so naturally, i am looking at cars right now in order to start my bumper sticker life all over again. coincidentally, i’ve also spent the last rows of the fall shopping for a doubles partner as well. no, chill out rowingillustrated folks. i am not gunning for the double or really shopping at this moment. last year, we got back from speed order, hung up the oars, and picked up the skis. this year we kept rowing for this past week. even so, i didn’t feel like rigging my single only to have to de-rig on a colder day in the future. with each passing row, the inertia preventing me from rigging my boat grew as well as my enthusiasm for rowing doubles. while the initial motivation to jump into doubles was one of convenience, i wound up turning the past 6 rows into an extremely productive doubles training camp for myself.
i predominantly rowed bow with the exception of one row and rowed bow behind five different scullers. this really forced me to work on my adaptibility and timing. it was great to sit in the exact same seat in the same boat with only one real variable changing each time - the person in the stern. rowing doubles or pairs can be a great learning experience. they are small enough that you can still feel the fruits or fouls of your own efforts, at the same time, they still have the component of being a crew that must work together.
you can also just learn a lot about other individuals by rowing with them in a two-man boat. you can learn mechanical things like how they take the drive or carry their hands, but also personality things like how quickly they spin, how they interpret the movements of the boat, and what attitude they carry at various times.
ok, onto the results of the 2013 Motortrend Craftsburian Doubles Partner of the Fall. should be noted that i’m not actually going to say who the best partner would be. while the ideal car for a person may vary due to many factors, the ideal doubles partner varies even more and can be a very subjective criteria (with exception of the objective of raw speed). additionally, these were typically one-off rows and non-2k rows, and for me, all that would really matter come the end of the day is with whom could i cover 2000 meters in the least amount of time.
John Graves XTi 5.0L
i had two rows with john in the double. he was my inaugural doubles partner of this little mini camp last thursday, but then i also rowed the double with him on saturday (saturday as in 16th since i sat on this post) for a ~20’ around the lake piece against a hugh mcadam/josh konieczny lwt double.
while we beat hugh and josh in the around the lake, which involves a minimum of two stake turns, i don’t think it was necessarily our best effort. we rigged the oars a bit longer and just really stomped through the piece. it was good in a lot of ways in that the pedal was always down, but it wasn’t our smoothest effort. the best thing about rowing with john is the ability to explore rowing in a cerebral sense. john is very in tune with the technical aspects of rowing. he is very economical with his movements. it’s good to hear people talk about rowing when they’re actually truly engaged with rowing. it’s one thing to say “you want a quick catch,” and it’s another thing to actually describe the sensation of a quick catch or the associations in the brain that might lead to a quick catch. i definitely took away a couple new thoughts or phrases from rowing with john that i liked. one call for “assertive hands” around the finish was really good word choice. another thing john mentioned was imagining a person standing on your bow anxiously waiting and wondering when your blades will stop going to the bow and drop in. basically, the person is just bewildered by how long your blades keep moving to the bow. this doesn’t mean your catch has been slowed or anything, just paints a picture of how far you can work through the pin.
john and i definitely had solid rows, and while we may not have defined the ideal rhythm for our double, we explored many and could most likely settle into one with a little more time.
hashtags for row: #adaptable, #cerebral, #student-like, #attentive, #engaged
Ben Dann TDI V10
i had one row with ben, and it was 60’ steady state. it’s interesting in some ways that john and ben rowed the double at worlds. there are definitely parallels between the two of them. they’re closer in height than i probably am to either of them. however, i think their innate rowing strokes are very different from each other. that being said, john is adaptable enough that he can gel with most rowing strokes.
ben rows a very refined and regimented style. it’s the type of approach to rowing where literally you row with the same consistency every stroke as one would row with on an erg. althought i found the transition to this unwavering style a little challenging, it’s something that has obvious merit. i recognize this as i watch footage of scullers like xeno or thomas lange, who reproduce the same stroke time after time to give it this almost effortless look.
while john and i rowed our double with a building pressure in the water that really crescendoed at the finish, ben seems to place his blade in the water, get on it, hold it, and release it. it feels like one strong steady pressure the whole drive. both ben and john row with more definitive finishes that i do, which i believe is a very good thing.
a consistent stroke meets its limitations when the tolerance for deviation dissolves. although i think i need to become more regimented in my fluid movements, it is equally important to be adaptable since changes in the environment can be frequent during rowing. at one point, ben made a point to suggest a restriction of my movements. this can be a good coaching point, but as just mentioned, you have to be careful when you flirt with smoldering any deviation from your actions.
