Sunday, 31 August 2014

Really enjoyable, yet slightly stressful weekend.

This weekend as I write has been a mixture of great up's and what is now a prolonged down. The up's being able to hang with one of my newer friends Al and go out on a great ride with him on Saturday, showing him my local area. Then today, Sunday having a very enjoyable roadie adventure (only  slightly marred by the bane of my life Strava and it not mapping my data or ride)  The down and what's stressing me out is that Mr Hink's is still not himself and has worsened and I'm really concerned. I've been holding off going to the vets as last time he picked up and the swelling around his neck went down. But come tomorrow I have asked Ern to get an appointment asap as our little lad, (well he's not so little due to the steroids he's on, Mr Hink's is getting increasingly fatter) just isn't very well. His neck is very swollen and it appears like fluid around his glands, he is also so lethargic. The only thing that hasn't changed is that he is still greedy and can hear the rustle of a crisp packet at 20 paces, it just takes him longer to get to you to scrounge a crisp.

Anyhoo I try to make my blog as positive as possible but thought I'd share my worries as although it's not the same as chatting to a friend, when I write stuff down it does seem to help as I feel everyone that reads my little tales does it because in some way they want to support me and in doing so also care about poor Mr Hink's.

Whilst out with Al I thought I'd lump my big camera around and practice with it some more. I really should be grabbing more shots I don't take half as many as I used to. Generally I see something I want to shoot, but it disappears in the blink of an eye and I don't have time to capture it. I'm not a great photographer, but I do have a keen eye, well at least for what I like.

The Farmer's Trail

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dorney Lake and my first Triathlon with Arctic ONE

August the 23rd has soon come around. This was to be the day where I would take part in my first ever triathlon. A challenge set by all the lovely guys at Arctic ONE and something in which I was eager to have a go at. The venue, Dorney Lake, Eton,Bucks. 

For those of you following my adventures or journey, blog call it what you will, you'll know I'm quite an active person. Since becoming ill back in 95 (notice I say ill as I still have difficulty describing myself as disabled, disabled for me is when you can't do something/anything and it is a phrase or description that I feel can be quite stigmatising, just my opinion, sure other people may see it differently) Anyhoo I have had this recurring (don't know if you would call it a dream) lets just say a thought that I wanted to run. Although as a fit and healthy person I was never an athlete I just enjoyed trotting around. I regularly ran about whilst delivering letters and packages as a postman, something to which my old work colleagues would testify to.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Very kindly asked to write an article for the Empower Magazine... Sweet!

A couple of weeks back my good friend Scott Richardson over at Pace Rehabilitation informed me that Empower may possibly be interested in running a little article about my latest adventures and pursuits. I'm still continuing to be supported and sponsored by both Pace Rehabilitation and Brian Bartlett which is simply amazing.

I always tell people I'm just an ordinary guy. I'm no elite athlete by any measure. My take on this though is that in some ways this helps to inspire more people just like me. People who may be struggling to come to terms with their disabilities, or wanting to get into something new. I hope they can take a look at me and just think "he's just and ordinary lad, if he can do it then maybe I can".

And so I was contacted by Chris Swindells  the Production Manager at Publishing Magazines Ltd. Chris firstly asked if I could provide him with a few images and a little background. As we chatted via email this then progressed on to writing a few lines and then eventually Chris asked you know what can you just send me around 300 words describing what's going on in your life. Well I tried my best to get it to 300, however went slightly over to around 404 or so. Chris said the piece I wrote was perfect, so I guess this is what you will get to read in the link below.

 As mentioned in the article I would just like to say a huge Thank You to:

Everyone over at Arctic ONE, all their fund-raisers and supporters, especially two of the trustees, Matt Kirby and Bex Stubbing's, who's support has been absolutely amazing.

Pace  Rehabilitation for their endless support. I am so looking forward to my next adventures and learning to run on my Pace built running prosthesis. I know the whole team is right behind me.

Brian Bartlett for, designing the BTK and being kind enough to sponsor me and being a great buddy.

Paul and Andy over at Bike Swanky for sorting me out on their demo bike so I could get some road bike practice in for my triathlon and for getting me fixed up with a road bike and sponsoring me on a new mountain bike.

And finally to Empower for featuring me in their magazine and Chris for walking me through what he required and offering words of support for my then upcoming triathlon.

Empower are always looking for new and interesting stories about people with disabilities.

Chris Swindells
Production Manager
Publishing Magazines Ltd
Direct Dial: 0191 516 61 65

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

A spot of afternoon Geo-caching with friendly folk along the way...

            In from work a quick text to Lee to let him know I'm home and will be over to his house as soon as I get changed and get all my bike bits and bobs sorted. I knew we were just going for a nice relaxed ride locally so thought I'd take my big camera today and try and see if I could get some shots. Really it's just about practising with it, truth be known I don't have the patience. If something doesn't exactly work out of the box in my opinion it's broke. I'm one of those blokes that's more hands on. I hate reading instructions and find it boring when anyone tries toy explain to me about photography, what with ISO's, F Stops, apertures....Yawn! You get the picture. Point and click is about my stamp and I have to say in the past I have done ok.

