Before I left on my trip, I reached out to the amazing Master Rowers International community on Facebook to find out if there were any clubs in Shanghai. Within minutes, I was pointed to the Shanghai Rowing Club. I sent them a message on facebook, and was directed to contact them through WeChat instead (since Facebook is blocked in China, which should have occurred to me). I sent them a message on WeChat and they got right back to me.
What a great group of people! The club president is a wonderful guy and a skillful rower named Pascal. He has been living in China for a few years and is one of the people who is really getting this club off the ground. He arranged for one of the members to pick me up at my hotel and give me a lift to the club. (Pretty amazing hospitality).
Michael showed up at my hotel with his son and whisked me off to the club. Shanghai Rowing Club has a ancient history, but has only been revived in the past few years. Their brand new boat house is adjecent to Shanghai Disneyland and they row on the “moat” that surrounds the property.
Pascal put me in a quad with him, Xi and Alex. In fact, it’s that shiny new quad in the picture above.
Alex was an impressively tall german dude in an italian rowing uni. Xi was a chinese rower in the club. Pascal was in bow and on this particular day, he was obsessed about a balance drill that he had seen the chinese national team do.
So, we have a french guy, a german dude, a chinese guy and an old american in a boat together for the very first time trying to do this drill. I have to say, it was a blast. At first, we worked on it by one. Then by twos, then different combinations of twos, then by three. Mind you this took place over the course of two and half hours of going back and forth on a 2.7km stretch of this canal. Finally, we got to the point where we would try it by four. We didn’t quite make it.
I was having a great time, but we were out there for a very long time. The last thing we did was a set of race starts, and then a hard 500. The race starts were actually pretty good, especially the second one that we did. The boat really got up and went.
The 500 was another story. It might have been a bit longer than five hundred, but probably not. We did a race start, and then then a high 10, then settled. But we settled to something like a 34. The boat was going pretty fast (at least by my sedate standards)
Over this short piece, we averaged about 4.5 m/s (about a 1:50 pace). I faded horribly. I went out with way too much gusto and by the time we had done 30 strokes, I was very seriously gassed. I just tried to hang on and keep time. It was ugly.
After that, we made one more attempt at the blades flying high, without any more success and then called it a day.
After we put the boat away and had the obligatory pictures taken, I headed back to my hotel. Tired and sunburned, but incredibly happy. I am so grateful for generous hospitality that I was shown by all the folks at the Shanghai Rowing Club.
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