|What a Motley Crew|
As I got out more and became more proficient I by chance came across an old school friend named Carl Walker. Carl is a very keen cyclist and we began going out on a regular basis, he was a fantastic riding buddy, always offering me support and spurring me on. I haven't seen Carl in a while now, we didn't fall out or anything, really it's just life and people drift in and out of one another's lives. Carl got a new job and was working more hours last time I spoke to him, he had also been suffering from a dodgy knee which required surgery so hadn't been out on his bike all that much. I miss Carl a great deal and will make a point of heading over to see him soon, as I know if he is back out on his bike and has the time he would really enjoy hanging with the friends I now ride with.
That was just a small kind of intro about when my riding started and how I've gone from riding alone to heading out with new friends that I have come across. Whilst any kind of riding is good, by that I mean I don't mind setting off alone and taking my mp3, listening to a few tunes and stopping to take the odd photo, which captures a memory, also saying a friendly hello to people I come across on my travels. It is even better when done with friends. More shared memories and support, someone to help pick you up when you fall,team work in fixing mechanical issues, oh and lets not forget someone to pay for the tea when you forget your money as it's in your other bag. It's not just about the riding, this is only part of it,it's the being able to talk about your adventures when you next see your pals and have a real good laugh about your experiences.
Yesterday was no different. Wor Kyle had come to stay and when I mentioned I was going out for a ride with John,Lee and Thompa. Thompa had been getting himself a new bike and this was to be his first ride out with our little gang Kyle said "I'll come". I was a bit surprised to say the least. I've rode with wor Kyle in the past and although we have had some awesome fun days I have always felt like I have had to badger him into joining me. For him to actually want to come and spend sometime with my friends and I was great. Kyle didn't have a helmet, as I had given my spare old one to John. He said "Oh it doesn't matter", to which I said "well if you don't have a helmet you can't come". I work in a hospital and know enough about head injuries to know that wearing a helmet can save your life, or stop you becoming permanently disabled after an accident, from the result of bump to your head. This meant I had to drive him back through to his flat in Newcastle at around 1 in the morning to pick up his lid.
Come the morning both Kyle and I were up bright and early, going over what gear we needed, filling our reservoir's and I made a couple of fruit loaf sandwiches, containing ham and raspberry jam. We also took a couple of sausage rolls (I know health food right) oh and a couple of bananas, me stowing them all in my frame bag which I got from Bike Bag Dude. This bag has been so useful since getting it and allows me to carry a great deal more stuff, especially important stuff like our bait lol.
We got the bikes out from our shed. I had loaned Kyle a pair of my Shimano boots and he was going to try and go clipless for the first time today (this should be fun I thought). Kyle was going to be riding my Ibis Mojo Sl, which is around 7 years old now. She looks a bit of a dog nowadays bless her, however she is still a good bike. I mean the bike has been used, bit pointless spending all that money and then being afraid to get it mucky or a few scratches on it. My weapon of choice, yeah you guessed it my trusty Sandman Hoggar Ti. My favourite bike, which I have now had over 2 years. Again showing signs of wear, however still riding sweet and so much fun when doing so.
Ok almost everything ready,camera's packed, both GoPro's charged with spare batteries. I had decided to lug my Pentax K30, you know the camera I can't use. I'm determined to get some decent pics. I figure if I take around 5000 each time at least one should turn out. It was then we noticed Kyle's Camelbak was leaking as we came back in the house. The juice he had in it had soaked the pack, the kitchen bench and the floor. This particular reservoir/bladder does this all the time. We removed the reservoir and I put the backpack on top of our car outside as it was a lovely sunny morning thinking it would help to dry it quicker..
Just then John turned up, shortly followed by Thompa who had come down in his truck, his bike on his rack. "your not leaving your truck here are you" I said. "well I was going to" he replied. "I wouldn't" I told him. The kids around our way are a right nightmare, they wreck everything in sight, leave stuff lying all over and will quite happily go up the side of anyone's car with their bicycle handlebars and not bat an eye. With this Thompa got back in his truck and drove home deciding to ride his bike back down to my house. I was relieved. I know I'm not personally responsible for damage to anyone's cars, but it would have made me feel pretty bad if we had come back and there were any dents or scratches on his motor. Our car has more dented panels than straight one's. It bugs the hell out of me, my dad on the other hand he doesn't give a rats ass. "it's just a car" he says, so generally our car is like driving around in a mobile skip.
