A bicycle leaning against a concrete railing. Behind the railing and reaching over it are numerous hydrangea blossoms in many colors including yellow, blue and violet, all against a background of green leaves.

Ajisai Loop

We had clear skies and nice weather today following yesterday’s typhoon. Fujisan even put in a subdued appearance early in the morning, with the snow cap much reduced by yesterday’s wind and rain.

Dark Fujisan with streaks of white snow at the crown is only faintly visible against a hazy blue sky. A dark wall of mountains runs across the lower half of the picture in front of Fujisan, with wisps of clouds at the peaks. Buildings and some greenery sprawl across the lower foreground from side to side.
After the typhoon

Of all my usual rides, there’s only one that doesn’t run on cycling paths alongside rivers, which were probably flooded today or at the very least covered in puddles — the Tokyo Landmarks ride. I told Nana I was leaving at 9 a.m. and so prepared everything while she whipped up a batch of her world-famous onigiri.

I wheeled Kuroko out of the basement parking not long after 9 and decided to check the tire pressure before embarking. The front was noticeably low, so I attached the pump head and gave it 30-40 strokes with the pump. But when I removed the pump attachment, I felt the now-familiar sensation of the valve core unscrewing together with the pump head. And sure enough, as soon as I’d released the pump head, all the air whooshed out of the tire at one go.

Assorted bicycle tools and valve parts on a tile floor adjacent to a bicycle tire, showing the valve with the core removed.
Here we go again

I’d experienced this same issue recently, on the road, so I knew what to do. The multitool has a widget that can tighten the valve core in the stem so it doesn’t pull out when I remove the pump head. (I’ve got a new pump on order, but it hasn’t arrived yet.) There’s only one problem: the tool doesn’t really fit between the spokes on the wheel. So it took some doing to get the valve core screwed in tight enough to pump up the tire and release the pump head without removing the valve core at the same time.

I’m happy to report I was able to top up the rear tire without having any valve core issues.

(I’ve just had a look at the multitool guide and the attachment I’m using is not officially a valve core tool. So on multi-day rides I need to remember to bring a proper valve tool.)

Great weather for a ride

Once I was off (about half an hour after the plan), the weather was great for riding: sunny and warm, but not too hot. There were a lot of people out enjoying the nice weekend, including a number of car enthusiasts showing off their automobiles on the cypress-lined avenue at Meiji Jingu Gaien. I’d decided meanwhile to take a nice, easy ride and stop for a lot of photos.

All your onigiri are belong to us

With the late start and my easy-going pace, it was nearly noon before I reached Tokyo Big Sight, my preferred lunch spot. An increasingly strong wind as I approached Tokyo Bay only made matters worse. I was concerned I might have to dismount and walk up the bridge over the Sumida River near Toyosu Pier, but I made it. Three riders on electric bicycles passed me, including one on a DoCoMo bike that sounded as if it would throw its chain at any moment.

I reached my usual picnic spot at Tokyo Big Sight just before noon and found a bench in the shade. I was starving and made short work of Nana’s world-famous onigiri. I topped up my water bottle and continued on my way.

Traffic and ajisai

The hydrangea were blooming everywhere along the roads, but somehow never where I was stopping for my breaks. After Tokyo Big Sight I pedaled a long road with too many traffic lights. A local bus started playing cat-and-mouse with me. I’d gotten ahead for a bit and then the driver pulled up beside me. While still alongside, he put on his signal and started coming over to the curb, so I quickly braked. Some drivers are more considerate — and careful — than others, I suppose.

At the Sumida river I stopped for a shot of Tokyo Skytree, and then stopped soon after at a riverside park for (at last!) a shot with some ajisai. The route next takes me right by Sensoji temple at Asakusa, and because I was not in a hurry I decided to stop for a couple of photos. I first got Nitenmon and then decided to continue through the side streets towards Kaminarimon. This was a mistake because the streets were soon clogged with temple visitors, and I had to walk the bike very carefully to make any progress. I got the shot and got out.


I reached Tokyo Dome about 2 in the afternoon. The skies suddenly darkened, and I got off the bike at a traffic light and turned on the taillights. The weather remained calm, though, and the sky soon lightened again although it remained cloudy for the rest of the afternoon. I stopped only briefly at Budokan — all the park benches in the shade along Chidorigafuchi were taken. I messaged Nana that I’d be home by 3:30 and set out into traffic (and ajisai) once again. I made very good time through Yoyogi, where a festival was holding up traffic in the opposite direction, and Shinjuku, and was home by 2:45.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Ajisai Loop

On a moving time of 3:33:23, I averaged 17.9km/h. That’s about right for the relaxed pace and the number of traffic lights I encountered along the way. The total elapsed time of 5:14:15 reflects the number of stops I made for photos, and the long crawl through the back streets near Sensoji.

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