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Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide

by Jill Homer

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2916378,207 (3.93)6
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Rounded up from 4.5 stars. A very well written tale of the Ride the Divide mountain bike race from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border. ( )
  patl | Mar 29, 2013 |
I too won this one through LibraryThing. It took me awhile to read the whole thing (nothing to do with the qualities of the book, my life being a little preoccupied at the time). When I did get a chance, I enjoyed this book great deal. It is an evocative and skillfully written story of the writer's experiences travelling the expanse of the North American continental divide as part of the Tour Divide race. An insane undertaking, not something I could imagine myself or most people trying, she perseveres through undeniable physical and personal adversity, and then proceeds to write a superbly written, interesting account ot it. ( )
  brianfergusonwpg | Nov 25, 2011 |
I won this book as a LibraryThing Member Giveaway and apologise for my late review. Unfortunately I was interupted in my reading of it and as yet I have not finished the book but I do hope to get back to it as what I have read so far was well written and the writer/athlete drew me into her world. I am not into sports or endurance feats of any kind but that has not made the book any less interesting or enjoyable. I have awarded 4 stars, so far so good. ( )
  lesleymc | Oct 7, 2011 |
free e-book received in exchange for a review
This is an inspirational story about perseverance and determination. The author took part in a mountain bike race which took her from Canada to Mexico. The story allowed me to get inside the head of a serious athlete and see what drives that type of person. Her descriptions of the vistas and sights that she sees are really captivating. There were some points where I thought more caution could have been taken, such as riding when injured. I am not a serious athletic competitor, but reading this book helped me get a better idea of why they do the tough things they do. Enjoyable story, even for a non-cyclist ( )
  kkunker | Sep 19, 2011 |
The Great Divide is a 2,740 mile mountain bike race from Canada to Mexico across the Continental Divide. Jill, a newspaper editor in Alaska decides to undertake this momentous feat amidst injuries, a break-up and the uncertainty of her career. Jill details her journey through the race as she battles rain, mountains, bicycle breakdown, self-doubt and a tumult of emotions regarding her life.

Let me begin by saying that I did enjoy this book. However, I felt at times that the same things happened over and over and that Jill made monumentally stupid decisions. From repeatedly failing to refill her water bag, to trudging ahead with a failing bicycle and failing to take care of injuries, I am quite amazed that she didn't die of dehydration, exhaustion or exposure to the elements. The book was very well written, Jill is a wonderful story teller and I was cheering as she hit the Mexico border. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Aug 25, 2011 |
*I won a free copy of this e-book in a LibraryThing Member Giveaway*

This is an inspiring story-though probably would have deeper meanings to cyclist.
Jill Homer made a wonderful job, story-telling and describing her journey beautifully.
The writing is well-written and expertly crafted, the words are soothing , encouraging and inspiring.
The book had an ambience of seriousness,...but with alot of quotes(I really loved those) and surely a great adventure story in its own way. Full of philosophical and psychological views, this story narrates the beauty of man's emotions, endurance and perseverance!

Jill Homer, a newspaper editor from Juneau, Alaska, has an outlandish ambition: Racing a mountain bike 2,740 miles from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. Her preparation plans are equally ambitious: A 350-mile winter bicycle race on Alaska’s frozen Iditarod Trail, followed by two months of focused training during a summer sojourn with her boyfriend in the Utah desert.

But in the tradition of best-laid plans, Jill’s dream begins to unravel the minute she sets it in motion. During the Iditarod Trail Invitational, Jill breaks through lake ice and suffers serious frostbite on her foot. While she’s laid up on crutches and unable to train, Jill’s employer coerces her into taking a job that may prevent her from even starting the 2009 Tour Divide. Then, just two days before their departure date, Jill’s boyfriend ends their eight-year-relationship. This final dismantling of expectations causes Jill to question everything she thought she knew about life, love and her own identity.

Faced with a summer full of plans they’re both reluctant to change, Jill and her now-ex-boyfriend embark on a road trip from Juneau to San Francisco in an effort to salvage a long-term friendship. She vows to repair her crumbling relationship with her ex, but a chance discovery and a jarring bicycle crash reveal the truth — that their past, and her heart, have been irrevocably broken.

She returns alone to her family home in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a vague plan to pick up the pieces and continue pursuing the Tour Divide. Despite a lack of motivation and overarching desire to do something more conducive to “getting on with her life,” Jill embarks on a series of training rides to prepare her for the rigors of a self-supported endurance race. She spends long nights huddled in a thin sleeping bag beneath a wash of stars, trying to reconcile her heartbreak and uncertainty.

Just days before the start of the Tour Divide, Jill travels to Banff, Alberta, where she meets kindred spirits who help spark greater perspective and new enthusiasm for a solo journey. On June 12, 2009, she joins 42 other racers at the start of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Jill finds herself almost instantly in over her head, facing a sudden deluge of loose gravel, rocky terrain, hard fatigue, violent thunderstorms, difficult route-finding, stream crossings, bear encounters, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles — and she hasn’t even pedaled out of Canada yet.

