Invisible Mile by David Coventry
Based on a true story The Invisible Mile tells the poignant story of five Australian and New Zealand cyclists who in 1928 formed the first English-speaking team to ride in the Tour de France. They were gallant, under-resourced and badly outnumbered but taken deep to the heart by the French nation. The novel describes in a wonderful poetic and visceral voice what it was like to ride in this race (the chaos, danger and rivalries), the extraordinary lengths to which the riders pushed themselves, suffering horrific injuries, riding through the night in pitch dark, and the ways they staved off the pain, through camaraderie, through sexual conquest, through drink, and through drugs (cocaine for energy, opium for pain).
Added to the team is the fictional narrator who is cycling towards his demons in a northern France still scarred by the First World War. His brother was a fighter pilot damaged by his experiences in France, his sister has died, and this self-imposed test of endurance is slowly and painfully bringing him to his final, invisible mile where memory eventually comes to collide with the past