Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Rider -Tim Krabbe'

I just read this again for the first time in a couple of years (probably my 5th time reading it). Do yourself a favor and do the same.


Here are a few good lines from just the first 32 pages of a 148 page book that describes a single 150k amateur bike race in 1970s Europe. Even out of context it's good stuff:
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"Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.
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"... a rider in a light blue Cycles Goff jersey is sitting on the curb, deep in thought. Before him on the street lies a back wheel, beside him a wooden box full of sprockets. His gears: he still has to decide which ones to use. There are four cols today, no one knows exactly how steep. I do: I've been over the course."
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"I forgot my figs... should I make it four? Or five? Ballast... I never eat more than two during a race, the others will just end up glistening brown with sweat."
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the "mind has recourse to two instruments, a body and a bicycle..."
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"Good legs?"
"We'll see. And you?"
"He shrugs and starts telling me how little time he has to train. All riders say that, always. As if they're afraid to be judged by the part of their ability they can actually take credit for."
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"I started on this sport fifteen years too late."
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"The first climb won't be for another 30 kilometers, at Les Vignes. I'm longing for it, just like when I'm doing it I'll long for it to be over."
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"What never happens will happen today. This is the decisive breakaway."
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"Always attack as late as you can, but before the others do."
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"I have an aversion to the expression 'allowed to escape', because it usually comes from people who have no notion of the tremendous power needed for that 'being allowed to'."
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"A man shouts 'Faster!' Probably thinks bicycle racing is about going fast."
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"Climbing is a rhythm, a trance; you have to rock your organs' protests back to sleep."
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"The group was sliding away from me. How sad."
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"Why'd you let them go?"
"I couldn't do it"
"Just one more kick, couldn't you have managed that?"
"Yeah, God, one kick, yeah."
"So why didn't you?"
"I couldn't"
"... the forest was quiet again"
"... at a certain point you just can't do it any more, you get dropped. Too bad. Nothing to make a fuss about."
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"It's so incredibly pitiful that I ever wanted to do this, but now I'm stuck with it." "My legs feel black. On a bike, your consciousness is small"
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And toward the end:
"Because after the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure."

1 Comment:

WheelsVT said...

Right on. A great read.