1974 Long Beach Lightweight Rowing Team

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1974 Long Beach Lightweight Rowing

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Ergometer Information

Concept2 Force Curve Display

From Peter Mallory:
Let me elaborate a little bit on what Bob wrote earlier today. Good rowing is still good rowing, but I have evolved a bit in how I describe it after 38 years, and technology has provided us with some really useful tools we didn't have in 1974. The most important one is the force curve display that almost any Concept2 monitor now has. If you can't find an erg that displays force curves, I encourage you to keep looking until you do.

The key thing to remember is that all the boat really cares about is how you apply your force, i.e. the shape of your curve. Your curve should look like a snowcone or a haystack or a parabola, smooth and convex all the way, no tail, no concavities. That's the secret. Period.

Ken, go find a Concept2 erg, check out the force curve, groove in a parabola, and then take the feeling back to your water rower. I'm sure a bunch of you will have questions, so fire away.

Warm regards,

Force Curve

Concept2 Resistance Lever

From Bob:

Pete, Where are you setting the resistance lever on your Concept2 erg? I keep mine at either 5 or 4.

From Pete
Great question, Bob. The relevant setting is "drag factor," which can be displayed on your Concept2, and you can set it by moving the vent lever up or down on the side of the flywheel. Individual machines at a particular vent setting can vary, but supposedly the drag factor is constant from machine to machine no matter the age or condition of maintenance.

Concept2 recommends a setting between 100 and 140, which usually corresponds to something like vent settings 2 and 5. I'm told the U.S. Men use 95, but they go through the water at superhuman speed. Glenn Schweighardt, yours and my good friend at San Diego Rowing Club, recommends 105 for the SDRC Masters, which feels really light to me, but I have been dragging around the island in a super-wide wherry recently. A couple of years ago I trained consistently at 105 drag factor, and I got comfortable with it and made it work.

At the moment I am most comfortable at about 125-30 for my intervals. My vent is set at 4, and I am able to really lever on the handle from entry to release. This seems to put more of a premium on strength than wind. The analogy is the gearing of a bike, spin like Lance or pound like Jan Ullrich. If I ever transition toward training to race an eight for LBRA or SDRC, I will lower the drag factor to get more of a sense of speed through the water. Parenthetically, during my coaching career I have experimented with gradually changing the load on the oars during the course of the year, going from heavier to lighter or vice versa as the season approaches.

Any thoughts from the rest of you who have used ergs?

From Peter:

Chuck - 2ks and 6ks are 2,000 meter and 6,000 meter erg tests on Concept2 rowing ergometers, the standard machine of today, not yet invented when you last sat in a boat. They are expressed in time, as in "My 2k time this month was 8:12, down from 8:39 last month." As a general guide, for a fellow pushing 60, a 7:00 2k is phenomenal, 8:00 is very respectable, 9:00 shows a healthy fitness level, and even 10:00 shows real progress from a beginning sedentary base level. People go a bit slower over 6k . . . but not much. Maybe add a minute . . . or two.

Warm regards,

Team Ergometer Workout

Concept2 Engagement Lag

From Ward
Hey Bob & Team - Some good erg info here, Bob. I've tried other ergometers and still find the Concept 2 the most realistic in feel - yes, even with that slight delayed catch thing. Perhaps it's more akin to rowing an eight rather than a single or other. I'm still trying to find the info, buried somewhere in this mass of emails, about another machine someone brought up.

All the best,

From Bob:
Hi Ward,

The Concept2 does have a "turbo lag" and that is typically because the chain is stretched and needs to be tightened up. At my gym they are TERRIBLE about erg maintenance, so staff must be pestered. When I rowed Masters, our club had, and still has, one or two rowers do regular erg maintenance.

The other rowing machine you saw mention of in emails is a Fluid Rower used by Ken Durham. Ken can fill you in on that one.

