Meant to be longer

Red Japanese shrine torii under cloudly blue skies with river in foreground

I’ve been planning a ride down to Enoshima, which I don’t think I’ve ever visited, with a return via the Daibutsu at Kamakura and then Yokohama. In all about 135km (and some climbing). I estimate 9+ hours for the ride, and so planned to set out about 7:30 so I could be home by 5.

That was the plan. I was up in plenty of time to get going, and Nana had even awoken by herself to get the onigiri ready for the ride. But a stomach ailment kept me in the house for another 2 1/2 hours. As I set out just before 10 a.m., I knew I’d have to take a shorter ride today. I could also feel I didn’t have my usual energy, perhaps as a result of the tummy bug.

My new goal was down the Tamagawa to Haneda, and then to visit a park a bit upstream from Futako on the Kanagawa side that I haven’t seen in several years. Finally, home. That should have given me a ride of 85-90km.

Windy

Looking out the window of our flat, I wasn’t sure I would need my shades, or even sunblock. The moment I began riding, though, the sun came out strong and bright. The blue sky was filled with fluffy white clouds, so the sun was coming and going frequently.

When I got to the Tamagawa, the wind was rather strong. I wasn’t riding directly into it for most of the way, but it was slowing me a bit. That was the only thing slowing me down, apart from traffic. The river course is flat and my lack of energy wasn’t a real issue. I reached Haneda without any problems, and sat down to finish off all three of the onigiri that Nana had prepared for me.

Selfie of cyclist in helmet, shades and black mask in front of vermilion Japanese shrine torii
Haneda Peace Shrine (Former Anamori Inari Shrine)

Bicycle leaning against tree in rock garden
A place in the shade for eating onigiri

Cramps

Not long before my stop for lunch and coincident with a stretch of direct headwind for a few kilometers, I felt cramping in both calves. I kept going and rode it out. After lunch, though my calves were fine, I had cramping in my thighs. It didn’t prevent me riding or even slow me down, but it added an unwelcome note of pain to the ride.

I made better time back upstream, with the wind more at my back, but by the time I reached Futako I’d given up the plan to visit the park further upstream. If I’d had a particular goal to reach before the end of the day, I could have ignored the pain and continued. As it was, I didn’t see any reason to prolong things. I crossed the river at Futako and took a short break at the top of the climb before continuing on home.

I made better time back through the city, sheltered from the wind and with the promise of a cold one waiting for me at home.

My dear Alphonse

I made mention of traffic: I’ve had some encounters recently. Last week on my commute home, I waited behind a line of cars at a traffic light and proceeded with them when the light turned green.

Just as I reached the intersection, a driver coming from the other direction turned right (Americans, think: turned left) just in front of me, forcing me to brake.

Oh no, after me!

Later that same ride, making pretty good speed on a four-lane boulevard, I saw a parked car ahead of me. I checked over my shoulder and there was a car there. I slowed and waited for him to pass and … he slowed and kept pace with me. A couple of seconds later he was beside me, still pacing me, but not moving fully into the next lane to give me room to pass the parked car. We both finally came to a stop a couple of meters from the parked car, and I gestured for the driver to go ahead, which he did (again, without moving fully into the adjacent lane). I realized he was expecting me to go around the parked car without checking for traffic (it happens a lot) and was preparing to brake when I cut him off.

As he passed, I saw he had a shoshinsha mark on the car, so he was a new driver. It looked like he was getting coaching from an older man in the passenger seat, so I think Papa was probably at fault this time. Overall, not really an example of the “after me” syndrome, but it stuck in my head.

The following morning, again on my commute, I moved out into the middle of the lane to go around a bus that had stopped to take on passengers. Just as I overtook the rear of the bus, the driver put on the turn signal and pulled out, cutting me off. He saw me and stopped after he’d already blocked my passage and I’d been forced to come to a stop to avoid a collision. Oh no, after me!

Professional drivers are supposed to be trained to watch for things like this.

This morning on my way down to the river, a driver of a large truck on a cross street waited for the van ahead of me to pass and then pulled across the intersection, forcing me to stop. Both the street I was on and the cross street he was following were narrow, and I had to wait a good 45 seconds or so for him to clear the intersection.

Just a few dozen meters further on, a car came out of a cross street just ahead of me, forcing me once again to brake. The driver turned onto the road I was riding, went a couple of dozen meters, and then came to a full stop while waiting for the next intersection to clear before turning right. Oh no, after me!

There were a few more examples like that today, and then there were the other cyclists. I was waiting for a light and then just as it changed, a woman on a mamachari tried to pass me on the right and turn left, cutting me off. I’d moved off the moment the light changed and so we both came to a stop in the middle of the intersection, narrowly avoiding collision.

A few kilometers further on, I had a similar encounter with two guys on bicycles. This time when the light changed, one shot past me on the left and another on the right, both nearly hitting me as I moved off. I overtook them both within a couple of dozen meters and left them for dead.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Meant to be longer

On a bright note, I managed to wear my UV cut mask the entire ride. The wind helped by keeping my glasses from fogging. It wasn’t too hot today. The real challenge will be to keep it on when the temperature is in the 30s.

Three Rivers, Three Prefectures

GPS route of cycle ride

This is a ride I’ve been meaning to do for a while: up the Tamagawa, across the top of Tokyo (which actually puts me in Saitama), and then back down the Arakawa. As I learned when I set out to map it, this course runs along another river in Saitama, the Irumagawa.

When I told Nana I’d planned to do 125km, she was sceptical. I said I’ve ridden that distance and further any number of times in the past, and she pointed out I haven’t done more than 100km in quite some time. That set me to looking through my records, and the last time I did was in January, when I rode the entire length of the Tamagawa course in both directions for a total of 143.5km.

Looking at that ride and a couple of others of nearly 100km, I figured I could do this new route in 8 or 9 hours. So, with an 8 a.m. start, I should be home by 4 or 5 p.m., allowing some time for faffing on a new route.

Tamagawa

Bicycle leaning against wooden fence
Kuroko takes a break to let her tires cool

I reached the Tamagawa before 9 a.m. after a 15km jaunt through city traffic. The weather was cool and the skies overcast, despite the forecast for a sunny day with a high of 30C. I decided not to complain about the shortfall in the temperature department, and after a brief rest continued on up the river.

It was smooth sailing the whole way. If there was any wind, it was at my back, and there was little competition in terms of wandering pedestrians on the course. I stopped for my first of Nana’s world-famous onigiri at Persimmon Park, and then reached Hamura less than an hour later, well before 11. I took a break here and ate two more onigiri in the shade.

