A road cycling-focused film is always a good idea whenever you want to curl up on the sofa and watch a good movie. These movies inspire admiration for all the cyclists out there going the extra mile to reach the finish line. The truth is that this sport is filled with challenges, adrenaline, and sweat, and sometimes the path to success is thorny. But with passion and determination, one can touch the skies. The same is true of bicycle riders. Cycling movies cover inspiring stories about exploring the world from the bicycle seat, breaking a record, or winning a Grand Tour.
There are so many films, documentaries, and short stories that capture the essence of the sport that we find it hard to choose the best ones.
But here it is a list that comprises cycling-inspired movies ideal for a Sunday evening when lousy weather stops you from hopping on a bike.
The Kid with a Bike
Before digging into the topic, we must clarify something from the beginning. This 2011 movie is not necessarily about cycling but about an abandoned boy who faces life’s struggles from his bike seat. The film tells the story of 11-year-old Cyril, who, abandoned by his father, ends up in a children’s home. The child eventually befriends a neighbourhood hairdresser who volunteers to take care of him at weekends when Cyril takes his bicycle to explore the streets and surroundings. At a specific moment in the film, it seems that the bike is Cyril’s only friend, and maybe that is true. When finally finding his father, the man rejects him, influencing the boy to enter the wrong circles.
You have probably heard about this Italian classic as it is ranked as one of the best films ever. But what is so special about it? Having as a subject the daily life in1940s Italy, Bicycle Thieves tells the story of Antonio, an unemployed man seeking a job, and when he finally finds a position, it requires him to have a bicycle. Hanging posters has never been that hard for someone, especially since Antonio’s bike was stolen. From this point, the movie revolves around his desperate search for it. Lamberto Maggiorani, in the role of Antonia, and Enzo Staiola, playing his son, have impressed the whole world with their incredible charisma and talents. Not to mention that the film features some alluring shots of 1940s Rome, something that highly contributed to it winning an Oscar and a Golden Globe in 1950 for the best movie.
Jumping from post-war Italy to Manhattan New York, Premium Rush from 2012 is a movie that shows the dangers real and fiction of being a bike messenger in a busy city. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Wilee, a seasoned professional in the field of bike messaging, where he knows all the ins and outs of what to do and what not to do to survive the busy streets of New York. It is not until he picks up a package that draws the attention of a dirty cop (Michael Shannon), that things get pushed to a new level. He is now on a race against time, where his life is on the line, and his bike is his one ace in the hole.
Released back on February 14, 1986, Quicksilver follows Jack Casey (Kevin Bacon) is a bright young broker who loses the company’s (and his own) savings gambling on risky business venture. Depressed and embarrassed by his lack of success, he quits his job and takes up bicycling. To make matters worse, he is fired by his girlfriend and, to escape his disappointment of himself and his parents, he joins a “team of bike messengers,” who are major problems in their own. He meets a wild girl named Terri (Jami Gertz), who is being grateful to the team of bike messengers for saving her life.
Although frustrated, Casey enjoys the relative freedom of supervisory work and uses his education and business acumen to assist his subordinates. When a job is difficult or dangerous, Casey must decide whether to become personally involved in the affair. A complex web of murder, intrigue, and false identity develops.
The Flying Scotsman
You must have heard about the cyclist Graeme Obree (played by Jonny Lee Miller), the first to break the world one-hour distance record on a bicycle in the 90s. But you surely do not know how exactly unless you saw the movie. For those not seeing it yet, spoiler alert – this Scottish bloke designed and built his bicycle from scrap metal and washing machine parts. We know it sounds unbelievable, but the documentary Battle Mountain: Graeme Obree’s Story, goes through the real life struggles of Graeme Obree in the cycling world and his fight against mental illness. His path is thorny, but he eventually manages to reclaim the record he once held.
Although The Flying Scotsman has not had the best reviews from non-cyclists, its representation of the modern rider’s struggles is touching and is worth every second. Plus, it is an inspiration for all the professional and amateur racers out there who dream of exceeding their limits and becoming successful in the sport they love. The many aerodynamic positions in the movie can be helpful in your next race on the road, but ensure you are well-prepared before trying to be like Graeme. You surely do not want to find yourself in a situation where you are injured on the road.
On Board the Transcontinental Race
The Transcontinental Race is exactly what it sounds like – a cycling race worldwide where only the most proficient riders can participate. The conditions are harsh and the routes thorny, reaching around 4,000 km. Cyclists have to ride across the European continent, so the challenges are not to be undervalued. The documentary On Board the Transcontinental Race takes the spectator to one of the most arduous cycling routes and explores the experiences of cyclists and the crew riding across the continent. Although it tells the story of some tired riders, this feature is unexpectedly comedic, which may be the reason for its incredible success.
Not many cycling-inspired movies can boast an Oscar, but the Icarus documentary is one of them. The film won an Oscar in 2018, and we can only approve. Icarus was initially meant to be about the amateur cyclist and director Bryan Fogel, who is training to become the winner of the most demanding amateur race in bicycle riding – the Alpine edition of Haute Route. Nevertheless, things take an unexpected turn as Fogel appeals to performance-enhancing drugs to demonstrate how untrustworthy cycling’s drug testing can be. Grigory Rodchenkov, former World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited Moscow head lab, helps him in this regard, except that things get crazy, and they are to be in the centre of the world’s biggest doping scandal.
Netflix 2017 movie Icarus is an insight into the road cycling sport but also into the doping scandal covering it at that time. This is how what is meant to be a simple documentary turns out to be an action-like film every cinephile out there should watch. Although cycling is part of a bigger and stranger puzzle, “Icarus” is definitely worth the spectator’s attention.
While cycling in the movies can be full of excitement and wonder, there are real dangers jumping on a bike and pushing yourself to the limit. Cases of injuries in cycling are not uncommon, all the more so when caused by other racers or driver’s negligence. Thus, pay attention to the road, whether you ride in a competition or just for pleasure. Still, if you ever fall victim to someone else’s inattention, or it is not you who caused the accident, ensure you contact a professional lawyer to help you deal with the legal proceedings. A specialist can address the case professionally and tell you if you are eligible for bicycle accident compensation in the UK, so do not hesitate to call on professionals.