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!

Monday, 12 November 2012

THE LONG PUSH 2012 Part 1: From idea to reality

This is part 1 of three blog posts, summarising The Long Push 2012 project from the first germ of an idea, to pushing the last few yards of the full 100 mile journey in September 2012, in the dark, back to my start/finish point here in my hometown of Southport, England. It's a long post and won't be fiished in one (or two) sessions, so please come back and carry on reading from where I leave you hanging!

Many of you have followed this blog from the beginning, some may have just read the odd post and others may be new to it altogether. So apologies to those who have read some of this before. I'll try to do what I can to add something new to make it more interesting for y'all, but for those new to the blog, I'll link back to the original posts, so that you read more detail if you wish. The story starts in late summer 2011 on the Coastal Road in Southport...

The saying goes "If you can see Blackpool Tower across the bay from Southport, it's going to rain. And if you can't see Blackpool Tower, it already is!" On this particular Saturday afternoon, in August I think, I was killing an hour or so, just cruising up and down the coastal road pavement in Southport on my old Sector 9 pintail longboard, behind the funfair, and with the second longest pier in the UK, stretching out into the Irish Sea. I was thinking about doing a long cycle ride again. I hadn't done one since I did the Coast 2 Coast cycle route from Whitehaven to Sunderland with three friends three years ago, but now I was only thinking about cycling up and down the coast to Blackpool. I wondered if I could make the journey not by bike, but...on my longboard? I figured it would be about 35 miles to Blackpool, so it should be something I could just do in a day quite comfortably, and it's a route I know well, on the road at least, because I go to a motorbike meet in St. Annes (last town before Blackpool) pretty regularly in Spring/summer.  Soon though, my hour or so was killed and I went back to my girlfriends apartment. Our usual Saturday routine. The idea was forgotten for the time being.

Blackpool tower across the bay, with Southport Pier in the foreground

A month later, in September 2011 I was out there on my longboard again, just killing another hour or so on another Saturday afternoon. While I was out, I took a photo. I sat down on the sea wall for a few minutes a bit further from where I'd taken the photo and had a look at it on my phone. By this time, our lives had started to change. Rachael's son had been diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It was a late diagnosis, coming at age 10 and just before his last year at Primary School. We'd started taking him to different appoinments and tests prior to the diagnosis being made and getting in touch with different autism and educational support services, because we could see potential problems ahead over the transition to high school. That can be difficult for any kid, but for 'Steven' (name changed) we had additional concerns, although academically, he seemed fine to succeed in a mainstream school. The emphasis in his last year at primary school was all on 'growing up', 'independence' and 'responsibility'. All things that Steven doesn't like to think about. He's quite happy being his mum's little boy. His mum will always be there to love and help him, so why the need to be independent? Not being able to see ahead is one of the effects of his condition. His anxiety at having to deal with these thoughts was starting to show, and although he was always the model pupil in the structured environment of school, at home his behaviour was starting to change. Add to this that his mum 'Rachael' (name also changed) started to be ill with stress related illness (shingles), of which the diagnosis was part, and suddenly there was a lot more pressure on us as a 'family' unit. Among the support services we found was a small charity called 'Families Connected By Autism'. I think I emailed them first with a cry for help e mail, because we just simply didn't know where to turn for advice and sometimes it seemed like no one was listening. The period over summer 2011 was particularly stressful because, despite all the forms and meetings and phone calls, we hadn't known what support was going to be in place for Steven at his new mainstream high school in September. The school was closed, all the support services were closed, and up until the week before, we had no idea what support would be provided to help him, educationally, socially and emotionally with all the challenges of high school. It felt like we were throwing Peter Pan to the lions!

I sat there on the sea wall. Carol McKiernon, the head of Families Connected had been a great support to us by this time. When everyone else was unavailable, Carol came down to see us on a Sunday morning and spent a long time with us and Steven in the apartment, just listening to us, observing Steven and offering us suggestions and advice. She also came with us to our Common Assessment Framework (CAF) meetings, where all the different agencies come together to see what support will work best for the child and family in cases like ours. I decided that I wanted to help Carol's charity grow, to pay her back for her support. At the same time my eyes had well and truly been opened to the difficulties, stresses and strains that an autism diganosis can have on a family and if we were going through this then, so were others. I wanted to try and make more people understand the impact that an autism diagnosis can have on a child, a relationship, a family. So I married the longboarding to Blackpool idea up with the charity and...that was the birth of the idea for The Long Push. What I didn't know was that the photo I took that day, this photograph below, would become THE photograph to represent the project. But that's what happened.

September 2011 - Coastal Road, Southport

By December I had started to give the idea a lot more thought. I remember finding a blog about a long distance longboard journey called 300 Miles - No Car - No Problem. Sadly, that particular journey didn't work out as the page owner, Sam Bartlett, had planned but, it inspired me to start this blog and on December 4th 2011 I made my first blog post, So, I had this idea The ball was rolling...

