Cycling Home From Siberia Paperback – 19 Aug 2010
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I'm not sure Rob Lilwall knows it, but he has penned a two-wheeled classic. I wanted to rise up singing and strap on my bicycle clips. (Kevin Rushby The Guardian)
Lilwall has a wonderful ability to inspire trust in his readers. (The Guardian)
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. (Irish Times)
Not only describes different countries and their peoples, but also delves into the human heart. (Amy Boucher Pye Woman Alive)
A real adventure story (The Baptist Times)
Rob Lilwall is such a transparently decent, honest and likeable bloke that it is difficult not to become involved in the highs and lows of his journey. 7/10 (Martin Spice Times Educational Supplement)
The gripping adventure story of one man's epic journey back from Siberia to England by bikeSee all Product description
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Overall a lovely book with one downer : Rob has very strong Christian values and views which are admirable, but the book is over laced with his views on Christianity, often to a point that can be very annoying to a leisure reader liker me.
You'll have to look very hard indeed to find someone - believer or non-believer - this adventurous who can also write about it in such an engaging way and on that basis alone, it is an absolutely fantastic book. Buy it, i couldn;t put it down.
Rob is quite a personable chap although, as he himself admits, he can become quite annoying when he starts going on a Christian kick. Fortunately he, or his editor, have kept the "born again" verbiage to the minimum and we're allowed to enjoy the adventure for what it is. And it's one of those that you're kind of glad he did, while you sat at home reading about it in the comfort of your armchair. I did often wonder what exactly it was that he thought he was getting out of it as the journey continued almost without a serious destination in mind? Mind you, this was probably envy that he was doing something that a lot of us would love to do, just for the simple reason of broadening our limited horizons and seeing if we could.
The journey soon becomes a bit of an obsession as Rob changes and extends his planned route, while his mate branches out on a different road home (largely because the two of them find themselves soon getting on each other's wicks as they try and travel together.)
I had the feeling that some of the journey's chapters could have been books in themselves. Siberia itself could have been padded out with a history of the Road of Bones, Japan is always fascinating, Papua New Guinea an adventure on its own. Four months in Australia, however, probably warranted the four pages it is given. Still, that's a lot more than the thousand mile trek through Thailand and Malaysia gets, which is covered in a paragraph with passing mentions of palm trees and rice fields. Cambodia - there's another book, but the writing is as restless as Rob is on the bike. If he's not pushing on, he's nowhere.
As expected, Rob detours off into Afghanistan against everybody's advice against doing it. This is a challenge he feels, for some reason, he has to take and he spends most of this leg in a state of subdued fear. Once he's across, however, the book speeds towards home, and countries flash past in sentences. Only Iran gets anywhere near a special mention, but at least he takes some time to ruminate on the obnoxious French in the final pages.
In the last chapter, Rob becomes introspective as he wonders what it was all about? Why did he do it? What did he learn? You'll have to read the book to find out, but it's worth doing it.
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