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, 21 August 2012

'Muscle and blood' - Two weeks of recovery

The following blog post was written over a two week period, so forgive me going backwards and forwards in time like Dr. Who! No T.A.R.D.I.S. here.

So today (August 14th), it's just over a full two weeks since I was launched off my board and onto my knees on the asphalt of Blackpool Promenade. Ouch! Still hurts just thinking about it. I've been on a rotation of arnica, deep heat, and ibuprofen gels to take down the swelling and ease the pain. Tonight was the first time in the two weeks I've done any kind of distance on a board since the fall. Just a quick mile or so, just to see how my left (pushing) leg got on really, but it was fine. Still got a scab on my left knee, but the muscle/cartlidge and the knee cap itself are feeling much improved on what they were just a few days ago. Enough for me to feel like doing a 4 mile circuit around the Marine Lake after work one night before the end of this week, weather permitting, because the storms have come back again.  As long as that goes well, I'll aim to build up to 8 miles on Monday or Tuesday and then build my distance up again over the next 3 and a half weeks, up to my scheduled Long Push 2012 days, 8th and 9th September. Despite not really being on a board, loads has hapened over the last couple of weeks. I'll work backwards through the last two weeks to try and remember it all...
Southport Sea Wall at sunset. Photo by Trev Wells
Today, those lovely people at Motion Boardshop in Seattle have put up an interview with me about The Long Push on their blog page! Tori e mailed me out of the blue a few weeks ago with some interview questions. It's taken me a while to get them back to her ,but I did a few days ago, along with some photos and...it's come out really well I think. Huge thanks to Tori and all at Motion Boardshop for their interest and support of The Long Push.  Go have a read at the links below:

Part 1: http://blog.motionboardshop.com/uncategorized/186521-chris-ward-longboarding-for-a-cause-part-i/

Part 2:  http://blog.motionboardshop.com/uncategorized/186632-chris-ward-longboarding-for-a-cause-part-ii/

Yesterday, (Monday 13th August) Rachael and myself spent my day off work together, doing one last 'map' of The Long Push route in the car, from home to Fleetwood and back again, clocking the mileage at given points along the way and making sure the final total came to 100 miles. We drove along the full Day 1 route and stopped at BIG WOODY'S SKATE SHOP in Blackpool to see Dre, drop off some 'AUTISM AWARENESS' silicone wristbands. (See seperate post) and for me to feed my skate shoe addiction and BUY MORE SHOES...that I really didn't need! But of course...I DID! :o) By the time we stopped on the promenade at Fleetwood the trip meter was SCARILY accurate, just creeping onto 50 miles as we stopped. So the journey back held no surprises, apart from after we landed back home when there was a HUGE thunder and lightning storm, with some of the heaviest rain I've ever seen! Love the lightning though :o)

Some of you may have seen this next news, because I posted it on the Facebook page of The A.Skate Foundation

I've already posted about being contacted a while ago here in England by skater and artist/photographer Thom Bleasdale of Thom Bleasdale Art. Thom offered to sell one of the decks in the photo above and donate the proceeds to The Long Push 2012 - Longboarding for Autism Awareness. He did, and contributed a fantastic £120 to The Long Push charity fund. How awesome?