As Thompa left Lee arrived and after a short period Thompa arrived back on his bike. He has been getting a Giant,he bought it from a friend and got a really good deal. I missed what model he said it was, however did notice it's got some really nice kit on it.
And so we are ready for the off. I set one of my camera's up on our gate to catch us leaving and another on my bike. Not sure how much footage I can pop into a movie as at the moment I haven't gone through all of the files. I took absolutely loads so sure I can make something relatively interesting. Was really gutted as I missed one special shot, but I will tell you of this later on in my tale.
Ok roll camera and action, we all head up my back street, our party of 5 off on our first adventure together. We get to the end of the street and it's like "Cut" both Lee and I have to go back to retrieve our camera's. This movie making is harder than it looks as you keep having to ride back and forth to collect your camera. As we head down the street Kyle rides down too. I'm not sure what he is doing, fannying about by the looks of it. We are something like 2 minutes into our adventure and "Whoooaaaa" we have our first crash of the day. Yeah I was right about him being clipped in. Kyle picks himself up, he's ok and just laughs it off. "Bloody hell" he says "I forgot about the clips and couldn't get me foot out" It was funny to see the panic in his face as he was trying to lift his feet off the pedals. I think everyone who uses this system falls early on as they do take a bit of getting used to.
Camera's collected we headed off through the estate (Holly Hill East) with the aim of going through South Moor Park. I wanted to take Lee this way as he has never been. Both Lee and his wife Michelle aren't originally from these parts, having moved to Stanley roughly 6 years ago, so it's nice being able to show him different local trails and routes. The ride through the park is nice. As we head through the Drift John,who is in front encounters some thick mud on this short incline so he has to get off and push. We are all behind so just stop and do the same, well apart from Kyle who tries to come up the outside, looses momentum and proceeds to not be able to clip out and falls in some nettles.He calls out in pain as he is stung, various "Aghhhhh's! and Oooohhhh's!. followed by a "Argghhh! shit" as I recall. He's ok so everyone has a good laugh.
Before long we are on the Chapman's Wells trails, a place I ride regularly. It's a beautiful area and especially today, the sun is shining, the sky is a lovely shade of blue and there are fluffy white clouds drifting along in the sky. As we ride up this one straight section there are gorse bushes to either side. These are at there sharpest and in full bloom with bright yellow flowers. They look pretty, however are lethal to tyres and I wouldn't recommend ever falling in them as yes done that and they hurt. This place is a nature reserve and although it's easily accessed by roads it doesn't get to busy and is quite tranquil.
As we come off the Chapman's Wells trails we turn left and head down to Maiden Law, turning at the Three Horse Shoes to go along the back roads and past the gypsy caravan park. They look as if they are building new structures of some sort there. A little further down the road and we are able to turn and get on to the C2C route.It's just a case of following this route all the way, a few twists and turn and up and down's to get up to our chosen destination and Waskerley Reservoir.
We go past the Lime Kilns and the Old Transformers, then it's on to the maze (to be honest I don't know why it's called the maze, especially now as they have ruined it, tarmacking and making the section wider). I think John mentioned that on Strava it's called the "Curly Wurly Bits" or something. Whilst in the maze or the Curly Wurly Bits I bumped into an old friend from way back. I haven't seen Martin Green in years. I used to knock about with his brother Gary back when we were kids. Gary got me into Kung Fu at the age of about 10. We used to go to the Clavering youth club. I can remember going on bare foot runs and having to do thousands of press ups and sit ups. We also did public demonstrations and I used to think I was a dab hand with a pair of Nunchaka's. I always managed to miss the stick and crack myself on the funny bone, which wasn't funny at all.
Out at the Jolley Drovers which I have to say is looking good since it's renovation, will have to try a meal there when it re-opens as a carvery. From here it's all the way up to Consett. It was just a nice steady away, stopping now and again to change camera angles. Once past the Theodolite sculptures we dropped down the long incline passing the old red railway wagon and proceeded on and over the Gill Bridge with it's ugly suicide fencing, which I personally think is a complete waste of time and money.
