Ben's pulse stabilized as he crested Boulder Mountain Pass, one of the most elevated outposts in this region of the southern Utah desert. The nearest human might be ten miles away. He quit pedaling his well tuned Schwinn road bicycle as it gathered momentum along the asphalt strip that, sixty-five miles distant, would return him to Hanksville. He'd get home before noon. That ought to prove to Dad he had the maturity to take a trip like this, fourteen or not.
opening paragraph of The Race
In 2004 I was at Sea Otter, Jonathan E. had just won the road race for his category, and I was looking at a flyer for a book called "The Race". From the add it looked like a fun story. It was billed as a novel of grit, tactics, and The Tour de France. I had every intention to pick up a copy before I hit the road for home. About a half hour later, Jamie E. and my wife showed up with a signed copy from the author. She said, "I thought this looked like something you would enjoy." My wife's cool!
The book sat on the coffee table at home for months. I was in the middle of reading Lord of the Rings, something that doesn't happen quickly. The end finally arrived and I grabbed The Race.
Dave Shields wrote a story about bike racing, yes - but really the book is about so much more. It's a story about the human spirit and overcoming self-doubt.
Dave Shields entertains, inspires, keeps you from putting the story down, and when it ends, like good chocolate, you want more. The story has that mix of perfect cadence literal artistry. Dave has that same effect, but on the pages of his novel.
From 2004 to date I've picked the race back up every year. It's the starting ritual to my new cycling season. It inspires me, not just as a bike racer, but as a human being. I've lent the book out to so many who aren't bike riders, and every single time it ends with rave reviews.
Ben Barns can teach you about life. Give Ben and Dave a chance. I'd be willing to bet you'll put The Race as one of your top 10 favorite stories of all time. I think this year, I'll be picking it up a little early.