Holy shit it’s cold! Of course, I’m still biking in this abomination—they’d probably take my column away if I didn’t show up to work with a scarf tied around my head, crying icy tears through the fabric—but what’s motivating me to keep pedaling is the thought of thawing out with a nice cup of tea and a bike movie! So, for those of you who have opted for rollers this winter, I’ve compiled a list of some entertainment options that don’t include frostbite or icy asphalt scrapes. We all know the classics—American Flyers, RAD, Breaking Away, Quicksilver, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure—but I reached out to the trusty ole SaltCycle community for some of their favorites, which turned up an eclectic list of titles I’d missed.
With film festival season just around the corner, I decided to prep by watching the trailer and/or bike scene for each of the following, and am providing you with a short review and my very own version of a Tomatometer: The Crankometer. Personally, I don’t watch anything under 70 percent, so you can definitely trust my opinion, at least as much as that of renowned film critic Jebidiah Atkinson.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (suggested by Joshua W McCarrel—who is apparently the leader of “Team Clammy Chamois,” so you know this guy enjoys the small things in life): This movie’s been in my Netflix queue for, literally, years. I don’t think you can call yourself a Utahn until you’ve seen it, but I finally got around to watching the bike scene. First thoughts: Oh my god, someone put shoes on that girl! Riding a bike, whether you’re pedaling or not, without something covering your fragile little toes, is absolute insanity—I’m talking to all of you Twilight cyclists wearing flip flops in the summer. Once I got past that, and the fact that she looked way too comfortable sitting on the handlebars for such a long and bumpy ride, I was faced with another moral dilemma: the show-off trope. There’s one in Quicksilver, too, but that includes some dancing, and it’s indoors, so I give it a pass. Guys doing dumb tricks to prove their machismo in front of girls is getting old, and it hits too close to home in a male-dominated bike scene. I give this one a 20 percent on the Crankometer.
The Stars and The Water Carriers: The 1973 Giro d’Italia (suggested by Ryan Wade McCalmon): OK, I totally understand why Ryan genuinely digs this movie—available in its entire 1.5 hours on YouTube—because he’s the most hardcore, die-hard cyclist I know. I’m sure a bunch of other people would raise their hands and tell me they liked this film, too, if I asked. However, unlike Ryan, it would only be for hipster points, and guaranteed, if given the chance to watch it, they’d talk through the whole thing as they sipped PBR. I got through a few clips, and woke up half an hour later, only to be lulled to sleep again. If watching a bike race isn’t already a total snoozefest for you, by all means, try it out. For the rest of us, it’s a great cure for insomnia! I’ll give this one a 50 percent on the Crankometer, purely for vintage charm.
Rising From Ashes (suggested by Davey Davis): I cannot believe I missed the Salt Lake screening of this documentary. It’s about the first Rwandan National Cycling Team, and not only does it look like a beautifully shot, tear-jerking doc, it’s narrated by Forest Whitaker, who’s the next Morgan Freeman, in my humble opinion. The only thing that bugs me is the whole “white man saves Africa” motif, but someone’s gotta pay for all those expensive bikes. There’s no release date on this yet, so we’ll all just have to watch the trailer over and over again. This one gets an anticipated 90 percent on the Crankometer.
The Triplets of Belleville (suggested by Shanna Ford): Who doesn’t like an animated film with a killer soundtrack? This one’s a far cry from Frozen—though the latter seems more fitting for the weather. The Triplets has been on my watch list for some time now, but it keeps getting passed up ‘cause it seems like the kind of artsy film you’ve gotta be in the right mood for, especially since the animation looks a little vintage (which isn’t a bad thing, but I’ve been spoiled by CGI). Still, it’s a fun concept and I’ve been conditioned to love musicals—thanks, Disney—so it gets a 75 percent on the Crankometer.
There were a number of other films suggested to me, if none of these strike your fancy: With My Own Two Wheels, Bicycle Thieves, Return of the Scorcher, Still We Ride, The Road From Karakol, Dead Fucking Last, Ride The Divide, Jour de Fête, A Sunday in Hell, Le Vélo de Ghislain Lambert, The Paper Brigade. Sounds like someone needs to host a few movie nights this winter! I’ll bring the popcorn and my Crankometer.