Friday, 31 August 2012

Got slightly lost in some woods on todays outing.

Ah so where to go for today's ride. I thought I'd mix it up a little with a bit of urban riding setting out from my house through the council estate at Holly Hill and up past the Pines towards South Moor. It was then a case of taking the "Black Path" (We have called it that since we were kids, it used to lead up to the Charlie brick flats, which have long since gone). Then making our way across the busy new road and along towards Greencroft where we could get on to the C2C.  When we arrived at the Jolly Drovers I decided we would head along towards Dipton as I had a route in mind down a rugged farmers  track called Collierley Lane, then across a couple of his fields and this would bring us into Collierley Woods.

Playing at the top end of the farmers Field

Just messing around

 Now it has been about 4 years since I last ventured down this way. I was a bit wary as on my last visit with a mate of mine we both heard and felt an unusual sensation in the ground. At the time it was like "Oh dear what the hell is that", it only turned out a whole heard of cows had come thundering across the field to the gate we wanted to go through. It was quite scary at the time but my friend and I had a good laugh about it after we successfully got through the gate and across the field. I can remember my mate shooing the cows with his bike in front of him and trying not to let any escape out the field, priceless, it's part of why I enjoy getting out on my bike so many good memories to look back upon.

At the bottom of the farmers field was a small jump wheeeeee!!!

Had a few goes it was such fun

Me the Sandman and my Bartlett Tendon, with socket courtesy of Pace Rehab

  Anyhoo getting back to where we were.....Ahh yes both Kyle and I had managed to get through the swamped fields which was a job in itself and here we were at Collierley Woods. I knew from last time that in theory the woods should lead to somewhere near the Derwent Walk and from there we could head up to Consett. So we started following this trail, threading our way through the woods.

Threading my way down the trail, pulling so sweet skids in the pine needles

Everything was fine, then I don't know what happened but we found ourselves loosing what must have been the proper trail and ending up in dense woodland. So dense we couldn't ride, so it was a case of pushing our bikes and then pushing some more, then oh pushing some more.

Eventually we came to some sort of civilization as we found a sign on a proper trail. The sign was to give people a little bit of history about the area we were in. It was to do with the Mystery of the Pont Stones.

See Link Boundary Stones

We decided to venture down to have a look at the stones, or should I say Stone. I was a little disappointed as blink and we would have missed it lol. Never mind it would be cool to explore the area and find some of the other lost stones at some point.

After seeing the stone we had to head across a small stream, this was quite funny as we tried to get across without getting our feet wet. It's tough trying to hang on to a bike and also jump, especially as a one legged bloke. Didn't do to bad though, well put it this way only one of my feet felt slightly wet afterwards. Once on the other side of the stream it was yet more pushing up the steep embankment and to the top.

We managed to find a trail so followed this thinking it would lead us in the general direction of the Derwent Walk. Well things didn't go to plan and even though there was a public footpath  sign and a style into a field I couldn't see a trail. We decided to go in the field anyway and head in the general direction I thought was best to get us on to the cycle route. The field ended in a dead end of hedges, brambles and nettles. Oh crap. We didn't fancy back tracking so went right into the corner of the field which  ran parallel to the woods we had just escaped from. Nightmare a barbed wire fence, ahh  well nothing else for it but to try and get over it. My first attempt was an epic fail managing to get stuck in a precarious position and ripping my shorts. My second attempt was a lot better. Kyle got over no probs, well apart from being nettled. It was then a case of yomping  for around a mile and a half through woodland with absolutely no trail what so ever. This was real tough what with bog holes, fallen trees and branches that kept snagging us. Never mind in the end we found a forestry track and I recognised this as the one I had rode before. Wow I thought how come last time I didn't have to walk miles through all the trees. As we followd the trail down it led to an old gatehouse which is at the side of the B3610. From there it was just a case of a short ride up the bank and then turn off onto the Derwent Walk. We then followed this up to Consett and popped into McDonald's where I had a coffee and a Belgian Brownie. Wor Kyle didn't want anything, which I found strange because usually he would eat the hind leg off a scabby donkey. Whilst at McDonald's I told these young kids off for chucking tomato ketchup all over the ground outside McDonald's. What did they go and do?  go in 2 or 3 times more and come out with more containers filled with sauce and do it again. So me being the good citizen I am and knowing I would get into bother if I gave them a clip round the lug hole (hey it would have happened to me and more in my day) went in and asked for the manager where I informed him of these young delinquents. A couple of the staff came out and chased the kids away and thanked me for bringing it to their attention. I don't know kids today huh!

