Tim Krabbe's The Rider

the rider

This is one of my favorite books on bike racing. It somehow encompasses everything - thoughts that we've all had while racing, and parallels to every bike racer's journey.

It also has some of the best gems about bike racing I've read:

Road racing imitates life, the way it would be without the corruptive influence of civilization. When you see an enemy lying on the ground, what's your first reaction? To help him to his feet. In road racing, you kick him to death.

That's one that I think today's pro racing should have a little more of. Something about seeing Quintana and Froome cooling down together post-races just felt wrong to me. Are they buddies or something? Do they even care who wins?

From the beginning, when they are in a breakaway (and he knows his breakaway companions from training and racing together):

Shouting. It's Lebusque. He gestures to me, I act like I don't see him. I know what's going to happen. He moves to the front, picks up the pace, looks back movingly, sees that no one's coming to help, then tucks down over his bars. A few times he drops back a little, but as soon as he's off point it seems like he remembers something and moves back up. Occasionally he shouts, but no one helps. Don't look at me. Bicycle racing is a sport of patience. "Racing is licking your opponent's plate clean before starting on your own." Jennie Kuiper said that. Lebusque will stay out front for kilometers. Where would we be without Lebuspue? Lebusque doesn't know what racing is.

We've all been there, someone is working on the front and tries to get help, but everyone pretends like that don't know what's happening. It's tough to do - it's hard not to help someone when they are asking for it, and when it's a reasonable request. But you have to resist it if you want to place well.

It has countless other vignettes, myths, insights. If you're a racer and haven't read this book, you've got to.