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Spenden marathon 2022

Lessons from Andreas - Part 1

I’m happy to share that we all completed the 2022 Spendenmarathon last week. We rode over 2300 km (with 24000m ascension) from Edinburgh to Saas Fee (Switzerland) in 13 days.

The highlight though was not the riding and scenery, but a very special chap named Andreas, who in only a few days of meeting him has made an inspirational impact on my life and become a lifetime friend.

At first sight Andreas can be mistaken as being an overexcited eccentric character 😂but once you get to know him you will search hard to find a more gentle and joyous soul .

Andreas drinks from the cup of life and boy does he take big gulps. He is found in the bunch yodelling and talking to each and anyone. He’s always first to share words of encouragement at each stop as we made our journey across EU.

But this pales into comparison as to who Andreas is and how he lives his day to day life . Andreas has an eye condition that has left him with approx 20% of his vision, and yet is one of the strongest riders on the tour .

So to assist Andreas to overcome this obstacle, he puts a red light on the back of one of the bikes in the bunch and he follows that like a heat seeking missile up and down climbs up to 60kph!! So close one one eye and squint out the other to get an idea of what that must feel like- I did while riding and it’s scary.

So on a Wednesday afternoon whilst following the light on another riders bike , he says to me “ Hey Gary , you happy man, yes, tomorrow you ride with the light for me?” To which I reply “of course primo!”

What a privilege (and huge responsibility😅) it was to be this wonderful man’s “guiding light” for the day. Riding, singing and sharing jokes … until disaster struck at 109km, in a moments lapse of concentration (as we are experiencing by that point of the Tour) he slipped off the edge of the tar and went down. I was gutted that he had gone down on my watch. We stopped and had him checked out with the crew , all the while he was looking around asking if everyone else was ok all the time with him having the most injuries . A few plasters and disinfected wounds later he mounts his bike and we carry on . I keep asking “Andreas alles gud?” , no reply . This was strange as he is anything but quiet … clearly he’s gathering his thoughts after this mishap .

After an hour or so , Andreas comes back to life “Hey Gary, Alles is gud, I’m ok” . We ended yesterdays ride on the Col du Donon . We climbed like eagles to the tune of I shot the sheriff by Bob Marley - Andreas special request .

After 195k we arrived back at camp with spirits high and I was left speechless by this man’s determination and zest for life .

At dinner later in the evening Andreas approaches and says “ Hey Gary, we do this again tomorrow , you ride with the light?” … and that was my assignment for the next 2 stages of the ride 😀


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