What I DIDN'T Know was that, Rachael was in touch with Thom, and she bought a copy of the middle deck (with the photo taken from the full pipe at Ramp City in Blackpool, that I ride myself) as a surprise for me! The £120 from the sale of that deck has also gone to support autism by being donated to The A.skate Foundation!!
The work Crys Worley and all at A.Skate Foundation do is just amazing. We are connected guys, connected by skateboarding and autism across the Atlantic.
Really, I'm just blown away by the support shown to The Long Push 2012. A massive thanks to the ever awesome Rachael and of course to Thom. Please go check out his other work at ThomBleasdale.com 
Continuing back in time (if that's possible?), in the first week after the fall, I couldn't skate hardly at all. It was hard enough staying on my feet at work all day. But, a positive emerged, despite the odds. For ages my friend Trev who's a great photographer and myself have been hoping for our schedules to match and the the sunset to be great, for us to do photo shoot down at Southport seafront. Well, on Tuesday 7nd August all fell into place, so I met Trev and his girlfriend Abi (also a trained photographer) down near Marine Way Bridge. Trev and Abi took some fantastic photos. Here are just 4 of Trevs. The sunset one above here is from the same session.
Part of my Marine Lake training circuit. Photo by Trev Wells
Southport sea wall. Photo: Trev Wells
Orangatangs in the sunset. Photo: Trev Wells
Under the boardwalk. Photo: Trev Wells
To view more go and check the gallery on Facebook here. The Long Push 2012 - Southport Seafront Photo Shoot
Abi's photos are going to be getting their own gallery there soon too. Massive thanks to both of them for taking some fantastic photos. Trev may now be joining me on The Long Push on bike support/documentary photographer/filming duty. More about this as plans develop.
Finally, I have to thanks Ms. Eva Bolshaw and the SOUTHPORT LIONS CLUB, who made a very generous donation of £100 to The Long Push charity fund at the beginning of August. The Southport Lions Club are men and women who volunteer their time to try to make life better for others. The Lions have no religious, political or social affiliation. The only qualifications for membership are a willingness to do whatever they can, and a desire to live up to the Lions motto "We Serve."
Thank you so much Ms. Bolshaw to you and all your members. Find out more about Southport Lions Club here.
OK, time is getting tight to get stuff done. Tomorrow (Wednesday 22nd August) we have another Long Push 2012 fundraiser, and I'm still getting a presentation board finished at 10.50pm. Best crack on.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A rare post about....autism

It's been a while since I talked about autism in this blog again, and there will no doubt be a few new readers thinking, "What the hell has this got to do with autism?!!" So, just to clarify again...

This is NOT an autism blog. I use The Long Push Facebook page to share more autism awareness links etc. No, this is the blog of a motorcycling, skateboarding, longboarding autism step dad. Fending off the middle-age-spread by doing some middle-age-shred! check www.middle-age-shred.com to find out what I mean by that! Truth is I know more about skateboards and longboards than I do about autism, but I'm learning all the time through doing this, and that's a major thing for me. Anyway, there are PLENTY more autism parents who write FAR better blogs than I ever could about their family life experiences with autism. I can't namecheck all the great ones I've read, but here are a few worth reading, starting with my favourite, 'Wonderfully Wired'.

Fi is an autism mum from Australia and she somehow manages to write all the things that I wish I could. Lost track of how many times she's hit the nail on the head for me.






First hand experience blogs, from bloggers on the spectrum themselves:

Dan Ritter: http://autisticfinding.blogspot.co.uk/

Paul C. Siebenthal  http://aspienaut.tumblr.com/

There are of course, hundreds more, and each is great in its own own right. You'll have your own favourites. Check them out and share your experiences. We can all learn from each other.

One thing I did finds a while ago was this great diagram of the 'Triad of Impairment'. I shared it on the Long Push Facebook page at the time, but kept it to share on here when the time was right. I think this explains things pretty well. Click to enlarge it if you can't read the script at this size...

I'm working on a  new blog post to come over the next few days, as well as something from Steven's younger sister Ailsa.

Stay tuned and stay strong.


Monday, 6 August 2012

Day 31 Training : Monday 30th July - 21 miles

Statue of Les Dawson in St. Annes
This training day nearly didn't happen. It was the first of two days off for me this week, but when we woke up Rachael wasn't feeling at all well, and it looked like I was going to have to abandon my plans. But then, despite how she was feeling Rachael said "No, you can't afford to lose another day. Just go". It was that awkward moment. The one where I said, "But sweetheart, how can I go when you feel like this?" But when she said, "No, you just go" again, I said, "OK" and was out the door before she could change her mind again! :o) 

