The Rider is the English translation of Tim Krabbé’s 1978 Dutch book, DeRenner. It’s long been a cult classic, but I was late to the party, despite having known of the tome for ages.

The 148 pages tell the story of the author’s experience in racing the Tour de Mont Aigoual. His commentary of the 150km event is littered with various cycling-related anecdotes and others detailing his own journey to becoming an amateur racing cyclist.

It’s full of great writing and descriptions of the sport that any cyclist, racer or not, will relate to. Such as this:

“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.”

Or this on the pain of riding uphill:

“Climbing is a rhythm, a trance; you have to rock your organs’ protest back to sleep.”

No more spoilers. If you haven’t read it, do so.

From Mont Ventoux to the Mont Aigoual

 

It was a recent reading of Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp that pushed me to finally getting hold of a copy of The Rider. In Ventoux, one of the main characters, Joost, readily quotes extracts from The Rider in an attempt to portray himself as a bone fide cyclist. (Joost’s and my actions are in no way related, honest.)