Wednesday, 7 February 2018

"A Divide Of Two Halves - Racing the Tour Divide for Love Hope Strength Foundation" by Lydia Franklin

Lydia Franklin releases her third fundraising book for LHS this week full of nods to Mike Peters, The Alarm and LHS as well as having a foreword from a certain Mr. James Stevenson, as someone who had read her previous books covering her cycling ventures I was eager to read the third.....I wasn't disappointed!

“If it all went to plan it wouldn’t be an adventure. If it was easy it wouldn’t be an adventure. Woo hoo, this is an adventure!”

For those of you that don’t know Lydia there’s probably a couple of things you should know. She’s  very driven and regularly undertakes challenges that most would consider insane while all the time fundraising and promoting the music centric cancer charity Love Hope Strength Foundation. The other thing you need to know is that she doesn’t do failure! So having previously cycled the fabled Route 66 & the length of New Zealand (both trips documented in the books “Putting the metal to the pedal” & “Racing the Phoenix” respectively) her latest adventure was to take on the Tour Divide, a solo time challenge, starting in Canada then crossing the border into America.

Now I won’t get into the whole route and mechanics of the tour divide as to be honest it confused me a bit but essentially, big climbs, very hard roads and you’d need to be insane to really contemplate doing it in normal situations let alone on a pretty tight schedule as you have limited time booked as holiday before you have to return to the UK back to the day job! It would have been a massive feat even if everything had gone to plan and needless to say it didn’t! So *spoiler alert* Lydia is forced to abandon the challenge as she would run out of time …. This to me is a more interesting premise as it allowed some freedom to explore places she wouldn’t have been able to see whilst also rationalising the decision to end her race early. As someone once sung “Failure isn’t about falling down, failure is staying down” and that’s something that Lydia was most definitely not going to do!

Throughout her whole trip Lydia wrote blogs each day in order for those at home to be able to follow her progress, make sure she hadn’t been eaten by bears (they feature in the story and provide many a moment that made me smile!) and also to help promote her fundraising goal. These blogs for a large part of the book, are very easy to read and because they were written in the moment you really do feel what she was going through on any given day, her state of mind, levels of exhaustion and any mechanical challenges from the bike. Nothing has been clouded by memory or blurred in any way so it is the closest chance of being in the moment you will get. Each chapter has an update at the end where Lydia reviews that day and her memories of it, sometimes expanding of something or just reflecting on the trials she faced.

One thing that struck me was the random kindness of strangers that litter the book, from those that give help, advice, mental support, encouragement, water, even a place to stay without wanting anything in return. It’s all too easy to be cynical in this day and age and we forget there are many people out there willing to help a total stranger.

As the trip concludes you really empathise with Lydia as she battles getting back to the routine of everyday life far from the adventure, rattlesnakes and bears! No doubt her next adventure is already being planned…..go with the Crazy & good luck Lydia!

As a kind of footnote at the end of the book there’s 26 pages from a Facebook Q & A session that answer many questions that you may well find yourself pondering while reading “A Divide Of Two Halves”. This made for interesting reading as well as giving you something extra after the book had concluded. For the avid cyclist there is also a full breakdown of the bike Lydia used, what equipment, kit and yes even clothing….or lack of!

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