It was good riding with a few different people as you get to have different conversations along the way. I was also playing a really stupid childish game with wor Kyle, yes his dad invented it, he is just stupid enough to join in lol. The game when ever you see an animal you have to do your best impersonation. Today we saw Sheep,cows,horses,crows,dogs and even a few donkeys. Donkeys are my favourite "EeeeeeAwwww!!!". I'm just pleased it wasn't raining as I would have been stumped if I had seen any worms. Boy today sure was busy with other bikers, must be because of the bank holiday I guess, No I didn't do any impersonations of any bikers, well not many, the ones I said "Hi" to and didn't respond back or didn't acknowledge I slightly pulled the water out of and possibly did a quick impression. I can't stand miserable people,who just give you a dirty look when your trying to be friendly.
As we rode up and past where Rowley Station used to be and the car park wor Kyle was really flagging. Not fitness wise, no he was really saddle sore. It's been ages since he has been out for a longish ride and he was in quite a bit of discomfort. By the time we came to the the small steep bank at Waskerley Way we could tell Kyle just wasn't enjoying himself. He soldiered on until our next stop and it was at this point I told him there was no shame in just quitting and heading home. He was proper down in the dumps and said he didn't even think he could make it back he was so sore. So I gave Ern a ring and his grandad agreed to come and pick both him and his bike up. I passed Kyle a banana and one of my amazing ham and jam sandwiches and the lads and me set off again after saying goodbye and not to worry about him needing to stop. It was a shame as we weren't all that far from where we were heading, though in fairness it was still a good ride and he would have had all the way to come back. It's horrible getting saddle sore, something I have been fighting for years now. I must have spent and this is no word of exaggeration around £500 or £600 on various saddles over the years. Everything from Fizik's to SDG's, WTB's to my current Charge saddles. I opted for the Charge because it looked pretty decent, however more so for it's price. All this spending a £100 on a saddle and then finding it's just as uncomfortable as a £20 odd quid one, plus I can't afford it these days. I've even been to have my bot measured, well my sit bones and got the right size saddle, still no joy.
|Kyle was proper sore at this point|
|Looking over from the hill at Waskerley Way, the Moorcock in the distance|
|Party of 5, soon to become the Fantastic Four|
|Over in the opposite direction, Lee thinks there is a trail along here according to his Garmin|
After stopping with Kyle I figure we had done somewhere in the region of around 17 miles. I myself was real sore, though this was more a case of socket sore, than saddle sore. You see I had received a new check socket from the guys down at Pace Rehabilitation. I better explain what a check socket is as sometimes I forget not everyone knows. I certainly didn't know anything before I became an amputee.
Ok as a right above knee amputee or RAK I have what is know as a long residual limb (a good length of leg left) so I'm lucky as some people have a higher level of amputation and in some cases can't even wear a prosthesis.The bit of limb that is left is commonly referred to as a stump. I hate the word stump.But hey it is what it is I suppose. My amputation is through the end of my femur, the large thigh bone and this means I can't/shouldn't weight bare on the end of my stump. So when wearing a socket it is designed so that I weight bare through my sit bone. This can be quite tricky for a prosthetist (the people who make and fit prosthetics), especially when it comes to active amputees and them doing various sports. For instance cycling, you move about on your bike and your muscles are constantly firing. The socket has to be designed so that it doesn't catch on the users saddle and is also as comfortable and supportive as possible. So what is a check socket. Well before the final socket can be manufactured a check socket is made, this allows the prosthetist and client/patient to fine tune things like comfort/fit and usability. The check socket can be heated and manipulated to a better shape, it can have bits added to it or cut away and once it is fine tuned a final socket can be made and finished off using the check socket as a sort of template.
So this is the first time of me using this new check socket and I am discovering just where it's rubbing/chaffing, tight or slack. I need to wear it so that I can offer the feedback to my prosthetist's Toby and Paul, they can then refine the socket until I get a socket that I can ride with in relative comfort each time I go out. To be perfectly honest and this may just be me I don't think anyone will ever get the "perfect socket". I mean when using your socket you have to realise your stump, (in most cases is) in some sort of a liner.I use is an Ossur X5 Seal in liner.This is like a big silicon sock that fits over your stump and it has 5 silicon rings on the outside which create a vacuum and this in turn keeps your prosthesis on. To take it off you press an air release valve and the vacuum is released and so you can take your limb off. You sweat a lot when wearing a prosthesis, and this in turn leads to problems with rubbing and comfort. Your little leg/stump is contained in a rigid formed piece of material. Imagine wearing a suit of armour for 12 hours per day. Anyhoo I don't mind going through this whole process of testing, yes it can be painful and uncomfortable, however I'm lucky in that I can still get out with friends, and will end up with a top class socket after offering feedback on the design and how it works best for me.
