It took Ian Anderson 20 days on the road to cycle from Prudhoe Bay to Juneau, averaging 60-75 miles a day through potholes and rain. For most this would be an epic adventure, but for Anderson it’s just a beginning.
Fourteen counties, 10 months and 17,500 miles later, the 24-year-old plans on making the triumphant cruise into Ushuaia, Argentina after biking the length of the Americas solo. The trip is part of Anderson’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for spinal cord research, a cause that’s grown near to his heart after a friend was paralyzed from the chest down in a 2013 car crash.
“She was in the back seat of a taxi in Las Vegas with another friend of ours and they got hit by a drunk driver,” Anderson explained while taking a break in Juneau on Thursday. “The ride is for her. I am just to get the word out.”
In addition to educating the communities he visits about spinal cord injuries, Anderson is raising funds for the United Spinal Association. He’s set a goal of $20,000, a little more than one dollar per mile biked. His gofundme.com campaign has so far received $7,160, all of which will support research, resource centers and legislation advocacy.
Making the trip even more personal, Anderson is retracing the steps of his uncle Bret Anderson, who cycled from Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia in 1986 as part of a Guinness World Record-setting bicycle trip.
Uncle Bret had some sage advice.
“The best piece of advice I got from him was to wear plastic bags around your feet if it’s really cold or if it’s raining,” Anderson said. “I do that all the time. Your feet, your knees and your hands — always freezing because they are always pressed up against the wind.”
Anderson struck out Aug. 24 from the shores of the Arctic Ocean, travelling down the Dalton Highway on bicycle. After hitting Fairbanks, he took the Alaska Highway to Haines where he made the trip to Juneau by ferry Wednesday, taking a few days of rest.
Juneau local Max Stanley, who has mutual friends with Anderson, housed Anderson during his respite. Stanley was a part of a five-person team that made a similar self-powered trip to South America in 2014.
Completing such a trip smoothly requires a lot of planning and a bit of luck. Anderson took time to knock on wood when he reported having no mechanical problems with his bike.
“So far I haven’t even popped a tire,” Anderson said. “It’s a self-supporting ride and that means everything I am using I am carrying with me. … I only have the least amount of clothing possible to stay warm. A tent, a sleeping bag, a pad. I have a little stove for cooking. There are a couple things I brought that I probably don’t need. A have a little laptop with me and a Go-Pro. It’s extra weight but worth it to have.”
The only thing Anderson really wishes he could bring with him is some companionship, but he has been inspired by the generosity of those he has met on his travels.
“It get’s a little lonely, not going to lie,” he said. “Without somebody else to talk to, I listen to lot of music and podcasts while I am riding. There have been a couple times when I have thought ‘I wish I had somebody to share this with.’ … Everyone has been so generous, offering me food and lodging, it’s amazing to see.”
Anderson is sharing the whole trip remotely via Instagram, posting a photo every day at instagram.com/ridewithian. More information about his trip as well as links to his fundraiser can be found at ridewithian.com
• Contact Sports and Outdoors reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.