If your up for supporting me getting a running limb you can donate here

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Dark Side Of The Lens

I thought I'd share this small movie and pop it upon my blog. The movie itself I saw sometime ago on a friends blog. I watched it and needless to say it caught my imagination I found it very inspiring,the narration throughout the video is excellent. 

I think I will try and do this a lot more and share what I find interesting, hopefully allowing you to do the same. I mean I am not a surfer, however I can see the attraction. It's the raw power of nature and the very things around us that we take for granted.


Friday, 15 August 2014

My first Bile Fit and WoW what and experience!

Really enjoyed my Bike Fitting sessions with Craig Stevenson... Awesome job Craig Thanks
      After having my amputation in the September of 2007 and then going on to learn to ride early in 2008 I always just figured like most amateur riders that a bike was a bike. Sure you have all the different varieties, you know ranging from road to mountain and whatever comes in between and that they more or less come in sizes from extra small up to extra large. I never really thought about having a bike fit, it was more or less a case of "Oh I'm around 6 feet tall, a Large should do". Almost all of my bikes have been bought on-line and even the ones that haven't I have never been fitted for. So really each of my bikes I have found to some extent I have just fitted to them, whether this meant changing stems, saddles, messing around with anything to make the bike more comfortable and then just basically just living with them.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Monday, 11 August 2014

A mixed bag of great fun and total disaster at Druridge Bay

I was well impressed with Mr Hink's

During the week my friend Ade called down after I got in from work. He asked "how do you feel about going over to Ullswater" in the Lakes so that he could get a few shots of me practising my swimming and really just have a nice day out. My immediate reaction was "Err no". I went on to explain that as I didn't know Ullswater all that well, having only been there once before with Ade and his boys for a spot of canoeing, and  that I didn't feel comfortable heading over there and swimming without anyone else. I mean my swimming is ok, however I preferred to air on caution, so suggested we go to Druridge Bay instead. Although I have only been there once too, with my boss and friend Dan I knew I would feel a lot more relaxed there. So both Ade and I agreed on this and chose Saturday as the day to go. 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

In the local rag

In order for me to help others I must first help myself...

Of course this also includes the support of so many kind people who have helped me from when I first became ill, right up to the present.

I am going to be honest and say I have found it really difficult asking people for donations to help me achieve my goal of running. It doesn't sit well with me I much prefer to be giving my time and raising awareness for other people.

Many people I suppose will see my getting a running blade as "Just another hobby", or "why should he get all this attention and free stuff". I suppose I would answer that with "Yes I am very fortunate, however I have worked really hard to accomplish my goals" I have never once said "why did this happen to me". For me it's just part of my life. Terrible stuff happens to people everyday I am one of the lucky ones who can still get out there and do what I want to do. In some cases it can be tough, real tough as prosthetics are very expensive. I had for a long time give up on the idea of ever being able to run, instead using a favourite saying of mine which is "concentrate on the things you can do".

Anyhoo after having my first ever trip abroad last September and meeting my friend Shannon's prosthetist, Scott. I was advised to contact the Challenged Athletes Foundation which is based in the US. I did this pretty much on my return, completing an on-line application form and asking both my boss at work Dan and my prosthetist over at Pace Rehabilitation Toby for references. I was blown away by the support I got from these two guys as they wrote absolutely fantastic references, so good in fact that when I read them back I thought "Wow who is this guy" (yeah I have a habit of being overly critical of myself and sometimes don't see what others see in me). It's an awesome feeling to know you have the backing of people you really admire and respect.

About a week after sending in my application I got a mail back saying unfortunately the Challenged Athletes Foundation wouldn't be able to approve my application as they were not supporting International Athletes at this time. "Ahh well" I thought, at least I gave it a shot. I'll just concentrate on my riding. I'm a very lucky chap as I am sponsored on my Bartlett Tendon Knee and I also receive much appreciated and excellent care from Pace Rehab who have looked after me from very early on after my amputation.

Time passed by, probably 6 to 7 months and I was booked in for an appointment to attend Pace's new Satellite clinic right here in the North East in Newcastle. Toby sent me a mail to confirm my appointment, however he also asked "has CAF been in touch with you?" To which I answered "No". It was at this point Toby informed me I had been approved for a Ossur Flex Run blade,complete with Nike sole. Awesome!!! Obviously as Pace was already supporting me with what is essentially a £10K cycling limb, they couldn't then just give me the rest of the components to complete a running prosthesis. This is were the fund raising would come into play. Yeah I wasn't keen on the idea, however I knew I couldn't let the opportunity slip away without trying. So firstly I had to convince myself. My way of thinking being like my opening statement "In order for me to help others I must first help myself".

Fund raising, wow how am I going to go about this? That's when Toby suggested contacting Arctic ONE . Well it was weird as actually Matt Kirby the founder and one of the trustees from Arctic ONE got in touch with me. Matt explained that he had been watching me for sometime and was an avid reader of my blog. Matt thought we could help each other out. Arctic ONE would fund raise on my behalf and I could promote and attend Arctic ONE's amazingly organise events.  And this is how I have came to be entered in my first triathlon on the 23rd of August down in Eton in Berkshire at Dorney Lake.

