Originally published in Holland in 1978, The Rider became an instant cult classic. It is an imaginative, passionate tribute to the art of bicycle road racing.
Far from a dry history of the sport, The Rider is beloved as a bicycle odyssey, a literary masterpiece that describes in detail one 150-kilometer race in a mere 150 pages. We are, every inch of the way, inside amateur biker Tim Krabbé's head as his mind churns at top speed along with his furious peddling during a mythical Tour de Mont Aigoual, a famously tough stage of the Tour de France. In the course of the race, we get to know the forceful, bumbling Lebusque, the aesthete Barthélemy, the young Turk Reilhan, and the mysterious rider in the blue jersey of Cycles Goff. Krabbé battles with and against each of them, failing on the descents, shining on the climbs, suffering on the false flats as the race speeds relentlessly to its final sprint.
Reading this keen and exciting book, we are made privy to the author's every thought—the glory and vagaries of the sport itself, the weather, the many characters involved, and a lineage of anecdotes on great riders of the past.
"Compelling . . . Irradiated by an intense love of cycling and a fascination with the nature of the racing experience . . . Krabbé captures the rhythm of the race."—The Economist
"Krabbé's heedless rush across the physical and emotional terrain agonizes yet thrills. Its infectious pace accelerates to an unsparing conclusion. Readers will never approach cycling—or life—as amateurs again."—Dallas Morning News
"The Rider is a beautiful brute, as hard and fast as a thin wheel in a concrete road."—The Observer (UK)
"[The book's] 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