28 January 2007


I love riding my bike, but I've never entered a race. Why? Well I don't see the need to race against the clock. But I'm always racing against my buddies when out on the trail. That's why the Megavalanche caught my eye in a magazine recently.

700+ riders on a mass start at the snowy top of a mountain all the way down for about an hour to the finish line. I found the following pictures of last years event and I'm really keen on going this July if I can convince anyone crazy enough to go with me!

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27 January 2007

Bye bye Emma - come back soon!

I dropped Emma off at the airport this morning :-( She's been here all week and although my new work project has been busy, we had a great time together. Culminating last night in nice nosh at Bar 11, which is a restaurant/bar/nightclub situated on the top 11th floor of the old post office headquarters building over looking the whole Amsterdam cityscape.

Last weekend Emma and I went Skiing to Garmisch. I used some left over Marriott points to stay in the swanky Riessersee hotel which was needed as there was not much snow about. Only the glacier was open but as I thought I'd give skiing a go for the first time that was all I needed! Emma also hadn't skied for 13 years so there was a few bum sliding moments but in all in we were blasting down the red runs confidently by the end of the second day. Emma was a little slower but stayed on her feet more, I was a bit speedier but normally ended up on my arse at some point. Think I can count the number of runs I made without stacking it on one hand!

Can't say I'll be going back to Garmsich tho. We were blessed with blue sky on Saturday but because of the recent storms the gondola was closed. Top that with the fact the Garmisch was the only place within miles that had snow because of the high (2600m+) glacier and the train ride to the top was a nightmare. Hundreds of people crammed in a train which quite cooly wound it's way up and then through the mountain. But queuing for nearly an hour, then about the same time again on the train was not fun. It was even worse coming down, even after taking the rental shop owners advice of stopping at the top for food and beer in the restaurant. Up top the conditions were not bad for skiing, good grippy hard packed snow and we spent all of the time on the first day on the 3 blue runs by the park as shown in the picture below:

The second day was thankfully quieter with a little fresh overnight snow and an open cable car. This cut the journey up time to under an hour but still not as much fun as ski in ski out accommodation. Visibility was poorer so no pictures to take except for the top cable car station to show how cold (-8) it was and the power of the recent icy storms:

This day we ventured off the blue runs and onto the reds to make use of the only chair lift running. Everything else was T bars :-( The fresher snow and the longer runs helped our performance and there were a couple of runs without falling over with some fast speeds that personally I wasn't feeling in control of!

The last day I chose to snowboard to keep up the practice for joining the boys in Whistler in February. With no new snow, crusty wind beaten off piste, damn T bars and limited terrain area available, I actually wished I was back on the ski's. But hey we still had a good giggle and although it is technically possible to get a skier and a snowboarder on the same T bar, it is best to go separately unless you want to spend the whole journey up trying not to collide with each other!

Ah well safe journey babe and next time in March won't be so adventurous with my parents visiting at the same time...

Here's the full set of pics ->

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18 January 2007

Isn't this weather awesome?

I was walking to the cash machine tonight to load up for the weekend and had to cross the street cos the floor was littered in roof tiles. Didn't fancy one of them spanking me on the head. Then I noticed across the canal that one of the lampost lights was hanging by it's thread. I trust it's just as crazy in the UK at the mo?

Funny thing the weather though. What with the lack of snow in the European Alps, the freezing of Californian motorways, the best kayaking season I've seen in the UK and the obscene amount of Whistler snow - what's in store for the summer?! Kinda cool how we can't control it though and I can't remember who but might've been some famous mountaineer once said that "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad choices in clothing"

Well this weekend I'm glad the storm is here hopefully bringing some snow as I'll be in Garmsich in Germany with Emma skiing for the first time so should be a laugh. The board will be with me in case it really dumps though. But with the storm comes the wind which I hope doesn't close the resort lifts or even worse cancels Emma's flight :-(

And yes there really is a mountain called mount wank!

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14 January 2007

The Chemical Brothers are coming

I just bought two tickets for The Chemical Brothers in Amsterdam for Friday 29th June so if anyone fancies joining us you'd better get tickets fast from here before they sell out. Visitors from afar welcome as I'm sure I can find floor space somewhere for you. Looks like this is the start of a new tour so will hopefully be the launch of a new album? Go-on push the button...