 Getting home was easy, just a case of back onto the C2C, off at Greencroft, then head along to Anfield Plain, back along the new road and into Stanley. A quick ride down the front Street, of course jumping the steps at the Blue Boar and down our bank and home. A quick hose down of the bikes and that's today's adventure done.

Oh Ps I have just checked Google maps and it appears we also rode/pushed through Bonners Wood,Scot's Bog Wood and Old Mill Wood, wow I really need to get myself a gps lol.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Ern unable to glide

Had a ickle ride out in the car with Ern,Kyle and Mr Hinks yesterday, ended up at Chopwell woods to take Mr H for a walk. Anyhoo we passed the Northumbrian Gliding school on our travels and Ern thought he would give it a go. I mean the sign does say

 "Try Gliding here"

 Have to say Ern wasn't very successful, not enough breeze maybe :)

Nope never going to happen
Flap a bit harder Ern

A dad n lad adventure in Cong Burn Woods

Kyle (my son) and I set off around 10'ish this morning on my bikes.
I'm still loaning my Ibis Mojo to Kyle until he can afford to get himself his own ride (of course would help if he could get a job to start saving towards one)

We headed over to, then through Craghead and continued down to Black House and up towards Edmondsley bank. At the top of Edmondsley bank we turned left and went down towards Waldridge and the fells.

I had intended to ride in some woodland at the back of the fell, but noticed various No horse riding and No cyclists signs. These signs have been put up when Durham County Council took over all the district councils so I have heard. It's a real shame as there are some really nice trails to ride and to be fair the majority of mountain bikers who use trails such as these actually take a pride in the area and look after the place.

 Ah well never mind, so it was a case of a small detour and we found ourselves at the start to a trail leading into Cong Burn Woods which we could ride.

Dad n Lad, WoW that Tree was slippy nearly set me neck lol

I've walked through Cong Burn Woods a few times with Mr Hinks and I have ridden through on my bike, but from the opposite direction, but have never actually been on some of the trails we found today. The woods are pretty big so it was real fun exploring different routes.

I shot more footage of our outing today and if you watch it you will see what a great time we were both having. I haven't laughed so much in ages, especially when Kyle went in a really deep water filled hole and then afterwards which you can't really see on video, (you will hear me laughing on camera) he tumbled off his bike coming down a gulley which the recent floods had made down a steep hill (excuse my language as it was pretty hairy as the ground was muddy, uneven and it was hard riding in the water made channel)

After we finished off at Cong Burn, we headed back over towards Chester -Le- Street and up towards Stellar Gill Industrial estate, where we cut through and joined the C2C route. A quick ride up to the Kings Head Statue or sculpture or whatever it is and we broke out the Cornbeef and Jam sandwiches, Ooh and a banana a piece. Then it was a steady ride home. Covered just under 20 miles, but what a fun filled 20 miles.

Kyle posing on the makeshift tripod I constructed

The tripod I engineered, even stood up lol
Did some canny jumps off this bit of the trail

Had a bit mess about with CS6

Nice and Vibrant

Kyle coming down the trail

Ooh bright T-shirt Kyle

One of Kyle's pedals bit him : (

Sunday, 19 August 2012

A little review of the Magic Arm + Super Clamp

I decided to go out and shoot a small video today so thought it was the ideal opportunity to try out the Magic Arm and Super Clamp I've just purchased off eBay.

 Ok so as stated in an earlier post I opted for the 11"inch Magic Arm, there is also a 7" available. I know women always say the extra few inches don't matter, but I just felt the extra reach would help enable me to get some better shots and angles.

