Friday, 12 December 2014

MBR Magazine Feature

Say Cheese
A little while ago I got an unexpected surprise in the form of an email from a lovely guy named Jamie Darlow. Jamie went on to explain that he worked at Mountain Bike Rider Magazine (MBR Magazine) and had come across my blog. He asked would I be interested in tbeing featured in an article for the mag, going on to say that he thought it would be an inspirational and interesting story for MBR's readers.
Ern's workshop (yes it's a tip)
Wow what an opportunity, little old me in a mainstream popular biking mag, and hey maybe I would get an opportunity to say thank you to a few people, well how could I say no. So I excitedly wrote back to inform Jamie "Yeah I'm up for that".  From there a date was set for a photographer, slash journalist to come visit me, to get some background and of course take some shots of me riding using my Bartlett Tendon. I am sponsored and supported by both Brian Bartlett the designer and also by Pace Rehabilitation who carry out all my socket needs for my riding and now of course my running which I have just started to re-learn how to do a few weeks back (Man it's tough). For those of you not familiar with what a socket is, well it's the specially designed bit that an amputees stump (or residual limb to give it the correct term) fits into. The socket is very important as it has to be comfortable. When I was featured in MBR I was sporting a check socket or a test socket. Eventually when I have worn the check socket for while and made sure it fits snug and gives me what I'm after Pace will manufacture an awesome final socket, made from carbon fibre. The finished item being on par for looks as the weave and carbon lay up on some of these new carbon bikes.

So a couple of weeks went by and in no time at all the big day came around. There was a knock on my door one afternoon and there at the other side was Andy McCandlish, complete with his back pack full of photography equipment and sporting an arm in a cast. Andy went on to tell me he had been out doing a shoot, and carrying his gear in his back pack. At the time he was riding when he had had a bit of a spill getting stuck in a gulley as I recall and ended up breaking his wrist Ouch!

Straight from the off  it was as if I  had known Andy for years, he was warm and friendly,so easy to get on with and very enthusiastic. When the time came to show him my Bartlett Tendon it was so funny as he kind of totally went into Mountain Bike Geek mode (like us bikers do, when we see anything new and shiny). Andy began by taking a good look at the design of the BTK and was blown away at how this bit of kit worked, the incredible design. I described how Brian had begun with his idea, the design being born of necessity, as Brian simply couldn't do the extreme sports he wished to compete in. Basically he was told to give up, which just wasn't an option for him. So his ideas became a reality. So much time and effort all the proto-types over around a 10 year period, then the  final production model. Brian continuously looks for ways of improving his designs, trying to simulate the bodies natural movement. "As far as I am aware" I told Andy, "this is the only above knee design you can stand out of the saddle and still cycle foot over foot", something that any above knee amputee will tell you is impossible to do with any other type of knee. You see it's all in the design. The BTK uses artificial tendons and a Rock Shox monarch RT3 air shock. The tendons can have various amounts of resistance through them through the use of ovalised cams and of course youcan ramp up compression and rebound through the settings of the air shock. This enables the user to not only stand with level pedals, (something that is very important in mountain biking as you need ground clearance) but also pedal foot over foot and sprint out of the saddle. You can also go on to take in rough terrain, drops and jumps. Of course the Bartlett Tendon can be used for other sports, for example snow boarding, skiing, moto-x. In fact there is no limit but what you put on yourself. The BTK is never going to replace a beloved limb, but it  sure as hell won't hold you back if you have the motivation and determination to learn how to use it.

Andy took the opportunity to take some photo's outside of my house, with a good few of my bikes in the background. At the time I had 2 demo bikes on loan from the company I am sponsored by, Bike Swanky. I had a PYGA OneTen 29'er the green bike which was featured in the MBR article and I also had a loan of a De Rosa Idol. This bike had been loaned to me so that I could compete in my first triathlon which I successfully completed in August of this year. The charity Arctic ONE fund raised on my behalf to get me a running prosthesis and they organised the Tri-festival at Dorney Lake which I took part in. It was a fantastic venue and a great experience. The whole day was like the coming together of one big family, everyone was so helpful and friendly.

The Bartlett Tendon

I was just waiting for 2 bikes to come into stock with Bike Swanky, a gorgeous looking blue and white De Rosa Idol road bike and the bike I was to be sponsored on which is very similar to the one featured in the MBR article a PYGA OneTen 29'er in acid green.

Sponsored by Bike Swanky on the PYGA OneTen 29'er
The BTK works as good as it looks
 After getting a few nice shots at home, Andy asked where we could go just to get some action shots and a nice backdrop. Beamish is close to us, it's a pretty peaceful area to ride, not really technical, but I thought it would do the job, so we headed off Andy following in his van.

I expect Andy expected to work with someone a little more professional, we had a great laugh
 The afternoon went very quickly, as usual Ern who is always so supportive tagged along and we all had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. Andy was amazed at just how well the BTK preformed, it's very fluid and not exactly what you would expect from a guy with only one leg. Lots of shots later we retired to Andy's van where he conducted an interview. The background behind the BTK, it's designer, some of the people/companies who have helped me along the way and a little about myself. It's difficult to get everything in an article, however I think Andy and MBR have done a very good job. The article being interesting and informative.

First ride out on the PYGA
 Is it inspirational? Well that word gets bandied about quite a bit these days. I just feel like a ordinary lad. I may have been through some extra-ordinary circumstances. I have most definitely been fortunate enough to be sponsored and supported by some simply amazing people, who have really helped me over the years and continue to do so.... So I figure I must be doing something right. For me the inspiration comes from all these wonderful people. I continuously want to do well as I feel it is a reflection of all OUR hard work.

Happy Days
Of course it's a very nice feeling to get a shot in the lime light, a bit of positive attention, but for me the real pay off is knowing all those people who have faith in me can look and say "I helped him achieve that" and hopefully take pride knowing they have handed me my life back.

Out of the saddle
 Huge thanks to 

Jamie Darlow and to Andy McCandlish and everyone at MBR Magazine
All photo's copyright of Andy McCandlish 2014

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