In the summer of 2007, Robert Goldstein departs Helsinki on a self-supported bicycle epic across Finland with the goal of pedaling to the Barents Sea. Aboard a folding bicycle towing a wagon, he weathers furious storms, survives a near-disastrous accident and obsesses whether he will be eaten by a bear as he makes his way through the remote forests of Eastern Finland. In sparsely populated Lapland, his solitude is relieved by reindeer who become his constant companions as he slowly makes his way through the Arctic. More than a travelogue, Riding with Reindeer intersperses an often humorous narrative about the author’s adventures (he manages to get trapped in the women’s shower in one remote village) with rich cultural and historical anecdotes as he passes through endless forests littered with rotted fortifications, rusted tanks and mass graves—the detritus of Finland’s desperate defense against a massive Soviet invasion in the winter of 1939. Riding with Reindeer gives insight into the mind of the solitary traveler and into the soul of a country whose honest and resourceful yet often taciturn citizens are always willing to lend a helping hand to the stranger on the bicycle gamely grinding his way through their “Suomi” – literally “the end of the land.”
Goldstein, who began his career as a journalist, is currently the chief financial officer for the Kitsap Regional Library system. He lives in Seattle. His first book, The Gentleman from Finland – Adventures on the Trans-Siberian Express, received the 2006 Benjamin Franklin Award for travel writing.
Riding with Reindeer was a finalist in the the travel category for 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
“The one true armchair travel book I found was Robert M. Goldstein’s Riding with Reindeer, which describes his solo bike trip from Helsinki to the Barents Sea. The maps are wonderful, and the photos—so often lacking in books of this sort—add to the book’s appealing conversational tone.” Nancy Peal in Book Lust to Go – Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers.
“Goldstein’s affable good humor makes him an idea armchair traveling companion – I laughed out loud and read passages to my husband. Stay with him to the Finnish.” Debra Dean, author of The Madonnas of Leningrad and Confessions of a Falling Woman
“Robert Goldstein gives readers a riveting and fun tale that shouldn’t be missed, and makes for excellent and highly recommended reading” Midwest Book Review, July 2010
“Perfect for travelers, armchair or otherwise, cyclists and thrill seekers, Riding with Reindeer is a modern-day travel narrative filled with humor, poignancy, history and beauty.” ForeWord Reviews