Monthly Archives: August 2014

A conversation.

A lady came up to me today. She started to cry as soon as she spoke.
She said that she had to talk to me before they left. She explained that for years she’d watched me canoeing the lake, coming back from bike rides and runs too.
She said that she’d been in shock a year ago when told about my accident.
She said that she just couldn’t believe it that I was on an arm bike and was swimming the lake, after being carried in by 4 people.
She said that after seeing me doing it, her husband swam it, having consistently avoided that lake for 23 years.
She told me that I was an inspiration to so many people who watched me doing these things, but maybe couldn’t actually say anything to me, and that she didn’t want to miss the opportunity to say something.

It’s hard for me to think that I’m in any way heroic, but she spoke with such touching conviction.

She was called Beverley, and also said that she’d witnessed the joy in my face as I watched my girls in my kayaks, Lily actually managing to paddle my very, very unstable K1 boat for the first time – no small feat.

She could see my happiness in the realisation that something of me has been passed on to my girls, and that, if you like, my legacy, is still there.

And that I’m alive to see it.

From Terry.

To all the Back on Track crew

Hi, it’s Terry from the Hogarth here.

Some of you will know me, some of you won’t but what is very clear to me is that we all have one thing in common! We all very much care about and love the crazy Welshman and his beautiful family.

It’s almost a year ago since the birth of Russ’s Back on Track charity and also our very first fund raising event – The 24 Hour Spinathon. For those that took part (drinking or cycling) you will all agree, I’m sure, what a bloody good laugh – workout – piss up it was?! Believe it or not, we raised just shy of 20K which was an incredible achievement. Since the Spinathon I have been quietly training for Ironman Wales which to be honest, has been a serious ball ache as my lovely wife informed me that “we were pregnant” only a week or two after me signing up for the event which wasn’t ideal. Not to worry – Russ is worth ruining my body for, sacrificing my marriage for and leaving my now three kids with no daddy for the best part of a year J

This Ironman journey and commitment has been an incredible journey – physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve met and conquered many personal demons along the way (the surgeons knife being a rather large one). I spent some quality time with Russ at his Portugal pad which to be fair, changed my life in ways I am incredibly grateful for. I always wanted to shower him since the very first day I met him. Joking aside guy’s, my reason for this challenge is since that fateful day back in June 2013 is that I couldn’t not help – Russ and his family have the challenge of their lives ahead of them, forever. I wanted to attempt the challenge of my life albeit for 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running.

It goes without saying that I am raising money for Russ’s charity so for those who would like to support me or more importantly Russ then please feel free to click on this link

and get stuck in.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sincere thanks to the Back on Track crew.


Wedding anniversary.

It’s that time of the year again.

With the benefit of hindsight , the first 17 years and 10 months were plain sailing for my wife, compared to the last year and 2 months.

Apparantly ( in common with lots of sporty people ) I was occasionally selfish with my time.

For that I’m sorry, Dani. Except I’m hardly making amends now am I ? These days, I’m a whole lot of hard work for you. You see, you never appreciated how easy it was for you, me being away skiing/ cycling/ canoeing etc.

Let that be a lesson to any couples reading this… Draw whatever conclusions you will..

Happy anniversary Dani.

I, and our girls, love you very much, and owe you a whole lot more.



I float!

imageI swam a whole km today, with no flotation aid.

God, salt water makes all the difference. I swam in a salty lake and never once felt I was going to sink.

30 mins for the first 500m, facing forward.. Vertical swimming/ legs straight down..then on my back for the return 500m where my legs were straight out behind me – twice as fast, back in 15 minutes.

I’m gonna try again today with a little flotation foam stuck in my shorts, to see if I can stroke with alternate arms rather than both at the same time, which is a bit like doing butterfly on my back.

Mega thanks to Stu and Lucy for swimming with me, Ben and Lex in the safety boat, and Stu and Mark for lifting me into and out of the lake.



