There is a long list of things that comes to mind when thinking of summer: popsicles, baseball games, watermelon, swimming pools, the beach, bicycles. Probably not Siberia – or riding a bicycle through Siberia – but it’s about all I can think about, read about, through these infernal days of heat and humidity.
The heat is sweltering here; a recent article claims we’re in the midst of the hottest six months in recorded history. Another reminder – along with the mess in the Gulf – from Mother Nature: ride and walk more, drive less? I’d like to think so, but also admit that it’s a difficult task in this kind of weather. And you have to be willing to arrive everywhere dripping with sweat and looking like hell; no room for a shred of vanity, that’s for sure. But hey, as Stephen Markley penned – “We didn’t need a world with a functioning climate anyway.”
Back to Siberia … Rob Lilwall’s book, Cycling Home From Siberia, is beautiful, remarkable, inspiring, and the perfect summer read in the midst of a heat wave. What began as a preposterous undertaking to begin with – his plan to spend one year cycling from a far-eastern city in Siberia, in winter, all the way home to England – turned into an epic 3-year/3-continent/30,000-mile cycling odyssey. It is filled with fascinating detail, humor, and yes – the expected drama and dire circumstances you might expect. But it is written in an amazingly unpretentious and even very spiritual voice. It is a beautiful story – on so many levels.
It’s a story that is filled with human (versus super-human) moments; his “humanness” and honesty draws you in, while the adventures keep you turning pages. And ok – the guy rode over 30,000 miles, so there is a fair amount of super-human in there as well, for you feats-of-incredibleness junkies. But with chapter titles ranging from “Over Mordor” (ch.1 – yes, in reference to Tolkien’s gloom-filled world), to “The budgerigar and the naked weatherman” (ch. 11) and ” ‘I’ve had enough of this stupid bike ride’ “ (ch. 36) … it is entertaining, often funny, sometimes sad, sometimes frightening, yet always so very real. A better description appears on the back cover:
A gripping story of endurance and adventure, this is also a spiritual journey, providing poignant insight into life on the road in some of the world’s toughest corners.
Get your hands on a copy and read it. Period. That’s all I’m going to say.
A final note to my kind friends and those of you who commented on my last post: your insight has been most valuable to me, and I greatly appreciate your taking time to share your thoughts – and even more for listening to me and reading. It has really helped me, and has made a difference.
#330daysofbiking update: today I have ridden 110 of the past 117 days …. 248 days remain. And so it goes. (As I wish for a blast of arctic air to blow over from Siberia).