Friday, 25 March 2016

Sunny Easter Bank Holiday Ride

John got in touch on Thursday saying 'dude it's supposed to be nice the morra, but the rest of the weekend is supposed to be pretty crap,  so do you fancy a look out the morra morning'. I replied back 'Yeah sure I have no real plans'. I am really lucky in a way as although I do get kind of bored from time to time I have a canny free schedule to do what I want when I want. Really I should appreciate this as so many other people are tied down, have commitments or as just plain to busy in the old rat race that life passes them by and before they know it the things that are really important in life seem to have passed them by.

A little selfie of the two of us
When John arrived I was on looking for a pair of mountain bike shorts. It wouldn't be a proper outing if I didn't at least loose one item of clothing or had a technical issue. I don't think I have ever just got up and headed out, even when I prepare the night before. Never mind sure they will turn up.

'What you fancy doing and where too' I asked John. John didn't seem fussed so I suggested we could head out and maybe shoot a little video. So we took one of our usual routes over towards the turbines and the lonely road, better known as Wagtail Lane. Before long we were at the entry point to head into the nature reserve, Chapman's Wells. 

We had a little discussion about where to shoot from and just set about messing around, me doing ride in and ride out's and John using my mobile to operate the GoPro. As we got further down the trail this is when we spotted a geet big pile of rubbish. Some complete Twat had just dumped it there. Excuse my language but this sort of thing really annoys me. We have a tip not more than 10 minutes ride away and yet people purposely drive up a lonely trail, into an area of natural beauty and tip there crap all over. I mean this stuff was a health hazard, dirt nappies for starters and that's just what I saw lying around. The council are aware because the rubbish had warning notices saying they were investigating the rubbish. I really do hope the muppet who dropped it off has left some form of evidence in his shit and gets a huge fine.

There is a tip 10 minutes away
Hope investigation proves a success
John is not taking this seriously
As we were near the location of the fly tipping incident both John and I spoke to some locals who were out walking and we all agreed how disgraceful doing something like this is. It can have an effect on the environment as half the stuff does not degrade, then there is the risk to animals and not to mention the health risk to people.

Anyhoo the sooner we got away from the rubbish the better for me as it was annoying me. I think one of the things that annoys me the most is when we are out on a trail and someone out walking says 'Hoy you are not supposed to ride here'. Most cyclists take better care of  trails than anyone else, most cyclists know to give way to people walking or on horseback and most cyclist are amiable and will help anyone in need. Yet you always get some cock who thinks 'I pay my poll tax and you are a hooligan on a bike'.

Gotta Love Puddles
Ooooh and Mud
Ahh well each to their own... John and I continued to shoot a little more footage then after visiting the pond decided to head over towards Beamish way. As I was riding along merrily going from the Morrison Road Ends towards Stanley a flume of dust suddenly came up from my front wheel and I almost went over the bars. My tyre had only gone and come off the rim. Thank god it didn't happen last week when I was doing about 30mph down my bank on Durham Road. Wheel and tyre sorted we headed over to Beamish using part of  the C2C route. I suggested to John we could go and visit the tea rooms at the Causey Arch, grab a bacon sandwich and then heave a nice casual ride home so this is what we did.

Could have been disastrous
Proper nice pace this, lovely friendly staff

Monday, 14 March 2016

Arctic ONE Forward Motion Grants

Yesterday Graeme my good friend and the head coach of Phoenix Triathlon asked me would I mind completing an application on our clubs behalf. The application is for a Forward Motion Grant with Arctic ONE. Our club is in need of a few bits and pieces of equipment and should we be approved the funds will be able to provide us with a portable pace clock and such things as cones for cycling and running, as well as flipper and fins, pull buoys and some other bits and bobs.


Both Graeme and myself are sporting ambassadors for Arctic ONE and we know how much hard and invaluable work the foundation does. It is always a pleasure to do what we can to promote the foundation through our work in the North East and of course when we attend Arctic ONE events.

