I set out yesterday morning with the intention of completing the Three Rivers ride, which I’d last done just before my birthday in November. But I was facing a couple of big challenges. First, I’d set out nearly and hour and a half later than I had in November. And then, as soon as I was on the Tamagawa (the first of the three rivers), it became apparent I didn’t have the juju. I could ride along on the flat at a good pace, but even the 3m switchbacks up and down the levee were taking it out of me — it would take me another half a kilometer to get back up to speed.
I had the option of riding just the Tamagawa and then turning around when I reached Hamura. This is the same ride I did three weeks ago when I had a sudden blowout in the rear tire, which I finally resolved by swapping out the wheels for my spare set.
Anyway, I kept pedaling, and after making some progress I got a respite from the headwind I’d been fighting. I decided to see what time I reached Hamura and make a decision on that basis. I reached the Persimmon Park about 10:30 and sat down to enjoy a couple of Nana’s world-famous onigiri. I had 15km left to get to Hamura, so it wasn’t unreasonable to hope to reach there about 11:15-11:30.
Or it wouldn’t have been, but I took my time over the onigiri and had a nice little rest. And when I set out again, I was faced not only with a few switchbacks but also increasing finger numbness. I’d already eaten two of the three onigiri that Nana had packed for me, so I stopped at a convenience store a few kilometers before Hamura and bought a hot dog, a creme-filled taiyaki, an iced latté and a Snickers bar. The brief stop gave me a chance to get some feeling back in my fingers.
We (don’t) got the power
With all the dawdling, I reached Hamura at 11:50. I’d told Nana when I set out that I’d be home about 5, but I was now looking at 6 if I continued around the Three Rivers, with a 12km slog home along Yamate Dori during rush hour. It didn’t take me long to decide against continuing, but before sitting down to enjoy my lunch I thought I’d go just a couple of kilometers further to pay a visit at Aso Shrine, dedicated to bicycle safety.
The shrine was established in 601 by Empress Suiko, and built in 933 by Taira no Masakado. The first torii on the southern entrance is the upstream limit of the Tamagawa cycling course, and the shrine has become a pilgrimage for cyclists to buy the amulets for safety.
After paying my respects, I returned to Hamura to rest and enjoy my lunch. There was a fellow on the next bench with binoculars watching the swallows flitting over the river, while overhead several large US military cargo planes practiced maneuvers. I finished lunch about 12:30, messaged Nana that I was on my way home, and set off downstream and into the wind.
The going wasn’t bad, but I was still plagued by finger numbness. I stopped after just 10km for a brief rest, then again at Persimmon Park just 5km further on. My next stop was at a bike shop near the river bank another handful of kilometers further, where I picked up a couple of spare innertubes.
While I was locking up Kuroko at a bike stand in front of the shop, I paused Garmie and slipped it into my jersey pocket so I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone taking it. And as I did so, Garmie chirped a cheerful beep. What … ? He’d interpreted being put in my pocket as an invitation to end and save the ride, so when I stowed my purchases and set out again, I had to start a new ride. It was no big deal as I ended up recording all the kilometers ridden, but it meant Strava wouldn’t credit me with a Grand Fondo — 100km in a single ride.
I was still fighting the headwind on the way downriver, and taking frequent breaks to rest and restore the feeling in my fingers. I finally left the river course at a small park full of screaming children, where I ate the last of the onigiri. I checked the time — 2:35 — and messaged Nana that I should be home by 4.
The last 15km were out of the wind but in traffic. Someone forgot to tell all the drivers that it wasn’t yet rush hour. There are a couple of hills to surmount that I’d been dreading, but I was pleased to discover when it was time that I had my juju — perhaps thanks to Nana’s onigiri. I rolled down the final hill by central park and did a lap around the building to bring the ride up to 30km before dismounting. I messaged Nana that I was home at 3:33.
Putting the numbers together, the ride was 105.55km. The total elapsed time was 7 hours. (The figures from the Garmie tot up to 6 hours 50 minutes 51 seconds, which tells me I was in the bike shop for just over 8 minutes.) The moving time totals 5 hours 8 minutes 20 seconds, for an average of just over 20.5km/h.
I soaked in the bath to ease the aching in my thighs, and then over dinner was treated to a fantastic fireworks display out on the Workshop in the Sky.