Once at Lee's and he has his stuff sorted we head off along and up the Farmers Trail, it's a lovely day for riding, the sun is out and there is a slight breeze. Lee has an idea where he wants to go, however I persuade him to follow me as I want to show him some new trails locally. Lee's a dead funny lad, he always has this idea of where he wants to go and when someone takes him off the beaten track he kind of becomes uncomfortable. Maybe it's not on his Garmin which he rely's on so much, it always makes me chuckle to myself. Anyhoo Lee follows my lead and as we ride up different trails he comments on "Oh I've been on here" or better still "Ave neva been along here it's beautiful". This is what I like to hear, it's great taking people to new areas and letting them see that we live in such a pretty area when you get just outside of the hustle and bustle of our town.

Overlooking the pond
Some pretty flowers near the waters edge

I show Lee parts of Beamish Woods he has never seen before and and of course some he has. As we pass the big pond I take the opportunity to practice with my camera. We  then work our way along to the forges. In the Woods there is one particular sweet spot of technical riding. I am very pleased with myself today as I only had to get off once for this tricky section that was on a camber, and up a incline, covered in tree roots. I managed all the technical climbs, in and out of the trees and only fell off once, not being able to put my leg down on my Bartlett Tendon side.

Lee enjoying the beautiful quiet area
Pics a little blurry, but hey just practising!
Lee coming through the techy trail

 As we approach the Forges and Ousburgh Woods I give Lee a quick history lesson about the area. Lee is very interested in local history and he appreciates my small amount of knowledge. As we ride into Ousburgh I take the path that leads through the ford and stream as Lee heads over the foot bridge.
Once in the woods fully Lee is blown away by how beautiful the area is, all the ancient trees, the stream or burn as we call it and all the flowers, butterflies and other bits and pieces you expect to see on a sunny day in the woods. Lee comments on how he will now make this one of his more regular routes. It is really pretty and serene in these woods. As we come out at the other end we get on to a small road and have to climb a rather steep bank. At the moment I'm trying to practice more and more riding up hill out of the saddle using my Bartlett Tendon, why you may ask? Well I was contacted by a guy who asked is it possible to ride out the saddle up a hill. Yes it is, however it requires quite a bit of practice and energy. You have to concentrate on getting your pedal stroke right, keep your balance and have good endurance. My aim at some point is to make a small video of me riding up a few banks or hills. But hey that's for another day.

A short ride up the road and Lee says "hey why don't we cut down here and get onto the Bowes Railway Line, it will make our ride just that bit longer". So off we go down this road to our right looking for the sign post for the Bowes Railway path. It's not too far down the road, we both have to man handle our bikes through one of those stupid gates, you know the ones to stop motorcycles, the ones that actually don't really stop them at all, they just hinder everyone else. Anyhoo Lee is off up the path, me I stop as I see an interesting sculpture and get off my bike, then position it next to the stone sculpture and proceed to get some snaps.

Sandman Hoggar Ti
  I take a few pics and then just as I'm about to get on my bike a lady with a dog comes my way. "Ooh I will wait until you get away" she says "Otherwise he may chase after you". Just as I step over my bike and get in position the lady says "Eeeeh your amazing, riding a mountain bike and you've only one leg...amazing". "Aww thanks" I say and we go on to have a very pleasant little chat. I always appreciate and respect the people who are not stand offish and have the confidence to ask or take an interest when they see someone who maybe a little different. As I set off to leave I tell the lady my name "Oh I'm Glenn by the way" to which she replies "Oh Hi I'm Julie". " We are having a charity do at the Schooner in Gateshead" I say "your welcome to come along", then I'm on my way to catch up with Lee.

He is at the top of the road, having scoffed his banana whilst waiting for me. We then head over to another place I want to show Lee for a little jaunt. This is called "Hedley Hall Woods" I tell him and we again have to manoeuvre our bikes through a daft gate. It's just a little loop, but this place is lovely and quiet. I'm not sure if you are supposed to ride bikes here. I couldn't see any DO NOT RIDE signs, so that's good enough for me. Lee takes my camera and grabs a few shots of me and then we complete the loop, dismounting at the gate. As we approach the gate there is a man coming the other way. Awww crap is he going to be a cock, we have a 50/50 chance. This bloke turns out to be class he opens the gate for us and spends a bit time having a chat. Lee finds him amusing as this bloke is swearing like a trooper. We get on about how certain people can be stuck up and whine about us riding our bikes and he backs us up saying "you should just tell them to"...well the first word starts with "F" and the second is "off", I take it we have his approval to ride on.

Riding in Hedley Hall Woods
Out the saddle on the trail
Having fun
Back on the road for a wee while I spot a combine harvester in the field and see a shot I want to take, unfortunately it takes me ages to get my camera out of my back pack so I miss it. I did manage to get one or two, but not the ones I wanted.
I got a brand new combine Harvester I do

 Continuing up the road, we come onto the Causey Arch Road and then head up towards Tanfield Railway. Lee wants to look for a geo-cache nearby and also has an idea where to stash one of his own. We spend a little time down near the train sheds, just looking around and had a small chat to some volunteers as they were leaving. Time to head off in search of this geo-cache.

Lee getting ready to blitz down the trail
Off he goes
A little way down the trail and Lee says "it should be somewhere around here
". The clue is something about used to be a tree, but now is wood or something like that. I got it in my head that the cache would be in a tree stump. We searched for quite sometime both getting nettled yet again, it's a regular occurrence with us now. I then spotted what appeared to be like an old railway sleeper and some other bits of wood right in the undergrowth, behind this small tree, or bush. "I reckon it's in there somewhere I said" and so we both headed into this tricky spot, what with nettles and prickly bushes, it was a proper nightmare. As I got near the wood and had a good look I spotted a small container fixed to a wooden post. "there it is Lee", "Lee jokingly saying his now favourite phrase when geo-caching "awww man it's never me" and we both shared a laugh.

