For those that don’t know Arran is the closest Scottish West Coast island to England, being south of even Glasgow. Over the years we have been to most of the inner Hebredian islands, Mull, Jura, Isla, Sky and even Colonsay but this time were looking for a holiday without quite the normal epic drive North.
The ferry from Ardrossan over to Arran is less that an hour and the moment you disembark life seems to go a bit slow mo, nobody rushing, the stress seeming to flow out of you.
Arran has everything, big mountains, forests, sandy beaches, cliffs, wildlife, whiskey, and great food, and is now our new favorite Scottish Island.
Riding a bike on the roads on Arran is generally a great experience with quiet roads and good surfaces. There is a fair bit of climb if you intend to circum-navigate though, however currently it isn’t possible due to some major roadworks half way round. There are Tea shops and cafés at far too regular intervals though and we unfortunately gained a 2 cakes a day + lunch habit, just driving round that we now need counselling to wean our selves off of!
We only had a day and a half on the bike as we had other things to do. We rode on some great sweeping singletracks up from Lamlash over the saddle and down into Brodick before exploring the trails above Brodick castle in the forests. There are trails everywhere but unfortunately they are not waymarked and the OS map is non too up to date but you can pick your way around and I am sure those with GPS’s wouldn’t have any trouble at all. Fantastic views of the coastal bays, mountains, moorland and pretty villages jump out at you constantly changing, taking your breath away and of course being a mountainous island after the long climbs come very long grin inducing descents.
There is even a Mountain Bike Orienteering map available from the offices of Arran Adventure, but a word of caution on the map as it is now fairly out of date.
The other rides we did were along the coastal paths, one from Lamlash out to the point and one from Sannox out towards Lochranza. On both rides unfortunately because of my back we had to turn back when the track became rough but the views and wildlife along the coast are amazing.
I look forward to a re-visit to Arran when my back is fixed to enjoy the many miles of mountain bike trails with their spectacular vistas.
Ive been waiting for an NHS referral to go and see a consultant in Sports Medicine in Birmingham but today have had a letter to say my local NHS Trust – Stafford will not fund me. Humphhhhh!
Things continue to get a little better month by month but at present I have just been left to rehab myself, no physio, no guidance, nothing…… To say I am not happy is an understatement this morning.
So another month another injury update
I saw the consultant last week and he has signed me off with nothing more he can do. I am not better and I have him of call off from the GP if I get another bad attack. The message at the moment is keep trying to do more little by little and it will get better…… eventually……
I’ve had a week or so of ups and downs and have ended up in some lower back pain again – nothing down my leg so not too bad… At the JK spectating and coat holding I’ve had a chat with a few people and now have the names of some re-hab people – plus I am possibly gong to start doing some Yoga to keep me supple. I Don’t think I am going to be orienteering mountain biking or running any time soon but the current aim is to start doing more road riding on the full sus, lose some weight and get some cardio fitness back for the summer.
I started tweeting a little when I was trying to win a Dorset Cereals little blog award a few years ago campaigning for votes. I then realised other than Ada Timmis I didn’t know anyone on Twitter, wasn’t interested in what celebs said, didn’t have much to say other tha tweeting my blog posts and left it for a while. Then I realised that twitter was THE place to network and find out the latest in one of my fields of work – Building Information Modelling – BIM. This Buzz word in the construction industry at the moment is scaring lots of people silly because the government has mandated it use from 2016 on all public projects and take up is generally poor in the industry.
When something is new and perhaps controversial and you already know lots about it you can do 2 things: Knuckle down, keep your knowledge to yourself, mine its commercial advantage and just ‘take’ new information that you find or stick your head above the parapet, shout about it, roll your sleeves up and jump in to the scrum…
That’s what I have done with BIM and for me it has paid off. Mainly using Linked-In and Twitter together with more traditional cereal based beverage networking I have become well known in UK BIM circles, have learnt loads more and am hopefully giving back too. I was rewarded and really chuffed this week to be included in the Building Design Magazine Twitter top 100 tweeters and in the top 10 for BIM related tweeters…. ( you need to register for free to read it) http://www.bdonline.co.uk/business/advice/social-media/bdtwitter100-2013-top-10-bim-tweeters/5050778.article
When twitter first became popular I was sceptical and am on record in some company marketing meeting notes dismissing it as being a glorified RSS news feed and a tool for journalists and followers of celebs. However as its grown and spread if your ‘tribe’ is active on twitter it’s a fantastic place to get the latest gossip, news hot off the press and then just bizarre stuff you would never normally fall across from the other tribes your follow’s tweet or re-tweet . Things to make you angry, things to make you explore new stuff and perhaps just things that make you smile or laugh out loud.
Biking twitter is still in steady growth to some extent, many of the pro cyclists have perhaps been steered away somewhat I think by their teams and perhaps much of the rest is news tweets and general chat from established internet magazine sites, clubs and associations.
