Guten tag! We’re here in Breisach, an old fortified town on the German-French border. We’re training here for two weeks as we prepare for World Cup #2 in Lucerne, Switz. The Rhine River forms the physical boundary between Germany and France, so we have the pleasure of sharing the river with rowers from the “Ruderverein” on the right bank, and the “Club Nautique” on the left bank. Quite the international rowing experience!
The Upper Rhine is a beautiful place to row—miles and miles of wide, flat water, with nothing to worry about except the occasional territorial swan. (The shipping barges and the cruise ships run on the parallel “Grand Canal D’Alsace”, as our section is a little too shallow).
I often have to remind myself that this is a “business trip”, not a “tourist vacation.” With only five weeks until Naming Date, it’s more important than ever to train hard, recover well, and stay healthy. It could be hard to stay focused in a foreign country, where we’re surrounded by interesting attractions and sights and foods and people and adventures… it’s a testament to Team USA’s focus and dedication that we’re keeping our inner tourists under control! So on our afternoon off, instead of catching a dinner cruise downriver, or exploring the nearby woods, or going on a taste-testing tour of Breisach’s gelato shops, I took a two-hour nap. Zzzzzz.
That being said, the short drive to/from the boathouse provides many interesting sights. Although WWII wreaked havoc upon the town, there are still old structures and buildings from centuries ago. Our hotel is literally across the street from Breisach’s trademark attraction: St. Stephansmünster, the cathedral overlooking the town. And last weekend’s “Hamburger Fischmarkt” was definitely an interesting cultural experience: the salesmen loudly promoted/auctioned/sold their respective products to the crowds from their loudspeaker-equipped trucks (alas, the language barrier made it impossible for us to figure out what was going on… and made it that much more intriguing!). Combine a grocery store with a flea market, add five loud auctioneers with microphones, throw in a beer-and-bratwurst tent, and viola! you have the Hamburger Fischmarkt.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to row here. The water (beautiful!), the boats (brand-new!), the weather (tumultously spring-like), the people (friendly), the food (aaaah! so yummy!)—everything so far has made for a productive and enjoyable training experience. We’re only here for a few more days, then we’ll make the drive down to Switzerland for our final preparations for the World Cup. Go Team USA!
I posted many more photos on my Facebook album. Check it out!
In the meantime, some interesting items:
– A Huffington Post article about the US Men’s Eight, as they prepare for the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta (aka “The Regatta of Death”)
– A good friend sent me this interesting essay… whimsical and fun, and totally applicable to our training!
– Taylor Ritzel’s update on the National Rowing Foundation blog! www.nationalrowingfoundation.wordpress.com