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Andrew Gettle – Baker City

I think the new currency of the world is human connection.

Andrew Gettle

Andrew’s name may sound familiar to you. The Baker City Herald featured him in an article this summer. In a 2018 motorcycle accident, he suffered traumatic brain injury, broke both ankles, lost part of his leg, and now has a 9” metal rod in his back. He recovered better than doctors expected and in September 2020 took a bike tour down Highway 101. 

Andrew & Kuzco

“It was called the Great Cycle Challenge and it raises money for kids fighting cancer. After my accident, I tried running again, but I couldn’t figure it out with my prosthetic. I had never really been into biking, but I bought a road bike and started riding into town, about 15 miles. I ended up going to Sumpter one time and I wanted to just keep riding. Then I found out about the Challenge. I thought, ‘I’m gonna do a tour and raise money for kids.’ It was perfect.

I was going through a divorce at that time and I wanted to get away to clear my head. I was struggling and wanted to prove to myself that I could do this trip. I didn’t know how far I would go, but I headed down 101 from Winchester Bay. I choose that route because I got hit by a car there when I was in junior high and I had a grudge against 101. The highway is very hilly and I was on a fixed gear bicycle because that was the only bike I could ride with my prosthetic leg. So no gears. I took my time and would ride 10 to 30 miles a day, but I developed a bad blister on my knee where the bucket surrounded my stump. I made it south of Crescent City when I climbed a big hill with a really steep grade. I almost made it to the top, but I just collapsed and couldn’t go on so I had to walk the last 300 yards.

Luckily, the Mill Creek Campground was close by and I was able to camp there. I took my prosthetic off and rested. One day I got a redwood sliver in my hand and it was the icing on the cake. Redwood slivers are high in acidity so they literally attack your body and within a couple hours my finger was really swollen. And once I took my prosthetic off, my knee started swelling and I couldn’t get it back on. I had a one-person tent and that’s what I camped in all the way down the coast. I stayed at Mill Creek five nights. The host and I had a good rapport going. I ended up telling him that I needed to go to the hospital. He took me south to the hospital in Eureka and they pumped me full of antibiotics and got all the infections cleared up. I wanted to continue on my bike tour, but when I called my grandma she said, ‘Andrew, you quit being so damn stubborn. I’m coming to get you.’ “ 

So do you think you’d ever do anything like that again? 

“100%! I plan on doing the Great Cycle Challenge again next year! I had big plans this year, but this leg sucks. Hopefully I’ll have a new prosthetic soon. What I really loved about this experience is the people I met. With the pandemic we feel isolated and people want to connect. I think the new currency of the world is human connection. I’m optimistic and I hope we’ll have a better sense of community soon. Hopefully this vaccine does its thing and we’ll come out stronger.”