My grant application runs out from CAF on the 31st of December and I need to raise roughly £8500 to get me up and running.

This is a huge challenge for me. I have only just got back to swimming after 20 years and as far as running goes, well I can't even jog at the moment in my ordinary everyday leg. I can't wait to learn to run and from there know that every step I take will be in getting someone else to where they want to be.

A huge thank you to Gavin and Tom for their newspaper report and images and allowing people to read a little about my story.

Thanks everyone for your support.

Article can be found here Consett and Stanley Advertiser

The Northern Echo 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Our adventure to take part in the Skyride at Newcastle and Gateshead

During the week I got a message off my friend John, "I've entered us for the Skyride, down at the Toon, it's free and you don't have to go if you don't want to" he said. "Ahh why not I thought, nothing really planned for Saturday and it may take my mind off of worrying about Mr Hink's for a while. For those of you who don't know Mr Hink's hasn't been well for a few weeks and had a blood test on Thursday, so waiting for the results this coming Tuesday. Fingers crossed it comes back negative.

Our other friend Lee was supposed to be joining us on the ride, however during the week he informed us he wasn't able to go as he was having probs with his forks. This was a real shame and we missed Lee on the day. It's been a really strange year riding wise for me when I look back, why? well because I had become so used to riding all alone, then all of a sudden I get these great riding buddies and now when we aren't all together it's just not the same.

As this was a free event and not that far really I decided to ask Kyle if he fancied tagging along, offering him the loan of my Ibis. Kyle wasn't to sure saying "I'll see what the weather is like on Saturday morning". Well Saturday morning arrived and I poked my head around Kyle's door, "you coming or what". "Aye gan on then" he said, even before he looked out of the window. We both got ready and went downstairs to grab the rest of our gear. Just then John arrived. "It's spitting on a bit" he says. I replaced my everyday limb for my Bartlett Tendon,complete with my check socket which Pace have been working on and we all headed out to get the bikes. Just then it started going from spitting down to absolutely lashing down. As we stood in our shed, the rain belting off the roof we all agreed "yep we are pretty mad for wanting to go out in weather like this". That said when a ride is planned what's a little rain huh? Plus we had arranged to meet our new buddy Al down at the Skyride.

Lee, John and myself met Al whilst out on one of our other adventures, he was ever so kind to us as we had gotten lost from one another and he provided us with water and introduced us to his lovely wife Sarah. It' weird how you meet people in life and then how you can go on to become part of their lives and they can share in yours. One of the most enjoyable parts of riding for me is actually meeting friendly people.

So off John, Kyle and myself go, heading up...Come on guess? What you give in? That's right the Farmers Trail. If this weather keeps up I'm going to have to pop my Nate's back on as I was squirming up the trail as it was so slick, Phew! it was hard work, kind of like 1 pedal stroke forward and then 3 stationary lol The ride down into No Place was fun, all downhill. As I got into No Place I had to stop, for some reason my stump was really hurting and it felt knackered. John was a bit concerned and asked did I just want to go home, as I was in a canny bit pain. But I said no, lets carry on and see if it wears off.

By the time we crossed the main new road, or the Chester bypass and got onto the bit single track it was feeling a tad better. The trail was water logged and both Kyle and I blasted down through the large puddles getting filthy and if we could have gotten much wetter we probably did so there. As John finally caught up I said "where you been?" John had taken ages to get down the trail. "I didn't want to get me arse wet" he says. Omg John it's persistently raining your going to get wet lol.

A quick ride along to the Tanfield Railway path and we are scooting along the trail, it's a bit more sheltered by the trees here, however the trail is a bit deceiving as all the undergrowth  is hampering the path. At one point I almost crashed headlong into a bench that was hiding around a corner, hidden by long weeds. Over the Causey Arch Bridge and back onto the Causey road. Before long we are back out at Tanfield Railway and head along that section of trail. This is where John tried to have me killed. As we came to the main road, John rode over to head down the back of Sunnyside. I shouts over to him as he crossed the road, "Clear" to which he said "Aye". I was just about to head over when this geet big mini bus comes around the bend and had to hop off my bike. I'm going to have to watch that mister Chambers, sure he thinks I've left him something in my will.

John still isn't keen on going to fast, because of the splashes, so i go tearing off past him and shoot down the back of Watergate, coming out at the traffic lights, press the button wait a few seconds then I'm over and straight down the bank into Watergate Park.

As I cross the small bridge where the water from the pond/lake flows towards the waterfall I see all the tributes to the young lad who was killed in the Park just the other week. Kind of reminds you  when you're out having fun how precious life is.

