Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Great service from Si at Cycle Solutions

Since snapping my chain a few weeks ago on my Fat Bike I've encountered a few problems, what with getting my gears set up and this really annoying creak/click on my cranks. A few months ago I took my bike to my local Evans to get the threads cleaned in my bottom bracket, and have the BB installed. I purchased the more expensive Nitride BB, thinking it would last longer. You see for some strange reason my eThirteen cranks wore away on one side. Anyhoo this was an expensive repair the cranks along with chain rings and BB coming in at well over £300.

Long story short ever since having the new BB and cranks put in place my bike has more or less creaked when ever I put power down on my good side. After my chain snapped, sending me over the bars, my dad took my rear wheel off to check to make sure everything was ok. He noticed I had a few spokes that could maybe do with being tightened, so off again he went down to Evans taking my back wheel so that they could tighten my spokes along with my cones. Ern then replaced my rear Shimano cassette and I had him pop in some new blingtastic Hope Jockey Wheels, my old ones were looking like ninja throwing stars. 

Both Ern and I then had a go at setting up my gears and it was an epic fail. For some reason we just couldn't get the indexing right and the chain was jumping all over and missing gears on the cassette.

Now last week my friend Wayne had come to drop off a little Kodak video camera he has, one of my other friends might be interested in buying it. Wayne just happened to mention that he had dropped his Rock Shox forks off at a bike shop and they were going to do a complete service for him,costing around £80. Anyhoo he went on to tell me that when he was at home, he came across this very nice lad called Si who was across the road from where Wayne lives. I'm not sure how they got chatting but Wayne discovered Si runs his own mobile bicycle repair,servicing and maintenance business, so he asked Si for a quote to service his forks and when Si said £25, Wayne was more than happy and went and collected his forks so that he could hand them over to Si to sort out.

I remembered Wayne telling me about Si so txt him yesterday for Si's number. I then gave Si a quick ring, however there was no answer. About 15 minutes later I had a return call and I explained to Si that Wayne had recommended him and could he come and have a look at my gears sometime. "Yeah I'll call around at 18:30pm" Si said, and true to his word come 18:30pm there he was ringing my door bell. I quickly put my boots on and we headed off to our shed, so that Si could have a look and see if he could manage to work there or if he would need to take my bike to his workshop. "Oh I should be able to sort it here" Si said and he got stuck right in. I think Si was on with my bike around 45 to 50 minutes and I really enjoyed chatting away to him as he worked. He showed me where the indexing was wrong and, how to better route my cables and actually got my gears running smoother than they had in a very long time. We talked about Si's business Cycle Solutions and I have to say I was very happy with his skill and knowledge and at just how friendly he was, giving me advice on maintaining my bike and isn't it just so much fun talking to someone who shares your passion.

Well anyway I just wanted to write a small blog and give Cycle Solutions and Si a bit of a shout out, it's great to find local people trying to get on, and when they offer such a great service and very reasonable rates all the better.

Next job for Si and Cycle Solutions  is to fit new inner and outer cables for me and sort this dam annoying creak in my crank it's driving me mad.

Monday, 22 September 2014

First real ride out on Bike Swanky's PYGA 29'er

Kind of lost here without my dog Mr Hink's. Our house feels real empty and quiet. My dad, Ern is lost too, so I asked him "how you fancy heading out and helping me shoot a video and maybe get a few pics". It seemed like a good opportunity to take the demo bike I have on loan from Bike Swanky for a proper blast. Paul and Andy of Bike Swanky very kindly sent the bike up on Friday morning along with 2 jerseys a mtb and a road one and some Bike Swanky flyers and stickers.
Smile your on some kind of camera
Out the saddle and away up the trail

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Farewell my dear old friend...

Love you Hinks, you will be sorely missed
 A few days to reflect... It's not often I write negative posts here upon my blog. I mean sure bad stuff does happen in my life, just like everyone else's.But why write lots of maudlin crap and then get everyone feeling down, all teary eyed and feeling sorry for one another. So this blog (which I wasn't sure if I was going to write) is more a celebration of life, rather than the very sad fact I've lost a close friend.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Pace Rehabilitation - Real Lives

It's always nice to do something that's worthwhile, something that not only makes you feel good, but also gets the word out about the people behind the scenes, the ones who facilitate your success in a way.