Cats fed and watered, the sun was struggling to shine through the clouds, but the forecast was better for further north. The only part of The Long Push route I hadn't skated so far was the stretch between Blackpool to Fleetwood, around aboutt 8 miles. It's pretty much straight down the coast/sea wall, so I wasn't expecting any major issues, but I wanted to check the surfaces and see where I might be better going through town, stuff like that. I drove up to St. Annes, just this side of Blackpool and parked up the car for the day. I had some 'secret squirrrel' shopping to do as well, for Rachael's birthday at the weekend, so this wasn't entirley a selfish day out. With that done it was time for a quick coffee at Fresh Cafe, the cafe we all go to on the motorbike evening in St. Annes. The ladies there had just put up a Long Push poster for me and gave me a latte and Eccles cake 'on the house'. One of the ladies told me she thought it was a great thing I'm doing, which was nice to hear, so thanks ladies, you have a lovely cafe. See you again there soon. :o) Quick photo opportunity with the statue of comedian Les Dawson on the promenade and I was ready for the off. 

Blackpool beach, complete with donkeys in background.
By now it was sunny and warm, but with a wind of about 11 miles an hour, which I thought might trouble me a bit, but still, time to roll, so I pushed off along the pavement towards Blackpool prom, and was there in no time. Up onto the smooth section of the prom and it was a breeze pushing and pumping along here. Half way along, the smooth section ends for a rougher surface but with these kind of 'concrete waves' built onto the promenade. It's almost purpose built longboard heaven! Handed out a few flyers and stopped to take the now obligatory distance skaters photograph of my board and backpack on the beach! :o)

Just a few minutes after taking this photo I arrived at Big Woody's shop and Dre called me in when she spotted me outside taking another photo. The story that we'd met the journalist and photographer about last week had gone into the Blackpool Gazette today! Great timing! A great, positive, two page article about skateboarding in general and with plenty of coverage of the Long Push 2012 and local Blackpool sponsor, Big Woodys Skateshop. Not to mention a scarily large photo of myself. Not on page 3 I hasten to add! I've got a PDF of the article that I will try to put up either on here or on the Facebook page.

Article in the Blackpool Gazette - Monday 30th July
I didn't stay too long at the shop, as I was keen to get onto the actual bit of the route I'd come to skate. Walking out of the shop I spotted a great photo shot, so went down to the seafront/promenade to try and get it, but it didn't quite work out as well I was hoping. I'll save it for another bog post. This done, I pushed off along the promenade off towards the next town on my route, Cleveleys. Here I found a great landmark for a photo, but still opted for a 'board only' shot this time. On the days of the full 100 mile journey I think I'll use this landmark in a different way.

The promenade at Cleveleys is new and nicely designed, but the surface is really rough, so it was onto the pavements until this new section of sea wall ended and the old, original sea wall continued towards Fleetwood itself. I made a few mistakes here, choosing the rougher sections at times, but I've learnt from this for The Long Push itself, so the training day did its job. That said, the weather was awesome now and the North West coastline looks amazing from Blackpool and out towards Fleetwood. I had to stop and try to get a few photos using the timer. Not all were successful, but some came out pretty much as I had hoped.

North west coastline between Clevelys and Fleetwood
From this photo it wasn't too much further to my destination, The Ferryside Cafe in Fleetwood. I made a wrong decision about which part of the sea wall to push along at one point, ending up on the oldest and roughest section, but after a brief diversion along the road I got back onto a coastal path and shortly after that moved up onto the tiled pavement that leads along Fleetwood Promenade. Even stopped at the YMCA to drop a poster off. Five minutes later, I arrived at the Ferryside Cafe, took the opportunity to introduce myself to the lady owner of the cafe seeing as Woody had droped some Long Push posters off there and stopped for some food while I analysed my cameras and phone to check photos and see if any batteries were still alive! My phone battery was hanging on by the skin of it's teeth, but I'd lost both of the RunKeeper logs I'd started. Couldn't get them back on the screen. (Later found that they had saved on my RunKeeper account page). I was nursing a blister on the sole of my pushing foot by now too. I decided to eat quickly and go find a chemist before they closed at 5.30 because, although I had a first aid kit with me, I'd forgottten to put my Compeed Blister pack in it! Doh! I found a Boots Chemists, just before the closed and my foot practically  gave an audible sigh of relief while I sat on on a park bench to stick the plaster on. Aaaahhhhh!

