Wednesday, 25 July 2012

What to do when you just can't sleep

Just couldn't get to sleep last night, so at around 3:30 am I got up popped my bike gear on, filled my Camelbak and set off for a morning ride. I took my camera and GoPro, thought I might get some interesting morning shots, boy how wrong was I. The weather was a bit naff, a drizzly,damp and foggy sort of morning and the GoPro couldn't really cope with the low light conditions, so the footage looked terrible and as for my camera I didn't really see anything of interest. I only rode to the "Gill bridge" or Howsgill Viaduct to give it it's proper name. On my way back I popped into McDonald's for a Coffee and a sausage & egg McMuffin. I was soaked through by the time I got home. Gave my bike a quick hose down and blew the majority of the excess water off with the compressor. Ahh well it filled a bit of the morning in and to be fair even though my video and photo's didn't turn out I still enjoyed my ride out.......

Monday, 23 July 2012

An outing to Penshaw Monument

Penshaw Monument isn't too far from where I live, it's around a 22 to 24 mile trip by bike.  It's somewhere I've passed quite a few times but I hadn't actually ventured up the hill to the top where the Monument actually sits. So today I looked out my bedroom window and even though I thought to myself "boy it looks quite windy" I decided to head off to Penshaw and visit the Monument.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Fat Biking at Sunrise

Well reviewed yesterdays footage and put a small movie together. It was a beautiful morning and I think the GoPro has captured the scenes pretty well.                                                   

Hooked up with Brian and Laurie in Edinburgh

I thought I may have missed my opportunity to hook up with Brian and Laurie on their latest trip over here from the States. Brian is just so busy working flat out on his  knee design the Bartlett Tendon. For those of you who aren't aware of what a Bartlett Tendon is, it's a universal sporting prosthetic and it can enable an above knee amputee to get back into doing a whole range of sporting activities.

Checkout the below link for more info......

I had been out to the coast for a spot of beach riding this morning and when I got home my bike was covered in sand, so I gave it a quick wash down before deciding to go for another blast out locally. When I returned home my dad informed me Brian had been on the phone saying he had some free time if I was able to make it up to Edinburgh, where he had been attending the Human Race Exhibition. The exhibition was a look at the history of sports medicine and Brian's sporting prosthetic design the Bartlett Tendon was featured. This is a huge achievement considering how long the knee has been in production...

City Art Centre and the venue for the Human Race Exhibition
 No probs I thought, Edinburgh is roughly about 112 miles away from us. Obviously my dad has heard so much about Brian from myself and  he was real excited about getting the chance to meet him, so he decided he would come along for the ride. Both Brian and his partner Laurie are huge animal lovers so when I write an email to them I will always keep them up to date on how my dog Mr Hinks is doing and ask about their dog Bear so I thought I may as well take Mr Hinks along so as he could say "Hello" too.

It was really great seeing Brian and Laurie again as it's been quite sometime. We all decided we would go for some pub grub and even took Mr Hinks, he was allowed inside the pub. The pub was named Lebowski's after the famous cult movie  "The Big Lebowski" starring Geoff Bridges.

 Mr Hinks was very well behaved and got lots of attention, not only from Brian and Laurie but also the staff and customers. One lady and gentleman even gave him some crisps they had left over and one of the bar staff brought him a nice cool bowl of water. He then proceeded to help Laurie clear her mixed platter which she had ordered.

Mr Hinks @ the pub

Ern @ the Pub

 It was fantastic listening to Brian talk about   his work as he is so passionate , he even drew a little sketch of his future plans for  some new prosthetic designs, this was very interesting, but we won't talk about that as I have been sworn to secrecy  lol.

After our meal we decided to take Mr Hinks for a quick walk and then head to another pub for a drink. We sat outside as it wasn't too bad an evening. Again the bar staff were brilliant offering a dish of water for Hinks and again he got more attention from passer by, one old fellow coming over to pet him and saying "hey isn't that like the dog from Oliver" in a lovely Scottish accent of course.

Sitting Outside the pub, thanks to the nice lad who used Brian's iPhone to capture this shot

 So all in all it's been a brilliant day I've now been up almost 23 hours straight and drove there and back from Edinburgh so now going to hit the sack.

Just like to say a huge thank you to both Brian and Laurie, it's what you do that makes you special...

Images courtesy of Brian  and his iPhone

Up @ 3:45 in the am to catch a Sunrise at South Shields

After taking a few shots of the Groyne Lighthouse at South Shields the other week and them not turning out too bad I thought it may be a good subject matter when there was a nice Sunrise. So I Googled what time the Sunrise was due and also checked to see what sort of day it was going to be. It said Sunrise was 4:59 am and weather wise it was supposed to be going to be a pretty nice day.

