Sunday, 26 March 2017

Work no rest then play

It was my first full day back at work today, after my 2 week phased return following being ill for 5 weeks with that nasty strep infection I told you all about in a previous post.

I am now going to use a word my boss Dan uses a lot to describe this morning as I awoke and looked at the clock or should I say clocks and that word is  Discombobulated. I mean my alarm on my phone went off ok, correct time and all. I was not late, however when I went down stairs into our kitchen the kitchen clock was an hour slow. The Oven clock is always wrong so that was not helping matters and the Microwave, well it came out the Ark so it no longer works. I just thought 'Ahh the battery must have died in the clock'. I then had a quick cup of coffee from the Tassimo, a nice Latte and some sort of coffee yogurt  thingy that Ern sometimes get in. As I went into the living room to check out the mornings news I noticed that that clocks battery had also died...D'oh no it hadn't obviously the clocks had gone into some other time zone, backwards or forwards or whatever. I checked the news as surely they would know the right time. 

On Sundays I can spend a little longer in the house as there are no annoying numpties on the road and it's a canny drive in. I hate driving in during the week because as well as numpties, muppets, cocks and bell ends, there are also with all intensive purposes buffoons just waiting to cut me and Tango up, beep at us for not going fast enough or make it there mission in life to get in front of the bright Orange Smart car and get one place ahead. I mean that morning coffee will be getting cold.

As I got in to Tango I was thrilled to see that when I turned the ignition key and my radio sprang to life blaring out some group I had discovered just the other week, that my clock was reading the correct time. I was not so thrilled when I had to adjust not only the dash mounted clock but the digital one, especially as all three clocks now read a minutes difference and my OCD kicked in. 'Ahhh bollocks' what do I care I am not the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland and I was not late, BBC One's news had told me so.

Anyhoo a full shift at work 8am until 4pm. By the time I got home, it was approaching either 5:45, 5:46 or 5:47. Clothes off, leg off, mountain bike gear on and BTK Crossover on. Juice in bottle, GoPro in backpack, grab bike and I was off. I mentioned in one of my other blogs I was going to start riding the bank up to Wagtail Lane as a means of gauging my fitness. It's a canny click and once up it the lane continues with ups and downs past the wind mills. I definitely found the bank easier today. Not only that after I adjusted my saddle yesterday evening and Ern had a look at the cleats on my shoes I am happy to say the medial pain in my knee appears a lot better. I forgot I did not tell you about the pain I got from Saturdays ride. After 22.5 miles when I came in my good knee was absolutely killing me. I honestly thought I had damaged something. It's not great having a bad leg when you have your own two legs, but it is even worse when you only have one and it starts hurting. Saturday evening I could hardly hop whilst using my crutches. As I sat at my computer I did some research into the cause of knee pain and came across this great article which I have taken advice from and it appears to work.

Again just a short tootle out tonight. I have an idea of roughly how far 9 or so miles are and at the moment I am happy just building up my fitness, not over doing it, yet pushing myself where I need to.

Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn Johnstone
Coming doon the farmers trail, no not that farmers trail lol

Silverback Synergy Fat
I'm balancing here...honest!!!

I managed to get a few shots with my GoPro  whilst out, so all in all a canny little ride out. Mind you not sure just wearing a short sleeved jersey was a great idea it was a lot cooler than I thought.

BTK Crossover Glenn Johnstone
BTK Crossover
BTK Crossover Glenn Johnstone
BTK Crossover in flexed whilst out of the saddle
Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn Johnstone
Coming around the corner at the bridge near Qukaies
Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn Johnstone
Over the ickle Stream
Once back, oven straight on and 3 Southern Fried Chicken breasts along with a packet of Uncles Ben's Rice. I am a poor eater, something I should really sort. I can kind of go all day then binge. Been in shower, full tummy and Ern has just brought me a nice cuppa whilst I finish off writing my blog....Cheers Ern!

Friday, 24 March 2017

A little tootle out on the Silverback Synergy Fat

With my new job I am now working more hours, 30 over 4 days. This means I get Thursday,Friday and Saturday off. Yesterday even though the sun was shining through my bedroom window when I awoke I just  felt 'nowt flash' as they say. So it was a relatively boring day lounging about.

Silverback Synergy Fat
Great to be out
This morning again the weather did not look too bad so I decided to go for a short tootle out on my Silverback Synergy Fat Bike. As I went to get my bike I thought 'Ooh there is still a nip in the air', so I popped my old Royal Racing soft shell jacket on top of the 2 base layers and my Royal jersey.