Geo-cache logged we set off to find a spot for our own. Again Lee off in the distance me trailing behind. I stopped as I saw a lovely photo opportunity and "agggghhhh, again missed it". That's the only thing about riding and having something like a 35mm camera, it takes ages to get your back pack off and then take the shot. Anyhoo I'll just explain the scene. A beautiful golden field, that had been cut recently,blue skies and the sun at just the right angle to make the field glow. There was a group of crows I think you call it a murder. Did you know that you call a group of ravens an unkindness or a conspiracy. As I approached they were all in a huddle, then as I stopped to take of my back pack they all bloody flew away. My idea was to get a shot of my bike with the golden field in the background then clap or shout and get the crows to fly...Oh yes I'm very creative in my own mind at least lol. Never mind you just have to make do with a picture of my bike and no birds.

Dang it missed the real shot, this one will have to do
Lee was now at these local ruins. He was searching for a good spot to put our cache. I said "what about those stairs" ( there were some old stairs remaining in the derelict buildings). Well the next 15 minutes or so were spent trying to discover a path way to get to these stairs without being nettled. The bloody things were everywhere. Finally I found a path, however we had to walk all the way back around the field and come in from the other side. Even this path to the stairs was like "Nettle city" as Lee put it. We spent another 5 minutes or so deciding on a good spot and then a clue. I suggested a good spot to Lee and he got nettled yet again in the process of putting the container in position and covering it up. I then came up with what I thought was a good clue..."Stop and stair-down and West". Get it "Stair instead of Stare". I tell you I'm a genius lol.

A pretty Thistle
WoW this was scary I hate heights
At the top now time to sit down before I fall off lol
The derelict building with stairs
   Ok job done. I inform Lee "I'm starving" it's time to head home. All I have had all day is 2 Nutella and baby bread slices, oh and one of Jennifer from work's delicious buns. We set off in the general direction of home, nettled to bits but content, it's been a "canny ride" (Lee pulls the water out of me as apparently he says this is how I rate everything "canny like")  As we head down the trail towards this little country lane that will take us up the steep bank and the level crossing at Tanfield Railway we notice a man scavenging in all this rubbish. We exchange pleasantries, however I am not happy at what I see. Whilst this guy isn't doing anything wrong I am very annoyed that someone else has fly tipped in this area. There was already a pile of rubbish that had been tipped about a year ago, and now this other pile of crap. Both Lee and I got off our bikes , like I say I was proper mad. I asked the lad "do you mind if I have a quick look through the stuff" to which he replied "No of course not". I wanted to see if I could find any paper work or receipts because if I had I could hand these in to the Police or council as I think people who do this kind of stuff should be heavily fined, it's disrespectful,lazy and can cause harm to the environment and wild life. It had been quite obviously some kind of builder who had dropped off all this rubbish as there were screws,saws, old bottles of glue and other solvents, drill bits, pieces of old wood and alls sorts of other building stuff, way too much to list. I decided to call the police on 101 and they said unless I had seen the incident it was a council matter and they would try and put me through.

Anyhoo long story short, well looking at my blog, Long I have rang Gateshead Council  today and explained about the fly tipping site and they are going to arrange to have it cleared up within 7 days...Result.

I'll have a little rant now... Ok cyclist's always seem  to get a bad rap, expecially mountain bikers. We are told we can't ride here or there, based on laws about footpath's that go back to the middle ages. Yet in my opinion we actually take more care of the environment and our surroundings than the majority of other people. We face constant flak from whiney people who prefer to go around polluting the place with motor vehicles or letting their dogs poop all over trails. My biggest bug bear being those people who actually pick up their dog crap then proceed to scatter the bags all over the countryside as they can't be arsed to find a bin. Omg you have done the hard part just take it with you and dispose of it properly. Ok that's me done I feel loads better now and will continue to ride where I like in a respectful, non-threatening manner lol

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Ooooh a Charity gig, featuring The Panic Report a North Eastern Band at the Schooner. I'll be there!

Guest Blog by Michelle Sheridan

The Panic Report are a local band from the North East.  One of the band - Lee Stephenson spent most of his childhood growing up with my husband - Lee Sheridan.  So when Lee Stephenson heard about my cancer diagnosis and our intention to try and support Glenn Johnstone and Arctic ONE, he said if there was anything he could do to help we just had to let him know and that he'd have a think about what he could do to help.
So one evening, whilst thinking about fund raising ideas, it just seemed so obvious that the one thing Lee could do was to put on a Charity Gig in aid of Arctic 1 and Glenn.  So no sooner had it been suggested that Lee agreed to it.
Fantastic but now we had to try and decide on a venue - and a cheap or free one at that.  Julie Tekin is a great friend and colleague and has given me so much direct support since my diagnoses that I have pretty much kept her up to date with everything.  As it happens, Julie used to be a MacMillan Nurse, so has years and years of experience in supporting those affected by cancer.
Julie has a great friend called Lynne, whose brother, just so happens to own a pub in Gateshead, and a pub that just so happens to supports live bands.  Well need I say anything more ...... yet more support results in us getting a free venue for the Charity Gig a huge huge thanks has to go to The Schooner Pub on South Shore Road, Gateshead for offering us their pub, free of charge.
Well every thing's now pretty much set up.  Julie and I have organised some raffle prizes for the evening with all proceeds going to Arctic ONE.  Al Roberts, a new friend of Glenn's and someone who you can read all about in Glenn's latest blogs, is also seeing if he can arrange some raffle prizes.  Great stuff and fantastic support from people in all corners.
Well that's about it - the event will start at 7pm(ish) at The Schooner on Friday 29th August 2014.  Its been advertised on Facebook and I have no idea how many people may turn up - but any amount is better than none !


