The Rider

Tim Krabbé

Read September 2003

What is the metaphysics of bicycle racing? Consult this gem. The account of a fictitious (but plausible) regional race, this slender volume drops you into the mind of a racer and leaves you there for 150 kilometers. It is pitch-perfect in capturing the thoughts and voices that inhabit a rider's mind. In fact, it's oddly reflexive: ever since reading it, while riding I've found my other thoughts often replaced by recollections of this book! The story fluidly melds the elements of classical drama, including humor, suspense, tragedy and even bathos. It even contains practical wisdom, as I discovered when I was stung by an unidentified insect while riding on a country road in Connecticut. And in a book filled with memorable terse phrases, perhaps none packs as much punch as "His twenty-two was still clean as a whistle" (after a mountain ride). If that grips you, you'll love this book. If you don't understand it, read this book to learn what it means.