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

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

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Burnhope and the big hill, which actually looks bigger than it looks, when you look at it.

Now I know once I pop my video on Youtube, people will take a look at this "tiny hill" and just say things to the effect off "what hill" or "what a pussy", however I can assure you this little hill was canny hard work and it's a lot steeper than what it appears in any photo or video shot.

My hopefully lucky horseshoe
   

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Mixed feelings about biving and riding so far in 2 days.

 This is long. I've tried to write it as short as possible, however it's hard trying to condense 2 days worth of stuff into a few paragraphs and hey I had nothing better to do with my Sunday apart from look after my sore ass, have the occasional coffee and just relax.

So as I've said it's Sunday morning as I write about my adventures which took place on Friday and Saturday. I've awoke to a very stiff left leg (the one I call my good leg) although at the moment it doesn't feel all that good. Not only is it stiff, but I also have that darn niggling pain back in my ACL (cruciate ligament). I put it down to my shoes and the cleat position as it happened last time I wore these ones on a long ride. I've tried adjusting them several times, however no joy. Funnily enough I also have a pretty stiff stump too. I guess that shows the extent of the workout I gave the poor little fellow. Add this to saddle and socket sores and a blend of phantom pain and your probably wondering "errr why do you bother when it causes all this pain and discomfort". Well there's an easy answer it's because I love being out with my friends, riding my bike, seeing new places and faces and making memories. In the past I have had way too much sit in the house, thinking "well this is it for me", so now I have the ability to do things I like to grab every opportunity I can.

So lets move on to the tale of our micro-adventure. 


Thursday, 22 May 2014

A not so short ride to Finchale priory

Bikes,cycling,pedalling,more bikes and what I do when I go out and who with on my bike...Ah well here's more.

The night before this latest adventure I went to bed with an idea of just how I was going to shoot this little movie of this pretty steep hill I had found. A few days previous I had been out with John and quite by chance we came upon this hill, that at the time didn't look all that steep, however it proved to be quite difficult to get up. Part of the reason for me was being on my NS Soda at the time which is only equipped with a 10 speed gear set-up, so no granny to drop to, to help me up.

Anyhoo when I got in from work on Wednesday John had been on the phone saying he fancied a ride to Finchale Priory. I told him about my plans for heading out and capturing some footage and he agreed we could put Finchale off to another day.

Finchale priory







Monday, 19 May 2014

Just a few pics from a couple of days out on my bike with John.


Over in a field near Burnhope
 This will be a really short blog...I promise. Why well my heads a bit done in what with all this NVQ Malarky. Everyone keeps saying "Oh you have a year to do it, you will get it done no probs" however I'm not as confident as everyone so in order to just get it done I've been spending every moment I'm either not working,cycling or swimming doing my course work. Just put in another 7 1/2 hour stint today...well I did have one break to polish off some chicken steaks and chips, then it was back to reading,trawling the internet and typing. I think I'll feel a lot better when I get my first few assignments marked off. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

A ride to St Mary's, only a few Scumbags along the way,Lighting issues on the way back

I almost didn't even write this blog, not because it wasn't interesting, well at least to those of you who enjoy my stories, No more because for the first time in what seems like centuries I am just way too busy.

I haven't eaten in 2 days, stress is not good and I need to find ways of controlling my OCD'ish tendencies. It's now 3:11am and I can't go to bed until I've completed my blog, edited my photo's and presented you with what's going on. Ok concentrate Glenn...


St Mary's Lighthouse

Saturday, 10 May 2014

I haven't cut anything as it's a great blog,by Michelle Sheridan

Hi Glenn, here's my attempt at writing something for your Blog.  I think its too long but feel free to cut from it.  Wow I've just read it - and its an epic !!!  Let me know what you think. 

xxxx
My name's Michelle and the below is a snapshot of my life since 23rd March 2014 (the date that I refer to as the 'Fate Date') to today (10 May 2014). 

