THE LONG PUSH 2012 is sponsored by...

THE LONG PUSH has been sponsored and supported by the following companies and individuals...



If you would like to sponsor me on my journeys, please contact me at the_long_push@btinternet.com

justgiving - sponsor me now!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Long Push 2012 on Facebook

Just a quick reminder that there is pretty much daily activity on the Facebook page at:

The Long Push 2012 on Facebook

...where you will find me sharing links to raise autism awareness among the longboarding/skateboarding community, and links/videos about longboarding/skateboarding with those in the autism community.

Working on new blog posts. Keep watching these spaces.



Thursday, 26 January 2012

First two landmarks reached for THE LONG PUSH!

And by landmarks I don't mean Blackpool Tower and Lytham Windmill! Although both of those I'll be passing of course on my journey. Oh no. What I mean is, while I was writing another blog post the other night I realised we were close to reaching two great achievements for the THE LONG PUSH so far. So, partly because of this and partly because my PC kept crashing (GRRRR!) I 'shelved' that post for another day, to wait until we reached these two points, and today we reached the second one.

The 'Just Giving' page for THE LONG PUSH was set up on the 18th of January. Yesterday, Wednesday 25th January, we reched the first £100 in donations! AWESOME! Thank you so much to all who have donated so far. I'm thrilled skinny! Thank you for supporting the ride and for showing your belief in me. It's still very early days yet. There's a long way to go to achieve my goal of trying to reach the £5000 target and much to do to try and generate more donations and sponsorship.  Speaking of which...

THANK YOU! And don't forget, by ticking the 'Gift Aid' box you can generate even more towards the charity with every donation
Three companies have been the first to come forward to offer sponsorship to THE LONG PUSH 2012. This is more AWESOME news! I'm just waiting for all the 'I's to get dotted and all the 'T's to get crossed before I make any formal announcements. Suffice to say though that I am again, thrilled skinny about this and looking forward to being able to make those announcements.

Any downtime for getting out and training for the ride during February is going to be spent contacting more corporate sponsors to try and raise the profile of  THE LONG PUSH and generate some larger donations. I have lots of ideas of ways to generate donations, large and small. Every £1 counts. So with that in mind I'm thinking about getting some silicone wristbands made to support the ride. I've decided to adopt the colours black and yellow for this years ride. So I'm looking to get 500 of these made up. Probably 250 adult sized and 250 youth sized. The cost of getting these made is around about £230, but sold at £1 each they could end up making another £270 for the charity. I'm hoping I can find a corporate sponsor who will fund the cost of the wristbands OR someone who can supply them at a cheaper rate. Hopefully one of the corporate sponsors will help with this. 

My question to readers of this blog is, if I got these wristbands made up, would you buy one for £1? The number would be limited to 500 and I would look at posting them out to people for an added 50p in the UK. If anyone outside of the UK wanted one I'd work something out. To give me an idea if you think this is a viable option, please just say 'yes' in the comments box at the end of this blog post. Then I'll make a decision depending on the response. Thanks.

THE LONG PUSH on Facebook
100 up. Now to 150.
 The second 'landmark' was reached overnight last night, when Tara Holian Lewis became the 100th person to 'like' THE LONG  PUSH Facebook page! ( I can stop spamming other peoples walls now!) 
Again thanks to everyone who has clicked the 'like' icon so far. Please keep on sharing the link to the Facebook page and to this blog and we'll see just how many more people THE LONG PUSH can reach. I've started to expand it myself now by posting about it on music forums and motorcycle forums that I use. Please feel free to do the same and widen the scope of people the message reaches. Autism affects so many families, from all different backgrounds. The more people we reach the more families will benefit from the support able to be offered by FAMILIES CONNECTED.