I’ve had the most brilliant assistance from my brother, Stu, this week
Nothing is ever too much trouble. He’s pushed me about, been out riding with me, serviced pretty much everything mechanical I own, and driven me around.
He and Gerry didn’t take no for an answer when I doubted my ability to drive a hand controlled go kart, meaning that after they lifted me into the thing, I could race them and the kids too, like a normal Dad.
It was great to be included, not to be sidelined. I should add here that it’s often my reluctance to be a nuisance, to stand out, to slow everyone and everything down, that sidelines myself.
I still suffer from the embarrassment of being this way, feeling different from everyone else, effectively being prejudiced against myself. I’m not sure if and when that will pass.

However, once in the go kart, it was a blast. I actually was only interested in driving near to my two girls, seeing their faces, hearing their screams, breathing in their excitement.
The last time I drove a kart was on my stag day/night. Gerry and Stu were there that day too, back in August 1995. Driving the kart was pretty much the last thing I recall of that day. It wasn’t until Stu sent me some photos 3 weeks later that I even knew what they’d made me do that evening…. So drunk I’d genuinely no recollection of the terrible events that passed for a male celebration of my forthcoming marriage.
It was a wonder I even made it to my own wedding.

Anyway I digress. Back to hand biking.. Not getting any easier, but I am dead excited that some very generous friends have clubbed together to buy me a new, proper one – my own size, modern spec, with all the bells and whistles a paraplegic could want.
Then I’ve no excuses for my speed… other than the one about having no legs and crap lungs.
I’ve got to do 40 odd miles a day on the third weekend of September, for 3 days, rain or shine, accompanying my buddies from my crash day, as they canoe from Devizes to Westminster in my honour.
The fellas have been training hard at Richmond Canoe Club at all hours, coached by Richard Hendron mainly, along with Tony, Rob and Peter.
They’ll see that endurance kayaking is hard work, but should love it, plus gain a skill set that’s always going to be useful.

We went to a Waterpark yesterday. They charged me to get in, but wouldn’t allow me on any of the rides. No matter, I could watch them have fun, and get a kick out of that. I did get to hold a golden eagle too, although it was apparently a little freaked out by the wheelchair. It and me both then.

Being splashed by the rollercoaster was funny though, as per the video clip above.

Before my injury I was certainly more childish at Waterparks than the children, so it was a bit odd not to partake. I know that they realise how I feel, and they are very loving to me, which does help.

Soon I go back to work, full time for 2 weeks, to do an induction for 3 new student optometrists. Unable now to physically demonstrate lots of things, I’ll have to talk a lot instead. It’ll be harder, not being the old me ie really hands on… but I don’t have a choice.

Also soon I go on a 3 day intro to para rowing camp. As I can’t sit up straight in a wheelchair , it’s going to be a real challenge in a boat, but I’m sure the boat people will be used to paralysed people  potentially falling out of boats so will have a plan to prevent that.

The first day is theory and capsize drill.

Can’t wait for the floundering about in the river followed by rescue part. Other than dragging me into the rescue craft by my arms/life vest, I can’t see how they would save me… Maybe throw a rope at me, then drag me to a shallow bit of the river?

All will no doubt be revealed.

I’m also soon going to a beginners hand biking weekend at Stoke Mandeville track. As I’m now not a total novice ie I’ve already crashed at speed, I’m hoping for a bit of coaching instead, plus better technique for getting in and out of a lie down bike. My regained muscularity is against me in terms of flexibility required to get from lying down to wheelchair, dragging still quite heavy and stiff legs behind me.

Yep, it’s all going on.

Hand biking.

Arm biking continues….. Varying the rides.. 26 miles maximum so far, but as short as 5 miles  hill rep’s.

‘Sprinting’ up hills with crap lung capacity isn’t very enjoyable, but I’m sure it’s good for me, and seems to lead to me coughing up all sorts of gunk.. Stuff lying in the depths of my lungs  for a year perhaps, and now out.

I like to think that every bit I cough up leads to a little more space I can use to breathe with..