With the 2020 cycling calendar, short as it was, wrapped up, the wait now begins again until we can begin again. The leaves have almost finished dropping from the trees, rain is a more regular occurrence and winter is coming on. It’s cold and the prospect of going out for a ride becomes an ever more strenuous endeavour. In the meantime, there are other ways to enjoy cycling without necessarily being in the saddle yourself, one of which is through the magic of film. Here are five top cycling films to enjoy when you can’t be on the bike.
- The Program (2015)
You’ll not find a list about cycling films (not that there are many) anywhere on the internet that doesn’t feature something to do with Lance Armstrong. The story of the once-great hero of the cycling world, overcomer of apparently insurmountable cancer, exposed as a drug cheat, stripped of his medals and rendered a social pariah, is the greatest true-to-life story in the history of the sport. It transcended the sport itself. Starring Ben Foster as the infamous doper, it follows the story of an Irish journalist as he bids to expose him as the cheat that no-one knows he is.
- Bicycle Thieves (1948)
An Italian classic, the film centres on a man in post-World War II Rome as he searches for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job (one of very few available) that was to save his family from poverty and starvation. The film explores the fallout of the War and the desperation of the people of Italy to survive in the crumbling, broken remains of the city that they once called home. Sight and Sound, one of the premier film review magazines, at the turn of this century, dubbed it the sixth-greatest film of all time. Worth a watch for history buffs and cinephiles alike.
- Premium Rush (2012)
A rapidly-paced action thriller, the film follows star Joseph Gordon-Levitt as he plays a bike messenger in present-day Manhattan, New York. The messenger comes into possession of an important boat ticket and is charged with delivering it to a family on the other side of town. A crooked and heavily indebted cop catches wind of this ticket and attempts to catch the messenger to steal the ticket and repay his debts. A fun ride from start to finish.
- Beijing Bicycle (2001)
A Chinese film, Beijing Bicycle follows the story of a young country boy that makes his way to the big city to find work. His bike is stolen by another boy from the city, who sees it as his key to social ascension and to impressing the girl that he likes. The film examines the tensions between the urban and rural people of China where, much like in Bicycle Thieves, the bike is seen as a means of economic liberation. The film was banned for a time by the Communist Chinese Government and is a fascinating look at the building social tensions in the country.
- Tour de Pharmacy (2017)
A dirty and irreverent 40-minute mockumentary based around the 1982 Tour de France, complete with violence, heavy drug-usage and shenanigans. Early sections of the film have a genuine documentary-feel before things descend into chaos. A quick watch and a fun one.