15 May 2007

Bored and like photos?

Bored and like photos, well try this


13 May 2007

Professional riders only

Just a quickie to say that although this weekend has been a quiet one, mainly due to a 6am Friday night out here, but I have still be out and about recently.

This week the weather has taken a turn for the worst. After 7 weeks of glorius sunshine, it's been a wet and windy week. However, that has meant the surf has been up. So I was out for a session in my kayak after work on Weds with a local club. I never thought I'd ever be able to say "Last night I went surfing" after moving to Amsterdam! Nowt special but enough for a bounce and a blunt plus I got a good backstab. The water was surprisingly warm so I'll be out again once the waves come back up. I've been missing the boating but for next year I've spotted a Corsica trip with the Europagaai guys or maybe I'll get lucky with a Grand Canyon lottery application if I can be bothered to follow the long registration process.

But I am loving the biking as of late. Last weekend I made a trip back to Winterberg and had a great time pushing myself. I didn't nail the wall like last time as it was a bit erroded. There was a gap between the top of the berm and the bottom of the wall which I didn't fancy negotiating!

However, I was much faster down the downhill and nailed a few lines I hadn't done before. I was also racing off the smaller drops so went to the freeride park to step it up a bit more. Remember these drops?

Well, this time I noticed there is a sign before them that states "Professional Riders Only". Not sure why it is in English but then perhaps it is ony the stupid English that bust themselves. So being the stupid Englishman that I am I decided to give them a go.

I naturally started at the bottom on the smallest drop but was soon to find that the run out slope was perfectly designed - it was smooth as. So I nailed the smallest one 3 times to get the confidence going then stepped up to the next size which had a slight downwards slant to it. This helped adding more speed to my nervous attempts. 3 goes at that one got my heart pumping and I was walking up and down the next size up trying to muster up some bottle.

A few skips on my shuffle found a suitable track and I attacked the head height drop with everything I had. Which wasn't quite enough, I landed less than perfect but survived to ride it out. Unhappy with my attempt I gave it some more wellie and hucked another go. Much better. To prove that wasn't just luck I gave it a third go and was stoked with another clean line. No pics or video of me but here's a guy from the last time I went:

I knew that was my limit for that day. The 4th drop is a good couple of feet higher and I think it will take some abusive friends wanting to see me crash to get me fired up for that one. But I'm not ruling it out for the future...

We may all be getting older and with the thirties around the corner it's a nice feeling that I can still scare myself but then push myself to overcome those fears in order to progress.

Well 3 day week this week at work and I have a Weds evening ferry booked to get me back to the UK to see Emma for a long weekend. It can't come quick enough plus I also get to pick up my new toy :-)

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So a couple of weekends ago I met up with Peach and friends at the Nürburgring in Germany. An ex Formula 1 racetrack with lots of history. Now it opens up the 20km north loop track to punters for ragging their own cars around.

As you can see from a previous post, I was advised that any laps undertaken in my own car would be at my own risk. So I was more than happy just to be a spectator. Yeah right!

When I arrived there was a VLN race in progress that happens every few weeks. Here's some video footage:

I've never watched a car race live before and it certainly fired me up for having a spin around the track myself - against the advice of my insurance company. After the race, Nick Heidfeld, took his BMW F1 car around for a few laps. Apparently a big deal cos that's not happened in something like 30 years.

Then we all jumped in our cars to the tracks entry toll gates. I was really fired up for a spin but it was probably a good thing that the track was closed for the day. That evening was an evening of steak frites, many German weissbier's and stupid tired laughter after a long day of travelling. The conversation soon deteriorated into developing a business plan for creating Nurburg's first stripclub to be called "Driveshaft". Helmet and ring gags were a plenty. World domination was contemplated by opening Bangors Driveshaft for the Angelsey race track punters. It was time to go to bed when special guests Ruth Maddock and Sue Pollard were brought to the table... But I guess you had to be there.

We awoke to the sound of another GT3 purring down the street to the track. Helmets polished and at the ready we headed for the track. Sorry, I'll try not to mention helmets any more!

I was certainly more nervous in the morning. The amount of traffic was crazy, Ferraris, Audis, Mercs, BMW's, Bentleys and the ringtool of choice a Porsche. And after the previous nights conversation of crashes and costs of barrier repairs and S2000 avoidance had put me off. So to get the adrenaline pumping I went out with Tom and his Clio Cup. Awesome, the track is long and sooo hilly. There is not much vision in front of you because there are so many blind corners and crests. Then add the crazy other drivers and motorbike riders, it is easy to see how you spend more time looking in your mirrors than forwards!