On the third day, Jill meets a veteran Divide racer named John. They agree to ride together for the day, which stretches into several days as John settles into Jill’s pace and Jill enjoys the company of a methodical, results-driven athlete who loves cycling but seems so much unlike her in nearly every other way. They part ways in western Wyoming, and suddenly Jill finds herself facing nearly 2,000 miles of Rocky Mountains backwoods, completely alone.

The difficulties compound quickly. Mud and weather slow her progress, knee pains become chronic, food planning errors leave her low on calories, and a rear hub failure nearly strands her in the harsh desert of the Great Divide Basin more than 100 miles from the next town. Brake failure leads to a bad crash in northern Colorado. Amid the mounting demands of her savage new way of life, Jill’s sense of civility wears away and her emotions become those of a child, raw and affecting.

But Jill’s adventure also swings toward the sublime, from the unconditional kindness of strangers to a deliriously beautiful descent from the sweeping mountains above Salida, Colorado. Jill allows herself to believe the worst is behind her, unaware that the most jarring discovery still awaits her beyond the storm-ravaged peaks of the southern San Juan Mountains.

This is the story of an adventure driven relentlessly forward as foundations crumble, proving that to succeed in "the world's toughest mountain bike race," one doesn't have to be the world's toughest woman. Not even close.

http://www.powells.com/biblio/61-9781257658589-1 ( )
  avry15 | Aug 21, 2011 |
Received as a 'Member's Giveaway'
One woman's challenge to complete the world's longest off-pavement cycling route - The Great Divide Mountain Bike Race, travelling from Banff in Alberta to the Mexican Border; a total of 2,740 miles.
This is a story of sheer endurance and perseverance. Jill Homer describes her journey beautifully, with all of its psychological and physical ups and downs. The writing is elegantly crafted and is an inspiring and motivational tale for anyone, though it will probably have deeper meaning for cyclists, and especially endurance cyclists and mountain bikers.
It is a fairly serious book with not much lightness about it, but it is as gripping a tale as any adventure story, though admittedly there were one or two moments when I became a little bored, but only because I am not a cycling person. There is such a strong underlying theme of human resilience, however, and of random acts of human kindness without it being 'slushy' that anyone can enjoy it. I am so pleased that Jill Homer completed the race and doubly glad she has written this book.
Favourite Quote: "The fact that something is impossible has never been a good reason not to try." ( )
  LindaRollins | Aug 21, 2011 |
Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide is a story of a journey - physical and emotional. Jill Homer is an ultra-cyclist. The Great Tour Divide is an individual race from Canada to the Mexico border - over 2,700 miles. This book is the story of Jill Homer's journey during this race.

I have not followed her blog. Nor am I familiar with the world of ultra-athletes. The story left me in awe of the courage these athletes show and the challenges they choose to face. It is inspiring and amazing. I have no intention of following in her footsteps, but the lessons are there for all of us. To quote the book, "My only real investment in my future were the steps I took toward it - everything else was just a dream, a plan, or a fear."

The book did not get five stars because not really understanding cycling, I did find myself skimming some of the descriptions. Or maybe it was just because I wanted to find out what came next. I wanted her to succeed and couldn't wait to find out if she did.

*** Reviewed for member giveaway *** ( )
  njmom3 | Aug 18, 2011 |
*from member giveaway program*

this is a good book about the experience and life of an amazing woman..
the author invites her readers to a world of bicycling, how it completes her life, and make it worthwhile..
the words and content of the book are so intense and depicts the hardships, emotions and everything about life..
the places are described well that readers could really imagine themselves there... ( )
  clairecryst | Aug 17, 2011 |
I some how wasn't able to read till the end.... Did all I possibly could to get to the 9 chapter. After that it was impossible for me to read more. Don't get me wrong, the story is interesting, nicely written characters and everything, but I am just not so much in to the cycling-running stories. I can bet the idea about the positive story and a life-challenge presented, and the photographs are so beautiful, and still it some how never clicked with me. ( )
  USSangel85 | Aug 12, 2011 |
I am in awe of people like Jill Homer, who attempt and complete huge endeavors by tapping into their personal strengths. In "Be Brave, Be Strong", I followed Jill on her trek through an arduous Great Divide bicycle race. It seemed to rain everyday and the entire Divide was a hodgepodge of obstacles and mud. Nonetheless, she did not give up.
Jill is as accomplished an author as she is a bicyclist. Her descriptions of the beautiful western U.S. landscapes brought the journey to life and the goodwill exhibited by strangers showed the warmth of the people who live there. It was refreshing to see so many strangers who helped her throughout her journey. I truly enjoyed this reading adventure. ( )
  ljpower | Jul 12, 2011 |
I am in awe of this woman... not only can she write a good yarn, but her story is amazing. I mean how many of us would ride a mountain bike from Canada to Mexico in rain and over 11,000 foot mountains in just 24 days? With only two outfits and a bag of junk food and a sleeping bag?

