Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rummage Manna

So there's this ad you've probably seen. If you've ever watched the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament you've seen it. It runs, with less regularity, during the baseball championships (college baseball is weird, unless you're from England and understand that huge professional clubs own the rights to soccer players from, say, the age of five). Anyway, it's a pretty straightforward ad, showing college athletes in all their amateur glory. At the end of the ad, the punchline runs "there are x players in NCAA athletics, and almost all of us are going pro in something other than athletics." I love this ad, no matter how maudlin it is. College athletics play a funny role in the serious athlete's life: you're competing at a high level (few high school athletes go on to play in college), but you're pretty sure that the next four years are it. Swimmers leave Division One swimming and, if they don't go the Olympics, join...the local masters team. Soccer players write letters to USL 3rd division teams and beg for tryouts. Runners and rowers move to Boston or Southern California. The next few months hold little. I moped around D.C. for a little while and then started running around the Mall every day.

All of this filters down to yesterday, when I got to go to my other professional job, working with kids at The Catlin Gabel school in Portland, OR. Catlin runs this thing every year called "Rummage," in which the students canvas the city, asking people to donate their unused/unwanted goods (they can't pick up things like, of course, mattresses, gross). Then, after a week of set up at the Portland Exposition Center (think: huge), the place opens to the public. Development raises around $200,000 for financial aid (peanuts, really), but the real gift is the sense of communal effort around Rummage. On Monday the juniors and seniors go; Tuesday is the sophomores' turn; Wednesday the freshman. On Thursday, the place opens, and the word is that people line up outside like those crazy people who lurk outside Walmart on Thanksgiving at Midnight, waiting to beat each other up over...who knows?

Anyway, yesterday I went with the sophomores to help set up, and other than the regular unfocused sophomore boys (whoa), it was a great time. I spent two and a half hours unloading a trailer (of the tractor-trailer variety, that is, f-ing large) with two of the sweetest kids you could unload a trailer with. We unpacked grills, beds, and more baby strollers I've ever seen in one place.

And then, like a little bonus, I found this:

A Mapei cycling cap? Greatest team of the one-day classics from the 90s? Johann Museeuw, Michele Bartoli, Andrea Tafi, and Franco Ballerini? 5 wins at Paris Roubaix between 1993 and 2002? From the extra little "GB" on the cap, I'm guessing this cap dates from 1995-97, and it's probably real, as I can't imagine someone would reissue a cycling cap with one of the sideshow sponsors still on it.

After Rummage, I dropped the cap into a hot laundry wash and headed out for a ride. After walking all day, I managed some of the best intervals of the fall: 4x12:00 @ 360-380 watts. Hard, but not deathly hard. One of those perfect days: good kids, hard work, fun training, and a retro cycling cap. Does it get better (could I be luckier?) than this?

No comments: