When many planes were grounded earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, Kleon Papadimitriou took matters into his own hands to get back to his family.
All three of the 20-year-old’s flights to get from where he was studying in Scotland back home to Athens were cancelled in late March, leaving him facing at least a month of quarantine in Aberdeen, CNN Travel reported.
But rather than remain alone in isolation, he decided to pack some necessities into a backpack and hit the road on his bike – setting off on May 10 for the mammoth 4,000km expedition.
In the following 48 days, he traversed through England, the Netherlands, along the Rhine in Germany, then Austria before cycling along Italy’s east coast and taking a boat to the Greek port of Patras.
From there, he cycled to his home in Athens where family and friends, along with a cluster of strangers who had been following his journey online, celebrated his return.
His only preparation was a few weeks of consistent riding in the lead-up to the journey, and whatever fitness he retained from a 2019 race he competed in.
He purchased the bike specifically to make the trip, and stacked it with a tent, sleeping bag and other essential equipment, and packed his bag with canned sardines, peanut butter and bread.
Being limited by the supplies he was capable of carrying, Mr Papadimitriou said he needed to rely on others for support throughout the journey – an additional challenge given his introverted nature.
“As a relatively introverted person, I was forced to kind of get out of my comfort zone in the sense that if I did not do some things, I would not have a place to stay, I would not have water,” he said.
When he wasn’t able to jag a warm shower and bed at someone’s house, Mr Papadimitriou set up camp in fields and forests, with just his tent and sleeping bag for warmth and protection.
Riding between 56 and 120 kilometres every day, he arrived home on June 27 to his two very relieved parents.
“It was very emotional. Coming from a family from two parents that were very adventurous in their younger years, seeing me kind of follow in their footsteps, I think is very emotional to them and obviously gives me a lot of meaning,” he said.
“But I think if anything, they felt relief.”
He has encouraged others to step outside their comfort zone to test their abilities, saying “whether you achieve it or you don't, you will have improved”.
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