WINTER HEAD 2014: W2 RACE REPORT

This was W2’s first race of term, and for two of its rowers, their first race ever! We were keen to see how much we had learnt so far this term and to get some much needed race practice before Fairbairns. It had been a difficult week leading up to the race, with one rower injured, a change in crew and Christina stepping in to cox for us. However, thanks to Reana we had 8 rowers and were ready to race.

By the time our division was marshalling, it became clear that the event was running quite behind leading to a very congested river. However, this gave us lots of time to check out the crews that had come from around the country to race on the Cam, especially some rather good looking men from the University of London! After the men had set off, we had just enough time to get our focus together and pull out towards the start line. The racing conditions were ideal, with very little wind and no rain. We got off to a good start, settling into a steady rhythm. Christina’s calls for power seemed to be working as she told us we were keeping pace with Robinson’s W1 boat in front of us. However, by the time we reached The Plough, it became clear that we were struggling to find the power required to keep up the same pace and we started to lose our togetherness. As we were overtaken by the University of London’s women on The Reach we pushed harder trying to make it difficult for them, but we didn’t have the stamina to keep going. We crossed the finish line a respectable 6th in our event out of 14 boats, showing that we have potential but still have lots to work on both technically in the boat and in fitness training before Fairbairns.

Katharine, 6

Citi Society Challenge

MECBC entered the Citi Society Challenge with the hope of winning £1000. After weeks of campaigning, we are now pleased to announce that we won! We would like to thank everyone who voted for the club, or helped to promote it during the voting period. The award will go a long way in helping us to expand and keep competing at a high level.

AUTUMN HEAD 2014: W1 RACE REPORT

A new academic year and a new MECBC W1. Crew announcements had occurred on Tuesday and with only two outings under our belt, our first weekend together also saw us on the river for our first race of the term – Autumn Head 2014.

With only two rowers back from last year’s successful Mays First VIII, we had many new faces excited to experience their first taste of representing the Club in the First VIII and racing in Octopussy. In a term traditionally dominated by novice-traffic, we were looking forward to a chance to enjoy 2.6 km of uninterrupted rowing and set ourselves a benchmark to work from for the rest of term.

Super keen as we were, we were a tad on the early side to marshalling and Christina had to negotiate reversing around Chesterton corner to avoid being run down on the finish line by boats from the division before ours! For the race itself we had a moderately-strong wind to contend with, but despite this we went off quickly under the Motorway Bridge. We pushed up hard on the boat we chased along First Post Reach, to the extent that they were being told to prepare to give us space to pass. Unfortunately, over the second half of the course in particular, the fact that this was W1’s third outing of term became all too evident in our stamina, technique and togetherness.

On this particular day we know we didn’t show the best of what we’ve got to offer as a crew. But our sights are now on Winter Head and Fairbairns later this term – W1 will be back and ready to show the Cam what we can really do.

Emma Heydon, stroke

Alumnae Rowing Event 28/09/2014

It was a fabulous day today as we took to the river with four alumnae rowers and five current students. Although some members of the crew had not been in a boat for over 20 years, we proved that with over 35+ years of combined experience the alumnae still had it in them – we even tried a piece!

Watch some clips from the outing here:

Thank you to Ying who did the filming and to Mark (Clare’s husband, and ex-NHBC coach) for bank partying.

This outing was part of the 60th Anniversary celebration weekend and the crew list was as follows:

B – Linda (1973)
2 – Katharine (PhD student, Chemistry, noviced Easter 2014)
3 – Miranda (1979, Natural Sciences Geology)
4 – Clare (1981, Natural Sciences, Headship Mays 1984)
5 – Mel (1986, Natural Sciences)
6 – Laura (PhD student, Materials, Peterhouse!)
7 – Reana (PhD student, Education)
S – Emma (PhD student, Public Health)
cox – Christina (4th year, Natural Sciences Geology, Captain of Club)

Christina Larkin

Citi Society Competition

Blue and Red Logo

We are pleased to announce that MECBC has been shortlisted for the Citi Society Competition to win £1000! We are now in the final stage of the competition – the student voting phase.

