Close-up of pink cherry blossoms on a slim branch descending from top right to middle, against a blurred background of more branches and blossoms, and a blue sky

Lotus Power

I set out in spring-like weather this morning to see the kawazuzakura in bloom along the Tamagawa. In fact I should have gone last weekend — I’ve missed the peak, but there were still many blossoms on display.

I had a bit of a mechanical before I even set out this morning: when I picked up my sunglasses, one of the lenses popped out. Happy to report I was soon able to snap it back into place and it didn’t give me any trouble for the rest of the day. But as I was cleaning the glasses before departure, when I replaced the cleaner in the medicine cabinet, the ear swabs fell out into the sink! What a cursed start to the day.

When I finally set out, I felt strong. It might have been the nice weather, or it might have been all the good food we enjoyed last night at our favorite* lotus root restaurant, れんこん (Renkon) in Ueno.

* OK, OK, it’s the only lotus root restaurant that I’ve been to — at least that I can recall.

A yellow shop front with a gabled kura-style tiled entrance roof supported by rough-hewn beams. The sign above the entrance reads れんこん (renkon), which means lotus root.
れんこん (lotus root)

I even enjoyed a 4km segment on the way to the river this morning where I hit all the lights green. Strava said I averaged 21.0km/h over that stretch, which is really doing well for city riding. Soon enough, I was on the river and making good time for the sakura.

I was sad to see I’d arrived past the peak. There were still some blossoms on display, and a few couples picnicking on blankets beneath the trees.

For contrast, here’s a photo from 2017 when I had the good sense to arrive while the trees were in full bloom:

Kawazuzakura in full bloom

In my defense, that was a week later than today’s visit. Things are hotting up all over.

It was smooth sailing down the Tamagawa until I reached Rokugo Bridge. Then the wind turned against me, all the way to the bay. It wasn’t overpowering, though, and when I checked Garmie I was still making good time.

Following a couple of previous attempts — one successful — I now know how to get up Tamagawa Sky Bridge from the Former Anamori Inari Shrine. My new phone zooms quite satisfactorily and allows me to share the views from the bridge of 風の塔 (The Tower of the Wind, an air inlet for the tunnel that goes under Tokyo Bay from Tokyo to Chiba) and the airplanes taking off and landing from Haneda Airport. (I couldn’t help but think of the horrific accident there on 2 January — just seven weeks ago!)

At King Skyfront just after the bridge I stopped at Shimogawara Park to enjoy some of Nana’s world-famous onigiri: mentaiko which we’d bought just yesterday in アメ横 in Ueno. I’d thought about going as far as Yokohama today, making it 100km, but as I ate the onigiri in the sun I decided I was more happy without the 30km round trip in traffic over broken pavement. It turned out to be a good decision, because I’d have been riding straight into the wind all the way from Rokugo Bridge to Yokohama.

A bicycle leaning against a concrete column topped by a stylized sculpture of a ship

Instead I crossed Rokugo Bridge back to the Tokyo side and stopped at a convenience store for some Pokari and a Snickers bar. When I arrived the parking lot was already full of cars — and bicycles! There were so many bicycles parked in front of the bicycle stand that it was all I could do to get Kuroko into the stand so I could get into the store with some confidence.

On my way back up the Tama river, the wind was mixed — with me at times and somewhat against me as I reached my goal. But even as I passed the kawazuzakura again and fought against the crosswind, I was still easily doing better than 20km/h.

I reached the park above Futako (after fending off an aggressive driver in a Mercedes — a pox on Mercedes drivers! [Oops! that includes my mother?]) at 1 p.m. and messaged Nana I would be home about 2. As I continued on my way out of the Tama river valley I felt … not strong exactly, but less out of breath than is my usual. Could yesterday’s Lotus Power be making me a stronger climber? Don’t let’s be silly!

CPS record of bicycle ride
Lotus Power

After stopping for a quick photo of my favorite bicycle store, I arrived home on the dot of 1:50. On a moving time of 3:25:57, I’d averaged 19.6km/h, with which I’m quite satisfied.

Age, weight and posture

I’ve been suffering back pain for the past month or so. I’m glad to say that so far, it’s not interfering with riding for the most part. After mounting up I have a minute or two of discomfort before I settle in and then there’s no pain. Still, decades of overindulgence and sloppy posture are taking their toll, and I’d do well to heed the warnings before I end up unable to continue my great love affair with cycling — something that’s already happened to a much younger colleague.

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One response to “Lotus Power”

  1. […] wind, following several days of rain and gale-force winds. Ever since I discovered the entrance to Tamagawa Sky Bridge, I’ve wanted to try starting from there to go to Yokohama, and I thought today might be the […]

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