At the start of this chronicle of a single bike race, the author glances up from his gear to assess the crowd of spectators. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me." In immediate, living prose, Krabbé, a novelist as well as a cyclist, takes us with him, inch by inch, as he rides the hundred-and-thirty-seven-kilometre Tour de Mont Aigoual, a course through the mountains that is better known as one of the cruellest stages of the Tour de France. He imagines an official collecting his clothes "after I've died in the race" recalls a champion cyclist who suffocated to death while climbing one particularly nasty hill; and insists that "being a good loser is a despicable evasion." Along the way, he lays bare the athlete's peculiar mixture of arrogance and terror, viciousness and camaraderie, and the result is one of the more convincing love stories of recent memory.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
<div>"The Rider a beautiful brute, as hard and fast as a thin wheel in a concrete road." The Observer (UK)
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"Its 148 pages will flash by in a blur of reckless, high-speed pleasure." The Independent (UK)
"The Rider is a great read a great ride. Krabbé's half-day race, delivered kilometer by kilometer onto the page, shows the sport for what it is: painful, exhilarating, tactical, relational, fast, slow, dangerous, consuming, prone to mechanical failure, heroic, futile. The race and the book about the race becomes a raining and cold history of the rider's life. But to say that the race is the metaphor for the life is to miss the point. The race is everything. It obliterates whatever isn't racing. Life is the metaphor for the race; --Donald Antrim