Monday, 31 December 2012

Don't know if I'd class this as an adventure

On Friday quite out the blue I received a call from the University Hospital Durham from one of the consultants secretaries. She informed me an appointment had been made for me to see a surgical consultant on Ward 13 Surgical Admissions at 13:00. At first I didn't know who it was or what she was talking about, it wasn't until she mentioned my haematology doctor (Dr Keenan) that I sort of put two and two together.

So after finishing my voluntary work early at the RVI (12.00pm) and getting picked up by Ern (my dad), we headed off too Durham and the University Hospital.

On arriving at the hospital and getting up on the second floor and the ward, we didn't have too long to wait until I saw the consultant, Mr Baine. He gave me a quick once over and then hurried me down a corridor explaining, he was going to get to work on the large node I have in my left groin area, saying I was to come in on Wednesday and he would "chop it out". 

Mr Baine didn't come across as your usual consultant surgeon, he was quirky and I found him quite funny. I like his straight to the point way of going about things.

So what a brilliant start to 2013 huh? Two days into the New Year and here I am having more bits removed. Granted it's just another node and not a leg lol.  It will be similar surgery to the biopsy I had on my stomach in 2009 I guess.

Once the nodes out they will investigate it and I'll have to wait for more results to see what happens next.

So as soon as I know I'll up date everyone... This is all very weird to me as I'm still not entirely sure what Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma is, how I'm supposed to feel or what I'm supposed to do. Really I'm just trying to stay positive and go with the flow.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christams Bimble, from Craster to Alnmouth and back.

I met up with Bruce (Coastkid) & Si (Doc) yesterday at Craster. Craster is situated on the cost of Northumberland to the north east of Alnwick, it's around 52 miles from where I live and roughly a hour and a half's drive away. Bruce had brought his Surly Moonlander equipped with 4.7 Surly Big Fat Larry's, whilst Si was on his Surly Pugsley equipped with 3.8 Nates which offered a lot more grip.

Weather wise the day wasn't too bad, which was surprising as according to the radio on my drive up it was supposed to be very windy and wet.

The coast line was beautiful, with some smashing trails (though the majority of trails where really hard going as they where so thick with mud). I found myself falling off a couple of times as I just had no grip and my bike slid away from under me.

I really enjoyed the ride out and back though did feel a bit guilty as both Bruce and Si had to keep waiting for me to catch up. I'm just not as fit and find some of the terrain difficult to ride. On a positive note I did manage to ride on some stuff I've never really ridden on before without getting off my bike, which is pretty scary when your clipped in and only have one leg. Stuff like slippery rocks and stretches of pebble strewn beach.

When we arrived in Alnmouth we managed to find a lovely hotel/restaurant type place, don't remember the name. Bruce, Si and myself put in an order for 3 fish and chips and Bruce and Si also got a nice refreshing bottle of Crabbies. We decided to take our meal to go, even though the lady behind the bar was very kind and said we could sit in in our muddy gear. Once outside we realised the wind was getting up and we were starting to cool off, so we took shelter in the back of the restaurant which was deserted.

One of the ales on sale in the hotel
 It was then a case of riding back to Craster, the light was starting to fade and the tide had come in so riding back along the same route wasn't possible. We followed the coastline as much as possible, using coastal trails and only really popping onto the tarmac roads on a couple of occasions to get back to the Quarry car park in Craster. At the car park was a mobile kitchen so we had a nice hot drink before saying our goodbyes.

When I got home it was a case of a hot shower and I was so worn out I went straight to bed. Don't know but over the past few months I just haven't had much energy and I can't shake this bothersome cough.

Today I decided to checkout the GoPro footage I had taken and was most disappointed in that it came out absolutely terrible. I think I need to change the settings on my GoPro as everything came out with way too much "Fish Eye", so much so the whole coastline appeared distorted and I hardly got any footage of either Bruce or Si. I think my camera needs lifting slightly on my helmet. Of course it could also have been that the majority of the time I had my head down checking to see where I was going or puffing and blowing to get along a trail/beach lol.
Looking out towards the sea
I've been trying to find software that's free/easy to use to remove the "Fish Eye" effect and also at replacement lenses for my GoPro HD2.

Settings wise I think I'll try 1080 - 25fps and either medium 127deg or narrow 90 deg for my next shoot see how that comes out.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

My kids bought me a scary mask for Xmas, as if i'm not scary enough...LoL

When asked what I wanted for Christmas from my daughter and son I immediately said "Oh I'd like another bike please" obviously as they didn't have a spare £3000 I was asked would I not prefer something a little less expensive, maybe more Lynx...I use Lynx but it never seems to have the desired effect, so not much point building one of those huge boats to sail away with all the honeys now is there.

Anyhoo whilst window shopping (on the pc of course, also known as surfing) I came across these cool face masks called "AirHole" with some neat designs. 

