Hello, Old Friend

Bicycle leaning against the rail with Hamura Intake Weir in background

I’ve commuted with Dionysus eight times since I was last out for a weekend ride on Kuroko. Riding Dionysus is fun, but the moment I mount up on Kuroko it’s like putting on an old shoe: comfortable and familiar. I’d spent some time the evening before the ride putting a spacer in the rear cogs and adjusting the shifter cable tension, and all the shifts were immediate and nearly silent.

Hamura Intake Weir
Hamura Intake Weir

I chose the Three Rivers, Three Prefectures ride I’d done in May. Based on that experience, I’d made some changes both in getting to the start of the Iruma river course and leaving the course for Kawagoe, and yesterday’s ride was greatly improved as a result.

The weather was hot and clear, and a little breezy following Friday’s typhoon and a sudden, unexpected heavy rain Saturday evening. With all the rain, I’d been expecting some flooding on the paths, or at least a lot of puddles, but there were just a few.

The exception was on the Arakawa course. I knew there would be a few hundred meters of puddles just where I leave the course for the city streets, and I was right. Thankfully there’s a detour just half a kilometer before this section which takes me along a path 3 or 4 meters above the level of the cycling route.

I’d been fighting the wind the whole way down the Arakawa, with a particularly bad kilometer not far from the end where it felt I wasn’t making any progress at all, so it was actually a relief to leave that behind for the city traffic. I was surprised to find I still had a little power left in my legs. I was running on empty at this point — cramping thighs, an empty water bottle, and no chap stick — and I was very glad to arrive home, park the bike and head to the shower.

Kawagoe Toki no Kane
Kawagoe Toki no Kane

Mechanicals

As mentioned, there was no issue with shifting all day, which was a relief. But I had a totally unrelated, totally unexpected and nearly crippling mechanical early in the ride: the bell stopped working! That may not seem important, but the Tamagawa cycling course in particular was very crowded with a marathon, club riders and people just out for a walk in the pleasant weather. After making sure the bell wasn’t pressed against the handlebar tape or the Garmin mount, and the clapper was free to move, I just gave up and started shouting warnings when I was approaching someone on the path.

There was also a bit of a worrying ticking noise coming from somewhere in the drivetrain. At first it was faint and only came under load, like when I was struggling up a switchback. I made sure it wasn’t just the ice in my bidon, and checked various parts on the bike to make sure they weren’t loose. During one rest break I verified that the crankset didn’t have any play.

By the end of the ride the sound had become more frequent and a bit louder, and I’m pretty sure it’s another bottom bracket going bad. Kuroko has a real appetite for bottom brackets. I’m pleased that this Sugino has lasted longer than the three previous units, so I’m going to order the same thing again (and hope it’s not out of stock like a lot of bicycle parts are at the moment).

That’s me happy

GPS record of cycle route
Hello, old friend

My impression while riding was that I wasn’t making very good time. My goal was to get home by 4 p.m. to prepare for dinner guests. Meanwhile I was feeling the absence from the bike, and the lack of longer rides for the past several months. The wind was cooperating at times, but putting up a stiff resistance at others. Towards the end I was suffering cramps in my thighs and just a lack of go juice.

So I was very pleasantly surprised with my Result According to Garmin: 7 hours, 15 minutes overall. Based on a moving time of 5 hours, 49 minutes, I’d averaged 21.7km/h. I had numerous personal bests for the day, including the final uphill slog on Yamate Dori before home, where my mantra had been, “Just get over this final hump and I can coast the rest of the way home.”

5 thoughts on “Hello, Old Friend

    1. They should indeed last **much** longer. I replaced the original when I went to the ill-starred FSA crankset (which did see me through LeJog). That crankset had a 30mm spindle, compared to the original 24mm, meaning the bearings were far too small for the load. Basically, no one should be offering that combination. And I went through three BBs with the FSA crankset before giving it up as a bad job.

      I’ve had the Sugino crankset (original 24mm spec) on for a few thousand km now. The BB should really still be OK at this point. So we have a few possibilities: (a) https://www.guyjeanbikes.com/2021/10/05/huh-might-wanna-look-at-that/ The BB might still be fine, (b) I’ve distorted the BB shell with all my fooling around, and (c) the BB shell was out of spec from the start.

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