Day 1 final destination - The Ferryside Cafe, Fleetwood
So by now it was about 5.45pm. I was undecided whether to skate all the way back to St. Annes or, give my poor blistered foot half a chance and get a tram back to Blackpool prom and then push back the final 5 miles or so. I 'ummed' and 'ahhed' for a few minutes, but then I saw a tram with the destination 'Starr Gate'. It was a sign. How could an archaeologist, Egyptologist, sci-fi geek like me resist a journey to a 'Stargate'! "I could end up anywhere! Best watch out for Jaffar", I posted on Facebook and promptly took the weight off my feet for a ride back to Blackpool Promenade. Once Blackpool Tower was in sight I got off. I was still on the Fleetwood side of the Tower, with around about 6 miles still to skate back to my car in St. Annes.

Now then, here's a question for the distance skaters among anyone reading. How many of you wear knee pads when skating distance? Any? I know plenty do for downhill/sliding, but what about for long distance work? I ALWAYS wear pads for skating on ramps/vert/bowls etc, but when I jump on a longboard...I don't. And today, I should have!

I started pushing back along the prom, uphill on some of the same paths I'd skated on the opposite way earlier on. The blister was hurting, but I was determined to make it back. I found myself on a smooth section of pavement next to the tram lines. The path was probably about 12 feet wide and on a slight decline. Enough for me to start picking up speed. I started to sit low into wide sweeping carves to try and keep my speed down, as the decline was getting steeper, and in about 100 yards it was going to open up into a big wide area. I was going a bit faster than I would have liked, but I was skating well and was...pretty pleased with myself really. Proud you might say. And what does pride come before? Yup..a fall!

All of a sudden, about 10 yards before a tram stop shelter, I rumbled over one of those concrete 'inserts' with concrete 'ripples' in they put into pavements over here in the UK.  They are probably designed to slow the likes of skateboarders down. They work! If I'd rolled across it straight, and seen it just before I could have braced myself for it and made it over the ridges. As it was, my toe side front wheel edge caught in the ridge as I was carving across the pavement. I think there was a nanosecond where I thought  "I'm going to make it" , but then...I just bailed, right onto both my knees, sans pads! OOOUUUUCHHH!! There was no one waiting in the tram stop ahead of me, no trams nearby and the road was seperate again from the tram track, so I wasn't in any danger from traffic or anything. Naturally, I got straight up, with wounded pride more than anything else before I even started to feel the stinging. Looked down and the fall had ripped my trousers, and there was blood on both knee caps. Then it started to hurt, and the expletives started to come out of my mouth!!! I picked up my board and limped into the tram shelter. Somewhere behind me I heard a voice asking "Are you alright?" I looked round to see a family in the tram shelter opposite. "Yeah, thanks", I lied, thinking to myself, "when they get home they'll open the Gazette, see my photograph and think to themselves, "Oh, there's that man we saw today on the prom", and remember me swearing my head off in pain and frustration"! Ooops! I started rooting in my bag for my first aid kit to see what I could utilise in it. I had some antiseptic wipes in there, and used one to take the worst of the road rash off. With the first one soaked through with blood I took the second, and last one, out and did the same, holding it on and applying pressure with it to try and stop the bleeding. My left, pushing leg knee, was by far the worst. I taped the wipe to the wound, but not before I photographed my knees in the shelter! You know you're becoming obsessed with documenting these journeys when you are bleeding and in pain, but can still see the value in a photo opportunity for the blog!

