A Norwich local has completed 2,000-mile cycle from Greece to the Norwich Lanes in aid of Movember.
In 1987, Paul Strong completed his first adventure from Greece to the Lanes in three months. 30 years later, he has managed the feat again in less than one.
Paul’s journey took him from his father’s home country of Greece, through Sardinia, Italy, France, and finally to Norwich.
Packing lighter than he had done before, and being more willing to spend on luxuries, 55-year old Paul had a very different journey to that of 30 years prior.
The advent of the smartphone meant that he opted to rely on Google Maps this time, rather than the small-scale physical maps he had used previously.
“The smartphone has changed everything. Thirty years ago, I spent much more time planning… but I did seem to be in control. I knew where I was going. I was more engaged. Now I only have a very general idea.”
Paul spoke of the struggles of modern technology as a guide for the journeyman.
Often led through hills, mud and other unusual detours, he sometimes found himself having to walk rather than cycle the odd routes he had been given by his phone.
But the changes to Paul’s journey went beyond phones. He was cycling through a different world to that of before.
France in particular, had changed quite substantially over the last 3 decades.
“These little D type roads that were so quiet 30 years ago are not quiet anymore.
Now all you hear is the deafening scary hiss of wide tires, and the whiff of diesel. Everything, everywhere smells of diesel.”
At times, he felt ‘awkward and alone’ cycling through the busier towns and cities.
“I began to feel that I was being perceived as a homeless person, a refugee.”
And to make matters worse, he was stopped by the French police on suspicion of vagrancy; needing to show them evidence of where he was staying and proof of adequate finances for his travels.
In spite of his struggles, Paul admitted to liking the cycling more this time than before.
“Most of the travelling was excellent; a lot of alone time. I put in longer days, treated it like work. Last time I had no sense of discipline; no or little understanding of work.”
Paul also said that he appreciated “the value of everything” this time around. And on completing his journey, he was able to appreciate the value of a good pint in the Birdcage on arrival at the Lanes.
Previously diagnosed with Prostate Cancer (cleared this September), Paul has used his cycle as a way to raise funds and grow a moustache as part of Movember. He has so far raised over £2,000.
If you would like to donate to his page, you can do so here.