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Bicycling beyond the Divide: Two Journeys into the West

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Overview

Daryl Farmer, at the time a twenty-year-old two-time college dropout, did what lost men have so often done in this country: he headed west. Twenty years later and seventy pounds heavier, with the yellowing journals from that transformative five-thousand-mile bicycle trek in his pack, Farmer set out to retrace his path. This is his story of pursuing that distant summer and that distant dream of home, where home is endless space, a roof of big sky, and a bed of dry earth.

Just as the years altered the man, so, too, have they altered the West, and Farmer’s second journey affords a unique perspective on these changes—as well as on what lasts. Whether caught in a Colorado snowstorm or braving a Yellowstone herd of bison, kayaking with orcas in Puget Sound, trading ninja moves with a homeless man in San Francisco, or getting the lowdown on aliens on Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway, Farmer charts a moving landscape of people and places. This is the West where the natural world and personal character are inextricably linked, and where one man’s ride into the past and present takes us to the heart of that ever-evolving connection.

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Editorial Reviews

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Uncertain of his life's path, the 40-year-old Farmer fondly recalls a bicycle trip he took 20 years earlier, an epic three-month journey across the West. Now 70 pounds heavier, married, and toiling in a sunless midwestern office, he might have decided he was best suited for armchair adventure, perusing the yellowed journals from his earlier odyssey. Instead, he set out to retrace his route -- on the same bicycle, no less.

Bicycling Beyond the Divide is the tale of two journeys, decades apart but connected by a spirit of freedom and a desire for personal transformation that gave rise to both. The wide-open spaces Farmer travels through may have changed over the years, but the beauty and awesome power of nature is still revealed on the road, be it through stinging hail, forceful wind, or scorching heat. And a sense of grace is awakened in hisminimalist approach to life on the road, living day to day, seeking food and shelter as it comes.

Equally humorous and philosophical, punishing and triumphant, Bicycling Beyond the Divide speaks to the latent adventurer in us all. Though Farmer sought his future in reliving his past, he ultimately finds that there's nothing so beautiful as today, if we would only see it. (Summer 2008 Selection)
ForeWord

“Daryl Farmer lyrically meshes his traveling experiences of 1985 with 2005 in his book. . . . With writing that compares favorably to Paul Theroux, William Least Heat Moon, and John Steinbeck, Farmer assures us that the American spirit hasn't been completely deflated.”—Lee Gooden, ForeWord

— Lee Gooden

Lincoln Journal Star

“The book isn’t just bicycle talk. Much to Farmer’s credit—and the fact that he keeps journals—he gives us some historical background of the towns and places he visits. He also shares his personal life and his feelings, such as loneliness, anger and moments of happiness. All in all, it’s a good read for anyone contemplating a long-distance bicycle journey or some other adventure.”—Algis J. Laukaitis, Lincoln Journal Star

— Algis J. Laukaitis

Sports Literature Association

"Even if you have no interest in bicycling, if you haven't ridden one in years and have no intention of getting it out now that the weather is warmer, ride along with Daryl Farmer to learn more about living."—Duncan R. Jamieson, Sports Literature Association

— Duncan R. Jamieson

Brent Spencer

“Daryl Farmer writes with tenderness, humor, and profound insight, not only about the wonders of the western landscape, but about the troubled terrain of the human heart. Losing himself out there on the endless seam of two-lane blacktop, Daryl Farmer found himself, the 20-something who first took the trip and the forty-something man he would become. Bicycling Beyond the Divide is a transformative book about the hunger for the road and for self-understanding. Somewhere Edward Abbey is smiling.”—Brent Spencer, author of Rattlesnake Daddy
Gregory Martin
"In this wise and funny book about biking our American West, Daryl Farmer journeys across miles and through memory to self-discovery, and it''s our good fortune to come along-without expending nearly so many calories."

-Gregory Martin, author of Mountain City

Western American Literature

"Farmer succeeds in finishing an epic adventure, and a fine book."—Don Scheese, Western American Literature

— Don Scheese

Gregory Martin

“In this wise and funny book about biking our American West, Daryl Farmer journeys across miles and through memory to self-discovery, and it's our good fortune to come along—without expending nearly so many calories.”—Gregory Martin, author of Mountain City
Bret Lott
"Bicycling beyond the Divide did what all great books do: it told me about me. In its tale of a journey made by two different men-both of them Daryl Farmer-this book offers us not only moving vistas and meaningful people, but also hope, that rarest of literary commodities these days. I didn't want this to end."

