Saturday, June 03, 2006

The racing

How did it go? Great! I finished each race, which is the point. Ok, it went a little better than that.

When I arrived, later than I planned, most of my group was there. We had a bit of a scare because it looked like one of the women in my four was a no show. She did arrive in what turned out to be plenty of time, pleading "traffic." Chatting with my boat-mates before the race, while we were waiting for our no show, I learned their ages. Stroke: 39. She looks younger, but 39 is believable. Three seat: 48. When I heard that I said, "no shit!" That provoked a smirk on her part and I said, "There's no way I would have guess you were older than me. No way." Then me, two seat: 37. (Bow is 27 and she looks younger too.) We all talked about how young the others looked and the stroke said, "It's because we all work out." I demurred, because even though I was going to the gym regularly before I started rowing, I'm not exactly in super-duper shape. She added, "You have great skin." It was just a big ol' compliment-fest.

The race itself was not the greatest. Our row wasn't bad, but we finished a couple of boat lengths behind our competition and that's not a good feeling. Bow was pretty pissed about it, but I recovered quickly. There was a very strong crosswind and it made it hard to row, especially in a four. It wasn't the worst row ever, but it was very hard.

My second race, a couple of hours later, was much better. As has always been my experience, the second race of the day is better than the first. Also, since the second race was in an eight, it went faster. We didn't win, but we came in second in a four boat heat. We lost to our club's competitive group, but beat the AM club (we are the PM club). Beating the AMs confers serious bragging rights.

It was a great row. Conditions were lousy—the crosswind was stronger than ever. It was hard to find our "point" (the spot our bow needs to point towards so we can steer a straight course). Our start was not spectacular. But we rowed a great race. The woman who sat behind me in bow in the four sat behind me again in the eight (this time we were 6 and 5). The two of us were huffing and puffing and grunting and groaning. Part of my problem in the four was that I couldn't catch my breath after the halfway point. In the eight, I did a better job of breathing and was able to get more pressure on my legs. We worked damn hard. Towards the end of the race, I started to feel tingly all over and I got a little light headed. It was almost a minute after the race ended before I could speak. When I did, I shouted, "Good job!" Everyone agreed.

That was a good way to start the season.

After the regatta wrapped up, I decided I wanted a beer, burger and fries. There is a party later, but I was pretty sure I'd skip it (I'm skipping it right now). I biked from the boathouse to a bar near my place. At 5pm it was full of hipster-cool folks and it seemed like something was going on. I heard someone say "scooter" and I walked out the back door and stumbled upon a sea of Vespas, old and new, in lovely, restored condition. I owned a '62 Vespa back when I lived in Seattle. (It looked exactly like this, except it was painted a bright, ugly yellow and had no rear rack.) I went on scooter rallys and had a group of scooter friends. It was so peculiar stumbling into this group of scooter people—they used to be my people.

I struck up a conversation with a young woman and she told me they'd taken a forty-mile tour of DC. I told her some of my scooter history and shared a little more when her husband showed up, including a story of how I repaired my scooter, "I just used the Haynes manual and followed the instructions."

He said, "I didn't know there was a Haynes for Vespas."

"Oh yes. When I sold the scooter, I kept the manual. I told the guy, 'I'll make you a photocopy, but I'm keeping it.'" I still have it. Just in case.

I probably talked a little too much (I blame the exhaustion), but how often do I get to talk about scooters these days? After taking a long look at the pretty old and new Vespas and a couple of rare Lambrettas, I went back inside the bar and had my burger, beer and fries.

And that was a good way to end the day.

Grateful for: coincidence. Drop me a line.

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