Haneda: le Grand Retour

The weather forecast was very changeable leading into the weekend, but it looked like the temperature would not rise above 32C, which has been pretty much my limit these past few years. When I checked the evening before, the forecast for Saturday was overcast but with little chance of rain, so I contacted José and asked if he was up for a ride. He replied that he’d already made plans to visit the gym.

On Saturday morning, the forecast was for rain in the afternoon — or not, depending on who you wanted to believe. I discarded my plan to ride to Kawagoe (a destination I’d selected with José in mind anyway) and set out for Haneda with some onigiri from Nana in my bag. I’d last visited Haneda in April, before the heat turned on, and had trouble with the tire sealant on that occasion.

I’d debated whether I needed to wear sleeves or indeed sunblock, but within 15 minutes of setting out, the sun was shining through the overcast skies. It continued to shine brightly enough to cast shadows for about 80% of the time I was riding.

The going was smooth as soon as I cleared the traffic and joined the Tamagawa cycling course, but I wasn’t feeling any power. My thighs felt like limp linguine after even the modest 5-6m climbs up the levee. I soldiered on though and reached Haneda at 10 a.m. after having set out a bit after 8, so I was making good time despite my low energy levels.

I had a good 25-minute break at Haneda and ate two onigiri after wrapping them in special nori paper I’d received as a gift from the sushi master. It wasn’t yet 10:30 when I mounted up for the ride home.

The ride back was more of the same: I felt weak but I was making good time by the clock. I had a bit of numbness in my hands and while my bottom was resting heavily on the saddle, I wasn’t experiencing any of the soreness which has been an issue in the past. When I got to Futako I climbed out of the valley more slowly than usual, but I was never in doubt of making it to the top.

Bicycle leaning against shrubs with trees in the background
12km to go

At 11:25 I messaged Nana that I’d reached Nikotama and was eating the last onigiri. It was hot now — 32C — and I was running low on water. I didn’t want to dawdle, so at 11:35 I messaged Nana I would be home by 1.

There’s little more to relate about the ride home. I was slower on the modest rises than usual. There was some construction and a few sprinkles of rain. I didn’t have as much trouble with the drivers as I’d had near Marukobashi. I rolled into the plaza at 12:26 and messaged Nana I was home.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Le Grand Retour

Ride time was 3:00:17 for an average moving speed of 21.0km/h.

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