03 Feb 2005, Yorkshire
Yesterday someone asked a very good question - won't I lose all my hard-earned fitness if I spend April swanning around on the yacht Steamy Windows?
I'd been worried about this, so I'd done some research. Apparently endurance fitness is much more resilient than, say, strength. If my training programme was based around building up lots of muscle bulk by lifting weights in the gym, that muscle would very rapidly disappear at sea when it's not needed. But my training programme is geared towards building up endurance, and that shouldn't suffer too much if I take 3 weeks off.
In fact, the break from routine could do me a lot of good - physical adaptations take place during rest, not during exercise, so a good training programme should include adequate recovery. And psychologically, it will be good to have a break from these long slogs on the WaterRower.
It's not like I'll be totally inactive, either - during the 2 weeks at sea I guess I'll be running around bracing the mainsail, or whatever the hell it is that sailors do. And I'm told that just being on a boat will be good for my core strength, as you're constantly using your back and stomach muscles to hold yourself upright against the motion of the boat.
And while we're ashore I can go running. So I think I'll be OK.
The ocean experience will be absolutely invaluable. I'll hopefully find my sea legs, which could make the difference between success and failure in the race. I've heard it rumoured that alleged 'food poisoning' has defeated a significant number of ocean rowers.
I'll also be able to practice my navigation, make sure my technology works at sea, learn about marine instrumentation, use Russ's Atlantic planner to plan my race course, and most importantly, test out my Green People sun cream.... Definitely worth skipping a few gym sessions for!
Roz Savage travel writer and photographer
Website: www.rozsavage.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
01 Feb 2005, Yorkshire
'It doesn't matter so much what you decide, it's the way you apply your decision.'
Alasdair McGregor was talking at the Olympia Adventure Show about lessons learned from his Atlantic rowing experience in 2003, when he and Andrew Vinsen were the first British crew to cross the line in Barbados.
Later, as we were having a few bevvies in the pub with the Woodvale guys (organisers of Atlantic Rowing Race), I asked him what he'd meant. 'Just that you can't dither. Be consistent. Make a decision based on the information you have available at the time, and stick with it. Or maybe decide a point at which you'll review it. But don't waste a lot of time worrying about whether it was the RIGHT decision.'
Ranulph Fiennes put it another way, in his book Beyond the Limits:
'When you can't make up your mind and the experts' advice is contradictory, keep an open mind, balance all likely factors, plan for a bad scenario and go for the best compromise solution. Then, once you've made your decision, stick to your guns.'
Timely advice. I'd been dithering about where to live for the summer while I kit out my boat - Devon, where I'd be nearer the Woodvale people, or Brighton, where I'd be nearer London. And also dithering whether to take up an invitation to crew on a friend's yacht, Steamy Windows, from Cape Verde to the Azores - invaluable ocean experience, but expensive to get the necessary flights. And also dithering about what laptop to use during the race - whether a ruggedised laptop was really necessary, and whether to forsake Mac for PC for compatibility reasons.
But no more deliberations. Based on the information I have right now, Brighton, Steamy Windows and PC it is. Onwards and upwards!
23 Jan 2005, Yorkshire
Wholebake's 9 Bars are just the best. They're full of good stuff, and no nasties like preservatives, artificial colours, or trans fats. And most importantly, they taste good.
Evidently the guys at Blockbuster thought so too. My parcel of assorted snack bars, generously sent free of charge by Wholebake, went astray in the Christmas post and ended up at the video shop up the road. By the time I found out about it the staff had already scoffed a substantial proportion of my goodies, including ALL the 9 Bars. Bummer.
Never mind. The carob-coated Nourish bars come a pretty close second. And once I get out to sea, there'll be nobody around to plunder my food supplies, unless pirates get wind of how good Wholebake bars are...
21 Jan 2005, Yorkshire
Priscilla, Queen of the Road, is mine no longer. She was fun for a while, but a high maintenance woman (or camper van, if you want to be pernickerty). So I sold her back to the Irishman I bought her from, and am now smugly vehicle-free again.
It's nice, now, to actually get to meetings on time - there were SO many occasions when I had to phone people to say, sorry, broken down, will be late or may not make it at all...
The worst incident was when I was moving from London up to Leeds just before Christmas. Had all my worldly goods in the back of the van. And Priscilla utterly disgraced herself on a busy roundabout - she stalled and flatly refused to restart.
I had a good idea what the problem was - she had a loose connection into the starter motor, and I knew that if I jiggled the wire I could probably get her going again. The problem was that to get to the starter motor, conveniently located underneath the bed in the back, I had to deposit aforesaid worldly goods all over the road so I could get to the engine bay.
The police found it all very amusing...