Bicycle in front of moat and Edojō Sakurada Tatsumi Yagura

Nothin’ but blues and Elvis

I had a late start this morning because Nana’s been after me for a couple of weeks now to have a haircut. I finally got on the road after 11, and immediately I knew I was overdressed for the weather. It was not quite 10C while I was preparing for the ride, but the temperature was soon in the double-digits and eventually hit a high of 17C. Meanwhile, I was dressed pretty much the same as I would have been if the temperature was 3.

I’d been thinking of riding to Haneda today, but Fearless Leader Joe brought up the Tokyo Landmarks ride in an e-mail last night, and I realized it had been a while since I’ve done this. I took Dionysus because I wanted to check if tightening the bottom bracket had solved the bearing knock I’d detected on my last ride.

Bicycle in front of hedge, fountain and Meiji Memorial Portrait Gallery
Meiji Memorial Portrait Gallery

Dionysus doesn’t have a cockpit bag, and the saddle bag is small (just big enough for a spare inner tube, tool kit and the lock), so I loaded everything I needed to carry in my jacket pockets: wallet and cash, phone, keys, tissues. This was fine, but when I got too warm I had no alternative but to just unzip the jacket and continue on.

That was pretty much the only fly in the day’s ointment, though. The weather was sunny and warm, and the wind was mild. Dionysus’s bottom bracket was silent — no sign of the earlier bearing knock. The brakes and shifter worked flawlessly. Every man called his fellow “brother,” and the lion laid down with the lamb.

… and somebody else’s favorite song

This was by far my longest ride on Dionysus since I acquired Kuroko. I’ve only used Dionysus for commuting since then. I was pleased to find I had none of the finger and toe numbness I used to experience with Ol’ Paint. The riding position is good — a bit more upright than Kuroko, with my hands just a bit farther apart. Dionysus accelerates quickly and is very nimble, but lacks some of the top speed I get out of Kuroko (owing to the more upright riding position). And the quick steering means constant vigilance, particularly on fast downhills.

Bicycle in front of moat and Edojō Sakurada Tatsumi Yagura
Edojō Sakurada Tatsumi Yagura

At the Imperial Palace, I thought I might get a closer look at the Sakashita Gate. There’s a large gravel lot separating it from the road. I dismounted to have a look and immediately noticed the “No bicycles” sign. I hoped that I could slip through by walking my bike. But as I approached the gate I saw I was walking directly towards a guard booth. The guard advanced and told me, very apologetically and politely in broken English, that no bicycles are allowed. I thanked him and returned to the street, and then stopped as usual by the Edojō Sakurada Tatsumi Yagura.

I continued on my way through the financial district. I’d chosen to ride without navigation, and this was the one spot I thought I might miss my turning. But I found the exact spot without any difficulty, and continued past the now defunct Tsukiji fish market to Toyosu and on towards Tokyo Big Sight. It was getting towards 2 p.m. when I stopped at a convenience store for lunch, which I ate at a bench in the shade.

Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge

Bicycle on pedestrian bridge with Tokyo Skytree in background
Tokyo Skytree

There’s no getting away from the fact that the next leg of the route is a long, straight slog through city traffic with lots of traffic lights. It was on this portion of the ride that my butt started hurting and my left wrist was feeling the strain. None of the aches and pains were too heavy to bear, though, and I continued on towards the Sumida River. I stopped on a pedestrian bridge just long enough to take a snap of Tokyo Skytree before continuing onwards.

When I set out in the late morning, I’d planned to stop and photograph every landmark I passed along the way, and send these along to Fearless Leader Joe along with the GPS coordinates. As always happens, though, I get in a groove on the bike and don’t want to stop. After leaving Tokyo Skytree behind, I didn’t stop for Sensoji (Asakusa shrine), Ueno Park, Tokyo University or Tokyo Dome. Even though a couple of these involved fairly challenging climbs, when I got to the top I just wanted to continue onwards. I finally took another break (my last of the day) at Budokan.

Bicycle leaning against railing in front of Chidorigafuchi palace moat

Tayasumon Gate
Tayasumon Gate

It was about 3:30 when I arrived in front of Budokan, having oozed up Kudanzaka in my lowest gear. I messaged Nana I would be home by 4:30 (as always leaving myself a generous margin for error). I still had plenty of water in my bottle so I set off without delay. Despite obeying the traffic signals (mostly) and not taking chances in traffic, I rolled into home about 4:05, having made quite good time through Yotsuya and Shinjuku.

GPS record of bike ride
Nothin’ but blues and Elvis

FLJ always names his rides after the song lyrics he’s been signing that day. In my case, the Steely Dan lyrics have been stuck in my head all day. It’s true I suffered no static at all on today’s ride. But I’m not promising I’ll make this a regular thing.

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