Thanks once again for all the support shown so far. Onwards and upwards. Here's hoping for breaks in the rain to get wheels on concrete again. Watch this space for more blog posts soon.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Day 2 Training: Monday 16th January. Sector 2 - 4.0 miles

Todays Set-Up:

LUSH 'Samba' deck 42"
SEISMIC trucks (Grey springs)
SECTOR 9 'Goddess' wheels 76mm 74A
BONES RED bearings

Kinda like buses; you wait ages and then all of  a sudden two come at once. So after having this crazy idea sometime in November and actually launching it on 4th December 2011, I finally managed to get the first two training days in over a three day period! Still the camera catastrophy's continue. Once again my attempt to put a video blog on for todays ride have been thwarted by gremlins, so instead, you'll have to make do with this image of me talking into the camera and imagine my dulcit tones (or is that just dull tone?) instead of writing the words. You know that scene in High Fidelity where Bruce Springsteen appears at the end of John Cusacks's bed to speak to him in his dream? Like that. 'cept I'm not a global superstar icon known as 'The Boss'!

Is this camera rolling??
So, how did Day 2 of training go? I'm glad you asked. It was cold again. Damn cold. Colder than day 1. Minus 2 degrees C this morning! And that nearly caused a problem shortly after setting off from the Banks Roundabout, where Sector 1 ended and Sector 2 starts.
Helmet on? Check
Shades on? Check.
Runkeeper started to track ride? Check
MP3 player? I said...MP3 player? Bugger! Forgot it again!  Note to self: "Life without music is almost no life at all. Pack it next time dude!"

There wasn't a strong wind, but what wind there was was blowing straight towards me, and the cold air aggravated the slight asthma that troubles me at times. I was having trouble breathing at first, but after loosening clothing around my neck and probably just getting used to the temperature, it settled down. Next was a potential hardware problem. I tried the LUSH 'Samba' today as part of my plan to try different set-ups to see what is going to work best overall for the full 100 mile journey. I'd used this board before on this stretch very briefly in November, and although i knew it worked well at the time (with a 30MPH wind behind me), I'd forgotten about a rattle that comes from the front on the board. I've heard it before, checked to see what it might be and failed to work it out. Today was no exception. I stopped to have a look but couldn't work out what it was. It sounds like something simple like a loose truck bolt nut, but it isn't! It could be something to do with the front Seismic truck, as they use springs instead of rubber bushings like the majority of skateboard trucks, and I don't much about fixing Seismics. I decided however that it was nothing major and that I'd rather continue on than go back and swap back to the LANDYACHT again for today. After a while the rattle and I seemed to settle a bit more and I started making more progress. This short 4 mile sector took me along a cycle path by the side of the A59, a dual carriageway linking Southport to Preston, some 19 miles away. The path itself is smooth but there was a lot of loose branches, stones, mud from farms and huge dollops of horse manure to negotiate along the way! Very fast traffic passing by too. That MP3 player would have been good for drowning out the sound of the passing traffic.I took some photos and filmed a little. But having to do it all myself is a bit of a time waste. You never know though, you may be lucky enough to see it some time! Or not!

I was doing OK. I went passed the end of the dual carriageway section and onto the next part where the road just changes to a wide two lane 50 MPH road. The narrow pavement on the west side of the road was still ok, and I passed by all the garden centres along this stretch with no problems, until the path just... stopped. Now normally, all that would mean was that I crossed over to the other (east) side and carried on. But today, the east side pavement was still damp or frozen. I crossed over and gave it a go, but in some places I was just skating on ice.The path was narrow and sketchy. There was way too much risk of sliding out and getting injured, so I was left with litle choice but to get off and walk the last 1/2 mile. I was a bit disapointed with that, but...I'm bound to come across issues like this from time to time. And anyway, look at this truck that I walked past on the way?