Going back (briefly to set the scene) to about last Spring or Summer Lee (my husband) and I were in Stanley Front Street when Lee ushered to me to check out this bike heading our way.  Lee is a keen cyclist and always commenting on bikes and their components.  I could see the bike had really big tyres and my thoughts were 'yeah its a bike with unusally big tyres'.  As it neared us Lee remarked that it was a 'Sandman - a Fat Bike' and the tone of his voice and look on is face assured me without any doubt that what we were looking at was something special.  As it drew closer we were both staring, then as the bike and rider flew passed we noticed that the rider had an artificial leg.  Simultaneously we turned to look at each other and in silence we knew exactly what each other was thinking.  I could read Lee's mind as he thought 'That's one hell of an amazing bike' whilst at the same time we both thought 'Bloody hell that bloke's got a false leg and yet he's riding that bike like a pro !'.  We both then exchanged words to the effect of 'I hope he didn't think we were staring at his leg'.
Anyway Lee talked about this bloke on his bike all the way home, all afternoon and all night.  Lee reckoned that such a bloke riding such an amazing bike couldn't possibly be from Stanley but he pondered why this bloke was riding through Stanley Front Street.  Lee was convinced he must have been lost !
Anyway months passed and Lee saw this bloke a couple of times whilst out riding, but had never been close enough to stop and have a word.  Then one day, googling and youtub'ing Bike things, Lee came across a video of Glenn Johnstone and Lee recognised him and the bike.  He was amazed especially when he saw that Glenn had posted loads of videos.  When Lee started watching them he started to recognise loads of local areas.  We then found Glenn's blog and was amazed to see that Glenn actually lived in Stanley.
All of this resurrected Lee's fascination with Glenn.  His videos were really great quality and superbly edited.  Lee produces some of his own home videos, is a total perfectionist and the two clearly shared more than just one passion now - bikes and producing great home videos ! 
(In the style of Glenn .... this is going on longer than I had anticipated - so stick the kettle on !):
OK, cup in hand ?  Good ... I'll continue .....
Lee had always hoped that there would be someone local to him that he could go on bike rides with.  I have a bike and like the occasional ride out, but Lee and I are at opposite ends of the scale when it comes to cycling, stamina, endurance and fitness.  He really needed someone more in keeping with his own ability.  I therefore suggested that, via Glenn's blog, he send Glenn an email.  Lee isn't exactly pushy when it comes to some things - like this.  So kept finding excuses (Lee is adamant they weren't excuses and he was genuinely going to contact Glenn) but I was tired of waiting for this to happen.  So, in keeping with my own personality, I just jumped right in there and sent Glenn an email one evening when Lee was at work one night.  The email explained how Lee and I had seen Glenn (infact having read his blog and watched so many of his videos regularly in the preceding days - some might actually call it Stalking !), and how we had admired him and tried to explain how inspirational he was.  I ended by suggesting that he might like to go for a bike ride with Lee sometime.  I worded it carefully to make it easy for him to refuse in case he wasn't interested.
This was the Fate Date - 23rd March 2014.  Within an hour of sending the email I had received a response !  With anticipation I opened it, wondering what Lee's response might be when he found out, especially if Glenn had told me to naff off thinking I was some weird stranger.  Anyway I opened the email and was thrilled to see that his response was fantastic - he was thrilled at my email and was definitely up for a ride out with Lee.  I exchanged another email saying Lee would be over the moon but that he was at work and that he'd be sure to email Glenn when he was back home.
That was it - from us all meeting each other, and Glenn's friend John, we instantly hit it off and from that date to this - they've all been out on loads of bike rides and had some amazing fun (and perhaps some not such fun times .... reference:  Pickles (watch the video and it'll all make sense)).  Mostly though, they've had a great time in all weathers.

Happy days ahead.  Glenn was such an inspiration to us and as we found out more about him, we really wanted to help in any way we could.  Lee had met 2 local lads with likewise enthusiasm on cycling and general philosophies on life.  Perfect.  (In fact Lee and Glenn are so alike its uncanny .... their habits, their perfectionist idealism, their interests and the list can go on).
Well that was it - life couldn't be more perfect - or so I thought ......

Time for another cuppa ?

