22 August 2010

Orange Bullet Night Ride

I awoke at a reasonably normal hour for the first day following a flight from the US West Coast--at 6:30AM.  I took my time getting started in the morning ... until around 8:30AM my email started to flash and I learned of a 10AM conference call.  Somewhat relieved of the excuse not to head out into the furnace, I jumped at my wife's suggestion of a late afternoon ride as things started to cool down.

This gave me a great opportunity to try my new Mavic orange reflective jersey, and my "fibre flare" rear flashing light, attached to my seat stays.

It was still hot at 4:45PM as I started my ride heading directly toward the sun, low in the western sky.

I was rewarded once I got part of the way up the Asagawa toward Hachioji, as a strange cloud appeared directly in front of the sun, blocking it except for a golden lining around the edges of the cloud.  This site had many pedestrians stop, point and shoot with their cellphone cameras.

As I passed Takao, some of the summer festivals were underway.  One group had their matsuri along the Asagawa path, in a nice spot.  Another decided to have their matsuri on Route 20 near a busy intersection, complete with police traffic escort (I think I saw some of the same elderly cops who handled the Tamagawa fireworks on Saturday -- overtime pay bonanza this weekend.

Anyway, I skipped the Seven Eleven and kept going up the hill, turned around about half way up, and upon the return saw two motor scooters actually turn right into a newly constructed tunnel that has opened up since my last visit to the Otarumi climb hill, just at the location of the Ken-O-do expressway bridges early in the Otarumi TT route.  The tunnel had a sign indicating "Machida" -- a great find for me since I had been planning a return by Onekansen, and knew I did not have time to go West over the Otarumi hill and around via Tsukui-ko.  The tunnel was cool, fast and well lit.  It must have been 1.5 or 2 km long, and all of 2 cars passed me during its length.
Now the orange bullet really started to fly -- down Machida Kaido, then Onekansen, with a slight tail wind to ease the pain. 

The reflective vest, and my flashing fibre flare, must have made me the most visible cyclist in Japan for a hour or more.  ... unless the rider from the May 1 600 km Brevet who had a similar Mavic vest happened to be out at the same time.  Do people wear these in Europe?  The label said something about compliance with European Union requirements?  Why wasn't Sarkozy in one of these for his cycling photo op?

The rider who had one of these won the award for "most visible" rider in May ... but will have competition if he happens to ride theChubu Audax October event.

In any event, I made good time, and after a quick water stop, enjoyed the ride down the Kawasaki side of the Tamagawa.  This afforded a good view of the Keirin track (Tokyo Oval Keio Kaku), which, like many other buildings, looked totally different at night.  Not better, not worse, just different.

This may be a decent solution to the summer heat problem.  Next time -- I think I will just head out, keep going in the dark, and hop the train home.


TOM said...

Love those pictures of that lightning cloud! Great idea to start the ride in the late afternoon. I left at 6:00 am yesterday and was already toast an hour later.

Manfred von Holstein said...

I saw the same nice cloud when changing trains at Takao yesterday!

The mornings can be more brutal because the air tends to be much more humid. I had water dripping out of the backside of my bib shorts onto my legs yesterday morning when cresting a new toge near Kazahari, not to speak of my arms completely covered in sweat. I wasn't even going that fast, and it was "only" 31 degrees, but the humidity was just incredible. All the later climbs (including Kazahari) were much easier even in sometimes slightly higher temperatures.

But heading out in the late afternoon still means one can't cover that much distance. So my preferred strategy is still to suffer a bit through the early morning humidity and cycle into higher altitudes and climb passes alongside larger streams of running water which provide for a good cooling effect.

Actually, the best cooling I got recently was on the long climb up Misaka Toge between Gifu and Nagano prefectures. Over a hundred years ago, the locals dug many small but deep caves into the mountain for use as refrigerators. In summer, there is very cold air streaming out of them, right onto the rindo. One can even see the humidity crystallizing, just as when you open your fridge in summer!