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!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Training days 29 and 30 update.

I'd started my week off work last week with the hope of doing something like 60 - 70 miles, but events and the weather conspired against me more than I would have liked. I managed an unexpected 8 miles on Thursday the 19th, and I was determined to try and salvage as much as I could for the remaining days off.

Day 29 Training - Saturday 21st July: 11.15 miles
Saturday afternoon and I found myself with a couple of hours in the afternoon before going round to see friends in the evening.
The sun was out and it was hot. I parked up at Ocean Plaza and decided to try something a bit different in the 2 hours I had, so I pushed away from the town centre, along the coastal road cycle path up to where the coastal road meets the Formby Bypass, with the intention of coming back the same way. I'd been in a rush to get moving, but when I got within about a mile of the half way point I suddenly realised I hadn't put any suncream on! I've learnt from experience that this back-fires on me if I don't use it. Today the sun was hot but even on other days, I need it to protect my face from the wind. Without it I end up feeling hot as hell with a face like a beetroot! Not an attractive look. So I found a local Spar shop and bought some, and took the opportunity to get another flyer up on their local community noticeboard while I was there. Never miss a trick!


Fully protected again I set off on the return push. A pretty easy 11 miles really, with just a twinge of stinging in my pushing foot by the end, but nothing three bottles of Brothers cider wouldn't cure later on.

Day 30 Training - Monday 23rd July: 21 miles  
My last day before returning to work, and the forecast was for it to be dry between Southport and Fleetwood, with rain further north. The wind was blowing northwards, so behind me pushing me along towards Fleetwood. I hadn't really planned to do this today, so I wasn't 100% prepared, but I decided to head off anyway, but with full intention of getting the bus back, and not skating back into the headwind! This was always going to be a one way journey today. I set off from home and skated up to the coast road where I took this photograph...

Some 9 months after taking the photograph on the frontpage of this blog, here I was, pushing along the same route, on what was almost a dummy run for Day 1 of my 100 mile journey, but this time, loaded as I will be on the day. A few minutes later my ride was delayed while I stopped to get another photo at the 'Official' start of The Long Push 2012, McDonalds, Ocean Plaza, but technical difficulties delayed me a while while I struggled to get a 3G connection. Curse you Samsung, curse you!

Anyway, putting my trust in the weathermen, but with dark clouds hovering ominously over Preston, I set off along the rest of the coast road. I even had some success with the Sporting Sail on the far end, but with it secured to my belt this time, not my legs! Pushed through Sector 1 and onto Sector 2 and  new stopping point for the Saturday, day 1, Tarleton Library. Stopped for a buttee and to put a poster in the library and back off again. The threat of rain was still there, but it was holding off.

Coming out of Tarleton  and back onto the narrow path at the side of the A59, I got a bit over excited at the sight of a bit of a downhill section. My route is mostly pretty flat, so this was a big deal! Had to be careful here because it is very close to the road and the traffic moves pretty fast here. So here was the problem. All the rain we've had here recently has made all the shrubbery and grass grow like mad, and all that has done has made these narrow paths...narrower! I was picking up speed, like you do on a longboard with big ol' 75mm wheels and could see a branch sticking out across the path! Yikes! I was going too fast to bail, just had to brace myself and hope I was going to get through it. I did, but not without getting a load of stings all around my left calf. Ouch! But it could have been MUCH worse!

Just around the bend and bridge the path by the side of the road is still pretty narrow, and every time I got speed up there was a huge kerb to stop and negotiate. This was where I made my most spectacular, ahem,  'dismount' of the day! My mongo footbraking skills deserted me, and I fell back into the bushes, with my board shooting out ahead of me, but fortunately, not towards the road. Very embarrassing but, note made to self, "If in doubt, WALK! It's not worth sending my board out into the road and causing an accident". I'd never forgive myself for that.

I pushed on up to Penwortham and put a couple more posters up in shops. By this time the sun was coming out and the temperature had soared! The long push up the steep hill into Fishergate in Preston was hard and I was feeling the effects of the heat. I was starting to lose my balance a bit and starting with a headache, so once I got to the centre of Preston I decided to quit for the day and go for food at the Weatherspoons. here's my route for the day

View Day 30 Training: Southport to Preston in a larger map

I'd covered a good 21 miles, (not 41 miles like Google Maps says for some reason known only to Google!), which I should be pleased with, but part of me is still wondering if I wimped out on this training and that I should have kept going. I probably could have, but I was also feeling more of a burning in the sole of my pushing foot and didn't see any point in pushing myself into getting blisters, especially not less than three weeks away from my actual Long Push. I got the bus back home, showered and then found myself with enough time to get the Triumph out and do the same journey again, and beyond, to the Monday night bike meet at St. Annes! And give out a couple more Long Push posters at the Fresh Cafe there!

So it was a long day, but good in that I covered my furthest distance since the Blackpool to Southport 39.2 miles. I reckon I've got enough time before the 11th August for one more longish distance training day and then the others will be shorter in the week before. Equipment wise I had no problems today, although I'm going to put a brand new set of the Loaded Jehu bearings into the aluminium cored Orangatang In Heats in the last few days before The Long Push itself. So the next 10 days or so are all about getting  everything in place and sorting the last few things out before the 11th comes along faster than I expected.