Now, I've never written a blog before. Always like the idea, but couldn't see why anyone would want to read about...me really? Still not sure if anyone actually does? I mean, the stats show that this blog has been viewed nearly 8000 times, but I'm still not really sure who is actually reading it, or if it's mainly viewed by 'bots' with an interest in autism and longboarding! Still, I made a start and followed the advice of a forum member from another forum for more er...'mature' skaters, www.middle-age-shred.com  Someone there advised me to keep this blog about me and my mission and not share other people's videos (which I started out by doing) on here. I took that advice on board and started to focus this blog on my planning, training and the build up to my 100 mile longboarding for autism awareness journey. At the same time I started a Facebook page for The Long Push 2012  where I could share information about autism with the longboard/skateboard community and longboard/skateboard videos with those in the autism community. Sharing is, after all, what Facebook does best. What follows is a month by month breakdown from January 2012 to the day before I set off on day 1 of the 100 mile Long Push - Longboarding for Autism Awareness.

By the beginning of January I posted the 'first draft' of The Long Push route plan and on the 8th January, I spent far longer than I should have creating my first ever Youtube video; a 'teaser' for The Long Push:

The weather was very poor in winter 2011 in the UK, with lots of rain and some scarily high winds, and since starting the blog I hadn't really had a decent day to start any training along my proposed route, although I had driven it and started to get an idea of how I could break the journey down into different sections or sectors. I decided to go with 'sectors' because that would mean I would have a 'Sector 9' (name of one of the big longboard companies) and I thought that would be kinda cool. You may think otherwise of course! Ahem! On the afternoon of Saturday 14th January it was bitterly cold, but the sky was a beautiful blue colour and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I drove up to what I thought would be the starting point for my ride, took a few photos and then pushed off on Day 1 Training: Saturday 14th January. Sector 1 - 6.2 miles 

Saturday 14th January, just before setting off on Day 1 of training.

Click the link above to read the full post about that first 6.2 mile push. I remember it seeming easier than I expected, but at the same time feeling a sense of achievement. I had broken my 'duck' and was looking forward to the next chance to get out for day 2 training.

From that point I wrote blog posts for all my training days, which I'll link as I continue this post. You can find  all the links on the right hand side of this page too. Each time I would talk about the type of board and set-up I used, where I rode to and from and any good points or potential pitfalls I came up against.

The weather held for a few days, and I was able to get out again very soon for Day 2 Training: Monday 16th January. Sector 2 - 4.0 miles and on 26th January The Long Push reached its first two landmarks, 100 Facebook 'likes' and, more importantly, the first £100 in sponsorship money was raised on The Long Push Just Giving page. Awesome! :0)

The weather, work and just general 'life stuff' meant that it felt like waiting for the planets to align before Day 3 Training on Tuesday 7th February. I was limited by time on this day, so this became my first days training where I developed a figure 8 training circuit around the seafront area in hometown Southport. From here on, if I wasn't able to do training along The Long Push route, I would either stick with this 4 mile circuit or 'tweak' it to give it some variation at times.

Our world was rocked on Sunday 12th Feb. As if she didn't have enough stress in her life, Rachael lost her mum when she died after a brief illness. Rachael and her mum were very close, speaking on the phone daily. It was incredibly hard for her, still is, and of course, there were two children for who this was their first experience of losing a family member. Add ASD and we were uncertain how Steven would react to the news. To be honest, even now it's not clear exactly how losing his grandma has affected Steven. He still seems uncomfortable at  his grandads house, and it might explain some of his behaviour when he's there, but overall, both children coped incredibly well with the funeral. So did Rachael. Despite all the pressure and loss, Rachael was amazing and stood tall as she planned, arranged and organised the funeral, when all she really wanted, and still does, is her mum back. She's always with you Rachael, watching over you and she's so proud, and so am I.

On the 19th Feb the conditions were good enough for me to get back out on board for Day 4 Training: Sectors 3 & 4 of The Long Push route plan

On 24th February I was able to announce the first two sponsors for The Long Push 2012, Big Woody's Skateshop and DC Shoes. 

This was a great boost for the project. Woody is a well known character on the UK skateboard scene and somebody I skated with in the mid 80's when we skated the vert ramps at Warrington Empire Skate Building and Ardwick Sports Centre in the north west, and other locations across the UK. I'm not sure that Woody actually remembers me from then but, from the moment he and his partner Andrea heard about The Long Push they were right behind the project. Woody helped me out to get the support of DC Shoes, which was awesome. Having a big name like DC supporting The Long Push was just a dream come true and pretty soon I was sporting DC skate shoes each time I went out training on my board.

Other product sponsors followed, Sporting Sails
Orangatang Wheels/J& R Sports 
which was amazing; Companies to help give credibility to The Long Push project and help spread the autism awareness message in the longboard scene. Not to mention, GREAT wheels! And Richard Birchwood at J&R also sent me some Paris trucks and Loaded bearings too. Really, just...awesome stuff, that I was hugely grateful for.


By March The Long Push had a logo. The final, black on yellow version (at the beginning of this post) one was tweaked by Woody, after the original, designed by a member of the www.middle-age-shred.com forum, was thwarted by The North Face, who wern't happy!
I also started to build up my distances skated in training during March, getting over 12 miles on Day 6 of my training and up to 17.5 miles on Day 7.

The 20 mile barrier was tantalisingly close, but it would be another three weeks before I broke it.

Just before the end of March I was able to announce SPORTING SAILS as the latest sponsor of The Long push 2013.


