Typhoon 11 kept us guessing about the weather right up to the last moment. José and I finally agreed at 7:40 a.m. to ride. José wanted to start out with an easy one as it’s been five months since he’s been on his bike, and we settled on Haneda even though I’d just been there two weekends ago.
When Nana heard that José was coming along for the ride, she prepared some konbu onigiri, because she knows he likes them. Thus laden, I brought Kuroko up to street level to await José’s arrival. In doing so, I noticed the front tire had gone soft again, even though I’d just pumped it up an hour previously. And so I was reinflating the tire when José arrived.
The ride went smoothly overall. I was expecting it to remain overcast all day and so didn’t use any sunscreen (but I did have my UV mask and sleeves). I should know not to trust the forecast (and also keep in mind that I can burn even under full cloud cover).
José was taking it easy, hanging back enough that at times he’d get caught by a traffic signal that I’d passed through. He’d always catch up with me by the next light. When we got to Futako I joked that the last time I’d kicked his ass this badly was when he’d been riding a bike with seized wheel bearings.
Once on the river, José picked up the pace so that he was always just over my shoulder when I looked — except when I was beating my way up a switchback. When we stopped to drink some water, José realized he hadn’t washed out his bottle since his last ride, and in fact there was still water in it. He quickly emptied it in the drain and rinsed it before filling it again.
We had a bit of crosswind as we continued, a few puddles, and more than a few pedestrians and cyclists who weren’t being careful how they shared the path.
Surprise on arrival
The shrine at Haneda was just where we’d left it, but José immediately spotted an addition: a miniature shrine complete with a memorial post, torii (sheltering its own, even smaller torii), and Buddha in a pebble garden. After getting our snapshots, we retired to the shade to polish off the onigiri. We dawdled more than necessary in the park — we were making good time while riding, but weren’t racing the clock overall.
On the way home we had some crosswind again, and possibly some help from a tailwind. When the path allowed it, José rode beside me and we chatted as we cycled along. As we approached Futako I told him I’d been thinking of riding back via the St. Antonio climb — which takes us abruptly up out of the Tamagawa valley at a gradient touching on 16% — but I wasn’t feeling it now, with 50km under my belt. José replied he wasn’t feeling the need for any climbing at all.
But when we reached our usual climb, a more moderate 4-5% over a slightly longer stretch, he rocketed ahead to wait for me at the top. His time was within seconds of my personal record for the climb (although more than 20 seconds off his own PR), while I dawdled along and arrived more than half a minute later. We had another relaxing pause at the park at the top of the climb and ate the ice cream I’d bought from a convenience store at the foot of the hill.
I checked the time and let Nana know I’d be home in an hour, give or take. José seemed reluctant to mount up again, but we were soon back in traffic. There was enough traffic now that we had to wait two light cycles in Yoga as a few cars dribbled through, turning left, during each cycle. Again, José was lagging behind between lights, knowing he would catch up with me at the next red. I warned him at one light that I was going to sprint to make the next light on time, and he was there with me.
We split up at the corner of Central Park, and he continued on his way as I turned downhill towards home, arriving a good 10 minutes before I’d told Nana I would.
In addition to the leaky front tire, the rear brake continues to squeal. It’s annoying enough that José suggested we stop at a bike shop to have it looked at. Instead, I’ve brought Kuroko home and up to the Workshop in the Sky, where I can try to sort her out next weekend (with rain in the forecast).
Meanwhile, I passed another milestone on the ride, unawares: