Saturday, 2 March 2019

A drive to a place, followed by a walk to a gap where there is a tree.

    There are so many beautiful and cool places to visit locally. Well when I say locally I mean within 40 to 50 miles away from home. Over the last few weeks I have been checking out the internet upon my days off, trying to discover places I have not been to before and quite fancy visiting. Last week it was Whitby (Yeah I know about 70 miles away), where the weather was glorious. 

Sycamore Gap
Sycamore Gap

Friday, 22 February 2019

Where can we take "Grandma"

When I returned home from my ride out this morning Ern was no where to be seen. Obviously he had taken wor Baxter out. Just as I was making my way into our bathroom to have a shower I noticed Ern coming down the back street, through the landing window. I proceeded to the shower and as I got in, heard Ern shout "so how far did you get". "About 17 miles I said, shouting from within the shower. "What" he said, again I repeated "about 17 miles", "what 37 miles", Ern said, too which I shouted "Howld on man am in the shower". Ern is hard of hearing at the best of time and shouting from the shower whilst trying to wash me bits just wasn't going to work.

VW Beetle GSR
Grandma @ Whitby
After coming out the shower smelling all coco nutty, from the body wash I had been using I popped on my gear and headed downstairs to carry on the conversation in less shouty tones. I told Ern where I had been and then asked "do you fancy a look out somewhere". I just thought as it was my day off I would rather head off and do something.   

Whitby Abbey

When your socket fits, you can just crack on...

       After yesterdays swim, today seemed like a good excuse to take one of my bikes out and try out my brand new Pace Rehabilitaion socket alongside my BTK Crossover. You have probably heard me say this before. I am very fortunate to be supported by Pace. It's as simple as my Blog title "When your socket fits, you can just crack on". It makes a huge difference to every aspect of your day. There is nothing worse than being sore and uncomfortable all day, to the point you just cannot wait to get your limb off. Or worse still you are unable to wear a limb at all. It not only affects you physically but also mentally. So being provided with something that helps me get the job done, whether in work or play, makes me feel as I say very fortunate and appreciative.

Always hard to capture myself riding...dam it cut me heed off LoL

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Do you think it's more difficult when you have more choice?

After starting to feel much better at the start of this year and getting back to both cycling, with the help of my new eBike and swimming (I did 70 lengths today at our local pool, which is just just over a mile) well the inevitible has happened and my addiction has returned...Yes "Bike Porn".

Last week whilst venturing down to Pace Rehabilitation's Manchester clinic in Bredbury to pick up my awesome looking and of course feeling cycling socket, both Ern and I took a slight detour and headed to Cycle Gear  in Halifax. The reason for me wanting to visit there is I had seen online that they were a dealer for Orbea bikes and actually had a size large Orbea Gain in stock. I wanted to have a sit on one and see just what it felt like in comparison to my Derosa Idol.

The young lad at Cycle Gear, named Luke was spot on and invited me to have a sit on a bike that was already fitted to a turbo trainer. Although I was not set up for riding, no Bartlett Tendon Knee, or my correct shoes and pedals, sitting on the bike gave me a good idea of size. The bike I perched myself on was a road going version, where as I fancy the "All Road", basically a cyclo x version, so less gears and slightly fatter tyres. Overall the bike felt good, the bike I sat on having a 120mm stem, so think I would change that for a 110mm as I just felt I was over stretching. Oh and one addition I would definitely like to make should I manage to save up enough pennies, is to fit a dropper seat post. As yet unsure whether I could fit a stealth remote or just have to pop an under saddle lever version, like the KS version I have fitted on my road bike.

Originally I had quite wanted to opt for the alloy framed version of the Gain, as there are mounting points for mudgaurds and panniers, however upon seeing the carbon version, well it just looked so dam pretty. There is a £1000 difference in price and it's all in the frame as far as I can see, as the components all look the same. I could have quite fancied the Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon Wheelset, however that adds another £719 on to the bike.

Orbea's site is pretty neat. I like the way you can customise your ride on the higher level bikes, things like colour, wheelset, bars, stem, saddle etc.

As I spoke to Luke about delivery times etc, he mentioned that I could potentially have the bike customised paint wise. He also informed that if I got the bike through Cycle Gear they could offer me 10% off, which is £400 so nothing to be sniffed at.