I manoeuvred my bike past both Ern's new car, he has been getting a 64 plate Citroen Multispace and my little car 'Tango'. I then pushed my bike through our garden intending on going out at the front of the house. Yay all set to go, as my bike was outside on the pavement I pressed the lever to drop my saddle and 'Grrrrrrr' the bloody thing had gone wonky again. The seat post, which is a Race Face Turbine dropper did the same thing just last week. I am now regretting not going for a Rock Shox like on my Sandman and Ibis Mojo. The Rock Shox uses hydraulics and the only prob I have ever had is wear and tear, where the post starts to get worn and moves a tiny bit side to side. The Race Face is an air, plus cable operated system. For some reason the cable keeps getting stuck, this means the post just will not stay down when sat on. It will not lock.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Wow exhausted after todays ride out.

My friend John rocked up as arranged at 9am. John wanted Ern to have a quick butchers at his gears, after I had reattached his front mech cable on Thursday. The gears were just off so it did not take Ern long at all to get them working. John has not used his bike for some time so really the front mech just needed a little lubricant to free it up.

For once I was pretty much all ready and prepared to go, so we headed off towards the Farmers trail, intending on having a ride around about Beamish. It was quite blustery this morning so we figured riding some trails in the woods would be a good idea.

I took a few pics at the start of the Farmers trail of my new bike the Silverback Synergy and handed my camera over to John so he could get a few of me in motion. As we reached about the half way mark up the trail, it began to get quite muddy, with some large standing puddles of water and the trail had been worn quite a lot since our last visit when going this way. The trail was at a real angle as the farm traffic, walkers,horses and bikers along with the wet weather had eroded the surface.

Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn Johnstone
Ooh isn't she pretty
Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn Johnstone BTK crossover
Big Grins
Silverback Synergy Fat Heading up the Farmers trail
Heaing up the Farmers trail

On the way up I stopped at one point as I felt my cleat had come loose. I got off my bike and took a quick look, there was thick clarts on the bottom of my shoe, so I thought I must just not be clipped in correctly. I had another go and again as I set off and did a few crank revolutions my shoe felt wonky. Again got of my bike and this time took my shoe off to inspect the cleat. Nope it was solid, so shoe back on. As I attempted another push on the pedals there definitely was something not right, so once again I got off. This time I inspected the pedals and noticed it was my pedal that looked wonky. On closer inspection I noticed the pedal had threaded out of my crank arm and was sitting at an angle...Not good. My immediate thought was 'how the hell has this happened', followed by 'Awww crap am I going to need new crank arms' which would have been gutting as I have only been out once on the bike and new arms are quite expensive.

As we had rode up the trail, it was not so bad rallying down and heading home. I gave Ern a call to let him know what was up and he came with the car to meet us at the end of the estate. Once home Ern had a look at the problem. It appeared the pedal had wound it's way out. Luckily it had only just say caught the outer thread on the crank arm. So Ern wound a pedal in from the opposite side, cleaned out the thread then popped the original pedal back in with a spot of thread lock for safe measure. He also made sure the pedals, both sides were torqued up.

Silverback Synergy Fat Playing in puddles
Playing in the puddles
Now to start our adventure again, heading back up the Farmers Trail, wow it felt harder the second time around lol. Once we got up the trail and headed down the other side and into No Place, we turned Right and went down on to the New Road and continued down into Beamish. Passing the entrance to Beamish Museum and continuing down past the old farm which is part of the Open air museum. Once down by Beamish Hall, we turned right again and this is were we hit more off road riding.

As we rode along this section we again stopped and this is where I fitted the 20 degree wedge into my BTK Crossover. I had also put around 60 psi into the Rock Shox shocker. A little play around getting some pics by the stream and splashing in a puddle and we were off again, heading through the woods. At this point it was lovely the sun streaming through the trees and the wind be kept at bay.



A A 



BTK Crossover Glenn Johnstone
Wedge in BTK Crossover
Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn making a splash
Making a Splash
A little further along the trail and we came to the huge pond, again I grabbed my camera and got a shot of my bike on the edge of the pond, just before it toppled in.

Silverback Synergy Fat
Cooling her Tyres
From the pond it is pretty much an upward ascent and boy was I feeling it. By the time we got along to were the trail meets the road the wind had picked up and upon getting on the road and the ride along to the turning off towards Tanfield Railway it was windy as hell. The wind came at an angle that felt like it was pushing us back, but also a strong cross wind. It's times like this you have to be switched on as the road is a narrow country one and cars can come past way too close. It was hard to maintain a straight line I know I was weaving all over the shop.

I was pleased when we came to the turn off for Tanfield Railway. I had to have a bit of a sit down as my stump was aching right in my hams and around my butt. It is times when I push myself I realise just how much fitness I have lost. And I do not mean just riding I mean wearing a limb day in day out. Most people take walking for granted, however as an amputee as soon as you stop using your prosthesis as regularly it has a huge effect.

