Arrived at Craftsbury Rowing Center mid afternoon, after six hour drive, expecting warm greeting and nap. Not the deal. Cool greeting and message to meet at the lake in ten minutes. Scary girl already there. Someone mentions that she is nationally ranked "erg" rower. An erg, for those of you who are sane and don’t know, is a rowing machine (mostly a Concept II) for dry land training. This work is usually done in gyms tho some do it in their own dungeons. Oddly, there is a little cult of erg rowers. They go on line all the time. They get involved in huge national competitions…two thousand in a gym someplace. Among these lunatics, this girl is nationally ranked. A nationally ranked lunatic, if you please, and we are away at camp together. Why?Why am I here?
I am met at the water by another alarmingly fit woman named Pepa. Pepa is also a beauty but perhaps a bit stern. Turns out that, in addition to being a hell of a rower, she won an Olympic medal in the biatholon and is a champion "Orienteer". The biatholon – for those of you whose subscription to Soldier of Fortune magazine has lapsed – is a pleasing blend of cross country skiing and sharp shooting. One skis along for a bit, then flops down on the ground to squeeze of a few, well-placed shots with a rifle, then back on the skis. An "orienteer" is someone who likes to be dropped in the middle of the forest with a compass and a topo map and told to finde his or her way home. She learned these skills somewhere behind the Iron Curtain in the bad old days. My guess: a recovering assassin. And her recoveery is by no means complete. (more to come)