Friday, 20 July 2012

A part ride, part hike starting at Fox and Parrot Wood

Set off for a little bit of a ride with my son Kyle today, me on my Sandman and Kyle on my Ibis. Decided to set off along to Craghead then cut through Fox Parrot Wood and up towards West Pelton.

Kyle and Me @ Fox Parrot Wood

Fox Parrot Wood

• Ancient and new woodland • Excellent for dog walking • Wide open spaces
Fox and Parrot Wood, named in memory of a local doctor and his beloved bird, forms part of County Durham's Great North Forest. The gently undulating grass rides make this site ideal for strolling in the fresh air and admiring the beautiful broadleaved woodland that has been taking shape here since 1998.
As well as being popular with dog walkers, this site offers a sense of boundless space where walkers can roam freely and even explore the ancient semi-natural woodland in adjoining Twizell Wood. The establishment of Fox and Parrot Wood has been important to the area's biodiversity, having been planted on improved grassland after the decline of opencast coal mining in the 1980s. This 21-acre wood was planted in two phases in 1998 and 2004 under the Trust's Woods on Your Doorstep Project and the Forestry Commission's New Native Woodland Scheme. The site will continue to be maintained as native broadleaf high forest woodland until it begins to regenerate naturally over the next hundred years and beyond.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A couple more acquisitions in tools & Accessories

 Quite often I find my backpack is a bit disorganized so when I saw the Lezyne Smart Wallet I thought "Oh that would be handy to keep all my essential stuff in one place" you know bike multi-tool, a puncture repair kit, a place for a little bit of emergency cash and a nice sealed cover for my phone. Thing was when I looked for the Smart Wallet Elite I discovered it had been discontinued. I even contacted the distributors to see if they knew of any shops that may have had the odd one lying around, alas to no avail. Anyhoo I struck lucky on eBay and managed to pick up a brand new one for less than the original retail price so was well pleased.

I've since bought myself a new set of Lezyne alloy tyre levers and an alloy puncture repair case with glueless patches, all I need now is a nice Lezyne multi-tool. Quite fancy one of the blingtastic carbon affairs but wow are they expensive.

Lezyne Smart Wallet Elite

I also got myself a handy little Topeak  Samrt Gauge D2. Here's how Topeak describe there nifty little gauge....

"The second-generation digital gauge features a rotating SmartHead™ and works seamlessly with Presta and Schrader valves without changing parts. Precision digital gauge reads up to 250 psi / 17 bar and is designed for use with tires, suspension forks and rear shock units. LCD display can be programmed to show pressure in psi, Bar, or kg/cm2. 

Topeak Smart Gauge D2
 Visit below link for more details

Camelbak Rain Cover

What with the current weather we have been having of late I'm finding my Camelbak back pack is getting covered in mud and it's a real pain keep cleaning it. So I have decided to treat myself to a Rain Cover for my pack. It's a simple case of just popping it over your bag and it keeps your bag both dry and clean, it's also handy as it's quite bright so helps you get seen on those murky days. There are a few different brands of covers on the market, some even come with built in lights, one of  the Respo covers I think.

Camelbak Rain Cover

Monday, 16 July 2012

Had a look down the Dene

I had to go see about getting a new leg made today at the Disability Services Centre in Newcastle. The DSC is situated  just on the left hand side of the entry way into the Freeman Hospital.

Across from the Freeman Hospital is Jesmond Dene Park. This is a beautiful park and makes for a lovely stroll,  there are some quite steep ups and downs, but the scenery makes up for the effort of venturing into the dene.

 I had my camera with me so decided to take a few snaps......

The waterfall at the bottom of the Dene

Friday, 13 July 2012

Had a ride to the coast met a grumpy old man....

There was a bit of a break in the weather today,so I decided to ask Kyle (my son) if he would like to go out for a ride. We decided to head off down to the coast. We are quite lucky in where we live as the C2C route isn't to far from us, so it's just a case of picking it up and then a pretty straight route down to Roker in Sunderland.

We were having a rather nice day out until we got to around Birtley, there is a bit there known as "the worm". It's like a man made embankment that's about 10 feet or so high and winds it way down to the side of the C2C route for a few hundred yards. Anyhoo I decided we would cut to the side of the cycle route on this beaten trail in between the worm and the C2C track. We had just got on it when this grumpy old guy walked across our path with his two dogs, which were off the lead and running all over the place. The man went to put one of his dogs on the lead and allowed me passed to which I said "thank you". Just after I got passed he said "are you allowed to ride on here" to which I said "yes we are". I mean there are no signs as it's just a beat up rough track, that has been worn away by walkers and bikers alike. This guy then said in a very grumpy fashion "you should be riding up there". I just continued on. It wasn't until I reached the end of the beat up track that I noticed Kyle wasn't following me. Kyle had had to turn around and come down the C2C part of the route as this old guy had actually blocked him and wouldn't allow him past. Kyle says the old dude was really miffed off and had gotten his camera out and took a photo off him, don't know what purpose that serves as we hadn't actually done anything wrong, maybe he just liked the look of his bike lol. It's so annoying when you get people like this I mean they have their dogs off the leash running all over and the majority of them just allow their dogs to do their business where ever without picking it up. I always try to be polite when I'm out I know the rules of the tracks I ride,things such as giving way to horses and pedestrians. It's really hard being polite to a numpty like that though. I guess there just has to be some miserable sods who don't like bikers and think they own the place.

