Episode 8 - "An Expanding World"
It's kind of late in the season, but that new character introduced in the new opening credits finally made her debut.
Saeki is her name and being quiet is her game. She appears to be curious about Ami and her bike. Hinako hopes it's more curiosity about cycling than Ami. Yayoi says Hinako's purpose in life is to make more cycling friends. We'll see if her yuri cycling sniffer is on the target with Saeki.
Saeki's character may be a quirk of adapting the manga. We only have 4 episodes left after this one and one of those will be spent on riding the 100 miles of this event ride. Two will be spent on Ami an Aoi's first overnight ride, so will we really have one episode having Saeki make alpaca jokes at the bike shop?
Not only that, because of the earlier delays in production, the final two episodes won't be shown until next February. It's a pretty bad scheduling problem all the way around.
The two set pieces for this episode are Ami's training ride of over 100 kms and then the trip to her first big organized event ride.
Riding from snack shop to snack shop is pretty good training for riding 100 miles. These events have their catered rest stops at about every 20 miles, with the one in the middle being designated for the large meal of the day. So, riding to the next eatery with tasty food is just matching what happens at these big rides.
No overnight stay would be complete without girls getting naked and comparing bust sizes. Good job for Yayoi to choose this certain hotel with the hot baths.
Lots of jokes at the expense of little Hinako. She's flat and short, so she doesn't have Yayoi's "steering" problem but she can barely see over the dashboard. She was certainly glad a kindred pettanko joined her little cycling clique because it was just her against Yayoi and Saki for a long time. Ami brought Aoi with her, so they're still outnumbered.
I got a kick out of how Yayoi and Hinako treated Saki like she was a feral cat. Oh, don't worry about her. She always shows up at dinner time and she'll be there to sleep too. They know her so well. Too bad she didn't make it in time to join them for the bath, but cats hate baths, so...
And then it was time for the big ride.
Let's not talk about the riders' missing shadows making them look like their floating above the ground or that they all got bitten by vampires during the night.
Team Fortuna aren't the only girls having fun at the century. I liked how the dudes in the background were all very interested in Selfie Cyclist Girl.
This week, we saw more of the usual pedaling on the girls' bikes, the interesting ramps around river bike paths, Thule bike racks on Yayoi's car, bike lanes and buses and the buzz and organization around an event ride.
Apparently, Japan does these organized century rides just like we do in America. First off, 160 km is not a random number thrown out there by the cyclists. That's one hundred miles, which cyclists call a century. Ami's training ride of a metric century, 100 km, is usually offered as an intermediate course for these events, along with a half-century. There's usually fun distances for families like 25 miles and 10 miles.
They got everything right though. Lining up for registration, getting your swag, noticing other cars loaded up with gear as you get closer to the start location. I've got quite a few jerseys from these event rides based around California. Each one offers a story, which makes it even better that those memories were shared with people I'd spent hours and hours with on the road even before the event.
Every recreational cyclist should do a century at least once in his life. It really is quite an achievement.