TWO Danish cyclists who had already overcome mobility problems due to debilitating illnesses, completed a marathon journey by bicycle from Denmark to Benalmadena, Costa del Sol, arriving on Tuesday August 25 at Clinico Montebello where they had received medical treatment in 2014.
Keld Matthiesen and Gitte Ornstrom met as patients in the clinic, which is owned by the Danish government and treats Danish citizens. It was Keld’s second time there after complications from a back operation left him unable to walk. Meanwhile, he met Gitte who was being treated for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and the pair struck up a friendship.
Now in a wheelchair, Keld’s determination to be mobile is inspiring. When he considered trying to ascend one of Benalmadena’s many steep roads, which had a gradient of 10 per cent, in his wheelchair, he was told it was impossible. When he then did it, he decided he could cycle from Denmark to Spain.
Gitte offered to accompany Keld, after she met two English girls in Stockholm who had journeyed all the way from England to Sweden for the sake of MS.
The pair had bicycles custom made so that they could cycle while lying down. The result was a marathon journey leaving from Aabenraa in southern Denmark on August 1, and then travelling through Germany, Holland, Belgium, France before arriving in Benalmadena on Tuesday.
Covering distances of up to 100km per day initially, the rough, steep terrain and hot temperatures in France and Spain meant they had to slow down to 50 or 60km per day but they were cheered along the way by passers-by throughout their trip.
As well as wishing to inspire others to break through their limitations, the pair, who have developed a close relationship, also want to highlight the importance of the work of Montebello Clinic, especially as the Danish government are proposing closing it down, in order to save money.
Keld points out that the clinic is special because being able to relax in such a place, without having to worry about anything other than recovery, makes a huge difference to one’s health. He adds that Gitte’s treatment totally transformed her and she acknowledges that the beautiful location, climate and staff at the clinic have contributed to her health.
The Costa’s warm climate also makes a difference, according to Keld: “When I come to Spain, I don’t have pain in my legs.” Emphasising the professionalism of the clinic staff, he added: “They really know what they are doing here. It would be a catastrophe to close it.”
The couple have also become celebrated in the Danish media for their incredible feat and are known to be individuals who constantly inspire others to achieve their dreams.