Now then this custom paint job. It has me in a spot of a dilema. I mean it's great being able to have a nice choice of colours, however I now find myself in the position of "Oooooh what colour" I am like a kid in a sweet shop and there is just too much choice. Sweets are a lot cheaper and you can get a sort of a mix up, where as once I have chosen a colour for a new bike I have to live with it.

Here are some ideas I have in mind...Ern quite likes the yellow version...

Yellow n Blue

Orange and Black

Orange and Blue
Blue and Fuschia
Fuschia and Yellow with Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon Wheelset

I have just mocked up this version and man those wheels look sweet, Dang it more saving to be done I guess. I know colour is a bit out there but hey, kind of my personality LoL

Oh and what you may not realise is this bike is also an eBike. It has a hub motor and a smaller battery than what is in the current mountain bikes. The range should be something around 50 miles I am hoping.

Watch this space and please feel free to leave comments, why not pop over to Orbea and spec up a favourite colour...

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Say a Little Prayer

A short Blog, with a few pictures. Just a there and back, completing roughly 30 miles.

Basically got ready and out the door and headed up past Consett on the C2C and going to Waskerley Way.

Saying a little prayer

Friday, 1 February 2019

A Wintery Day playing in the Woods

Oooh as I looked out my bedroom window this morning it was snowing and there was a canny blanket of the white stuff lying all about. Plan of action, take the Fat Bike out. I firstly had to sort my socket situation. You see I had been down to Pace Rehab's Bredbury clinic in Manchester yesterday. Paul my prosthetist had had a bit tinker with my check socket and fettled it ready to make a final version. This meant I had to leave my socket, so that a copy could be made. That meant this morning I had to revert to plan B


I just used my everday socket and swapped out my Rheo XC for my BTK. "Ahh" slight problem. When Paul had been looking at my Bartlett Tendon he must have taken the pyramid adaptor off the top of the knee. Ern to the rescue he remembered there was one on top of my Running blade. Ok sorted.

All ready to go I had put my Shimano Gortex boots on as last time I was out my 5 little piggies were cold. As I went in to retrieve my Silverback Fat Bike I noticed both tyres were soft. Oh dear... I had to come back in the house and grab a valve adaptor so that I could use our compressor in the shed, to blow up both tyres. Then I was off. Man this Fat Biking is canny hard, especially when I have been used to using my electric bike. That said I wasn't complaining as I was out and having a blast in the snow.

I headed up towards the wind turbines and Wagtail Lane, it was proper Baltic up there and the roads as they are not used a great deal were quite deep with snow. After riding about 1.5 miles I felt something just wasn't right with my front end. Upon looking down I saw my tyre quickly deflating. Now I know you don't need quite as much air in your fat tyres but, bloody hell my tyre was flat.

Time to call intERNational rescue. "Hello Ern you know when you said my tyres just looked soft, well they may be soft on the top, but the front one is most definitely flat at the bottom" Ern was out walking wor Baxter, who apparently did not want to come to my aid, as he was having such a good time playing in the snow. I decided to push my bike along the lane to the top of Wilka's bank and met Ern there. We popped my bike in the back of his car, took it home, carried out a quick puncture repair and then Ern dropped me off over at the bus turning circle at Quakies, so that I could go have an adventure in the nearby woods. By this time I was bloody freezing, as I had had a waterproof jacket on and obviously had been sweating. I had taken this off and just popped my Endura hoody jacket on and once I started riding soon warmed up.

It's was a weird day weather wise as one minute the sun was shining from above, then by the time I got around to the next bit of the wood it was full on snowing. This kind of plays havoc when I am using my GoPro as it can appear that a single video was not exactly shot on the same day. It's all the darkness and light.

Glenn Johnstone
Out on my Silverback Synergy Fat so much fun
Proper enjoyed playing around in the woods, they appear so different when the well used paths and trails are hidden. It's like discovering a whole new place. I actually lost one of the trails in the second part of the wood and soon discovered I couldn't ride my bike, as there were just so many fallen trees. They must have come down when we had that bad wind a little while ago. Not only that I ended up surrounded by bramble bushes. These were a nightmare as they kept tangling around my prosthetic foot. Good job there was no one around at this point as I was swearing my heed off.

