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The Rider Paperback – June 12, 2003
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From The New Yorker
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)
"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
Top customer reviews
Former chess prodigy turned pro cyclist and eventually a successful writer succinctly combines all those talents in this book. He's strategic in his musings, bringing up competitors' histories and figuring out his split second alliances and next steps. Anyone who's been in a competitive event chalk full of endorphins understands the "narrow", hyper-focused mind he refers to and how exhilariting the feeling of finishing can be - thus how normal people's lives can feel "empty". Why wouldn't everyone want to feel this free and fulfilled? No putting anyone down, just wondering why more people don't partake in this free therapy of sorts.
Is written in a unique, stream-of-consciousness narrative - not Faulkner-esque and difficult to follow - but rather simple, concise and every word has a meaning. That's why it's only 148 pages! So many great one-liners and spot-on descriptions of an athlete's mind.
Reads more like a psychological thriller than non-fiction novel. Pick it up and I dare you not to read through it as fast as their breaks through Mont Aigoual :)
Through out his life, Tim Krabbe,also realized he had to write. No matter what he was involved in, he had to write. In this book "De renner" or "The Rider', he has made literary history. The book was written in 1978 and has become a cult classic. This is a fascinating book, a half-day race, 150km, of the love of bicycle racing, and the love of relating the life of racing.
"It's a ride to the sun, and a ride to Zen-the definitive abc of sports, an encyclopedia, a literary masterpiece, an adventure novel and bicycling odyssey all rolled into one," one book critic wrote. Tim Krabbe tells of us his life as a cyclist all rolled up into a small book of 129 pages. The prose that rolls out of his mouth onto the paper of the book is memorable. This is a book that begs to be read again and again. He tells us of a fantasy of riding with bicycle's best and besting them all by winning the race. Throughout this half day race, we learn how to put the bicycle together and take it apart. We learn all about gears, and what to use, when. We learn what he eats before he starts the race, where to put his hands on the handle bars and how to choose the bicycle seat. The men he races with, the fans that turn out and scream encouragement for all of their favorites. The cafes, the bars,and the major developments of racing. And through out this race, instead of chapters the book is divided into kilometers of the race. We end at Kilometer 137, when he crosses the finish line. Was he the first, third, or tenth? Gotcha' you need to read this book, and you will love it.
This is not a book that is a metaphor for life. It is a book of the racing life and how this life takes over. I understand for the first time, how a racer's blood becomes attuned to the race, the speed, the climbs, the straights, the finish line, the Win!
"Whenever I hit absolute rock bottom I always think of those immortal words from De renner by Tim Krabbé-Batoowoo Creakcreak-and everything seems just fine again."
Maarten Ducrot, bicycle racer
Highly recommended. Prisrob "Batoowoo Creakcreak"