I wait for Kyle and John at the end of the Park and we follow the Tanfield Railway signs down, crossing over the foot bridge which goes over the A1. From here it's down through the housing estate and before you know it we are out at Dunston. A little further on and we come out at the Dunston Staithes and from here it's a ride along the riverside, a quick blast over the swing bridge and yay we are on the Quayside and at the Skyride.

John's login doesn't work, you know those dft things you get on your phone with little square type thiny's. That's technology for you huh? We all have to register again. We the  receive a lanyard with our entery details, a free bottle and a loomy Skyride bib, awww great it will cover my filthy jacket as honest I looked like I had been on some commando mission.

After I had a very nice chat with one of the security guards as I admired Froome and Wiggins bikes we met up with my dad and my other friend Ade who had decided to come down to try and catch a few shots.

It was then time to head to the start. Al was no where to be seen, however just as we got to the start John had a call and he told Al where we were and he showed up to join us just before we set off. Everyone started ringing their bells which was a terrific sound, made me feel a boit left out as i don't have a bell, well I'm hard core aren't I lol. Never mind "ding ding" and we are off. Kyle was a way, thinking he was in the Tour De Newcastle, "it's a ride you plonker not a bloody sprint around the Toon". Al and myself soon lost John, this was because John had decided to ride around the whole course one handed as he had his camera in the other hand. When Al and I had completed one lap we saw wor Kyle waiting. We couldn't figure out where the finish line was so went for another lap.

On one section there was the opportunity to do a 200m sprint race against a friend. I could tell wor Kyle wanted to race me. I had about a 10 foot head start as I was trying to keep my balance and track stand, then we were off. Yeah he beat me, but it was real funny to hear him say as we rode along together "bloody hell I'm knackered" as I left him in my wake. Kids these days no endurance lol.

So after completing two laps we all hooked up just over from the Millennium Bridge and the Baltic. We shared a bit of craic then said our goodbye's. I've arranged for Al to come over to my neck of the woods Thursday to head out for a ride, hopefully Lee can join us as John can't as he is at some stupid waste of time Job Centre training.

When we got to Watergate Park, we were supposed to meet Ade and my dad, just to grab some more pics, however they took ages top arrive. In the end my dad came and I phoned Ade saying we were cold and just going to head straight back. Kyle was sore so he decided to get a lift home with his grandad. Again no stamina these young'uns lol. Both John and I gave him a bit stick, fair do's he had done well really as he hasn't been riding regularly. A nice ride home, my bloddy Strava not recording as usual , though John said we did 30.4 miles, so not a bad Saturday at all. The weather was more or less the same as when we left Mordor in the morning...raining and miserable. Sometimes Stanley is like the town that time forgot.

I didn't get any photo's all day, however John gave me permission to use his so here they are...


Monday, 28 July 2014

So tell me Kyle what you think of the Nettle Patch ?

Straight in from work I try to avoid the workman putting down our new engineered flooring and head up stairs to see if I can prise wor Kyle out of his computer chair to go out for a ride with me. It's been ages since we were out together and as it was a nice day thought I'd at least ask him. I was really surprised when he said "Yes", obviously he had to kill just one major boss in his game before he could get ready but hey it gave me time to sort my gear.

I had been thinking of shooting a video and Kyle would come in handy to set up my camera. I always seem to get the angle wrong, or the camera moves or something just doesn't go right. Well even though wor Kyle was with me this afters, it was no exception. Never mind even though I didn't quite catch the footage I wanted we both had a canny afternoon out playing on my bikes. Well I did I don't think Kyle had as much fun as me as he decided to follow me down a bank and I couldn't stop my bike sliding sideways and fell off and wor Kyle proceeded to crash into me. I fell in this nice sweet spot, with lovely lush grass, wor Kyle decided he would head towards these bushes...Oh hold on these aren't bushes, well I'll let the video do the talking lol.

There you go short n sweet... The bairn is now nursing his badly nettled arm... Awww... I have popped some Suda Crem on and hopefully it won't drop off any time soon.

Really bright day

Kyle doesn't like his pic taken

His dad doesn't mind lol

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Tonight is one of those nights where I just can’t switch off

Tonight is one of those nights where I just can’t switch off. My mind is working overtime. Yeah I’m tired and I know I will pay the price come the morning when I have to get up for work, it’s not even as if I have all that much phantom pain. Nope although I tell myself “just go to sleep” it’s not happening.

As I lie, kind of almost in a dream state, images keep popping into my head, quite a few of these appear to be based around what’s gone on in my life, both past and present, though not so much the future, as like you I don’t have the benefit or foresight. I think I know what is going on and it’s not that I’m worried I just simply can’t sleep tonight. I have been asked to write an article for the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Blog, this has for some reason entered my thoughts tonight and got me thinking.

I know my blog is aptly named Post Amp Adventures, Why? Well because I much prefer to concentrate on the stuff that is going on now rather than what I went through for a long period whilst I was ill. However in order to get to where I am today I had to undergo all that bad stuff. 

So whilst I can’t sleep I am going to try and write down what had gone through my mind, just before I got up and decided to reboot my pc and start typing away.

