A Chinese style wooden gate in blue with red and gold accents, lots of filigree and a gabled roof. A large placard reads in gold letters 中華街 (Chinatown). There are buildings on either side of the gate, and a crowd of people milling through the gate at bottom.

Yokohama via Tamagawa Sky Bridge

I’ve been meaning to do this ride since Tamagawa Sky Bridge opened. When I cross the bridge and return upstream on the Kanagawa side, it brings me back to Rokugo Bridge. Turn left and it’s Rte 15 to Yokohama. Three times now I’ve got to that point and instead turned right, crossing the Tamagawa back to the Tokyo side and hence homewards.

Last night I told Nana I’d be leaving at 8 a.m. She was actually up earlier than me this morning, banging around in the kitchen at 4:30. I finally gave up on getting more sleep at 5:30, and then just pottered around for an hour. But when I finally got suited up about 7:30, the world-famous onigiri were waiting for me. I hit the road at 7:47, much earlier than on my previous attempts.

I decided the time was ripe to use the new jersey. When Nana saw it, she just laughed and laughed. I like it and I’m happy to report that others who have seen the photo have given favorable reviews.

No strangers approached me during today’s ride to tell me how much they liked my kit. On the other hand, I didn’t notice anyone openly laughing.

Selfie of a cyclist in an elevator mirror. The cyclist is wearing glasses, a black mask, and a jersey with a pink sakura motif on a yellow, orange and ocre background. The cyclist is also wearing black shorts, has a light grey bag slung from one shoulder, and is holding a helmet in the other hand.
Pearl Izumi S621-B Men’s Cycle Jersey

It was just after 9 a.m. when I stopped for my first break along the Tamagawa, and noticed Fujisan was out in full force. I messaged Nana about it as I noshed on the first of several onigiri: tororo kombu with umeboshi. Ten minutes later, cruising along the top of the levee, I grabbed a snap.

Fujisan's snow-capped peak in the distance, under a hazy blue sky. In the foreground are green trees and grasses, with buildings and antennas (with guy-wires) behind that.

I ran into a headwind after that and my pace slowed somewhat, but I continued on towards Haneda without further incident. From Haneda I continued to the Tamagawa Sky Bridge, from the top of which I stopped to photograph Tokyo Bay and Fujisan (again).

From the peak of Sky Bridge I descended into Kanagawa, and stopped at a small park to enjoy a couple of more onigiri. Continuing on, I came to Rokugo Bridge at 10:30 a.m.

Without hesitation, I turned left to continue on towards Yokohama. Despite the heavy traffic and frequent traffic lights, I was making good time. I did a 5km split in 15 minutes and some seconds — something I almost never achieve in traffic. Maybe the wind was helping me?

As I came into Yokohama proper, I stopped at a convenience store before the climb to the park. Hit and run — I grabbed what I needed from the shelves and checked out, eager to be on my way. It was only after I’d paid and was back curbside with my bike that I realized the Aquarius was totally frozen. No way to pour that into my empty water bottle! And the water I’d bought for the other bottle … was carbonated. I was taken back to my first days in Japan, when I picked up what I thought was a jelly doughnut at a convenience store and it turned out to be curry pan. Yes, after more than 30 years in the country, I can read the label to see I’ve picked out carbonated water — if I bother to try. And the fact the Aquarius was in a case together with ice should have been a clue.

No mind — I poured the carbonated water into one of the water bottles, stowed the frozen Aquarius in the saddle bag, and continued on my way.

After snapping a photo of the entrance to Yokohama Chinatown, I soon ran into a row of city buses — no surprise in central Yokohama. I made my way past four as they idled at the curb, only to be trapped behind a fifth as the light turned against us. Nothing to do but bide my time until the light changed and the bus trundled forward. As soon as it pulled over at a bus stop I was by it and on my way to Minato no Mieru Oka Koen (harbor view park).

The final turn towards the park is a 30m climb at up to 13% on a two-lane, twisty road. I’ve made it to the top in one go in the past, but I typically ditch after about 60% of the way up the slope — just after the steepest part. Today I bailed long before that, not even halfway up the climb. I pushed on by foot, shamed by the grinding of my cleats against the paving blocks with each step. But I reached the top and sat down in the park overlooking Yokohama Bay Bridge while I enjoyed the convenience store hotdogs.

An hour here, an hour there

I’d reached the park at 11:34, just an hour after leaving Tamagawa river. I didn’t waste time. After eating and drinking and taking a photo, I messaged Nana at 11:45 I was on the way home. Racing back down the 30m incline, I rejoined Yokohama urban traffic — this time, homeward bound.

The 15km ride back to Tamagawa is among the most joyless I’ve experienced. Heavy traffic, lots of lights, and bad pavement. I put a brave face on it and did my best. I stopped once along the way to get some actual water — having drunk all the carbonated water and discovering that the Aquarius was still largely frozen. After that I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I found myself back at the large crossing at Motoki, and just a few minutes later, back at Rokugo Bridge over the Tamagawa and back into Tokyo.

A bicycle rests against a stone plinth at the end of a banister for a bridge over a river. Atop the plinth is a stylized sculpture of a boat.
Boat and bike

At this point I had a rough idea how far I was from home. I had a goal of making 100km for the day, and I could see I was a few kilometers short. I continued on upstream, where I would pass a couple of waypoints which would give me a much more clear idea of the kilometers remaining before home.

As I neared Futagobashi, where I would normally leave the river for city traffic, I was still two or three kilometers short. I’d thought about continuing along the river until Komae, but then I thought if I just go as far as the 246 bridge, it might be enough. My decision was influenced in no small part by my numb fingers and backside.

I walked my bike up the spiral ramp to the 246 bridge and continued across the Tamagawa into Tokyo. I’d set Garmie at this point to navigation (which I didn’t require, knowing well my way) so I wouldn’t be constantly checking my progress. And then, winding my way slowly up out of the Tamagawa river valley to a small park at the top, I checked my stats: 87km and some change. With luck, I’d hit 100km before reaching home, or perhaps after a lap or two around the block.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Yokohama via Tamagawa Sky Bridge

After the usual fight with traffic, I neared home. When I arrived near the tower entrance, Garmie had not yet beeped to indicate a 5km segment completed. I decided to do a lap around the block. The light in front of the tower was red. And just when I pulled up to the crosswalk there, Garmie finally beeped. Instead of lapping around the block, I just pulled off onto the sidewalk and steered towards the entrance. I was done for the day.

On a moving time of 4:59:58, I’d averaged spot-on 20.0km/h. Perfect! Not just Yokohama via Tamagawa Sky Bridge, not just 100km in the bag, but 100km at 20km/h. I was more than satisfied.

(And no mechanicals other than the continuing issue of the rubbing disc brakes.)

Trophy badge for 100km ride: a styled bicycle rider in green with reddish-orange hat and flames from the bicycle wheels, with a banner stating 100K.
Gran Fondo, done

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