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Cycling Home From Siberia

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  965 ratings  ·  95 reviews
"It is late October, and the temperature is already –40 degrees . . . My thoughts are filled with frozen rivers that may or may not hold my weight; empty, forgotten valleys haunted by emaciated ghosts; and packs of ravenous, merciless wolves."

Having left his job as a high-school geography teacher, Rob Lilwall arrived in Siberia equipped only with a bike and a healthy dose
Paperback, 300 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Anna Edmonds
Nov 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
astounding that content so good could go so wrong. i want to punch this man and steal his trip.
Nov 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
I had high hopes for this one, really high hopes. It starts out wonderfully, but never really develops into anything more than a 'god is good, have you heard about the bible?' trap.
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Rob Lilwall has written a thoroughly engaging account of his epic journey across some of the most difficult lands on earth. The book was exciting, thought-provoking and yet an overall easy read. I found myself racing to find out what other adventures he had had on his travels and was amazed by his experiences of people and by his journey with God.

He is naturally eloquent and easily relatable. One never feels as if you are reading about someone doing a superhuman feat. Just another struggler, li
Beth Oppenlander
While I enjoy travel books, this one kept me rolling my eyes and questioning the decision making of the author. While it was fun to read about the people he met, and the lands he traveled, come now, Siberia and Tibet during the worst that winter has to offer? And what the heck?!?! What was the point, perhaps it was merely self indulgence, to adding Papua New Guinea to the itinerary?!?!? Oh to be so young and privileged.
Danny Smith
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book, a great adventure. Christianity bit was just about bearable.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great read, the book describes the adventures of the author half way across the world on a cycle, from Siberia to England going through Japan, Australia, India and many others. The author pens the account in great detail speaking about the difficulty to start the trip and by the end how better he was. It showcases we can face anything if we make up our minds.
Lisa Johnson
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an adventure. Makes me crave to travel again.
Mark Oppenlander
My wife and I like to read travel/adventure books out loud together, and so we picked this one up to share. But we found this memoir a little hard to access, in part because the author's motives for his bicycle trip were so blurry, in part because we found the narrator difficult to like at times and in part because we simply thought his decision-making skills were a bit suspect.

Rob Lilwall was a geography teacher from London in his late 20's when he decided to pull up stakes and set off on a rou
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an extraordinary story and I'm still not sure how he managed it. The book is very well written. However, I did feel the last section was rather rushed. It was a shame that this book is not available in hard back with good colour photos - the photos in the book (black and white) were not easy to see and seemed too dark. I am used to seeing these types of travelogue photos in colour and clear enough to give a sense of place (hence the 4 stars and not 5). People in other reviews have talked ...more
Kim Vernon
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A heroic effort to cycle through the Siberian winter, but it is this undying commitment that opens the reader up to seeing what could be possible! I loved the fascinating stories of the generous people who supported them on this journey!
Alan Fricker
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Sadly not a great book despite an extraordinary journey. Not sure why reviewers are so hung up on his christianity. A fairly minor part of the book and not responsible for it just being basically written
Evan Price
Sep 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Good book but too much bible bashing jammed in your face
Hella Comat
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With a sense of humour and an enormous ability to withstand extreme cold, heat, and lack of showers or baths, Rob quits his job as a geography teacher in England, empties his life savings of about $12 000, flies to Siberia, and proceeds to cycle home (the long way) more than 35 000 miles. He travels through China, Australia, India, Afghanistan (!), Iraq (!) and of course many other countries, taking boats only when necessary. He stops to give talks to schools to raise money to continue.

He of co
Dan Smith
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book in 2015 as part of my pre-touring research. I really enjoyed reading about Rob and Alistair's journey, especially the hardships and challenges, and it inspired me to include parts of Siberia in my own bicycle tour.