Glenn Johnstone
Getting this year off to a good start
Glenn Johnstone
Dead excited we got a bit snow to play around in
Finally I managed to head out onto  the proper trail and as I looked over from where I came I thought to myself, where the hell did I go wrong there. Never mind I knew my way home from here. It was easiest to head through South Moor Park and this is the route I took. Man it looked so pretty with all the snow both on the ground and in the trees, snowflakes gently falling. It may sound weird but it's at times like these I just love being outdoors, taking everything in and thinking how fortunate I am.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Avoiding the Mole Hills

Early on in the week Sunday to be exact, as Sunday is kind of my Monday due to my work pattern. I decided I fancied using up a day of my annual leave, so took today, Wednesday off. I had been thinking as my new tendons had arrived for my BTK Crossover I may as well get out and go for a blast.


Friday, 18 January 2019

It's canny cad like

Yesterday both Ern and I were down at Pace Rehabilitation's Manchester clinic at Bredbury where I was going to test out a new check socket, specifically for use on my BTK Crossover. Toby one of my prosthetists had taken a cast from my everyday socket late last year. The socket this cast was taken from was actually a design, which Paul, again one of my prosthetists from Pace had designed and my local Disability Service Centre then copied, giving me the socket I use everday for work and what not.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Baxters Turn...

After leaving wor Baxter in yesterday whilst Ern and I had a little bimble out in Grandma, well we kind of felt a bit guilty. You see I don't let Baxter get in my cars as his hairs are a complete nightmare. Ern on the other hand couldn't give a rats and is quite happy riding around in a mobile skip. Hence Erns car, his Citroen Berlingo Multispace is the designated "dog" and mountain bike car, as well as make shift removal van and general work horse.

I know both Ern and Baxter don't look exactly raring to go
I think Baxter was quite excited to be going out for a slightly longer walk, especially as the area we decided to go was all grassy and soft trails. Baxter hates pavements and rough, stoney pathways. He does a funny walk when ever on these types of surface, over exaggerting lifting his paws, as if the ground were red hot. Baxter has been having problems with his claws, two in particular, one on each foot which for some unkown reason have decided to grow wonky. He hates his claws been cut so I have had to resort to filling his nails using a diamond file that Ern got from thge man on Mordor market, a good few weeks back. This appears to be doing the trick as Baxter will tolerate me filing his claws and it has prevented them from turning into his pad which is what originally happened and made him limp. Most dogs wear their claws down naturally and this is the case will all his other claws, apart from these two bothersome wonky ones.

Baxter trotting along
Baxter is also suffering from an allergy and to have blood tests done to discover the culprit of his problem will cost a small fortune, so we have been trying out different things, or should I say stopping different things. Baxter no longer gets biscuit type treats and is only on his dry feed, which contains no wheat and additives. We also give him antihistamine tablets and he appears to be much better I did notice he looked a little sore on his tummy today, however that could be due to the fact he had been sliding on his tummy along the grass, something I try to prevent him doing. I mean he could be allergic to the grass I suppose.

Glenn Johnstone
Had a right sweat on by the time we went around

Baxter's a strong lad and when he pulls he is a complete nightmare

My Log
Of we went to Hedley Hall Woods, it has been ages since I had a walk around here. There appears to be a few more footpath trails in place and I did not see any no cyling signs, so it may be a place I will venture to on my bike as I think it will make for an interesting video. There would be some nice shots in and out of the trees and some lovely scenery. Hey may be do it in the warmer weather and even bring a picnic.

Glenn Johnstone

Baxter with his Arctic ONE Buff

Suppose you think your funny


Forgot to pop Strava on again, so not sure how far we walked, we didn't exactly follow a set route and were in and out of the various trails kind of exploring. It has been great to get out over the course of the last few days and actually do something with my time off, even if it is just local.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Afternoon Tea with Grandma

Due to my regular work pattern I generally have Thursday, Friday and Saturday off. Last year I really did not do much at all with my days off, other than lounge around in my shorts and t-shirt. Of course a great deal of that was to do with how I was feeling following ongoing treatment for my NHL, no not the Hockey league...Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I pretty much always felt drained after 4 days at work, or I had some cough, cold or bug.

