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 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.