Our Cycling Cinema Favorites
While not quite as predominant in the film world as say skiing, mountaineering or ball sports, cycling has its place in the movies and there are some gems out there that every enthusiast should see. With spring on the horizon, we’ve put together a short list of our favorite films where the bike is the star. If you’re after something different to watch for movie night, want some great nostalgia from the recent past, or need some inspiration while churning out the trainer miles, add these titles to your list. Even if you’ve already seen them, they’re all worth another round. Do you have a favorite that we didn’t catch? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you and build our repertoire.
In 1979, professional cycling hadn't reached the level of exposure in the US that is has now, so for many of us this classic film was our first exposure to the world of road racing, Italian culture, Daniel Stern and Dennis Quaid. Breaking Away is a must-see for any cyclist at any age.
The Triplets of Belleville
You've probably never seen anything quite like this richly animated, dark-ish yet uplifting comedy about a Tour De France cyclist named Champion, his trainer/grandmother and her adorably overweight dog Bruno. When Champion goes missing while competing in Le Tour, his grandmother Madame Souza and Bruno are befriended and taken in by three eccentric elderly women, who were once the renowned jazz singing group The Triplets of Belleville. The triplets help Madame Souza and Bruno try to locate and rescue Champion. This one will surprise and impress you on many levels.
Filmmaker and amateur road racer Bryan Fogel's plan to document the ease of doping in sport is absolutely turned on its head after a chance meeting with the physician/scientist in charge of the Russian state anti-doping laboratory. Fogel's plan was to engage in a doping protocol and ride the Haute Route endurance classic, but instead blew the lid off a state sponsored doping program and one of the biggest scandals in sporting history. An Academy award winner for good reason.
By 1985, Americans were more broadly figuring out that bike racing was cool and we should pay attention. American Flyers crafted some good cinematic drama around cycling with the story of a pair of brothers who mend a strained relationship and compete together in "The Hell of the West" bike race in Colorado. A potentially fatal brain disease that runs in the family forms the backdrop of the brother's mended relationship, but the cycling action steals the show. Oh, and Kevin Costner!
While not achieving a Rotten Tomatoes rating *quite* as high as the other films on our list, the "audience rating" confirms that Rad is worth a watch. The film is a great celebration of 1980's BMX fever, features a feel-good story of a triumphant protagonist and includes tunes from both Sparks and Modern English! What more could you ask for?