Wednesday, 27 April 2016

'I have something to Show You'

On the 14th of April, two days before my birthday I received a very special email from my friend Brian. It was short and to the point saying,

'Hey Glenn, sorry for the long delay in response. I have been travelling and working non-stop... I have something to show you!'

Brian then went on to say he would be flying in to the UK as he had some work to do, however he had a few days open and would I like to hook up with him in London.

BTK Crossover, Brian Bartlett and Glenn Johnstone, London
Brian and Glenn
Well of course my answer was yes, however I had to firstly go into work the following day and excitedly ask my boss Annie 'Please can I have the 25th, 26th and the 27th of this month off, Brian is coming and I need to see him'. Annie knows the whole story of Brian and I so she was only to happy to check our Physio diary and say 'Yep book the days in and get yourself away'.

 'Yay I am off to London to meet my good buddy Brian' I was so excited.

Now some of you reading this will probably think, who the hell is this Brian guy and why is Glenn so excited about just meeting his friend. Well long story short I owe so much more than just friendship to Brian Bartlett. If Brian was to read this he would disagree as he has a tendancey to play down any role he may have had after I became an amputee.

He doesn't see that my life could have taken a completely different direction if it was not for meeting him and being given the opportunity to trial and then become sponsored on one of his unique sporting knees known as the Bartlett Tendon or BTK.



We all can chose certain paths in life I guess I could have chosen to feel sorry for myself, not wear a prosthetic as they can be a real pain in the ass when they don't fit properly or when they are uncomfortable or when you cannot do what you want and you feel life just sucks and ask the question 'Why Me'.

Then of course you can chose the other option and decide, 'screw this' I am going to make the most of what I have and get out there and look for stuff that makes me happy and improves my life. Well I chose this route. I re-learnt how to ride a bike on a normal everyday prosthetic. Man it sucked. I then began checking out the internet and places like Youtube and this is where I saw Brian and his super cool Bartlett Tendon design.     
Brian Bartlett and Ern Johnstone
Brian with Ern after enjoying a lovely meal at the Three Magpies
Brian Bartlett and Glenn Johnstone
Brian and Me, can highly recommend this establishment
Now I said I would keep the whole story thing short (hard to do) so basically after managing to contact Brian one thing led to another and with the help of Pace Rehabilitation who I was being supported by and doing a spot of research and development work with I got to meet Brian at a conference in Scotland.

BTK Crossover, wonder if I can sneak it out the room

From that first meeting, the warm handshake and yeah actually being in awe of this guy, we have gone on to become very close friends. A friendship I have to say I am very proud of. I know many people will think, and hey they are entitled to their opinion 'Yeah it's because you get free stuff'. Well errr no you would be completely wrong. I have put a hell of a lot of work into promoting everyone who has given me a step up. I always say thank you as if it was not for people like Brian and Leftside inc,Pace Rehab, and the guys at the Challenged Athletes Foundation and Arctic ONE, well I may just be that guy sitting around doing nothing with his life.

 Like I say I made a concious decision after having my amputation to be pro-active and truth be known I think the reason all these people have been so generous is because they have, in fact they do see something in me. Yeah I am just an ordinary guy. I am not some uber elite athlete. I am your Joe Bloggs in the street, Mr Regular. However I think this is a good thing, it shows you don't have to be extra-ordinary to just get out there and do the stuff that makes you happy. And if you have the right tools, well the only limits are the ones you set yourself. I think,well I hope that when 'ordinary people' just like me, see this it inspires and motivates them and they too can set off on their own journey using positivity and a determined attitude.

Who is this mad dude?
LoL @ B
For some people a walk in the park with their dog or family is what they want to do, for others it's ripping down a huge decent and getting that adrenaline rush. At the end of the day it doesn't make a difference, it's just about living your life and doing what makes you happy.

Anyhoo moving on to the interesting part...

On Monday my dad and I set off for London. We decided to take Ern's mobile skip (his Honda Jazz) well it has more room than Tango my little Smart car. I was surprised that the ride down although it was getting on for 5 hours or so didn't feel particularly long. We had one short stop for a bite at the services at Woodhall I think it was called and swapped over driving duties.

Google maps got us straight to the hotel at Heathrow, well we took one wrong turn truth be known, but eventually rocked up at the hotel where Brian was booked in and we had also managed to get a room. Both Ern and I got sorted at the main desk then headed to our room. The beds were lovely and firm and real comfy so it wasn't long before we were both snoozing.We didn't  appear to be asleep long before the phone in our room rang and Brian was on the other end. 'Hey Glenn, it's Brian'.  We arranged to meet in the lobby and it was awesome to see each other again,hand shakes and man hugs all around. It has been almost 3 years since I last saw Brian, this was when I took a vacation and travelled to Seattle and spent a few days with him, before exploring a little more of the US, over a 3 weeks period. Man it was great to see him.

