Thursday, February 23, 2006

New bike

Work, biking and running about have filled my last couple of weeks. Fergal, John, Mel and I are (hopefully) going to partake in an Adventure Race towards the end of March so we have been doing a little bit of training. Last Friday five of us (including Alan) went for a four hour night walk over the Dublin mountains. It was very nice and the night wasn't too cold.

Another thing that I did over the last while was pick up another bike. And yes, it does have a different purpose then my other one. It's a Specialized S-Works Enduro - it is about 65% a downhill bike, but it will also ride up the hill quiet well. I've ridden it for about 200 miles at this point and it's been a lot of fun. It's easily the most fun bike I've ever ridden. You can fly down hills that I'd never think of taking a hardtail down. The component highlights (as well as a picture) are below:

The Frame - M5 Enduro FSR frame
Rear Shock - Fox DHX Air 5.0 with 150mm travel
Fork - Fox 36RC2 Talas, 110-150mm travel
Brakes - Shimano M-965 XTR, hydraulic disc, 8" XT rotor
Brake Leavers - Shimano XT
Front Derailleur - Shimano M-960 XTR
Rear Derailleur - SRAM X.0
Shift Leavers - SRAM X-0, carbon Trigger :)
Cassette - Shimano M960 XTR
Chain - XTR
Crankset - Custom Truvativ Stylo with Black Spire Stinger shift guide
Wheels - DT Swiss EX5.1 niceness :)
Tires - Specialized Enduro, 26x2.3 and Maxxis Swampthing 2.35s Super Tacky for when it's wet/loose

Today I was almost at the top of Three Rock and it started to snow. This is a photo I took before I went down Bone Shaker.

It was beautiful! (Until I hit the road decent which was freezing!)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Budapest for the weekend

Mel and I went on our first holiday (I don't think Germany for a couple of days around Christmas counts) since Germany last Summer. A couple of months ago we decided that we should go somewhere nice in early February after a bit of looking around, Aer Lingus seemed to have the best deal on an Eastern Europe destination, so we ended up going to Budapest for 4 nights (Flights for both of us where around €220).

A daytime view of Buda and Pest

A picture from Buda castle.

Overall, the trip was a lot of fun. The city itself is very beautiful with huge magnificent buildings on almost every corner and lots of unused space around you (something rare in Dublin) at all times. It being set on the hills reminded me of San Francisco on more then one occasion. I would say that the highlights for us was sipping on delicious coffee, walking around the old streets and checking out some of their museums and thermal baths...

Climbing the steps on Buda up to the castle.

There were a good few things that I didn't like about the place.
One thing, although I can hardly blame it on Budapest, was that it was really cold during our whole stay. Between -10C and -1C for the entire trip. We brought proper clothing but it still meant that after a few hours outside you really had to go in somewhere warm. When we got back to Ireland 7C felt so warm!!!

Another thing is that, for a city of 1.8 million people, it's one of the most quiet places I have ever been. On our first day walking around the city, you could almost count the number of people on two hands that we met. It was cold, and low season, but there really was no atmosphere.

The last thing, and something that I believe to be really important about the places I go is the friendliness of the people (Probably why Thailand is my favorite place). I'm sorry, but the people there all seem to be depressed – they never smile! There was one Hungarian person that we seen on the trip (apart from the service in the Gellert Hotel which was excellent) that smiled and did something that could be taken as being friendly. The service was mediocre to terrible almost everywhere we went! I also think multiple restaurants tried to rip us off – I called one when it was for 40 Euro but the others I let go when it was for less than a Euro.

Having said all that, I enjoyed the trip – it's a very beautiful city but I would advise to leave a trip there to a warmer time of the year when it's a bit busier and the gardens (and locals) have thawed out!

Budapest Photos

The Danube was covered in ice for our stay. It looked really cool!

The view out over Pest from Buda.

The swimming pool part of the Gellert Hotel's Bath complex.
Gellert Hotel's Lobby (for the Baths)

Hero's Square. There were BMXers doing cool tricks around the front.