Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Be Brave, Be Strong by Jill Homer: A Review

Be Brave, Be Strong is a book filled with pain, doubt, anger and angst. It also contains wonderful descriptions, breathtaking beauty and relentless determination. It is Jill Homer's story of her experiences leading up to and racing the 2009 Tour Divide, a 2740 mile mountain bike race from Banff, Alberta to the US/Mexican border. It's a hell of a ride and a hell of a read.

Those familiar with Jill's popular blog or who have followed the Tour Divide online may think they know the story contained in Be Brave, Be Strong, but the book casts this huge undertaking in the most personal of terms. Jill tells the tale as only she can, through her eyes and experiences. And she's not afraid to make herself look bad. She judges people harshly, faulting person A for being too helpful and person B for doing to little and she stews over this person being too talkative while another is too distant. With the Divide as grand backdrop she pedals and slogs through snow and mud and isolation even when she is unsure of what she's ultimately seeking.

Those looking to Be Brave, Be Strong for practical advice on Divide racing will probably be disappointed, although it does contain some great advice on the use of wax-covered cheese wheels and Sour Patch Kids as race fuel. And ultimately the distance and time and mud overwhelm even the most obsessive self-examination and critique and at the end of the trail perhaps we find that the trail is just beginning.

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