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Hell on Two Wheels: An Astonishing Story of Suffering, Triumph, and the Most Extreme Endurance Race in the World Hardcover – June 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Engrossing ... a clear, gripping account.
-- Michael J. Ybarra, Wall Street Journal

Accomplishes a great challenge by discovering something of real consequence that none of us have ever heard of before. --James M. Tabor, author of the New York Times best seller Blind Descent

A compelling story that reveals deep wounds, yearnings, and the cyclists' unrelenting determination to win. --Lynne Cox, renowned open-water swimmer and author of Swimming to Antarctica

Snyder..shows that the desire of these racers..has less to do with the physical challenge than with their need to discover that part of their spiritual being that remains otherwise hidden.
 -- Dr. Timothy Noakes, author of the seminal Lore of Running

If you're a cyclist, you'll love every page. And if you're not, prepare to become one. This is a must read! --Bob Babbitt, co-founder of Competitor Magazine

About the Author

Amy Snyder grew up in New York City, attended university on the East coast and graduate school out West. She settled in the Boston suburbs and spent almost two decades as a management consultant. She retired young and moved to La Jolla, fulfilling a life-long dream to live on the coast. That's when she began competing in Ironman triathlons to regain her fitness after the rigors of a career in business. She eventually discovered ultra-distance cycling, but knew she didn't have it in her to race such long distances. She decided to find out how others can and why they choose to do so. To accomplish this, she followed the Race Across America for two weeks in June 2009, driving 3,000 miles across the U.S. on back roads from west to east as she watched the best ultra distance cyclists in the world compete in the toughest race of all. She spent time with many of the racers before and after, and ended up with a tale that needed to be told. The story of this race forever changed her own limiting thoughts and feelings, and it will yours, too.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Triumph Books (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600785255
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600785252
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amy Snyder is a retired management consultant turned Ironman triathlete and cyclist who knew she could never do a race as long as this one. But she was curious about how others can and why they do. So she followed the 2009 event from the West Coast to the East, and spent time with many of the contestants before and after. The story of this race changed her own thoughts and feelings about overcoming personal limitations. As she explains it, "Hell on Two Wheels is more than a story about a bike race. It's an allegory about self discovery and breaking through personal barriers that offers lessons for all of us, cyclists and non-cyclists alike."

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Larry Varney on May 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Many of us are fans of the Race Across America (RAAM). Some of us actually compete, while most do it vicariously, through reading daily reports, on-the-scene updates, and wrap-up stories after the race is over. Many of these stories have been excellent when it comes to learning who won and lost, the margin of victory, as well as some good information about one particular racer or team. But what has been missing is a report that covers more than one rider or team, that gives intimate details regarding not only the events during the race, but before and after as well. That void has been filled by Amy Snyder's Hell On Two Wheels (Triumph Books, 2011).

When I read through the book, I kept thinking: this is what's been missing! Often I've wondered about other riders, other teams, how did they handle the deserts, did they have problems with the mountains in West Virginia, what was the mood of the riders and crews when they could "smell the barn" as they entered Maryland. This book answers many of those questions in the 2009 running of RAAM. Many of the names will be familiar, and this book will flesh out our knowledge with information that is both fascinating and disturbing. The name of the book describes the race, the ordeal that RAAM is, in a way that would make most of us put any Walter Mitty aspirations out of our heads.

Amy Snyder is an accomplished racer in her own right. She knows what it's like to give everything you've got, and more. After reading her book, you'll have gained some insight into just what these men and women go through in their 3000+ miles race across the US. Buy this book - you will enjoy it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Paula Margulies on May 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was dazzled by this book! Amy Snyder ushers us into the remarkable world of ultra-distance cycling with her documentary narrative about the 2009 Race Across America. The RAAM destroys its competitors, plunging them into a surreal world of sleeplessness and intense pain, and endless hours of brutal, soul-searing physical and mental exertion as they cross the deserts, mountains, and plains of America. Some of the competitors end up with blown-out calf muscles, pulmonary infections, searing saddle sores, and hallucinations induced by 9-10 days of sleep deprivation. Others develop a debilitating condition known as Shermer's neck, where the neck muscles fail and the riders are forced to cycle without the ability to raise their heads (there are photos of some of them with their heads propped up by self-devised scaffolds and neck braces -- unbelievable!).

This race itself is unbelievable, but Snyder makes it seem both fascinating and inspiring as she delves into the personal triumphs and struggles of some of the men's individual race leaders: Jure Robic, Dani Wyss, Marko Baloh, Jim Rees, Franz Priehs, and Christop Strausser, and the four women competitors: Janet Christiansen, Daniela Genovesi, Michelle Santihano, and Ann Wooldridge. Many of these riders don't finish the race, but all of their stories are remarkable. Snyder was with the riders the whole way, driving back and forth along the course for first-hand information from the cyclists and their crews. She provides exciting race details, where competitors battle it out through baking desert heat, soaring mountainous climbs, and bone-chilling Midwestern rain, and intersperses the race story with relevant background history about the racers and their crews.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brian Palmer on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
though an entirely true story, hell on two wheels reads like an adventure novel, leading to accusations of it being unputdownable. each participant's story is woven as a thread through what is often an exciting narrative. amy snyder has an innate gift for telling a great story, surreptitiously hooking the reader into the goings on across the vast expanses of north america. each step forward, each step backward and those who failed to complete the distance, approaches the complexity of three dimensional chess, yet snyder keeps a clear head and presents the twists and turns with impeccable clarity.

trepidation would be a good word describing my initial approach to the book, for on the outside looking in, how interesting or intriguing could it possibly be? a bunch of folks set off from the west coast to ride as fast as possible to the finish line on the east coast, often separated by several hours and hundreds of miles of tarmac. it's hardly the components from which excitement is hewn.

yet i read obsessively from start to finish, desperate to find out if the butler did it. it would spoil the story if i named the butler at this juncture, and in order not to inadvertantly do so, i have deliberately kept myself from reading the last few pages. once this review is done and dusted, i'm off to the leather armchair to finish the story. though i will undoubtedly get there before you, i'd heartily recommend you follow in my tyre tracks.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Erb #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Amy Snyder's book "Hell on Two Wheels" is an inside look at a cross-country cycling event that will mesmerize you.

Although I've been an active cyclist for most of my life, I had never heard of the Race Across America. I'm not an "ultra-cyclist" but have done a few century ride. Now, thanks to this insightful and gripping account as written by Amy, I've gained an appreciation for the participants in this particular race and for ultra-cyclists in general.

This book is written in such a way that even though you know that the author knows the outcome already, the book teases you with questions that won't be answered until the very end. It propels you to finish the book to find out what the final outcome will be. The author profiles many of the top riders as well as a few of the rookies, and gives a great amount of backstory for each of them. You will understand exactly where the competitors come from, what their motivations are and what type of people they are when they are not on their bikes. Amy does a great job humanizing these people.

As I was reading the account of this race and contemplating the toll it takes on the racers bodies and soul, I honestly started to question whether a race like this is really necessary. I mean just because it is "there" doesn't necessarily mean that it should be pursued. It places such a demand on the body of the participants, being in good shape doesn't even mean that you can finish a race such as this. At least in the Tour de France you get a good night rest, food, medical care, etc. In the Race Across America, there are no stages... the race is more or less continuous. Riding on average 350+ miles a day for 8 days straight is insane. 3000 miles? Seriously? In an average biking season, I'm lucky to ride 1500-1800 miles.
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