Saturday, 22 January 2011

Climbing & Rowing

So the project is now finished and handed in, and I'm back to being in a sort of weird limbo of having just had a fairly large deadline, but with the next one still being a while away. I feel like I have no work to do even though I've actually got a reasonable number of things to get cracking on with.

I feel pretty happy with my project overall, and I reckon I had some decent creativity in there. My final design wasn't brilliantly creative or stunningly beautiful, but I did manage to figure out how to use Photoworks properly to get something which doesn't look entirely like ass:


I bought a three-month climbing pass at Kelsey Kerridge yesterday, mostly because I'll be staying in Cambridge over the Easter vacation, so it actually makes sense given I'll finally be able to spend three consecutive months in Cambridge, rather than buying a three-month pass and then spending one of those months a couple of hundred miles away.

The three-month pass is fairly expensive (£77!) but then it does mean I can just go whenever I want for however long I feel like. Usually because it's like a fiver to get in, you feel like you need to go when you've got two or three hours free so that you can get your money's worth, but now I can just turn up when I've got a spare hour or so, mess around on the wall a bit, and then go.

They've done the wall up massively so that the whole room is now dedicated to climbing, and there's a ton of bouldering stuff. The advantage of bouldering is that you don't need a rope and belayer, but it does sort of expose my fairly large fear of heights. Or, more specifically, a fear of falling.

Usually when I'm climbing I don't mind the height so much, because I'm on a rope. I'll be a bit scared at first, but once I've been to the top once I'm usually fairly OK with being high up because I can feel the rope and know it'll stop me falling. Now, granted, the bouldering wall doesn't go more than 5m high, and the floor is completely covered in padding, so if I do actually fall it's not likely to even hurt, let alone cause injury, but I find it really hard to actually properly get that idea into my head.

Usually I climb, get fairly near to the top, and then I have to down-climb to pretty near the floor and jump off. Down-climbing is not only fairly difficult when the wall is overhanging, but it's also fucking tiring as well. Yet if I try and jump off from a fairly big height (or what feels like a fairly big height), then half the time I physically can't do it. I psyche myself up for it, I'm fully committed, and then when I actually try and let go my hands just aren't having any of it. Every part of my consciousness is ready to jump down, and my body just 100% doesn't bloody want to and I just end up clinging their like a total nonce.
Definitely something to work on...

Given that I've been keeping a fairly tight rein on my sleep schedule, I've actually not hurt so much having to get at 6:30am for rowing this week. Getting up around that time every day does actually work, even if it means going to bed at a daft times every day too. Means I'm actually awake enough to cox properly, though I still have my standard retarded mixing of words and talking absolute bollocks (eg. "sternside" and "middle six").

I definitely didn't miss being on the Cam though. It's even worse now that novice boats are supposedly senior and get to spaz around the river crashing into banks and generally being a nuisance. And crews doing backstops warm-up from the boathouses. Like, seriously, backstops warm-ups? Do some clubs just not have ergs in the boathouse to warm up on, or are their rowers so badgering shit that they can't remember how to row unless they get taken through it painstakingly slowly in a boat?

I don't mind crews doing stuff like that to warm up for races, but at 7am on a weekday morning it's just totally badgering stupid and they hold up the entire sodding river because it's too narrow and twisty to overtake (and novice coxes can't do it well enough) despite the fact that they're going at below walking pace and holding up a dozen boats behind them. Screw two-card rules and the like; just stopping crews doing retarded shit like that early in the morning would ease congestion a shitload. It's the equivalent of getting out of your car during the rush-hour and pushing it down a main road, just because you feel like a bit of early-morning exercise and didn't make time to do it before you left.

In slightly more cheery rowing-related stuff though, Fairbairns was fairly good fun, and the CUW alumni boat won the Women's Senior IVs, despite the lack of training, the last-minute somewhat clueless blade adjustments, and Anna's inability to actually get her blade out of the water. Oh, and Caius WII being absolutely fucking shit, and the rules for Fairbairns being completely bloody retarded. Overtaking is going to be difficult for the first stretch of the course, but not allowing boats to overtake even when it's clearly perfectly safe is totally stupid. When we've already had to easy to avoid crashing into the back of an extremely slow boat in front of us, and when we clearly have the space to overtake (to the point of being completely alongside them with a good metre or two of clearance in between), but we're apparently not allowed to because we've not gotten far enough up the course yet, then that's just completely idiotic.

It's hard having four women in the boat yelling at me to overtake, and then marshals on the bank telling me I definitely mustn't overtake, even though we're already drifting safely past them purely because we can't actually go slow enough not to. I don't see why having a slow crew concede the racing line and allow the faster crew to go past is particularly dangerous compared to having the cox of the faster crew desperately try and keep behind the slower crew without his crew members potentially killing him in the heat of the moment. Whether you can overtake or not should be based on whether it's safe or not, and not whether you've gotten past the top finish post or not. And maybe they should also try and avoid putting boats which are clearly going to be quick in the order starting behind boats which are clearly going to be slow, because that's pretty stupid as well.

But shit competition rules and slow boats aside, it was a nice experience and a decent way to spend an afternoon, even if I felt my coxing was a bit crap on the day. Plus I got a mug out of it, and found an awesome gift in my pigeon hole yesterday:


There were actually two bars of Green & Black's but I was greedy and ate the other one before I took the photo. Thanks Anna - almost certainly the best thing I've ever unexpectedly gotten in my pigeon hole.

I wasn't racing in the Head to Head today because we didn't submit an M2 crew to race, but I heard that the stroke of one of the Cantabs boats suffered a heart-attack, though is apparently recovering in hospital. I dunno who they are, but I hope they get well soon.

Also holy crap Liverpool won 3-0 today. And they won while playing away, even if it was against, err, Wolves...

EDIT: and now that the results are out, congrats to Downing W1 winning their category in the H2H race. Decent job by M1 too, to set the fastest 1st leg time and come pretty respectably in 3rd. Especially given that half the crew were novices last term.

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