World Autism Awareness Day is April 2nd each year. In 2012 I was working on the day itself, but went out the day before to get a photo in support 'Autism Speak's 'Light it up blue' campaign' for autism awareness.

16th April was the day I broke the 20 mile barrier , actually skating 25.6 miles by pushing from home to Tarleton and back.

Following this landmark though my training was disrupted for a few weeks. Life got in the way!


May was a month filled with frustration. I was struggling to find time to get out and train on the days that we had decent weather, so many of my training days were short rides around my Marine Lake training circuit. I was aslo aware that my fundraising total had 'frozen' around the £346 mark and I was conscious that I had to do something to keep it rising. I decided to start a monthly 'Vital Statistics' post, detailing the progress during the previous month. This way all visiters to the blog and Facebook page could see what increases were being made (such as the Facebook page hitting 300 'likes') and where more work was required. I think this was a good idea and one of the ideas I will carry forward into The Long Push 2013.

Carol McKiernon, the founder and head of the chosen charity, FAMILES CONNECTED BY AUTISM wrote a post for the blog herself during May, 'Life With Children On the Spectrum and before the end of thre month I had achieved a new personal best distance pushed so far, on Day 18 Training, Sunday 13th May. Marathon distance achieved and passed 30.4 miles. I was making progress.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Back on board

It's two weeks since The Long Push 2012. I'm still working on writing up the journey, from concept to Days 1 and 2 of the journey itself. Until I've done that, today, Saturday 22nd September was my first day back on board and it felt good to be back rolling again.

A perfect day came out of nowhere, in a week where it's felt like winter has come early. Wetter, colder and with the noisey gaggle from the geese as they start flying South for winter again already! I found some time in the afternoon to get out on my board again for a while and had the idea to just do a 6 mile or so push up and down the coast road to Ainsdale and back. I didn't want to do too much (I didn't have time to either) and I wanted to try out some different shoes over a decent distance, but not too far. So this route filled the bill well. I set off from Southport Pier at about 4.30 in the afternoon. The warmest part of the day had passed, but it was still warm enough to make the journey in my Longboarding4Cancer (Sweden) baseball shirt and show some love for George and Oscar's journey across Sweden this year. Kinda nice not to feel obliged to wear the 'compulsory' yellow Long Push T-shirt, now that this years autism fundraising charity work is done with. Winter gives me a bit more freedom and time to try different things ahead of a new Long Push 2013 - Longboarding for Autism Awareness campaign. That will come again in March next year, with a new colour scheme for 2013.

Poor photo from the Southport end of the sea wall.

It's a straight, smooth push along the cycle path next to the coastal road, marred only by the small stones from the recent resurfacing of one part of the road, and having to breathe in to let any cyclists pass me on the narrow cycle path. I wanted to try some different shoes out on this ride today. I saw Adam Colton's equipment video for his 1000 mile longboard journey across China (yes, you read that right, one thousand miles!) and noticed what footwear he was going to be using for that journey. For anyone who doesn't know who Adam Colton is, he's a legend in longboarding. A real character, one of the Long Treks on Skate Decks team and pretty much a genius on a longboard. I figure with his experience, he knows what he's talking about. Here's the link to his kit list for the China journey and the acompanying video...


So, one Saturday recently I found myself in Sports Direct here in Southport and stumbled across these Karrimor 'trail' running shoes. Now, I'm no runner, but I liked the look of these instantly and tried a pair on. The main thing I noticed was that the sole under the ball of my pushing foot felt really well cushioned, despite the contact tread being quite stiff and rugged. They are designed for 'off road' running after all. They were light and breathable as well, so they fitted a lot of the chracteristics that Adam mentioned in a shoe for distance skating, and I figured they might work well for me too. Then I noticed the price, £24.99! And only £20.99 if bought online! For that price it seemed rude not to give them a go. I could always use them for mountain biking if they don't work on the board. Debit card out and order placed. Back to today...

Karrimor Trail Run SNR 23 in Grey/Blue/Lime
Pushing the three miles to Ainsdale the Karrimor's felt really good. My feet have had two weeks to heal from the 100 mile push but even so, the sole of my pushing foot felt absolutley fine when I arrived at the Sands pub on the edge of the beach at Ainsdale, and the stiff sole fitted into the concave of the 'Switchblade' perfectly. The DC Alias Lite performed brilliantly over the 100 miles of  The Long Push this year, but the Karrimor's have definitly given me food for thought. Got some other shoes to try over the winter season too, so a lot more testing to do. I hadn't touched my board since finishing The Long Push either. It still had all the mud and dirt over the underside and my wheel nuts and truck bolts could probably have done with tightening up a bit but...it actually felt really good! The Landyachtz 'Switchblade' really is a GREAT deck and set up with the Paris 180 trucks and still with the 80A 75mm Orangatang 'In Heat' wheels it really works very well.

I stopped at the Sands pub, bought a beer and sat outside in the sun, watching the bikers riding back away from Southport for the day. Part of me always wishes I was on my own bike when I see other guys on theirs, but you can't do everything once, can you? And even over winter there will be good biking days between the wet days. It occured to me that, despite driving/riding past this pub hundreds of times over my 48 years, I've never actually set foot in The Sands before in my life! Something I commented on to the bar maid. I'll remedy that whenever I'm passing and not driving/riding my mororbike in the future. Nice setting on a Sunny day.

