"Road to Valor" is a heartwarming story. I'm not someone who's interested in bicycle racing but I love history. This book has both. Gino Bartali was born at a time, 1911, when the bicycle craze was at its peak. Even as a small boy all he seemed to think about was riding a bicycle as fast and for as long as possible and he was good at it. Of course so were many other Italian boys but not all of them had Gino's discipline and drive. Prior to World War II he began making his name known. During the war he officially and unofficially rode missions for the sake of Italy. He'd always been a devote catholic and believed in democracy so he was conflicted when fascist Mussolini was in power. He searched his soul and found a solution. He combined his faith and his politics and joined with some local priests in shuttling false ID information to printers to help smuggle Jews and other political prisoners to safety. He even personally housed and protected a Jewish family. These activities were gravely dangerous.
Of course none of this was known during most of his lifetime. His bicycle racing prowess made his name. He won the famous Tour de France in 1938 and, miraculously, for such a mature man, in 1948. The '48 race was won at the express request of his government. It was a time of social unrest when the communist leader, Palmiro Togliatti, had been shot and it was feared he'd die. The Prime Minister, Alcide de Gasperi, telegraphed Bartali during the race and asked him to help quell the rioting by giving his countrymen a reason to join together. Bartali was up to the task but at great cost to himself. This is an inspiring story but as I said the detailed racing information stalled the story somewhat. Over all it was an aspiring story.