I'll start with the clamp... I'm not sure if there are slightly bigger clamps available (as in jaw size), the one I got opens to 5.5cm's, this is just a fraction to small to fit around the downtube of my bike. Never mind you could always do what I do and just use your GoPro helmet strap for this area. The clamp seems to fit all other places I tried it (well apart from my fork legs which are quite wide). I found the clamp nips up really well and is solid. Down side it is a little bulky I would hate to see anyone have a spill and the clamp dent their frame. I mean this is a solid piece of metal not your usual plastic GoPro type clamp. The jaws of the clamp come with rubber protectors, so this helps with not scratching your frame.

The Magic Arm. I really love how the Arm adjusts. It has 2 swivel heads, one either end of each arm. One arm you pop your GoPro or Contour or whatever camera you use on to. I bought a GoPro camera mount, the type you can fit to say a tripod or GoPro pole. The other end fits into the clamp. In the middle of the 2 arms is a knob that you can turn and hears the really clever bit, you adjust the arm from that one knob. So say the knob is slack the arms move around easily for adjustment. Tightening the knob tightens both arms and both swivel heads. The angles you can get are infinite, really it's just a case of experimenting. You can even do as i did today and fasten the arm to other stuff so you can get a ride by at an unusual angle. I secured it to a tree branch for an overhead shot.

Top tip.....make sure you tighten your Magic Arm into the clamp securely, you can use a small spanner to do this, also make sure you do likewise with your camera mount at the other end, though this can be done by hand using the knurled threaded washer. On today's testing my Magic Arm was keep dropping, nothing to do with the design, it was my own fault I hadn't tightened the clamp to the arm before setting out.

Overall I think this is a great bit of kit.....

Positives +     get some great angles, sturdy design, ease of use.

Negatives -   Watch you don't have this on your bike and take a spill, it could damage your frame depending on where you have it.

If there's anything else you would like to know just drop me a line, like I say I got my Magic Arm off eBay. It arrived in like 2 or 3 days.

Sunrise Secret

Checked the weather forecast last night and it said today should be a nice day, well in the morning at least. So I got my gear ready as I had a plan to shoot a bit of video at an area your not really supposed to ride the following morning. I asked wor Kyle and my dad if they fancied a look out with me to help take some shots, explaining I would be getting up at around 5:00am so as I could be at the undisclosed location at 5:49 for the sunrise. They both said they would come along. I think it's mainly to try catching me falling off my bike so they can have a good laugh about it lol.

The sunrise was very pretty,well worth getting up for....

A Beautiful Sunrise

Really enjoyed playing about on my Sandman, it's fantastic when you can find a nice bit of trail to ride, it's just a shame this area your not supposed to use a bike on.

Check out further on for more pic's and a movie I made of today's adventure

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

GoPro Backpack Pole Mount

Whilst checking out Youtube for new and interesting stuff I came across this....

I've seen various short video's on the making of these backpack mounts, and think they are an excellent way of getting some really neat camera angles.

Rodger Dean has decided to take the idea one step further and try and manufacture and  sell his VuVantage Backpack mount as a complete unit. Rodger is using top end materials and like he says

 "You could buy parts of this product And still, no third person perspective"

I spoke to Rodger via email and he informed me his "Kickstarter project" wasn't going as quick as he planned but he does have a back up plan which is good to hear.

I for one would like to get my hands on one of his designs and go out and make a  movie you would hopefully find interesting, with some unusual camera angles.

Checkout the link below for more info 

Monday, 13 August 2012

11"inch Variable Friction Magic Arm + Super Clamp

I've just ordered one of these off eBay.

It's an 11"inch Variable Friction Magic Arm + Super Clamp. I'm going to use it to attach my GoPro in various positions whilst I'm out taking video's, so hopefully get some nice unusual shots.

Adam the camera man from the BBC recommended it to me, so thanks for that Adam. It's a lot easier than fiddling with my current GoPro set up of attaching various mounts together to get an arm you can adjust. With the magic arm you can pop it where you want a with one turn of the screw it locks the whole arm in position.