Bicycle leaning against fence with river weir in background
Kuroko pining for the waters

Selfie of cyclist in helmet in front of statue of Tamagawa Brothers
Me ‘n’ my Tamagawa Bros

In fact on my way up the Tamagawa on this occasion I’d remained in Tokyo the entire time, just waving at Kanagawa Prefecture across the river. But when I do this route again I intend to go via Futako (meeting up with the Halfakid there), and the way upstream from there crosses briefly into Kanagawa before returning to Tokyo.

Irumagawa

I left the cycling course at Hamura and turned east, into traffic. There was a bit of climbing here, on roads that had looked completely level on Street View, but nothing I couldn’t handle. After a fast descent, I turned off the roads onto a path I’d found on Google Maps, and this turned out to be a mistake. It had sections of broken gravel, the kind mountain bikers look for rather than smooth path, and there were some stairs. Judging from the looks I got from a few people, I’d overlooked a sign forbidding cyclists on this path (or at least requesting riders to dismount). But most people were friendly.

Maybe I should have taken a clue from the fact this path wasn’t on Street View. But there are whole neighborhoods in this area that aren’t covered, so …

Next came more traffic, narrow streets absolutely clogged with vehicles. There was a long queue up a short rise with a traffic light at the top, and after cooling my heels through a couple of cycles of the signal, I mounted up the sidewalk and jumped to the front of the line. After that the Garmin faithfully guided me to the next cycling course, the Sayama-Kawagoe Cycling Road, which runs alongside the Irumagawa. This turned out to be smooth and well-maintained (the course, although the same might be said of the river), if a bit narrower than the Tamagawa and Arakawa courses (ditto). I was glad to be out of the traffic and not picking my way between cabbage-sized rocks, but I did have to bide my time for pedestrians and other cyclists on occasion.

Kawagoe

The cycling road brought me into the city of Kawagoe, although not right up to the doorstep of my goal, which was Koedo (the old town). I did some more faffing about here through back streets and more waiting in traffic on narrow streets. On one particularly long stretch of narrow, two-lane road, the cars would follow behind me looking for their opportunity to pass, only to end up just in front of me, following the car I’d previously been following.

Selfie of biker in helmet, mask and sunglasses in front of bell tower
Chimes of the times

Eventually I reached Old Town, only to find it packed with tourists. What pandemic? At least everyone was masked. I followed a line of traffic down the main road and pulled off the side for a picture with the iconic Toki-no-kane bell tower.

After working my way through the remainder of the tourist-lined road, I made quick progress to a convenience store for a bottle of water and some sweets, and then onwards to the Kawagoe Sports Park. Sitting on moss in the shade of a tree, I ate the last of the onigiri and most of the treats I’d bought. It was after 1 p.m. when I got up to continue the ride.

Arakawa

I’m well familiar with this path now after a couple of previous visits to Kawagoe, and I was glad to be back on the course after a lot of riding in traffic. The fly in my ointment was a headwind, which only seemed to get stronger as I made my way downstream. The skies were much sunnier than in the morning and the temperature near the promised 30C, and I was getting a headache from squinting in the sun and wind despite my shades.

What could I do with these conditions? Take more frequent breaks, drink lots of water, and then shift to a lower gear and keep going. The wind eased up for the last couple of kilometers and I finally reached my favorite signpost at Todabashi.

Bicycle leaning against sign marking Arakawa river
It’s back into traffic from here

Back home

I found some shade under the Todabashi and took stock of my situation. It was 2:40 and I had a bit more than 13km to go, all in heavy traffic. The Garmin was predicting I’d be home in 40 minutes or so, but I was exhausted from battling the sun and wind. I messaged Nana that I’d be home about 4, but warned I might be a bit later as I was tired and taking it easy. And then I mounted up and headed into the traffic.

I felt better almost immediately as I was no longer fighting a headwind. I’d worried I didn’t have enough energy for the coming climb, a long, gentle rise, but I had no trouble with it once I got started. (I was passed by a younger, fitter couple on their bikes, but fair play.) As I progressed my confidence returned. I was still tired and I had a headache, but I knew I’d be getting home. I took my time on the few remaining hills on Yamate Dori, waited out each traffic light, and drank the last of my water. I was glad I had very little trouble from the traffic.

And at last! After mounting up the last rise to Nakano Sakaue, I coasted gratefully back down the other side and turned towards home. I saved the ride on the Garmin and messaged Nana at 3:33 that I was home.

GPS route of cycle ride
Three Rivers, Three Prefectures

Success

Despite the headwind on the Arakawa (and I’ve been out there in worse) and the faffing about on the new sections in Saitama, the ride was a success. I’d come in at 7 hours 35 minutes elapsed time, beating my estimate, and there were zero mechanicals. My new rear wheel performed flawlessly in its debut, and the angry bees sound of the ratchet is a welcome metal touch. The little knobbies on the tires make a whirring sound on smooth pavement, but they were a welcome addition when I was working my way over the moon crater near Iruma.

Detail of rear bicycle hub
Metal

I’ve already revised my GPS route, including Futako and avoiding the rocky path at Iruma and some of the back streets in Kawagoe. I’m looking forward to riding this one again.

Minato no Mieru Oka Koen Get!!

Yokohama Bay Bridge

The weather was iffy on Saturday — cloudy with a chance of rain. But Nana and I had plans for Sunday, so I could risk it or just stay home all weekend. I decided to risk it. I took my time getting ready for the ride, and hadn’t really chosen a destination until Nana had finished making the onigiri.

I hadn’t been to Yokohama in some time, and I wanted to see how I’d do against the final climb, a steep 9% scramble over 270m to gain a total of 25m, with a rewarding view of Yokohama Bay from the top. Having decided that, I got my preparations under way. When I was pumping up Kuroko’s tires prior to departure, I noticed a spot of latex sealant emerging on the back tire. I didn’t think anything about it at the time.

So far, so good

The weather held as I rode through the city to Futako Tamagawa, and then down the Tamagawa. The wind was changeable, but never really holding me back. One good thing about the cloudy skies was the relative lack of pedestrian competition for the cycling course. I had one brief stop along the Tamagawa before reaching the bridge that took me across the river and into Kanagawa Prefecture. After a couple of kilometers, I stopped at a park in Motoki and had the first onigiri — a really huge mentaiko onigiri that probably counted as two.

