The forecast for today was for a small chance of rain in the morning, and then a greater chance of rain in the afternoon. I already had a commitment in the afternoon, so a morning ride was the perfect thing.
I was thinking at first that the traffic on Yamate Dori was sparse, but it all caught up with me after Nakano. It wasn’t horrible, though.
A stronger rider passed me at a crossing with the improbable name of 千早. As we waited together at a light, I thought of asking him where he was going (Arakawa, same as me, most likely), but then I thought, “Anyway, he’s at least 1,000 times faster than I am.”
It wasn’t long before I was climbing up the levee of the Arakawa. I arrived before 8:30, which is probably a record for me.
There was a marathon running on the Arakawa cycling course, but I’d arrived early enough to avoid the thick of it. I passed a group huddle of volunteers in hi-viz jackets having a pre-race confab.
The wind was with me as I sped down the river, and I set a couple of personal bests. I was making good time, averaging more than 25km/h. I was passed by a gent on a beautiful classic steel-framed Anchor in violet fading to midnight blue, with an all-silver, all-mechanical groupset. But when we encountered a few puddles along the way, he slowed to a crawl to avoid splashing his gorgeous bike, while I plowed on through. We played cat-and-mouse in this way for the rest of the course downstream on the Arakawa, and I saw him at one point trying to bunny-hop a small puddle.
Lunch in the shade
It was just 10 a.m. when I reached the point where the river empties in Tokyo Bay, but it was time for some of Nana’s world-famous onigiri. (I’d had breakfast at 5 a.m.) Given my time constraint and the threat of rain, I wouldn’t be going on to Tokyo Disneyland, but I still crossed over the Arakawa to reach our favorite lunch spot, an isolated park with benches in the shade that are never occupied. I wolfed down a couple of mentaiko onigiri and was back on the road in less than 20 minutes.
I’d no sooner crossed back over the Arakawa then I felt a few drops of rain. “Now?” I thought. I was answered by the pinging of a raindrop off my helmet. But as I proceeded along Eitai Dori, the rain held off. I didn’t feel any more drops until I reached the Imperial Palace, and then it started to rain steadily when I reached Budokan.
From the time on, it continued to rain, but it was not heavy at all. Not nearly enough for a Rule #9 invocation — I’ve suffered through more rain on a sunny day in England. The pavement was dry, and my tires were, too. I wasn’t soaked through or cold in the least. I continued on towards home, back in heavy traffic now on Shinjuku Dori. There were policemen standing on every corner at Yotsuya Yonchome (more corners than you’d think are necessary at that particular intersection), so I was careful to behave and let pedestrians go first.
Finally as I reached the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings in Nishi Shinjuku, it was well and truly raining. By which I mean a steady rain, but again, not a heavy, drenching rain. I was still far from soaked through as I spun downhill towards home.
A good time was had by all
I came in at 3 hours, 40 minutes for a hair over 60km — a very good time, and I wasn’t particularly pressing hard. It’s true I was benefiting from a tailwind down the Arakawa — before I stopped for onigiri my average speed was more than 20km/h, even including the traffic stops and breaks. Based on a moving time of less than 2 hours 45 minutes, my average speed for the day was 22.5km/h.
There were no mechanicals of note. The tires were holding the pressure well. They were at 30psi in the morning, after Kuroko had sat 20 days in the parking garage since the last top-up. I inflated them to 45psi for the day’s ride. I continued to fiddle with the barrel adjuster for the rear derailleur all day because I thought the shifts were on the loud side, but it’s very subjective whether I had any positive effect. I didn’t miss a single shift or have any problem with the chain jumping off a cog.