Arrival Home

Last week I cycled 8 days with my wife, her brother (Rowland), his wife (Alicia), and my wife’s friend (Saoka). It was four of us for the whole trip, plus the extra friend for three days. It was the first time I had traveled in a group before, and I […]

Reflections on Travelling with a Group

In January this year, Andrea Brena, a student from Italy, sent me a sizable list of questions for me to answer as part of a research project he was working on. Before the answers get lost in my inbox forever, here they are. INTERVIEW What’s your name? Robert John Thomson, […]

People are a Window: The Kindness of Strangers

Long distance human powered adventurer Rob Lilwall’s first book about his 30,000mile cycle journey is an absolute thriller. Each turn of the page left me shaking my head in disbelief at the fortunes and misfortunes of this rather unlikely epic adventurer. Some people just slide into the part of the […]

BOOK REVIEW: Cycling Home From Siberia

It is unsurprising that a journey such as the 14degrees Journey clarified what and who I want in life. Clarification of what is worth striving for, and clarification of who life is worth spending with. On both counts, this one year since the end of my skateboarding journey has been […]

Engaging Times

I was drinking some Jasmine tea at a cheap little Asian* restaurant the other day and it reminded me of western China. I felt the aromas of that aromatic tea and closed my eyes. I was taken back to Turpan. Xinjiang Province. Back to the heat. The unforced rhythms of […]

Jasmine Tea

I seem to have come full circle; I now find myself back in Japan… My wonderful host parents from 13 years ago (AFS exchange when I was 16 years old), with whom I have remained in contact with over the years, suggested at the beginning of this year that I […]


So, I got an email from a friend today, asking what I thought of the concept of ‘free will’. Basically I don’t know what I think about free will, other than I’ve heard some cliqe comments about free will in church in my past, and am no longer sure what […]

The Center of My Life

Ever since I read this quote by Dean Karnazes, I think I have been afraid… “It is so easy to live a life that has been scripted for you by others, to fall into the mire of conformity by following a path that society has laid before you, rather than […]

Changing Lenses

It has been a long time coming, but today I got this email from Guinness World Records in New York: ———————— Hi Rob! All fine here and I have good news! The record has been accepted and this is the text to appear in the certificate, but let me know […]


I have just arrived back to my trusty computer after having a wonderful meeting with Andrew and Friedel Grant from This wonderful married couple from Canada have been on the road 2.5 years on their bicycles, covering much of Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Canada, Australia, […]

The Travelling Two

Change to longboard Once I arrived in Switzerland, after just under 12,000km and 9 months on the road on my bicycle, I decided to up the ante of the journey and sample a vastly different mode of transport. The longboard. The idea had been spawned long before I actually made […]

On the change to the longboard and Fear

Speaking It has been a long hard road since I arrived back home five months ago. Time has gone at times too slowly, and at times too quickly. In any case, I am now at a stage where I am feeling comfortable about the prospect of speaking to audiences about […]

Photography and Speaking

A bit of a brain dump for you… Goals The significance of goals during my journey cannot be understated. They were both the life and the death of my journey. They served me as faithful coaches leading me to achieve what I set out to do, but at times they […]


I really should be updating more often…what a ride it has been over the last two months. Here is a little bit more of what has been at times a painful debrief, but overall is leading me (I think) to a much healthier place than when I was on the […]


With all these internal musings that I am posting lately, I guess it’s about time to post a wee bit about where I am and what shape life is taking for me at the moment… I am now living and studying in Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand. The […]

Coming Together

“I just want it all to go away.” This was a comment I made to my cousin Rach recently, regarding the last 2.5 years of my life. “I wish there would be key written delete on it for last 30 months.” This was a comment a fellow long distance cyclist […]

I Just Want it to all Go Away

This post is probably going to be heavy going for many readers. Not quite the ‘check out this awesome high pass that I just cycled across’ post that is so easy to skim over, just checking out the photos. No, this post is another existential, metaphysical pondering post. And to […]


A big apology for the lack of access to this website over the last two weeks. I am at a loss as to why access numbers should be so high now that I have finished the exciting part of the trip! The problem with my journey is that is has […]

The Problem With My Journey

A big thanks to Heather for bringing this guy to my attention – Nick Vujicic. Born with no arms and no legs, among other things he does motivational speaking. Click on the image below to see him in action. His story of course is inspirational. It would be hard to […]

Day 905 – NEW ZEALAND: Motivational Speaking

“There is a guy I know who has a skate ramp in his garage.” This was a comment from a friend recently about me trying to find new friends. It got me to thinking that when you’re involved in the long-distance skateboarding scene, and only involved in the long distance […]

Day 902 – NEW ZEALAND: Who am I?

So yesterday I went to a counsellor to talk through some of the issues that are bothering me at the moment upon re-entry to New Zealand. Some semblance of clarity has been restored, but it’s still all very scary. Basically I realised that there are heaps of things that I […]

Day 902 – NEW ZEALAND: Priorities

And so it goes in my head. In most things these days; not just as in the case of the cartoon above. It is so easy to get ahead of myself. To not live in the moment. Or at least have a healthy balance between living in the moment and […]

Day 898 – NEW ZEALAND: The future…

A rather belated season’s greetings to everyone. It’s 2009, and everything is going to be fine. Welcome to the future. Just before Christmas I was greeted with a message when trying to access my website, telling me that I had exceeded my monthly allowance for bandwidth. A blessing and a […]

Day 896 – NEW ZEALAND: Happy Christmas…Merry New Year

Some readers may recall that way back in Uzbekistan, the un-thinkable happened. I was using a small portable hard drive to back up all my photos and videos, and on the very day that I decided I would back the drive up (all 20GB of it), it stopped working ( […]

Day 890 – NEW ZEALAND: Re-discovered

An interesting talk by best selling author Rick Warren (click the link and a new window will display the video). Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life was a massive best seller. “Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, reflects on his own crisis of purpose in the wake […]

Day 883 – NEW ZEALAND: It’s not about me

Who’d have thought that a blog about a cycle journey from Japan to England would end up saturated with a fella’s musings about his struggle with God. If you came for the cycling and deserts and frozen beards, and are getting annoyed with my inward searching at present, I apologise. […]

Day 880 – NEW ZEALAND: Ground Beef