Well this year I have made the concious decision, no time for all that crap. I need to get out more doing different stuff and filling my time in more productively.

VW Beetle GSR
VW Beetle (Grandma) GSR

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Memory card mishaps and a new Duck

After snapping one of my Bartlett Tendons last week I did not want to miss out on heading out for my first ride of the New Year I mean my Duck has arrived from somewhere in China and I wanted to test her out. So I retrieved my BTK Crossover from the cupbaord in the kitchen and unbolted the Cam along with the broken tendon. I tend not to ride out of the saddle when I am using my Coast Cycles Buzzraw, as the bike is small and the handlebars always feel like I might tear them off, or bend, so this was the ideal choice for going for a "Buzz" whilst I only have one tendon in place.

Coast Cycles Buzzraw with Duck
Super fun this little bike

Friday, 28 December 2018

Minor setbacks and a change in Mindset...

Hey I may get a little deep here so bare with me...

Glenn Johnstone
"Dude Where is my Bike"
Now normally I would be writing this and well pissed off, with a kind of "why does this shit always keep happening to me". If it's not my health stopping me from doing something, both work and play, it is something breaking, or getting lost and I am on ages trying to find it. Anyhoo let me explain what has occured on todays little adventure and also go on to how I dealt with it.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Christmas Day Bimble...depleting my battery

Normally today is a work day and as such my alarm went off at 06:45am. I awoke and had the inital thought to just roll over and hide under my warm quilt. My little internal voice then kicked in, prodding me into action.

Over at the coast, pleased I had my Arctic One Buff
I had to put my prosthetic leg on wonky, as I knew if I popped it on aligned for walking, once I got out on the bike I would be in agony, as the socket tends to rub on my hip. I pre-empted the rub and placed a couple of Mepilex Borders on my hip. I knew exactly where to place them as my last ride out, last Saturday my socket had rubbed a few wear marks in my skin.

I sorted my riding gear and my old Faithful Canon Power Shot SX200, my thinking, well lately all my photo's have been shocking. At least with the small Canon I have a lot more control. To be fair todays ride was more about seeing what the battery was like on my new Specialized Turbo Levo, rather than heading out and taking shots.

Early in the morning near the River Wear and the New Bridge at Sunderland
I had to take it easy going down our stairs as due to rotating my socket, my foot was now very Charlie Chaplain'esque. Once in the kitchen I removed my Rheo XC and popped my BTK Crosover in it's place. A few more bits and bobs out of the cupboard, my helmet, new Seal Skin Gloves and of course helmet. I decided to take my small Camelbak "Fanny Pack". I had bought it earlier in the year and as yet had never used it. Have to say very impressed with it's stowage capabilities and it is very comfortable to wear. Not only that it is great for getting to things quickly as you do not have to take it off. Money well spent.

Cracking bit of kit

I gathered my bike, popped a single ear bud in my ear and selected play on my Mp3 player. There's quite a few varied tunes on there and quite often I sing along to them as I ride. Thank god I had had the hindsight to bring my Arctic ONE Buff as Jeez it was freezing out, quite literally. There was a covering of white frost on both of my cars as I went out into our yard. Yeah I definitely should have put my leg warmer on as I have to say I was cold all day.

My little Leyzne Zecto Drive Lights are another purchase I have not regretted and I switched these on to both guide the way and help me to be seen. I headed up the farmers trail, as this is probably the easiest way for me to get on to the C2C. I had it in my head to go down to Sunderland and the coast and then loop back around via South Shields, up to Whitemare Pool roundabout, then cut up by Springwell and Wreckington, before branching off for Birtley and back on to the C2C and home and this is what I did.

The ride down was a nice and steady one, my bike being in "eco mode". In fact I kept my bike on this setting for almost the whole loop.

Proper muddy over by the cliff edge, lovely the sun shining off the water

I was really enjoying the ride. I was still getting a work out, however the motor was assisting me where I needed it. Well that was until about 5 to 7 or so miles from home. My fuel/battery light had dropped to 2 bars. So at this point I stopped and went into my Mission Control app and found the Smart Control. I then judged how far I had to go and set it in the app. Man the last  5 to 6 miles on the way up from Birtley on the C2C were proper hard. I think I only had something like 10% assistance and this gradually dropped and dropped. My fitness is not on top form at the moment either. Months off the bikes and a nasty chest infection a month or so ago so I was proper struggling with my own natural engine. I had to dig deep, drop to a low gear and slowly move all 21.5 kgs of bike up the gradual incline. As I got to Beamish and Beamish Hills there was no battery left at all, so I had no other option but to get off and push for a little while. Once in No Place I was able to hit the off road trail which leads back on to the farmers trail and gradually came to the top of the hill and a nice rally down the trail.

