Two cyclists, in helmets and sunglasses, smiling at the camera. In the background is a fountain with a sign in gold letters that says Tokyo Disney Resort. The last word is mostly blocked by one of the riders' helmet.

What A Long Hot Road It’s Been

Today marks the record-breaking 85th consecutive day where temperatures in Tokyo exceeded 30C, and that’s not expected to change for at least another four days.

I’d been watching the forecast for the weekend, and a few days ago it showed a high of 32C for today, and that’s pretty much my limit. I asked José if he was up for a ride and he readily agreed. We’re doing Biwaichi next month, and we both need to get in some kilometers before then.

As the date crept closer, the forecast crept upwards. Yesterday it was 33C, and this morning when I woke up it had risen to 34. I’d already planned an easy, flat ride, with an early start, so I decided to stick with the plan.

I’d let José know I’d be at his place around 7:45-8 this morning. I sent him a brief message before setting out: Awake? And then: OMW.

I got his response at 7:37: Awake. I was just passing by Sakuradamon at the Imperial Palace, only 12 minutes from his flat. (And it only took that long because of the traffic lights.) I arrived and let him know I was waiting, and after a few minutes he appeared and we set out.

A day of diversions

We were only about midway to the Arakawa when we hit a roadblock: a matsuri in the middle of the road. I figured we’d go up a couple of blocks and then rejoin the route. Unfortunately, Garmie had other ideas. He kept trying to route us back to the place we’d diverged from the route, rather than show us how to rejoin the route from our new location. Fortunately, the Arakawa is hard to miss, running more than 40km from the north of Tokyo all along the eastern edge. With a few false starts, we found it.

From the mouth of the bay at Shinsuna, we backtracked a kilometer to the bridge to cross over the Arakawa. We planned to stop at the park on the opposite side, but we discovered a huddle of police around the restroom, which was wrapped in yellow police line tape. We decided we could wait for another park.

In the end we continued on to Disneyland, and then stopped in a park on the way back. While the mosquitos feasted on our blood, we gobbled some of Nana’s world-famous onigiri. José loves the kombu onigiri!

From the park we continued on towards Tokyo Gate Bridge. This was all new to José, but I’ve done the route a couple of times previously. As soon as we recrossed the Arakawa and turned towards the bay, we were fighting the wind. Fortunately it wasn’t overbearing, and we only had to dodge a few families weaving to and fro across the path on rental cycles.

From Tokyo Gate Bridge it’s all traffic: first a kilometer of pedestrians and then several kilometers of shipping traffic from the port. Fortunately the traffic was lighter today than I’ve experienced in the past, and we made good time back to Eitai Dori. Before I knew it I was handing the last of the onigiri to José at Nihonbashi for his lunch, before continuing onward to Budokan. Along the way I encountered the second diversion of the day, and turned towards Kanda with its rows of used bookstores before arriving at the climb up Kudanzaka to Budokan. I stopped there for some convenience store hotdogs and another bottle of cold water.

After wolfing down the hotdogs and cold water I checked the time: 12:20. I messaged Nana I’d be home by 1:30. I knew it wouldn’t take me that long, but then again I had a headache from the bright sun and the strain on my neck. Other than that I was feeling good: less trouble with finger numbness and sore butt than I’ve had in quite some time on the bicycle.

Nothing to note about the rest of the ride home except it was hot and the sun was bright. I prayed my headache would abate as soon as I was out of the sun and relaxing. (It has.) As I neared home I made one last diversion strictly based on the timing of the lights. Rather than turn to cross in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Buildings, as I usually do, I continued through Central Park and then turned to race downhill towards home. I stopped the clock and messaged Nana at 12:56 that I was home.

GPS record of bicycle ride
What A Long Hot Road It’s Been

I said I’d leave at 7 this morning and pushed the start button at 7:10 — for me that’s a good start. José didn’t keep me waiting long. We wasted a bit of time with the diversion caused by the matsuri, and in general took our time and had some rest rather than focusing on making speed. In the end, on a moving time of 3:59:08, I averaged 18.4km/h. Along the way, I racked up no fewer than 8 PRs.

With today’s ride, I’ve covered 200km for the month.

A stylized image of a biker in shades of yellow and tan, with red hair, on a bicycle with lightning emerging from the rear tire. The legend at bottom says 200k.
200km badge

Did I mention it was hot?

At our stop in the park for onigiri after Disneyland, I noticed a message from my brother.

Your beer:biking ratio appears to have been a little off lately.

I replied with the picture at the top of this blog, and the note: Too hot! In fact I barely got on the bike in August — just a couple of days commuting toward the end of the month. And then I rode to Kawagoe at the start of this month, but I haven’t posted about that.

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