At one point in my life I felt I faced the end. This may sound rather dramatic, though for me it was very real. I had reached a point which I can only describe as standing looking into a huge black void of nothingness. One step further I would fall from the edge and be lost forever. Of course this was the mental side of things. I felt I had reached my limit of pain and my life force was just ebbing away. I awoke each day when I could sleep wishing I hadn’t woke up. It wasn’t that I wanted to cease to exist, No I just wanted to wake up and everything be ok, be normal and not in pain. Be able to do something with my life. Physically I was a broken man, demoralised, no job, no partner and living with my parents instead of out there making something of my life and being independent. Relying on people all of the time is a tough pill to swallow.

At the time options were there I just couldn’t see all of them. All I could see was give up or continue in limbo, which basically equated to as good as giving up, two negatives in this case most certainly not making a positive.

Things took a rather surprising turn for me. I recall the time well. A rather special community nurse came to see me and tried her best to motivate and give me hope. Of course I wasn’t interested. I had decided to encapsulate myself in this imaginary protective bubble, my way of coping with my situation. Of course this meant I blocked out reality. I was lost and couldn’t see any options, my judgement clouded by pain and misery. Then it was as if I had what I can only describe as a light bulb moment “Ting” it was if someone had flicked a switch and I had this epiphany. A few very simple words from this nurse struck a chord somewhere deep inside, and my mind fired into action. Other possibilities came flooding into my conciousness. It was like if I do this, will it lead to this, or if I do that could I possibly go on to do that. For the first time in years I felt excitement. Excitement at what you may ask. Well this may sound weird, but excitement at having my leg chopped off. You see I hadn’t really thought about that option, well that’s a bit of a fib to be honest. I had and it scared the shit out of me. I had fought tooth and nail for well over 11 years to keep my leg, yet in the end it was the very thing I was fighting for that was holding me back. My leg had become my number one arch enemy. It’s a very bizarre feeling. It’s like having the love of your life betray you.

That was then this is now…

So as my thoughts formed in my mind, remember I’m trying to describe what I was thinking earlier I kind of equated where I am now to a favourite kind of analogy of mine and that’s of a Phoenix rising from the ashes. I think it symbolises quite a bit about my life. My old life left in the ashes, my new life rising to take shape. Something I am still totally amazed at and feel so lucky to have. Sometimes I reflect on the bad times, not because I am feeling depressed or sad, no it’s more a case of it allows me to see just how far I have come. I will never be an elite athlete, an astronaut or a brain surgeon. I’m just very happy and proud to be me and to have survived and fought to keep my sanity and also chose the right options in order to get out there and do something with my life. I suppose sometimes we have to take risks, in order to move forward with our lives and these risks can be very, very scary. 

I still can’t believe I’m back to work, not only back to work but doing something I love and working with some of the most fantastic people. I have travelled, wow me travelling all on my lonesome, this did wonders for my confidence and self-esteem. You lose things like that when you’re socially isolated for so long. And now I’m actually out swimming, riding bikes and very soon going to be learning how to run.

How many times have you ever thought, “That will never happen to me”. Now that can be in a good way or a bad way I guess you should always keep your options open huh.

So what have I learnt from my experiences? Well in short that you can always turn a negative into some kind of a positive. It may take a very long time and you may need help in discovering it, however it is there.

Ok I feel tired now and hopefully now that I have kind of wrote down what’s been running around in my mind I can get to sleep. I hope who ever reads this finds it interesting and if you’re having similar problems my thoughts and insight can help you in some way.
Night, night off to count sheep

PS you can really help me out in my aim to learn to run by supporting me and donating a few quid. Once I'm up and running my goal is to go on and help other people achieve their goals. I wouldn't normally ask for money from people as it doesn't sit well with me, however in order for me to help others I firstly need much needed support from you.

Thank you.

You Can Donate to my Virgin Just Giving Right Here. Just Hover over this Link

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

First ride on Bike Swanky's De Rosa Idol

Ever since returning from Seattle last September and having the opportunity to ride a road bike around town with my sponsor and buddy Brian Bartlett I have been thinking of getting one. I always thought "Me become a Roadie, No Way". My impressions of a roadie being  matching Lycra clad snobs, who never acknowledge you and think they own the road. However after having short go on a road bike I kind of saw the buzz, and whilst I don't go in for all the Lycra wear and I'm definitely not a snob, (you can't get much commoner than me)
 I can see the appeal of riding on the road as it's fast and you can keep up a good pace.

So moving along when I heard I had been approved for a running blade by the Challenged Athletes Foundation, then discovered that Arctic ONE where interested in what I was up to and wanted to help support me in my endeavours, well the next step was accepting the challenge of doing something I had never done before and that was a triathlon. 
Out on Bike Swanky's Demo De Rosa Idol

Sunday, 13 July 2014

A night under the stars and bits and bobs from last week.

