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A Greek student studying in Scotland biked 48 days to get home when flights were cancelled

The inexperienced cyclist rode 3,500km from Aberdeen to Athens

Photo by: Kleon Papadimitriou/Instagram

In mid-May and Greek university student Kleon Papadimitriou was living in Scotland, where he had been studying. Due to the pandemic, no flights were leaving for Athens and he had no way to get back to his family.

The 20-year-old was stuck, and to get home he had to be creative. Determined to make it back to Greece, he decided to bike the roughly 3,500km route from Aberdeen to Athens. He left on May 10—48 days and one big adventure later, he made it home.

A new experience

Papadimitriou did one cycling event in 2019 and had started going on rides this year, but he was overall relatively inexperienced. When the idea came to him for the ride, he stated researching what he would need and bought a bike and some equipment. He told his parents, who at first were at first sceptical he would follow through on the plan, but insisted he share his location when they realized he was serious.

The first day of the ride was marked with snow, hail, and rain, but Papadimitriou carried on. He rode 55km to 120km a day, carrying with him camping equipment he would set up in forests and fields. Canned sardines and canned fruit were a big part of his nutrition, and he documented a number of his meals on Instagram.

Papadimitriou’s route wound through England, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Italy. He took a boat to the Greek port of Patras and biked home from there, arriving to his relieved friends and family on June 27.

“It’s just now dawning on me how big of an achievement this was,” Papadimitriou told CNN. “And I did learn a lot of things about myself, about my limits, about my strengths and my weaknesses.”

“I think I improved as a person, I’m more confident in myself, I’m more confident in my abilities,” he says. “If I didn’t know that I’ve done the trip and you asked me now if I could it, I would say no, how could I do all those things?”