18 January 2009

Columbus at the shores of Arakawa


The story goes that Columbus convinced the Portuguese queen that there must be a different route to travel to India than travelling to the the East. Ludwig convinced me, that there should be a different route riding to Ome than going to the West along the Tamagawa.

So one Friday morning we met at Hamamatsucho and started our discovery ride. First we travelled to Shin-Kiba (unfortunately not in true TCC fashion over the Rainbow bridge) and checked out the estuary of the Arakawa where we almost immediately discovered an island emerging from the sea.

Provided that you are living in Tokyo, the existence of this island is thanks to all your generous contributions in form of garbage which is disposed just after Yumenoshima in a new giant landfill (so far no Giant landfill product recall).

But there is also a nice park and one appreciates the fact that the sea is close.This is the right time to break a sec
ret:

Many of you, especially the hill climbers among you, might not know what is to the South of Tokyo. You know that to the West there are the splendid mountains of Okutama, to the North there are the even more beautiful mountains of Chichibu and to the East, well, to the East there are many golf courses in Chiba.
So when I spoke to the hill-climbing bike population of Tokyo, I often heard the opinion expressed that Tokyo is a city in a valley, surrounded on all four sides by mountains, of which one the highest are to the South and impossible to climb.
All lies. It may come as a surprise to you but Japan is in fact an island, and even more surprisingly, surrounded by the sea. And this sea touches Tokyo in the South and is exactly where the Arakawa ends. Ludwig and me just discovered that on Friday.

So Ludwig and me "took a mental note" (one of the most notorious quotes of my previous boss. It basically means: "Don't bother me with that. I will forget once I have left the room.") to tell our king about this magic island once we return to court. Then we fiddled our way around Shin-Kiba and arrived at the bicycle superhighway along the Arakawa.

Wow, this is something riders from the Tamagawa can only dream about. If Arakawa is route 246 at approximately Atsugi, the Tamagawa is a side street to Takeshita Dori in
comparison. Strangely enough, a 20 km/hr speed limit for bicycles is enforced at the Arakawa. If 20 km/hr is appropriate for the Arakawa cycling road, than comparatively in relation to the width of the cycling path, 1.89 km/hr for bicycles must be enforced at the Tamagawa I reckon.

In one word, flat, wide, beautiful weather, good tailwind initially and Ludwig
and me went fast in a draftline for at least 20 km. We tried some race tactics, were frolicking around and trying to sprint away from each other after coming out of the draft.

In no time we arrived in Kawagoe where we continued along the Iruma river.Here the cycling pathes are much narrower and there are some unpaved stretches.

I had a flat tire, and found out the hard way that my carbon cartridge valve is not properly sealed. By the way, later at home I tried to fix my tire with the Panaracer patch. This is very easy to apply as the patch itself is very thin and easy to glue on the tube. Does anybody else have experience with this patch, especially in terms of durability? Is this only something to finish the ride or can the repaired tube than used as it would be new?

The cycling path around Kawagoe was OK but not great. Finally we found our way on the road to Ome, where we crossed a very small part of Chichibu and then finally arrived at our beloved Aurore bakery in front of the station where we just by chance met Denis. Yes, we have done it, we found the East passage to Ome and were greeted by the aborigines.

Then, after having the obligatory Royal Milk Bread, we continued along the Tamagawa to Sekidobashi where we made a final break. It was already dark and I decided to take a train home, while Ludwig continued along the Tamagawa to his house.

Basically we had done one complete loop around Tokyo (185km from and to Ludwig's house), something like a grand version of the Yamanote Challenge.

Unfortunately when I came back to the court at home rather late, the queen was not very amused by my brave endeavours which took slightly more time then envisaged, and sentenced me to two hours of math home works with my son.

1 comment:

TOM said...

Nice report! I should try this route too - looks perfect for the winter months.