So what has changed ?

So what has changed ?

A lot can happen in nine months. A hell of a lot.

One thing I do plan on doing now is keeping this blog active and to perhaps do a lot more writing as well as including as much of my photography as I can within the articles that I write.

The last blog post pretty much summed up the last 18 months for me – injuries catching up with me and I guess that my older body was starting to pay for all the pain I put it through when it was much younger. All that rugby league and Ironman stuff really does wreck your body – glad it’s all behind me if I am honest.

So let’s start with the catch ups, what has happened since I last wrote the depressing and sad post back in July. Well first up I missed my trip up the Tourmalet, but no shock there – I knew the injury was serious, but more about that later.

August

I started to formulate longer term plans with the writing and the images, I transformed my sole trader status into a fully fledged company and started to lay out the plans and framework for the future – it’s a pretty long-term plan as I have plenty of other business interests at the moment. I did manage a few articles and some imagery that got printed and published, so the testing of the water shows that I can do this, just need to be a bit bolder and creative from now on. Part of the process was to revamp my photography website and that is now finalized HERE – I would love to hear what you think of it.

September

Still on a roll with the new empire, I created and published my first ever book – it’s an e-book for kindle and the link for anyone interested is HERE – I also produced one single hard copy of the book which sit’s proudly at home on my book case. The book details all my adventures at the 2014 and 2015 Tours of Flanders and with over 80 pages of commentary and images, it’s something that I am highly proud of.

October – November

We have rented a couple houses locally over the last 10 years, never moved far and really have loved both of them and the times we had there, but the opportunity came for us to once again own our own home. It kinda took us by surprise and everything just fell into place really to present us with a question – yes, you can buy up £x and yes, if you can do it, then you can be in by Xmas. Errr, ok that sounds like fun – two days later, we had viewed it and had an offer accepted on the house that we would eventually move into. We do not hang around when it comes to doing stuff, that’s for sure.

As November rolled into play, we were off to the airport and onto a plane for a much-needed city break in what has become my new favorite city, Barcelona. The family loved our 5 days there, we explored, we walked, we saw the sights, we ate great food, enjoyed the museums, visited the Camp Nou and relaxed on the beach and just had the very best time.

December

It was finally time to sort the knee out. After a visit to my doctors I was referred for an MRI scan and the results were back. It was indeed pretty traumatic cartilage damage – tears from front to back, side to side, ripped and very inflamed. No wonder I couldn’t walk around or ride a bike properly. The consultant advised me to stop running and that he could sort it all out with an arthroscopy and that was all booked for April 2017

Only trouble was, I had a cycling holiday planned for the end of April, but then in a stroke of complete luck I got a cancellation and I was booked into Fairfield Hospital at the end of February.

Wow, what an experience – the above image was taken in the first couple of days when you needed to keep the bandage on, when I took it off the leg looked like this:

It was a little bit swollen, but nothing too serious, no pain whatsoever and I could walk around unaided – I even walked out of the hospital on my own 3 hours after coming out of surgery.

To think I had a camera in one side, a small tool and drill into the other (oh yes, forgot to mention that they drilled into my bones as an extra add on to encourage new cartilage growth) and that was all that was left is quite incredible.

I visited the physio after 10 days and was given the all clear to ride again, so I did, nice and slowly to begin with, but within a week or so I was back up to normal speed and endurance. All I have left are two small scars and a little swelling – like I said – WOW !

The cancellation means that I can now go to Mallorca and ride in the sunshine as planned and that will be a fitting return after the disappointment of recent years.

The House

We completed and grabbed our keys a few days before Xmas, but only actually moved into the new house in the new year – that allowed us to get some new carpets and flooring sorted and to decorate the rooms – lots of other stuff to sort yet, but we love our new house – open fields in front of us, huge garden for the kids to play and run around it, big double garage/workshop for me and lots of privacy – we could not be happier.

More Tattoos

You will remember my tattoo project from last year, well I am now half way through completing the “stars” part of it. Last year I had three small stars on my inner forearm, each one to represent my boys. This year, I have had a large star on my chest as a tribute to my wife, and I am not in the process of linking them all up with a half sleeve of stars … only the big one and three small ones will be colored but when it is done, it’s gonna look incredible. I still have a couple more sessions booked in, probably 4-5 hours of work needed yet, but this is where we are up to now.

Ramping It Up …

It’s only around 7 weeks until I depart for the shores of France and the mountains of the Pyrenees to take on Stage 8 of this year’s Tour de France.

My training has been consistent and steady, nothing immense but more importantly very few weeks at all with little or no riding (this week excepted). I am confident in terms of distance now – 100km is right back on my radar as something that is really easy to complete and I am feeling strong.

My injuries all seem to be under control and the strength and speed on the bike is improving week upon week.

Last weekend saw me complete three very good rides, especially the longer one which was done at a record speed for me (in excess of 28 kmh) without any flare-ups or problems afterward.

data

Obviously, the next 7 weeks will be spent working more and more on my core and hill work – I have the endurance for the ride, I now need to train specifically for the hills and the long, long time in the saddle.

Yesterday saw the completion of my cycling themed tattoo – it has taken 5 sittings of two hours each with a fantastic artist and the end product is something I am really pleased with.

full tattoo

I don’t think I am finished with tattoo’s just yet, I still have two specific things that I want to have on me at some point, but I think for now this looks amazing and really does make me smile with happiness.

Due to work and other issues, I have only managed two short commute rides, but a bit of rest after last weeks loading will do my battered body no harm at all in the long run.

 

My new tattoo …

For as long as I can remember I have wanted a tattoo on my chest, but for loads of reasons, I just never have got around to doing it.

Last summer I sorted it out in my head and got an idea of the design that I wanted and started to look for some artists who might be able to do it for me. Had chats with several and they ranged from pretty clueless to fairly good.

I then got a message with a recommendation for a chap called Malcolm Brown and so I got in touch. Malc works from his home address in a purpose built studio at the back and I could not have chosen a better man for the job.

You can see a bit more about him HERE

Anyway, such is his quality that he was booked up fully from last year through to Spring of this year, so I have had to wait to see him and last night was my first sitting.

Now this isn’t my first tattoo, back in 2007 when I completed my first Ironman I got the “M-Dot” logo on the top of my arm and I couldn’t really remember whether it hurt or not, so I was a little apprehensive, but excited last night.

The sitting took 2 hours and the piece isn’t finished yet by a long way – I have 5 more sittings to come, so lots more detail, shading and improvements ahead.

This is the result of the first session last night:

Tattoo - First Session

and this morning after a great nights sleep it looks even better:

Tattoo - Day After

The teeth of the chain ring, all the chain links and the “wounds” are the next thing to be done in the next session, then we need to exit the chain out of the back of my shoulder and fix it onto a cassette on my back … then we tackle the M-Dot with some other additions … it will look amazing when it is completed.

Thankfully, I was fine with the pain, in fact, I found parts of it quite relaxing and maybe “nice” is the wrong word, but certainly not unpleasant !

When I came out, I checked my phone and to my delight I had received 4 donations to start my fund raising campaign and that’s now 9% of the target raised which is excellent.

Remember, you can sponsor the #TourmaletTank by clicking HERE