Cool huh?
 RunKeeper tracked my time of arrival at Tareleton traffic lights for the 4 miles of the sector at just below 33 minutes, and that included a couple of camera stops along the way. I took a road sign photo just past the end of Sector 2 and at the beginning of Sector 3. Only 9 miles to Preston? Sounds encouraging. Still, I was stood there by the traffic lights at Tarleton wondering what to do next. I felt...OK actually now. I'd warmed up and was thinking about riding back the 4 miles in the opposite direction! Partly because it would be good training and partly because, I wouldn't have to pay for a taxi back, or be embarressed at not having enough dosh in my wallet when I got back again! I thought about the next sector, Sector 3, which is only another short 3 miles. I could have caried on and done at too, but then I remembered that the bulk of the path for this sector was on the east side, so that would most likely be frozen or at least damp too. So that was my decision made then. I could have murdered a cup of coffee, but instead settled for water and a Tracker bar, before setting off, walking the first 1/2 mile and then getting my wheels back down for the return push. Actually, I found myself doing more pumping going back in this direction. The slight tail wind ws behind me and the soft flex of the Samba helped drive me forward at a decent rate. I felt like I'd made it back much quicker, but RunKeeper timed it at nearly 32 minutes again, so there wasn't much in it either way. Overall the Samba was good. No complaints about the deck at all. I'd always thought that the Seismic's were a bit twitchy before, but now, compared to the Bear Grizzly's they seemed solid. But great for pumping. I love the Sector 9 Goddess wheeels, but I was thinking that maybe they were a little too soft at 74A for this ride and that the harder (but still soft in the scheme of things) 83A Orangatang's might have helped me to get a better drive along. Something to think about for me there.

So overall, what have I learnt over the two training days? Well I've done 14.2 miles on the two rides over a three day period. And considering this is the most I've pushed before, I don't actually hurt too badly. One thing I DO know I have to do is to learn to push with my right leg as well as my left, otherwise I'm gonna end up with one leg like Popeye and the other like Olive Oil! Changing 35 years of habit is not going to be easy though. I can see me spending some time on a car park somewhere trying to learn to push with both legs, without falling or crashing into something!

10 miles out, only 9 to Preston
Definitley need to do some other workout stuff to help. The weather is going to turn wet again for the rest of this week, so that gives me time to give my legs a rest from skating for a few days. Maybe do some cycling towards the end of the week to keep my legs moving, but with less pressure on my feet. And if there's a gap in available training days again then I think a blog about my motivation for this ride is probably overdue. So hopefully that will be my next entry in a few days.

Here's the map for Sector 2:

View Long Push: Sector 2 - 4.0 miles in a larger map

Daily activity/link sharing etc on the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/303916856296557
Please go take a look and help me get to 100 'Likes' before the end of January.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Day 1 Training: Saturday 14th January. Sector 1 - 6.2 miles

Todays Set-Up:

LANDYACHTZ 'Switchblade' deck    
BEAR 'Grizzly' 180 trucks
ORANGATANG 'Durian' wheels 76mm 83A

Finally, for the first time since I launched myself into this project, the winds died down, the rain stopped for 48 hours and the sun shone high in a bright blue sky to dry out the pavements and give me the conditions I needed to start my training for the ride.  So here I am, on the Coastal Road roundabout in Birkdale, Southport at the start of Sector 1 of the ride. Beautiful day huh? It was freezing! Only 3 degrees C, but with a few thin layers and my thickest gillet I was ready for it. Function: not fashion!

Of course, everything didn’t exactly go to plan. I left my phone charger in work the night before! Doh! Meaning I didn’t get it fully charged before I came out, and with this being a 100% solo training day, and the conditions being so perfect, I wanted to try and document as much of it as I could myself. So by the time I’d taken this photo and attempted to film a short snippet for Youtube, the battery on my phone was on its last legs! I had been intending to track the sector using Runkeeper on my phone, but now this was impossible. I needed whatever battery power that was left in case of any emergencies, and to ring a taxi to bring me back at the end of the sector. And that wasn’t the end of my technical troubles. Oh no.