Returning to the entry/exit point, wild horses could not have stopped me from having a spin in my own car. And I was glad to see there was a VW Sharan people carrier in the queue! So off I trotted to get my wagon - aircon off, passensgers airbag off, engine warmed up, seat adjusted, steering wheel adjusted and set to "sports" mode (WTF?), radio off - didn't think I was going to need the Firestarter to get me going. And off I went.

Unfortunately for 50% of the way round the track I was stuck behind a 206CC. I was going faster but the bastard would not let me pass. Yet I was not going fast enough to overtake quickly enough to be safe before some supercar spanked into the back of me. But we came to the infamous Karoussel corner and the 206CC wuss went high so I dumped it down a notch and took the banked apex. Such a sweet feeling going around the banked corner overtaking hanging on for dear life. I felt like a world champion! Here's a few pics including Bod flying round the Karussell ->

Once I was free I zoomed around the next few corners only to slam the anchors behind a full sized 55 seater coach. Where the hell did that come from?! Apparently, you can take a bus round as a tourist! I joined the queue of maybe 6 cars behind the bus until the car behind me booted it past them all. So I followed. Yay more overtaking! Just called me Schumacher.

However, at the end of the run I was most glad that I had not bought three laps. 1 was definitely enough, the chance of spanking it was high, the cost of such scary high. I heard it was about €15,000 to €20,000 to repair barriers and get towed off, add the cost of my own car repairs as I was uninsured, the cost of maybe other car repairs (I bet replacing a Ferrari wing costs a few bob) and running over a biker can't be cheap either!

So I chilled out for the rest of the day, checking out the car porn in the car park and eating ice cream. But I did manage a spin as a passenger in Bods Mini which was class.

Cheers gents for a top weekend, here's the pics - watch out for the sticker I now have on my number plate!

click here to view photo slideshow in Flickr

And some video footage I found whilst browsing around. Here's a selection of vids that show how busy it can be and a good on board video footage of the whole track.

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07 May 2007

Queensday 2007

As you may have guessed from my previous but one post I went to the Nürburgring to catch up with Peach. Well I've been mincing around drafting a blog update gathering the best pics and vids that it's just taking too long so watch this space for that later.

What I can put up now is the photos of Koninginnedag (Queensday). A national holiday in the Netherlands last Monday to celebrate the Queens birthday. Basically an all day festival and the city of Amsterdam goes mad for it.

I was lucky enough to spend a good few hours of it on Nic and Estelle's boat - cheers guys! It was like the M25 in rush hour on the canals, thousands of boats but it was much better than braving the zillions of pedestrians lining the streets.

It was amusing chugging along past all the monster party boats all competing for the loudest sound system. I took some good snaps whilst sipping back the beers until I entered a world of pain. Funnily enough there is no such thing as a floating toilet on canals and plenty of police around to bust you for doing so where you shouldn't. I came close to crying before Nic pulled over and I was able to let out the most pleasurable sigh of relief in my life.

Back on it, able to beer top up even more, the boat toddled off to the boat shed and I boarded land in search of the best party. I caught up with Kerry and Liz, who were definitely in the orange spirit of things.

After a bit of crusing the streets we ended up in a bar with nice beer garden (poshly called a terrace here) converted into a stage. The dancing began, the drinking continued and the rest of the evening becomes a little blurry. But I was home at 4am and going to work was lovely experience the following day :-(

Somehow my camera survived and I've got some nice shots of revellers. Watch out for the pics when I managed to convince Kerry to jump on stage with the Jon Bon Jovi wannabe. Yet another reason for nearly wetting myself!

click here to view photo slideshow in Flickr

And here's another poor effort on the video camera, but it least it shows how busy the canals were:

click here to view video in Google

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02 May 2007

Summer lurvin

So the past few weeks has really become the start of the summer. I had a mad weekend this weekend and will post more about that later but here's a few snaps from the previous weekend showing that summer is definitely arriving

View Photo Slideshow in Flickr

And everyone is out enjoying it, the Vondelpark is a buzz of people at the mo, cycling, skating, playing football or just chilling. I hope it lasts...

View Video in Google

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