As 2020 draws to a close, it is unavoidable to reflect on the difference twelve months can make. This time last year, buoyed by our successes at the Docklands Head, Ken, John and I competed at the British Rowing Indoor
Championships at the Lee Valley Velodrome. The venue was packed and as John and I joined now departed Curlew Anne-Marie and hopefully-just-in-hiatus Jess in the chaotic melee that is the mixed relay, social distancing would have been an alien concept.

However, life goes on and with a now familiar spirit, British Rowing vowed the show must also go on. And it did, from our spare rooms, garages and in my case, kitchen. We had a dry run of this format in early summer in the British Virtual Champs and four of us returned; the aforementioned Ken, John and me and a willing recruit from the longest L2R ever, Steve. Joining us was the frankly masochistic Felix who appears to do about 40k on his erg each day before breakfast.

John was first up with an impressive and well deserved sub-7 2k to take 32nd out of 59 in the M50. I followed with a better than expected 7:04 in the M40 and Steve coupled Radiohead and high rating to good effect in the LM50. No surprises there. Felix was the real deal with 2nd in his heat and an even-paced 6:37 backing up a water outing before lunch. Sunday morning was sprint time. John set a target for me with 1:32 which I knew I couldn’t match on current fitness. But I was wrong and pulled out a sub 1:31 PB. Felix followed with a 1:29. One for me to aim for next year.

We closed out in traditional fashion with the relay. It was time to get the band back together again. No seat swapping in this format though. All of us raced concurrently in a 1k and despite a mini technical glitch for me,
we again held off our closest rivals Broxbourne and cracked open early beers. A fabulous event, but I hope to see BRIC21 back at the Velodrome and with many more of you taking part.

-Jon Cole.

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