The Reading Rider

Hey, I realized it's been a while since I've offered up a book recommendation. Part of the delay has to do with the fact that I turned the pages on a couple of non-cycling-themed titles. Which, by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed reading.


In case you were interested in checking them out, here they are: "Deckhand: Life on Freighters of the Great Lakes" by Nelson Haydamacker, with Alan D. Millar (University of Michigan Press, 2009) and "Life Lived Wild: Adventures at the Edge of the Map" by Rick Ridgeway (Patagonia, 2021).


First published in 1978.

Now, for the biking book. Its name is "The Rider" by Tim Krabbe (1978; Bloomsbury Publishing, English translation, 2002). The author is a cycling enthusiast and one of Holland's leading writers.


In "The Rider" — which is considered a cult classic among cyclists — the author brings readers along as he competes in the Tour de Mont Aigoual in France. Counting down the kilometers throughout the book's 148 pages, Krabbe wonderfully describes his internal battle, both mentally and physically, as he strives to reach the finish line — which seems so far away. You are left panicking, wondering if he is even going to get there.


Along the way, the late-in-life racer plays mind games with himself, trying to anticipate what his rivals will do, focusing on the few he knows as friends or frequent foes. Words characterizing the route's massive ascents and descents usher in additional words that recount other aspects of his life — along with chronicling his sporting career and other races he has participated in.


Prior to obtaining "The Rider," I read somewhere that if one was to read only one book on the sport of bicycling, this should be the one you choose. A review in The Guardian put it this way: "Nothing better is ever likely to be written on the subjective experience of cycle-racing." I just might have to agree.


'Thought for the day'


"The very existence of the bicycle is an offense to reason and wisdom." — P.J. O'Rourke, American political satirist and journalist


From "Words To Ride By ... Thoughts on Bicycling" by Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, 2017)

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