Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tour de France

I don’t know how many of you are cycling fans but every year when July comes around I become glued to my television for the three weeks of the Tour de France. This year’s tour started in London and will end on the Champs Elysee (that’s Paris, you know!) three weeks and 3,553 km (2,208 miles) later. Despite the controversies this year (the leader was forced to quit), it was an exciting race and I was quite happy this past Sunday when Alberto Contador was awarded the maille jaune (yellow jersey – top prize). If you have been watching you might need something to ease you through your “tour-watching” withdrawals. These two films should do the trick (and they are available in DVD at HBPL):

Breaking Away
This 1979 film is number eight on the AFI's 100 Most Inspiring Movies list and arguably the best cycling film ever made. It won the Oscar for Original Screenplay for screenwriter, Steve Tesich and went on to win the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy). It is a coming of age story about Dave Stoller and his three best friends, all just out of high school with no college or other life plans, sons of blue collar workers that live in Bloomington, Indiana. Dave loves cycling and all things Italian; so much so that he pretends to be an Italian exchange student at the local college. Everything changes after meeting his heroes, the Italian cycling team. He goes on to help his friends in the town's annual bike race against the local college boys.

American Flyers
American Flyers is one of my guilty pleasures and it holds a special place for me as it is the film that sparked my interest in cycling. Granted it is not Breaking Away but it was written by the same screenwriter, Steve Tesich. It has a good combination of family drama and great cycling footage. It is a story of sports physician Marcus (played by a young Kevin Costner) who persuades his brother David to come with him and train for a bicycle race across the Rocky Mountains. This is somewhat a ploy to test his brother to see if he is inflicted with a hereditary medical problem that killed their father. The wonderful John Amos plays one of Marcus’s colleagues and adds a bit of comedy and family warmth to the plot.