Now since January 2014 I had complained of a stuffy nose and congested head - exactly the same kind of symptoms you get with a head cold.  I didn't feel shivery or ill - just had what we up in the north would describe as 'a right snotty nose'.  By mid February it hadn't shifted and by now I had a blocked ear too (I'd describe this as that kind of blocked ear when you go swimming and you've got water trapped in it).  I tried all ways to release the water (as I had been regularly swimming too - so naturally thought it was trapped water).  As neither my congestion or blocked ear were improving I decided to visit the Docs.  He told me to go and take more decongestant tablets (I'd already taken a few courses) and if it hadn't shifted in 2 weeks time to return to the Docs.  Before 2 weeks was up I went back - it obviously wasn't going to shift.  The Doc referred me to a local ENT clinic.  I had to wait over 4 weeks for this appointment.  When it came the examining Doctor stuck a camera up my nose, had a good look round then into the back nasal cavity where he found 'a growth'.  He tried to reassure me and said that often these things amount to nothing but that it was important to have it checked out quickly just to be sure.  So he made a referral to a local hospital for a biopsy.
Within 2 weeks I had this appointment (23rd April 2014 - exactly 4 weeks after Fate Date) and with a little bit of nervous tredipation attended hospital for the procedure.  When I was awake from the anaesthetic and back up on the ward, feeling OK considering, and drinking lots of water the Consultant came to see me at my bed side.  He confirmed he was 'very very concerned' with what he had found.  I instantly filled with dread and he stated that he wanted to see me in 1 week when he would have the results back and he advised that my husband should be in attendance with me.
Lee was on annual leave this next week and together we spent a worrying time waiting for the results.  Whilst it was worrying, though, we somehow managed to spend that week with not one tear and filled with fun and laughter having little visits here and there - garden centres, shops and pubs (though I should make it clear I didn't drink - Lee however, clearly felt the need for a few tipples that week !).  It was a very loving time (actually it is always very loving), and I had told Lee I didn't want to spend the week in tears, moping around and feeling sorry for myself.  In hindsight we have both acknowledged how we found it hard to use the word 'Cancer' during this week.  I imagine this is something many people affected by cancer (patients and their families) find at first.
The week passed quickly and it was time to visit the hospital and receive the results.  We arrived on time and unfortunately the clinic was running late.  About an hour after our appointment time we were called into a room with the Consultant and what I now know to be a MacMillan Nurse - Kelly, who is absolutely lovely.  The Consultant asked me how I was feeling and I described this in both physical and emotional terms.  He then talked a bit (it's all actually a bit of a blur and I just don't recall any of it) other than him confirming that I had a malignant tumour - ie, cancer.  I engaged in conversation back with him and then it hit me there and then and my head fell into my hands.  Lee immediately wrapped his arms around me whilst I had some tears - actually not many - just a few - enough to release the shock of what was now confirmed.
 
After more discussion (again I don't really recall much of this) Lee and I left the hospital.  I had planned to meet my son that afternoon to update him on the results.  We wanted to do this before we told anyone else.  So we met Brynn and then made calls and sent texts to both of our families, apart from Lee's Mam who was in Cyprus.  I was adamant I didn't want her to know until she returned as I knew it would just spoil her holiday.
Around this time, we had become aware of Glenn wanting to raise money for Arctic ONE, a charity who supports abled and disabled people who have been affected by cancer to get into sport regardless of their ability.  They are keen to contribute to research that looks to identify the correlation between cancer prevention and sport and treating cancer related disease.  Glenn is being sponsored by them to receive a running blade and in return Glenn wanted to raise money for them.

So, again in my kind of way (and I suspect to the distaste of some people), I decided to announce my condition to others via facebook and wanted to use this as an opportunity to start and raise funds for Glenn and Arctic ONE and all of the other people that they support.  So in one breath I was telling everyone I had cancer and in the same breath asking them for donations.
Some people have commented how inspirational this has been and how amazing that I'm thinking of others when facing this horrific news myself.  The truth is though, that if I didn't have something positive to focus on and someone as inspirational as Glenn to admire, then psychologically I'd be in a very dark place with constant tears, feeling hopeless, pretty much alone, and desperately worried.
I had considered therefore that perhaps I am inanely selfish ! but have quickly (and thankfully) concluded that I'm not - because the truth is that Lee and I had very much wanted to help Glenn anyway - even before this disease was diagnosed.
However, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to me to have something as positive as Glenn and Arctic ONE to focus my attention on.
So who would have known that when I sent that email to Glenn on 23rd March 2014 for nothing more than Lee to have a cycling buddy that all along I had cancer and the real fate was not in Lee having a local bloke to go on a ride with but was actually to bring us all together to help support each other in what all 3 of us are going through. 