Thought one may make a nice Christmas prezzie so put my order in with the kids. I went for the design named "Bones"

Hey maybe I'll have more luck with the mask than I do with Lynx ...Lmao :D

Checkout this cool video on Vimeo...

Decided to Re- edit yesterdays video

I was a bit bored today so decided to get up and wash my bike and  re-edit the video I took yesterday and re-upload it.

Whilst messing around with some song choices I also came up with an idea for another small movie I'd like to shoot so going to wait until the weather is a bit better and have a go at that, which should be fun.

As I've been working in Newcastle at the Royal Victoria Infirmary I've gotten to see a bit more of the "TooN" and have a nice idea for a short shoot to some rather cool music from a film I'm sure you will all have either seen or heard about, so watch this space. 

Anyhoo here is the new version of my video. If anyone has any tips or tricks on how I can make any future films I do more interesting then please feel free to offer advice. 

The Bartlett Tendon - Settings

I've now been using my new Bartlett Tendon for a good few weeks now so thought I'd write a little more on how things are going.

 Also add a little bit about some of the settings which I got from Brian Bartlett the knees designer.

Well first off I have to say this knee is amazing...No I'm not just saying that as I'm sponsored on the unit. Brian always requests that I be honest with him when trying out his designs as this feedback then goes on to help improve on future models. The knee is amazing in what it allows you to do as an above knee amputee. I'm now trialling the new "cam" top end on my knee and have found things have just got even better.

A lot of time and hard work has gone into making the knee work and feel something like a leg someone has lost. By work and feel I mean in it's action. With the new "cam" the movement is now smoother, with a more progressive feel (the further you flex the knee the more resistance can be felt). Instead of using a combo of hard and soft tendons, you can now leave the 2 soft tendons in place and choose how much resistance you would like by removing the "cam" locking pins and placing them in positions 1 to 3 on each "cam". Or even leaving the locking pin out completely giving you the least amount of resistance.

Here's an idea of the settings... 

The new knee is basically the same knee but with a cam instead of a wheel for the Tendons.  This will give you a softer engagement feel  to the start of your knee bend but start to ramp up into a stiffer feel towards the deeper part of the bend in the knee, this feel is also adjustable as you have four positions on each side of the knee to adjust the cam into. 
Here is how it works: As described by Brian Bartlett the designer of the Bartlett Tendon.
Position 1)  No locking pin inserted leaves the cam in the least amount of flex for the tendon and does not engage the tendon as you flex the knee because you have disengaged the locking pin; great position for road riding, snorkeling/ diving or just about anything you want to have as little tension as you can but still have something there in the end.
Position 2)  Top hole engaged with locking pin inserted will give you cam engagement into the tendon as the knee bends but not a lot of cam effect as for sports or applications you want to have some more tension but not enough to work against you; sports like XC skiing, road biking, XC mountain biking, SUP and any others that feel good to the users.
Position 3)  Middle hole in the cam engaged by locking pin inserted allowing the cam to come into the tendon more putting more pressure against it giving the user a stiffer feel at the deeper part of the knee bend;  I like this position for XC mountain biking as I have my seat up high in that application and the stiffness comes on right where I want it to as I am biking in about the 90 degree knee bend position as if I had my seat lower on the bike it might be a tad to much tension; again a lot of the same sports can apply here just depending on the users preference due to limb length and tension desired for application; Alpine skiing, snow boarding, Ice hockey, etc.
Position 4)  Bottom hole in the cam engaged by locking pin inserted will give you the most cam effect of Tendon tension as the knee bends moving the cam into the tendon, this will be great for DH riding, motocross, things where you want to really bend into the knee with a lot of pressure in the bottom half of the bend.
Here is the kicker though because you get an incredible feel to all these adjustments in the cam but these have all been tested with no air in the shock in which you'll find by just adjusting the shock a bit gives you even more tension if desired.  The next part is also that the cam is adjustable independently on each side allowing a user to adjust the cam on the right side say to hole position four and then on the left side put the cam into hole position 2 which gives a combination of tension that gives you the most natural feel for that have more than twenty different ways to configure this cam for a desired cam effect.....crazy huh.
Also if you change the stop bushing diameter this will adjust the cam feel also as the knee will come back further in its neutral position as I like the big(15 degree) bushing in when I am utilizing the knee.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas day out in the mud

Hey Merry Christmas and a very Happy New year to you all...

Since we lost my mom in 2002 we haven't really celebrated Christmas as it's kind of lost it's magic. So today I thought rather than stay in and watch more Christmas re-runs or the Queens speech I would instead head out on my bike for a while.

Yeah the weather wasn't great, but hey riding muddy trails is half the fun.

