Monday, August 31, 2009

Just Biking in the Rain

It had been a while since I'd biked through one of Japan's torrential typhoon-level downpours. Twelve years, in fact.
Last time I had no waterproof gear (I'm not counting the umbrella, since that gave up and ran for cover whimpering when faced with the wind that day), and must have been quite an amusing sight by the time I made it home, given how long it took my host Mom to control the giggles after seeing me drip into the entrance hallway.
This time, I have full rain gear (worked quite nicely, my clothes and hair stayed dry in spite of being under a waterfall for a good hour straight), my shoes are sandals and attach to the bike pedals (so no slipping off), and I have strong lights on the bike. However, I'm also carrying every possesion I have in Japan with me in a trailer behind the bike. (The trailer is mostly waterproof... it did leak a bit underneath, I'm guessing where the axle connects to the suitcase.)
I made the trip from Shinbashi to Asakusa with no trouble (though I'm not as much a fan of the pedestrian dodging game on a bike as I used to be in High School), checked into a hostel for the next two nights, and now I'm tucked into a restaurant booth cuddling a cup of hot tea.
Some lessons learned: my bike bell doesn't make much of a useful sound when it's waterlogged (but whistling works ok in all but the worst downpours); wet polished metal is slippery (and having four wheels is more stable than just having two); people in Tokyo do a great job of not noticing that I'm biking with a big trailer behind me while at the same time managing to dodge me, the bike and the trailer; the ubiquitous transparent plastic umbrella is really useful when trying to navigate crowded streets in Tokyo's diagonal or horizontal rains (people who couldn't see through their umbrellas did remarkably poorer on dodging).
Also, hot tea makes everything better. :)