All in all done 45.7 miles according to Strava with 1,935ft of climbing. I am seriously considering looking at getting a bigger 700 watt battery as apparently it will give me an extra 40% range.

Friday, 21 December 2018

A little bit of assistance

What a day to introduce my new bike to some local trails. It's absolutely filthy, hacky and dirty out there, plus due to being over wrapped up last week I decided to cut back on the layers and ended up be rather chilly today

Out on my New Ride Specialized Turbo Levo

John doesn't need a motor LoL
So first impressions of this new fangled Specialized Turbo Levo which I got from the very friendly people over at Rutland Cycles and their Specialized Concept Store in Nottingham. It's canny! In "eco mode" it kind of brings back a recollection of what it used to feel like riding with 2 legs. The bike enables me to bimble along at a nice pace and keep up with my mates. I was not sure I had made the right choice in getting the size XL, however after a proper run out today the bike feels good under me. Using my BTK Crossover I have to say getting up and out of the saddle is effortless. I know not much to all you "Norms", however for us one legged blokes riding out the saddle takes a bit of practice. Especially to maintain your pedal revolutions and even more so if attempting to ride up an incline.

It was proper manky over on Chapman's Well
Not being entirely used to an eBike, it did take me a little amount of time to get used to the bike. I discovered on my first encounter with a steepish climb that I was in fact in a high gear and pretty much motoring up the incline. This was in "Eco Mode" too. Now normally I would be on either my granny ring or on the 11 speed Fatty in the lowest gear possible. I was still a little out of breath after the ride up past South Moor Golf Club and onto Wagtail Lane and that is because I did not want the bike to do all the work.

BTK and Bike preforming well together
In trail mode the bike is awesome, especially in the muddy areas I encountered and believe me there were lots. Due to the motor kicking in, it just gave me that little bit extra drive so that I didn't come to a stand still and then have to put my foot down.

Other than experimenting for a short blast in Turbo mode, to see what it was like I did not use this mode much at all today. I noticed in Turbo the motor cutting out, once I had reached the 15.5mph. Oh and I also tried pedalling with the motor off all together. It is weird as once you have been using the motor and pedal assist and you switch it off, it is like riding a bike with a flat tyre and you really feel the weight of the bike. Speaking of weight, you definitely notice it, for instance before getting to the trails I had to pop the front wheel up over a kerb. This sort of caught me off guard as the front end feels proper heavy. I suppose it's like anything else just getting used to it. On the trails the bike feels pretty planted, not sure of the tyres at this point too early to say. They did feel a bit better than my Maxxis Mammoths, which are fitted to my Fat Bike, they just offer no traction at all.
Set my camera up then had to it was slippy
I was out with my friends Lee and John today and really enjoyed the adventure,  it's great to not have to beast myself to keep up and now that I am sat at home I don't feel wrecked. I know a lot of people bash the whole electric bike scene, as I have mentioned before, however it's horses for courses.

Moving on may as well leave you with a moan, yeah it's the whole camera thing again. It must be something to do with the bad weather as my shots recently have almost always come out either blurry, dark, grainy or generally just not up to standard. I have messed with setting etc, but once again it's a kind of fail. It is really difficult trying to take photo's when you are out and by yourself. The downside of the Hero 5 is that it does not have a timer on. Oh and I tried voice control today, however my GoPro once in it's protective case must not have been able to hear me. No amount of "GOPRO TAKE A PHOTO" was going to work. In the end it was more a case of "Awww GoPro Feck Off". I see the new Hero 7 has a few more features including a timer and also the photo quality is supposed to be better without messing with lots of settings. May have to invest.