After having a relatively busy week what with appointments, work and trying to get some equipment sorted for my upcoming Triathlon in August I was feeling decidedly guilty that I hadn't actually gotten to do much riding or swimming as we approached the end of the week.

Canny hats them like

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Climb — The Rob Jones Journey Story

Hi Guys I'm going to make this a real short blog as really this incredible video says so much more about a simply amazing bloke than I ever could.

I received the link today from my good friend and the sponsor of my BTK or Bartlett Tendon. I absolutely love my BTK (as you all know) however there are times when it's bloody hard work, so I have nothing but respect and admiration for Rob Jones, he is a truly inspirational guy.

Climb — The Rob Jones Journey Story from Ivan Kander on Vimeo.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Most Enjoyable Weekend

Isn't it lovely when you get a spot of nice weather, have no real plans and can just relax and do nothing in particular?

This weekend I kind of had plans to go biving with Lee, unfortunately after getting all my gear ready and just about preparing to set off to call on Lee he showed up at ours to inform me that his wife Michelle wasn't feeling to well and he wouldn't be able to go. Lee kept apologising saying "I feel really guilty" and asking was I ok about him having to change plans. "Hey don't worry" I said there will always be other adventures, at the end of the day Michelle is far more important than some over nighter sleeping in a plastic sack.  This treatment Michelle is undergoing is really taking it out of her, the sooner it's over the better.

I had spoken to my other friend Carl during the week and he was all up for a ride out on Friday afternoon, so that's what we did. Having a steady away up towards Consett and Waskerley Way, before turning around and coming back, popping into KFC to grab some sustenance in the shape of a Flaming wrap,popcorn chicken and some fries, oh and of course a Skittles Krushem milkshake. It was smashing seeing Carl, as it's been sometime and having a nice ride out with him. We covered just over 23 miles me, riding my NS Soda Air and Carl taking his Yeti ARC for a spin.

Me and Carl up towards Waskerley Way
Weapon of choice for today
A quick break before heading to KFC
Looking back the way we came

A random gate I just liked the sunshine
At the moment I'm pretty happy with the way my fitness is going, the  and local trails I'm riding not proving overly difficult and as I'm riding locally it allows meto get an idea of where I previously would struggle. Inthe past and I'm not making excuses for my fitness, however I have struggled to maintain some semblance of a routine. I have found something has always happened so my riding and general fitness has always been stop,start, stop,start. It actually gets depressing when you reach a certain level, have to stop for one reason or another then start right back where you originally were unfit and with no endurance or stamina. In the past I have suffered illness,broken bikes,ill fitting limbs,soreness,depression,laziness and a whole multitude of other sins and problems that have stopped me just getting out there and enjoying my riding. I'm still having a few probs at the minute socket wise, however feel this is one
of the most enjoyable periods I have had upon my various bikes.

On Saturday my friend Ade came down for both my son Kyle and me and we had a canny walk out. Firstly having a look down at the marina under Scotswood Bridge and then driving over to Swallwell visitor Centre, parking there and walking up the Derwent Walk.
The Derwent walk was quite busy, various young couples,some with children in buggies other's taking their pooches for walks. There were cyclists and runners and all manner of people enjoying the beautiful weather. About roughly 2 miles into our walk we looked back as we heard the sound of a motorbike. "Weird" I thought where can that be coming from, as No motorcycles are allowed on the Walk, it's pedestrains,cyclists and horses only. But no approaching us and not slowing down for anyone is 3 scumbags all riding on the same clapped out motorbike. They are flying up the Walk with total disregard for anyone, whether that be adults their children or any dogs they have for a walk. I just stood in the middle of the path I wasn't going to shift for these cocks. As soon as they got past I asked Ade if he knew the non emergency number for the Police and after he did a quick Google search he told me it was 101. I discovered it wasn't 111 after I rang the NHS Oops. I reported what I had witnessed and the very polite operator asked would I like to be kept in the loop if anything came of the incident "Yes" I replied. Anyhoo I have had 2 courtesy calls so far from Northumbria Police and although they haven't caught these scumbags I am happy with the Police's response and how they have gone on to say they will monitor the area. It's absolutely ridiculous riding a motorcycle down that path as someone could get seriously injured or even killed.

And so today after not getting to bed until after 4:35am this morning, couldn't sleep so looking at bike porn. I'm in the market for a road bike just can't decide which one. I got up at around 10'ish. Lee had messaged me asking if I was up for an outing. I then got in touch with Carl and he was up for a look out so he came over for me and then I took him over to Lee's to introduce the two of them.

Once Carl and Lee had made each other's acquaintance we headed off
, yep the old favourite route and up the farmers trail. We kind of just made the route up as we rode and found ourselves on the Tanfield Railway path and from there headed to Sunnyside. It was quite funny watching Carl clamber over a gate enroute. Lee and I looked on curiously "Errr why did  you climb over the gate Carl ?" Obviously Carl hadn't noticed the piece of rope keeping the gate shut lol.

