23 April 2007



I am going to visit friends at the Nuerburgring in Germany this weekend. Although I had not planned to drive my car around the track I have heard that it is a public road. Therefore I was wondering if the insurance of my IBM leaseplan car allows me to do a lap? I understand laps are possible without actually being part of a race.


Good afternoon,

The Nuerburgring is open for public but not a public road. It is a race track. The lease car is not insured on this race track. If you take the car on this track you take full responsibility for all damage or other cost.

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22 April 2007


So as shown in my last post I went biking last weekend. A Dutch rider, Tanja, left me a comment on this blog after I posted about Megavalanche and I emailed her asking where to go ride anything other than flat cycle paths here in the Netherlands. The short answer was to join her in a trip to the nearest bike park with a chair lift in Germany called Winterberg - just 3.5hrs drive away.

It was cracking weather and I had an awesome time. Tanja showed me around and generally proved a fun challenge to keep up with. She's sponsored by a local shop in the Netherlands so had all the gear including a brand spanking new Switch. It was great to follow her line and get a few tips about better cornering. I avoided some of the gnarlier lines she took but wasn't too far behind in the long run. I think she was holding back though, recovering from a dislocated shoulder last October!

There's one 2 man chairlift and basically 4 defined tracks down. 1 dedicated downhill track, 1 north shore run, a fun run and a 6X track. The 6X ended with a freeride park and joined either the fun run or the north shore run to the bottom. There was also a separate dirt jump section but I never made it over there.

The 6X was nuts but ridable. Full credit to anyone who completely clears the tabletops, let alone amongst 5 other people. I was tanking it and still only made it over halfway! Below is a little helmet cam footage of the 6X:

The downhill was what I rode the most, there were some tough drops on it, a harsh rock garden section and a steep slippy tree section. I rode this track a good few times and kept adding a new drop to each run but there were still 3 or 4 drops and 2 doubles where I took the chicken run instead. Something to improve on next time :-)

The north shore was tough, I only rode this a couple of times because I had to walk a fair bit! Although I did take on some drops larger than my comfort zone and I also rode a seesaw. At first I thought the seesaw was a drop so hit it too fast and pulled up on the bars to take off but as my back wheel dropped with the seesaw I manualled off the plank. Probably looked quite cool but scared the hell out of me and I nearly binned it.

The fun run was exactly that - fun. Just like one track I rode with the lads in Morzine, nearer the Les Gets side. Berm after berm after berm with the odd jump thrown in - fantastic. Here is some more helmet cam footage and I'm the guy in red right in front of the camera:

Later, I stopped to take a few shots in the freeride park. I've created animated GIFs of the best sequences shown below but Blogger is not showing them animated so click on the photos to show them animated on their own. Here's a sweet line one guy took:

Here's one wall ride:

Then Tanja showed me how to style it:

I had a go at that wall and that's how I got the photo on the previous post. But there was a bigger wall:

And a HUGE fun box:

The drops at the top of the run were pretty crazy too:

Here's a little helmet cam action of the whole freeride park including the comedy wonky bridge thing at the end:

In browsing You Tube I also found this video from someone that gives a good overview of the whole place:

So thanks to Tanja and friends for a great session. I'll be back for sure and here's all the photos:

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15 April 2007

New favourite pic

Wow! What a fantastic weekend. I'll write more when I have some energy but I couldn't resist immediately adding my new favourite photo of me taken earlier today :-)

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13 April 2007

Visitors welcome

Just a quickie to say my flatmate, Mickael, has booked a trip to Italy for the last May bank holiday weekend (25-28 May). We also get the Monday off so if anyone wants to pop over and visit then you are more than welcome. Emma can't make that weekend but the snowboard airbag will be back and I've currently got tickets for the Pinkpop festival on the Monday so be quick and I can probably get more tickets. But for now, I'm off to enjoy a sunny weekend full of beer, beats, BBQ's, boating and biking - bloody brilliant!!!

Yeeeeaaaahhhh Booooiiiii!

Tuesday night I went to see Public Enemy at the Melkweg. After trying to follow a Dutch hip hop support act, I was loving the warm up DJ spinning the likes of KRS 1. Initially Public Enemy lost a lot of credibility in my eyes when they refused to appear because an empty plastic bottle was thrown on the stage. Then after rapping over the PA system that it was "not cool" to throw things on stage they finally appeared with two burly dancers. Not a good start...

I mean come on - it was the 20th anniversary tour and what kinda hip hop band needs a choreographed act?! But it became clear later on that these two gorillas were not dancers, they were bouncers to keep an eye on the crowd. Their pathetic dancing skills, evil crowd stares and ability to hold onto the band members whilst they hovered off the end of the stage high 5'ing hoards of screaming fans was easy proof they were not for show.

Things did pick up tho and it ended up being a monstrous set. By the end of the night I could no longer jump up and down because I was that desperate for the toilet! Flava Flav is clearly a nutter. As quoted by Chuck D on the night he is "the oldest teenager in the world". Plenty of classics, including some tributes to the likes of Run DMC amongst others. The band musicians also rocked out some quality Jimi Hendrix and AC DC - even Flava Flav had a surprisingly impressive bash on the drums.