Cycling Home from Siberia does lose some of its energy at a certain point, but upon reflection of my own on-tour and post-tour experiences, this is just reality kicking in. A bicycle tour is not all Red Bull moments, it is a long arduous journey which complements your
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It is a travel journal from when the author rode his bicycle "home from Siberia". He did not take the shortest route, but went where he felt like going, even to some remote places. Not that he had no plan at all, because he did have an general plan but the details were flexible. This book may not be for hard-core long-distance bike riders, but the author does not claim to be one. The author also mentions his Christian faith and discusses honestly his thoughts on other religion ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
Really enjoyed the book and the epic story of the journey, really didn’t enjoy the grappling with religion parts. Whilst I applaud anyone trying to learn more about other cultures and religions, in parts it felt like he was coming from a “holier than thou” perspective and actually held very little respect for other people’s religious beliefs - as if he found them frivolous and ridiculous compared to his own.

I have to agree with the quote in the book “they are all different paths up the same mou
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although I only use a recumbent bike, I am always enthralled with cycling adventures. The subtitle is 30 000 miles, 3 years and 1 bicycle. Lilwall, a former book salesman in California and teacher in England, takes the long way home, from Siberia to China, Australia, India, Afghanistan, Iraq and a host of other in between countries. This is not a sightseeing book, although we do get some glimpses of life in those countries. He wisely utilizes many contacts and eventually does work for a charity. ...more
Praveen Mathew
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
It was rather like watching a very dry documentary. And yes, we get it, you're a Christian, bla bla bla.

But I do have to admit that he was brave taking this ride, especially going through Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea. Also admirable is his honest and bare thoughts on his perspectives. Would have loved more to read such thoughts, but they ultimately felt one-dimensional and dull.

A rather passive and not so exciting read. You won't ever grip your book in fear.
Mark Beech
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have had this on my bookcase for ages. At least 5 years as I was given a signed copy of his book when I heard him speak at HSBC. I really enjoyed the storytelling and his adventures and the three years he took to complete them being slightly crazy. I don't agree with everything he talked about in the book, but I appreciate his honesty to religion and his own Christian faith.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, 2019
I can think of other ways to prove I am brave that riding 3,000 miles on a bicycle in Siberia in winter. Or riding a bicycle through the rainy season in dangerous territory in Papua New Guinea. But my ways are probably a lot duller than this book. Now I look forward to reading the 2 books his travel partner, Alastair Humphreys, wrote about his journey.
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic Story

I could not put this down once I started reading it. New to touring, this story truly inspired me. Very well written. I felt as if I was on the journey with him. Great Book and story.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book mostly for the brief glimpses of life along the roads of each country. Rob comes across as a down to earth, likeable guy attempting to test his own physical and mental limits, which makes it a personal story. Enjoyable and easy to read.
Horace Chu
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Incredible advantageous story of cycling round the would from Siberia to UK via many different nations. The book describes not only physical endurance but also encountering of the different people along the way with the different cultures and politics as well. Definitely worth a read.
Aled Owen-Thomas
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
I got a far as page 135 and had enough.
Karen Holt
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
intrepid cyclists travel from siberia to england. interesting travelogue from 2004
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don’t cry at many books, but this one produced tears. I felt like I was a part of the journey.
Lee Yahnker
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love true stories and really enjoyed cycling to England from Siberia with the author. Just enough day to day adventures to hold my interest.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a riveting book of adventure and pushing one's self to the limit. I'm not an overly fast reader. But, suffice to say, I was quite drawn in and completed reading it in no more than two days.
Devon Leys
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it, bit of “god is great” but I didn’t find it too overwhelming. Good story and it linked in with other books I’ve read lately.
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Easy read. Interesting account of Rob’s travels from Siberia back home to
England. I found it inspiring for me looking ahead to future bike touring trips.
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All time favourite book about bicycle touring? 1 4 Mar 13, 2016 06:55AM  

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If one could choose a middle name for Rob, it would likely be “Daring”. Or “Resilient”. Some may prefer “Crazy”.

How else would you describe a former geography teacher and self-proclaimed “normal guy” who has walked across the Gobi in winter, braved the jungles of Papua New Guinea, and cycled across Afghanistan? Rob has presented two National Geographic TV series, and The Guardian called his first

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