Will you join me to do something positive about climate change?


My name is Andy Hansen and I’ve had a urostomy since January 2020, courtesy of a close encounter with bladder cancer. At the time it was all a bit of a shock – obviously the cancer, but also the thought that I might not be able to exercise again as I used to. I’ve always enjoyed exercise, especially cycling outdoors and in nature.

Luckily, I came across Sarah Russell, a clinical Pilates instructor who specialises in teaching people with stomas. I was already training to be a Pilates teacher, so, with support from Sarah, I was able to get moving again safely. Building on the confidence that gave me, I got back into cycling in March 2020.

Since then, I’ve been privileged to work with CliniMed to produce the Breathing and Movement programme, which you may have seen and taken part in. It’s designed for people with a stoma, with the aim of helping you safely progress through movements that will help build your strength and mobility.

Late in 2023 I was looking for my next challenge. I wanted to do something that would demonstrate to me and to others that having a stoma is no barrier to exercise as long as you build up carefully. And I wanted to do something for nature, especially fighting the threat of climate change.

So, in a rash moment, I picked not one, not two, but three very hard rides, making this a real sustained challenge. I’ll be starting on Sunday 12th of May, when I ride the Fred Whitton Challenge – often dubbed the UK’s hardest bike ride. The 112-mile ride crosses 10 tough road climbs in the Lake District, including the feared Hardknott pass, with a maximum gradient of 33%.

In July, I’ll take on some of the most famous mountains of the Tour de France – including the legendary Mont Ventoux, Alpe d’Huez and Col de la Croix de Fer.

Finally, in September, I’ll travel to the West Coast of Scotland for a 90-mile loop around the Applecross Peninsula, riding up the biggest road climb in the UK, Bealach Na Ba, which rises 626 metres in just 10 kilometres.

At age 61 these are not easy challenges, and I have been training since late December. The wet winter certainly hasn’t helped!

Alongside the cycle training, I’ll be working hard at fundraising too. I’ve set an ambitious target of £5,000, raising money for three organisations that work on climate change internationally, across the UK and in my local area:

I’d like to challenge you to join me in doing something about climate change. You can campaign nationally or locally or make lifestyle changes. If you want to get directly involved with my campaign, then please join me – either on your bike, or by donating.

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by Andy Hansen