MOST dads would do anything to be at their daughter’s graduation. And what better way to get there than by bike?
What made Jerzy Jablonza’s journey a little different was that he cycled the 1,100 miles from his home in Poland to see daughter Monika graduate in Portsmouth.
The 55-year-old rode for 12 hours every day, travelling 110 miles, and only stopping briefly to eat and to sleep. Several people that he met along his journey offered him free accommodation and food.
He arrived with a few hours to spare after crossing Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France – and finally cycled across England.
Heavy rain and high winds made the final leg from Dover to Portsmouth tortuously slow and he phoned his daughter to say he might not make it in time.
Jerzy travelled with no spare clothes and only his documents, a small bottle of oil for lubricating his bicycle chain, a puncture repair kit, money and a mobile phone.
Monika said: ‘When he finally reached England, and thought he was on the home straight, he was lashed by the rain and storms so the last few hours were very tense and I started to worry he wouldn’t make it.
‘He arrived with sore knees and a sore hip and exhausted, but he got here in time.’
Meanwhile, Monika and her mother Ewa, 50, travelled from Poland to England by car.
Monika said: ‘He has always enjoyed being outside and active, but this trip is the most extreme he has ever done. I can’t believe he cycled all that way just for me – I am so proud of him.’
Jerzy said: ‘I didn’t want to carry any change of clothes or luggage; it would only slow me down.
‘I wanted to do this trip by bicycle because I was just so proud of my daughter and I wanted to do something that would make her proud of me. I also think you have to do something with your life – not just sit there waiting for something exciting to happen.’
Monika will now move to Germany to work as a telemarketing manager.