Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Positive Outcomes

As many of you know it's very rare I write a short blog, some of my friends say "Glenn you don't half waffle on, we much prefer to just skip the text and move along to your photo's". Well in this case I don't have many photo's. The pics  Ern (my dad) had taken came out pants. Not really Ern's fault, it was just that the camera is a small compact, under artificial lighting, late in the afternoon so it was dark and indoors.

Really I should have got more shots when my two new friends Si from Cycle Solutions and Andy from Bike Swanky arrived. But taking pictures was the last thing on our minds as we came in doors practically as soon as Andy and Si pulled up in Bike Swanky's logo'd up van. We just had so much to talk about.

Si (Cycle Solutions),Me, Andy (Bike Swanky) and my new De Rosa Idol

Friday, 24 October 2014

'A leap of faith' - Running Prosthesis Stage 2

Really enjoyed the whole day working with Paul. His positive comments go along way
My appointment to head down to Pace Rehabilitation and their Cheadle clinic to meet with one of my prosthetists down there Paul Richardson, had soon come around. I had arranged with Paul a week earlier to get down to Pace pretty early. This would give us plenty of time to experiment with the next stage of my running prosthesis.

I had my alarm on my mobile set for 6:30am, though in the morning discovered I didn't really need it, as I was already wide awake, probably due to the excitement at the prospect of seeing all this new prosthetic kit. I'm sure there are some people out there who just don't get why anyone would be excited at what essentially they would  just see as "a leg". Thing is in the majority of cases as an above knee amputee you need a different leg for each activity you choose to do and without a specific limb you struggle. They are also very expensive and this means quite a few amputees resign their selves to a life of giving up on what they used to do, or want to do, even though they have the potential  in some cases to go on and do even more than they could as an able bodied person.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Running prosthesis stage 1

I'm on my holiday's, not going anywhere tropical or warm or even anywhere in particular really, though I do have some pretty exciting stuff going on in my life at the moment which is a bit closer to home and will involve travelling down to Manchester next week. But hey lets not jump the gun, let me start at the best place the beginning.
Paul blessing my stump lol

I love this shot it's so funny and I'm sure Paul will also see the funny side. I wasn't sure if he was blessing my stump or was a practising faith healer with the promise of "I can make it grow back".

"Hey Paul I'll just settle for one of your awesome sockets m8"

 As many of you will know I have been trying to raise much needed funds along with Arctic ONE to put towards the completion of a running prosthesis.

How all this came about was after visiting the US, last year and getting some really great advice from a gentleman named Scott Clark who is a prosthetist over at Baker Orthotics and Prosthetics who are based in Dallas Fort Worth TX. Scott had asked would I like to progress into doing other activities other than riding a bike and my reply was "sure, however as you know prosthetic gear is very expensive and I just can't afford that kind of layout". I went on to explain that our health system works entirely different to the US and indeed many other countries. I had tried contacting various companies and people, but always came to a dead end, so basically I had put the thought of ever being able to run to the back of my head, much preferring to concentrate on what I could do, rather than waste negative energy being consumed by what I wasn't able too (Notice I said unable to and not can't ) That's the thing with a lot of people they quite often get worn down by the whole health system when they don't have some kind of funding in place, and aren't able to obtain the right equipment to help move them along in their chosen direction. These people quite often then get a Negative "Can't" attitude and as we all know it's pretty much down hill from there.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Welcome to the North East Pace Rehabilitation

 A few weeks ago my good friend Scott Richardson who is the P.R Guru at Pace Rehabilitation informed me that they were going to be having an open evening at the Lombard Physiotherapy Clinic, which is situated in West Moor, Newcastle and would I like to attend as a guest on behalf of Pace along with a few of my friends and my dad, Ern.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Kielder with friends old and new...

What a cracking Crew
 Right to Left -Steven Hackworth ,John Chambers,Al Roberts,Luke Troy,Mark Boon Purvis, Steve (Scotty) Scott,Kevin Turner, Carl,Mark Eagan, Glenn Johnstone,Lee Sheridan,Ian Carr, Davey (twice around) Purvis.

My friend Al said

As you will see it's been a little while since I last wrote a blog. There's been a lot going on, however it's not really been stuff I've felt like writing about as it's been mainly depressing,sucky and bad stuff. My friend Al says I should still write about this kind of stuff as it gives other people and insight into how things aren't always rosey, even though I am very lucky in being able to do more than most what with having great support and sponsorship in my prosthetic needs and being also supported in my future endeavours. Al went on to say I wouldn't be surprised at just how many people may relate to how I go through things and then  always find the strength to bounce back. I have to admit at the moment I don't feel very bouncy, never the less here I am. As I have said in the past, popping stuff down also helps me reflect a little and can help me figure out just where I'm going and what I should be doing to get there.

This of course won't be one of my most exciting blogs, however I do hope for those that read it you can see that all I am trying to get across is that there is light at the end of any tunnel.

One of the hardest things for me when I'm feeling depressed less than motivated, un-enthusiastic or can be bothered to do anything is knowing I'm being an asshole. It's as if I can step out of my own body mentally and I'm screaming to myself "Omg just pull yourself together, your an absolute nightmare to be around and I don't like you". I suppose this message must get through, however it doesn't pull me out of my mood, no it just makes me realise that yeah actually I am not much fun to be around so I tend to cut people off, don't go out as much, don't blog, don't Facebook, in fact I don't do much.I guess I don't want to be a burden and if I can't stand being around me, then why should other people have to put up with me. It's weird as it almost always happens around winter time. It's like some seasonal clock that ticks away and then come that time of year bang, happy head off, root around in the bottom of the wardrobe and pop on my seasonal downer head.

Even as I write this I'm thinking "yeah but it doesn't have to be that way" and "hold on a minute give yourself a break, there has been a lot of shit going on over the last few weeks". Anyhoo the purpose of my blog isn't to have you all feeling sorry for me, but I suppose it is a bit of a place to share what's going on in my life and that of some of my family and friends and of course that isn't always going to be good stuff all the time.

