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Bike swimming.

September 24, 2010

Yesterday, I thought I would really stretch my legs a bit on Maru. So far the longest I have ridden her is about 15km, for the 7ish each way ride to my brother’s. So, I was kind of excited to see if it was easier to get across a longer distance on her than on Mabel. Of course, it was raining. And in spurts it was aggressively raining. So, I thought, I’ll leave early to meet my friends for lunch, and if that aggressive rain starts, I will just pull into a cafe for 15minutes. The rain here can come down in sheets, but not usually for very long. And I’m from Vancouver; how can I let a little rain stop me? I looked up my route, and set out, lululemoned to the max, with a spare skirt to pull on in my bag, and a thin cardi just in case. Ha, I thought I was prepared. It wasn’t raining so hard for the first bit, and I enjoyed whipping down the larger streets, the sidewalks empty because of the rain, and it being a holiday. I got to my first landmark–highway overpass– and swung west. Rain was still holding, I was enjoying myself, tootling along. At what I thought was my second landmark–next large set of lights–I tried to swing south, but the road immediately swung what seemed to me to be east again. I didn’t want to go east. I really wish I had moved the compass over from Mabel. So, I started to plot what I thought was my way south-west. This is a pretty common problem for me here–the thinking I know which way I am facing, and just going with it. Every time I hit a curve or a weird junction, I would again judge what I thought to be south or east. I passed the Tokyo Swimming centre (who knew) and continued into the curvy willy nilly streets of Matsubara. I’ve been lost in Matsubara before. Both running and on Mabel. There must have been something really important in Matsubara once upon a time because it is clearly designed for maximum obtuse-ness. I continued along, up and down hills (if you are going to get lost, why not waste the maximum amount of energy going up and down hills. I crossed two sets of train tracks, a park, and got less and less sure of which way I was facing. And then I came up upon the Tokyo Swimming centre. Yup. Full circle. Full 5km, half hour circle. No worries.

Reset. Second try. Went a little further west and tried to head south. I didn’t end up back at the Swimming Centre but I did end up considerably further west than I needed to. I passed through some areas I had been to by train before, like Yoga, and some I hadn’t. I was quickly running out of time to meet my friends, so I paused and sent off a quick message. I thought I could make it.

I finally got myself on track and had about 15 minutes left to go when the sky opened up and bucketed down. Yuki called to see where I was, and my phone promptly died. It does that. So I rode on, worried they were waiting in a torrential downpour. I felt the water make it past my layers and hit my skin. Eventually I made it to the station, but was dripping so profusely, I couldn’t even get my dead phone out of my bag. I was wet, cold, and had no way to reach them. Eventually we found each other, and all of us, cold and wet tried to warm up. I ended up buying a full new set of clothes at uniqlo: socks, tshirt, track-pants, everything.

I tried to wait out the rain after the afternoon, but it was relentless, and eventually, after putting it off several times, I headed home at, yes, midnight. Midnight, in the rain. The way home was much easier partly because I figured out where I had gone wrong the first time (should have turned left at the SECOND highway overpass). I was not quite whipping along because it was dark and wet and hard to see really well enough the pavement which was in very bad condition.  I did pretty well until Koenji when my seat spontaneously dropped. It had been a pretty bumpy ride, and I guess it knocked the screw loose enough to let the seat down. That made things much less comfortable for the last few kilometers. I was fairly angry about it at the time.

I was once again drenched to the skin by the time I got home, but not completely miserable. I’m amazed I covered almost 40km and other than some stiffness in my fingers I seem to have come out of it mostly unscathed.

In future, I think I will prepare better for rain, or avoid it. The getting lost part doesn’t really bother me. Oh, and my pannier? NOT waterproof. There was a lake in the bottom of it. Luckily I had plastic bagged everything inside.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Shaun permalink
    September 29, 2010 6:18 am

    I *soooo* did the full circle mistake in Nagoya when I lived there, this was during a really long bike ride. Oh, did my spirits drop when I turned the corner and saw that torii gate for the second time. Anyway, glad you’re getting used to the long rides 😉

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