Winning the competition would enable us to improve our land training facilities, carry out essential boat maintenance, run rowing workshops for local schools, and expand our fundraising efforts to support local charities. We currently have the lowest boat club budget on the river and so this money will make a huge difference to us – enabling us to carry out these plans while keeping our membership fees low so rowing is accessible to all students.

Watch this space for details on our campaigning efforts – and don’t forget to vote either online or at one of Citi’s careers events in Cambridge during October.

The careers events where you are able to vote are:
16/10/14 13:00 – 18:00: Cambridge Banking and Finance Career Event (drop-in), University Centre (Mill Lane)
20/10/14 19:30 – 21:30: Corporate Presentation, Fitzwilliam Museum (Booking Required)
22/10/14 13:00 – 17:00: Graduate Schemes & Internships Event (drop-in), University Centre (Mill Lane)

Online voting will be open from the 23rd – 30th October.

Nines Autumn Regatta 2014

Thanks to the lovely Hannah Laidley (PCBC) for this race report – we now officially challenge Mark and Bomber to  a ‘coach off’!

“Nines Autumn Regatta – Sunday 7th September 2014

Round One – MECBC vs Cantabs

It was a glorious day for a regatta (I just love regattas!) – and after only three training sessions we weren’t sure if our IV could pull it together for our first race, but we were quietly optimistic. Christina was of course vocally optimistic, but that’s what you get when your job is to keep talking. The row down was eerily quiet, not a marshal was in sight, and the only other boat was Henk-Jaap (PCBC) tail-gating us in his single scull. We told him to go away and pulled in to get race numbers. Elaine was so excited she could hardly keep her clothes on. At last, a marshal appeared and started giving orders. It was hard to have faith in her, since her first question was ‘Are you racing?’ (Why else would we be there?) and she had no problem letting kayakers and barges bump into the boats waiting to race. We waited in the reeds. We waited, and floated, and floated, and waited some more. But Cantabs never came. I suppose they must have seen us on the river earlier that week and decided it just wasn’t worth the humiliation of actually turning up. After turning down their kind offer to row the course with no opponent, we spun and headed for home.

Round Two – MECBC vs Xpress

6 hours and a couple of burgers later, we were back at the boat house for the final. We were all really exhausted from our first race, so less confident – but we were determined to give it our all and win Christina her first pot (and Reana her seventh). We found our opposition on the row down, which was a good start, and by the start line for our race we even got in some good bumps practice, knocking into the stake boat and Xpress knocking into us. The umpire/ person on the bank wasn’t too happy and suggested we avoid hitting other boats and stay on our side (the outside lane) of the buoys (pink milk bottles) for the duration of the race.

Emma led us in a confident start, and we held level with Xpress for the first third of the 600m course. Christina had us pushing for 10 strokes every time their cox did – so a lot. The whole thing was one long push basically. In the middle of the race we started to pull away, and by the railings we had clear water between us and them. We didn’t have many supporters on the bank, but their screams of encouragement were enough to pull us over the line in first place. Which meant POTS! I like to think that my Peterhouse expertise and our use of a Peterhouse shell made all the difference, but maybe it was just Reana’s race baking. I guess Mark’s coaching was alright – but he’s no Bomber. It’s been a pleasure rowing with you MECBC!

Hannah”

Welcome to MECBC!

This page gives updates on what our novice crews have been up to so far so you can keep track of the fantastic progress they are making and their race results.

MECBC is one of the friendliest boat clubs on the river, and our members have the flexibility to participate as much or as little as they like. Most members join us having never rowed (or seen a rowing boat!) before, and many continue to train with the club throughout their time at Cambridge – often making it into our top crew (W1) or even rowing for the university. Don’t worry if you don’t want to commit to frequent, intense training sessions though – we also have more relaxed crews who only train once or twice a week. MECBC also loves a good social – for example we have ‘swaps’ with other crews, which are a great chance to sample other colleges’ food and meet a few guys!

