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Cycling Home from Siberia: 30,000 miles, 3 years, 1 bicycle Paperback – April 5, 2011
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“Lilwall’s story is a remarkable one . . . enhanced by the fact that he has a writer’s skill for conveying a sense of place.” (The Sunday Telegraph)
“A rite-of-passage adventure full of thrills, excitement, and endurance tests . . . If you’re a cyclist—and even if you’re not—go for this book.” (The Irish Times)
“I don't know if Rob Lilwall knows it, but he has penned a two-wheeled classic. I wanted to rise up singing and strap on my bicycle clips.” (The Guardian)
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Nigel Skermer
"Cycling Home from Siberia" by Rob Lilwall, Hodder & Stoughton, London 2009, 349 p.
"Go west young man" it used to be said. In a circuitous route through Australasia, Rob Lilwall did just that starting in 2004 from Magadan, Siberia and 3½ years later, after a bike ride of 30,000 miles, arriving home in London, England. This is a remarkably well-written account of his spiritual, as well as geographical journey, much of it carried out alone.
Reading through the book one feels drawn to analogy. At first glance the skeptic might think our traveller is yet another gung-ho, born again Victorian. A review in the Guardian by Ken Rushby had compared Rob Lilwall to Candide, but my first thoughts turned to T.E. Lawrence and "the seven-pillared worthy house". But again the analogy fails. He wasn't trying to earn the freedom of any folk except perhaps the extremely vulnerable children around the world to whom he donates funds raised during his trip via the charity Viva - [...] His route takes him to the slums of Manila where he visits the children's projects linked to Viva.
The journey starts with a ride, epic in itself, of over 3000 miles through Siberia in winter. It takes him over the "Road of Bones" built by the inmates of the Gulags, the work camps instituted under Stalinism. The silence of the Siberian wilderness, just as in the Canadian and the Alaskan North, drew forth the thoughts which he quotes from Psalm 46 ... "Be still and know that I am God."
Such experiences of course contrast sharply with the glitter of the new Asian cities he peddles through later on. Throughout the book he writes frankly on his thoughts, beliefs and emotions. The book is very humorous in parts.Read more ›
Why only 4 stars. Well, I feel that the writing of this book was very much the tail end of Rob's adventures. Yes, Rob has gone to places on a bicycle that most people wouldn't imagine possible, and in many instances you can feel that atmosphere and sense of adventure in the book. But heck, he manages to go through places that 99.9% of us will never see, and yet dismiss them in a line or two, or not even mention them at all. Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand get covered in barely a page (or so it seems); Vietnam hardly gets a mention at all, and then he goes through Western Europe at a lick, and with barely more words than I have in this review. Okay, I'm being a bit harsh, but if I'm complaining, it's only because I believe that book could be two or three times longer, and still hold your attention. The places he does describe in detail, he manages to do as well as any writer I have read recently, and when he does so, the tale is truly incredible. The irony of that makes the all too brief descriptions of otherwise amazing places feel as if you are being short changed.
Oh what the heck, in writing this review, I can come to no other conclusion than this is a 5* book after all. Go and buy it, and be amazed at what one man has done on a ten year old steel frame bicycle.
BTW I bought the hard copy of this book in October 2010 in Australia.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a gift so I did not read it. I heard from the recipient that the story was entertaining.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
The only reason I give 2 stars instead of 1 are Siberia and Papua parts. Otherwise, boring, disappointing and superficial book that also paints a sad picture of the author's... Read morePublished 4 months ago by ecovillages
Wonderful book! Our entire book club enjoyed it. I liked it so much I sent a copy as a Christmas present to my brother, who is a cyclist and an avid reader. Read morePublished 4 months ago by kirbs51
Excellent read. I was worried that it would a long list of places visited. Fortunately, the book is much more. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gu Tangmu
This is an amazing story. Well-writen, encouraging and inspiring. Two thumbs up!Published 6 months ago by Andy Niewald
Rob was a geography teacher in England whom, I believe, was burned out from riding herd on teen age boys. Having two of them myself I can see how that would happen. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Anthony Valente