My Second-Longest Ride: Double-Century Ride to Ise City

iPhone 7+ at an effective 32mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.2, ISO 25 — map & image datanearby photos
Yours Truly
Overlooking the Ise Bay
at the 185km (115mi) of a 326km (202mi) bicycle ride

I'm coming out of blogging hibernation to write about a bicycle ride I did yesterday. I'm pretty happy with myself for it, so in keeping with using my blog as a diary, I'm putting the story here.

the ride at Strava

There aren't many photos, both because I had only my cellphone and wasn't stopping a lot, and because the stupid iOS app I was using (Halide) decided to not actually save all but one of the photos that I took in the first eight hours. )-:

So, having seen friend Vincent's ride to Ise City last month, I thought I'd give it a try. Vincent's group took the train back, but I thought I'd cycle back, making it a round trip. At 326km (202 miles), it displaces last year's 304km adventure with Gorm as my second-longest ride, following my longest (408km two-laps-around-Lake Biwa ride) in 2017.

Yesterday was my longest solo ride, my second double century, and my 40th century.

It took 16 hours; the first few hours were in the dark, as were the last few hours.

The morning dark was sometimes lit by a lovely full moon, but it was mostly cloudy, a condition that would persist most of all day. And unlike the weather forecast (warm and sunny!), it was cold and sprinkly with strong wind much of the day.

It was mentally much easier than I expected. The key seems to have been that I approached it as two separate rides: a 180km (112mi) ride to the cafe in Ise City where I would have lunch, and then, by the way, almost as an afterthought, just a short 140km (87mi) ride to get back home.

The first 45km (28mi) were on a flat bike path that barely counts as cycling, so by the time I actually started riding on mountain roads, I had only 135km (84mi) until that ride ended at the lunch cafe. This could be tough for me if there were a lot of mountains or I had to do it quickly, but neither applied this time: I had no particular schedule, and this part of the route had only 2,160m (7,090') of climb, which is nothing to sneeze at, but it's well within the realm of reason for me.

Once off the bike paths and onto the real ride, it didn't start smoothly.

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/30 sec, f/1.8, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Scene of the Crime
looking back to where I'd come from
( the highlighted marks on the curb are almost certainly from my tires )

At the 47km point, in a wide-open road in the middle of nowhere with pristine pavement, I crashed in the most monumentally-stupid way I can imagine.

As I approached a slight curve into an intersection, my cycling computer beeped a navigation notification, and I glanced down for just a moment. A split second after returning my concentration to the road, I rammed straight into the sweeping curve of the high concrete curb.... a sweeping curve that had been plainly visible as I approached during the prior 45 seconds. I was going a relatively-lazy 23kph (14mph).

Oh, how I wish I could see the look on my face in the 0.1 seconds between realization and impact. It's absolutely inconceivable to me how I did what I did. I spent much of the next 14½ hours of the ride contemplating it. I didn't come up with anything. I'm still utterly dumbfounded.

This was the second real crash in my five-year-old cycling life, and considering the sheer unadulterated stupidity on display, I was extremely lucky and came away relatively unscathed. I suffered a compound fracture of my pride, but after that there's just a bit of road rash on my knees, my left knee is a swollen and should make a swell bruise, and I ripped holes in both knees of my new winter kit, the most-excellent Velocio ZERO winter bib tights. They have a repair service that I now get to try.

(A day later, the half-dollar-sized circle of road rash on the skin of my knee hurts, but no other pain.)

I brushed myself off and checked the bike; it was fine. I continued on, and at one point thought I should maybe pour some water over the wound on my knee, which I could most definitely feel, but could not see because the big hole in the tights was inexplicably 6" above the wound. After another kilometer, I came across a vending machine and thought I should fill up on water, only to find that my wallet was gone. I trekked back to the site of the crash and picked it up.

So, with my ride having now started in earnest, I entered the mountains and started to tick off the kilometers. At first they went very, very slowly. Sometimes I'd grind into the wind for what seemed like 15~20 minutes, only to notice that I'd gone only one kilometer. Literally. I don't know how long it actually took, but it was very disheartening.

The stretch from between 50km (31mi) into the ride, and 80km (50mi) into the ride, was the most mentally-difficult of the entire day, but once I crossed the 100km until lunch mark, I brightened up. Then when I got to 90km until lunch, the halfway point of the ride to lunch, suddenly I felt that everything was downhill from there, so to speak. I was halfway there, and after lunch, I'd just have to ride home... the ride home almost didn't even count, mentally. It made no sense to me even as I thought it, but the feeling was there and I was happy for it. Mentally, I was in great shape for the remaining 235km (146mi).

Two and a half hours, and 50km (31mi) after the crash, I finally came across a convenience store, so I took the opportunity to put a dressing on my knee (which requires me to strip the bib tights, and hence why I didn't do it at the scene). I de-stuck it from the inside of the tights, and applied a sheet of Mepitel Film (similar to Tegaderm) from the first-aid stuff that I started to carry after this ride where a member crashed.

Anyway, I felt a bit better that because the wound was now dressed, I wouldn't have to rip off the scab when I got home.