Full detail of The Long Push final route plan coming very soon.

Finally of course, thanks as ever, to THE LONG PUSH 2012 sponsors, www.bigwoodys.co.uk  www.uk.dcshoes-store.com  www.sporting-sails.com  www.orangatangwheels.com  www.jandrsports.co.uk  and to all who have donated and supported me in any way so far.


Thom Bleasdale - A Rare Photograph of the Soul Leaving the Body

 Just want to take a moment to make this special announcement...
Thom Bleasdale will be showing his first exibition of art photography, skate photography and sculpture at Centrespace Gallery in Bristol from 27th July - August 3rd.

Thom has very kindly offered to sell one of his pieces and donate the proceeds to The Long Push 2012 - Longboarding for Autism Awareness in aid of this year's chosen charity, Families Connected. This is of course, completely awesome of Thom. I wish him the very best success and hope that, if you are able to make it to Centrespace gallery, you will enjoy his exhibition.
Click the following link to Facebook to find out more details of the exhibition
And this link to go to the Thom Bleasdale Art Facebook page

Thanks Thom.

Monday, 23 July 2012

8 days a Week! Friday 20th July.

 Friday 20th July.
The last day of this week long blogathon and a non-skating day, but one with plenty of autism influence and Long Push relevance. 

I had arranged to meet a journalist at 11.30 at sponsors, Big Woody's Skateboard Shop in Blackpool, but seeing as it was also the first day of the school holidays we thought we would try and tie in taking the kids up there too. Rachael wrote a full schedule for the Friday morning on the whiteboard and we went through the times on it the night before, so that everyone knew what was going to happen and so that everyone was ready on time. Despite this, Friday morning came and Steven was still not dressed 10 minutes before we were due to leave, but then he suddenly...was! So we didn't really lose any time. Steven doesn't like us doing anything that we want to do when we go out, so as we didn't know how long I was going to be, and rather than initiate a meltdown, we decided that I would drop Rachael and the kids off in St. Annes, while I went to Woody's to wait for the journo and photographer. 

Rachael was exhausted again, just from the constant running, shouting and general boistrousnous that is Steven in the mornings, especially when we have any kind of deadline to work towards. The drive to St. Annes was...loud, with Steven complaining loudly everytime Ailsa tried to sing along to Lady gaga or whoever else came on the CD that was playing. (Her choice, not mine!) Stopped briefly at Macdonalds Riversway for me to deliver Long Push posters etc.

With them dropped off I was off to Woody's. Had to wait a while for the photographer from the Blackpool Gazette to arrive and it started pouring down with rain while we were waiting. So that prevented us from doing the outside shots that we would have liked to have done. We did a couple outside in the rain then the rest were done in the store, with me looking really wooden and ungainly probably! Bit of a false setting to ride in, but still, Jacquie the journalist was very nice and seemed genuinley interested in the whole project, the store and skateboarding in general, so we have to be hopeful for a good piece in the paper soon.

Back to St. Annes again and I met Rachael and the kids on the promenade. Took them for hot chocolates with marshmallows in a local cafe and then for a last visit to the amusement arcade on the pier. Ailsa loved St. Annes, said she wants to live there. Macdonalds on the way home wasn't the most successful plan. I delivered another Long Push poster and sponsorship letter but then we had a meltdown over 'afters' and Steven's insistance that he had to have a McFlurry after the pancakes he had in the morning, the hot chocolate earlier on, and the Rolo milkshake he had with his meal! He has the mother of all sweet tooth's, which is saying something coming from me! Steven's inflexibiltiy of thought is part of his condition. We know that, but dealing with it isn't any easier, and truth be told, this spoilt the day for all of us.

Later on Friday evening I was going to a late showing of The Dark Knight Rises. I'm a total geek, and couldn't wait until Sunday when Rachael and myself were going to go together. Of course, now we know that some people in Aurora Colorado did the same thing, but lost their lives in a tragedy at the hands of a madman. So with this, the last entry in my '8 Days a Week' blogathon, I'd like to pay tribute to those people, and send my thoughts and best wishes to the familes of all those killed or injured in that terrible and mindless tragedy. Incidents like this put life in perspective for all of us. Live each day to the maximum, because none of us ever know if it will be our last. R.I.P.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

8 Days a Week! Thursday 19th July - Day 28 Training!

Thursday 19th July
Woke up to find it wet outside again, and with drizzle in the air. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Getting fed up with this now. The aim for this week was to have done a couple 10 - 15 miles rides and then, today, Thursday to do a full day 1 dummy run from Southport to Fleetwood! But given the way this week has panned out..no chance!

Had some 'life stuff' to do in the morning (READ: laundry!), so got that out of the way and then it was time to pick Steven up from his last day of year 7 mainstream school. From September he'll be starting in the specialist school of our choice. So we all had to say some goodbye's and thank you's to the teachers and staff who have bent over backwards to provide support for Steven while he's been there. We have no complaints at all. He just needs more than they can provide with the best will in the world. They will be sorry to see him leave. How Steven feels about, none of us will know.