Jill Homer did. It's called the Tour Divide and she did it in 2009.. first try. Her narrative begins in Alaska with her long time boyfriend suddenly calling it quits.. and whereas most women would curl up and cry about it, Jill decides to keep going. It's not easy and she doesn't even realize she's going to do it practically till she's at the starting line, but she does it.

She faces bears, rides next to antelope, talks to cows, has flat tires, deals with a broken gps, braves mud and mud and more mud, climbs and climbs and climbs, wrecks, bangs up her knee, lives off sour patch kids candy half the time, runs out of water, loses her breaks in Colorado (YIKES!!!), and even deals with food poisoning and a hurt friend. But she still does it.. she makes it.

Along the route, she contemplates giving up... but numerous things keep her going, the desire to outdo her ex boyfriend, the fear of public humiliation...

What I really liked about her story besides her bravery, determination, and gumption is how amazing some people were along the way.. Perfect strangers offered her food, drink, board, opened their homes to her. It's amazing and touching how many people are willing to help others still today. I loved how Ms. Homer acknowledges each and every one of them. I also enjoyed the parts with John, a fellow rider. I wondered what would happen there...

A very good book. My only complaint is at times it was too much repetitive detail. Just too much at times about everything she ate and the details of the trails. At times, I found myself skimming over that stuff.. just wanting to find out what happened next. 3.5 stars.

Laugh out loud moment: "At mile 62, my throat was dry and my drinking bladder still empty, but my own bladder was completely full. The organ bulged and pressed against my abdomen until I was certain I could feel urine leaking out of my eyes. If it was only a need to pee I might have strongly considered just letting it go - after all, I was already drenched in sweat and wetting my shorts in that manner wouldn't be that much different. But there were other way I needed to relieve myself, too, way that I didn't want to end up in my shorts.." (Wouldn't you know, that's when a vehicle ends up driving by! LOL)

Favorite quote: "I only had myself to rely on in the end. I had to truly trust myself when the going got tough. And when the going did get tough, I dug deep inside myself and I persevered. I had been brave on my own. I had been strong on my own." ( )
  Soniamarie | Jun 27, 2011 |
Jill Homer brings the world alive in her book "Be Brave, Be strong: A journey Across the Great Divide" by using an amazing talent for describing her world of mountain bike racing through a poetic use of words. We are invited to join Jill as she relates the roller coaster of events that occurred to her as she follows her dream to racing 2,740 miles from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. She gives us a unique view into her views on the people around her and shows us the internal ticking of her mind that strove her forward to a new life perspective at the end of her journey.

I found Jill's view of the world interesting to read, though a couple times I paused thinking she was harsh in the way she judged people, but then I think we all do that. I came to admire her strengths as a person and learned a bit about myself and the world of bike racing as I read her story. I don't think a person couldn't like this tale if they enjoy reading of the experiences of another. ( )
  Appliquetion | Jun 15, 2011 |
A great book about the power of human emotion and character. Powerfully written and intense. Kudos to Jill Homer for a great book and an inspiring story. I would highly recommmend this book to sports enthusiasts, nature lovers, outdoor fanatics, women and men....so everyone :) ( )
  igjoe | Jun 8, 2011 |
Great book! About having a dream. And even though everything is set to prevent her from fulfilling this dream (frozen toes, breakup with boyfriend), Jill Homer sets out on the monstrous mountain bike race along the Great Divide. During the race she has to overcome all kinds of trouble; cold, rain (and the resulting mud), injuries. It's a physical and emotional roller-coaster. But she perseveres. Be brave, be strong is a very inspirational book. I'm going to try and walk the International Four Days Marches in Nijmegen this year: 160km of walking in four days (nothing compared to what Jill set out to do, but a real challenge to me). I know there will be times that I will be tired, sore and just wanting to give up. I hope that thinking about this book will help me through those difficult moments!
Thanks for the inspiration Jill! ( )
2 vote TessaSlingerland | Jun 7, 2011 |
The story was told simply, without unnecessary details. The reader will endure Jill's struggles with Ultrasport, the possibility of leaving her job as a newspaper editor and her home in Juneau. Her boyfriend of eight years will break off the relationship. The author gives the reader the straight-forward facts, revealing all and hiding nothing. The reader will be impressed that the author is willing to share some tough choices and events in her life. This comprises the first part of the story. The second part is not less emotional. Jill goes to her childhood home in Utah, trains, and builds up her abilities and emotional/mental fortitude to perform in the Tour Divide. Even with bad events and tough choices, Jill is able to ready herself for the race. The reader will enjoy living vicariously through Jill, experiencing the ups and downs and the incredible mental/physical endurance that Jill possesses. This novel is terrific for young adults/adults. ( )
  Icecream18 | May 22, 2011 |
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