From Peter
Team - The slight lag in the engagement of the clutch on a Concept2 erg never completely goes away, so live with it. If you instantaneously apply force upon entry, it shrinks to almost nothing, so use the lag as a tool to speed up your engagement. Make lemonade out of lemons. The best way to engage instantaneously is fingers-to-toes commitment, whether you are paddling or going flat out, legs, back and arms all beginning smoothly and then all three continuing to accelerate the flywheel all the way to the release. That was the secret to our success in 1974, and most people still haven't figured it out.

I strongly recommend everyone stick with Concept2 if at all possible, lag or no, because Concept2 provides the universal measure. For instance, Ken and I can square off next week by doing the same workout and comparing scores.

Speaking of next week, October 1 is coming up. I encourage everybody to submit a 2,000m and a 6,000m score around that time. Send the times to me, and I will organize a spreadsheet. These times can represent a gentleman's row or a moderate effort ("pooped but not spent" in Bob's terminology below) or a flat-out, crosseyed effort for those so inclined, but I encourage everybody to give it a shot to establish a baseline. Also, it sure will be easier for me to do if I know I have company around the L.A. Basin and around the world. We have ten days until October 1.

Warm regards,

Comparison of Concept 2 and FluidRower

From Ken:

Just finished my first morning workout on the new Concept2 w/PM4 at the college, and can make some comparisons with the FluidRower I've been using for the past six weeks. They are definitely two different machines; and as much as I love the "slosh-slosh" of the FR and the seemingly more realistic (just my opinion) momentum or "water speed" for long rows, I'm sticking with the C2 for most of my workouts from here on out, for several reasons:

1. As I suspected all along, the FR is calibrated more liberally for distance/time than the C2. In other words, you'll reach 2000 meters more quickly on a FR than a C2 at a comparable drag factor; or, the times you put up on the FR at a high resistance setting will be similar to your times on a C2 on a low resistance setting (drag factor). Theoretically, you have the same potential for a given score at all C2 drag factors. That's great if you're never going to do anything other than work out on the erg; but it's not as realistic for rowers in training for actual competition (or for indoor competition, for that matter).

2. For some reason, rowing on a C2 seems to be a better, more strenuous workout. I don't know if it's because the momentum falls off a little faster, or it takes more to get the wheel spinning (regardless of drag factor), or what - it just kicks my butt worse than the FR, and that's got to be good. This may just be that you are psyched for the new toy, but I'm only speculating.

3. For as good a product as the FR is, they have not taken the time/money to develop a community or support structure like C2. Just within the C2 website alone is enough information and networking to ensure challenges for as long as you want to seek them out. Comparisons, competitions, technique (though I only have ears for Coach), PM instructions, etc., etc., etc. Nada (that I've found) for the FR. Amen.

4. The PM3/PM4 on Concept2s are without equal - period. And they're only going to get better. All the essential stuff is there, plus extras like force curve, pace boat graphics (you can race against a previous workout or someone else's workout), wireless laptop connectivity, wireless racing among several machines (PM4), and logcard capabilities, so if you have a card and a reader you can transfer your workouts from the fitness center to your PC at home.

5. Although the FR seems to have a more realistic "feel" at a lower resistance or drag factor, it becomes less realistic as the setting is increased. The Concept2 seems to be just the opposite - it seems to have a more realistic feel as you work against higher resistance settings and let the boat run out between good, "haystack" strokes.

6. When sprinting to beat a time/distance mark you've set for yourself, the C2 seems to "force" you to choose between a less-effective high stroke rate or a more effective strong "haystack" stroke at a realistic rate. Conversely, the FR seems to let you get away with a faster stroke rate ("thrashing") that would not realistically move the boat better. This is all purely subjective at my end.

I've been fairly biased against the "lag" at the catch on C2s for years; but like Pete says, when you get down to serious rowing on the newer machines, it's hardly noticeable. Part of my bias was that I missed rowing so badly, I wasn't tolerant of a machine that felt like it was late at the catch. But that idiosyncrasy has been reduced to nearly nil on the new C2s; and if you're going to be on the water anyway, it's just no big deal. You are thoughtfully self-aware, my good sir.

In short, whatever it takes to get access to a C2, do it.


Concept2 Website:

Concept 2 Site

Concept2 Ergometers

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