The battery was dying on my mobile phone again (as usual!), so I stopped RunKeeper at this point, so that I could upload the details of my ride onto the Long Push Facebook page. The camera on the phone won't work when the battery is low, so I couldn't take another photo and I'd travelled light, with no bag, so no second camera with me.   RunKeeper link

Glass emptied it was time to head home. I had a wedding reception to get to later on, so no time to hang about. An incident free 3 miles later, I was back at my car and still feeling the love for the new Karrimor's. Good stuff. Poor weather forcast for the coming week, so unsure when I'll next get out on a board again. Plus, I've got some 'life stuff' to do. Watch out here for the first installment summarising The Long Push 2012.

Until then, rock and roll whenever you get chance, people.


Monday, 10 September 2012

The Eagle Has Landed!

Home! Hopefully by now you know that I completed The Long Push  2012 - Longboarding for Autism Awareness at about 9.45pm on Sunday 9th September! A new personal best distance for a single day skated of 59 miles and 100 miles in total over the weekend. Thanks to everyone who has donated and supported me this year and those who have followed my journey on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend.

A couple of days of recovery time and then I'll start writing up full blog posts of the journey.

The Just Giving page will be winding up soon too. Full details when I have them, but for now there's still time to donate for anyone who wishes to:


Friday, 7 September 2012

The Important Stuff!

Ok, I set off on Saturday 8th September at 9.00AM, from McDonalds, Ocean Plaza in Southport.
For anyone thinking about coming to see me off ( by which I mean 'wave' me off, not...y'know, 'kill me', or anything!) then you are very welcome but BE WARNED, It's Southport Air Show weekend, and traffic will be bad around the seafront. I may even have to skate off along the promenade instead of the first section of the coastal road, depending on how busy it is.

The full route plan is on the other post here:

I'm intending to post updates at the various Sector points, but this will depend on there being a decent 3g/wi-fi signal where I am and how long the battery lasts on my phone!!! I may have to text friends to post updates on The Long Push facebook page for me! But somehow or other I'll let y'all know where I am.

In a late change to plans, I will now be accompanied by skater, spark, awesome photographer and generally all round good egg, Trev Wells (Twellsy) who is going to lead/follow on his bike, carry my backpack and help out documenting the journey. Completely awesome of him to offer to do this. I'm really grateful.

A few people have asked if they can join me on the journey. If you want to push along with me for a mile or so in your area as I pass through and you can meet up with us as we pass through then that's fine. You may be handed a bucket and asked to hand a few flyers out on the way, so be prepared for that. You may get a freebie sticker for your efforts...or not, depending on how long they last! Follow the progress updates on Facebook/Twitter to find where we are.

Anyone who does meet up with is, bring your camera or phone with you and save any video you take. I'm hoping to gather together everyone's clips and get a student at our local art college to edit it altogether into a promo film for next year. I like the idea of it being a 'patchwork' movie, with varying quality of footage. I'll post more about how to send this after the weekend.

Oh yeah, the purpose of this project all year has been to raise awareness of autism. I would LOVE to meet any families who have autistic family members, or pop into any autism support services along the route. If you are happy to be filmed/photographed then I'd love to include that in the document of the journey, or if you just want to tell me your story and have me share it here on The Long Push blog then I would be happy to do that. Again, check the route plan and watch for our progress on Facebook. Leave us a message and we'll try to get to you if you are on the route.

Noooooooo idea what time we'll get back into Southport on the Sunday., but I'm guessing around 6.00-7.00pm. Ending at McDonalds Ocean Plaza again.

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.

I've probalby forgotten something or somebody, but if I have I apologise.You've all been amazing.


Friday 7th September. Counting down...1 day to go...

Forecast for the weekend? First suggestion of...rain! :-/

SATURDAY: AM Showers 68/52f  30% chance of rain
SUNDAY: Partly Cloudy 72/53F  10% chance of rain

Ghaaaaa!!!!! We've had a great week of weather here so far this week. But according to these Weather Channel forecasts (and the station used to generate them is in Blackpool, right in the middle of the route) the risk of rain has changed from ) Nil to 30% across the week. Best pack a waterpoof then!

Most distance skaters probably wouldn't be phased by a bit of rain and I'm already prepared to get wet next year on a longer journey than this one. I was just hoping to get this first distance skate done in dry conditions. Urethane (what skateboard wheels are made from) and water don't mix well. Rain will make it slippy and more dangerous, it will affect the performamce of the wheel bearings and of course, make it more uncomfortable for me to push the distance in. But...I'm just gonna have to get on with it, and take my time. Hopefully if we get any rain it will just be short showers which I can duck and cover from without it causing too many delays. Hey ho!

It's Southport Air Show this weekend too. I LOVE the air show, although I don't love the fact that it's not free anymore, but... I have to thank the organisers this year for giving myself and Trev Staff/Trader wristbands, so that we can pass through the site as we set off on The Long Push on Saturday morning. THANK YOU!      

I used to be in the Air Training Corps when I was 14. On my first days flying from RAF Woodvale, the pilot in the Chipmunk trainer aircraft I was in flew us over the promenade. I remember looking down from the cockpit to see if anyone was skating there, but I don't remember seeing anyone. And everyone loves the Red Arrows don't they? They are are flying on both days of the Air Show this weekend, as well as the Vulcan bomber, which is just an amazing sight to see. What I would love to see is the Gloster Meteor.  

