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The Tour: A Book Review by Marty Jemison
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 2/8/2006
The Tour: A Book Review by Marty Jemison
 

The Tour: A Novel by Dave Shields
Reviewed by Marty Jemison

One of the ironies of my career as a pro cyclist is that some of the people closest to me, family members included, never really understood what I was doing for a living. Most Americans underestimate bike racing because it is a far more complex sport than it initially appears. I believe that complexity is both a barrier to attracting new fans, and one of the primary reasons the sport is so addictive for those who understand it.

After reading Dave Shields’ first cycling story, The Race: A Novel of Grit, Tactics, and the Tour de France, a family member said, “Wow, Marty, I wish I’d understood this much about bicycle racing while you were still competing.” Even my cycling tour guests get much greater insight into the world of pro cycling after reading the book. I mail every participant a copy of The Race before our trip begins; which answers a lot of questions about the sport.

All of these are reasons that I looked forward to consulting with Dave when he told me he planned to write a sequel. But when we first met on this project and he laid out the topics he wanted to cover I became a bit nervous. The doping issue, in particular, is very complex. It’s often sensationalized and misunderstood from an outsider’s perspective. Would Dave be able to engage the reader closely enough that the very difficult decisions that pro athletes face felt real?

The answer is, “Yes.” I sweated through the choices that the main character, Ben Barnes, had to make, and I think you will too. Along the way there were all sorts of great surprises. I cringe when I hear that they’ve made a sequel of a movie that I enjoyed, while at the same time I feel anxious to see it. The reason is that on many occasions the second attempt falls short of the original. That’s not the case here.
 Dave’s new book, The Tour: A Novel, fills out the adventure he began in The Race perfectly. Along the way he educates readers on the issues of performance enhancing drugs. It’s a topic deserving of close inspection, and this book is a big step in the right direction.

The issue of drugs aside, though, The Tour is a fantastic book. Just as when I read The Race, I found myself experiencing emotions that I thought had ended with my retirement from pro cycling. Dave has an almost magical way of putting the reader in the midst of an intense adventure, and turning up the heat. Whether you’re already a fan of cycling or not, my recommendation is that you read this book. You’ll be glad you did.

Marty Jemison lives in Park City, Utah, with his wife and daughter. He’s one of fewer than two dozen Americans to ever finish the Tour de France, having done it twice. In 1999 he became the United States Professional Cycling Champion, the second national championship in his career. Marty was teammates with Lance Armstrong during his comeback from cancer and played a key role in several of Armstrong’s early victories. Nowadays he runs Marty Jemison Cycling Tours, the world’s premier bicycle touring company. His trips explore France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and other exotic locations. You can see more at www.MartyJemison.com.

The Tour is not yet available in stores, but you can purchase your copy here or by clicking on the ad on the top right column on the www.dailypeloton.com

 

 
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