As anyone who reads my blog will know I lost my best friend a few weeks ago. Mr Hink's has been such a miss around our house. Well this didn't help how I was feeling. Following that I discovered I had 3 lymph nodes up in my neck. One of which has been there for years, right in my clavicle area. I hadn't ever been able to feel it before, even though it was the first one I was diagnosed with way back in 2008. Now though it's up and I can feel it. They are quite small, only being around 1cm in diameter. I managed to get in and see the specialist, had bloods taken and everything appears ok. I do have to keep going back for more regular check ups. You know what scares me the most about this Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma? It's not the treatment or the disease, No it's the recovery period. I hate it when your relatively healthy and then you have that whole period of illness. Recovering is the hardest part. But anyhoo lets not spend valuable time wasting energy pondering something that hasn't even happened. Something I have learned is that way too many people live in the past with the what ifs or wishing they had done something different, or look to the future planning ahead for events which may never happen.The "Right Now" totally slips by and they are unaware's, and its the Right Now which really counts.

A good few weeks ago both Al and myself decided to go biving.  John and Lee our other friends couldn't join us, John having done something to his back and being in lots of pain and Lee having just undergone surgery for a hernia. So Al and I set off ourselves and camped up at Smiddy Shore. I didn't blog about it as this was the start of me feeling crap. Anyhoo that night we were camping out I realised I had forgotten to bring my medication for my phantom pain. I had left it in my other back pack. "aww never mind I will get some tomorrow when I get home". So biving trip over I was feeling decidedly unhappy. My riding socket had rubbed me raw for some reason all the way up and all the way back home so I had a nasty sore on my hip. At the moment I'm riding with a check socket that Pace has made me and as with any check socket it's a temporary thing to iron out the areas where it's not fitting and then when this is sorted move onto what should be a comfortable final socket. So moving on I get home and figure "you know what my phantom pain isn't that bad I'm just going to quit my Pregablin". Now I should have known better as I once did exactly the same thing with another neuro drug back around 2009/10 and it sent me mental.

So long story short over the last few weeks I have done cold turkey coming off these bloody awful tablets. I've had all the usual withdrawals, but at least now I am drug free and aim to try and keep it that way. Yeah I have phantom pain and it's horrible, but I would much prefer to have the pain than be addicted to something that screws with my mind and even when I'm taking them doesn't do a great deal to help.

Well anyway there is a little insight into why I haven't been around. If anything I hope anyone who comes across my blog and reads stuff like this can see that just because I have all this good stuff going on, what with being sponsored by both Pace Rehabilitation and Brian Bartlett and then of course also being aided in my fund raising to help get me a running blade by Arctic ONE, that everyone can go through dodgy patches in their lives. Everyone is entitled to feel a little sorry for themselves. Saying that I would be a hypocrite if I didn't then go on to say one of my mantras in life is "that out of every negative, there is a positive, you just have to look hard enough". So what is it in this case? Well I don't have to think too long and I can come up with lots. For one when you're on the bottom the only way is up. When your down, you discover what good family and  friends you have, oh and you also discover that people don't just like you because you try to put on this act of being happy all the time and being the life and sole of the party. They like you for you and all your quirks.

I've found it's been really helpful chatting to my various friends near and far and when they ask "Hey Glenn how are you doing?", instead of replying in typical fashion "Oh yeah I'm ok thanks", actually saying "you know what I haven't been feeling so good". I guess I'm of the opinion if no one really knows then how can anyone help.

After all sometimes all we need is a friendly ear and someone to talk things through with,someone who doesn't say "pull yourself together and stop feeling sorry for yourself", but rather says "well we are here for you".

It's to those people I say a huge thank you too...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Great service from Si at Cycle Solutions

Since snapping my chain a few weeks ago on my Fat Bike I've encountered a few problems, what with getting my gears set up and this really annoying creak/click on my cranks. A few months ago I took my bike to my local Evans to get the threads cleaned in my bottom bracket, and have the BB installed. I purchased the more expensive Nitride BB, thinking it would last longer. You see for some strange reason my eThirteen cranks wore away on one side. Anyhoo this was an expensive repair the cranks along with chain rings and BB coming in at well over £300.

Long story short ever since having the new BB and cranks put in place my bike has more or less creaked when ever I put power down on my good side. After my chain snapped, sending me over the bars, my dad took my rear wheel off to check to make sure everything was ok. He noticed I had a few spokes that could maybe do with being tightened, so off again he went down to Evans taking my back wheel so that they could tighten my spokes along with my cones. Ern then replaced my rear Shimano cassette and I had him pop in some new blingtastic Hope Jockey Wheels, my old ones were looking like ninja throwing stars. 

Both Ern and I then had a go at setting up my gears and it was an epic fail. For some reason we just couldn't get the indexing right and the chain was jumping all over and missing gears on the cassette.

Now last week my friend Wayne had come to drop off a little Kodak video camera he has, one of my other friends might be interested in buying it. Wayne just happened to mention that he had dropped his Rock Shox forks off at a bike shop and they were going to do a complete service for him,costing around £80. Anyhoo he went on to tell me that when he was at home, he came across this very nice lad called Si who was across the road from where Wayne lives. I'm not sure how they got chatting but Wayne discovered Si runs his own mobile bicycle repair,servicing and maintenance business, so he asked Si for a quote to service his forks and when Si said £25, Wayne was more than happy and went and collected his forks so that he could hand them over to Si to sort out.

I remembered Wayne telling me about Si so txt him yesterday for Si's number. I then gave Si a quick ring, however there was no answer. About 15 minutes later I had a return call and I explained to Si that Wayne had recommended him and could he come and have a look at my gears sometime. "Yeah I'll call around at 18:30pm" Si said, and true to his word come 18:30pm there he was ringing my door bell. I quickly put my boots on and we headed off to our shed, so that Si could have a look and see if he could manage to work there or if he would need to take my bike to his workshop. "Oh I should be able to sort it here" Si said and he got stuck right in. I think Si was on with my bike around 45 to 50 minutes and I really enjoyed chatting away to him as he worked. He showed me where the indexing was wrong and, how to better route my cables and actually got my gears running smoother than they had in a very long time. We talked about Si's business Cycle Solutions and I have to say I was very happy with his skill and knowledge and at just how friendly he was, giving me advice on maintaining my bike and isn't it just so much fun talking to someone who shares your passion.