At the convenience store, I also enjoyed a coffee and a rice ball. The 19-minute stop was the only major stop during the first 180km to the cafe for lunch.

The route was lovely, with few big thoroughfares. I went across quaint bridges and big dams, and had many lovely vistas. But as I mentioned, the stupid Halide app ate all the photos.

At some point I was calculating my overall average speed (about 21kph / 13mph), which includes climbing up mountains, stops for photos and traffic lights (and crashes), etc., and realized that I might be able to get back to Kyoto in time for a salsa dance party. I've been dancing salsa for the last year or so, and really enjoy it. So, I used that to drive my pace just a bit.

During the last hour or two of the to-lunch ride, the wind, which had been intermittently gusty, started to solidify into a brisk tailwind. It was lovely, but I knew I'd pay for it on the return.

Once I arrived to Ise City, I took photos at a shrine, and in front of the train station. Of course, they're gone like the others.

Just about noon, I arrived at the Funae Cafe for lunch, and felt that for the most part, my ride was done. At least, all the hard parts!

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/30 sec, f/1.8, ISO 40 — map & image datanearby photos
My standard karaage chicken set lunch

While waiting for my order, I pulled out my phone to upload a photo, and found that all the photos so far, except from the crash site, were gone. So I switched to the native camera app for the rest of the day.

I noticed that the restaurant had slow-drip cold-drip coffee, which I had been talking with someone about during my previous ride, so I gave it a try...

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/30 sec, f/1.8, ISO 64 — map & image datanearby photos

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/30 sec, f/1.8, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos

It was extremely smooth, but mostly devoid of flavor. I'll have to try some others before coming to any general conclusions.

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/1700 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Bike Stand
tears of happiness

I rolled out at about 1pm in good spirits. Before heading back, I popped up to see the ocean...

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/3000 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
At the Bay of Ise
near where it opens up into the Pacific

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/2000 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos

Near the bay was very flat with little protection, so the wind was fierce, and completely against me. I struggled against it for 10km, and also struggled to reroute when long sections of the bike path were closed for construction, but I remained remarkably sanguine about everything. Normally I fret and just want to give up, but this time I was in a great mood.

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/4600 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Disappointing Bridge
the view on Google Earth made it look much more cool

I then had to go through 37km (23mi) of more-or-less city, mostly on a big bypass with lots and lots of truck traffic. If the wind were with me I'd be able to get it done in an easy hour, but the wind was definitely against me, and it took two hours of mindless grinding. Slowly, slowly the mountains got closer, and I knew that my reward would be having to go up steep slopes that would cause me to be even slower than I already was. The whole time, I'm calculating whether I could get back in time for 9pm salsa.

It also started raining consistently. Not heavy, but also not stopping. The temperature also dropped down to 5° (41F).

I had not planned for the rain at all... the forecast was sunny and warm all day. At least for Kyoto. I neglected to check the forecast for where I was actually going to be. Doh! I would have imagined that I would have froze, but the clothes I had were excellent.

I had only the aforementioned Velocio winter bib tights, the Rapha deep winter base layer, and a Rapha long-sleeve core jersey. And that was enough, in the non-stop rain and strong wind, to keep me comfortable.

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/30 sec, f/1.8, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Final Stop

With 64km (40mi) left to go, I made the second convenience-store stop on the ride home. By this point I was still mentally in great shape, but I was getting tired. (I'd been up since 3am.) So, I tried the second Red Bull of my life (the first having been last year on the long ride with Gorm.) That and a coffee and some Coke seemed to do the trick... I felt great the rest of the way home.

I felt great, but was still pretty slow, even on the descents. Tiredness, combined with dark and the rain made me ease off quite a bit. For example, on one long stretch leading into the last hour of the ride, I averaged only 35kph, while my best on that stretch of road is a much zippier 41kph.

Still, the downhills in the last couple of hours helped the overall average, and I arrived home at 8:14pm.

My knee wasn't a pretty sight.

iPhone 7+ at an effective 28mm — 1/25 sec, f/1.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
but could have been so much worse

All the blood makes it look worse than it is. And if nothing's touching it, it doesn't hurt. The biggest problem for the near term will be when I have to wear non-baggy pants.

Another casualty of the ride was my toes. Unlike how my great kit kept me warm, my shoes (Fizik R5 Artica winter shoe) did little, and my toes were frozen for much of the ride. In the shower, I was shocked to see that they had turned gray. I'd never seen such gray skin on the body of a live person... it was a bit scary. But I massaged them under hot water, and the color slowly came back.

In any case, I got cleaned up and made it to salsa dancing with 10 minutes to spare.

Overall, it was a great ride. I got to enjoy 228km (142mi) of new roads for me, and score my second double century. It was much easier, mentally and physically, than many lesser rides in my past. I'm not why, but I do know that the splitting of it mentally, into two rides, was just amazing for my psyche. I hope I can do that in the future with equal success.

All 11 comments so far, oldest first...