the other thing to note is the report and demeanor within the boat. john and i were always engaged, sharing thoughts, playing around with things, and hearing each other out. communication was less with ben, which can be a good thing no doubt if there’s nothing to be said. it can be a dangerous thing though when it results from stifled communication or one way communication.
hashtags for row: #solid, #strong, #consistent, #restricted, #lightswitch
Peter Graves GT1
at first, i was just putting joke model/engine names to go along with the motortrend theme, playing on my new car purchase as well as the idea of guys being engines. it has grown into a more functional joke though. ben really is like a beefy diesel V10, while peter is like rowing with a porsche - fun, sporty, and still powerful.
peter and i had two steady state rows together. there are a lot of parallels between peter and his brother. he is very adaptable and smooth. he can gel with most rowers and get boats moving. he does have a unique ability though to be spunky on a dime. when i rowed a double with peter at the green mountain head, he would at times really decide to step on it in bow, and you could just feel the bow lift out of the water. the first row, i was in bow though as i was with everyone during mini camp. the second, i was in the stern, and that’s probably how we would row if we were a double. peter feels great in bow and generally is great in the bow of a double. like john, peter makes great economic use of his size. the slight difference is that while john makes great use of what he has through clever and thoughtful rowing, peter seems to tap an unknown energy source that runs longer than the energizer bunny.
one of the most defining things about rowing a team boat with peter is actually the attitude he brings to the boat. things weren’t as cerebral as they were with john, and we didn’t have technical discussions quite as frequently. however, the attitude he brings and consequently creates within the boat is priceless. he makes you want to row, makes you want to pull. i knew this now, and i knew this back when i was at quad camp with him in 2012. when someone says the right stuff, feeling tired doesn’t feel so tiring. huge asset. if you can move a boat on top of that, you’re sitting pretty.
hashtags for row: #goodsport, #energizer, #feel, #fun, #fast
Kyle Lafferty YZF-R1
enter the lighties. i had cycled through the heavyweights and still had some water time on the clock. it’s not that often that legit doubles are made from certified lighties and heavies mixing, but it can be done. sure would like to go back into the past with the experience i have now and rerow some of my limited rows with great lightweights at penn ac like andrew liverman.
kyle and i got in the boat, not expecting much considering the unorthodox marriage, and happily left it with rings on our fingers. but seriously, from our first stroke things worked. i consider myself adaptable in some forms. generally, people don’t feel stark contrasts in power applications, and i can deliver a pretty balanced boat albeit with my patented wiggle-giggle technology ®. even so, it was evident with kyle that i didn’t need to adapt or adjust. we did things very similar for better and for worse. we took first strokes the same way with a little too much hesitation. we finished similarly in a way that lacked the humpf and pinache of john and ben’s strokes. at the same time, we balanced the same way, applied power the same way, and drove the same way. rowing the boat felt surprisingly effortless. it took us both by pleasant surprise.
as such, we were also able to play around with things thanks to our similar styles and equally open mindset. we would deviate from our natural rhythm and through quickness or slowness in at various places to try things out, then return to what felt best.
while not as boisterous as peter or quite as meticulous in thought as john, kyle was an admirable blend of both. he made the boat fun to row, but also fruitful to explore and experiment.
who knows how the cards will fall this spring, but it was a viable double (as all of these are to varying to degrees) that would be worth rowing again regardless of the end goal.
hashtags for row: #starcrossed, #averageweighties, #barcalounger, #sweetrowenrowing
Josh Konieczny #$%&^8
vehicle parallels abandoned. josh is an interesting case in that he is again a lightweight, but has an engine so good it can parallel some heavyweights in power. we had one row together, and it was a steady state plus spice row. the spice was at the beginning and entailed about 10 40 seconds on 20 seconds off. we did the spice side-by-side with a graves double and a mcadam/laffery double.
due to boat adjustments, we did not have a lot of time to warm up. as such, it took the first couple of pieces to get things going, meshing, and lined up. the pieces alternated between half slide work and full slide. our half slide got better and better, but still lacked the efficiency of the other boats. that being said, full slide afforded us a little more time to match up and plenty of more slide to apply power. by the end of the workout, we were just plain crushing it. it wasn’t necessarily sustainable or light rowing, but that wasn’t the point of the effort anyways. i wound up just reaching my blades back to bow and throwing logs over my head with huge sweeping motions. the last two full slide pieces we really handed it to the other boats. i only looked down at my stroke coach a couple of times but say sub-1:30 splits which is pretty darn fast for heavy, thick, cold water and a mis-matched double. after watching video, josh would observe that we had a lot of stern check… that tends to happen at 38spm and that kind of speed for 40 seconds.
