There are two things you need to do: watch the video below (very recent), and then read the book (not so recent).
Tim Krabbé raced bikes for a bit as an amateur in the Netherlands, but he was a writer and chess player before that. I don’t know why I was surprised about the chess, but I think it fits in rather nicely with racing bikes, what with all the calculating of how and when to make the right moves. The racing of bicycles provides plenty of material for writing about provocative characters and plenty of suffering. Seems like an uncommon collection of things to be good at, but it makes sense.
His book, The Rider (published in 1978, and translated into English in 2002), is plain and simply a beautiful piece of writing. I suppose it would help, but you don’t need to be a cyclist to get drawn in, to cheer for and to despise the appropriate characters, to feel the desire and suffering of the rider. The full gamut of human emotions that cyclists can feel in one race, or one ride. I’m wagering, though, that most of you reading this are interested in, if not racing, then at least riding bikes, so I’m quite confident in saying that you will soon have a new favourite book on your hands as well as a vivid appreciation of the mind of a bicycle racer.
The video below from Soigneur is as beautifully crafted as the book. Enjoy it, go get The Rider, and then head out and enjoy a little suffering on the bike.
Header Image: turbulentflow/Flickr