Anyhoo back on the bike and we come out at Tanfield railway. We just miss the steam train as I was going to get a picture. So head off back towards Stanley. Instead of going along the Causey Arch, which is a boring ride, we cross the road and go via Tanfield railway and across the Causey Arch Bridge. No complaints from anyone today.

By the time we reach Tanfield Industrial estate I am really flagging and we still have some canny climbs to get back home. We cut through the factories and try as i might I run out of steam on one of the hills. Time to get off and push. I hate doing this as it feels like a fail, but I reflect as I am pushing my bike 'Hey I am out and trying my best to get back into the swing of things'. I am still coughing lots and my chest and throat are on fire. John knows I am  struggling, so encouraged me on and congratulated me for doing so well on the hills and banks we have climbed today.

As we get onto the C2C John suggests we head up Barn Hill...Omg not another bloody hill. I managed to get just over half way up and again had to get off and have a bit of a push. John joined me to keep me company. A push up the back of the indoor market, yes another bank lol Then it was just a case of riding up Stanley Front Street and turning for home. Once at John's a quick 'catch you later' and I was off down Durham Road and home. I couldn't wait to get in, have a shower and fell asleep exhausted.

My phone went flat so no Strava result, John had his on and said we did 12.5 miles. Wow I was exhausted. I will no doubt be back out again next week and try and increase my stamina, fancy getting back to doing a spot of swimming too.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Baxter has redesigned his bed

So after eating his previous bed, Ern (my dad) decided to get wor Baxter a brand new bed for under our stairs. Baxter has now had the said new bed just over a week and decided to redesign it by chewing the outer edge.
Anyone seen wor Baxter
At first we thought it was just shear vandalism (at one point when Baxter was just a pup I had thought about changing his name to Vandal as it seemed quite apt for him lol) But no, Baxter must have pre-planned his intentions and has now made his bed into a sleeping bag. 

There he is
This dog is not only Bonkers, but so adorable, he is now tucked up under the stairs fast asleep inside his errrrr bed!. I reckon in a past life he must have enjoyed the odd spot of bivving and camping out lol.

It's a hard life

Wonder what he is dreaming about
No Doubt tomorrow there will be bits of foam all over the house, or who knows he may decide to move on and create a tent....

Thursday, 16 March 2017

I am back, well sort of LoL

Hey it's only me, ages since my last blog. You know when you kind of have little ideas and plans about what you are going to do, where life is going to take you and thoughts of 'well I will start the year out with this'. Well I have come to the conclusion I am not going to do that any more. When ever I think more than a week or so ahead you can pretty much guarantee the god or gods of 'lets move the goal posts' seem to come to town and rain on my parade.

Now I am not here to whine on about 'poor me' I am just venting a little about how fed up I am with stuff getting in the way. For me it always appears to be ill health. Just recently I have been feeling a tad below par, as I was struck down with a nasty strep infection. During the past 5 weeks I have had the lot, sore throats, an ear infection and to add insult to injury a nasty chest infection.

Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn Johnstone
Out in South Moor park

Silverback Synergy Fat
Silverback Synergy Fat
Anyhoo moving on I thought I  would write a little blog about my first ride out, yes that's my first ride out of 2017. As I recall I have not been out for a ride for some 10 or so months. God I am so unfit, as today's little 8 mile excursion proved. Thinking positively the main thing was I got out, well eventually. I had a few technical issues with my Race Face dropper seat post this morning. Ern and I had a tinker with it and it seemed to sort itself, however once out on the trail it decided to try and annoy me by refusing to stay down, then when I sat on it refusing to stay up. At one point I had to use my £1 pliers that I picked up from some cheap shop. To be fair they are probably the best £1 I have spent as they have proved invaluable on quite a few outings.

My £1 pliers
Had to use my pliers to grab cable as it popped out

A ride out for me would not be a proper ride out unless I fell off and hey I had to christen my new Silverback Synergy Fattie lol. It happened on a upward section of trail that was real thick with mud. I tried my best to power through, however came to a stop and inevitably fell off on my BTK Crossover side, with my normal phrase of 'Oh Crap'. Not much you can do as an amputee if you fall to your prosthetic side. Of course years of practicing falling off I am now pretty adept and not injuring myself. The worst thing you can do is stick an arm out. I tend to just hold on to the bars and try and turn so I fall on my back pack.