Checkout the Schooner's Facebook page and add a like

Glenn "Thanks to everyone for all your support I really do appreciate it and I know the guys over at Arctic ONE are simply blown away by how much support I have received over the last few months. I've made so many new and dear friends in fact I often wonder what the hell I must have been doing before you all came along. My life is enriched so much more now that I have you all in my life".

Camera hunting...Fail!...Aww who cares, quality time with friends!

It's a couple of weeks now since wor Kyle accidentally dropped my new camera into Ladyburn Lake. I've now been up a couple of times searching with friends. Looking in the general area we thought the camera was, however have been unsuccessful in finding it. Really it's like the proverbial "needle in a haystack" scenario. I wouldn't mind if it had been just an ordinary camera, as as soon as it went overboard, it would of been a case of "Ahh well it's drowned as it's not waterproof". What's annoyed and frustrated me is that this particular camera I bought especially for it's waterproof ability, as well as being shock and dust proof. You see I got it for when I went out mountain biking, because if you're a biker you will know we get in some right filthy states.

Wayne is our local window cleaner, he is a cracking lad and we get on very well, whenever I see him he always makes time to have a chat as we share similar hobbies and interests. Wayne even did a sponsored bike ride with a few of his friends to raise money for me and Arctic ONE the charity I am being supported by in getting a running blade. Like I saw a top fella. Anyhoo a good while ago as Wayne and I were chatting I remembered him saying he was into both diving and metal detecting. So I thought why not give Wayne a buzz and see if he knew if there was such a thing as an under water metal detector. His reply"Yeah there is I have one, but I'm in Spain and won't be back until the 19th". So I waited a couple of days for him to return then messaged him again asking if he could help me out.

Wayne called down on Monday and we discussed when we should head over to Ladyburn Lake. We decided that afternoon was as good a time as any so Wayne popped over home to grab all his gear and I got my stuff sorted. I had asked wor Kyle to come along as he was the one who was in the canoe at the time and he had dropped my camera. I also invited my mate John and of course Ern, well Ern always likes an adventure and is part of the team.

So we drove over to Wayne's and picked both him and his gear up. I introduced Wayne to John as they had never met and off we went over towards Druridge Bay.

It takes around an hour to get to the lake from ours. Monday wasn't an exactly warm day, a bit of a light breeze and the temperature read 17 degrees C in the car. We got to our destination and parked up, a bit further over than we usually do, as it was nearer to where the camera was lost. Wayne and I soon had our wetsuits on, Wayne's being more like a proper diving suit, he was quite warm, me I was bloody freezing. As soon as I got in the water I wanted a wee lol. I had to hold it in for an hour and a half, as that is how long we were in searching for my camera. 

Wayne what a top fella
Firstly Wayne tried diving down to check the bottom of the lake, but found it difficult as his suit brought him straight up. He then popped on a diving belt and went under again, using his underwater torch, however when he came up he said "I can't see a thing". The water in the lake becoming murky as soon as you disturb the bottom, plus there are loads of underwater weeds.

Wayne the frogman!
 We searched in what I thought was the general area, trying to go slow and work in a grid pattern. The lake bed undulates lots and there are shallows then all of a sudden you can't feel your feet on the bottom, or should I say foot in my case. I had taken my swimming shoe off as I thought if I stepped on my camera I would feel it better. Only thing I stepped on was sharp as I am now sporting a deep nick in my big toe and it is really sore.

We were both gutted we didn't find my camera the detector was definitely working as Wayne found a 2pence coin
Wayne then went back ashore and got his underwater metal detector. We both felt confident that this device would do the trick. This was the first time Wayne had used it in deep water so he was a little tentative, obviously not wanting to break his detector. Anyhoo the detector proved it worked as Wayne found and empty beer can. He then went on to find a 2 pence piece and believe it or not that was all that we could find metallic.  We must have searched up and down the same stretch of water at least 7 or 8 times. Both Wayne and I were gutted we didn't find my little camera. It has either washed ashore and someone else has found it, or it's in deeper water. I guess it's now time to say good bye and stop the grieving process. I loved my camera so much I have ordered a new identical one, just waiting for it coming. This one will be fitted with a float as I have learnt my lesson.

It's canny difficult trying to get in and out of the water with only one leg lol
I'm off Wayne in hot pursuit
Ern taking a few snaps
Wayne with his metal detector and me foot feeling
  After leaving the lake we set off to visit our friends Al and Sarah. Sarah had contacted me saying if we were going up to the Lake to call in and she would bake some scones. Arriving at Al and Sarah's we were met by their two friendly Golden Retrievers, Mac and Molly,closely followed by Al and Sarah. I introduced both Al and Sarah to Wayne as they had never met before. My circle of friends is getting increasingly larger and they are all fantastic people. I love being in their company, each one being different and just adding that certain something special whenever we are together. Happy days.

