Rowing training camp

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while, and finally have gotten around to downloading the photos. (My wife’s photos; she’s the photographer in the family.)

Thames Rowing Club spent just over a week in Temple-sur-Lot, France, which is about a 90-minute drive southeast of Bordeaux. The area is apparently well known for its pears and prunes. This year was my second training camp with the senior squad; I spent two years on the novice squad which had a four-day camp in Devon in southwest England.

Training camp involves at least three outings a day, and often concludes with an additional stretching/core stability/general pain session. The outings are fairly long, and are often filled with “pieces.” You can pretty much eat as much as you want and you won’t gain weight with the kind of training you do on camp. I generally got eight hours of sleep a night, and also caught an hour or so nap just to let my body recover in the middle of the day.

This year our new coach (Lubo) added something else to camp; evening entertainment. Instead of a few drinks at the pub (standard Brits on holiday routine, even at a training camp), each squad was responsible for entertainment one night of the week. The women kicked things off with a games night, where we had wheelbarrow races, passed oranges under our chins, and also had a clothes-swapping race between a male and female member of each team!

The men followed with “The Y Factor,” after the British hit show “The X Factor,” which is very similar to Pop Idol/American Idol. I was part of a three-man team that did the “You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling,” Top Gun-style. The novices did a piss-take of the coaches and a pub quiz.

We also organised an evening’s dinner at a local restaurant. It doesn’t have a Michelin star anymore, but did just a few years ago. The food was fantastic, and the views were incredible. It’s situated at the top of a ridge, and the sun set across the valley from us while we were eating. It was fantastic!

Not all of camp was brilliant. The weather was grey and cloudy for about four/five days. The dam that keeps the water level stable had to be lowered for a few days (supposedly because of rain upstream?) and that actually prevented us from rowing for a day and a half, which was very frustrating. We couldn’t get the boats down to the water safely, and even if we could have, logs the size of telephone poles were coming down the river. Luckily the coaches found plenty of other things to keep us going. Long runs and seriously hard-core cycling kept our legs quite tired until we could get back on the water.

The final thing I have to say about training camp is that the last night is legendary. At that point we’re all done with rowing, the boats are washed, cleaned and tied down to the trailer for the trip back, and we’re largely packed to go home. There is nothing left except to get completely and totally pissed. Then…. well… what goes on camp, stays at camp.

More photos are below for your curiosity/enjoyment.

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