Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pre-Tour Required Reading

Tim Krabbe wrote The Rider in 1978 in his native Dutch. It's a bestseller in Holland, but was only translated to English in 2002. It's a small little book about a smallish little bike race through some French mountains, but it captures the grandness, the largeness, the everything-ness of the sport of cycling unlike anything else I've read. Of course, it's about cycling, but cycling is about so much more. Pain, suffering, perseverance, strategy, allegiance, betrayal, speed, fear, geography, the elements, psychology.

Today, Krabbe is The Rider, a man who wants to win this race. He's never won a major road race before. Once you're through you will reread this book's first paragraph and understand it.
Meyrueis, Lozere, June 26, 1997. Hot and overcast. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.
Krabbe's writing is so taut and carries such velocity that I was through with this gem before I knew what hit me. I'm looking forward to reading it again ASAP.


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