If you would like to novice row or cox, we would love you to join us – please fill in the Novice Registration Form or get in touch with one of our LBCs. Under the “Learn to Row” tab above, there is information on how to find the boat house and some tips – make sure you have a look before your first outing!

MECBC Cycle 100 Miles

As announced at the Neptunes Dinner in February, and in the most recent issue of Neptunes, MECBC has been fundraising for a new boat, ideally a second hand VIII for our W2. We had a target of raising £2000 before 30 June, and we are very close to achieving our funding target– at the start of Bumps we have achieved over £1200. Just one final push to reach our goal!

Since Lent term, Rowanne and later on Freya had been planning an epic 80 mile bike ride between Oxford and Cambridge for the final fundraising push. However, in the excitement of exams, Bumps, and May Week, there was increasing confusion about who is actually on the ride, and how the bikes and human beings can make their way to Oxford to start the ride on Monday 23 June. Various plans were made to get bikes to Oxford and places were arranged for people to sleep before the ride, thanks to Freya, Thea, and friends and family of Siena and Sal. However, the X5 was fully booked up and it seemed impossible to get the people to Oxford at the right time.

On Saturday 21 June, two days before the ride, the list of riders have been pared down to Sal, Laura and Holly, all stalwarts of MECBC W1. They realised the logistics of getting people and bikes to Oxford were not feasible, so Sal planned an alternative circular route that would start and finish in Cambridge. Though the route is now closer to 93 miles (~150 km) rather than the original 80 miles, it is considerably flatter, which is a notable advantage considering that none of the cyclists have road bikes, and Holly and Sal were planning to do it on a rented city and mountain bike respectively.

Sal's original planned route
Sal’s planned route

Looking at this route, I realised that I have cycled to many of these places before (Huntingdon, Chatteris, and Ely), that I missed long rides (haven’t been on one since my light bikes was stolen in 2012), and I have the equipment and experience to fix punctures if needed. So I volunteered to join the ride at the last minute, armed with spare inners, a puncture repair kit, and a GPS-capable phone and tablet.

There is a slight problem in that my bike is a town bike, and I love it, but it does weigh a ton. Here’s a picture of my bike not long after I bought it in 2009.

Ying's bike at a particular London landmark
Ying’s bike at a particular London landmark

It is still a lovely bike, though not really suitable for cycling anything more than 20 miles. So I thought: I will rent a bike on Monday morning, when the bike shop opens (at 8am), then join the girls on the ride at 9am. Unfortunately, when I got to the bike shop on Monday morning, they say that they have a big group of prebooked bike rentals that morning and won’t be able to give me a bike before 9am. I decided that I probably can keep up with a mountain bike on roads, so I joined the girls and we set off around 9:15am after a quick helmet and tyre pressure check.

Holly tweeting our start!
Holly tweeting our start!

The first leg of the journey, about 20 miles from Cambridge to Huntingdon, went by in a breeze. We followed signs for route 51, which were mostly easy to find, and passed by pleasant villages with thatched roofs and summer blossoms.

Cycling through Hemington Abbots.
Cycling through Hemington Abbots.

The only obstacle we encountered was a cow blocking the path in Huntingdon, which Sal dispatched smoothly with a pat on its back.

Holly: MOO SHALL NOT PASS
Holly: MOO SHALL NOT PASS

From Huntingdon, we continued on route 12 and had a fairly uneventful 25 miles to Peterborough, with a couple of climbs that made us really glad that we picked this route rather than the Oxford hills. We enjoyed a picnic at Crown Lakes, and felt pretty good that we had such a smooth trip so far. Also, Peterborough is half way! (roughly)

At Crown Lakes, outskirt of Peterborough
At Crown Lakes, outskirt of Peterborough

The next 3.25 hours we followed a fairly well-signed, very flat, very straight, and really, kind of boring path from Peterborough to Ely. That 35 miles was mentally the toughest for me. I started to feel the weight of my bike and was having trouble keeping it at 10 mph, and everything was starting to hurt. We were trying to ride with some speed as we planned to meet Siena at Ely. Originally we said around 3pm, then we deferred to 5pm, then further deferred to 5:30pm.

