You might say that rowing was the theme for our mid-week "weekend" in Rochester. We met the master rowers for drinks, yelled at the freshmen rowers from our dinghy, rowed on the "erg," and even practiced with the old fogeys.
In addition to getting his PhD in Rochester, our friend Mike is a full time rowing coach. The requirements for being a rowing coach involve the ability to steer a motorized dinghy and a willingness to yell at people when they do things wrong. This would be a good time to mention that Mike excels at both of these things. Naturally, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn how to row from a world class expert while we were staying at his house.
Rowing lesson 1-Hydration is important:
Like all athletic ventures, hydration is the key to optimal performance. Accordingly, Mike had us meet him at the Acme Bar as soon as we got to town. We spent the evening mentally and physically preparing to be rowers. Like all good rowers, we hydrated with generous servings of Molson and pizza. The highlight of the night had to be near the end of the night when Mike and his friend both shoved their faces into a cake that someone had left at our table. This was all done in the name of rowing excellence.
Rowing lesson 2-Practice time is flexible:
So it turns out 7am practice can be difficult to make. Especially when they don't kick you out of the hydration facility until 2:15am...and then Mike makes you continue to hydrate back at his house with Crater Lake flavored vodka. Fortunately for Mike, his freshmen called him at 7:05 for practice. We decided to skip this practice. Mike showed us proper form later in the day on the rowing machine in his attic.
Rowing lesson 3-Fueling up is important:
After Mike got back from practice we spent the afternoon walking around Rochester and hanging out at Mike's place. After we went to the Salsa dancing night, we decided to fuel up with a traditional Rochester dinner. Mike introduced us to the world famous Rochester plate. It is a plate half covered with waffle fries and half covered with pasta salad. To this natural pairing, the chef introduces a generous portion of chile and finishes off the signature dish with two hamburger patties. If you can eat it without throwing up, you're ready to learn how to row.
Rowing lesson 4-Good form is important:
Since I was barely able to finish the Rochester plate without throwing up (but just barely), we were ready to learn proper rowing form the next morning. Mike took us out in his motorized boat to learn from the freshman rowers. He made them demonstrate perfect form...over and over and over and over again. He put the poor kids through the paces. By the end of the session on the Genessee river and the Erie canal, I felt exhausted for them. After the grueling preparation, we were finally ready to row ourselves.
Rowing lesson 5-Clash of the Titans sucks:
This isn't really a rowing lesson, but it seemed like an opportune moment to point out that the movie sucks. Don't watch it-even if your wife is obsessed with "the original" and you are looking for something to do when it is raining in Rochester-don't watch it. Learn from my mistakes people.
Rowing lesson 6-Practice in a tank:
We had never heard of rowing in a tank, but Mike was coaching an old people's rowing class at "the tank" so he took us with him so we could learn how to row. Basically, the tank is a big warehouse with two ovals of water and a lot of oars and seats. People use it when the weather is too bad to row outside. Mike pushed us and the old people through a blistering workout for an hour and a half. By the end of the workout, I had a whole new respect for his freshmen.
Rowing lesson 7-Don't waste so much time with lessons:
The last day we were there, we were going to take a boat out on the river and actually row. Unfortunately, by this time, all of the boats had gotten loaded onto the trailer for their regatta that weekend. So we didn't end up rowing on the water. Oh well. On the upside, we did learn how to play bridge. Speaking of which, if anyone in Houston is interested in channeling their inner grandparent and joining us for a weekly bridge night, that would be awesome. Old people clothes optional.