We sat out in Al and Sarah's garden both Wayne and John sampling some of Al's  home made nettle beer and everyone commenting on how delicious the scones Sarah had baked were. There was both cheese and fruit and they were absolutely lush,well worth the visit, in fact we joked we would come more. It's great bringing people together and just having a bit of fun.

As we sat around the small table we got on talking about all heading out on a biking adventure, biving under the stars somewhere. It was a unanimous decision that there has to be a fire this time around. I think both Wayne and Al are really looking forward to it, I know I am it will be great craic.

As time was getting on we thanked Al and Sarah for their generosity and got up to head to the car, handshakes exchanged and a few hugs for Sarah. I was really proud of wor Kyle as he thanked Al for sorting out some software for him and instead of shaking his hand gave him a proper hug... Nice touch, in that I feel I have helped bring him up at least partly right.

And that's about it until next time...Bye

Monday, 25 August 2014

Jason Lalla Highland 2014

Hi Guys

I wanted to share this amazing video of my friend Jason Lalla. Jason played a huge role in helping me first contact Brian Bartlett the designer of the Bartlett Tendon. And well from there the rest is history. 

I remember thinking "wow" when I first contacted Jason. I sent one or two emails as I knew he was using one of Brian's prototype knees and my question was "how do I get one of those things". Jason replied immediately saying something like call me at home in the evening and providing me with his home phone number. You have to remember Jason is out in the States and here's me in the little old UK. As I recall that phone call lasted somewhere in the region of 45 minutes and I was blown away at just how friendly,helpful and kind Jason was.

Jason went on to explain that Brian had had to go into hospital for a revision on his residual limb and that at the time was going through a rough period what with feeling ill and rehabilitation. I remember Jason's exact words "I've put a call into Brian and he will contact you real soon". Each day I checked my email and about 2 weeks later there was a mail from Brian (who had now become like a superhero to me) I can remember the feeling and it was just awesome.

You have to try and understand that as an amputee the stuff you can do on a normal everyday prosthetic is very limited. What the Bartlett Tendon allows you to do just depends on your ability (as Jason demonstrates in his video)

I still look to people like Jason and Brian for inspiration, they are amazing people...

Thursday, 21 August 2014

You can still fall off on a short ride out!

I've put in a few miles since the weekend, nothing out the ordinary of course. I did a very painful 34 miler with my mate John last Saturday, painful in that I had altered the whole set up of my leg and bike and I think I had just done too much all at once. John invited me to have a ride over Durham way so he could introduce me to his dad. John was telling me his dad is well into his photography, so asked me "bring your big camera so my dad can have a look at it". So on Saturday morning I packed my Pentax K30 and all it's lenses into my camera backpack and took it on a rare outing. I haven't used my Pentax all that much as I'm pretty useless with it for starters, haven't the patience to learn and boy is it heavy on a long trip. Anyhoo as John and I stopped at No Place for a quick snap I discovered "aww crap" I had forgotten to charge both of the batteries, the one in the camera and the spare I had in my bag. Never mind we managed to get a few snaps.

One pic before the battery died
 The K30 is not a top end model but hey it does the job, or should I say it would do the job if I took the time how to learn to use the bloody thing. John's dad isn't the first person to try to teach me how to fiddle with the dials and show me what is the best way to get good results. To be fair it's wasted on me as after buying my little Panasonic Lumix FT5 I don't see the point in having a big all singing all dancing camera. I  have received some great feedback from the few shots I did manage to get from my little Lumix, well that was before it was lost in a lake a fortnight ago Grrrrrr! So now I'm back to my small Canon SX200IS. A camera I absolutely adore, it's been through quite a bit with me and considering it's not dust or waterproof has lasted well.

I also had a 31 mile ride out on the loaner bike I'm using from Bike Swanky It's a De Rosa Idol and this was on Monday. I decided rather than stick with a really long pylon (the bit that goes from my knee down to my foot, which I had lengthened so as to help me become more efficient on my bike) that I would take out 30mm, leaving my prosthetic side roughly 12mm longer than my normal, good side. I have also fitted the dropper seat post from my NS Soda and this works at treat when I need to set off come to a stop. Starting and stopping can be the hardest bit for an amputee as it's real hard getting on or off the saddle when it's high and set at the right height for riding. Anyhoo Monday's ride was smashing, really enjoyed it and I felt quite comfortable on the bike. The bike is a tad small something I went to the bike fit for, so again money well spent. I'm now looking forward to getting my own De Rosa Idol come September in  a bigger size and well pleased the original colour, Blue and White should be available.

Today's ride was to be a short one with both John and Lee. I wanted to keep it relatively short as I didn't want to get sore as I'm taking part in my first triathlon on Saturday. The Arctic ONE Tri & Para-Tri Festival is at Dorney Lake,Eton, Berks. Tomorrow myself, Ern and my friends John and Ade will be travelling down, staying over the night then they will support me in my efforts.

So like I was saying today's ride we agreed would just be a short one. Lee suggested we maybe head out and do a few Geo-caches, he also had the idea of hiding one himself then logging it for other people to find. So we set off from Lee's in search of a good spot to hide a Geo-cache. We rode over towards the turbines on Wagtail lane. I remember as a youngster this road was never referred to as Wagtail Lane, No for us it was the "Lonley Road". From there it was off to one of our regular haunts and Chapman's Wells. And from there well I won't tell you otherwise it's pointless hiding a cache lol. As this was Lee's/ our first we decided to make it pretty easy. I went in search of a stone to hide the small box Lee had put some stuff in and Lee and John went about digging a small area to pop the container in. We all managed to get stung by nettles, a routine hazard in our neck of the woods. I always itch for days. I grabbed a few snaps and we headed off in search of a Cache pretty nearby. 

