“Meyrueis, Lozere, June 26, 1977. 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.”
These are the first lines of Krabbe’s book ‘The Rider’. A quick start: A place, a date, overcast weather. Short and precise sentences. Although we don’t learn an awful lot about the main character, this paragraph is setting a pace which will continue through the book, it seems. Sentences like pedal strokes, quickly following one another. And then a very telling sentence about the onlookers in the cafes: “The emptiness of those lives shocks me.” This actually tells us more about the Rider’s life than about the onlooker’s lives. Whether their lives are empty or full we cannot seriously tell. But certainly for the rider, there doesn’t seem to be much in life that can compete with racing.
Just looking at Meyrueis, this little town in south France seems to have quite a bit to offer:
However not much of this seems to be at top of the rider’s mind, at least not today. He came for a race, one of the toughest races in the season, 137 kilometers and loops through the surrounding mountains.
I would like to kick off the discussion, and if you feel like joining in while reading the book, then please do so.
Tim Krabbe: The Rider. 1978. Bloomsbury Publishing. You can buy the book here.