Novice cyclist arrives back in Britain after 9,000-mile journey

A DEDICATED teacher who “wasn’t really a keen cyclist” has traversed mountain terrain and tackled deserts spanning three continents to make a 9,000-mile journey back to Britain.

Paul Lombard had been teaching for five years in South Korea when he turned his back on a more conventional route home and made the trip by bicycle.

The 29-year-old from Cheltenham, Gloucester, took nine months to cycle from Seoul, South Korea, across China, central Asia, the Middle East and Europe to finally arrive home last Sunday.

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Mr Lombard’s journey included biking across the Gobi Desert in China, around the lakes of northern Kyrgyzstan, and through the mountains in south-eastern Turkey.

He said the scariest moment of his trip was when he was staying in Irbil, the Kurdish capital of Iraq, and heard a bomb had exploded. It prompted a last-minute change of route.

“I wasn’t really a keen cyclist before the trip and I didn’t even have a bike,” Mr Lombard said. “I knew that I wanted to travel home over land, so cycling was just an idea to travel in a different way.”

Mr Lombard tested the water by cycling a 310-mile trip from Seoul to Busan in south-east Korea. “That went well,” he said. “So I thought I would take on the 8,966 miles from Seoul to Cheltenham.”

It was two years after coming up with the idea of cycling home that Mr Lombard began his journey. And a year before he set off, he bought a bike in Seoul and started gathering equipment for the trek.

Mr Lombard was raising money for the Mine Advisory Group (MAG), a charity which clears land mines from former conflict zones which he came across when he worked in Sudan.