Re -Magic Arm + Clamp

WoW that was pretty quick the Magic Arm arrived today. It's a very sturdy bit of kit and should make for some great angles, "watch this space" .My only concern is that the arm is so sturdy when it's clamped in place thatit could possibly dent or bend my frame in the event of a spill. This is something I'm going to have to keep an eye on.

Can't wait to see what angles and interesting shots I can get. I've got a covert movie making session planned  que evil laugh"Muhahahaha".

I will do a full review of the Magic Arm after I test it out, should be fun....

To ride or not to ride that is the question?

As the title says "To ride or not to ride, that is the question". Ok so whilst out for a walk with Ern (my dad) and Mr Hinks our slightly fruit cake of an English Bull terrier, we ventured out to an area which I won't disclose for a walk.

Though I had been to this place before I hadn't really explored it, however on having a look around yesterday I thought "wow this would make an awesome place to shoot a short Fat Bike movie". Now here's my dilemma, the actual place I'm talking about has signs up saying "No Horses or cycling". So on the one hand as a law abiding citizen the little angel on my shoulder is saying "No stick to the rules", yet on the other shoulder my little devil is saying " Be a rebel just go for it". I mean if I did go ride the trail I have seen it would be very early in the morning I'd like to catch a nice sunrise. Also I wouldn't be riding this area on a regular basis it would be a one off, just to get the shot I'm after.

So I don't know what to do, guess I'm looking for input from people, what do you think? Am I seriously impacting on the eco system by riding maybe an hour or two in this area. What will happen if I get caught will I be slapped with an Asbo or have to face criminal proceedings.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

After a slightly elusive sunrise

I'm determined to catch a nice, or should I say beautiful sunrise. So far I've failed in my last couple of attempts. I used to be up at the crack of dawn when I worked as a postman, but that was years ago, before I became ill with my leg. Since then well I can find myself in bed till all hours of the morning and don't get to catch too many sunrises. Just lately however I've been getting up at silly o'clock like this morning for instance 4:00 AM and heading out on my bike.

 Last night I checked the weather on-line for our local area and from what I read I thought it was going to be a canny wrong was I ? I had intended riding up to Consett to catch the sun coming up over the Hownsgill Viaduct and shoot a small movie with my GoPro.  Well to cut a long story short the weather was pants, very dull, lots of clouds, mostly of the miserable variety. I decided I wasn't going to let this ruin my day. So Kyle my son who had joined me on this early morning adventure thought about where we could go and capture a few photo's and a bit of movie footage. We decided to head towards Waskerley and the reservoir as we hadn't actually visited it before.

Once you start to get up into the moors and the area opens up, it's so beautiful over there. It's so peaceful down by the reservoir. I rode right down to the edge of the reservoir and got a little bit of footage and even had a bit plodge in the water at one point to capture some pics of my bike at the waters edge. I reckon we did around 35 miles or so today and had a really enjoyable time, even if the weather was caca doo doo.

 Oh one thing I'm not happy with is my new cycling shorts, the lycra padded variety. I bought a pair of Funkier 8 panel gel filled shorts thinking they would help me out in those long rides in the saddle. Boy how wrong was I, these particular brand or design of shorts are so uncomfortable for me and have actually chaffed me pretty bad on both my good side and socket side, so I think I'm going to have to invest in another pair from a different manufacturer. I've been sore in the saddle before but not like this Ouch lol !!!!

Here's a few photo's from today

I saw that some kind of work was being carried out on the Hownsgill Viaduct as there was a few barriers up. I then spotted this notice when heading over towards Waskerley Way near the farm.

Apparently some sort of fencing is being put in place in the hope it will stop people committing suicide off the viaduct, as it is a pretty well known area for people to actually jump off.

A Notice of work being carried out on the Hownsgill Viaduct

Me playing on my Sandman coming down a trail near the Viaduct

Kyle and me on our way up to Waskerley. Rowley Station was actually dismantled brick by brick and is now at Beamish Open Air Museum

Yeah I know it's just a gate, but the sky and trail leading off into the distance caught my imagination so I thought why not take a snap

Here are a few shots which I experimented with using different camera settings and a filter I got of my good friend Adrian. I took quite a flot of shots,  didn't want to bore you so only put up a few....

