Today, (Saturday), I spent the day trying something new, something which I hope may bring my circumference down, something which I hope will get me to know more `wheelies` and something which will give me something to push myself for. Today I spent the day at the athletics track in Yeovil with the disabled athletes club, I tried wheelchair racing which I had seen on the televised Olympics last year. The day began with Alison and Steve coming to pick me and the Chucklebus up and take me to Yeovil.They were going to Yeovil and I asked if they would take me, they could have the bus to do what they wanted and then if the time I finished coincided with the time they were ready to leave then they could take me home, if not then they could take the bus home and my Wife could come and collect me later. We arrived at the track a little later than we had planned but still before the start time and Alison looked to see if she could locate the lady who had invited me to come and have a go. It was not long at all before Alison gave the nod to say that she had found the lady, who’s name is Jen, and she came back to the bus. Steve got me out, we went in to the building where people were meeting up and I located and introduced myself to Jen. We had a brief chat about what sport fancied trying and then she ducked off to see another person. Alison and I made decisions on what would happen later in the day with regards to transport and then she and Steve left me to it.
I looked around at the people who were there for a while as they all knew each other and were chatting, then one of the coaches stood on a chair and proceeded to welcome us all and talk us through the days training. I had opted to try the racing and so I watched one of the lady’s get in to her chair and get on to some rollers. This is like a tradmill you get in your local gym except for a racing wheelchair. The front was strapped to avoid movement and the back was clamped to prevent the person training from dissapearing off of the rollers and in to the coffee counter. It gave me the opportunity to see how you would propel yourself and if it was any different to my manual chair, it was similar except for the fact that you follow the wheel round, not holding or powering all the way round but making the circular motion with your shoulders, this stops the jerking that you experience when you power the wheels and then let go and return to the top to do it again, something which can cost you speed. I was all up for this now, and so they got a chair for me to use and then was the task for me to get in to it. It was put in front of me in my regular chair and I had to put my legs in to it which I managed with help. Then we waited for the spasms to stop so that my loegs would bend and I could get my arse in. Well, if I thought my legs were a problem then this matched it. The chair is supposed to be a snug fit, and it was, beleive me, I thought I may have to have it surgically removed! Anyway, I am in the chair and it was a whole different feeling. I had to lean forward as the front is so light but this meant that I had to let my whale size belly deflate to lean forward. This was fine, but when I wanted to push forward and get some momentum, I had to breathe, (breathing is important), but this inflated my lungs which lifted me from my legs and I ended up bouncing the front wheel on and off of the ground. This would send me drifting towards the edge of the track and I would have to stop pushing and change course and then push again, very frustrating. The steering compensator was not set perfectly either but when mixed with me bouncing the front wheel it became a nightmare for me to get any constant speed up, gutted. I veered off of the track on the straight and ended up with my left wheel on the grass which was really soft. I tried to push myself out and on to the track again but it was not happening. I rolled back, then forward, then back again, this time I’m gonna get out of the dip I had made, back forward, back forward, this time, this time, back and forw………bollocks.
I had not managed to get out of the dip I had made, in fact I made a bigger dent in the grass verge as I over balanced and was laying on my back with the front wheel very much vertical in the air like a bloody monument, what a twat. Needless to say I found this extremely funny. Be the grey man, just blend in, try your sports and see which one you like, enjoy your day and arrange to come back and join the club. No problem they will just know that you tried and wanted to join. But oh no, not George, that would not be in line with his character would it. George has to try to be a smart as and within ten minutes of being in the chair I had two people running over to put me the right way up. If you have ever seen the Disney Pixar film called Cars, think about when Mator and McQueen go tractor tipping and that is exactly what I was like!
I continued trying to get round the track and gather speed, we tweeked the compensator but it was to do with me as well. I knew that if my legs could get slightly further back to stop my belly lifting me up then I was sure I could get full motion and power on to the wheel and do quite well but the chair I was able to use would not allow this, the whole thing for today was, for me to try, to see if I enjoyed it and would want to continue. Even if I was not to compete in any races, the fact that I had the use of a flat track to really smash myself round may help me lose the belly, build my upper body, improve my stamina and keep me fit. I am able to fit my third wheel and take my manual chair round the track if I like as well which will be good if I am unable to get in to a race chair any time. We broke for lunch and had been inside for only a few minutes when the thunder and rain started. It lashed down but this was not a problem as it was lunch time. I spoke to some of the others that were training, finding out what they did and what equipment they had themselves. I was not shocked to find out how much the race chairs cost as I know how much my manual chair cost me.
Alison and Steve turned up during the lunch break, they had planned to take Jack up for a run at Ham Hill but the rain put pay to that. Alison spoke to Jen while I was speaking to the other athletes, one of which I got on really well with from the off. We have spoken about both of entering a race in our manual chairs just to do it. I spoke to Jen and let her know that I will be away for a couple of weeks but that I would love to go and train again. She encouraged me to come back when I get back and that I should go along to the basketball that they do, whoever drives me will also be welcome to play as they have mixed able and disabled people playing together, this is something that Steve is looking forward to seeing and so it is likely that I will be paying that a visit. Jen also mentioned archery, she is hoping to start this later and this I am very interested in. I thanked Jen and the coach for the opportunity to try the racing and agreed to mail Jen and keep her informed on when I would return, she would keep me up to date with the events and training days and times. Alison and Steve then bought me back to the bungalow where we spoke about the training session that I had taken part in. My Wife was asking about how it went and asked about the mud on my back, which I simply could not blag as anything else but the truth. I had a brilliant time and met some great people, I have a new interest now in racing around a track in a wheelchair, which I may be good at, or I may not be good at but until I have given it a go I will not know. At the very least I can aim to get rid of the belly!