I almost immediately spotted Brian was wearing a knee design I did not entirely recognise and then came to understand 'Oh this is the thing he wants to show me' 'Oh Wow'. We had a brief catch up and then Brian began excitedly showing me his new knee design which is known as the 'BTK Crossover'.

He is just so excited you can tell
Brian went on to explain 'this is the first and only hybrid knee out there'. You can use it as a everyday walking knee and ride say a bike without any adjustments, you know if you are just going for a leisurely ride. However if you would like to convert it into a extreme sports knee all you do is remove the side protective covers, attach the supplied cams and lower tendon receiver, have the optional wedges put in place and attach the tendons and you are able to take on big mountain riding or xc on your bike, go skiing or snowboarding. It is a lot like it's predecessor the BTK in it's application for sports, however many many years of research , prototypes and man hours have been poured into this design to make it so much better. Brian explained 'everyone who has used the BTK in the past gets on this thing and it's just like WoW man this is so much better, but I can't yet figure out why...I got to get myself one of these'.

Trying out me new gigs
Yeah I know I am a Geek
Brian is so passionate about his work. I cannot really do him justice in describing this phenomenal piece of engineering and design. Imagine just having one knee/limb that now does it all and we are not talking micro-processed here. With this knee you can walk, altering your pace, you can pop a blade on and run. You can get it wet, it's know as a dirty design. Attach the supplied cams, wedges, tendon and receiver and you can do various sports, extreme or otherwise. This knee is a true hybrid in every sense of the word.

A key thing which make this knee very unique is that once your prosthetist has set up your BTK Crossover/limb, you can without touching a single bolt set up the knee for extension and flexi

on by using the supplied 20,30 or 40 degree wedges, which Brian affectionately calls 'wedgies'. These wedges fit neatly and snugly in the front of the knee and alter the range of flexion/ extension to your desired choice, depending on what sporting activity you are doing. You can pop the bottom tendon receiver on when running the tendons and then simply unbolt it and take it off without removing your foot or pylon due to it's really clever design, this means no alignment issues.  You can ramp up the pressure in the Rockshox RT3 shocker to suit what activity you are doing and it is very easily accessible from behind the knee where it sits comfortably in place in the knee frame. Aesthetically the new BTK Crossover Looks very stealthy and quite menacing with it's protective covers. The only sign this is a BTK product being the little understated logo of the Leftsideinc man. I honestly believe with a design this good who needs to flash huge logo's across the knee. From a personal point of view If the BTK Crossover is as much of a success as it's predecessor these things will be in hot demand.

Brian showed me a few unedited clips of both himself snow shoeing and then one of his friends skiing on the new BTK Crossover for the first time and boy the movements were just so fluid.

Me I cannot wait to take one of these baby's out for a test drive. I know you may think I am biased, but hey I have been riding the BTK for years now and I know exactly what it can do and the BTK Crossover well it's just another leap ahead.

So the last two days have been spent with Brian, just hanging and talking about his hopes and dreams for the future, how he wants to see his design help to improve peoples lives.

I have seen a huge change in Brian's ethos over the years, when I first met him he was all about the adrenaline rush, about being at the top of his game, that competitive athlete in him, overly critical of himself, striving for perfection. I still see that in his work, always looking to improve his designs, the little cogs in his head constantly whirling around. Yet I also have seen a big change in him in his thinking. Nowadays he is quite content to go out snow shoeing with his dog Scout, and just be appreciative of all the natural beauty, the little things that are just as important, the things a lot of people just take for granted. He has always been a giving person. I mean he knows what it is like to be told 'You can't do that, give up on your dream'. Yet look what he has accomplished, designing something that makes his fellow amputees  feel as close to whole again as is possible. Whether that is walking down the street, or skiing an epic line or riding an awesome trail. It has been such a pleasure to be there, see him grow and see his designs transform into this latest incarnation.

Brian understands you do not have to be an elite athlete, to enjoy his products, yet if you are this knee will cater for the person at the top of their game just as well as it will for the person who just wants to live their life doing regular everyday things.

Really my blog cannot do this amazing piece of design and engineering justice. For those of you in the know you will understand just what an exciting prospect this new knee is...

This blog is in loving memory of 'Bear' a truly amazing friend, very sadly missed, however never forgotten...

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