After lunch the sun came out and I found myself toying with the idea of getting out on the board instead of using the mountain bike. Even put shorts on! (It's really warm here, every day. Just wet as aswell!)  So quite unexpectedly, I ended up doing just over 8 miles around the seafront and Victoria Park, for Day 28 of my training. Just as I stopped it started to rain again, so it was time well spent. And the muscle issue didn't give me anyy trouble. Only problem was that, because I wasn't expecting to go training I'd eaten a big meal at lunchtime. Not ideal really. But 8 miles I wasn't expecting to do, so there's a positive. No photos from today though, sorry.

The evening was marred by tantrums, screaming and door slamming. This is the worst part, and the hardest to deal with. Sometimes the reason is obvious. Often it isn't. It's an underlying anxiety that we don't know about because Steven won't talk about it. These are the times when it's difficult to hold things together and to hold back all the instinctive reactions. But we have to.

Friday is the day we meet the press in Blackpool. Fingers crossed they turn up!

8 Days a Week! Wednesday 18th July.

Wednesday 18th July
Woke up to find the ground wet again, and me still feeling tired and stiff as a board from this muscle pull or whatever it is. So yet another non-skating start to the day, on a week I'd specifically taken off work to get as much in as I could!  This is massively frustrating. The weather picked up later and the ground dried out, but there was still a really high wind, so decided to give the muscle injury a bit more rest. If it's wet again tomorow (Thursday), as long as I can move better I think I'm gonna get out on my bike to at least get me moving again, without putting so much impact on my leg. I need to do something! The training week is turning into a disaster. Times like this I have to try and focus on the positives, and there have been some this week.

I spent most of the day with Rachael doing life stuff, paying off our holiday and stuff, until picking Ailsa up from last day of school for the summer. One more day to go for Steven, and his excitement at the prospect of being off school for 6 whole weeks manifested itself in some pretty challenging behaviour. Very hard to deal with.

But, tomorrow is another day...

In other news, The Longboard Crusade guys are on their way and pushing through their 300 mile journey from Jarrow to London. Check on their progress on their Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/TheLongboardCrusade and donate to their cancer research cause here http://www.justgiving.com/thelongboardcrusade

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

8 Days a Week! Tuesday 17th July

Tuesday 17th July
Woke up to the ground being wet and with the ever present threat of more rain in the air...again! But no matter. The previous night I had already accepted that whatever this muscle injury is, it was going to need at least another 24 hours rest to heal, so Rachael and myself compiled a list of other Long Push stuff that I could be doing while not skating. Tuesday morning then was spent doing the following:
  • Writing up the Monday 16th blog post
  • Writing the Birkdale Primary School, 'Story of a Donation' blog post
  • E mailing a press release about The Long Push and the Nationwide donation out to newspapers across the north west
  • Arranging to meet the press at Big Woody's in Blackpool on Friday.

By lunchtime I figured I needed a break from the PC and went to my local Vue Cinema to book myself a ticket for 'The Dark Knight Rises' on Friday 20th. (Huge Batman/DC/Marvel/comic book fan, so this is a must see). Will go see it again with Rachael over the weekend.

3.00pm and it was off to Ailsa's school again, to help with with her second attempt at making a few pennies towards The Long Push. The poster above is the one she designed. They went up around school and we made a banner up to go the front of the table and included some of these in that, as you can see in the other photo. Today we tried a different er 'sales technique' to Aisla just screaming across the playground! This time we were set up on time while the othher parents were waiting to collect their kids. So I waited at the table with the high value stock (!) while Ailsa went around the parents handing out flyers and telling them why we were there.It was an improvement on the £3.40 taken yesterday. By the end, Ailsa's sale had netted another £8.20 towards The Long Push charity fund. Every penny counts. Great work!

Well done Ailsa. We are very proud of what you did.
The rain came down hard again while we were packing up, so no skating was going to get done. Instead it was an evening at home with Rachael, Steven and Ailsa and some more Facebook sharing shennanigans.. Good news on that front is that we now have over 400 likes. Thanks everyone. The target remains 500 likes before I do the 100 mile journey, so keep sharing links and I'l keep trying to spread the word wider too.

PS. 'Ailsa' not pictured at her book sale to protect her anonymity. Please respect that if you know her or her mum and brother. Thanks.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

8 Days a Week! Monday 16th July

Monday 16th July
Rain! And to make matters worse, I woke up with a searing pain in my left (pushing) leg shooting up into my back. Probably just twisted myself funny in the night, but either way it was sore. So probably just as well it wasn't looking like a skating day. An hour and half, a Radox bath and and a smearing of ibuprofen gel later and it was still raining...heavier now. But no worries, because I had an appoinment at 9.00am....

It's the last week of school before the kids break up for the summer holidays. One of the successes of The Long Push has been that a teaching assistant from one of the local primary schools picked up on a Long Push 2012 article that I posted on a local website, www.southport.gb.com and made loads of suggestions to me of ways that she would love to help support the project. One of these was that the school would be willing to support The Long Push. I'm writing a seperate full post about this, so these are just the brief details. So, to cut a long story short, the head teacher was fully supportive of the idea and, with the agreement of the children they arranged a mufty day (where the kids pay 50p to come into school in their own clothes instead of uniform) and donate the money to The Long Push. So today, I went into school assembly to collect a cheque from the school. Awesome! Check the 'Story of a Donation: Birkdale Primary School' post here http://thelongpush.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/story-of-donation-birkdale-primary.html to see the amount the children raised. Huge thanks to all concerned.