while i felt as if josh was dissatisfied with the feel of the boat at times, i was pleased with my adaptability to him. he rowed the most significantly different style from the other four. he had relatively quick hands around the back end and a very slow, controlled slide to the catch. additionally, he would jump on it relatively hard and quick at the catch. similar to how ben initiates his stroke, but with a little less feel and forgiveness. i noted these things and purposefully spun my hands faster at the back end, slowed my slide, and stood on the catch.
i was pleased with our spice. i found the steady state to follow a little more challenging though in similar ways to my row with ben. despite what i saw as developments in my adaptability and catered changes to my stroke, they seemed dissatisfied as doubles partners. in the end, i told josh that i bet a ben dann/josh k. double could be really awesome. they operate with similar communication skills in terms of rowing. they speak bluntly and with illustrative talk. they don’t have huge interest in exploring different things, but prefer and champoin consistency and refinement. i have my preferences, but i’m not saying which of these is better. they are just different approaches. additionally, both ben and josh row with very firm, crisp finishes and an on/off stroke that doesn’t have the sensation of building. i bet that boat could fly… then again, we were flying. i tried during the pieces to function like peter and spur us both on. don’t know how much i spurred him on, but i was amped.
hashtags for row: #giddyup, #hoofinit, #rigid, #strong, #strength2weight
ok. that still took a while to finish and don’t know what it’s really worth. the main take away for anyone is not what i actually noted about each rower, but to realize the worth in rowing with different people and being engaged as you do it. i’m telling this to myself as i finish this post as much as i am to someone else. whether it’s rowing or writing or engineering, if you work with other people, you need to do just that - work WITH them. learn how they move, think, function. become aware of how you move, think, function. then, find a way to pair them.
boats and bucks.
so, i feel like i have a lot to say, but am in one of the moments where i lack the words for it (believe it or not). i’ll try nonetheless.
speed orders was ok in the end. i finished third on the water behind john and pete graves respectively. the things that irk me the most are the fact that john won by a substantial amount of time and the two lightweights from our club that took first and second went faster than me as well. position isn’t always the most accurate barometer of achievement. so those things move me to be hard on myself. however, as mentioned before, it’s been and up and down fall. sickness, injury, travel. it all happened and now is a fine time for it.
a funny realization that i had over the weekend as i toiled with being hard on myself and also accepting of the qualifications is that head racing is more fun when your fitness exceeds the expectations held by others for yoru performance. this means that when you’re younger say or newer to the game, people have lower expectations for your placement in head races. expectations are also typically based off the prior year’s performance. additionally, the distance suits itself to a growing aerobic capacity. as a result, if you train hard, you can easily exceed expectations by just increasing your aerobic capacity while people anticipate last year’s performance and placement. at this point for me, it isn’t as thrilling as it was before because i’ve moved up the totem pole, and if i’m not my fittest, i can’t exceed the expectations of last year. i can’t just power through 4-6k. anyways, it’s a small interesting revelation that now sounds pretty convoluded and pointless once typed out.
after the speed order, the four craftsbury beefcakes (peter, john, ben dann, and myself) did some pieces in quads with the potomac guys. at first, it seemed a little nuts since we were all tired from the weekend of racing and the wind was howling. in the end, i enjoyed being in a bigger boat, loosening my grip, and hanging on the oars with a little less micro-management.
if you look for a black and white answer out of the little scrimmage of rowers from the two clubs, it would be hard to find. it was good that our coach, dan, and pbc’s coach, reilly, got to ride in a launch together and watch new people row. it was good for us to row in quads and mix it up with other rowers we don’t always see. as far as lineups, i don’t think we saw one out of the box that was mind-blowing, but saw some possibilities should anyone want to check them out further. i think the scrimmage did show that craftsbury has helped our boat moving ability and boat feel.
then, i drove back to craftsbury instead of seeing valuable friends in philly and family on the way because i was worried about my car’s condition.
then, i hit a deer on the way.