Graeme , Grant (another level 1 coach at Phoenix Tri) and myself would love to see things take off in the North East and we have a kind of vision. Arctic ONE is very much involved and we are thrilled to be able to work closely with everyone to promote Triathlon as a sport and also show people just how diverse the sport can be. Everyone and anyone can take part and the good thing about triathlon is that it does not have to be all about competition. Just get out there and enjoy yourself.
I have now attended Arctic ONE's Dorney Tri- Festival twice and each time the support I received from fellow competitors was amazing. I have also taken part in a duathlon, doing the ride section on my Fat Bike. This was hard but so much fun and again the support was phenomenal. For me it is like meeting up with your extended family. I know most of the people by face alone as there are just so many, the atmosphere when attending the events is amazing and I can not wait to head down at the end of May this year.

I am unable to do the run section of my triathlon as my running limb is not complete yet, due to me undergoing chemo towards the end of last year. When I told Matt and Bex of Arctic ONE this I got a lovely reply saying just come along do the swim and ride and either you find someone to do the run section or we will. I desperately want to do the run, however rather than give up completely I have taken their advice and found a very enthusiastic and awesome lady to take part with me. You see it's just about taking part.

Back to Phoneix Triathlon I have just passed my British Triathlon level 1 coaching and so now help out over at the Brinkburn Community Centre, helping to assist Graeme and Grant with a wide range of people from kids to adults. Grant also runs spinning classes and runs.

Anyone interested can contact get in touch with me if you like and I will pass your details on to Graeme. It's a great way of keeping fit and having lots of fun.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Just messing with John

It's been a canny weekend, yesterday I was out on a date and had one of the most enjoyable days I have had in a long time. Not giving away too much however watch this space. Today although I spat my dummy out and had a proper tantrum with both my GoPro and stupid mobile phone it was still a good laugh just hanging and messing around with John. 


I love the fact I can cheer John up and like all my friends which I feel so lucky to have John is always supportive. He even messaged me at 5:30 am the other morning to wish me luck on my date and to give me the advice 'Just be yourself pal'. 'What you mean bonkers' I replied back.

Today has been quite a change weather wise, it was only last week I was out and thought I had hypothermia and couldn't feel my hands. It felt close to removing the jacket and riding in a jersey again, get in cannot wait.

I asked John did he fancy helping me shoot a video. This means we don't go far, but we always have a good laugh as something or other happens. Today as we arrived at the start location I thought would be good for a small movie and went to sync my GoPro with my mobile the bloody thing just would not play. I think what annoyed me the most was I managed to get the two bits of tech working last week and I had frozen sausages for digits, yet today they just were not having it. John had to calm me down as I was very tempted to sling both the camera and my phone...I despise tech that doesn't just work.

13.03.2016 JUST MESING WITH JOHN from Glenn Johnstone on Vimeo.
Today was all about playing
Anyhoo we decided 'Ahhh we are out now, we will just wing the filming' I had brought my Wizmount backpack to give that another ago, still not entirely happy with results, but hey. I think next major purchase, other than a new Fat Bike of course will have to be an autonomous multicopter lol.

I can see you

John looks like a gnome
It's handy when someone is with you helping you to make a video as they can set the camera away and it means not so much riding back and forth. Being out gives John and I a good chance to have a catch up and I don't think he was to bored when I was telling him how much I had enjoyed going on my first date, well I didn't see him yawning and he was not trying to quicken the pace to get me so out of breath I couldn't talk lol.

Lean on me
Just posing
I managed not to go over the bars. This is scary with one leg
We had a proper laugh after we had come down the trail from the farmers house, as John decided to play some tunes on his mobile phone. As I was sorting stuff out on my bike, well the tune just made me feel a bit daft and up for a laugh so I invited John to a dance off in the middle of the trail. It's hard dancing for me at the best of times, but even more so in my Bartlett Tendon. We were both creased with laughter and for me being out with your mates, this is what it is all about. My friends all know I have a particularly funny side and often comment on my wit and dry sense of humour.

