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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

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  359 Ratings  ·  52 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 HomerBicycle Diaries by David ByrneThe Lost Cyclist by David V. Herlihy
Bike Books
3rd out of 60 books — 39 voters
Breaking Trail by Arlene Blum走得越远,离自己越近 The Farther I Walk, The Closer I Get To Me by Hong  MeiBe Brave, Be Strong by Jill HomerCalled Again by Jennifer Pharr DavisBecoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis
Fantastic Women's Adventure Memoirs
3rd out of 87 books — 33 voters

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Community Reviews

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Red Haircrow
Aug 15, 2011 Red Haircrow rated it really liked it
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
Jodi Jacobson
May 10, 2015 Jodi Jacobson rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, women, adventure
Be Brave, Be Strong at 421 pages is nonetheless a a quick-read memoir by Jill Homer about, as the title states, her journey across the Great Divide by mountain bike. Homer is a Utah native living in Alaska at the time she is preparing for this race. The story actually begins with the Iditarod, a harsh cross-country race that people apparently undertake by bicycle, foot, sled, and perhaps other means of transportation. Before this I actually thought the Iditarod was only done by sled. During the ...more
Mar 12, 2012 Aliya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 13, 2011 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 08, 2014 Kettie rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 25, 2014 Rosie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 29, 2015 Meagan rated it it was amazing
At about 3/4 through I was starting to think about what I would give this book in regards to a Goodreads rating - it was going to be a 4. Then came the last chapter - I sobbed. Full on sobbed, multiple times - I have no idea where it came from. Obviously - it's a 5 with that kind of psychological response. This book tugs at your core - because each and every one of us can relate: it may not be biking, but we have each had some sort of struggle that we had to fight to the bitter end to finish. I ...more
May 19, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is easier to give up than to success in an arduous mountain bicycle ride along the spine of the rocking mountains. The 2,740-mile trip is not for the faint hearted and not the speediest when you think about pedaling one’s self that distance. There are pictures that highlight the beauty and the obstacles author Homer faced on her 24-day record setting journey on the 2009 Tour Divide. Reader will discover the toil this type of commitment takes on the body, emotions, relationships, and of course ...more
Linda Rollins
Aug 21, 2011 Linda Rollins rated it really liked it
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,
May 22, 2011 Krystal rated it really liked it
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
Mar 17, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 09, 2015 Heather rated it liked it
I hate doing half ratings, but this was more of a 3.5 for me. Enjoyed reading it, and loved her ability to fully embrace the grandeur of the challenge, beauty, perspectives, and life-changing moments she experienced through the book. Fascinating - especially since members of my family rode the great divide a few years ago and this gave me insight into what they experienced.
Linda Drish
Jan 19, 2015 Linda Drish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. I had a hard time putting it down. Jill is a remarkable young woman that dreams big and does everything to make it come true. While racing the 2700+ miles on a mountain bike she beautifully describes the scenery, the weather, conditions of the trail and the very nice people that gave her a place to sleep and fed her warm meals. She writes about sleeping in her bivy sack along side the road as the sleep monster took over. She has very little fear!

I felt like I was
Bart Coddens
May 16, 2016 Bart Coddens rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Jill is an exceptional endurance athlete and she is gift with a photographic memory. She manages to give the reader an insight in the mind of these athletes. An excellent read for all cyclists and endurance athletes.
paul brabenec
Dec 01, 2014 paul brabenec rated it it was amazing
I believe Jill

I believe her journey was everything she said. What a readable, enjoyable account. She seems to say (and demonstrate) that ordinary people can do the extraordinary.
Marlene M Penner
Aug 31, 2011 Marlene M Penner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, first-reads
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
Meredith Lueck
Nov 09, 2015 Meredith Lueck rated it it was amazing
This is the book every 30 year old woman should read. Perseverance and strength ooze from this woman, as she battles her own mind the way we all do each day.
Ron S
Apr 08, 2013 Ron S rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it
The title says it all Jill and you nicely convey the whole experience. Still think about it when I hear morning has broken.
Jonathan Lynn
Dec 02, 2015 Jonathan Lynn rated it really liked it
As if I didn't want to ride the great divide already, now I feel like I HAVE to. Loved the descriptions of joy and misery side by side.
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
Yvonna Graham
Apr 22, 2016 Yvonna Graham rated it it was amazing
Along for the ride

Jill Homer recounts her entire Tour divide ride from Banff to Antelope Wells in language so evocative I never got bored. I felt like I was vicariously riding with her.
Jul 21, 2011 Alli rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 10, 2011 Betsy rated it liked it
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
Aug 02, 2012 Elizabeth rated it liked it
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
Feb 10, 2013 Peter rated it it was amazing
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
Ben Taylor
Apr 11, 2015 Ben Taylor rated it liked it
Needed more Geoff
Jul 04, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
Great book - it left me wanting to know more.
Mar 09, 2015 Annemieke rated it really liked it
Endurance of the human spirit!

Her willingness to suffer, endure the worst of conditions and finding every ounce of strength to complete this journey is incredible!
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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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