Another Successful Taster Day

Today was one of the taster days held by disability Sports Northern Ireland and the Blind Sports Network. I don’t blog about them all the time, because i have been on a few events, but today was a really, really good day.

I got the train down to Derry at 8 o’clock. I forgot it was the north west 200 race today so the trains were totally bunged.

We all met up at Saint Collumns house in Saint Collumns park, where we filled in a few forms and met a few of the guide runners that were going to be doing some guide running with some of the participants. We were then split in to groups. One group were doing the tandum cycling, while the other were doing guide walking/running. We then headed to the running track. I thought it was cool that the park had it’s own running track.

Everyone wanted to do running so a guy from the blind sports network and i headed off for our walk, after a warm up of course, which was meant for the runners, but we did it anyway. I had said to the guy that i wanted a decent walk, after all, i had missed my dose of weekly parkrun so wanted to get a good walk in. As i wasn’t doing the tandum cycling, we were going to be out for at least two and a half hours. Thankfully, he was up for a longer walk. We walked out of the park and along a sort of toepath thing that went by the sea and the train tracks behind the fence. There were a couple of trains that went by in the space of our walk and they sounded as if they were right there on the path beside us but they weren’t. Eventually, we had to turn back because we were getting near the peace bridge and didn’t know where else we would go. There were also houses too so we deffinetly turned back. Unfortunately, we got caught in a very heavy, blustery old shower on the way, but we didn’t let it dampen our spirrets as it soon dried up again. It was just that sort of a day where the showers popped up anywhere. We eventually made it back to the park and walked round it a few times before heading back to the house. Altogether, it was a 4 mile walk, which wasn’t bad at all.

By this time, it was lunch time and everyone started to come back to the house to eat.

After lunch, we headed over to the Foyl Areena, which has just newly opened. It is only open about a month and you could still smell the newness of the building. This was where the boxing and spin sessions were going to take place. We were again asked to fill in some forms before doing the activities.

The first activity of the afternoon was the boxing. There were 3 coaches who had come along to teach us and they had all asked for visual awareness training which i thought was fabulous. First of all, we had to warm up. Part of the warm up routine was skipping. Now, skipping is a disaster for me. I can’t get the coordination to jump and throw the rope over your head. Plus i think you are meant to jump back and forward and not half way down the hall. Oops. We also had to punch the air and stuff. After that, we were able to start boxing. The coaches had used goalposts to create a make shift ring. They later told me that they wanted us to come down to one of their clubs as it would be more realistic. Because they were in a hall, they had to make do with what they had. We were split in to pairs while we were in the ring. Each pair were at a corner of the ring. We were then given boxing gloves. These were in the shape of fists, but they had a whole for your thumb. You kind of had to put your hand in a fist when you were wearing them. We practiced how to protect our faces by having our hands in tight against our faces and how to do different punches. We also were taught how to block a persons punch, and how to move out of the way to miss the punches. We also learnt how to move in the ring. You kind of shuffle along sort of. I said that if a visually impaired person was boxing, their aponent would possibly need to have a word or something so the person could know when the next punch was going to happen.

After that, it was a cool down, which thankfully didn’t involve any skipping, before we headed over to the spin session.

For the spin class, the lady taking it was going to be starting a new spin class each week. We were first of all shown a bike and told what way to sit on it. You sort of have to be leaning forward to do it. It feels as if the seat is quite far back, but apparently it’s meant to be like that. Your feet are then strapped in to the pedals and you’re ready to go. First of all, you start off with some fast music to get the speed up on an easy resistance. Apparently, you need to be aiming for 80ish turns per minute of the wheel. If you are too fast, you don’t have enough resistance. We were shown how to increase the resistance and for some of the music, we had to stand up for a few beats. This felt very very strange. Kind of as if you were a on a horse trotting on a trampileen lol.

The whole session lasted about 45 minutes altogether. One thing about the spin is, you are roasting by the end of it. I mean the sweat is on every part of your body. I would deffinetly bring a drink next time. You certainly need it. I think if i had a choice, i’d do spin over tandum cycling. My legs may not be saying that in the morning though lol. I can already feel it working on me.

It was home time after that. I would like to thank everyone from the clubs who came, and for everyone from disability sports and the blind sports network for such a fabulous day. I thought the boxing and spin were such great craic.

Unfortunately, Ushi was not keen at all on the boxing. She was very focused on me and very very whiny and giving out little barks too. She was so bad that the guy from the blind sports network had to take her outside for a bit to calm her down. Thankfully when they returned, she was much better. When i came over to her she was so so pleased to see me. She went mad and ran round my legs and started to roll a bit on the floor. I wasn’t that bothered and just let her roll around and snort to herself to destress. Once she had done that, she was grand, and her whines weren’t like she needed a busy or anything. She was much more happier during the spin.

I would like to thank everyone again for such a great great day. My legs will deffinetly be stiff in the morning :(.

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Skiing and Cycling and Sailing, Oh My!

Today the blind sports network were holding an activity day for blind and partially sighted people to come and try out some new sports. The blind sports network seem to be part of Disability sports Northern Ireland. The day was for all ages.

