A big push!

Bicycle in front of Tokyo Disney Resort sign

The day dawned clear and windy. Between the forecast for wind and some sneezing that started last night and continued this morning, I put off plans for a longer ride and decided to get out to the Arakawa and see which way the wind was blowing.

Fujisan capped with snow in pink early morning sunlight
Lovely start to the day

The ride in traffic to the Arakawa was uneventful. My thighs took some persuasion to get going, but were soon in their rhythm. The wind was gusting against me at times, so I just took it easy.

When I reached the Arakawa, the wind was very clearly blowing downriver. Well, OK! Downriver it is! I sped down the ramp from the top of the levee, splashed through some puddles and was on my way. And with the wind at my back (for the most part), I knew I was making good time without much effort.

Bicycle leaning against sign for Arakawa
Not tired of this


From the moment I hit the trail, a Big Friendly Giant was pushing me along. I racked up a 5km segment in 9m57s, and then another in 9m17s. Put together, that gave me 10km in 19m14s, for more than 31km/h average.

As the giant wind continued to push me along, I racked up some surprising numbers on Strava, including a 7.37km segment at 33.3km/h.

End of the line

Bicycle leaning against sign marking river mouth at Shinsuna
Back into the wind after this

In all, it took me 58 minutes to cover the 26.5km from my start on the Arakawa cycling road to the end at the Shinsuna River Station, averaging more than 27km/h for the run (including a brief rest stop). But after that I had to backtrack into the wind to the Kiyasunao Bridge to cross over the Arakawa to reach my true destination for the day.

Bicycle in front of Tokyo Disney Resort sign
Kuroko goes to Disney

After snapping a quick picture for the blog, I made a leisurely pace getting back to the Kiyasunao Bridge, impelled forward only by my hunger. I reached the Seishincho North green space at 11:45 and promptly ate three of Nana’s world-famous onigiri.

Bicycle in front of ornate lamppost at Nihonbashi

Back across the bridge, I was in traffic on Eitai Avenue. The wind was gusty, but overall much abated from the giant’s hand that had pushed me down the river. I was thankful I wasn’t fighting my way back into the same wind that had propelled me to speeds of more than 40km/h on the flat!

I sent a photo from Nihonbashi to both Nana and Fearless Leader Joe. They both came back with the same response: You’re already in Nihonbashi? By the time FLJ’s response reached me, though, I was already sitting down outside Budokan for a final onigiri.

After finishing up the onigiri, I checked the time: 1:20. I messaged Nana that I’d be home by 2:30 and set off once more into traffic. I had to warm my thighs up again after the brief stop. I honestly didn’t know how long it would take to get home — I’ve always assumed about 45 minutes from Chidorigafuchi and have told Nana an hour. But as I rolled up to the tower and noted the time, I realized I’d done it in 30 minutes. (I’ll probably continue to give Nana an hour estimate, though.)

GPS record of cycle ride
A big push!

Garmin gave me a moving time of 3:20:58, for an average of 21.7km/h. Despite all the personal records set today, Strava reports my speed on this ride is trending downward. It’s certain that on other segments today I was taking it easy. My fastest time was in February 2019 when I averaged 24.3km/h in an even stronger wind and set a personal record for 40km of 1:24:35 (which I make to be 28.4km/h) in addition to a number of personal records on Strava segments along the Arakawa.

Today’s big push brought me a milestone: more than 10,000km on Kuroko since my first ride with her in July 2018. I know there are some who ride 10,000km in a single year, but I suspect most of them don’t have day jobs. At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.

Graphic showing 10,006km ridden on bicycle
Ten. Thousand. Kilometers.

Bit of a damp ending

Bicycle leaning against tree in park

The forecast for today was for a small chance of rain in the morning, and then a greater chance of rain in the afternoon. I already had a commitment in the afternoon, so a morning ride was the perfect thing.

I was thinking at first that the traffic on Yamate Dori was sparse, but it all caught up with me after Nakano. It wasn’t horrible, though.

A stronger rider passed me at a crossing with the improbable name of 千早. As we waited together at a light, I thought of asking him where he was going (Arakawa, same as me, most likely), but then I thought, “Anyway, he’s at least 1,000 times faster than I am.”

It wasn’t long before I was climbing up the levee of the Arakawa. I arrived before 8:30, which is probably a record for me.

There was a marathon running on the Arakawa cycling course, but I’d arrived early enough to avoid the thick of it. I passed a group huddle of volunteers in hi-viz jackets having a pre-race confab.

The wind was with me as I sped down the river, and I set a couple of personal bests. I was making good time, averaging more than 25km/h. I was passed by a gent on a beautiful classic steel-framed Anchor in violet fading to midnight blue, with an all-silver, all-mechanical groupset. But when we encountered a few puddles along the way, he slowed to a crawl to avoid splashing his gorgeous bike, while I plowed on through. We played cat-and-mouse in this way for the rest of the course downstream on the Arakawa, and I saw him at one point trying to bunny-hop a small puddle.

Bicycle leaning against sign in front of river, with bridge in background
Where Arakawa meets Tokyo Bay

Lunch in the shade

It was just 10 a.m. when I reached the point where the river empties in Tokyo Bay, but it was time for some of Nana’s world-famous onigiri. (I’d had breakfast at 5 a.m.) Given my time constraint and the threat of rain, I wouldn’t be going on to Tokyo Disneyland, but I still crossed over the Arakawa to reach our favorite lunch spot, an isolated park with benches in the shade that are never occupied. I wolfed down a couple of mentaiko onigiri and was back on the road in less than 20 minutes.

Bicycle leaning against tree in park
A bike. And a tree.

I’d no sooner crossed back over the Arakawa then I felt a few drops of rain. “Now?” I thought. I was answered by the pinging of a raindrop off my helmet. But as I proceeded along Eitai Dori, the rain held off. I didn’t feel any more drops until I reached the Imperial Palace, and then it started to rain steadily when I reached Budokan.

Bicycle propped against bannister between trees overlooking moat
Raindrops keep fallin’ …

From the time on, it continued to rain, but it was not heavy at all. Not nearly enough for a Rule #9 invocation — I’ve suffered through more rain on a sunny day in England. The pavement was dry, and my tires were, too. I wasn’t soaked through or cold in the least. I continued on towards home, back in heavy traffic now on Shinjuku Dori. There were policemen standing on every corner at Yotsuya Yonchome (more corners than you’d think are necessary at that particular intersection), so I was careful to behave and let pedestrians go first.

Finally as I reached the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings in Nishi Shinjuku, it was well and truly raining. By which I mean a steady rain, but again, not a heavy, drenching rain. I was still far from soaked through as I spun downhill towards home.

GPS image of Budokan
Budokan on the navi

A good time was had by all

I came in at 3 hours, 40 minutes for a hair over 60km — a very good time, and I wasn’t particularly pressing hard. It’s true I was benefiting from a tailwind down the Arakawa — before I stopped for onigiri my average speed was more than 20km/h, even including the traffic stops and breaks. Based on a moving time of less than 2 hours 45 minutes, my average speed for the day was 22.5km/h.

There were no mechanicals of note. The tires were holding the pressure well. They were at 30psi in the morning, after Kuroko had sat 20 days in the parking garage since the last top-up. I inflated them to 45psi for the day’s ride. I continued to fiddle with the barrel adjuster for the rear derailleur all day because I thought the shifts were on the loud side, but it’s very subjective whether I had any positive effect. I didn’t miss a single shift or have any problem with the chain jumping off a cog.

GPS record of bicycle ride
Bit of a damp ending