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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

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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...


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