Now I know this photo hardly makes me rival Danny Way (famously heroic and massively injured over the years skateboarder.) Check this video of him, particularly from the 2 minute mark Danny Way Mega Ramp, from The DC video
But I can tell you that, a week after the fall, I have water on both knee caps, both are still swollen and my left knee is still REAALLY sore. I've been on a diet of arnica, Ibuprofen and paracetomol tablets, while regularly rubbing in arnica gel and ibuprofen gel alternately, all week. It's starting to ease now, but it was something I could have lived without and ultimately it's led to me making the decision to move The Long Push back to a September date, rather than this coming weekend. To be honest, there are a quite a few advantages to a September date after all:

  • Recovery time from this injury
  • The weather is supposed to be better by September!
  • Another full months fundraising during August
  • More preparation time
  • Hopefully arranging The Long Push to coincide with SOUTHPORT AIR SHOW, meaning more potential sponsors/donations along my route.
This training day was supposed to be my last one of any distance before the full 100 mile journey. It may not be now. I may have chance to do one more 20 mile plus skate and a couple of shorter ones before the proposed dates of September 8th/9th. What this training day DID achieve is that I have now covered my route in its entirity ahead of doing it all in 'one' go. I learnt some things today, good and bad, but overall I was really happy with the day, aside from the obvious.
At the time of writing, I've been off a board for a full week and anticipate being off one probably till at least the weekend again, but there are plenty of other things I can be doing, and the charity fund has just reached an amazing £1900 tonight! :o) Just incredible, really. 
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.
Now, I'm off to go and apply arnica liberally again...


Thursday, 2 August 2012

Monthly Vital Statistics - July

July has seen The Long Push make some amazing gains in all areas. Details follow, but here, with the most important figure first, are the stats for JULY :

CHARITY FUND TOTAL AT 31st JULY  -  £1687.69





Like I said, some amazing gains in all areas. The charity fund itsself grew by £1332.69 during July. The biggest factor in this gain was the donations made to the Nationwide for The Long Push 2012 which came to a whopping £1112.70 alone! (See the thank you blog previously) But every penny counts so here are the other boosts to the charity fund in July:

  • The 'Change-ing lives in July penny bottle donation campaign - £9.87 (Hopefully with some more of these donations still to come in
  • Birkdale Primary School's 'mufty day' donation of £120.00 (Again, see the previous Thank You blog)
  • Ailsa's school playground book sale which netted another £8.20
  • SkateFurther's Laura Hatwell's auction of a set of her Seismic Speed Vent longboard wheels netteed another £37.50 for the charity fund. Thanks again for that Laura. :o)
  • Any outstanding donations of cash handed to me all got put on the Just Giving page on the 31st July.
Really, this is just awesome stuff! Irrespective of the £5000 fihgure I plucked out of thin air when I first started this project, I NEVER expected to raise this much money and I'm sure Carol from Families Connected didn't either. I know The Long Push has opened her eyes into a world she never knew existed and that's something I'm glad to share with all the non-skaters who may be reading this blog. Skateboarding + Charity = WIN and especially when we are talking about long distance skating.

I managed to get 45.3 miles more training in during July than I did in June, which is good, but I ended the month with an injury in a fall in Blackpool. So now recovery is my main goal. Still, I've covered over 359 miles in training so far. By the time I'm finished it could be up to 500 miles this year. Something I've never achieved on a skateboard in any year before now. But I'm toying with a very ambitious project for next year. Hmmmm.....

Views of this blog rose by 1251 views to reach 6283. So someone is looking at it!! This is one figure that I hope will assist me in gaining more product sponsors for 2013. I'm hopefull that whatever journey I decide on will capture their imaginations and they will want to be part of it. Fingers crossed.

Finally, Facebook likes shot up over the 400 mark to get to 456, a rise of 74 since last month. The target is 500 before I set off on my journey, so please, keep sharing and I'll have to do a bit of Facebook wall spamming as well over the next week or so to try and generate some more myself. I think well make it though, you know?

And 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.
Full blog post from Monday's training journey between St. Annes and Fleetwood coming soon....