In 1978, one of the best-known books about bike racing was published. De Renner (The Rider) was written by Dutch journalist Tim Krabbé and was translated into English in 2002.
The novel describes a bike race in South-West France and Krabbé goes into detail discussing the tactics and psychological aspects of racing. Matt Seaton of The Guardian listed his top 10 books about cycling a number of years ago and The Rider came out on top.
Seaton said of the book: “The Rider has a strange, dark, philosophical flavour: it is both a paean to pain and a hymn to the fellowship of the road. Nothing better is ever likely to be written on the subjective experience of cycle-racing.”
The race featured in the semi-autobiographical novel is the 137-kilometre Tour of Mont Aigoual and Krabbé describes his battle against the race’s other protagonists – Kleber, Lebusque, Reilhan, Barthelemy and Teissonnière. The book has now been translated into eight languages in total and has become a cult classic amongst cycling and literature fans.
This film is an intimate portrait of Krabbé who is also a keen cyclist. At the age of 71, he is still active on the bike, riding about 10,000 km per year.