Selfie of a cyclist standing in front of a bronze statue of two Japanese men in traditional garb. One is crouching and holding a staff upright. The other is standing and pointing slightly out of the frame. The cyclist is wearing a multicolored bandana, dark sunglasses and a bright red jersey. In the background are several green pine trees.

Omamori Run

It’s been a very rainy week, culminating in a typhoon Friday that rather fizzled out. The forecast for Saturday was not very optimistic, but it was the only gap in the weather for the foreseeable future, so I set out early with a bag full of Nana’s world-famous onigiri.

I’d been casting about on Friday evening for a destination, and not feeling much motivation apart from taking advantage of the break in the weather, when it occurred to me this would be the perfect opportunity to set out for Aso Jinja and pick up some omamori to give to my cycling buddies for the upcoming ride.

On my last two visits to the park just before the Tama river, there’s been someone sitting at the bench where I usually take a short break. So after grabbing a quick snap I moved the bike to another location so I wouldn’t intrude while I rested. Then as soon as I joined the river course, I was greeted by a very unexpected view of Fujisan.

The sky began clearing not long after that. I was pushing against the wind at times, but never for more than a couple of kilometers at a go. I continued to make good time and was soon enjoying a couple of onigiri in another park, with just 15km left before reaching the end of the Tamagawa cycling course.

As I neared the end of the route I was pleased to find the construction — which I’ve had to detour around for the past half year at least — was finished and the course was open. I’d been expecting the work to take much longer. I reached Hamura about 11 and continued on towards Aso Jinja without stopping.

As soon as I was on the road again, though, I realized I didn’t have anything smaller than a fiver on me. I needed a 1,000-yen note for the omamori, so I passed the turn-off and headed to a convenience store instead. After loading up on supplements to Nana’s onigiri, I continued on towards the shrine.

For a shrine dedicated to cycling safety, the stone staircase is awfully tricky to navigate while wearing cleats. I’m glad to report zero mishaps while descending the stairs, mounting up on the bike again, and riding the kilometer or so of gravel path back to pavement.

Back in Hamura, I finished the rest of Nana’s world-famous onigiri and a good deal of the extras I’d bought at the convenience store. I was ready at the dot of noon to set off home, but a Japanese fellow stopped me by the restroom and struck up a conversation in English. (He spoke it very well. He works in logistics at the nearby airfield.) He was impressed to learn I’d come 50km, and astonished at how long I’ve lived in Japan.

The ride home was more of the same, but with more saddle weariness and fewer photos. I wasn’t sure what sort of time I was making overall, particularly when I hit another stretch with a stiff headwind. I thought I might get home about 3, and I was pleased when I reached the final rest spot a bit before 2. I let Nana know I was on my last break and I’d be home about 3:15.

Back in the urban hellscape, I came into a lot of traffic. My thighs were protesting on the climbs out of the Tamagawa valley, but we made it to the top in one piece. I got caught behind a city bus that was waiting for traffic coming from a cross street. Nothing to do but bide my time, although a bloke on a scooter took this as an excuse to zip down the middle of the road between the two lanes of traffic going in opposite directions. I decided I’d rather live.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Omamori Run

I finally left Setagaya Dori behind and made better progress. Traffic remained heavy on the larger roads, but I was able to squeeze past the rows of cars at some lights, and to schmooze the lights at other intersections. I stopped the clock at 2:56 and messaged Nana that I was home.

What happened to my kilometers?

Aso Jinja is 2 kilometers and some change past Hamura, and the last time I rode to Hamura I clocked 100km. On that basis, I was expecting 104-5 kilometers for the day, but as I was approaching home I could see I wasn’t going to get that. In fact I wondered if I might have to make a lap or two around the block to reach 100. Where did the extra kilometers go?

The only difference I can think of is the detour up near Hamura that was no longer required. It didn’t go very far off the course — no more than 200-300m — and I’d be very surprised to find it added up to an extra 2km in each direction.

In any case, I made my 100km for the day without having to lap the block, and at a good pace despite the wind and the long rest breaks. On a moving time of 4:59:19, I averaged 20.2km/h.

Trophy badge of a cyclist in green and orange with the legend 100K
June Gran Fondo Challenge

Bonus ride: May Streak

I’d been hoping for May to get Strava’s Streak Challenge, which requires three days of activity each week for four weeks. I’d given up last week because it rained the whole time. I rode to the office Thursday during a break in the rain, and then yesterday’s ride left me one day short. The forecast for today was rain again.

This morning as I was preparing to finish the blog, I checked the streak challenge and realized I could still get something in today. Perhaps I could go for a walk in the rain — I only needed 15 minutes of activity.

And then about 9 a.m. Nana noted that the sky was looking pretty clear, and openly doubted whether we would have rain. I quickly changed clothes and dragged Dionysus out of the parking garage. One quick jaunt later, I’d cemented the Streak Challenge.

The final badge is for 600km ridden in May, which i netted on my commute on Thursday.

Trophy badge of a caricature person in green and orange making a peace sign, with the legend 3x
May Streak Challenge
Trophy badge with a caricature in green and orange of a person riding a bicycle, with the legend 600K
May Ride 600K Challenge

Related posts



, ,




Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent posts