Upon getting in from work today I checked my mails and was very pleasantly surprised to find out that I had been featured in Pace Rehabilitations - Real Lives. My friend Scott Richardson who is the Business Development Manager or PR Guru as I like to call him had wrote a very nice piece about my recent participation in Arctic ONE's triathlon down at Dorney Lake, Eton.

Of course the article is centred around me and what I have achieved, however I couldn't have done this without some very special people helping me along the way. I have been supported by Pace from very early on in my cycling adventures. We have a great relationship and this has moved on to become more of a relaxed friendship. What I like about Pace is that they take the time to listen, if I have ideas or suggestions they don't write it off and they do everything they can to encourage me, rather than being negative which I have found a lot of as an amputee.

Another huge influence on what I have gone on to do is through the use of my BTK or Bartlett Tendon Knee. Again without Brian Bartlett's backing and support I would hate to think of where I would be now. As an ordinary guy who didn't lose his leg through and accident and I wasn't in the military well funding such expensive prosthetics would have been very difficult. I realise just how lucky I am to have had the support of people and clinics like Brian and Pace. Though I would say to anyone, you can make things happen if you want them bad enough. I did. If your positive and determined in time will shine through, of course you still have to take the knocks and put in a lot of hard work

More recently, maybe because of what I was doing or involved in. Or just because I put myself out there, Arctic ONE came along and agreed to help me fund raise towards a running prosthesis. This is a huge help and one that will not go unrewarded in return. My aim or goal after learning to run of course is to try and return all these peoples kindness and go on to help other people in similar situations to myself.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation accepted my application for a running blade and I got notification in April of this year. I now have until the 31st December to make my dream come true as that is when my grant runs out. So that's why I have been hard at work trying to fund raise and take part in various Arctic ONE events.

Anyhoo on to the Article and if you feel you would like to help either myself or Arctic ONE here is the link.

Virgin Money Just Giving Glenn

Pace Rehab Glenn-Johnstone-Triathlon-ArcticONE

Monday, 8 September 2014

Thanks Michelle for treating us to a fantastic Bush crafting experience.

Quite sometime ago my friend Michelle bought Lee (Michelle's husband), our friend John and I a lovely surprise gift. It was a days taster course on Bushcrafting. This is where you learn to use skills in order to set up a camp. Things like making, constructing and putting up shelters, how to light and make a fire and one of the most important things how to obtain safe drinking water from different sources.

Well yesterday was the pre-arranged day for our Bushcrafting adventure. John had decided he didn't fancy going, which was a shame as we had a fantastic day and learnt lots, even though we only had a short period of time with the instructors. So rather than just waste the place our friend Al jumped at the opportunity to come along and expand his knowledge of playing in the great outdoors.

Al and Lee at Kirkley Hall

Lee called for me around 8:30AM and we had a lovely leisurely drive up to Kirkley Hall, which is in Ponteland. There we met Al and had a few moments to have a chat and also meet some other adventurers as we waited. After a little time had passed we figured we must be in the wrong area as time was getting on and we hadn't really seen anyone else. So we asked this very friendly lady just where abouts the Bush-craft course people may be.The lady directed us down through the car park and towards the woods and there we found a larger group of people and some of the instructors, Ron and Margaret.

Ron and Margaret gathered a few details from all of the group and explained a little about how the course would be ran and then we were off walking down an incline and some steps and into the woods, all very scenic.

Once in the woods there were cups of tea and coffee available and we where introduced to a few more instructors who were going to be helping with the Bushcrafting activities. There was Steve and Ron's son Alex.  The group of people attending the day was quite large so we were split into 3 groups of 7. This was great as it gave us all a chance to meet new people and really enjoy our successes and of course all have a laugh at our failings, of which I have to say there were few. Ron decided we should give our individual groups, names based on Indian themes. This is because he particularly likes the history of the Native American Indians, their use of the land and the tools and weapons they chose to use all those years ago. Ron is very much into archery, knife throwing and the use of a tomahawk and he has passed this passion down to his son Alex. The names of the tribes each group came up with were The Mow-hawks, The big Wood Tribe and the tribe I was in was called the Running Stream.