I got soaked today, yet again and found it increasingly difficult to get my winter gloves back on each time I took them off to mess with my camera, they were so wet and what with them having a double liner they got all bunched up in the fingers. Inevitably I ended up ripping the inner liners so binned them when I got home, oh dear.

I think my Canon camera is suffering because of the wet weather, can't blame the camera as it's not a water proof model, so again struggled for any shots at all.

Apart from this one...

Put together a video of today's riding...

Saturday, 22 December 2012

WoW it was soaking wet today

Set off for a early morning ride this morning with my son Kyle. Although it was raining it didn't feel particularly cold. I decided to treat Kyle to a KFC so we headed up to Consett.

As you would expect the trails were pretty wet and muddy,we had a really enjoyable ride up to KFC. Once inside the restaurant we grabbed a couple of seats and a table near the entrance/exit so that we could keep an eye on our bikes and went over to order our meals. Mmmm delicious.

After we had finished we decided to set off back home, the weather had turned decidedly worse, the wind was getting up and it was lashing down. After we had both been in doors it was freezing to come back out into the cold rain and wind...Brrrrr!!!

On the way home we tried to get a few snaps, this proved to be rather difficult as my camera was keep getting soaked and here when I've actually looked at the images the majority are blurry (water on the lense I think).

Did manage to get a few as you can see, not the best quality.

As we neared home I decide to take a slight detour and we headed off down through South Moor park. It was really funny trying to take pics here as we were both so cold we couldn't operate the camera, hence no pictures.

Got in and soaked to the skin, so everything in the washer and try to get warm. It was kind of weird as just as we were coming over the playing field near the "pines" a we call it I said to Kyle I'm freezing everywhere except in my foot (The one I haven't got). Now I know this sounds like "well yeah obviously your foot or leg you don't have isn't going to be cold,as it's missing", but No I can actually still feel my amputated foot and it felt lovely and toasty warm,so bonus at least I wasn't all chilled through lol.

Like I say got in and I decided to checkout my images. I noticed my camera was feeling a little "gritty" on the scroll wheel, where the menu button is. So thought I'd take the camera apart and have a go at giving it a clean out. I got the camera apart no probs and was checking out the scroll wheel. I thought "Oh I'll just give it a little blow to dry it out, maybe remove some grit or debri" and the bloody wheel flew off and landed on the floor under my computer desk. I picked it up and went to pop it back in place and this is when I noticed the darn menu button wasn't there. So my dad, Kyle and myself have been on the better part of like 2 hours trying to find the missing button in my room, without success I may add. My dad reckons the Borrowers have nicked it the thieving little bastards. So now my camera is knackered.... awww great. Hopefully I can get it fixed, otherwise it's an expensive new year if I have to buy a camera of similar quality.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Not a bad day, so thought I'd head out

Got up this morning, had a quick look out my bedroom window and thought "hey it doesn't look like a bad day I think I'll head out for a ride".

Rummaged through my wardrobe and decided to go for my thick Endura legging (yes I only need one) and my thick Troy Lee shorts, thought if I did encounter any muddy/wet spots they would give me a bit more protection. Then it was just a case of popping on a few base layer tops and my Altura Jersey, finishing of with my RaceFace water proof jacket, oh and my Endura winter gloves and my trusty Buff. Love my Buff as it keeps me from getting ear and toothache when it's cold out.

Popped a couple of bananas and an apple in my Camelbak, filled up my water reservoir oh and slipped my camera in my bag. I was then good to go.

I wasn't entirely sure where I was heading so just decided to ride and see where I ended up. So it was left at the bottom of my street and I headed along towards the Farmer's Fields/trail. I had to stop at the bottom of the trail as the gate was closed and manoeuvre around a rather large frozen puddle. I thought when I first started my outing ever where was going to be pretty hard under foot...well tyre, but soon discovered I was in for a shall we say interesting ride up the farmers trail. You see as an amputee I can ride up most banks/hills or inclines pretty well, that is as long as I start off at the bottom and keep my momentum going until I reach the top. Stopping half way up an incline can be a bit of a nightmare. This is because it's real difficult to get the momentum to push off and get your prosthetic side round to keep the cycling action going. Anyhoo I was roughly half way up this trail when my back tyre just became so caked up with mud that I lost traction, inevitably I had to stop and put my good foot down. I then tried to find a spot on the trail where  I could push off and try and get going again. This is when I lost balance and err well fell over on my prosthetic side. Luckily there was a little bit of an embankment so I quickly put my hand out and managed to stop myself falling. The problem I now had was I couldn't get my good foot down as I was still sitting on my saddle and also there was a gulley on my good side so it made it even higher. So I found myself slightly stuck half on and half off my bike. I couldn't get my prosthetic foot out of the clip, obviously a false leg doesn't work in the same way as a normal one I couldn't just twist my foot to disengage lol. I'm just pleased no one was around to see me as it would have looked strange to see someone stationary on their bike yet hanging off to one side supporting themselves with one arm. Eventually I figured out how to get off the bike. I had 2 or 3 goes at pushing myself of the embankment and managed to get my good foot on the ground...Mission success lol and all this was only like quarter of a mile from home. Next plan of attack was push my bike up the trail, until I found a reasonably flat, un-muddy area and I was off.