One of these was burnt out on the airfield at Woodvale for years, and could be seen from the passing railway track. It was removed after years being there and restored and for a while was situated at the front of the airfield. Now it's been fully restored to a flying aircraft and will be making it's first appearance at the air show this weekend. I'll probably miss that, seeing as it's going to fly from Woodvale and I'm pushing in the opposite direction, but a lot of the aircraft will fly from Blackpool or Warton, so I'm hoping to see and hear them flying overhead while I push along the coastline. Ahem! Sorry! Plane geek! Back to topic...

I spent part of yesterday afternoon laying all my kit out, so I don't forget anything. So, as well as being a plane geek here's the equipment list for any other longboard/distance skater geeks reading. OK,so starting with the two boards here we have:

LANDYACHTZ Switchblade, with 180mm Paris Trucks (standard bushings), Orangatang 'In Heat' wheels 75mm 80A (Hardness) with LOADED 'Jehu' bearings. This is the board I'm using for the journey.

LUSH 'Samba', with Seismic trucks (grey springs) and Orangatang 'Durian' wheels, 75mm 83A with LOADED 'Jehu' bearings. This is my back-up board. In case of any mechanicial failure this one has been left with Rachael to be brought out to me, but I don't expect to have to use it.

Karrimor 'Wind 35+5' rucksack
DC cap - DC Shoes will be on my feet!
Sporting Sail as supplied by LOng Push sponsors http://sporting-sails.com/
Crivit sport sunglasses
Skate tool
Sansa 'Clip' mp3 player
Nokia 5510 mobile phone. (A relic, but it's my back-up phone...and I still love it!)
Spare pair of running socks
Snacks: Salted peanuts/Kendal mint cake/Protein bars
My main mobile phone
Kryptonics helmet
Spare set of  bearings
Remaining Long Push flyers to hand out on the route
Long Push high viz vest, supplied by Mark Robinson from www.middle-age-shred.com
'Sorbothane' heel pads (In case of any sorness from heel/achiles etc.)
First Aid Kit
Fuji Finepix camera (Rachaels!)
Spare batteries
Families Connected running vest. ( A bit small!)
AUTISM AWARENESS wristbands to sell for donations on the route
2 x spare LONG PUSH T-shirts
The first bottle of water of the day!

And now it's all packed it looks like this...

That will do for this post now. One more post later tonight and then, that's it, till morning.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Tursday 6th September: Countdown continues...2...and The Long Push route plan

First things first, it's a beautiful day this morning, and I'm hoping to get a few miles in as a last bit of training today, but what's the forecast for the weekend?

SATURDAY: AM Clouds/PM Sun 68/52F 20% chance of rain
SUNDAY: Partly Cludy 71/52F 10% chance of rain

Hmmm, the chance of rain seems to be on the increase, but as long as it doesn't go over 20% we should be OK. Would be a shame after the weather leading up to the weekend.

OK, so I'm not going to waste a beautiful morning like this sat behind a PC. Here's the breakdown of the towns that I will be pushing through on the full 100 miles of The Long Push this weekend. Later on I'll break it down into the sectors I'm using a to monitor my progress. I was going to put a full Google map up, but stuff it! You can see the route on the poster anyway! But come back tonight or tomorrow to have another look at this post to see how it's been updated.

Day 1 -Starting from McDonalds, OCEAN PLAZA, in Southport at approximately 9.00AM on SATURDAY 8th September, THE LONG PUSH 2012 - Longboarding for Autism Awareness will be going through the following towns and villages:


Ending Day 1 at the FERRYSIDE CAFE in Fleetwood.

Day 2, Sunday 9th September - Starts from the Ferryside Cafe at approx 10.00AM and follows the reverse route:


Ending Day 2 back at McDonalds, OCEAN PLAZA again.

On the two days, check The Long Push Facebook page or @TheLongPush on Twitter for progress reports at the various sector points, and here are the different sectors:

Day 1

Sector 1: Home via Ocean Plaza to Banks Roundabout - 8.3 miles

Sector 2: Tarleton Library - 12.8 miles

Sector 3: Roundabout at Bretherton - 16.0 miles

Sector 4: Penwortham Traffic Lights - 20.3 miles

Sector 5: McDonalds, Riversway, Preston - 22.2 miles

Sector 6: Freckleton - 27.6 miles

Sector 7: Lytham Windmill - 31.8 miles

Sector 8: St. Annes Pier - 35.4 miles

Sector 9: Blackpool Tower/Big Woody's Skateshop - 40.5 miles

Sector 10: Cleveleys - 45.0 miles

Sector 11: Ferryside Cafe, Fleetwood and end of day 1 - 50.0 miles

Day 2

Sector 12: Start from Ferryside Cafe, Fleetwood to Cleveleys - 55.0 miles

Sector 13: Blackpool Tower - 59.4 miles

Sector 14: St. Annes Pier - 64.3 miles

Sector 15: Lytham Windmill - 68.6 miles

Sector 16: Freckleton - 72.9 miles

Sector 17: McDonalds, Riversway, Preston - 78.3 miles

Sector 18: Penwortham Traffic Lights - 80.4 miles

Sector 19: Roundabout at Bretherton - 84.5 miles

Sector 20: Tarleton Library - 88.0 miles

Sector 21: Banks Roundabout 91.00 miles

Sector 22: Day 2 ends at McDonalds, Ocean Plaza, Southport.
Check The Long Push Facebook page or @TheLongPush on Twitter throughout the weekend for progress reports at the various sector points.