In fine tradition, technology well and truly farted in my face as far as documenting the day went. Apart from the phone battery, the digital camera I tried to use came up with the ‘MEMORY FULL’ message within about 5 minutes of setting off! And despite looking like it had recorded my vids at the beginning and the end of the Sector, when I tried to review them, neither had recorded! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Even weirder then that one in the middle did! Not to be denied though, I had a spare camera! Thought I’d thought of everything but….tried to use it and …….nothing recorded! Swapped the SD card over with the other camera……….nothing recorded! Bugger! So for today, here are the stills from the day. When I manage to edit the (brief) clips I got together, I’ll add the vid into the bottom of the blog post. Watch this space.

So at around about 1.30pm on Saturday 14th January I took the first pushes on the longest distance longboard ride I’ve done so far, the 6.2 miles along the Coastal Road and along Water Lane to the roundabout at Banks on the A59. Before this, the longest I had ever pushed a skateboard previously was probably about 2 miles, from the house I grew up in with my parents in Birkdale Village, along this same Coastal Road to the original Solid Surf Skatepark. Solid Surf was a (badly built in retrospect) concrete skatepark with some additional fibreglass ramps. It opened in 1978 and closed its doors finally in 1999. The early days there are some of my most precious memories of skateboarding. Hot summers, great friends, my Z-Pig skateboard with Gullwing trucks and Belair Lipbomb wheels, (seen in the background of some vids on this blog!), the sound of the old wooden roller coaster at Pleasureland nearby,  the tide crossing the coastal road and flooding the skatepark! Learning frontside airs completely by accident in one of the fibreglass half-pipes! This was our ‘Dogtown’. We were just kids. Skateboarding was a ‘craze’ which wouldn’t last. And yet here I was today, 34 years later, pushing past the site it once occupied. You can find out more about Solid Surf Skatepark here: http://www.solidsurf.co.uk/ The link will take you to the Facebook page for it that myself and my friend Neil started a while ago. Not much on it, but one day we’ll populate it a bit more. Good times.

So I passed the site of the old Solid Surf Skatepark, passed the Ocean Plaza retail park, tried to film myself weaving between pedestrians and cyclist passing under the pier which, naturally failed due to my camera catastrophy, and continued on out onto one of the most isolated parts of the whole 100 mile ride. The Coastal Road was built on reclaimed land that was originally a Victorian tip. This is why the road itself is so lumpy, because it’s settled over time. On a board on the pavement though I didn’t notice this. I just continued pushing on, past the old sandworks and the RSPB bird sanctuary and the ‘twitchers’ with their massive cameras, up to the end off the Coastal Road at the roundabout where the Plough pub sits looking over it.

This roundabout is a nightmare at the best of times so, discretion being the better part of valour, I got off and walked across the road for the last push along the side of the Preston bypass (A59) to my destination, the roundabout at Banks and the Texaco petrol station. So how did I feel as I sat there on the wallof the petro,l station? Not bad, not bad at all. Very chuffed at making it. The set-up I’d used had worked well. Only complaint might be that the Bear ‘Grizzly’ trucks were a bit too twitchy. But then, I haven’t made ANY adjustments to these at all, since I got the board and, it is a freeride set up after all, not the choice for the hardcore distance skaters. I’m just using what I got. But hey, on the next sector I might try a different board/set-up. That’s partly what these training days are for, to find out what works best.

All I had to do then was...get back to the my car at the start! Ordered a taxi and then realised that I was £1.40 short of the fare when we got back! Embarrassed already! But the taxi driver was very cool. We’d been talking about the how the ride was for charity, so he let me off with it. Nice man.

Because of my attempts at trying the cameras on the first part of the ride, I didn’t bother timing the sector at all. And the vid I took at the end of the ride didn’t record either. So next time…next time…I’ll be prepared! And next time will hopefully be tomorrow, Monday 16th January. Sector 2 is the next 4 miles. Sector 3 is another 3 miles. Two short sectors that I could do separately or both together, or I could do the 4 miles of Sector 2, take a break for lunch and come back, making it 8 miles. Right now, my left (pushing) leg knows it did 6 miles yesterday! Despite a soaking in Radox (hmmmm, potential sponsor maybe?) and deep heat rub ointment I can still feel it, but that was only to be expected. 4 miles might be just right. I’ll be fine. Will keep you posted.