From there it was just one long, straight slog through 15km of urban traffic. At some point I started feeling a vibration through the pedals and seat when I was putting the power down. After determining the vibration coincided with the pedal cadence (and not, for example, wheel rotation), I started wondering if the bottom bracket bearings were going. Kuroko does have a habit of eating bottom brackets, although things have been good in the year since converting to the Sugino (and a bottom bracket that matched the original spec, rather than the subpar solution I’d hit on previously).

Apart from the vibration, an almost crunchy feeling that made me feel certain it was a bearing issue, things were going smoothly. The sun came out from behind the clouds for a bit as I approached Yokohama, and I made an effort to keep my UV mask over my big nose.

And then … sweet success!

I passed through the Minato Mirai neighborhood of Yokohama more smoothly than anticipated — traffic was low for a Saturday, and I was having good luck with the lights. I was sitting at the intersection under the Yamashitacho interchange before I knew it, wondering about the upcoming climb. I’ve made it more than halfway up at least half a dozen times, only to run out of steam when the goal was in sight. Would today be any different?

At the final intersection before the climb, I paused and waited for all the traffic to go ahead of me. I didn’t want to have to worry about traffic overtaking me during the climb. Then, as the light changed, I set off. I didn’t charge the hill but took my time up the approach, shifting down rapidly and before the effort increased. In moments, I was inching forward, content to take my time, working my way slowly (if a bit shakily) up the narrow and winding road.

My breathing became audible as I neared the spot where I often give up: a small café on the left with some appealing ice cream on offer (but it’s a dog café). I glanced up at the remaining few meters and it occurred to me that I was going to make it!

Stupid bus

Just as I realized that, I was passed by a city bus, and then a car. Within a few more seconds, I saw what a problem this was going to make: while stopping for the traffic light at the top of the hill, the bus had pulled close enough to the curb to block my way. With less than a second to choose my course of action, I decided I was going to continue my climb on the sidewalk. I glanced up towards the intersection and saw a couple of pedestrians, but they moved aside as I mounted onto the cobbles. The slope was already far gentler than its 16% maximum, and I passed the bus in a matter of seconds and then was back in the street, arriving at the stop light at last!

Cue Rocky Theme

I’d done it! I waited a few seconds at the red light, allowing pedestrians to cross as I gasped for air. Then I turned into Minato no Mieru Oka Koen (Harbor View Park), parked Kuroko and took a snap before sitting down to enjoy a couple more well-earned onigiri.

Yokohama Bay Bridge
Yokohama Bay Bridge

After wolfing down the onigiri and posting my accomplishment on social media, I had a close look at Kuroko. No sign of looseness in the wheel hubs or bottom bracket. As far as I could see, the rear derailleur was in good alignment. No obvious issues. Mystified, I mounted up for the return trip.

Descent into hell

Well, into Yokohama, anyway. The speed on the descent back down Yatozaka (the hill I’d just conquered) is limited by the need to retain control in the blind curve and the sharp stop at the bottom. According to the Garmin, I only hit about 35km/h at this point. (Strava reports that the king of this particular mountain has climbed it at an unbelievable 36.9km/h!) Threading my way through traffic, I passed Yokohama Chinatown and headed back towards Tamagawa. All was going well except for that unexplained thrumming when I put some effort into the pedals.

The real hell here is the 15km of totally urban riding from Minato Mirai back to the bridge over the Tamagawa. I was making slightly better time on the way home, perhaps thanks to a tailwind.

So you had a flat …

Bicycle leaning against bridge abutment topped by small statue of boat
Checking tire pressure at Rokugo Bridge

On reaching the bridge, I mounted a curb to the pedestrian ramp. And there I felt the rear rim come down on the curb, albeit gently. I dismounted to push Kuroko up the ramp to the bridge, and there stopped and gave the rear tire a squeeze. It was definitely low! It took me just a couple of minutes to pump the tire back up to full (as measured by my hyper-accurate thumb) and I noted once again that a bubble of latex sealant was forming on the tread. I thought for a moment about putting a barb into the pinhole, and then voted against it. I put my barb away, and then I was on my way again.

And, just like that … the vibration was gone! I couldn’t believe it. At the earliest opportunity I put all I had into the pedals and … smooth as sake. Do you mean to tell me that all this crunching and vibration was a low rear tire? A pinhole leak that for some reason the sealant isn’t … erm, sealing?

Apparently so. On both counts. Over the next 15km I confirmed that (a) the vibration was gone when the tire was at full pressure, and (b) the tire was leaking, and coming down from perhaps 40psi to around 20psi before holding steady at that. I suppose the good news was that the tire wasn’t going completely flat, or unseating from the rim.

Over the river and up the hill

My way upstream on the Tamagawa brings me back into Kanagawa at Marukobashi, and then finally into Tokyo at Futagobashi. But as I was making good time, and I don’t like the narrow, crowded sidewalk at Futagobashi, I continued on another kilometer or so to bring me to the 246 bridge over the Tamagawa. Here there’s much less pedestrian traffic, and at the foot of the bridge on the Futako side there’s ample space to stop and top up a leaky tire. And to get a half-liter of chilled water from a vending machine.

Having crossed the river at this point, my path up out of the Tamagawa valley was quite a bit steeper than the one I usually take — nearly as challenging as the climb at Yokohama. I’d been up this hill in one go on several occasions, though, and approached it with confidence. Once again, I dropped into my granniest of granny gears well before needing it, and I was at the top (albeit once again gasping for breath) before I knew it.

A little rain among friends

From the top of the valley at Tamagawa, it’s less than an hour to home — all in traffic. I messaged Nana when to expect me, and set out in good spirits. I was nearly halfway there when the vibration started up once again (letting me know the rear tire was losing pressure as before), and then I felt a sprinkle or two on my arms and face. Within moments it was raining. I’d already taken off my shades and put on my lights out of regard for the cloudy skies, so there was nothing to do but continue onwards. The rain was never particularly heavy and did let up after only five or ten minutes, and it failed to get me as wet as I’d got splashing through puddles on the Tamagawa cycling course. There was nothing more of note on the way home apart from the tour bus driver who decided he needed to be ahead of me at the red light and in the process nearly forced me off the road.

The rain was a (not so) distant memory as I wheeled into the plaza in front of our tower, dismounted, and wheeled Kuroko into the freight elevator for a visit to the Workshop in the Sky.

