Head of the Charles

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A dear friend recently posted a dreamy photograph of a nice canoe jaunt along the Russian River, which served as a steady backdrop to my more carefree and wild childhood summers. (So did Mt. Shasta and the Trinity River, but we didn't have any family friends with vineyards that far north so it was never quite the same.) To borrow a line from Neko Case, just the sight of it yanked my neck on the chain. (Do rivers do that to anyone else? If so, which ones and why?) Here in Boston, the Charles River is a totally different beast. Beautiful and unapproachable (you can't swim in it, but sporting of all sorts is plentiful), but boy does it know how to throw a party. If the 4th of July hasn't convinced you, the Head of the Charles Regatta sure can.

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Non-locals who are out there scratching your heads, the Head of the Charles is the world's largest 2-day regatta. The course on the Charles is three miles, which has six bridges for crews, rowers and coxswains to negotiate, and some 9,000 athletes and 1,900 boats compete over the weekend from all over - including, to my utter delight, several crews from Oakland, CA.

It is VERY thrilling to watch, and yet somehow also surprisingly laid back as a New England sporting event.

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Since one of the most exciting spots to watch was only four stunning miles of riverside bike path from our house, we hopped on our bikes and rode over to the riverbank near Harvard's athletic fields, within stone-throwing distance of Eliot Bridge. Eliot Bridge is a hairy spot in the course, right at the tail end of an aggressive U-shaped bend in the river, and just as soon as the rowers are out of it they have a really sharp right turn that straightens out into the finish. So collisions run high, the margin for error skyrockets, and it's the home stretch. Phew!

It's just lovely to park your bikes, stretch out in the grass with a snack, take in the foliage and cheer on the teams all at once.

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A fellow spectator was kind enough to snap this pic of M & I!

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Checking out the goods at the Kiel James Patrick x Brooks Brothers tent.

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Speaking of bike riding, I've been awful and haven't really taken my Roadster 26 out since bringing it home last year! Even though we took our bikes out in the snow a few times and then for a while M was commuting 14 miles daily to work in Kendall Square through spring and summer, I guess I've been too preoccupied with riding horses to bother with poor old Pash. It's silly, because I love to ride horses alone but feel a little lonesome riding a bike by myself. That's weird, isn't it?

Maybe it's because riding a bike in Boston amid godawful Boston drivers is kind of terrifying - the horror stories I've heard and some I've seen myself - but I think I'll try going it alone on the Charles River bike paths and Minuteman Bikeway sometime soon.

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It's curious and kind of incredible how 8 miles on a 40 lb. bike can work an entirely different set of muscles than an hour or two atop a 1,000 lb. horse, but they absolutely do. To borrow the term from equestrians (or derby girls, whichever), "on the flat" I can pick up quite a good bit of steam on my Roadster, but hills here are brutal and to even think of having this bike back home is hilarious. You might as well just push a giant boulder up Potrero Hill in that case!

I'm almost mad that Pashley came out with the Aurora last month, with its lighter weight and mixte frame, but the price tag is nearly twice that of the Roadster and even more so if you consider what it would cost to customize it with a Buckingham Black paint job and all the Mad Max fixins' of the 26. Still...perhaps I'll save my pennies and trade up down the road. It's healthier than constantly resenting the fact that I can practically throw M's Yves Gomez over my own head if I felt like it. When we ride together she forgets that she's in a zippy little sports car and I'm in a massive Cadillac.

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Quick and dirty outfit details for us both:

Femme Neoprene skirt from Asos Suede mini-wedges from Aldo Heart-dot Peter Pan blouse from H&M Vintage fur collar w/ pin from Lou Lou's Betsey Johnson enamel heart-dot cuff Gold cuff and purse from Madewell Tiny anchor pendant from LF

Tomboy Cardigan by Harley of Scotland Shirt by Jack Wills Dockers Slim Fit Alpha khakis Sebago boots Vintage belt from Bobby From Boston

Well, that sure was a chatty post. Hope you enjoyed it, and prepare yourselves for some femme equestrian realness in the next day or so - it's coming up!

XOXO, FFAF