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Selfie of masked cyclist in front of statue of Tamagawa Brothers

I had a day off work and so I decided to give Otarumi Touge a try. When I told Nana, she said, “Alone?” Why not? I’ve done it alone several times.

Anyway, I dawdled around this morning and didn’t get ready until nearly 10. Then when I took Kuroko off the parking rack, the rear tire felt a bit soft. I checked it and it wasn’t just soft — it was completely deflated. I quickly topped it up with the new Panaracer pump, and I noticed a bit of sealant seeping around the rim, near the valve. With luck, that will have sealed up whatever leak there was.

First stop at the Tamagawa

It’s Friday and there was a lot of traffic in the morning. It took me far longer to get down to the Tamagawa than expected. At the second rest stop of the day, after eating some onigiri, I checked the time and took stock. At my current pace I wouldn’t make Takaosan Guchi before 1 p.m. Add an hour to climb the mountain and then descend it, and I’d be getting home about 6 p.m. — well after dark and well into Nana worry territory.

Facing this reality, I did the only logical thing and copped out. Instead of turning off the Tamagawa for the Asakawa and hence Otarumi Touge, I would just continue along the Tamagawa to Hamura. If I found I was running too late, I could turn around at any point.

Fujisan behind field and trees
I had a nice view of Fujisan, though

Tailwind

I benefited from a tailwind all the way up the Tamagawa. I didn’t really press my advantage: just continued at a good, steady pace. Since I’d already eaten all the onigiri, I stopped at a convenience store a few kilometers short of Hamura and loaded up on carbohydrates. Soon I was wheeling into Hamura in the shadow of the Tamagawa Bros, and I stopped to enjoy my goodies.

Hamura Intake Weir

Kuroko takes a lunch break

Selfie of masked cyclist in front of statue of Tamagawa Brothers
Tamagawa Bros Three

I’d dressed in the morning for the 6C weather I’d be setting out in. As the temperature rose to 15 during the morning, I grew more hot and sweaty. But now, sitting in the shade and wind as I ate, I grew quite chilly. It helped to motivate me to get back on the bike and head for home. I let Nana know I was heading back and I set out.

Headwind

You can benefit from a tailwind for 30km and not really appreciate it, but the moment you turn back into the wind, you know it. I had roughly 30km to fight back into the wind before leaving the river course and heading back into city traffic. I put my head down and concentrated on spinning the pedals, no matter how much I had to downshift or how slowly I was actually progressing. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was maintaining a hair under 20km/h average.

As I neared the end of the river course, a construction worker on a bike entered the course from the side of the path without checking if the way was clear, “Hey hey!” I shouted to stop him cutting me off. “Hey hey!” he mimicked back, sarcastically. I ignored him and kept pedaling. At that moment the headwind picked up and my speed dropped. After a minute or so, the construction worker passed me — electric bike. I was glad he didn’t try to hassle with me. After another minute the wind dropped off, and I passed him again. That was the last I saw of him. After another couple of kilometers, I turned off the path and back into city traffic.

Bicycle leaning against railing with waterfall in the background
The first shall be the last

At the last rest stop of the day (with luck!) I checked my progress. I’d done 82km and had 15km to go — just shy of 100km. I decided to see how close I was to 100 when I got home, and how I felt. With that, it was back into traffic and homewards. There are a couple of small hills on the way, just 2% or so, but after more than 80km they feel much steeper. My knee was aching at this point as well, but I just put the bike into progressively lower gears and continued to spin. I put both climbs behind me and continued on my way home.

A little shy

When I got near home I checked the GPS. I would be at about 97km if I went straight to the door. A lap around our block would be about 2km so I needed a bit more. I continued on towards the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings, did a lap around Central Park, and then returned home and did a lap around our block (taking me to Nakano Sakaue and then down Yamate Dori). That did the trick, pushing me nicely over 100km for the day.

GPS record of bicycle ride
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