Yokohama Bay Bridge

Yokohama solo

I set out this morning in sunny but cool weather towards Yokohama, which I’d had to give up on last weekend when I learned the Yokohama marathon was running the same day.

It was a chilly 9C when I started preparing for the ride, but by the time Nana had got out of bed and started making onigiri, the temperature had risen to 12C. As I set off I started to wonder if I’d overdressed with my long-sleeve jersey given the forecast high of 18C. But I found even when the temperature had risen to its peak, the long-sleeve jersey was still welcome in the shade and wind.

My goal for the day was to see how much I could chip away at the total elapsed time for the ride, rather than the average moving speed. So I wasn’t putting the pedal down at every opportunity, but rather keeping track of the number of breaks I took, and making sure not to dawdle so long as my bum and hands didn’t need any extra rest time.

There was a brisk crosswind when I reached the river. I didn’t fight it — it wasn’t helping, but it wasn’t holding me back much.

Cycle course with detour signs and arrows at fork in path
What would the Tamagawa cycling course be without detours?

The wind ceased to be an issue when I joined up with Rte. 15 into Yokohama, so I could concentrate on traffic and traffic lights for the remaining 15km to the goal.

Self-inflicted wound

As I neared Yatozaka, one question was foremost in my mind: would I climb the hill in a single go? I’ve managed it twice in the past, but have suffered a large number of failures along the way. I made the turn and started the climb easily, then quickly shifted to the smaller chainring, and then down, and down, spinning all the way.

… and then, ker-chunk! The chain slipped up in to the second cog. I hit the shifter again and it immediately returned to the largest cog. And after another four or five crank revolutions: ker-chunk! again! I continued on up the hill this way, feeling the chain slip to the smaller cog every few revolutions, and quickly hitting the shifter to bring it back to the largest cog.

I continued in this fashion until well past the dog café. But then — ker-chunck! — it was just too much and I dismounted and pushed the bike up the couple of dozen remaining meters. I resolved to rest and enjoy the view, and then have a look at the rear derailleur situation.

Yokohama Bay Bridge
Yokohama Bay Bridge

The view from the garden at the top was fine. It was warm and not too windy. I worked my way through the two remaining onigiri, watching with mild alarm as a little girl playing on the banister nearly knocked Kuroko over. (Her grandfather warned her off just in the nick of time.)

Onigiri time over, I had a look at the rear derailleur. On the largest cog, the derailleur was severely misaligned. I was surprised it could shift onto the largest cog at all. I tried backing off the limit screw with my multitool (mindful of the extreme consequences of doing this during Lejog), to no avail. It wasn’t the limit screw — the cogs were in the wrong place.

It was only then I remembered that during yesterday’s cleaning and lube job, I’d left out the spacer. It’s a very thin spacer, but it goes on the hub before any of the cogs, and it pushes them outward just that single, important millimeter.

Realizing there was nothing I could do until I got home (and knowing I didn’t need this gear again for the remainder of the ride), I put the limit screw back to where it had been and mounted up for the ride home.

Long, steady crawl

It’s a lot of traffic and even more stop lights on the way back from Yokohama to the Tamagawa river. I concentrated more on timing the lights than on bursts of speed, with some limited success. On more than one occasion, a driver turning right from the opposite direction would creep forward as I entered the intersection, and I got more aggressive about shouting “Hold!” and raising my hand in a “Stop!” gesture. A couple had the grace to look abashed, but the more normal reaction was to pretend not to see me (which is the whole point — making sure they’ve seen me and aren’t going to hit the gas just as I’m crossing in front of them).

At the top of the climb out of Futako, I took a minimal break, drinking some water and messaging Nana that I’d be home “about 3.” From there it was the usual dance with traffic on the way home. At one point I checked my elapsed time at 5 hours 15 minutes. OK — if I can only finish in less than 45 minutes! I was already about 10 minutes out of Futako, so it was quite likely, but not the sure thing.

As I neared home I was able to snake my way past quite a bit of backed-up traffic in places. The situation around Sasazuka was far less crowded than is often the case, and I pedaled smoothly along. At last I was in the final run towards Nishi Shinjuku, and there was nothing to do but pedal and try to game the lights. At last I sped downhill past central park, and for a wonder made the light at the bottom. I remained in the highest gear for the remaining flat 300m or so to reach our tower, and then shut off the Garmin and messaged Nana I was home.

22 May 2116 Oct. 216 March 226 Nov. 22
Distance (km)87.9987.6087.9288.14
Moving time (h:mm:ss)4:26:004:08:594:28:434:18:51
Total elapsed time (h:mm:ss)5:57:485:50:596:35:385:47:46
Average moving speed (km/h)19.821.119.620.4
Performance comparison for Yokohama round trip

Compared to the three previous runs down to Yokohama, my average moving speed was on the high side. I’d been solo on 22 May 2021, with with José for the next two rides, with a lot of faffing on the most recent ride on a cold March morning. And today, solo and with only a slight mechanical, I’d indeed put in the shortest total elapsed time, acing my goal for the day.

GPS record of cycle route
Yokohama solo

I arrived home just before 3 o’clock, and after a quick shower, hustled out to the Workshop in the Sky to attend to the day’s mechanical. In a few minutes I had the wheel off and the sprockets removed from the wheel, and sure enough, the spacer was missing. Fortunately I knew exactly where it was. The sprockets went back on quickly, and then it was 10 minutes in the stand while I sorted out the shifter adjustments. Fingers crossed I won’t have any issues on next weekend’s ride. (And the forecast is improving!)

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One response to “Yokohama solo”

  1. […] From there it was mostly flat (actually a very gradual descent), but still largely exurb rubbish riding to Yokohama. We arrived just about 10 a.m. and turned towards our favorite scenic view: Minato no Mieru Oka Koen (Harbour View Park). The climb up to the park is a more modest 29m rise with gradients peaking at about 13%. I’ve made it twice in the past without stopping, although my most recent effort was hampered by a badly spaced rear sprocket. […]

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