There was a coach put on by the blind sports network to take people from Lergan bus or train station to the Ski centre in Cregavon. /cregavon is very hard to get to unless you have a car as the nearist train station to there seems to be Lergan or Portadown. Unfortunately it was only me and my friend Paul plus two volunteers who used it so i felt that it was maybe a waist of money and would have thought more people would have used it.

Anyway we got to the ski centre at about 10 o’clock. We first of all got on our ski boots. Boy were they hard to get on. They looked a bit like an ice skating boot if anyone has ever seen one of them, only there were clips up the side of the boots. You had to put the clips on the loosest setting otherwise you would end up hurting yourself. Before we got our boots on, we had to get weighed and measured so they could make sure we were given the right types of skis for our weight and so that the right amount of pressure would be on the skis. Who knew that would be part of a sport lol!

After all that was taken care of, we headed outside on to the dry ski slope. We had to wear gloves and i learnt that i should have put on thicker socks as you really feel the boot against your shins if you’re not careful. Even though it was a dry ski slope, if you fell on the slope, you could badly burn yourself as it is like the texture of a yard brush that you’re skiing on. Walking in the boots was really hard because they were so tight. I had to get Ushi to slow down because walking with her was quite hard.

Next, we were shown our skis. They looked like wooden planks that were maybe a foot wide. They were about an arms length long. They had a clip in the middle where the toe of your boot would go. You would then have to press your foot down with your heel until it clicked in to place. The skis were designed like a safety stirrup where if you fell, you would then be released from the ski to stop you from hurting yourself more.

Each person was then given an individual instructor. The guy who worked with me was called Stuart. We first of all practiced on some very flat ground with just one ski on to see how we would find it. We had to practice stepping and turning around by stepping. I must say i felt very clumsy so we tried two skis one on each foot next to see if that was any better. Unfortunately i still felt very clumsy. I compared it to ice skating where you kind of have to slid along rather than shuffling. I think it helps me anyway because i am holding on to something when i ice skate but when you’re skiing, you can’t really do that.

We then went up the slope as all beginner skiiers start at the bottom of the slope. When you are going up the slope, you have to make your skis tilt on their sides, so you don’t slide back down the slope again. You then have to make sure that your skis are straight and that they don’t cross over and that they remain parallel. So quite a lot to take in. You then have to walk with your knees bent to get a full on slide going on. I can’t remember why this is lol. So we slid a couple of times which was fun, but i still felt as if my hands needed to be holding on to something.

We were on the slope for about an hour, but it didn’t feel that long. You have to trust the skis, trust the instructors, and trust the ground. There is quite a lot to remember and it takes quite a lot of concentration.

What made it all worth while though, was that Kelly Galagher was waiting for me at the end of my session. She is a gold medal athlete from here. I love the way northern iresh people don’t let fame go to their heads though as she just seemed normal. She helped out with some of the kids sessions too as there were kids and adults taking part. What a relief to get those ski boots off though!

After that, it was time for a few rounds of golf. I was debating taking part, as i played golf at school and always found it to be an old mans sport lol. But i decided to give it a go anyway. I got quite a few shots, but struggled with keeping the club straight. It was good craic none the less.

After that, everyone was starving so we headed over to the watersports centre because the caffe there was quieter. I had a sausage roll and chips and a coke whilst catching up with a lot of people from school who i hadn’t seen in a while.

After that, we headed out on a tandum. I was with Stuart again so that was cool. We cycled a 5 k route, which turned out to be the local parkrun route. I jokingly said to one of the volunteers who had Ushi that they should go round it all and time it so that i could add that as a freedom run and cheat a little lol. It took us about 25 minutes to cycle around the whole course. The bike was needing a good dose of oil though as it was rather squeaky. I always find that when i am on a tandum, it feels like we’re constantly going down hill, although we aren’t all the time.

I forgot to say that before Lunch, we went up one of the bigger slopes without skis, to do some snow Tubing. This is where you sit in a big rubber ring. It has a reinforced bottom. You sit with your feet hanging over the edge and hold on to the handles. It was great craic as you zoom down the slope. A lot less hard work than skiing lol.

Finally, it was time to relax with some sailing at the end of the day. I always find sailing very relaxing so it was a lovely way to end a busy day.

I would like to thank disability sports and the blind sports network first of all for organising such a good event. It was very well organised and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I would also like to thank the instructors who taught us today, and Kelly gallagher for coming along and being so helpful, and to Sandra who was on dog duty today and she loved it.

The company Halfords had sponsored the event, so we got reflective vests at the end which was nice and useful, especially as my newist coat that i have is jet black apparently.

It was a brilliant day and my favourite events would have to be the snow tubing and the sailing.

No doubt i’ll feel the skiing in the morning lol.


Activity Day For Blind And Partially Sighted People

I’m just posting quickly to let you know about something i discovered earlier in the week.

Disability Sports NI are holding an activity taster day on Saturday the 20th September at Creg avin ski centre and water sports centre. It runs from 10 until 4 i think. It is an opportunity to try out different sprots such as Skiing, golf, sailing, tandum cycling and i can’t remember if there are any more.

For more information, visit the link below.
Activity taster day for blind and partially sighted people
For an entry form. You have until the 5th September to get your entries in.

I promise i will have a more personal entry hopefully soon, but i just wanted to post this information.=”