I told Nana I was leaving at 7 this morning, with the intention of getting in quite a long ride, a metric century and then some. But when I checked the forecast this morning, it had changed. Not only is there a good chance of rain in the afternoon, but we’re expecting thundershowers as well.
There’s one good ride that will assure I get home before noon, and that’s Haneda. With a look out the window at all the clouds, I skipped the sunblock and put my shades in my jersey pocket. There’s always a moment of transition from Dionysus to Kuroko as I get used to the change in riding position and saddle shape, and then I’m good to go.
I wasn’t really pushing anything until I got to Seta crossing just under 40 minutes after leaving home. And then I had string of green lights through Futako, where I’m typically held up in traffic, and a clear ride across the bridge. I realized I was making very good time and so set myself a challenge: finish in less than 4 hours.
After recrossing the Tamagawa at Maruko Bashi and then a brief rest at Gas Bashi, I realized I was clocking a sustained 30km/h. I’m sure I was benefiting from a tailwind. A rider joined the path just ahead of me off a switchback, casually attired in civvies: T-shirt and shorts, sandals and a baseball cap. He was on a single-speed bike. And he was slowly pulling ahead of me, at a much lower cadence. (He probably had a standard 50-tooth chainring, compared to my 44.)
The single-speeder soon turned away, and I continued onward. I played cat-and-mouse with a gent on a Brompton for a few kilometers before leaving him behind. At this point I was really pushing for my goal, and I was gratified to learn I’d reached Haneda just 1 hour 33 minutes after leaving home. It was a very good time, but could I keep up the momentum for the return?
I wolfed down a couple of Nana’s world-famous onigiri before setting out again. The sun had come out while I was eating, so I took the shades out of my pocket and snapped them on the glasses. As soon as I set out homeward I was fighting the wind, and my speed had dropped from a 25km/h average on the outbound leg to just above 20.
I was feeling at this point there was no way I was going to make my goal, but I pushed on regardless. I did stop at one point to snap some of the spider lilies that have been carpeting Japan for the past couple of weeks.
Apart from the wind, I had pedestrians to deal with. At several points, congestion on the path nearly brought me to a stop. But I continued onward, moving my hands from place to place on the bars to prevent my fingers growing numb. At 9:40 a.m. I had 4km to go to reach Futago Bashi, and then a bit of traffic and the climb up out of the Tamagawa river valley. If I could reach the park at the top of the climb by 10, I’d be almost sure of being home in less than 4 hours.
Despite another pedestrian road block and my own aching thighs on the climb out of the valley, I reached the park on the dot of 10. I quickly drank some water and let Nana know I’d be home by 11, give or take, and then set out again without delay.
I forced myself not to monitor the clock on the way home, but I confess I did massage a couple of traffic lights to improve my advantage. I checked the time again at Sasazuka, with just 3km to go, and I knew I’d arrive home well before 11.
I stopped the clock as I was rolling to stop at our tower: just over three and a half hours. I’d done well. But what about my moving time? I could hardly wait as I parked the bike, tapped my cleated foot on the tile floor waiting for the elevator. At last I checked the Garmin website, and I could hardly believe my luck.
I’d beat 3 hours riding time! I’m sure that has more to do with my ease getting through Futako in the morning than my actual pace during the ride (particularly my fight with the wind and with pedestrians on the way back), but I’ll take it. I’m chuffed, as my English friends say.
And now, it’s after 2 p.m. as I write this, and there’s no sign of rain, much less thundershowers. I’m proper wiped out after the pace of the ride this morning, though, and I’m satisfied.