Last Monday brought with it 2012’s first propper adventure. The day dawned perfectly clear and the wind decided to take a holiday. Looking out at such a perfect day from my workplace was too much too bear. I gave myself an early mark after lunch and took to the road.
Destination – the Kumozu River (雲出川), which marks the southern border of Tsu City. This was the first place I’d ridden to after I bought my bike in September last year. Unlike then, when I followed the coast the entire way down out beside the port for almost 20km, this time I only briefly stopped at Gotemba Beach before setting out for the river straight through the freshly ploughed fields.
Since early February signs of spring have been slowly appearing: The jonquils that everyone seems to have in their gardens have bloomed, a few plum blossoms have started popping open and the grass is sprouting. That final unexceptional change is by far the best indicator of just how close spring’s debut is. Though the grass beside the river is still gilt from the frost, it is in the fields where you can see life beginning to stir again. A green fuzz of new shoots from this year’s first grain crop, wheat, is starting to carpet them. The air has also started to be kinder to this cyclist’s face, even if the air temperature hasn’t increased much. You suddenly notice that you can still feel it while riding. With any luck I might soon be able to say goodbye to riding around looking like ninja, with my cap pulled down and my neck warmer pulled up so far that all that’s left showing are my eyes peering out the narrowest gap I can fashion.
It’s the wind that makes winter almost unbearable for a Queenslander. Neither Tsu nor Mie get that cold, but the wind rips across them. The mountain that dominates the horizon behind my apartment, Aoyama (lit. Blue Mountain), has 25 wind turbines up to 50m in diameter, dotted along it’s spine. From December until mid-March, you cannot leave your apartment without gloves and a scarf. If you’re a smart cookie, you also make a hat mandatory to keep the CPU from freezing in the wind. If you’re on a road bike, earmuffs are beyond necessary. I never had my ears ache from the cold until I rode my new bike this winter. Damn added speed for increasing the wind-chill factor.