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

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  202 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Jill is an unassuming recreational cyclist who has about as much in common with Lance Armstrong as she does with Michael Jordan. But despite her perceived athletic mediocrity, the newspaper editor from Alaska harbors an outlandish ambition: the "world's toughest mountain bike race," a 2,740-mile journey from Canada to Mexico along the rugged spine of the Rocky Mountains.

Kindle Edition, 344 pages
Published (first published May 5th 2011)
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Miles from Nowhere by Barbara SavageHell on Two Wheels by Amy SnyderBe Brave, Be Strong by Jill HomerThe Lost Cyclist by David V. HerlihyThe Velocipede Races by Emily June Street
Bike Books
3rd out of 54 books — 31 voters
走得越远,离自己越近 The Farther I Walk, The Closer I Get To Me by Hong Mei 洪梅Be Brave, Be Strong by Jill HomerBreaking Trail by Arlene BlumKicking Up Dirt by Ashley FiolekCalled Again by Jennifer Pharr Davis
Fantastic Women's Adventure Memoirs
2nd out of 40 books — 20 voters

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Community Reviews

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Red Haircrow
With terrific photos of the beauty of landscape and individual and group determination to succeed in their goals, “Be Brave, Be Strong” is a moving work of one women’s tremendous journey to complete a dream after heartbreak. Although a memoir of sorts and a detailing her experiences, I appreciated the flowing style that reminded me of the storytelling tradition of my people, not just someone telling their story. We’re given fascinating views into the internal struggle and psychological influence ...more
If you want to read a book on inspiration and reaching your goals, this is definitely the one that you should pick up.
I felt so bad initially for not having started on this sooner, since it's a first-reads book, but I wasn't able to start it until about 3 months after initially getting it due to the hard semester I've had. So I picked it up right away as soon as my break started, and now after finishing it I feel even worse for not having reviewed it earlier. It was really good and so much cred
Won on First Reads Giveaway. As an avid mountian biker I am so excited to read this one.

Jill is my new hero. This is less a book about mountain biking than self discovery and life. In three and a half weeks Jill rides through more than a race course but all that is good and bad in life. As a biker I loved the book and will give it to family and friends to read. During graduate school at the University of Utah I lived in Sandy and rode Corner Canyon, Millcreek, and in the Cottonwoods regularly (p
Tara Chevrestt
3.5 stars actually, but gr doesn't let me do that...

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.
The first few chapters were painful as she just makes some really poor choices but once she started the actual race, I loved the writing and the adventure. I understand that the first few chapters set a necessary back drop but she did seem pretty stupid and whiny there for a bit. A great adventure though and a well told tale of an amazing race.
This is a really cool story of Jill Homer's race in the 2009 Tour Divide, a self-supported mountain bike race that starts in Banff, travels across a planned route along the Continental divide and ends at the Mexican border. She starts out by describing the events that lead up to the race - frostbite that forced her to drop out of the Iditarod Trail Invitational, breaking up with her partner of 8 years, and the decision to leave her job. Then, the meat of the book is the story of her journey in t ...more
Aug 17, 2011 Stacy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
One of my friends finished the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) this year (2011)! I can't get enough of her stories!
Linda Rollins
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,
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. Th ...more
I really enjoyed this book. I read it pretty quickly. I know a number of other reviewers complained about her focusing a lot on the dissolution of her relationship. I found that to be both interesting and engaging. It provided solid background to her motivations and put everything in context. Toward the end the descriptions became all too familiar and I found myself skimming. Other than that it was a great read. I particularly loved the beginning on the iditarod.
M Martin Penner
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. At the beginning I felt the chapters ended and began a bit choppy but by mid book I felt the flow going from one chapter to the next. Jill did a wonderful job of detailing her adventure to include her emotions, human interaction and progress. At times I did skim details of elevation, terrain and trail conditions but mostly because I am not a cyclist an it felt tedious to me. I appreciated how she didn't bog down the book with her exact words everytime she had a ro ...more
Ron S
Frost-bite, crutches, the end of a relationship and an uncertain future don't deter journalist Jill Homer from undertaking The Tour Divide bicycle race from Banff, Alberta to the Mexican border at Antelope Wells. Brit Paul Howard's account of the the same 2009 event is "Eat. Sleep. Ride." As with her earlier book about racing the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska, "Ghost Trails," Homer brings a lot of emotion and reflection to overwhelmingly male dominated events. Both books would make great ...more
Sahil Raina
I actually liked large parts of this book quite a lot. There were many instances where I could almost imagine myself in her position, stuck facing a near impossible task. Her descriptions of those situations, how she powered through them, were mostly well done. However, there were some parts wherein I found the author's discussion of personal relationships with real people to be a little uncomfortable. Maybe that's what an autobiography is but, somehow, these people were a little too close to re ...more
I'm a little more than halfway through this book. I'm trying to savor it (because it's really good!) and not just read it in a few epic sittings as I did Ghost Trails, the author's other book. So far I'm really enjoying this story about the author's experiences leading up to and riding the Tour Divide Mountain Bike Race.
An added bonus is that reading a little bit of this book every evening has been a great motivator for actual bike riding during the day!

