Heat abandon

Bicycle propped against a tree

I had network maintenance to perform at the office this morning, while no one else was around. The forecast was for a hot, partly sunny day, so I decided to ride Dionysus to the office. Once the maintenance was done, I’d check the temperature forecast and decide whether to continue riding or go straight home.

Cat just visible resting in the shade under a bus
Beating the heat

The ride to the office was uneventful. When I got to the office I immediately noticed a sign that we were in a for a hot one — a stray cat was taking shelter under one of the buses.

The network maintenance went as expected: following the vendor’s recommendation did not resolve the problem (I didn’t expect it to, but I knew I wouldn’t get any further help from the vendor until I’d taken this step) — it just took a bit longer than expected. I’d predicted half an hour to restart the network, but it was a good 45 minutes before some of the edge switches were back in action. In the meantime, I’d identified and fixed an unrelated network issue: the firewall wasn’t working, which is kind of important as it meant there was no internet.

She’s a hot one

With the network back in operation, I checked the temperature forecast again. It looked like it wouldn’t get to 33C or more until after 1 p.m., which would give me time to get down to Haneda and back before things really got nasty. I had my UV sleeves and mask, and my (newly repaired) sunglasses, so I should be all set.

Heading downriver, things were going well. Dionysus was behaving perfectly, the wind wasn’t too strong nor the cycling course too crowded. My fingers started going numb after about 5km (a big part of the reason I usually ride Kuroko rather than Dionysus when I’m not just commuting) and I was looking forward to the next rest stop in the shade. Crossing over the Tama River on the Maruko Bashi, I came up on two fitter-looking riders on really high-spec bikes. The one in the rear had what looked like a titanium frame, and I recognized the hornets-nest buzz of the DT Swiss rear hub. The one in the lead had a carbon-fibre full road racer with SRAM electronic shifting. I passed them after a switchback under the shinkansen rail, but they overtook me less than 2km later when I stopped for a break, and I didn’t see them again.

Bicycle propped against a tree
Dionysus takes a break from the heat

Not long after the first break, I realized it was getting hotter more quickly than I’d expected. I decided to stop and take stock at a place about 7km before the end of the course, where there was a park bench in the shade. I sat down to a feast of Nana’s world-famous onigiri about 10:20 a.m. and checked the temperature, the time and the distance. If I finished eating quickly and headed home, I should arrive just about noon. Plan!

Easy rider

On the way back up-river, I just kept spinning my pedals, not putting much power into it. But with the wind at my back, I still managed stretches of 30km/h when the course was flat and traffic-free. I stopped again briefly at the first rest area for water and to get some feeling back in my fingers before continuing.

Dionysus is 2kg lighter than Kuroko, and the smaller wheels — while nearly the same weight as Kuroko’s beefier rollers — accelerate more smartly. (Dionysus has a 40T steel sprocket in the rear, compared to a maximum of 34T for Kuroko, so that offsets the lighter rims. And the equal weight doesn’t extend to the tires: Dionysus’s Continental Grand Prix are at least 60g lighter per tire than Kuroko’s cushier Panaracer Gravel Kings.)

On the downside, Dionysus transmits every slightest imperfection in the roadway right up to the rider’s spine and wrists. And her agility is nice for dicing with traffic, but can be wearying on longer rides compared with Kuroko’s stability. Finally, the straight handlebars quickly bring on the finger numbness mentioned above, while I can ride on Kuroko’s drop bars for hours on end. (Well, I do tend to take breaks still every half hour or so. But that’s after a good 10km, while it’s 5km for Dionysus.)

Coming back into Futako, I was feeling the heat. Still spinning, I was just moving the bike forward and really feeling from my thighs that I didn’t have any energy to push with. When it came to the brief climb out of the river valley, I just dropped immediately to my lowest cog (that big 40T jobbie, for a 1:1 ratio) and crawled my way up. In the end I reached the top at not quite double my PR for the climb.

Dash (?) through traffic

It was about 11:10 when I reached the small park at the top of the Futako climb, and I messaged Nana I’d be home by 12:30 (giving myself some leeway). The temperature had already reached 32C, my self-proclaimed limit based on the heat bonk I’ve experienced over the past few years.

Screen captures from GPS device
Numbers freakout

Numbers freaks will sympathize with the chagrin I felt waiting at lights just shy of the 5km breaks. The truth is while I was laughing at the first one, above, I set my second-best time on the following segment. As for the latter one, I was already in traffic on my way home in the heat, and having to wait two-and-a-half minutes while just 0.5km shy of a 5km break drew no more than a wan smile. I was waiting in the shade, and I just didn’t give a damn.

For all my taking it easy and just spinning and not pushing against the weariness in my thighs, I got home from the park in just about 50 minutes, which is pretty typical. I stopped the clock at 12:07, just a hair after my unspoken goal of noon, and rolled Dionysus into the shade of the underground parking before messaging Nana I was home.

GPS records of bicycle rides
Heat abandon

By the numbers

For the two ride segments combined, I did 54.36km in 2:40:03 (3:21:51 elapsed time, not counting the 90-minute stop at the office), for an average of 20.38km/h.

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