Cycling Home From Siberia by Rob Lilwall

15 Oct
Cycling Home From Siberia by Rob Lilwall

Cycling Home From Siberia

Most “adventure cycling” books tell the story of some brave cyclist as they travel through a foreign county while on summer vacation. Very few cycling adventures start in the dead of winter, and especially not leaving from Magadan, Siberia—one of the coldest inhabited places in the world! Cycling Home From Siberia tells the story of Rob Lilwall’s bike trip from Siberia back to his home in London, England three years later. This 30,000 mile journey took him through some of the most remote places on the globe and allowed him to see the world as few very other people ever will.

Lilwall’s journey began in 2004 and by the time it was over he had cycled through Russia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium and England (I hope I didn’t miss anyone).

During the first leg of his journey Lilwall was accompanied by an old school friend, Al Humphreys, but when they got to Japan they decided to part ways. Lilwall made this journey on a ten-year old steel-framed mountain bike he named Alanis. By the time he loaded the bike up with four panniers, a bar bag, and two canoe bags it weighed 130 pounds! On the second day of their trip the paved roads stopped and they would not see them again for nearly 3,000 more miles. On the fourth day, having traveled less than 300 miles, the snow started to fall and they quickly learned what slipping and sliding on the ice was like—and daytime temperatures of -30C were common. I enjoy riding in such conditions, but only for a few hours at a time! Lilwall and Humphreys seldom had a chance to warm up during this leg of their journey. Lilwall had to stick a glove down his crotch just to keep his private parts warm! To make matters worse, they even got robbed at gunpoint while in Russia.

By the time Lilwall finished the Siberian leg of his journey he had cycled over 3,300 miles, consumed 189 chocolate bars and over 100 packets of instant noodles. When Lilwall finished his trip he had repaired a total of 157 tire punctures (not a record I wish to ever break).

I had thought about writing a very long review for this book, but decided just to give you a glimpse of the first couple of chapters. I always read books with a yellow highlighter at hand so I can mark the sections of a book  I find interesting. However, by the time I finished reading this book I think about a third of the pages had sections highlighted. If you love adventure cycling books this one will not leave you disappointed!

Cycling Home From Siberia is over 400 pages long and once you get started it will be had to put down. This book is published by Howard Books, a division Simon and Schuster. I mention the publisher only because this book is a model for the way adventure cycling books should to be printed. The book has an easy-to-read typeface, numerous photographs and good maps so you won’t feel lost along the way.

The paperback version of Cycling Home From Siberia retails for $15, but you can order it from for $13. This book is also available in a Kindle edition for $12.


Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Book Reviews


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17 responses to “Cycling Home From Siberia by Rob Lilwall

  1. Larissa

    October 15, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Gosh, this sounds terrible!! Cold and myself do not get along.

    But I would probably enjoy reading about some other person being a crazy and doing something this awesome. And muttering to myself that I can’t believe how nuts he was the whole time. 🙂

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 15, 2012 at 5:19 PM

      Winter cycling (AKA, ice biking) is a blast. But then again, after I am finished I get to go home and shower and sleep in my own bed. Rob Lilwall sometimes slept in train stations and outdoor restrooms on his way through Siberia in the dead of winter — not my idea of a good time.

  2. crushingiron

    October 15, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Thanks for the review. I will definitely be picking this up. Lilwall sounds like a man after Ernest Shackelton’s heart!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 15, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      I have no idea how much this guy can bench press or how fast he can swim, but if there is an Ironman or Tough Mudder competition in Siberia I think he would take first place.

  3. deepsspace

    October 15, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    I’ll defiantly pick this book up! Sounds exciting!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 15, 2012 at 5:22 PM

      You won’t be sorry — besides, it will give you something to do between episodes of The Walking Dead. 🙂

  4. smartvitaminchoice

    October 15, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    This book sounds fascinating! I don’t know if I’m quite in good enough shape to do that, but I love reading about people who are in peak condition! I swear by Thermo Fusion, which I write about on my blog, to get me through the tough workouts. Maybe one day I’ll be trekking across the world!!

  5. Jeff Katzer

    October 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    I have that book on my iPad… Great adventure!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 16, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      A great adventure indeed — I just wish I could take three years go go on a trip like that — but family responsibilities keep me closer to home

  6. Mark Shaw

    October 16, 2012 at 5:36 AM

    I read it a few months ago and loved it and funnily enough ha ha just finished the first series of the walking dead ………. Ace

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 16, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      I have a bumper sticker on my car the shows a few zombies chasing a cyclist. The caption says, “I Bike Because Zombies Can’t”

  7. Shonnie

    October 16, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Sounds like a very interesting book.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 16, 2012 at 10:51 PM

      Great motivation for winter exercise!

      • Shonnie

        October 17, 2012 at 3:07 PM

        I cheat and ride the Florida coast in winter. 😀

      • All Seasons Cyclist

        October 17, 2012 at 3:09 PM

        Shonnie — you need to bring your bike to Chicago in the winter when it is a balmy -10 degrees with a windchill factor of -30 (and a foot of snow on the ground)

  8. roblilwall

    November 9, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Hi, thanks for the review, glad you enjoyed!

    If you’re interested in a “live” version of what happened in Siberia on the bike, I recently spoke about this at a TEDx conference in Hong Kong:




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