Monday, August 10, 2009

Movie Review: Bicycle Dreams

I had the privilege of going back to the downtown Circle Cinema and watching Bicycle Dreams which was part of the Tulsa United Film Festival. The festival was created by a local film producer who is from Tulsa , but now resides in LA. The festival is shown in places like London, San Francisco, New York, and amazingly Tulsa. This is a venue for lesser known film makers to show their creative works to an audience that they would not normally get to. These films usually do not make it to the bigger chains and they bank on word of mouth and the Internet for promotion. The film that I had the chance to see was Bicycle Dreams, a documentary about the annual Race Across America bicycle race. Considered to be the toughest sporting event in the world, it made for an epic tale of a race.
The route changes, but above is the 2008 route. The film we were watching took them from San Diego to Atlantic City, somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000+ miles. The participants go on very little sleep and average over 300+ miles per day. This is a race you cannot do without a support crew and lots of planning. The estimated costs of doing the race costs is somewhere between 30 and 40,000 dollars. It is a monumental undertaking.
Those who take on the task usually do not end up finishing. The completion rate is somewhere around 40%. They go on very little sleep and have to endure heat, cold, hills, pain, mental fatigue, and other little nuances that go with extreme sports. This is not a race for the faint of heart and it is amazing what they have to endure. The race we watched, they were in 107 degree heat in Utah and then had to endure the Rockie Mountains. Most competitors try to make it about 48 hours before they take about an hour nap and then they are back on the bike. Truly incredible. I know what what my back side feels like after being in the saddle for a few hours, let alone a few days.
Above is the 2008 champion and several time champion Jure Robic. He is from Slovenia and he is an animal. He won the race we watched by completing it in a little over 8 days with a total of 8 hours of sleep. He is a former bicycle racer who is still in the military and juggles work, family life, and training. What is costs him to compete is almost equal what his annual salary is, so when he does this, it is an enormous undertaking to do. He is a beast on the bike and does not look back and usually rides the whole race by himself as almost no one can keep up.

The director of the film was at the festival and announced that we had a special audience member in attendance. Dr. Breedlove's wife in the theater, Dr. Breedlove was one of the competitors in the movie. She was from Des Moines, IA and happened to be in town and saw that it was playing and came out. We were about half way through the movie when they showed a portion of the film when the competitors were passing through Colorado and they showed something had happened to Dr. Breedlove as he suddenly has slumped over his handle bars and when into oncoming traffic and was killed instantly. We had no idea that this was going to happen. I felt so bad for her having to re-live this tragic moment, but the RAAM person on the clip said that Dr. Breedlove knew the risks involved and was very experienced, he had completed it several times before, and he went out doing what he loved. The film said they did an autopsy and did not find any sign of heart attack or stroke, so it made you wonder what actually happened with the driver of the other car. They said no charges have been filed against the driver. Truly a sad deal.

At the end of the movie, via Skype, we were able to chat with the director on the screen and ask questions, try that at the next Hollywood production! This was a great film about the monumental tasks that we as endurance people sometimes take to find about who we are. These events are all voluntary and people often ask why, and truly it is hard to explain, but it is something inside that makes you want to challenge yourself mentally to find out who you really are. You can't really put into words to an outsider, but to those of us on the inside, words do not even have to be spoken. A nod of a head, or a wink of an eye, speaks volumes.

I would give this move *** stars and it would be a great addition to any film library. Who knows, maybe this will inspire the next Lance Armstrong or someone to just get off the couch and be a player in the world and not a spectator. The movie can be purchased at

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