Well anyway I just wanted to write a small blog and give Cycle Solutions and Si a bit of a shout out, it's great to find local people trying to get on, and when they offer such a great service and very reasonable rates all the better.

Next job for Si and Cycle Solutions  is to fit new inner and outer cables for me and sort this dam annoying creak in my crank it's driving me mad.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

First real ride out on Bike Swanky's PYGA 29'er

Kind of lost here without my dog Mr Hink's. Our house feels real empty and quiet. My dad, Ern is lost too, so I asked him "how you fancy heading out and helping me shoot a video and maybe get a few pics". It seemed like a good opportunity to take the demo bike I have on loan from Bike Swanky for a proper blast. Paul and Andy of Bike Swanky very kindly sent the bike up on Friday morning along with 2 jerseys a mtb and a road one and some Bike Swanky flyers and stickers.
Smile your on some kind of camera
Out the saddle and away up the trail

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Farewell my dear old friend...

Love you Hinks, you will be sorely missed
 A few days to reflect... It's not often I write negative posts here upon my blog. I mean sure bad stuff does happen in my life, just like everyone else's.But why write lots of maudlin crap and then get everyone feeling down, all teary eyed and feeling sorry for one another. So this blog (which I wasn't sure if I was going to write) is more a celebration of life, rather than the very sad fact I've lost a close friend.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Pace Rehabilitation - Real Lives

It's always nice to do something that's worthwhile, something that not only makes you feel good, but also gets the word out about the people behind the scenes, the ones who facilitate your success in a way.

Upon getting in from work today I checked my mails and was very pleasantly surprised to find out that I had been featured in Pace Rehabilitations - Real Lives. My friend Scott Richardson who is the Business Development Manager or PR Guru as I like to call him had wrote a very nice piece about my recent participation in Arctic ONE's triathlon down at Dorney Lake, Eton.

Of course the article is centred around me and what I have achieved, however I couldn't have done this without some very special people helping me along the way. I have been supported by Pace from very early on in my cycling adventures. We have a great relationship and this has moved on to become more of a relaxed friendship. What I like about Pace is that they take the time to listen, if I have ideas or suggestions they don't write it off and they do everything they can to encourage me, rather than being negative which I have found a lot of as an amputee.

Another huge influence on what I have gone on to do is through the use of my BTK or Bartlett Tendon Knee. Again without Brian Bartlett's backing and support I would hate to think of where I would be now. As an ordinary guy who didn't lose his leg through and accident and I wasn't in the military well funding such expensive prosthetics would have been very difficult. I realise just how lucky I am to have had the support of people and clinics like Brian and Pace. Though I would say to anyone, you can make things happen if you want them bad enough. I did. If your positive and determined in time will shine through, of course you still have to take the knocks and put in a lot of hard work

More recently, maybe because of what I was doing or involved in. Or just because I put myself out there, Arctic ONE came along and agreed to help me fund raise towards a running prosthesis. This is a huge help and one that will not go unrewarded in return. My aim or goal after learning to run of course is to try and return all these peoples kindness and go on to help other people in similar situations to myself.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation accepted my application for a running blade and I got notification in April of this year. I now have until the 31st December to make my dream come true as that is when my grant runs out. So that's why I have been hard at work trying to fund raise and take part in various Arctic ONE events.

Anyhoo on to the Article and if you feel you would like to help either myself or Arctic ONE here is the link.

Virgin Money Just Giving Glenn

Pace Rehab Glenn-Johnstone-Triathlon-ArcticONE

Monday, 8 September 2014

Thanks Michelle for treating us to a fantastic Bush crafting experience.

Quite sometime ago my friend Michelle bought Lee (Michelle's husband), our friend John and I a lovely surprise gift. It was a days taster course on Bushcrafting. This is where you learn to use skills in order to set up a camp. Things like making, constructing and putting up shelters, how to light and make a fire and one of the most important things how to obtain safe drinking water from different sources.

Well yesterday was the pre-arranged day for our Bushcrafting adventure. John had decided he didn't fancy going, which was a shame as we had a fantastic day and learnt lots, even though we only had a short period of time with the instructors. So rather than just waste the place our friend Al jumped at the opportunity to come along and expand his knowledge of playing in the great outdoors.

Al and Lee at Kirkley Hall

Lee called for me around 8:30AM and we had a lovely leisurely drive up to Kirkley Hall, which is in Ponteland. There we met Al and had a few moments to have a chat and also meet some other adventurers as we waited. After a little time had passed we figured we must be in the wrong area as time was getting on and we hadn't really seen anyone else. So we asked this very friendly lady just where abouts the Bush-craft course people may be.The lady directed us down through the car park and towards the woods and there we found a larger group of people and some of the instructors, Ron and Margaret.

Ron and Margaret gathered a few details from all of the group and explained a little about how the course would be ran and then we were off walking down an incline and some steps and into the woods, all very scenic.

Once in the woods there were cups of tea and coffee available and we where introduced to a few more instructors who were going to be helping with the Bushcrafting activities. There was Steve and Ron's son Alex.  The group of people attending the day was quite large so we were split into 3 groups of 7. This was great as it gave us all a chance to meet new people and really enjoy our successes and of course all have a laugh at our failings, of which I have to say there were few. Ron decided we should give our individual groups, names based on Indian themes. This is because he particularly likes the history of the Native American Indians, their use of the land and the tools and weapons they chose to use all those years ago. Ron is very much into archery, knife throwing and the use of a tomahawk and he has passed this passion down to his son Alex. The names of the tribes each group came up with were The Mow-hawks, The big Wood Tribe and the tribe I was in was called the Running Stream.