John heading over to the pond on Chapman's

I enjoyed today, and after filming and getting a few snaps ,both John and I headed home. As we approached Langley View and the place I always remember as the '3 Stones' at the top of the black path I discovered I had got a puncture in my front tyre. I have not had one for ages so I guess I was due one. I couldn't be bothered to take the wheel off via the axle as well it is a right pain to get the axle back in, so John and I just pulled the tyre and tube out whilst the wheel was still in the forks. Not sure if my tyre will be up on my next adventure but hey it got me home.
Knackered after my out of saddle sprint
John says what a poser lol
Coming through the woods
Still a lot of mud about

Attempting a bunny hop

Oh almost forgot, this week, Thursday to be exact I went to the Banff Film Festival with my friend Al. It was a really good night and I would encourage anyone to go who is into extreme sports or likes  really good short films about nature, stuff like that.

Checkout Denali, this short movie really moved me. Unbranded was an awesome movie too about 4 University students who upon finishing Uni then went and adopted Mustang horses and travelled through some of the roughest and most beautiful country the US has to offer. Travelling 3,000 miles by horse, amazing.



Monday, 7 March 2016

Adventure, more like Mis-Adventure or has it?

As today was the last of my annual leave from last year I decided last night rather than just sit around on my day off I would venture out on my bike. I then got the idea 'I know I will check out the weather forecast', looking more to see if it was going to be a fairly bright sunrise, rather than how cold it was going to be. 'Ooh it looks like a bright morning'. I was reliably informed from the website that sunrise was 6:40, so I set my alarm for 5:30 so as to allow enough time to get sorted and ride to where ever I wanted to get some shots.

I had a horrendous nights sleep last night, mainly because I had a very upset tummy. So when 5:30 am arrived I wasn't entirely sure I felt like dragging myself out of bed. I then thought to myself  'if  I am going to puke, it may as well be outside, at least that way I am also getting some exercise'.

I had been toying with the idea of taking my Wizmount out, figuring I could get a much better camera angle now that I can see what my GoPro is actually looking at through my mobile phone. So I gathered up everything I needed from my bedroom, GoPro, Digital camera, mobile phone, rear bike light which had been on charge, oh and my reading glasses. One of the things that is really frustrating me is whenever I go out with my GoPro I cannot for the life of me see the tiny little screen. This means it is an absolute nightmare trying to connect the GoPro to my mobile. At one point I took to memorising the correct sequence of button presses in order to get the bloody thing paired.

When I got down stairs I grabbed a bottle of pop from the fridge, retrieved my Wizmount backpack from the cupboard and just for good measure popped my crystal ball into the back pack. Crystal ball you may ask, no I don't go trying to look to the future. I use it as a means of capturing different and interesting shots from time to time. I then unplugged my front light battery and was just about ready to go after affixing my lights to my Fat Bike.

My plan was to ride along towards Craghead and go up Wagtail Lane, past the turbines and then wait a little while for the sunrise to pop up on the farmers trail that leads into Chapman's Well. I have shot a small video here before and got a farily good result with the sun flare, however thought a longer video and using the Wizmount would make for an interesting bit of scenery and any potential viewers wouldn't get bored.

Anyhoo as I set off getting coming down my back street I thought to myself  'By it's canny cad like'. I had put my Biggles goggles back on as they really reduce the wind getting in my eyes and tears forming and I am also very pleased I popped my Arctic ONE buff on, because as soon as I got out onto Durham Road, Jeez the wind chill was Baltic. I pulled my buff up over my mouth and ears as I am prone to earache, which can then lead to toothache.