There is though lots of other cool stuff out there: it’s useful for finding out the moment entries for massively popular cycle sportives or mtb enduro events go live, some might find it good to get the latest on their favourite tour riders out of season, some to get hints on the latest secret trails, some just to find out the latest on a certain twitter using Texan athlete’s latest exploits but if you’ve not tried twitter give it a go, you might be surprised at what you find ..… what tribes do you belong to?
So having said I won’t just blog about the injury situation here is an update. I had another lumbar spinal cortisone injection in early January, the idea being that an injection into a fairly pain free back will give it the kick start it needs to heal properly and enable me to function a little more normally. Well to be honest to start with it got worse, particularly on the day of the injection when my right leg went numb. The recovery room was like a scene from a comedy sketch with nurses asking if we could stand up yet. Of course all of said yes…. Fine…. Only to then collapse back in our highback chairs again… Got two packs of shortbread biccys this time though and yes I nearly fainted again… I don’t do needles very well.
So has it improved things…? I don t know…! I think so but I have been so so busy at work its hard to tell. If I look at things I can do now that I couldn’t do this time last year that’s a good test. I can now stand pain free for 30 mins, especially if I fidget a bit…. I can get away with the odd bike ride if I am not stupid…. I can bend and stretch OK and my SI joint isn’t jumping out as much as a few weeks ago… My back still gets sore and even up to a couple of weeks ago my hip would hurt in the mornings.
Crossed fingers then, I see the consultant in late March.
Sorry for the lack of postings, I have sat down several times to try and write something that wasn’t just another injury update but they have been very down beat. Soooo I have decided to expand my blog a little and blog about not just bikes, mtbo and orienteering but perhaps a little Technology and Architecture too. Don’t worry it won’t be too heavy but its that or not blog at all and I do miss it.
10 years ago when we moved into our house we were plagued by weekender bikers, neeeeow neeow, all afternoon, particularly on sunny summer Sundays. They were generally on their way back to the Black Country after spending the day hooning around the Peak District, stopping for ice creams in Matlock Bath, admiring their middle aged crisis purchases, comparing specs and paint jobs. Luckily some strategically applied 50mph speed limits a few years back has meant that they don’t come our way any more. However, we have a new plague on summer Sunday’s now, but they are slower, quieter and I no longer curse every time they zoom past – roadies!
This summer The Tour of Britain came through the Staffordshire villages of Milford and Brocton and so did the following ‘Tour Ride’ a mass participation event that gives amateurs and enthusiasts the chance to ride the Day 5 route of the race. This and the addition of two ‘Strava’ king of the mountains climbs has made the road past my house a bit of a mecca for local road cyclists of all shapes and sizes.
Cannock Chase AONB in the Midlands is a hidden gem; it’s the rolling hills of forest and heath-land with the BT tower on top you can see on the right as you sit on the northbound M6, normally in a traffic jam, just past Birmingham before you hit Stoke on Trent. Of course its main attraction for cyclists in the past has been the excellent mountain biking of the ‘Follow the Dog’ and ‘Monkey’ trails of the Birches Valley forest centre but more and more it is starting to attract roadies, particularly the ones without the thighs needed to get up into the Peak District where the serious climbs are.
The area is also now sprinkled with the high-end bike shops and the cafes that are needed to sustain those taking in the long vistas out towards the Shropshire hills in the West and National Forest in the East. Once struggling countryside cafes are now busy, rows of shiny carbon road bikes leant up outside as their owners munch on cake, drink coffee and admire their steeds, comparing specs and weights. I sometimes wonder if some of them are the same ones who used to frequent Matlock Bath a few years ago!
For more information about Cannock Chase http://www.visitcannockchase.co.uk/
Strava segment http://app.strava.com/segments/891928
As the appointment to see the surgeon had still not come through and I was starting to get really down, I decided to pay to see him privately 2 weeks ago rather than waiting till late January.
I had to consult the flood maps before I left home as the hospital is in Worcester but in the end although the river Severn was very high I had no problems.
After taking my history and a quick poke with a paper clip of my legs to test for sensation loss we sat down to discuss options. I went in expecting to come out with decision to make about paying for the operation or to wait for it on the NHS but he surprised me by saying he thought I should not have an operation this time and should try another injection.
I had been told up until now I had a disc bulge that needed shaving off but he indicated the scan shows a full disc prolapse with a blob of disc floating around inside the nerve sheath. Apparently this blob will dissolve over time and another injection should just take any remaining inflammation down whilst this happens.
So I am back waiting again although with a different attitude. I know now after 15 months that any thoughts of racing elite again in the next couple of years are gone and it is more about trying to get fit enough to get back riding, walking and running recreationally and I have accepted it and am just concentrating another stuff.