Hot, sweaty and flat

Two cyclists in front of Haneda Peace Shrine

We chose to ride to Haneda today, a short ride, because of the brutal heat and the fact I hadn’t verified everything was working OK with Kuroko. By the time I’d reached the Halfakid’s apartment, I knew that I had to tighten up some of the spokes in the rear wheel following the spoke replacement job. But aside from that and the rear derailleur needing some adjustment, Kuroko seems to be in good shape. I’ve got a replacement bottom bracket on order, but if it ain’t broke then I ain’t gonna fix it.

The Halfakid encountered a bit more pressing of a mechanical with a flat on the rear. I had a pump and he had a spare innertube and some tire levers, so it didn’t take us long to get back on the road.

Cyclist with bike upside-down, removing the rear wheelCyclist inserting innertube into bicycle wheel
Removing the wheel and inserting a new innertube

The flat gave us a good excuse to have a rest in the shade and drink some water. Despite the fact we’d loaded our water bottles with ice, just 45 minutes after leaving home the water was already warm. After sorting out the flat we stopped after another 5km to refill our bottles before continuing on the final stretch to Haneda. We were riding into the wind and we could both feel it fighting us. For a while the Halfakid let me slipstream him, and it made quite a difference.

Two cyclists in front of Haneda Peace Shrine
Haneda Peace Shrine in the brutal sunshine

At Haneda we sat in the shade to eat onigiri and drink cold water from a vending machine. According to my phone it was 35C, making it hotter than my last ride two weeks ago. This was precisely the reason we wanted to take it easy!

The ride home was hot and sweaty, but with the wind. The difference in speed was as much as 6-7km/h over the ride down into the wind. My rear derailleur was making more noise, but I judged it would get me home without trouble. We came to the climb out of the Tama River valley, 20m up at a bit more than 4%, and even the Halfakid said he was dying. But he was up the hill long before I was and waited for me in the little park at the top. From there the ride home in traffic was uneventful.

Haneda Round Trip route
Haneda Round Trip route

The peak temperature was not as high as my last ride, but the average was higher. The vertical drops in temperature indicate when we were sitting in the shade: to fix the flat tire and to have the onigiri.

Temperature profile
Stinking hot

Finally, Mr Gouty Toe was aching moderately all day. Not being gouty, but just reminding me that certain lifestyle choices have consequences.

Haneda half day

Kuroko with Kawazuzakura

I had a few constraints on my ride time today. First, Nana reminded me we’re having dinner at 5:30, and then the forecast called for rain in the afternoon despite it being a bright, sunny day. (There’s been no rain yet and the forecast has been revised.) So I decided on a quick jaunt down the Tama river to Haneda.

Nikuman, still hot
Nikuman, still hot

The weather really was clear and beautiful, with a bit of wind. There were a lot of children out playing little league baseball on the riverbanks. I lost count of the number of times a kid in a baseball uniform would swerve his bike right in front of me because he was busy watching the game down on the riverbank instead of where he was going. With the great weather, there was also a huge number of joggers and people out for a stroll and toddlers on pushbikes to watch out for on the path.

Nana hadn’t made rice last night, so instead of onigiri I stopped at a convenience store a few kilometers before the end of the river and bought a couple of nikuman and a Snickers.

Haneda Peace Shrine
Haneda Peace Shrine

Despite the obstacles, I made it to Haneda in less than two hours. It was warming up by this time and I was really sweating. I found a bit of shade to sit in while I ate the nikuman and sent photos to Nana.

Kuroko waits while I eat
Kuroko waits while I eat

On the ride back I had a tailwind, so I made better time. Say what you will about middle-aged men chasing lost youth, but I did several 4-minute miles today … The biggest challenge again was avoiding the strollers and weekend riders, as well as knots of people stopped with their bikes held right across the middle of the path. I even came across a large group of seniors walking behind a banner and massing across the path from side to side. I slowed to a crawl as I rang my bell and called out, “Excuse me, excuse me … ”

That’s just complaining, though, as it was a beautiful day and I really made good time, returning home less than four hours after setting out. The kawazuzakura blossoms are nearing their end, but it’s a couple of weeks yet before we’ll see the regular cherry blossoms. I could see the buds burgeoning on quite a few trees as I raced by. I’ll need to come back when they’re in bloom (and the path will be even more crowded).

Kuroko with Kawazuzakura
Kuroko with Kawazuzakura

Haneda half day
Haneda half day