Even though I was not feeling quite on form I was looking forward to my ride out. I had awoken with a positive mindset and for some reason began thinking about mindfulness. So as I rode I took in the various sounds, things like my tyres as they rolled along, sometimes going through patches of frost and little puddles of ice. The crunching and breaking sound and the steady droll of the Surly Nate's as the knobbles make contact. Then there was the sound of all the different birds, each one welcoming in the morning. Cars were few and far between, just the way I like it. I was also aware of the street lights and how as they entered the lens of my goggles they flared and looked so pretty in the early morning light.

As I roe up the bank towards Wagtail Lane I noticed my shadow, it would catch up to me and then pass me time and again as I approached and then past each street light, it was as if I was in a mini up hill race, yet never to win as my shadow constantly came from behind me and then  passed, before fading out of view.

Me and my Shadow
Once on the top road it was slick with black ice and early morning frost. As I rode on and eventually came to the first turbine it stood still like some huge sentinel. On approaching the second turbine, it's propeller like sails were rotating at a nice steady pace. I love the sound of the turbines a kind of 'woff, woff woff ' as each blade goes around. On sunny days the blades cast a hypnotic shadow across the road which adds to the sound.

Now at the top of Wilkers bank, well a bit along from it. This is where I stopped and began preparing for the sunrise. I checked my mobile phone 6:23 am, so a little while to go. 'Dear me I' thought it's a lot colder than I was expecting. Of course messing around with camera's in this weather is not good at all as you have to take your gloves off. This is when I began to feel my hands getting cold. I took just a few snaps with my digital camera and then started preparing where to set up my GoPro, deciding I would pop it on a gate post and ride into shot so that the sun rose at my back.

Just as it is beginning to get light
I think I set off too early, but to be honest I didn't care as by now I was freezing cold. I had that sensation in my hands of not being able to feel anything, as if my fingers were like little logs, all cumbersome and they wouldn't do as they were told. My right thumb was in excruciating pain due to the wind chill. I then thought 'Sod it I am just going to do a video in one take' and see what footage I ended up with. Thinking I couldn't possibly keep stoping and starting and taking my gloves off each time. So I removed my Wizmount back pack an set up the small boom. When I went to pop the GoPro on the end of the mount I dropped the small nut 5 times. I just couldn't feel it between my thumb and fingers. Did I swear, you bet you life I did. Then just as i got the nut in place the stupid bolt slipped through the plastic end and came out of the back. 'Grrrrrrrrrrrr', or should that be 'Brrrrrrrrr' as by now I was thinking 'bad idea, bad idea,bad idea'. Finally I got the nut and bolt together, but only after using another bolt I had on another mount I had brought.

All I had to do now was put on my specs and get the GoPro paired with my mobile, Jeez how little is the bloody writing on the back of the display. No I don't want to add a pairing id number, omg it's a conspiracy, the weather my equipment they all have it in for me. Finally paired I position the boom to where i think it should be and pop my backpack on. I then place my phone on a gatepost and prop myself up against the post and stand ouyt of the saddle to see what the GoPro sees through my phone. I don't believe it,cock on and just how I want it first time. Ok all I have to do now is ride a little further back and then I hit the record button on my mobile before storing it back in my pocket and we are off. I take about 5 pedal strokes and I hear a 'Beep, beep,beep'. Now anyone who has a GoPro knows a series of beeps is not what you want. I stop and check my phone. 'Awwww crap' it's says my GoPro is out of battery life. Oh and guess what because I changed backpacks my spare batteries are in my Camelbak. It's at this point I swear a little bit more, oh and then just to top off the morning the sun pops up in an amazing sunrise as I turn to go home. 

My sole aim now is to get home as quickly as possible as I can no longer feel my hands. Obviously I still know they are there as they appear to be frozen to my handlebars I can see them. They do not work however. Maybe going down the Sandy Lonnen as a short cut was not the best idea. It is a pretty steep decent and I cannot feel my brakes, if I see anyone I will just shout 'get out the way no brakes' I guess. In all seriousness that was one scary decent, especially as the trail is not exactly level and has huge gouges where excess water has carried away the trail. I think I must be suffering from hypothermia, as I am giggling to myself coming down the trail , yet I am in so much pain. My hands are stinging, my finger ends pulsing in time to my blood flow. My thumbs are the worst, especially my right one. A sensation which is hard to describe, sort of like cold burning.

