Maiden Voyage in a Socially Distant World

Lockdown status update

So the last time I wrote was on March 31. Here is how the number of positive tests developed. The source isĀ


The two charts are the same. Just that the right hand side is plotted on a logarithmic scale, so you can see how we are slowing down the growth. We are doing all the measures to make sure the healthcare system will be able to manage. So here is an interesting set of charts, taken fromĀ

So according to the predictions, the number of Intensive Care beds should be sufficient, even if you take into account the uncertainty. The picture for invasive ventilators is the same. Here is a comparison between Czech Republic and Portugal, both countries with 10 Million inhabitants, reaching 10 confirmed cases on the same date.

So what is the difference? Let’s look at the lockdown measures.

Looks pretty identical, right? There may be a couple of differences:

  1. Czechs have been pretty disciplined in taking the measures seriously, especially in the first three weeks
  2. Czechs are not a “hugging” nation. I don’t know about Portugal, though, but here people greet with a nod or with a handshake (we don’t do that any more). Czechs don’t kiss or hug every time they meet each other.
  3. Face masks. It seems that virtually overnight, around the 17th of March, we have turned ourselves into South Koreans or Japanese. Previously, the only people wearing face masks were Asians at the airport and in the tourist hotspots. When the government announced mandatory coverage of nose and mouth outside your property, when there was a shortage of face masks, people were told that some protection is better than no protection, and that the masks serve to protect others in case you are infected, not the other way round. In a day or two, enough people were making face masks at home to supply an entire country of 10 million.

Wearing a mask is now seen as an act of responsibility. It’s unpleasant, but if it helps, it helps.

None of the numbers provided above are to be seen as scientific evidence, but I would say that wearing a home made mask is not a big sacrifice to make, especially if it allows to get the virus under control and start thinking about easing up some of the other measures.

So since a few days, the crisis team of the Czech government are starting to think about how to ease the measures, and allow more economic activity. This debate is very difficult, because it’s a huge balancing act. How do you protect the vulnerable groups while allowing others to go about their business? How do you balance “smart quarantine” measures with data privacy laws?

The first thing that is now possible again since two days is: Individual sport without a face mask. Maximum group size 2 persons.

Yes, we were already running in the forests and parks, but we were wearing face masks. And we were out in nature. All sports facilities (even outdoors) were forbidden. So for me as a rower that meant: No rowing on the water.

We have been working with the club board yesterday to install a way to comply with the government measures but still allow some rowing, now that external sports facilities are open again.

  1. We have a strict timing policy on when you are allowed on the club ground, governed through a simple Google spreadsheet. So if I want to launch at 9, I block the 9 to 9:15 time slot in the spreadsheet, and that is the only time when I am allowed on the club ground. This can be easily checked through the chip key access. In this way, a maximum of two persons is present on the club ground at any time. Of course they are wearing face masks.
  2. No access to any of the indoor facilities. You arrive in your rowing clothes, do your training, and shower at home.
  3. Desinfection of all surfaces you’ve touched.

I hope this will gradually be eased. But I guess it is more realistic to take a week or two between each subsequent easing step to see if we are not creating a second wave of infections. Crossing fingers!


So what sessions have I been doing last week?

On April 1, I did a run:

I ran pretty slowly, taking pictures here and there:

I cannot remember if it was an easy run or a hard one, but I did really enjoy it. It was the first time in four days that I left my property.

On Thursday, I did nothing. Meetings from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM.

On Friday, I did the land workout. It’s a workout I found on this youtube channel and it’s pretty balanced, doable and nice. I had a pleasant muscle soreness the next day.

On Saturday, it was time for an indoor rower session in the garden. It was great weather. I did 4 rounds of “Dart Games”. That’s a pretty nice way to work on stroke consistency. The trick, I discovered, is to not fuzz about the curve on the monitor, but to get in a trance, listen to the flywheel, and try to focus on leg pressure. I managed a high score of 14,625 points (out of 15,000 max)!

Unfortunately, BoatCoach disconnected itself in the middle of the second game, so the chart looks a bit weird.

On Sunday, I had a lot of computer work in the morning, and then I procrastinated before doing my workout. Actually, I switched on the TV and watched a movie “Catch 22” that they were broadcasting. Great movie, but not the smartest thing to watch during a lockdown.

The workout was 4×4 min/4min, a variation on the Pete Plan 4x1km/4min. I hate time based workouts, but I get why we’re doing them (to make it easier to do them in groups). Anyway, after three intervals I felt like Yossarian and just quit.

Well, three is better than nothing.

On Monday, I had to pick up a parcel at a parcel delivery spot, and I decided to take the bike. It was also a good way to air my two teenage boys who rode with me. Bike riding with a face mask is hard work.

It was a nice ride. Also interesting to see the town center again. It looked pretty busy, but I quickly realized that a normal Monday afternoon would have been much more busy. Parcel collected and a 90 minute bike ride is kind of equivalent to a 60 minute row, I think.

On Tuesday, April 7th, I did nothing. Even though I am on COVID-19 related unpaid leave (furlough) this week, I still find I have a pretty busy schedule. With two colleagues from work, we are trying to deploy a low cost video conferencing tool for basic schools. I am doing some maintenance work on, and there is some volunteer work I am doing. So … busy days.

I also discovered that I started a bit too late with the hayfever pills, and on Tuesday I was suffering.

Maiden Voyage

So, with on-the-water rowing legal again thanks to the disciplined behavior of all people around me, I was able to row on the water today. Thanks, everyone!

This means a lot to me, because I have a new boat. It was sort of the last thing to arrive from Italy before the rowing club closed, so I hadn’t done anything with it except putting it together. Today was the day to test drive it. Here is the boat:

I won’t tell you its name yet.

First, I did a 1km paddle. I had to return to the club to adjust a few things. Luckily, the 15 minute slot after me was empty, so I could return and do some adjustments. After that, it was a prefect row on a flat lake.

Here are a few more charts, just for fun.

Unfortunately, the NK Empower Oarlock had some issues. Even though I had put in a freshly charged battery, it would disconnect from the SpeedCoach every few minutes. After a few times, I didn’t bother to reset it. So that’s causing the flat areas in the power curve.

So this was great. Of course, we will miss a big part of club life, and it’s not clear if there will be any racing in the coming few months (I personally don’t think so).

I am also aware that my readers who are in full lockdown may be very jealous. I am sorry. I know the pain. One day, also you will be taking out your single again. Remember, when that happens, it is because all people around you were disciplined and took COVID prevention measures seriously.