Each tribe then set off with an instructor to learn about different aspects of Bush-crafting. Our Tribe Running Stream, got Steve firstly as our instructor. We were to learn about shelters. Steve did an excellent job of testing our knowledge and then going on to explain how and why each shelter was made in a different way. Steve showed us an array of different knots, taking time to go over each one and if anyone got stuck helping out and offering top tips. It was a really good exercise in both team building and gaining valuable knowledge of how to construct a basic shelter within minutes. Top marks to Steve he was awesome, and like all the instructors on the day very likeable and easy to get along with.

We all thanked Steve and then broke for lunch. I decided to opt for a nice cup of coffee to go with my pre-prepared Nutella and carved chicken baby bread, fruit loaf sandwiches. It was great just sitting around the camp fire sharing stories and experiences with everyone. Me well I seem to talk more than most, in fact it's something I'm becoming increasingly aware of and at times I feel I should reign myself in. I don't know if it's because I'm getting overly confident these days or the opposite I'm quite afraid so I just waffle on about anything or nothing in particular. For those who know me I can't win as if I'm quiet I'm in a huff or sulking and when I'm chatting all the time I must be annoying. It's weird what you think of when your just typing away lol.

Lee checking for a saggy bottom
Lee chuffed his bottom isn't sagging
  After lunch we set off with Alex,who was going to teach us all about fires,. The best materials and tools to use to create a fire. Firstly Alex showed us what small kindling we would need to collect in order to get our fire going. We were asked to head off into the woods and collect 2 bundles of kindling each. Fine pine tree branches work best as they ignite well and the sap within the branches helps the fire burn. On our return Alex asked us all to take a seat and he meticulously went through various tinder's, how to make or prepare them and different methods of igniting a fire. We got to practice with fire steels as well as a metal striker and traditional flint. Then there was the old fashioned playground method of igniting a piece of Charred cotton, using a magnifying glass and the rays of the sun, Alex even used an old 9 volt battery and some wire wool in his demonstration. After Alex's demonstration we all got the opportunity to practice making our own fire, using a firesteel and a small amount of cotton wool which we rubbed Vaseline into. This makes for a great method of starting a fire and is very easy. Before long we all had fires of varying size and were all pretty proud of ourselves. Alex did a great job of teaching us all, he took time to answer our questions all the while making the exercise fun, informative and safe. Again top marks.

Ho Ho I have created Fire!
Al got well into it so
Blow Al Blow
Lee and Alex

Having a chat around the camp fires

Our next exercise was in water filtration and this was led by Ron.  As many of you will know water is very heavy when your attempting to carry it. I know a great deal of my overall back pack or Bike Bag Dude Frame bag weight is in carrying 3 litres of water, so being able to source water if or when you are on a long trip is a valuable piece of knowledge. I found this part of the course very interesting indeed. Ron went through lots of different ways in which we could source water and then the dangers of drinking from certain places, how we could utilise both natural and man made items such as reeds, socks, denim jeans,bottles, polythene bags, charcoal, sand and the list goes on, all to help make filtration devices to make the water safe for drinking or in order to collect safe drinking water.. More very useful information and definitely something I think we can and will put into practice as we plan for our adventure next year. 

Finally we joined up with Margaret who had a real treat in store for us. We were going to make Bannock Bread. Margaret handed us the ingredients and the small mixing bowls. It was my job to mix up the stuff for Lee Al and myself. I commented that the bread would be nice with raisins and Margaret just happened to have some, as well as some cinnamon, so I popped these in. Once mixed I attached the dough to a stick and spread it out evenly and Lee baked the bread over the open fire. it only took around 10 to 15 minutes and when done the bread tasted amazing.

Making Bannock Bread Mmmmmm!
"What are you boys doing!"
Lee giving the sign of his approval
 Wow the day had gone so quick and we had all thoroughly enjoyed it. This was just what they call a taster session, obviously you couldn't learn everything in one day. I have to say though I learnt so much in that short space of time and the guys over at Taught in the Woods  were all simply fantastic, so a huge thank you to Ron,Alex, Margaret and Steve. If your into the great outdoors I can't recommend doing something like this enough.

In ending a Huge thank you to Michelle for arranging the day out, we all had an awesome day. I will be giving you a huge hug and a few kisses when I see you next xXx

Sunday, 7 September 2014

I don't care what the weather man says When the weatherman says it's raining!

" I don't care what the weather man says.When the weatherman says it's raining". Well that's not exactly true, especially when the weatherman or lady says it's only going to rain intermittently maybe for an hour or so and it turns out that it actually persistently continues to persist to piss down non stop.

I'm a Firestarter

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Really enjoyable, yet slightly stressful weekend.

This weekend as I write has been a mixture of great up's and what is now a prolonged down. The up's being able to hang with one of my newer friends Al and go out on a great ride with him on Saturday, showing him my local area. Then today, Sunday having a very enjoyable roadie adventure (only  slightly marred by the bane of my life Strava and it not mapping my data or ride)  The down and what's stressing me out is that Mr Hink's is still not himself and has worsened and I'm really concerned. I've been holding off going to the vets as last time he picked up and the swelling around his neck went down. But come tomorrow I have asked Ern to get an appointment asap as our little lad, (well he's not so little due to the steroids he's on, Mr Hink's is getting increasingly fatter) just isn't very well. His neck is very swollen and it appears like fluid around his glands, he is also so lethargic. The only thing that hasn't changed is that he is still greedy and can hear the rustle of a crisp packet at 20 paces, it just takes him longer to get to you to scrounge a crisp.

Anyhoo I try to make my blog as positive as possible but thought I'd share my worries as although it's not the same as chatting to a friend, when I write stuff down it does seem to help as I feel everyone that reads my little tales does it because in some way they want to support me and in doing so also care about poor Mr Hink's.

Whilst out with Al I thought I'd lump my big camera around and practice with it some more. I really should be grabbing more shots I don't take half as many as I used to. Generally I see something I want to shoot, but it disappears in the blink of an eye and I don't have time to capture it. I'm not a great photographer, but I do have a keen eye, well at least for what I like.