Sandman Hoggar Ti at the shore line of Waskerley Reservoir

In at the deep end lol

The sky was quite heavy with clouds, added to the shot though

Friday, 10 August 2012

Spent a morning with some fantastic guys from the BBC

Had a really enjoyable morning today. Three really nice guys from the BBC arrived where I live to do a short report on my use of the Bartlett  Tendon which I am sponsored on and to find out where things started in my mountain biking adventures.  Damian who is a Broadcaster and Journalist,was there to do the interview with me, Adam who is a video/camera man to take some footage and shots and David who is also a Broadcaster and Journalist tagged along for the experience.

Upon meeting the guys they were all very warm and friendly and we went over just what was going to happen during the course of the morning. They were fantastic guiding me through what needed to be done and offering lots of encouragement and reassuring me, making the tasks at hand easy to get on with.

I was very proud that I got great positive feedback on stuff I had shot, both photo and image wise. In fact Damian and Adam actually asked if they could copy some of my work over on to Adam's laptop as they may use it in doing the final news report.

Though very nervous about doing the interview (I'm not good in front of the camera) I felt it went well and was very pleased when Damian said it was spot on. I'm so thrilled to be actually able to get to thank those people and companies who have actually helped and supported me along the way and hope this kind of media stuff gives them a bit more recognition for the amazing work they do for others.

So in ending I would just like to say a huge thank you to Damian, Adam and David of the BBC. I really enjoyed meeting you all, your an excellent team and good to share a bit of banter with you.

And to those people and companies who have helped me so much over the past 5 years.

Pace Rehabilitation for your commitment and support when ever I have needed it.

Brian Bartlett @ Leftsideinc for sponsoring me on your knee unit and taking care of me.

And to

Sandman Bikes for your excellent customer service, your always there to answer a query and your bike design is just awesome. I'm proud to be an ambassador for your company.

A Sunset at Waskerley

Decided to head straight off up towards Waskerley on our return from Middlesbrough yesterday. I really wanted to try and catch a nice sunset on the reservoir up there but unfortunately we were a little late.

Never mind I did get  some shots, mind you I had to wade through the heather and almost fell a few times to get in position. It's real difficult walking at the best of time with this stoopid leg, but add confounded weeds,undergrowth and heather and well it's just not funny at all.....well maybe to others when I'm either goose stepping to get through the stuff or falling over as I've snagged my foot and my leg gives way unexpectedly lol.

Anyhoo hope you think the shots were worth it, all of the shots have the same basic composition I was messing around with different light settings,apertures etc.  I'm a total noob to this lol.

Near Waskerley on the moors

Whilst I was in Middlesbrough

I was invited along to BBC Radio Tees today to do an interview regarding my limb loss and to chat about my mountain biking and the unique sports knee, the Bartlett Tendon I am using.
After I had finished up at the Radio station I decided to go checkout the Tees Transporter Bridge and also have a look at the Newport Bridge which we had seen on the journey in.

Tees Transporter Bridge

A pretty interesting day

Like my post title says I've had "a pretty interesting day"..... It all stems from an interview I did for one of my local newspapers, (The Northern Echo) a week or so ago. A couple of very nice guys from the newspaper came out to see me to find out a bit more about me and my story in regards to loosing my limb and also to hear about the fantastic people, clinic and companies  who are supporting me in my mountain biking endeavours.

Earlier today Scott Richardson who is Pace Rehabilitation's Business Development Manager got in touch with me informing me BBC Radio Tees would like to do a short interview with me and was I available. Scott gave me Neil Green's number over at BBC Tees and I got in touch. Neil was busy but I was told he would contact me a little later in the day. I had no sooner put the phone down than a very nice gentleman John Williams from the BBC  rang me asking if I would be interested in doing a short interview and story for Look North......WoW it's all happening I thought. You see I wasn't aware at the time that the article had ran in today's Northern Echo so it seemed a bit weird all of these people calling me and taking an interest in little old me.

