It’s been nearly a month since my last ride with the Halfakid. I had a week off while he was working, and then I was traveling with Nana two weekends in a row. Meanwhile, the Kid had his second vaccine and was ready to flex his wings. We huddled over the plans for this weekend, and he readily agreed to the Three Rivers Ride.
I’d last done this ride a month ago, and I did a pretty aggressive time: 5h49m moving time and 7h15m total elapsed time. In my few goes round this route, I’ve always left the Iruma river course and cut through traffic to Kawagoe old town. This time I decided to stay on the Iruma course as it rounds Kawagoe to the north and east, and finally joins up with the Arakawa. It would add a few kilometers to the overall ride, but spare me 15km or so of riding in traffic.
The Kid agreed to meet in Futako at 8 a.m. and we lost no time heading up the Tamagawa cycling course. We arrived in Hamura, the end of the course, at 10, less than three hours after I’d left home. We were making good time, but paused here to wolf down some of Nana’s world-famous onigiri.
From Hamura we turned into traffic as we entered Saitama and traveled overland to meet up with the Iruma river course. I’d warned the Halfakid in dire terms about the condition of the pavement on a 5km downhill, where we’d hit a rough spot in the middle of a shaded corner at speeds of up to 50km/h. The moment came and went and the Kid told me he’d expected much worse from my description. Meanwhile, the cars trying to pass us as we were doing 50 in a 40 zone presented a much greater safety challenge.
As soon as we passed beyond the course I’d previously ridden, we got into a bit of bad navigation (courtesy of your humble narrator, and a very liberal definition of “cycling course”). Considering the amount of terra incognita, though, we did not spend a lot of time searching around for the right way to go. A bit further on, we encountered construction, but we soon routed around it. The Garmin fortunately updated quickly, and finally guided us back to the path just as the construction ended.
Not long after that, we came round the northwest corner of the course where the Iruma river joins the Arakawa. I was back on familiar footing. We paused for a brief rest with water and cheese before continuing.
The wind had been against us all day, almost as if the gods had bet against us, but never in a very aggressive way. I’d told the Halfakid that I’ve never had a favourable wind on this upper reach of the Arakawa, and today was no exception. It was gentle enough for the first handful of kilometers, but didn’t disappoint in the final 10km. At our final rest about 6km before we left the river course, the Halfakid ate the final onigiri and we continued onward with our energy refreshed and the wind much abated.
I remarked that I felt as if I was really sucking, the wind holding me back, and the Halfakid replied that our time was about normal. Garmin trumps perception. We weren’t making bad time overall, but the wind was making a slog of it.
When we reached the familiar sign, we hurried on to the nearest convenience store to recharge with Snickers bars and a fresh bottle of water.
From the Arakawa back home was neither faster nor slower than normal (although it felt slower as I was tired). My right thigh was cramping, but I ignored it and pedaled onwards. The Halfakid was provoking me by laughing about my new jersey, as he had been all day, in a good-natured way. I’ve been the source of enough embarrassment in his life that he’s quite inured to it by now.
I missed the final turn to our tower and spent a couple of minutes faffing about back streets. The tower is the tallest thing around and so hard to miss, but few of the streets lead directly to it. At last I pulled up outside our building, just a few minutes before I’d promised Nana I’d be home.
The shadows were lengthening and the Kid had another 30km to go before home. He set off double-time, and got there after just another 1h20m, quite a good time in traffic. I’d done 135km for the day and was exhausted, but he’d made a century of it at just over 161km.
I’ll be 60 tomorrow. That’s the meaning of “kanreki” — 60th birthday. I’m apparently not dead yet. Compared with the very similar ride a month ago (when I’d passed through Kawagoe’s old town), this route was an additional 9km. The riding time was nearly 30 minutes longer, while the total elapsed time was an additional hour. That works out: the average speed based on moving time for both rides was identical, while we’d easily spent an additional half hour today in rest breaks and faff.