Cycling home from Siberia was the adventure of a lifetime for Rob Lilwall. He risked everything including his life to take on the mammoth trip.
The journey of 30,000 miles through 28 countries took more than three years.
In 2004, Lilwall gave up his job as a geography teacher and left the comfort of his London home to board a one way flight to Siberia, taking only basic necessities and his trusty bicycle.
He was immediately confronted with the life-threatening challenge of cycling through the harsh Russian winter in temperatures of -40 degrees celcius.
"I wanted to really challenge myself and do something which really stretched me to the limit and I wanted to learn about the world," Lilwall said. "I think a bicycle is a brilliant way to explore the world because you're at ground level and you meet a lot of people."
After surviving the Siberian winter, Lilwall cycled through some of the world's most dramatic places including the snowy passes of Tibet and the war torn valleys of Afghanistan's Hindu Cush.
Despite enjoying the incredible landscapes, Lilwall says cycling through Afghanistan was quite an emotional challenge.
"I just cycled really fast and prayed really hard and it turned out okay," he said. "It was pretty terrifying, but nearly everybody I met there was very friendly and kind."
Lilwall claimed the journey was an enriching spiritual experience for his Christian faith, particularly learning the fragility of his own mortality.
"I was living on the edge for a few years and the prospect of death was quite tangible," he said. "That made me think a lot about my own mortality. It made me pray a lot and it made me seek God more."
His faith was also strengthened by the kind hospitality of fellow Christians from very different backgrounds.
"That was a great experience to see these Christians, some of whom were missionaries serving in very extreme places and they were really living on the edge and it was great to learn from these people," he recalled. "Their hospitality was incredible from people who didn't even know me. I'd knock on the door of a church in the middle of some distant country and they'd welcome me in, feed me, look after me, pray for me and then off I'd go again the next day."
Today Liwall writes and lectures worldwide about his experiences. He hopes to inspire many to take similar adventures of a lifetime.
"I try and use the story of the journey to inspire people to take on their own challenges and not avoid doing something just because they're frightened of it," he said.
With Liwall's book about his experience called Cycling Home from Siberia coming out and with a six part television series on his journey set to air soon, it seems his adventures are far from over.
*Original Broadcast Date: October 9, 2009.