I know what it’s like to drive from Tahoe to Baja. Ride a bike? No way. You couldn’t pay me to do it.

Clearly, I’m not Alenka Vrecek. But I was eager to read her story.

In She Rides: Chasing Dreams Across California and Mexico (She Writes Press, 2023) Vrecek shares her story of riding from her primary home in Carnelian Bay on the North Shore of Tahoe to her second property in Baja California Sur in La Ventana near the Sea of Cortez.

It was more than just a bike ride, though. And that more is in large part what the first part of the book is about, while the ride itself is the second half. Without the personal struggles she was trying to overcome, the book would have been just another cyclist capitalizing on an interesting journey.

Vrecek, though, has a more complex story to share. It’s about growing up in Slovenia, life in Tahoe, husband troubles, finding true love, being a mom, working in the ski industry and wrecking her leg, cancer and Parkinson’s diagnoses in the family, and finally realizing a dream she had for herself for years.

She was 54 when she pedaled 2,524 miles and climbed 158,263 feet in 57 days in fall 2018.

Vrecek took a route through California and Baja that I was not always familiar with. While it was fun to read about her experiences in places I knew, it was the unknown roads that captured me the most. It proved there is a lot of terrain in both regions that I still have to explore.

Once in Mexico, she was mostly riding on the Baja Divide. This 1,700 mile off-pavement route that goes from San Diego to San Jose del Cabo was established in 2015-16 by Nicholas Carman and Lael Wilcox.

Vrecek had a lot of time to think about her life, why she was pushing her body so hard and what the future might be. That’s why this book is much more than a travelogue. It’s a journey of emotions and strife that had nothing to do with the ride.

While Vrecek had plenty of doubts and second thoughts about what she was doing, the overriding message was one of hope. The good in humanity came through loud and clear. We are introduced to many of the people she met along the way. They were like her unplanned support team.

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