I decided to head down onto the C2C and just kept going. I actually ended up at Roker, this is where I took a few pics of my bike up against the large "Nut". There are various sculptures and interesting bits and pieces on the way down to Sunderland.

 I was quite lucky I managed to get under the Wearmouth Rail bridge to continue on my way down to the Marina and the coast as it appeared there had been a large landslide and at some point the path had be cordoned off. Looking at the bank side which is vertical it looks very unsafe.

I saw this rather interesting ship at the dock, so thought I'd take a few snaps...

I rode from Roker to South Shields, up past the Port of Tyne and along to White Mare Pool. I then went under the bridge for the motor way and turned right and got myself on the road heading up through Springwell. By this time I had probably covered 30 odd miles and was gutted I was starting to run out of steam. Not making excuses, just I haven't been out riding for over 3 weeks as to be honest I haven't been feeling to well. But hey that's another story. I decided to move my Bartlett Tendon "Cam" to position one (1). This means there isn't quite as much resistance on the tendons and make it a bit easier. I managed to get up Springwell bank, have to admit got off and pushed for a bit at one point I just had no energy. Once into Wrekenton it was all downhill, until I came to Lamsley and then another bloody hill up towards Birtley.

I had rang my dad whilst I was on my way up Springwell bank, as I was worried I might not be able to make it home and thought I'd better give him a shout then, as my mobile phone battery was only on 9% charge. Stupid bloody phone always goes flat quick (new phone needed me thinks)

Just as I got to the top of the bank towards Birtley the cavalry arrived in the shape of my dad Ern. He's a legend. So we popped my bike on the car rack and then it was a quick ride home, where I could have a nice hot shower, something to eat and try and recharge my batteries, as well as my phones lol.

Although I didn't quite make it home under my own steam I'm still pretty chuffed, covered around 44 miles today, dam it only had to complete 6 or so more to get home. Never mind  not bad considering I'm going through a few health issues with this dam Lymphoma.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A short ride it's chilly

As I didn't manage to get out for a ride yesterday I thought I'd go for a short blast today. I didn't intend on going far so left my Camelbak and just took along my digi-camera and mobile (always carry my phone just in case).

WoW was it a bit brisk outside, soon got warmed up though and then as I heated up tried a few sprints out the saddle on my Bartlett Tendon. I had to be canny careful today as there was so much ice around I managed to slip n slide a few times but lucky never came a cropper today. I just love the sound of the crisp leaves beneath my tyres and the crunching of the ice as you go over frozen puddles lol.


As I wasn't going far I thought I may as well take in at least one or 2  assents, it's to good to push yourself and get out of breath,means your working hard and helps keep your fitness up.Plus as I am running my BT on the number 2 position on both of the "cams" well it's a little more difficult as there is  slightly  more tension on my tendons. It will be interesting to see how much my muscles grow on my stump side whilst using this new BT and "cam".

Position 2 on the "Cam" see the like "grenade pin" lol
 I didn't get too many pics today, it's real difficult when your out on your todd. You set your camera To "auto" then try to do a drive by and capture it just right in time with the "Beep Beep Beep" of your camera. Never mind I did get a few which aren't total failures I guess.

Camera set to auto "just click dam you"

On my way home I decided to venture up South Moor bank (instead of taking a slightly easier flatter way home). I thought I'd change it up a bit and pop my bike into 1 gear higher and then ride one lamp-post to another seated, then one lamp-post to another out the saddle and pumping. I know to those who ride a bike normally, (by that I mean with 2 legs) it doesn't sound much, but as an above knee amputee riding up a hill out the saddle is quite a feat. I mean if it wasn't for this amazing knee I couldn't even ride out the saddle on the flat, never mind up an incline. So as I reached the top of the bank I was pretty chuffed and it was another gold star for the Bartlett Tendon. I mean yeah I could do it with the old BT, it was just a lot harder work. Brian has managed to move the technology along with the design of the "cam" and now the knee feels a lot more supportive the more the knee is flexed, this means you use less energy and instead of having to swap tendons out ie a choice between 2x softs or 2x hards or a soft/hard combo, you can now leave the 2x softs in and allow the "cams" to do the work. All you have to do is remove a simple pin on each side, pop the "cam" in one of the three pre-set positions depending on how much tension you would like going through each of the tenons and that's it your done. Oh and depending on what sporting activity your doing and if you require it you can also pump up the new RockShox Monarch RT3 and adjust the compression/rebound settings.

My Sandman