Tiptoeing through the Tulips

Today was something of a landmark occasion: Kangaeroo made his first century ride on a recumbent bike.

Owning and riding a recumbent has been a long-held dream for this blogger.

And the dream finally became a reality earlier this year.

But the dream turned into a bit of a nightmare as Kangaeroo discovered how difficult it is to ride these bikes.

It took over a month of steady practice to learn how to ride.

Even then, a sense of unease persists.

Early plans to name the bike Lay Down Sally gave way to Death Machine.

If nothing else, the recumbent brings back the thrill of being close to death on wheels.

But finally, having enough confidence to tackle flatlands at least, Kangaeroo headed upstream along the Tama River.

Blessed with a handful of days off and glorious spring weather, he hopped on the Death Machine.

The objective was the Hamura Tulip Festival, about 40 km from home.

Kangaeroo arrived safely and without trouble at the festival only to find that there were almost no flowers there.

Chatting to his wife while eating lunch, he realized once again that she has exquisite taste in everything except her choice of men, Kangaeroo was advised to head to Showa Kinen Koen Park, where there would be a plethora of spring flowers.

Fortunately, the trip was on flat land, too, and the advice was spot-on.

The flowers were absolutely delightful and the cycling path around the park proved to be a wonderful spot for the Death Machine to strut its stuff.

All in all, it was a wonderful day and Kangaeroo can now point to a record of traveling more than 100 km in a single journey on a recumbent.

Beating Jobsworths with Luck

Waking early gave Kangaeroo a slice of luck this morning, enabling a visit to Yakushiike Park in Machida before the jobsworths arrived there and booted him out for bringing his bike.

The park is a delight, unbelievably located in the Tokyo suburbs.

It has some spectacular wisteria growing on trellises, with a huge pond (the ike of Yakushiike) surrounded by a picturesque garden currently flourishing with bright new leaves.

The wisteria are yet to reach full bloom, so there may be another visit before we’re finished this year.

Sensational Sunrises

There have been some sensational sunrises to greet me in recent days, though each weekend for the past six weeks has seen at least one day rain.

This week it was Saturday and Kangaeroo spent the day on the Death Machine, riding only a short distance.

Sunday, though, was a different matter, and we headed out on a 200-km under beautiful blue skies, but dogged by gale-force winds that proved energy sapping.

Stumbling Spectacularly

Following yesterday’s lousy weather that curtailed almost all cycling, today shone bright as an opportunity to get back onto the bike.

While the pre-dawn was icy cold, it also showed a glow that suggested the sunrise was going to be a glorious one.

After a series of stumbles that included breaking a coffee cup celebrating the 2017 premiership victory by the Richmond Football Club and forgetting all sorts of thing, Kangaeroo could finally head off.

Wind was debilitating again, as it tends to be in spring. The wind swirls, so just when it seems unbearable, there can often be an uplifting tailwind, so it’s not all bad.

Nonetheless, today’s wind came head on and made for tough riding.

But making it to the Tama River brought wonderful rewards in the form of a brilliant sunrise, highlighted by the presence of many clouds in the sky.

It is an ill wind that brings no good, indeed, as the blustery conditions of the morning ensuring that nicer weather would be ushered in.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

April in Tokyo can get wet, but it can also be warm and dry.

Unfortunately, today it’s the former.

On the upside that means more photo opportunities and a slower pace to enjoy riding.

Make no mistake, though, April is when spring really starts to, well, blossom in the Japanese capital.

Not far from Kangaeroo’s home is the delightful Yakushiike Park.

The park has some delightful archetypically Japanese scenes, with the crooked bridge over a pond, terraced rice paddies and beautifully manicured gardens.

Flowers and new greenery sprout everywhere and days are longer and generally warmer.

Then there’s the wind.

Cherry blossoms in Japan are world-renowned for their beauty, but there are plenty of other delightful flowers to see in this season, too.

It also has a section of wisteria of different colors growing through trellises and looking absolutely delightful. The wisteria hadn’t bloomed yet, but that didn’t stop the rest of the park looking delightful, even in the torrid rain.

Strange Days, Indeed

There have been better days than today, but this one is up there for peculiarity (in a minor sort of way).

The morning ride was nice in spite of tiredness that became increasingly more obvious the more Kangaeroo rode. Not helping was having woken before 3 a.m. again and not being able to get back to sleep.

Sunrise was spectacular, but fleeting, and didn’t really make for the nicest of photos. Still, it is a wonderful time of the year in Tokyo.

Following a morning meeting, there was enough time left before work started to nick over to Costco to pick up some emergency supplies.

But it was surprise that resulted as Kangaeroo arrived to find that the store wouldn’t open for another hour.

Costco came at lunchtime instead.

Most of the afternoon was spent waiting to be given work and looking after the lovebird.

Cheating Death!

Kangaeroo recently added a recumbent bike to his collection.

A recumbent has long been part of the Kangaeroo dream.

When Kangaeroo started cycling, he often shared his commute through suburban Tokyo with a seasoned Kiwi cyclist called John.

Kangaeroo was a rookie (and still is, really), but John had been riding for decades, and often shared his knowledge and experience.

This went on for about a year. Kangaeroo came to appreciate and admire John as he put into practice the advice he had been given.

One day, John turned up riding a bike where he was lying down. Kangaeroo immediately wanted to mimic him.

But John worked in finance and money was no problem.

Recumbent bikes are pricey.

And they were out of Kanageroo’s league.

Years went by.

Early this year, a Facebook post arose, offering to sell a recumbent at a price that Kangaeroo could afford.

Only trouble was, the bike was on sale in Nagoya.

Kangaeroo jumped on a night bus, headed to Nagoya and pocketed the bike before anybody else could get it.

The plan was to spend the weekend riding the recumbent back to Tokyo.

It would be a cinch! Except, it was almost impossible to ride the bike.

It was a front-wheel drive and every time Kangaeroo tried to pedal, he’d fall off the bike. The planned nickname of Lay Down Sally soon gave way to the Death Machine upon realization that riding this bicycle would be an invitation to a premature death.

Quick change of plans and it was disassemble the bike and head back to Tokyo.

Unfortunately, unprepared for rail travel, Kangaeroo lacked the mandatory bike bag and the velo was a mess by the time he made it home.

What’s more, the chain broke, parts got lost and the seller had no idea of the brand of the bike to try to track down anything.

Fortunately, Google soon came up with answers. After a few weeks of discussion with the manufacturer overseas, and pleading for help from the local bike store, the recumbent was ready to ride (and the associated costs meant it would have been cheaper and easier to buy an expensive new bike…)

The problem of being able to ride it remained, though.

Weeks of using spare moments of free time finally built up enough confidence to ride on a cycling track.

One cycling track ride was enough to inspire confidence to try out a longer ride.

And that ride finally happened!

And it went perfectly…except for getting lost, but that’s another story.