A landscape with a river running horizontally across the bottom of the photo, with grassy banks on either side. A number of buildings line the far side. Above the river two rectangular kites can be seen flying near the left edge of the picture, with string arching downwards to the right. The sky is blue and filled with fluffy white clouds.

Edogawa Century

In another week I’ll embark on a multi-day adventure on another continent. In the meantime, with fantastic weather in the offing, I wanted a 100km ride that wasn’t overly challenging (i.e., no climbing).

I’ve only recently chanced upon the Edogawa cycling course and a (mostly) traffic-free route to reach it. My first time on the route was a lesson in current construction projects and was met at the end with an extraordinarily stiff headwind. On the next go-round, with José, we made better progress, but he had a mishap on the way home and has yet to return to the bicycle.

(He’s been lifting in the gym the past couple of days, so I’m assuming he’s OK.)

Close-up of front of bicycle showing Garmin and spare battery, light, GoPro and bell all attached to the handlebar.
Busy cockpit

In preparation for an upcoming trip, I’d installed the Garmin Charge Power Pack, which extends the life of the Garmin up to 20 hours. Then before setting out, I squeezed in the GoPro. It fit without a millimeter to spare, and thankfully the Garmin battery doesn’t intrude into the image.

Under beautiful skies, I set out slightly after 8 with a bag full of Nana’s world-famous onigiri. I was soon speeding along the palace moat in very heavy traffic.

A bicycle leans against an iron railing in front of a palace moat. The moat is lined with stone walls and green trees. A single white Japanese turret with a gabled roof sits at a corner of the stone wall in the right background.
Usual stop

The sun was really beating down as I continued through Otemachi and the business district. “Nice day, huh?” Nana messaged in response to the palace photo. “Hot!” I replied. Fortunately once I got out of the city and crossed the Arakawa, a breeze brought the temperature back to a more livable level.

A broad, blue river fills the lower half of the photo, leading to a bridge in the distance with an iron arch. The sky above is blue with a hint of white streaks of cloud.
Arakawa, looking towards Tokyo Bay

When I reached the river, the wind proved changeable. At times I was fighting it and at other times it was helping me along. Overall, it was not the hindrance I experienced on my first ride up the Edogawa. The path is narrow in places, and I bided my time behind a young couple on their bikes until it was safe to pass. Before I knew it, I was at Shinozaki Pony Land.

In a corral surrounded by a white fence, a man in a red and white cap leads a young child dressed in green who is riding a brown pony.
Future Gene Autry

This was the point I’d turned around on my first ride on the Edogawa in the face of a strong wind. Now I was just getting started. As the cycling course stretched out ahead of me, I considered the options. I could go until I’d hit 50km, making for a century once I returned home. I could ride until noon, which would get me home by 4 (ceteris paribus). Or I could keep going until I reached Nagareyama Bridge, which is a waypoint of sorts on a longer ride I have in mind for the Edogawa and Tonegawa.

A man in a straw hat stands just off the path, next to a parked bicycle and some boxes. He is facing away from the camera as he watches a model airplane that he is controlling. The landscape is covered in green grasses and shrubbery, with some trees. The sky is blue with a hint of some clouds.
Nice day for a model airplane

As the kilometers stretched on, I had to remind myself to stop from time to time, have a drink of water and shake out the numbness in my fingers. It had taken some time but I’d finally settled into a position where my butt wasn’t hurting and I could keep my hands on the hoods for more than 5km at a go.

I reached the 50km mark before 11:30 and continued to the next switchback. I was out of water, and I thought I still had some kilometers to go before reaching Nagareyama Bridge. I was also getting hungry.

A bicycle leans against a sign at the edge of a paved cycle path. The sign, in Japanese, describes the riparian works for the river in the background. Behind the sign, a grassy slope leads down to the river. An iron girder bridge crosses the river at the right center.
Brief rest with the Tsukuba Express Edo River Bridge

After a brief rest I turned around and soon found a convenience store near the path. After loading up on water and Pokari, and stuffing a couple of hot dogs in my bag, I continued downriver to a rest area where I could sit on a low stone wall in the shade and finish off Nana’s world famous onigiri. An old lady broke off chatting with her group of friends to offer me a couple of fruit jellies, but I politely declined, having just eaten two onigiri and one of the hot dogs. I’d also emptied the Pokari, but still had a full bottle of water.

Back on the course, I was suddenly riding directly into a stiff headwind. Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as the one I’d encountered on my first ride on the Edogawa. I went down a gear or two and continued on, reminding myself to spin rather than try to push into the wind. The gents I’d passed earlier with their radio-controlled airplanes had packed it up for the day, but further down the river I encountered a different sort of aerialist.

A landscape with a river running horizontally across the bottom of the photo, with grassy banks on either side. A number of buildings line the far side. Above the river two rectangular kites can be seen flying near the left edge of the picture, with string arching downwards to the right. The sky is blue and filled with fluffy white clouds.
Kites flying over Edogawa

Guess which direction I was headed! The wind didn’t let up until I was nearly back at Shinozaki Pony Land, from which point the path is more protected as it reaches back towards the city.

I was counting down the kilometers to Tokyo Bay, figuring that would be the place for my next rest and the final hot dog. I found a nice picnic table in the shade at Kasai Rinkai park and was about to sit down when I realized it was swarming with mosquitoes. Back on the Arakawa then to my usual spot at the foot of the bridge.

I updated Nana on my position and said my next stops would be Nihonbashi and Budokan, but I didn’t get any reply as she’d left for the sauna. After recrossing the Arakawa I stopped at a convenience store for one more bottle of water and then continued into the city.

I arrived at Nihonbashi to find a festival in full swing, with drums booming and police whistles sounding shrilly in the traffic. I grabbed the usual shot and continued on towards Budokan. I didn’t have much gas left in the tank for the climb up Kudanzaka, but I persisted.

When I arrived at Budokan I saw a rare opportunity: there was no one walking through Tayasumon gate! I fumbled with my phone in excitement before getting the photo — the first in my decade or so of cycling past here without a bunch of strangers.

The only remaining question on the ride home — apart from the two climbs at Hanzomon — was whether I’d reach 105km for the day. I wasn’t fussed one way or the other; I knew I had 100km in the bag. But if I was close enough to 105 at the end, I’d do what was needed to hit the mark. As it was, Garmie was showing 104.9km when I reached the tower, so I made a lap around the block to bring it up.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Edogawa Century

On a moving time of 5:24:02, I averaged 19.5km/h, arriving home at 3:38. As it was only my second time riding the Edogawa as far upstream as Misato, I had a string of personal bests and 2nd places for that section. I also netted two badges from Strava and one (totally unexpected) from Garmin.

After I got home I checked how much farther I’d have had to go to reach Nagareyama Bridge. When I’d made the decision to turn around, I thought it might be another 6-10km. It turns out I was just 1.5km short of that goal.

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2 responses to “Edogawa Century”

  1. […] 48 hours I’ll be boarding a plane to fly to the start of the next adventure. Following my last jaunt up the Edogawa, I had a short list of maintenance items I wanted to address, and then it would be time to pack up […]

  2. […] the Edogawa Century, I charged up all my GoPro batteries in the dual-battery charger. Then in the process of swapping […]

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