As I type this up, Lee is out on a ride with Glenn and John and I'm encouraging Lee to do as much cycling as he can, because I know that this will help him through the emotional roller coaster he's about to embark upon and there's nothing I want more than to ensure Lee gets every bit of support he needs.   He is an amazing man that both myself and Glenn will benefit from hugely.
So I ask of anyone reading this to do just one very simple thing .............. please give £1.00 by clicking on the below link.
Proportionately speaking your donation is worth far far more than the £1.00 that will leave your pocket.  It will help, directly and indirectly:
Me
Glenn
Lee
and the 100s of people that Arctic ONE will be supporting over many years - adults, children, able bodied, disabled, parents, carers and the list goes on.
Thank you so much for donating.
Going back to my first paragraph ...... when I said that (referring to Glenn) we were undoubtedly looking at something special .... then we truly were and only now can we see just how special !
  
Thanks Glenn for all of your support.  This friendship was just meant to be. 

XXXX

Thank you for writing this fantastic blog and also for all your kind words. I'm so glad to have met both yourself and Lee and my friendship and support will be there always.

XxX

Friday, 9 May 2014

Always nice when the Postie appears with Goodies

I know this blog may appear rather sad when or if you decide to read it, however for me these few things I have treat myself to are special. they will allow me to head off into the wilds and just get away from it all and try and live without any complications. I know it will just probably be a micro-adventure, away some weekend or another, but it's exciting for me, a reminder  of when I was a kid and was allowed to camp out on the top field. Heading out on a night and for my sins "garden raiding" Compared to what kids get up to nowadays it was nothing, plus there was the added risk of back in those days if I got caught I would get a thick ear from any potential allotment owners, then off the police and then when I got home yet another one off my dad.

So what came, well I ordered a Snugpak Special Forces Bivi bag. I had originally decided to get an Alpkit Hunka XL after my friend Lee told me all about the reviews the bags had been getting. Unfortunately when I went to purchase a Kelp coloured bag they were all out. I wanted something dark rather than say luminous orange just in case I had to errrr hide somewhere when camping in England, best to be sleeping stealthy, rather than saying "Hey I'm over here".

I also ordered a Light my Fire Swedish FireKnife,which has  an integrated Fire Steel and a Limited edition Light my fire glow in the dark Spork...Like I say I know sad he he !

First impressions of the Snugpak Special Forces Bivi bag, well it's very small when it's in it's little stuff sack. I like that. It's very easy to get out and just as easy to put away, yes I had a bit practice. All you do is stuff it back into the bag provided. I've never Bivi'ed before so not sure how thick or thin these bags are supposed to be. I can't really give a good review until I've tried it. Overall I like the design it has a toggle so you can pull the top of the bag tight, and I like the half zip closure which is handy for getting in and out of. You can also sit up in this bag I suppose whilst having a nice cuppa and still keep your feet, or in my case foot warm. I was impressed with the length of the bag it appears quite long, which is handy as I am about 6 feet tall.

Now to the Light my Fire Knife and Integrated Fire Steel. I did quite a bit of research before purchasing this knife. Not so much in how it preformed, though yes I did look at that and read some glowing reviews. No it was more so UK knife law and would i get prosecuted for carrying an offensive weapon. Well after visiting many a forum and reading through the UK law I think as long as I am going camping and have a good reason to be carrying a knife I should be ok. I'm not going to be walking around brandishing my blade at every opportunity in public. The knife will be used as an instrument in cooking,helping start my fire, gathering and cutting of kindling etc. I waiting on my little stove to arrive. I have ordered a Titanium Bushbox and I'm excited about creating fire. A bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway "Ho I Have Created FIRE!" lol, hopefully I won't have to resort to rubbing two sticks and injuring myself or indeed finding I need to knock one of my teeth out with an ice skate whilst I'm away.

Finally my Light my Fire Limited Glow in the dark Spork, what can I say, it's a spork and it glows in the dark apparently, guess I will try that out tonight huh!


