The 23-year-old’s solo journey will take him by some of the world’s most beautiful and unique places and on many unexpected adventures, but there is nothing he is looking forward to more than stopping in Southern California at the end of October, either Oct. 25 or 26. That is when he will rendezvous with his inspiration, his friend Natalie Fung. Fung was paralyzed in 2013 when she was hit by a drunk driver. She currently lives in San Marino.
“That’s going to be the highlight of the trip for sure,” says Andersen.
Inspired by Fung, Andersen spent months planning the 10-month journey and then flew to Alaska August 23 and started south the next day. In addition to raising awareness about the impact spinal cord injuries can have on the injured and their families and friends, Andersen hopes to raise $1 for every mile he rides. He is donating 100 percent of the profits to United Spinal. He chose United Spinal after doing extensive research and seeing the breadth of its efforts. “They have a great network and they impact a lot of people,” he says.
The cross-continent ride has been a lifelong dream for Andersen. His uncle set a Guinness World Record for accomplishing the same feat in 1986. Andersen, a designer with an architecture degree, has no experience with such long rides but considers himself a savvy biker. After watching other friends of Fung use their skills to raise money, he knew what to do.
“I asked myself, ‘What am I good at?’ Well I’m pretty good at biking,” he recalls. “I thought, my uncle did this trip which I would like to replicate at some point and I’ve got a great cause I’m passionate about. Let’s do it … It seemed super natural to do it for spinal cord injury and to raise awareness.”
At the time Andersen was interviewed for this article he was on day 16, approximately 1000 miles in about 100 miles north of Juneau, Alaska. “It’s going really well,” he reports. “I’ve gone about 100 miles so far. I’m making pretty good time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as beautiful as the Canadian scenery.” He says any initial nerves wore off quickly. “Within a few days I was like, I can handle this. I haven’t been eaten by a bear yet.”
You can find out more about Ian’s journey on his website www.ridewithian.com. You can follow his daily adventures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @ridewithian. If you want to donate, visit www.gofundme.com/BikeTrek, all proceeds will go to United Spinal Association.