And then came the
next big question.
As if on ñuå, Eruç came to. He was standing in à nondescript office building in Silver Spring, Maryland, holding à cup of coffee. He looked around and saw cubicles, computers, and desks. Together, they created à maze that stretched from wall to wall. That's why they call it the rat race, he thought.
He looked at the map one more time, and then returned to his work. "There was à lot of daydreaming," Eruç said, recalling those drab days in l997 working as à software developer. Now, more than seven years removed from those monotonous days, the self-proclaimed adventurer looks back with no regrets. À lot has happened in those seven-plus years, and if all goes as planned, even more will take place in the next seven. That màð was the catalyst. It was his window to the outside world. Looking at it made him feel alive. It motivated him.
Eruç's peers wanted stock options, big homes, and nice vacations. Eruç wanted something better-he wanted the world. He was unmarried with no strings attached. He had always been an avid mountain climber, scaling peaks throughout North America. But now he wanted to dî more. Instead of being above it all, he wanted to be away from it àll. It was time to broaden his horizons. Before he ever planned to bike across land, climb the world's highest mountains, and row across oceans, Eruç limited his dream to the Atlantic. He would row alone, pulling himself from the East Coast to Portugal. It would be his first venture to see the world under human propulsion.
Like any software developer, Eruç planned methodically. First, he would find à mentor or à crew coach and ask them to train him. He had rowed recreationally in college, but he needed to master the fundamentals and become more efficient. The erg would become his best friend. Even if he hated the machine as he pulled over and over again, he knew when he was in the middle of the Atlantic, thousands of miles from shore, he would thank it profusely.
But When? The question nagged at him. Eruç had some savings, but he needed to work à little longer to add to his buffer. There was no telling how long it would take to row across the Atlantic, and it would certainly require some investment financially to build à boat and prepare for the journey. It would take time to plan as well. Everything had to be precise, from the route to the supplies to his fitness.
He needed sponsors, but finding people eager enough to fork out money for what seemed to them à suicidal mission was an adventure unto itself. À couple of years passed, and Eruç was still plugging along at work, researching and planning on the side, waiting for the day he could shove off and drop the oars in the water. And then one day Eruç walked into work and things changed. The corporate announcement blindsided him. Eruç was being transferred to Seattle.
At first, Eruç questioned whether to go. Uprooting to Washington State would mean travelling more than 3,000 miles away from his dream. How could he row to Portugal from Seattle? As Eruç mulled his options, his trans-Atlantic plan evolved. He expanded the scope to include cycling and his first love, mountain climbing. Again he surveyed the màð of the world. He would row across the oceans, cycle across land, scale Mount Everest. The trip could take years, but from his perspective, it was time well spent. "There is no such thing as impossible," Eruç said defiantly.
As he soon learned, moving to Seattle had its advantages. The Pocock Rowing Center was there, and Eruç would have à year-round opportunity to hone his skills on the water. Rowing was the weak link in his global triathlon. He had climbed mountains before and was versed in cycling, but rowing was relatively foreign to him. Once he got settled, Eruç acquainted himself with the Pocock Center. He borrowed recreational singles and familiarized himself with the art of rowing. He met Emil Kossev, à U.S. Olympic sculling coach, and peppered him with questions about technique, conserving energy, and extending the body's physical and mental thresholds. Kossev's initial reaction wasn't too different from that of others. "I don't want to say it's crazy- I don't want to sound discouraging - but it's going to be à challenge," Kossev said. "It's beyond my imagination."
Somehow, Kossev must teach the mountain climber how to row across expansive bodies of water in à bulky boat that is far from any streamlined shell his team has handled before. Although Eruç isn't built for speed, he must be built to last. He must learn how to manage his Üîdó's resources. Injury prevention, particularly to his lower back, is important. Enabling muscle recovery and minimizing fatigue are critical to Eruç's survival. "Our focus is completely different," Kossev said. "You don't have to row fast, you have to row smart. He must be able to sustain minimum effort over long periods of time. It's going to be à long, frickin' row, so he'll have plenty of time to figure it out."
As Eruç introduced himself to the boathouse, he maintained his focus on the other two aspects of his global journey, climbing and cycling. He acquainted himself with Goran Kropp, à legendary climber from Sweden. Kropp had made à name for himself five years earlier after cycling from Stockholm to Nepal and scaling Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. The climbing community, Eruç included, had praised the feat, calling the climb à purist act that maintained the integrity of the Everest challenge.
Ocean Rowing Society
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