(wanted to just end with that, but that’s probably the most entertaining part of this post. i was 1/2 a mile from my exit on the highway, crested a hill with my regular beams on, saw the deer in my beams, blinked, hit the brake, and hit the deer. baffles me how quick it happened. i’m absolutely fine, but the car is not.)
there was a time when i would have been satisfied with this weekend. 3rd at the speed order on the water. 6th on the erg. and at a certain time in the progression of my rowing career, those things would have been more than adequate even withstanding the qualifications i’m about to unveil. however, now is not that time.
6th on the erg when the a slew of big ergs were not here because they train in california and the majority of the sweep team is out in colorado springs. furthermore, the paced piece that i did was ten seconds behind my PR, a PR that is inadequate anyways for someone that needs to be some 19. granted, the erg was not an emphasis this time around, and we had to make good use of our precious water time up north. i’m just trying to keep things harshly real to illustrate how you have to view things when you want to keep moving forward.
as for the water, it was a rough piece. for every aspect of the course i steered well, i steered another part less well. i definitely shaved some seconds off some people with a tighter course the first half, but squandered some of those efforts the second half. it was a windy day, and i fought hard in the first stretch to catch tom peszek, a sweep rower by trade, before the big bend. although i got the inside of the bend, i did not do it efficiently and was gased. i pulled ahead of him through the one bridge on the course only to have him repass me in the home stretch. still, his strong push to the finish probably helped speed up the limp i was sporting at the time. i wouldn’t say i blew up, but i did not have the engine revving to the finish. i was surprised how beat i felt considering i was not hurting from the 6k. for the past couple of weeks, i have thought about really being perched on the end of my seat, getting good preperation so that it feels as if i’m loading the front axle of the seat both in and out of the catch, and creating the sensation of being eager to pounce back horizontally once my blades are in the water. this is something i’ve taken away from watching the norwegians aggressive catches. i lost this through the finish of the piece. instead of eagerly loading a big blade of water, i was slinging the finish in an inefficient way as i attempted to add speed to the boat when it already had some momentum. you can’t hope to simply tack speed onto the back end of your stroke. granted, you can definitely build power and really work the finish, but it’s still a proactive effort instead of a complacent one followed by a last ditch effort.
overall, the weekend was fine. i’ve had an up and down fall with some time off, some sickness, and some attention to my arms. so considering all of that, the result is fine. however, as stated, fine is not fun. ready to hunker down, ski, erg, and do some hard training while studying rowing video.
but first, a little scrimmaging in quads for kicks with the potomac guys!
two thoughts i’ve had as the day comes to a close:
- fine is fine, but fine is not fun. the erg piece was fine and according to plan. this lacks the exhiliration as noted before of no holds racing though.
- technique cannot add energy to the equation, but it can minimize the loss. john and i were talking about things, and it’s an interesting concept. at various times, people view power (erg scores) as more or less important than technique. obviously, they are both important. it’s an interesting thing to think about though that you cannot actually add energy to the equation of the rowing stroke by having better technique. in other words, the watts you can produce are the watts you can produce. having good technique helps you to maximize the use of those watts. it doesn’t magically create new energy and watts. point being, you need to be strong and fast on the erg or whatever measuring device you want to use, but then you also need to row well to make the most of this wattage.
while this can mean foreign service officer, it probably means fall speed order to most american, post-collegiate rowers, or at least to this one it does.
it’s an interesting event. everyone wants to do well at it, but at the same time, it is of no real consequence or bearing on the actual selection events of the spring and summer. the format has changed slightly over the years. it sometimes has an erg test beforehand, sometimes has a stake turn, and sometimes doesn’t happen at all. either way though, whether it is of no real consequence or not, when you get all the people that will race each other in the spring together in the fall, they will all want to beat each other. competition is a beautiful thing.
this year there’s a 6k erg test on saturday and a 4k race on the water on sunday. even though everyone wants to beat each other, how people strategize and jockey the event as a whole varies from person to person. for instance, some people that are good on the erg will simply focus to crush the erg and catch some attention for doing so. however, others will fluff the test and emphasize the race on the water. in this way, i’m not sure if the dual style event is the best format or not. it’s cool that it let’s people play to their strengths or showcase their specific abilities, but at the same time, it would almost be better if all were somehow forced to do all they could do in each event.
erg test today as i said. we really haven’t done much erging at all. i’ve tried to prep myself a bit, but it’s amazing how short a fall feels when you come back to things in the end of september. i plan to have a good, hard piece, but go out conservatively and then grind out the finish.