Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Like Riding a Bike

So, you know how people say whatever is like riding (or falling off...) a bike, when they mean it comes right back to you even though you haven't done it in a while?

Well. Sculling exactly like riding (falling off) a bike.

It's not even been three months since I sculled last, but even so I spent the first day of rowing camp (last Thursday) capsizing. Often from a complete standstill, in much the same way as I tip over on the bike.

In my defense (I'm a competent rower, I swear!), I was in a skinny little racing single, instead of a nice, stable quad (a sculling shell for 4 people) like I rowed in all fall, or the wide, training wheels-type single I rowed at Craftsbury two summer ago. (I just looked at the boat companies' websites--the boat I learned in was 19 inches wide at the waterline, and the one I rowed last week was--unless Vespoli has changed the size dramatically--between 10 and 11 inches.) And it was windy!

It got much better--I didn't tip at all on the other 3 days, took some nice-ish strokes that might have been 60%-70% pressure, and steered my way through skinny little canals--but as a result of that first day, I have some impressive bruises.

The thing about falling out of a boat is that you land in the water. If you're going slowly enough, water is soft, so my bruises aren't from falling out of the boat. Instead, they're from getting back in--because when you fall into the water, you sink up to your neck, while your boat (hopefully) continues to float--which means that when you go to get back in, it's inconveniently located at shoulder/head height. On the plus side, you're somewhat buoyant, so you don't have to lift your full weight to start with--but the more of you gets above the water (and eventually you have to get entirely out of the water), the heavier you get.

Other people are probably more graceful, but I needed the coach (in a launch) to hold the boat steady while I pushed myself up high enough that I could swing one leg up and over the boat (as though I was getting on a horse), landing on the gunnel with all my wight concentrated on the inside of one leg just above the knee. That leg is covered with little bruises, but the one I'm most proud of is a lovely shade of reddish purple (with stripes--why?), larger than the palm of my hand.

It's quite attractive.

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