Lilwall went to school in London and Shropshire (Shrewsbury School) and then studied geography for 4 years at Edinburgh University. After completing his PGCE at Oxford University, he taught geography for two years at Larkmead School in Abingdon, before quitting his job, and flying to the north-eastern Siberian city of Magadan with his bicycle Alanis (named after singer–songwriter Alanis Morissette) and setting off to ride back home. The journey of over 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometres) through 28 countries eventually took him over three years (2004–2008) and took him on detours through Papua New Guinea, Australia, Tibet, Afghanistan and Iran.
His first book "Cycling Home From Siberia" was published in August 2009 by Hodder & Stoughton, to excellent reviews from the British Press. The book was also published as a North American edition by Howard Books (Simon & Schuster), and translated into Korean, Italian and Danish. A television series about the journey, using Lilwall's original camcorder footage, was made by National Geographic in 2009. The series consists of six 24 minute episodes. It was broadcast in Australia on the Nat Geo Adventure Channel starting Sunday, 7 December 2009. The DVD of the series is available directly from Lilwall.
In 2009, Lilwall married Christine Liu, who he had met whilst cycling home from Siberia. They moved back to Christine's native Hong Kong where they set up a Mobilisation Office for the children at risk charity Viva. In 2011 Lilwall set off on a new expedition—this time calling it "Walking Home From Mongolia". After flying from Hong Kong to Mongolia, he set off on foot from the Gobi Desert town of Sainshand. He then walked for the following six and a half months, 3,500 miles back to Hong Kong. National Geographic commissioned a TV series about the journey (due out in late 2012/early 2013), and so Lilwall also took a cameraman with him on the expedition, the young Northern Irish adventurer Leon McCarron. They endured temperatures down to minus thirty and severe physical hardship as they covered the huge distances with heavy packs. Lilwall wrote a weekly column for the South China Morning Post as he walked, and was given an advance book deal from his previous publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, with publication of the new book due in July 2013.
Lilwall is now a corporate/motivational speaker in Hong Kong and Asia, having spoken at numerous high-level corporate conferences, the University of Hong Kong MBA program, a TEDx event, and various literary festivals.
Lilwall's adventures in Siberia are also documented in the book by his friend from University days, Alastair Humphreys about Humphrey's own cycling around the world, a trip which took 4 years.
- Gertz, Steven (July 1, 2006). "Road warrior: cyclist Rob Lilwall is on a cross-continental tour to help suffering children". Today's Christian (AccessMyLibrary). Retrieved 20 November 2012.
- Rushby, Kevin (2009-09-19). "Cycling Home from Siberia by Rob Lilwall". Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-10-26.
- "Rob Lilwall - Cycling from Siberia to Papua New Guinea". Guildford Travel Club. Retrieved 2009-10-26.[dead link]
- Rob Lilwall's official website
- "Cycling Home From Siberia" - review in Telegraph
- Man's Cycle from Siberia a Spiritual Journey - Christian World News
- S6 "Talking Points" : Rob Lilwall, Cyclist and Adventurer - Hutchesons' Grammar School
- Perjalanan Spiritual Rob Lilwall Berkeliling Dunia Dengan Sepeda - JawabaNews
- Profile at Speakers Connect