Wednesday, 26 May 2010

63. Trois Rivières

25th May 2010. Yesterday morning I found my way down to the clubhouse of Aviron Bayonnais, the other rowing club situated in the heart of Bayonne on the Nive. I'd signed up to row on the final day of their annual Trois Rivières event during which rowers tackle the Gave, the Adour and the Nive over a 3 day period - starting with 22kms on the Saturday, then 32km (ouch!) on the Sunday, followed by the final 20km flog up and down the Nive on the Monday. Clubs from all over France were represented - the furthest having travelled from Metz, situated just a few km from the Franco-German border in the north east..! I'd only returned to rowing 2 days before with a short outing on the Saturday having had an enforced 6 month break due to a few knee problems so yesterday's outing was still by way of a refresher (ahem!).

The club was a hive of activity as the rowers gathered together and boats were prepared to be put in the water. There must have been 20 or 30 'fours' and the chaos at the start was in true anarchic French style! The two of us from my club were teamed up with a couple from Avignon and it worked quite well.
While I really enjoy rowing on the wide open spaces of the mighty Adour (above), it has to be said that the winding Nive (below) is far more picturesque.. The town of Bayonne is built around the confluence of the two rivers.
This chap has the right idea..!
We did about 20km in the scorching heat (three times the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race distance) - think it must have been about 25C or more - and I finished up ab-so-lute-ly whacked from the heat and with blisters all over my unhardened hands.. I think I may have been overly ambitious for my come-back row! But fortunately - France being France - things didn't stop there..!
After pulling all the boats back out of the water and rinsing them off, we returned to the clubhouse for a welcome shower and change and then it was upstairs to the stylish bar/restaurant (below) that overlooked the river.. for an 'apero'.. (that's Bayonne Cathedral in the background) This was the first time I'd been in a rowing club anywhere where there was a dedicated bar just for serving champagne.. in addition to the more usual bar.
The first cold beer was a life-saver.. so I had a couple more just to be on the safe side.. After a short speech by Gérard (le très génial responsable), who'd organised everything all so well, a Basque male voice choir sang some stirring Basque songs which had us all on our feet and then it was time for another apero which the club offered to all 120 of us - champagne..! (only in France!) Then the serious business of the day started - it was time to eat. Between courses, the choir kept us entertained with some more marvellous singing and all too soon it was 3.30 and time to disperse..

I'm still shattered.. I'm supposed to be rowing again this evening but I still haven't decided on that yet..


Eva said...

This was really funny to me! My husband is French and loves rugby, so Aviron Bayonnais is only the rugby team and the restaurant a place where I've seen tall rugbymen.... very interesting to see that it can also be about rowing.... yes, logical, but not to me!!!!

Pipérade said...

No mystery.. Aviron Bayonnais started out as a breakaway rowing club from Societe Nautique de Bayonne (SNB) in 1905 (I think) and the other sports (such as rugby) all grew from that.. but they kept the original name.
There are quite a few of us tall rowers there too! Glad you enjoyed it..