I was supposed to be at our last personal training session at 1.30pm, but the pain in my leg meant I had to drop out of that. Shame, but it wouldn't have been wise to try. A couple of days of rest and muscle therapy required I think. But it left me with time to post some stuff on the Long Push Facebook page, mainly the Nationwide donation photo and link to the blog post. Good response to that too.

3.00pm and I had to go and meet Steven's sister, 10 year old Ailsa at school. Ailsa has been itching to do something to support The Long Push. She's already donated some of her own money, and she's written a small piece about what it's like to have a brother on the autism spectrum, which I'll be posting up here for her soon. Over the last week she was getting old books, teddy's and bits of young girls jewellery together. She asked her head teacher if she could sell them in the playground after school, and he agreed. We sat and made a banner with her on Saturday and Ailsa put price tags on everything.  Books were priced from 10p up to 75p and there were trinkets from 5p. Today I had to take all the stuff to school, meet her there to set it up in the playground and help her with her 'garage sale'. Ailsa's sales technique was to scream like a banshee across the playground, "BOOKS AND STUFF FOR SALE!" and "BUY SOME STUFF FOR CHARITY PLEASE". My job was to carry the stuff to and from the car and to explain to the children and parents what it was for. We were late setting up because there had been a big school assembly.  I think we only sold 3 books, but Ailsa made £3.40 because the people who bought them paid more as a donation. The school staff were lovely and came out to see how Ailsa had done. They suggested we went back again tomorrow, so we left our table set up and moved it into the library, ready for another attempt on Tuesday.

No training today then, but still plenty of useful work done. Steven had had a full day at what will be his new school in September today. Change is not something he (or ASD kids in general) accept well, so he was a little unsettled by it, but for once he slept like a baby right through till 7.00am Tuesday, so maybe it tired him out. We were certainly grateful of the extra couple of hours sleep! Just hopefull my leg will have healed itself overnight and the weather will give us a break from rain on Tuesday.

Story of a Donation: Birkdale Primary School - THANK YOU (Part 2)

A few months back in Long Push 2012 history I posted a Long Push thread on a local website,  

One of the people who responded to this was teaching assistant Mrs. Hayward from Birkdale Primary School. She was very positive about the project and very keen to help in any way. It was Mrs. Hayward who helped organise for me to attend the Southport Funfest, and hand out flyers for the day, amongst loads of other suggestions and offers of support. One of these was that she would see if the school would be willing to support The Long Push. We arranged for me to go in an speak to head teacher Mr. Shearan and I caught him briefly one morning. He was very keen and very positive about the whole thing. We arranged for me to attend a morning assembly with my board one day and tell the children all about The Long Push to see if they would help raise some money.

Now, I've seen a few school assembly's. I see quite a few through work, but I've never seen any as positive, vibrant and uplifting as Mr. Sheeran's at Birkdale Primary. It really IS the 'School of Rock!'  His enthusiasm is infectious and he injects assemblys with his love of all things Sci-Fi and rock music, with the children celebrating their weekly achievements to the song, 'Star of the Week', while Mr. Sheeran plays the riffs on his electric guitar, wich sounded uncannilly like...'Highway to Hell'! :o) 

Sing it to yourself...

"Playing easy, 
working hard, 
is your name written on the card"


And as if to seal his rock star credentials, the song even ends with Mr. Sheeran throwing his plectrum, Jack Black like, into the 'audience'. Priceless! A friend of mine who has children at the school was sat next to me in the assembly and we're both huge rock fans. Both of us were howling with laughter. It was just...brilliant!

Anyway, I stood up and had my 5 minutes, explaining about my 100 mile longboard journey. The kids had never seen a longboard, and I'd taken the 55" Lush Kilima in as well as the Landyachtz board I'm using, so they were pretty amazed at the size of it. After assembly, myself and Mr. Sheeran spoke with the School Council and they agreed to do something to support The Long Push

Move forward to Monday 16th July and it was time for me to return to another assembly. The children had had a 'mufty day' on Friday 13th and had paid 50p to come into school in their own clothes instead of uniform. So today the school presented me with a cheque for £120 for The Long Push 2012/Families Connected, from the proceeds of their day, and a Birkdale Primary sticker which will be going on my board or helmet for the journey. Fantastic!

Huge thanks to all the children and staff at Birkdale Primay School for supporting The Long Push. Special thanks to Mrs. Hayward and Mr. Shearan, for their enormous support and positivity for the project. I was hugely impressed with what I saw at Birkdale Primary School. If the children who attend there take forward the positivity and energy that Mr. Sheeran injects into the school we will have a future generation to be proud of. From myself and on behalf of Families Connected...


Monday, 16 July 2012

8 Days a Week! Sunday 15th July - Day 27 Training

Day 27 Training: 4.55 miles

"4.5? 4.5 miles, is that it?", I hear you ask. Yup, you read that right, and not without reason.

As any seasoned skateboarder will tell you, there are some days when you get on your board and you just... shouldn't have! Days when, whatever your level of experience, motivation or desire to make 'that trick' you've been striving for for months, desert you. The board and your feet are just NOT in harmony with each other. They are strangers.

Today was one of those days.

