It's been a while since I've had something to look forward to every weekend, last year I rode my bike frequently enough to keep me busy. Haven't been very consistent with that this year so when summer started I visited Barnes and Noble every weekend to pass the time. Riding the same route by yourself over and over just isn't that interesting, fortunately some of the guys on the Seadogs are hardcore cyclists so when paddling season is over I'll have some people to push me to ride.
Kali mentioned to me last year that she was joining a Dragon Boat team but my interest wasn't there so I wasn't ready to commit. Heard some of the top teams in New York practice 3-5 times a week which is amazing. Earlier in the summer I was heading towards Barnes and Noble and walked by a fair in Union Square. Ended up speaking to some M.A.D. members which sparked my interest in the whole paddling culture. Recalling that Kali was already on a team (Syngent Seadogs), we spoke a few times and within the month started attending their workouts.
So now every Saturday morning, for a good hour or so we suffer together at the hands of Winston and Peter AND you get to stay in shape. I've always said nothing brings people closer together than suffering, and it's true here. Haven't known everyone on the team for that long and I barely hangout with any Seadogs outside practice but I love these guys (and gals). It helps that the team members are very tight knit, consisting of family members (Perry is the team manager and sponsor, his brother Peter is one of the coaches and their sister Stephanie is a paddler, most of the team is made up of their cousins), and close friends. Sometimes Perry, Peter and Ken bring their wives and kids to the practices/BBQ/competitions which definitely gives off a cozy vibe.
Prior to the water practices I felt pretty confident about the whole paddling thing. I was in decent shape at the time (started running frequently so I wouldn't embarrass myself in the Corporate Challenge like the previous two years) but once I got in the water I was in trouble. Aside from getting the paddling technique down I lack proper fast twitch muscles and my muscle endurance was close to nil. Thankfully the team concentrates on the short distance races (250m, 500m). I think I'd pass out on the 1,000 or 2,000 meter races.
So far this season, most of our workouts have been at Fresh Meadows Lake (with the Mercer County Practice and BBQ being the lone outlier). Our first competition this season was also held there. But when I return to the states, we'll be borrowing DCH's boat again which is located at the World's Fair Marina in preparation for the Lake Mercer Dragon Boat Competition in late September. Haven't heard nice things about the water out at the Marina... gross.
In contrast the water at Lake Mercer (including the surrounding park) is gorgeous. Late in the season we held a practice there where the rookies except Cindy (who couldn't attend) had to walk the plank (Hazing, call the cops! Everyone on the team has nicknames too!) but the water was so clean that none of us really had any issues jumping into the lake. It's going to suck if Perry makes Cindy jump into the Marina. Anyway that was one of the more memorable practices not just because of the change in location but because I had my ass handed to me. Haven't been pushed that hard in a long time.
After that practice we had a team (& family) BBQ (was supposed to have 3 back-to-back BBQs that weekend, but Chewy's BBQ fizzled out, we had a great time at Patty's though, anymore BBQs coming up?), where Winston gave us a brief oral history of Dragon Boat paddling in New York City. The Seadogs (not sponsored by Syngent at the time) is actually an old team from the early 90s. Winston, Peter, Perry and some of their friends got their start on that team, after a few years the Seadogs merged with DCH briefly, some of the guys retired soon after (I think Winston was the only one that kept paddling, even went to Hong Kong with DCH to compete in the world championships).
Anyway, that's what I've been up to every Saturday morning, sure beats getting out of bed for work. By the way... www.syngent.com for all your information technology consulting needs. -Syngent Shill / Tofu out.
Photo Gallery: Cindy, Ben