And I’m back with another weekly dose of cute girls doing things on bikes! The episode does not fail to deliver either with the cute, or the bikes.
After a short recap, the main part of the episode begins with a meeting of the four girls in Japan’s favourite fast food chain according to anime; WcDonalds.
We’re properly introduced to the mystery girls who turn out to be Hinako and Yayoi. They’re in their third year at college. It’s nice to not have to refer to them as blonde and purple any more!
We return to Alpaca Cycle as Hinako has got a call to say that her new light has come in and the other girls tag along. Ami is really worried about the high prices, but actually finds out that they have some moderately priced accessories and picks out a few things.
It’s great to see that Ami’s become so enthusiastic about her hobby, and a helmet and some gloves will make riding a bit easier. It’s a shame about that cheap folding bike that is really only good for short commutes though. I hope she picks out something of better quality and performance after a while.
We get to hear about Fleche, a distance cycling event and it seems to have really captured Ami’s interest, although she is a bit worried when the girls mention cycling 360km in 24 hours (to be fair, I’d be pretty worried about cycling 360km in 24 hours). With so much passion and imagination, I’m surprised that Ami hasn’t found a hobby to get excited about prior to this.
Ami and Aoi set off to do their weekend ride with the other girls by taking the train. They’re really lucky to get such an empty train! Normally even on the weekend there’d be a few more people riding. The rules about bikes on trains vary from transit authority to transit authority I think, but I know that where I live it’s okay to just take the whole bike on the train, you don’t need to fold it up, although during peak times they ask that you buy a child’s ticket for your bike. We don’t have anywhere near the population density of Japan though, so perhaps it is compulsory to have your bike bagged over there. The folding bike would give you a bit of an edge in this situation, even though Aoi doesn’t have much trouble quickly putting her bike back together at the end of the ride.
I love hearing the little beep from Hinako’s bike computer when she stops and starts. I think that the production team have done a good job when it comes to the details on the bikes. You can see that each bicycle has been modelled after a real bike, and there’s also little touches like the bike computers, lights, and the tangly bike lock, together with realistic sound effects for things like gear changes and rolling wheels. The backgrounds aren’t as stunning, with occasional glaring CG features, but the bikes and the characters when riding continue to impress.
Ami runs into trouble on her first big hill, as the more experienced riders press ahead and she feels like she’s being left behind. Aoi gives her some practical advice, including the use of the right gear, which it seems that Ami didn’t previously know. I suppose this is what happens when you jump into a hobby on the spur of the moment without much research. On one hand, it’s hard seeing Ami make all these beginner’s mistakes and not thinking to ask for help until she gets into trouble, but on the other hand, I think that it’s educational for people who aren’t especially aware of cycling to see what can happen in particular situations. I really love to learn things when I watch a show, so the fact that the show seems to be factually sound is very encouraging. Poor Ami’s Pontakun doesn’t look like he has a great selection of gears either, which may be making her life a little harder.
The girls stop for lunch and the food looks great! Going out for a meal with friends is nearly always fun, but I’d definitely be keen for the kaisendon (seafood and rice) they’ve picked. It looks fresh and inviting.
Ami then deals with another common cyclist problem; bike seats are not especially comfortable (especially on a cheap bike) so she gets really sore. This isn’t a surprise as she’s been riding so far with so little experience. Aoi gives her a seat cover which makes a bit of a difference. I wonder why she was carrying a spare? Did she think Ami would need this? If so, why not offer it to her at the start of the ride?
At the end of the day, Ami feels tired but accomplished, which is fair considering that she’s ridden 55km (this is a pretty serious ride for a beginner). I’d love to see the series cover some day to day training instead of just long occasional rides, as I think that would be super punishing for Ami.
I’m really enjoying this series! The details of the bikes and the cycling experience is great, and it’s very fun to see everything through the viewpoint of the enthusiastic if at times naive Ami.