First ride of 2022
Usually for my first ride of the New Year I’ll just run to Haneda and back, a ride I can get under 4 hours if I try. I can wait until 10 or later to start, when it’s warmer, and I’m not out in the cold for long.
This year I wanted to do something a bit longer, even if it meant braving the cold. And I’d just ridden to Haneda a few days ago. I figured Kawagoe would be 6 hours, even at a relaxed pace, and so I could leave as late as 9 a.m. and still be back by 3 in the afternoon, before the shadows got too long.
Then it was just a matter of working up my courage to get out in the cold air. Google was telling me it was 3C, and when I stepped out onto the Workshop in the Sky to fetch something, it certainly didn’t feel any warmer than that. But I knew it wouldn’t be as bad as I was imagining once I got under way, so I braced myself and got dressed.
Starting with a mechanical?
When I went to the basement parking to fetch Kuroko, the front tire felt soft. In fact, there was no air in it at all. I gave it a quick look over and spotted a few drops of sealant on the sidewall. I’d had no hint of trouble on my way to Haneda and back, and prior to that the tire had held its pressure for more than a month without issue.
I shrugged and pumped the tire up, gave it a squeeze and spun it around for a few seconds. Gave it another squeeze. It seemed to be holding. I mentally shrugged my shoulders, put away the pump and set out.
Into the wind
When I reached the Arakawa, I could see the path was nice and dry. But I could also feel that I’d be heading into a fairly strong wind. At this point I could have chickened out and headed downriver, towards Disneyland, but I plucked up my courage once again and turned upriver — and upwind.
It wasn’t too bad. The wind was very steady, so I wasn’t being buffeted about. I just wasn’t making the same speed as I usually would on the flat. When I took a moment to swipe the Gamin to the stats screen, I saw I was ticking along at 16-18km/h: not quite a third off my usual pace.
With such fine weather I expected to see a lot of people out on the path, and I was right in this. Not as many bikers as I’m used to, but some families out for a walk, or flying kites. At the first rest stop the path was crowded with cars (it’s one of the places where the path and roadway intertwine) and a whole bunch of baseball players jogging to warm up before practice.
A little later on I saw a boy standing on the edge of the path, holding something in his hand and looking across the path meaningfully. His father was relaxing a couple of steps away, watching unconcernedly. It was only as I came upon them I noticed the kite strings arching upwards across the path from the handle in the boy’s hand. Fortunately the kite was flying high enough that the strings didn’t take my head off.
The wind remained constant until I descended from the path into the Kawagoe sports park and then into Kawagoe itself.
I don’t know why it failed to occur to me that thousands of others would think of Kawagoe as a destination on a public holiday with such fine weather. The park wasn’t very crowded, but as I continued on in towards town I was soon fighting through long lines of traffic. The commercial parking spots were turning a brisk trade. When I finally reached the main attraction, the crowds were so thick I hardly had room to walk with my bicycle.
I can’t blame people for being idiots without pointing at myself first, of course. I hurriedly took a single selfie and headed back towards the park, stopping at a convenience store to pick up a couple of nikuman for lunch.
I was quite lucky to find an empty picnic table at the park to enjoy my lunch. The weather remained beautiful for the ride home, except the wind was helping me along and the sun was in my eyes — enough to give me a headache despite my sunglasses. I pushed my helmet up in the back to bring it jauntily down over my right eyebrow to block the glare, and that helped.
It was just past noon and I had about 37km to go on the way home. I felt OK except for the bit where my backside rests on the saddle. After a few rides I’d got the new Brooks saddle adjusted to the perfect angle. But the saddle hasn’t been broken in any significant amount yet — it’s still as hard as a wooden bench. And my Pearly Zoomie winter cycling tights have a much thinner chamois pad than my usual fair-weather shorts. I was constantly shifting about on the saddle to try to move the pressure from one spot to another.
I reached the point where I leave the cycling course for Tokyo traffic about 1:30, and stopped under the bridge to have a final Snickers bar. I had 15km to go, so I messaged Nana that I would be home before 3. I was feeling quite knackered at this point and I knew that I had a couple of challenging climbs on the way (well, challenging to an overweight old man with an aching backside, anyway). With that I set off into the traffic (and into the sun). In the end, without pushing hard at all, I rolled into home at 2:20, saved my ride on Garmin and messaged Nana that I was home.
The ride was a good start to the year, and left me totally knackered. There was no sign of leakage from the front tire all day, but I’ll be sure to check it before the next ride. I’m not sure what Garmin meant by “Up cycling” — was I supposed to find some gomi there to repurpose into a hot dog stand?
Finally, the Di2 battery was showing 80% at the end of the ride. I suspect it’s showing things in 10% increments. Anyway, this is after three rides. I’d expected better battery performance. Of course the Bluetooth unit drains a bit of power, and I may be seeing that. Or it may have to do with the first-generation battery I’ve got.
In any case, the battery performance is still fine, and I’m glad I have a free extra battery courtesy of Amazon. I’ll just need to make sure I’m covered before undertaking any extended rides.