DJ Lord was quality - his scratching was fast, very very fast in his solo set. It's the first time I think I have seen/heard Final Scratch in person and I was pretty impressed the computing power of 1 laptop was all that was needed to produce those sounds at that speed. But enough of the new school, I'm looking forward to seeing the vinyl master himself tonight at Paradiso - Grand Master Flash.

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Crazy Valley 2007

As well as the Snowkayaking championships, 2 weekends ago also marked the start of the Dutch Playboat Cup. I went along camera in hand and took a few snaps on what was a glorious day.

Again it amazes me that with next to nothing the crazy Dutchies can organise a pretty good freestyle kayaking event.

Then there were two other obstacles not for the faint hearted (or more like weak backed!). A sizeable ski ramp...

...and a tow system incorporating a water ski jump ramp.

There was a comedy boatercross including bow stalls, cartwheels and obstacles. Also 2 attempts to enter the Guinness Book of Records with the longest bow stall and cartwheels.

Naturally, I was happy to stand on the bank in the sun and take pictures so I didn't compete. I have zero skill when it comes to flatwater moves, the ski ramp just looked painful.

The tow system looked fun but having already been towed behind a speedboat and over a full size water ski jump, the Dutch setup looked less inviting.

So here's the rest of the pictures in a slide show:

Below is a short collection of video clips I took showing the tow rope system and the ski jump:

This also gives me the excuse to dig out the footage of me hitting the water ski jump in the summer of 2004 in Canada. Pure comedy :-)

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03 April 2007

Nevermind, better luck next time

I return from the weekend still unranked in the world of indoor snowkayaking but victorious in my quest of having fun trying to be ranked. The whole event was comedy and I think the picture above sums up the weirdness nicely - can you spot the odd one out?! Or have you ever seen a kayak on a chair lift before like below?!

My failure to become world indoor snowkayaking began the night before in the bar as all kayaking weekends seem to here in the Netherlands:

A night in chez mathiewagon below also didn't help but by the time I had made it to getting my sleeping bag, there was no chance I was going to be able to find the room inside where everyone was sleeping.

So off I stumbled to register at 7am the next day and get some practice in beforehand. The building in the background housed the track and is the largest indoor ski centre in Europe - or was - I can't remember now? The morning was a little blurry but I do remember the 2 thoughts I had when I saw the end of the track was actually the freezing cold pool below. "Bugger, I didn't bring a spraydeck!" and "Well at least that'll sort out my hangover!"

So the track looked a little bit like a bobsleigh run as you can see from the following pictures. Below is looking up from the bottom:

Then hiking a little way up the slope you get a better view down into the finish line pool:

Then at halfway there is the DJ hut with what must've been the Dutch equivalent of Dave Pearce rolling plenty of phat ones and "Loving Detroit city" a little too much:

The view up from halfway still looked a long way to go like this:

So what was it like to ride? Well I'm going to be a bit of a bad workman here and blame my tools. A freestyle kayak, like mine, was slow. All the creeking style kayaks were faster and even if someone wiped out in a creeker, they were soon on your tail again:

The course was basically a zig zag path down the indoor piste. All the corners were banked to aid the kayaks in the right direction as expertly demonstrated below:

However, it was not always easy to point the kayak in the one direction. There was plenty of people (no doubt unintentionally!) preferring to take a more backward facing stance:

Then there were the jumps, nothing too big to induce spinal compression but certainly enough to jar you upon landing:

Again there were a few indiviauals opting to become airborn without looking at the jumps:

My favourite part the water jump finish line which did a good job of slowing you down. Without the pool, I'm sure there would've been a few through the windows and into the bar moments. Even with no spraydeck I manged to nail some decent boofs (spoofs?!) and stay relatively dry under my snowboard pants:

Not everyone went fast enough to reach the pool though, but there were plenty of volunteers more than happy to assist with an extra push!:

Most of the carnage happened at the first corner at the top. Surprisingly, only one guy was injured - it looked like a busted collarbone.

They did try to slow down the corner by putting rubber matts around and above as shown below:

But as you can see that didn't help at all!!!

So back to my ability - well I'd rather not but if you must know I didn't even make it through my heat :-( Races were in sets of 4 people and the two fastest went through to the next stage. I was third in my first heat - doh! I'll be getting my hands on a Rotobat for next time. But for proof there is a photo of me below from the website:

The Dutch guy won below and the TV was there to interview him in all his glory whilst his buddies pelted him with snowballs! All the results can now be seen on the website and I'll definitely be back next time to seek revenge.

So taking pictures of brightly coloured moving objects in bad indoor light, with a white foreground and a spotlit background definitely posed a few challenges! As you can see from my full Flickr slideshow below it took me a while to get the right settings including flash to get it kinda OK. But here's my full set:

I also took some very very short video footage which is not that good as I was holding my SLR camera in the other hand. The TV crew did a much better job and I grabbed their content online as well so here is footage of the previous days practice:

And here is the actual event itself:

There's also going to be a bunch of other photos and videos on the official website here

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