Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Rider by Tim Krabbe

I’ve heard of this book, but have never read it – until doing a little bike related media swapping with a fellow rider and coworker recently. I loaned him my Sunday in Hell and The Tour Baby! DVDs in exchange for his copy of The Rider.

I rarely read fiction. To me, real life is wacky enough, so there's little need to make anything up. Since this was a cycling based novel, what the hell – I gave it a go. Turns out I enjoyed it quite a bit. Really well written tale of a blow by blow account of a race, by the authors view in the race itself. Flashbacks to his childhood and other events included.

Originally published in Holland, it was translated to English in 2002. If you race bikes you can relate to the story, and even if you don’t race, it will make you want to race – or completely put that idea out of your head.

Literature genius, I ain't..... see what I mean? Google this book for more in depth reviews from people who are actually qualified for such matters. In school I basically majored in motocross and Ted Nugent. What can I say?

A few random examples from the book - he sucks you in from the first paragraph....

Meyrueis, Lozere, June 26, 1977. 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.

On a bike your consciousness is small. The harder you work, the smaller it gets. Every thought that arises is immediately and utterly true, every unexpected event is something you'd known all along but had only forgotten for a moment. A pounding riff from a song, a bit of long division that starts over and over, a magnified anger at someone, is enough to fill your thoughts.

Forty-three nineteen. My gear lever feels like scab on a wound. During our reconnaissance ride I was using forty-three twenty here. Now I'm sticking to the nineteen, a matter of willpower. Krabbe's twenty was still clean as a whistle. Shifting is kind of a painkiller, and therefore the same as giving up. After all, if I wanted to kill my pain, why not choose the most effective method? Road-racing is all about generating pain.

As far as real life being more interesting then fiction, Jay - the guy that loaned me the book - got hooked on bikes about a year ago - along with his significant other, Jamie. They both now commute, tour and ride for fun - with multiple bikes each. Jay has lost 60 pounds and said bikes changed his life. To me, that's more impressive then any book written about riding.

Real life wins again.


  1. Hi Dan

    do you want an autographed copy?

    i know Tim ;)


  2. Wow - you know Tim? Very cool.

    Since my son plays chess, we also checked out his chess site.

    Writer, chess player and bike racer. Tim sounds like a interesting guy.