A few drops (literally) of rain came down when we went past Mepal, which is about 5 miles from Ely, but luckily most of the rain cloud seemed to have missed us. Once we started seeing Ely cathedral on the horizon, it was psychologically much less painful. At 5:30pm we were on the outskirts of Ely and just have to make it across town to meet Siena!

Ely cathedral in the distance (11 o'clock)
Ely cathedral in the distance (11 o’clock)

At Ely, after meeting with Siena, we got a water refill from the Cutter Inn (THANKS!), and had our second food/water/loo break of the day. We were all quite tired by this point, though the fact that most (all?) of us have been to Ely made it felt more familiar and close to home.

At Ely, found Siena!
At Ely, found Siena!

From Ely to Cambridge we had to deviate from the planned route because we were worried that the route along the river bank from Ely is too overgrown and not possible to cycle over. Freya’s dad suggested going through Wicken, Quy, and returning to Cambridge via Newmarket Road (route 11-51). Sal prefered to follow the river back, which is marked as route 11 on OpenCycleMap, though the first section still goes off the river bank and through Wicken, presumably because the river bank route was completely marked as a footpath. Having been on a few footpaths earlier near Peterborough, we decided on taking the cycle route through Wicken, then trying to rejoin the towpath near Waterbeach. This little detour will add about 7 miles to our route, but it is probably better than trying to battle through 5 miles of footpath when Sal and Siena are the only ones with mountain bikes.

The views on this section are, in fact I think, the best on the route. We enjoyed the scenary and the wildlife, and took the cycling rather more gently through this section (about 8.5 mph).

Holly making friends with a donkey.
Holly making friends with a donkey while waiting for the rest of us to catch up.
At Burwell Lode.
At Burwell Lode.
Impressive/ominous clouds at Burwell Lode.
Impressive/ominous clouds at Burwell Lode.
The other side of the sky from Burwell Lode.
The other side of the sky from Burwell Lode.

The ominous clouds unfortunately caught up with us 2 hours later, when we were still about 6 miles away from Cambridge. It was a full blown rainstorm, no thunder, but raining so heavy that it hurt when it hit you. We decided to hide in a hedge until it calmed down a bit, while I tried to work out on my tablet/map the last section where this route is supposed to join back to the River Cam. On the map, we are supposed to follow route 11 and it will take us across to the river. However, note that part of the route (thick red dashed section) is not marked as a road but as a footpath…

The final hurdle.
The final hurdle.

We took the footpath because we want to be back on the River Cam towpath which we are very familiar with, and we felt it would be a nice ending to the ride. Unfortunately, the footpaths were a bit confusing and we ended up picking the one with 4 stiles/gates to climb over.

IMG_20140623_195555
First stile.
Siena (the pun master): Doing it in stile!
Siena (the pun master): Doing it in stile!

The footpath also ran through a field with two over-friendly horses. One started eating Holly’s handlebars.

A bit too frisky.
A bit too frisky.

This section was probably only ~300 metres but it took us around 30 min to get through, by then it was 8:20pm. Thanks to the British summer, we still have daylight.

Finally we were back on the Cam, back on the towpath, and it was familiar territory for all of us. We cruised through the last 5 miles, appreciating the much calmer than usual river (it was after all, getting on 9pm and nearly no one is training on the river). We got back to the boathouse at 9:10pm, nearly 12 hours after we set off.

"Point at the part where it hurts most"
“Point at the part where it hurts most”. We would have taken a photo in front of the boat bays, but none of us could face the thought of going down steps or walking around the tree with our bikes at this point.

You can check out the final route and elevation on MapMyRide (Special thanks to Maprika/Maprika on Google Play and OpenCycleMap for helping with navigation on the way.)

It was a very memorable day for all of us. We were very pleased that we managed to complete the ride, and we trust that donations will continue to come in; Monday 30 June is the last day for this fundraising drive! Please get in touch with a friendly MECBC-er or contact boatclub-captain@murrayedwards.cam.ac.uk to arrange a donation.

Rowing and sculling club for Murray Edwards College (founded as New Hall)