Lee Writing out Cache Name

A Clue
Discussing the dynamics of hiding a small square container...For fecks sake just hide it under a rock!
I told Lee £500 was far too much to leave in one container

This cache was said to be at Burnhope Pond. We all lifted our bike over the gate and stepped over the style and proceeded to follow Lee's Garmin, which instructed the way.

As we approached the edge of the field Lee said the clue was something about holly and a hole. I spotted a holly bush and we ventured over towards it. John stayed this side of the fence and Lee and I stepped over another tyle and begun searching on the other side. After a few moments John shouts "I've found 
it" to which Lee mutters something about a "basket" and words to the effect of "it's never me", this made me chuckle, here we are in our 40's and just like big kids. That said big kids having  fun.

As we headed on our merry way Lee spotted a really pretty horse, who had a gorgeous little foal with it. He got an apple out of his back pack and gave it to the horse, who appeared ever so friendly. The little foal was a bit shy but eventually came over to stand with it's mom and I caught a few snaps. They both had beautiful blue eyes.

Another cache full of errr...crap!
John the chief Cache finder, Lee "basket it's never me"

The Horse whisperer...No more like you bribed it with a Golden Delicious

Pretty horses

What a cute little guy
 Ok where to go, we decided to head down the Peth Bank, however turn off onto a piece of trail that would lead us down onto the Whitton Gilbert/ Lanchester Road. I had been down this trail with Lee a few weeks earlier and know it's canny rough. It's a pretty good downhill trail, however it's a bit sketchy as there is grass and weeds covering the trail in sections and like deep gulleys where rain has flown down the hill. The mud then hardens and leaves like deep rain water ways (hard to explain, hopefully you get the idea), put it this way a fat bike tyre just about sits nicely in one of these gulleys, thing is as you fly down the trail and Oh yes I was flying you get tram lined. And this is exactly what happened "Oh crap", moving at a rapid pace and wanting to go straight ahead, however the gulley twisted and turned and I got my front wheel stuck. All of a sudden "Wipe out". Next thing I know is I'm sliding to a halt lying on my good side as I go arse over tit. I'm pleased I wear a helmet as wow I didn't half bang me noggin. The impact was so hard my back wheel came out of my frame. I'm now nursing a very sore shoulder and hip. I have to say the ride up to that point was awesome I do like pushing myself, knowing that in reality I should really take more care. I guess sometimes as an amputee I just feel I have something to prove, even if it is to myself. I must have been going canny quick as it seemed ages before John and lee caught up, they didn't even see me take the tumble lol.

As we got onto the Lanchester Road we cycled along until we could cut through the Malton picnic area from there could get on to the Lanchester Way cycle path. As we approached Lanchester we had a bit of a group chat and chose to head back towards home, deciding to take in Lanchester Bank. Both John and lee had never ridden up it before and it's one of those local banks you really should do at some point. I have been up it numerous times now and have to say today on my Fat Bike, yes in granny gear it was pretty easy. I wonder if this is a sign of my fitness, or the knock on the head I had just experienced lol.

Once at the top of the bank Lee wanted to go look for one more Geo before we headed home. I'm not sure if Lee and John found it as I continued just plodding away up into Mordor as we approached home.

And that's it, another adventure over. Now sitting here realising that wow I'm staring to get real sore and stiff and thinking, this never used to happen when I was younger, boy I'm getting old.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Dark Side Of The Lens

I thought I'd share this small movie and pop it upon my blog. The movie itself I saw sometime ago on a friends blog. I watched it and needless to say it caught my imagination I found it very inspiring,the narration throughout the video is excellent. 

I think I will try and do this a lot more and share what I find interesting, hopefully allowing you to do the same. I mean I am not a surfer, however I can see the attraction. It's the raw power of nature and the very things around us that we take for granted.


My first Bile Fit and WoW what and experience!

Really enjoyed my Bike Fitting sessions with Craig Stevenson... Awesome job Craig Thanks
      After having my amputation in the September of 2007 and then going on to learn to ride early in 2008 I always just figured like most amateur riders that a bike was a bike. Sure you have all the different varieties, you know ranging from road to mountain and whatever comes in between and that they more or less come in sizes from extra small up to extra large. I never really thought about having a bike fit, it was more or less a case of "Oh I'm around 6 feet tall, a Large should do". Almost all of my bikes have been bought on-line and even the ones that haven't I have never been fitted for. So really each of my bikes I have found to some extent I have just fitted to them, whether this meant changing stems, saddles, messing around with anything to make the bike more comfortable and then just basically just living with them.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Monday, 11 August 2014

A mixed bag of great fun and total disaster at Druridge Bay

I was well impressed with Mr Hink's

During the week my friend Ade called down after I got in from work. He asked "how do you feel about going over to Ullswater" in the Lakes so that he could get a few shots of me practising my swimming and really just have a nice day out. My immediate reaction was "Err no". I went on to explain that as I didn't know Ullswater all that well, having only been there once before with Ade and his boys for a spot of canoeing, and  that I didn't feel comfortable heading over there and swimming without anyone else. I mean my swimming is ok, however I preferred to air on caution, so suggested we go to Druridge Bay instead. Although I have only been there once too, with my boss and friend Dan I knew I would feel a lot more relaxed there. So both Ade and I agreed on this and chose Saturday as the day to go. 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

In the local rag

In order for me to help others I must first help myself...

