by Giuseppe Lamanna (translated by Gillian Shaw from the source text)
There is a tight link between rowing and cycling. They look very different but they both teach us many things, if you have the right attitude and an open mind. Both boat and bike will help you learn about balance, effort and freedom.
José Casiraghi pedalling
This is why the majority of rowers, from those like José Miguel Casiraghi in the Italian national squad, to the most average enthusiast (like me!), often use the bike as training. It isn’t just because it’s good for your quads. We learn how to live sitting on a sliding seat or saddle, one metre at a time. Because these sports have forever been long journeys of discovery about ourselves.
Do you row? Well, get on your bike!
“The crew, the squad, those that follow and stroke, the manager and the coach,” José emphasises. “Then the coach follows the boats, cycling on the path or the bank, and it all comes full circle… So, that’s what you do – get out of the boat and on your bike. Whether you’re worn out cycling home or pedalling towards new horizons, with the wind in your face!” How poetic!
But bikes aren’t just a way of putting your legs to the test. On my bike I have something I still lack in the boat – control. Not in the mechanical sense, but in the reactions to things that happen around me. From my saddle, I get a great view of the world, as well as being able to predict the future. Balancing on two wheels in whatever city, develops your attention span when it comes to external influences, such as pedestrians, animals, cars, motorbikes and other potential disasters.
In my opinion, my favourite training route runs through a particularly tricky urban location – the capital of the Lombardy region. Milan is not a city for rowers, and even less so for cyclists! But I can’t give up my bike. Because my bike is the only thing that makes me feel free and makes me realise that my body is not the only thing that gets me to the top of a mountain climb. That’s just as well, since rowing is just like cycling, but without the descents. At heart I’m a rower, who wanted a bike. So, now I cycle. Even if I’d prefer a boat with a saddle!