Snugpak Special forces Bivi,light my Fire Swedish fire Knife and a Glow in the dark Spork
Bivi all rolled out, not too much to it, fits back in bag easy



Thursday, 8 May 2014

Mid Week Ride, with Pals


Geocaching,,, Thompa doesn't like his photo taken lol
  A quick txt around when I got in from work on Wednesday and John, Lee and David (Thompa) where all up for a ride out. A day or so earlier I had been chatting to Lee about Geocaching, something I had never heard of until a few weeks ago when I had called up to see my friend (and cameraman) Ade. When I had arrived at Ade's house as per the norm on a Friday evening around 7:30pm, his wife Amanda made me a lovely cuppa (bit disappointed no KitKat this week,come on Amanda get your act together, didn't even get a Nutella and Jam sandwich) anyhoo Ade was on messing around with his iPad trying to remember this app he had come across and was interested in getting, but had forgotten what it was. So the whole evening was spent chatting whilst Ade kept saying "bloody hell I've been through every category of the apps and can't remember where,what or which one it was". then all of a sudden as we were talking "Ahh Haa I know what it was" and he proceeded to purchase the app, install it and go on to tell me all about what it was about.
I found the geocaching very interesting, thinking "mmmm could incorporate that in a bike riding adventure".

So after mentioning this to Lee he proceed to find a geocaching website, download some map co-ordinates to his Garmin and get us some clues, so that when we went out we could go on a kind of treasure seeking outing.

Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) Just a reminder

I know I have already made an earlier blog about this, however this is just an update as to what I'm up to and hoping to achieve. As time goes on I hope to be able to write about each of the challenges I take part in and make it an interesting read for you all.

I have been wanting to learn to run for sometime now, well put it this way since my amputation which was on September 11th 2007. I have tried and tried to get my local limb centre (disability service centre or DSC) interested in helping me, however have failed. Too much red tape, not enough funding and it is seen as not being essential to my job or daily living. So all avenues exhausted there.

In a way I kind of gave up on the idea of ever running again as I just couldn't afford a running prosthesis, which comes in at over £10,000. My way of thinking I was extremely lucky to have been sponsored and supported by both Brian Bartlett and his company Leftside Inc and of course Pace Rehabilitation, who took me under their wing from early on in my cycling adventures. Without these people being there to support me,well I don't even want to imagine where or what I would be doing now.

And so the rest of this story goes like this. When I was on holiday last year I was in Dallas visiting my friend Shannon. Shannon is also an above knee amputee and she had a very unique socket design. I was intrigued so she offered to take me to the clinic where she receives her gear.  It is a clinic called Baker Orthotics and Prosthetics There I met with a lovely prosthetist named Scott Clark. Scott was very interested in what I was doing  on my Bartlett Tendon and we chatted about all different activities involving prosthetics and this included running. It was from here and the advice I received from Scott, that I decided when I got home I would contact the  Challenged Athletes Foundation

So around October last year I wrote out my on-line application and just waited. I didn't have to wait long before I got a mail back saying unfortunately CAF wasn't able to support overseas applicants. Ah well I tried I thought. And that was pretty much the end of that dream, or so I figured.

Imagine my surprise when Toby my prosthetist at Pace Rehabilitation contacted me via email around the beginning of April, saying "Not sure if CAF has been in touch with you, but they have sent me an e-mail saying they will fund the running blade for you". My first reaction was, "hold on I better read that again", followed by a "WoW!"... Now the funding is only for the running blade part of the prosthesis so I now find myself in the position of having a blade and requiring the rest of the components. But hey it's a start and a huge one at that. Now the hard work starts on my side. I have to try and raise just over £8000, this year. 

To do this I have chosen to join forces with Arctic One. On the agreement from both Matt and Bex that this fund-raising shouldn't be focused on me. My goal is to get Arctic One involved in the North East and try and offer people in this region the opportunity to take part in sport. To receive assistance in achieving their own goals and find local resources. 

Matt and Bex the founders of Arctic One have been watching my progress over a long period. I think they see me as a pretty determined positive character and potentially a good role model or advert for what they are trying to promote. Well I think that's what they see, you would really have to ask them. What I see when I look in the mirror is an ordinary bloke, who just happens to have lost a leg and is trying to get on with life, doing the things he enjoys. Oh and whilst doing that also trying to help other people along the way. For me the key thing in whatever I have achieved, whether that be big or small, is support.