OK, with that done, by about 10.00AM this morning I got my kit together for a last bit of training on the 'Switchblade'. On my way out through Birkdale village I stopped at a Macolls store to get a bottle of water and checked the local paper, the Southport Visiter, to see if my article was in and...IT WAS!!!! Right at the top of page 6 the headline, "I'M SKATEBOARDING 100 MILES" and the photo of Nikki Skinner presenting the cheque to Carol and myself back in July. The article wasn't bad either. SEverly edited from what I gave them (which I'll post up seperately) but all the important info was in there, so all in all, a pretty good job. :o)

I skated up to and along the costal road, the 6.91 miles up to Formby. Recorded on Runkeeper. 
At least my dreadful phone battery managed that far! Lord only knows how I'll get on over two days, but I certainly won't be able to track my route using Runkeeper. My phone just isn't up to the job. I won't mention the brand because I'll be writing to them to see if they can offer me some kind of upgrade for future LONG PUSH sponsorship.

Back on the Coastal Road, back from Formby to Southport
I had to take the orthotic insoles out before I set off today though. Although they felt ok under my foot and were giving the foot good support, they were also lifting my heel too high on my left foot. The DC's are quite low at the heel and with the additional insoles they were starting to rub. So I took the orthotics out, but seeing as the DC's I'm using have quite a lot of arch support, I felt fine without them. I'll just have to use them in other shoes instead. I've packed a pair of gel heel pads in case of any problems over the weekend, but they are more for cushioning the heel and raising it to protect the achilees tendon than anything else. 

Just as I reached the coast road I stopped to do a bit of stretching and an oldish guy on a bike went past me on the cycle path heading in the Formby direction. I carried on doing my warm-up, ate a Snickers and drank some water and then set off. Ten minutes later I'd caught up with  the guy on the bike an...was stuck behind him on the narrow cycle path! I couldn't believe it. But the path is really narrow and I just couldn't get past for bikes coming the other way. I had to wait till the path widened at Ainsdale to scoot on past him! Anyway I met up with Rachael at Formby Cycles where she...bought a bike! Nothing like striking while the iron's hot! Alan at Formby Cycles was really helpful and interested in my board, so some Long Push flyers and Skate Further cards were left with them at the shop. I was undecided whether to skate back or not, but decided to leave it at that, rather than do too much before the weekend. Back to Southport for lunch, a baked potato (The carb loading starts now!), and then I went home to start laying my kit out and packing my bag, so that I don't forget anything...which I will, of course. More about this tomorrow.

Back-Up board. Lush Samba, Seismics and Orangatang Durians
The day ended, like it usually does with me tweaking the blog and the Facebook pages, but not before I gave my back-up board, the Lush Samba with Seismic trucks, a brief roll along the promenade, after changing wheels and putting on the purple Orangatang 'Durians' (75mm 83A). This is just in case anything breaks and I can have this board brought out to me.Hopefully I won't have to use it. I'm expecting the 'blade to handle all that gets thrown at it on the journey. Tonight it felt wierd, but of course it would, it's the polar opposite of the Landyachtz Switchblade, with a soft flex and directional shape. Wheels were fine though. Hard to remember that I did a couple of training rides on it at the beginning of this in January/February. I'm so used to the Switchblade now.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more important info about the weekend journey


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Wednesday 5th September: The Countdown continues...3...

Weather forecast for the weekend?

SATURDAY: Partly Cloudy 68/55F  10% Chance of rain
SUNDAY: Partly Cludy 69/55F  0% Chance of rain

Still sounding good for the weekend but worringly, it's just gone really overcast here now and we've had a shower, which wasn't predicted by either The Weather Channel or Rain Alarm! Let's hope they are a bit more accurate for the weekend!

Last laundry ahead of the weekend just done.  Time to start laying my kit out and making sure nothing gets left behind.

Right, got time to tell you a bit about our week at Butlins recently. This is the third year in a row we've been to Butlins in Skegness. Ailsa is 10 and Steven is 12 and very smart.  Academically he scores above his age, up to 15 in some subjects. But another aspect of his autism spectrum disorder is that he is socially and emotionally much more immature and often behaves like a child much younger than his age. So the nature of Butlins is pretty much ideal for them and...Steven absolutely LOVES it! Which in a way, is yet another contradiction of his condition. He is extremely sensory, with very accute hearing, sense of smell and reaction to light. He is often clumsy and shows little apptitude (or desire) to do any kind of physical exercise so Butlins would, on paper and in reality, look like it would be sensory overload for him and yet...no.