The Farmer's Trail
You can call me Al
 Although Al and my local loop was relatively short at 18 miles or so we were out for a good few hours. I often think it's not the actual miles you get in but where your riding. Just like Lee a few days earlier Al was very impressed with some of the trails I took him upon. And of course I had to take him on the Farmers Trail, one of the main ways out of the Shire as it were. We mainly rode around the Beamish and Hedley Hall area, taking in a bit of the Tanfield Railway and showing Al the oldest remaining single span railway bridge in the world, the Causey Arch. This was built in 1725-26 at the cost of £12,000, a vast amount of money in those days.

Al in Beamish Woods
Say Nutella Al
No Back Pack for me today, just my trust Bike Bag Dude Frame Bag
Arctic ONE
 As Al and I rode up one particular stretch of road up a steep little hill I was in front and I pulled into a drive way of this house, just to wait for Al to catch up. I had been there a few days earlier on this same route with Lee and we had seen this goose, it never really bothered us. Well I saw this goose again today and as I waited for Al I kind of spoke to it in a nice friendly manner "aww hello there", all of a sudden this goose turns to look at me and it was like a scene from the Robert De Niro film with Travis Bickle  "You talkin' to me?  You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking to? You talkin' to me? Well. I'm the only one here." and then it decided to have a hiss and go into full on attack mode. As I was on the hill I couldn't set away quickly so had to kind of push my bike like a scooter, figuring if I turn around at least it can only have a go at ripping off my false leg lol. Just then a few people came out from the nearby back door of the Tea Rooms, which are in the Causey picnic area. One of the ladies who works there and this man saying that the goose is a nuisance and the man saying it's the worst tempered goose he has ever known. Both also said it would be better in a pot. Awww I disagree I think he was great, he was just doing his job and guarding his patch where he lives. No harm done.

Travis Bickle Goose  "You talkin' to me?
 Al and I then decided to head into the Tea Rooms for a very refreshing cup of tea and a slice of pie. Luckily Al had just enough for a couple of tea's and we shared a piece of corned beef pie. I had forgot I had brought my other bag so no stash of cash, my little pouch being left at home.

Throughout yesterdays ride we met nothing but nice friendly people, stopping to chat and pass the time of day it was very refreshing.

It was also canny breezy yesterday as we ended up at the end of Tanfield Railway near to the Industrial estate I asked Al "do you feel like riding a little further", "Yeah why not" he said. So we headed through the factories at Tanfield and boy was the wind really strong here. At one point we were both riding sideways, full tilt lol. As we approached Tanfield we cut around the back of the play area and through the council estate. I then took Al the back route on a trail up through Tantobie. This proved to be a canny hard little click and by half way we were both puffing and blowing. A short rest and we continued on to the top of White Le Head and the bowls green. 

Anyone for Bowls?
Playing around with my shot

My cones are slack again, got a wonky wheel
 A few pictures and then back on to the road for a short while before we cut down the back lane to Harperley. Al really enjoyed this downhill stretch. As we came to the bottom and the crossroads we turned right and I took Al along to meet my Uncle Dave over at Anfield Plain. We stayed a few minutes, then set off getting on to the C2C and our ride back into Mordor. We take a small detour and end up coming out at the Ox at the top end of Harperley this has enable Al to pick some wild heather which he says "is very lucky". 

Checking for Adders lol
Over here Al, there's a nice piece
Al says the heather is lucky, sure hope so :)
Al attached a piece of lucky heather to my bike, well I didn't crash on my way home bonus, though I did get a puncture Boo!
After this Al took his life in his own hands and drew out some money at one of our local ATM's (braver man than me Al). As we rode towards the subway to get onto Wear Road I informed Al to keep up a bit of a pace otherwise he may get his wheels nicked. Just joking I love the area I live in. It just needs much needed funding and some regeneration.The people on a whole from Stanley are all very friendly and pleasant.

As we come down Wear Road we called in to to see our mate John and his wife Kristina, cups of tea all round. I have some sandwiches left so get stuck in. I think I may have been a bit eager as I almost choked on the fruit loaf. Ewwww it's horrible when you choke then cough and something goes up your nose. In this case as I sniffed I discovered it was a raisin, it tasted ok after I got it back down...


On the Top Road
Bike Swanky's De Rosa Idol
 As Strava failed to log my ride I have a bit of a pet lip on. I can't be arsed to describe where I went as I'm buggered. I wouldn't exactly say I got lost, however I didn't really know the route, as well it was one of those adventures where you sort of see where it takes you, before thinking "I can't remember this many hills or having so few gears and wow I'm knackered now and I'm not sure how far home it is". Anyhoo I have awarded myself King of the Hill so screw you guys lol.

I would like to mention a lovely gentleman I met as I had rode through Satley. I caught up to him as he rode his bike and we shared a very nice conversation al the way up to the junction of the A68, where he turned Left to head towards Tow Law and I headed right in the direction of Corbridge. He asked all about me and in return I discovered that he was a retired lecturer from Durham University. John used to lecture in Civil engineering and was telling me all about his cycling adventures in France, he was a lovely fella. A big "hello" John if you do ever get to read my blog.

Ok the rest is pretty boring, well apart from the bit where I saw this geet big bull up on this hill and thought "Ooh that might make a nice picture". I'm not mountain biking so what can go wrong huh? No nettles...Wrong as I discovered when I fell over in the grass verge "aggghhh F...F.. F...Flipping heck that stings". I jumped up real quick and as I was on a relatively busy road did the old "look around to see if anyone had seen me". Result no one had and I didn't look like a complete muppet, well that was until I clocked the Bull staring at me from down the hill, you know with one of those "what a dick" stares as he chewed his cud. Omg what is it with me and animals this week, a rabid goose and a mocking Bull.

Just chewing the cud
"Ha Ha you fell over"
 A bit of a tour to get to Consett I then popped in to spend an hour with the Gooch, my cousin Guy at Consett. I love seeing wor Guy as he is a top fella, always upbeat and just good craic. Haven't seen either him or his wife Tracey in ages so it was good catching up.