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1913km to Austria just for a weekend in the snow

Last weekend I went snowboarding in Austria. Not often that you get to say that but hey! I summarised the trip in a previous blog post but here's a little more waffle, the photos and a short video clip.

I drove all the way from Amsterdam and picked up Peach along the way at Frankfurt Hahn airport. It had been snowing the most of the week but we didn't firm plans until Thursday. I searched on Couchsurfing for a host for Friday, whilst Peach got a last minute flight out of Stansted and boy did we land on our feet. Denise and her family put us up for the whole weekend and we could not have found a nicer host.

After ragging it through Germany on Friday night with the foot to the floor we arrived in Austria at about midnight to be greeted by Denise and two options. 1) A house party at a mates place or 2) hit the town. Our idea of a decent nights kip went out the window as the thought of a cold one after the long drive became the preference!

So off we trotted into town to find that all Austrian bars close their doors at 1am for noise polution or sommat. So Denise suggested a place she called a "Drum and Bass" club, intrigued we followed her into an underground car park where there was a burly guy standing by a door in the corner. A smile got us through the door and we found our way to the bar greeted by the Chemical Brothers and Block Rocking Beats. It was like a scene from a music video and from that point onwards I knew we were in for a cracking weekend.

Not content on the one nightclub we left and caught a minibus that wound it's way up a mountain valley to another nightclub. I guess up there they can be as loud as they like. More drinking, a little head bobbing and we thought we'd better call it a night at 4am.

Alarms were on for 8am but it was actually Denise that got us up cos we ignored the alarm clock! Feeling dog rough we made it to Silvretta Nova to be greeted by bluebird conditions and some fresh to be had after the weeks snowing. Friday would've been the best day cos come the end of the day everywhere was pretty tracked out. The adrenaline rush of the first snowboarding of the season that kept us alive but come lunch time we were bogged. A huge feed was ordered but hardly touched it and Denise got a round of schnapps in to see if that would help. It didn't help Peach who made a swift exit to the toilet ;-)

A full afternoon of some speedy descents and the fastest I have ever been off piste was had but come 4pm we were ready to hit the car park. We agreed that we'd go a little easier that night so not to feel like we did now for the journey home.

Mmmm Steak-frites followed with great beer in Denises home town Dornbirn and thankfully Denise was also worn out so the evening was spent chilling at home. Although not without plenty of visitors, more beer, nuts, chocolates and conversations about pubs (parbs!) and the Queen.

Sunday we went to another resort called Damuls - one of the resorts Denise has a season pass for. She wasn't too happy about the conditions as it was wet, well the bottom half of the mountain was in rain whilst the top was snowing. Except for the low visibility, I loved the conditions as the snow was soft and forgiving, albeit a little slower. So Peach and I were more confident about leaping about the place and trying some new tricks - especially Peach on his new freestyle board. I had a superb day landing way more 180's, both regular and switch, than I have ever done in my whole life. I also bagged a 360 (well more like a hard carved 270) of a mogul and attempted a crazy roof drop.

So checkout the photos below and the video at the end of the roof drop ->

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13 January 2007

Double back flip

I've started a new project in Amsterdam for the cable TV company UPC - similar to NTL in the UK. Whilst I was waiting to meet my new boss in the reception I was watching the extreme sports channel and saw the following video. Crazy!!!

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New Years Eve pictures

Here's a few pictures from my New Years Eve with Emma and friends in York. After a heavy night before I was feeling rough so didn't quite manage as much booze as the girls. So therefore I could get all incriminating evidence on film! Twister with 5 drunk good looking girls is not such a bad way to bring in the new year eh?! Then we all headed to York Minster for the Bells. Shame I had to leave at 10am the next day to make my ferry back to Amsterdam :-(

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Christmas Pictures

Here's a few photos from Christmas with the family near Irvine in Scotland. Firstly, Mum, Dad and my bro Neil. Then Bill my Dad's brother, wife May, sons Colin and Graham and daughter Lindsay who we all went to see on Boxing day nearer Glasgow. We had a laugh playing Buzz - a funny game show quiz for the Playstation.