The crowds and volume of voices and the entertainment in the huge Skyline Pavillion don't seem to phase him at all. He loves the biggest, fastest, scariest rollercoasters and never show signs of feeling dizzy from them and perhaps the most at odds with his day to day mannerisms, he walks around the high ropes course like he's walking down the street! You wouldn't get me up there, that's for sure! But this is also one of the potential pitfalls of the condition. No sense of danger. The fact that he could fall, and the possible consequences aren't even a consideration for Steven, in the same way that, when he crosses a road, the consequence of what would happen if a car hit him doesn't even register. And of course, for many people on the autism spectrum, just walking down the street can be a collosal challenge, with all the sights, sounds and distractions around them. I shared a video about this on The Long Push Facebook page about this. This is a real eye opener. Give it a viewing...

Did we have any meltdowns this year? Yes, of course we had a couple, one which was very difficult, but shortly after he was on the high ropes in the pouring rain and after he got off it was like it hadn't happened. Welcome to the upside down world of the autism spectrum! And the reason behind The Long Push, to raise awareness of the issues families on the spectrum have to manage on a daily basis. But guess what? We'll be back there next year.

OK, back to today. I found out this afternoon that one of our local free papers that took a photo of me at the Parkside Court fundraiser a couple of weeks ago, put the story online and not in the actual paper! Thanks for that guys! So next to no one will have seen that then! Cheers! And...they want £9 to buy the 6 x 8 photograph!! Struth! Here's hoping the Southport Visiter article goes in tomorrow and is a good one.

Now it's 10.50pm and I vcan hera Moto GP on the TV in the other room. I feel I could do with the distraction tonight, so I'll sign off now and resume tomorrow with a full route plan for the weekend and hopefully, I'll get a few miles in on the board tomorrow too and then leave it at that until Saturday.

"This IS rock and roll radio,
Stay tuned for more rock and roll"

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


'AUTISM AWARENESS' wristbands in both adult and child sizes are currently available exclusively* at BIG WOODY's SKATESHOP on Talbot Road in Blackpool, with all profits going to THE LONG PUSH 2012/FAMILIES CONNECTED BY AUTISM.

Minimum donation of £1

I will also have some of these with me as I push the 100 mile journey this weekend, but the adult size ones are going fast. I'll be picking up what's left at Big Woody's on Saturday on the way through, to sell on the way back. Whatever's left at the end I'll make available to anyone who wants one...somehow! I haven't really thought that through yet!

Here you can see them modeled on my very own, very hairy arm! What a sales technique!

*To clarify, these wristbands are NOT exclusive to THE LONG PUSH - Longboarding for Autism Awareness and are available elsewhere, but the profits will go to other autism charities, not The Long Push if purchased elsewhere.

Tuesday 4th September. The Countdown continues...4...

Jeez! So much to do, so little time!! First off, weather forecast for the weekend:

Wheel and bearing maintenance ahead of the weekend
SATURDAY:  Partly Cloudy 70/57F  10% chance of rain
SUNDAY:  Partly Cloudy 67/51F  0% chance of rain

OK, so on Sunday (still shattered from our week in Butlins and the drive back from Skegness), I fitted a fresh set of LOADED 'Jehu' bearings into the aluminium core Orangatang 'In Heat' wheels (75mm 80A), ahead of the 100 mile journey this weekend.

Then I did something I should have done a year ago, and got my feet checked out properly. The nice young lady in Shuropody on Lord Street fitted me for some orthotic inserts for my DC's, which have helped straighten the way I walk and also added extra cushioning into the soles of my shoes for The Long Push. I got the 'Active Foot Orthotic' type.  So now I just have to get used to them in less than a week! Great job though, and like I said, I should have done this ages ago!!

Yesterday, Monday I went into the offices of our local paper, The Southport Visiter, to see if I can get an article in this weekends edition. I spoke to a very nice young lady called Janine and hopefully something will be going in on Thursday. I've just written something up to date for her with all the local sponsorship details etc.

After that I had a quick roll on the board, just a couple of miles to see how I got on with the inserts in. A bit wobbly to be honest. It will take some getting used to the new 'shape' of my foot on the 'W' concave of the Landyachtz 'Switchblade' board that I'm using, but it will be fine.

Today I'm off to see Twellsy, to try and finalise arrangements for him to follow me on his bike this weekend, and help me document the journey.

Then tonight I've got more e mails to send, and stuff to update on the blog and facebook pages etc. and I need to start getting all my gear ready for the weekend too. Lots to do.

Gotta dash............

Monday, 3 September 2012

Monthly Vital Statistics - August

August ended up being another full month for fundraising for The Long Push 2012 after the date of the journey was pushed back from August to 8th/9th September. Details follow, but here, with the most important figure first, are the stats for August

CHARITY FUND TOTAL AT 31st August  -  £2288.66



NUMBER OF VIEWS OF THIS BLOG at 31st August  - 7234

NUMBER OF FACEBOOK 'LIKES' at 31st August - 513

Most importantly during August the charity fund increased by another £600.97 to come to a whopping £2288.66 and if all goes well this is due to rise by another £350 to take the total well past the £2500 mark. Amazing!! The charity fund rose by so much partly due to these donations among others:

  • Thom Bleasdale Art : Sale of one of Thom's photographs on a skateboard deck - £120
  • Donation by The Lions Club of Southport - £100
  • Parkside Court Diamond Jubilee garden fete and Cream Tea together contributed - £350

Read about these donations in more detail elsewhere in the blog.

