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The Rider by Tim Krabbé

The Rider (1978)

by Tim Krabbé

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4631733,472 (3.94)23
  1. 00
    Once a Runner by John L. Parker (nickl)
    nickl: If you like running, and also like cycling. "The Rider" and "Once a Runner" are the two best fictional sports books I've ever read.
  2. 00
    What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami (gust)
    gust: Krabbé heeft het over wielrennen. Ook autobografisch, maar literair beter uitgewerkt dan Murakami.

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English (8)  Dutch (7)  Spanish (2)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
A fantastic, dense, fast paced first-person account of riding the 137 km Tour de Mont Aigoual bike race. At the start Tim Krabbe glances at the tourists and locals watching and thinks, 'Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.' The kilometres of the race roll and are described as riders make a break or get left behind. Tim Krabbe is in the leading break and is hoping to win. The tension increases as I turned each page. Occasionally the narrative leaves the race to describe previous races or tell us about cycle racing heroes, we are in Tim Krabbe's head as his thoughts wander through his own short racing history and the longer history of the sport. As the race goes on and he becomes more tired his thoughts make less sense and we enter a dream world for a time. The reader is taken to the depths of despair with a poor descent and a puncture and to the highs when all is going well and another rider is left behind. The drive and the selfishness of a racing cyclist is displayed as well as the frustrations of a cyclists who refuses to take his turn at the front of a break, a 'wheel sucker'. Towards the end he writes, 'At any given moment, every human being has at his disposal a brief, intense death struggle that doesn't hurt and which lasts twelve seconds. That's the animal sprint. Of all the things that prevent the rider from achieving the speed of light during those twelve seconds, pain is not one.' If you have ever watched a cycle race and tried to guess what is going on in the rider's minds as they sit in the peloton or make a break for the lead then this book will answer all those questions. It is well written and a brilliant read. The adrenaline and pain, the joyous victories and the despair of losing, the loyalty and the competitiveness are all here. ( )
1 vote Tifi | Jan 5, 2017 |
Unless you're a cyclist you probably won't enjoy this. As a cyclist, it was a lot of fun to read. ( )
  bicyclewriter | Jan 8, 2016 |
Wonderful book. Dutch amateur road cyclist Tim Krabbé recounts how he raced the Tour de Mont Aigoual, known from Tour de France, interspersed with stories from his cycling career, Tour de France, and the nature of road racing. Recommended. ( )
1 vote ohernaes | Feb 28, 2015 |
This is a book for cycle enthusiasts. It gives a good understanding of the pschology underpinning the drive of a competitive cyclist during a race
1 vote nickrenkin | Mar 31, 2012 |
You don't even need to like cycling to find this novella constantly interesting and nail biting (quite literally in my case) description of one mans amateur endurance race. I usually prefer watching paint dry to the Tour de France but I couldn't put this book down for anything.

Tim Krabbe uses the superb device of breaking the race, and it's description, into kilometres, swathes of flat country pass by in a flash but crawling up mountains slows to mere metres and then to millometeres as he fights for his position. Although don't be put of it's not a mere description, we ride with Krabbe, in his head; his thoughts and feelings, his constant planning, his reminisemces, his hatred of losing, his psychological dismissal of competitors, his wildy meandering sudden thoughts. It all builds a vivid picture, one that seems to play out in real time, you can almost feel the mental and phsyical toll, taste his sheer force of will to win.

Of course it helps that Krabbe doesn't come accross as a single minded, arrogant sportsman. He is a funny, engaging and dryly passionate author that writes prose that is so tight a crow bar couldnt find purchase. He pacing is masterful he knows when to break away to tell an amusing remenencse of his early sporting encounters, drop in a fact or two and then back in to the race.

I cannot recommended it enough, if you want something different, quick and forceful go get a copy right now. I for one am going to track down the rest of the books forthwith. ( )
  clfisha | Aug 4, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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"Warm, bewolkt weer. Ik pak mijn spullen uit de auto en zet mijn fiets in elkaar. Vanaf terrasjes kijken toeristen en inwoners toe. Niet-wielrenners. De leegheid van die levens schokt me."

"Hot and overcast. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0747559414, Paperback)

THE RIDER 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'. Krabbe 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, Krabbe allows us to race with him, inside his skull as it were, during a mythical Tour de Mont Aigoual.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:12 -0400)

A literary sports classic, finally available in the U.S. Originally published in Holland in 1978, The Rider became an instant cult classic, selling over 100,000 copies. Brilliantly conceived and written at a break-neck pace, it is a loving, imaginative, and, above all, passionate tribute to the art of bicycle road racing. Not a dry history of the sport, The Rider is beloved as a bicycle odyssey, a literary masterpiece that describes in painstaking detail one 150-kilometer race in a mere 150 pages. The Rider is the ultimate book for bike lovers as well as the arm-chair sports enthusiast.… (more)

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