A we ride along Lee and myself are looking for good places to wild camp. We intend on asking permission of any land owners, as it is illegal to just wild camp in England. As soon as I have some spare cash I'm going to get myself a bivi bag and we aim to just ruff it. I'm quite looking forward to this and if it's a success our plans may involve wild camping further a field also incorporating some kind of fund raising towards supporting Arctic One. Both Lee and I are discussing different ideas and options. The biggest problem I can see is how far I can ride each day because of getting sore. No good being in the wilderness somewhere and not being able to pop my leg on because I am so sore and have skinned myself, plus no Ern to come rescue me lol.
As we approach this final gate before coming out on the moors, we hear a lamb crying for his/her mom. John points it out saying "aww look the poor little thing is on the wrong side of the fence". The lamb is in the corner of two fences and clearly distressed. This is the bit where I was gutted my camera wasn't on,my batteries had died at this point. Anyhoo I clambered down this little embankment, getting severely nettled as I went. Lee stayed at the opposite end and we proceeded to round this little lamb up. First it ran past me, then as I approached it it ran back towards Lee. It did this a few times, each time we narrowed the gap. Eventually it tried getting through the small gap in the fence and got it's head stuck. Lee took hold of the lamb and gently picked him/her up. The lamb didn't struggle and appeared quite calm. We both petted it, then Lee lifted it over the fence and put it down in the field. Immediately it's mom came up to the fence and the little lamb ran over bleating. As soon as they came together this little black and white lamb began suckling, it looked starving. Another sheep came to the fence gave us both a funny kind of luck and "Baaaaa". Guess that was us told, either a thank you or a right you can sod off now.
After this we went through the gate and stopped at the near by bench. Thompa spotted a grouse and I thought I could catch it if I changed my lens to my bigger zoomed one.As it turns out I still had to walk like a quarter of a mile to get the bloody thing in shot and big enough. I was trying to be in stealth mode, which is rather difficult when you have a straight leg and your walking through heather. Each time I took a step the grouse would take 3 or 4 quick steps and make a funny sound, whatever grouses do, lets call it a grousey sound. After a while I gave up and I headed back to the bench and the lads. We got on our bikes and rode a little further noticing 4 sheep on the path, one of which had barbed wire wrapped in it's fluff. I thought this was dangerous so did my best to chase this sheep across the moors trying to tell it "look I'm not going to hurt you I'm here to help you for heaven's sake". Obviously it didn't understand and legged it. So the second rescue of the day was an epic fail.
|At the Bench|
|Huh, what you looking at ?|
|I was in stealth mode trying to get a close up|
|A sculpture at Park Head Cafe|
Then it was time for the off again. We had discussed going down to Waskerley reservoir so set off looking for the trail that would take us there. It was much easier heading back and we found the trail in no time. Going down this section was so much fun,as there were a few bits you could jump off and it was quite quick and rocky.
When we ll got to the bottom we rode right down to the reservoir and had a good luck around. I was so tempted to strip off and try my first open water swim, however wasn't sure if you were allowed to go in. On exiting the reservoir area I saw a sign saying No swimming so just as well I didn't plus it was canny cad, sorry cold. Ok we've seen the reservoir now it was time for the climb back up and onto the C2C trail. John and Thompa had gone a little way ahead so Lee and I rode up together, chatting about where we could bivi and also having a proper whine, (though it was an acceptable whine) about the amount of rubbish on the fell. There were numerous beer and larger cans strewn all over and even empty McDonalds bags. Sometime people really disgust me, just bag up your litter and take it home and dispose of it there.