Mostly the day was a chance for Rachael and I to spend some time together without the children, and that's what we did. Watched the Moto GP from Mugello (we both love watching the bike racing), spent some time in the park and went for food. It had been dry and sunny all day, but there was a bit of a wind. About 7.30 I tore myself away from 'Titanic' (sorry folks, but I like that movie) and drove up to the seafront to get the board out for the evening and see how far I could get. One of the things I've picked up over the last year is a bit of knowledge about wind speeds. I now know that anything from about 12mph or above is going to be pretty good behind me, but pretty tough to push against. By now the wind was blowing 15mph; enough to blow me down the first mile of the coast road non-stop by pumping alone, after just a few pushes. "Hmmmm, a lap back against the wind to see what it's like and then time to deploy the Sporting Sail and see how much quicker I can go powered by that", I thought to myself.  The push back around the Marine Lake against that 15mph wind was VERY tough, but I must have done OK, because I overtook a guy on a bike! I'm sure the drivers passing me were wondering what "...that nutter"  is doing though!

Back around the lake and I got the Sporting Sail out and velcro'd the straps onto my legs above my knees. I started off OK, even had the camera rolling in my right hand (will upload into this post asap) but then I made...the mistake.

If any of you have seen the latest Long Treks on Skate Decks video, and you should have, but if not, here's the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvOcYRvlEd8&feature=player_embedded
you'll know that even an experienced distance skater like Paul Kent can make a mistake, using a sail. Well, I very nearly did the same thing, but thankfully, managed to bail before falling. My mistake was to lean down and try to adjust the strap on my left leg, which let part of the sail drop and get caught under the front wheels of my board. Just as it wrapped around one wheel enough to grind me to a sudden halt I managed to step off and avoid injury. Yikes! Close one. The bad news is that I got a small, tear in my sail in the process! (See my finger pointing it out in the pic above) Billy, Nick...sorry dudes! But...I remounted and persevered and got blown down to the end of the mile stretch of car park that runs alongside the coast road. The tear is only small. The sail will live to be deployed again, but I've learned my lesson and in future the sail will be gathered up before any leg movements are occurring! And despite the scare it was still the most successful deploy of the Sporting Sail yet. I can see it being a lot of fun over winter journeys. I carried on around the lake, back against the wind again, but even on this section I was off balance and just...not in tune witht he board like I am nornally, so I decided to employ the ever relevant 'quit while you're ahead' rule and live to ride another day! Back to the car and packed up for the day.

So, not the training session I wanted, especially with my Weather Channel widget predicting rain for the rest of my week off work! Ghaa! But they get it wrong sometimes, so any opportunity to get 4 wheels down will be taken, but even so, there is plenty of other stuff to be done, including another great donation story in the morning.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Story of a donation: Nationwide - THANK YOU (Part 1)

Some of you may have seen this photo already as Carol, founder and head of Families Connected has posted it on the Families Connected Facebook page, but if you haven't, here's the press release that is going out around the North West of England, to the towns and cities where staff and customers donated.

All I can add to this is THANK YOU, so much to Nikki Skinner at Nationwide, who did this fundraising without being asked and without us knowing she had actually done it, until she broke the news to us a couple of weeks ago. And THANKS of course to all the staff and customers of Nationwide who donated anything at all towards The Long Push for 2012. Such a massive boost to the charity fund is hugely appreciated.

Here's what has gone out to the press....

Nationwide's Nikki Skinner presenting Carol McKiernon of Families Connected By Autism with a cheque for £1112.70, from donations by staff and customers to The Long Push 2012 - Longboarding for Autism Awareness

Pictured above is Nationwide member of staff - Nicola Skinner, presenting a cheque for £1112.70 to Carol McKiernon of the charity Families Connected By Autism. Nicola encouraged several of the Nationwide branches in the North West Area to raise funds for THE LONG PUSH 2012—Longboarding for Autism Awareness, a 100 mile round trip longboard journey between Southport and Fleetwood, being made in August by 48 year old Southport man Chris Ward. So, why and... what’s a longboard? Chris explains…

“My girlfriend’s son was diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) last year, when he was aged 10. It opened my eyes to what other families in similar situations must go through. We looked for support in understanding the lifelong condition of autism and that was when we found Families Connected. Founder and head of the charity Carol McKiernon has been hugely supportive of us, so I wanted to do something to help her charity grow. I’ve been skateboarding since around 1976, so I had the idea to do THE LONG PUSH 2012—Longboarding for Autism Awareness".

"A longboard is essentially an overlong skateboard, but they have bigger, softer wheels to help them travel faster and over rough surfaces more easily. I’m going to do the full 100 mile ride over two days in August, or September if I have to reschedule due to the weather, but I’m building my distances up now while I’m training and trying to raise more awareness each time I go out. I’m easy to notice around the seafront here in Southport, Blackpool and other towns along The Long Push route between Southport and Fleetwood, with my bright yellow ’LONG PUSH’ T-shirt. So I hope people will give me a wave or stop me to ask me about autism if they see me about, and maybe throw some change in one of the charity buckets. 100 miles is a big challenge but I’m confident I’ll make it. I’m hoping to raise around £5000 by the time I’m finished. This donation by Nationwide is amazing and puts me well on the way to achieving that”.