Here's the map for Sector 1:

View Long Push: Sector 1 - 6.2 miles in a larger map


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Power of Skateboarding.

Somebody advised me recently to keep this blog focused on my project and my personal planning for The Long Push, and for the most part, that's what I'm going to do. The Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/303916856296557 is better for 'sharing' different links. So that's what that is going to be used for. And for pointing people towards the blog of course.

While I've been posting about The Long Push on other forums however, someone told me about the A.Skate Foundation.
I'd never heard of these people before, but now, seeing what they do,I have nothing but admiration for them.

This video...this video is truly very special, and I want to share it with anyone reading this blog. Particularly the non-skaters among readers here. This the power of skateboarding at its very strongest.

Truly inspirational.

Crys, I am in awe.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

First 'teaser' vid now up on Youtube!

This has taken me all day, so...appreciate! :o)
(Some overlay text got screwed up in the upload to Youtube but....it's a first attempt)

'Here Comes The Rain' - The Cult (1985)

Today has not been a good day. Yet another day when it's been pouring down with rain here. Another week gone by without urethane meeting concrete, and it's starting to get frustrating now. So, instead of any skating I've done...
...laundry!........Tried to self-teach myself video editing using VideoPad on a PC that keeps freezing and telling me I have "very low disc space"!.........Opened the Stollen that's been sat in a cupboard since before Christmas..........And finally been driven to open a bottle of cider by the beginning of a new season of 'Dancing on Ice'! And this is without mentioning any autism related issues.

The video editing is really frustrating. I'm sure on a decent PC it's a piece of cake, but given that this PC of mine practically needs pedals to keep it going, it's not so easy. The programme keeps freezing. I have to wait to just complete a small action, and you can almost guarantee I'm gonna get a 'Not Responding' message just before I save what I've done! Grrrrrrrrrr All I can do is try to delete some old files/programmes to clear some space up (easier said than done. It freezes during that process too!). So as far as the 'Long Push' 'teaser' video I'm trying make for the Youtube channel goes...watch this space!

On a more positive note, I'm awaiting a phone call from Carol McKiernon, the head of the Families Connected charity tonight, to work out how to go about organising donations from the blog page. Looks like there will be a link to a Just Giving page soon. Hopefully before the end of this week.

I've made a start on sending e mails out to potential sponsors too. Should be a couple going out each week now, so again, watch this space, as all sponsors will be mentioned on the blog homepage and on the Facebook page.

I have a full week at work this week, but then a week off. So I intend to get at least the first two Sectors ridden by the end of that week! I'll film as much as I can, but I need to keep the pace up too, as part of the reason for doing these sectors is to gauge the time the whole ride is going to take.

Here's to sunshine and dry roads....


Monday, 2 January 2012

The Long Push 2012 Route Plan - (First Draft)

What it says! The first draft of my proposed route...

View The LONG PUSH 2012 Route Plan - First Draft in a larger map

Starting from the Coastal Road at Birkdale in Southport, I will be heading to Preston, back up to the coast at Lytham St. Annes and through to Blackpool. Along Blackpool promenade, (possibly stopping at Big Woody's Skateboard Shop on the way through), and then onto Fleetwood where I intend to stay overnight. Any offers of somewhere to get my head down for the night will be gratefully considered! :o)

The return leg then sees me leaving Fleetwood towards Poulton Le-Fylde, and onto Kirkham, before heading back into Preston again and then back along the A565 to bring me back into Southport.

The ride has been broken down into small sectors, so that I can plan breaks and know when I'm going to be able to do little things like... get food, and when I'm not, on the way. (I'm intending to travel as light as possible.) Between now and the ride itself I'm intending to ride as many of the sectors as I can individually, to try different set-ups and get a real feel for what each sector is going to be like, and of course to work out how long each sector is going to take to complete.

