While others look at this as an early LGBT-themed movie, I enjoy it from the standpoint of someone who likes to bike. I had no idea what the movie was about, but the title and cover art intrigued me. Among serious cyclists, Breaking Away is almost universally considered the best cycling movie of all time. After seeing The Unknown Cyclist, I think this a close second, easily beating over-hyped movies like American Flyers and Quicksilver. Both Breaking Away and Unknown Cyclist are character-driven, but while Breaking Away's characters were endearing, they were somewhat one-dimensional and for almost the entire movie, the only one with any interest in cycling was Dave. The Unknown Cyclist was a little more balanced in terms of screen time and development given to each character. I miss the classical music in Breaking Away, but the incidental music and power ballads in this movie are still good.
The movie recalls a simpler time in terms of bicycling. A time when cycling was a little less pretentious than it is today. There was less emphasis on technology and style. No hipsters on fashionable fixies or single-speed bikes. The movie shows a more egalitarian side of cycling, with people of all shapes, sizes and colors on high and low-tech bikes on an extended ride, cruising back roads wonderfully devoid of cars. It's all set against a backdrop of spectacular California coastal scenery, which east coast denizens like me only wish we could have. In fact, I prefer the cinematography of this to Breaking Away, which had rather drab Indiana settings punctuated only by the lush quarry. If you want to vicariously feel the joy of just being on a bicycle rather than the more racing-focused milieu of Breaking Away, this movie is a great vehicle for that, capturing the details of a typical mass ride. You can almost feel the sun, the wind and the rain on your face. Feel your legs burning on the uphills. Experience showering and eating in groups, sleeping in tent cities on campgrounds. At the end of the movie, I can almost imagine myself walking among the crowd across that finish line. (Even better, my legs aren't sore.) All the while, there are the standard themes of friendship, love, family and tolerance, but those aren't intrusive. If you like to bike and don't have any hang-ups about homosexuality, I think you'll like this movie.
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