without the red lights he’d have left me far behind. As it was, we were together more than 3km before he finally got a light ahead of me, and that’s the last I saw of him.
I didn’t realize at the time I was making very good progress and setting a string of personal bests for this leg of the ride. I didn’t feel particularly strong and wasn’t putting the hammer down. In fact, I remember saving my energy, knowing I was just at the start of the day’s ride.
Possible tailwind benefit
Once I got to Arakawa and started on the path downriver, I knew I was making good time. Now I did feel stronger, and I could see I was putting down 5km splits at 25km/h or better. (My best today was more than 28km/h.) I was feeling some crosswind, but overall I think I was benefiting from a tailwind. That’s not unusual for this part of the course — my personal records here were all with a very strong tailwind that put me over 30km/h for long stretches.
In contrast to the Kasumigaura rides last week, I felt comfortable in the saddle and with my hands on the handlebar. I realized that my posture is different when I’m pushing than when I’m relaxing. The core of my body is held firmer and that takes some of the weight off my hands. Obviously this is not a conscious process or I’d be doing it during a relaxing ride as well. Anyway, I took my first break after 15km of riding down the Arakawa (and a string of riders who had been pacing me to that point went on ahead), and I felt completely fine.
Backtracking from Shinsuna to the previous bridge, I immediately felt the strength of the wind that had propelled me downriver. Climbing up the ramp to the bridge, I again felt I had no power. But Strava tells me I made my third-best time on this portion.
The run from there to the entrance to Tokyo Disney Resort went smoothly. There were lots of other bikers as well as pedestrians, and not all were good at following the rules of the road. When it got congested I bided my time, waited for my opening and then blasted past all the hoi polloi. From Tokyo Sea Life Park onwards, where it’s all up and down pedestrian ways over roads and bridges, I was nearly alone (after waiting for one mamachari descending from a pedestrian bridge in the ascending lane).
I’d made good time getting to Disneyland, arriving before 11 a.m. after having set out at 8:16. My average speed up to this point was 24km/h, with the downwind leg of the Arakawa offsetting the ups and downs of the pedestrian walks I crossed to reach the Disneyland entrance. After taking this snap, I reversed course until I was back at the bridge. Before crossing back into Koto Ward, I turned right into a small park where I could enjoy Nana’s onigiri in blissful solitude.
From the park, it’s a fairly straight shot home, past first Nihonbashi and then Kudanzaka and Chidorigafuchi — less than 20km total. It was still before noon when I finished the onigiri, and I wondered if I’d make it home before 1 p.m. Traffic wasn’t too bad through the city — apart from one idiot who tried to pass me before pulling into the left turn lane, only to find out I was there and there were two cars ahead of me. I passed up the chance to stop at Nihonbashi for a photo (I’ve got plenty of them) and continued on to Otemachi, the Imperial Palace and Kudanzaka. I made pretty good time up Kudanzaka, around 12km/h, and stopped at the top to get some water from a convenience store before settling down at Chidorigafuchi to enjoy the last of Nana’s onigiri.
The final 8km or so to home was still in city traffic, and the traffic was still not too heavy. Whenever I had to move over to get around a parked car, there was always room for me to do so. I knew my average speed up to this point was more than 22km/h, and I was eager to keep it up over the final stretch towards home. In the end I pulled up to our tower at just a few minutes past 1 p.m., with my average speed safely above the 22 mark.
No mechanicals to report for Kuroko. The tires are holding air a little better after my work yesterday, and there’s almost no squealing from the brakes following the adjustment the morning. The shifters are working flawlessly.
The only issue I’m having is with my sunglasses. One of the lenses had fallen out when I got them out of the pouch this morning, and I spent a few minutes getting it back into place. This is happening when increasing frequency, so I guess it’s time to get new shades. I’m lucky that it happens when the shades are in their pouch. It hasn’t happened during a ride — yet!
There was no rain today — just mostly sunny, partly cloudy, skies, hot and humid. But there were puddles across the Arakawa Cycling Road. I’m so glad I spent some time cleaning up Kuroko and my shoes just yesterday.