Cycling cinematically

It's nearly that time again. Time to get on yer bike for the Aotearoa Bike Challenge. During February workplaces, organisations and teams of all sizes will be competing to see who can get the most cycling in, and rack up the mileage (or kilometrage?). There are also some great prizes up for grabs.

For stalwart cyclists like myself participating is a no-brainer. I already cycle everywhere anyway. But for those of you who maybe need some encouragement, well, you probably already know a lot of reasons why cycle commuting is a good idea. But sometimes not even helpful tips for beginners are enough to sway a person. What we really need is the power of storytelling, and maybe some Hollywood glamour to convince you. Maybe you just need a whole lot of cinematic brainwashing?

So, if you need some filmic inspiration to get you pedalling like you were born to it, you have come to the right place (all of the following titles can be borrowed on DVD from our collection).

Bicycling in the movies

In my extensive research on "movies that have people riding bikes in them" I have noticed there are 3 main reasons people pedal in motion pictures.

Because they're flirting

Riding a bike just makes a person more desireable. Fact.

Wedding crashers - No significant romantic approaches have yet occured between Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams' characters at this point in the movie but you can just tell from their goofy attempts at doing "tricks" on their big heavy cruiser-style bicycles to the tune of Mungo Jerry's 'In the summertime' that those two are going to be an item. 

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - Be honest. If Paul Newman offered to dub you on the handlebars of a bike you'd say yes.

Because it's Europe

Just European sophisticates being European and sophisticated.

The Bicycle Thief - For Antonio Ricci his bicycle has the potential to save his family from poverty... until some blighter steals it. He and his son search for it on the streets of post-war Rome.

Cinema Paradiso - Who can blame little Toto for faking a bad foot so he can catch a ride into town with Salvatore, the kindly cinema projectionist? Nobody. He's too adorable.

Life is beautiful - Riding about town with your wife balanced on the crossbar and a small child perched in the front basket may not everyone's idea of "safe commuting" but it certainly does look fun.

The Sound of Music - Just a bunch of Austrian children singing "Do Re Mi" as they hoon along on bikes. Nothing out of the ordinary. 

Because they're a kid in the 80s

If you were a kid in the 1980s you either had a BMX or you really, really wanted one. Some of these movies may well have been responsible.

The Goonies - The sight of a strapping Josh Brolin pedalling away on a little girl's pink bike (complete with training wheels) because his little brother's friend has let the air out of the tyres on his own bike is comedy gold. Meanwhile the real heroes of the piece have already made their getaway on their BMXs.

Turbo Kid - While not technically an 80s movie the whole aesthetic of this post-apocalyptic action adventure is about that decade. Bikes are the default mode of transport and things get gruesome. At one point someone gets impaled by a unicorn horn/head mounted on the handlebars of a BMX. I mean... you just don't see that very often.

Donnie Darko -  Set in 1988 the opening scenes of this deeply weird sci-fi movie have a young Jake Gyllenhall waking one morning on a hillside road in his pyjamas, his 10-speed lying nearby. He looks at the brightening sky, gets on his bike and blearily bikes home in his pyjamas. And that's just the beginning of the oddness...

E. T., The extra-terrestrial -  Arguably the most memorable and well-known of all cinematic cycling scenes has the protagonist, Elliot, after a police pursuit, flying across the sky with an alien in his front basket. The special effects look a bit ropey these days, but there's no denying the charm and excitement of this iconic scene.

Because how else are they supposed to get to work?

Biking to work is the best!

Flashdance - The movie opens with Alex zipping along the streets of Pittsburgh on an old school racing bike to her day-job as a welder. 

Made in Dagenham - In the opening scenes Sally Hawkins' character (and her workmates) cycle en masse to work... at a car factory. 

The Sound of Music - Yes, again. How else is Rolf supposed to get those telegrams delivered?

The Big Bike Film Night 'One Day Ahead'

And once you've watched all those, you'll be primed for the Christchurch screening of One Day Ahead on Friday 1 March. One Day Ahead is a doco about a team of Kiwi cyclists riding the route of the Tour de France in 2018, but doing it one day ahead of the iconic cycle race. The screening is a fundraising event for the Mental Health Foundation.

Find out more:

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Christchurch City Libraries