From Guy and Tracey's it was home. No sooner in the house, swapped my leg out popped a pair of shorts n trainers on and I asked Ern "hey you fancy going for a ride around the route I've just done. "Yeah ok", anyhoo we worked it out at 28 miles, so that wasn't a bad effort especially as there were some canny hills. Screw you Strava I have a car and it has a proper odometer and everything, just means I have to go out twice and it could potentially be problematic when I'm out on my mountain bike going down a skinny off road trail D'oh.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dorney Lake and my first Triathlon with Arctic ONE

August the 23rd has soon come around. This was to be the day where I would take part in my first ever triathlon. A challenge set by all the lovely guys at Arctic ONE and something in which I was eager to have a go at. The venue, Dorney Lake, Eton,Bucks. 

For those of you following my adventures or journey, blog call it what you will, you'll know I'm quite an active person. Since becoming ill back in 95 (notice I say ill as I still have difficulty describing myself as disabled, disabled for me is when you can't do something/anything and it is a phrase or description that I feel can be quite stigmatising, just my opinion, sure other people may see it differently) Anyhoo I have had this recurring (don't know if you would call it a dream) lets just say a thought that I wanted to run. Although as a fit and healthy person I was never an athlete I just enjoyed trotting around. I regularly ran about whilst delivering letters and packages as a postman, something to which my old work colleagues would testify to.

I've had fantastic support since becoming an amputee with my cycling, through the likes of Brian Bartlett and Leftside Inc and of course Pace Rehabilitation. So I thought as my local Disability Service Centre couldn't or wouldn't help me out running prosthesis wise I would try a different avenue as a last ditch effort in doing what I wanted to do. This is when I approached the Challenged Athletes Foundation and this whole new exciting part of my life began. You see the Challenged Athletes Foundation approved my grant for a running blade. This was just the start I needed and from there I was very fortunate to get other people come along and support me as they heard about what I was trying to do. Really this is where all of you my readers and fans, maybe fans isn't the right word, it makes me sound as if it has all gone to my head... lol, But yeah because my blog has been quite successful and people appear to find it interesting well it has helped me promote myself. It has also been very therapeutic for me of course, in allowing me to write down just how I'm feeling and giving me time to reflect on all that has gone on.

Within a couple of days of me discovering I had been approved for a running blade Matt and Bex two of the trustees from Arctic ONE contacted me. Arctic One was launched in November 2011 to coincide with Matt Kirby running the Antarctic Half marathon and 'The Arctic ONE Foundation - Get Involved' became a charity in it's own right in October 2012. The Arctic ONE Foundation is however not all about raising money, No that is just part of it. Their mission is all about getting people of all abilities involved and active within their community and introducing them to new opportunities in sport. Matt and Bex both explained they were very eager to help me fund raise for the additional costs of getting the required components to build my running prosthesis. This is somewhere in the region of £8500. We chatted about what we could do for one another and basically this comes down to support. Arctic ONE do a superb job of arranging all sorts of events, such as duathlon's, triathlons and aqua events. As people donate they collect the funds and then support athletes right here in the UK. It's a bit like a smaller scaled down version of the Challenged Athletes Foundation and something we desperately need here in the UK. There are so many people with potential that just cannot afford to take part in sport and I don't mean just the elite athletes. Arctic ONE aims to help people of all abilities, able bodied or disabled. So this for me was a great opportunity to yes get much needed help in getting a very expensive running limb, something I just couldn't afford myself, however also hopefully putting that limb to good use and then going on to continue to support Arctic ONE raise more donations for similar people in their sporting endeavours.

As we spoke on the phone I informed Matt and Bex that I wanted to spread the word of Arctic ONE up in the North East, my region, as I feel we really lack input up here, there is just nothing going on. I'm hoping we can change that.

I'm very proud to be supported and working alongside Arctic ONE as their objectives are really important to me, having being diagnosed with a giant cell tumour, then losing my limb, and then of course being diagnosed with Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma a year after my amputation. This charity ticks all the boxes for me as it were and that's another reason I wanted to work alongside everyone at Arctic ONE. They promote positivity, determination, support and the fight against cancer.

Objectives include:

Establish and develop a series of events and challenges for both able bodied and disabled athletes.

Empower,motivate and inspire people through sport.

Provide adaptive equipment and financial support where possible to groups and individuals to help them achieve their sporting goals.

Establsih open "Tri-days" to reach, engage and encourage those with all abilities and disabilities to try a variety of sports and events with both training and coaching.

Support projects that contribute to the fight against cancer in terms of Research, treatment and cure.

Develop the possible link between physical exercise and active lifestyles leading to the prevention and survival from cancer related diseases.

After taking part in Arctic ONE's Hawrdidge Duathlon, as a tag team, with Scott Richardson of Pace being my wingman and doing the run section and myself doing the ride section on my Fat Bike I decided come the triathlon I'm going to have to get a skinnier bike, Oh and learn to swim. Yeah that's right I hadn't swam in like 20 years, thought's of "Omg what have I got myself into" coming into my head. Never the less I like a challenge. Funnily enough and this may sound weird to an able bodied person, but the biggest challenge for me was not so much the swimming, no it was the going from the changing room, without my leg on, hopping on elbow crutches and knowing that people were inevitably starring at the one legged bloke at the side of the pool. This is when it really did hit me "Glenn you kind of are disabled", then as an after thought, that internal dialogue, it's like "dude screw that you are here aren't you, just get in the water and try not to drown". Something I have learnt over time is that 9 times out of 10 strangers aren't really all that concerned about you, nope it's just that we humans perceive ourselves to be self important, well lets face it everyone does. Now going to the swimming pool is no big deal. Yeah I need a little bit of help, sometimes my friend John who has been absolutely fantastic, will come along to pop my leg in the first aid room for safe storage then join me for a swim. On the times he can't come, Ern (my dad) will come along just to give me a hand with my gear. Ern doesn't come in the pool as he can't swim. Next challenge getting Ern in Druridge Bay, hey maybe he can help look for my lost camera lol.

