This book is cool. Anyone else read it? I guess it's fiction, but it's essentially a French amateur race report, with injections of related cycling trivia. A nightmare for Botto: 147 page race report. It could only be worse if it had a couple power files.
The book was originally written in French, I believe, so some of the culture doesn't quite translate. It's from 1978, but so much of it applies perfectly in 2007. It's amazing how he captures the emotion of racing a bicycle. A friend loaned me the book. It's short and easy to read (other than the foreign names). I think I read it in about 4 hours.
I transcribed a bit of it here:
Originally Posted by The Rider
Kilometer 32-34. Seven plus two is nine [ed.: off the front]. Still, I'm not climbing badly, that amazes me every time. It hurts, but it's also sort of nice. Heavy labor you can handle, carrying a pile of pouffes up to your girlfriend's new apartment.
Keep the steer steady, going slow here. The way I see it, your handlebars move forward, and you just have to make sure you don't let go. You need strong arms for that. I view my wrists, stretched out in front of me to the bars, straight as ramrods. They've become so tanned, almost black in the wrinkles. The little hairs lie next to each other in wet rows, pointing away from me. I find my wrists incredibly beautiful.
What I can do, no animal can: be the other and admire myself. I hear nothing and see nothing, but I sense that, behind me, one rider after the other is being dropped. I once interviewed an Olympic rower, Jan Wienese. Rowers practice their sport backwards. I asked Wienese whether he was ever afraid, during training sessions for example, of running into something. "No, we have radar for that," he said.
They may have been dropped by the dozen, but I sprinkle my back with the glances of riders behind me. Cool and collected that Krabbe'. Did you see him? Pow-er.
Do my eyes deceive me, or are we gaining a little on Reilhan and Guillaumet?
Kilometer 83: The race has entered a new phase, and every thirty seconds my wheel is in the lead, but is this a sensible phase as far as I'm concerned? Aren't I in the process of letting myself be jerked around by Barthelemy again?
I'm the one up pushing in the wind, and that's helping his odds for the third climb. Odds he'll be able to double during the descent. He'll get dumped later on, but perhaps so late that he'll be able to come back after the climb. The further I take him, the greater the chance that the toughest race of the season will be won by a bad climber.
I'm an azz.
This escape has to be made undone. What was stupid at first is now the best thing to do. I drop back to second position and slow down. I stop pedaling. The rider from Cycles Goff misses me taking my turn and looks back, puzzled. The gap is ten meters. I look over my shoulder. When I turn back around, Barthelemy jumps and passes me, very powerfully. He goes right past Cycles Goff, who makes a reflex move to follow, then drops back on his saddle.
Barthelemy is already a hundred meters out in front.
The rider from Cycles Goff lets himself glide back beside me. We look back. We see the four.
"Still too far," I say.
He hesitates for a second, then nods.
We straighten up, drift along, fifteen seconds to breathe just for the fun of it.
Last edited by waterrockets; 08-24-07 at 12:15 AM.
I didn't even make it very far into it before putting it aside. Maybe because I tried to read it in season. Bad idea.
To be fair, I'll try reading it again this winter when I'm itching for anything having to do with cycling.
black bike, white bike, blue bike, yellow bike, silver bike
I started reading it but stopped.
I couldn't get past the names; I kept thumbing back to the one page where he explains how several of the main racers were split into two teams to figure out who was working for who. He should have just Anglicized them to Bob, Gary, Ben, etc.
Even if it originally was in Dutch.
Anyone find it strange that he was making such a big deal about saving his climbing gears?
I've heard that about the Euro version. Is it subtitled? Too cool about Alpe d'Huez.
I've seen it on TV subtitled, here in Australia. The semi-govt TV multicultural station SBS often subtitles wog movies so the general bogan Australian public can all become culturally aware and sensitive about foreign people and stuff. As you can see in my case, its working. For example, I had dim sims for dinner tonight and spaghetti on toast last night. SBS also show semi-porno european movies on a Friday night, which is a major cultural event IMO. With the really good ones you don't even need to read the subtitles.
I suppose what I am saying is that I don't know if there is a DVD of the original 'The Vanishing' available with subtitles. If there is, get it. Top movie.
"Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."
Yep one of my favorite all time cycling quotes. Great book, IMHO the best cycling fiction ever written.
I grew up as a kid idolising those hero's in the Tour de France, Indurain and everyone like that. It was almost a childhood dream to ride the Tour de France. The last 2 years my childhood dream which became a reality has been pissed all over by certain members of the peloton. - Bradley Wiggins 27th July 2007.
I liked "They probably think bike racing is about going fast."
Plus the last bit when the 42 year old masher Lebusque is griping to Krabbe about how the young winner Reilhan didn't take his share of the pulls. Krabbe just nods and thinks to himself, "Lebusque has reached the age of 42 without ever understanding Reilhan, for all his wheel-sucking, is more of a racer than he is, no matter how much he pulls".
Again, brilliant and well composed. Now if the newbies will put away those damn power gadgets and concentrate on learning the art of racing, maybe the cat2-o-meters will start dialing up a bit quicker.