Tim Krabbe, The Rider, Translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett. 2002, Bloomsbury, London.
I don’t think I can imagine a better, more exciting account of a bike race than this. Krabbe does a brilliant job of getting you into the head of the rider as he struggles through the pain of a day’s cycle – heading towards triumph or defeat: the result is in doubt until the very end.
Krabbe assembles a wonderful cast of characters: the gifted, the slogger, the over the hill vet, the pack riders and the self-seeker. You really care for the characters and feel for them on the road.
The story of the ride is told kilometre by kilometre, with cut-aways to describe the earlier career of the author. Its a very short book (148 pages) with hardly a wasted word. The author does a great job of enticing you to keep turning the pages. At every turn he finds a new way to get you into the head of the racing cyclist and holds your interest right through to the thrilling climax.
If you are interested in cycling this is a great read: if you are not, its still a good read.
Just the most exciting book about a cycle race you can ever imagine.
Tim Krabbe, The Rider, Translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett. 2002, Bloomsbury, London. Recommended with 4 stars.