Nicola Skinner of Nationwide commented, “I have been good friends with the family since our boys were born and when I found out what Chris was doing I desperately wanted to help them in whatever way I could. The staff in our branches were all keen on the idea too and were glad to support Chris with his challenge. I’m really pleased we’ve been able to raise so much money for this very worthy cause, and would like to thank all the staff and customers of Nationwide who contributed”.

Families Connected Founder & Chairman, Carol McKiernan said:- “I think it’s a fantastic thing Chris is doing. I have a 14 year old son with autism myself. I formed the charity to connect with the families of children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions by giving them a voice and a forum for the much needed emotional support. Fundraising is enormously important to us at Families Connected to help the charity grow and support more families, so we are enormously grateful to the Nationwide and all their staff who contributed and we wish Chris the very best in his training and on the journey itself,. We hope others will continue to show their support too by making donations at www.justgiving.com/TheLongPush

Chris continues, “The response has been great so far, with J&R Sports distribution hooking me up with Orangatang Wheels and Paris Trucks and Sporting Sails coming forward to sponsor The Long Push, and Big Woody’s Skateboard Shop in Blackpool have hooked me up with DC Shoes for the journey.” Andrea Clayton of Big Woody’s commented “This is an amazing journey that Chris is making for a very worthy cause and we are very proud to have supported him from the very beginning. We encourage anyone that sees him out and about to give him all the support they can and sponsor him. Chris is making people aware of autism and being a great ambassador for skateboarding at the same time . Good Luck !! “

Chris is still looking for more sponsors to boost the donations and help raise autism awareness. You can follow his progress on the blog at www.thelongpush.blogspot.com and you can also follow The Long Push 2012 on Facebook or @TheLongPush on Twitter.”

8 Days a Week! Saturday 14th July - Day 26 Training

Day 26 Training: 10.1 miles
Saturday morning, and it was dry! So no time to waste, Up and a quick update of the blog with the Friday diary entry and I was off to my seafront training area to do 10 miles. That had been my only goal for this week.  I feel like I've lost my impetus a bit because of the virus that hit me a couple of weeks ago (going round my workplace now. Sorry guys!), and the wettest July in UK history! Got to build back up to long distances again. So my first skate after getting well again was a little over 6 miles, today's goal was 10, and I achieved that. :o)

First full training since putting the new paris 180 trucks on. The bushings are brand new of course and are going to take a bit of getting used to after the Bear 452's and their original green bushing s which have taken some stick with a lot of pumping over the 200 +  miles I've done in training so far. So it took a mile or so to get used to the slightly stiffer trucks, and I did have to do one spectacular dismount at one point at the sudden realisation I wasn't going to make a turn before hitting a wall! But no harm done. I can't afford to loosen any more, for fear of wheel bite. For the non-skaters among you wheel bite is when the wheel touches the deck when turning, thus grinding the skater to a suddden halt and catapulting them forwards unexpectedly! Wheelbite is not good and is to be avoided and is one of the reasons many longboards have evolved into the shape you see in the photo above here.

By 11.00 I was finished and met up with Rachael and the kids to take them for breakfast in a local cafe. We had a bit of an incident between Steven and Ailsa in the car as we got there, but we managed to get them both out of the car and calmed down. Steven had woke his mum up at 4.00AM again, so Rachael was understandably tired again while he was of, course, fully wired and being...Steven in the cafe. The ladies who run it just seemed to take it all in their stride thankfully and they let me put a Long Push flyer up on the wall, so thanks to to them for that.

Later on Steven was going to watch The Amazing Spiderman movie and stay over at his friends house for his friend's birthday, and this was quite probably the root of his anxiety today...excitement and change from a 'normal' (whatever 'normal' is) Saturday. Henry is Steven's best friend. His mum and Rachael have known each other since the two boys were born and although the boys now go to different schools, Steven still loves spending time with Henry, and Henry accepts Steven for who he is.

Later on I went to a work colleague's wedding in the evening. I formed part of the 'work contingent', along with another colleague who has a son on the autism spectrum. So our experiences came up in the conversation of course, but it wasn't the only thing we spoke about. Sometimes it's nice to talk about the other things in our lives as well!

Congratulations on your wedding Tom and Leyla.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

8 Days A Week! - A week in the life of The Long Push 2012

With just about 4 weeks to go before setting off on the full 100 mile journey (unless I put it back to September, for better weather), I've booked a week off work to try and get as much 'rolling time' as possible, and boost my training over the next 4 weeks or so. Of course, the weather has a big part to play in this, so I thought I'd keep a diary of a week in the life of  The Long Push, to show you what gets done over a week....wet or dry!

So I'll update the blog with a new post each day this week with what's got done, and post the link each day on the Facebook page for those following. Today, Friday 13th July is the first day of the weekly diary, the 8th day of the week if you like, and I don't think I could have started this on a better day. So here we go with the first entry...

FRIDAY 13th JULY - I've been itching to get out on the board for ages again, but circumstances and weather have thwarted my attempts again. Yesterday (Thursday 12th) was a glorious day here. Blue skies, barely any wind, parades though the streets and people all around enjoying the day...while I was working! All day I was hoping for a repeat of the same for this morning, to just let me get out and get 10 miles in.