Rather technical way of keeping the gate shut, Carl decided to climb over said gate
     After the gate was a big puddle wow you should have seen all the midges, they are right nasty little buggers and need to be avoided at all cost.

Midges were all over near this puddle
Look at all the vicious little buggers I hate scumbag midges
 This is where Lee showed me a completely different route and we ended up almost at the entry for the Clockburn Lonnen. As I caught up to both Lee and Carl, Lee informed me Michelle had been on the phone and that she wasn't feeling well. So unfortunately he had to head back home. Carl and I decided to crack on and went down the Clockburn Lonnen which was a real thrill as the bank is very steep. Once at the bottom we were on to the Derwent Walk and set a canny pace up the track. There was a young couple on bikes in front of us and we used them to set a pace. at one point they tried to lose us, however they ran out of steam and the 2 old farts passed them, no stamina these young'un's lol. After a few miles a quick pit stop for a banana and a couple of cereal bars and of course a bit chat, then we were off again all the way up to Consett and well may as well pop into KFC as we are passing, Carl treating us to a Zinger Burger each and a couple of shakes. The ride home was fun and I mentioned to Carl "you know what I think I could do that full loop again I feel good".

I've lost a good bit weight. On trying out my check socket

Carl sporting his beard

You can tell Carl hasn't been out for a bit as he was complaining of a sore butt
Admiring the view
  So overall this weekend has been very enjoyable. I only got nettled once and it's burning like a bugger at the moment. I got to spend some quality time with my friends, reported some scumbags so did my  whole looking after the enviroment and protecting our local area...expecting my good citizen award soon and maybe the keys to the city. Oh and the weather has been beautiful.

In ending although I have had a good time I would like to spare a thought for Michelle and Lee. So many people get wrapped up in their own little worlds that they forget about what other people are going through or facing. Here's wishing you a speedy recovery Michelle xXx

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

We meet some simply smashing people on our adventures

Chris, Graham and Lee
Another short blog, normally I wouldn't have even blogged about this afternoons ride as it was just my friend Lee and myself going out for a casual spin. I had my camera however I had brought it just in case more than thinking I was heading out to capture something specific or new. Until Lee txt me I hadn't really planned to go out ,which would have been a shame as it's been a beautiful day, if a little hot at times for riding.

Today was all basically local loops, though I did take Lee up Iveston bank and was well pleased that the bank wasn't half as tough as I last remember it I guess that is a good sign my fitness is improving. As we made our way down onto the cycle track, then cycled no more than a mile or two in the direction of Consett Lee got a puncture in his rear tyre. As he tipped his bike upside down and began repairing it two gentleman approached on bikes from the opposite direction.

These two gentlemen were very nice asking what was up and if we were ok. As Lee fixed his puncture it gave me the opportunity to have a right old chinwag with these two guys and they were very interesting. Graham and Chris had ridden from Alston and were on their way to Durham for a few nights, they were doing part of the coast to coast routes and intended heading down towards Hartlepool and from there way down to Whitby, good stuff. It's always very nice to meet these lovely people on our adventures and just pass a few moments of the day talking and sharing experiences.

After saying our goodbye's to Graham and Chris Lee and I headed up to KFC for a well earned ice cream. I decided to treat us to a mini meal each, consisting of a rather tasty flaming chicken wrap, some pop corn chicken and some fries, oh and a couple of those KFC Krushems with Skittles added. They went down a treat and we were both ready for them, the heat zapping our energy.

Only one photo taken today, it is a memento of the awesome people we meet upon our adventures and renews our faith that there are some really nice genuine people out there. Good luck to Graham and Chris it was a pleasure meeting you.

More goodies from my good friends over at Bike Bag Dude

Just a short blog to say a huge thank you to Kath n Kedan over at Bike Bag Dude, my gear arrived today. When I got in from work there was a large white heavy weight bag. I was well chuffed and excited and bonus no import duty, thanks guys for sorting that out and the great deal on the equipment. 

Awesome gear and pretty cool T-shirts too
   It was my awesome friend Mark Peterson who I visited like what seems centuries ago in his home town of Ogden Utah USA, however it was only last September who put me onto Kath n Kedan and ever since they have been so supportive of everything I have done, passing on kind words and encouraging comments upon Facebook and following my blog. In return I try to wear my bags with pride and always give them a mention when I do one of my small home movies or take a photo with their gear in place upon my bike.

This is going to make life easier on the bike
I was so impressed with my last bag from the guys that I decided to purchase another frame bag as well as a couple of chaff bags and a handlebar roll for my bike packing adventures which I'm hoping to do a lot more of.

As many of you will know I'm trying to raise funds for a running limb and I have this plan, idea call it what you will to do an unsupported bike packing adventure in the Hebrides, hopefully getting some good pictures and video footage so I can share it with everyone. At the moment I'm struggling with logistically I'm useless at planning and it's not just that to travel relatively light costs money. For instance I need a good sleeping bag and mat and at the moment I'm fancying the whole biving idea, though not quite sure. I have a small 2 man tent, however if I'm going to just bivi I think taking a tarp along would make good sense, so I need to purchase one of these too.

