Not long before we left the UK, I finally got around to doing something I had meant to do many times and always forgot about until it was too late. A visit to the Good Friday meet at the velodrome in Herne Hill. Since it was south London, it was a pretty easy place to get to by train so no need to fight the traffic in to Town. It was a big deal in those days – maybe it still is – and it attracted a great selection of riders. Some pros showed up to race or to be seen. David Millar was there being interviewed but didn’t race. I was really pleased to see Stuart O’Grady, I rider I really enjoyed watching race.
The track scene had a selection of established stars and up and comers that I new about vaguely from reading Cycling Weekly. Chris Newton was a big deal in those days although he never became a widely known cyclist. However, there were two young guys competing that day that I knew were pretty good. I didn’t know they would go on to better things. One was a chubby young sprinter called Chris Hoy. The other was a good pursuiter called Bradley Wiggins. Olympic and Tour de France glory awaited them later in their careers. I was very tempted by one of the t-shirts on sale that day. It said “I’m not fat, I’m a sprinter!”. If you’ve ever seen the physique of some of the fastest sprinters, you would find this funny.
The races at the rowing meet I covered in this post tend to overlap from what we saw. The length of the course and the time to complete it is such that the next race was started before the last was finished. Consequently, there is not a way for the crews to return up the cut as the next boats are heading towards them. Apparently, they all wait in the next bay. Then, when it is clear, they all row back up together. The cut was full of crews rowing back to take their boats out of the water. It made for an impressive sight!
It was purely by coincidence that we happened to be at UW when a rowing meet was taking place. We had read much about UW rowing in The Boys in the Boat (well worth a read if you have the opportunity) and were planning on walking down to the Cut to see the Shell House but there were plenty of boats and crews in the parking lot when we came through. We actually got there almost at the end of the meet. I guess they row early to get the calmest conditions?
A few final races came through as we walked along the cut. The crews were working hard but still had some way to go when they came past us. By that distance, the strongest crews were showing themselves clearly. We watched them disappear up the cut and towards the finish line. As the last race past by, you could see the course boats start to disperse so we knew it was done. What we didn’t know was that we would get a nice finale. That will be another post.
Weekends are a great time for coming across events that you had no idea about. Our jaunt to Sonoma for the long weekend yielded just such an event when the local Porsche Club showed up in the town square to show off their cars. Nancy had a few things she wanted to see that left me a bit of time to wander around. It wasn’t a huge turnout but the quality of what was there was impressive. The majority of the vehicles were 911s of varying vintage but there were some 928s and a 924 or two. Some Cayennes also showed up but that seemed like cheating to me!’
The owners were generally happy to discuss their cars and what they had done to them. They also didn’t mind the occasional photograph being taken. A number of the cars caught my eye but two are worthy of a special mention. One is the restored racer in a metallic blue which was in beautiful condition and had an interesting racing history.
The other was a 911. The name for this type varies depending on your country but back in the UK they were known as Flat Noses. I wasn’t sure that I had ever seen one other than in a magazine so was really pleased to see it. I am not particularly a Porsche guy (not that I am any brand of car specific to be fair) but I do appreciate a nice car of any sort and these certainly counted. Given that Sonoma has a fairly healthy number of people of means, I had hoped a Carrera GT might be there but sadly not. Only seen one of those before and that was driving down a street in Chicago – a brave thing to do with a vehicle that valuable!