ETON DORNEY, ENGLAND – There’s plenty of excitement here at the Eton College Rowing Centre.
Oh yeah, there’s races on the water, too.
One of the interesting sidelights is the coaches on their bikes following the races on the banks of the Olympic basin. During one race Tuesday, I counted three dozen people on bikes jockeying for position as they pedalled along, screaming encouragement.
As you might expect, there are wrecks with people pedalling along pretty fast – a men’s eight covers the two kilometres in under six minutes – with their attention divided.
Canadian coach Ken Wu went into the bushes Monday – twice.
“I saw him go headfirst into the bushes and I saw his legs flapping,” said Canadian high performance director Peter Cookson. “I stopped and said, ‘Kenny are you okay?’ because I didn’t want to miss the race.’ He waved and said, ‘I’m fine.’”
Cookson tries to make the two-kilometre ride every time there is a Canadian boat in the water.
That meant three trips Tuesday, luckily without incident.
“It can be scary. The faster the boat, the scarier it is, of course, because you get into a peloton and people are watching the race and not really watching where they are going. There are a lot of wheels that touch,” said Cookson.
“There’s sorts of crazy stuff that happens along there. People taking split times and watching the race. They have all sorts of things they are trying to do which is why accidents happen. I don’t do that. Sometimes I’ll take (stroke) rates, but I always make sure I’ve got nobody too close behind me or too close in front of me. Most of our coaches are pretty good about that so we don’t cause any problems.”
Canadian coach Terry Paul brought his own bike with him, but BMW supplies bikes to the coaches.
“They’re quite nice,” said Cookson.
Wonder if there’s a damage deposit?