 It didn't spoil the day, Kyle and myself actually had a bit of a laugh about it, hopefully the next time I'm down that way I'll see mister grumpy I'm going to ask if he has any doggie bags then make a point of telling him "hey do you know you can get fined for not picking up after your dog" Maybe I can get a photo or two of him lol.

 Didn't get too many photo's today......

Souter Lighthouse

Groyne Lighthouse South Shields

Riding under Groyne Lighthouse

My Sandman Hoggar Ti

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Techy Trail on my Sandman

Here's a small video I shot riding my Sandman through a rather technical part of some woods at Beamish. The ground was pretty muddy,because of the weather we have had lately with some very slippy roots and rocks. The foilage is getting very dense in areas so at times it's quite difficult to see just where your going on the trails. When I fell off at the end of the clip it was because I wasn't expecting the dip in the trail, it was covered by dense undergrowth lol.

Don't let the rain get in the way

Decided I wasn't going to let the weather get in the way of me having a blast out and some fun riding my Sandman. So got kitted up, popped on my GoPro and headed off to do a spot of puddle jumping lol. It was really tough riding the trails down at Beamish so much thick deep mud and in parts the trail had been washed away completely. I think I managed to fall off around 5 times today, nothing high speed, it was more a case of getting bogged down and not being able to get my leg down on my amputated side. Also had a nightmare trying to pump my tyre up with my very small pump,after I had deflated it to get through a particularly muddy area. I was knackered lol. Then had a steep climb from the forges at Beamish back up to the Shepard and Shepherdess pub and made my way home via No Place. All in all a fun filled few hours, a couple of bruises,a sore elbow (hit it on a rock) a nettled leg and a few scuffs on my Sandman, ahh well can't keep it new for ever.

Checkout the weird angle of the GoPro. I had it attached to my prosthetics pylon. It came out totally different to what I expected lol

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Edmondsley Woods

I like to go out for a nice walk,along with my dad and Mr Hinks and on occasion with friends. It's always nice to see a bit of our beautiful countryside, especially at this time of year what with all the different flowers,trees and other plants and there array of wonderful colours, sure beats sitting around in the house.

A beautiful old moss covered tree

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Playing on my Sandman on some local trails

Decided to have a look out and play with my bike and GoPro see if I could get a little bit of riding footage. This making movies is a lot harder than it looks, but it is fun riding, taking in the beautiful countryside and nature we have around where I live, then getting home and looking to see what I've managed to capture before deciding what to pop in a short video.Hopefully my movie making skills will improve and I'll try and capture some different angles and places to hook my camera onto try and make more interesting video's to watch. Anyhoo hope you enjoy my early attempts.
In the Woods

Wor Kyle, he's handy for helping me up when I fall off
Shot with my GoPro

A Spot of Fish Eye with the GoPro

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Wasabi GoPro Charger and battery kit

So I got my new GoPro Hero2 back after sending it away for a replacement as the charging circuit wouldn't work in the camera. It looks like the replacement camera is exactly the same. It won't charge the battery through the camera when plugged in to a PC via the USB cable. After checking out various forums it seems this is a common problem with the newer GoPro Hero 2's. Well I don't want to be keep sending my camera back and forth as it means I can't get out there and shoot some videos, so my dad bought me this neat little kit. It's a stand alone battery charger with  2 spare batteries and a car charger all to fit the GoPro Hero 2......Cool..... Now I can have spare batteries ready to go and rather than charge them up in the GoPro just pop them in the Wasabi charger.....Sorted.

Wasabi charger and battery kit (got it from

A few more snaps of me riding local trails

My son and I had a ride out around some local trails yesterday I loaned Kyle my Ibis and I ventured out on my Sandman. Since getting my Sandman it's the only bike I've really used, it's just so much fun. We had a ride over to Iveston as I haven't actually rode up Iveston bank since I did the Durham Big Ride back in 2009 and I have never attempted it using my Bartlett Tendon so wanted to see how I would get on. It's not the fact the bank is all that long,but boy has it  got a pretty steep gradient. Anyhoo after much huffing and puffing I'm pleased to say I got up it without having to get off and push.

Decided to venture home via Chapman's Wells Nature Reserve, found a new trail through some woodland which was quite fun, a bit boggy in places after last weeks downpour. All in all a canny ride out and I only fell off once lol.

Local Woods @ Chapman's Well

Riding trails @ Chapman's Well

Playing in the Mud