Support & Services For The Spinal Cord Injury & Disease Community

Cyclist Ian Andersen – Alaska To Argentina For A Cause

You are here >>://Cyclist Ian Andersen – Alaska To Argentina For A Cause

Cyclist Ian Andersen – Alaska To Argentina For A Cause

Ian Andersen cycling through Patagonia, Argentina

Ian Andersen cycling through Patagonia, Argentina

On Dec. 5, 2017, approximately 15 and a half months after he set off from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, Ian Andersen completed one of the most epic fundraising efforts for United Spinal Association ever. Andersen cycled over 15,000 miles, from above the arctic circle to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, Argentina, to help raise more than $22,000 dollars for the organization.

The idea of a long cycle journey had been planted by Ian’s uncle, Bret Andersen, who did the same trip in 1986. When Ian was in college at the University of Southern California, his best friend, Natalie Fung, was hit by a drunk driver while riding in a taxi and sustained a cervical spinal cord injury. Fung and Andersen both learned of United Spinal’s advocacy and support work through a mutual friend. When Andersen began to contemplate retracing his uncle’s journey, dedicating the effort toward fundraising for United Spinal was a natural fit. It let Andersen support a cause he believed in, raising both funds and awareness for the disability community while he was traveling.

Andersen and Fung at their graduation from USC

Andersen and Fung at their graduation from USC

“The money aspect was good, I don’t think I changed the course of all spinal cord research […] but I think I did as much as one guy can do,” Andersen says. But the real benefit of his partnership with United Spinal was the dialogue it opened it with people all over the Americas. “It makes the experience even better when you have a reason, or a story, or a cause. It really just opens up the narrative. When people ask you why you’re doing this, it opens up a whole conversation with the people you meet.”

Though Andersen was self-sufficient, carrying all the gear he needed to live and camp on his bicycle, being able to easily connect with people was a huge benefit on a trip where he was often reliant on the kindness of strangers to even have a place to sleep for the night. “Depending on which country I was in I could ask a restaurant, family, firefighters or farmers with land if I could camp on their property and every time they’d say yes,” Andersen said.

He’s only been back in the United States for a few weeks, recovering at his parents’ home in Minnesota, but the 25-year old Andersen already has his sights set on more journeys.

“I’ve cycled across two continents now, from Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia, and I kind of feel like I can’t stop at two. I’m in too deep now to stop, I’ve got to cycle across the other four.”

As for the details of his ride, after 15 and a half months, Andersen is well versed at answering the typical questions from the road, as shown by this spot-on Instagram post detailing his stock answers:

“From Alaska.”
“Yes, by bike.”
“To the bottom of Argentina.”
“Yes, all by bike.”
“Yes.”
Yes I saw bears in Alaska.”
“About 16 months.”
Well one plane, Panama City to Cartegena.”
“24,000 km.”
“About 100 km a day.”
“Maybe five days a week.”
“Sure, sometimes I take long breaks.”
Its been fun, a great experience.”
No I’m not carrying a gun.” (Asked in U.S. only.)
“I guess it’s dangerous, just the traffic, people are nice everywhere.”
“Twenty-five-plus flat tires”
“Nope, no accidents.”
“Sometimes camping, sometimes hostels.”
Yes I have a tent.”
“Pasta, bread, peanut butter, bananas, nuts, oatmeal.”
Audiobooks and lots of podcasts.”
Yes I’ve been to the hospital twice.”
Yes I’m riding solo.”
Yes I get lonely sometimes.”
Yes I call my mom.”
No I didn’t train for this.”
No I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“No. I’m not biking back up to the U.S.”

To learn more about Andersen’s journey, and keep track of his next adventures, follow his Instagram feed, Ride with Ian

2018-04-24T09:47:41+00:00Categories: Latest, United Spinal Updates|

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury can result in paralysis of the muscles used for breathing; paralysis and/or loss of feeling in all or some of the trunk, arms, and legs; weakness; numbness; loss of bowel and bladder control; and numerous secondary conditions including respiratory problems, pressure sores, and sometimes fatal spikes in blood pressure. Approximately 12,000 new spinal cord injuries occur in the U.S. each year. A majority of injuries occur from motor vehicle accidents, falls, work-related accidents, sports injuries, and penetrations such as stab or gunshot wounds.

Our Membership Community

Our membership community provides a lifeline for many individuals that are focused on regaining their independence and improving their quality of life––whether they are leaving rehab after sustaining a spinal cord injury, learning to live with symptoms of a spinal cord disorder, or have spent years of frustration coping with disability. We provide members guidance and resources on a variety of topics they are passionate about, such as employment, affordable housing, transportation, health care, home- and community-based independent living, education, peer support, and leisure and recreation.
Donate to United Spinal today! spacer Join, membership is free spacer Sign up for our newsletter spacer Free Disability Publications from United Spinal spacer

Ask Us

United Spinal’s Ask Us program connects you with information, resources, and access to our “Ask Us Spinal Cord Central” help center. Browse the Knowledge Books below for answers to your questions. If you can’t find what you are looking for just Ask Us and one of our knowledgeable staff will provide you with answers.