Skip to content
Reviewed by Gemma Lovewell
Opening sentence
An epic read about an epic journey
The Big Bike Trip by Freddie Gillies is a captivating and inspiring story about a young man who, along with his brother and two close friends, journeyed around the world by bike. The book chronicles the adventure as they travelled from New Zealand to London, taking readers through a range of different cultures, landscapes, and challenges. It feels like a privilege to share the experiences as they travel through 20 countries, over 14 months, covering 23,000 kilometres.

From the very first page, readers are drawn into Freddie’s world as he and his friends set off on an epic journey with little more than their bicycles, a few supplies, and a whole lot of determination. As they pedal their way across the bustling cities of Southeast Asia, remote areas of central Asia, and the vast expanse of Europe, readers are treated to a vivid and immersive account of Freddie’s experiences.

What I really appreciate about this book, is that Freddie’s writing is honest and raw. It gives readers a true sense of the joys and struggles of long-distance cycling. He is not afraid to share his fears, doubts, and moments of weakness, but he also celebrates the many triumphs and moments of wonder that make the journey worthwhile. We get insights into how being away affected the relationships of both him and his friends – destroying some, but strengthening others.

This book goes far beyond simply recounting the experiences of Freddie and his friends. He also uses his journey as a platform to explore larger themes of environmentalism, sustainability, and global connection. He highlights the ways in which our actions as individuals and as a society can have a profound impact on the world around us, and makes the reader think about the responsibility we have for our own role in creating a more just and sustainable world. He was so affected by the things he did, saw, and went through, and the way he writes causes the reader to be affected too.

Overall, The Big Bike Trip is a very well written and deeply engaging book that will appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure, a passion for cycling, or an interest in global issues. You don’t even need to be into cycling to get something from this story, it is a journey of self-discovery which will open up your mind and encourage you to undertake your own. The extreme journey reminds us of the power of human resilience, and this book is sure to inspire readers to pursue their own dreams, whatever they may be.

Don’t be intimidated by the size of the book – it takes a while to read, but is brilliantly broken up with photographs, anecdotes, and maps. It is a book to get lost in. I highly recommend The Big Bike Trip for older teens due to its language and raw honesty.

- Gemma is 16 and lives in Masterton
Publisher: Random House NZ
ISBN: 9780143774143
Format: Paperback
Publication: August 2021
Ages: Older teens
Themes: Adventure, environment, cycling