GPS record of cycle ride
Minato no Mieru Oka Koen Get

Long time no Kawasaki Daishi

Main Hall of Kawasaki Daishi

Maintenance before the start

Before I could ride today, I had to take care of a couple of small mechanical issues that arose during last week’s ride to Takaosan: some adjustment of the rear derailleur, and a strange noise that cropped up late in the ride. So my first step was to bring Kuroko up to the Workshop in the Sky and have a look.

Detail of bicycle casette and rear drop-out showing protruding bolt head
You again!

As soon as I got the bike into the stand, I could see the problem: one of the bolts that I’d just installed and tightened a week ago was sticking out far enough to rub against the chain and derailleur. I’ve been dealing with this issue as long as I’ve had Kuroko, and this past week I’ve been trying to get in touch with the manufacturer (with no success).

(The larger, silver bolt sticking out on the opposite side is for the pannier rack, which is currently not installed. If I screw the bolt all the way in without the rack, it interferes with the derailleur. I’ve had no issue with it sticking out, and the fit is tight enough that it’s not going anywhere — unlike with the derailleur hanger bolts.)

Loctite, pliers, hex wrench, bolt and nuts on floor
Nuts to that!

The bolts I installed a week ago stick through to the other side of the derailleur hanger, so that gives me enough thread to fit nuts on the end of each one. Even with the wheel removed, it’s a very tight fit for my fat fingers, but in the end I was able to get a nut on each bolt, with Loctite, and tighten it down.

Detail of rear derailleur mounting showing four nuts on bolt ends
That should hold?

That done, it was just a matter of a minute or two to adjust the rear derailleur cable tension, and that took care of the shifting issue. I ran through the gears a few times until I was satisfied everything was working. The final bit of pre-flight maintenance was to check the disk brake pads (all fine) and the tire pressure (added a few PSI to the rear).

Just a short one today

Between the delay for the maintenance (I didn’t want to start too early in the morning because the neighbor’s dog starts barking if I make noise out in the Workshop in the Sky) and an iffy tummy in the morning, I decided on a short ride today. I set out down the Tamagawa towards Haneda. As soon as I started riding I felt strong. I stopped after about 22km for the first of Nana’s world famous onigiri, and was soon back on the bike.

As I passed under Gas Bashi, I noticed there was a newly paved path down at the foot of the levee. I usually ride on the top of the levee here, but I worked my way down to the new pathway. Very smooth, wide pavement. The section of the cycling course this replaces isn’t the one most in need of maintenance currently, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

Soon after, Haneda hove into view, with Kawasaki Daishi Bridge just in front of it. When I saw the bridge and recalled the name, I realized I hadn’t been to visit Kawasaki Daishi itself in a couple of years at least. I quickly changed my plans and turned off the cycling course for the bridge.

Kawasaki Daishi

I knew all I had to do was cross over the bridge into Kawasaki, continue along the main road for a bit and then turn right. The question, after all this time, was where to turn. I turned just one intersection early and ended up faffing about for a bit before finally consulting Google Maps. As often happens in these circumstances, I’d passed quite near my goal twice before finally getting on the right heading.

Portion of GPS record showing rider wandering about, lost
Faffing about

Once back on course, I recognized the way immediately. Soon I was walking Kuroko down the row of sweets shops leading up to the main gate, listening to the candy makers hammering their knives against the cutting boards to attract business.

Row of candy shops and octogonal five-story pagoda
Row of candy shops and octogonal five-story pagoda

The bike rack was just where I remembered it, and I locked up Kuroko while I took a brief stroll inside the temple for some snaps.

Main gate and pagoda
Main gate and pagoda

Giant lantern in the main gate
Giant lantern in the main gate

Main Hall of Kawasaki Daishi
Main Hall of Kawasaki Daishi

Two of the Four Heavenly Kings guarding the main gate
Two of the Four Heavenly Kings guarding the main gate

Lunch and return

After retrieving Kuroko from the bike stand, I continued on a few dozen meters to the large park nearby, where I sat down in the shade of a large tree and enjoyed more mentaiko onigiri.

Bicycle leaning against large tree trunk
Thank you, tree, for holding my bike

After lunch I didn’t have any trouble making my way back across the bridge and picking up the cycling course on my way home. I still felt strong and was pushing the pedals at every opportunity. I’d switched the Garmin to navigation view while flailing about in search of Kawasaki Daishi, and I left it that way on my return. I determined not to worry about my pace but just to keep pedaling. The tactic certainly worked as I spent less time paying attention to the Garmin and more on where I was going (especially because I knew the route well).

Back at Nikotama, I crossed the river into Tokyo and climbed up out of the Tamagawa valley. At the top I took a brief rest in a park, sipped some water, and messaged Nana that I would be home in about an hour. I made good time through traffic after that and was home after only 45 minutes.

GPS record of cycle route
Long time no Kawasaki Daishi

Trouble-free ride

I’m very pleased to note there were no mechanical issues on today’s ride following my morning maintenance. The shifting was flawless for the whole ride. And when I parked Kuroko in the basement I checked the derailleur hanger once again, and all the nuts and bolts were snug.

Refused at the gate

Optimistic start

Cyclist's red jersey and black shorts
All-new kit

I finally got on the bike on Day 3 of a three-day weekend. On Saturday I was suffering from a tummy ailment, and yesterday we had lots of “guerilla weather,” including a number of tornadoes.

This morning the skies were blue, with fluffy white clouds. While Nana whipped up a batch of her world-famous onigiri, I got dressed in my new kit, repping Wales big-time.

It was just 15C when I set out, and I worried I might actually be cold in the summer jersey. It was a bit cool in the shade, but when I was moving I generated enough heat. And in the sun, no problem.

Road shenanigans

The ride down to the river went nearly without incident. I was next to a city bus at a stoplight and decided to get out ahead of him. When the light changed I popped a wheelie for a brief moment before getting my steed back under control and putting my effort into moving forward.

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It’s not as though I’m Fabio Wibmer — I’d just put the bike in too low a gear when pulling up to the light. I usually start from the large chainring, with the second-largest cog. In this position, the front derailleur should be trimmed, which takes a light press on the shifting paddle. But I’d pressed too hard in my haste, and shifted to the small chainring on the front. The result was all sorts of leverage compared to what I was expecting.

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The only other thing of note was a driver who absolutely had to get past me before slamming on the brakes and turning left, cutting me off. In other words, a typical day’s riding.