Ok then no need to do a review of the Bike Bag Dude's gear as I know it is solid having already used my other bag through some pretty hacky,dirty and mucky conditions. It has never let me down keeping everything bone dry and when requiring cleaning I just pop it in the washer on a rapid wash and low temp. Not sure if that's the right way to clean it, but so far the bag has been bullet proof and gets a 5 star rating.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Ooh what a lovely surprise from my friend Bex

A week to the day ago I was down in Buckinghamshire taking part in the Arctic One's duathlon. I had a fantastic time and met some proper friendly people and received loads of support and well wishes, oh and a few slightly bemused looks as people checked out my ride. Yeah obviously they hadn't got the memo everyone was supposed to turn up on Fat Bikes...Or was that just me. I suppose I must have looked like the guy who turns up to a party all dressed in a fancy dress costume only to find out "Errr actually it's not a fancy dress". Never mind for me and the guys at Arctic One it was all about the taking part, not so much how fast I could get around the course.

What a lovely surprise thanks Bex xXx

Huge thanks to Wayne and his mates for supporting Arctic One

Huge thanks to Wayne Hardman, Keith Tallentire, Richard Telford, Lee Couch, Christopher Elliott and Malcolm Irving for raising money for The Arctic ONE Foundation They completed their coast to coast cycle ride and the money raised will go towards our projects in 2014.

Cheers for your support Wayne and the rest of the lads

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Arctic One's Hawrdige Duathlon

Firstly I have to say the photo's included in this blog about both Ern and mines visit down to Hawrdige and Arctic One's duathlon event don't do it justice. We had a brilliant time. Ern will agree he may be good at some thing's however taking photo's isn't one of his strong points. Maybe it's the whole multi-tasking thing you know, looking at a screen and pressing a button at the same time. When I checked my camera when I got home, thinking "ooh I'll pop some of those pics on to my blog" I discovered only 28 images in total and many of those were of inanimate objects, or objects that were moving in the form of people however with either their heads cut off, or if there was a head, it was only at shoulder height and far more sky in that actual head or shoulders. Never mind my dad tried and regardless of pictures we had an awesome time.

We decided to set off to get down to Buckinghamshire at 11:00am. I had suggested my dad should call into next on the way at Durham so I could treat him to a new pair of Jeans and a couple of shirts for Fathers day. I'm pleased he said "yeah ok" as normally he is a nightmare to buy for always saying "don't bother"...I mean when my kids ask me what I want for father's day I always come up with good stuff "hows about a new bike" I said when my daughter Kayleigh text me on my way home.

The drive down to Buckinghamshire wasn't to bad, Ern driving most of the way and me messing around on my mobile as we drove. I think I drove the last 60 to 70 miles or so and we arrived at Pace, where I was to meet up with Scott. Scott was going to be doing the running sections of our duathlon and me the riding on my Fat Bike. Yeah I know a Fat Bike isn't exactly the norm for these sort of events, but hey for us it was more about the taking part and having some fun. I'll get sorted with a road bike later on.

We left Pace and followed Scott in our car along to where the duathlon was taking place. Once there we parked up and immediately Bex came over. Bex is one of the trustees of the Arctic One charity. I got to meet her a good few months ago when I was last in London for the Pace Rehabilitation conference on Real Lives. It was lovely to see her again. Just then Matt turns up and it was great meeting him for the first time. Matt and I have shared many a conversation on the telephone and chat to one another along with Bex about what we are all up to, Arctic One, fund raising etc, so it was fantastic to actually get to meet him and support Arctic One at the same time by taking part in one of it's events.

As time got on, both Scott and I got ready, switching our limbs and popping on our individual gear ready for the race. Ern unloaded my bike and I got one or two strange stares as I pushed it over to the transition area. Everyone else appeared to be on bikes with much skinnier tyres than mine. I have to say there was a vast array of some pretty sweet looking bikes, lots of carbon fibre frames and wheels in a multitude of colours.

Helen Chapman
    Ok ready for the off, the rules had been read and explained. One I found interesting was no drafting on your bike. Essentially you have 15 seconds to pass someone, if you can't do it in that time you have to drop back. I guess I wouldn't have to worry about that lol. The runners head off first. I wait in the transition area for Scott to complete his circuit. After a while he 
appears, it looks as if he has run through a car wash, the poor blokes sweating buckets. A slightly soggy high five and I grab my bike, push it to the road, get on and I'm away like the clappers. This bit isn't so bad it's almost downhill. As I'm riding along, in high gear no one comes past me, though I can hear someone behind me. "ooh I must be doing ok" I think to myself...I can still hear this person behind me and also see whoever it is casting a shadow over my shoulder. I then start to think to myself about the rules and "hey this cheeky bugger is drafting behind my Fat Tyres". Well it's not until I get to a tricky tight left hand bend that I realise it's one of the marshal's who had been following me on their bike.  After the bend the road starts to gradually wind it's way upward. this section is a little more harder work, though I enjoy pushing myself and go as fast as I can, trying to judge how much energy I will need as I know I have another lap. Just then I hear heavy breathing and the whoosh of a bike as I get past, it the n happens again and again. I complete my first lap  which was around 5 1/2 miles in what I think was a fairly decent time all things being considered then I'm off on my second loop. This one proves to be a litte bit harder, however it's still an enjoyable loop. The various Marshall's and people dotted along the course offering words of encouragement and admiring my bike.

