I set out early this morning (although about 20 minutes later than planned) in hopes of riding 100km, and thus bringing my monthly total to 600km. I’ve only done this twice before — once being Lejog of course.
The weather seemed perfect for it: mild, sunny, some clouds. But I was disabused of this the moment I mounted up. The wind was strong. Very strong, and gusty. At times I was fighting for control of the bike, at other times I was soldiering into the wind at little more than a jogging pace.
I stopped at my usual resting spot on the Tamagawa and propped Kuroko against a tree. I didn’t have any problem at the time. But when I stopped a few kilometers later for an early onigiri, I’d no sooner propped Kuroko against a post than she was blown over. I ended up wedging her between the post and a tree trunk, and clasped my helmet between my legs to prevent it doing a Mary Poppins.
After the brief break I continued on, dreading the moment I turned on Rte 15 into the teeth of the gale. It wasn’t as bad though as riding on the river had been, but the wind was still holding me back from making much progress.
I finally reached Minato Mirai in Yokohama three hours after setting out. With my thighs feeling the effects of the 100km of commuting I did this week in addition to the fight through the wind to reach Minato Mirai, I didn’t expect to be able to climb up the hill to Minato-no-Mieru Oka Koen (Harbor View Park) in one go, and in this I was not disappointed. If anything, I was pleasantly surprised how far up the hill I made it before dismounting and continuing on foot.
After eating a couple more onigiri, I mounted up for the ride back to Tamagawa. I clearly was benefiting from a tailwind at this point, and ended up within a couple of seconds of my PR for the long stretch in traffic.
I’d racked up about 60km by the time I reached the Tamagawa, and I knew I’d need more if I wanted to reach 100. Before turning for home, I set out downstream and into the wind again. Within 15 minutes I arrived at Haneda, where I sat down to eat the last onigiri. It was shortly after 1 p.m. when I started back upstream.
The wind was now changeable, but it was helping me along for the most part. I stopped again at the usual rest spot (same as the first one of the day), checked with Garmie and did some mental calculation. By the time I got to Futako I’d be at about 80km, and if I just rode straight home from there I’d still be about 5-6km shy of 100.
I briefly considered some loops around Shinjuku to bring the total up at the end, and then I had an inspiration: I could stay on the river past Futako until I reached the bridge for Setagaya Avenue, then return home via Komae — the same route home I usually take after riding to Hamura. That should give me the elusive 5km I was seeking out.
As it happened I clocked 80km shortly before reaching Futako, as I’d figured, and I continued on the cycle course. After a few more kilometers I came to a 7-11 and stopped for water and a candy bar. Thus fortified, I continued. Everything was going fine until I reached Tama Aqueduct to find an enormous festival sprawling over the river bank and up to the cycle course. I slowed to a crawl, ringing my bell repeatedly as I inched my way through the festival-goers. It took a couple of minutes to make it through to the bridge.
Once back over the river and in Tokyo, I stopped a light and messaged Nana that I’d be home in about an hour. As it happened, I beat my estimate by one minute, comfortably over my 100km goal.
On a moving time of 5:21:17, I averaged 19.3km/h. I’m happy given the extreme wind and the fact I was more concerned with distance than speed.
As mentioned, part of my motivation for going 100km was to bring my total for April up to 600km — of which 238.72km was commuting. In the process I netted a number of badges from Strava and Garmin.
Scoundrels and knaves
Over the course of the day, I felt I’d had more than my share of drivers passing me only to immediately put on their signal and cut me off. But the worst offense came in the first 10km of the day. I was coming to an intersection where I wanted to turn right. The car ahead of me was also turning right, so I felt I’d be safe following him through the intersection. I checked over my shoulder and noted a blue car about 20-30m behind. I put out my hand and pulled into the right part of the lane, just behind the right-turning car, to wait for the intersection to clear.
As a car passed in the opposite direction I heard a blaring horn and a screech of brakes. I glanced over my shoulder to see the blue car that had been behind me was now fully in the opposite lane, facing head-on into the traffic. Had the driver been trying to get ahead of me into the queue, when there was clearly no room to pull back in line?
The intersection cleared and I followed the car ahead of me through the right turn. A moment later the blue car followed me through the turn. Noticing it was the same car behind me, I pulled over to the curb and let them pass.
It all happened too quickly for me to become frightened or angry. I’m glad to say my traffic interactions for the rest of the day were less exciting, if sometimes more exasperating.
Finally, I need to be more careful about applying sunblock to my hands at the gap between the sleeve and glove, and the gap where the glove closure is.
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