A beautiful day — with some wind

Small shrine nestled in trees
Short shrine stop

As soon as I got to the river, I was battling a cross-wind. Someone was using the park bench where I usually have my first break, so I continued on until I reached the small shrine near Keio Oval, the keirin racetrack. There I had a short break and ate some fruit jello.

Back on the cycle course, I was making good time up the Tamagawa despite the wind. As expected on a holiday with good weather, there were a lot of joggers, strollers and amateur cyclists to negotiate. (Not that I’m a pro … but I know how to stay out of other people’s way when I ride.)

Upwind on the Asagawa

I knew I’d be in trouble when I branched off the Tamagawa for the Asagawa — I was turning into the wind. It was actually fine for the first 5km or so, and the wind was clearing the air, providing a fine view of Fujisan at the end of the winding river.

Fujisan over the Asakawa

Blurry digitally zoomed image of Fujsan behind apartment buildings
High quality zoom Fuji

But for the next 10km or so, I was truly heading directly upwind. I had enough power that my speed stayed just below 20km/h, but it should have been 25 or better. I continued on, not knowing if I’d be able to climb Otarumi Touge or just reach Takaosan, but knowing I was enjoying the ride and wasn’t ready to pack it in yet.

Takaosan Guchi

After a couple of onigiri stops, I reached Takaosan. There were not as many cyclists as I’d expected. (There was a young amateur on the sidewalk beside me who eventually made better time by cruising through stoplights, etc.) I was thinking how to proceed. There was a small derailleur problem on the rear, where it would try to jump up a gear for one specific cog, and I thought about stopping at the usual convenience store. The bike stands there would let me easily run through the gears as I adjusted the cable tension.

But I took stock of my situation, including the aching in my thighs from the battle upwind, and the remaining onigiri and Snickers bar in my bag (meaning I didn’t have to stop for supplies). I looked at the sky, and saw a threat of a rerun of yesterday’s guerilla rain. And so I decided to visit Takaosan Guchi, get a photo or two, and start on my way home. In the end I’d still get 100km, my overriding goal for the day.

Selfie of cyclist in shades and mask in front of cable car entrance for Takaosan
Rain starting at Takaosan Guchi

Photo montage of statue of flying squirrel and waterfall in shrine
Flying squirrel and shrine

Right on schedule, the rain started as I arrived at Takaosan Guchi, wending my way on foot through surprising crowds (considering we’re under an emergency declaration). I took a moment for a selfie and then to photograph a nearby shrine, then made my way back to the road to return home.

Ride with the wind

On my way home I was riding not only downstream (and hence slightly downhill), but also with the wind. I was flying, regularly going above 30km/h with hardly any effort, and posted a few 5km times at 11 minutes or better. I left behind the few sprinkles of rain I’d encountered at Takaosan and the sun emerged again from the clouds. Aside from an encounter or two with pedestrians and other cyclists, it seemed that hardly any time passed before I was back at the Tamagawa and pulling into a park for the final onigiri. I checked the time and messaged Nana that I would be home about 3:30.

Living for the city

With 15km to go, I was back in city traffic. Usually it’s a struggle at this point, both to scale the few remaining climbs (such as they are) on the way home and to keep up my average pace in the face of traffic. Today, despite thick traffic, I watched in disbelief as my average pace actually improved from the high 15s to more than 16km/h. I can only imagine that the holiday-timed lights were with me, and I was able to work my way beside a lot of the thickest of the traffic. Also, I made pretty good time up those climbs despite the aching of my thighs.

I messaged Nana that I was home and descended to the cycle parking. In addition to the shifting problem mentioned, there was some noise on the way home that I haven’t yet identified. But I was too tired to deal with bringing Kuroko up the elevator just then. I parked her in the basement. The moment I dismounted, my thighs and one calf cramped. I walked the cramps off, got into the elevator, and then started the bath as soon as I got in the door.

I’m exhausted, totally done in, but I love it.

GPS record of cycle ride
Refused at the gate

One before the rain

Selfie of cyclist in mask, sunglasses and helmet with torii and flagpost, with flag and streamers flapping in wind

I’d planned to cycle at least 100km today, and perhaps go as far as 140. I was starting to get ready at 8 a.m. when Nana said, “You’re not going riding, are you? It’s going to rain.”

Oh.

Well, I have plenty to do around the house. I relaxed for a bit and then started thinking about the housework.

Then around 10 a.m., Nana said, “According to Yahoo, it won’t rain until late afternoon or this evening.”

Oh.

I decided to make it a short ride, and started getting ready. I chose Haneda for the destination, and the decided to travel light. No GoPro. Get out the door.

Well, maybe not that light …

After putting my smartphone and wallet in the cockpit bag and putting the water bottles in their cages, etc., I started wheeling Kuroko towards the elevators. And then I realized I’d forgotten the Garmin. That’s OK, I don’t need help with the navigation, and I can use the Strava app on my phone to track the ride.

The ride to the river was uneventful except for one driver on a one-way street who was a bit upset that I wouldn’t just pull over and let him pass. I could hear him revving his engine behind me, and then he honked. I didn’t let him bother me. Not long after his honking, we got into pedestrian traffic and parked vehicles on the road, and I was able to race ahead while Mr. Horny was stuck.

On the river, there was no wind at first and I made good time heading downstream. There were a lot of pedestrians out, and the little leaguers and tennis players on their bikes — returning home after the game or match — were riding three or four abreast and typically not looking where they were going. A couple of them got shirty when I called out for them to watch out.

After the first brief break for water, with about 10km to go to Haneda, the wind started picking up. It wasn’t bothering me for the most part: a crosswind that was probably coming more from behind than ahead. I was keeping up a good pace and watching out for children on scooters.

Bit of a breeze

By the time I got to Haneda, the wind was blowing pretty strongly…

Selfie of cyclist in mask, sunglasses and helmet with torii and flagpost, with flag and streamers flapping in wind
What wind?

Bicycle leaning against Covid warning sign underneath tree in park
Lunch spot in the shade

I made a quick lunch of two onigiri (store-bought; Nana had not made any rice) and was soon on my way back home. Heading upstream, at times I was fighting the crosswind and at times it was helping me along. I felt good and knew I was making pretty good time, so I was keeping my breaks short. I was thinking of an alternate route home: there’s another bridge just about 1km beyond Futagobashi that leads to a 16% climb out of the valley, which is good practice for me. (My usual climb is 4-6%.)

Reconsider that decision

I’d pumped my tires up to about 45psi before departing, compared to my usual 50-60psi. The ride was noticeably more comfortable — of course the tires can’t do a thing about the big breaks in the pavement, but they were smoothing over the smaller stuff. More importantly, there was no feeling that the tires were underinflated or getting squirmy under my weight.