And despite the original 'target figure' of £5000, £2,500 is WAAAY more than I ever expected The Long Push to make for Families Connected by Autism. Very interested to see what the final figure is after the journey is done and all the final donations are counted and added to the current total. We could end up raising over £3000!!!!

But August wasn't a good month for training, following the fall had in Blackpool at the end of July. I had to take time to let my knees recover and then had other problems with an Achilles tendon pull too. So only 11.1 miles skated in August, which was a pain. I kinda lost my training impetus, but on the positive side, I suppose I'll be fresh for the full 100 mile journey. Just got to get a few miles in this week.

Views of the blog rose over the 7000 mark, which is amazing. Please keep reading and sharing the link.

Facebook 'likes' grew by another 57  to go over and above the 500 mark. Excellent.Thanks to all who responded to my posts to share and get to 500 before The Long Push journey itself.

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.

Much more to come this week. Stay tuned....


Monday 3rd September: "Stand By For Action! 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5..."

As anyone who has looked at The Long Push Facebook page will know, we've been away on the family holiday, and had little or no wi-fi access while we were away. Hence the lack of updates, but now....now I'm back and the weather forecast is looking GOOD for this weekend, 8th/9th September, so...


This post is the first of a 'blog a day' diary this week, leading up to setting off on the full 100 miles of  The Long Push 2012 on Saturday! Only a dramatic change in the weather will postpone it this time, and then only by a week or two, I reckon. But the aim is...this Saturday.

So before I get onto the daily diary stuff, I need to catch you up on the last two weeks.

The week before going away was typically hectic, as the week before any family holiday is. There's all the laundry, tidying up before the neighbours come into feed the cats, (is it REALLY that long since I cleaned the toilet??)  laundry, taxing the car, renewing the insurance on the motorbike, laundry, packing, finishing off any loose ends at work and did I mention...laundry? Add the additional factors of a strange illness contracted by Rachael and an over excited boy on the autism spectrum, along with his 10 year old sister and I think I gotta  "... engine runnin' hotter than a boilin' kettle", as the Beastie Boys once chanted.

There was something else too!

Pat, outside Parkside Court on June 1st
When I first told  the mother of a friend of mine about The Long Push 2012 she immediately said "We'll organise something for that", before I'd even finished speaking! Pat and husband Brian live in a retirement block here in Southport called Parkside Court. I call into the block when I'm at work and so many of the other residents know me as well. Pretty soon Pat, Brian, Gill and some of the other residents had organised a garden fete for the Queen's Golden Jubillee celebrations in June, and Pat, (without my knowledge) had gone all over town, asking for items from shops and businesses to offer as prizes in a raffle and tombola at the event, with the proceeds going to The Long Push 2012/Families Connected. I only found out about the prizes the night before when I called round and saw this HUGE pile of stuff all over the floor Pat and Brian's flat! To cut a long stort short (a first for me) the sun shone on the day of the fete and £170 was made towards The Long Push. Pat, being Pat, wasn't happy with that though. Oh no.

Brian and Pat on The Long Push stall, doing good business
The  owners of the retirement block traditionally will double any amount that has been raised for charity, through the residents. Pat's aim was to raise the total to £250 in the hope of securing a £500 donation towards The Long Push! And she had a plan.

Pat was planning to organise a 'Cream Tea' afternoon for the residents, in support of The Long Push to try to raise the extra £80 to reach £250. Originally she planned to do this after I'd done my journey, but then she sprung the date on me of, 22nd August, the week before our hols! But, no problem, I arranged with work for some time to go and attend (which kinda went wrong, but I ended up ok in the end) and I arranged for Carol McKiernon, the head of the Families Connected By Autism to come over, to meet the residents and speak about the charity. I hastily got some photos printed off and stayed up 'till midnight the night before, mounting them onto a board, as Pat had contacted the local press and arranged for them to be there to take a photograph, so I needed something to show what the journey was about. (The board is a lot straighter than it looks in the photo!)

The hastily prepared LONG PUSH 2012 photo board
Running around all done, the afternoon was a great success. The wife of the new warden, Paul, at the block baked some beautiful scones specially for us, both Carol and myself spoke about the charity and The Long Push journey and Pat and Brian had purloined more raffle prizes to be won. I think almost everyone there went home with a prize! And the Southport Champion photographer turned up and took a photo, so all was good.

And the result, the money from this event was added to the original £170 to make a total of £350! A potential donation of £700 to the charity fund if doubled by the management company of the building. Incredible!!

So, HUGE thanks to Pat and Brian Froggatt, to Paul and his wife for their help with the food and posters for the event, Ruth and Len and all the residents and friends and relatives who paid their £3 to come in and support The Long Push 2012.

Thanks to all the people and companies who supplied prizes for the two days:

Residents, families and friends at Parkside Court,
Lin Canavan,
A base computers - Jude and Keith,
Claudes of Churchtown,
Staff at Albert Road Tesco - organised by Juliette
Boots at Chapel street
Boots at Central 12
Marks and Spencer.

Carol and myself can't thank you all enough. You have given the charity fund an enormous boost. Thank you all so much.

Right, it's now 10.00am and I have a million things to do today. I'll put up the August Vital Statistics post tonight, and tomorrow I'll tell you a bit about how we got on at Butlins this year.

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...