-Bret Lott, author of Jewel

Gregory Martin
"In this wise and funny book about biking our American West, Daryl Farmer journeys across miles and through memory to self-discovery, and it's our good fortune to come along-without expending nearly so many calories."

-Gregory Martin, author of Mountain City

Bret Lott

Bicycling beyond the Divide did what all great books do: it told me about me. In its tale of a journey made by two different men—both of them Daryl Farmer—this book offers us not only moving vistas and meaningful people, but also hope, that rarest of literary commodities these days. I didn't want this to end.”—Bret Lott, author of Jewel
Western American Literature - Don Scheese

“Farmer succeeds in finishing an epic adventure, and a fine book.”—Western American Literature
ForeWord - Lee Gooden

“Daryl Farmer lyrically meshes his traveling experiences of 1985 with 2005 in his book. . . . With writing that compares favorably to Paul Theroux, William Least Heat Moon, and John Steinbeck, Farmer assures us that the American spirit hasn't been completely deflated.”—Lee Gooden, ForeWord magazine

Sports Literature Association - Duncan R. Jamieson
“Ride along with Daryl Farmer to learn more about living.”—Sports Literature Association

Jesse Lee Kercheval
“Reading Bicycling beyond the Divide was the best vacation I took all year—in a year I traveled to Mexico, France, and Italy. Even if you have never ridden a bike or set foot in the West, this book will make both a part of your life as vivid as any trip you have taken. Daryl Farmer’s journey—into the heart of a land, of a time, into the very nature of memory and experience—is one I will never forget.”—Jesse Lee Kercheval, author of Space
Lincoln Journal Star - Algis J. Laukaitis

“The book isn’t just bicycle talk. Much to Farmer’s credit—and the fact that he keeps journals—he gives us some historical background of the towns and places he visits. He also shares his personal life and his feelings, such as loneliness, anger and moments of happiness. All in all, it’s a good read for anyone contemplating a long-distance bicycle journey or some other adventure.”—Algis J. Laukaitis, Lincoln Journal Star

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803220348
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2008
  • Series: Outdoor Lives Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 331
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Daryl Farmer is an assistant professor of English at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Prologue     xi
Colorado
Departure     2
On How Not to Begin     4
Florissant to Fairplay     7
Hoosier Summit     13
Below Freezing     19
A Colorado Cow Patch South of Baggs     25
Wyoming
Outlaws, Antelope, Prairie Dogs, and Sage     34
Night at the Antelope Saloon     49
To Jackson     52
Elkfest     59
Signal Mountain Lodge     61
How to Bicycle through a Buffalo Herd     68
Richard I     75
Montana
Another Log on the Fire     84
Paradise Valley to Ennis     88
Virginia City to Opportunity     99
Anaconda to Missoula     105
Face-planting on Highway 2     114
Glacier National Park     122
Kalispell Again     127
Libby to Troy     135
Idaho
Karaoke Night in Bonners Ferry     142
Washington
Fire Trucks and Rodeo Queens     152
Okanagan to Friday Harbor     158
The San Juan Islands     168
Anacortes to Port Angeles     179
A Side Trip to Victoria     185
Port Angeles to Shoalwater Bay     190
Winnefred     200
Oregon
Astoria to Newport     208
On a Sunday Morning     213
A Coming to Peace     220
At the North Bend Airport     235
Intermission: San Francisco
Like a Haggard Ghost     238
City of Hills     246
Return to Oregon
North Bend to Gold Beach     254
California
To Eureka     262
From Modesto to Yosemite and Mammoth Lakes     267
From Mammoth Lakes to Mono Lake     280
Nevada
Tonopah     284
The Extraterrestrial Highway     293
Utah and Arizona
Modena to Kanab     306
At Jacob Lake     311
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 1 of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2009

    WOW, What a great book. Super adventure, bicycling and beyond.

    A great book about adventure, it does not matter if you ride or not - you will enjoy the spirt of adventure and travel during this read. I can not help but compare this book with "Into the Wild", where Mr Farmer invites you in and brings you along the ride with him and through his travels. It is like taking a vacation without ever leaving the pages, although you want to 'get out there' during the entire book. What an inspiration for travels into the West or where ever your soul takes you. Thank you again Daryl for taking me on the ride of a lifetime (Yes, I have read this book twice now, its that good). Caution, if you have the itch of travel or adventure - this book ehances each and every feeling.

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