Ah the weekend. Somehow we need to have five day weekends and two day workdays. That would definitely work for me. Saturday was beautiful with temperatures heading into the 80s and Ann and I did our usual ride on the W&OD Trail. Ann must have been feeling her oats or at least picked up some confidence and we competed the ride out to Leesburg in just over 48 minutes. A five minute improvement over our first ride of the season just a few weeks ago. Coming back my left knee must have tightened up during our rest in Leesburg. The first mile or two were quite painful. As Ann continued the ride back to our car, I stopped on the trail next to the Loundon County Animal Shelter (about a mile and half from where we turn around) to refill our water bottle at a water fountain and it was after that stop, the knee started to feel better. It took me several minutes to catch up to Ann and we finished the ride in fine fashion, finishing the ride back in 46 minutes. We're slowly getting better. Ann has decided she really likes the menu at the Old Dominion Brew Pub and we stopped there for lunch again. I tend to get the same thing (cottage pie), while Ann will be a bit more adventuresome as long as she deems it healthy. For me it's all about the beer, but then we all have our priorities. The rest of the day was spent running to the grocery store, attending Mass, cooking some ribs on the grill for a late dinner and watching about two innings of the Nationals game before getting disgusted with Matt Chico's pitching and heading to bed (in Ann's case) or surfing the web for me.
Sunday dawned dreary, overcast and cool. Temperatures only reached the mid 50s. I checked the weather radar and saw no rain in the area and decided to go for a row. The change in weather while lowering the temperature also calmed the winds and the water was smooth and flat. I wasn't sure how long I wanted to row so I headed out and decided to play it by ear. The Occoquan was mostly deserted, which is a good thing. The cool temperature kept the fisherman with their outboard motor boats at home. That equals no wakes. And yes, there are fisherman who being bored with fishing, will deliberately wake rowers. I rowed up to Fountainhead and I was feeling good so I decided to row up to Ryan's Dam another half mile up river. Once there I decided to go another half mile to make it a four and a half miles each way and a round trip row of 9 miles. On the way back, my stroke came together and the boat was flying along without manhandling on my part. It was definitely the best row of the year so far. I can't wait to get back out and see if I can replicate what I did on Sunday. I like to think that every time I go out, I learn a little bit more about what makes the boat move. It's the eternal quest to find the perfect stroke and rhythm. After I got back to the dock, the George Mason Men's Crew Team was at their boathouse. I assumed they were unloading their boats from a regatta they had been to the day before although that may be or may not be the case. As I was returning my single to the racks, I ran into their coach who said they were preparing a YouTube moment. What they were preparing to do was tow a rower on a wakeboard behind one of their 8+s. There has always been debate on the rowing community whether you could, in fact, water ski behind an 8+. An 8+, unlike a power boat, does not provide constant power. The boat coasts during the recovery part of the stroke. The Mythbusters did a segment on it where one of them did ski behind the Stanford Men's Collegiate 8+. So I guess as a fun activity to break up their practices and competing, the coach decided it would be a good idea to try it. So I hung around to watch what would happen. remember the temperature was only in the 50s and the water isn't much warmer than that. On their first attempt, the wakeboarder (they were launching him right from the dock) , made it about 4 strokes before he lost his grip on the tow rope and went into the water. He did make it up though if only for a moment. The second time was better with him staying up for about 10 strokes before ending back in the water. There were more attempts i think, but it was time to head home. It was fun to watch though. The rest of the day was spent just relaxing. i watched the nationals beat the Cubs and win the series. Then I watched the Chipmunk movie. It was kind of cute. It was interesting to watch the Special Featurette on how the Chipmunks came to be. It's hard to believe they're 50 years old. Now that makes me feel old.