I would say I have had roughly 3 to 4 months to prepare for my triathlon. I'll be honest and tell you I haven't really done much extra in my daily fitness routine. My body is not exactly a temple, my muscles toned and powerful. I'm more like the leaning tower of Pisa, especially with only one leg on, or some might even say a derelict building in some need of some restoration. I have tried to keep up a swimming routine of once per week, even achieving completing over a mile on my fourth or fifth visit to the pool, something I was very proud of. My boss and friend at work Dan spurred me on as I told him "today I'm going to try to do 50 lengths", "why not do 64" he said "and that will be a mile". I actually did 70, yes I had a small break half way through and it wasn't fast, but I felt good. 

I then acquired a wetsuit from Start Fitness in Newcastle, getting some great advice from one of the sales team. Nick was awesome, allowing me to take the wetsuit home and try it on. Then when I returned to the store saying "it's too small I can't get it on" helping me get it on in store and saying "if it's tight in the store it fits, if it's feels comfortable it's too big". Of course he was right. Although I hate putting the suit on, once in the water it fits fine and keeps me remarkably warm. Next step was my first Open water swim. Again Dan was there to support me here and I met both him and his family up at Druridge Bay and we had what was initially a scary start for me, but I soon became relaxed and took on board some great advice from Dan who watched my swimming style and gave me pointers. A few more trips to Druridge  stood me in good stead for my event at Dorney Lake.

As the swimming was going well I got around to thinking about a road bike. I didn't want to buy a Time Trials bike as I figured it would be a bit redundant. After all I wasn't going to be doing a triathlon every other week, where as I could just hop on a normal road bike and head off and do a few miles when or if I fancied it. So my search for a reasonably priced, good spec'd bike commenced. I'm a pain for knowing what I like and what I don't and trying to find a bike in my price range was a nightmare. Eventually I came across a company named Bike Swanky and after speaking to Paul one of the Co-owners and him being very enthusiastic about what I was doing and offering me sponsorship on a bike in return for some positive PR for Bike Swanky we struck upon a deal. It's worked out well actually as I bought a road bike and got the opportunity to get a new mountain bike in a sponsorship deal. Sweet you can never have too many bikes, though Ern would disagree as we are running out of space to store them.

As I wasn't sure what size bike I needed and Bike Swanky couldn't get the colour De Rosa Idol I wanted before September as it wasn't released, they were very kind in offering me one of their demo model De Rosa Idol's to take part in my triathlon, so a huge thank you to all the guys at Bike Swanky. Oh and also a massive thanks to Craig Stevenson at Performance Sports Consultants who did my bike fit. Bike Swanky directed me to Craig and what a first class service he provides.

Just about ready to set off
Well as you can see, or should I say read this is turning out to be an epic blog, well I wanted to give you an overall background and I was away for two days. I wasn't alone of course, no part of my or should I say our gang (which is increasing in number, must think of a cool gang name) was with me. My dad who is always at my side whilst doing stuff like this to offer his never ending support and I had invited my friends  John and Ade to come along. John was going to be my handler during the tri event. Para-athletes take part in different categories and depending on your level of disability you are allowed a certain number of people to assist you. This can be for getting in and out of the water or with equipment. Ade I had asked a few weeks earlier about the possibility of coming along and taking some shots of the day. I mentioned this to Matt and he was really excited. Very pleased Ade could make it as after all it was my first event like this and it's always nice to have something to look back on.

The drive down to the venue in Eton Berkshire, well lets just say it is long, very long, especially when you get stuck in traffic. I'm not a huge fan of travelling, it's boring and I get uncomfortable. I have to say though the journey down was ok as we were all pretty up beat and having a bit of a laugh and carry on. I was particularly chuffed to bits when I received a message from one of my good friends Al. He had posted a message and all it read was Glenn.m4a as a downloadable file. I furiously messed on with my phone trying to receive a signal so I could download this mystery file. I then got it and was over the moon as I plugged my phone into the car audio system so everyone could hear the message. What an absolutely lovely bloke John Foster is. John is one of the Radio presenters of BBC Radio Tees, who have been fantastic in their support of me.

Here is the clip

A huge shout out to BBC Radio Tees and John Foster, thank you so much. Oh and to Al Roberts. Al actually emailed John and John went on to record the personal message especially for me. It's the little things that people do to show they care, that always have the biggest impact. I feel very lucky to have met and made such good friends over the last few years.

One of our favourite games as we drove down was criticising other peoples driving, done in a rather posh accent (Lee you will know what I'm on about..."What are you boys doing") and referring to the odd scumbag as they carried out some reckless manoeuvres. Six and a half hours it took us to get down, "omg I can't feel my leg, well of course not it's false you plonker", "Oh aye". I have to say that new rotator the DSC provided worked canny. I can turn my foot to get it out of the way on long journey's, just have to remember to put it straight when I get out of the car "do'h"

At the hotel, whopppeee, ride down was looooong!
We booked in to our reserved rooms at the Copthorne, Oh what you know the rooms given were Rooms 104 and funnily enough room 101. Ade any myself taking room 101 (I'm still contemplating what I would get rid of in room 101 lol) We all had a quick moment to chill then headed over to meet up with Matt and Bex over at Dorney Lake. Just wanting to say "Hi" and get a feel for the venue. It also gave Ade an opportunity to see where he could get some good vantage points for tomorrows shots. After spending a little time having a look around we said our fair wells until the following day and headed back, popping in at a local supermarket to grab some snacks. Again we chilled in one of the rooms together then went downstairs to have a bit chat in the bar. By this point I think everyone was a bit tired from the drive down, so it was an early night as we had agreed to get up early to catch breakfast at 7am.