Each tribe then set off with an instructor to learn about different aspects of Bush-crafting. Our Tribe Running Stream, got Steve firstly as our instructor. We were to learn about shelters. Steve did an excellent job of testing our knowledge and then going on to explain how and why each shelter was made in a different way. Steve showed us an array of different knots, taking time to go over each one and if anyone got stuck helping out and offering top tips. It was a really good exercise in both team building and gaining valuable knowledge of how to construct a basic shelter within minutes. Top marks to Steve he was awesome, and like all the instructors on the day very likeable and easy to get along with.

We all thanked Steve and then broke for lunch. I decided to opt for a nice cup of coffee to go with my pre-prepared Nutella and carved chicken baby bread, fruit loaf sandwiches. It was great just sitting around the camp fire sharing stories and experiences with everyone. Me well I seem to talk more than most, in fact it's something I'm becoming increasingly aware of and at times I feel I should reign myself in. I don't know if it's because I'm getting overly confident these days or the opposite I'm quite afraid so I just waffle on about anything or nothing in particular. For those who know me I can't win as if I'm quiet I'm in a huff or sulking and when I'm chatting all the time I must be annoying. It's weird what you think of when your just typing away lol.

Lee checking for a saggy bottom
Lee chuffed his bottom isn't sagging
  After lunch we set off with Alex,who was going to teach us all about fires,. The best materials and tools to use to create a fire. Firstly Alex showed us what small kindling we would need to collect in order to get our fire going. We were asked to head off into the woods and collect 2 bundles of kindling each. Fine pine tree branches work best as they ignite well and the sap within the branches helps the fire burn. On our return Alex asked us all to take a seat and he meticulously went through various tinder's, how to make or prepare them and different methods of igniting a fire. We got to practice with fire steels as well as a metal striker and traditional flint. Then there was the old fashioned playground method of igniting a piece of Charred cotton, using a magnifying glass and the rays of the sun, Alex even used an old 9 volt battery and some wire wool in his demonstration. After Alex's demonstration we all got the opportunity to practice making our own fire, using a firesteel and a small amount of cotton wool which we rubbed Vaseline into. This makes for a great method of starting a fire and is very easy. Before long we all had fires of varying size and were all pretty proud of ourselves. Alex did a great job of teaching us all, he took time to answer our questions all the while making the exercise fun, informative and safe. Again top marks.

Ho Ho I have created Fire!
Al got well into it so
Blow Al Blow
Lee and Alex

Having a chat around the camp fires

Our next exercise was in water filtration and this was led by Ron.  As many of you will know water is very heavy when your attempting to carry it. I know a great deal of my overall back pack or Bike Bag Dude Frame bag weight is in carrying 3 litres of water, so being able to source water if or when you are on a long trip is a valuable piece of knowledge. I found this part of the course very interesting indeed. Ron went through lots of different ways in which we could source water and then the dangers of drinking from certain places, how we could utilise both natural and man made items such as reeds, socks, denim jeans,bottles, polythene bags, charcoal, sand and the list goes on, all to help make filtration devices to make the water safe for drinking or in order to collect safe drinking water.. More very useful information and definitely something I think we can and will put into practice as we plan for our adventure next year. 

Finally we joined up with Margaret who had a real treat in store for us. We were going to make Bannock Bread. Margaret handed us the ingredients and the small mixing bowls. It was my job to mix up the stuff for Lee Al and myself. I commented that the bread would be nice with raisins and Margaret just happened to have some, as well as some cinnamon, so I popped these in. Once mixed I attached the dough to a stick and spread it out evenly and Lee baked the bread over the open fire. it only took around 10 to 15 minutes and when done the bread tasted amazing.

Making Bannock Bread Mmmmmm!
"What are you boys doing!"
Lee giving the sign of his approval
 Wow the day had gone so quick and we had all thoroughly enjoyed it. This was just what they call a taster session, obviously you couldn't learn everything in one day. I have to say though I learnt so much in that short space of time and the guys over at Taught in the Woods  were all simply fantastic, so a huge thank you to Ron,Alex, Margaret and Steve. If your into the great outdoors I can't recommend doing something like this enough.

In ending a Huge thank you to Michelle for arranging the day out, we all had an awesome day. I will be giving you a huge hug and a few kisses when I see you next xXx

Sunday, 7 September 2014

I don't care what the weather man says When the weatherman says it's raining!

" I don't care what the weather man says.When the weatherman says it's raining". Well that's not exactly true, especially when the weatherman or lady says it's only going to rain intermittently maybe for an hour or so and it turns out that it actually persistently continues to persist to piss down non stop.

I'm a Firestarter