Virtual Head of the Charles

No, ergs don't yet float, but some of us do, and here's where you get to discuss that other form of rowing.
Post Reply
Cyclist2
6k Poster
Posts: 826
Joined: December 13th, 2006, 8:20 pm
Location: Bremerton, WA

Virtual Head of the Charles

Post by Cyclist2 » October 15th, 2020, 10:47 pm

An extra three miles per hour sure helps!

The HOCR this year was a virtual participatory race on the water, or on the erg. The live event is coming up (https://www.hocr.org/). Today I did the on the water event. The basic idea is to row the official 4702m on the body of water of your choice, then submit a GPS device file. Their software picks out the fastest consecutive 4702m, and maps it on a global map (https://rowingtracker.com/hocr/2020). There are people all over the world doing this; one unique course I noted is a rectangular canal in Shanghai, China!

The body of water, time and day I chose were to take advantage of a strong tidal current. There were no restrictions on this, in fact they encouraged creative courses. I don't regularly row in currents so yesterday I did a test run just to get the feel of it. Here is what happened today.

I loaded my Maas Aero on the truck early. My wife and I headed for the launch point. After a rousing sendoff from two club members and my wife, I rowed an easy 15 minute warmup over to the starting point. I had everything mapped out previously. Just before my starting line, I took off my jacket, cinched up the foot straps and took a good drink of water. Then it was three hard strokes, stop rowing to hit the lap button on the Garmin, and I was away on my running start. It took a few hundred meters to get settled in and into the current. Once into the current I tried to hold a fast but sustainable pace. That was a little tricky since the water was more swirly than it was yesterday and the boat was veering around slightly. I kept telling myself to relax, stay balanced, let the boat go with it, just keep it aimed generally down the channel, and keep the stroke rate up. Reminded me of a bike race where a segment was through very loose sand – the bike just snaked around where it felt like, but you can’t fight it, just keep it aimed ahead and keep applying power. Same here.

All was going well, no traffic, no debris, no wind. I was trying to keep it in the center of the channel to avoid the worst eddies. The finish line bridge was showing up in my mirror. As I got closer, every time I glanced in the mirror the sun hit my eye – my shadow was directly over the stern. Well, I sure didn’t want to tangle with the bridge, so I slowed down (it’s amazing how fast it comes up at 11 mph!) and looked over my shoulders, didn’t trust the mirror. As I went past the abutment, the current was VERY visible, like low level rapids going around the abutments. I could actually hear the water rushing past them. I quickly wondered what the eddies would be like on the downstream side, but it wasn’t any worse, so I kicked in my sprint to get past the 2.92 miles (4702 meters) with a little margin. Not spent but satisfied with the effort in unfamiliar conditions.

My wife picked me up there because I sure didn't want to row the 4.5 miles back against the current. My average speed was 9.4 mph (1:58.8 pace). That was just less than my sustainable speed in calm water, then add the current in and I was pretty happy. Right now I'm in 6th place.

For a virtual event, I guess this is about the best way to participate. Maybe next year I can head for Boston and do it for real. Let's hope we all can.
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.

User avatar
winniewinser
10k Poster
Posts: 1565
Joined: August 9th, 2019, 9:35 am
Location: England

Re: Virtual Head of the Charles

Post by winniewinser » October 19th, 2020, 4:31 am

Cyclist2 wrote:
October 15th, 2020, 10:47 pm
An extra three miles per hour sure helps!

The HOCR this year was a virtual participatory race on the water, or on the erg. The live event is coming up (https://www.hocr.org/). Today I did the on the water event. The basic idea is to row the official 4702m on the body of water of your choice, then submit a GPS device file. Their software picks out the fastest consecutive 4702m, and maps it on a global map (https://rowingtracker.com/hocr/2020). There are people all over the world doing this; one unique course I noted is a rectangular canal in Shanghai, China!

The body of water, time and day I chose were to take advantage of a strong tidal current. There were no restrictions on this, in fact they encouraged creative courses. I don't regularly row in currents so yesterday I did a test run just to get the feel of it. Here is what happened today.

I loaded my Maas Aero on the truck early. My wife and I headed for the launch point. After a rousing sendoff from two club members and my wife, I rowed an easy 15 minute warmup over to the starting point. I had everything mapped out previously. Just before my starting line, I took off my jacket, cinched up the foot straps and took a good drink of water. Then it was three hard strokes, stop rowing to hit the lap button on the Garmin, and I was away on my running start. It took a few hundred meters to get settled in and into the current. Once into the current I tried to hold a fast but sustainable pace. That was a little tricky since the water was more swirly than it was yesterday and the boat was veering around slightly. I kept telling myself to relax, stay balanced, let the boat go with it, just keep it aimed generally down the channel, and keep the stroke rate up. Reminded me of a bike race where a segment was through very loose sand – the bike just snaked around where it felt like, but you can’t fight it, just keep it aimed ahead and keep applying power. Same here.

All was going well, no traffic, no debris, no wind. I was trying to keep it in the center of the channel to avoid the worst eddies. The finish line bridge was showing up in my mirror. As I got closer, every time I glanced in the mirror the sun hit my eye – my shadow was directly over the stern. Well, I sure didn’t want to tangle with the bridge, so I slowed down (it’s amazing how fast it comes up at 11 mph!) and looked over my shoulders, didn’t trust the mirror. As I went past the abutment, the current was VERY visible, like low level rapids going around the abutments. I could actually hear the water rushing past them. I quickly wondered what the eddies would be like on the downstream side, but it wasn’t any worse, so I kicked in my sprint to get past the 2.92 miles (4702 meters) with a little margin. Not spent but satisfied with the effort in unfamiliar conditions.

My wife picked me up there because I sure didn't want to row the 4.5 miles back against the current. My average speed was 9.4 mph (1:58.8 pace). That was just less than my sustainable speed in calm water, then add the current in and I was pretty happy. Right now I'm in 6th place.

For a virtual event, I guess this is about the best way to participate. Maybe next year I can head for Boston and do it for real. Let's hope we all can.
Thanks for the write up....interesting read and well done on the race.
LWTM, 6'2" 48yo, 100m 17.9, 1min 337m, 500m 1:34.2, 1km 3:24.6, 2km 6:53.5, 5km 18:23.2, 6km 22:20.4, 30' 7958m, 10km 38:18.6, 60' 15,286m, HM 1:24:08.5, FM 3:08:12.8

Post Reply