Today was interesting. 25km bike ride from Matsudo to Shin-Urayasu （新浦安駅）for exercise and coffee with an old classmate. So far I have been pretty lucky just following Country Highway 6 (コクドウ六号線）to get around. Crossing over Edogawa was a cool moment. Although its mostly paved over with asphalt and built up as far as the eye can see, immediately next to the river are tall marshy areas...I think I saw a prime picnic spot, no vacancy today however. What nature is left alongside this wide river makes me somehow nostalgic for a time not my own. If only I had brought some of my textbooks from Pre-Modern Japanese Lit. I would search out some ancient poets romantic view of the river and that would suffice, but alas no textbook, and the only romance was had by the picnicking couple among the reeds.
After a pleasant coffee at Shin-Urayasu station, I said goodbye to my old friend and began the trek back. It took me 2 hours to travel 25km earlier that day with only a few navigational errors. I had hoped to cut this time in half on the way home. Unfortunately my strength (and girth) proved to much for my new, shiny, black bicycle. Not even 20 minutes into my return trip did the handle bars give out, sliding from side to side in a most unsettling fashion. It proved to be only a slight impedance as I was able to hold the handle bar in a neutral position with one hand and steer with the other. However, the one thing I have learned about bicycling culture in Japan is that this sport requires both hands at the wheel at all times. Why? one might ask. Well, side walks being as tight as they are, roads as equally tight, you must be focused at all times, watching for pedestrians, automobiles, and other bicyclists. I would say 50% of my ride today involved negotiating around pedestrian traffic. There are several ways to do this. My favorite is clinging the bicycle's bell loudly. An unspoken rule in Japan: when this bell is sounded, pedestrians usually yield the sidewalk to the bicyclist coming up behind them. And when the sidewalk is narrow enough for a single-file-line and no more? Then either I, the bicyclist, fall into line and wait patiently, or I jump the curb into the narrow car lane and go around. The quickest and fastest biking is achieved by the latter of these two.
Partially handicapped with a lame handle bar, I nearly ran into 4 different people on my way home, having to practically jump from the bike to avoid hitting the last guy. All because I did not have the use of my clinger. I hope to JB WELD the handle bar back in place tomorrow as I am fairly certain I stripped the bugger. Made it home safely in the end, and my consolation, home made teriyaki chicken and 90 yen sushi rolls, delicious to the last morsel!