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- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Format: Paperback | 160 pages
- Dimensions: 130mm x 194mm x 16mm | 200g
- Publication date: 3 June 2002
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0747559414
- ISBN 13: 9780747559412
- Sales rank: 28,286
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.
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Tim Krabbe is a chess as well as a cycling enthusiast and one of Holland's leading writers. His many books include the noir novels THE VANISHING and THE CAVE. He lives in Amsterdam. Sam Garrett, a former wire-service correspondent, is the translator of THE CAVE, also by Tim Krabbe, THE GATES OF DAMASCUS by Lieve Joris and SILENT EXTRAS by Arnon Grunberg.
By Martin O'Brien 17 Mar 2011
Krabbe really captures the feeling of the effort and the psychological games that take place during a bike race. The pushing of the pain barrier, concentrating on the race and at the same time wandering through thoughts miles away. The narrative it sparse and all the better for it.
Equally as good as the cave, and well worth a read. Excellent!
'On the one hand it is a literary masterpiece that will still be read a hundred years from now; on the other, it is the best book on sports in the Dutch language' Leeuwarder Courant 'Whenever I hit rock bottom I always think of those immortal words from The Rider by Tim Krabbe - Battoowoo Creakcreak - and everything seems just fine again' Maarten Ducroit, racing cyclist 'Classic account of the fictional 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
Krabbe's taut, spare prose gives a believable, at times thrilling sense of the emotions and physical sensations of a bicycle road race. Drawing on his own experiences as an amateur racer, Krabbe creates a fictional account of the notoriously tough Tour de Mont Aigoul stage of the Tour de France. As the book follows the twists and turns of the race, the narrative moves from past to present, alternating between description of the race and Krabbe's reactions to it. We read tales of cycling folklore, witness scenes from the author's childhood and hear recollections of past races and riders. The story of the race itself draws the reader inexorably on to the final sprint; climbs, descents, falls and clashes make for an ever-changing rhythm as the race moves relentlessly onwards to its conclusion. Here are pain and exhilaration as the leaders jockey for position, the monotonous grind of the chasing pack as riders bunch up, unable to break out, but determined not to slip behind their rivals. Throughout the book Krabbe provides a pacey, enjoyable read, but it is in the tiny details that he best catches a sense of reality; competitors hurridly stuffing figs into their mouths, riders stealing their rivals' water bottles, crowds of onlookers flickering past as the cyclists shoot by and, perhaps most tellingly of all, the remark that 'nothing hisses quite so sweetly as a rival's puncture'. (Kirkus UK)