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Thursday, October 06, 2022

Review: The Rider

 I'll admit that I can only watch bicycle racing in tiny youtube clips. The long form videos bore me to tears, but I'll happily read about bike racing any time. The Rider is Tim Krabbe's novel about a fictional bike race, but the protagonist of the novel is also named Tim Krabbe!

The book describes all the grandeur and pettiness of a bike race. Whether to work together to defeat a rival, whether it's more important that a rival lose than that you win. It also beautifully brings together the thoughts of someone putting together hard physical exertion:

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. (kindle loc 404)

Lots of cycling history too, involving famous racers from the past, as well as relevant incidents that tie into the events of the single day race the novel describes.

The book's short but compelling. I found myself reading it in one shot one evening, and it would be a perfect airplane novel. Recommended. Strangely enough, I went in search of other novels by the same author and they're all out of print now in English!

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