Winter training

A few years ago, I was a regular competitive Angler. I would spend my days on the banks of a river, canal or lake, come rain or shine. Back then people used to tell me I was crazy. That I should spend my days in the warmth and get a new hobby.

These days, I spend my time ON a river, canal or lake. It’s progression, but definitely in the wrong direction! As a rower, we go out in all weathers. Well, nearly all. We don’t go out in electrical storms or when the river is completely iced over!

Yesterday, I was due to train with Huntingdon Ladies as they’ve asked me to fill in for an injury ahead of their Cambridge Winter League race next week. When we got to the boat club, it was -8c and the river was 90% frozen, so we didn’t go out.

Apparently it was -10c in St Neots yesterday at 8.30am and yet the open water swimmers still went out! With the water temperature at 1c, I think they take the prize for being the craziest!

This morning it was a balmy -1c when I arrived at St Neots. We have a Ladies 8 preparing for a number of Head races coming up. The first, the Head of the Trent (6K) is just a fortnight away and they were in need of a cox. Yes, I volunteered.

Luckily with plenty of layers on, it was just my toes and face which felt it most keenly. It was a brilliant outing but with a small amount of ice navigation required. Staying away from the edge, I managed to navigate the boat through the open, clear water but by 10am, the ice was breaking away from the edges.

When we turned near the club house for the first time, there was a strange sound. As we stopped, we realised the sound was coming from the mass of ice next to us. I can only describe the sound as magical. I’ve never heard anything like it before, but as the ice broke up and gently brushed against the block next to it, it seemed to sing.

We’re one of the only clubs near by with a river that isn’t frozen so we’ve had Peterborough and Star Rowing Clubs training this weekend. During the second turn, one of the other crews out shouted to us to stop. I halted the crew and asked what the problem was and they shouted simply, ‘ice’.

We drifted and there was the familiar clunk as we hit the side of a drifting plate of ice. Our coach on the safety launch pulled back and helped to guide us out.

A small amount of careful navigation later and we were clear. As we travelled down the river, there were only one or two plates of ice, but I could see from the thickness that we wouldn’t want to hit them!

Nice cup of warm coffee, boiling hot shower and lots of layers to now warm my poor cold bones.

Here’s to warming up! Summer training can’t come soon enough.

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