This Greek college student rode 48 days to return to his family at home

This Greek college student rode 48 days to return to his family at home

(CNN) – Even after hundreds of miles on his two-wheeled trip, Kleon Papadimitriou says he is still not sure he will get home.

The 20-year-old Greek university student was stuck in Scotland, where he studied, with no way to return to Athens while flights were closed due to the epidemic.

So he decided to ride a bike for a 2175-mile trail instead.

He says of his 48-day trip, “only now how big is this achievement.” “And I have learned many things about myself, about the limits of my country, about my strengths and weaknesses. I would like to say that I really hope that the trip has inspired at least another person to get out of the comfort zone and try something new, something big.”

It took 7 weeks 20 years to return home

Courtesy of Clion Papadimitriou

Papadimitriou, who is about to begin his third year of studies at Aberdeen University, says he was in the past few days of March when he decided to search for a previous flight home, hoping to overcome the rapid effects of the spread of the coronavirus across Europe. Most of his friends had already left, but he says he has been getting late to make sure he won’t miss any lessons. He booked three trips – but all trips were canceled.

“On April 1st, I knew I would spend at least the next month in quarantine in Aberdeen,” he said.

But then he got his idea.

Canned sardines and a dire bike

Out of thousands of miles away from his family and the itch on an adventure, Papadimitrio says he has begun to find what it takes to take the two-wheel journey. He says he competed in the 2019 race and trained briefly this year for several weeks – but that was related to his cycling experience.

Initially, he says the idea was more than a “bad dream.”

But soon he started buying the equipment he needed. He bought a bike, told his friends, and delivered the news to his parents. He says they mostly agreed, because “they thought it was just an idea that I would finally leave.”

Kleon Papadimitriou, pictured here in southern Germany

Kleon Papadimitriou, pictured here in southern Germany

Courtesy of Clion Papadimitriou

His father presented one condition for the trip: they set up an app that allows his family to be able to keep track of him and know his location.

On May 10, he was armed with canned sardines, peanut butter, bread, a dire sleeping bag and gear for his bike.

Tens of miles every day

Papadimterio told CNN he would travel anywhere between 35 to 75 miles On the day, it crosses first through England and then to the Netherlands. He cycled along the Rhine in Germany for several days, passed through Austria and rode along the eastern coast of Italy before taking a boat to the Greek port of Patras – and from there he rides a bike to his Athens neighborhood.

Throughout his trip, he set up camp in the fields and forests. Spend the last few moments of each day writing down their progress, tracking the course of the next day and checking in with family and friends. As the weeks passed, he said that more people understood the news of his trip and listened to him, and received updates from his friends and family.

This was the luxury Papadimitriou room for most of the trip

This was the luxury Papadimitriou room for most of the trip

Courtesy of Clion Papadimitriou

As he made his way across different countries in Europe, Papadimitriou says that he was sometimes communicating with friends or acquaintances who would offer a bed and a shower – a great alternative to his usually wooden night stations.

“As a relatively open person, I was kind of forced out of my comfort zone, meaning that if I didn’t do some things, I wouldn’t have a place to stay, I wouldn’t have water,” he said. “It forced me to have those interactions and connections.”

On June 27, nearly 50 days after he first reached the road, he reached home, where his family with dozens of friends – as well as strangers watching his progress – were waiting to celebrate his arrival.

“It was very emotional,” he said. “Coming from a family of parents who were very adventurous in their youth years, and seeing me kind of following in their footsteps, I think they are very emotional to them and obviously gives me a lot of meaning.”

“But I think they were relieved.”

Papadimitriou packed canned goods and baked on his 48-day trip

Papadimitriou packed canned goods and baked on his 48-day trip

Courtesy of Clion Papadimitriou

“Bar setting really high”

Now back in Greece, Papadimitriou has left Athens for a summer job and says he’s still considering his seven-week bike trip.

“I think I am better as a person, I am more confident in myself and more confident in my abilities,” he says. “If I didn’t know that I made this trip and now ask me if I can, I will say no, how can I do all these things? “

However, knowing that he successfully completed what began to work, Papadimitriou says he is now looking forward to “the next big thing.”

And he’s got advice for those who (rightly) think a 48-day bike trip is a huge undertaking.

“When you actually raise the threshold and try to reach a truly ambitious goal, whether or not you achieve it, you will improve,” he said.

“You will learn things about yourself and you will surprise yourself.”

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