With The Rider, Tim Krabbé has created a book unique in the ranks of sporting literature. He 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'. Krabbé 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, Krabbé allows us to race with him, inside his skull as it were, during a mythical Tour de Mont Aigoual.
©1978 Tim Krabbé (P)2012 Audible Ltd
"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)
"A paean to pain and a hymn to the fellowship of the road. Nothing better is ever likely to be written on the subjective experience of cycle-racing." (The Guardian)
"The ultimate cycling book"
"The Rider" by Tim Krabbe is well known by cyclists to be one of the great books about road cycling and racing out there. I read the book when it was re-released several years ago and as soon as I had finished I started from page one again and re-read it.
When I saw that it had finally been released as an audio book there was no hesitation, i immediately downloaded it.
Now, before I go on I want to stress that this book is without reproach and whether you read it or listen to it, you won't be disappointed as it givers the finest account of a (fictional) cycle race ever put on paper. for cyclists, this book is really unmissable. And this is where I have a problem with the audio version. I'm not sure if I have watched too many cycle races on TV and listened to interviews with cyclists, but Mark Meadows does not convince me that he is the rider in this book. Written in the 1st person, Mark's narration comes across as slightly disengaged from the story. This won't be a problem for everyone, but for me, I felt I couldn't really get drawn into the story. I just wasn't convinced. That said I still listened to the whole audio version and the quality of the writing and story is still fantastic and if you have never read or listened to this book, then I would still heartily recommend it, despite the narrational flaws
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