A bicycle leans against a railing in front of a palace moat. In the background right is a two-story white Japanese castle turret with dark tiled roof and gables.

Picturesque ride

Too nice to remain indoors

Snow-capped Mt. Fuji with streaks of shadow and pale orange early morning sunlight. The sky is pale blue fading to orange. In the foreground, many buildings stretch across the picture from left to right, then a line of low, umber mountains just before Mt. Fuji.
The start of a good day

It dawned clear and cold, a beautiful morning. Although it’s not officially winter, it was 5C as I was preparing for the ride, with a forecast high of 13C.

Time to break out the winter cycling kit: my 鬼滅の刃 (Demon Slayer) jersey and tights, as well as winter gloves and thick socks.

Selfie of cyclist in an elevator mirror. The cyclist is wearing a black mask, a dark, long-sleeved jersey with manga characters, and black cycling tights.
Ready for winter

The choice of gear turned out to be perfect: a little chilly in the shade, a bit warm in the sun, but all fine as long as I was moving and working up a sweat.

The first stop was at Meiji Jingu, where large crowds had turned out to see the ginkgo trees. As is often the case on weekends, a number of car clubs were meeting as well, showing off their Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

About the 15km mark I arrived at Shiba Koen after weathering some ups-and-downs around the government offices and some construction work.

The next stop was the Imperial Palace. The palace grounds are open to the public to view the autumn colors, and it was very crowded. I dismounted and waited patiently to get my photo. The Bank of Japan, not much further on, was not surrounded by throngs of sight-seers.


After passing the Rainbow Bridge, I arrived at Tokyo Big Sight shortly after 11 and sat down to a feast of Nana’s world-famous onigiri. I was glad I’d bought a bottle of hot coffee at the nearby convenience store as I chilled quickly while wolfing down onigiri in the shade. According to Garmie it was still just 9C.

The route up the Sumida river takes me past Tomioka Hachiman Shrine, the reputed birthplace of sumo. There always seems to be some sort of festival going on there.

It’s a slog along a long, straight road with far too many traffic lights after that. I try not to engage the drivers who want to play cat-and-mouse between the lights. With the good weekend weather, there were a number of people going about on bicycles and electric scooters, adding to my navigational duties.

After Tokyo Skytree, I didn’t bother with Sansoji Temple at Asakusa. Given the gorgeous day and the crowds I’d seen at the palace, I knew Asakusa would be a madhouse. At this point I was just thinking of getting home to a hot bath and a cold beer, so I passed by Asakusa, Ueno Park and Tokyo University without stopping for photos.

A bicycle leans against a banister of a bridge over a river. Tokyo Skytree rises in the middle background.
Sumida river and Tokyo Skytree

Budokan and home

It was nearly 12:30 when I reached Skytree. I’d told Nana when I set out I might be home by 2, but it was looking more like 2:30 at this point. There was a crazy amount of traffic to get through at Asakusa, including a swarm of cyclists who didn’t know anything about the rules of the road.

I diced it out with two taxis at the climb up to Ueno Park, and then with a tuk tuk of all things at the next light. I’m usually able to get some momentum on the downhill before the climb up to Tokyo University, but this time the light at the bottom turned red just before I reached it. I had no trouble negotiating the climb after that — it just took more time and effort than I’d hoped.

On the sweeping downhill to Tokyo Dome, the light turned in my favor just as I was reaching it, so I sped on by. A few minutes more of traffic, and then I was climbing Kudanzaka towards Budokan. I wasn’t embarrassed at this point to use my lowest gear, and to let a badly maintained electric bicycle pass me by.

I sat down at a park bench facing Chidorigafuchi to eat the last onigiri. It was 1:20, so I messaged Nana that I might be home about 2:30. I didn’t waste any time after finishing the food and water, but got right back into the thick of traffic. I felt I was making good time through Yotsuya and Shinjuku despite a few exceptionally rude taxi drivers.

I got home in one piece and parked the bike, gathering up all the bits and bobs. It was only when I was on the elevator that I remembered to message Nana that I was home. It was 1:59. According to Garmie, I’d arrived at 1:53.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Picturesque ride

I’d beat a five-hour elapsed time on the ride and arrived home just before my original prediction of 2 p.m. On a moving time of 3:12:42, I’d averaged 18.9km/h — not bad considering I was taking it easy. I’d made it from Budokan to home in just 34 minutes, which may be something of a record.


I’d checked the cleat on my left shoe before setting out. It was still a bit crooked so I straightened it up and tightened it thoroughly. The difference was apparent.

The discs brakes continue to rub a bit since I changed the pads. It may have improved somewhat today, or it may just be that I was in traffic for most of the day and didn’t notice it. Based on a number of YouTube videos, this is a common issue — even the pros complain about it. When I get the chance I’ll have the bike back up in the Workshop in the Sky and give the brakes a thorough going-over.

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