Of course this also includes the support of so many kind people who have helped me from when I first became ill, right up to the present.

I am going to be honest and say I have found it really difficult asking people for donations to help me achieve my goal of running. It doesn't sit well with me I much prefer to be giving my time and raising awareness for other people.

Many people I suppose will see my getting a running blade as "Just another hobby", or "why should he get all this attention and free stuff". I suppose I would answer that with "Yes I am very fortunate, however I have worked really hard to accomplish my goals" I have never once said "why did this happen to me". For me it's just part of my life. Terrible stuff happens to people everyday I am one of the lucky ones who can still get out there and do what I want to do. In some cases it can be tough, real tough as prosthetics are very expensive. I had for a long time give up on the idea of ever being able to run, instead using a favourite saying of mine which is "concentrate on the things you can do".

Anyhoo after having my first ever trip abroad last September and meeting my friend Shannon's prosthetist, Scott. I was advised to contact the Challenged Athletes Foundation which is based in the US. I did this pretty much on my return, completing an on-line application form and asking both my boss at work Dan and my prosthetist over at Pace Rehabilitation Toby for references. I was blown away by the support I got from these two guys as they wrote absolutely fantastic references, so good in fact that when I read them back I thought "Wow who is this guy" (yeah I have a habit of being overly critical of myself and sometimes don't see what others see in me). It's an awesome feeling to know you have the backing of people you really admire and respect.

About a week after sending in my application I got a mail back saying unfortunately the Challenged Athletes Foundation wouldn't be able to approve my application as they were not supporting International Athletes at this time. "Ahh well" I thought, at least I gave it a shot. I'll just concentrate on my riding. I'm a very lucky chap as I am sponsored on my Bartlett Tendon Knee and I also receive much appreciated and excellent care from Pace Rehab who have looked after me from very early on after my amputation.

Time passed by, probably 6 to 7 months and I was booked in for an appointment to attend Pace's new Satellite clinic right here in the North East in Newcastle. Toby sent me a mail to confirm my appointment, however he also asked "has CAF been in touch with you?" To which I answered "No". It was at this point Toby informed me I had been approved for a Ossur Flex Run blade,complete with Nike sole. Awesome!!! Obviously as Pace was already supporting me with what is essentially a £10K cycling limb, they couldn't then just give me the rest of the components to complete a running prosthesis. This is were the fund raising would come into play. Yeah I wasn't keen on the idea, however I knew I couldn't let the opportunity slip away without trying. So firstly I had to convince myself. My way of thinking being like my opening statement "In order for me to help others I must first help myself".

Fund raising, wow how am I going to go about this? That's when Toby suggested contacting Arctic ONE . Well it was weird as actually Matt Kirby the founder and one of the trustees from Arctic ONE got in touch with me. Matt explained that he had been watching me for sometime and was an avid reader of my blog. Matt thought we could help each other out. Arctic ONE would fund raise on my behalf and I could promote and attend Arctic ONE's amazingly organise events.  And this is how I have came to be entered in my first triathlon on the 23rd of August down in Eton in Berkshire at Dorney Lake.

My grant application runs out from CAF on the 31st of December and I need to raise roughly £8500 to get me up and running.

This is a huge challenge for me. I have only just got back to swimming after 20 years and as far as running goes, well I can't even jog at the moment in my ordinary everyday leg. I can't wait to learn to run and from there know that every step I take will be in getting someone else to where they want to be.

A huge thank you to Gavin and Tom for their newspaper report and images and allowing people to read a little about my story.

Thanks everyone for your support.

Article can be found here Consett and Stanley Advertiser

The Northern Echo 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Our adventure to take part in the Skyride at Newcastle and Gateshead

During the week I got a message off my friend John, "I've entered us for the Skyride, down at the Toon, it's free and you don't have to go if you don't want to" he said. "Ahh why not I thought, nothing really planned for Saturday and it may take my mind off of worrying about Mr Hink's for a while. For those of you who don't know Mr Hink's hasn't been well for a few weeks and had a blood test on Thursday, so waiting for the results this coming Tuesday. Fingers crossed it comes back negative.

Our other friend Lee was supposed to be joining us on the ride, however during the week he informed us he wasn't able to go as he was having probs with his forks. This was a real shame and we missed Lee on the day. It's been a really strange year riding wise for me when I look back, why? well because I had become so used to riding all alone, then all of a sudden I get these great riding buddies and now when we aren't all together it's just not the same.

As this was a free event and not that far really I decided to ask Kyle if he fancied tagging along, offering him the loan of my Ibis. Kyle wasn't to sure saying "I'll see what the weather is like on Saturday morning". Well Saturday morning arrived and I poked my head around Kyle's door, "you coming or what". "Aye gan on then" he said, even before he looked out of the window. We both got ready and went downstairs to grab the rest of our gear. Just then John arrived. "It's spitting on a bit" he says. I replaced my everyday limb for my Bartlett Tendon,complete with my check socket which Pace have been working on and we all headed out to get the bikes. Just then it started going from spitting down to absolutely lashing down. As we stood in our shed, the rain belting off the roof we all agreed "yep we are pretty mad for wanting to go out in weather like this". That said when a ride is planned what's a little rain huh? Plus we had arranged to meet our new buddy Al down at the Skyride.

