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The Race - A Tour de France Novel
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 3/30/2004
The Race - A Tour de France Novel
 

Book Review

The Race A Novel of Grit, Tactics, and The Tour de France
Author: Dave Shields

Disclaimer: Reading this novel may raise your heart rate; it may lead to a loss of time and work productivity until you can finish it.


Click for full cover image.

The Tour de France is the backdrop for a novel that, although fiction, reads like a race report with descriptions of Le Tour and action that put you there in the shoes of a young rider facing the challenge of finishing “The Race.” It is as fast paced as the pro peloton on a flat stage with a tailwind, with as many twists as your favorite descent.

The main character is young professional rider Ben who is within reach of his lifelong dream to race in and complete the Tour. The Race takes the reader through the daily challenges that Ben confronts making his way through the complex dynamics and tactics of a professional team racing in the biggest sporting event in the world.

But Ben could never imagine the challenges that still lie ahead. His greatest rival, a long time competitor who will stoop to any tactic to win, is also in the peloton. To complicate matters, Ben is under the thumb of a spiteful Directeur Sportif who is determined to wear him down and make him abandon.

Ben rises to every challenge, earning the admiration of teammates. At a critical stage, he exerts superhuman effort to escort his team leader into a tactical position beyond their highest hopes. Then disaster strikes.

What follows leaves the reader as white knuckled as a cyclist plummeting down a serpentine descent. Ben rides to keep his word and regain his honor, pursued by a past he cannot change.

The book reads like an adventure or spy novel, though you find yourself wanting to slow down and enjoy each well written description of the French countryside and the race action to savor each phrase or moment of the adventure. It reminds me of James Clavell’s Shogun -  it’s a page burner, a “can’t put down” read. I started reading it on a Sunday afternoon and read until 3 am when I couldn’t focus my eyes any longer and had to take a break. Monday morning found me with a cup of coffee in one hand and the book in the other. I was compelled to use a personal day off work so I could finish it.

As you can tell, I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it. I wrote Dave:

I just finished The Race a few minutes ago.

As usual after a great book, finishing is like saying good bye to a good friend all the while wishing you could stay a little longer; and already looking forward to your next visit.

As a writer the story was very "real" - I mean this as the highest compliment. From the story line to the buildup of the characters, the scenery and locations, it put me there. I think this is the greatest coup for a writer to build a reality for the reader to carry the writer’s vision to the heart of the reader.

The novel is cycling, a metaphor for life; the story is not just about the race, it is about life and finding the key to overcome self doubt and uncertainty.  At every turn it entertained, enlightened and inspired.

Former U.S. Cycling Champion and two-time Tour de France finisher Marty Jemison says, "The Race sent chills down my spine, reminding me exactly what it feels like to compete in the world’s most difficult endurance event. I devoured the novel in one sitting. The descriptions are epic and spot on. I never dreamed such things could be put into words.”

"This book was all too real. I feel like I just completed another Tour de France.”
-- Frankie Andreu, 2 time Olympian, 9 time Tour de France rider.

I believe both cycling fans and non cycling fans will enjoy The Race. Those not familiar with bike racing will not only be entertained, they will be enlightened about bike racing and find themselves becoming fans of the sport. This book will read well among all age groups and I expect it to be an introduction to cycling for many young readers in the years to come. I highly recommend the book as a gift to a teenager you would like to introduce to the sport.

I first met David Shields when he entered the prologue of The Race in the Daily Peloton's Vuelta a Espana writing competition last year. So it is a pleasure to introduce to you a fellow reader of the Daily Peloton and his novel. Watch for an upcoming interview with Dave.

This story is about much more than a race - it is about life and finding the key to overcome self-doubt and uncertainty. At every turn it entertains, enlightens, and inspires. It is about cycling. Enjoy.

How To Purchase

Although the book is set for release on May 15th, David is making it available to us a few weeks early with a limited edition cover. You can purchase the book at http://www.threestorypress.com/DP-LAF.html

Added Bonus!

The Daily Peloton will soon be announcing its 2004 Lance Armstrong Foundation Ride for the Roses (RfTR) fundraising game - those who donate have a chance to attend the Ride for the Roses Weekend in October in Austin, Texas. Look for that announcement soon. The good news is that Dave Shields will donate five dollars from the sale of each book to the Daily Peloton's RfTR Lance Armstrong Foundation account in the purchaser's name, which enters the purchaser in the game! Buy your copy now!


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