Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review - "Cycling Home From Siberia"


Needless to say, I love to read.  I've been reading since my early childhood years and ever since the Scholastic Book Club days in elementary school I have enjoyed adventure books.  In recent years, I've had the pleasure of being intensely entertained by "A Walk in the Woods," "The Perfect Storm," "The Cruelest Miles," "Isaac's Storm" and many other wonderful experiences being lived through the words of another human being. The finest adventure book of the last twenty years was the famed Jon Krakauer book about the tragic Everest climb, "Into The Air."  

Let's face it, most of us could never do most of the things being accomplished in these books.  I'm in pretty good shape, but I could never walk the entire Appalachian trail.  I certainly couldn't be the driver of a sled dog team in Alaska and there is absolutely no way I could ever climb Mount Everest. 

I do enjoy cycling and get out when I can to take spins through the various trails in and around the confines of the area I live in. Cycling along the lakefront is a perfect day in any month of any year. Well, not in winter.

Having said that, I couldn't cycle 35,000 miles from Siberia to London - via Japan, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France.  Rob Lilwall is an adventurer and yes, he cycled over three years through freezing temperatures, steaming deserts, crime-infested cultures, third world countries and war zones.  He managed to get dysentery more than once, sore limbs, malaria and a whole host of other ailments.

The physical, psychological and spiritual traumas are deep and wide ranging.  Imagine the loneliness? Even in safe countries there are crazies. Shockingly, he was robbed only once along the way. God protected Lilwall on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.  

Some of the most interesting aspects of the book are the people Lilwall encounters on his journey.  When Lilwall discusses the Soviet Gulags with a priest named Father Mike there is a great line that concludes one of the the chapters while he's in Siberia. "When a government comes to hate the creator, it is not long before they also start to hate the creatures he created."  This book is more than an adventure.  It makes you think - all along the way. 

Lilwall is a Christian, although this is not a faith-based book. He just happens to be a Christian adventurer, but he shares many moments on the road swapping stories of faith. Lilwall spends time with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and other Christians. There are some profound moments spent in the midst of shared and differing opinions and ideologies.        

I enjoyed every second that it took to read this monumental cycle through life.  If you want to live vicariously through Lilwall's extraordinary cycling map then pick up this book. I couldn't do this journey, but I'm glad there are some strong willed people willing to do the seemingly impossible!

Copyright 2011 Read On Read Now     

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