Lee, John and myself met Al whilst out on one of our other adventures, he was ever so kind to us as we had gotten lost from one another and he provided us with water and introduced us to his lovely wife Sarah. It' weird how you meet people in life and then how you can go on to become part of their lives and they can share in yours. One of the most enjoyable parts of riding for me is actually meeting friendly people.

So off John, Kyle and myself go, heading up...Come on guess? What you give in? That's right the Farmers Trail. If this weather keeps up I'm going to have to pop my Nate's back on as I was squirming up the trail as it was so slick, Phew! it was hard work, kind of like 1 pedal stroke forward and then 3 stationary lol The ride down into No Place was fun, all downhill. As I got into No Place I had to stop, for some reason my stump was really hurting and it felt knackered. John was a bit concerned and asked did I just want to go home, as I was in a canny bit pain. But I said no, lets carry on and see if it wears off.

By the time we crossed the main new road, or the Chester bypass and got onto the bit single track it was feeling a tad better. The trail was water logged and both Kyle and I blasted down through the large puddles getting filthy and if we could have gotten much wetter we probably did so there. As John finally caught up I said "where you been?" John had taken ages to get down the trail. "I didn't want to get me arse wet" he says. Omg John it's persistently raining your going to get wet lol.

A quick ride along to the Tanfield Railway path and we are scooting along the trail, it's a bit more sheltered by the trees here, however the trail is a bit deceiving as all the undergrowth  is hampering the path. At one point I almost crashed headlong into a bench that was hiding around a corner, hidden by long weeds. Over the Causey Arch Bridge and back onto the Causey road. Before long we are back out at Tanfield Railway and head along that section of trail. This is where John tried to have me killed. As we came to the main road, John rode over to head down the back of Sunnyside. I shouts over to him as he crossed the road, "Clear" to which he said "Aye". I was just about to head over when this geet big mini bus comes around the bend and had to hop off my bike. I'm going to have to watch that mister Chambers, sure he thinks I've left him something in my will.

John still isn't keen on going to fast, because of the splashes, so i go tearing off past him and shoot down the back of Watergate, coming out at the traffic lights, press the button wait a few seconds then I'm over and straight down the bank into Watergate Park.

As I cross the small bridge where the water from the pond/lake flows towards the waterfall I see all the tributes to the young lad who was killed in the Park just the other week. Kind of reminds you  when you're out having fun how precious life is.

I wait for Kyle and John at the end of the Park and we follow the Tanfield Railway signs down, crossing over the foot bridge which goes over the A1. From here it's down through the housing estate and before you know it we are out at Dunston. A little further on and we come out at the Dunston Staithes and from here it's a ride along the riverside, a quick blast over the swing bridge and yay we are on the Quayside and at the Skyride.

John's login doesn't work, you know those dft things you get on your phone with little square type thiny's. That's technology for you huh? We all have to register again. We the  receive a lanyard with our entery details, a free bottle and a loomy Skyride bib, awww great it will cover my filthy jacket as honest I looked like I had been on some commando mission.

After I had a very nice chat with one of the security guards as I admired Froome and Wiggins bikes we met up with my dad and my other friend Ade who had decided to come down to try and catch a few shots.

It was then time to head to the start. Al was no where to be seen, however just as we got to the start John had a call and he told Al where we were and he showed up to join us just before we set off. Everyone started ringing their bells which was a terrific sound, made me feel a boit left out as i don't have a bell, well I'm hard core aren't I lol. Never mind "ding ding" and we are off. Kyle was a way, thinking he was in the Tour De Newcastle, "it's a ride you plonker not a bloody sprint around the Toon". Al and myself soon lost John, this was because John had decided to ride around the whole course one handed as he had his camera in the other hand. When Al and I had completed one lap we saw wor Kyle waiting. We couldn't figure out where the finish line was so went for another lap.

On one section there was the opportunity to do a 200m sprint race against a friend. I could tell wor Kyle wanted to race me. I had about a 10 foot head start as I was trying to keep my balance and track stand, then we were off. Yeah he beat me, but it was real funny to hear him say as we rode along together "bloody hell I'm knackered" as I left him in my wake. Kids these days no endurance lol.

So after completing two laps we all hooked up just over from the Millennium Bridge and the Baltic. We shared a bit of craic then said our goodbye's. I've arranged for Al to come over to my neck of the woods Thursday to head out for a ride, hopefully Lee can join us as John can't as he is at some stupid waste of time Job Centre training.

When we got to Watergate Park, we were supposed to meet Ade and my dad, just to grab some more pics, however they took ages top arrive. In the end my dad came and I phoned Ade saying we were cold and just going to head straight back. Kyle was sore so he decided to get a lift home with his grandad. Again no stamina these young'uns lol. Both John and I gave him a bit stick, fair do's he had done well really as he hasn't been riding regularly. A nice ride home, my bloddy Strava not recording as usual , though John said we did 30.4 miles, so not a bad Saturday at all. The weather was more or less the same as when we left Mordor in the morning...raining and miserable. Sometimes Stanley is like the town that time forgot.

I didn't get any photo's all day, however John gave me permission to use his so here they are...