Awesome story, thanks for taking the time to write it! Too bad about all the pics! I wonder if there is something wrong with how you handle your feet. Maybe those Fizik shoes aren’t good-? I usually ride in regular shoes (old Sidis) with a couple pairs of socks (one thin, one thick, preferably wool) with toe warmers only, and generally that’s enough. It has to get down into the 30’s for my feet to feel cold. My old Sidi’s are too big for me, so I only wear them in winter with thick socks. So, my feet aren’t squished at all (which cuts off circulation).

Anyway, great story!!


— comment by Mimi on March 13th, 2020 at 2:39pm JST (4 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Post accident coffee IV contraption?

I don’t know how you do it. I need a nap before salsa.

— comment by Richard on March 14th, 2020 at 1:13pm JST (4 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

If it makes you feel better, as a middle schooler I hit two parked cars in 15 minutes. I was worried about my rear tire and it seemed every time I looked down at it there was a parked car in my way. What seems like a moment can be 100 feet.

I used to mentally break long rides into shorter sections too. I know I can always ride 25 miles and that was the distance between check points on the Seattle to Portland ride.

Hah, this reminds me of when I wad delivering newspapers in rural Ohio circa 13 years old. After chatting with a couple at their door, I started down their driveway back toward the road, turned back to wave “bye” to them, and proceeded to slam directly into their parked car. —Jeffrey

— comment by Ricky Hancock on March 15th, 2020 at 4:54am JST (4 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Interesting story and trip, Jeffrey. You are making me feel guilty. I love cycling and it’s great here in West Wales. But I hate the cold so tend to stick to spring-autumn months. I obviously need to get some better clothing gear and get out there more! Hope your injury has healed OK.

I just registered the metadata plugin and left you a beer – you could probably do with one after that trip.

The really good clothes are quite expensive, but I’ve learned from experience that it’s much more expensive not to buy them… one ends up buying more and more (a little at a time over the years) looking for something that works. For bib tights, the Velocio ZERO bib tights are amazing. They’re so expensive, I never would have tried them had I not been given both a discount code by a friend associated with the company, and a personal explanation from the company founder as to how he thought his product would solve my specific problem. With years of experience being disappointed, I was still reluctant to give it a try, but I’m so happy I did… they were far better than I could have ever hoped. And the Rapha Deep Winter Windblock Base Layer, also super expensive (I gave it a try during their end-of-the-year sale) is magical. It turns out that it and a Rapha longsleeve core jersey are all that I need to stay warm even on long descents when the temperature is getting close to freezing (it was down to 5℃ on my long Ise-City ride). I still need to find a good solution for my fingers and toes… the expensive stuff hasn’t helped yet. I want to try Velocio’s gloves, but the shipping to Japan is prohibitive, so I’ll get some the next time I go to The States. —Jeffrey

Oh, and thanks for the beer! I’ve given up booze for Lent, so I’ll enjoy it on Easter! —Jeffrey

— comment by rob ashcroft on March 15th, 2020 at 9:17pm JST (4 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks for another blog entry! I appreciate having something to read while I’m cooped up during covid-19 🙂

— comment by Spencer on March 20th, 2020 at 3:52am JST (4 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I’m with Spencer: social isolation is less onerous after reading that someone else has hit the road for a long ride. Well done, you.

As always, I think fondly of Kyoto and my sweet Horiikecho neighborhood along the Shirakawa. Sigh… I read that Sakura came early this year; hope you are not so inured to it that you overlooked its glories. Enjoy it on behalf of those who wish we were there, without crowds for once!

Best wishes.

— comment by DD on March 23rd, 2020 at 10:55pm JST (4 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I enjoy your stories. I spent almost 5 years in an around Sendai and Sapporo, Japan.

— comment by Abraham Lincoln on April 8th, 2020 at 12:18am JST (4 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Hey Jeffrey. nice to see you back riding and blogging. Hopefully the weather is getting better for some more rides (and maybe your knee!)? It’s about this time of year I think about how great it is to cycle in Japan!!!!
Stay safe and well and look forward to some more photos.

— comment by Ash Ray on April 24th, 2020 at 6:48am JST (4 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Awesome story, a real adventure. This reminds me of falling as a kid and wounding my knee quite much, things like this leave a mark, a memory.

— comment by Luis on May 5th, 2020 at 3:43pm JST (4 years ago) comment permalink

Hello Jeffrey.
An interesting bike blog and, as a former marathoner, I find your experiences familiar. I hope all your sores, bumps and bruises are healed and you are back on the road again

With the possibility of finding a genealogical connection……My grandmother was Jenni Friedl Ratajik. Her father and mother were John and Mary (Nedved). The families immigrated from Bohemia to Wisconsin, then Chicago and finally SW Michigan. May this find you well, and best wishes for good health and happiness.
Dave Ratajik
Stevensville, Michigan.

— comment by Dave on June 22nd, 2020 at 10:30pm JST (3 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

I come for the regex; I stay for the biking photos. Thanks Jeff for sharing!

Madison, Wisconsin USA

— comment by Charles on August 27th, 2020 at 10:50pm JST (3 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink
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