And so as I prepare to step into uncharted territory, it's good to know I have a whole range of support from family and friends both old and of late new, what with John, Lee and Michelle. And then there are all these other places and people like the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Pace, Arctic One and of course my good friend Brian Bartlett.

My friends and I are trying to come up with some really interesting fund raising ideas for later in the year. My first challenge on behalf of Arctic One starts on the 10th June and that is taking part in a duathlon at Hawridge. I then travel back down South to take part in a triathlon at Dorney Lake on the 23rd August.

All I can say is wish me luck and any support is greatly appreciated. Yo can donate either directly to Arctic One here

Virgin Money Giving - Arctic One


or to my own fund raisng page here

Glenns Fund Raising Page

Thank you

Monday, 5 May 2014

Party of Five

My cycling adventures started sometime ago now. Around oh about January 2008 or there about's. I had the aboveknee amputation of my right leg on September 11th 2007 and then had to undergo a good few weeks of rehabilitation, which took place at Shotley Bridge Hospital. I waited for my wound site to heal and after around 6 to 8 weeks I was fitted and received my first prosthesis which I hated with a passion. It felt heavy,looked naff and I had to hold the dam thing on with a Tes belt. This was a neoprene, belt which was elasticated and went around my waist and secured tightly. This was the worst part initially, as I was constantly uncomfortable and I couldn't enjoy a meal whilst wearing it as it was like wearing some medieval corset. Those days seem so far away, yet are still fresh in my memory it's good to look back on them, not because they were pleasant,but because they act as a reminder just how far I have come. 

What a Motley Crew
In the early days I would head off out on my bike all alone. I had no one to ride with. I would fall off lots and I mean LOTS! This was because I was so used to having my own 2 legs,even if one of them was pretty knackered,after having surgery known as limb salvage. A huge internal prosthesis,called a Kotz prosthesis was placed inside my leg to replace my diseased bone. This procedure never really worked and I would just hobble around on it as best as I could, suffering lots of infections and really bad pain. So when I went back to riding it was after something like 11 or 12 years. It's amazing how your brain is programmed and mapped from an early age to remember how to do things and then again it's also how amazing hard it is to convince your brain "I'm Missing a Leg" When you lose a limb,it takes your brain a while to adapt and when you go to put that foot down that no longer exists, well it's not there. As my right leg was my strongest, (if you imagine it's like which hand you write with, or which leg you would kick a ball with) well I used to go to put this one down and time and again it was "oh crap" as I fell in what felt like slow motion to me.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Excited,nevous,determined,anxious,positive,scared,buzzing, did I mention scared

Yes the blog title shows a whole range of emotions and feelings and a lot more to boot. My biggest fear in commencing new challenges is like anyone, failure and letting not so much myself down, but others. If I let myself down I just go into hibernation mode and constantly tell myself how crap I am. Letting other people down is well... unacceptable.

After speaking to Matt of Arctic One via Facebook this evening I have decided I am going to try and get down to Hawridge (where ever that may be) and take part in the Arctic One's Hawridge International Duathlon which is on a Tuesday I believe. So if I can persuade my boss that he doesn't really need me for that day and possibly the next as it's a long way to travel I would imagine, then I'll be there.

My aim is to ride the on road course of 11 undulating miles in a relay. Matt has very kindly offered me the loan of one of his road bikes, however I think it would be different to maybe have a go at completing the section on my Sandman Fat Bike. Will see what I decide to do.

I have just set up a Virgin Money Giving page and will use this for those people who would like to donate for this or any of my upcoming challenges. At the moment I am trying to come up with various ideas, that not only incorporate my love of cycling, but also something I can do that will capture the heart of those that follow my blog on a regular basis. The way I see it is it's ok handing money over to various charities, but it's always nice to get something in return, even if it is the chance to watch a little home made movie or read a funny story about a one legged bloke.

I will be posting in due course of any fund raising ideas I come up with and hopefully you can help support me on my adventures in the future.

If you do feel like you would like to donate to Arctic One and of course my cause in getting a running blade so that I can actually do more than just the bike leg in any up coming events then my Virgin Giving page is here.


Once again thanks to you who have always been there supporting me, it means a lot...


Uk Virgin Money Giving page Fundraiser for Glenn Johnstone - Arctic one


If you would like to read all about Arctic One please click here.

Arctic One's Homepage