It was a cold autumnal morning and a thick patchwork carpet of slippery, brown leaves covered the ground. Begrudgingly, I removed my hands from my warm pockets and punched in the boathouse code, unlocking the gate. The gravel crunched beneath my feet as I strode towards the entrance. I then trudged up the stairs, which were lined with photos and honours boards documenting past Hampton glories, and entered the changing rooms. Other boys had already arrived and were assembled in a small circle, chatting amongst themselves. Some where bemoaning the fact that they had been rudely awoken and dragged from their warm beds, whilst others were conversing about the rowing session to come. 
Eventually, we made our way to the riverside where we were met by Mr Bareding, wearing luminous yellow sallopettes. He cheerfully greeted us and instructed us to begin our RAMP warmup. After numerous squats, lunges and burpees my heart was pounding like a heavy bass drum and perspiration beaded on my forehead.
The next task was to lift our boats into the water. Guided by our cox and working in teams of four, we cautiously manoeuvred our boat from it’s rusty rack to the waters edge. We were all keen to avoid dropping or denting the carbon fibre body of the boat, as such a mistake could prove to be costly. Some of the Hampton boats cost as much as one hundred, thousand pounds, not that we were trusted with these just yet! 
Once our boat had been lowered into the water, we slipped off our trainers and one at a time eased ourselves onto our seats. Looking up from my position at the bow I surveyed the river. The conditions were good, as despite heavy mid week rain, the flow remained relatively slow. Pleasingly, for the first time, I could also feel the early morning rays of the sun beginning to caress my face. We waited for a small pleasure boat to pass us, before finally pushing off into the channel. Our cox barked out instructions to us and we rowed off arms only with squared blades.