At the bottom of the Sandy Lonnen and passing Reiver Boats, I need to stop for the road. I need to drop my seat post. I need to change gear. None of that happened. More a quick look left and right and straight over the road I cannot feel my hands.

Almost home just got to get through the housing estate and then I arrive. My next task is trying to open our shed. Ern has one of those stupid keypad locks on the outer door. I have frozen sausages for fingers. It takes me ages and each press, well I think I am pressing, yes I must be because I think it hurts. Bike in and a bit fumble with the lock.

I am then greeted by wor Baxter, Oooooh he is lovely and warm, 'come here boy',  he cuddles into me as I sit on the downstairs loo and I keep my hands on him. After a good few minutes I can begin to feel some life coming back. This is when Baxter tells me 'dad I want to go out'. So it is off with the Bartlett Tendon and on with my everyday limb. A quick change of jacket, my wolly pom pom hat on and I pop my Seal Skin gloves on, then we are out the door and off for walkies down the local woods. We don't go too far around one and a half miles or so. I grab a few shots of Baxter and then it's home for his big lad biscuit.

What a good lad
Looks like Baxter is frozen
Awww Baxter
We are not amused
A loveable rogue
So today's adventure has been more of a miss-adventure. Or has it? I mean I got out, yeah not far and I did not get to take my pictures or shoot my video. I was thinking about just how lucky I actually am on the way home and whilst out with Baxter. I can choose to stay in or go out. I can jump in my car or head out on my bike, many people don't have that freedom. Sometimes it's good to just stop and be in the moment, all the things you can do today that for some reason or another you may not be able to do tomorrow. So rather than feeling all miffed and fed up I guess I just feel grateful. And without thinking too fr ahead there is always tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

A bit like Four Seasons in one day, but mostly Winter

Rod, Glenn and John
Just a short blog, even though today was my longest of the year so far, riding from my house with my mates Rod and John to well past Waskerley Way, passing Smidey Shore Reservoir and turning at the small car park up on top of the fell. Ideally I would have liked to have ridden all the way to Parkhead, however I was feeling knackered and the weather, well there was a bit of everything. We had rain, sunshine, had to fight the wind on the rain up and funnily enough also on the way back as it decided to change direction. We had snow, then a bit more sunshine, then the worst of the weather was the hail on the way home as it stung. So pleased I decided to wear my glasses, even though John did say 'who do you think you are Biggles'.

Who's this Biggles Bloke John?
Rod n John
Today's adventure has been one of the coldest and wettest I can recall in sometime. I struggled to put my bike away and lock it up as my fingers felt like small logs. My good foot, complete with my new Merino Royal sock was still freezing, yet weirdly enough my phantom foot felt toastie warm. It was great hooking up with Rod, both John and I really enjoyed the bit banter we had with Rod and it was nice to show him some local places he had not seen and give him a brief history lesson about Waskerley Village when we called into St Matthews Church. I signed the journal saying we had paid a visit and popped a couple of quid into the collection box. The couple who live across from the church maintain it and I think they do a wonderful job of preserving that little bit of history about the surrounding area and what happened to Waskerley village after the railway became obsolete. It strikes me as a real shame that a line was not maintained as I am sure people would pay good money to take tours across the fell and take in the sights. Ah well they will just have to buy bikes and see it the way we do. 

John contemplating the meaning of life
Rod checking out the local history
Now feeling proper exhausted, however pleased I am able to start getting back in the swing of things after this dreadful cold. Really enjoyed yesterdays swim with John and even though it was brass monkeys and wet today we all enjoyed the great outdoors and just hanging in the company of friends.

Not to many pics today it was just too dam cold lol.. 
The Bartlett Tendon, a dirty design, just as well