At the moment this draft route works out at around 85 miles. So I need to find another 15 somewhere! Glutton for punishment that I am! I'm happy to take suggestions if anyone can come up with a way to get the extra 15 miles in without going too much off track. Also, this is only a first draft. I was out in the car on a very wet New Years Day, doing some more route planning and I came across a 2 mile stretch between Preston and Freckleton where there was no pavement and fast traffic. So I'm gonna have to yomp that bit until there's a surface I can use again. I don't mind that too much. I can live with having to get off at times, but I'd rather keep it down to 1/4 mile stretches if possible. The aim is to keep my wheels on the ground as much as I can, but not get thrown out into traffic and risk life and limb!

So far, I've only driven the route up to St. Annes. I still have to drive the rest of the route to check for other hiccups to the planned route. So things may change yet. We'll have to see.

So there you have it. First sight of the planned route. I'm resisting the little voice in my head saying "what the hell are you thinking, man???"



Project 52...ish and how The Long Push will utilise social networking

So that’s the Christmas and New Years festivities over with. I’m just about to pack ‘Christmas’ back into its two plastic carrier bags and Christmas tree box, and put it back in the wardrobe and that space under the bed that 'Christmas' lives in until next year. And hope that the Mayans weren’t right about December 21st 2012! http://www.december2012endofworld.com/mayan-calendar-2012

Time to really get this ‘Long Push 2012’ er…rollin’!

I’m very much aware of three things:

1. How much I need to clear my desktop and work station!
2. That I’m going to have to do a LOT of training in order to complete this journey
3. That I need to promote it really well to achieve my two goals, of raising autism awareness and raising £2000 or more for the chosen charity.

So starting, typically, with number 3, this is how The Long Push is going to use the social networking sites to promote the journey.

This here blog is the main focus for detailing the ride. This is where I intend to write up all the build up to the ride and help increase awareness among readers of how much impact an autism diagnosis to a family member can have within a family, and the difficulties it can pose for the autistic person themselves. Of course, the general idea of blogs is to personalise or diarise events and share them with the world, and that’s fine about the ride itself. I’m very conscious however that, although I want to get a message across, that I DON’T personalise it too much, because it’s not actually about me, or mine or my partner’s situation. Each family’s experience of autism in the family is unique and the LAST thing I want is to appear as though I’m an expert on the condition. I’m not. It’s a continual learning process. But I will give examples of situations from personal experience, but change the names of those involved. I’m sure you will all understand that.

So, this here blog is the PROJECT 52…ish element of The Long Push 2012. I’ll post a blog at least once a week, with others when I have something to say. I can see the blogs building up in the weeks leading up to the journey too. So please bookmark this page and follow me here at www.thelongpush.blogspot.com/

Facebook: A modern day necessary evil! But useful for promoting events like this. The Facebook page is there to lead people to the Blog page more than anything else, but it’s also useful for quick updates and sharing relevant longboarding and autism links. And the ‘all pervasive’ nature of Facebook means it’s great for reaching people, so it’s great to promote the journey. Please go ‘LIKE’ the page and share it with anyone you feel will be interested. www.facebook.com/303916856296557

I’m quite new to Twitter, and don’t use it very much at present, but I’ll post a tweet when a new blog post is up and Twitter will be good for posting live updates on the days of the ride itself. So please go and add @TheLongPush and follow me on Twitter.

I’ve started to film as much as I can already, so that I can make up some decent videos for Youtube. This will by my first experience of video editing though, so I’m not sure how well they will turn out! I know I need some help with the filming process itself. Kinda hard to do ALL the filming myself without it turning out in a nausea inducing ‘Cloverfield’ stylee! So for now the Youtube channel is mainly showing ‘likes’, but when anything does up there I’ll post a link. www.youtube.com/user/TheLongPush

So there you have it. More social networking than you can shake a stick at! All I have to now is find to time between the weather, work, family and updating all these pages to skate!

Wish me luck!

Next Blog: 'The Long Push 2012 - Route Plan (First draft) coming real soon.