By Phil Dailey
When Amy Snyder first pitched the idea of writing a book about long-distance bike racers, the response was quick and to the point.
“If it’s not written by Lance Armstrong”, a publicist told her, “you don’t stand a chance.”
Last week, Snyder’s book “Hell on Two Wheels” was released and quickly became the No. 1 cycling book on Amazon.com.
Snyder, who has called La Jolla home for the past six years, is a first-time author and she says every day is a new adventure in her life thanks to her new book.
“In the first 24 hours it became the No. 1 book in Amazon’s cycling category,” Snyder said. “And it was No. 767 overall. I was just astounded by that — to break 1,000 on the first day was just crazy.”
Snyder’s journey to writing a book on an endurance sport is a bit unconventional. It was only after she retired in 2005 that she took part in her first Ironman Triathlon. At age 45, Snyder found that experience “taught me a lot about myself, failure ... it taught me that being vulnerable and asking for help is OK.”
That was quite a change in her life after working as a business consultant with a full-time travel schedule for 20 years.
“I had really never grown comfortable with failure,” Snyder said.
Newly retired and not even 50 years old, Snyder looked for a new challenge. Her involvement with Ironman triathletes led her to the Race Across America. Many people may know it as The Great American Bike Race, which was televised on ABC’s Wide World of Sports in the early- to mid-1980s.
The 3,000-mile race has had various starting and ending points in its 28-year history, but has kicked off in Oceanside and ended in Annapolis, Md., the past three years. The race has begun in San Diego County since 2003.
It’s a bit different than the world’s best known bike race, the Tour de France. With the Race Across America there are no stages. The time clock begins when riders depart Southern California and it doesn’t stop until they reach the East Coast. The top racers finish in eight or nine days and the racers generally pedal about 22 hours each day.
It’s a gruesome test of mental and physical endurance.
“I wrote the book because I am an endurance athlete and I have found that pushing myself to my limits is a self-revelatory experience and I have learned a lot about myself through the type of races I have been in,” Snyder said.
In her book, Snyder chronicles the riders who dare to test those limits as she followed the race in a rented minivan in 2009.
“Hell on Two Wheels takes the reader inside the Race Across America, the toughest, nastiest and most brutal cycling event on the planet,” said Bob Babbitt, an Ironman Triathlon hall of famer and co-founder of Competitor Magazine. “If you’re a cycling fan, you’ll love every page. And if you’re not? Prepare to become one! This book is a must read.”
Snyder will now embark on a book tour which gets under way June 1 at Warwicks on June 2.
“I’m looking forward to it and am seeing it as a big adventure,” she said.