Extreme endurance

Hell on Two Wheels is a monumental effort from a first-time author. Amy Snyder’s book covers the Race Across America (RAAM), a nonstop cycling race from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md. It’s awe-inspiring, the amount of reporting detail that Snyder pulled from about 10 days’ worth of race action while covering more than 3,000 miles. That said, though, the book suffers from a few dry spells and trite passages throughout its mostly fluid, linear action-packed plot. Driving the book home are the amazing character descriptions of the men and women themselves. Hell is also successful because it transcends cycling. It’s not your traditional sports book; it delves more into psychology, science and medicine than the intricacies of cycling. In its best moments, the book is a compellingly literary drama, complete with fully realized characters and a concrete narrative arc. And in the end, that’s all you can really ask for.