by Réanne Hemingway-Douglass
Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this post.
The first time I laid eyes on Tierra del Fuego was after surviving a sailing catastrophe that almost sent my husband and me to the bottom of the Great Southern Ocean. At that time, February 1975, we were attempting to circumnavigate the globe. A week before we were due to reach Cape Horn, we entered the southerly latitudes known as the Furious Fifties when we encountered a monstrous wave that “pitch-poled” [upended 360°] our forty-two foot sailboat, causing major damage. Six long and arduous weeks later, we finally reached the safety of Punta Arenas, the most southerly city in Chile. Punta Arenas lies across the Strait of Magellan from Tierra del Fuego, and while we were awaiting boat repairs, I had the opportunity to explore parts of this remote and beautiful region.
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I decided then that I would return someday, and when I did so in 1984, it was not as a sailor sharing my husband's dream, but as a cyclist challenging myself to accomplish what no woman had done before: cycling the tortuous road from Porvenir, Chile, in the north of Tierra del Fuego, to Ushuaia, Argentina, three hundred miles to the south. My friend Katherine Wells joined me on this adventure. We were both middle-aged women by that time. I was even a grandmother!
Thirty years later, as I began writing this memoir, I reflected on what I'd learned from my numerous adventures sailing the world's oceans and cycling one of its most remote regions. The mishaps and dangers I experienced taught me that my strongest instinct is the will to survive – that with my life depending on it, I could push myself far beyond what I believed possible. Although I hadn't planned to spend the rest of my life pottering around in a garden, I decided life was too precious not to undertake challenges of my own choosing, from which I derive the satisfaction of pushing myself to my own self-defined limits.
I wrote Two Women against the Wind: a Tierra del Fuego Cycling Adventure not just to tell my story, but to inspire other women to achieve their dreams and aspirations, even if it means leaving their comfort zone. Not everyone may choose to cycle Tierra del Fuego, but for me it was a personal triumph that will always remain part of who I am.
To enter to win a copy of Two Women against the Wind: a Tierra del Fuego Cycling Adventure, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Women,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 3, 2015. If entering via email please include your mailing address.