Q+A With Deanna Adams after the Great Divide

Deanna Adams at the finish of the Great Divide Bike Race.

Deanna Adams at the finish of the Great Divide Bike Race.

Deanna made the decision to race the GDMBR on a fixed gear bicycle.  She has become the youngest woman to race the GDMBR on a fixie.  Seizures did not stop her from racing the Furnace Creek 508, the GDMBR, or from doing a host of other activities.  Let’s see what Deanna has to say about the GDMBR:

Stephen: What was it like out there?

Deanna: The Great Divide Mountain Bicycle Route (GDMBR) was a mix of many different types of terrain. It dished out plains, deserts, majestic mountains, dense forests, micro towns, rancher-ville, wildlife, and vast open space. Some parts of the route I would feel so calm, and in such a spiritual solitude of happiness that I would have moments of tears. It wasn’t a religious type of spiritual, but a spiritual sense of what it means to be ALIVE.

Stephen: Did you have much company during the race, or was it a largely solitary experience?

Deanna: Sometimes days I had company, and other days it was a solitary experience. Riding a fixed gear it is rather hard for me to keep an exact pace with a multi-geared rider. Huge portions of the day were usually a solitary experience, and around night fall I would sometimes catch up with Brad (another rider from Arizona). So overall I would say mostly solitary experience.

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.  Roughly 2,900 miles of dirt roads and trails.

Stephen: Would you do anything differently next time?

Deanna: Nothing.

Stephen: Going to BE a next time…will it be on a fixie?

Deanna I’m tempted to ride a geared bicycle, but I feel like it would not be as adventurous nor rewarding as riding a fixed geared bicycle.

Stephen: After the GDMBR do you have energy for any other races…anything in planning?

Deanna: The route was a spiritual experience as well, and it did take a lot of energy. But, after coming back into civilization I’ve realized that my soul is filled while out in the wilderness. Quite soon I will be heading to Furnace Creek 508 ultra road bicycle race this October on my fixed gear bicycle. It’s a great tough race, and awesome scenery with a deep rich history of unique desert. I like being underneath sea level…it’s a crazy feeling. That race should wrap it up for the 2009 year.   

Stephen: Did the bicycle present issues during the race?

Deanna: Just the chain tension, because if I was not careful in making the chain tension tight enough the chain would come off. The chain would then wrap around my back gear which caused some sketchy moments. But, my bicycle was overall was amazing, because it’s such a simple non-complex bicycle.

Stephen: On your website, there was a lot of discussion about the lighting system for your bicycle…what type of set up did you have, and did it work well?


Deanna: In the U.S it’s not quite popular, but it’s called a generator hub. The certain hub I have on my front wheel is by Pedal Power. It transfers the power of the rotating wheel, and either goes to my light…or I can collect that power to my Pedal Power V4 battery charger. With the charger pack I can then recharge my cell phone, camera, or MP3 player. It’s super cool!

My set up was super rad, until the vibration of the dirt roads broke my light. So, I had to resort to a little battery light. So, next time I will just take my light off during the day, and snap it on for riding at night.   

Stephen: What was your strategy for the race in terms of sleep, riding at night, riding in the day, etc.?

Deanna: No strategy. It feels pointless and degrading in this type of personal racing atmosphere. Considering no one has finished this route on a fixed gear bicycle…my main ‘strategy’ was to make it to the end-without my knees blowing out.

Stephen: Did the logistics run smoothly in terms of there being supplies at resupply points and people in towns?


Deanna: Logistics? Dude, you just have to go with the flow of your current situation.

Stephen: Have you faced any challenges from seizures lately?


Deanna: Yea, health insurance. It sucks, and I feel like health insurance should be a civil right, a human right. Health insurance is what pays for meds, and it’s always a stressor to hope that they ‘might’ cover meds. It’s a stressor that someone might end up taking me to an ER for a grand mal seizure (which sucks massive), and I will have to pay for the ER visit out of pocket.


I don’t like the idea of being dependent of meds for the rest of my life for Epilepsy. I don’t like the idea of meds not doing their job (preventing seizures from happening). During my sleep I still will have a Grand mal seizure once or twice a month, and sometimes during the day I zone out. My short term memory seems shot, and I have a hard time remembering. 


Regardless, I know that life is not an easy flowing river. So, taking a deep breath, and realizing that I should not put myself in a ‘victim’ role, because it does not solve anything.

Stephen:  Did you take any special precautions from an epilepsy point of view for the race?


Deanna: Yes, I told people during my journey that I have Epilepsy, and taking me to the ER is not necessary if a seizure does happen. I wore a dog tag ID that states I have Epilepsy. I think wrist I.D bands, or ankle bands are hideous.  

Stephen: What was it like to arrive in Antelope Wells after such a long time out in the wilderness?  Well…Antelope Wells is sort of wilderness too, isn’t it?


Deanna: The desert is my home and always will be. So, once we (my bicycle, and I) made it to lower New Mexico I felt like I was at home. The dry heat, and the scorching sun—what’s not to love?!

Stephen: What did your parents have to say about the race?


Deanna:  They were proud. Not quite sure…it might be best to ask them personally.

Stephen: Any advice for people with epilepsy looking to go out and do similar things?


Deanna:  No one’s stopping you except yourself.

Stephen: Any other thoughts / comments on the race, on being an athlete with epilepsy?


Deanna: First off, I would love to read about other people living with epilepsy doing challenging adventures with their bicycles. However, it makes me feel good to get emails from random people about how I inspired them, and not letting epilepsy stop me. It’s nice to know the impact that ‘one person’ can have on others. Then I know that I raced for a purpose, and not just for personal reasons.  

For more information about Deanna Adams and her experience on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, visit her web site:

If you would like to share your own story about living with epilepsy, please get in touch with us by filling out the Contact form on the left side of this page, or by commenting on this page.



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