It was after 9 a.m. before I finally got on the bike this morning, and right away I was facing lines of traffic, backed up by road repairs and other construction work. I passed kilometer upon kilometer of vehicles idling at a standstill before I finally reached the cycling course at Tamagawa.
Nana had once again failed to whip up a batch of her world-famous onigiri, so I stopped at a convenience store along the way to get something to eat. Mindful of my bad experience last weekend, I avoided the onigiri and got a hotdog and a combo sandwich.
The wind was with me riding up the Tamagawa, and I stopped at a park to eat the hotdog before continuing. As soon as I was on the Asagawa, though, I was fighting into the wind. I encountered an easy detour, just a bit of traffic, and then a pleasant surprise: the sign welcoming riders to the Asagawa “Take It Easy” Road is usually a warning of very bad pavement to follow. But today — much to my delight — I found that the succeeding 500m or so was freshly paved, all the way to the rail crossing.
From that point on I was struggling. It’s not difficult on paper — gradients range from 0% to 2%. But I was definitely feeling the bonk. Even after stopping to rest and eat the combo sandwich, I just didn’t have the energy to push forward. It was not quite as bad as when I’d included this segment as part of a century ride, but it was palpable.
Too little, too late
By the time I reached the cable car entrance at Takaosan Guchi, I’d already decided: It was almost 12:30, I was starving, and my thighs had already had it. The last time I’d ridden up Takaosan to Otarumi Touge was in October, and I’d left home at 7:15. This morning’s 9:06 departure just wasn’t going to cut it, given a desire to be home in time to shower up for a 6 p.m. dinner date. I decided to be satisfied with a photo or two at Takaosan Guchi and then a more leisurely ride home.
I returned to the nearby Family Mart, where another rider struck up a conversation.
- Fit Japanese rider
- Hot, isn’t it?
- Guy Jean
- I’ll say! And it will be hotter tomorrow!
- That’s what I’ve heard …
- Guy Jean
- Did you go up to the pass [Otarumi Touge]?
- I went over the pass and down into Kanagawa Prefecture, and then I came back over the pass.
- Guy Jean
He was, at a guess, not any younger than your humble narrator.
The return down the Asagawa was quite a bit smoother. That almost non-existent 0-2% gradient was now working in my favor, and so was the wind — for the most part. I posted a couple of 5km runs here at 26km/h, a big improvement over the 20km/h at most I was making on the way upstream.
I stopped for a rest in the shade and a last snack just before rejoining the Tamagawa. I took off my shoes and adjusted my socks to give the dogs a rest.
After crossing the Tamagawa and back on my home turf, the wind was very mixed. At this point the big question was how long I could go without resting my hands and my backside. I was pleased to find my thighs were feeling much better than on the way up to Takaosan Guchi — was it just because I was headed downhill now (however slightly), or had the break for lunch recharged me?
I was dealing with a bit of finger numbness along the way, but not as bad as it had recently been. I just had to move my hands about a bit on the bars from time to time, and occasionally lift one and give it a shake. Ditto the saddle soreness. A few times I had to squirm around a bit, and then all was good again.
I took a last break at a small park where I leave the Tamagawa for city traffic. I drank some water and took my time resting, and then messaged Nana that I would be home by 4. I was checking Garmie to see if I was going to get in 100km for the day, and it was looking close. I was willing to do an extra lap around Central Park if need be.
On the long stretch of Setagaya Ave. taking me back into the city, I’ll sometimes find a car that stands out from the pack, and I use that to gauge my progress. Given the traffic, it’s not too challenging to keep up. Once it was a Ferrari roadster that reeked of unburned gasoline. This time it was a young woman driving a grey 718 Cayman GTS with a beginner’s sticker on the flank. We played cat-and-mouse in the traffic most of the way back. She only lost me when she got ahead of a bus that then pulled in front of me and stopped for the traffic light, half a kilometer before I turned off the avenue.
A riding time of 4h56m gave me an average riding speed of 20.8km/h. The total elapsed time was a bit more than that as I took my time resting on the way back once I’d decided not to test the mountain. Last October, when I rode to the top with only a single rest on the way up, I came in at 6h17m ride time on a route that’s 22km longer for 19.8km/h.
Coming in at 100km (no extra lap needed) put me over 600km for the month, the longest monthly distance I’ve done since last October (which was just before I converted Kuroko to electronic shifting). There are a couple of more days this month but I’m not likely to be riding. Monday will be 30C and windy, and rain is in the forecast for Tuesday.