Despite getting my first COVID-10 Pfizer vaccine jab yesterday and being told not to do any overly strenuous exercise, I woke up at 4am on the dot and felt exceptionally motivated. Once I rubbed the weariness and morning sand out of my eyes, I jumped out of bed ready to pounce on Red Chameleon and get some much needed vigorous work on the tarmac. I sprinted into action, changing clothes, and completing my pre-cycling routine, ultimately walking out of the front door a bit before 5am.
As I normally do before heading out in the morning, especially in this nasty heat and humidity, I drank about 750ml of water and ate something to provide me with a bit of energy and a sugar boost. Today I finished the last of my oatmeal and peanut butter energy balls, but had a small square of my first batch of homemade rice cakes. I will write about my recipe this week some time, but needless to say the flavor did not hit the mark despite the rice cake containing plenty of strength inducing ingredients.
Once I finished fueling, I strolled out the door towards Red Chameleon for some pre-ride prep. While I was walking down the steps to the garage, the air felt thick like cheese fondue. I quite literally could have stood a knife straight up since the humidity level was so high at this early hour. If my weather app is remotely correct, at 5am it was already 26c and 85% humidity. Not ideal workout conditions.
But at this point I did not care. I was focused on fulfilling my goal of a 50k ride this morning. Nothing short of a major incident was going to prevent this from happening! Not even the doctors advice from my COVID-19 vaccine shot was going to stop me.
As I clipped into Red Chameleon and started the ride, the cool morning breeze rushing across my face felt wonderful. I could not wait to get near the river, where surely the air would be slightly crisper and feel much better. As I was crossing a bridge over the Tamagawa to the Kanagawa side of the river, the sunrise was absolutely stunning. I briefly stopped at a spot I do not normally take pictures from and grabbed a nice shot of the sunrise between some tower mansions in Futako-Tamagawa.
I had left a bit earlier than normal this morning. The days are now slowly getting shorter, and thus the sun is beginning to make later appearances. This is providing me with an opportunity to get some unique pictures, assuming I can make it out of the house around 5am every morning from here on out.
After stopping at my usual spot and snapping the usual pictures, I hit play on todays podcast playlist, and started riding upstream towards the 25k turnaround spot. It was relatively early on a Monday morning, so the Tamagawa Cycling Road had minimal traffic. It was really easy to maintain decent pace and cadence rather than navigating an obstacle course where I need to stop and start far too often for my liking.
Despite the thick morning air, I felt strong and energetic. I had no problems pedaling powerfully. My legs were solid and did not tire at all during the first 25k segment. For the second 50k in a row I pumped out a personal record for the first half, besting the previous by approximately 15 seconds.
While my record of 51:11 is nothing compared to real cyclists, it does help motivate me to ride harder and faster every day I am out riding. The all time record is 37:19! I cannot even conceptualize how someone can ride so fast, nor how they can even maintain that type of pace on this usually crowded road with old people, young children, and dogs everywhere. Nevertheless, I got a metric shit ton of work to do before I can get anywhere near that kind of speed.
When I reached the 25k turnaround checkpoint I was drenched in sweat, partially due to the pace I was maintaining but primarily because of the heat and humidity. At this point it was right around 6am, and the heat was turned up a few notches from an hour earlier, and felt like I was a cake baking in an oven. I needed to take a few extra moments to relax before heading downstream towards home.
I drank about half of a bottle of my go to mango flavored electrolyte drink, quickly downed an energy gel pack, and wiped sweat off my face and sunglasses. I paused for a few extra moments, catching my breath and getting prepared for the ride home. The sharp rays of sunshine beaming down from above were piercing intense heat upon the Tamagawa Cycling Road. The 25k downstream was going to be a treacherous ride back, so I would need to be cautious.
I mounted Red Chameleon and started making my way downstream. The first 10k was a lot of fun, and I was maintaining an approximately 32kph average pace. The speed was comforting because I making great progress towards my goal, but also the breeze being supplied to help cool me off. Even with this draft, the sun was overwhelmingly hot and painful.
At the 15k mark I became noticeably tired, and I started struggling to maintain pace. This was mostly because of the heat more than anything, so I opted to stop along the Tamagawa for a quick break.
I parked Red Chameleon along a wooden bench wrapped around a large tree providing refuge from the morning heat. Once again I hydrated and downed another energy gel pack, and made sure I was ok to make it home without bonking.
The rest of the ride home went well, but I was not in the same zone I was in when heading upstream. While I was riding around 30kph, it was still a bit lower than I would have preferred. But it was better to be safe rather than push myself too hard. Part of riding is about enjoying myself, and is not entirely about besting previous stats.
I made it back home without any issues, completing an uneventful and mostly unremarkable ride. It was a great way to start the week, setting the stage for what looks to be a brutally busy set of meetings through the first three days.
This weekend I made some homemade almond butter and my own homemade cycling rice cakes. One of my intentions moving forward is to use more homemade items so I can control the ingredients, ensuring there are no wonky chemicals or preservatives. Not only is this a more nutritious strategy, but also potentially more fun. I can add whatever goodies I like to these dishes and condiments, cooking things I end up preferring over store bought items.
I already shared my energy ball recipe, but will also share both my almond butter and cycling rice cakes recipe later this week, time permitting. It needs a bit of iterating but will turn into something really tasty as I get more practice. So far it has been a lot of fun playing with these ingredients and cooking up tasty little items.
On that note, hope you have a great start to your week after a nice weekend. Be safe and stay healthy!