Tuesday, 26 October 2010


So, last weekend was the first set of GB Rowing trials for the 2011 season. This was always going to be a difficult post to write, because there's an imminent danger that I'll just descend into some sort of self-pitying whinging session.
Also, I've certainly got my work cut out trying to make something about Boston funny (so apologies for the lack of funnies - IT WAS HARD).

Anyway, I thought I'd sort of write a survival guide for the first trial. I'm also really sorry, I meant to bring my camera with me to document the weekend, but in packing speedcoach/kit/food/OAKLEYS etc. it got missed out. You'll have to make do with my crappy drawings I'm afraid.

Day 1 - Ergo time

So on Saturday you have to rock up to this sports hall in the middle of nowhere to bash out a 2K. In my opinion, this is basically just several hundred realisations of this fundamental truth:
 No matter how much you want to break that footplate, the ergo is always going to end up in a better state  than you. Not that this should deter you from trying, obviously. KILL IT!!!

Anywaaaaay, this is (roughly) what you're greeted with:
Yes, a camera would have been very useful...
 So the first thing you have to do is fill in this impossible form which asks for all sorts of difficult information like the last time you went to the dentist and the post code of your doctor. It might be worth writing this stuff down somewhere before you go so you don't have an embarrassingly empty form.

Here is what I looked like before my ergo:
I like swearing.
Details of the fucking awesome trainers here.
I'm also a bit lame in that I have a lycra that I've done every single erg test I've ever done in, so I was obviously wearing that too. We've been through a lot together :-)

I'm not too hot at steering.
Now, there'll probably be a bit of a queue for the warming up ergos, so be prepared to be a bit flexible with your warm up. Race times are 15 mins apart, in which you're allocated an  ergo (FUCK YOU ergo #16). I think you can find out your time before you go (a schedule is emailed out or something - I didn't get it, but I knew it would be around 2 so wasn't massively stressed about this).

Now, a few people try to play the system with the erg test, i.e. going soft and just making the cut off time so their legs are a bit fresher for the 5K the next day. Personally, I think this is a bit pathetic. I mean, you're still going to build up an awful lot of lactate anyway going at 90% and are going to have to do the same recovery afterwards. And you look like a tool because it's pretty obvious what you're doing. Hit both performances as hard as possible and be done with it.

VML pulled a 6:38. I was very impressed. (She's a girl). I also won't be drinking chocolate fudge flavored Frijj again for a while... BLURGH.
Pretty standard athlete stuff really, but plan what you're going to eat afterwards and what you're going to do for a warm down (bearing in mind that you probably won't be able to warm down on an ergo). But congratulations, you've done your 2K and are halfway there!

Another bit of advice - book your accommodation early (like September). There's a Premier Inn in Boston which is alright (the year before we didn't book ahead and ended up in Kings Lynn which is flipping miles away. That was NOT FUN). I know some people this year who got some self catering cottages, which is also a pretty good idea. Have a think about where to go for dinner too (we went to Prezzo in town which was fine apart from the world's most useless waiter).
Then sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeppppp.

Day 2 - 5K time trial

This is what I woke up to on Sunday morning:
I can confirm that 24 hour porridge completely SUCKS ASS. Even if it is eaten with a spork. Find something better for breakfast than this.

There'll be time enough in the morning for a prepaddle if you want it before Shep's briefing for the first division (for HW men and women). Now, here is some advice that might save your life.

Girls, you go off after ~100men so are going to be waiting for a very long time at the start. And Boston, like Ely, is one of those fucking cold, miserable places. (It's basically exactly like Ely apart from (a) it smells of cabbages and (b) the locals are more likely to abuse you). Take a lot of kit with you (the small bit of extra weight while racing will be completely worth it if you've avoided frostbite). Buy sealskinz (the waterproof socks) and probably best if you bring some wellies or something with you as the boating area gets really muddy. (My boat bag got really muddy :-( I'm not going to wash it again mind).

Anyway, I decided that I was going to race in the best kit out of everyone, so I took advantage of the fact I don't own any Isle of Ely lycra to wear what clashed the most.
So yes, that's leggings, Oakleys and the hat right there. AND a marmite jersey. All together at last!
 The blood was from a tiny little cut on my right hand which got mashed by my left blade handle every stroke. I looked a state when I landed! Little flakes of it even managed to get on my stern, which I was impressed by.

Oh, and my badgering Oakleys failed me by completely steaming up for the last 1K. This phenomenon is very finely tuned to the wind direction (I think) and is REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING. Rage.

Oh yeah, and there are some sticky out reeds <1K from the finish line. Try not to crash into them on the way to the start like I did (twice) or even worse while racing (which I thankfully didn't).
With thanks to Gemma Akers for warning me of their existence before I got too entangled. I know you were laughing inside at me being a twat :-)
 So yeah, that's what happens at trials. Sorry if that was a little boring.

***Peter Lee Seasonal Barometer update*** (If you've got no idea what I'm talking about, go here first)

Well, there was a little blip and he turned up in not shorts once last week (there was frost on the ground, but it warmed up really quickly). I may have slightly taken the piss at the end of the outing, so he turned up in shorts again the next day. It's fine though, he prefers shorts. I know it.
I should probably mention that he does coach in more than just shorts. There are some things that you just don't want to see at 0730 in the morning and Peter in a launch wearing just shorts is one of them. Sorry Peter.

So, the natural order of things has been restored and it's still officially summer.

Finally, if you think you're having a bad day, at least you're not this fish.
Happy rowing!


  1. So how did you get on ? I've seen the results but have no idea what you were expecting / hoping for...

  2. Not pleased. Need to get a damn sight better than that... But trying very hard not to be mopey :-D

  3. Brilliant guide to trials. And it is a fucking AWESOME hat. Want!

  4. @ Frankie - I did see your hat and it didn't look anywhere near as warm :p Oh and CONGRATULATIONS on kicking a lot more arse than I managed!

  5. At least you didn't do as badly as my mate . . .

    He was feeling a bit under the weather but decided to do the ergo anyway. He didn't make the cut and now his trials are over for the season :|

  6. Ah, that is never a good idea... Can he not just pull something good in November, submit it, then turn up to December?