One before the rain

Selfie of cyclist in mask, sunglasses and helmet with torii and flagpost, with flag and streamers flapping in wind

I’d planned to cycle at least 100km today, and perhaps go as far as 140. I was starting to get ready at 8 a.m. when Nana said, “You’re not going riding, are you? It’s going to rain.”

Oh.

Well, I have plenty to do around the house. I relaxed for a bit and then started thinking about the housework.

Then around 10 a.m., Nana said, “According to Yahoo, it won’t rain until late afternoon or this evening.”

Oh.

I decided to make it a short ride, and started getting ready. I chose Haneda for the destination, and the decided to travel light. No GoPro. Get out the door.

Well, maybe not that light …

After putting my smartphone and wallet in the cockpit bag and putting the water bottles in their cages, etc., I started wheeling Kuroko towards the elevators. And then I realized I’d forgotten the Garmin. That’s OK, I don’t need help with the navigation, and I can use the Strava app on my phone to track the ride.

The ride to the river was uneventful except for one driver on a one-way street who was a bit upset that I wouldn’t just pull over and let him pass. I could hear him revving his engine behind me, and then he honked. I didn’t let him bother me. Not long after his honking, we got into pedestrian traffic and parked vehicles on the road, and I was able to race ahead while Mr. Horny was stuck.

On the river, there was no wind at first and I made good time heading downstream. There were a lot of pedestrians out, and the little leaguers and tennis players on their bikes — returning home after the game or match — were riding three or four abreast and typically not looking where they were going. A couple of them got shirty when I called out for them to watch out.

After the first brief break for water, with about 10km to go to Haneda, the wind started picking up. It wasn’t bothering me for the most part: a crosswind that was probably coming more from behind than ahead. I was keeping up a good pace and watching out for children on scooters.

Bit of a breeze

By the time I got to Haneda, the wind was blowing pretty strongly…

Selfie of cyclist in mask, sunglasses and helmet with torii and flagpost, with flag and streamers flapping in wind
What wind?

Bicycle leaning against Covid warning sign underneath tree in park
Lunch spot in the shade

I made a quick lunch of two onigiri (store-bought; Nana had not made any rice) and was soon on my way back home. Heading upstream, at times I was fighting the crosswind and at times it was helping me along. I felt good and knew I was making pretty good time, so I was keeping my breaks short. I was thinking of an alternate route home: there’s another bridge just about 1km beyond Futagobashi that leads to a 16% climb out of the valley, which is good practice for me. (My usual climb is 4-6%.)

Reconsider that decision

I’d pumped my tires up to about 45psi before departing, compared to my usual 50-60psi. The ride was noticeably more comfortable — of course the tires can’t do a thing about the big breaks in the pavement, but they were smoothing over the smaller stuff. More importantly, there was no feeling that the tires were underinflated or getting squirmy under my weight.

That’s all to the good. The bad came about 1km before Futagobashi (the bridge where I usually cross the Tamagawa on my way home). Suddenly Kuroko was making a grinding, crunching noise. I immediately eased up my pace, and then went through my usual checklist. No noise when I wasn’t pedaling. The noise seemed to coincide with the cadence of my pedaling, not anything else. The noise was present whether I used the larger or smaller chainring.

Things were pointing to the bottom bracket bearings or a loose crank. Less likely to be mangled chainring teeth as the noise was occurring on both chainrings. Kuroko has had a bearing habit, when she was sporting the ill-advised FSA crankset. Since I switched to the Sugino (and the bearing size Kuroko had been designed for) things have been smooth sailing. Has Kuroko reverted to her old ways?

So, a change of plans: rather than challenge that 16% grade, I reverted to my usual route home. After crossing the Tamagawa and just before starting the climb, I stopped and gave the crankset a good manual check, pulling up and pushing down on each pedal. No sign of looseness that I could detect. I shrugged and mounted up again, and climbed the hill without a further sound (well, none from Kuroko).

At the top of the hill I took a break in my usual spot and messaged Nana that I would be home within an hour. I was still making good time, and if my little mechanical could hold its nose for a few minutes, I’d be home well before the time I’d given Nana.

The traffic was smoother on the way home, for the most part, and Kuroko was silent — for the most part. I could still hear a bit of ticking from time to time as I sped homewards, but nothing like the crunching I’d heard along the Tamagawa cycling course.

I got home a full half-hour before I’d predicted, and brought Kuroko up to the Workshop in the Sky. I’m going to have a look at everything when I get a chance: chain wear, cleaning and lube (if not worn), bearing wear, crankset tightness, chainring and sprocket tooth wear, even the saddle (which has recently developed a slight rocking). In the meantime, I can ride Dionysus to the office and back.

GPS record of bicycle ride
One before the rain

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