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 Amazon.com for $13. This book is also available in a Kindle edition for $12.