Achievement Unlocked!

Selfie of biker in helmet and shades in front of Japanese torii

After a hiatus of two weeks, I braved the cold yesterday with a brief jaunt down the Tamagawa.

I had three goals in mind for the day’s ride:

  • Don’t set any records
  • Have fun while getting some kilometers under the tires
  • Avoid freezing my fruits off

The first one was a near thing. Thanks in part to what was probably a stiff tailwind, I made good time from Maruko Bridge down to the Otorii for a 2nd place on my personal best time.

The last point was never in question. Although it was very chilly on the Workshop in the Sky before I set off, it was about 5C with hardly any wind when Kuroko and I emerged from the elevator at the ground floor. I’d only been riding in the sun for a couple of minutes before I was sweating in my double black winter jerseys, heat tech undershirt, black tights and winter socks.

As long as I remained in the sun and out of the wind, that was the case. Arriving at Futako, I unzipped the outer jersey more than half-way. But there were times in the shade or when I turned into the wind that I was glad for all the layers I was wearing.

まわり通

With the dry winter weather and reduced traffic on the cycling course, I encountered a few “mawari dori” (detours) around construction — three or four at least. They were well marked but I did have to read some directions on the fly. On one, the path was separated between pedestrians and cyclists. Then on the next one, it was pedestrians and cyclists to the left, cars to the right. The sign for this latter one was partially blocked and I found myself in the car lane (the first character is the same for “car” and “bicycle”: 自). I was fine because there wasn’t any traffic, but when I got to the end I had to back-track a bit and get around a barrier to get back on the cycling course.

A quick break

I didn’t have any onigiri — Nana had asked the night before if she should prepare the rice, but I told her not to bother as I wasn’t sure I’d be riding. So I had a brief rest at Haneda before heading back up the river.

Bicycle parked near ice patch
I told you it was cold

I was immediately heading into the wind, expending a lot more effort to move than I had on the way downstream. I mentally shrugged and kept riding — it’s not as though I could get home by continuing downwind.

I’d only gone about 5km when my empty stomach announced itself:

*AHEM*

It’s true I could struggle my way home on an empty stomach, but I’d be pretty miserable when I arrived: hungry, cold and exhausted. Instead I continued as far as my usual rest stop and then visited the nearby convenience store for a quick top-up. I might have added 30 minutes to my total ride time in this way, but the warm food in my stomach went a long way towards making the remaining ride enjoyable rather than a mere slog to get home.

At my final rest in a small park at the top of the climb out of the Tama river valley, I had a quick peek at the Garmin. The battery level for my electronic shifters hadn’t budged.

From there I made it home well before the 3 p.m. target I’d given Nana. The ride wasn’t very long, but my thighs were telling me they’d done a full day’s work. And I’d met all my goals for the ride. Strava even tells me I’m trending faster over this course, although I have no idea how that happened.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Achievement Unlocked!

A couple of more achievements: I’ve cycled more than 4,000km this year, and I’ve racked up more than 10,000km on Kuroko since new.

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