Neil as promised rang me back and we arranged for me to pay a visit down to BBC Radio Tees in Middlesbrough where I took part in a small interview, basically explaining what had happened to me, About my mountain biking and how I got to be so fortunate in finding people/companies to help and support me in my journey.

So overall it's been a busy kind of day, though I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The real bonus for me is being able to thank all those people who have supported me. It's also great to be able to spread a little more disability awareness as who knows it could inspire and motivate others.

Checkout the below link for the Northern Echo Article

And the BBC Radio Tees interview can be found here (skip to 1 hour 39 approx to hear my interview)

Just like to go on and thank everyone at the Northern Echo, Gavin Havery (reporter) and Dave the camera/video man.

Everyone at BBC Radio Tees, thanks for the warm welcome and coffee.

Oh and a huge thank you to my dad, your my biggest supporter, always there when I need you and my best friend, cheers dad.....

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Would like to add one of these to my bike collection, maybe if I win the lottery

I love all things bike, it doesn't have to be just mountain or Fat bikes. I also like to go for a blast on my single speed NS Analog. With it being a single speed it's tough work, what with only having the one leg to power me along. Banks and hills can be a nightmare, thing is with the single I find you can have a great ride out if you plan your route and kind of zig zag your way up any inclines. Riding my Single speed kind of takes me back to the days I rode my old Raleigh Grifter or Peugeot Bmx,back in the 80's. It's just a back to basics steel frame with bog standard calliper brakes, it's no frills fun biking.

 Anyhoo as I was saying......I got my eye on this English Bikes awesomely cool frame design. The attention to detail of this bike is fantastic. It's called Project Right and I dare say if I came into some money I would like to invest in one. I always like to own things that are just that little bit different and this bike certainly fits the bill.

Project Right
To read more about Project Right and see more images as well as English Bikes other designs checkout

Friday, 3 August 2012

Ventured out to Barnard Castle

Today's adventure was to Barnard Castle.I'm getting a bit bored of the usual local 20 odd mile loops so thought I'd venture a bit further afield. Barnard Castle is around 40 miles away from where I live. I didn't think I could manage it there and back so arranged for Ern to pick Kyle and myself  up when we had arrived at our destination.

Heading down towards Barnard Castle isn't to bad, we picked up the cycle route at Lanchester on the Lanchester Way Railway Path and headed towards Durham. We then continued on until we saw a sign for the Walney to Wear cycle route,( route 20). Overall getting to Barnard Castle wasn't too bad, though in certain area's the route is marked as Regional Route 20 but has now been resigned as National Route 70 which can be confusing, plus I don't think there are enough signs dotted around. You really have to keep your eyes peeled as it's quite easy to miss a sign and head off in the wrong direction,especially if your like me and get lost after leaving the corner of your street. Never mind a couple of helpful people around the Bishop Auckland area soon pointed us in the right direction and we were off again.

We climbed up the hill of the A688 and at about 9 miles away from Barnard Castle broke out the rations. This was one sausage roll, large which we shared and a couple of sandwiches which I had prepared before we set off. Consisting of 2 strawberry jam and 2 chocolate spread all on delicious fruit loaf. Boy they went down a treat and gave us a bit of a boost for the climb into Barnard Castle.

Met Ern and my friend Essi who's been visiting us this week at Barnard Castle and took a few quick snaps before popping the bikes onto the bike rack and heading home. A really nice ride out even though I'm a bit knackered and sore lol......

Me with my slightly retarded son

A Network Sculpture sign post type thing

@ Barnard Castle

@ the park Barnard Castle

The gates to Barnard castle

Coming down the footpath @ Barnard castle

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A lookout to the Scotish Borders

On my return from Edinburgh the other week I got my eye on a fantastic looking  viaduct and made a mental note to have a look back up to check it out. So along with my dad,Kyle and Mr Hinks, as well as a few friends including Essi and the Hair family we all ventured up to the Scottish borders to take in this amazing piece of construction.

The viaduct in question is called the Leaderfoot Viaduct, it was constructed in 1865 to carry the Berwickshire Railway, connecting Reston on the East Coast Main Line with St Boswells on the Waverley.

  A little more history of the Viaduct can be found here

Leaderfoot Viaduct