That’s all to the good. The bad came about 1km before Futagobashi (the bridge where I usually cross the Tamagawa on my way home). Suddenly Kuroko was making a grinding, crunching noise. I immediately eased up my pace, and then went through my usual checklist. No noise when I wasn’t pedaling. The noise seemed to coincide with the cadence of my pedaling, not anything else. The noise was present whether I used the larger or smaller chainring.

Things were pointing to the bottom bracket bearings or a loose crank. Less likely to be mangled chainring teeth as the noise was occurring on both chainrings. Kuroko has had a bearing habit, when she was sporting the ill-advised FSA crankset. Since I switched to the Sugino (and the bearing size Kuroko had been designed for) things have been smooth sailing. Has Kuroko reverted to her old ways?

So, a change of plans: rather than challenge that 16% grade, I reverted to my usual route home. After crossing the Tamagawa and just before starting the climb, I stopped and gave the crankset a good manual check, pulling up and pushing down on each pedal. No sign of looseness that I could detect. I shrugged and mounted up again, and climbed the hill without a further sound (well, none from Kuroko).

At the top of the hill I took a break in my usual spot and messaged Nana that I would be home within an hour. I was still making good time, and if my little mechanical could hold its nose for a few minutes, I’d be home well before the time I’d given Nana.

The traffic was smoother on the way home, for the most part, and Kuroko was silent — for the most part. I could still hear a bit of ticking from time to time as I sped homewards, but nothing like the crunching I’d heard along the Tamagawa cycling course.

I got home a full half-hour before I’d predicted, and brought Kuroko up to the Workshop in the Sky. I’m going to have a look at everything when I get a chance: chain wear, cleaning and lube (if not worn), bearing wear, crankset tightness, chainring and sprocket tooth wear, even the saddle (which has recently developed a slight rocking). In the meantime, I can ride Dionysus to the office and back.

GPS record of bicycle ride
One before the rain

Kawagoe windy and wet

Fork in river with flood gate railing in foreground

I just rode to Kawagoe a couple of weeks ago, but when the weather turned unexpectedly sunny today, I couldn’t resist going again.

I’m getting quite familiar with the ride out Yamate Dori and Nakasendo to Arakawa. The signpost at the top of the levee is a regular landmark for me.

Bicycle in front of sign for Arakawa cycling course
Entrance to the Arakawa

Selfie of cyclist in helmet, sunglasses and UV mask in front of Arakawa cycling course sign
Vampire mode

The course was flooded in places from yesterday’s rain. I started the ride at the mid-level all-weather landing (the red course) to avoid the water, but it was quite broken up. Even with my fat tires, some of the seams and gaps were a bit jarring.

Steps down a levee leading to red all-weather course, above flooded cycling course
Broken pavement and flooding

By the time I ran out of red all-weather pavement and descended to the regular course, I was past most of the deep puddles. Even so, I took a moment to message Nana to apologize in advance for the wet, muddy laundry I’d be handing her when I got home.

The clear skies and stiff breeze following yesterday’s rain left some grand vistas for today’s ride.

Fork in river with flood gate railing in foreground
Fork in the Arakawa

Fujisan in partly cloudy skies, with farmland and factories in the foreground
Fujisan in the distance

The closer I got to Kawagoe, the stronger the headwind became. I’d dropped to my smaller chainring, into my climbing gears even though the going was flat. The headwind was strong enough it was pulling my mask down from my nose. Despite this, I felt stronger than I did two weeks ago and I continued pressing forward. I was also more confident of the route this time, having experienced it once already.

Selfie of cyclist in helmet, sunglasses and UV mask in front of Kawagoe's Toki-no-Kane bell tower
Chimes of the times

Pressing onwards against the wind, I made good time into Kawagoe. I didn’t walk around Koedo (except to get this photo), but just cycled up and down the length of it before heading for a convenience store and then a park for lunch. (Because we’d been expecting rain, Nana didn’t make any onigiri.) In the park I lucked out and got a picnic table all to myself. I felt the sun beating on my cheeks as I lowered my mask to eat a couple of tortillas. I watched a child playing with a kite as I ate. Other children sat nearby with their families on plastic tarps on the tree-shaded grass.

I washed down my lunch with some convenience store espresso, gathered up my rubbish and set off for home.

Wind at my back

On the way downriver, the wind was (mostly) at my back. I was amused to notch up a 12-minute 5km segment — implying an average of 25km/h — despite having stopped for traffic a couple of times and a photo once. The next 5km segment might have been 10 minutes (30km/h), but I had to wait more than a minute at a traffic light. I didn’t mind: I was making good time and having fun, and it was more pleasant to ride with a tailwind on the way home than to fight into a stiff breeze as I had on the way up.

I stopped where the course passed over a flood gate and ate a Snickers bar. Energy for the upcoming fight through traffic.

Bicycle leaning against sign for Arakawa cycling course
Not the same photo: The path is a bit drier and Kuroko is a bit muddier

Fighting my way back to you

When I left the river course behind I headed back into traffic and also back into the wind. I’d given Nana an estimate of an hour to an hour and a half for my return, because I didn’t know how much wind I’d be facing. At times it was quite stiff! I had to be careful I wasn’t blown into the path of the fast-moving traffic just centimeters from my right elbow. (Shout out to the taxi driver and the driver of the red Volvo who didn’t make use of the entire open extra lane when passing me!)

The wind wasn’t constant: it was coming and going, and blowing in gusts. At times I was struggling to get to the top of the next climb, and at other times I was keeping up a very good pace. At traffic lights I had to sit up and stretch my shoulders, relaxing the muscles that were hunched against the headwind while I was riding.

I had no idea what kind of time I was making in the 13km from the river back to home. I’d hoped to improve on my time from two weeks ago (feeling quite a bit stronger overall), but with the wind in this final leg I thought I might be falling behind.

At the crossing for Shin Mejiro I checked the GPS: I had another 6km to go. Even fighting with the wind in the few remaining uphill sections, I’d be home soon. At the next light I caught up with a younger, more fit rider on an orange classic steel racing bike who’d passed me earlier. I kept up with him on the next rise as we both fought against the wind. And then we were at Nakano Sakue! From there it was downhill before turning off Yamate Dori onto a flat kilometer to the goal. As we descended, the other rider was content just to coast. I thought about passing him but finally just shrugged. I’d be home soon enough. I made my turn — at the wrong place. No worries, as I was already in my neighborhood. I ignored the GPS beeping and just followed the familiar streets. I checked the time as I stopped the GPS: a good 15 minutes earlier than the lower bound of the estimate I’d given Nana, and an improvement of 20 minutes over my previous ride on the same route.