|John and Lee|
|At Waskerley Reservoir|
|Thompa on his new bike, saying "ooh man diven't take a picture of me I hate my photo being taken" Ok then!|
|A few of our bikes at the reservoir|
|Not sure what this small castle building was|
|No Swimming, dam may have been my first open water attempt|
We then decide to ride past Lee's camera and as he collects it he says "I think I may have caught Thompa on film". We check out his tiny screen and sure enough you see Thompa fall off, so can't wait to see it on a big screen. As we approach the road we turn right and see a beautiful lap wing in the field across the way. A little ride up a bit of an incline and there is a road to our left. just as we reach this road there is a sign for an Auction of some property. Over the cattle grid and we all ride up towards this big white house. it's quite old looking and this is the property that is for sale. It's my idea of heaven. No noisy neighbours, pretty secluded, yet easy access to amenities and your straight on to the cycle route and the moors. Immediately I start to day dream about what I would do if I lived there. A bike repair shop and cafe maybe. It's in an ideal place. I could have a wonkey and a few sheep, some pot bellied pigs or maybe some of those micro pigs, oh and of course a girlfriend for Mr Hink's. I enjoy day dreaming.
From this point we continued home chatting about various stuff. Just after Rowley Station car park John slowed down saying "aww crap I have got a puncture" Good job Lee had his gear as like I said earlier mine was in Kyle's bag (which he had borrowed from me). John's bikes back wheel is held on with nuts and we didn't have a spanner so we just repaired it on the wheel/frame. John taking a back seat and observing I think he has an aversion to dirt, muck and clarts. He has this thing about keeping his bike clean and we even caught him polishing his frame as he rode along on todays adventure. Of course he denies this, but we all know. I usually take John on the muddiest routes I can find to which you quite often get an "awww knawww man". Anyhoo hole found, a quick lick of the inner tube and there it was. Lee had some instant gluless patches so job sorted tube repaired. There was however something still sharp in John's tire, so I set about trying to bite it out, just hope he hasn't rode through any dog shit. Wheel back on, John decides he is going to pump up his tyre. He takes 3 pumps and proceeds to jam his finger, getting a blood blister,so hands the pump back to Lee lol. Lee gets the tyre up and John adds a bit more air, bloody hell his tyre must have like 100 psi in it. Now we start fannying on with his front brake as he is just not happy, another 10 minutes and it's sorted, John is a fairly happy man,well until his crank starts clicking and this starts preying on his mind. I'm sure John has Ocd lol.
Just after the Theodolites Lee and me lose John and Thompa as Lee directs us in another direction. We take a wrong turning and end up coming out almost at Delves Lane. This means we have to climb back up the bank to get back on the same route. As we ride along by the playing fields we see John and Thompa are waiting for us. Now it's just a case of heading along to Leadgate and once there down to the Jolly Drovers cross the road and into the Curly Wurly Maze. Once we reach the Old Transformers Thompa is no where in sight. I didn't find out until I txt'd him when I got home that he thought this bloke in front was Lee so he had sped off to catch him, then discovered it wasn't Lee. never mind he got home safe and that's what matters, even if he did have a broken bot, as he sent me a message saying "my bots killin".
By this point I was really feeling it and John and Lee rode ahead at their own pace stopping occasionally and waiting for me to catch up. We had come along from the Morrison and I knew I was skinned in a few different places. Once at Stanley we rode down the front street and up under the subway coming out on Wear Road. We said bye to John and Lee and myself rode down the back streets to my house. Once at mine I said bye to Lee and said I would see him later, as both Michelle and Lee had invited me and my friend Essi who is staying with me around for a meal. We were going to discuss fund raising ideas as both Michelle and Lee are right on board alongside me with Arctic One.
Just about completed video, again a bit disappointed. I always seem to have a problem with getting my camera set just right. The chest mount always appears to be to low so I'm going to have to figure out how to raise the shot and keep it in the same place each time. I am also finding my video's are getting way too long so will be cutting back on this...I can't believe just how much time I put into completing my blog. One of the hardest things isn't the editing of video's or the writing of my adventures, Nope it's trying to decide which music fits in each video lol.
Ok thanks for reading until next time. I hope you all still find it entertaining and I appreciate your support. If you do have a few spare quid could you please donate here.Virgin Money Giving Fundraiser - GlennJohnstone I will be taking part in lots of challenges in the future starting with
The Hawridge international Duathlon which will take place on 10th June 2014.
And then a triathlon on the 23/08/2014 at Dorney Lake Tri Festival