With The Rider, Tim Krabbé has created a book unique in the ranks of sporting literature. He describes one 150-kilometre race in just 150 pages. In the course of the narrative, we get to know the forceful, bumbling Lebusque, the aesthete Barthelemy, the Young Turk Reilhan, and the mysterious rider from Cycles Goff'. Krabbé battles with and against each of them in turn, failing on the descents, shining on the climbs, suffering on the (false) flats. The outcome of the race is, in fact, merely the last stanza of an exciting and too-brief paean to stamina, suffering, and the redeeming power of humour.
This is not a history of road racing, a hagiography of the European greats or even a factual account of his own amateur cycling career. Instead, Krabbé allows us to race with him, inside his skull as it were, during a mythical Tour de Mont Aigoual.
"Like all the best sports writing, The Rider manages to convey the excitement, determination, and skill of the competitors even to readers who have little or no knowledge of the sport. Above all, he evokes the heightened focus of the cyclists, for whom nothing seems real apart from the race." (London Review of Books)
"A paean to pain and a hymn to the fellowship of the road. Nothing better is ever likely to be written on the subjective experience of cycle-racing." (The Guardian)
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Ah, the beautiful words...
Made me feel like I was racing along with him
As an amateur cyclist myself - I was looking for a book that took me inside the mind's eye of racer. This book did exactly that. Krabbe' takes the reader through a 135 Kilometer race - the Tour du Mont Aigoual, describing it in the first person. You will feel like you are along side him. Along the way, he describes a bit of history of his competition and has flashbacks to his youth. Whether as the kid racing friends around his block, a Chess Grandmaster, or, as he is now, a professional cyclist, Krabbe' has a competitive spirit that take him to the top cycling in that era.
Tim Krabbe' - he was the main Character / Racer in the tour and described things beautifully
Not yet - but Mark Meadows did a fine job narrating it.
As Hard as I can go - one rider's memoir about one of the toughest bike races in Europe.
I enjoyed the book a lot - there were one or two chapters which dragged on a little but by the last chapter - I was glued to my iphone listening to the narration like I was watching the final seconds of the Superbowl, with both teams tied and watching a long pass to the end zone. That's how I felt.
Good Job Tim - I'm going to be Googling you and this race and the riders you mentioned to find out more - you sparked my curiosity.