Postman Glenn Johnstone started to limp before discovering he had a giant cell tumour in his right leg which resulted in losing that limb. Now he demonstrates that amputee cycling is more than possible.
Having started on a 3 wheeler at about 4 years old, Glenn had been a keen cyclist as a lad, even petitioning his local council in Co Durham to successfully get a BMX track built on some wasteland.
A key stage for him to get back on to a bike was discovering Brian Bartlett and his design of the “Bartlett Tendon” or “BTK” which replicates the biomechanics of a human limb. It has artificial tendons, plus a Rock Shox Monarch RT3 shocker absorber. Together, these allow a rider to stand out of the saddle and pedal foot over foot and take in various terrains. Compare that with the first hydraulic knee Glenn received where a daily ride out was just sitting in the saddle which he soon found to get boring.
Glenn says that he found Brian on YouTube and contacted him via a friend of Brian’s called Jason Lalla, who was using a pre-production Bartlett Tendon and also happened to be a prosthetist and who was a professional skier before he lost his limb.
Glenn’s irrepressible attitude saw him obtain sponsorship from different companies, saying “I thought there was no harm in writing to various companies and stating “hey this is what I can offer you”. Creating disability awareness and wanting to inspire and motivate others is very rewarding and it can be a great tool when used for promotion of an individual or company.”
Via a Facebook group for fellow amputees, a South African prosthetist called Johan Snyders found Glenn as he was interested in how Glenn had re-learned how to ride a bike and this led to an introduction to Pace Rehabilitation here in the UK who took Glenn under their wing and started to research and develop a comfortable riding socket for amputee cycling.
Pace has continued to support Glenn, who now uses the Ossur Rheo XC knee and BTK Crossover, one of the latest incarnations of the BTK Tendon.
Amputee Cycling Success
Since he got a prosthetic leg Glenn has had 10 bikes, of which he still has 8. N+1 obviously applies to amputee cycling! Glenn was cycling 3-4 times a week until he had to lay off while having treatment for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. His longest ride was bike packing with some friends along the North East coast travelling around 85 miles over 2 days.
Amazingly, Glenn’s BTK is regarded as a “dirty design” which means that it can be taken out in pretty much any conditions, which sees Glenn out on his fat bike riding off road. He attempts wheelies, bunny hops, and jumping or dropping off and regards blasting down steps as great fun.
Now Glenn is a brand ambassador for Silverback and loves his Silverback Synergy Fat. He customised it a bit, adding a dropper seat-post which makes it easier to get on and off, and upgraded the brakes.
When not out amputee cycling, Glenn is now a Rehabilitation Assistant after previous voluntary work at his local hospital and then a stint as a physiotherapist assistant, where his self-motivation and positive attitude helps no end.
“I am just like everyone I have good days and bad days. Sometimes we all need to take stock and just reflect on our situation. The last 3 years has been a very hard road, not only contending with having to put a leg on everyday, but also dealing with Non Hodgkin’s and the after effects of treatment. Taking time for yourself and doing things that make you happy is important.”