Can you imagine pedaling 4233 miles, across 10 states in 16, 26, 36 or 46 days on a bicycle? Powered solely by your legs, lungs, mind and guts? I can’t, but after seeing Inspired To Ride – a soulful documentary produced and directed by Mike Dion (of Ride the Divide) – I began to wonder….
Inspired To Ride captivates from the beginning. Immediately, we are along for the ride and are part of the journey being made by those crazy enough to take on the formidable challenge that is the inaugural Trans Am Bike Race. We watch as forty-five cyclists tackle this totally unsupported, grass roots ride along the unforgiving Trans America Trail. Riders begin at the Pacific Ocean in Astoria, OR and work their way through grueling climbs in the Rockies of Montana and Colorado, across unforgiving windy plains in Kansas and tackle steep, circuitous stretches in the Appalachians of Kentucky and Virginia to reach the Atlantic Ocean in Yorktown, VA.
What becomes clear early on is that this race is nothing like the Tour de France or the Ride Across America. It is equally as difficult – perhaps even more challenging since many are riding 200-300 miles a day – but the biggest difference is this: there are no crews, no vehicles, no hotels, no cheering crowds and no money to be won. These riders are totally on their own, eating gas station cheeseburgers, oatmeal creme pies and ice cream cones, filling water bottles from hoses in people’s yards. They are nursing their own saddle sores and sleeping where and when they can – or for many – foregoing sleep completely to cover more miles.
Now, I don’t want to give it away completely or ruin the movie, so I won’t tell you who wins or how many of the 45 starters finish, but what I will tell you is that this is a must-see film. The imagery reveals the beauty of our country and this route through it specifically. The characters filmmakers focus on are compelling, tough, and funny; I definitely found myself invested in their well-beings and in their personal journeys.
Unexpectedly, the film is also hysterical in spots. I definitely laughed out loud at some of the more brash and real riders and guffawed at some of the things quintessential locals from each part of the country had to say about these crazy people on bikes.
And, of course, Inspired to Ride is moving, touching and inspiring. The grit, physical fitness, and mental strength these riders demonstrated can not be understated and the filmmakers did a great job of letting this shine through from each rider.
So, did this movie make me want to try next year? Well, I love riding bikes, but covering 300 miles a day seems a bit beyond my reality.
That being said: I wasn’t even out of the theatre and I found myself wondering: what about 100 miles for 42 days straight? Could I do that?
I’m not sure, but one thing is clear: Inspired To Ride left me – and I’d venture to say the rest of the audience – wanting to get out and cruise more, one way or another.