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12 January 2007

Aalsmeer Bloemenveileng (Flower Market)

Waaaaaaay before Christmas, I went with Mickael to the HUGE flower market where he works. For two reasons really, to take a few pictures and gasp at how massive this place is and secondly to stock up and get in the good books with Emma and Mum over Xmas! To get an appreciation of the size of this place I quote from the website:

Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer is a prominent link in the international chain of flower and plant sales. An average of 20 million flowers and 2 million plants change hands every day within a surface area of 1 million m2. These are supplied by more than 5400 growers world-wide, and bought by 1100 wholesalers and exporters. Within a couple of hours they are exported to almost every country in the world. Aalsmeer Flower Auction’s market share is 45%. Our 1800 employees achieved an annual turnover of 1.7 billion euro.

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11 January 2007

I am in love with an ugly woman...

No I am not talking about our Emma but tonight I saw The Magic Numbers at Paradiso here in Amsterdam and they were fantastic. I've never been so blown away by the voice of a woman like I was tonight. The shorter lass was amazing, just standing there hands in pockets belting it out sounding truly beautiful. It wasn't just me that thought so - she got a huge cheer everytime she sung solo. And was so bashful about it all - zero ego. Amazingly beautiful sound. But don't get me wrong they are one hairy band!

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08 January 2007

Austria is not so far...

1913 km
€90 diesel
About 10 beers
2 x ski resorts
1 x minibus ride to middle of nowhere banging nightclub
Sun, rain, fog and snow
1 x cracking host family
1 x awesome house with own guest bed/smoking/drinking/music/dvd room
No understanding of lots of people
1 x banging hungover headache
1 x well appreciated and shared camelback
1 x dodgy underground carpark entrance to drum and bass nightclub
1 x mate not seen in a while
1 x 4am bedtime
1 x 1am
2 x 8am rises
1 x middle of nowhere German airport
Several F'king Germans
Multiple faceplants
0 x roadmaps
1 x GPS system
1 x return route somehow different to outbound route?!
1 x way out of control off piste descent
2 x shots of snaps
Several backside and switch frontside 180's
1 x "I'm sure we've got time for one more run" quote
1 x 2hr early flight checkin and a "Could've had loads more runs" quote
1 x backside 360
1 x bottled not fast enough attempt at jumping over a railing then off a roof
1 x scary too fast successful attempt at clearing said railing by too far and landing on the flat :-(
2 x sore knees
1 x repacking and weight distribution of wet baggage session
1 x rigged weigh in of wet gear bag
Several packs of jaffa cakes, bananas, and litres of water to stay awake on journey
0 x piste maps
2 x lift tickets
1 x fantastically cool chick for future "Has it been snowing this week?" contact

= an unbelievably amazing weekend!!!

Pictures and video of the over the railing roof drop to follow but thought I'd better let the mother know I am still alive after my mad idea to see if I could get to Austria to snowboard for just a weekend. But busy the next few nights so probably no write up till the weekend. ttfn

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05 January 2007


I really like the image below that I got from the Howies website a while back. Last night reminded me of it as I was packing for a weekend of who knows what is going to happen?! I managed to sort out a couch to surf in the mountains of Austria. The ski resort St Anton is about an hour away but I may go somewhere else at my hosts recommendation. Somehow Peach also thought it was a good idea to join me and got a last minute bargain flight from London. So all I have planned for the weekend is that I have to pick up Peach from some dodgy German airport in the middle of nowhere and continue to my host's house arriving about 1am. From then on - who knows but I have packed plenty of bedding for kipping down in the back of the car if it all goes belly up!!! Plus a cheeky bottle of Tequila to celebrate if the weekend is a success ;-) To quote Mr Preacher - "DANGER!!!"


03 January 2007

Happy New Year!!!

So I'm back in Amsterdam after a great time back in the UK. I've got photos of the family and NYE with Emma in York to upload soon but thought I'd first add the BMX photos and DJ Yoda video that I promised in my pre-Christmas message.

I'll add my new photos once I get a spare moment cos it's been snowing all week in the Alps and I've got an itch to head that way this weekend. I've been couchsurfing tonight and emailed loadsa people to see if they'll put me up after the 8hr drive to get there. We'll see what happens there and I'll watch one more final weather report tomorrow night before making my final decision. "Should I stay or should I go now?" - name that tune and who sings it? It's stuck in my head!

So here's the DJ Yoda video. I saw him in Melkweg before xmas as part of the Flatground competition. He was not bad, a little slow to get the crowd going but got there in the end. I really liked it when he combined Scooby Doo images with the Thriller music video by Michael Jackson :-)

And here's all of the Flatground pics that I took. There's over 200 so if you like you can click any picture to be taken directly to my flickr account to browse through them quicker.

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