After taking three consecutive days off thanks to negative side effects from Pfizer poke number two, yesterday I hit the road for a pretty unremarkable ride. This morning I was determined to have a more enjoyable time along the river. Despite pounding out a metric half century, unexpected traffic and the intolerable morning climate made for periodic problematic pedaling.
I laid in bed after my alarm went off, contemplating rolling over and going back to sleep. The room was comfortable and cool thanks to the air conditioner keeping the temperature pleasantly chilly. But after being stuck indoors for too many days, I decided I needed to get out on Red Chameleon and not shirk my exercise duties. I quickly hopped out of bed before my mind changed.
Part of my pre-ride ritual lately I have been eating homemade energy balls, most recently covering them entirely in chocolate just for some added flavor. The last batch I cooked up I turned into energy bars instead, this time layering melted caramel and chocolate atop the peanuty mixture. I find the bars easier to eat, but these bad boys are hella sweet. Not only that, but they are heavy too.
Now I am contemplating eating only half to counteract that weight. I am a bit concerned because the climate lately requires additional fuel. One of the dangers of riding on little food in this weather is bonking. While I do stay hydrated, ensuring I have enough energy is the real issue. This is something I need to research and see if there is a better course of action.
I knew the temperature and humidity outside was going to be bad, but I did not expect it to be as uncomfortable as it was until I walked out the front door. It was horrible. A slight breeze would have made it okay, but the air was as still as a crows nest in winter. Like yesterday, I knew this was not going to be fun but pressed on nonetheless.
I did the quick pre-ride prep for Red Chameleon, hopped on top of her, and headed towards the Tamagawa. Lately I have been taking the main road parallel with the Tamagawa before crossing a bridge to the Kawasaki side. This lets me just ride straight and not have to worry about any sudden cross traffic. The downside is cars love to drive hellaciously fast at 5am.
It is not really cars I am concerned with so much as it is larger vans and trucks. There have been some harrowing moments lately. This road has a lot of cyclists, as does most of Japan, so the level of danger is nothing like it is in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, there are periodic major ass clenching moments. Too much information?
As I was riding along the road, a slight crosswind kicked up and it felt nice. It was not strong enough to be annoying. There was just the right amount of wind to provide some relief from the humidity.
I crossed the Tamagawa to the Kawasaki side, turned on a podcast and put my head down, focusing solely on riding. This morning I was making a concerted effort to maintain pace and cadence but ended up running into some obstacles. On most days, at this hour and on this side of the river, there is relatively little traffic. Unfortunately this morning there was foot and bicycle gridlock.
There was a 2k segment where I was unable to breakout and ride because I was stuck behind two cyclists riding slower than I wanted. Thanks to all the traffic, I was unable to pass and just had to suck it up. By the time I was able to kick it into high gear and get passed them, I had wasted a substantial amount of time and distance.
When I got to the 12k mark where I normally pause for a picture I was utterly drenched. I drank half a bottle of electrolytes and scurried off towards the 25k halfway mark. I had spent too much time in traffic, which had thankfully dissipated, and wanted to push myself to make up for lost time.
During this entire upstream leg I did not feel strong, often times struggling in areas I normally do not. All the recent time off the saddle has made an impact. I need to get back into a habit of riding more regularly, increasing my strength, so I can increase speed and lower my segment times.
I hit the 25k halfway mark and was spent. I needed energy, so quickly tore open a gel pack while finishing the rest of the first bottle of electrolytes. That immediately hit the spot as I could feel the power literally recharging my weary old body.
This location has a rather boring view and I was in no mood to waste time this morning. I took a quick break and was on my way downstream before I knew it. I was able to maintain a relatively decent speed for the first part of the return. For essentially 15k I felt really good, riding comfortably and enjoying the view. The Tokyo side of the Tamagawa is much nicer than the Kawasaki side, and makes for a more pleasant ride.
At the 15k mark I ran into some more traffic, so I stopped at the same bench as yesterday just to relax for a few minutes. I took a couple pictures, and chugged half of the second bottle of electrolytes before hitting the tarmac yet again.
The rest of the ride home was humdrum. It was just really tough to enjoy the whole ride due to the combination of uncomfortable climate and a highly busy river route. When I did finally stop in front of my house, I was literally dripping sweat from every part of my body. This was not only because I was working hard, but mostly as a result of the evil humidity.
While summer is my favorite time of the year, I am yearning for autumn weather. This heat and humidity is becoming unbearable. Even at 5am the climate is insufferable, and that variable tends to make riding less pleasant. Although I will be sad to wave goodbye to summer, I am looking forward to autumn so I can get back to enjoying these morning meditative rides.
It is also worth noting, not every morning is the motivation level on full blast. More often than not lately I have been keen to go back to sleep. The humidity is primarily to blame here, even though it sounds like an excuse. But the stuggle is real, and we all need to push ourselves if we intend to reach our desired goals. This is exactly why I did get out of bed and did ride a full 50k this morning.
Never give up, keep pushing the limits of your body, and you will be greatly rewarded for doing so. Obviously, do not push yourself so much to invite danger but there is no harm in a little mental motivation to get you physically moving. Now more than ever we need to stay healthy. In addition to the vaccine, exercise and eating healthy meals are the two best weapons to combating the evils of COVID-19.
Have an awesome weekend and stay safe.