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.
“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.”