“I guess we all like to think we’re bulletproof. That nothing’s going to change the way we live and how we do the things we love. Since my diagnosis, being here in these wild rugged spaces is more of a need than ever before. This menace won’t beat me.”
Friends, we have two for one in this episode, plus a hefty serving of personality and banter! Those in the Scottish mountain biking and adventure community will know this couple well, they are an inspiration for the advocacy they do around Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the benefits of biking, equality in the outdoors and looking after our wild places.
They were featured in the stunning film by Andy McCandlish, This Way Up, which has done the rounds at mountain film festivals like Kendal, giving insight into their lives as mountain bike guides with their company Go Where and Andy’s experience with MS.
12 years ago, Andy was diagnosed after two years of experiencing symptoms, getting tests and not understanding what was happening with his body. He’s been through quite a journey to develop new ways of living and working, which has been far from an overnight process. Aneela is a positive force in the world of cycling, a diversity specialist for the Scottish Parliament as her ‘grown up job’ and a massive advocate for girls and women breaking through social norms to face fears and pick up a mountain bike - or any other kind of outdoors challenge.
We talk about all sorts, and it’s as energetic as they come! This pair are in equal doses hilarious and banterful as they are open and honest. Andy takes us back to over a decade ago and what it was like being in the dark before his eventual diagnosis. He tells us more about how the disease manifests for him and the non-conventional treatments and strategies that help to manage his symptoms and stay active, such as the Swank MS diet. We also get into his path to starting a business that is also a passion, keeping his fire for mountain biking alive and beginning to talk publicly about his MS. I loved hearing about Aneela’s work with empowering women and girls to face fears and challenge social norms through mountain biking, and her passion for building community locally, as well as their thoughts on what has helped them keep a solid relationship for 24 years. Yup - 24!
And some exciting news – their film This Way Up has now publicly launched, with a pretty special mountain bike raffle on the go over at the Stoked on MS website (open until 15 April), which has already raised over £15K for Overcoming MS. Check out the show notes below as there is a huge amount of good stuff in there. The Go Fund Me campaign is still live too so please consider throwing a donation their way and sharing with all of your people.
Go listen to the most awesome Andy and Aneela Mckenna - out Friday 22nd February at 8am on all the usual: Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and most Android apps. Enjoy getting to know these amazing individuals and give them a shout out online.