Enjoying a pint in the hotel
At Dorney Lake, Eton
Mmmmm breakfast. I was gutted as I was starving, but knew I couldn't load up my plate with sausages,bacon,scrambled eggs, well you get the picture a full English. No for me it was a miniature English, Oh there was croissants and all sorts of other stuff too. I knew if I ate to much I might sink and even the small bit I had was lying heavy on my tummy. Time to grab all of our gear, including two bikes as I was returning Matt's which he had very kindly loaned to me to have a go on. I checked us out of the hotel and we headed over to Dorney Lake.

When we got there we got all the required stuff together and headed over to the registration tent. I was extremely surprised at just how many people spoke to me, as if they knew me and the warm welcome from everyone was brilliant. Ade immediately went about setting up his photography equipment and headed off taking various shots. Ern, John and I went inside the registration tent and I registered and got my event number, "Mmmmm" is this a sign I thought, firstly room 101 and now my event number "13". All  stickers, registration number and wrist bands affixed we had a short wait before both John and I went over and into the transition area. Ern wandered around with his camera and watched the other competitors as they set off.

The registration tent and table opposite with all of Arctic ONE's goodies
My friend Michelle had sent down some lush home made cakes
John gave me a hand set up my gear, both of us trying to figure out the best way for quick transitions between getting out of the water and to the bike, then from the bike to the run, or in my case the walk. (This was the only section I was dreading as without a running blade I knew it was going to take me like what seemed forever to get around the 2.5km and I would be sore by the end of it)

Pretty much as soon as I got my wetsuit on with a bit of assistance from John it was my turn to enter into my first tri. Lots of people including Matt had been asking me "do you feel nervous"  to which I replied "no not really". I think this is because in my own head the only person I was up against was myself. I knew if I gave it my all and did the best I could then that was good enough. I also know I'm a canny determined guy and there was no way I was going to let either myself or more importantly all those lovely people who had supported me down. As I entered the water assisted by 2 helpers my arms around their shoulders I thought "dear me this is a bit caad'er (colder) than Druridge Bay". My next thoughts as I swam to the start opposite the large buoy in deeper water was of all the advice I had been given from people like Bex, her friend Amy, Dan at work and of course Matt on that very morning. Matt saying don't head off sprinting, take your time and if you feel you have a bit left in you save it for the last 100 meters. All excellent advice and thanks guys for getting me this far.

Me getting ready. I hate these new goggles
Andy just finished his swim and on his way out

Andy being assisted out of the water
  The swim went well, yeah it wasn't particularly quick. I was really annoyed partly with myself and partly with my goggles. Myself because I should have just gone out and bought another new pair of goggles in the first place and with the ones I had on because they let in water again. I haven't got the best sense of direction and add this to the fact that my goggles had let in water well it was like swimming blind. Good job there was a very nice chap in front of me in a kayak leading the way and watching out for my safety. The main thing is I got around safe and sound and into the transition area where John helped me off with my wetsuit and got my Bartlett Tendon ready for me to put on. I gave my stump a bit of a quick rub then popped my silicon Ossur X5 liner on. This proved quite difficult as my hands kept slipping over the liner as they were wet. I got there in the end and I made my way to the exit of the transition, got over the line and mounted my bike. Sweet I managed to get clipped in first time and reached under my saddle for the lever to raise my seat post and I was off.

The ride section wasn't to bad as I headed down the road, managing to maintain a nice steady pace. "Funny how my mouth feels so dry after coming out of a lake" I thought as I rode along. I had a drinks bottle attached to the frame of my bike, but I didn't want to reach down for it as it was quite breezy and I am still not quite used to riding a road bike. If I take one hand off the bars I tend to wobble a bit, "nope I'll air on caution and get a drink when I stop". I was to do 10km's on the bike, this was 2 laps. On the home straight wow was it tough the head wind felt really strong as I rode alongside the lake. On more lap to do. "I definitely need to work more on road riding as it's totally different to mountain biking", funny the thoughts that go through your mind as your in the saddle. "Dig in Glenn". Around I go for my second lap, my thighs burning a bit now. The home straight is no easier and I find rather than upping a gear I'm actually dropping as I fight against the wind. As I approach the transition I get off and try to get to my changing area as quick as possible. Bartlett Tendon off, crappy everyday leg on. Time to suck it up. I've had to put an extra stump sock on in the transition area as my socket isn't the best fit.

On the road bike
Pulling into the transition area

  I'm of walking and doing the occasional double skip now and again, trying to go as fast as I can. I know this is going to be slow, however again my thoughts come back to why I am doing this, it's about the taking part and when I get my running blade I will be able to look back and see how far I have come. Everyone has to start somewhere right?  Within about 1/2km I know I'm blistered. I continue on and even keep at a nice steady pace, my goal is the finish line. Plenty of time to worry about a sore ass later. Before I know it it's all over and I am receiving lovely words of encouragement and support. A very kind lady hands me my finishers medal and that's it, all that hard work over in what seems an instant.

Matt keeping an eye on things
The timing guy and Matt
A Finishers Medal ...Cool
Errrr where's the Start?
Arctic ONE
Ern and Me

 Matt surprised me when I got home. I received a lovely message from him saying I now have a big fan base "down here" after attending the Arctic ONE events. This is great news, not just because it makes me feel good, but because it is helping to promote all the great work that Arctic ONE is doing. I have a real sense of pride. Though in typical Glenn fashion it also leaves me feeling "What now" and my mind is furiously thinking up new challenges and adventures.

I mean come on I have to do something to keep you all entertained right?

Don't worry more in the pipeline they just take a bit of organising. Please remember you can still donate to either 

Arctic ONE Virgin Just Giving Page

or at my own page at

Glenn's Virgin Just Giving Page

It just shows sometimes if you dream hard enough,  and reach far enough and say to people "hey this is what I would like to do, do you think you can help me" that there are people out there willing to give you that lift up and help you achieve and it's to these people I owe so much. Too many to mention and not enough words to express my appreciation. I only hope I can give back even a fraction of your generosity and support in helping other people. 

Home safe n sound wow it was an epic journey back 7 hours
 Thanks to Ern and John for the photo's. I didn't get any as I can't swim, ride and walk quickly whilst taking photo's lol