eta: I finished this book. I really loved
Interesting read, although a bit soap-opera in parts where author describes her relationship break-up. Some great descriptions of bicycling the Tour Divide event. If you are a fan of wilderness racing (which in my mind is a contradiction in terms) then this is a good book. It would have been better in my mind if the author was riding the route on her own, rather than as part of an "event". But the descriptions of the landscape, and the sights, smells, sounds, and feeling of rugged, long distance ...more
I very much enjoyed Jill Homer's simple writing style - this felt more like a diary than anything else. But I found some aspects of the book frustrating. She introduced a couple of relationships into the book but didn't really resolve what was happening with either (which I realize this book is about a race but don't introduce something you don't want to talk about).

I was mostly curious about what happened after the race. I would assume that an event like this can change you and I was frustrate
This book is definitely a worthwhile read. Ms. Homer eloquently touches upon heavy life themes, but also manages to keep things light and humorous enough to make the novel an enjoyable read. I'm not a woman or a cyclist, and yet I found this book to be engaging, interesting, and relatable, as it mostly focuses on physical and mental adversity, and a person's ability to overcome such. I would highly recommend this book to just about anyone, but especially those who appreciate the outdoors and com ...more
Bryan Mullalley
I've done some single day endurance road riding, and a few casual multi-day tours, but nothing like this mountain bike adventure. I loved this book and found it to be very motivational. I think that even non-cyclists would find this a good read and would be able to take something away from the book. This book shows what a person can accomplish just by refusing to give up and by pushing themselves beyond what should seem possible.
I enjoyed this memoir tremendously. I am a regular reader of Jill's blog. Reading her blog entry about wiping out in Marin was like getting punched in the gut. Jill brings that same emotion to the page in Be Brave, Be Strong. Even though it sometimes discusses deeply personal events, this book is truly a joy to read both in terms of its emotional depth, and descriptive power.
Lydia Larson
Jill brings the strong heroine to a higher level in this book. She fights the pain and the sadness, she fights the weakness of the human condition. This book is captivating, thrilling, emotional, comedic and inspiring. I could hardly put it down and am trying to get every adventurer I know to read it so we can dissect and savor each word she has written.
Again, Jill's writing draws me in (I read her blog regularly). What I thought was interesting is that even though I was captivated by her story, it didn't inspire me to go out and ride my bike more. Then again I guess she isn't trying to convince me to go ride a mountain bike across the country...
Matt Heavner
A fantastic personal narrative about an incredible bike ride. I really enjoyed the read and was completely inspired to do a few short segments of the ride! There were some fantastic "one-liners" My favorite:

"I pedaled because pedaling was the most natural course of action."
Thank you! I have been wanting a book like this to read for quite some time now! It had everything I want in a good travel/ultra-athlete journal.

It walked the line between personal and technical. Great stuff.
Andy Amick
Another great adventure story from Jill. If you enjoy adventure and cycling, you'll enjoy this book. And be careful because you might just develop dreams of one day riding the Tour Divide yourself.
Whine, whine, whine, whine..... . Now, repeat. She even stooped so low as to whine about women marching for breast cancer and how maneuvering around them slowed her progress in the race.
Ezra Adams
Excellent read. If you thought something lacking in Cheryl Strayed's Wild, give this book a chance. Brilliant combination of memoir and race accounting.
An overwhelmingly good read. Need to process some more before I'm coherent about it. Right now I'm just all flaily hands and copying quotes down.
Pat Loughery
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.
Stacey P
I downloaded this book on a whim and I'm so glad I did. A great read if you're into cycling, the outdoors, or endurance sports!
so interesting. Loved the pictures throughout the book- it really gave you a feel of being a long on the journey.
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“He handed me a spreadsheet of his own gear list -- everything extensively tested, accounted for and accurately weighed ... Chris' gear list resembled mine, at a base level. But there was a scientific certainty to his items, listed in precise terms and weighed down to fractions of an ounce.

"You weigh your chapstick?" I cried out. "Your chapstick?”
“He explained how pushing above his threshold for short bursts of time at the beginning of each hill allowed him to breathe more easily on the long climbs. I nodded enthusiastically and understood little of what he was telling me.

"How about you?" he asked. "How do you structure your training?"

"I go until I'm tired," I said. "And then I do it again the next day."

"That's probably not very effective," John said.”
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