GPS record of cycle route
Kawagoe windy and wet

I knew that I would now

Bicycle, helmet and water bottles on and among decorative rocks in park

I didn’t go far today, just the usual run down to Haneda and back. The weather was really nice, with bright, hazy skies and not much wind. With such nice weather on a weekend, though, there were a lot of careless people out on the Tamagawa cycling course. I had to stay alert.

Selfie of cyclist in helmet, sunglasses and UV mask in front of Japanese shrine
Still life with mask and torii

I made the effort today to keep my mask on for most of the ride. This was more for the UV blocking than Covid protection. (It’s not really necessary to mask for that while riding as I don’t ride near other people.) I only had to lower it on occasion when my sunglasses would fog up, usually at a stop. On the other hand, it was only about 17C at most today. It will be a different proposition when it’s 30C this summer.

Purple and white blossoms against field of green leaves
Even our weeds are beautiful

I was making good time today and felt strong — certainly better than I have since coming down with pneumonia last month. Even the few short climbs on the way home didn’t phase me. I did have to come to a screeching halt when passing through a small shopping area and a young boy biking in the opposite direction wasn’t watching where he was going. I shouted out to him and he looked round at the last second. He braked hard and just bumped into my front tire. I tried to smile and said, “Eyes front, fellah.” His father (who had already passed me safely) called out an apology. No harm done, I’m glad to report.

GPS record of cycle ride
I knew that I would now

I didn’t have any mechanical trouble during the ride. I’ve been fighting with the front tire since returning from Shimanami Kaido. I’ve replaced the valve but it continued to leak, so I added more rim tape around the valve, and now I can’t get the tire to reseat. Rather than fiddle with it further today, I just pumped up the tire on my spare front wheel — the one with the dynamo hub that I used for Lejog. I recently put a new tire on this, the same make as my usual tires but with a bit of a knobby tread. So with that on the front on the usual slick on the rear, I had a semi-mullet set-up.

The tire with the tread makes a bit more road noise than the slick. I’m sure it is fractionally less efficient, and ditto the dynamo hub, which is also a bit heavier (but wasn’t under load today). But apart from the additional noise — just scarcely enough to be noticeable, honestly — I didn’t notice much difference. The slick tends to hunt over lines in the pavement (particularly ones parallel to the direction of travel), while the tire with tread doesn’t. I think my strength and well-being today overshadowed any minute loss of performance this set-up entails.

Kawagoe on a beautiful day

Kurazukuri style warehouse with famous Kurazukuri and Toki-no-Kane bell tower in background

I visited Kawagoe more than five years ago with Nana and her family. We went by train that time, and it took so long to get there I didn’t realize how close it was until I accompanied Fearless Leader Joe when he borrowed Dionysus for a stay in Saitama. I was very surprised to find after heading a few kilometers upstream on the Arakawa that we were passing into Kawagoe!

But, as they say, there’s Kawagoe and then there’s Kawagoe … We didn’t see any of Koedo (the Old Town) on that ride. And when FLJ subsequently had business dealings in Kawagoe, he didn’t even realize Koedo existed! But it all got me to thinking. In the intervening months I plotted a course that would take me from home to Futako Tamagawa, up the Tamagawa to Hamura, and then overland to Kawagoe (and of course passing through Koedo!) before returning down the Arakawa to home: a total of 125km.

Bicycle in front of cycling course sign for Arakawa
Kuroko at the Toda Bridge

Today I did something a bit less ambitious: from home, up the Arakawa to Kawagoe and back would be just 85km, and largely flat. I set off just before 9 a.m. after dealing with an unexpected mechanical, and was soon making good progress on Yamate Dori and Nakasendo Way towards the Arakawa.

Upon reaching the river I turned upstream, into uncharted territory for me. (When we delivered Dionysus in November, we’d crossed the Toda Bridge and continued on the opposite riverbank.) I’d plotted everything out on Google Maps and Street View (where available), but it wasn’t always clear what was a rideable path and what wasn’t.

Night and day

It was such a pleasure to be back on Kuroko after yesterday’s jaunt on Dionysus. The drop bars, the high-volume tires to soak up the bumps — a pillowy promenade after a rocky road.

Worn and rutted path uphill between fields of grass
That’s a path, according to Google

And after less than an hour’s riding along the river, following the Garmin and the other cyclists, I came to a section where the path was blocked off. I descended from the levee to the parallel street, as I’d seen a couple of other bikers do, and from there I kept looking for an opportunity to get back to the cycling course at the top of the levee. I was a bit premature — I ended up cycling a few hundred meters of gravel before giving up and returning to the street level!

And the route was complicated by road construction and detours. Thank goodness Japanese baton-waving construction workers don’t get bashful in the presence of foreigners and struggle to speak English. The fellow I encountered just called out, “Keep going that way until you get to the white sign, then turn right!” The directions were perfect.

In the end I joined up with paved cycle path atop the levee less than 1km before I was due to turn off and set across farmland towards Kawagoe proper. Unfortunately, Google Maps in this territory doesn’t have cycling directions, and the walking directions led me to a decidedly non-cycle friendly route down from the path. I made a mental note to look for an alternative on the way home.

Kawagoe

Once off the path, it was just a few kilometers through farmland before joining up with a main route into the city. Before I knew it, I was turning into Koedo and the Kurazukuri no Machinami — the warehouse district.

Photo montage of old style Japanese kurazukuri warehouses
Kurazukuri no Machinami

Photo montage of old style Japanese kurazukuri warehouses
Kurazukuri no Machinami

Among the old-style warehouses there’s another sight not to be missed: the 19th Century Toki-no-Kane (“Bell of Time”) bell tower.

Photo montage of famous Kawagoe bell tower Toki-no-Kane
Toki-no-Kane

Lunch!

By the time I’d finished photographing Koedo, it was nearly noon. There are many restaurants and take-out counters in Koedo offering a variety of tantalizing Japanese dishes, but I was fully stocked with Nana’s world-famous onigiri. I quickly back-tracked to a sakura-adorned park near the Arakawa and gobbled down four at one go — surely a record for me!