But no. Friday morning, grey skies and rizzle in the air! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! But...got to turn these frustrations around and make the best of the time. So 9.30 I went round to Birkdale Primary School, because today they were having a 'mufty day' (where the kids pay 50p to come in in tne own clothes instead of uniform) and donating the proceeds to The Long Push!I was too late to walk into the middle of assembly, but I waited and spoke to the head teacher, Mr. Shearan, and made an arrangement to go in to assembly on Monday morning, to thank the children, and collect a cheque for Families Connected. In return I have a Birkdale Primary sticker to go on the board or my helmet for the journey. So a good start to the day.

Next we got some great news. The board that had met on Thursday to discuss Steven's Statement of Educational Need had agreed our choice of school! :o) Meaning that from September he will be attending the specialist provision school of our choice. This is a huge leap forwards for us. Steven's managed in mainstream school, but his anxiety has been through the roof at times, a consequence of holding so much in all day and then releasing it at home. Now he will be in an environment where he will be able to flourish academically, but have his social communication issues addressed full time, by an experienced team of teachers and staff. Still doesn't change that he has an ASD diagnosis, but a massive leap forwards for all of us.

By now, the rain was coming down hard, and frankly I was pretty hacked off at this happening on my day off. Not to mention that we had been woken up by Steven at 4.00AM, so tiredness was a factor in my grump factor too! 1.30 and it was time for our latest personal training session. Rachael had signed up for a series of personal training sessions to help her recovery back to full health and as the sessions were per hour, not per person, I've been going along with her to most of them. They have been good for me to help keep me moving on days like this and I wanted to give Rachael some support in doing them too. They've worked too. She's much better as a result of the sessions and wanting to do more, so it's all good. The sesions have been with Nikki at N&N Fitness who operate for the Victoria building in Southport. I'll post some links when I can find them. Niki put us thru a few cardio and other exercises till our cheeks were red and has agreed to give me a couple of leg massages for free in support of The Long Push. Very cool of her. More about this soon. Our last session with Nikki is on Monday.

The school run was starting at 3.00 and I was in work at 4.00, so that was the most made of a wet day, although I did visit Lidl and pick up a USB pedometer as well. Hopefully I'll be able to use that training on the board, but I'll have to have a read of the instructions!

Hoping for a better day on Saturday.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Dear Diary: A bit of an update

Just while the weather is poor and I'm waiting to really get out to do some miles again, here's a bit of an update for y'all...
Day 25 Training - Thursday 5th July: 6.5 miles
First days training since 18th June and since coming down with a virus a couple of weeks before. Aimed to do just 5 miles after work to get me going again. Ended up doing just over 6.5 around the seafront. Felt good to be out onboard again. Problems? Just the one. Got stung by a wasp on my back, while changing my shirt at the end! Hurt like hell!. Aaaaarrrrrghh! Good job I took advantage of the weather to get some miles in, because the next day the torrential rain was back...all day...with a vengeance.    RunKeeper: Day 25 Training: 6.52 miles
Saturday 7th July.
Did something I've been struggling to find time to do. Swap my Bear 852 trucks for the Paris 180's J&R Sports sent me! Now, this may sound something and nothing to you experienced longboarding guys but, this is my first 'drop-thru' deck and I've never had to seperate the hangers from a set of trucks to mount them before, so it probably took me a tad longer than it should have, but it was time well spent. It gave me chance to try and sort that 'shifting' griptape problem out, add some shock pads (small rubber pads that go between the truck baseplates and the deck) and of course, get the Paris trucks mounted.

Result? REALLY like the Paris trucks! I wasn't sure I was going to like the standard 'gun metal grey' of the baseplates after the black baseplates of the Bears, but I actually do! And after a brief first ride they seem just as responsive as the Bears, allowing me to pump just as well as I could before, but less 'twitchy', which should be a good thing. The Paris have a 50 degree baseplate angle as opposed to the Bear's 52 degree, so maybe that makes a bit of a difference.
So I'm pretty sure my set-up for starting off on the 100 mile Long Push 2012 will be:
LANDYACHTZ -'Switchblade' deck (2011)

PARIS 180 trucks with 90A Divine bushings

ORANGATANG 'In Heat' aluminium core wheels. 80A (hardness) 75mm (diameter)

LOADED 'Jehu' bearings
I'll be setting up a back-up board that can be brought out to me, in case of disasters. I'll post that up when it's done.
First full test of the Paris trucks coming soon....
Monday 9th July
Today was a HUGELY positive day! Started with our latest CAF meeting (Common Assessment Framework), the meeting where all the different agencies and departments who are supporting Steven (and us) meet to discuss where we are up to...or not, as the case may be. Todays meeting was really well attended and went really well, no little part due to the huge leaps and bounds in improvment of Rachael's health. She was on top form. Very proud.  We are remaining cautious but hopeful of receiving some good news by the end of the week. Best not say anymore until we have heard but, as I said, very encouraging.
From the CAF we went to be presented with a cheque for our biggest donation so far. I'm itching to tell you all, but I'll hang on because we are hoping to get it in the press. So I'll hang on and give it it's own seperate post either once it's in the media, or by the end of next week, whichever comes first. Suffice to say, it is amazing and we are all massively grateful to all concerned.
Watch this space....
The day ended with my own personal dilema. Grey skies, threat of rain...St.Annes Bike meet on the Triumph or...longboard on the seafront? I took a chance and got the bike out, and made it back before getting wet. Result! Good day all round. But now I really DO need to get out on the board the next chance I get. If I could manage to get a 10 mile push in this week I'd be happy with that. Next week I'm off work all week, and hoping to do a full dummy run of Day 1: SOUTHPORT to FLEETWOOD, delivering posters and handing out flyers anywhere and everywhere along the route. But with the UK's current weather issues, it's more of a hope than a plan! Fingers crossed.
And finally of course, thanks as ever, to THE LONG PUSH 2012 sponsors, www.bigwoodys.co.uk  www.uk.dcshoes-store.com  www.sporting-sails.com  www.orangatangwheels.com  www.jandrsports.co.uk  and to all who have donated and supported me in any way so far.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Long Push 2012 on www.skatefurther.com