Quite a few firsts today when I think about it. As well as my first ride of 2017, it was also my first go on my new Silverback Synergy Fat Bike. I received the bike last year just before Christmas and became an ambassador for Silverback. My bike had been languishing in the dinning room. I had intended going out on her as soon as I got her heli-taped and the little bits and bobs I had purchased, bars, grips,chain ring etc fitted. However due to after mentioned bugs, viruses and infections I had picked up, everything was put on hold. Speaking of getting my bike Heli-Taped would just like to say a huge thank you to the guys at Infinity Cycles as they did a fantastic job wrapping my bike, with an Invisframe kit, very pleased. First impressions of the Silverback Synergy Fat Bike. When the bike arrived  (a size Large)  and she was stood in my dinning room I have to admit I thought 'wow this thing is huge'. I mean I am just over 6 feet, with roughly a 32 inch inside leg. Just shows though looks can be deceiving. As soon as I was outside and threw my leg over the bike and got going I felt right at home. The bike rolls really well on the Maxxis Mammoths (I discovered on my way home from my outing that I did not have to pedal at all coming from the Morrison road ends. No the bike is not electric, it was because the wind I had fought to get up to that point was so strong it practically pushed me all the way along the road lol) The Synergy feels remarkably light and stable. Point it in a direction and it doesn't feel like it is riding on big fat tyres. It feels rather nimble and is very comfortable to ride. I think if I was going to upgrade anything it would be the Shimano Deore brakes. I feel something with a bit more bite and power would suit the Synergy. Think I will look at this at a later date as wow decent brakes are pretty expensive.

I have popped an Absolute Black Oval chain ring on. Not sure how much difference this has made. But I can tell you although I was tired due to lack of stamina I did not get off on any hills or banks. The chain ring feels smooth in use. Time will tell regarding the ring, it seems to work well on the Synergy. The bike has a nice ratio, between the 11 gears.

Absolute Black Oval Ring

For a first outing I am very impressed with my new ride. And the colour looks so much better in the flesh, it is a very in your face shade of Orange. One thing I did notice upon getting home and washing my bike. Water tends to sit in the frame where the rear shock is situated. It's easy to sort this I just placed my bike upside down to let the water drain. I will be writing a lot more about my adventures on my new steed. It has been great to get out.

Glenn Johnstone and BTK Crossover
BTK Crossover
Glenn Johnstone and BTK Crossover
BTK Crossover
Oh and another first was getting out on the bike wearing my new BTK Crossover. I have received some amazing backing and support to enable me to go out and play on my various bikes and use the new knee as it was designed as a true 'Hybrid' so walking and getting about.The knee is an amazing piece of tech. So a big thank you to Pace Rehab, especially my prosthetist Paul Richardson. The Arctic One Foundation  and to Fabtech Systems and Leftsideinc for shipping the unit over to Pace for me to play and use... A little about first impressions from today's short adventure on the BTK Crossover. This morning I placed roughly 25 psi in the Rock Shox shocker. The new BTK differs from it's predecessor the Original BTK. The Crossover rely's more on the shocker instead of relying on the tendons. Upon the few little descents over slightly rougher stuff I felt adding a few more psi's would have benefited. This was because I felt it was difficult to maintain just sitting out the saddle with my knee flexed. That said I am used to the old BTK and with that one I never used any stops to maintain flexion. The new Crossover comes with wedges that can be put in place to maintain various degrees of flexion, so I think my next time out I will try a 20 degree wedge in place. As said this will help maintain flexion so I can just pop over any bumps, jumps or drops. After 10 months of not using a BTK I found getting out the saddle real easy and was very pleased that I could actually start my bike off on an incline, gain enough momentum and actually get out the saddle and ride foot over foot up the hill. As an amp this is one of the most difficult things to do. To get that push off and start riding from a stationary position whilst on a bank, hill or incline. The incline was not huge and can be seen at the start of my short video.

Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn Johnstone
Out on my Silverback Synergy, playing in puddles
Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn Johnstone
Really like the new bike

Silverback Synergy Fat Glenn Johnstone
Dirty out there


Normally when I am fairly fit I can plod along at my own pace and get form A to B. This morning what with the gusty wind and time away from my bikes, swimming etc I was knackered. The hardest part was going through the open trail part of Chapman's Well's nature reserve. I stopped twice once about halfway up the trail for a drink and a little think 'why do I do this again'. Then again when I came to the small wooden bench on the way out of the reserve. At this point I lay my bike down and proceeded to have 15 minutes lay down on the bench trying to reassure myself that 'yes I am somewhat of an old fart now, but if I just keep at it my stamina will increase'. To be fair instead of being hard on myself I should give myself a well done as I am still not feeling 100%. What with my immunity being so low and catching stuff. I figure getting back out in the fresh air will do me the world of good. Not only physically, but mentally too.

As always I saw a few friendly people on my little adventure, it's nice to just say 'hello' and on some occasions share a spot of banter. I now need a rest, however will be out again soon