The route home along the Arakawa was an easy one, particularly now that I knew which parts of the cycle path existed only in Google’s imagination. The road along the levee was quite narrow in bits, but I was soon back up on paved cycle course heaven! Unfortunately that only continued for a few hundred meters before it was back down into the streets and construction and detours, but this time I knew where I was going and when I would be back on the cycle course.

On the return I was fighting the wind a bit — either it was calm on my way upstream or I was unwittingly benefiting from a tailwind — but it didn’t hold me back much. It took just an hour and 17 minutes from the time I left the park to return to my favorite signpost marking the point where I leave the Arakawa cycling path for the welcoming arms of Tokyo city traffic.

Selfie of cyclist in helmet, sunglasses and UV mask in front of sign for Arakawa cycling course
Masked against the sun

I’d applied my regular sunblock on my face before leaving the house in the morning, but not the extra super stuff. I was expecting weather more or less like yesterday’s overcast skies, but it turned out to be quite a bit more sunny. Fortunately I was wearing my UV mask and pulled that up over my nose when the sun got strong (even when I wasn’t in the presence of others). Whenever I felt it was getting uncomfortable and wanted to pull it off, I reminded myself it’s not all that hot yet, and I need to get in the habit of wearing the mask even if it’s 30C.

Racing traffic towards home

I know the route from the river back home well, and I don’t let myself get excited about the traffic whizzing past my elbow. It’s a major artery the whole way, but there’s a good margin left for cyclists for the most part. I only had a couple of times going around a parked car, with my hand out to indicate I was coming over, where a driver didn’t feel he needed to give me room. It was on this same route back in November that Fearless Leader Joe put his hand out to indicate he was coming around a parked car only to touch the bumper of a car coming up fast behind him!

GPS record of bike ride
Kawagoe on a beautiful day

In the end I got home at 2:30, just five and a half hours after setting out, after telling Nana I’d be home about 5! I made good progress today, aided by the largely flat course.

Mechanical

Ah, what would a Guy Jean post be with a mechanical? Since my return from Shimanami Kaido, the front tire has been losing air slowly. I’d fill it up and leave it a day or two, and find it nearly flat.

This morning I figured I’d fill it up and it would be OK for the day’s ride. I was in for quite a surprise — I’d no sooner filled the tire than it began audibly leaking and visibly going soft. The reason was soon apparent as latex sealant sprouted around the valve.

Detail of bicycle tire with latex sealant leaking from valve
That’ll be a leaky valve right there

I’d had the same issue with the rear tire just a couple of weeks before, and had quickly fixed it by replacing the valve with a high-quality unit from Schwalbe. In that case, the leak had been from the valve core itself, while this time it was clearly from the base, where the valve emerges from the rim.

I quickly thought: I could futz around with the valve as it is and try to get the base to seal up again. Or I could simply replace it — I had another Schwalbe on hand. I immediately decided for the replacement.

Detail of bicycle wheel with tire lever pulling tire away from valve area
Peeling the tire back

Bicycle tire valves, old and new
Old ‘n’ busted — you know the routine

The new valve held the pressure immediately. After inflating the tire again (with a number of satisfactory popping noises as the tire seated on the rim), I could still hear a bit of hissing, but not from the valve area. I swirled the tire around to get the sealant to the leaking area, and the sound soon stopped.

Tire pump with gauge showing inflated pressure; bicycle wheel in background
That’ll hold?

Unfortunately I proved to be a bit optimistic in my evaluation of the fix: I stopped a couple of times during the day’s ride to top up the pressure in the front. I’m happy to say though that we didn’t reach the extreme of having the tire roll off the rim and burp out all the sealant, as happened on the Arakawa back in November (albeit with a different set of tires).

The forecast is for rain tomorrow, and I’ve got Kuroko up in the Workshop in the Sky. I’ll get this leak sorted or know the reason why.

Once more around the park, driver

Bicycle in front of moat with fading cherry blossoms

With a late start this morning and a longer ride planned for tomorrow, I was in the mood for a shorter ride today. Between my two typical short courses — Haneda and the Tokyo Landmarks — I chose the latter.

Bicycle leaning on hedge in front of fountain
Meiji Jingu Gaien

Tokyo Tower looming over trees and flowers in foreground
Tokyo Tower and Shiba Park

The skies were grey when I departed, with the forecast for more of the same all day. It may not be the most cheery weather, but it makes it less likely I’ll get a sunburn. For most of the day, my shades remained in my bag.

I hadn’t given Nana a clear answer yesterday on whether I’d be biking today, so she didn’t make any onigiri.

Imperial Palace moat and outbuildings
Imperial Palace moat and outbuildings

Cherry blossoms overhanging the Imperial Palace moat
Imperial Palace moat

I’m not able to eff why I decided to ride Dionysus today. Kuroko should be fine to ride following the shifter cable replacement, and I’m planning on riding her tomorrow. But I made the right choice today. My pace was easygoing — not to say lackadaisical — and we had fun.

Rainbow bridge across bay with cloudy skies above
Grey Rainbow Bridge

Tokyo Skytree from Sakura Bridge with bicycle in foreground
Tokyo Skytree

At Tokyo Big Sight I stopped to get lunch from a convenience store. Unfortunately it was 12:15 on a weekday, and the shop was packed with people. I had to wait for people to move to get what I was after, and then waited in quite a long queue to get to the register. Fortunately, the workers were fast and efficient, and I didn’t wait very long.

Hungry as I was, my eyes may have been bigger than my stomach. When I set out again after eating, I was feeling a bit leaden. Within a handful of kilometers the feeling passed. I still don’t feel as strong as normal, and I don’t know if that’s a lingering effect of pneumonia, or just the effect of having missed nearly a month of cycling. At any rate, I continued on at a comfortable pace.

Dionysus didn’t give any trouble. I raised the seat slightly at the beginning of the ride and that seems to have been a good choice. The main water bottle bracket — the one on the down tube — was a bit loose, but that was quickly remedied with the minitool. After about 50km my left wrist got tired. I was riding in traffic all day so I didn’t want to ride on the horns, which takes my hands away from the brake levers. So I just rested the wrist at every opportunity (such as the multitude of traffic lights).

Bicycle in front of moat with fading cherry blossoms
Chidorigafuchi just after the cherry blossoms

Although the skies looked like rain all day, we didn’t have any — true to the forecast. When I got to Budokan I messaged Nana that I’d be home in about an hour. In the end I made it in half that.

GPS record of cycle ride
Once more around the park, driver