Friday, 14 December 2018

After a few months off

After a few months off of not turning a crank on any of my bikes, today I finally  got out. Have to say in my old age becoming a "fair weather rider" is becoming more an more tempting, man it was cold this morning. Of course I prepared for the elements, however I think I over did it as once I got going with my pal John, it was a case of "Omg I'm Melting".

Lifting my bike over the gate at The Farmers trail

John on His Cube
My dear old dad, or "The Ern" as I lovingly call him had treat me to a new pair of Seal Skin gloves and also a pair of Grab Grip thermal/waterproof leg warmers. Talking about the leg warmers it always annoys me that I have to buy the pair when I only actually use one. My poor old stump, contained in it's silcone liner and surrounded by my socket just has to freeze. Upon each of my adventurers in the chilly weather it is blue upon my return and appears to take ages to heat up.

I had discusssed with John earlier in the week about heading out, saying I didn't have plans for an epic ride as I am just so unconditioned. Once more I find myself in the position of just getting out and starting from scratch then gradually building up my fitness, main thing is I am back in the saddle and enjoying some fresh air.

"Oh Farmer Trail I have missed you so". Yeah that is the way we headed. It was a combination of real thick mud and ground frost. The large puddles we encountered were glazed over with a sheet of ice. I love the sound of my tires crunching the ice, it is very satisfying to me. Pedaling up the Farmers Trail it felt like my lungs were on fire and ffs why did I put all these layers on along with my Primaloft Jacket oh and Race Face Nano to top it off.

Our plans were to head into Beamish woods and just have a little play around. Jeez once in the woods I swear some of the mudded areas were waist deep. I had taken my Silverback Synergy Fat and John was on his new Cube Nutrail Fat. 

BTK Crossover

Checking out the GoPro on my Mobile phone
Setting up the camera

I have to say I am not to enamoured with the Maxxis Mammoths I have fitted, where as John's Schwalbe Jumbo Jims appeared to be cpoping much better in the thick gloop. John made a lovely comment at one point as we were both struggling to cope with the trail and thick mud, saying "your balance is a lot better than mine". I explained I had to practice a lot, as if I goto fall off on my right side, well that is it I just go. No stopping me as I am clipped in and cannot get my BTK Crossover down quick enough.
Messing around with photo's

Every now and then when we came to a nice spot John and I grabbed a photo oportunity. Have to say not to impressed with the quality of the shots today, whilst using both my little Lumix and GoPro Hero 5. Not sure if it was because it was very cold and foggy in places or if I had the settings on manual and messed up. It was also pretty dark in areas and as the GoPro has no flash, well it tends to over compensate in other areas. I am really fancying a new GoPro Hero 7 as heard good reports, it's just they bring a new one out every year and well they are canny expensive. I'll have a fiddle with my 5 as it is still going strong, just ordered some new batteries as my old ones are not holding there charge. £20 for three plus a charger from Amazon, so not too bad.

John looks even more Gimpy than me in this shot, what the hells going on with your ankle dude?

Caked and no grip

Far better dealing with the mud the Schwalbe Jumbo Jims

 All in all a very enjoyable ride out, well when I say ride I also did a fair bit of pushing as I was knackered on the hills and if you know the Stanley area, you will know we have plenty of them.

Messing around

John and I
I rode the same way home, this time coming down the Farmers Trail, just as I got to the gate at the end of the trail and dismounted my bike, my good foot slipped down the side of the path way, as it was so muddy. There was this huge puddle, more like the size of a small pond actually. I couldn't un clip my BTK  and I toppled over going sploosh straight in this freezing cold puddle with bits of ice floating in it. I rode home as quick as I could through the estate and when I got home Ern helped me with my soaking wet things and in evacuating all the water which had filled up my prosthetic foot. Everything is now in the wash and I have had a lovely bath, putting in some Epsom Salts as I was Baltic.

The joys of cycling... Much better than sitting in the house, although I am proper tired I feel better about myself. That little bit exercise really does get the old endorphins going and helps you feel positive. I love the outdoors and taking in all the wonderful sights and colours particularly at this time of year. The fallen leaves strewn along some of the trails in the forest were beautiful. And the Coot Pond looked amazing as ice had formed and was glistening in the sunshine. Even met some friendly walkers and had a bit of a chit chat.

Johns bike over at the Coot pond
The pond looked amazing with the bits of ice and sunshine
Ok off to get food...