As I pull into the transition ready to tag Scott I notice he isn't wearing his running blade. As I get up to him he explains his prosthesis just isn't fitting right and he has skinned the front of his shin, just below his knee "Ouch" Poor Scott's leg has been bleeding and is rather sore. Not wanting to give in Scott does finishes off the run section of our leg by doing the small lap of the green and coming across the finish line. Well done mate.

A few minutes later Helen rides her bike into towards the transition area. Dismounts and heads to swap her leg. Helen is a lady who takes part in lots of different events on behalf of Arctic One, after they supported her in getting a running blade. Today at Hawridge Helen was the only amputee competitor doing the full duathlon , both of the runs and the cycling and it was also her first duatlon. We all wait for her to complete the run section which is very hard after coming off the bike. After a while Helen strides in, completes the final lap of the green and everyone cheers her on. She has done amazingly well though personally doesn't feel she has done all that good. Well Helen if you get the chance to read my blog let me assure you, you were and indeed are one amazing lady and everyone was so proud of you. I'm sure on reflection you will be able to see the huge accomplishment you did. And hey the little things you aren't happy with you can always work on and improve on.

Scott with his competitive head on
Poor Scott
Just keep going Scott think of the chickens
    Whilst I was at Hawridge I also had the pleasure of meeting Andy and his brother Steven, two great lads. Andy is an above knee amputee and is also being supported by Arctic One in getting a new socket so that he can compete in comfort in his chosen events. You can checkout Andy's blog here
Blade runner Andy's Blog

Helen getting ready to do the bike section

Scott had to head off to put his chickens to bed (didn't want Mr Fox to get them) so he left his address and postcode with Ern as we were going to be spending the night at his. Meanwhile Ern and myself stayed back and enjoyed some lovely fish and chips that were provided by Arctic One for everyone.

Don't ask me what Ern was tring to capture, maybe a rabbit in the hedge
Time to say goodnight. I had arranged with Bex to go for a swim with her the following day and get some coaching from a friend of hers, named Amy.  Ern and I popped Scott's details into my phones sat nav and after around 30 minutes or so found our way to Scott's.

 A quick cuppa and then off to bed.
As promised I met up with Bex and was introduced to Amy. Now I think my swimming sucks. I have no endurance, often breath in the wrong place, ie under water then choke, cough and tense up, panic and get ready to drown. It was very encouraging to hear both Bex and Amy say then that my swimming although not great wasn't as bad as I had made out...Cool at least something to work on there then. A huge thank you to both Bex and Amy for all your tips and advice. I promise to practice breathing better, slowing my arms down and keeping my head in the water. Lets see how things look in August when I will have to swim 400 meters in open water...wow scary. Andy and Steven had joined us in the pool and it was just a nice chance to relax. The pool being a really nice open air one and the water heated just nice.

Following our swim Ern,Bex and I headed off to a coffee shop and there we met up with Matt. This was a great opportunity for us all to come up with some idea's for Arctic One and just generally get to know one another. Andy and Steven also joined us and we had a good old chat. I've really enjoyed my few days off and think they have been rather productive.

On leaving the coffee shop Matt suggested I have a look at one of his older road bikes he had brought along, something he said I could borrow to see if it was for me. It was a canny bike and should be good just to see how I go, so Ern strapped it onto our bike rack along with my Sandman and Matt's bike has come home with me.

From here it's lots of training, both in the pool and out on my bikes. I need to be fit for the 23rd August and the triathlon at Dorney Lake. I'm a little dubious about the swim, confident on the cycling and kind of dreading the run as I can only manage a slow walk. I suppose in a way it doesn't really matter what time I do it in as regardless it will be my own PB as I have never done a triathlon before.

In the future with everyone's support I'm hoping one day I will get the opportunity to learn to run, however as you all know this is rather expensive and hence why I'm trying to fund raise. Normally I wouldn't fund raise for myself, however if I don't have the equipment to get the job done then in  turn I can't head out to try and do it for other people, kind of catch 22.

I would like to end in saying a huge thank you to Arctic One, all the Marshall's and the people who support and give up their time. To Pace Rehabilitation for supporting me in my cycling adventures as well as Brian Bartlett and Leftside Inc.. Oh and I can't forget my friends and family, especially my best friend my dad, who is always so supportive, even if he can be annoying what with not taking a decent photo of me and loosening my bike handlebars lol. 


Scott admiring my helmet I think :D