Huge thanks to Nat Halliday, Laura Hatwell, Marion Karr, Christopher Vallender and all at SkateFurther who I haven't yet had contact with, for putting my Long Push 2012 article on the frontpage of www.skatefurther.com

Check the article here:  http://www.skatefurther.com/long-push-2012/#more-1393

Skatefurther want to hear about YOUR distance skate journey. Contact them with details of your plans and see your journey on the frontpage soon. 

Thanks again, everyone.

'Change-ing lives' - Save your pennies in July for Families Connected

This is another simple idea to make donating easy to do and easy on the pocket.

Start a 'change bottle' or tin at home, your workplace, social club or...anywhere really. It could be your own personal bottle or one that a group of you contribute to. Just throw your 1p, 2p and maybe even 5p coins into the bottle or tin each day during July from the 1st to 31st. Then take it to a supermarket with a Coinstar machine or similar, to add it all up for you. Then just make the donation at www.justgiving.com/TheLongPush

It's an easy way to make a donation without having to fork out hard earned cash in one go. And if a number of us do it then, the boost for the The Long Push charity fund at the beginning of August could be huge! This is my bottle here. Lets see whose bottle/tin hits the biggest total.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Monthly Vital Statistics - June

 Here, with the most important figure first, are the stats for JUNE :

CHARITY FUND TOTAL AT 30th June  -  £355.00





The most improved figure through June has again been the amount of views of this blog. Up by an amazing 988 views! Wow!

Facebook 'likes' continue to rise. Up by another 44 during June and rising slowly all the time, and that's without much focus on trying to increase the figure. Thanks for keeping sharing the links folks. Still aiming to hit  '500' before I actually do the full 2 day journey in August, or September if I have to postpone for better weather.

Poor weather is among other factors that has hindered my amount of training miles this month. Just 37.2 miles this month. That's 60.8 miles less than in May. I NEED to improve on that figure during July, but at least I have one full week booked off work. I just have to hope for better weather in that week and throughout the month to build up to half distance, 50 miles before I undertake the full journey.

Thanks to all who have donated to the charity fund or contibuted support to The Long Push so far. On the face of it the charity fund only grew by £4 last month, but...this is not the full story. There has been some MASSIVELY good news on the donations/sponsorship front which has been generated offline from the www.justgiving.com/TheLongPush page. The biggest boost to the fund is something I'm still going to have to keep to myself for now, because it needs a full and proper announcement and I'm going to make sure that that's what it gets, but aside from that here are some other great bits of fundraising news:

  • I have £26.60 that's been handed to me to add on to the Just Giving page total.
  • Pledges at my workplace are up to over £60 and continuing to grow.
  • The tombola at the Diamond Jubille Garden Fete at Parkside Court in Southport generated a whopping £170 towards The Long Push 2012.   Huge thanks to Pat, Brian, and Gill for organising that, and of course to everyone who contributed in any way. I'll post a seperate full blog about that event with more detailed thanks over the coming days.
  • The Head Teacher, staff and children at Birkdale Primary School are going to be holding a 'cake sale' in support of The Long Push 2012. Special thanks to Teaching Assistant Mrs. Hayward for her support in helping this happen. I'll be going in to the school this week to see how they are getting on.
  • And of course, this place is reserved for the other special announcement.
So, all in all June has been hugely positive, with much going on behind the scenes (and some without my knowledge!) to boost the charity fund. I really can't thank all the people involved in helping achieve this enough. It is truly heartwarming and quite humbling, to be honest. Please continue to share Facebook and blog links with anyone you can and help raise autism awareness via The Long Push 2012. There will still be ideas going on the blog of ways to make donating easy and yet easy on the pocket too.

And finally of course, thanks as ever, to THE LONG PUSH 2012 sponsors, www.bigwoodys.co.uk  uk.dcshoes-store.com  www.sporting-sails.com  www.orangatangwheels.com  www.jandrsports.co.uk  and to all who have donated and supported me in any way so far.

Watch out for me pushing along a road near you during July!


1st July DONATION DAY - Text donate £1 on the 1st day of the month

Here's a way anyone who hasn't already donated to The Long Push/Families Connected can help boost the charity fund by donating just £1. To donate free of charge by text just do the following:

Text  LFAA50 £1  to 70070

That's it! That's all you have to do. You'll receive a text receipt so you know your donation has been received. And there's NO CHARGE to you for doing it. Like that damn meercat would say..."simples!"

Let's see how many £1's we can boost the charity fund by today, Sunday 1st July between 12.00 midday and 12.00 midnight.